Adventures in Indie Publishing


I must admit, I totally missed how many people still want to read print books. Apparently, I made the move to ebooks so decisively that I hadn’t realized I’d made it! So when I went to publish my first book, based on cost (to me) and cost (to the reader), I expected that making an ebook available would be the best approach and reach the most readers.

I was quickly disabused of that notion. Not just from my parents or that generation, for whom iPads and Kindle devices may still seem something of a new-fangled novelty. No, I heard from a wide range of folks that still prefer printed books to the electronic kind. “I like books,” a friend told me (ironically enough, using electronic messaging). “Real books.”

Well, okay then.

So I got to work creating a print version of the book. There are a number of steps needed to create a book that’s ready for the public. If I had managed to catch the eye of an agent, then other folks would have done the work of editing, cover design, interior design, registration, etc. In order to pay all of those people, my portion out of the cost of the book would have been less (far less) but my time to do other things — like more writing — would have been far greater.

I knew I needed to treat this part of the process like the business project it was. First thing I did was go in search of information that delineated for me the steps of the process. I found and rejoiced. It was exactly what I was looking for. It provides a project management focus to the work needed to publish and gave great information supporting each step of that process.

The downside to BookPlanner is that it is single focus. But I’m not doing only one thing, not even from a writing standpoint. At the same time I moved one book towards publication, I had another book in the initial writing stage (now in first rewrite) and another book in the research phase. This doesn’t even take into account my study of French as well as, you know, the rest of my life. I needed something bigger than a single-project tool.

I’ve been using ZenDone for awhile now. It using the “Get Things Done” (GTD) methodology and — best of all! — it integrates with Evernote. So now the work I’m doing on, say, writing an author bio, is checked off the list in ZenDone while the information itself is captured in Evernote for reference later.

That digression is just by way of getting to the fact that I learned that interior book design is a thing and it’s a thing I needed help on. There are professional book designers and I’ve heard of a good program for the Mac, but I don’t use a Mac. I found (most likely through BookPlanner as I think they are sibling companies) a company called Book Design Templates where they sell — you guessed it — templates to use towards interior design. They have created a large number of designs for a wide range of book types/moods/genres. When you purchase a design, you get Word, Pages, and InDesign templates with the guarantee that the style will work for both ebook and print. Port your text into one of those and start applying the styles provided.

I’m very familiar with Word styles and it wasn’t difficult (only tedious) to port from Scrivener to a Word file and then go through and clean it up, using the styles provided in the template. Even though I only planned on doing ebook now, print if called for, once I started hearing the calls for print I was half way there. I created a copy of my Word document so that I could modify things for the print edition, such as the new ISBN1 that goes with this different edition of the book.

In addition to the ISBN I needed an expanded cover, because the one I’d purchased originally was only the “front” of the ebook and I needed a full wrap cover. That and the purchase of an ISBN barcode so that it could be sold in actual, real bookstores.
The best part of this process is that, in working with CreateSpace to get the book ready to print, I’ll be able to review it in a different format and have an actual physical proof in hand to check over, playing the role of copy editor as well as author. Any issues I find I can correct for both physical and ebook format if necessary.

What this means is that I plan on having both an ebook and a print book ready for publication on May 15th.

  1. You can allow KDP or CreateSpace to provide you with an ISBN but I decided to purchase and manage my own. You get them from Bowker Identifier Services and the cost is significantly cheaper when you buy in bulk. They will happily sell you everything (and more) that you could need for self-publishing your book. 

The Irons in the Fire


I have a number of writing projects on going right now and it is a learning process to discover just how to keep them all moving forward. These projects are in various stages and I’m trying to learn how it will work for me to keep moving back and forth between them, to keep work up on all of them.

The most noticeable one so far is the one I’m about to publish. Self-publish (he says, self-consciously). I think it is a great story, I think I have some really interesting characters and concepts, and I’m glad it is getting out into the world. I wish it would have been through the traditional process for one very big reason.

There is a lot of work that goes into putting a novel into print!

Cover design. Interior design. Editing and proofing. Getting the paperwork done so that I can sell it. Creating the site on Amazon and then uploading the book to it (there is so much that I don’t know about that process that I should add “Learn about Amazon” to the list). But by May, the bulk of work on that one is done and it is all over but the shouting. 1

Then I have the book Harmony that is in the first re-write. The bulk of the writing work has been done, now it is editing and revising. I need to make sure there is a story there that is worth reading. 2 I haven’t opened it in nearly 3 months and so will do a re-read starting next week. Then read it again, this time with notes. Then chopping, hacking, squeezing, and the blood, dear god all the blood! 3

Finally, I’m continuing with the research of the “Book Hunters” historical mystery. The things that I don’t know about Provence in the early 15th century could fill several books. Do fill. And I’m trying to find them, and read them, now. Information, thoughts, notes, copies are being collected and at some point the real work of the outline will happen. [^4] I’m hoping that I’ll have that first draft created during NaNoWriMo this year.

I’m actually doing pretty good at keeping all of these moving. Harmony is about to come out of cold storage at the time that Moonhart as about to be completed. I’m not sure if I have three novels at a time in me. I have my day job and my paid writing job of my Union’s newsletter. Oh, and a social life. It should be an interesting summer.

  1. And by “shouting” I mean social media promotion, or as I like to think of it, “shouting in to the void.” 
  2. It was totally worth writing, even if I don’t ever offer it for sale. But it may be of no interest to anyone but myself. This next stage is going to be about me deciding if as anything but a very long writing exercise. 
  3. Figuratively speaking. I’ve rarely actually bled during a rewrite. 

I’m Not Insecure! S/He’s Not Safe!


I’ve been following Polyamory Weekly for years now, pretty much since the podcast first began, more than a decade ago. But just because I love Cunning Minx and the resources that she provides, that doesn’t mean I always agree with her or her co-hosts.

In her 507th episode, How do I get control of my fears? she and co-host Kevin were discussing a letter from listener “Lost and Confused.” Lost and Confused asked how to get control of her fears and insecurities so she can feel more comfortable in poly situations.

From what I recall of the episode1, the letter writer presented a situation where she and her hubby were in the beginning stages of poly. She had asked him to limit his sexual encounters with his new sweetie, to not engage in PiV (penis in vagina) sex. He agreed to those stipulations.

And then he violated that agreement.

Okay, “just a little bit” (what does that even mean?). We’re told that he then stopped what he was doing with his sweetie and went to talk to his wife about it all.

To be fair, I agreed with about 80-85% of what Minx and Kevin suggested. So please, go to the link and you can read those suggestions for yourself. But there is one element of this that Minx got wrong — and consistently gets wrong — that I felt strongly enough about to write my own blog post about it.

Both Minx and Kevin call the letter writer “insecure” and ask rhetorically why she is trying to control her husband’s sexual interactions. “What’s the big deal?”

Holy crap, where to start?

How about the fact that she’s not “insecure.” Her husband has just shown to her that he is not willing to keep to his agreements. She is actually, justifiably, INSECURE because he’s proven to her that she should not feel secure in his promises.

Our letter writer is just getting started in poly. She’s had however-many-years of learning the monogamy rules and how life works on the relationship escalator. She honestly doesn’t know how she is going to feel, how she’s going to react, to a polyamorous situation because it is all new to her. So she asks her husband to take his sexual relationship with another woman slowly. Give them all — but maybe mostly her —  time to acclimate to the changed reality. Minx and Kevin both — rightly — call what she’s going through “experience shock.” Yes! And she tried to minimize the experience shock by setting some boundaries.

  • A boundary which her husband agreed to
  • A boundary which her husband then violated. Twice.

Would it help to call them “expectations” instead of boundaries? No. Not at all. Because in either case: she asked. He agreed. He did what he had agreed not to do.

In the long run, it really isn’t about the sex. People who have been poly a long time may not even think to create the sort of stipulation that would limit what our sweeties do sexually with their sweeties. But in this, an early test of how the two of them will do poly together, she learned that he isn’t willing or able to abide by decisions he’s agreed to. Her feelings of uncertainty, fear, unease are all perfectly justified. Not only that, they are smart feelings to have. Poly relationships rely on trust as much as communication and the husband in this case has proven himself untrustworthy.

Of course, this can be overcome. These are growing pains. But they are NOT her growing pains. He has to learn how important it is to abide by his agreements. Yes, she has to learn how unimportant it is where his dick (consensually) goes. But to dismiss her rightful feelings of unease over his failures does neither of them good service. The husband has to abide his agreements (as does she, of course). The letter writer needs to learn she can trust that he will (and that she, in turn, will keep to her agreements).

The biggest problem is that I hear this dismissive attitude ALL THE TIME. “Oh, you’re just being insecure” is a phrase that is flung about as if it is an irrefutable argument, a taunt to shut down discussion, to shame the person feeling uncertain, leaving the person who is being an unsafe partner free of scrutiny. The reality is, the lack of feeling secure is because they know that they don’t get to ask for what they want and to have that request respected. Minx and Kevin were right to discuss the ways in which feelings of unwarranted insecurity can be overcome. But where they messed up was in dismissing the feelings of this letter writer as unwarranted.

  1. Minx paraphrased the letter, so it is entirely possible that the letter writer didn’t make explicit her expectations or boundaries. So the specifics may be off. But, alas, I’ve heard enough laments about ”insecurities” from hers and other podcasts that my larger point stands. 

That was fun! Book cover contest is complete


Well. That was fun! I’ve just completed a contest, hosted by 99Designs to find the cover for my novel. The process was clear, there is a lot of help information available, and while not cheap, I’m thinking I’m getting a very good cover!

I have not officially selected a winner, so if any one wants to go to the final poll and vote, please do.

I had no idea what to expect of the process. It was more expensive than I had hoped, but reasonable as far as what I expected. And the designers were all very talented and willing to work with me. Alas, too many of them thought I had even the vaguest clue as to what I was looking for and kept trying to be too literal in their offerings. I kept trying to tell them that I was not a designer and I was looking for evocative and not literal. There were some designs that got so close, and then veered off in the last iterations into something that was not going to work.

One surprise was that I do not think I had any US designers. From what I could tell, English was not the first language of any of my designers. This presented only slight problems, none that the designers weren’t willing to work through or that I didn’t need to keep in mind. I once asked for something to have a “grittier” look and the query I got back was “you mean more dirt?”

Metaphor: not always a friend.

I’m planning on using 99Designs again. I have a map that would need to be in the print copy (if I ever create a print copy) and perhaps a logo would be a good thing. But for now, I’m getting an awesome cover and my self-publishing project can continue to move forward.

In the Final Rounds!


There is a new poll up as I get further refinements of the cover designs. Slideshow of all four favorites are below. Clink on the link above or the title of this post to go to 99Designs. Please leave a comment here and/or once you’ve taken the poll. Vote on your favorite and tell  me why!

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It wasn’t a dream. It wasn’t even a nightmare. It was a call of her goddess that sends Rhia, hunter of Moonhart eknos, to leave all she knows and travel through the wilderness in hopes of rescuing her mother, taken by mysterious forces.

It was a nightmare. Dughal has been a player all of his life, freely traveling through the lowlands of Anacarra with his troupe of actors, dispensing news performing their plays from town to town. Now, all of that is changing and soon Dughal will be forced to choose.

For a new prophet is rising, and he has other plans for them both.