Friday, January 18, 2013

Taking the Plunge into Self-Publishing by Jannine Gallant

A new year - a new adventure for me. After publishing 7 books with small presses, I'm taking the plunge (though it feels more like a free fall) into self-publishing. I've been plugging along, writing, publishing, and promoting - all with limited success. I say limited because the sales aren't there. But, I've had great reviews. The people who've actually read my books, liked them. So, the goal is to get my books into the hands of more readers. Maybe the answer lies in indie publishing.

Don't think I'm jumping in with both feet without doing a little research first. I'm a cautious soul. When it first entered my head that self-publishing might me the next path to follow in my career as a writer, I looked at who and what was selling in that particular market. I came up with what I think are a few keys to success.

Length - Small publishers who focus on e-book sales are asking for shorter books, 25,000 to 45,000 words. Maybe people just don't have time to read long books. Maybe something about holding an e-reader instead of a paperback makes this length work. Whatever the reason, sales seem to be better for shorter novels.

Sub-Genre - Has to be romance, but what type? Contemporary, Paranormal, Erotica. These genres seem to sell best. Erotica - I can't write it. I feel like a voyeur every time I write an intimate scene. Not going to happen, people! Paranormal - okay, maybe I can work with this one. I'm never going to write about werewolves (just not my thing) but I love ghost stories. Do ghosts count as paranormal? I hope so! Contemporary - lots of layers to this category. I'd probably be better off writing about a billionaire, but they just don't interest me. Suspense and action does.

Series - People love reading series. They want to know what happens to the supporting characters in a story. As I generally adore my supporting characters, I'm totally on board with this.

Price Point - Here's where the indie part comes in. Indie authors set their own price. Indie authors have the option of using "free" to promote. Indie authors can change it up when something isn't working. I like having a greater degree of control. The downside is, you get to pay for formatting, covers, and editing or learn how to do it yourself.

So, with all this in mind, I designed a project with a plan to self-publish. My premise - three twelve-year-old girls witness a murder and make a pact. Seventeen years later, each girl (now a grown woman) gets her own story. 30,000 words was my target length for each story. All include sexy heroes and lots of suspense. One has a ghost. The setting is a fictional town in the Sierra Nevada mountains called Ravenswood.

We'll Never Tell - Sam's story. The first book incorporates the witnessing of the murder as the prologue. When the woman's body is discovered seventeen years later, the threats begin. Sam and Ethan must uncover the murderer's identity before he shuts her up for good.

She'll Never Rest - Darby's story. Returning home to Ravenswood to work on a genealogy project for Logan's grandfather, Darby is determined to find peace for a restless ghost. But someone wants to make sure the circumstances remain hidden.

He'll Never Know - When Juliette falls for Shane, the man remodeling her new home, she has no intention of telling him all her secrets. While she struggles to walk a fine line between past disappointments and future dreams, a psycho with an agenda of his own is watching.

Currently, the third book is written past the half-way mark. Yea, me! Time to plan some important details. Covers and a name for the series. I NEED HELP! My working title is The Ravenswood Chronicles. My tag line: What happens when the past comes back to haunt you? I want something attention grabbing, and I don't know if this is it. Any better ideas for a series title? Covers - I want them consistent, and I want them to help sell my books. These stories take place in September, October/Halloween, and November/December respectively. They all have an outdoorsy atmosphere, but it's cold. My heroes aren't running around bare-chested in the mountains in freezing temperatures because they aren't stupid. LOL But should they be depicted that way on the covers? These are suspense stories - should I use that in the covers or go for sex-appeal? I'd love some advice.

Buy links for all my books can be found on my Website, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Thanks for stopping by!

38 comments:

Margo Hoornstra said...

Hmmmmm. Love the tag line. As a current fan of the series, I can confirm that you are well on your way. Covers? Shoulders and chests in shirts or jackets are okay too. Also love the free fall line. You can do this!

Kathy Otten said...

I'm curious about the whole indie thing if one doesn't write erotica. I don't have the cash to spend for editing, cover etc. or other start-up expenses, so I'm currently sticking to small press publishers. I would like to mention though, that for me, (and I write short stories, novellas and novels), my best seller is my first 95,000 wd. novel. Good luck with your series! :)

Liz Flaherty said...

This sounds great to me. I love the premise! Tag line--I'm terrible at this kind of thing, but I keep thinking "Three little girls..." and something from there.

Good luck with your new "plunge."

Brenda Whiteside said...

As someone who is not brave enough to do the Indie thing, I'm excited to watch your progress. Sounds like you really have it nailed, Jannine. It's torture for me to come up with taglines, etc so I'm impressed with what you have.

Sandra Dailey said...

Jannine, I love the idea, the story lines, the titles, the tag line. The only thing I'm not crazy about is the series name. You did ask for honesty, right? I'm hung-up on the word Chronicles. It makes me think I'm getting the view of a single person in all three books. I'd probably use something like, The Ravenswood Mystery, but I could be wrong. And let me say, ghost stories are my favorites.
I admire you for taking this brave step. I think you're ready. You've always written high-quality work. The only complaint I have about many indie published books is the editing. I know you'll find a way to get that done right. My mother goes over my work twice with a fine tooth comb before my editor ever sees it.
Good luck with this, Jannine. I'll be one of your first readers.

Jerri Hines said...

So excited for you. Good luck!

Lynda Bailey said...

Jannine~

How very exciting for you! This sounds like an awesome series.

For covers, I use The Killion Group. They do a wonderful job for not that much money. If you're interested, email me for their contact info.

Major congrats on this next step in your publishing career!

Jannine Gallant said...

Margo - so sexy guys (even if they are wearing shirts LOL) gets your vote?

Jannine Gallant said...

Kathy - Interesting that your best seller is long. I've written 4 shorts and only one has done fairly well. It's cowboy with a hot hero on the cover. It's done much better than my 3 long books. As for cost, I don't have the money, either. But there are some options out there that don't cost a fortune. Thanks for stopping by.

Jannine Gallant said...

Liz, glad you like the sound of the series. I'm okay with my tag line. It's the series name that's giving me a headache!

Jannine Gallant said...

Brenda, I've been a complete chicken about this, too. But I think it's time...

Jannine Gallant said...

Sandra, you've nailed the problem. The series name is my nemesis! The Ravenswood Mysteries is better than Chronicles. I wish I could come up with something really exciting, but I'm floundering here.

Jannine Gallant said...

Thanks, Jerri! You've been an inspiration with your indie publishing.

Jannine Gallant said...

Lynda, thanks for the cover tip! I'll check them out.

cerianhebert.com said...

Great post! Good luck on your journey into self publishing. I began that journey last year and am so glad I did!

Jannine Gallant said...

Cerian, good to hear it's working for you! Thanks for visiting.

Stacy D. Holmes said...

Good for you Jannine!

What about Shadows of Ravenswood or Secrets of Ravenswood

I know you'll find it and the stories sound intriguing so you'll do great!

Alison Henderson said...

Congratulations on your decision, Jannine! I think our brains are operating on the same wave length. Since this is my year to dive into indie publishing, too, and I've been considering the same issues, we should put our heads together. Contact me off-loop, and we can chat about ways to help each other.

Jannine Gallant said...

Stacey, I LOVE "The Secrets of Ravenswood" - much better than anything else I came up with. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

Jannine Gallant said...

Alison - I'll definitely be in touch. I'm all for working with other authors for our mutual benefit!

Regina Duke said...

Hi, Jannine! You go, girl!

How about: "Romance can be haunting"...? You want these to appeal to romance readers, correct? I know from personal experience that they may shy away from the "Mystery" or even "Chronicle" in your series title.

A big yes on the sexy guy on the cover. I have a lovely book right now that needs a new cover. I'm thinking bare-chested cowboy... LOL

Jannine Gallant said...

Another vote for sexy guys - I'm seeing a trend. LOL And bare-chested cowboys are a sure winner!

L VanHorn said...

This sounds like a really interesting story. I love that it's told from three points of view. Best of luck on your plunge into self-publishing. I'm confident you'll do fantastic.

Jannine Gallant said...

Thanks, L VanHorn! The series is 3 separate novellas, but at some point I'd like to put them into 1 paperback anthology.

Kathryn Knight said...

Good post & best of luck! All my romances are also ghost stories and they fall under paranormal - Faery Rose at TWRP. So yes, ghosts qualify as paranormal! The series sounds good.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Okay. I'm back again. While at the grocery store I came up with The Secrets of Ravenswood The Ravenswood Secrets. Whichever. Must have been a good idea, because I see someone beat me to it. And you, Jannine, actually liked it!

Melissa Fox said...

Loved the post and the thought and research you've done to make your decision. So many choices out there, and so many can be "right" not only for us an an author, but for each story. I've been hearing different things about covers. On one hand, people like not having naked men on display when reading in public, the more stylish ones are better, but then I hear that books with sexy bare chests and abdomens are selling like hotcakes, so... As with anything these days, who knows? Thanks!

Jannine Gallant said...

Kathryn, I've always loved ghost stories. My middle story in the trilogy was my first attempt at writing one, though. It was a blast! Thanks for visiting today.

Jannine Gallant said...

Ha, Margo, must be good if you and Stacy both came up with it!

Jannine Gallant said...

Melissa, I've always been anti-bare chests as a matter of principle - until I was given a cover with a guy in a tank top. Not quite bare, but very hot. Couldn't believe how many people loved it. Now I'm a fan of whatever sells books!

Judy Nickles/Gwyneth Greer said...

Hi, Jannine!
I'm also getting ready to take the indie plunge with a series after 5 books with small presses--decent reviews, sales not so much. Let me know when you launch, and you're welcome to promo time on my blog. I don't get a lot of comments, but the stats show really good page views. You can get in touch with me judy@judynickles.com

Jannine Gallant said...

Thanks so much, Judy. I'll do that. I'm hoping to have the first one ready to go by the end of February. My plan is to complete all three books then release them each one month apart.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Jannine,
I love the premise of your books. Your blurbs totally intrigued me. I'd definitely buy them!

I know what you mean about disappointing sales. This year I'm writing my first series, but I'm doing it with a small publisher. I'm hoping having a series will be good for sales.

Whatever you do, get great covers!
Jana

Mariposa Cruz said...

Jannine,
Congrats for taking the plunge. I'm thrilled for you. My advice on the cover is to keep it sexy and simple, it shows up better. If you'd like to participate in the Writer's Round Table for Feb/March/April-let me know.

Jannine Gallant said...

Jana, thanks so much. Glad my mini-blurbs (that I spent about two minutes each composing) got your attention. LOL Best of luck with your new series.

Jannine Gallant said...

Mariposa, sexy and simple sounds like a great combo. I tend to want complex ideas, and they've been kept in line by the artists who know more than me! LOL

VK Lynch-Doran said...

J--
so sorry it took me so long to get to your blog. Grandchildren got the better of me this week. [don't you dare snicker, Margo!]. First, I love the premise of your series. Kind of like a reunion, sorta. I also like the suspense/danger angle because those are the genre of books I like. When you're ready to sell, please keep me on your list to notify because I'll be there!
kathy

Jannine Gallant said...

Kathy, thanks for stopping by. It does have that reunion flavor of old friends and a great support system between them. They need it when the trouble starts! LOL I'll keep you in the loop.