Welcome, Muffet! Before we get into your self-publishing journey, please tell us a little about your new historical fiction young adult novel.
First, thank you so much, Carrie, for featuring me as your September Mystery Author! I’m thrilled to be here!
Moon Tears was truly written from the heart. My fascination with World War II stories began in childhood when I listened for hours to my great-uncle’s tales of parachuting into Normandy. Many years later, I met my cousin, Lou, and discovered an entirely new set of stories about the war. She transported me to a different time—a different world—filled with people that did what had to be done in order to survive. Her fortitude, strength, and moxie inspired me, and I wanted to share this amazing woman’s story with the world. In Moon Tears, I wove a fictional plot line around true events that actually happened to her.
When did you begin your journey as a writer?
Life has taken me on many paths, from MBA to financial analyst to professional photographer to writer. At gallery shows, I noticed kids pulling their parents toward images that captured the subtle humor in nature. They asked questions, and I told them stories. That’s when it hit me—I loved seeing kids find joy through my work. Three or four years ago I began telling stories through picture books, and then I met Lou and found myself writing a novel.
I started out the traditional way—submitting to agents and editors. It’s a long process, so while I waited, I looked into the expanding world of self-publishing. I wasn’t upset when rejections started rolling in—that's just part of our journey as writers. (Even Dr. Suess and J.K. Rowling can relate!) However, my mom passed away in December after battling a terminal illness, and it hit me that life can be way too short. I decided I didn’t want to wait years to work through the traditional route, and self-pub provided me the perfect alternative.
I have heard many publishing professionals (agents, editors) speak of the self-publishing path as a career long commitment. Do you agree?
This question begs the answer, “It depends.” At the New York SCBWI conference this year, I was motivated by a speaker who began with self-publishing. When she reached a certain sales level, she signed with an interested publisher. Her goal was to find more time to write, and she felt that signing with a large house would afford her that time. So it doesn’t have to be a career long commitment. But there are other authors who do so well selling on their own that they forego contracts with big houses. I have learned “never to say never.” In fact, I have several manuscripts I continue submitting to agents and editors. For now, I publish my books through the publishing company I created, Ten Story Books, LLC. Currently I am helping one of my critique partners publish his novel, Lucky Rocks. I’m not accepting submissions yet, but as I said, never say never!
Do you feel self-publishing offers you a freedom of sorts?
Yes and no. Yes, because you have full control over every single detail. And no, because you have full control over every single detail! You have the freedom to publish your work exactly how you want, but you also become acting editor, art director, marketing department, and publisher.
Did you utilize a professional editor or critique service before making final revisions? How about any other professional services that were helpful?
Definitely! I know my limits! I hired a professional editor who tightened up my content and grammar. I also hired designer Nathan Reinhardt who did a bang-up job creating the cover I had envisioned for Moon Tears. His design gives the book the professional look I was hoping for. I couldn’t be happier with his work!
How did you decide which companies to work with?
My top priority was providing my readers with the highest quality books possible. I looked at numerous samples for print quality, how quickly books are made available, and related costs. I chose CreateSpace for paperbacks and Kindle Direct Publishing for eBooks . My books look and feel great, the turnaround time was workable, and best of all, there was no monetary outlay—only my time and effort.
Has the young adult publication process been any different than that of your picture books?
You bet. As you know, novels are text-heavy, and Word usually suffices. But my picture book, Miss Muffet & Bitsy, is heavy on artwork. Up until recently, it was difficult to upload picture books to an eBook platform, but Kindle Comic Creator arrived on the scene a few months ago and made art-intensive books do-able for non-techies like me!
What steps do you recommend most to writers who would like to head down this path?
Be sure to file your copyright—you need to protect your baby! And outline your marketing plan before you have your book available online. Determine what sales outlets you want to pursue and research their requirements.
What steps should a writer avoid for a successful self-pub journey?
Don’t skip ordering a proof copy just to get your book out sooner. It’s up to you to make sure no errors occurred in the file conversions. And although I know it’s tempting, don’t just throw a cover on your masterpiece—make your cover fabulous and make sure when you shrink it down, it looks good in thumbnail size for those smartphones and tablets. Nathan did a wonderful job with this.
The cover of Moon Tears is gorgeous. Now for a fun question: What is your writing environment like?
Thank you! As for my writing environment, think “sand, surf and stories!” Beach artwork and the latest picture book storyboards cover my office walls. My favorite toys and books line the shelves, and in the middle of it all is a huge hammock—my favorite “thinking place.” I knew I had it made when my nephew came in one day and said, “This is what I want my office to look like!”
I love the idea of a hammock! Although, if it were in mine, I think I would be tempted to procrastinate. Thanks for letting us peek into your process, Muffet. You’ve provided a great springboard for others!
Muffet is giving away a copy of Moon Tears! Leaving a comment below enters you in our drawing. Don't forget to use the Rafflecopter link after commenting, and gain a few bonus entries by sharing elsewhere.
Our own Erik Weibel, resident contributor to our Summer Book Clubs, has also been down the self-publishing road. At the age of eleven, he published his first book: The Adventures of Tomato and Pea, Book One: A Bad Idea. Weigh in with Erik in the comments below, and we'll give away his book, too!
Visit Muffet at her blog, Facebook, Twitter: Muffet and Ten Story Books, and Pinterest.