Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Tuesday morning glance at the past…

This morning I’m taking a look back at how things have changed in the self publishing world since I started in 2012. It’s amazing how it fluctuates. So many main stream traditionally published authors have gone back to self publishing and are enjoying the freedom that it provides.

Self publishing has come into it’s own in the last three years or at least in my opinion. There are more sites to place your books and they are more widely accepted. When I first put my books on Smashwords.com the distributors list was a lot shorter and now you can have your books spread out far and wide. Also, several traditional publishers are jumping on the bandwagon and looking at it differently.

The amount of self published books is phenomenal and the amount of best selling self published books has rose along with it. Now a self published book can actually go to the top without the hand of an agent or big publisher pushing it. Traditional publishing has it’s good points too. But for some of us starting out or maybe that have already been there, we’re venturing out and testing the waters first.

So, what’s your opinion on the growth of self publishing? Are you traditionally published or self published? Maybe you’re both…

As always, great writing and May God Bless You…


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Good or bad, it’s your choice…

When you sat down to write your first manuscript you made the choice to do that. You decided that it was time to put your thoughts on paper and it was the right choice for you at that moment. But what then? Would you decide to publish it? How would you do that? Would you go traditional or self publish? Decisions, Decisions!

It’s a critical choice in any writer’s mind. I talked to a writer not too long ago that has written several complete manuscripts but she was confused as to what road to take. She actually contacted me with the hopes of getting a little more insight into how I chose the path I did. As I told her it’s really as simple as making a list and figuring out what’s best for you. 

For me, I had other options than self publishing, but it was a good fit for me, maybe not for others. After I had self published a couple of books I received “THE CALL” that all authors love to receive. It was a rather large publishing house that I’d heard of and actually had several books in my library published through them. The gentleman was nice and had knowledge of my books and style of writing. He’d actually read one of them and was interested in putting it under their label. Of course my heart did a quick pitter patter, but then I started asking questions. I’m a very analytical person, so I had questions. What are you planning to do for my book that I don’t already do? What’s the royalty percentage? Will I lose my rights?  Turns out I was better off where I was at. The royalties were 1/2 of what I was already making and yes I had to sign my rights to my work over to them and then the promotional package they offered for a nice little sum was exactly what I was already doing on my own for free. I kindly thanked him and said I’d keep his number. He hounded me for a couple of months with different ‘offers’, but I stayed true to my decision. 

Here’s a couple of things that you need to decide on before you make the choice:

1: Do you have the discipline to do the marketing and social media presence that’s needed to keep your name available?

2: What about the business end of publishing? Can you handle all the ins and outs of the publishing business? Self Publishing is a business and it can take some time to put things together.

3: What type of royalties are you looking at? If higher royalties are needed, then self publishing my be the route to go, but be aware of the needs of self publishing.

4: You’re in charge of getting a cover made, either you design it or you hire someone to do it. Remember this is the first thing someone will see and first impressions are valuable.

5: Editing is still a must even with self publishing. I know that we all think our work is great, but it needs to be edited by someone other than your best friend. Editing is important.

Of course I could go on and on, but this is a couple of things I told the author. She sat for a moment thinking and then she told me that this had helped her start the decision process. 

Either way you go, it’s your choice. If you send your manuscript to a traditional publisher, be patient. If they like what they see it’ll happen. Take their advice and use it. If you choose self publishing, please take it seriously. You are in the hot seat if you choose this route. Either way you go, it’s your choice. You’re in charge of this decision. 

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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3 Ways Indie Authors Can Improve Self Publishing

As you know I’m a self published author. When I decided to publish my manuscripts I studied the market. I’m an Accountant and I have a strong analytical background so that pushed me to make a study into this. I looked into both the traditional market and the self publishing market. One thing I realized was that more and more traditionally published authors are going to the self publishing market. But let me tell you this, in order to do it right you’ve got to keep up the traditional publishing standards strictly enforced.

Here are 3 of the ways Authors can improve Self Publishing:

1: Editing: This is a very important part of publishing and this is where several self published authors fail at. It’s also part of why some people will not pick up a self published book because they’ve been burned before. You’ve got to read your manuscript and read it again. Also you need to either get Beta Readers or someone that will be critical and unbiased to read your work. When you read your manuscript pull yourself away. Read it as though you’re a reader and are you inspired to read it again. If it falls flat, then how can you expect anyone else to get into. Have you corrected all the spelling errors, grammatical errors, and just plain out story line disasters?

2: Covers: I can’t stress this enough. Covers can sell even a badly written book. This is the first thing that a reader sees. This is the first line of selling rank. If you don’t spend money on anything else, please spend a little on this. There are so many talented cover designers out there. I’ve been so fortunate to have a awesome cover designer. I’ve seen some really cool covers and then some really horrible attempts. Your cover needs to tell something about what’s inside. It need to pull the reader in. I’ve purchased so many books just from the cover.

3: Book Blurbs: I stress about this with all my books. This is the hardest part of writing to me, no kidding. Make sure you don’t give away too much in the blurb. Too many authors tell the story on the back of the book. This is not good. Be very descriptive and use complimentary words that will draw in the reader. I’ve done a study on this with my very own books. I put out a blurb on a couple of my books that I was somewhat happy with, but I noticed a lag in sales. Then I sat down and poured over the blurbs changing some of the key words and adding some small elements. This helped the sales dramatically. Try it and see if your sales go up.

It’s hard to be an author, period! When I say I’m an author, people come back with yeah, I could write a book. Well, yeah, anyone can write a book, but can they write a book that will go anywhere? Do they have the drive to publish that book and do all the marketing? Being an author is not as easy as it looks and being self published is brutal at times.

But let me tell you the rewards far outweigh the difficulties. The first time a fan comes up to you at the grocery store and says, “Oh my goodness you’re that author.” The first time this happened to me I was so embarassed and excited at the same time. When you get emails from fans excited about your work it makes you smile all day. I’ve gained so many new friends from all over the world that some days I’m just amazed. Yes it’s a lot of work, but it’s so worth it. 

Have I thought about traditionally publishing? Yes. I sent Ghost Lover to a traditional publisher and never heard a word. Then I decided to self publish it and it was all uphill from there. It was my introduction into the publishing world and the response to that book has been really great. I’ve had a couple of big publishers call me about coming on board with them, but they couldn’t offer my anything different from what I do now, so not now. I do have a work in progress at the moment that it’s been in my heart to send to a publisher that I contribute to as a blogger. We’ll see how that goes. 

So, my advice to you is to go for it, but be prepared to do it right. This is your name you’re putting out there, so make it shine. If you need any help with it, I’m in partnership with my editor/cover designer in a publishing service, Horseshoe Publishing. We’ll help you iron out those wrinkles and make your work shine like a new penny.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Monday Morning Writing

It’s Monday morning and the kids should be going back to school today, but due to the extremely cold weather and threat of snow they will not be going back until Wednesday. I’ve moved my office into my dining room since it’s so cold. My office is hard to heat sometimes so it’s just easier to work where it’s warm.

I do hope all my US friends are staying warm and safe in this cold and snow snap. We didn’t get any snow here south of Atlanta, but North Georgia got a little bit. It’s just cold and windy.

As for my writing I’m first working on balancing some year end accounts and then back to the writing. I hope to have Finding the Right Time completed with the second edit tonight. The 2nd installment in three of my series are well on their way, but the holidays got in the way. Now that it’s somewhat back to normal I hope to get in some quality writing time. I sat last night with my hands poised over the keys but nothing came through my fingers. Writer’s block is not a fun thing when you have some time to write and nothing comes through.

Of course this morning my mind is on overload with stories, but alas my accounting work needs to be done first. It does help pay the bills and as many writers know, the writing doesn’t do that in most cases. I’m playing with the idea of sending Finding The Right Time to a publisher, but still not sure. I’ve always self published and noticed many big writers are going back to self publishing. It just makes me wonder if that’s the right course. I’ll have to do a list of pros and cons.

Oh well, this isn’t getting this account balanced. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have power and can post an update on Finding The Right Time.

If you get a chance go over to Amazon and check out my writer friend from Georgia, V. Steele. She’d just released the 2nd book in her My Prodigy Trilogy. I usually don’t read this kind of romance, well I do read vampire books, but hers are a little racey but well written. She just laughs at me. I guess I love her work because she uses my publishing company for editing and covers. My brilliant and talented cover designer has outdone herself lately with V’s covers and the one for Finding The Right Time. 

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Self Publishing?

Have you written a book? Are you unsure what the next step is? Well, for me it was a choice to self publish. I really struggled with this decision at first. Then I started to research all the points of self publishing versus traditional publishing. What I found was interesting and scary at the same time.

I’m going to list the good points of self publishing and then some bad points:

Good Points:

1. You the writer are in control. You make the decisions.

2. Royalties. This is a big selling point. You claim a good chunk of the royalties. I researched several sites for both types or publishing and it was a no brainer on the self publishing royalty sides. 

3. You decide what’s kept in your book after editing. You get to keep your story as it is. A lot of times in traditional publishing I’ve heard authors talk of having to totally change the vibe of their hard work to suit the agent or publisher. You’ve worked really hard to get your story written, you need to keep that story alive. Of course the editing needs to be done, but the vibe should stay as you see it in your mind.

4. You get to design the cover or put in your two cents on what that cover looks like. As for me I always have a vision of what the cover needs to be like.

5. You get to keep the rights to your work. It’s yours.

 

Some bad points:

1. You are in charge of getting people to edit your book and review it. Editing is a very important part and sometimes the hardest thing to do. But it is essential to the success of your book. If your book is full of spelling and grammar errors then more than likely the reader will not read your next book.

2. Advertising. This is sometimes the authors nemesis, but guess what, even with traditional publishers you have to do this too. 

3. Cover design. You will see this on both sides of the spectrum of good and bad points. Sometimes you’d just like to turn this over to someone else and not deal with it.

4. You can’t get your foot in some book stores as a self publisher. 

5. Self publishers can be frowned upon by some. It’s sad but true. Why should we be looked down on? We’ve followed our dreams of being writers and that should be enough for some people, but we have to look at reality. There are some self published books out there that make self publishing look shabby. 

 

These are only a couple of points both ways. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against traditional publishing. This is just how I weighed the options for myself. You may have a different view and that’s your right. 

I’ve been asked before if I was approached by a publisher. Yes, I’ve had the excitement of being approached by two publishers. One was a large, well known publisher and the other was a fairly well known small publisher. The small publisher wanted my to pay them for the honor of publishing. Well of course I laughed and respectfully declined. If they wanted me to write for them it wouldn’t be pay us first and then we’ll publish you. I don’t think so. The large well known publisher didn’t want any money. They wanted me to write for them. The only thing was, when I asked them what they’d do for my book as far as advertising and distribution, well let’s just say it made me frown. I was already doing everything they were going to do and in some areas I took the bar a little higher. Also the royalties were going to be cut over 1/2 from what I already get and I’d still be doing the same thing. So why not stay where I’m at for now.

Yep, I said for now. I’d love to get a traditional publisher to take one of my books or maybe more. But it will have to feel like the right thing to do at the time. As a writer I treat each book like a special child and I don’t want just anybody taking my child to the park. I will have to check out that publisher and weigh the options.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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Weighing the options…

Ok, so most of you are writers and have dealt with the issue I’m going to discuss, but those that haven’t here goes. This all started back in May of last year when I decided to publish the manuscripts I’d worked on for many, many years. I thought, hey, why not, their not making money sitting in a box gathering dust and fading ink. 

It all started so simple, I published on Amazon and went through the KDP Select program. Don’t know if you’ve tried that, but I was glad when my 3 month sentence was up. Amazon is great, I just didn’t care to have all my eggs in one basket so to speak. I then started publishing other books and gathering information on where I could self publish. 

Then I started the fun task of putting my name out there on any and all social media mediums. Boy was that a hoot. Me, country girl, simple accountant on Twitter, LinkedIn, and finally, yes can I say it, the dreaded Facebook page. Funny how publishing a book or six can change your life. 🙂

Well, the calls started coming in about October from different publishing companies. At first I’m thinking yeah, someone noticed me. Then I realized they weren’t in it for me, but for them. Well not all of them, but you get the picture. They were praising my work and saying we need you to publish under our name. Well, being an accountant, my analytical brain kicked it, “What’s the catch?” They usually laugh and say ‘Oh there’s no catch’. Funny how 2 to 3 thousand dollars is no catch to them, but to me that’s a whopper. They usually wanted to charge thousands of dollars to do the same exact thing I’ve been doing for a lot less and most of the times free. Not happening.

I then talked to some smaller publishers that said they would just take a cut of the royalties. Now we’re talking my language. But, who do you go with. I’ve researched the ones that have called me and some of the one’s other authors I know used. It’s a hard decision. Do I give my baby to just anybody? Will they protect it and not change it to where I don’t even recognize my own work? What now?

For me the decision is to put one of my works with a publisher and see how it goes. I don’t know if it will go well or not, but we will see. I will keep you guys updated on the progress and the ups and downs of traditional publishing vs. self publishing. Wish me luck…

As always good writing and May God Bless you…