First post of the New Year is from Angela Weinberger, on why and how she chose to self-publish her non-fiction work “The Global Mobility Handbook”. Angela is a professional self-starter who takes risks and shares the lessons learned. I’m delighted she’s agreed to appear as a guest poster with words of wisdom on publishing.

 

Headshot Angela WeinbergerSelf-publishing sounds like the ideal solution to many dilemmas self-employed consultants, trainers and coaches. A publication gets your name out there, establishes you as an expert in your field and differentiates you from other players in the market. What a lot of us underestimate though is the challenge of working with clients while at the same time running a book project. With this post I would like to raise your awareness to five challenges I came across when I self-published books in the past.

 

Why I decided to self-publish:

For me the main reason to self-publish “The Global Mobility Workbook – A Step-by-Step Guide to Managing International Assignments“ was speed-to-market. Once I had drafted the book I wanted to use it in trainings and refer to it. I did not want to wait another year until the book was out there. I had only approached one publisher and their feedback indicated that the book was too academic for them and not sellable. In the year before I had experimented with publishing a novella and understood how Kindle Desktop Publishing (KDP) works to a large extent. I thought I should give it a go keeping in mind that it could always be re-published by an established publisher later.

What I underestimated were five challenges and I thought it might help you to read about these so you are better prepared than I was.

 

1) Professional look-and-feel of your end product

One of the reputations self-publishing has is that you find a lot of badly written and even less well-edited books out there in the sea of electronic publications. This might be true. You have to invest a lot of time and money to make your publication look as professional as if it had been published with a well-known publisher. It is important that the editing, typesetting, artwork and all graphs and images are well done. You have to work with professional typesetters, editors and graphic designers to get that professional look-and-feel.

2) Investments before you make your first Euro or Franc

My upfront investment was about 3’000 CHF (around 3’000 EUR). I only work with professionals I know well. If your editor lives in Switzerland their rates are higher than anywhere else in the world. I also paid for artwork, graphics, typesetting, converting files and ISBN numbers. For me the investment was worthwhile because I got a lot of consulting work due to the book. However, you first of all have to have this amount of cash in your company or pocket. In another project I ran out of money mid-project, had to start with a new editor and probably will spend around 5’000 CHF before the book is published. As a self-publisher you have a higher royalty than if you work with a traditional publisher but you need to consider the upfront investment.

3) US Tax issues limiting your access to global platforms

Assuming you will decide to publish an ebook through a platform such as Kindle Desktop Publishing you will need to fill a few forms to ensure you are not liable for US Tax. KDP has a great process but another platform made it so complicated that when I got a letter from the IRS in the US (sent by post to Switzerland) and they requested further information by post, I gave up the process.

4) Technical hiccups

During the process of publishing an ebook you might come across technical hiccups. A famous one is the linked table of content. You need to have a graphic designer with programming skills who can help you through such technical challenges even if you are technologically savvy. A good tip is to read books on ebook publishing before you start editing your manuscript as a lot of formatting is required for ebooks. My persistence on this matter worked well for a text-based novella but for my workbook we needed a lot of tables and graphics. I gave this task to a graphic designer. You might want to read the KDP style guide beforehand.

5)  Managing a wild bunch of involved artists

It can feel a bit like in a circus when you are managing a bunch of involved artists across the globe for your project. Especially challenging when not all of them speak English and when you don’t sit in the same room to discuss graphics or editing rules. You might also need to agree rules of the game before leaving the manuscript stage. I have a rather high standard of English but sometimes I apply rules from German grammar and I cannot get used to certain style elements in English because they are contrary to German style. I recommend you work with the same team for different projects as with every book the team gets more adjusted to the process and has a better alignment too.

I recommend you read books on how to self-publish, such as the “Triskele Trail”, a book on self-publishing from Triskele to everyone who considers self-publishing ebooks and books on demand.

 

Angela Weinberger is a Global Mobility Expert and an Intercultural Career Advisor. She worked in Human Resources and Global Mobility during her corporate career. She started out on her own with Global People Transitions in 2012.

 

 

 

the leapStandards in self-publishing.

This whole argument feels like a perennial pinball machine, where opinions converge, collide, bend at impossible angles and ricochet off in another direction.

Debbie Young confronted the Elephant in the Room on the Self-Publishing Advice blog. Porter Anderson raised the topic via his Twitter debate #muse14. This phenomenon is the slightly awkward relative at a wedding, whose social skills are dubious, but you can’t get away from the fact you are related.

Let’s face it, lots of self-published books are crap. Whether that’s the cover, the writing or simply the concept, which might have been better off unpublished and retained as a private, personal seven-volume diatribe on vengeance / erotica / combustion engines.

It’s my hugest concern.

‘How could this be better?’ is the question I ask most. (This includes Where’s the corkscrew? Who the hell gave that git a driving licence? Do you need a pee and poo? – to husband, pugs and random strangers, not necessarily in that order.)

Self/indie publishing has many different perspectives. The radical and ground-breaking such as eightcutsgallerypress. The various methods of author collectives – genre, marketing, support, shared readership – all show that there is no one route to success.

When starting the Triskele Books collective, we set ourselves a challenge. Three elements were non-negotiable:

  • Our books will look professional
  • Every book must reflect our USP – Time and Place
  • Top quality writing

The first two points are pretty easy to judge, but the last, as we grow and learn, is far harder to define. What IS good writing? And who says so? We’ve worked together for years; as amateur critique partners, indie team-mates and now professional colleagues, thus we trust each other’s insight.

I could break down each of my books and tell you where the Triskelites made it better. I hope they’d say the same. Because we don’t settle for OK. It’s never ‘good enough’. It has to be the very best it can be, and that can take three or seven rewrites, a new cover design, or a total change of blurb.

New Triskele associates get that. These are writers prepared to listen, do the work and make a good book something exceptional. A collective depends on every single book being a flagship. You liked this? Well, there’s more where that came from. We’re currently reading the manuscripts from new potential associates, and offering structural/copy edit/line edit support, alongside marketing advice and collaborative opportunities.

This is what we do.

I’ve read some great books lately. Lowland, String Bridge, Night Train to Lisbon, A Funeral for an Owl, The Glass RoomThe Fleshmarket, Vlad the Inhaler, Spilt Milk: approximately 50/50 indie & trad published.

I’ve read some utter bilge, too. Seven (trad) books sit on the StinkPile, to be exchanged at the local coffee shop for something worth reading. At least six Kindle indies got deleted less than 10% in. Life’s too short for derivative, shallow and crappy – unless that’s what you’re looking for. (If so, you’re in luck – there’s a shedload.)

Standards.

I have them in reading. I want them in my writing. And as much as I am a bigmouthed, opinionated gobshite, I know other people’s input will take my work beyond my own reach. I hope mine can contribute in the same way.

Interview with Edward Marnier, author of Brief Encounters

 

Edward Marnier

Ed picBorn March 1949, Fordingbridge England.  Brought up New Forest and West of Ireland. Educated state and private schools. First job cinema projectionist. Worked at BFI, before various jobs in the film industry and becoming a film editor, winning a BAFTA award 1984. Worked in Europe and USA, where wrote two short film scripts. Now an oriental carpet dealer and sometime short story writer.

 

What made you choose a self-publishing service, rather than going it alone or pitching to a mainstream publisher?

Realism … I realised I was not technically confident to self publish and equally my material was not ‘up to’ showing to a mainstream publisher.

How did you choose your provider and what tipped the balance?

I started looking through self-publishing sites … and what they offered. I didn’t look for the cheapest – although it is interesting the different terms and descriptions of what is part of the service for such and such a fee … and what is extra. I was keen to find a site which seemed to have an understanding of the technical difficulties, formats, formatting etc.

In the end, the Matador/Troubador’s site was so much clearer and more straightforward. They provided information that allowed you the author – to make a decision as to which parts of their service you wanted, or needed. Other sites seemed to relish the fact that one might not be able to understand technically how to self publish; Matador seem to go out of their way to let you understand the options available and the costs involved.

What services did they provide?

Everything for an eBook to be available in various formats and various countries. Very switched on group of people. Good artwork for the cover. Excellent telephone and email contact. One never felt awkward about phoning and asking your representative questions. Just a really good experience.

And which were the most valuable elements for you?

Technical, grammar and spelling. Plus nice messages.

Were there any areas you felt could have been improved?

If you are as illiterate as me, it is quite hard for all the necessary suggestions and corrections to be highlighted against your page of script – but I am not sure there is any way around that – unless I learn some English.

 What advice would you offer other authors in the position of being ready to publish?

Go with these guys …  Matador/Troubador.

 
Tell us how Brief Encounters came to life.Brief Encounters cover

During the small bit of education I received – one of the few things I was good at was composition (as it was called). Compressing a chapter of some book into a single page, without losing the meaning or excitement of the story. And as I used to edit films, there seems to be something in me that loves the ‘cut to the chase’.

Where’s the best place to read your stories?

In bed with a friend … then at least you can have some fun reading awful lines aloud to each other – and sex and laughter can be pretty good?

 

Thanks to Edward for sharing his experiences.

Now a note of warning from me, JJ Marsh: Piranhas and Sharks

Authors seeking a self-publishing service – beware. Recently, a whole range of companies sprouted, helping authors get to market. Many charge a premium price and deliver poor results. How to be sure a provider is useful/reasonable/?

 

Fraumunster bookmark

Detail from the artwork for Behind Closed Doors

I took the decision quite early in the publishing process to have different covers for my ebooks and paperbacks. And for the latter, I needed a fine artist. My inestimable designer, Jane Dixon-Smith, who creates the covers and formats the interior, found just the right person.

James Lane. As soon as I saw his work, something felt absolutely right. He lives in California, I live in Switzerland, we’ve never actually met, but our creative collaboration has been a joy.

I asked James if he’d talk about the process, answering and asking some questions. As always, he exceeded expectations.

Jill: How does the artistic approach differ when trying to reflect 80,000 words, as to portraying a mood, or a moment in time?

James: When creating an image we’re working towards that “Aha!” moment that the viewer feels upon that first glimpse. It should spark someone’s interest quickly while remaining true to the content of the story. Having said that, the “Aha!” moment is exactly what I’m trying to avoid while working with an author because it behooves us both to know what to expect as we move through the process. It doesn’t make any sense to leave the author in the dark in the hopes of loving the image at the final stage because if it doesn’t work, it’s back to the drawing board for both of you. Once we have arrived at a basic idea of how the painting should turn out, I can have fun with it and let the inspiration come through.

Grossmusnter

Detail from James’s original painting

Jill: Have you collaborated with other creatives from other media, such as graphic designers, musicians, dancers, etc? How did you find the process?

James: As a musician I collaborated often, but painting and writing can be very solitary endeavors, aside from the feedback we receive. Paintings and books are generally not co-authored. I would love to see collaborations by contemporaries like Gauguin/Van Gogh or Sargent/Sorolla. It can be helpful for painters and writers to sympathize with each other and realize that you’re often in the same boat from a psychological standpoint. While working on these book covers it has been a tremendous help to be given a specific passage with a lot of visual imagery from which to draw. This also shows me that the author has taken the time to think of their story in visual terms.

BCD kindle

Behind Closed Doors front cover

Jill: What were your initial concerns about a) working virtually and b) on a book cover?

James: Working virtually was never a concern for me because it’s so common these days. It helped to have a few skype chats so we could get to know each other. I think small talk, joking around, brainstorming and commiserating will always help any creative process, rather than simply emailing back and forth.

Working on a book cover poses specific challenges, especially when you are painting it because you can’t just hit the “Undo” button in Photoshop until you get back to a previous stage in the image. Again, as long as you both agree to a plan you can move forward without too much stress.

4

Detail from Raw Material artwork

James: I appreciated receiving a list of influences from you, including other artists and works that you admire, the palette and general mood of the painting, even musical scores. How do you go about determining what you need for your covers and what recommendations do you have for communicating those expectations to the illustrator?

Jill: While pondering this question, I realised I approached working with you purely on instinct. I had no formula or experience of collaboration with a fine artist so I admit to a certain amount of trepidation. But I have previously worked as a theatre director – communicating concepts to lighting and set designers whose methods I don’t really comprehend – so I know that when different types of artist understand each other, it quite simply works.

I remember trying to find a designer for Cyrano de Bergerac. I interviewed many slick, classy, experienced people, but didn’t click. Then a young Edinburgh design graduate turned up, bursting with enthusiasm and just ‘got’ it. We finished each other’s sentences, extrapolated on our ideas and she created some of the most beautiful and evocative stage moments I’ve ever seen.

Raw Material_Cover_Paperback_MEDIUM

Raw Material front cover

As for determining my covers, a key feature of all my novels is place. Art also plays a minor role, yet each reference is carefully chosen to play its part. I wanted my paper covers to have a fine art feel, a Golden Age quality which states: This Is Not Your Average Crime Novel. The covers should suggest depth, culture, location, and be something people want to look at, touch and pick up again.

So I think an author, director or any kind of collaborator can use random references to illustrate the image – music, art, fabrics, food, seasons, imagery and lines from the book which encapsulate its essence. If the artist is worth her/his salt, they can appreciate a synaesthetic vision.

James: Most authors and publishers work with illustrators who use Photoshop and Illustrator. What tips would you give to an author who is working with someone who uses traditional methods such as oil paints, pen and ink, etc?

Time. Give the artist space, time, and do not expect results in 24 hours. One of the things I loved most about the creation of the first cover is the video you created of its gradual emergence. That gives such a clear perspective on how much work and thought goes into such a piece.

view

The original painting for Tread Softly

Also, and this goes for all kinds of media, be receptive to what the artist can introduce. The line between knowing what you want and micro-controlling is a tough one to call. Creative skill comes of talent, experience and training … and vision. If I hadn’t trusted you and followed your judgement, my books would look a great deal poorer. So I recommend openness and communication, with a healthy dose of respect.

Lastly, a reader pointed out how very dull and generic he found a lot of book covers. He picked up mine because it was different. As an independent publisher, thankfully, I am not dictated to by marketing departments or sales teams. That creative freedom is priceless, so should not be squandered. Finding an artistic partner who’s willing to take risks, who’s prepared to tackle new sets of parameters, who’s happy to cope with creative direction via email/Skype and who even reads the books first … it sounds a near impossibility. I guess I got lucky.

 

Tread Softly, in paperback and ebook, is released on 1 June 2013.

Tread Softly pb cover

Tread Softly – complete finished cover

Swiss flagsAs Swiss ALLi rep, I’ve had a lot of enquiries about the ISBN – International Standard Book Number.  Here are some answers.

This is the information I shared at TIPE (The Independent Publishing Event), January 2013 in Zürich.

An ISBN identifies your book, like a fingerprint. If you’re based in Switzerland, you need to apply for Swiss ISBNs. Those with an address in the UK, US, Australia, etc, can apply via those countries. In Britain, you have to buy a batch of 10. The US, Australia and Switzerland allow you to buy individual ISBNs but do remember that you will need a different number for each format, paperback, Kindle ebook, Smashwords ebook. Also a single ISBN costs 115CHF, whereas 10 cost 300CHF.

Swiss site (German/French): SBVV

UK site: http://www.isbn.nielsenbook.co.uk/controller.php?page=121

US site: https://www.myidentifiers.com/

Australian site: http://www.isbn.nielsenbook.co.uk/controller.php?page=121

If you come from somewhere other than the above, find your home site here: http://www.isbn-international.org/agency

Since TIPE, more questions have arisen on the subject …

Do I need an ISBN?

No, not necessarily. Amazon offers a free ASIN (an Amazon identifier), which identifies Amazon as the publisher. Smashwords and Lulu likewise. You receive all your royalties, naturally, but will be ‘published’ by those organisations.

How do I apply for a Swiss ISBN?

The Swiss ISBN site. Available in French and German. Open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday mornings. Beatrice Hédiger, who runs the office, located in Zürich, also speaks English.

I have an ISBN. How can I get my book into Swiss stores?

Sarina Dupont, of Orell Füssli’s English Bookshop: “Previously we took some copies on consignment for three months. After that we checked how the sales went and if we could keep the title for longer. This procedure proved to be time-consuming due to correspondence, paperwork, billing etc. for every individual title. There were more requests than we could handle, so we decided to take no more books on consignment at this moment. It’s a pity, but we have to give priority to daily business.

If the book is in stock with one of the main distribution centres of your country (for example OLF or Schweizer Buchzentrum in Switzerland), it’s easier for a bookshop to order 1-2 copies to give it a try.”

So how do I make my book available via OLF?

Spokesman for OLF: “If your titles are listed with one of the three big UK or US wholesalers (Ingrams, Baker&Taylor, Gardners) any bookshop in Switzerland can order your books.”  For listing in these companies’ catalogues, you need an ISBN (see below).

If I only have an ASIN, can I get listed in the Nielsen catalogue?

Spokesperson for Nielsen Bookdata UK: “For Nielsen, an Amazon identifier is not sufficient. In fact, most international bookdata handlers require an official ISBN.”

And finally, does the ISBN have a future?

The Economist says it’s questionable, Laura Dawson (Bowker) says yes.

If there are ISBN questions I’ve not answered, please let me know.

Ten Bookmarks for Indie Authors

I don’t like chocolate.

There, I’ve said it.

So rather than some guilt-inducing transient pleasure which will probably make you nauseous anyway, my gift to you is a different kind of egg. Unwrap these goodies instead.

When I get lost, confused and start running round in wobbly circles, I need someone to hold my hand and help me understand the shifting new frontier that is independent publishing. My blog readers, I imagine, are balanced, determined individuals who never wobble and would probably pooh-pooh helping hands. Still, I’m going to share some of my favourite resources. Pooh-pooh at will.

ALLi (The Alliance of Independent Authors)

A non-profit, global, collaborative, collective of self-publishing writers, with vast resources of information. Lots of first-hand experience and a powerful force for the publishing community. Publishes daily paper with up-to-the-second news. Example post: http://selfpublishingadvice.org/blog/find-time-for-social-media-eight-tips-for-self-publishing-indie-authors/

Publetariat

Online community and news hub built specifically for indie authors and small, independent imprints. I gleaned so much of my print research here. Example post:

http://www.publetariat.com/publish/al-katkowsky-book-app

The Writing Platform

Website and programme of live events dedicated to arming writers with digital knowledge. Free online resource for all writers and poets ­ emerging, established, not yet published, traditionally published and self-published ­ who are looking for neutral information about writing in a digital age. Rescue remedy for technophobes.

http://www.thewritingplatform.com/

The Creative PennTIPE Jo

A personal favourite, who’ll be delivering her third Zürich seminar this autumn, Joanna Penn shares her breadth of knowledge as an independent author. Writing, publishing, marketing, speaking; she’s got it all going on. Example post: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2009/08/14/3-steps-to-start-author-platform-building/

Indie ReCon

Last month’s virtual conference for indie writers provided advice and intelligence on EVERYTHING. Seriously, check out the schedule and tell me what they missed. Here, you can find all you need to know.

http://www.indierecon.org/p/schedule.html

Jane Friedman

Outspoken, opinionated and extremely well informed, Jane shares her knowledge on writing, reading and publishing in the digital age. Down to the nitty-gritty, this is one woman you want on your side. Read this:

http://janefriedman.com/2013/03/26/amazon-white-glove-program/

Emma Darwin

Another friend of the Zürich writing community, Emma’s blog is a go-to site for authors particularly curious about the craft. All her posts are useful, but for me, this one resonated like a cathedral bell.

http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2013/03/feedback-humility-and-the-sword-of-truth.html

Catherine Ryan Howard

Writer, blogger and coffee enthusiast from Cork, Catherine helps writers with all the questions we are afraid to ask. This post on US tax issues has been one of the most popular and useful pieces of advice ever.

http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/02/24/non-us-self-publisher-tax-issues-dont-need-to-be-taxing/

David Gaughrean

As well as being the chief source of the information in Catherine’s tax post, David hosts his own blog, Let’s Get Digital. His advice is solid, realistic, practical and indispensable to the contemporary writer. I recommend David’s book to everyone because he been there and done it. Then shared. Look at this:

http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/practicalities/

Triskele Toolbox

And of course, our own growing bag of goodies on manuscript presentation, time management, indie reviewers, crime and historical research, peer review sites, cover design and more to come.

http://triskelebooks.blogspot.co.uk/p/triskele-toolbox.html

Triskele_Logo_Books_POS2

Happy Easter!

My guest today is Pete Morin.

I don’t recall how many years ago it was that I stumbled across the introductory chapters of Diary of a Small Fish, but I know he’s been reeling me in ever since. This is Pete’s story:

Thanks to my dear friend Jill for her introduction to all you writer folks.

Jill asked me to share that part of my journey wherein I decided to ditch my pursuit of the Holy Grail of traditional publication and join the ranks of the Great Unwashed (that’s how Big House editors look at us, I’m told).

First let’s get something straight. I am not a dreamer. I am a cynical, battle-scarred veteran of partisan politics and the trial courtroom. While I briefly entertained a dream of being a novelist back in college, it was quickly squelched by the pressure of parental expectations, economic reality, and the recognition that I had no life experience worth writing about.

So I went off and got some life experiences. The kind worth writing about. But it wasn’t until almost 20 years later that these experiences began to spill out of me in a story. A pal of mine asked back then, “do you have a novel in you?”

“Nah,” I said, and believed it.

Then my father died in August 2007. I’d been helping him with his memoirs when he became too weak to continue. After he left us, I tried to transform the work into a biography. But it was just too painful, and too soon. Still, I needed to find a way to grieve, and I found burying myself in a story was a pretty good way to do it.

One day I found youwriteon.com, where Jill’s pal John Hudspith found something within the rough first chapter I’d put up there that glimmered through the crap. I don’t know what it was, or why he thought so, but he invited me to join him and Jill and a lot of other awesome writers at a place called The Bookshed, and 18 months of merciless flogging later, I typed “the end.”

I did not write a novel to become a novelist. I had no illusions of big advances or Hollywood movie deals. I just wrote a novel, and people seemed to like it. I wrote some short stories and people seemed to like them. And I had a blast doing it, so what the hell, right? You enjoy doing something, why not see how far you can go with it? Surely, somewhere not far down the road, cold reality would slap me silly.

I started two more novels, just in case.

Going 0-for-120 on the query trail didn’t really bother me. This novel must not be as good as people say, I thought. Hell, a lot of folks think the food at Denny’s is pretty good, but we know differently, don’t we? It was the same as cooking. A lot of my friends thought I was a pretty good cook, too; but I’d never thought I was qualified to run the kitchen at a five star restaurant.

Then I went to my first writer’s conference in November of 2009, The New England Crime Bake. The first day, I attended a pitch practice session. Fate’s fickle hand at work, you know. I sat at the first empty seat, next to a lady I’d never met. She happened to be the agent. She went around the table, listening to stumbling and stuttering neophytes who hadn’t known what at all to expect. But I had practiced my elevator pitch. I sure had.

“What have you got,” she said to me, wearily.

Diary of a Small Fish is about a virtuous man who gets indicted for playing golf.”

A couple of giggles from the others.

“I want to read that,” she said.

Heh, what can I say? She’s married to a trial lawyer. She read it and loved it. He read it and loved it. Dumb luck. Nothing more.

Six months later, I signed on with Christine Witthohn at Book Cents Literary, but not until I’d spoken to a half dozen of her current clients, published and unpublished (at her insistence). The lady had sold practically everything she’d put her hands on. She must know what the hell sells!

Still, I am a cynic, you recall. I do not entertain fanciful dreams. During the next nine months, I did significant revisions to the manuscript, based upon long conversations with Christine – and her husband, Jeff Mehalic. In that stretch of time, I might have sent Christine a dozen emails. She responded to every one of them within two hours, mostly by phone – except once, when she was stranded in Italy.

I know there are other cynics out there who find this preposterous. An agent responding to an email with a phone call? Within an hour? Like I said. Dumb luck.

These developments occurred, you will note, during the onset of the “ebook revolution.” Self-publishing was developing at light speed, and there were dozens of pioneers blazing the trails. I followed this closely, because many of my Authonomy friends were trailblazers.

In December of 2010, Christine submitted DOSF to editors at 7 publishers – editors she knew. Editors she’d sold stuff to before. But she told me when she did, “I’m not sure I can sell your book.”

You see, it didn’t fit neatly into the mystery/crime/suspense genre. (As Jill’s lovely review begins, “What exactly IS this book? Yes, it’s a political mystery. It’s also a love story. It explores corruption, honour and integrity. And it’s funny. But how to define it?”)

The wait began. That ridiculous, inexplicable, infuriating wait where even your own agent’s inquiries to them go unanswered. Two months, three, four. Okay, that’s to be expected. But more?

In the meantime, Joe Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith, Barry Eisler, Amanda Hocking, John Locke and dozens of others filled the internet with dazzling information. Bloggers like Robin Sullivan kept tabs on a growing number of self-published authors making a serious living! Selling ebooks at 99 cents!

Get out of town. Seriously. And I was sitting on my hands waiting for a response, 6 months now. June arrived. Christine and I had a heart-to-heart.

My novel is Boston-centric. It involves the shadows of personalities still walking, big names in politics being tried and convicted of the very same crimes my poor virtuous protagonist is accused of. At that very time! There was a market for this fiction, right here, right now! I was missing it! I couldn’t wait!

Christine’s response was simple:

1. When you want to withdraw DOSF from submission, say the word, and I’ll call them.

2. If you want to self-publish, then do these things first: (a) put up a single short story that’s really, really good, for FREE, (b) put up a collection of short stories a month later for 99 cents, (c) bust your ass creating buzz in advance of DOSF release, and (d) keep busting your ass to sell it.

Like a man looking at a break-up with his first true love, I asked, “What about us?”

Seriously! I had snagged one of the hottest agents in the business, and one who not only had a conscience, but a clear one at that. A lady as righteous and morally sound as my own protagonist! How could I take my only property off the market and negate the subject matter of our contract?

“We’ll use DOSF as a platform to sell your next one. And if it does well enough in the meantime, I can still sell it.”

Dumb luck. I’d stumbled upon a literary agent who not only understood the changes that were coming, but embraced them, and encouraged me and several other of her authors to self-publish.

When Amazon announced their genre imprints, she was on the phone to them, grilling them about what they were looking for, and in some cases, delivering it.

When the 9 month anniversary of the DOSF submissions approached, when none of the 7 had even given her the courtesy of a reply, and when Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer took a pass, it was time to go ahead.

[Note: There are now several authors on Christine’s list (some signed to multi-book deals with Big 6 publishers) who have at least one self-published work available. Some shorts, some novellas, some novels.]

I self-published Diary of a Small Fish on October 1st. I worked hard on the launch, had a lot of help from writer friends who delivered some very nice reviews (none nicer than Jill’s), and sold some books. I ordered 100+ paper copies from Createspace, sold most of them in a month, ordered some more. I had a smoking hot launch party in the shadow of the State House, sent out a very smart press kit.

Why did I, the stubborn cynic, the world-weary ex-politician and trial lawyer, decide to go to all this work and trouble to self-publish a first novel? Why didn’t I put it on the shelf and move on to the next, as the Old Guard would have?

Because somewhere in the process – when I’d heard enough feedback from people whose opinions I respect and trust – and when I’d re-read enough of it for the 100th time, I realized how damn much I believe in this novel.

I’m no authority on fiction. I’m just a guy with a little storytelling talent. But I firmly believe that a successful novel is one that touches all of your emotions. Humor, sorrow, anger, hatred, love, hopelessness, panic, fear, elation, etc. I didn’t know that when I started writing.

I think that’s what DOSF does. And I wanted readers to experience it now, today, not in Q4 of 2013.

There is also this:

What is going on in fiction publishing today is truly revolutionary. Seldom is the use of that word so fitting. It was impossible for me to sit idly in the cheap seats, waiting for my prom date, when all that energy was burning on the dance floor below. There are some bad dancers down here, but they’re not stepping on my feet. And there are some really fabulous dancers, too. This is where the action is, here in the scrum. I want to have fun dancing, not compete in a marathon.

Pete Morin has been a trial attorney, a politician, a bureaucrat, a lobbyist, and an astute witness of human behavior. He combines them all in his debut novel, Diary of a Small Fish, and his short story collection, Uneasy Living.

Pete’s short fiction has appeared in NEEDLE, A Magazine of Noir, Words With Jam, 100 Stories for Haiti, and Words to Music. He published many of them in a collection titled Uneasy Living, available in ebook.

When he is not writing crime fiction or legal mumbo jumbo, Pete plays blues guitar in Boston bars, enjoys the beach, food and wine with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two adult children, and on rare occasion, punches a fade wedge to a tight pin surrounded by sand or water. He lives in a money pit on the seacoast south of Boston, in an area once known as the Irish Riviera.

Pete is represented by Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency.

And here you can listen to Pete reading the first chapter of Diary of a Small Fish.

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