Friday, February 18, 2011

The Call of The Writer

I posted this same blog on the that I also write on. However, I felt it would pertain to those of you who write and are interested in self-publishing.

This weekend I am teaching at The Southern California Writer's Conference. I have done this for the past several years and it's always fun and educational. As traditional publishing is looking at change with the massive growth of e-books and various self-publishing options, this year should be an especially interesting one.

When my first book was published back in 2005 (Murder Uncorked), I was bright eyed and in many ways naive. I was so excited to have finally signed a publishing deal. It was for the first 3 books in the Nikki Sands' Mysteries. I had a lot to learn. Nine months later I signed another contract for my Michaela Bancroft series (aka--The Horse Lovers' Mysteries). Both series did well, but my Nikki Sands' Books took off and that was where the publishers' focus went to. I did sell through (which means I earned back my advances) on all of the Michaela Bancroft Mysteries but "word on the NY Street) was that it's hard to sell horse stories unless it is to kids. I say, "Bull pucky," (well, if you know me,then you know I'd use another word)anyway, the series was pulled. At the time I was sad, but I had more mysteries under contract with the Nikki Sands books, so I had the writing still moving forward. However, writing Michaela and about her friends (both human and horses) was something I really wanted to continue doing. I kept it on the back burner and about the time my rights were reverted back to me, the publishing world was on the cusp of drastic changes. This was a good thing.

What this has meant for so many mid-list authors (myself included) is a great deal if you know how to capitalize on it. Once I got my rights back, I made some slight changes in the manuscripts where I had screwed up. You see when I started writing Michaela I knew very little about reining and working cow horse--and readers pointed out where I had made mistakes. readers will do that. Frankly, I still don't know enough. I like to jump! But my dad convinced me that I should explore those diciplines for my character. Dad is an old cowboy and his idea of jumping comes from going out in the woods and flying over logs. I took his suggestion and it worked. However, I still want to see Michaela out on the cross-country course. (I will get back to this). Okay--so--once I had the rights back on these books I decided to reprint them myself. Amazon has a great program called Createspace. There is no out of money cost and it is pretty easy to use. You get your art work or you can use their templates for a cover, format the book to their requirements and upload. The royalty scale is much better than what I was getting from Penguin. Not to mention--I get paid monthly versus every six months. I also took the books and uploaded them on to Kindle (you can do this and have a book up in 48 hours). This is where I am really seeing a difference. I am selling 150 books a minimum a day right now on the Kindle! And--I also get paid monthly on this. Why am I telling you all of this? Because I am sure there are some of you, like me, who agree that there is not enough adult equestrian fiction out there. We want to read it! I am also sure that some of you have a good book inside of you. You might be asking, well why would I want to share in that? "Oh please, I say--there is plenty to go around." We can all share readers. The caveat here is a couple of things--you still have to have a good book and have it edited. If the book and editing are not decent then no one will pick up the next book. A lot of traditonalists say that the market will become flooded from people who really haven't honed the craft. Maybe at first, but as with anything--the cream will rise to the top. Readers are smart and they will find what they like and keep reading. What do you have to lose?

Now back to where Michaela is headed. I am working on book 4 as I mentioned, and yes--she is going to be headed out on to the cross country course. I am super excited to write this twist into her life and how it comes about and where she will go with it. Besides I don't know if any of you saw this link today--Eventing meets Reining, so I think my timing with Michaela's switch in diciplines might be just right:  Pretty Cool, huh?

If you have any questions about my publishing experiences, etc--feel free to ask away. I am pretty open when it comes to this stuff. I want to see writers and riders succeed!

Right now you can find all 3 Michaela Bancroft Mysteries on Kindle for 99 Cents, as well as Happy Hour (very limited time), El Patron and a Nikki Sands' short story.



Gayle Carline said...

We MUST talk at the conference! I was at a horse show last weekend in Burbank, and while I was standing in line at the food counter, I could hear two women talking about the show. One woman was explaining that she scratched a class because the pattern called for an extended lope to a rollback, and that she thought it would just be too much for her older horse. I started thinking... how could I bring a mystery to a horse show and make it engaging to the equestrian reader, while making it understandable to the non-horsey mystery reader?

I thought I was going to write Peri mysteries for awhile, but maybe I've got another series, with a horse-loving sleuth...

Michele Scott said...

I LIKE IT! Let's definitely talk.