Welcome back to another week in the self-publishing interview series! This week’s self-pub author is Barbara Binns. Enjoy!
- What was the deciding factor in self-publishing your book(s)? Did you decide on ebook or print only or both?
I came into this backwards. I had a book traditionally published in November 2010. PULL. It was with a small press that ceased operation in 2011. The sales numbers were not good, and my agent was unable to find a new home for the book or for my next manuscripts. But I had people asking about purchasing the book. So, earlier this year (2012), armed with the return of my rights, I decided to self-publish.
- What went into the process? Writing, editing, cover design, formatting, etc… Share your ups and downs and how you went about it. If you used a service from a someone, could you share who?
Writing, obviously. PULL was originally edited by a wonderful woman at my publisher, Evelyn Fazio. For the second edition, I went in and changed a few things, but primarily it is the same as the original. I did the CreateSpace formatting; tedious at first, but now I know what I’m doing. I hired Everything-Indie to do the Smashwords and Kindle formatting. They are also doing the editing for Being God.
I intended to hire someone to do the new cover. That person bowed out. Then I tried buying rights to the original cover from the former publisher. That too fell through. And then there were scheduling issues with the next person I contacted. What at first seemed a disaster turned out to be a godsend. I bit the bullet, learned how to use Photoshop, and created my own cover for Pull. It’s, similar enough to the original cover so people won’t be confused, yet a little truer to my own original vision. And I learned to be so adept at Photoshop in the process that I jumped in and did the cover for Die Trying and Being God. I guess I like being artistic
I also decided to go for the “full-monte,” including establishing my own publishing label and imprint, AllTheColorsOfLove. The work involved included buying my own ISBNs, signing with a distributor, fulfilling orders, and still finding time to write the next book. I’m hiring a new editor for my next book.
- What did you do to promote your work?
Not enough, I do know that. I’m still working on promotion, that is the part I hate, but I’d have to do that even if I were traditionally published. I have finally established what I consider my platform: Diversity in YA fiction and Reaching reluctant readers. With I give speeches at librarian conferences, schools, etc. I’m old-fashioned enough to like to visit or Skype. And I get to do some fun interviews, like talk to Sammie the parrot. As a YA author, I consider these two of my most important venues. I do give-aways at the conferences. I am also planning a giveaway on Goodreads, and on Figment, once I finally understand the site. Recently I signed on two judge a library student writing contest, and a high school poetry contest for next year, all to help me reach my readers. And I’ll be making another presentation in 2013 at the American Library Association conference in Chicago in June.
- What was the hardest thing you’ve found in the process of self-publishing? What was the easiest part of self-publishing?
All the marketing stuff. Only I was doing a lot of that even when I was traditionally published, I just upped the ante. Maybe the hardest part is still ahead of me, next year, when I have to do the taxes for my new company. I hate doing my own taxes.
- Can you list some Pros/Cons of self-publishing?
Honestly, there are too many cons to count, including the fact that everything is on me. There’s no one else to blame. I have to make all the decisions an editor/publisher would have, and still hire an editor to help me revise the thing so that it is suitable for readers. And income tax next year will be a total mess.
But the pro – everything really is in my hands. The rewards are mine, the feeling of control is great. (Maybe that’s why my newest book is title Being God, I enjoy control even if it means I’m overworked) And having people recognize my work, read the book I totally put together, compliment the cover, ask me to come speak to their group or conference because of the power of my work, that’s priceless.
- How long have your book(s) been out? How long between books if you have multiple sales—and if you have multiples did you see a bump in sales with subsequent publication?
PULL only came out in October, so I can’t say much about sales yet. I will say that in addition to Amazon and Smashwords, I have signed an agreement with Follett Library Services, and fulfilled my first order. AllTheColorsOfLove just received an order for twenty books from a school. And I received a request from Florida from a man who has read my short stories and wants to pre-order my new book. Die Trying only came out in November. I’m really waiting to see what happens when Being God comes out in February, 2013.
- Can you give a rough breakdown of your sales numbers from your first month to the present?
It is still too early, I’ve only been self-published since October. I am surprised that nothing has sold on B&N so far, but both Amazon and Smashwords are selling. The physical book versions are selling more than the eBook, but that’s not so surprising with YA. As I said earlier, I’m really waiting to see what happens with book three.
- What advice can you offer to anyone deciding to self-publish?
Patience, persistence and a good editor. All are invaluable.
- What genre(s) do you write in? How many books do you have out? Titles?
- What do you love about the genre(s)?
I love that it’s so open, there are many things you can do in YA and young readers are accepting. As long as the story pulls them in, they will go with you. On the other hand, the minute you bore them they drop you, so it keeps this writer on her toes to make the words sharp, tight and compelling. I also write about culturally diverse characters, and I like exploring different lives and presenting that for readers to enjoy and see that maybe we’re all more alike than it looks on the outside.
- Where can readers find you?
Hordes of places. I admit to doing the best job of keeping my blog updated, http://barbarabinns.com You can always reach me by email.
- Where can readers find your books? Print/Ebook?
My books are available in both paperback and eBook format. PULL is on Amazon in paperback and Kindle, B&N for Nook, and Smashwords) and Die Trying and other stories is a collection at Amazon in paperback, B&N for Nook, and Smashwords Schools and libraries can order from Follet Library Resources, or directly from the publisher (me).
- What works do you have coming out in the future?
Being God, ISBN 978-098818211-0, a sequel to Pull, will be out at the end of January. This book focusses on Malik Kaplan, Pull’s antagonist, and his further relationships with Barnetta, his enemy’s sister. (After all, you can hate the guy, but love little sis)
- Are you participating in any reader contests?
If only I have time. I will be judging several contests over the next few months, does that count?
- There is a rumor going around that all self-pubbed books are shoddily created. What do you say to that?
Unfortunately sometimes this is more than a rumor, something those of us who consider ourselves serious need to be aware of and try to differentiate ourselves. Anyone can publish a book these days. That sometimes means books with poor covers and poorer editing. As a result all indie books are getting a bad name. During my workshops with librarians I talked about Indie authors, and immediately people began to grown. Many of them had first-hand experience with poor quality self-published novels they purchased and then could not use in their collections.
We who want to do a professional job need to find ways to distinguish ourselves from the pack.
I admit I gave them some advice that some Indie authors may dislike, but I think we need to look at how we distinguish ourselves from the pack.
- What advice can you offer readers of self-pubbed books in making a decision on what to read?
You mean other than reading my books? Amazon reviews are easy to come by, if you have enough friends and relatives, you can get liked and reviewed up the whazu. Because I write YA, I know the kids are big on asking friends what they read. Do the same. when you do find a worthwhile Indie book, keep track of the author and look for their other works, and share the information with other