Melissa Ohnoutka- Self Published And Lived To Tell About It Part 2

May 12, 2011

By: Stacey Purcell

I love writing.  I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.  ~James Michener

Last week we took an in depth look at an author’s experience in self publishing and my head is still swimming. Melissa Ohnoutka graciously agreed to a follow-up series of questions. Couple these interviews with the last two posts of Jenn’s and you have a fairly good idea of what it takes to jump in with the big boys and put your material out there. It’s a brave new world for us-fraught with many woes and frustrations, but the pay off in satisfaction seems to be worth it all.

 

How did you go through the editing process? I know you worked hard on polishing, but did you have help from others to get it ready to publish? Did you hire anyone?

Melissa: The editing process on Faithful Deceptions extended over about the last four years. Heavy critiques, contest feedback, reader feedback and then several read throughs by others just for spelling and grammar. If I find a good editor, I’ll hire them for future books.

 

What specifically have you learned about marketing your book? You say you would have started earlier- how? Do you have plans before your next book or tie in short story is published? Twitter? Blog Tours? Etc.

Melissa: I’ve learned it’s a lot of work and very time consuming. If you don’t figure out a way to balance the marketing and the writing, you’ll get absolutely nothing done on either end.

As for starting earlier, I’m talking about social media. I would have joined every group I could find that dealt with books and made myself a regular contributor. The building of those trusting relationships, even if they are online with people you may never meet, is so important. These are your future readers and promoters.

Future plans….Working on trying to get a book launch set up this summer, but it’s still too early in the editsfor the next book to be thinking about blog tours, twitter, etc. I have formatting and book covers to work on next.

 

How did you decide on a price point?

Melissa: Again, I’ll have to say J.A. Konrath. He has done the research and I just followed along.

Did you really consider the type of fonts you were going to use or did they prescribe what you would have to use?

Melissa: I did a lot of research on what worked and what didn’t. Stick to the normal on this. Fancy fonts are hard to read and just not a good idea when dealing with formatting.

 

How did you decide on your cover? How did you create it?

Melissa: The cover was fun for me. I loved browsing through all the pictures, searching for the perfect fit. I got chills when it all came together. For the how, I used a combination of two programs. Photoshop and Printshop. If you haven’t used Photoshop before, I recommend taking tutorials now. This is not a “learn as you go” program.

What exactly have you done for marketing?

Melissa: Lots of blogging. Visiting Kindleboards, Nookboards, Bookblogs, facebook, twitter. Set up accounts with Goodreads, Shelfari, Bookbuzzar, Googlebooks. Requested reviews from review sites. Been a Guestblogger on several blogs. Printed postcards to hand out to those who purchase the ebook. I’m set to be a guest at several local book clubs hosted out of others homes as well. And my NWHRWA chapter here in Houston has set up a Grassroots Marketing Program. Each month there is an Author Spotlight. That author shares their information for promotion with the group and they spread the word through social media, word of mouth and blogs or any other idea they can come up with.

All this and I’m just getting started. LOL

“There is no requirement to register your copyright, which exists from the moment the work is created. Registration is a service provided by the Library of Congress as a means to record claims to copyright. If you ever have a dispute about your copyrighted work, your best evidence is going to be the registration you made, and the date it was entered, to show you are the originator of the work.” Did you know about this? Have you done this?

Melissa: Yes, and yes I’ve registered my books with the Library of Congress. It’s quite easy and can now be done online. I love that part! You definitely want to register your copyright, even though it isn’t required. Copyright registration will put the facts of your copyright into the public record.

 

 

Finally, if you had to do this over, would you do it yourself again or would you hire parts of it out for someone else to deal with?

 Melissa: Although this was a lot of work and the frustration was overwhelming at times, I would definitely do it over again, and again. I love being in control.

 


A Lesson In Paranoia…They Really Are Watching

March 31, 2011


The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction.  By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.  ~Mark Twain

 

I believe that anyone who is involved in the writing world has heard about the incredible meltdown an author had after a critical review. I don’t want to talk about that. We can all agree that she didn’t handle it well. We can all agree that she damaged her career. Enough said.

What I do want to discuss is that I found a few interesting items sprinkled throughout the 307 comments. (Yes, I slogged through every single one.) The first thing that caught my attention was the side argument rippling through over the idea of indie publishing.

What is indie publishing?

It is a gloriously vague term. Being so, it is open to interpretation. Many of the folks felt there was a distinct difference between being a self pubbed author and being an indie pubbed author. For them, the word indie refered to small, independent presses that accepted submissions and then published. Righteous indignation ran amuck when a different understanding was applied. “There’s self- publishing and commercial publishing, all the rest is smoke and mirrors.” Those in this camp think self published writers are using this word to give credibility to their work when, in fact it isn’t good enough for traditional publishing. Ouch, that’s harsh.

Others weren’t bothered with the interchanging of self-published and indie. Many thought it was a buzz word flung about in an attempt for writers to equate themselves with the hip alternative music scene that brought us great music from artists like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. However, the buzz behind the word was that it was still an attempt to bring more credibility to the arena of self pubbed authors.

There were a few who offered a concrete definition for both. “Indie was one who publishes without the aid of any sort of publisher and self-published was one who publishes with the aid of a pay-to-publish company.” A commenter who has a doctorate in language forensics states that terms in culture shift and that direct publishing is now considered indie. It may have been used differently before, but the meaning is expanding and encompassing all meanings- like it or not.

The best comment: “It doesn’t really matter though, no one cares except other writers. Readers just care if the book is good.” Enough said.

Besides arguing over the meaning of a word, a more serious notion was raised. Did she only harm her career? The answer is no. There were agents, editors and other book reviewers that chimed in on this debacle. Let’s start with the agent. “…as an agent actively looking for clients who has the manuscripts of some of the posters here, I have been turned off from all of you. Furthering this discussion is as unprofessional as beginning it.” Ouch again.

Just because you weren’t the one having the temper tantrum, joining in on the condemnation just got you sucker punched. The lesson here is to not stoop to a level that is obviously not professional.

Book reviewers were out spoken when it came to the topic of self-published authors. “I’ve sworn off reviewing self pubbed because I had two writers that did that. It’s a shame, but burned twice and I had enough.”

Readers also jumped in. “You and others like you have long since turned me off to indies forever.” How about another? “I’m now on an all-indie boycott.”  Still another. “This is the very type of behavior that will continue to tar self- published authors as hobbyists.” Big ouch!

What you put out there on the world wide web will come back to bite you in the tushie because they ARE watching. Agents, editors, our readers, book reviewers, librarians, and book store owners are reading blogs, tweets etc. Be professional. Be courteous. Be intelligent with your comments. Working at your keyboard, you are standing on a world stage. Enough said.