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The Final Step That Never Ends

Truth in Advertising: My hair is no longer this color! Over the last few months, I've written about how I came to self-publish and what I do in that process. Once your cover is great, your MS is perfect (we hope), and your formatting is set for whichever sites you plan to present on, there's just promo left to do...always...forever...eternally.  A person trying to make a living by writing has to promote. Those who aren't (like me) do as much as we choose. Writers understand that promoted books, (often books that aren't as good as yours) will sell, while unpromoted books mean that no one even knows you've got a new one out there. We begin promo long before a book is available for sale. We talk about it online. We do cover reveals. We offer samples. We try to get bloggers interested enough to feature the book. We solicit reviews. Add standing on our heads and screaming, "IT'S MY NEW BOOK!" and you have some idea. The biggest problem is that no one kno

Take a Step Back

 It occurs to me that I should have discussed why people choose traditional or self-publishing, so I'm going to take a step back and do that. When I finished my first book, there were two options for publication, traditional publishing or vanity publishing. Vanity publishing requires that an author pay for her work to be presented to the world. It's been around for centuries, and some pretty important writers started out that way, but it was definitely a no-no for "serious" writers. Traditional publishing, getting an agent, waiting for her to shop the book to publishing houses, and hoping for an offer was, at that time, the only way to get any kind of credibility. I did it that way. It took years, but the result was good. The publisher who signed me up got me reviews from prestigious places like the Historical Novel Society and Kirkus Reviews . I was thrilled that my first review in HNS (For Macbeth's Niece ), got a star, meaning the reviewer thought it rose above

Step Three to Writing a Book: Publishing

 If you decide to self-publish, there are good prospects and bad ones. It's a complicated process, though it's much simpler now than it was a few years ago. It's hard to break it down, and the learning curve is brutal at times. While I've tried to develop a schedule that covers all the necessary steps, I find myself doing what I feel like doing on a given day and neglecting things I should be doing. That's bad, but since I don't consider writing a "job," I give myself a break and do what sounds doable at the time. Here's what I work on in the months and weeks before publication. Cover Manuscript setup Publicity Corrections Ordering Let's start with the cover. The easiest thing to do is hire a cover artist, and ninety percent of experts will tell you to do that. I admit that I don't have the tools, smarts, or experience that a cover artist does, but here's the thing: they don't know the material like I do. I had a really good cover a

Step Two of Writing a Book

  In the last post, I gave hints on writing your book. Now it's time to make sure your work appears in its best form, whether you plan to self-publish or submit to an agent. However you recorded your story, at this point it has to become a computer file. There are two reasons for that: first, modern publishing requires it, and second, it makes editing a whole lot easier. You'll need to get to know your computer's editing aids, which can be frustrating but will pay off in the end. Things like FIND/REPLACE can save you hours of searching when you realize you changed the spelling of main character's name halfway through the story. When you get stuck, ask the internet. There's always a tutorial or a site where someone asked the same question you need answered. There are different ways of going about the editing process , and individuals arrange them to their liking. I do several self-edits before anyone else sees the book. Sometimes I combine a few of the edits listed

When You Want to Write a Book

 If I had a nickel for every time someone said to me, "I'd like to write"...I'd have a lot of nickels. To help those people out a little, I thought I'd do a series of posts on the topic, similar to a presentation I used to do in live settings called WRITE, EDIT, PUBLISH.  WRITING If you want to write a book, you have to find the time, energy, and perseverance to keep at it until the story is done. When you type "The End" (We actually don't do that, but the image is nice), it won't be perfect, but--at least in the world of fiction--a story needs to be finished before you can consider the next steps. Mostly, this means the BITCH principle is in effect: Butt In The Chair, Honey . Your method doesn't matter. I know authors who hand-write their first drafts, some who keyboard, some who dictate, and even one who uses some antique half-computer half-typewriting device she claims works best for her thought process. Whatever, just get your story on pa

A Messy Writing Career

 I'm usually pretty neat. I like my house in order. I keep a regular schedule. I pick up items dropped on the floor at Kohl's and rehang them so they won't get stepped on. Neat is good. But if you look at my writing career, you might think, "This woman has no sense of order at all!" I started writing historical novels, using my own name.(I used Peg instead of Peggy because there's another author with that name.) I got an agent, she found a publisher, and I was on my way...sort of. I had an idea for a paranormal mystery, and I met a publisher at a conference who liked it, so suddenly Peg Herring writes about Elizabeth I but ALSO about a detective who solves crimes from the afterlife. In the meantime, I wrote a mystery about a homeless woman. My second publishers loved that one, so now I had THREE series going. I also wrote a stand-alone mystery that I called "vintage," meaning it took place in the past but not that far back (the Vietnam era, which is

What a Month!

I was thrilled with the response to my giveaway in August, so thanks to all who requested a print book. I'm sorry if you didn't get one, but they went fast! I've been receiving emails from readers, some letting me know the book had arrived in the mail, and others letting me know the reader had finished and would be posting a review. One clever girl even put a pic of the book on Facebook, so I got some free advertising. To one and all, thank you! The process was hectic for a while, since I wanted to get the books in the mail ASAP. The people at my little post office were patient and helpful. I combed local dollar stores to get enough bubble mailers of the correct size. There was time spent, and money. Why would I do that? Writers often spend hundreds of dollars on advertising that goes out into a world of people who don't care much about their books. I chose to spend that money to send books to people who'd already noticed me, either here on the blog or by signing

Are You in Panic Mode Yet?

 It's two days until Christmas. You have someone to buy for. Maybe you forgot. Maybe that person is difficult to buy for. Maybe you feel like the trite gift card is just too...trite for this person. You're desperate. How about a book? No, it probably won't arrive before Christmas, but you could present the description and cover art, creating anticipation for that 'something nice' that will arrive later, when things have calmed down a little. Each book is a personal choice, but there are so many to choose from, so many great hours of enjoyment to come. And if it happens to be one of mine, well, you'll make another person happy. Bonus! Find all my books (and Maggie's too)  https://www.amazon.com/Peg-Herring/e/B002JK5FKY https://books2read.com/pegherring/

Book Clubs Take Note: Discussion Guide: Sister Saint, Sister Sinner

  When I sent Sister Saint, Sister Sinner to my editor, she was (as usual) helpful about pointing out areas that needed more development, parts that repeated information already given, and places where the logic  temporarily failed. At the end, she made a comment that stuck with me: "People are going to be talking about the things you deal with in this book." To me, that meant the story was destined for book clubs. Having visited a few in my years of writing, I knew that they often begin with a list of discussion topics. Now, they often don't stay focused on them, and that's okay. Sometimes it's the wine. Sometimes it's a natural progression. But discussion leaders like having questions that can get the conversation back on track when it strays too far from the story. Every person who reads a book gets something out of it that no one else does. I had the experience once of visiting a book group where one reader didn't like the book and kept bringing up her