Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Pikes Peak Writers President's Report -- The Prez Says

By: Bowen Gillings

When I became your president in March, one of my key interests was keeping PPW membersPrez Says blog is intended to do just that. Once per quarter, following our Board meeting, you will receive a summary of what occurred, what decisions were made, and how we are moving forward.
informed about the workings of their organization. The
Please understand that, as a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, this organization is governed by bylaws. Those bylaws are intended to protect individual members as well as our organization. Therefore, some of what occurs at Board meetings cannot be shared. Still, it is my hope that keeping our members informed will help draw in new volunteers and new ideas to help the organization grow.
This last meeting covered a broad range of topics from financial reports to getting new signs for our various monthly events.
The success of April’s Pikes Peak Writers Conference has given us a path for our next one in 2018. However, several key positions on the Conference Steering Committee need to be filled. Please, if you love attending Conference and are planning on going in 2018, why not help out as a volunteer? Check out https://www.pikespeakwriters.com/about/key-volunteers/ for opportunities. Some positions come with big discounts on the cost of Conference!
Angie Hodapp
June’s half-day event with Angie Hodapp also proved a great success and the Board is looking into the possibility of conducting events like these more often, perhaps quarterly. To do this, we once again need volunteers to help out. If you’d like to see more big events more often and have the wherewithal to help see them done, contact me via email at president@pikespeakwriters.com. If you have an idea for an event you’d like to see, be sure to visit our workshop request page and fill out the brief form at https://www.pikespeakwriters.com/ppwc/request-a-workshop/.
A big issue discussed this past meeting concerned our vacancies in key positions within PPW. Aside from Conference, PPW needs volunteers to keep itself functioning. One shortfall we have right now is the need for a qualified webmaster. Our current one is stepping down after having given us great service for the past few years. My goal as president is to create a web team around any webmaster serving PPW. Right now, we have two talented individuals who are helping out with the website, but neither can take on the full duties of webmaster. If you are a talented web guru, work well as part of a team, and can take vague direction from a non-tech savvy president, then we need you!
Other vacancies include a volunteer coordinator to help keep PPW up to date with its members and a new facilitator for our monthly Open Critique sessions. Pay attention to our website and social media as a fun, informational social event is coming up in late August. There will be door prizes! For more information on all of our needs, check out https://www.pikespeakwriters.com/about/support-ppw/volunteer-opportunities/.
 Next month we hold our annual Board Elections. Several positions will be up for election this time. Those include President, Vice President, and a few Member-at-Large vacancies. Normally, President and VP elections are offset by a year. However, due to the circumstances of my becoming President, it’s only fair to allow other qualified candidates to submit their names for the position this year, knowing that the position of president will be up for election once again in 2018. If you are interested in running for a position on the PPW Board, send a formal, one-page letter stating your interest and a short resume of your qualifications for the position to president@pikespeakwriters.com. A selection committee then forwards candidates to the Board for the vote in September.
Two other items of note at this meeting was the approval of Laura Hayden as a Board Liaison. This is a non-voting position and one that allows us access to Laura's experience and insight as one of PPW’s founding members. We also discussed the power of our social media presence, particularly PPW Connect (https://www.facebook.com/groups/PPWConnect/). PPW Connect is a great place to seek out other writers should you be looking for a critique partner, have questions about the craft, the business, or just want to get opinions on some of your literary ideas. Check it out if you have not already.
That is it for this installment of Prez Says. If you have questions about PPW and how it works, please reach out to me. The address, again is president@pikespeakwriters.com.
Thank you.

About the Author: Bowen Gillings lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, daughter, and dog.  He became a member of Pikes Peak Writers in 2015 and is President of Pikes Peak Writers. You can catch him climbing the Manitou Incline or at Garden of the Gods Park, where he heads the school programs for area elementary and high school students.  Or come listen to his overbearing voice as the emcee of Write Brain the third Tuesday of each month at Library 21C. He is screaming along the rollercoaster ride of his first novel about a disgraced soldier and pregnant sorceress fighting their demons in a fantastical version of the French and Indian War.  


Monday, August 21, 2017

Non-Conference Events: Who Are We & What Can We Do For You?

By: Linda Tschappat

So, as a Pikes Peak Writers member, or future member, you probably already know about the fantastic writing conference we hold each April, right? Affectionately known as PPWC, it's an amazing experience, jam-packed with all things you need to learn for your writing career, with friends both known and new, and all kinds of fun. It's four or five days of networking, kibitzing with other authors, keynote speakers, editors, and agents, forging friendships, and soaking up as much knowledge as you can. Definitely not to be missed.

But what about the other 360 days of the year? One cannot learn all you need to know in five days. Did you know there are events, and learning, and fun, all year long? Dubbed Non-Conference Events (NCE), these mini events are held at various times to help you along every step of your career. Here's a snapshot of what we offer:

Write Your Heart Out - Held each February, this is a FREE half-day event designed as a Conference sneak peek. Six speakers from the upcoming PPWC faculty present a mini version of their material, covering a wide range of topics to help further your writing career.

Writers' Night - A fun, informal night of conversation, support, and sharing. Typically held on the fourth Monday, this is an open and free-form discussion on all facets of writing specifically or books in general.
          (
https://www.pikespeakwriters.com/event-type/writers-night/)

Open Critique - This is an excellent way to get positive, non-judgmental feedback on your writing. A small group of writers along with the host and a guest critique offer suggestions on how to tighten and polish your masterpiece. Held on the first Wednesday, email critique@pikespeakwriters.com to reserve your spot for the next meeting.
          (
https://www.pikespeakwriters.com/event-type/open-critique/)

Write Drunk, Edit Sober - Our newest event held the second Wednesday of each month, join our host and other writers for improv writing prompts aimed at jump starting your writing creativity and honing your skills. Alcoholic drinks, while available for purchase, are not required for attendance and participation.
          (
https://www.pikespeakwriters.com/event-type/write-drunk/)

Write Brains - A free conference format workshop held each month on a variety of topics from the craft of writing to the business and marketing side of your career. Typically held the third Tuesday of each month, speakers from all skills and publishing levels share their knowledge and expertise.
          (
https://www.pikespeakwriters.com/event-type/write-brains/)

          Do you have an idea for a Write Brain Workshop that you'd like to share? As NCE Director, I use the same Proposal Portal as the Conference to choose the speaker and topics each month. Please consider adding your idea and presentation information to share your knowledge with our members. Feel free to email me at rsvp@pikespeakwriters.com.
          (
https://www.pikespeakwriters.com/proposing-a-workshop/)
Half-Day Paid Event - This is a Deep Dive format, usually on a single topic, designed to give in-depth information to improve your writing skills, increase your knowledge, and further your career. Typically, an annual or bi-annual event, this is an excellent opportunity to attend an extra workshop modeled like the Conference Prequel.

PPW also participates in other events throughout the year, such as Mountain of Authors, Mini-Maker Faire, and Mile-Hi Con.

Ask not what PPW can do for you; ask what you can do for PPW

Okay, so that's kind of silly, but no less true. Did you know that one of the best ways to grow
in your writing career is to help others get where you are or where you want to be? One of my favorite quotes by Earl Nightingale, "A candle is not diminished by giving another candle light." PPW offers a wide range of volunteer opportunities for all skill levels. You don't need to be an expert to get involved; all you need is a positive attitude and a willingness to help.

PPW and NCE are currently in deep need of help in a variety of positions of which most do not require a huge time commitment. True, there are positions available that do take more time, such as the openings on the Board, but none require prior experience, rather simply the desire to get involved. Training for any volunteer is provided, so don't think you have to know it all or do it all on your own. We're here to help and support you as you help and support us. Here's a short, and probably incomplete list of current openings that are PPW in general, not specifically tied to the annual conference, which also has a list of openings available:
·       President - Board position
·       Vice President - Board position
·       Webmaster
·       Member at Large - Board position
·       NCE Director - Board position, (Assistant also a possibility)
·       Open Critique Host - (NCE)
·       Assistant hosts for each of the monthly events - (NCE)

About the Author: Linda Tschappat joined PPW last September, training to be NCE Director, officially taking over the title in April. As a mom and crazy workaholic, she is currently looking to train someone as NCE Director, or an assistant to help plan the monthly and special events. Though still non-published, she's a perfectionist who stubbornly refuses to give up writing. She enjoys a variety of genres and age groups, currently working on a YA Urban Fantasy / Greek Mythology series and others including a Time Travel Regency Romance and MG Fantasy. Connect with her online at https://www.facebook.com/linda.tschappat or email at rsvp@pikespeakwriters.com.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Quote of the Week and the Week to Come


"The funny thing about writing is that whether you are doing it well or you do it poorly, it looks the exact same. That is actually one of the many ways that writing is different from ballet dancing." ~ John Green



John Green Source: Wikipedia

John Michael Green (born August 24, 1977) is an American author, vlogger, writer, producer, actor and editor. He won the 2006 Printz Award for his debut novelLooking for Alaska, and his sixth novel, The Fault in Our Stars, debuted at number one on The New York Times Best Seller list in January 2012.The 2014 film adaptation opened at number one at the box office. In 2014, Green was included in Time magazine's list of The 100 Most Influential People in the World. Another film based on a Green novel, Paper Towns, was released on July 24, 2015.


This week on Writing from the Peak:


August 21     Non-conference Events: Who Are We?  Linda Tschappat


August 23      Prez Says by Bowen Gillings


August 25      Sweet Success Celebrates Michelle Major 




Friday, August 18, 2017

Sweet Success Celebrates Mike Befeler

Congratulations to our long-distance member, Mike Befeler on his newest release. 


In Death of a Scam Artist, a financial hatchet man who dislikes old people, accepts the job of turning around a failing retirement home and undergoes a life-transforming experience in the world of geezers and geezerettes. He must deal with a suspicious death, a scam, a hit man, an unexpected romance and retired magician Jerry Rhine and his five whacky sidekicks known as the Jerry-atrics. He faces the most important decision of his life when he uncovers the secret behind an unusual murder.




Mike Befeler will be signing and presenting his mystery novel,Death of a Scam Artist (ISBN 978-1-893035-38-6), at Gatsby Books, 5535 E. Spring Street, Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 3 PM. The novel can also be ordered from our local bookseller, Amazon  http://amzn.to/2tbRf9x  Kindle http://amzn.to/2tJBPMi  and Nook http://bit.ly/2vesE5f.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Dog Days of Summer: Writing While on Vacation

By:  MB Partlow

First you have to acknowledge the difference between a vacation, which involves family and friends, and a writer’s retreat, which involves other writers. At the latter, nobody cares if you sit on the couch in your sweats all day, grunting  over your keyboard while mainlining coffee and Twizzlers.

The whole point of a vacation is to relax and enjoy yourself, reconnect with people, see something new, take time to sit and visit, savor a glass of wine in front of a firepit or while dangling your feet off a dock. But if you want to keep your writing momentum, here are some ideas for sneaking writing time into your next vacation.

Set realistic expectations, and communicate them to the people you’re with. Before the trip even starts. Because if you have visions of writing away in a hammock under the whispering
pines while the spouse chops wood, dispenses sunscreen and furnishes all the meal, you may end up with your hammock on fire.

It’s all about balance. You want time to interact with your friends and family. So maybe don’t expect these vacations to yield the highest-producing writing days you’ve ever had. Be realistic. Maybe this isn’t the time for hardcore, high-volume writing. Maybe you edit. Or outline. Jot notes for a short story instead of writing a chapter.

Can you write in the morning?  I’m an early riser, so I can have at least 30 minutes before anyone else stirs. That’s time enough to brew a cup of tea and get some words on the page. Maybe everyone else wants to go to the Pig Out Palace for the breakfast buffet. If you can bear to miss out on that, you could easily meet up with the gang later. Or (gasp!) set your alarm so you’re up before everyone else.

What about the doldrums in the middle of the day? Skip the lunch out, or have someone bring back take-out, and you’ve bought yourself an hour. Maybe the youngsters, hipsters, or the thoroughly hung-over want a nap in the middle of the day. Steal that time for yourself.

If you’re a night owl, catch some time at the end of the day when everyone heads off to bed. You could watch that rerun of the Golden Girls and have that second (third?) glass of wine, or turn on your imagination and let it fly free. If you need to sneak, crack a big, theatrical yawn, say you’re tired, and head off to bed early. Nobody is going to check and make sure you’re actually sleeping.

If this is a big family reunion type of vacation, you don’t have to visit every Sock Museum
and historic marker, run every sack race, or work on the family photo montage every day.  It’s not unreasonable to say you’re going to work for an hour after breakfast.

But what if you’re at one of those magical places where you spend all day having a magical time, and you and the family are shoe-horned into a single hotel room every night? And all you want to do is take your shoes off, have a drink and go to sleep? It’s harder, but it can still be done. Middle of the day is probably out, but you can snatch a half hour in the morning or evening. Not in the hotel room. Go outside and sit on a bench, or sit in the hotel lobby. Many hotels have breakfast rooms, and on the off-hours, they don’t mind if you sit in there as long as you aren’t making a mess.

Don’t underestimate the value of locking yourself in the bathroom. Whether you claim to be taking a bath or throwing a tantrum, you’ve just scored alone time! If you want to take it a step further, you can always claim diarrhea. Nobody ever questions that, and they won’t pound on the door to hurry you along.

Speaking of flexibility, there are simply some places you don’t want to lug your laptop. Re-learn to write in a notebook. Not the electronic kind. You remember paper, and the scratch of lead or smears of ink on your hand? A small notebook and pen fits in a pocket, purse, backpack full of snacks and water or a diaper bag. You could also record your brilliant thoughts on your phone, either with a note or a voice recording.

Bonus: If the people you’re with are accustomed to seeing you with a notebook and a pen, you can write down all the hilarious things that inevitably get said late at night, early in the morning, or when Aunt Rini dives into that third margarita.

About the Author: MB Partlow tries to inject her off-center sense of humor into everything she does. She writes mostly in the speculative fiction world, with forays into mystery and women’s fiction. Her first paid writing gig was for the A&E department of The Independent. She’s also written a parenting column for Pikes Peak Parent and spent years writing restaurant reviews for the Indpendent and The Gazette. She’s a longtime volunteer for PPW, having done everything from stacking chairs to Conference Director to serving on the board. She reads voraciously across genres, and thinks making up stories for a living is the greatest job in the world.





Monday, August 14, 2017

Meet Pikes Peak Writers Member Wes Redfield

By: Kathie Scrimgeour

Wes Redfield fell in love with New Mexico when he taught at the University of New
Mexico. He was drawn to [the state’s] old, deep, and sometimes tragic history, which resulted in his series of historical fiction novels. In researching for these, he found books published in the 1840s provided more information on the time period than in modern books and articles. 

KJ Scrim:  Your debut novel, Sangre de Cristo: The Blood of Christ will soon be followed by Santa Fe:  Holy Faith, and the final installment, Santa Cruz:  Holy Cross.  Tell us a little bit about these.

Wes Redfield: My first novel, Sangre De Cristo: The Blood of Christ, is a coming-of-age story about a young American in Spanish New Mexico who must come face-to-face with the slave trade in Indians. It is raw, because I believe that is the only way to treat slavery.  My second is Santa Fe:  Holy Faith.  It has the same characters and deals with abuse of debt peonage, persecution of Crypto-Jews (Jews who faked being Catholic to escape the Mexican Inquisition), and the origins of Penitentes, a secretive religious sect. The third in the series, Santa Cruz:  Holy Cross, is about a short, brutal civil war between Hispanics in New Mexico. Few scholars or fiction authors write about it.

KJ:  What part of this series did you enjoy writing the most?

Wes:  So far, Santa Fe: Holy Faith because of the intrigue and risks taken by Crypto-Jews against the Mexican Inquisition. I also enjoyed debunking myths about Penitentes.  I am one of the few writers to treat them sympathetically.

PPW:  What is the biggest challenge you faced when writing and researching for these, and how did you resolve it?

Wes:  Finding information on the civil war between Hispanics was the most challenging.  Little has been written in modern times about it, perhaps, a big perhaps, because certain groups don’t want the public to know about it. But several books published in the 1840s contain valuable information. One, Josiah Gregg’s Commerce of the Prairies published in 1844, is still in print. Also until the last twenty years little was written about the slave trade in Indians or the plight of Crypto-Jews.

KJ: Do you set daily, weekly, or monthly writing goals? 

Wes:  Yes, absolutely.  Writing is hard work.  At least for me I need a disciplined schedule. I start writing about 8:30 in the morning and go until noon when my brain gives out. Then in the late afternoon I begin revisions of the first draft. I try to not write on weekends. Writing is my new job. I wrote Santa Fe in a year. I think I can maintain that pace.

KJ:  I noticed you used Createspace to publish your first novel. Is this a platform that could be easily used by anyone?  What were the advantages for you to self-publish?

Wes:  I have found CreateSpace to be easy to work with. Self-publishing is worthwhile in my opinion to establish a platform. But the big problem for some people is marketing.  Fortunately, I worked in marketing and sales (they are different) in telecom, computing, and medicine. Initially, I did not market Sangre de Cristo because I knew my writing would improve. Now that I have a series, I will kick off an aggressive marketing campaign. We shall see how it works.

KJ:  Writing conferences, workshops, and critique groups are an important part of all writer’s growth. What have been a few of your favorite experiences?

Wes:  All three have been beneficial, particularly critique groups.  When I first attempted writing, I attended the Capitol Hill critique group in Denver headed by Terry Wright. I had a long way to go, and still do, but several published authors were members. I have attended numerous workshops in Denver and Boulder, and I won first place in a nationwide contest for historical fiction sponsored by the Southwest Writers Group in Albuquerque by submitting an early draft of Sangre de Cristo. Attending the awards banquet was a thrill.

KJ:  Do you have any “self-help for writers” books that you use regularly? Please share your list of your top two or three.

Wes:  I bought many of the usual books until I realized that most of the authors had never written successful fiction. The best book I’ve found is John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story. Several people have excellent series of videos on the Internet. They include John Truby, Robert McKee (of “Write the truth.”), and Stephen King and John Grisham have a series of two videos together. What a powerful team! I also subscribe to Robert McKee’s and Steven Pressfield’s newsletters/blogs. An excellent blog is edittorrent, http://edittorrent.blogspot.com/  The producers of it, Alicia and Theresa, are working editors, and lately their workload has been heavy, and they have made fewer posts.  However their index contains many valuable posts. Alicia has recently begun a newsletter for writing fiction. One can subscribe to it from the edittorrent blog.

PPW:  Does your reading influence your writing? How?

Wes:  Absolutely!  The most influential writing for me is a series set in the West by A.B. Guthrie, Jr. He won a Pulitzer for his second novel The Way West, but his debut novel The Big Sky is his best in my opinion. I have tried to write in his style, which is in deep point of view, in the vernacular, and sudden--danger and risks appear suddenly. I also studied, I mean really studied, John Grisham’s novels to try to understand why they are so popular. My conclusion is that they have conflict and tension on nearly every page. I read a lot of historical fiction such as works by Margaret George, Robert Graves, Michener, Leon Uris, and Anita Dianant’s great little novel The Red Tent. Also works by Steinbeck and Hemingway. Hopefully, I learned something about economy of words from Hemingway. Willa Cather and Cormac McCarthy wrote the two best novels about New Mexico in my opinion. Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop is sweet and McCarty’s Blood Meridian is brutal. I’ve tried to split the difference. 

KJ:  If you met someone who was thinking about starting to write, what advice would you give them?

Wes:  Write, write, write. Learn by doing. And read critically. Try to analyze what authors are doing to gain their objectives. Understand that conflict and tension are the essence of fiction. I am amazed at how many people don’t understand that. And definitely join a critique group.

Contact Wes Redfield at:
LinkedIn - Wes Redfield

Email – wes_redfield@hotmail.com


Are you a member of Pikes Peak Writers and interested in being interviewed? Contact Kathie Scrimgeour at K.J. Scrim

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Quote of the Week and the Week to Come

“Whatever you are meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.”  ~ Doris Lessing


Source: Google, You Tube and Biography


Doris May Lessing, (October 22, 1919—November 17, 2013) was a British novelist, poet, playwright, librettist, biographer and short story writer. Winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature, Doris Lessing wrote across a range of genres and detailed the conflicts inherent to a changing society.

This week on Writing from the Peak:


August 14     Meet Member Wes Redfield by Kathie Scrimgeour


August 16     Writing while on Vacation by M.B. Partlow


August 18     Sweet Success Celebrates Mike Befeler


Friday, August 11, 2017

Pikes Peak Writers Sweet Success Celebrates R. T. Lawton

Major kudos to R.T. Lawton for his blog article on www.SleuthSayers.org about his Shan Army series and upcoming story in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

"Merit Making," 4th in my Shan Army series, set in the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia, concerns two half brothers in an on-going competition for their warlord father's opium empire. In this story, their father has called a gathering of all the rival warlords for a merit making ceremony to honor those soldiers lost in past opium wars. But before the Buddhist priests can begin the rituals, a dying man staggers into the mountain jungle camp with a deadly secret. Some at the gathering want him dead before he can pass on this secret.


R.T. Lawton has over a hundred published short stories, to include 38 sold to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. The 10th in his Holiday Burglar series, "Black Friday," will be out in AHMM's Nov/Dec 2017 issue.



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

PPWs Historical Blog: The Ins and Outs of Self-Publishing

By: Jason Henry Evans

Welcome back to my blog about historical fiction. Today we will discuss the ins and outs of
self-publishing. So, go to the refrigerator and get something cold. While you’re at it, go grab something to write with and something to write on. I’ll wait.

Ready? OK?

We live in an amazing world. I grew up in the 1980s, when a professional author was akin to being a professional athlete and a rock star. There were so many gatekeepers and so many, byzantine steps to go through that writing professionally seemed like a fantasy.
No more. Today you can avoid the industry business model entirely and self-publish your book. (Besides, that business model isn’t working anyways.)

There is one problem though. It’s all on you.

You have no industry professionals who tell you what covers are selling right now for your
genre. There are no business connections who can get your book into Indy bookstores, let alone Barnes & Nobles, or Walmart. The lay-out, the editing, the font choices, the cover art, and a thousand different choices—they’re all on you.

Some people will find these many choices terrifying. Others will be stimulated by all the control they’ll have over the final product. Either way you should seriously consider self-publishing for a couple of reasons.

·       You get more money.

I’ve talked to several traditionally published authors and they tell me they split the profits with their publisher after the expenses of publishing. That could mean anywhere from 10% to 30% of the profits from each sale. If you go with Amazon KDP, you can get up to 70%.

·       You like being in control

Author Jennifer Rose has just self-published her middle grade book, Twins of Orion. Ms. Rose conducted painstaking research on cover artists, color schemes, and font styles. She went through several edits & editors, as well. I could not see her giving—letting someone else make these choices. Her book is a testament to her attention to detail. If you like obsessing over such things, Indy publishing is for you.

·       The old publishing model is withering

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think traditional publishing is dying. It is changing in ways nobody can predict. Independent publishing has grown, by some estimates, to control up to 30% of the market. You would be foolish if you didn’t at least explore the opportunities of Indy publishing.

Let’s make a list of all the things you’ll have to do in order to independently publish your book.

Line editing
Copy editing
Proof readers
Cover design
Formatting
Cost of physical copies

Editing, in all its forms, is key to writing a good novel. But why do you need three of them? A line edit will go over the story as a whole. The plot, the subplots and the character arcs. Are there plot holes? Are the themes you’ve written about too obvious or too subtle? Is it an enjoyable read?

A copy edit looks at language. Do your sentences or paragraphs all start the same way? Do you use crutch words? (Mine is however.) Is your dialogue stilted? These are the questions a copy editor looks at. A copy edit will help the style of your novel.

A proofreader will look at typos, misspelled words, improper punctuation, style errors and formatting issues missed by your formatter.

If you don’t think you need an editor, you are lying to yourself. Everyone needs editing. Your cousin Larry who used to be an English major before dropping out of community college won’t help. Searching the web for advice on how to self-edit won’t help. You need a pro. Someone who is not close to your story. Someone who isn’t afraid to ask hard questions and tell you hard truths.

The one thing you might get away with is using beta readers as proofreaders. But you’ll need a lot of beta readers – as many as a dozen or more – to make sure you get as many errors corrected as possible.

Cover art and book formatting are things better left up to the professionals. I have heard of cover artists asking for as much as $700-$1,000 for cover art. While I’m sure these artists are worth every penny, you can find a better price if you ask your fellow authors in the community. Please remember that cover art can be very personal. You need to be clear with your artist before you sign a contract what your expectations are going to be. (We’ll talk about this later).

The same is true with your formatter. While you can format your book yourself on Amazon KDP, it will be worth your time and effort to do the tedious work of formatting your book — at least the first time you self-publish.

Self-publishing a book is a lot like being your own general contractor when renovating your house. If you’re not an expert in plumbing, landscaping, electrical work, and carpentry you can find yourself over your head rather quickly. Fortunately, there are people who can help.

Popping up all over the country are companies like Rune Wright Press and Spine Press & Post. Companies like these offer competitive formatting and marketing services to get your book in publishing shape. These businesses also have contacts within the Indy world and can make introductions to cover artists and editors, too. Use them to find quality professionals to work on your book.

Remember who the Boss is! (psst, that’s you!)
Again, like a contractor remodeling your home, these professionals you are going to hire will have access to a part of you that is deeply personal —your book. They’re going to be there for a while, too. Just like a contractor, you’re going to develop a relationship with these people. Hell, when completed, you may treat some of them like family.

And this is where the trap lies.
Because your book is so important to you, and these people will come in and share in your story, you’ll forget that this is a business. You’ll trust these people implicitly with your novel. Most will sincerely try to help you with —some won’t.

For every great Indy publishing experience there are two horror stories. This is why you need to be in control. Be clear about your expectations about everything. From communications, to art designs, to editing. Be specific about what you want for your book. Don’t let anybody hound or harass you on anything. You are the boss!

Everything is Negotiable
If you’re uncomfortable with a quoted price ask them — in a respectful way — to come down.

Formatter: “My price for formatting is $250. I can’t wait to get started. Your book looks amazing!”

You: “Wow. Thank You. I really want to work with you, too. However, I wasn’t prepared to pay that much money. I’d love for you to work on my book, but I don’t think I can afford that much. Is there any way we can talk about price? Can you come down some?”
We Americans have gotten out of the habit of negotiating for things. But this is business and everything is negotiable. Author and financial guru Dave Ramsey’s book, Entreleadership, can help you learn how to ask for a lower price without hurting people’s feelings or getting into an argument.

Have a Budget  
It is very easy to get overwhelmed and start pouring money down a pit called your novel. So make sure you have a hard and fast budget you’ve thought about and agreed upon. A budget will clarify what you’re willing to spend at each step of the process. You can always fiddle with numbers if you can justify an added expense later. What you don’t want to do is look back and realize  you’ve spent $5,000+ dollars on self-publishing a book.

Finally – and I cannot stress this enough – never pay your vendors up front and in total. The best thing to negotiate is for your vendors – the cover artist, the formatter, the editors, to be paid in full when work is completed. Now, many won’t agree to this because there are deadbeat artists who refuse to pay for legitimate work done. If you can, always pay after work is completed.

If the professional you work with is adamant they will not wait to get paid, then negotiate several smaller payments. I like paying in thirds. A third up front when we begin business. A third when half the work is done (“half the work,” is a benchmark negotiated between both parties,) and a third when all the work is done. (Again, “work done,” is defined by both parties).

I have a friend who paid a professional author $1,000 to edit her manuscript and paid up front. He claimed some sort of hardship and never did the work. Nor did he return her money. You can protect yourself by never paying all up front. There are enough quality professionals looking to help authors that you don’t have to do this.

Talk to Your Friends in the Writing Community.
Your fellow writers and authors will have great recommendations for you. Ask around. Get feedback. When you find an editor or artist, ask for references. If they can’t give them to you that may be a red flag.

This blog just touches the iceberg of self-publishing. It can be a daunting experience. But if you must self-publish, if you enjoy the control, then all the experiences will be worth it.

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About the Author:  Jason Evans always wanted to be a writer, he just didn't know it. He grew up in Pasadena, California, in the 1980s where he watched way too much television, but was introduced to literature by his grandfather and his favorite middle school and high school teachers. He wasted his youth working at the So Cal Renaissance Faire (a dangerous place because it’s the gateway drug to other historical costumes,). In his leisure time he’s an educator, a writer, and a bon vivant. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, with degrees in History & Renaissance Studies, a teaching credentials from CSU Los Angeles, as well as a graduate degree from the University of Colorado, Denver. He currently resides in Denver with his wife, the fetching Mrs. Evans, their three dogs and a mischievous cat who calls him his thrall.