Ramping Up

It’s been a long time since I had any news to share, but I am excited to announce that my second novel is going to be coming out in the next few months! I’m self-publishing this one, for several reasons that will probably be their own post. I haven’t done that before so this is very much learn-as-you-go, but learning I am, and my goal is to release Ice & Smoke, a YA fantasy about a princess and a dragon, by the beginning of March.

Part of that process is ramping up my online presence in a number of ways, since the only advertising this poor book is gonna get is what I do my own self. I have a Twitter now, @elizabethbelyeu, and at some point I’m going to be forming an email list where readers can sign up to occasionally hear from me in their inbox (nothing spammy, I promise, I wouldn’t have time or energy for that anyway).

I’m really excited about all of this! Wish me luck, everybody, and I really hope you enjoy the book when it comes out!

But does the Dark Side really have cookies?

So I have this story. It’s finished, unlike virtually everything else I’ve touched in the last five years (there’s a rant for another day). It needs some editing, but it’s a whole product to start from, at least. And I love the story, and people I trust who’ve read it love the story, and we’d all like to see it published. My agent, sadly, does not love it. She declined to take it on.

Meanwhile, I’m seeing more and more writers making a go of their writing careers through self-published ebooks (everyone seems to agree that electronic is the way to go, you can’t make a profit with print copies, they’re just too expensive to produce). People with large, devoted fanbases and reliable income streams via their writing, and that’s—good gosh, that’s the dream, isn’t it? Sometimes they’re even supporting themselves 100% with their writing. I’m sure for every success, there’s a hundred failures, or a thousand, who knows. But the successes are compelling.

What this boils down to is that I’m very seriously considering self-publishing my second novel.

I have very mixed feelings about this. I know I’ve absorbed a certain amount of the cultural judgment of self-publication. The plain fact is that an industry without gatekeepers allows some really awful dreck to get out there into the world and make a bad name for the rest of us/them. Part of me has always been fiercely proud that Secondhand Shadow was published by a REAL publisher, however tiny. But what did that get me, really, other than bragging rights? They paid me instead of the other way around, yeah, but they sure didn’t pay me much. I got no marketing, no real support. This makes me start thinking that maybe I might as well do it myself and get a bigger cut of the profits.

Am I selling out, doing something artistically distasteful purely in exchange for money? I don’t think so. I think it’s my own reluctant attitude that’s outdated. The publishing industry is undergoing (or even, has undergone) a sea change that makes the “middle men” of agents, editors and publishers something that’s no longer strictly necessary. I admit I look at others’ success and I want it. I want to actually sell books and have people read them. I have to make money to live, and I want to do it with my writing. (Of course it’s the rare bird that can drop out of the conventional workforce entirely. Right now I’d settle for enough extra money that I can go out to dinner without worrying all night about the cost.)

Money might be a factor on this side of the equation, too, though; self-publishing involves a certain amount of investment. Not, thank goodness, as much as it did, back when writers had to buy paper copies of their book and hope to sell them, but apparently costs like editing, cover art, formatting—not to mention promotion—can add up. There’s a lot of variation, but hundreds of dollars, definitely. And I don’t have that. So we’ll just have to see. First step is to get the manuscript itself into as good a shape as I can, and then get other eyes to look it over and go through the process again. The rest I’ll just keep simmering in the back of my mind, and see what we can come up with.

Getting My Name Out There. Sort of. A Little.

I has been interviewed again! Dellani Oakes is a friend of a friend, and a very successful writer. She runs an online radio show that she attempted three times to have me on; that never happened due to, in chronological order, (1) Dellani getting sick, (2) me forgetting the show during the whirlwind of setting up for my baby sister’s wedding, (3) me getting the time zone wrong and also pretty much having a panic attack. Yeah… marketing oneself is a unique challenge for the introverts among us. But despite me completely flaking on her TWICE, Dellani was amazingly kind and sweet to me, so check out her site maybe?

I’m also looking into having a signing at my local Barnes & Noble. (I work there part-time now which makes it a little easier to talk to folks about the process.) The trouble is that due to the print-on-demand publishing process Astraea Press uses (as well it should, it’s much more efficient), <em>Secondhand Shadow</em> is not returnable by the bookstore if it doesn’t sell, so while they’re happy to host me, they’re not going to provide book copies. I would need to buy them myself to take along and hope they sell. Since that’s way beyond my financial capabilities at the moment (toothpaste is very nearly beyond my capabilities at the moment), I might do best to scare up a sponsor of some sort?? I don’t know how this stuff works. Will keep the blog apprised, though.

Marketing

As my release date approaches, there’s all sorts of marketing I need to be doing. After all, the book does no one any good unless they buy it and read it. Thus far, telling my workplace library about it so they can buy it has been the extent of my efforts. I have ideas of other things to do, and have finally received some information and advice from my publisher, but I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed. I’m also a little paralyzed by not knowing when to expect the print release. Will it be a month after the e-book? A year? Can I have a ballpark estimate, folks?? Maybe that should be my first move — asking for a ballpark on the print release, just so I know what to even tell people.

Behold the Glorious Author as she runs around in circles like a chicken without a head.