When I announced my recent contract on my Depths of Memory: Dream Sifter book, a number of questions surfaced, and I realized just how confusing the publishing process is to those who haven’t been through it, and for or those who don’t work in the field. So I started compiling questions, and then I opened up the list of questions to whatever else folks wanted to know about me, as I’m also a winemaker and bizarre human creature and heck, I don’t know what all you want to know, yes?
I will attribute the questions as I see fit. Some are general and came from many, whereas others are specific. Please bear with me. Also, feel free to comment and ask questions at the end of this if you feel I didn’t fully address your personal favorite.
General Question: How exactly does Indie publishing work? How is it different from traditional or self-publishing?
CB: Self-publishing means doing everything yourself (editing, copy-editing, cover art, formatting the document into multiple electronic publication formats, distributing into multiple channels, marketing, marketing, marketing, and more marketing). Traditional publishing means you might get all of this plus a up-front check (although that’s rare these days unless you’re a proven name) plus generally they will always start you with a print book as well with placement on store shelves, plus quite a few marketing dollars to cover their initial investment for the print run. They also send your books out to book reviewers, and good reviews can convince readers to turn those pages! A downside of Traditional publishing can be that the artist doesn’t always get a say in the cover art or editing changes. This, of course, depends on the publishing house, and it’s just what I’ve heard second hand.
Indie publishing is somewhere in the middle. You get the editing through distribution into multiple sales channels (i.e. Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Fictionwise.com, etc.) plus you get marketing via the main Indie house’s efforts. This may not seem like much, but there’s a great deal of technical know-how that’s covered, and having your book professionally presented (from the editing, copy-editing, cover art, and document formatting) can make or break the impression you give to new readers. (This is why I went with Indie. And I don’t like the lack of control you get with Traditional publishers. I want my book the best it can be, but I want to retain artistic control.) You get paid royalties (a % of the cover price) for all sales. You are responsible for the majority of your marketing effort, including seeking out book reviews and maintaining a blog and social media presence.
Jim Collins: Who is publishing it? When will it be out?
CB: It’s being published by Freya’s Bower, the sister publishing company to Wild Child Publishing, who published my eBook Ripples. I don’t have an ETA on when the eBook will be available. Freya’s Bower handles books and series which contain any romance elements, and although the Depths of Memory series is primarily Scifi/Horror, it does have undertones of romance with specific couples, which wouldn’t have fit within the mainstream Wild Child Publishing house.
Pam Gheysar: Will this be a “paper” book, an eBook, or both?
CB: This will start as an eBook, and if I hit certain sales targets, then there will be a print run as well. 🙂 (I.e. so buy, and buy lots of copies!)
From @JenLKirchner: Do you do your own editing? If so, do you have any tips for the editing-challenged?
CB: All writers have to do a great deal of their own editing. I think David Farland once said that an average manuscript undergoes an average seven edits. I can tell you Dream Sifter got somewhere around 8-9 edits before I submitted it for publication. So, yes, you start off doing your own editing. Never expect the publishing house to take on 100% of the editing work.
And yes, I have editing tips! First, I like this little tool: www.editminion.com because it checks for adverbs, weak words, passive voice, often misspelled words, and also notes when you’re overusing the same word again and again and again. They are associated with Write or Die.
Also, from my previous experience working with Wild Child Press when they published my first book Ripples they gave me a list of ‘Editing Tips’ to polish my manuscript with before their editor would step in and make recommendations. Before I submitted Dream Sifter with them I went ahead and did the polish work ahead of time. The tips include things like: solid POV, eliminating crutch words, correct comma usage, eliminating excess information, and watching for author’s voice. I’ve taken this list and expanded it to fit my personal quirks, and editing has become easier over time. I even find myself misbehaving less as I write. Shocking, no?
Lilli Black: My question is how to get started!
CB: Get an idea, make some notes, perhaps a rough outline, and some character sketches. Then write. Don’t attempt perfection. No one is perfect, we all just work at improving ourselves, over and over. I wrote another blog on how to write a story, and I’m going to link it here. And seriously, Get your idea, and just start writing, and don’t stop. Read lots of books like what you’re writing, and join a writer’s group online or in person if you can. They are out there if you just look! If you want it, you will make it happen. And once you’ve taken a stab at an idea, then you can go back and enjoy the thrill of the edit! Woot! The best thing about the edit is you can change a little or a lot, it’s all up to you.
As an example, my writer’s group just saw the first two chapters of The Daemon Whisperer and the feedback was invaluable. Yes, they were intrigued and drawn in, go my ego, but flaws were exposed, and more importantly, I saw places I could go farther, deeper, darker. I saw ways to make my daemon summoner, Meri, both more raw and desperate for vengeance and yet also more naïve to her own downfall. Critiques rock! (And yes, develop that thick skin too! You’ll need it to be a writer!)
Leia Collins: Where do you find inspiration, ideas? What do you read? Have you thought about writing young adult fiction?
CB: I get ideas everywhere. Often from dreams, sometimes from the situations around me (no, no one is safe…bwahaha!), but often from everyday things, just twisted. My dreams are very lucid, I’ve always remembered them clearly, so they are always fresh fodder for the pile. I think writers have the same ideas as everyone else, we just aren’t afraid to follow the rabbit down the holes and see where our minds lead us.
I read a wide variety of books. Horror, Scifi, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, High Fantasy, and an assortment of etc. Check out my shelves on Goodreads if you want to know what I’ve read and how I rate things. I try to read quite a bit to stay current with what’s popular, and also what new writers are coming out with. There’s so much out there, it’s amazing.
I have considered the young adult market, however I’m not sure it’s quite my style. I know my creepy style would fit for teens in the YA market, I just haven’t had ideas percolate that fit the genre. Perhaps I also am too happy as an adult, and prefer to avoid the true horror of teenage angst? 😉
From @JesseWalter1: If you had but one thing you wished to have learned earlier and another you wished you could unlearn, what would they be?
CB: I wish I’d learned to be less afraid of throwing things away. I mean, in this digital age we have electronic backups and such, so it’s not like I took a torch to anything. But it took me forever to rewrite Dream Sifter because I was afraid of breaking the story. (Fear is the mind killer.) I’d tried to do too much at once, and it was bogged down and clunky. I had to rip it apart and sew it back together, and my fear slowed me down. Now, book two is flying by and I have to keep hanging on to keep up, which is how it should feel. I was able to take the useful parts I’d cut out of Dream Sifter and use them in book two. The others, I threw away, and I don’t miss them. I don’t even care. Every writer needs to learn how to throw things away, sooner rather than later.
One thing I have unlearned, and I’ve HAD to unlearn, is not to wait around for outside approval. As much as you need constructive feedback and reasonable critiques on your work, you concurrently have to not give a rat’s ass if folks aren’t into what you’re writing. Not everything you write will be suitable for every reader, and that’s fine. Not everyone can be expected to like every genre. I had a friend who disliked horror but felt compelled to buy and read my horror story Ripples to support me and later told me she hated my story but liked how I wrote. I suggested she not purchase my future books, despite our friendship, because horror angle wasn’t going away, and I reassured her our friendship would not be impaired. My father also wishes to read my works, and likely will, but I know they aren’t his cup of tea. Again, I’m not looking for outside approval here, I’m looking to know I’ve done the best job I could on what goes out the door.
From @amberwest: How about your favorite [wine] you’ve made? What kind of grapes do you use? What’s fave part of the process?
CB: My favorite wine we’ve made so far has been our Cabernet Franc ’08. It was our first red wine that just did fantastically well, won us four silver medals, and for us as a new winemakers, very vindicating as our first red out the door!
We use a variety of reds, but only grapes available in Colorado. We believe in making Colorado products, and thus use only Colorado grapes and honey. (Did you know we made honey wine as well?) The types of grapes we get here are Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Tinta Cao, Orange Muscat, Black Muscat, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and some American hybrids like Lacrosse, Cayuga, and Frontenac.
My favorite part of the process is actually two parts. I love punch downs, or macerating the grapes. This is after crush when the grapes are fermenting and the CO2 is causing the skins to rise to the surface of the liquid in the vat, and 4-5 times a day you have to get out there and punch the skins back into the wine. This releases the CO2 from the skins and re-bathes the skins in alcohol, allowing for greater extraction of the pigments, flavor, and polyphenolics from the skins. It’s stinky and messy and exhausting, and you also know exactly where your wine is at. It’s an incredibly intimate conversation. Eventually the fermentation ends and the CO2 production stops and the skins literally fall in, and we immediately press out the wine and put it into barrels.
My other favorite part are the blending trials. For small batches it’s less of an issue, but when we hold back a portion for a reserve, then we usually have a number of barrels of reds or perhaps a complex white we’re looking to produce. Taking samples, measuring, and combining those parts into a greater wine is a long process, and often you have to sit on it and come back to it just to be sure. Wine is a complex creature, and over time will tend to morph and settle in with other component wines once combined on a chemical and protein basis. Being able to predict how it will behave is partly chemistry, partly art, and partly luck.
From @Demon_Writer: Bow tie or long scarf?
CB: Long scarf. I assume this is a Dr. Who question, yes? Always the long scarf.
CB: If you self-pub, then definitely you can do that. If you trad or indie, then no. I can’t fathom they’d let you. Just not marketable and appealing enough. But then again, you may have some cool green iridescent dragon scale motif concept I’m just not picking up on, right? Subtle shades of green mottled across the cover? You could make it work…
From Shawn McDonald: If it only has two wings and two rear legs is it a Dragon or is it a Wyvern?
CB: I come down on the Wyvern side of that argument, although I know it’s a longstanding debate.
From Nathan Shafer: So Candice, any truth to the rumors about your torrid affair…with Bill Nye, the Science Guy?
CB: None, and I resent the implication! My interest in science is pure as the driven snow! Well except chemistry… 😉