Author CMWilson

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Author CMWilson

Postby deej » 24 Feb 2012, 00:20

Hey Catherine - I know your books have created many discussions on this forum, and I'm sure a number of ladies would love to ask you questions - here's the place.
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Re: Author CMWilson

Postby cmwilson » 24 Feb 2012, 08:48

OK, I'm here! Always happy to answer questions.

Catherine
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Re: Author CMWilson

Postby ElaineB » 24 Feb 2012, 14:14

Well, where to begin? I confess I have only read the first book, but I loved it. It was probably the first self-published book I read. I was immediately drawn to the cover (yeah, I'm that shallow), which looked so much more professional than other self-published books (and many publisher-published books) I've seen. Then, the writing and editing is excellent (again, better than many a publisher-published book). I was very pleasantly surprised. I read it a while ago now and the story has really stuck with me.

I'm interested in both the craft of writing the story as well as the logistics of publishing it. Would you share how you came to write it, why you opted to self-publish, and how you went about it?

And yes, I will buy the rest. I promise!
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Re: Author CMWilson

Postby cmwilson » 24 Feb 2012, 14:46

> Would you share how you came to write it,

I've known since I was 4 years old that I was going to write a book someday, but as I got older and older and didn't seem to be writing anything, I started to wonder. Then in 1996, having just finished a M.S. degree in Computer Science, I started writing.

When I was a child, I loved stories that began with "Once upon a time, a young man went out to seek his fortune." I had no trouble identifying with that young man, but it was discouraging to never see a woman or girl in that role. So I figured I was going to have to write that story myself.

> why you opted to self-publish,

I finished the book in 2006 and spent all of 2007 querying agents. I queried over 80 of them and not one requested a complete manuscript. I was not surprised by this, because I had already been told, by someone who had worked for many years in and around traditional publishing, that no agent or editor would even bother looking at a manuscript by a nobody that, if printed in one volume, would be over 1000 pages. I told the agents I queried that I was willing to publish the book as a trilogy but that all 3 books should be published at once, as it is really all just one long story. Evidently that was a dealbreaker.

While I was querying agents, I was also researching self-publishing, because I figured that was going to be my only option. Also, the more I learned about traditional publishing, the less I thought it would be right for me. I must be a control freak, but when I learned that a publisher could change the title, design the cover art with no input from the author, and even request changes to the text itself, I knew that wasn't my best option. I really didn't want to hand ten years' worth of work over to somebody else and hope for the best.

> and how you went about it?

First, I set myself up as a publisher: Shield Maiden Press. All I needed to do was file a fictitious business name statement with my county and publish an announcement in the local paper. Then I got a P. O. Box and a bank account in my business name and presto! I was a publisher. I bought 10 ISBNs from R. R. Bowker and proceeded to learn the skills I would need to produce my paperbacks.

I took about a dozen online classes through my local community college in the Adobe Create Suite (InDesign for typesetting the paperbacks, Photoshop for doing the graphics for websites and covers, Dreamweaver to do the websites), and also HTML and CSS because I like to do the coding myself. In 2008 I typeset the books, designed the covers, and uploaded them to Lightning Source. Lightning Source is owned by Ingram, so the books went into the Ingram catalog automatically and were for sale in ebookstores, including Amazon, within a week or two. In 2008 I bought myself a Kindle and as soon as the paperbacks were launched, I made Kindle versions available.

Self-publishing gets a bad rap because of all the dreadful stuff out there, and the people who do it right, as I hope I have, go to great lengths not to appear self-published. Most folks who don't spend a lot of time looking up authors online have no idea that Shield Maiden Press and I are one and the same. I haven't made a secret of the fact that I published my own work, because it serves as an example that self-publishing can be done well and also encourages other people to give it a try.
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Re: Author CMWilson

Postby SharonCho » 01 Mar 2012, 11:18

I have a few questions, if you don't mind me asking. (Thanks Deej, for directing me here)

1) You've been doing this a few years. How often are you publishing?

2) Are you able to make a decent living yet?

3) What're the pitfalls so far of self-publishing? The pleasures?

4) How have you been marketing?

5) Any advice to give to someone about to self-publish?

Please let me know if I can be of any help back. Thanks!
"If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all." Hamlet, Wm Shakespeare
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Re: Author CMWilson

Postby cmwilson » 01 Mar 2012, 16:19

1) You've been doing this a few years. How often are you publishing?

I've only published myself once, when I did my trilogy. I am, however, helping other people to publish with my services on raqoon-design.com

2) Are you able to make a decent living yet?

In 2011, my book income just about equalled what I was living on before I published, so yes, it would be enough to live on. I admit to being low income, as I am retired, but the doubling of my income last year made a tremendous difference in my standard of living. And sales are still growing.

3) What're the pitfalls so far of self-publishing? The pleasures?

Pitfalls? It's a lot of work, and takes a lot of time. Fortunately I have the technical skills to do all the publishing tasks myself. Since I enjoy doing it, I don't really consider that a pitfall, but it might be for someone who doesn't have the time to do all this stuff.

Pleasures? Well, I had a 'peak experience' moment when I first held the printed proof of Book I. That lasted about ten minutes. The lasting pleasure comes from hearing what my readers have to say about the books. I have received fan mail from women soldiers who were reading the trilogy in real war zones, and when they told me that it helped them cope, that was truly amazing! I've also heard from a lot of young people who are finding something of value in the books. I wrote the trilogy for the young--including for the young person in myself and in all of us, but especially for the young in years, because I wish I'd had something like it when I was a youngster.

4) How have you been marketing?

So far the only paid advertising I've done is Google AdWords, but I do plan to do some paid advertising on book review sites. I do a lot of guest blogging. I've sent review copies to quite a few people who have review sites or blogs. Almost every day I do something related to marketing. I participate in groups of people with whom I have something in common, like lesbians, but also in groups of mainstream readers. The thing about self-publishing is that you have to make yourself visible, and you have to do it in ways that don't shout, Buy my book!

I've had Book I as a free download from my website since I first published, and it's now free on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. Going on a forum or website and saying, Here's a free book, gets a much better reception than Buy my book!

5) Any advice to give to someone about to self-publish?

Do your homework. Read at least three books about self-publishing. Join Yahoo groups of small publishers and ebook publishers. Publishing is a business, and working in publishing is a real job. You have to approach it as you would approach any real job. You can't just throw a book out there and expect the $$$ to come rolling in. There are plenty of resources available nowadays to help you.

I have a list of good books and Yahoo groups here:
http://raqoon-design.com/book-design/books
and here:
http://raqoon-design.com/book-design/resources
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Re: Author CMWilson

Postby SharonCho » 02 Mar 2012, 05:46

Catherine, Thank you so much for the lengthy and thoughtful response. It's very much appreciated and if ever I can return the favor, please let me know.
"If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all." Hamlet, Wm Shakespeare
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