Guest Host Day!
I am pleased to announce historical fiction author Haley Whitehall has agreed to guest host my blog today, and share details about the process she went through to self-publish her debut novel, Living Half Free.
Without further ado, here’s Haley…
A Rebel’s Journey to Publication
I consider myself a rebel when it comes to my writing. I write out of the box stories that do not fit nicely within one sub genre of historical fiction. Even beyond the grave Mark Twain has been my writing mentor. It was through reading his books that I learned how to write dialect and description. I learned the importance of character quirks, and that I prefer character driven stories to non-stop action plots. Yes, I realize Mark Twain wrote over a hundred years ago.
I’m a rebel. I have always believed that being different was a good thing. It separated me from the crowd. But would an agent or publisher agree?
I take my writing seriously. Even before releasing my debut novel I considered myself a professional writer. After spending five years learning the craft of writing and editing my first novel, I began going down the traditional route. I pitched my novel at conferences and queried agents. I got requests for my manuscript, but no offers for representation.
Turning Point: Traditional or Indie?
After pitching my novel at one writing conference, the agent said that she liked the idea (wanted to read it too), but I would have to rewrite large chunks of my novel to fit into the mainstream market. Her comment made me wonder: do I really want to bend my creativity to be in the mainstream market?
No, I decided. The publishing industry is constantly changing and self-publishing is becoming a more viable option for many authors. After some formatting, it was simple to upload my manuscript to be sold as an ebook through Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Print On Demand services like CreateSpace, Lightning Source, and Lulu are also available for a hard copy edition. I plan to get around to that in the near future. I didn’t want to give up control of my novel and career to others. I wanted to be in the driver’s seat.
Deciding to go indie was the first step on my journey to publication. I now had to put on my publisher’s hat. I had to find a professional editor to comb through my final draft. I learned that was not an easy task. Some editors just fix grammar and punctuation errors. Some editors look for story and content issues. Then after editing, another set of eyes was necessary to proofread the final manuscript. On my first trip down this road it took three editors and a proofreader before I was satisfied. Jeopardizing quality to save a few dollars is not a good idea. Oh, did I tell you that self-publishing takes a good chunk of money?
Another thing I had to buy was a cover. I contacted numerous graphic artists and presented them with my concept of my protagonist Zachariah, a mulatto slave. They all responded that there were no stock images available that could create the picture I was seeking. It was suggested that I pick a different concept. I did not want to do that. Are you seeing a trend here? One graphic artist was kind enough to suggest that I hire models, have them dress in historical costume, and take their picture, or hire an artist to create my cover. I went the artist route.
The rebel in me is very satisfied with my cover. It brought my vision to life and it fits the feel of my writing. While it isn’t as eye-catching as computer generated graphics, it does make my novel stand out. Just scroll down a page of books on Amazon. I have a very unique cover. Unique like me.
My novel is not available in paperback yet. Ebook formatting is different from formatting for print. I am slowly working on reformatting my manuscript as time allows. Many small publishers only create a paperback version of their books if they sell a certain number of copies usually anywhere from 500 to 1,000. In this digital age, the ebook is equivalent to a hardback. The ebook is often released first before the paperback. I hope to have my paperback version available by the end of March 2012.
You’re probably wondering what a rebel historical fiction author would write. All my novels are set in the 19th century United States. Here is a teaser from my debut LIVING HALF FREE.
When Zachariah, a naïve mulatto slave, is sold to aKentuckyslave trader, and separated from his ma and sister, he realizes the true meaning of not having rights. Seeking escape, he falls in love with a Cherokee woman, under whose direction he learns to pass as white. But, he must find his voice, and the courage to stand up for his beliefs or else lose everyone he loves forever.
HALEY WHITEHALL has a B.A in history and has been studying the Civil War era since the 5th grade. She likes to write out of the box stories that feature an underdog. LIVING HALF FREE is her debut novel. Released February 29, the ebook can be found at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. Find out more about Haley through her website or connect with her on Twitter @HaleyWhitehall or Facebook.
Haley has generously agreed to give away a copy of her novel to the first person to correctly answer the following question! (Leave your answer in the comments section of this post)
What is the title of the first flash fiction story Haley wrote?
Also, leave any questions about self-publishing in the comments section of this post. Haley will drop in and answer them throughout the week.