"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Friday, April 1, 2011

Out of the frying pan...

I don't know what kind of fire I'm leaping into, but it can't be worse than the dance I've been doing in the Teflon.

For months now, I've been shopping my second Peri Minneopa Mystery book around to agents. Several asked for a full manuscript, which was heartening. Knowing agents (from other author tales), I knew I could have a long wait before they responded.

In the meantime, the publishing world has gone - wild? off-kilter? broken the chains of its corporate oppressors? I don't know how to describe it. If you live under a rock, you haven't heard that Borders declared bankruptcy and will probably pay pennies on the dollars they owe publishing houses. Barry Eisler, thriller-writer-extraordinaire, turned down a $500,000 advance in order to self-publish. Amanda Hocking, self-published-wonder-kid, who sold over a million books, was offered a $2 million deal from a publisher.

It's a crazy time to be a writer, with lots of columns on the menu of publishing choices.

I self-pubbed What Would Erma Do? because the agents/publishers I approached didn't think they could sell it, due to my lack of fame. I knew I had a platform, and an inkling of how to get the word out on the internet, so I thought I could just do it on my own. I hired the wonderful Joe Felipe to design my cover, worked with Createspace and Amazon's Digital Platform services, figured out how to upload to Smashwords, and started working the Inter-Network. Facebook, Twitter, Amazon discussion boards, Kindle Boards, other blogger's blogs, you name it.

The worst part of self-publishing is watching your book languish, and fall, in the Amazon rankings because no one is buying it. I swear, I could hear crickets chirping every time I logged into my account. But Michele Scott told me it takes time, so I'm attempting patience.

Now I'm starting to see one Erma e-book sale a day. No, it's not an avalanche. But it's one more than yesterday. Color me optimistic.

Back to the subject at hand: my second Peri book. While waiting for agents and listening to more than one person ask when the second book will be out, I began thinking. I have a cover artist. I know how to use the tools. Why not self-pub the second one?

As you can imagine, the entrepreneur angel and the traditional-book-deal angel started an argument of epic proportions in my head. My little traditional heart wanted to be able to say, "Why, yes, it will be released by Penguin next February," in that smugly humble way of authors. My desire to keep the Peri stories going said, "Screw that. Michele Scott's not afraid of being self-pubbed. Neither is Eisler, or Konrath, or a host of other really good writers. Get your work out there."

I was almost convinced to go ahead and self-publish, but there was one more avenue I wanted to try. There is a boutique publishing company that I admire a lot. I decided to submit to them. If they said no, I'd go it alone, and forget about the agents.

They said no. Not because of my writing. They really liked my writing, and thought the book could do well. They're just booked for the next 18 months or so and didn't think I'd want to wait until 2013 for a release, which is true. They've been nothing but kind and I'll continue to support them.

So right now, I'm working with Joe on cover art and giving the manuscript yet another scrutiny, mostly because I always think I can do better. I will keep everyone in the loop about when Hit or Missus will be available, and yes, I'll make it available in paperback and e-book format.

In the meantime, got any opinions about the cover? I like these two samples, for different reasons (forgive the horrible quality of the pictures - Joe and I work from pdf versions first, and the only way I can get them into the post is to scan a printout - lame, I know).

I like the block color format of this one, and the title in red. My only issue with it is the crack in the martini glass isn't AS vivid as the cover below.

I like the dark, edgy quality to this, and the way the crack in the glass is easy to see. I think my name needs to be smaller, and one of my friends thought the red slash was a red carpet and it didn't make sense to her.

Would anyone like to give me their opinion? About the covers, I mean. Actually, I guess you can give me your opinion about anything. But I could use some advice about the covers.

Is it warm in here, or is it just me?


Debbie Haas said...

Hi Gayle! Re your book covers...the black and white one (choice #1) was more appealing to my eye, however the black, white, and red (choice # 2) was more appealing to my gut. In the second one you can see the broken glass AND the ring better. I hadn't noticed the ring on the first one.
Hope this helps :)
Debbie Haas

Sue Ellis-Palacio said...

I like the darkness of the second offering, but I agree the red does look like the red carpet. Is it a big deal to rework it and take out the red carpet.
It is making me very nervous to consider the state of publishing today. It was scary enough to think about breaking in to the business without all the other stuff.
Loving Peri, and look forward to the book, even in a plain manilla envelope.

Gayle Carline said...

Thanks, Debbie and Sue - a commenter in Goodreads said that Cover #1 reminded him of a template a lot of self-pubbed authors use. Not as professional, in other words.

Joe has also just sent me a version of the darker cover with the tagline and author name moved around. I like it a lot!

Leah Petersen said...

You should put a poll into this post. You'll probably get a lot more people who will hit a quick "vote" button than you'll get people commenting.

The pictures are kinda hard to see, which I think is why my first instinct is for the black/white one. Cause I can see it better. But The red has its appeal. Honestly, though, I can't see the detail in either one (the crack in the glass, etc.) so I'm not entirely confident I would prefer the white in the end.

Gayle Carline said...

Leah - geepers, why didn't I think of a stinkin' poll? Thanx!

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