Tag Archives: Publishing

Interview With Self-Published Author Annie Louise Twitchell

Annie Louise Twitchell used to be like the rest of us, an aspiring writer. But she was braver than the rest of us and took on the challenge of self-publishing. Her book Spinner of Secrets has been described as an “amazing retelling” and “an enchanting fairy tale retelling written with a lyrical hand.” She has been running her blog since December of 2015 and detailed the publication of her book but I was also able to interview Annie about her process of writing and publishing Spinner of Secrets. So please read on for tips and tricks for publishing your first novel.

What is your background in writing?

I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I taught myself to write cursive when I was five or so, so I could “write pretty”. I’ve always adored books. My dad read The Hobbit out loud to me and my brothers when I was quite small; it became my favorite book of all time and still is. I joined my uncle’s website for writers when I was 13, and won my first writing contest within a year – it was a Christmas writing contest, and if I remember, I was the youngest person competing. I was pretty proud of myself for winning. I’m quite sure I’ve written over one million words since then.

What inspired you to write this specific story?

A writing prompt on a forum. The prompt was to write a short story with the following three elements, person, place, and thing: an outlaw, a castle, and a rose. My first impulse was to write Beauty and the Beast, but after thinking about it, I ended up doing Rumpelstiltskin. Why not? I fell in love with the story and just went with it. It was two years in creating, almost exactly from when I posted the prompt reply and when I published the book.

What was it like writing in a specific time period?

I inhale historical fiction, so I have a lot of background for it. It’s a fairy tale, so I didn’t worry too much about having every detail perfect. Fairy tales allow for some flexibility. The biggest thing was figuring out how to convey passage of time – they didn’t measure time in minutes and seconds, as one of my beta readers pointed out. So I had to do a lot of research into that. There were other things I had to research as well; that wasn’t hard, because I know how to do that.

What did you do in order to keep the story of Rumpelstiltskin fresh while staying true to the story?

To keep a little more reality in it, instead of spinning gold from straw, Letta spins linen thread. Linen thread is made from the fibers in flax straw, which has to go through quite the process to get to the point of spinning. It involves water and rotting off the husk. Spinning linen thread from raw straw is impossible to do overnight. I spent a couple years working with fiber animals and fiber arts. I’ve done some spinning and let me tell you, it is not as easy as they make it look.

Do you have any tips for wannabe authors?

Write like nothing matters, edit edit edit edit edit, and at some point be willing to draw the line and say this is good. Not okay, not good enough, but this is good. There are going to be people who hate your work, there are going to be people who are really mean and cruel about it. Don’t you dare let that stop you. This is your story, not theirs. Yes, take the constructive criticism. Take the people saying “I think this needs to change…” – especially if they’re your beta readers or editors and you asked them to. But even then, it’s your story, not theirs. They’re trying to help you improve it. You can decide not to change something if you don’t want to.

What were your goals when you published Spinner of Secrets?

Really, it was about me. Beating my anxiety, putting a finished work out there, putting down the voices in my head that said I’m not good enough, I’m only a girl, I don’t have any right to even try. The month before publication was really hard and exhausting, and I’m still kind of patching myself up after it. But I did it. I have a stack of my books sitting on my chair.

What went into creating the cover and synopsis?

The synopsis, I just worked at for a year or so. I had a sudden burst of inspiration (probably while I was making dinner) and just kept refining and polishing it. The cover was a lot of fun, actually. I took the photo at the river near my house, which I frequently haunt, and my housemate/sister/best friend worked with me to design it. She’s a professional photographer and has a lot of experience with graphic design. I’ve gotten both extremes in response to it – either they hate it and it’s dull and boring, or they love it and it draws them right in. It was mostly other authors who said they hated it, interestingly enough, and other people who loved it. I love it, especially in print, and it’s perfect for the story.

 

What advice would you give to other authors who were going to self-publish?

Get help. Beta readers, proofreaders, an editor if you can afford one (I couldn’t, so I had seven beta readers plus me and my mom and my proofreader.) Definitely invest in a proofreader. It’s less expensive than an editor but it will help polish everything up and catch those annoying typos. Do your research. Just because it’s faster than traditional publishing, doesn’t mean it’s easier. Everything is on you. You are the party responsible for getting it out there looking decent. Market yourself and your book. Run specials and promote them. Do. Your. Research.

Would you self-publish again?

Absolutely. I love having the control and the freedom, as well as doing it on my own schedule. I also found I love the formatting and designing process. It was so. Much. Fun. Definitely work, but it was fun! It was a challenge and it was an exciting one that I was able to meet.

What’s next? Another book maybe?

Ahh, yes. Currently I’m working on eight books as well as a poetry collection. Which one ends up being published first is yet to be seen, although it will probably be another novella, just because I’ll finish with that first. My writing style is really weird – I write and write and write, and then I leave it be for a long time and work on something else. It gives the story breathing space, it gives me breathing space, and it just makes the process easier for me. It’s like making bread. You have to let it rest in between beating the snot out of it, otherwise it comes out dry, flat, tough, and tasteless.

If you want to find out more information about Annie Louise Twitchell find her on Facebook or her Blog! And don’t forget to order her book Spinner of Secrets so you can experience the tale of Rumpelstiltskin like never before.

Why Publishers Will Only Read Your First Page!

I have always thought it was unfair that a publisher spends so little looking at people’s novels before sending the rejection letter. But recently I was able to talk with an editor about why that is.

This is the most important thing she told me.

When a READER picks up your book, makes it past the cover and the back of the book blurb, the most they will read is a page. I was in Barnes and Noble for a few hours and picked up a few books based off of their covers. Most nonfiction got flipped to a random page and I read THREE LINES. I picked up few fiction books and read the back. I opened ONE. This is like the publisher reading your summary or Querry letter. They will be able to tell based off of that if they would open your novel.

The single book I opened didn’t even get the whole page read

In this era, we have very short attention spans. If the publisher didn’t get to the ‘best stuff’ then neither will your reader. Put your best work at the very beginning. But have hope. That one book I picked up came home with me because when I read the first half a page I decided I loved it. So when a publisher picks up your book they will read very little.

They will be able to see how much thought and editing you put in. They will see if you know how to write engaging work and know how to start a story. And most importantly they will be able to see if it’s the type of book they have been waiting for.

This summer I will be editing three novels I have been writing since 2014 and I hope to give you advice on getting published and making your book be one that people fall in love with. I hope this information was as eye-opening to you as it was to me.

Books on Marketing your Writing and Building Your Platform

I’m currently reading two books about how to market your novel. These both mostly focus on building your platform. “Sell Your Book Like WildFire” and “Your First 1000 Copies” both have similar content but their approach is entirely different.

Your First 1000 Copies is a very fun seemingly up to date book for having been written in 2013. This focuses on taking down your fears about marketing and making connections with people.

Sell Your Book Like WildFire has a very step by step approach to keep you moving forward. To me, it seemed less up to date but was written in 2012.

Both of these books motivate me greatly and I would recommend them. I personally like ‘Your First 1000 Copies’ more because of his writing style but I can see either beeing more useful depending on the style you like the most.

If you want to see more of my book recommendations or judge me based off of my childish style find my on GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/55094969-sparren-fayne

Do I Recommend Lynda.com to Writers?

We’ve all seen the ads for lynda.com where you learn skills for a small fee but I recently had the opportunity to try it out for free. My main goal when reading on there was to learn writing skills. When I went on there for the first time…

I was Initially Disappointed

When I saw the writing classes most of them appeared to be for nonfiction, like for resumes, speeches, and business. Now the ones I have gotten all the way through were very useful!

The Quality of the Videos is Great

There are a lot of good quality editing tips and a few story videos that particularly helped me. But because of the length of the series, I found it hard for me to get through them and often had to do it in more than one sitting. That isn’t the way I learn but…

I DO Recommend Lynda But Not for the Reason You Think

When I was searching for other writing videos I found tons of other resources which I think will help the other aspects of my career such as blogging courses and google analytics tutorials that I wouldn’t have know to seek out if it weren’t for that site. So if you are looking to expand your horizons when it comes to selling your work, then yes I would check out at least the 10-day free trial. If you are going there for the writing specifically, though, I wouldn’t hand over any money.

But That’s Just My Opinion

I am in no way sponsored Lynda.com and made this because I always wondered if I should sign up for the classes. I hope this helped you. Have a great day!

A Writer’s New Year’s Resolution:

I will try to people watch every hour

I will try to learn something every day

I will try to write a blog post every week

I will try to send out an email every fortnight

I will try to read a well-written book every month

I will try to speak with an industry professional semiannually

I will try to sell my book this year

I will do it

Query Letter Tips Told by Agents

I had the privilege of being able to go to a writers conference a couple months ago and was able to listen to agents critique other people’s query letters. Here’s what I learned:

  1. They liked hearing that the novel was completed
  2. Hearing that beta readers like the book was a big plus
  3. They want to hear what the main characters motivations were
  4. Hearing what was at stake could make or break the pitch
  5. They did want to hear a little bit of world building, but too much can sink it
  6. It’s nice to hear if you envision the book as part of the series

And most importantly they recommended the blog Query Shark and told us to read every post because that was what covered all the basics and fit most with their style of query.

These were just the main ideas, there is a lot more to know about queries but these were the things I couldn’t find anywhere else. I hope this helps you and have a great day!

Self publishing Vs. Traditional publishing: thinking about money

It’s a question as old as the internet, which is better self publishing or traditional publishing? The answer isn’t simple. What might work for you might not work for someone else. I’m going to outline the pros and cons of both, but they are surmised in the picture above.

Of cores everyone is concerned about money, so we will start with that. It’s true, you do make more money per book sale when you self publish, but there is a lot more than that factoring in. For one thing, if you can’t make a great cover of your own, you will need to pay someone to make it for you if you self publish. People are first going to look at the cover and title, so if you aren’t a pro, you might want to hire one. You also might want to hire and editor, which is another up front cost. Keep in mind, you CAN learn these skills yourself, but remember if you self publish, you have to do everything the traditional publisher would do for you. Marketing plays a small role in this. You will be doing most of your books promotion yourself, regardless, but publishers will do a little. The more books you publish that do well on the market, the more they will be willing to invest in you.

Select one of the fallowing statements:

I am comfortable making the cover, editing the book, formatting it and marketing it or am willing to pay someone a one time fee to do it for me.

I want someone to make the cover, edit the book, format it and help me out with marketing and I am willing to let them take a small amount of money from each book I sell in order to do so.

Next week I’ll be posting about the other pros and cons of both.