Posted On October 14, 2011 by Print This Post

Here’s to hoping . . . Self Publishing by Hank Edwards

One the most awesome things about this RU gig is the chance to reach out to some of my favorite authors and invite them to be a Visiting Professor. Hank Edwards is a person who drew me in through his awesome books (His book, FLUFFER’s INC, is laugh out loud hilarious with a style and characters to rival Janet Evanovich) and then through his generous friendship on Facebook.  When I heard that he was doing what everyone else was only talking about – self publishing – I knew I had to get him here.  And one lucky commenter (and you would be lucky because I’ve also read and loved it ) will win a copy of his book, BOUNTY.

Here’s to Hoping . . .
I have embarked on a journey. And it all started with the thought, What if…?
The what if led me to think about vampires and zombies. These supernatural beings are very similar: undead, dangerous, infecting others with a bite (or three), and hungry for blood. Yet they seldom appear together in stories. So what if I threw vampires and zombies together? Well, vampires would be the clear winner: they have thought and reason, super strength, and near immortality. Zombies shamble around, moan, and eat people, but don’t really plan anything.
But what if zombies were able to hurt vampires? What if a zombie bite could pierce vampire skin and break vampire bone? When zombies shamble together they are a force to be reckoned with, have you seen any episodes of The Walking Dead? (If not, you should, it’s a great show.)
And what if this all took place in the American Old West? Talk about mashing up genres!
Sigh.
With such a crazy mixture of genres, I knew it would be a tough sell to publishers, but I did inquire with a couple of them. They all were pretty adamant about each book ending with, at the very least, a happy for now, preferably with a happily ever after. But the first book in my series, Bounty, ends with questions unanswered, with characters in peril, and, in my opinion, sets up the second book, Bait, very well. And as a writer (and being rather stubborn), I decided to stick to my vision, and instead of changing my story I turned to self-publishing. It may prove to be folly, but I feel it will be worth it when all is said and done.
There is a lot of work involved in writing and publishing a book. Not just the writing part, though that does consist of a lot of work, but there’s all the stuff waiting once the draft is complete. Edits, for one. And as an author, I didn’t trust myself to pick apart the character motivations, descriptions, and plot I had spent nearly a year trying to dump from my imagination to the page. A writer reviewing his or her work is kind of like my mother was when I was going through those gangly, crazy, hideous adolescent years: she told me that even through the acne, long, skinny limbs, and lack of coordination I was handsome.
I could find the spelling errors and most of the grammar stuff, but I needed some people to be brutally honest with me about the story overall, so I turned to friends, most of whom I have yet to meet in person, to read my book and give me any and all feedback. That is one trait a writer must possess if that writer is to succeed: the ability to take feedback from readers, early betas or those after publication, and use it to improve the story. This is no time for pride; the story must be accessible to readers on all levels and the only way to ensure that is to use those resources available to you: friends on Facebook with similar interests, maybe a local writing group (invaluable, in my opinion), or friends you’ve known all your life who will be honest. Take those suggestions and questions and confusions and rework your story.
I did that, and am so grateful to the friends who gave me their time and insight. The story is mine, but it is stronger because of their feedback.
Next is a cover. All books, even e-books, need a cover. A hot, enticing cover to draw attention and peak readers’ interests. I am fortunate enough to love and live with a fabulous graphic artist who worked with me over a number of days to create an awesome cover. We searched for the perfect models and backgrounds to encompass the many colliding genres in my story and it turned out even better than I imagined. He is amazing, and not just as a graphic artist.
Then, I signed up for Amazon’s Kindle Publishing (really easy), uploaded my Word document (do not forget to include a cover in the Word document; I thought the image I uploaded would be used in the file and not just for the website for some reason … duh!), and published it. In less than 24 hours it was ready and I was able to start promoting the book.
I hit Facebook and posted the heck on my wall and in several m/m groups I belong to. I sold a few copies the first day and was encouraged. But I needed to get the book listed on more sites and available as different files for all types of e-readers.
Smashwords is awesome. I setup my account, typed in the specifics about my book (note to self: have a blurb and description ready beforehand to avoid stress), then uploaded my .doc file and it spawned a whole host of file types. Simply amazing. From one file I can now direct people to Smashwords where they can download my book in pretty much any file type.
And now I’m working on advertising. I’m not sure just how much advertising my publishers do (I’ve never seen my book covers on the sides of buses or atop taxis… wouldn’t that be nice?), but I’m trying to branch out. Review requests need to be sent out, and guest spots on blog sites need to be set up. And this is all while juggling an Evil Day Job.
But I’ve got the freedom for my characters to go where the story wants to take them, and not contrive an ending to please the corporation. Maybe I’m wrong, and if I am I’ll find out by my book sales, but I think readers will be eager for a romantic, suspenseful read that doesn’t pander to them. If you like paranormal stories or Westerns with strong characters and a m/m romantic plot, click on over to check out Bounty, Venom Valley: Book One.
Leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win a copy of “Bounty” in Kindle, Nook, or PDF format. And drop me a line to let me know what you think, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

***

Have you considered self-publishing?  What are the pros and cons in your mind?  Hank is in the trenches and here to answer your questions – fire away!  Hank has to go the Evil Day Job today, but he’ll be popping in and out!

On Monday, Eleanor Elliot helps us make our marketing checklist.

***

Bio:  Hank Edwards is a member of the Story Orgy writer’s group and posts free m/m stories on his blog every Monday morning at http://http://www.hankedwardsbooks.com/. His published titles include the first book of his Venom Valley Series, the self published cowboy / vampire / zombie mash up Bounty, as well as the Charlie Heggensford series, Fluffers, Inc., A Carnal Cruise, and the Lambda Award Finalist Vancouver Nights, all available from Lethe Press. He has also published three books through Loose Id: the romantic suspense thriller Holed Up, the time travel romance Destiny’s Bastard, and the contemporary romantic comedy Plus Ones. Find out more at http://www.hankedwardsbooks.com/.

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36 Responses to “Here’s to hoping . . . Self Publishing by Hank Edwards”

  1. Hi Hank,

    Thank you for joining us today! I’m always in awe of individuals who see a clear path and go for it. So kudos to you.

    What have you found to be the most difficult step in the self-publishing process? The most gratifying?

    Tracey

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | October 14, 2011, 4:08 am
    • Hi Tracey,
      Thanks for posting! Most difficult step in the self-pub process has to be getting the word out. The writing is tough, but selling the book afterwards is even more so! The most gratifying was going through the comments from my beta readers and seeing that all I had tried to get into the book had not been in vain.

      Thanks for posting the question!

      Posted by Hank Edwards | October 14, 2011, 5:25 am
  2. Hi Hank,

    I like the idea of mixing genres. A book should be able to make the imagination soar. Self publishing sounds great, especially after many rejections. The packaging and marketing would give me pause. How many people were involved to get your book ready for sale?

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | October 14, 2011, 5:12 am
    • Hi Mary Jo,
      Good Friday morning to you! A few people were involved to help bring Bounty to life. My partner worked on the cover a while and it went through a few changes, but he really brought the story to life with it. I sent early drafts of the book out to four or five friends and used them as editors and beta readers and got some really good feedback. Silvia Violet, Amanda Young, and Monika Krasnorada were among the group and gave me great comments.

      Other than that, the marketing is all me, finding blogs to guest host and sites to post my banner.

      Have a great day!

      Posted by Hank Edwards | October 14, 2011, 5:28 am
  3. Hank! I’m so excited to have you here . . .as you know. *fangirl moment*

    Okay, my question is this . . . did you ever consider getting an independent editor?

    And, what are you doing differently as you approach publishing “Bait”?

    Robin

    Posted by Robin Covington | October 14, 2011, 5:20 am
    • Hi Robin!!

      I’m really excited to be here today, thanks for inviting me!

      I had a number of beta readers who all picked out some great stuff that needed to be updated. I did think about an independent editor, but I was feeling very protective about the story, didn’t think an editor would “get it,” so I read it over and over and, at one point, read some chapters outloud to the cats. Amazing what you find when you read your work aloud. I definitely recommend it.

      For Bait, I’m working off an outline more. I know the story I want to tell, and the action scenes, but I need to focus on the human details. I use Scrivener (love it!) and have made notecards for each chapter. Now I just need the time to get my butt in the chair and write it!

      Have a great Friday, Robin!

      Posted by Hank Edwards | October 14, 2011, 5:32 am
  4. Hey, Hank!

    Great post for those considering self publishing!

    Posted by leebrazil | October 14, 2011, 5:42 am
  5. It’s ironic…the first two books I published were written in an effort to get my name out there so that I could find an agent and snag a publisher for my goal of publishing my Highland Shift book and the subsequent series. I also mixed genres in that book, and it’s a complicated series that spans 4 books, not something anyone wants from a new writer.
    Nearly three years after starting my first book, I have shifted to completely indie publishing through my own label, And just published Highland Shift myself. I couldn’t be happier. I but professional photographs, and learned to create the covers myself. I now hire an editor, and have several wonderful critique partners.
    I earn a big, fat ‘F’ on getting my name out there and blogging/advertising, etc. I’m okay with that. I wanted to create a backlist before I worried about that too much. I have a few more books that are in various stages of editing, plus two I am co-authoring that will be released over the next four months.
    I am more than willing to share what I’ve learned with anyone who wants to take the journey…all I know is without worrying about traditional publishing, my mind is free to create. I take care of the details, and I try not to get caught up in too much of the, since after all, I set them myself.
    Great post, Hank,
    Laura

    Posted by Laura Harner | October 14, 2011, 6:34 am
    • Thanks Laura! You and I are on the same page! I’m fortunate to have a creative talented partner to put together my covers and banners. It took us a while to find a good model for Dex and then I went to Jimmy Thomas’s site and that one pic was perfect. The whole cover came together. I like your idea about marketing more with a back catalog. Good luck to you!

      Posted by Anonymous | October 14, 2011, 7:52 am
  6. Hi Hank,

    Thanks for making the self-pub process seem slightly less daunting. Right now I’m with Lethe and happy for that. But one never knows. Agree completely about listening to beta readers. Having been a reporter for two decades I learned fast that editors – and by extension betas – are there to make the writer’s work better. And so the writer had better listen. Another trick that works when I’ve finished a draft: print the work out in an entirely different typeface than the one you’ve been looking at on the screen. All sorts of infelicities will pop out. And yes, reading aloud, even to the dog or cat, is useful.

    Say hello to your partner, who is great to work with.

    Posted by Elliott Mackle | October 14, 2011, 8:02 am
    • Hi Elliott!
      Yes, my partner is great to work with. He had fun with your covers. I’ve been seeing lots of good reviews for your book, but haven’t had time to get to it myself.

      I like the different typeface idea, I’ll have to try that. Thanks for the comment!

      Posted by Hank Edwards | October 14, 2011, 11:51 am
  7. Good morning, Hank –

    Thanks so much for hanging out with the RU Crew today!

    Can you share with our readers how you’re targeting reviewers for Bounty? Have you found that process to be challenging or not?

    Thanks so much for being here. This sounds like a book I need to add to my TBR pile!

    Kelsey

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | October 14, 2011, 8:15 am
  8. Hi Hank! I bookmarked this blog – I’m not thinking of self-publishing at this point, but it could happen in the future. A LOT of people I know are either already self-pubbed or are considering it, so your comments here are very timely. Thank you!

    Posted by Becke Davis (Becke Martin) | October 14, 2011, 8:37 am
  9. morning Hank!

    I think self-publishing has crossed every author’s mind at some point or another…but do you see yourself going to regular print as well?

    thanks!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | October 14, 2011, 8:56 am
    • Hi Carrie,
      I have considered the print route. Amazon uses Create Space (I think, unless that’s a previous name) to allow POD books. I’m waiting to see how the series does as e-books and then may release it as print. But then the question becomes, how to get it on shelves which is a whole different business.

      Posted by Hank Edwards | October 14, 2011, 11:56 am
  10. Hank – I’m back! So, now that you are your own publisher and you are still writing for the publishers who brought us your other amazing books – how are you juggling that along with the EDJ? Any change on your writing priorities?

    Posted by Robin Covington | October 14, 2011, 9:18 am
    • Great question, Robin!

      It has been challenging lately. The Story Orgy group publishes a free m/m read every Monday morning, so that takes up some time. And I’ve got some short stories I’d like to get written plus Bait is hanging there about 1/4 written. Sheesh!

      My partner is a huge help in this regard. He loves to cook and he’s a stay at home cat wrangler Dad, so handles a lot of the household stuff so I can focus in the evening on writing… when I’m not watching too much TV. Dammit, Glee, Modern Family, and Walking Dead, stop being so cool!

      Posted by Hank Edwards | October 14, 2011, 12:01 pm
      • Hank – I don’t know how you do the Story Orgy stuff on top of all the other stuff. You and your SO team are all so talented.

        You are so lucky to have your partner – I am always so thankful that my hubby is supportive of my writing career.

        As for TV – Hawaii 5-0 and Bones keep me busy and Glee is a must-see (thank God for Darrin Criss!)

        Posted by Robin Covington | October 14, 2011, 12:57 pm
  11. Hi Hank. Thank you for hanging out with us today.

    I’ve been watching the indie pub market for awhile now and I’ve been impressed with how some authors are approaching it. I think if an author is smart, can put out a good product and is dedicated, it can be a great thing for writers and readers.

    I’m curious if the market will level off some after newly pubbed indie authors realize how much work is involved with not only publishing a book, but marketing it.

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | October 14, 2011, 10:32 am
    • Good point Adrienne!

      Lots of authors are seeing the “70% royalties!” and not understanding that there’s a lot of marketing and advertising that happens as well. Conferences and the like can be great places to get the word out, but publishers usually have a booth or table to get exposure and that costs money, so it’s not only time but money investment.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by Hank Edwards | October 14, 2011, 12:03 pm
  12. Hi Hank! Great article. I like your comment about reading out loud. It is amazing what you discover when you hear your words. I also agree about the importance of a great cover for attracting readers. Not having easy access to a great graphic artist like you do that is one part that is daunting for me. I think I will end up hiring a cover artist when I finally get some out of print stories together to self-publish. Thanks for letting me be part of the process with Bounty! I’m looking forward to Bait!!

    Posted by Silvia Violet | October 14, 2011, 3:08 pm
    • Hi Silvia!
      I am fortunate to have a live in cover artist who supports my writing so much as well.

      Thank YOU for being part of the writing process with Bounty! And I’ll definitely let you know when Bait is ready.

      I look forward to your next book, too.

      Posted by Hank Edwards | October 14, 2011, 7:15 pm
      • I actually have an electronic reader program on my computer and as part of the revision process I print out my ms, load the file into my reader and listen to the book with pen in hand from start to finish.

        Posted by Robin Covington | October 14, 2011, 7:42 pm
  13. Hi Hank!

    This self-publishing stuff fascinates me! It makes me think of indie films that were box office hits, cult films that may not have a broad appeal, but still garner a loyal following. I believe there’s an audience for every sub/cross/fusioned genre and self-publishing is a viable way to get your work seen.

    Thanks for joining us today!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | October 14, 2011, 3:25 pm
    • Thanks, Jennifer! I feel the same way. Don’t you just love discovering an indie film that not a lot of people have seen and you can be part of the word of mouth to get more people to see it? What energy!

      Thanks for commenting!

      Posted by Hank Edwards | October 14, 2011, 7:16 pm
  14. And the winner is . . . . .. Elliott Mackle! Hank will email you with your giveaway.

    Thanks for everyone for posting and to Hank for being my guest!

    Posted by Robin Covington | October 16, 2011, 1:40 pm

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