My Next Book

I want to thank everyone for the support they’ve given my latest book, Dating a Widower. Sales have surpassed expectations and the reviews and feedback have been very positive. As a result of its success, I’m thrilled to announce that a follow-up book, Marrying a Widower, is in the works and will be released the first half of next year. Look for more details in January. Like its predecessor, I’ll be asking for readers to contribute their stories. So if you’re engaged to, married to, or divorced from a widower, start thinking about a story you might want to share. A full list of topics will be posted in January.

And no, I haven’t stopped writing fiction. I expect to release a novel next year as well. Look for more details on that in early 2012.

Dating a Widower Book Cover Concepts

For the last couple weeks I've been working with a book cover designer for the upcoming Dating a Widower book. After a couple weeks of back and forth I've narrowed the concepts I like down to two. Since my target audience spends a lot of time on this blog, I thought I'd solicit your feedback and see which one you like better. Right now I'm mainly looking for feedback on the concepts--the wedding ring "O" or the couple walking. If there are reasons you like one over the other, feel free to elaborate. If you have comments on the font, colors, etc. that's fine too but that's not something I want to spend too much time on right now. Once I narrow it down to one concept, I'll worry about those other details. And, yes, I have a favorite and no I'm not telling you what it is--at least not right now.

Leave a comment below or send me an email with your thoughts.

Update: Welcome all those who are visiting from The Passive Voice Blog. You can read more about my decision to turn down a publishing contract for this book and go indie with this book here and here.

Concept 1

Concept 2

Going Independent and the Future of Publishing

After announcing my decision to go independent with my Dating a Widower book, some people were curious as to why I’d turn down a publishing contract. Since I know most of my readers don’t follow what’s going on in the publishing world as closely as I do, I thought I’d give a more detailed explanation for my decision. The publishing industry is going through a similar change that the music industry went through at the turn of the century. Back when I was in college most people still bought CDs at the mall or stores like Wal-Mart or Target. Right around the time I graduated Napster showed up and everyone started downloading digital music to their computer for free. Of course this was illegal and Napster was soon shut down but not before demonstrating there was a big appetite for digital music. Then iTunes came along and showed that most people would willingly pay 99 cents for song or buy digital albums online—usually for less than the price of a CD. What made digital music really take off was the iPod and other digital music players that made it easy to take digital music files from your computer and put them in a device that would fit in your pocket.

Despite screaming from the record companies that some well known bands that the music industry was going to go bankrupt and disappear,  most bands and record labels not only survived but learned how to thrive in the new music world.  However, the biggest winners were independent musicians who now could upload their music to iTunes and could distribute their music just like the big boys. Many talented, independent musicians and bands suddenly had a way to get their music in front the same people as the big record labels without the overhead of distributing CDs or figuring out how to get them in stores. Because of a level playing field many independent bands and musicians have found an audience been able to make a living. Some have even been signed by big record labels after proving there was an audience for their music.

In the last couple of years eBooks and eReaders have revolutionized the publishing world. In the old days going independent (or self publishing) meant the author would write a book then and spend thousands of dollars printing copies of their book. With no way to distribute their work, most copies sat unsold in the author’s garage collecting dust. Now thanks to devices like the Kindle and improved print-on-demand (POD) technology, writers can bypass agents and publishers and have their books in the same online stores as big name publishers without having to invest money in printing actual books. Authors like Amanda Hocking have been able to launch their writing careers by promoting and selling their eBooks online.

With this kind of disruption in the traditional book business there’s the standard weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth as Big Publishing watches the business model they’ve relied on for decades being turned inside out. Many authors and industry experts are predicting the demise of big publishers or publishing companies in general. I don’t see that happening. However I think most have the financial resources to ride out the storm and will (eventually) adapt to the changing marketplace. (It’s traditional brick and mortar bookstores that have the most to lose.)

So what does this have to do with my decision to go indie—at least for this book?

Thanks to eBooks and POD technology I can reach this book’s target audience just as well, if not better, than most publishers. Over the years I’ve built up a loyal readership on the subject and in many corners I’m considered the expert on dating a widower. In addition my website receives hundreds of Google hits every day from people looking for information on this very subject. If I didn’t have any of this going for me, signing a contract with a traditional publisher might have been a better way to go.

What I’m hoping to avoid is the mistakes many indie authors make. I can’t tell you how many books by indie authors that I’ve downloaded on Marathon Girl’s Kindle only to delete the books after a couple chapters because the writing, editing, and proofreading wasn’t anywhere it needed to be. I’ve also refrained from purchasing other books simply because it looked like some 12-year-old put it together. I estimate it’s going to cost me roughly $1,000 for a cover, editing, proofreading, and everything else it’s going to take to bring the book to a professional level. However, it’s a good investment and I’m fairly confident that I can earn that money back in a relatively short timeframe because of the need for this book.

Unlike some authors, I’m not married to the indie way of things. I have two other books I hope to get wrapped up soon. One I’d like to take the traditional route while the other one could go either way. A lot of the direction I choose to go will depend on how this project turns out and the lessons I learn along the way. If anything I see my writing future including using the best of both worlds.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be an exciting journey. And I promise to keep you all posted as this and other projects move forward.

Going Indie: A Dating a Widower Book Update

Note: My regular Widower Wednesday column will resume next week.

As many of you know I was recently offered a publishing contract for my Dating a Widower book. Today I’m announcing that I’ve turned down the contract and am going to publish Dating a Widower on my own like originally planned. The book will be available in paperback and eBook format in August. The book will be published through my Ben Lomond Press imprint.

Turning down the publishing contract wasn’t an easy decision. If the contract had been offered a year ago, I probably would have signed it. However, in the last year there’s been a major revolution in the publishing world. Thanks to eBooks readers like Kindle and Nook and improved print on demand technology, it’s become a lot easier for authors to get books into the hands of their target audience without a traditional publisher. For the most part the revolution has been relegated to certain fiction genres but it’s also been good for niche non-fiction and self-help titles too.

A few of the reasons I decided to go indie with Dating a Widower include:

  • I already have an audience for this book and know how to reach them. Because of the niche nature of this book, I wasn’t sure if a traditional publisher could do a better job getting the book in to the hands of women dating widowers.
  • I can get the book out this summer instead of early 2012.
  • Going indie will allow me to be more responsive to the needs of the audience. If there's a subject I didn't address I can quickly add a chapter to the book or make other updates instead of waiting a year or so for the next edition to become available.

Just because I’m going indie doesn’t mean I’m slapping the book together and throwing it out there. I’m contracting out a lot of the things that publishers usually handle. For example, I had a great editor go over it before I even submitted it to a publisher and will have a second editor and a proofreader go over it before it’s available to buy. I’ve also contracted the services of a book cover designer who’s designed hundreds of non-fiction book covers for traditional publishers as well as lots of experience typesetting them. In short, it’s going to be the same book you would have received from a traditional publisher.

Have I given up on using traditional publishers or going the traditional publishing route? Absolutely not. However, in the future I’m going to consider whether or not to go that route on a project-by-project basis. I currently have two other writing projects I’m working on. One I'm planning on taking one the traditional route and am currenlty leaning toward taking the second project the indie route.

In the meantime look for Dating a Widower to be ready for purchase and reading this August. The women whose stories have been selected to be included in the book should get formal email notifications this week.

Thanks for all your support with this book. I’m looking forward to finally having Dating a Widower available in two short months.