Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Indie Authors Spill on Self-Publishing: Jenn Cooksey

Today, I'm thrilled to have the hilarious Jenn Cooksey here, author of the YA novel Shark Bait, the first in the Grab Your Pole series. Welcome, Jenn!

I’d like to start off by saying thank you to my gracious hostess, Samantha, for giving me this opportunity. It’s not only a great pleasure to guest post on her blog, but it’s also a first for me! And just so everyone understands, my blogging skillz pretty much suck, as anyone who’s ever visited my (pathetic) blog can attest to. That being the case, I hope my contribution will meet everyone’s standards and I’ll do my poor best to keep my fondness for...er, “adult language” in check. Which will be quite the task for me as my journey in self-publishing could be said to lean towards the frustrating side, where often times I was swearing up a blue streak and ripping out my hair. Well, I didn’t actually rip out my hair, however badly I felt like it, but I did throw out some very colorful strings of profanity. I was actually rather impressed with my creativity and vocabulary at times.

I came to writing professionally late in life, and it was almost three years ago that I first began. Like I’ve mentioned in recent interviews, Shark Bait wasn’t the first novel I wrote. After completing that first manuscript, I did what every would-be author does; I queried literary agents. I’m sure you can imagine the table dance I did when, less than 24 hours after I’d sent it, the first literary agent I’d queried responded and asked for a partial. Yeah, I’m sure all the animals in the house either thought the end of the world was nigh, or that I was drunk. Maybe both. Regardless, my time on the table didn’t last terribly long as the agency politely passed, as was the result of the rest of my queries. I’d only just begun the query process though, and was planning on continuing my endeavor to find representation, but then something truly amazing happened; the first 3 lines of Shark Bait sprang into my mind one afternoon while I was driving my kids to our weekly park day. I counted the minutes until it was a reasonable time to drag my kids from their friends, then I went home and started writing. I never looked back.

As with that first novel, however, I had actually planned on trying to publish Shark Bait traditionally. In fact, self-publishing wasn’t ever something I’d given any thought to whatsoever. Not only that, I hadn’t intended to begin the process of legacy publishing until I’d written all 6 books in the Grab Your Pole series. I mean querying is a job in and of itself and I didn’t want to take away or pull focus from my creative process in writing until I felt I could spend the time and energy querying and researching agents requires so that I could do it properly. I was finished with 3 1/4 of the books in the GYP series this past spring when a little, yet insistent voice began whispering that is was time. Incidentally, that voice sounded not unlike my husband and one of my BFFs combined...and you don’t have to tell me that that’s weird. You try listening to that mash-up without laughing and/or thinking that you’ve lost your mind...

So, there I was again, looking at trying to find representation. I put book 4 on the backburner and started focusing on writing a killer query letter. I spent days and days on it, adding, cutting, editing, revamping, having it proofed, and yes, my husband, BFF, my oldest daughter and I all sat down one night to hold a kind of brain storming session/focus group; all just for one query letter. Just when we had all pretty much agreed my query couldn’t get any more fan-freaking-tastic and I was about ready to start sending it out, my husband read an article about Amanda Hocking. He then suggested I consider self-publishing. “I hate seeing you so stressed about this whole agent thing,” he said. “At least look into it.” So, I asked my bibliophile BFF what she thought, and she concurred. Enthusiastically, no holds barred concurred. Her stance was that although she adored my previous manuscript, she absolutely LOVES the GYP series and even if an agent were to pick me up and get a publisher on board, it would probably still be upwards of two years before Shark Bait would be available to the masses, which she felt was unacceptable. She wanted everyone to have a chance to read it and she wanted them to have that chance more than two years ago, right after I’d finished writing it.

From there I went into research mode. I first went to Ms. Hocking’s blog because I didn’t have a clue where to begin. Then I went to Joe Konrath’s blog and because he’s the end all be all in blogging (IMHO), I went to Nathan Bransford’s blog, a former literary agent turned author, knowing he would have something there that might point me in the direction of the other things I should be thinking about when looking at self-publishing. I was right and I discovered there’s quite a bit more to it than just slapping on a cover, uploading your manuscript file, and clicking publish.

I started looking into professional cover art; my search found that it would be a minimum of $400 for eBook and print covers. Professional manuscript formatting services? Anywhere from $200 all the way up to $1000+. Now, we’re a single income family of 5 and our oldest child is a high school cheerleader, so for those of you who have an inkling as to the cost involved in that, you’ll believe me when I say that 99.9% of the time, we’re broke. What all that means is that hiring any professional to help me publish my book wasn’t gonna be an option. I didn’t even get to the point of getting quotes for editors...with prices like I was seeing, it was a safe bet I was looking at the only editor I could afford every morning in my bathroom mirror. I was on my own. And it wasn’t pretty. I’m not a stupid person, but I am completely inept in terms of understanding computer lingo and HTML so following even the most basic of guides on formatting and self-publishing was an endless and nightmarish task for me. In keeping the profanity to a minimum, I won’t go into every issue I encountered, but let me just say, building a workable table of contents on Word for Mac to be used in a .mobi file is essentially an impossibility. At one point I was so incredibly frustrated, I web-stalked a guy for his email address and sent the following message to him, which I entitled: Researching My Way to Blindness and Horrible Confusion.

I saw a comment you posted on [REDACTED] back in March on Word and formatting for e-pubbing, and I hope you don't mind that I put my amateur stalking skills to work in locating you with the intention of picking your brain further...

First, a little background info... I have written three complete novels in Word for Mac - meaning the story is complete and in the final editing process - and I'm partially into the fourth book of the series. Originally I was going to try for legacy publishing, however, after careful thinking and conversation, I've decided to go with e-pubbing. I mean it's so simple, right? You take your complete story, you get some good cover art, you log into KDP to upload, and 24 hrs. later, BAM! You're published!

I wish.

I have now spent countless hours going blind on the Internet in researching the best way to e-publish and the result? Well, aside from a massive migraine, I'm horribly confused, dejected, and on the cusp of swapping out my dream for tackling my nemesis, laundry. And not that my husband won't appreciate having his dress shirts properly cared for, but he'd strangle me in my sleep (which is preferable to him killing me in front of our three children, of course), for walking away from something he's been supremely supportive of for close to 3 years now - with no return on our family's investment.

I'll now try to get to the crux of my reason for seeking you out... I'm your average [REDACTED]-year-old mom and housewife - I have zero experience with HTML, converting lines of code to produce a clean manuscript etc., ad nauseum. (Seriously, using the tab function is "dirty"?! Holy Hell Batman!) Honestly, I had no idea that what I was writing even had that stuff imbedded in it. I thought what I see on the screen of my laptop is what would be uploaded. I've learned, even if I were to put my work into Scrivener (which I just heard of), that won't be the case unless I spend some serious money paying someone to "professionally" convert it for me because I simply don't understand what everyone was talking about in this blog post.

My question(s) I guess is this; am I making e-pubbing too difficult, or is it really as tricky as I've read? I have no problem purchasing Scrivener if I like it after the free trial and using it to convert and then upload, but is that all I really need to do, or am I going to need to learn how to use all these other editing and conversion software programs like Calibre and Sigil in order for me to get my novels out of my Mac and into the homes and hearts of readers?  

There's just such a vastness to what I didn't know about e-pubbing - even with Amazon's seemingly simple KDP - and there still is. So, any easy-to-understand information would be greatly beneficial - Hell, I'd probably be inclined to re-name my firstborn child after you if you were kind enough to walk me through what I have to do, although being a 15 1/2 year-old girl, you both might find that rather awkward. I thank you very much and from the bottom of my heart for your time, and hopefully forthcoming response, as I am in desperate need of advice and Excederin.



The kind man did reply and quickly, too, and he pointed me back to Smashwords, a site I’d visited before but hadn’t ever downloaded the formatting guide for because I wasn’t going to publish with them. However, the gentleman above was very supportive and assured me that I could do it, and all the basics in Mark Coker’s book on formatting for Smashwords were fundamentals that I should be doing regardless of who I was going to publish with. So, I downloaded the free eBook guide. I spent days following it to the letter in regards to formatting my novel, and everything aside from being able to produce a workable TOC, looked to be good to go. I converted my Word doc into PDF—because that’s what KDP said I needed to do if I didn’t have a .mobi file—from there I used Calibri to convert it and the Kindle previewer to see what it would look like and voilĂ ! Garbled formatting. Shit. Needless to say, I was bummed. I’d heard horror stories about PDF not playing well during the conversion process and now I had proof. I needed to find a way around using a PDF for e-pubbing, and I eventually figured out how to use a writing program called Scrivener to compile my work into an epub file and from there, I could easily convert it to a .mobi file. I’m making it sound easier than it was, and I’m sure it is actually easy, but you have to remember, I’m an idiot when it comes to stuff like this. The point is, I figured it out and got a nice converted file and BONUS! It even had a freaking TOC! Ha!

Next obstacle was cover art. Seriously, UGH. I’m an artist with words and everything, but I can’t draw for crap. Not only that, but digital design? Forget it. Enter my sister-in-law, a professional photographer well versed in Photoshop. I had an idea, we tried it, we failed. I came up with another idea, we talked about it, and we threw it out. Then I came up with the idea for Shark Bait’s current cover and that’s when she worked her invaluable magic. I “designed” it, but she made it happen. She formatted it in every way I needed it and even when it came time to upload for certain devices and encountered a sizing issue, she clicked away and gave me the file I needed. She was a godsend, a true hero. The morning Shark Bait went live, I experienced a hurricane of emotion, all stemming from my Facebook news feed being filled with posts, pictures, and screen caps about nothing but my book and me for more than 3 hours. It was incredibly humbling to see such a vast show of love and support and to this day, I still tear up when I think about the post that kicked off—one that was from a dear friend who posted a screenshot of her buying my book on Amazon with the caption of: “WoooHooo... A girl’s dream coming true!!! So proud of you.

My other hero in terms of formatting (er...make that in terms of everything except providing for my family which credit goes solely to my husband) was my aforementioned bibliophile BFF. I’d published Shark Bait on Kindle and NOOK, and my next goal was print. Which meant back to the Word doc and more formatting. Again I spent days working on the file, I got everything done and ready, except the headers and footers. They were being a giant pain in my ass. Again because I’m inept and have no experience with that sort of thing, I needed help. My BFF stepped in and went to work, and I’m sure because of something I had done in my tinkering, what should have taken a mere 15 minutes for her to complete, actually ended up taking more than 3 hours and we’re still not sure why—I mean aside from the fact that God likes to laugh and he doesn’t mind my swearing. In the end, though, I had a properly formatted version of my manuscript that I was able to upload to Createspace along with the print cover art. And presto!

Although the headache from publishing in print wasn’t anything like it was for e-pubbing, I swear, pulling a rabbit out of a hat would’ve probably been easier. But, seeing my novel in physical print (with a barcode!!!) was more than well worth the time, frustration, and endless effort it took to get to that point. Truth be told, a group of us actually pet and stroked the proof copy the day it arrived, each one of us taking an intimate moment of soundless awe to wordlessly behold and glory in the result of our combined efforts and dedication. It was a moment I won’t forget for quite some time if ever...

So, for those who might be getting ready to delve into the depths of becoming an indie author and have doubts, or if you’re already pursuing that lofty goal and like I had, you’ve found yourself coming up with words even Urban Dictionary hasn’t ever heard of, I promise you, there’s light at the end of the tunnel and it’s so worth traversing what may seem like a dark and lonely road to reach it. Because you’re not alone, and...

You CAN do it.

Previously homeschooled Camie Ramsey is being shoved into the shark-infested waters of public high school, where even helium filled, penguin bespeckled arm floaties likely won’t help keep her inexperienced, fifteen-year old head above water in that rip current of hormones and emotions.

Camie’s worldly wisdom might be severely lacking (i.e., the closest she’s come to being kissed was sitting too close to the TV whilst Jake Ryan leaned in to give Samantha that fateful 16th birthday kiss), but she does understand her only hope for survival is if she’s thrown some kind of “social” life preserver before she sinks like a freaking rock. However, what will her fate be when she endeavors to flag down the only lifeguard on duty, the enormously popular and ridiculously beautiful Tristan Daniels? The most sought after and virtually most unattainable guy in school who not only makes Camie’s heart flatline on a recurring basis, he’s also the one guy who seemingly doesn’t know she exists.
Feeling like an inept piece of chum that could ultimately be swallowed by Jaws, can Camie get Tristan to rescue her from floundering in the treacherous deep, or is she destined to be Shark Bait?

Author's Note:
While the tales themselves are fictional, some of the events and characters are very loosely based in reality and on my experiences—but don’t worry, the names of the characters, most of their unfortunate fashion sense and/or questionable taste in music has been changed to protect the not-so innocent.

Due to language and some adult content, this book may not be suitable for readers under the age of 16.



Connect with Jenn Cooksey at

My Pathetic Blog
Twitter: @jenn_cooksey

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Indie Authors Spill on Self-Publishing: Anne Mitchell

I am so happy to welcome the wonderful UK author of Happy Hour, Anne Mitchell. Thank you so much, Anne, for joining us and sharing your very relatable and inspirational story of self-publishing.

HAPPY HOUR – the story of a chick-lit novel

Hello from the UK!

Firstly, many thanks to Sam for the opportunity to share my self-publishing journey
with the readers of this blog. I’ve been living, breathing, eating and sleeping self-
publishing for six months now, (and boring the pants off all my long-suffering friends
and family in the process) so while I’m writing about my own experiences here I also
hope that anyone who’s wondering whether to take this momentous step themselves
might pick up a few tips and/or a little bit of inspiration along the way.

I got the idea for my novel HAPPY HOUR about four years ago, on a visit to New
York with my daughter. We went to all the usual tourist places; the Empire State
Building, Central Park, the Guggenheim – all locations that feature in the novel –
and I absolutely loved the energy and everything-is-possible vibe we encountered
everywhere we went. One day we visited the NBC studios in the Rockefeller Centre,
and on the plane journey home I came up with the idea of the “fish out of water”
story of a very ordinary Englishwoman who finds herself way out of her depth in
the very glamorous and un-ordinary world of US TV. The next day I sat down and
wrote the first chapter, then the next, and when I had three chapters completed (and
to be honest, not much idea of where the story was going next) I sent them off to six
London agents.

Well, I had no excuse for what followed. I’d read all the books that tell you how you
to write query letters and when to submit to agents, and I should have known better.
What happened was that two agents rang me up the next day wanting to see the rest
of the manuscript. Like, NOW. I explained that it wasn’t quite ready just yet; there
were one or two little tweaks I still had to make – and then I sat down to write the
rest of the completely unplanned novel (about 85,000 words). For four weeks, when
I wasn’t doing my day job, I was writing. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. Some days
I got up at four or five and wrote for eight or nine hours at a stretch. One day I was
sitting at my computer at 4.30 in the afternoon, still in my pyjamas. I hadn’t eaten
anything the whole day. When I finally shut down the computer, I was so stiff I could
barely stand up.

Anyhow, nearly dead with exhaustion, I finally completed the manuscript and sent
it off. A few days later one of the agents rang me and said that, though the novel
needed a LOT of editing (no surprise there!), she loved it and wanted to take it on.
That was one of the absolute best days of my life, but sadly, it wasn’t to end with
the six-figure publishing deal I’d fondly imagined. After nine months of edits and
rewrites, she finally sent it off to twelve publishers – and one after the other they all
turned it down. Nicely, but... And then, just as I was feeling a bit low about it all,
but trying to keep positive because hey, I still had an agent, and maybe the publishers
would like my next book better - my agent disappeared.

After a few weeks of no replies to my increasingly urgent emails, I finally contacted
my agent’s boss (head of a very reputable London literary agency), who said that my
agent had left ‘suddenly’ and that he was sorry, but they weren’t going to take HAPPY
HOUR any further. Or anything else I might write, thank you very much. He wished
me luck, and good-bye.

So HAPPY HOUR went back into its virtual drawer, and I didn’t go near it for three
years, during which I completed a Masters in Creative Writing and wrote a YA novel,
which didn’t get published either. One day an acquaintance casually asked, had I
considered self-publishing? Some people were making quite good money at it, he’d
heard. The names John Locke and Amanda Hocking were mentioned. At first, I was
non-committal. Secretly, I had thought about self-publishing, but I was a bit wary.
For one thing, I thought of myself as a writer (albeit an unpublished one), not a self-
publicist. How would I cope with all the marketing? And two or three people on my
Masters course had been extremely sniffy about self-publishing, implying it was no
better than vanity publishing (and that, they strongly suggested, was not much better
than street-walking). No, none of the Big Six publishing houses were exactly queuing
to sign them up either, but they just knew they’d never stoop so low as to (curl lip) self-

Eventually, after thinking about it for several months, I decided I had nothing to lose
(except, possibly, my sanity). I went away and read every book I could find on self-
publishing, and every blog. I learnt that if you’re going to stand out, you’ve got to
have a properly (preferably professionally) edited novel ready to go – thanks to my
vanished agent, I had that – and you’ve also got to have a good, professional cover,
by which your book WILL be judged. I didn’t have that to begin with, but thanks
to a contact of my daughter’s I finally found a brilliant cover designer willing to do
mine for a knockdown price. I learnt that if you want to be taken seriously by readers
and reviewers, you need to have a totally professional attitude at all times (no vitriolic
responses to poor reviews, however tempting). Finally, I learnt that you have to get
active in social media, which for me has been the hardest of all. I’m not very good
at blowing my own trumpet, but I have made a big effort to connect with people on
Twitter, and have found it extremely rewarding (and rather addictive) in itself. In
fact, that’s how I first made contact with Sam!

There are still things I need to do: I really need my own blog or website (I am setting
one up as we speak); I need to sort out a few formatting glitches (nothing major, but
I do want HAPPY HOUR to look perfect); I need to get more active on Facebook,
and somehow, I need to find time to finish and edit my next book, DAYDREAM
BELIEVER, which is (hopefully) coming out some time in November.

The rewards have been so worth all the hard work. Since publication at the end of
January, I’ve sold thousands of copies of HAPPY HOUR, and even more have been
downloaded free (nearly 31,000 at the last count). I’ve had some great reviews on
Amazon.com, Amazon UK and Goodreads (and a few people who obviously loathed
it, but that’s what traditionally-published writers live with, too). I’ve had fan emails
– one lady made some really thoughtful suggestions for a possible sequel - and nice
people tweeting me about it, and kind people offering to feature me on their lovely
blogs (thanks, Sam!), and some people offering to write favourable reviews for money
(thanks guys, but no thanks) - absolutely none of which would have happened if I’d let
HAPPY HOUR remain lurking in its document folder on my computer.

If you too are thinking of taking the plunge into self-publishing, I can highly
recommend Catherine Ryan Howard’s refreshingly astringent and very detailed
Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing, which tells you absolutely
everything you need to know about the whole scary, exciting, time-consuming,
HUGELY rewarding business. Good luck!

HAPPY HOUR by Anne Mitchell

What if your husband had an affair with a beautiful actress?
What if you were blackmailed into impersonating someone else on primetime TV?
What if your beloved twelve year old son suddenly disappeared?
What if you fell hopelessly in love with someone you definitely shouldn’t have fallen in
love with?

Could you ever be happy again?

Jane Anderson has always been happy for her husband Paul, a handsome garden
designer, to take the spotlight while she looks after their son Jeremy. But when Paul
wins a gold medal at Chelsea, he catches the eye of glamour-puss Elizabeth – and it’s
not just his horticultural skills she’s interested in. Jane’s oldest friend Susie invites her
to New York for a little therapeutic shopping and sightseeing, but in Manhattan Jane
finds she bears an amazing likeness to Rosie Reynolds, ultra-glamorous host of the
popular news and talk show Happy Hour, and that's when her troubles really begin.
After Rosie’s botched face-lift Jane is offered the job of emergency stand-in on Happy
Hour. But here she meets Lou, a dangerously charming man who also happens to be
Rosie’s husband... For Jane, it’s the hour of truth.

‘I really liked the premise of this book (I've been a bit fussy with chick-lit lately) and I
wasn't disappointed. Definitely recommend!’

HAPPY HOUR is available on Amazon
HAPPY HOUR on Amazon UK (there are more reviews here):
Self-Printed: the Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing by Catherine Ryan Howard:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Indie Authors Spill on Self-Publishing: Jackie Bouchard

Today, I have the wonderful author Jackie Bouchard here to discuss her road to self-publishing What The Dog Ate. If you're a dog lover or simply enjoy a fantastic, funny story, definitely check it out. Thanks so much, Jackie, for joining us!

My Road to Publication: I’m Gonna Do the Driving

Whenever my husband and I go somewhere, I always drive. I grew up in the ‘burbs of
car-culture L.A.; he grew up in rapid-transit-friendly Montreal. So, I’m used to driving,
and enjoy it, while he doesn’t. Plus… I’m just a teeny, tiny bit of a control freak.
Therefore, I shouldn’t be surprised that I ended up self publishing my first novel. Of
course, I didn’t start out intending to. I wanted to be traditionally published—not because
I wanted to give up control over everything from the cover, to the font, to the release
date, but because I wanted the validation.

Not to mention the fact that even just a few years ago (when I was trying to get
published), self publishing was not really considered to be a legitimate option.
So, in the words of The Talking Heads, “How did I get here?”

In 2006, my hubby was working tons of hours. Like Maggie, the heroine in my novel
What the Dog Ate, he’s the head of Accounting at a public company—a very demanding
job. His company was going through an acquisition then, so he rarely got home before
8pm or even later. I needed something to do with myself at night, so rather than
frequenting dive bars, I signed up for “An Introduction to Creative Writing.”

I’m not one of those writers who’s been scribbling stories and my deepest thoughts in
journals my entire life. I liked to write poems (very, very bad poems) as a kid, and I
dated a wanna-be writer (if that counts for anything, and I think it should since I used to
help him come up with endings for his stories!), but that was the pathetic extent of my
writing history. Once, I thought I’d enter a writing contest. I sat and stared at a blank
page for 15 minutes until the feeling passed. Still, a writing class sounded like fun, so I
figured, “What the heck.”

Over the course of that class, I wrote a short story that ended up being a very abbreviated
version of the first quarter of my novel. The instructor encouraged me to explore the
characters and turn it into a manuscript, so, again, I thought, “What the heck.” I signed up
for more classes, and worked away fleshing out the story.

In the fall of 2007, I had the manuscript about three-quarters complete. Or so I thought.
It was actually the Swiss Cheese of Manuscripts: it wasn’t even close to three quarters
of the way done, but I was too much of a writing-virgin to know that. So off to a local
conference I went, with my sample scene and a stomach full of extra-fluttery butterflies.
A friend said there was a certain agent attending that she particularly liked, so I planned
to go to her session. I also planned to lurk in the back and just absorb.

At the session, there was no “back”—just tables in a horseshoe around the agent. So I
sat at the table, my scene hidden away. The agent asked who planned to read. Only five
hands (out of maybe 20+ people) went up. I’ve always been the type that feels compelled
to fill an awkward silence, and it seemed that with so few people reading, there was going
to be a lot of awkward silence in that long session, so I tentatively raised my hand too.

When it was my turn, my heart pounded. (I hate public speaking!) I got through the
scene—which is a pretty key scene in the novel, and survived all the later editing—and
heard silence. Then, everyone started to say how much they liked it! Okay, Butterflies,
time to take a break. At the end of the session, the agent asked me to send her the
manuscript when it was complete. Now the butterflies helped me soar! I was on a major
high—in great contrast to earlier when I’d sat at lunch thinking: “I’m not a real writer; I
don’t belong here. I should leave.” I almost did, but thankfully I’d said, “What the heck”
and stayed.

After that, I worked at a fevered pace. I finished (hahaha, delusional!) the book and sent
it off to her in the spring of 2008. And she rejected it. But… she sent me a very detailed
list of suggestions. Pretty much every one was spot on, so I worked hard and sent the
manuscript back to her that fall, and she signed me!

Oh, what exciting times… and then, the market crashed. By the time she finished
helping me put the final tweaks on the book we were pitching it in early 2009. Not great
timing in any industry, let alone publishing. Even though I got good rejections, they
were still rejections. I tried to put the book out of my head and just get on with the next
one. I hoped someday it would be published. Then in January, I had dinner with my
agent, and she encouraged me to self-publish it—and, (are you seeing a pattern here?) I
thought, “What the heck!”

Other than the cover, I’ve done everything myself: formatting the e-versions for
Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing, formatting the print version for CreateSpace;
all the marketing. I even built my own web site. (And one of these days, I’ll find time to
get back to the writing part!) It’s a struggle to balance the marketing with the writing, but
it’s fun. Well, mostly fun.

Today, I honestly can’t say what I’d do if a publisher wanted to sign my next book. I still
crave that validation, but I’d rather get it from the readers than the publishers, and I love
having control over how the book looks and when it comes out. It’s been hard work along
the way, but it’s been exciting and definitely a learning experience.

Thanks so much to Samantha for inviting me to share my story. I’m happy to share what
I’ve learned with others who’d like to drive down this same road!

The vet handed Maggie Baxter a plastic specimen bag containing a pair of size-tiny lavender thong panties extracted from her dog; but they were not hers. Or rather, they were hers now since she'd just paid $734 to have Dr. Carter surgically remove them from Kona's gut.

This is how Maggie Baxter, a practical, rule-following accountant, discovers that her husband of seventeen years is cheating on her. All her meticulous life plans are crushed. When he leaves her for the other woman, Maggie and her the-world-is-my-smorgasbord chocolate Lab, Kona, are left to put their lives back together. As Maggie begins to develop a Plan B for her life, she decides to be more like Kona. No, she's not going to sniff crotches and eat everything that isn't nailed down; rather she'll try to approach life with more ball-chasing abandon. Finding herself in situations where she begins to go through her usual over-analysis of the pros and cons, she stops and instead asks herself: What would Kona do? With Kona as her guru, Maggie begins her quest for tail-wagging joy.

"What the Dog Ate" is a funny, tender story of mending a broken heart and finding love and a new life right under your nose, with woman's best friend at your side. If you enjoyed Claire Cook's "Must Love Dogs" or Lolly Winston's "Good Grief," you'll love "What the Dog Ate" and be rooting for Maggie and Kona.

WHAT THE DOG ATE is available now as an e-book at Amazon (and all other e-book
retailers) and is available in print at Amazon and Create Space.

Connect with Jackie!

Email: jackie@jackiebouchard.com
Site: www.jackiebouchard.com
Blog: Pooch Smooches
Twitter: @JackieBouchard

Monday, July 9, 2012

Indie Authors Spill on Self-Publishing: Savannah Page

I'm so excited to have Savannah Page, the lovely and talented author of When Girlfriends Break Hearts, here today to discuss her journey in self-publishing. Thank you, Savannah, for being here and sharing your story!

Thank you, Samantha, for inviting me to guest post on your Blog today. I really
appreciate the offer and am very excited to share a bit about my self-publishing
journey…and my two cents about the whole kit ’n’ caboodle! And thank you, readers,
for stopping by today. Welcome! Grab a cup of coffee or tea and please enjoy!
It was just last December when I decided to take a deep breath and try my hand
at this whole self-publishing thing. I’d read the success stories of Amanda Hocking.
(And had a few sugar-plumb-fairy-like dreams about that kind of story happening to
me.) I’d read stories of how indie authors like Scott Nicholson and Zoe Winters and
J.A. Konrath—among many—were actually making a living wage writing and self-
publishing their work. Full time, self-pubbed authors!

With a lifelong dream to be a paid and published author some day, and with a
bunch of plots, short stories, poems, even some novellas and full length novels on
my various discs and in scads of notebooks I’ve collected over the years, I decided
I’d give this indie thing a shot one snowy day in my home office in Berlin, Germany.
Why not share some of the words…the stories…that I hold dear with someone else?
And, why not package them neatly, polish them up, and get a nice shiny cover with
an interesting back cover synopsis, and put them up on Amazon? Just like Amanda.
Throw up a price tag that’s less than a Starbucks cup ‘o Jo and see what happens.

My first book, a personal travelogue entitled Bumped to Berlin, was the product of
my 100% going-at-this-solo indie author stint. I knew next to nothing (alright; I knew
nothing) about the self-publishing industry. I figured out via Google and Scrivener
(the writing software that I swear by) just how to format an ebook (cried over this for
about a day), and even a trade paperback (and cried over this for about a week), and
decided to see what would happen if I just put my work out there for the world to do
whatever it wanted with it. 100% written, edited, and proofread by moi. (And I cried
over that scary endeavor, too!)

I’d written the meat of Bumped to Berlin in a journal-like manner that summer,
cataloging my experiences over the previous year of life as an American expat in
Berlin. Come Christmas time, I thought I’d put it into a travelogue form and see if
anyone wanted to read and buy it as a book. I had written the stories. People were
asking about how I liked my big move from the States to Germany. I even had a blog
going about my adventures. Why not put these snippets of every day life into a ‘book
format’ and see what happens?

I put my heart (not to mention a large chunk of my personal life) out there and
was surprised to find that I had actually found some interested readers. And a
few extra bucks, too! I figured why not try this again, and again, and try to make a
living doing what I love to do. No harm no foul. So, off I went to write another book.
Bumped was the kickstart I needed for becoming a self-pubbed lady.

Now I’ve been a consumer of chick lit, modern romances, and anything with a
soap opera touch or a highly dramatic flair for as long as I can remember. I love
reading chick lit and boy do I love writing it. When I was working on my Masters in
English Literature at The University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, I had no problem proudly
stating to my class that my goal in life as an English Lit major was to either A)
become a full time staff writer for All My Children in New York, B) head to Berlin to
become a full time staff writer for a German soap opera…perhaps Rote Rosen or
Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten… or C) become a chick lit author.

Needless to say I was alone in the room with my writing ambitions; surrounded
by James Joyce enthusiasts, Fitzgerald wannabes, and even Austen worshippers
who looked down on this “chick lit” business. (Seriously, were they really Jane
Austen worshippers?) Yup, I was alone, and I’ll admit I felt a tiny bit inferior to the
other students as my career goals had nothing to do with obtaining a doctorate or
publishing a 900 page dissertation about hidden meanings behind allegorical swords
as penises in contemporary British literature. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with
their ambitions. I respect the field and the various paths people take. And there’s
also absolutely nothing wrong with my ambitions. I simply wanted to take a different
path from the rest of my comrades.

Don’t get me wrong; I can enjoy a good “is the sword really phallic or is it just a
deadly weapon?” conversation. And I’ve used many-a-fabulous dissertations from
former English Lit students to help me finish those essays and term papers back in
grad school. But I just had my heart set on writing modern day romances, stories
of drama, creating characters with dramatic personalities and equally dramatic life
experiences. I want to write heartfelt and fun-and-fancy-free books by women, for
women…and even for men who may fancy themselves a good ‘ol chick lit! (Welcome
to the club, boys!)

I’ve had the dream of being an author for a long while, and a fervent passion for
writing, for telling stories, and for chick lit; self-publishing opened the door for me to
make a go at it! So a couple months after I had released Bumped to Berlin I decided to sit down and crank out a story of six girlfriends that I’ve had cooking in my mind for awhile
(the story has been cooking, not the girlfriends…). It was time to finally bring these
girls to life and let them lead their quirky lives on the page—digital or paperback.

This May I self-published my second work, When Girlfriends Break Hearts. It’s
got chick lit written all over it—the cover, the title, and, of course, the content. (The
book’s info is at the end of this post in case you want to scroll down quickly and find
out what this juicy chick lit is about.)

I’m very pleased with the first installment in my When Girlfriends… series and am
hard at work on its sequel right now, which I anticipate will be released early autumn.
(It’s going to be juicy-good…oh I can’t wait to share it!) I’d like to think I’ve come some way since I self-pubbed my first book, and I am excited to see where my new chick lit series will take me in this new e-reading world.

Since Bumped to Berlin I have read many how-to books, articles, and blog posts on
editing, proofreading, self-publishing, formatting, and even living the indie author life
(like how to come to terms with zero sales…or a zillion sales…and keep on writing).

I’ve put together a fabulous beta reading team, have a great editor now, and have
made some awesome connections with fellow writers and readers, just like Sam! All
who are inspirations and great cheerleaders. The self-publishing indie journey: it rocks. It rocks my socks off!

Had you asked me just a year ago if I thought anyone who wasn’t a family
member or a Facebook friend would buy one of my books I would have laughed and
laughed and laughed. Would I have believed that I’d meet some incredible readers
and writers and even fans of my books? Seriously, still laughing. I am so very
grateful to everyone and everything that makes this ability to self-publish possible
and am super excited to see where the path goes from here.

Readers, keep on reading and thank you for the support! Writers, keep on writing
(and reading—I firmly believe we ought to read just as much as we write in order to
better our craft).

Thanks again for this posting opp, Sam! Looking forward to seeing you on my
Blog for a special Meet the Author: Q&A Time tomorrow (July 10th)!

When Girlfriends Break Hearts

by Savannah Page

A novel about the bonds of friendship, the power of forgiveness, and the lessons you learn when you let go.

Sophie Wharton doesn’t like losing control, especially of her life. She’s always been the girl who’s kept it together—the girl with a charming boyfriend, a lively social life, and plans to start her own bakery. Life is great for Sophie a few years out of college in Seattle…or so she thinks.

Then a series of events start to turn Sophie’s perfectly ordered world upside down.

After three years, her boyfriend suddenly decides to call it quits. Her close camaraderie of girlfriends is starting to fall apart. Secrets are exposed. And when she thinks things couldn’t get any worse, Sophie learns that one of her friends is fighting a devastating battle.

 Now living with her best friend Claire, Sophie struggles with learning to forgive or forget those who break hearts, while trying to accept that there are some situations she cannot control. But is there still a light at the end of the tunnel? Can a girl find the “good” in the “bad”?

This is a heartfelt story about what happens when friendships take different paths and when life doesn’t exactly go according to plan. It’s a story about betrayal, forgiveness, acceptance, and letting go. About what happens when girlfriends break hearts.

Buy WHEN GIRLFRIENDS BREAK HEARTS in both paperback and ebook at

Visit and Follow Savannah at



Twitter @Savannah_Page