Come Along With Me As I Write My Novels
(And a lot of other new writing experiences too)
It’s time to get real about my experience selling my book as an indie author. The long and short of it is that I hate it. Hate is a strong word. I dislike it. Greatly. Like, a lot. On second thought, I stand by my original statement. I hate it.
Why do I hate it?
Well, a lot of it is personal. I don’t like asking people for things. And that’s all this is. Asking people to buy the book. Asking people to review the book. Asking bookstores to carry the book. Asking book clubs to host the book. Asking people to tell their friends about the book. Everything is based on asking people.
I wish there were ways to circumvent the ask. I’ve tired a few. But, as far as I can tell, they are all expensive or very time consuming.
For example, I paid for a press release. The vendor used sent out word of my book to over 2,000 places. At first the cost seemed crazy, but then I thought about all the time and effort I’d have to put into contacting each place myself and thought it was a frickin’ steal. Want the major newspapers, book review outlets, magazines, even local TV stations to know about your book but not have to spend hours and hours looking up submission guidelines for each one? Press release!
But the cost-benefit from it wasn’t the engagement I got afterwards (which as far as I can tell has been minimal). The cost-benefit analysis was checking all 2,000+ of those places off of my mental to-do list.
Another example of expenses: submitting for “Book of the Year” awards. Some are as little as $15, but how many $15 submissions can you do before it becomes expensive?
What about ads? I decided to pay for one - the New York Review of Books. I picked The Summer Issue which will publish in August and be out for six weeks. But even that - it’s one little ad. What do I expect from it? I have NO idea. Nothing?
And then, of course, there’s posting. But figuring out 800 different ways of saying the same thing (aka -- buy my book) is really time consuming and I don’t really know what works and what doesn’t.
That’s the other thing very personal thing I hate about selling the book. I constantly feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve had a couple people graciously take time out of their lives and work to send me their ideas for marketing and how I could promote my book. Some of the ideas I have implemented. Some (thankfully) I was already doing. The rest? WHO HAS TIME? OR HOW DO YOU START?
I keep telling people I feel like the goal post keeps moving. Write the book. Edit the book. Get the book published. Launch the book. Sell the book. Make the book go viral. These are all completely different disciplines that have very different personalities behind them. Whatever introverted part of me retreats into literature and storytelling is the exact opposite part of me that is at a book fair yelling at people passing by to “please stop by and buy my book! Yes, me, the girl standing here with one book next to the guy that has seven or eight different books with multiple publishers. Buy this one!”
Remember my raging impostor syndrome?
The gist of it is, no one knows how to make anything go viral. There are so many plans out there. But, unless you have an endless supplementary income to spend on promoting yourself OR you have all the time in the world to hoof it to indie bookstores or craft the perfect emails/pitches/approaches, you really are reliant on the grace and generosity of other people.
Which gets me back to the beginning: I hate asking people for things.
And a huge part of me wants to stop.
Because it’s been a not-insubstantial source of stress.
But then I think, in reality, it’s only been a few months.
And I’ve already accomplished a lot.
So, maybe instead of stopping, I just need to scale it back? But, if I scale it back, I can almost guarantee that my book sales will completely stop. And isn’t that just basically choosing to stop anyway?
Now you’re really getting a taste for how my brain works.
At the end of the day, I need to retreat to my comfort zone: Gratitude
For every person that has already bought the book - THANK YOU
For every person that has read the book - THANK YOU
For every person that has reviewed the book on Amazon or Goodreads - THANK YOU
For every person that has posted a photo on social media - THANK YOU
For every person that has told someone else about the book - THANK YOU
For every person that has come to a book event - THANK YOU
If I don’t sell a single additional book, it’ll all be worth it for 1. Getting to hold my book in my hand after all these years and 2. For all of the people that have been so kind to date. You have no idea how much your support has meant to me. Truly. From the bottom of my heart. You are THE. BEST.
I don’t know how to make my book or word of my book branch out beyond my circle of very amazing friends and family. But at the end of the day, maybe I don’t have to. Maybe that’s not the point. Maybe instead of this being a blog post about how much I hate selling books, it’s actually a blog post about how I need to get back to what I love - which is writing them.
To that end, I end this post with this announcement: My channillo.com series Amache’s America will be completed on July 24. I’ve already taken all the content, printed it out, and am reading it again from start to finish. I’m taking notes on what I need to change, add, edit, etc. I’ll need to add at least 30,000 words to get it to novel length. I’m working with the same editor that I had for The Cube to convert it from online vignettes to a real story. So, book #2 is on its way. YAY! I will also be starting a new series on channillo.com. More on that soon.
So, I guess the moral of the story is -- when confronted with something that you hate, go back to remembering what you love. I still hate selling books. But I love writing them. And I love people that love books too.
Thank you for continuing to follow along with me on my journey. As always, stay tuned!
Thank you all for your support of The Cube. It’s been a crazy two months and we are just getting started. I have several events coming up that I’m hoping you can attend and help spread the word. I can’t do this without your help - so thank you!
Printers Row Lit Fest
Saturday, June 9, 2018
3:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Chicago Writers Association Tent - Tent O
I will be selling The Cube at Printers Row this year. Come by to say hi and to check out all the other amazing CWA authors. For any Channillo friends, David Berner will also be there so it will be twice the fun!
Local Author Night and Book Signing
Thursday, June 28, 2018
The Book Bin Northbrook
1151 Church St Northbrook, IL 60062
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
I will be hosting a local author night at The Book Bin in my hometown of Northbrook. I will do a short reading and then open it up for Q&A. Books will be available for purchase onsite for signing. There will also be wine and snacks!
Here’s a link to the evite. If you can make it, please let me know so that we can make sure we have enough wine - a key component to the evening :)
Local Author Night
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
The Book Cellar
4736-38 N Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL 60625
I will be one of the featured Local Authors at the monthly Local Author Night at the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. Come by to meet some great authors. Books will be available for purchase and signing. No RSVP required.
I hope to see you at one of these events. And please, help spread the word. The more the merrier. Use the hashtag #TheCubeNovel or tag me.
In Other News...
Thank you all again for your ongoing support. Summer is such a fun time to dive into reading. I hope The Cube will be on your summer reading list!
If you take a photo of yourself reading The Cube at a great summer location - the beach, camping, the pool, etc, please tag it so I can see it. You know I love photos!
Hello my fellow Cubers!
I am really fortunate to have a lot of people in my life that are smarter than me. One of my lovely friends gave me the suggestion to post Book Club questions so that people who are either hosting book clubs, a part of book clubs, or may be creating book clubs for the first time, can have a jumping off point for their conversations about The Cube. Love it.
The problem is, all the questions I can think of on my own are totally self-serving! My questions are like “what did you think of this plot point?” or “did you think XYZ was too obvious?” or “did you like it when…?” I decided this was not something I, as the writer, should do. So, I asked my readers! Below are some questions that people who have finished reading The Cube have come up with for book club conversations. I hope that they spur great conversation and enjoyment.
Spoiler Alert Warning! If you haven’t read the book yet, these questions may give some plot points away.
Book Club Questions about The Cube: by Readers for Readers
About the Characters:
Do you think someone could move from being long-time friends to romantically involved like Will and Molly? What do you think were some unique relationship challenges they faced that other relationships might not?
Could you relate to Molly’s need to crack the code? Why do you think she became so focused on figuring out what the symbols represented?
Do you think Will should have gone with Molly on their flight to the northeast after they told the detective they would stay put? Why do you think Molly felt that was a necessary risk?
What do you think Will looks like?
About the Game:
Would you want to play The Cube? Would you pay $100?
Which level of the Cube sounded like the most fun to play?
About Wallace Enterprises:
Would you have taken the job offer to work at Wallace Enterprises? Why/why not?
Are you convinced Wallace Enterprises is benevolent? What do you think makes a corporation benevolent or not?
About the Future:
The book presents the technological capabilities of life as both luxurious and potentially threatening. Would you want to have the every-day technologies of the book in your life?
As new technologies develop, how do you think society should determine where the proper line between security and freedom/privacy should be? Who should be in charge of making these decisions? (government, corporations, every individual?)
Is it necessary to give up some freedoms to have greater security?
How realistic is the future created in The Cube? Can you imagine the technologies present in Will’s home for example?
Do you think the existence of The Cube would dramatically change politics in America? Do you think it would lead to greater unity and cooperation or could it lead to greater polarization?
About Corporate Social Responsibility:
Will and Molly seemed to revisit an argument on whether or not corporations can do good. Do you believe there is a place in the economy for social enterprise?
Did The Cube change your opinion on how a corporation might take social responsibility?
If you have any other questions you’d think should be added to this list, please let me know and I’ll update the post.
And, as always, if you’re local and would like me to come to your book club, or if you’re not so local and want me to FaceTime or Skype in, please reach out! Or, if your book club selects The Cube but doesn’t opt for an author drop-by, please post a pic to Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #TheCubeNovel.
Thank you to all the readers of The Cube!
You might also like…
Windy City Reviews review of The Cube
MaryLou Driedger’s review of The Cube
Buy The Cube on Amazon or drop in and purchase it at The Book Cellar
It’s been just over one month since my book launched. One month since this passion project of mine was out there for the world to see. One month since I had to learn even more new skills, like how to market a book (still learning by the way, yikes).
In the past month my emotions have run the gamut. I’ve been incredibly proud of myself, grateful for my family and friends. I’ve been insecure about asking people to buy the book or post reviews. Mortified when I stopped to think about the fact that someone one day will read the book and absolutely hate it. Suspicious that when people tell me they like the book it’s just lip service. Thrilled when people tell me they like that book and that something I wrote brought enjoyment to someone else’s day.
But really, the best way I can describe the last month is to say that it has been a daily struggle with impostor syndrome, which our friend Wikipedia defines as such:
“Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud". The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. While early research focused on the prevalence among high-achieving women, impostor syndrome has been found to affect both men and women, in roughly equal numbers.”
Talk about a window into my soul!
One of my friends challenged me to write lists of all the good things that have happened since I published the book and all of the accomplishments that I’ve had since I published the book and two dwell on those things. At first it was hard for me to even get the lists started, but once I did things just kept flowing, and I have to say they have really helped. There’s something to seeing how long the lists can get, especially when focused on gratitude. I have so many things to be grateful for, I don’t think any number of lists could ever encapsulate them all.
One source of gratitude that stands out was the book launch party that my friend Sara organized for me. It was well attended and full of warmth and good spirit. Sara gave a lovely toast, and I even said a few words (which I don’t really remember) and I had a lot of fun seeing people from all walks of my life and signing book after book. I still can’t believe how many people came out for it. ABUNDANCE OF GRATITUDE.
After the party, I actually was so overwhelmed it felt like my whole life was buzzing. I got home and just kind of melted into the couch. The next day at work I didn’t feel 100% and left early. By the time I got home I had a raging fever and had to take the following day off of work. For 24 hours I barely moved. It was like the momentum of the past month, the progression of the last seven years, everything that came into bringing The Cube into the world had culminated at that party and my body was just like - “yep, I’m done!”
The good news is that it only took me a day to rest and release and I’ve been slowly getting back into planning next steps. The bad news is… well, there is no bad news. If that’s what my body had to go through to process this moment in my life, then c’est la vie.
Since I have been so diligent about documenting this journey, I just felt like it was important for people to know about this part of it. The after the part. The part where you can’t believe it happened, you can’t believe there’s still so much to do, the part where you get paralyzed by trying to define what your goal actual is (Do I want to sell 1,000 books? Speak at 100 events? Get 100 reviews? Get into 100 book stores?) until you realize that at some point you just have to STOP and enjoy it. Appreciate it. Revel in it a little bit. As hard as that can be with impostor syndrome being a real and vicious reality, it is important to acknowledge that your dream happened and that YOU were the one that made it happen.
So, that’s where I am folks. Navigating this new space. Pushing myself to figure out how I feel and want I want to do next. And, of course, pushing myself to keep writing. Because ultimately, that’s what it’s actually all about.
Thanks as always for following along with me. I do have a few events coming up that I’m excited about, so check those out. And if you do buy the book, let me know. And thank you.
I am pleased to announce that three local bookstores are already stocking and selling The Cube! Yay!
Please support local, independent bookstores and visit The Book Cellar (Lincoln Square), Women & Children First (Andersonville), or The Book Bin (Northbrook) and purchase your copy today!
Indie Bookstore Incentive
If you purchase from one of these indie bookstores (or any of your local indie bookstores) and send me proof of purchase (a receipt or a photo of the book in the store would be awesome… a photo of YOU with the book in the store is THE BEST) I will not only send you the bonus content prologue, I will ALSO send you the alternate ending!
Book Clubs Too!
I’m also really excited to say I’ve been invited to talk at my first book club!
Time to Party!
Where else is the book available?
You can purchase The Cube in paperback and eBook via most online bookstores, including:
Don’t Forget to Support The Night Ministry
Thank you all for your continued support. These past two weeks have been a roller coaster and I am so excited you are all along for the ride.
Ask and you shall receive… The Cube eBook is now available!
Purchase and download the Amazon Kindle eBook today!
What if you use another eReader?
Does the book look different?
Where else is it available?
You can purchase The Cube in paperback via most online bookstores, including:
You can also request the book at most bookstores and libraries.
International friends: The Cube is available via international Amazon distributors. You don’t have to be in the US to order the book.
And now... help spread the word!
This is a word-of-mouth endeavor of the greatest magnitude. I cannot sell books without you. I appreciate you spreading the word.
Here are some social media tips:
Any of these would be amazing and they all make me smile so much!
How else can you help?
Join my mailing list
Thank you to everyone who has purchased The Cube so far, and to all that are considering doing so in the future. I’m so touched and thrilled. I hope you are all enjoying The Cube!
It’s been one week since my book birthday, but honestly, it feels like it’s been a year. In amazing, wonderful, fabulous ways, and in… other ways too.
It’s always been my goal to be transparent about the ‘path to published’ process so I debated whether or not to personalize my book launch. But, I decided that if anyone else is going through this process, or is thinking about going through this process, it could only help to hear the reality of it all. So, here goes.
So, there you have it. I’m grateful the highs outrank the number of lows. And honestly, writing and posting this has been quite therapeutic! I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster this week and I’m just trying to enjoy the ride.
Mostly, I just want to thank each and every one of you who has bought The Cube, or will buy The Cube, or who has told someone else about The Cube, etc. This is no longer my solo project. This is a group effort. And I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to have my back.
All my love,
Hello friends and family,
I’m pleased to announce that my novel, The Cube, is now available!
Where is it Available?
You can purchase The Cube in paperback via most online bookstores, including:The Cube is also available, by request, at most bookstores and libraries.
How Can You Help?
Win Bonus Content
Thank you for your support of my work and for being a part of this dream-comes-true moment for me. I hope you enjoy The Cube!
Folks, things are getting VERY exciting! I’m happy to announce that the publication of the Cube will be taking place the first week of April!
In fact… the launch date is Monday, April 2!
So, that’s soon, isn’t it?
Things have been moving very quickly. Once I submitted my book in word doc format to the publishers, they shifted it into the proof format (which came to me as a PDF). From there, I submitted edits and changes and they helped with layout and the mechanics of the book. Then, they sent me the actual physical proof which was one of the most exciting things ever.
I actually wasn’t really prepared for it either… I had a long day at work and I was exhausted and hungry and I also knew I had to go to a meeting later that night for Moms Demand Action and I felt like I was going to have to really push myself just to make it through the evening… and then I checked the mail and saw the package and knew exactly what it was. I started shaking and Cora helped me rip the package open and I just stood there with my book in my hand, marveling at its mere existence. I took photos and just stared at it, and have basically been carrying it around with me wherever I go ever since. I even brought it to boxing class. And showed it off. Yes I did.
But, aside from just revelling in the book itself, there was work to do too. I had to re-read the whole book and go through line by line to see if there were any last minute changes I wanted to make. I wasn’t sure what I would find, but, thankfully, I discovered the changes I wanted to make were relatively small and overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the state of the book… and how much I enjoyed reading it!
So, I submitted those changes, they have already been made, and now we are awaiting the professional proofreader to get back with her edits. That should come in at the end of this week or early next week. Once those are made… which shouldn’t take long... we’re ready to send it to Amazon and Ingram! WOO HOO!
So, I’m sure you all know what Amazon is… but what’s Ingram? Good question! It’s basically the go-through for booksellers to order your book. If you have your book on Ingram, it will populate to all the online stores (like Barnes and Noble) and bookstores can order your book at no risk to them (because they can return them through Ingram as well).
I’m also opting to pay for my book to be formatting as an eBook, so that’s cool too.
Apparently once we send it to Amazon and Ingram it will take a few days for it to populate and be ready for order. Then I make sure to set up my author page… and it’s full steam ahead.
So, stay tuned. Things are very close and very thrilling.
I’m also planning a book launch party for the end of April, tentatively scheduled for Sunday, April 29 - so save the date! (more on that to come later)
One other piece of good news… I was at the Chicago Writers Association’s 1st Annual Let’s Just Write Conference over the weekend (and it was excellent… really well done, great presentations, great people) and I saw the owner of the Book Cellar was there. The Book Cellar is one of my favorite book stores. I approached her, showed her the proof of my book, let her know it would be coming out soon, told her it’d be available through Ingram with returns, and asked her if she’d consider selling it in her store. I told her if there was going to be one store in the world I’d want to see it in, it’d be hers. She actually started tearing up! And she said of course, especially for a neighbor, and gave me her card. Isn’t that wonderful?!?!?! So, of course, as soon as I know it’s up and running I’m going to follow-up with her… and the day it shows up in her store I will run there full speed and start ugly crying when I see if for sale in an actual book store.
My friends at the conference were all so supportive too. Here’s a photo of my friend Marcie (board member of CWA) who insisted we take a photo with my book and then posted it to the conference group because she’s lovely and so cool.
It was actually really cool to go to the conference and know so many of the people there and to have a lot of the board members support me and my book. One person I didn’t know was listening to me talk to the owner of the Book Cellar, and congratulated me, and I thought to myself “he was a nice guy” and then I went to the next session and he was the speaker and he’s an awarding winning author and I didn’t even know it! Ah!
Anyway… so many great things happening… we’re on the precipice. My dream is about to come true. And I am so grateful.
So… to recap…
Thanks for believing in me everyone. The Cube is just weeks away!
Hey Hey everyone! This is a very exciting day for me. Today is the day that you will all get to see the cover for my novel, The Cube!
I had such a fun time watching the book cover come to life. My amazing friend, Glenn Steward, created the cover with me. From concept to fruition, we collaborated across several versions before we knew we’d hit a home run.
Without further adieu… here it is!
Isn’t that gorgeous?!
Glenn came up with the concept from my descriptions of the book and the game within it. But, the actual Cube wasn’t quite right for awhile. At first the Cube was very dark and grey, almost industrial, so it took me awhile to find an image online that would kind of represent the bold whiteness I was going for. I found the weirdest image possible, but it was enough to give Glenn the inspiration he needed to take it and run with it. When he came back with this white vision of a Cube, I was floored!
Here’s a selfie he sent me the night we knew we nailed the cover. I love this photo so much I made it the backdrop of my phone. My phone may stay that way forever. :)
The cover is the latest piece to fall into place as my whirlwind work to get published continues. It’s hard to believe it’s only been a little more than a month since I signed on with Windy City Publishers (WCP), particularly because of just how much we’ve done.
In terms of the cover, aside from Glenn’s art, we’ve had to come up with what size the book will be (6X9) and pricing (for the barcode on the back). We’ve worked on back cover copy (which is so stressful since I know that’s what EVERYONE reads and will pretty much determine whether people buy my book or not) and they’ve secured things like my ISBN number and my Library of Congress number which are also needed for sale.
ID numbers were also needed for the copyright page on the interior (thank goodness they literally took care of all of that for me)… and the rest of the interior is really where we’ve been spending so much time. My friend Adam finalized all of the graphics (which also look amazing… thank you Adam!) so I’ve been working with my counterpart/manager at WCP to make sure they are the right size on the page, that the typesetting looks okay, that fonts are consistent, that placement of the words on the page looks the way I want it to… no detail has been too small.
WCP is so organized, so I always know what I need to do, even if we have multiple threads on multiple topics going on simultaneously. Moreover, they are incredibly timely and thoughtful in their responses. They’ve helped me understand the best way to view the drafts so I can make the most informed decisions and have been patient as I change and tweak things.
Let me say, it has been SO COOL to watch my initial word doc be transformed into its current form. It looks like a book! I can’t wait for you to see it (and to actually hold a copy in my hand!) Even submitting my acknowledgements page and my author bio for the back all made it seem much more real.
My favorite parts have been when we’ve tried things I hadn’t even thought of… for example there are quite a few times where the characters send each other text messages and I just love the way Dawn (that’s the person I’ve been working most with at WCP), I love the way Dawn placed the texts. It’s a format I would have never thought of and it looks really cool. The texts are another example of her thoughtfulness. At one point several people text the main character at once, so she wanted to make sure the texts were aligned on the page the way they’d look on a phone, not the way they’d look as a back and forth dialogue. Love that she had an eye on that. And that’s just one tiny part.
Overall, it’s been a great experience. Right now, we have finalized the exterior and interior proof so that we can move onto the final proofread. The proofread will be done by a professional. I debated whether it was worth the money, but ultimately decided it absolutely was. Even if s/he catches a few typos it will be worth it, but I imagine after all this time and tweaking the proofreader will catch more than that.
I’m kind of glad we are headed towards the proofreading stage because that will take 3-4 weeks which I hope will give me a little bit of of time to catch my breath. I realize this is ultimately self-paced, but I am excited and engaged and it’s fun to see it coming together, so I’m doing my best to keep things moving. (How I’m “managing” that on top of a full-time job and life in general is a topic for another day.)
The time for proofreading will also give me some time to start to really think about marketing. I’ve been kind of obsessing about this because, let’s face it, I know very little about marketing a book. It was hard enough to figure out how to write and publish a book! But, I have a lot of ideas and friends that are helping me… I just need some time to figure out what’s feasible… and to phase it out. Not everything needs to happen day one.
When is day one? When will you be able to buy The Cube? I’m not quite sure yet, but if we keep up with the pace we’re on, I’m guessing it will be sometime in April. That’s right, April! That’s soon. This spring! Eek!.
So stay tuned for future updates. I’ll do my best to keep everyone posted. And because I love it so much, here’s my cover one more time. I hope you guys are excited as I am! 2018… the year that it happens!