Author Olivia Boler

writing is fun
December 14th, 2011

Can you feel the excitement???

I’m waiting for my sister-in-law Andrea to show up and take my author photo, and thought I’d check in since I’ve got all this pent-up nervous energy. I’m not crazy about gettin’ my picture took, but it’s not the worst thing in the world. And Andrea will make me look decent. Hey, I even got my hair cut yesterday, which came with the usual lecture on using a good conditioner (yes, I only go to the salon about two times a year, which is partly why I haven’t found a permanent stylist—I’m too embarrassed by my split ends).

So, my manuscript is with my copy editor, hurray! I worked on it over a few days, and decided to format it for Smashwords first. I did the best I could, but got hung up on details like using page breaks or not, and whether to put the acknowledgments (still drafting that) at the beginning or end. Really, quite dull. But oh so very important! I’ll worry about KDP and CreateSpace later.

Another option I found out about while lurking on the Kindle Boards (really, I should just go ahead and officially join), is PubIt, which is Barnes & Nobles’ version of KDP. Several authors on the Boards do all four plans (Smashwords, KDP, PubIt, CreateSpace) for each of their books in order to reach as many readers as possible, so I think that’s what I will try. Each one has slightly different formatting requirements, so it will be a lot of busy work, but in the end will save money.

And now the sexy news: I got my book covers! Fena created two beautiful covers, but I’m not quite ready to share them yet because, task master that I am, I’ve requested a few, um, tweaks. She’s really so talented and approachable. When I get that all ironed out, I will debut whichever one is the winner. Or maybe I’ll ask you all for your help.

Also, I’ve been thinking of putting up the prologue to the novel I’m publishing, The Flower Bowl Spell, on this blog. Would that be a fun thing to read?

 

December 8th, 2011

The nit and grit of indie publishing—edit, draw, format, shoot

Procrastination. There’s always something to procrastinate about. Until this very moment, I was procrastinating about writing a blog entry. But now, in order to procrastinate walking the dog and getting back to my freelance work, I’m logged on and ready to update you, my bloggish friends, about my latest publishing news. Poor dog.

So, I found a copy editor for my manuscript. She’s lovely, a friend of a friend. We live on opposite coasts and have only communicated via email, Facebook, and She Writes, but I have faith in her. I am also excited to see what she’ll do to my book. For my book. My writing friends have read it—some have read several versions of it—but there’s nothing like a fresh pair of eyes, you know? So, I have to send her a final final copy by next Wedensday, and of course I haven’t cracked that baby open in many a moon. But I will because…

I’ve been doing my author-services research! And I know I’d like to get the manuscript in shape for submitting it to Smashwords and Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). For some reason, and I should know this, but have yet to get it straight in my head, I need to do both because Smashwords can convert my book to a format readable on Kindle, it does not deal directly with Amazon. Is that right? If anyone knows, please tell me. I need to get on the Kindle boards and confirm this. I am also going to use CreateSpace to make old-fashioned paper pulpy copies available, and I think that conversion process is a bit less painless, but I could be wrong. I won’t know until I try.

On other fronts, I’ve discovered a cover artist, a teenage girl in Singapore named Fena. You can check out her work on her website. I really like her stuff, and am amazed at her talent. She’s also very sweet. I know this because we’ve communicated via email. Of course, the Internet is bizarre that way. Fena, if you’re out there, could you please confirm you’re not actually a middle-aged man in a Tucson, Arizona, trailer park? Just kidding.

And last but not least, I’m getting a new author photo taken by my wonderful and talented sister-in-law, Andrea Price. Check out her gorgeous wedding photos on her website. She might even help me revamp my old, tired, long neglected website. Which is here, just in case you’re curious.

The dog is chewing on my pant leg. Ta ta for now!

 

July 30th, 2011

Should Olivia Give Up on Traditional Publishing?

To e-book or not to e-book? That is the question.

Okay. Let’s back up a sec. *sigh*

Discussing my struggles with writing is not one of my favorite pastimes, but I also feel I have to be honest when people ask about my latest endeavors. I can’t just say, “Great! Everything’s great!” They want proof. Those not in “the game” seem to think finding an agent is as easy as going to the Yellow Pages (or Google), calling the agent of your choice, and having them sign you up. No. Not a bit. I’ve had introductions to agents from friends who are their clients. No cigar. I’ve sent out more queries (that’s a one-page letter telling a bit about your book and yourself) than I want to admit (in the dozens, people, in the dozens). I’ve come soooooo close, with agents asking for sample chapters or even the whole manuscript, only to tell me that the writing is good but the story isn’t compelling/special/great. Or, they might think the novel’s idea is fantastic, but the execution in too plodding, etc. Or, they think the market is too saturated with the kind of story I’ve written. What it comes down to for agents—can they sell this thing?

I guess I thought success would come a little faster—or at all—when I published my first novel Year of the Smoke Girl with a small press. This was back in 2000, and the publisher, Dry Bones Press, Inc., consisted of one guy, Jim Rankin, who was using his disability money and some incentives from Lightning Source—a print on demand printer owned by Ingram—to publish books, first in nursing, then in other genres. I will always be grateful to Jim for giving me a break, although the whole process was rather frustrating. But I’ll save that for another post.

Back to success, or lack of it.  I had hoped with my next novel I’d move on from the small indie press world to a larger, mid-sized press, perhaps with the help of an agent, but that didn’t happen. In 2003, I told one of my writer friends that I was thinking of giving up. She said helpfully, “Maybe writing can just be your hobby.” She wasn’t the greatest at pep talks. But maybe she was right, I thought. Maybe I should just slap that L on my forehead and admit I’m a big old LOSER.

About a year later, however,  I started to draft another book (my fourth), because you see, writing for me is like some kind of disease, even if it’s bad writing. What was my subject? Well, I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer (high school angst combined with the supernatural–awesome combo!), although at the time I hadn’t read any adult supernatural stuff and had only read YA horror when I was actually a YA (remember, when I started writing my novel, this was pre Twilight). Of course, like most people, I’d read the Harry Potter series and loved it. I had done some research on modern Wiccans, and I thought it would be funny if a witch who had been raised in this religion actually had superpowers and didn’t know what to do with them. As a person who is half-Chinese, half-white, I thought it would be even more interesting if she was biracial. I had once attended a Samhain potluck, where basically everyone was white except one Asian woman, and I thought, What the hell is she doing here? I’d love to know her story. So that’s how my character Memphis Zhang was born.

Here’s another little tidbit about me: This fall, I turn 40. I have always been blase about getting older, but as I actually do add on the years, I’m taking aging more seriously. I had hoped to be further along in my fiction writing career by this point. Some of my writing friends have started to encourage me to self-publish—excuse me, I think the term used today is independently publish or indie publish—my book as an e-book and hope for the success of Amanda Hocking. Maybe as a birthday gift to myself, I will. Come along for the ride—it’ll be fun!