Friday, June 8, 2012

GUEST BLOGGER: Karen E. Hall




            “All self-published novels are crap.”  A friend of mine made that pronouncement recently, not knowing that I was involved in exactly that process—editing, cover art solicitation, font selection, book design, acknowledgments, marketing and more—up to my eyeballs. 
            Now I’m here to tell her—and anybody out there who shares that opinion—that they’re flat-out wrong!  (I try not to be defensive about this subject, so please try not to read that into the tone of this blog. J)  Here’s my story:

            My first mystery/thriller, Unreasonable Risk, was published in 2006 by a traditional small publisher (who shall remain nameless here) in hardcover at $27.99.  They had no plans to publish it later in paperback, and e-books were barely on anybody’s radar back then.  That publisher turned out to be less than stellar (if you email me, I’ll tell you more), and is now listed as “Strongly Not Recommended” by Preditors & Editors. 
            When I finished the second in the series, Through Dark Spaces, I actually considered going back to my original publisher simply because I wasn’t sure I could do the job myself.  But they were still publishing expensive hardcovers and, in the stumbling economy of 2009, I suspected that few readers would be willing to fork over $30 for an author they didn’t know.  Then I learned that my publisher was also printing paper copies of its books—in magazine format.  That made me grimace and shake my head.  Magazine?  No way.
            I tried to find another publisher, an agent, anybody who would bite on the second book, but had no luck.  Everybody liked it, but just not quite enough.  And it was a book for which they had not published or represented the first in the series.  After another year of trying to find a traditional publisher, I gave up and stuck the manuscript on a thumb drive, tossed it into my junk drawer and continued work on another project. 
            But I really like this book, so about six months later, after reading Joe Konrath’s blog (among many), I decided to publish it myself.  And here’s my secret:  I’m an engineer.  Yeah, geeky science girl.  But the thing about engineers is that we’re meticulous.  We follow through.  We ask lots of questions and don’t let go until we’re satisfied with the answers.  We learn all the way down to the details; it’s what makes us so irritating. J And that’s how I approached self-publishing.
            I asked my sister-in-law Kate Brennan Hall to do my cover.  I wanted it to be simple, stylized, easy to identify, easy to read in the thumbnail size shown on amazon and other e-dealers.  She read the book and sent me a simple, tailored cover that I love.  I worked on the book design for weeks, editing for months.  I’m still working on marketing and publicity.

            And the product, I am happy to say, is NOT crap!

            I hope you’ll go to Amazon and take a look inside this book, Through Dark Spaces.  Here’s the teaser:

When Hannah Morrison takes an environmental consulting job at a South Dakota surface mine, she doesn’t expect to confront her darkest, most personal fears. In the course of her work, as she discovers secret after secret, Hannah realizes that somebody is poisoning the water in the Black Hills. Who--and why? Driven to solve the problem and find the people responsible, Hannah finds herself deep underground, trapped in the darkest of spaces--with a murderer.


           

           
           

2 comments:

Peg Brantley said...

What a great kickoff to your summer series, Patty!

Karen, I'm hopeful that we're slowly getting to the place where self-published authors are as, or more, concerned with quality than the traditionally published. Certainly the succesful independent authors fall into that category.

Back when I reviewed the occaisional book, I refused to review any self-published books because I couldn't get through the ones I'd been given. That has changed and the stigma is slowly going away as the wheat is separated from the chaff.

I'm proud of my work and several of my friends. I believe our books can stand up against any traditionally published book.

Kren said...

Thanks, Peg. I love the idea that someday people will look at traditionally published authors and scoff, "boy, these aren't as good as the indies"!

Chaff? Not us!