Sunday, June 30, 2013

Home Surgery & Self-Publishing

I was doing a bit of home surgery last night when it dawned on me that I really am a do-it-yourselfer*.  I've had 3 major surgical procedures in my life and they've all been conducted by professionals but every minor surgery has been an "at home" deal.  I've never had an infection or complication from minor home surgery either. And the scar from my home stitches is tiny...and hidden by my hair.
I like being able to do things for myself.  It’s satisfying to cut my own hair, make my own household cleaners, grow my own herbs and learn new self-sufficiency skills whenever an opportunity presents itself. 
I've given all sorts of rational answers when people have asked me why I chose self-publishing.   All of those answers are true but at the core of my decision is something less rational.  Self-sufficiency is intrinsic to my personality.  I'm an Alaskan.  I grew up as a dock urchin and a bush kid.  Independence and self-sufficiency are  values deeply ingrained in my psyche and that’s the real reason that I self-published Magic All Around.  That’s also the reason I designed my own book covers and bookmarks and it’s the reason that I’m handling all of my own marketing and promotion.
Speaking of marketing and promotion, I’m holding two give-aways for autographed copies of Magic All Around this week!  My GoodReads give-away will be held July 3-5 and my Twitter give-away will be held on July 3rd.  In case you’re wondering how I might arrange the Twitter give-away, here are the details!
At 12:01am (Alaska Time, of course!) Wednesday, July 3rd I will tweet about #MagicAllAround and the give-away.  Everyone who retweets THAT TWEET (and any others like it that I might send out) during the 24 hour period from midnight to midnight will have his/her name placed in my give-away jar.  Then, very early in the morning on Thursday, July 4th (in other words, whenever the Juneau fireworks get over…usually around 12:40a.m.) I will pull two slips of paper out of the give-away jar and offer them, simultaneously, to my dog Jeb* (he loves paper).  Whichever one Jeb chooses WILL RECEIVE THE AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF MAGIC ALL AROUND.  I’ll tweet an @ message to the give-away winner and make  shipping arrangements on the 5th.

* I’m a DYI kinda gal except when I can arrange for my dog Jeb to do the work!

BTW, if you are interested in purchasing a copy of Magic All Around, it's available in digital and paperback formats!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Self-Pub Authors & The End Of The World

I’m going to wade into a discussion that has been both politely and impolitely debated for several years before I even became aware of the self-publishing gold rush.  In essence, the issue under debate is; are self-published authors bringing about the downfall of civilization?  On one side, many prominent folks in the writing and publishing industries complain that self-published authors are producing poorly written, barely edited garbage that is frequently cheap or free in digital format and so flooding the market, turning readers away from reading as a pastime and undermining the demand for the more polished, more expensive and more traditional book.
Okay, take a little break here and feel free to either weep or laugh, depending on your personal view of the situation.

Now then, the other side of the argument is this; self-published authors are writing and self-publishing books across the quality spectrum from garbage that is gibberish, computer generated, stolen or not representative of what it is advertised to be, all the way to books that are the classics of tomorrow and will be read in classrooms the world over.  Moreover, these same authors are providing a distinctly different product/experience combination to buyers than mainstream publishing, just as the food sold at a Farmer’s Market is a much different product/experience than that sold in a chain grocery store. 
My take on the entire debate is three-fold:

1-    No matter how many of us grow tomatoes, keep laying hens or make blueberry jam, we’re never going to put the big grocery stores out of business.  It’s possible that we’ll cause enough change in the market demand that those big stores will have to adapt…just a little…but they’re not in danger of extinction.

2-    Everyone wants to be heard and listened to.  When we sit around the campfire telling stories, everyone wants to take a turn and we give everyone a turn.  So a few folks tell stories that don’t make sense to us or don’t even sound like stories, so what?  Chances are, they make sense to someone and even if it’s just the person telling the story, that’s important.

3-    You know what?  There are a lot of traditionally published and self-published books out there that hold no appeal to me.  I think they’re poorly written and/or poorly edited and/or about subject matter that doesn’t interest me.  So what?  It interests other folks.  There are several self-published authors who write books that I think are sort of shabbily written and lazily edited, but they have large and enthusiastic followings.  That’s great and my enthusiastic congratulations to these authors!  There are lots of things in life that don’t have to be perfect or perfectly polished to be appreciated.  Furthermore, there are lots of readers who want to read stories written by authors who are approachable and real; authors who will chat with them on social media and inspire them to follow their own creative pursuits and dreams.  Readers want human connection and they want real world role-models; self-published authors provide this.  Rich, famous, celebrity authors do not.
What do you think?  I hope you’ll comment and let me know.

 Ummm…also…I’m a self-published author.  Feel free to check out my fantasy novel.  If you love magic, labyrinths, Alaska or dogs, you’ll get a kick out Magic All Around.  Here's what it looks like in digital format.  

Would you like to read Magic All Around in paperback?  I am bubbling over with delight to announce that it is now AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK!  Go ahead, buy a copy.  Dog-ear it.  Let the dog drool on it.  In fact, fall asleep on it and drool a bit yourself.  Leave cookie crumbs between the pages, toss it in your purse or backpack and read it in public!  Then buy more copies because you decide it makes a great gift!

Monday, June 17, 2013

All That Gleams Is Not Gold

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Despite this cautionary adage, we do judge books by their covers just as we judge people by their appearances.
First impressions are powerful and, while not always accurate, they can provide us with vast amounts of important, and valid, information.  Upon first meeting you, I’ll notice your proximity, how you angle your body or face towards me, I’ll notice your posture, eye contact, expression and gestures.  Without even being aware of it, I’ll notice your micro-expressions.  I’d be a fool to disregard all of this information!  Taken together with input from my ears, nose and sense of touch (perhaps we’ll shake hands or hug) I will make complex judgments about your integrity, likelihood of behaving in a predatory fashion and general social compatibility.  Most of us wear our story on our cover.  The book and the cover are all one unit; no more separate than body and mind.  Even when we deliberately change our cover, by learning about and using body language cues, we are changing our interior; our story.
Clothing and grooming, however, are a different matter.  Anyone can change clothes, hairstyle and grooming.  Judging a book by the glossiness of its cover really is a mistake.  How many great books have you read that had horrid covers?  I’ve read many.  In fact, some of the books I’ve read didn’t have covers (gasp) and some were given to me second hand with homemade covers attached to battered copies of beloved books.  On the other hand, how many books have broken your heart because the beautiful cover that you’d fallen in love with sheltered a piece of drek?  If you’re like me, you’ve grown wiser about this over the years.  A gorgeous cover might make me pick up a book but I always try a sample or three before I actually purchase it.
As a human, I try not to make many assumptions about you based on your clothing and grooming, although, I confess I’m wary if you seem particularly fixated upon your own gleaming image.
As an indie author, creating my own book covers, I strive to have my cover images reflect the content.  I want my book cover to tell you as much about my story as the way you hold your arms tells me about you.  Glossy, embossed and sparkling covers are fun, but I propose that they only sell books to young and uninitiated readers.  What attracts a seasoned reader to a book cover?  What attracts you to a book cover?
Before we part, today, I’d like to introduce you to Rudi.
Rudi is 6 ½ months old and she needs hip surgery.  Her mom, Dianna, is a good pal of mine and was the first person to buy a book from me.  Please help Rudi and Dianna raise funds for surgery by donating or helping to pass the word along.  Thank you!
I hope your day is filled with perfect moments!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mastering New Skills

It’s been another busy week around here and the highlights include;

·        Me stumbling and bumbling about and finally starting to get the hang of G+

·        More stumbling until I sorted out how to import both Magic All Around and Head Buckets & Hashtags to Goodreads (the former already has its first Goodreads review!)

·        Receiving an invitation to a live interview on KTOO, Juneau’s local public radio station! 

There’s a thrill that comes along with mastering a new skill that’s unlike any other heart-pounding, butterflies in the stomach kind of experience.  Mastery of new skills is exciting but typically has a longer buzz than other exhilarating experiences because it changes our thinking.  Mastery builds self-efficacy, which is a lot like self-esteem but more focused on our sense of being able to accomplish things and overcome obstacles.

For me, mastering challenging new tasks makes me straighten my shoulders and puts a grin on my face as wide as Gastineau Channel!  It also leads to a series of perfect moments, which you know I am fond of collecting.

Some of you have been asking for the link to listen to my radio interview live.  Thank you for being so enthusiastic and supportive!  Yes, I’m a touch nervous but I do love public speaking and microphones (visualize me grinning even more here!) and I expect this will be a blast!  I’ll be on a program called A Juneau Afternoon and interviewed sometime shortly after 3:30pm Alaska time (7:30pm Eastern time)  If you don’t have a chance to listen to it live, please don’t worry.  I’ve requested a digital copy of the interview and will make sure that anyone who wants a chance to listen to it, can do so at leisure.

On that note, I’m going to zip off to continue planning and rehearsing my sound bites.  I’d love to hear from you, though.  What have you recently mastered? Did it give you a buzz?  Did it impact your sense of self-efficacy?  Did it come with any perfect moments attached?