How to Get My Newest Novel for Free

The Seer's Sister cover

Before I started writing The Frost Eater, I wrote The Seer’s Sister. It’s the prequel novel to The Magic Eaters Trilogy.

The Seer’s Sister started as a 50-word story on Twitter.

As I started planning my next series, I realized I could base the prequel on this little story. I wrote a novella.

My alpha readers (who always read my books in their very early stages) wanted more worldbuilding. More character building.

I revised the story. It turned into a short novel.

My beta readers wanted even more.

I did more revisions. And that 50-word story turned into a full-length novel, about 80,000 words long. Writing this book gave me the opportunity to create a world that was rich and exciting, the world of The Magic Eaters Trilogy.

Here’s the cover of The Seer’s Sister, designed by Mariah Sinclair.

The Seer's Sister cover

I was going to wait to release it until I’d released the entire trilogy. Then I thought, What if I waited to release on Amazon…but gave the book away for free to my newsletter subscribers?

And that’s what I’m doing. To get your 100% free copy of The Seer’s Sister, click here to become an Email Insider.

If you’d like to know a little more about it first, keep reading.

The Magic Eaters Trilogy is YA fantasy with some sci-fi underpinnings. The Seer’s Sister is far more sci-fi than fantasy. It’s about the last living seer on the planet of Anyari. She foresees the upcoming apocalypse…and she and her sister have to try to stop it.

Keep scrolling to read the very beginning of the book. As you can see, it’s heavily influenced by that tiny little story I wrote on Twitter.


THE END, Rona wrote on the calendar square.

Ellin stood behind her sister’s chair and glanced at the words. “End of what?”

“Humanity. Most of us, anyway.” Rona’s shoulders lifted in a little shrug. 

Ellin had entered the room to discuss their dinner plans. All at once, her appetite fled, and her thoughts blurred into a thick haze. She stared at the whorl of short hair on the crown of Rona’s head.

At last, one thought wriggled free from Ellin’s sluggish brain: Rona shrugged. Mind sparking back to life, Ellin scrambled to interpret the gesture: She was joking. Or she’s not sure what she saw.

She opened her mouth to voice her suspicions, but nothing came out, because she knew the truth: Rona was a seer. She didn’t joke about her visions. And her certainty was only matched by her accuracy.

Ellin drew a deep breath and turned away. It didn’t help. In her mind’s eye, she still saw Rona, pen in hand, her prophecy scrawled in stark, black ink on the white page. Gritting her teeth, Ellin spun back around. She grasped her sister’s shoulder and squeezed it hard. “I’m going to stop it.”

Rona looked up. Her eyes, unblinking and calm, met Ellin’s. “Please do.”


Want to keep reading? To get your 100% free copy of The Seer’s Sister, click here to become an Email Insider.

Four Words: A Short Story

close-up of a green reptile eye next to green reptilian skin

“It’s bred to be tame from birth. It’ll breathe smoke only, never fire. And I personally guarantee it won’t get bigger than a large dog. In a few years, everyone will have a dragon as a pet. Don’t you want to be one of the first?”

Later, no one could agree on whether the dragon-egg peddler was tall or short, dark or pale, skinny or portly. But they all agreed on the essentials of his spiel and the trustworthy smile that accompanied it.

Five years later, the peddler was nowhere to be found, but my husband Stiver and I were hearing plenty of stories. Tales of pet dragons as big as houses, of entire blocks burning from a dragon’s belch.

When rumor reached us of a dragon named Prettynose snacking on a child, we knew we had to act. I left my bakery’s management in the hands of my sister, and Stiver quit his job at the sawmill. We bought an abandoned farm and started the Dragon Rehabilitation Center, a place to prepare pet dragons to live in the wild.

I’d always been able to communicate with dragons, so I entered our venture with naïve optimism. It might be harder than baking bread, but it was bound to be more fun. 

The day we opened, a farmer brought us a glorious, gray-blue dragon, eight feet tall when seated, with a wingspan twice that big. I came to a quick understanding with him. Stiver and I would help him gain independent-living skills as quickly as possible; he’d refrain from eating us or burning us. A month later, we released him into the wild. I still saw him in the distance for years after that, soaring over the forest, sleek and strong. Based on occasional wisps of thought the wind carried to me, the big fella was happy.

More people entrusted their dragons to us. Some wept as they dropped off their dear pets; others fairly danced after handing us the leash. The dragons, too, reacted in any number of different ways, from despondent to excited to wary. 

Stiver took them hunting in the little woods behind our house. I sat with them, discussing how things were going and how they might learn to be more self-sufficient.

It was, of course, more difficult than I’d expected. I’d had conversations with dragons all my life, but we never got personal. It wasn’t until I was living with them that I realized how emotional they can be. After the third time a weeping dragon nearly burned me with flaming sobs, I started a meditation class to teach them to control their emotions. I explained that I understood it was hard to be away from their owners, but I couldn’t help them if I was charbroiled.

Stiver and I released dragons back into the wild at a rate of nearly one a week, and we were both happy with that result. We only kept a dozen at a time; we didn’t have room for more. One day after I watched a sweet red female ride the wind currents to her new home on the mountain, I checked our waiting list.

“Stiver,” I said, “can you walk down to the rectory? They’re next on the list.”

His eyes darted up from the salve he was mixing. (He was forever trying to soothe reptilian necks that were chafed by collars.) “The green dragon?”

“That’s the one.”

“You, uh . . . you sure?”

I sighed. “I’m sure, Stiver. We can handle this.”

He wiped his hands clean and departed without another word.

Stiver doesn’t often get nervous, and I tried to shake off my concern at seeing such a reaction from him. Sure, the green dragon at the rectory was different. He was big, for one thing, taller than most buildings in town. More than once, he’d gotten loose and sat in front of the church, wings spread. Oddly, it was always on Meeting Day. We’d relocate our service to the street, watched over by those huge, jade eyes.

close-up of a green reptile eye next to green reptilian skin

And to top it all off, the dragon had never spoken to me, not once. I’d reached out to him, said hello, asked his name, complimented his sleek, grass-green scales. (Most dragons are notoriously susceptible to flattery.) I was sure he understood me; those eyes of his were deep vats of intelligence. But he never deigned to respond.

Well, what was done was done. Stiver was on his way over there, and soon enough, we’d both have to deal with the creature I’d taken to calling Green. I walked over to Lair One (a converted barn) to check on the residents and distract myself from my anxiety.

I heard Green arrive before I saw him. I was comforting one of our newest residents, singing her a lullaby like her owner had always done, when Green let out a massive roar that shook me to my shoelaces. After kissing my little homesick dragon on the cheek, I turned, squared my shoulders, and marched to the center’s front gate.

I nearly stumbled when I got close enough to see what awaited me there. Green was standing tall, holding Stiver against his chest with a muscular, scaly tail. From fifteen feet above the ground, my husband’s eyes and mouth were wide. But his coloring was normal, leading me to believe he was alive and breathing. Green stared at me with impassive eyes that dared me to react improperly.

Perhaps my first reaction should’ve been panic. I do love Stiver, deeply and truly. But I also love a challenge. I kept my wits and stepped right up to Green, so close that when I craned my head to gaze at his face, I looked straight up into his ashy nostrils.

Not taking my eyes off Green’s head, I crouched and placed a hand on his lower body, a foot off the ground. My fingers felt the invisible seam which I knew led to a male dragon’s most vulnerable and personal organs, kept hidden most of the time. Most people know nothing about how this great species mates. But lonely dragons tend to get talkative, and I’d learned a lot in the year our sanctuary had been open.

I didn’t talk aloud, just sent a thought to Green: If you have any desire for children or pleasure in the future, you’ll release my husband.

A moment later, that great belly nearly touched my head as Green bent over and placed Stiver on the ground behind me, setting him down as gently as a mother kisses her baby.

Green straightened and finally lowered his head to look at me. I removed my hand and stood, again communicating silently with him. Thank the heavens; I really didn’t want to stick my hand in there. I arched a brow and led him to Lair Three, a building custom-built for large dragons. The green behemoth followed me quietly, a small puff of acrid smoke the only indicator of his displeasure. 


Green wasn’t the slightest bit tame. And like all our residents, he could have flown off at any time.

He didn’t stay because he wanted to be a pet. He stayed because he was pragmatic enough to know that habitual churchgoer intimidation hadn’t prepared him for a life of hunting and plundering.

Green didn’t tell me any of this, of course. Even after a week, he still wouldn’t speak a word to me. But dragons, like people, communicate through far more than words. I read his wildness in the tension of his rippling muscles. I saw his determination in his hunting, after which he regularly crashed to the ground in exhaustion, having spent all day seeking prey. And every time I sneaked a look in his shimmering, green eyes, I saw his hatred of the captivity he’d been born into.

When he finally spoke, we didn’t have a conversation about the weather or his hunting. In fact, it didn’t quite qualify as a conversation at all. Rather, it was a reprimand.

Green had hunted from sunrise to twilight that day, with nary a break for food or water. Then he’d fainted, falling from above the treetops to the ground, earning himself a gash from a heavy branch on the way down. I’d been trying to get him to descend for hours by then, and I was none too patient when I ran home and returned with Stiver’s salve.

But when I tried to rub the stuff in Green’s wound, he rewarded me with a slap from his muscular tail, so hard I knew my entire hand would be bruised the next day.

Forget wooing him with silent words. I let loose on him, screaming with a voice hoarse from lack of sleep (thanks to his recent antics). “You could at least show some gratitude, you big, green oaf!” I dug my hand into the pungent ointment and flung a fistful of the stuff at him, missing the wound entirely.

That was when his voice at last pierced my mind. Four words, spoken in a tone that, while telepathic, was nonetheless full and rumbling, a sound that was surely born of the molten rock at the center of the earth.

I OWE YOU NOTHING.

I opened my mouth to argue, but I couldn’t. There I was, standing next to this carnivore who couldn’t hunt, a beast who should’ve been free to develop such skills from his first days but had instead been walked on a leash by a rector’s son. And I perceived the tragic truth of his life for the first time.

I saw that wildness without freedom is fraught with injustice. I saw that even if Green learned to live with his cousins in the mountains, he would never truly be one of them. That was humanity’s fault.

It was my fault.

How many times had I passed someone walking their dragon and shaken my head in self-righteous disapproval, doing nothing to stand up for the captive creature? How many times had I laughed when I’d heard of a pet dragon burning up some outhouse? I’d mused that the owners had gotten what was coming to them. But the justice of such little disasters didn’t provide any relief for the hapless pets who were likely treated even worse afterward.

All this filled my head in perhaps a minute. I stepped back from Green, far enough to be out of reach of his tail, but close enough that a fiery breath could incinerate me if he so desired. I opened my mind to him, letting him read my heart, my newly awakened sense of what was real.

He stared at me with unblinking, emotionless eyes, their jade irises so deep I could swim in them. Then he lifted himself to his feet and soared toward his pitiful, human-built lair.

After Green spoke those four words to me, I allowed him to be wild. I offered him space to sleep and hunt, expecting nothing in return. He mostly ignored me. When his inexperienced hunting led to inevitable hunger, he alighted atop the barn where we kept animals for just that purpose, until Stiver or I fetched a pig or a few chickens for him. He ate those meals in the woods, not a hint of emotion seeping from his closed mind.

My actions toward the other dragons changed, as well. No more lullabies, no more meditation or deep conversations. They needed to be wild, rather than coddled. 

I became aware of my error within a day, when my head virtually exploded with incoming dragon cries: WHERE ARE YOU? a newcomer screamed. PLEASE COME!

Forced wildness, I realized, could not overcome the tragedy of a dragon’s tameness. I shifted my strategy again, giving every dragon just what they needed, no more or less, never asking for anything from them.

One morning, I woke to a voice in my mind. It was the dragon who always requested lullabies. WOULD YOU LIKE TO RIDE ME? she asked.

I sat up in bed fast enough to wake Stiver. I was about to send back my enthusiastic Yes!, for riding a dragon was my lifelong dream. It had been illegal for a century, since the great wars that had decimated both human and dragon populations. But surely if a dragon was offering . . .

And then I thought of the face of that sweet lullaby dragon when she’d caught a fox the day before. I pictured the fire that had filled her gentle eyes. The wild pride.

No, I sent back to her. You don’t owe me a thing. I owe you everything.

A soothing rush of reptilian relief filled my mind. Two days later, the lullaby dragon flew off, waves of confident anticipation flowing behind her, ready to join her family.

Every dragon who’d preceded Green to the Rehabilitation Center eventually left. The ones who’d come after him began finding their freedom, as well. Yet Green still struggled to catch more than a squirrel, despite long days, and occasional nights, in the skies.

Strolling through town one day, I saw a young woman walking a rust-colored dragon twice her size.

I stopped in front of them both, causing them to halt.

“Do you think she wants to be a pet?” I asked, not even trying to tamp down the fury in my voice.

To my surprise, the woman’s eyes filled with tears. “I know she doesn’t. She tells me every day.”

The next day, the woman came on staff at the Rehabilitation Center. We accepted her dragon as our thirteenth resident, then built Lairs Four and Five, expanding our capacity to eighteen.

A year later, we had more workers, more lairs, and no more waiting list.

And still, Green hunted unsuccessfully every day, watching his fellow dragons come and go, never speaking a word.

I didn’t attempt to talk to him for months, until finally one day I stood before his lair in the pre-dawn darkness and sent him my own four-word message:

I know you can.

That afternoon, he caught a deer.

The next day, a badger.

The next, a wild hog.

On the fourth day, he soared away, not looking back once. I watched as his form grew smaller, dwarfed by the looming mountains in the distance. Green was going home.


Dragons came and went. Some returned to visit, often telling us of the new names their kinfolk had given them.

A month after he’d left, Green appeared in the distant sky early one morning. Occasionally, he dove down, probably to grab prey. Then he flew up again, gliding on wind currents. When the sun was reaching for the horizon, Green returned to the mountains.

The next day, he did the same thing—and every day after that until, one afternoon, a quick-learning resident took to the skies and soared toward the mountains. Green joined the deep-gray dragon, escorting her to her new home.

I wiped tears from my cheeks and sent a message as far as I could with every bit of strength I could muster: Green, I’ll call you when we’ve got one leaving. I didn’t know if I could reach him all the way at his mountain home, but experience had taught me that even a weak dragon’s telepathic reception far surpassed mine. And Green was not weak.

I received no response. But I didn’t see Green again until a few days later, half an hour after I’d thrust a message through the sky: The white dragon is leaving today.

When the snow-colored creature took to the air, she had a quiet escort home.

Years passed. Stiver and I had children of our own. Decades escaped our grasp like water flowing through our open hands. Once again, we were alone in our little farmhouse. The Center reached a peak resident count of eighty-two dragons. Then the numbers gradually dwindled, for the public had at last learned that wild animals make poor pets.

Our staff members found other professions. The sensitive young woman I’d first brought on was the last to leave. At last, Stiver and I found ourselves caring for only one dragon, a silver female who’d always been called Spot and was anxious to get a better name from her mountain family.

Spot was small, perhaps the size of our kitchen table. She’d somehow convinced us to let her sleep before our fireplace. She worked hard, learning to hunt during winter, even taking to the air on stormy days.

When she let us know she was ready to meet her family, we all cried—Stiver and I with salty tears, Spot with a beautiful, silent song of grief.

ONE MORE NIGHT? she asked.

I made the fire extra hot for her.

The next morning, I called Green. Spot waited, watching the sky. I stood on one side of her, Stiver on the other.

I pointed at a speck in the distance, barely visible against the mountain crags.

“Don’t know how you can see anything that far away,” Stiver said, as he always did.

I chuckled, as I always did.

Green grew larger, reaching the point he never flew beyond, about half a mile away. Then he kept coming, his great wings slowly flapping, until he was over our house. He landed, huge and regal, atop the chimney.

For the first time in thirty years, I saw his jade-green eyes, their depths unfathomable, full of wild wisdom. I looked at the ridge of scar tissue on his side where he’d fallen against a tree branch so long ago.

Spot lifted into the sky, the golden sun radiant on her silver scales. She joined the great, green dragon in the air. They soared off together.

Stiver returned to the house, but I stayed, watching the sky.

Just before the creatures were out of sight, the morning wind carried four words to my mind in a deep tone, conceived within the earth, a voice I’d never forgotten:

THEY CALL ME TEMPEST.


THE END


This story was part of the March Short Story Contest sponsored by Gestalt Media, and it won! It’ll be published in their 2020 short-story anthology.

It’s Launch Day for The Frost Eater!

I’m so excited to introduce you to The Frost Eater, my newest novel. It’s post-apocalyptic YA fantasy, and I hope you love it as much as I do!

Krey, a royalty-hating, flying teen, is searching for his girlfriend Zeisha. Nora, a princess, insists on helping.

But Zeisha’s captors are memory stealers. She must escape soon—or she’ll lose herself forever.

Click here to read the first chapter of The Frost Eater! Or download the first four chapters by clicking here.

The Frost Eater has nearly 60 reviews on Goodreads. See what readers are saying by clicking here. (While you’re at it, add it to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list and Follow me!)

Get it Today!

Launch Event for The Frost Eater

If you live in the Austin, Texas are, I’d love for you to join me on February 8 from 1-4 p.m. for a book launch & signing for The Frost Eater, my new post-apocalyptic YA fantasy novel.

Come any time between 1-4 for the book signing. Beth will read an excerpt from the book at 3.

Buy your book at the event or pre-order a signed copy & pick it up there! Click here to purchase.

Reviewers are calling this new novel “a great read” that “sizzles along to an unexpected end” with “heavy-hitting action,” “magic and dragons,” and “a touch of romance.” Read more about it here.

See you on February 8! And feel free to check out the Facebook event here.

Review quotes are from Goodreads reviewers Mike, Clarissa Gosling, and K. Law, and Booksprout reviewer Beth H.

Using Both IngramSpark and KDP for Paperback Printing

This post explains the ins and outs of how I use both KDP and IngramSpark and why other authors might want to.

I first posted this information on the Facebook Group 20Booksto50K. There are lots of helpful comments on the thread. I’ve incorporated some of the information into this blog post, but check out the original Facebook post for even more information.

Please note that some of this information is specific to U.S. authors.

WHY USE INGRAMSPARK?

PRE-ORDERS & AUTHOR COPIES

IngramSpark allows pre-orders and allows you to purchase author copies before the book is released. KDP Print doesn’t allow either of these. (Yes, KDP lets you get proof copies, but they’re marked as such. You can’t pre-purchase copies to sell in person or on your website.)

I like having both my e-book and my paperback on pre-order on Amazon, and I like pre-ordering author copies that I can have on hand before the book is “live.”

ROYALTY RATE

KDP Print will allow you to set up Expanded Distribution so other sellers can sell your book. But the royalty cut if your book is sold by non-Amazon sellers is very low.

When someone buys your KDP Print book through Amazon, your cut is 60% minus the print cost. With Expanded Distribution, if the book is sold by non-Amazon sellers, your cut goes down to 40% minus the print cost.

IngramSpark allows you to set a Wholesale Discount rate between 30-55%. The Wholesale Discount is the amount IngramSpark discounts your book when they sell wholesale copies—basically it’s the retail profit if the retailer sells at full price. With a 30% wholesale discount, your royalty is 70% minus print cost. With 55% wholesale discount, royalty is 45% minus print cost.

Why would you set a 55% Wholesale Discount? Because a lot of bookstores require it in order to stock your book. Plus they require you to enable returns (where they can return your book if the copies don’t sell). It’s really hard to make a profit at those royalty rates, especially if they end up returning books.

Having my book on bookstore shelves is not a big priority of mine. So I set my wholesale discount at 30%. (35% is the lowest allowed in some international markets.) Online retailers (Amazon, B&N website, etc.) allow this low discount. When someone buys my IngramSpark book online, I make a really nice profit…rather than making pennies with KDP Expanded Distribution.

Note: A commenter on my Facebook post pointed out that Barnes & Noble has allowed him to do book signings with just a 40% Wholesale Discount on his books through Ingram. You’ll need to check with your local Barnes & Noble if you’re interested in going this route.

WHY USE KDP PRINT?

STOCKING ISSUES AT AMAZON

Once Amazon sells all the copies of my book that they ordered from IngramSpark, they won’t order more unless I have good sales coming in. And I just don’t sell that many paperbacks.

When that last book gets sold, the status of my paperback on Amazon changes. They might say it will take a couple of weeks to ship, or even a couple of months. They may even say it’s out of stock. By publishing with KDP Print, the book is ALWAYS “in stock” without a print delay.

My royalty is slightly less than with IngramSpark, but it’s worth it to never be out of stock or have long shipping delays.

BE PREPARED FOR EXTRA COSTS

COVERS

KDP and IngramSpark use different paper. For my books, which I print on cream paper, the IngramSpark copies are thinner. So the paperback covers for the two printers are slightly different dimensions. The thicker the book, the bigger the difference. IngramSpark and KDP also have different formats for submitting files. Your cover designer may charge extra for the additional version of the paperback cover.

ISBNs

One other thing to consider is that you’ll need an ISBN if you use both IngramSpark and KDP. (Either service will provide one for free if you want them to…but you can only use that free ISBN with that particular service, as they own it and will be listed as your publisher.)

I spent over $500 on a pack of 100 ISBNs before I published my first book. It was a painful purchase, but I figure I’ll probably never need to buy ISBNs again. One ISBN individually is over $100, so buying in bulk helps.

Please don’t go to a reseller to purchase a discount ISBN. They own it, not you, and they can pull your book from publication if they want to.

UPLOAD & REVISION CHARGES

IngramSpark charges $49 to upload a book, plus $25 for each revision. There are usually coupon codes floating around to cover uploads and, less often, codes to cover revisions.

I’m a member of ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors), and they have a code for members that makes initial upload AND all revisions free. I pay $99 a year for that membership.

HOW IT WORKS USING BOTH SERVICES

ISBN

First, purchase an ISBN. You’ll the same ISBN for both KDP Print and IngramSpark. In the U.S., you’ll purchase your ISBN through Bowker.

UPLOAD TO INGRAMSPARK FIRST, IF DOING A PRE-ORDER

I always upload to IngramSpark first, because I do pre-orders, which KDP Print doesn’t offer.

I upload to IngramSpark & use the future publication date as both the Publication AND On-Sale date. Within a few days, the book automatically shows up on Amazon as a pre-order paperback. I ask Amazon to link the paperback and e-book, and when that’s done, I start marketing the pre-order.

Shortly before publication, Amazon purchases some copies from IngramSpark. In my experience, they purchase enough books to fulfill the pre-orders…plus some extras.

If you aren’t doing a pre-order, you may choose to upload to KDP first. Do not select Expanded Distribution, as that will make it very difficult to use the same ISBN on IngramSpark.

UPLOAD TO KDP ON PUBLICATION DAY

On publication day, I publish the paperback on KDP. The transition is seamless, because the ISBN is the same. The listing remains right where it was, linked to my e-book.

A NOTE ABOUT GETTING PAID

After you hit “Publish” on KDP Print, people who order your paperback may still get IngramSpark copies, if Amazon still has some on their warehouse shelves.

With my first series, people told me they’d ordered my books…but I didn’t see any KDP Print sales. I thought Amazon was failing to pay me. It took months to track down the reason—those were sales through Ingram that I’d already been credited for, extra books Amazon had ordered during the pre-order period. Once Amazon sold out of those books, they started printing new orders through KDP.

Hope this was helpful! Leave any questions in the comments.

Want to be notified every time I post an Author Resource?


Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

The Frost Eater: Sneak Peek

The Frost Eater, my new post-apocalyptic YA fantasy novel, releases on January 28! Below, catch a sneak peek of the first chapter.


The Frost Eater

Chapter 1

Two years after the world ended, I was born.

The First Generation: A Memoir by Liri Abrios

***

“Darling, your crown is crooked.”

Nora turned to her father. “You’re always telling me it’s not a crown, it’s a headdress.”

“When it’s just the two of us, it’s a crown.” His brown eyes twinkled as he pointed to the band of gold around his head. “One day, you’ll wear the real thing.”

Nora was only seventeen; she wasn’t ready to think about the day when she’d become an orphan and a queen all at once. “That won’t happen for a long time. Straighten the headdress for me?”

He grasped it with both hands, shifting it to the left. It scratched Nora’s forehead, eliciting a wince.

“Sorry. Does it feel secure?”

“As secure as it gets.” The headdress was crafted of fine silver, with delicate filigree extending high above Nora’s head. She usually loved wearing it. But after weeks on the road, she had pimples from the molded metal that rested on her forehead. She couldn’t be happier that they were approaching the last stop on their tour.

Unseen people began chanting, “Cell-er-in! Cell-er-in!” The open-topped steamcar was having a tough time making it up a steep slope. Beyond the hill lay the town of Tirra, where crowds awaited their king and princess. Nora wished they’d harness a couple of orsas to the car and let the beasts pull it up the hill, but that would ruin the effect of them rolling into town in the most modern vehicle available. Most rural residents had never seen a steamcar.

“Almost there!” the driver called over his shoulder.

“Thank you.” Nora’s father returned his gaze to her. “Chin up.”

Before he could finish his admonishment, Nora did it for him. “Smile big.”

Her father winked. A gust of chilly wind blew Nora’s straight, dark-brown, chin-length hair into her face. She peeled a few strands off her glossed lips and curved her mouth into a smile she hoped was sufficiently regal.

Windmills rose up on either side of the road as the steamcar puttered to the top of the rise. Chanting people came into view, hundreds of them, lining the road all the way down the hill and into town.

Nora and her father waved, and the chants turned into cheers. The rush of support filled Nora’s chest and tugged her mouth into a wider grin.

Eight guards riding orsas surrounded the steamcar. Between them, Nora glimpsed a little girl perched on a man’s shoulders, wearing a headdress made of—what was that, corn husks? Whatever the material, it was molded to look like Nora’s. She blew a kiss to the cheering girl.

It didn’t take long to arrive at the bottom of the hill. They drove a few blocks and pulled to a stop in a quaint town square. A wooden stage awaited them, decorated with large, fabric bows in blue and black, Cellerin’s royal colors. A woman who introduced herself as Mayor Ashler showed Nora, her father, and several guards onto the stage. When the crowd calmed, the show began.

Nora awarded the town with a Cellerinian flag that had flown at the palace. Then King Ulmin began speaking, and Nora instantly grew bored. It was the same talk her father had given in every town they’d visited, except that somehow it got longer each time. He spoke of The Day, two hundred years earlier, when billions of humans on their planet, Anyari, had died. Then he looked up to the sky and said, “But we thank God that four hundred thousand people, one in ten thousand, survived. They were your ancestors and mine. And they rebuilt civilization.”

Nora had to admit, her dad cut an impressive figure. He was tall, with a broad chest and slim waist. His beard, more silver than brown these days, was perfectly trimmed. Autumn sunlight reflected off the gold of his crown and the silver streaks in his hair as he continued his speech, extolling the nation of Cellerin that had risen from destruction. He praised his grandmother Onna, Cellerin’s first monarch, who’d ended a terrible war. 

At first, Nora’s father’s speeches had inspired her. Now, three weeks into their tour, she was sick of the stories. She tried to keep her face pleasant. At least her clothing was thick and warm, protecting her from the late-fall chill. Her blue-and-purple outfit—more of a costume, really—had belonged to her mother. The shirt and pants were crafted of high-tech, preday fabric that had been made to last for centuries. It was layered and molded into a structural wonder that hugged Nora’s long legs, curvy hips, and slender torso. A massive collar of sorts, shaped like flower petals, extended up from her shoulders in front and back. The fabric was a visual reminder of the old days, and the collar represented Anyari’s people, who had bloomed from devastating tragedy.

“Princess Nora.”

Nora jolted but quickly recovered. Her father was facing her.

“The people of Tirra have a gift for you.” He beckoned her forward, and Nora saw that Mayor Ashler had joined him onstage.

Nora raised an eyebrow. Going off script, Dad? That’s not like you. The crowd cheered as she stepped to the front of the stage and waved.

 “Princess Ulminora.” The mayor had a closed wooden box in her hands. She was beaming. “We heard you ran out of ice on your journey. I’m an ice lyster too, and I just returned from the mountain last week to retrieve fuel for myself.”

Nora’s eyebrows shot up, and her gaze found Cellerin Mountain, which loomed in the distance. The mayor had climbed its icy heights herself, rather than sending someone else?

Mayor Ashler answered Nora’s unspoken question. “I grew up climbing Cellerin’s slopes, and I can’t seem to break the habit.” The people cheered, and the mayor continued, “Your Highness, we grow both grapes and bollaberries in our town greenhouse. I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite things: shaved ice with bollagrape juice.”

She opened the hinged lid. The box was thick, clearly insulated. Inside was a mound of shaved ice, colored with pale-purple juice.

The mayor handed Nora a silver spoon. “Care to try it?”

Nora grinned. “Thank you, Mayor.” Year-round access to ice was one of the perks of being a princess. However, a few days into the trip, Nora had eaten the last of the ice from her personal ice chest. She’d then discovered that they’d left behind the large chest they’d meant to bring. It was the first time she’d ever gone two weeks without doing magic.

She dipped the spoon in the snowy concoction and brought it to her mouth. Instantly, she knew she’d have to beg the chef back home to find a source of bollaberries. The combination of the berries, which originated on Anyari, and grapes, which originated on Earth, was perfect. Like so many mixtures of Anyarian and Original produce, the flavor was complex and surprising, both sweet and tart.

Without thinking, Nora dipped the spoon in the ice again. She halted and flicked her eyes up to the mayor’s. “I’m sorry—do you mind me going back for seconds?”

Laughter and cheers filled the square. The mayor’s eyes crinkled. “Have as much as you’d like.”

Nora ate several more bites, then turned to her father. She lifted her hands and wiggled her fingers. “May I?”

He nodded.

She took a step toward the edge of the stage, held her arms out wide, and turned her hands toward the sky. The crowd’s murmuring stopped, the hush only broken by a baby’s cry. Nora’s arms, fingers, and throat started to tingle, the sensation delightfully chilly. She brought her arms in front of her and held her palms toward the crowd. With a bright smile, she pushed magic through her hands, shooting two puffs of snow over the front rows. The crowd cheered.

Nora took a deep breath, lifted her chin, and blew snow from her cold mouth. It arced into the air, then fell on a dozen grinning townspeople. She laughed, basking in the crackling energy of the masses. In a thousand ways, she dreaded becoming queen. But she savored moments like these, when she forgot the stifling responsibilities ahead of her and simply enjoyed the people of Cellerin.

Then, all at once, the crowd’s gazes shifted. Fingers pointed high and to the right. Excited murmurs grew louder.

Nora lifted her eyes to the sky. When she saw what was distracting everyone, her focus broke, drying up the flow of snow. She dropped her arms to her side.

A man was soaring through the pale-orange sky, swooping up and down like a drunk bird. This little town has a feather lyster? And he chooses this moment to put on a show? She shouldn’t be surprised; the feather lysters she knew were the vainest people in all of Cellerin.

Two royal guards were standing in front of the stage. One drew a pistol. The other lifted his bow and nocked an arrow. Both aimed at the flying man.

At the same time, the six guards who’d been standing at the rear of the stage rushed to surround Nora and her father. They faced outward, weapons pointed at the flying man. “Let’s get you two off the stage,” one of them said.

From outside the circle of guards, Mayor Ashler said, “I assure you, he’s harmless. He’s a show-off, but he won’t hurt anyone.”

“Let the mayor in,” Nora’s father said. Two guards moved apart, and the mayor joined the cramped circle. King Ulmin’s authoritative voice boomed in the tight space. “I’m staying here. I want a guard on either side of me. The rest of you, take Nora off the stage.”

“My office is next to the stage,” Mayor Ashler said. “I’ll take her there, and we’ll lock the doors.”

“Dad,” Nora said, “the mayor said that man is harmless. He doesn’t even have a weapon. Should we really run from him?”

“I’m not running. I’m keeping you safe.”

Nora rolled her eyes as everyone followed the king’s instructions. Two guards held her elbows. Another stood behind her, hand on her back, and the fourth positioned himself in front of her. Nora was tall, but the guard in front of her was practically a giant, his shoulders even with her eyes. His name was Ovrun, and he was the youngest guard, only nineteen. His muscular shoulders, clad in black livery with blue epaulets, distracted Nora as the guards rushed her across the stage, down a set of steps, and into a dark building.

Mayor Ashler locked the door. “My deepest apologies, Princess Ulminora.”

“It’s Nora.”

“Pardon me?”

“No one calls me Ulminora.”

The mayor flipped a switch. A light bulb came on, illuminating a small lobby with a large, curtained window.

Enough wind power for lights in public buildings. This town’s doing pretty well. Nora took off her heavy headdress and set it down. She approached the window, but Ovrun and another guard were standing in front of it, their arms folded. A third guard stationed himself at the far edge of the window and pulled back the drapes just enough to look outside.

Nora gave Ovrun her most dazzling smile, and the corner of his lips quirked up. “I appreciate you trying to keep me safe,” she said. “All I want to do is peek between the curtains. Please?”

The guards exchanged glances, and then Ovrun parted the curtains just enough for Nora to peer out with one eye. The lyster was still flying. Nora watched for any signs of his magic waning, but he was soaring in confident arcs. Must’ve eaten plenty of feathers. The crowd cheered as he flew in ridiculous figure eights, nearly hitting the tops of buildings every time he reached the bottom of the shape. Nora rolled her eyes. Show-off.

Finally, the flyer ended his flamboyant display. He stayed in the air, however, hovering over a three-story building that faced the square. Nora was close enough to discern a rough outline of his face. He looked like a teenager, but he couldn’t possibly be that young. It took feather lysters decades to perfect their magical faculty.

His dark hair was long enough to cover his forehead, but the wind was lifting it into a messy mop. Despite how ridiculous this made him look, he beamed as he waved at the crowd. Then he alighted on the edge of the roof and dropped to his hands and knees.

Nora squinted, then gasped. A thick ribbon of smooth, white ice flowed from the man’s hands, extending off the roof. He’s an ice lyster, too?

The ice grew at an unbelievable pace. Within a minute, a gorgeous, curving ramp with banked edges extended from the roof to the ground. Nora’s jaw dropped. Despite years of training (focused on one faculty, not two), she’d never made that much ice at once.

The young man sat on the ramp and grinned once more at the crowd. He pushed himself forward until the ramp grew steep enough for gravity to take over, sending him sliding at a dizzying speed.

Nora had just enough time to think, I’ve got to learn how to make one of those ramps! when the lyster reached the slide’s halfway point, and everything literally fell apart. The entire slide broke into at least a dozen pieces. The young man’s hands flailed in the air as he tumbled down, his fall cushioned only by massive, jagged shards of ice.

Nora’s hand came up to her mouth. “Oh!”

The guards on either side of her tensed. Ovrun grasped her arm and tugged her away from the window. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. The lyster just fell.” Nora pulled away and stepped back to the window. It was clear what had happened. The man had lost focus, turning his ice brittle. She’d done it a thousand times, just never when she was depending on her creation to support her full weight. 

“Come on, get up!” Nora urged under her breath. All the lyster’s would-be rescuers blocked her line of sight. Her heart pounded and her cheeks grew warm as she tried to determine his fate. Sure, he was arrogant and lacked common sense, but he didn’t deserve to die in a pile of his own ice. 

The clock on the wall seemed to tick louder than it had before. Suddenly, the young man pushed himself up to stand atop his bed of ice. Nora couldn’t see his expression, but his wave to the crowd was hesitant, his hubris gone. He dropped into a squat, then jumped into the air and flew again, soaring over the buildings of the square and dropping out of sight.

Nora laughed at the sight, then stepped back from the window and nodded at the guards. “Thanks for letting me watch.”

“Is the feather eater gone?” Ovrun asked.

“Yeah. What a fool. He’s lucky you didn’t shoot him down.” Despite her words, all Nora could think about was how fun it would be to make and use a slide like that.

Across the room, Mayor Ashler cleared her throat. “I’m very sorry about all this.”

Nora grinned and crossed to the woman. “It’s okay; this is the most fun I’ve had in weeks. Tell me, Mayor, what’s that lyster’s name?”


Dying to read more right now? As a thanks for becoming one of my Email Insiders, you can download the first four chapters of The Frost Eater and read them on your e-reader, phone, or computer. Click here!

Ready to get your own copy? It releases on January 28, 2020. Pre-order it today!

When you pre-order any version of the book, you can get 2 free signed bookmarks & a chance to win a free paperback copy of The Frost Eater! After ordering, click here to claim your Pre-Order Perks. (U.S. only.)

Pre-Order The Frost Eater…and Get Free Bookmarks!

The Frost Eater, Book 1 in The Magic Eaters Trilogy, is available for pre-order!

What’s it about? Glad you asked.

200 years ago, an apocalypse ushered in a magical era.

Krey, a royalty-hating, flying teen, is searching for his girlfriend Zeisha. Nora, a princess, insists on helping.

But Zeisha’s captors are memory stealers. She must escape soon—or she’ll lose herself forever.

I love this story. I think you will too!

Get it Today!

Pre-Order Perks

When you pre-order any version of the book, you can get 2 free signed bookmarks & a chance to win a free paperback copy of The Frost Eater! After ordering, click here to claim your Pre-Order Perks. (U.S. only.)

Add The Frost Eater to Goodreads!

How to Make an Animated Cover Reveal Video

Today on social media, I revealed the cover for my next book by using this 20-second animated video:

I used two main programs to make this video:

  • Photoshop (but you can use any photo editing program that has these features: layers, a transparent background, and export-to-PNG).
  • iMovie

Want to make your own cover reveal video (or another, similar animated video)? Check out this tutorial!

Note: I mentioned a few different websites; here are links to them:

Want to be notified every time I post an Author Resource?


Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Cover & Title Reveal: My Next YA Fantasy Novel!

I’ve been working hard on my new YA fantasy series, and it’s time to reveal the cover (designed by Mariah Sinclair), title, and release date!

What’s it about? I’m glad you asked.

200 years ago, an apocalypse ushered in a magical era.

Krey, a royalty-hating, flying teen, is searching for his girlfriend Zeisha. Nora, a princess, insists on helping.

But Zeisha’s captors are memory stealers. She must escape soon—or she’ll lose herself forever.

It’s a fantastic new series for fans of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, the Harbinger series by Jeff Wheeler, and The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken.

Coming January 28, 2020!

So, You Want to Write a Book? Your Questions Answered!

Last month, I sent an email to my Email Insiders (sign up here!) with the subject line, “So, you want to write a book?” I encouraged people to ask questions about writing and publishing, and I got a lot of responses! I’ll answer many of them in this post, and I’ll also share some other information I think may help you.

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels. Text added by Beth.

This is a monster post! You may want to use these links to jump to sections that are most important to you.

Navigate This Post

  1. Getting Ideas
  2. Starting and Organizing Your Book
  3. Finishing Your Book
  4. Software
  5. After You’ve Written Your Book
  6. Choosing a Publishing Method
  7. Miscellaneous Questions

1


Getting Ideas

I have no idea how to cement an idea. 

-David

I would love to write a book, or more, but have no idea where to start.

-Tiffiny

I’m sure David and Tiffiny (two of my newsletter readers) aren’t the only ones who don’t know what to write about!

First, here are some suggestions on coming up with ideas:

  • Good, old-fashioned brainstorming
    • On April 22, 2017, I started drafting a document with the ultra-creative title, “Brainstorm 4-22-17.” The first thing I wrote was this: “Magical system ideas: Based on something about a baby’s birth…” Out of that idea came three novels and a novella.
    • In my case, I combined a genre I love (fantasy) with something I’m passionate about (childbirth).
    • Think about what genre you love and something you know a lot about or are passionate about, and start brainstorming!
  • Microfiction
    • Every day, I write a very short story (or occasionally a poem), usually around 50 words long. These tiny stories are considered microfiction.
    • Microfiction is a great way to generate ideas! The prequel for my upcoming series started as a very short story.
    • One of the best places to get ideas for very short stories–and to share those stories with others–is on Twitter. Join Twitter if you haven’t, and run a search for “#vss365 #prompt”. VSS stands for very short story, and every day, someone puts up a one-word prompt that you can use in writing your own microfiction. And be sure to find me on Twitter! I’m @CBethAnderson.
  • Nonfiction ideas
    • I haven’t written any nonfiction books, but I know the old adage, Write what you know, is especially important in nonfiction.
    • Here’s a good blog post I found about generating ideas for nonfiction books: How to Come up with Good Nonfiction Ideas.

Sometimes the issue isn’t generating ideas. It’s, as David put it, “cementing” an idea, or choosing which idea to go with.

My best advice on cementing an idea is this:

  • Find something you’re passionate about.
  • Start writing.
  • Don’t stop until you’re done!

It’s natural for emotions to wax and wane throughout the writing process. You learn a lot by actually finishing a book, so give yourself the gift of persevering, even if your idea loses some of its initial luster.

Remember, your first book doesn’t need to be perfect. Neither does your tenth or twentieth! Write the first, and go from there.

We’ll talk more about finishing soon, but first, let’s talk about starting.

Return to Menu


2


Starting and Organizing Your Book

I have no idea how to organize my information to even start to write.

-Vannetta

I’m excited to write about organizing your book, because I didn’t know anything about this when I started writing! Learning about it has helped me immensely.

If you have a scene in your head and you need to get it on paper, go for it. It’s always good to just start writing.

However, I suggest that very early in the process, you take time to outline your book. (Yes, some people write without outlining. Some even do it well! However, I’m an outliner, and I think outlining is worth trying.)

Let’s talk about both fiction and nonfiction structure.

Structuring Your FICTION Book

Learning about story structure has made my books so much better! Most readers don’t know anything about story structure, but subconsciously, they expect certain things to happen at certain times. Story structure can help you meet and exceed reader expectations. It helps you write page turners!

Story structure is a huge topic, too much to cover in this one post. Instead of going in-depth, I’ll share some resources with you.

Structuring Your NON-FICTION Book

Because there are various types of non-fiction books, there’s not a one-size-fits-all structure for them. However, there are some great guidelines for various types of non-fiction.

As I’m not an expert on non-fiction books, I found a blog post detailing four structures that can be used for non-fiction. Check it out here: Four ways to structure your non-fiction book.

Return to Menu


3


Finishing Your Book

I’d love to one day write a full novel. Unfortunately I never make it past 3 or so chapters. I seem to run out of time and when I pick it up again it’s like starting all over…so I do. Hence slews of unfleshed ideas, partially started books, some progress here and there, but no real substance. Time seems to be the killer. I have a full time job, run a farm when I’m not at my “real job”, and have 5 kids and a beautiful wife (my most important and favorite role).

-Tom

Tom’s question is excellent. Writing a book takes a lot of hours, and many of us don’t have a lot of hours! Starting is hard enough. For many people, finishing is even harder.

Some time ago, I read a book called Finish by Jon Acuff. If you struggle to finish anything, I highly recommend it! (I listened to the audiobook, which was fantastic.) It’s not just a feel-good, inspirational book. It’s based on real research.

One of the pieces of advice that I found most helpful in Finish is this:

Cut your goal in half.

For time-based goals, this means cutting your writing pace in half. In other words, figure out how long you think it’ll take, and double it. If you think you can finish your first draft in a year, give yourself two years instead. People often don’t finish things because they get behind and feel like they failed. By giving yourself more time, it’s possible to actually meet your goal, even when life inevitably happens.

One more piece of advice from Finish:

If you get distracted by new ideas, tell yourself you can pursue that next project as a reward for finishing your current project.

Many writers have “shiny new idea syndrome.” Write a bit in one project, move to a more exciting idea, repeat. Nothing gets finished! By making Project 2 a reward for finishing Project 1, you can actually get stuff done.

Again, check out Finish by Jon Acuff. It’s excellent!

Return to Menu


4


Software

Jenny asked some fantastic questions about software.

What software do you use: for writing? for formatting? for storing your work? other software, shortcuts or recommendations?

-Jenny

Writing Software

Formatting Software

If you work with a publisher, they will likely do all your formatting for you. If you’re like me and you choose indie publishing, you’ll need to format your own books or pay someone to do it.

Indies, I suggest you learn to do your own formatting. When you format your own books, you can easily make changes. If a reader finds a tiny typo, you can change it without going back to a third party who formatted for you. Formatting your own books also makes it easier to distribute digital copies for your early readers. (More on that below.)

These days, there are plenty of good options for formatting e-books and paperbacks. I’ll highlight five.

  • Vellum: Vellum is a Mac-only program that lets you easily format truly gorgeous, professional e-books and paperbacks. I use Vellum and absolutely love it. It’s a bit pricey ($250), but you only pay it once; they have excellent customer service; and all updates are free. (If you don’t have a Mac, you can get a Macincloud subscription to use this Mac program on your PC.) Check out Vellum.
  • Draft2Digital: Don’t want to spent $250? Draft2Digital provides e-book distribution to various retailers (Apple, Kobo, etc.). They also offer free, online, e-book and paperback formatting software. You don’t have to use their distribution services to format on their site. If this service had been available when I purchased Vellum, I would’ve tried it first. I don’t know if they have as many formatting options as Vellum, but hey…free is free! Check it out here.
  • Microsoft Word: You can use Microsoft Word Styles to format both e-books and paperbacks. I’ve never done this, and I know there’s quite a learning curve…but if you do learn it, you have far more flexibility than with Vellum and Draft2Digital. You’ll have to Google this to learn more!
  • InDesign: You can use this Adobe software to make gorgeous paperbacks. Many professional formatters use InDesign. Again, I don’t know much about this; you’ll have to Google it.
  • Calibre: This is a free program that allows you to do various types of formatting. From what I hear, it’s flexible but has quite a learning curve. Once again, Google it.

Backup Software

I have three things to say about backups:

  1. Backup your work.
  2. Backup your work.
  3. Please, please, please backup your work!

I’ve heard too many horror stories about people losing large portions of work, even huge chunks of novels.

I use Dropbox for all my backups. It’s easily accessible from various devices, and it backs up in the background. If my computer suddenly blows up, I’ll lose very little work, since I save my work frequently, and Dropbox backs it up within seconds or minutes. There’s a free Dropbox plan that provides plenty of storage for text-based files like books. I pay for the Pro plan that allows me to backup all my photos, videos, etc.

There are plenty of other backup options. I advise choosing something cloud-based that automatically backs up. External hard drives are great…until your computer goes kaput, and you realize it’s been a month since you backed up! (Feel free to use an external hard drive as a secondary backup method. Some people also email their book file to themselves on a daily basis as a secondary backup.)

Other Software

Here are a few other services I use:

  • BookFunnel: I use BookFunnel to distribute digital copies of my books to early readers. (More on early readers below). I also use it to grow my newsletter by distributing a free novella to readers who sign up for my email list. BookFunnel has free and paid plans; I pay $10 a month.
    • Other options that have many of the same features and are free: StoryOrigin and BookCave. I use these services too, but for now, I still pay for BookFunnel because their newsletter builders attract so many readers.
    • One other option very similar to BookFunnel is ProlificWorks. I haven’t used them.
  • MailerLite: I’ve chosen MailerLite as my email newsletter provider, since they have a great combination of affordability and features.
  • WordPress: I use WordPress.org. (not WordPress.com) for my website. It includes a ton of free website building features (far more than WordPress.com).
  • BlueHost: I host my website through BlueHost (and also register my domain through them).
  • E-Commerce: To sell my books on my website, I use the WordPress WooCommerce plug-in (free). I process credit cards through Stripe.
  • Free Website Options: Wix, Weebly, and WordPress.com. I chose not to go with a free site, as I wanted my own domain name (carolbethanderson.com).

Return to Menu


5


After You’ve Written Your Book

Writing a first draft is amazing. You should celebrate!

Then you should buckle up, because this is the first step toward publishing, and there are plenty more steps to come.

My Publishing Process

Please understand this is my process. Yours will probably be different.

  1. Story Structure/Outlining (see above)
  2. First draft
    • Alpha Readers while drafting (see below)
  3. Revisions based on alpha feedback
    • Add another round of alpha reading/revisions if necessary
  4. Beta Readers (see below)
  5. Revisions based on beta feedback
    • Add another round of beta reading/revisions if necessary
  6. Copy editing (if I’m hiring an editor, see below)
  7. Revisions based on copy editing (if applicable)
  8. Record audiobook and make a few more minor revisions
  9. ARC readers (see below)
  10. Proofreading (Professional would be great, but due to my budget, I use an eagle-eyed friend.)
  11. Pre-Publishing Tasks & Marketing
  12. Publish
  13. Continual Marketing

(To see details on how I accomplish numbers 11, 12, and 13, check out this blog post.)

A Note on Editing:

There are different types of editing. For my first series, I only used a copy editor who also gave some limited developmental feedback. For my next series, I’m using a large group of betas instead of hiring an editor, but I wouldn’t suggest such a plan unless you know you have a very good eye for grammar and also have some super-sharp-eyed betas! Know your strengths, and be willing to get help in the areas where you have weaknesses.

Also, note that if you work with a publisher, they may provide editing. (Large publishers will probably provide multiple rounds of editing. Small publishers vary in the editing services they offer.)

A few types of editing you can consider:

  • Content/Developmental Editing: A content or developmental editor gives you big-picture feedback on plot, characters, etc. If you don’t have a great handle on story structure and characterization, developmental editing can be an excellent investment. This type of editing is usually done pretty early in the writing process, perhaps after you’ve written an early draft.
  • Copy/Line Editing: A copy editor will provide detailed feedback on grammar, sentence structure, etc. A line editor goes even further, making more suggestions on wording. You can hire this type of editor when you have a polished manuscript. (I suggest hiring them after using beta readers, but some people do it differently).
  • Proofreading: A proofreader reads your book shortly before publication to catch the leftover errors.

Alpha, Beta, and ARC Readers…Huh?

Alpha and beta readers read early versions of a manuscript and provide feedback. ARC readers read Advance Review Copies before publication so they can review the book. I have an entire blog series on my systems for working with these early readers. Check it out here: Working With Early Readers.

Finding Your Editor and Cover Designer

How do you approach the editing process?  How did you go about finding an professional editor?  Also do you create you own covers and if not how do you find the professionals who do?    

-Jenny

Editors:

I suggest joining a fantastic Facebook group called Ask a Book Editor. There, you can get free advice on grammar and other writing issues. It’s also a great place to get to know some editors. Find a few that you like, look them up, and ask them for sample edits. Most editors will do a short sample edit for free so you can find someone who fits you.

Cover Designers:

I generally don’t do my own covers. It’s usually worthwhile to hire a cover designer if you can at all afford it. Effective covers are hard to make. And effective covers are a major factor in selling books!

Again, Facebook is an excellent place to find cover designers. Join groups like The Cover Clinic and Indie Cover Project. Read others’ posts to start learning about what makes an effective cover. Scope out other authors’ covers to find potential designers for your work.

Many cover designers make premade covers that are more affordable than custom covers. A lot of these designers have Facebook groups where they sell their premades. Find a designer you like, and see if they have a Facebook group.

Copyrighting Your Work

How do one go about to make the work copyright?

-Pete

Copyright laws vary from country to country. Please look up the laws for your nation.

In the U.S., your work is automatically copyrighted. You don’t have to register your copyright for it to be valid. However, it’s easier to defend your work against plagiarists if your copyright is registered.

Here’s a blog post on how to register your copyright: How to Copyright a Book Quickly Step-by-Step [With Examples].

Only you can decide if registering your copyright is worth the time and expense. (At the time the above blog post was written, it cost $85.)

Return to Menu


6


Choosing a Publishing Method

When your book is done and polished, you have a big decision to make.

I’ve written my first novel… I was wondering if I should query some indie publishers or publish it myself when it’s finished. Have you been in this position? If so, what do you feel are the pros and cons of each?

-Terri

Will you take the indie/self publishing route, as I’ve done? Will you query agents in the hopes that one will love your book and try to sell it to a publishing company? Will you work directly with a smaller publisher?

This topic is huge, and rather than trying to cover it myself, I’ll defer to an expert. Check out this post by Jane Friedman: The Key Book Publishing Paths: 2019-2020. It discusses all the major forms of publishing, and it’s an incredible resource.

Why I’m Indie:

Quite simply, I chose the indie/self publishing path because it fits me. I like doing things myself. Marketing my books comes naturally to me. I wanted to retain control over every step of the process. I also wanted to cut out the agent and publisher middlemen and keep a higher percentage of my earnings.

I haven’t tried any other form of publishing. I’m open to other avenues, but at this point, I enjoy being an indie.

That being said, indie publishing is a lot of work! Everything is up to me. I either do it or outsource it. Indie/self publishing is not for everyone. Choose the route that’s right for you.

Note there are also very small publishers who call themselves “indie publishers.” These are usually publishers that work with a small group of authors. They vary widely in terms of the quality of their books and the types of services they give their authors.

A good indie publisher can be a great partner to have if you don’t want to do everything yourself. However, they’ll keep a portion of your proceeds. A bad indie publisher will also keep a portion of your proceeds, while providing very little in return. Do your research!

I’ll answer a couple of reader questions about the costs of publishing.

I’m working on my first book, but would like to know if now days you have to pay to get it published with the ebooks.What it the cheapest way to get it published?

-Yvonne

If you self publish, it doesn’t cost anything to put your e-book up on Amazon and other retailers. You may, however, choose to hire a cover designer, editors, etc.

Traditional publishers will not charge you a cent to publish your book. Vanity presses and hybrid publishers charge authors for publishing services. Some of these companies are valid, offering services to authors. Others promise the world and in reality provide very little.

If you’re considering paying a publisher, please do your research! Many, but not all, of these companies are predatory. If a publisher contacts you, out of the blue, they probably want your money. Please be very wary before giving it to them.

As an indie, I decide where I want to spend money. If I want to pay for covers or editing or ads, I choose my service providers. I prefer this over going with a vanity press or hybrid publisher and risking that they could, for instance, provide a non-quality cover or subpar editing. Also, I can generally publish my book for less by choosing “a la carte” services. I like retaining control and saving money, so I choose to be an indie!

Is there ever a good time to hire a hybrid publisher? Yes. If you’re short on time, have some extra money, and find a hybrid publisher that will give you high-quality services for a reasonable price, it may be the best option for you. A hybrid publisher can save you the hassle of finding service providers and learning to format and upload manuscripts. Please, please, please research the heck out of them first and make sure the books they’re helping authors produce are high quality.

I’m also trying to decide if I can afford paperback printing. 

-Kristiia

You can publish print-on-demand paperbacks for free through KDP Print (Amazon). You will need a cover, or you can use their Cover Creator. (Cover Creator doesn’t tend to have the best results, so if you can provide a quality, PDF cover, you’ll be in better shape.)

I use both KDP and IngramSpark for my paperbacks. IngramSpark makes it easier to sell paperbacks places besides Amazon, such as the Barnes & Noble website. They charge $49 per book plus $25 if you make any changes to your files. I get these charges waived by maintaining a membership with ALLi, an organization for indie authors.

Return to Menu


7


Miscellaneous Questions

One of my readers, Jenny, gave me an excellent list of questions. I’ll answer many of them here.

Do you still homeschool and if so how do you (or did you) fit writing into your day? 

-Jenny

I met Jenny when I homeschooled my kids for two years. They’ve been in public school for several years now, and I mostly write while they’re in school.

When I started writing, I was working part time, mostly while the kids were in school. I wrote in the afternoons/evenings and on weekends. Sometimes I even wrote at lunchtime. I was very busy. It was not sustainable, and these days, I’ve made a conscious choice to be less busy so I can prioritize my family.

Right now, I have a lot of time to write. You may not have that luxury! I suggest setting very manageable goals. Then follow Jon Acuff’s advice and cut those goals in half.

Think you can write 500 words a day? Set a goal of 250 a day instead. That’s about half a page of single-spaced writing. By writing 1,250 words a week (250 for five days a week), you can hammer out a 70,000-word rough draft in 56 weeks…just over a year! When you’re done, set a goal for revisions, maybe two chapters a week. And remember, it’s okay to adjust your goals when life happens.

What are your favorite online resources for information or writing groups for encouragement?  

-Jenny

The absolute best source of publishing information for indie authors is the 20Booksto50K group on Facebook. I can’t say enough about how much that group has helped me.

The best community of writers I’ve found is on Twitter. Recently, a bunch of us came together to write a super-helpful blog post on how to connect on Twitter as a writer. Check it out: So, You’re New to the #WritingCommunity on Twitter…

If you felt comfortable, I’d so appreciate hearing about any areas you struggled with either personally (i.e. pushing past doubt) or with writing structure, and how you’ve worked past it.  Also your best advice for dealing with rejection. 

-Jenny

Doubt and rejection are part of writing! Even as an indie, I’ve dealt with the rejection of bad reviews or harsh critiques.

I’m a big fan of counseling, so I’ve worked on my self-doubt with a counselor. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to find people I can truly trust and tell them how I actually feel when I’m dealing with doubt and rejection. It’s hard to be vulnerable, but it really does help take away the power of those negative feelings. By dealing with them head-on and sharing them with others, I’m able to move on and keep writing.

What are you’re thoughts or experiences with short stories in general?  Any advice in that area is much appreciated as well!

-Jenny

Short stories are great for developing ideas and for writing practice. They’re also useful if you’re trying to publish traditionally with a major publisher. If you get short stories published in journals or anthologies, it can make you look more attractive to agents.

That being said, I don’t write a lot of short stories! However, I think anything that keeps you writing consistently is a good thing!

Return to Menu

Wrapping it Up

Thank you so much to those of you who submitted questions! I have an entire section of my blog focused only on Author Resources. Check it out for more, in-depth tips and tutorials: Author Resources.

Want to be notified every time I post an Author Resource?


Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!