Wednesday, July 2, 2014

… And The Adventure Continues

by Janis Patterson

There are times I think I might be crazy.

Then there are times I know it.

Like now.

I’ve been published in novel-length fiction since 1979 (am I dating myself?) and while I never really worked at it as I should have (too busy traveling the world and having fun); still I’ve amassed a fair backlog of out-of-print books. Most are romances of one stripe or another written under my Janis Susan May name, as that’s where I began. Most have been metaphorically under the bed for a long time.

Fortunately, I managed to get most of the rights back before the current trad-pub rights grab, and was able to get more back from a publisher that some fear has been acting less than honestly. (Blogged about this adventure back in January…) There are more I’m still working on, and some I know that because of restrictive and wily contracts I will never ever get back.

So, what to do now with the books I do have the rights to? In this present climate, the obvious answer was republish them myself. I had released a few with pretty but inexpensive pre-made covers as ebooks only last year, and while they did okay there was no way The Husband and I could retire on the proceeds. A couple of nice dinners out, perhaps, but anything more – no.

My late father always said “If you’re going to do something, do it the best. Period.” I figured what could I lose besides some money, so I tracked down a fabulous formatter and a spectacularly gifted cover artist. Since the book had been published with a then-major house it didn’t need editing, but I went over the manuscript with a fine tooth comb, tweaking and smoothing and putting in front matter and back matter, making it ready for the formatter. I got a fantastic cover and – a dream of mine – made it available in paper as well as electronically. FAMILY OF STRANGERS, a traditional Gothic romance, is now available and doing rather well.

However, it took over a month to get it ready to upload. I wanted to get the rest of the books out faster, but being the Queen of Procrastination, I fiddled around with them, doing something on this and something else on the other… and getting nowhere.

Realizing that the best way to get things done was to prioritize, organize and hit them straight on, I decided on a business plan and made a schedule. I sent the schedule to my artist and formatter, and – after their exclamations of shock – they agreed it could be done. My MasterCard began to weep in sheer terror. I’ve tried to convince it that quality will pay off, but it still shuddered every time I came near.

I made a spreadsheet of everything that has to be done – it’s now at 26 separate steps for each book, which shocked me, but there’s no way I can overlook anything. I made a checklist for what goes into an ebook file and what goes into a print book. I’ve created Word and My Pictures files for each book. I created a publishing name (Sefkhat-Awbi Books) and got a DBA from the county.

And I work. Hard. The Husband has been very supportive, taking us out to eat quite often and not saying a word when the laundry pile reaches Matterhorn proportions or I spend the evenings in my office working even after a full day at the computer. I haven’t written a fresh word in several weeks, but my responsibilities to each book are well ahead of schedule.

My poor MasterCard is almost on life support, but that will change. I hope.

So what is this vaunted schedule and why am I crazy for doing it? I plan on releasing a book both in paper and electronically every two weeks between now (actually 30 June) and 30 October. And I think I can do it. (Sound of fingers crossing.) Will keep everyone updated.

Commercial : PASSION’S CHOICE, a sensual romantic time-travel to the dangerous, scandal-ridden court of the woman Pharaoh Hatshepsut circa 1458 BC was the 30 June release. On 15 July I plan to release THE FAIR AMAZON, a traditional Regency romance.

Caveat : Writing books is a lot more fun than publishing them. Trust me.


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Janis,

Congrats on your hard work paying off with publication of the new novel. Wishing you much success! Incidentally, I think the hardest part is marketing our writing and figuring out how to reach readers. The writing itself though hard work is also pleasure.

Susan Holmes said...

Congrats on regaining your rights--good for you!

Your plan (26 steps!) sounds like a perfect ebook waiting to be formatted and released. Could be a great revenue generator for you!

And if you didn't want to go the full ebook route you might consider offering it as a PDF to writers at a price that makes it affordable to them and makes money for you. (Your MasterCard might thank you!)

Best wishes, and let's plan a virtual celebration for the end of October!

Linda McLaughlin said...

Congratulations on your new and upcoming releases, Janis. I love seeing old books get a new chance in the market, and Passion's Choice sounds like a fun read.

Larion aka Larriane Wills said...

wow. I've done a couple of reissues and know how much work it is. you go, lady. good luck with all of them

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Best of luck--and hoping that all that hard work pays off in every way possible.

Morgan Mandel said...

You are amazing! Even a spreadsheet! I should take a hint from you and be more organized. I usually just have a bunch of notes scattered around my computer, and then can't find the ones I need.

Suzanne Vince said...

Having completed an Ironman Triathlon, I once wrote a blog called "Writing is an Endurance Sport." I'm working on self-pubbing my debut novel and I can attest that the publishing piece is itself a marathon. I'm exhausted thinking about all you have to do. I wish you the best possible success in your own personal marathon, Janis Susan.