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Guess Blogger – Vassiliki Veros

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Vassiliki Veros is an Australian librarian with a wicked sense of wit, a ferocious reader agenda and a love for books so deep I am in awe of her. I asked her to be a guest blogger at the Divas to share with us her passion. Would would have thought she’d give us a post at once funny and poignant.

****

I’ve been thinking and dreaming about bookshelves for many years. And I think that, for most readers, this is quite normal. So, when I discovered the website http://bookshelfporn.com/ I found myself in the midst of ecstasy. Everyday, this site gives me the short, satisfying, pleasure of viewing bookshelves from around the world; in bookshops, libraries, marketplaces and in private homes.

These are images that excite my visual senses, they tease me with their sexy lines, their tight corners, and the promise of discovering reading sensations. Soft-focus photographs bring to life the much used, much handled, bookshelves fondled by the hands of many lovers and the newer buildings, with untouched, erect shelves, standing proud, beckoning, open wide to virgin crowds pouring over their tomes.

These images are just fleeting dreams, and though I fantasize about visiting these bookshelves, running my hand along their banisters, mounting their stairs and losing myself in the sumptuous moment of being surrounded by unknown books, I can only sample some of their wares. Some will leave me wanting, some will not be satisfying and yet others leave me gasping for more… but this voyeurism is only momentary.

 

However, my own bookshelves, I would never call Bookshelfporn. I have a relationship with my bookshelves, they have served me as I have served them. I have run my hand along my rows of books, gently fingering their spines, lovingly turning their pages, hearing their words whispered in my ears. These wonderful, hard, timber shelves hold up my books that I have chosen to keep close forever, positioning them for my pleasure, my exultation in their words and my revelling in the fortune that they are mine.

Some of my books are old, weathered and loved, other books are newer but all of them have touched my heart, captured my soul, and have allowed me to lose myself in the ecstasy of reading their pages until that breathless moment when the world goes quiet at the sound of a book reaching its end. And then, I gently find a space on my still-rigid shelves who will keep my love safe.  For what I feel for them is not gratuitous, it is not a fleeting slamming of books against shelf waiting for the next patron to try them out. It is the thrill, the joy and the comfort that the bookshelves, and all that they carry, are a part of me. For this is Bookshelferotica.

You can find Vassiliki Veros (aka VaVeros on Twitter) here at her brilliant blog or here on Twitter

Blast from the Past

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On my recent trip to LA for Romantic Times, I was fortunate enough to meet a lovely lady by the name of Rhys Bowen, an author of mystery novels. Jess Dee and I sat down next to her at Club RT (not sure how happy she was to be saddled with two Aussie erotic romance authors, but if she was appalled at all she certainly didn’t show it). Turned out, Rhys was much more familiar to both Jess and I than we could possibly have realised.

You see many years ago, she told us, she used to write teen romances. Jess and I exclaimed that we used to love reading those back in the day, especially the Sweet Dreams books. Well, this lady’s pen name used to be Janet Quin Harkin and we could both remember reading some of her books. I’m pretty sure we squeeled like a couple of Justin Bieber fans. I couldn’t believe I was meeting someone who’d written those little stories I used to love, the ones that paved the way to my later appreciation of the more adult romances. They were mills and boon for teens with little more than sweet kissing and fluttering eyelashes littered througout the narrative. I can’t help feeling a bit sad there doesn’t seem to be anything similar available today… or am I missing something? Anyone know of any modern version of these books?

Last night I went on Amazon and even found some of my old favs. The covers that so attracted the innocent 12 year old that I was (oh yes, I was once innocent, flutters lashes) don’t exactly hold up in the cool stakes :).

Pre GPS travel

Sadly, I had a haircut just like it in 1983

Guys don't make passes at girls who wear those glasses

Why does Stephen King's Carrie come to mind?

I remember Rhys saying to me at that meeting that she wrote a book called ‘Ten Boy Summer’. We laughed at how such a title might be interpreted now, but back in the ‘80s? Apparently no innuendos were allowed. You be the judge. Could we get away with any of the following titles in YA today?

It's the binoculars that make it creepy

Did they all look like Matt Dillon?

No words necessary

Ah. Wherever did our innocence go?

Sami

All those things I thought I could live without…

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Lately I’ve been sitting in awe of all those things I once thought I could live without, and now realize I can’t. No, I’m not talking life saving elements like air or water. I’m talking about those little luxuries that become, well, almost more important than water and air.

It all started on my way to LA last month, when I had 14 hours on a plane – without children. I could do whatever I wanted. Read what I wanted. Watch as many movies as the plane had to offer. Instead of movies, however, I stumbled upon the TV series channel. And there it was. The program I’d always meant to watch but just never had. Glee.

I started at Series 1, Episode 1. By the time I had flown home, I’d watched every Glee on the plane. And was hooked! So hooked, that for mother’s day I requested whatever Glee DVDs were available. I was given the entire first series and half the second. Now my whole family is hooked on Glee. We listen to the CDs in the car, and we try and watch at least one episode every night. Sometimes it’s just not possible. But it’s okay, coz the entire Dee family will make up for the loss by singing every Glee song we know at the top of our voices, completely off key.

So, what else am I hooked on?

Well, mobile/cell phones have been indispensable since I was 25. But I never knew I couldn’t actually live without an iPhone – until I got one. Ask me to use a regular mobile phone now… I can’t. Can’t remember how to text or access services, profiles etc. Nothing. I only know how to use an iPhone. And I love it.

The same could be said about my Mac. Once upon a time, a computer was a computer. Then I got my Mac. Suffice it to say, without this wonder of modern technology, there would be no writing for me. No books. Jess Dee would not exist. Truth is, if I could take my Mac to bed with me, I would.

So… imagine my delight when I realised I could take my Mac to bed with me. In the form of an iPad.

Sigh. iPads. Who would ever have thought one little tablet could be so damn irresistible? I’ll be honest. I held out for a year. Wasn’t really interested in getting one…until the iPad 2 released. And then I had to have it. I fought for it. Went on line forty times a day to order one – with no success. And then finally, after queuing in the blistering sun for two hours, I finally, finally got one. My life has never been the same.

What else can’t I live without?

KINDLE! Damn, I love Kindle. LOVE IT. I download a book a day at least now. Yeah, it’s costing me an untold fortune, but it’s worth every penny. A world of books at my fingertips. And a sexy iPad to read them on. Hello? Do I need anything else?

Ah, yes. Twitter. Seriously, who would ever have thought posting regular short updates about the arbitrary happenings in my life could be so addictive? But now I can’t stop. Twitter is truly a hedonistic, self indulgent pleasure. No wonder so many people love it.

Oh… and then there’s Shazam. LOVE IT! How many times have you heard a song on the radio, and thought, “damn, cool song. Who sings it? What’s it called?” And then you never get to find out coz the DJ neglects to acknowledge it was ever played? Shazam it people. Hold up that indispensable iPhone, click listen, and a minute later, boom, there it is. Everything you need to know about the song. And…and…and..with just one more click, you can download it from iTunes.

Black boots! Does that sound odd? I’m sorry, but until I came to live in Australia, I never realized black boots were the single most important item in a winter wardrobe. Sydneysiders love nothing more than taking out their boots the second the weather drops below 20 degrees Celsius. And I too have come to love it. There is nothing better than the feel of those boots slipping over your calves. The sound of the zip rasping as you do them up,  and the knowledge that you’re walking around in your beautiful boots. I dunno about you, but I always feel six foot tall and sexy as all get go when I have my boots on.

Oh, and while we’re on the winter wardrobe thing…scarves. How did I get through 32 years of life without discovering the wonder of scarves? Not only do they keep my neck fabulously warm, they make whatever I’m wearing look a million times better.

So that’s it for now. My list of things I cannot live without. (Yes, you can mock me and say I should have called the post “Why I love Mac/Apple so much”).

What about you?

Is there anything you thought you could live without but now realize you can’t?

Jess

Tuesday Tease

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I’m working on a couple of wip’s at the moment but the main one is Coyote Whispers. Yes coyote fans, the next book in the Coyote Hunger series is coming. Steve and Gordie have been giving me the run around but just yesterday they saw the light and things are now flying. Good thing too, I want this book on my editors desk by May 31st. Tough call when I’m only about a 1/4 done. Anyway, thought I’d tease you today with a snippet of the last scene I wrote. Remember, it’s unedited and literally what flew off my fingers just minutes ago.

Enjoy!

*****

“There’s no turning back now, Doc.” His fingers toyed with the ends of her hair.

She swallowed over the lump in her throat. “I know.”

He smiled. “That easy?”

“It’s amazing what a little fright can do for the senses.” She tried to return his smile but it somehow slipped from her lips before it could form.

“Come here.” Steve released her seatbelt and pulled her into his lap, pinning her between his body and the wheel. “You’re safe here, Doc.”

Gordie figured he meant in his house but for her safety was his arms, the security of his embrace and the strength he offered her willingly. She moved closer, nuzzled her face against the warmth of his neck and drew in his scent. It amazed her how just that small action soothed her nerves and riled them at the same time.

“Gordie.” Warm air ruffled her hair before she felt his lips press to her temple. “Come on, let’s get inside or everyone will arrive and find us fucking in my truck.”

She gasped. His use of strong language didn’t both her, it was the images the words provoked that made her breathless.

“Yeah, I’m that close.” He chuckled as he opened the door and maneuvered them out of the cab.

“I can walk.”

“I know but I want to carry you and you’re going to let me.” His arms tightened around her.

“Okay.”

Steve laughed. “All this easy agreement is starting to worry me Doc.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be back to my disagreeable self soon enough and then you’ll wish you hadn’t started this.”

“Never.”

“You say that now…”

He swung her legs down until her toes barely touched the floor. “I’ll say it forever.”

She stared into his dark eyes and felt the truth of his words to the depth of her soul. Gordie watched as Steve lowered his head, his lips drawing closer to hers. His breath brushed over her skin in a butter-soft caress, a whisper of contact, a prelude of what would follow. From one heartbeat to the next his mouth was on hers, his tongue thrusting between her lips to delve inside.

Steve stroked his tongue over hers, toyed with her, coaxed her into joining him in his demand for more. She wound her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist, held on to him as hot lashes of lust stormed her. Gordie pressed her body to his, crushed her breast to his chest, ground her clit on the erection trapped between them. Pounding need thumped a beat as old as time as their mouths continued to devour.

*****

So, what do you the think? Are Steve and Gordie about to get naked?

Rhian.

Blowing it Off – Stimulated, Book One

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Did you all know I was writing a five book erotic contemporary series for Ellora’s Cave? There’ll be some m/f/m tales, some m/f tales and even a m/m/f one (I know, right? I still can’t believe it myself). Anyways, today Blowing it Off, the first book in the series got an official blurb an excerpt. Check ‘em out…

Blowing it Off

Stimulated, Book One

A fire has destroyed the studio of glassblower Phoebe Masters. And she knows what that means—a visit from the arson investigators. The two men who reduced her heart to cinders. Men she’d hoped never to see again.

One wild weekend with Phoebe overwhelmed Will Bradley and Damon Hunt. Like wankers, they blew it off, burning any chance for a future with the talented beauty. The investigation gets them back in her life, but now they have to prove the three of them were meant to be together. Their strategy?

A body-blazing inferno none of them will ever be able to extinguish.

Excerpt

“Head’s up, Tiny, we’ve got a job.”

William Bradley spun on his desk stool to glare at the tall man crossing the room toward him. “How many times do I have to tell you not to call me Tiny?”

Damon laughed, dropping into the low, beat-up couch sitting in the middle of their cramped office. “Well, seeing as it’s been eight years now since I first met you, I’m guessin’…” he affected a pensive expression, crossing his ankles on the cluttered coffee table and lacing his fingers behind his head, “a lot. Besides, you’re a short-arse. What else am I going to call you?”

Will shook his head and rolled his eyes, giving his partner an exasperated look. “I’m two inches shorter than you.”

Damon held out a hand. “There you go. Short-arse.”

“You’re six foot three!”

Damon grinned. “My point exactly.”

Will threw a tennis ball at him. “Yeah, yeah, Stretch. Tell me about the job.”

“You’re going to love this. It’s in Morpeth.”

Every muscle in Will’s body tensed. He drew in a slow breath, leaning forward on his stool. “Morpeth?”

Damon gave him a single nod, his brown gaze steady.

Will pulled in another breath. Morpeth. The village pretending to be a town north of Newcastle was populated by entrenched, born-in-the-blood locals and artisans inspired by the timeless beauty of the place. Not the kind of place an arson investigator usually found himself. But then, he’d felt an almost palpable urge to jump in his car and drive north more than once since a particular artisan took up residence.

Damn, his heart shouldn’t be thumping as hard as it was.

He narrowed his eyes, refusing to acknowledge how dry his mouth had become. “What’s the job?”

If possible, his partner’s eyes grew mischievous and intense. “Investigating a suspicious fire that destroyed an art studio.”

Will’s heart thumped harder. “What kind of art studio.”

Damon’s lips curled. “A glassblower’s art studio.”

“I take it by the smile on your face the artist wasn’t in the studio when it went up?”

Damon shook his head. “Not according to the report from one Captain Keith Kilgour of the Morpeth Bush Fire Brigade. The owner of the studio was, to quote Captain Kilgour, ‘extremely agitated and reluctant to notify the Newcastle Arson Investigation team’, end quote. Reading between the lines, I suspect Kilgour wonders if the artist is pulling an insurance job.”

The wind left Will’s lungs in a gush. He slumped back on his stool, dragging his hands through his hair. Fuck. He’d spent the last six months doing everything to convince himself what he and Damon had shared with a certain glass artist now living in Morpeth was nothing more than a weekend fling. He’d tried his hardest but now, here he was—palms sweaty just thinking about the possibility of seeing her again, of more than seeing her, when he should be thinking of nothing else but a fire scene.

Easier said than done when Phoebe Masters was involved. Bloody frustrating pain-in-the-arse woman. Knowing her, the moment they walked into her studio she’d walk out the other door.

But what if she’s happy to see you? It’s been six months since she left. Six months to forget how monumentally you and Damon fucked-up the last time all of you were together. What if she’s calmed down? Changed her mind?

Damon cocked an eyebrow at him. “You’re thinking one of two things, Tiny, and both are going to send you crazy.”

Will’s own eyebrows rose up his forehead, his gut churning. “What are they exactly, Stretch?”

Damon returned his feet to the floor and leaned forward on the couch, resting his elbows on his knees. “One, the second we cross the threshold of Phoebe’s studio, she’s going to throw herself at us and beg us to pick up where we last left off—in bed together, fucking each other senseless.”

It wasn’t just Will’s stomach that reacted to Damon’s first scenario—his balls and dick tightened, the image his friend painted affecting him with the subtle blow of a sledgehammer.

“Or two,” Damon went on, his stare locked hard on Will’s face. “She’s going to tell us to fuck off.”

The sledgehammer slammed into Will’s gut again. Damn Damon and his keen insight into the human mind. Made for a bloody brilliant arson investigator, a great boss; made for a bloody annoying best mate.

The man studying him hadn’t started out his best friend but somewhere over the last eight years of working together, that’s exactly what he’d become. Which meant Damon knew just about everything going on in Will’s life, and was involved in just about everything going on in his life as well. Sometimes Will had to wonder if that was a good thing. He bit back a curse. “And how did you arrive at those options, boss?”

Damon gave him a wry grin. “’Cause I thought the same fucking things the second I read Phoebe’s name on the report.”

The confession jerked a humored snort from Will. “So much for being the detached wankers Phoebe accused us of being the day she left.”

Damon laughed. “No, she accused you of being a detached wanker. She called me a flippant, indifferent arsehole.”

Will scrubbed at his face with his hands. “She’s not going to be happy to see us, is she?”

Damon laughed again. “After the way we behaved? Not at all.”

“So what do we do?”

Damon flashed him a broad grin. “Hope to fucking God we can change her mind.”

“Tricky.”

“You better believe it.”

“She told us what we did together was never going to happen again.”

“True.”

“That after the pair of us blew it off as a simple been-there-done-that fuck-fest instead of acknowledging what it really was, the pair of us could kiss her arse goodbye.”

“You’re right.”

“Plan?”

Damon laughed a third time, the sound far more deprecating than any Will had heard from his friend before. “Be our charming, lovable selves?”

Will rolled his eyes. “Yeah, that’s going to work.”

“It worked the last time.”

“Until she accused us of being indifferent arseholes and detached wankers the night before she moved to a whole other town.”

Taking my heart with her.

A heavy pressure squeezed Will’s chest at the thought. That’s exactly what had happened. None of them—neither he, nor Damon nor Phoebe—had anticipated a night out for drinks to celebrate Phoebe’s new, dedicated studio in Morpeth would turn into a weekend in bed together. But it had. Three years of knowing each other, of relaxed flirting, friendly banter and good-humored mocking over other boyfriends or girlfriends had unexpectedly and surprisingly led them to a situation so unbe-fucking-lievable, the shock had sent them all for a spin.

A bloody big spin. Because Will knew after two mind-blowing days and two equally mind-blowing nights of watching his mate fuck Phoebe, of fucking her while his mate watched, of all three of them fucking each other at the same time, that two days and two nights wasn’t enough. He’d had no idea what Phoebe expected after the weekend ended, but he knew what he wanted—more. And he knew Damon wanted more as well. Not just sex, but…more.

It had scared the shit out of Will, big time. The knowledge that he was prepared to commit to a relationship society deemed unacceptable with his two best friends left him reeling. And even though Damon hadn’t admitted it at first, it had scared the shit out of him as well. So they’d acted like it was nothing, like it was just a bonk to say adios. By the time he’d seen the truth in Phoebe’s eyes, the proof that she wanted more than just a goodbye fuck, that her silence was wounded embarrassment, it was too late. They’d brushed off something incredible and swept Phoebe’s heart away with it. Dickheads.

“We were chicken-shit cowards the last time.”

For a second time, Damon’s unexpected confession made Will snort. “Ain’t that the truth.”

“So this time, we’re not. We don’t pretend otherwise. We don’t pretend the whole thing is just a same-old, same-old.”

“And how are we going to do that? Considering she doesn’t want jack-shit to do with us?”

Damon flashed a grin—the same grin Will had seen him use more than once when on the scent of an arson, the grin that said I have you in my sights, buddy, and you are going down.

“We hit her with both barrels and let her know without doubt what we want…

“Her. Forever.”

***

What do you all think?

As soon as I have a cover and a release date I’ll let you know. Oh, and did you notice the next book in th series is called Revving it Up. More about that later, but as a tease, the heroine is a professional motorcross rider and she gets stranded out in the wilderness with her arch rival and the award-winning photojournalist photographing them both. And then some stuff happens…

Funny Things My Babies Do

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Conversations and events occuring in the Lee household of late:

1. “What are you doing Cherub?”

“I’m not doing  a poo.”

That’s nice, but it leaves so many less palatable options.  Turned out she was licking the glue stick like it was a lollypop.

I tell her put the lid back on that thing, please. She tries and tries, with much grunting and groaning. Then she gets a bright idea. “I need to go in the lounge room.” Sure enough upon a move to the lounge room she’s able to screw on the lid. Must be the air in there, it’s lighter or something, like on the summit of Everest. Who knew?

 2. Princess has taken to correcting the Cherub on her speech lately, now that she’s a schoolie and knows everything. The other day Cherub was saying she wanted ‘sgetti on toast for dinner. Princess very  calmly rolled her eyes and said, “It’s pesgetti, you know.”

 3. There is a spider in the corner of the Cherub’s bedroom—a harmless Daddy Long Legs that is helpfully keeping the insect population down in kid central. Cherub comments on it every time we’re in there together. The other day, as always, I say “Don’t worry about him, he’s not interested in you.” Thoughfully, Cherub replies “No, that’s why he’s not talking to me.”

Is it safe to say he never will?

4. The other day Princess asked if we could go to the park on the way home from school. Feeling disinclined, I refused as is my perogative. Princess responded angrily “Fine then. If you’re not going to take me to the park I might as well stay home and eat all day.”

Are they really the only two options?

5. We were recently given a lovely old piano which we’ve encouraged the kidlets to try out. Yesterday Cherub was playing it, very carefully removing the sheet music from inside the piano chair and spreading it out where it’s supposed to go. She points to a line and says ‘I’m going to play that one’. Okay. She bashes on the keys haphazardly for a while, then collects her sheet music and hops off the chair. Refering to the sheet music she said ‘I need to get another one, this one doesn’t work.’

Sometimes I think my girls need whole books written about them.

Sami

Self Publishing With Angela Verdenius

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Ooh, I’m excited. I have another guest blogger over at the Divas today.

Angela Verdenius has made quite a name for herself in the e-publishing world. She has a brilliant, very popular Sci-fi series with Wings Press called Love, Heart and Soul. I first met her when we worked on the Boys Down Under Anthology together. Angela wrote a novella called Operation Seduction that blew me away. I couldn’t believe I was in an antho with an author with that much talent. (Yeah, I was more than a little jealous.)


Since then, Angela has written several more books, and most importantly (for the sake of this blog), she’s delved into that big, scary world of self publishing. Her first self-pubbed book, a horror called Zombie Hospital, is an unexpected delight. Absolute hilarious, scary as hell and a huge twist at the end, the book isn’t a romance, but it’s definitely a short story worth a read.

Her second self-pubbed book, Doctor’s Delight, (yep, a romance this time) is currently sitting on my iPad, waiting to be read. I cannot wait to tuck in.


But…enough from me. I could go on forever about this super-talented writer. But let me rather hand over the reins to her, she can tell you all about her trip to publishing her own books!

Jess

Self Publishing – the Forbidden Pathway

By Angela Verdenius

For years the self-published author has been seen as the bottom feeder of the writing ocean.  Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh, but it’s not far off the mark, is it?  Really?  Come on, be truthful!  Even if one, or none, or most of us here don’t think that (ever or now), self-publishing was, and still is at times, regarded as something that authors, not good enough to have their books published by a ‘proper publisher’, finally succumbed.

Well, the tide is turning.  More authors are self-publishing, and some of these authors have contracts with traditional publishers.  I read a blog from a big name author who had a million dollar contract with a big publishing house, and he was writing a book he intended to self-publish.  I just wish I’d kept his name and blog link!!  Some have done it for different reasons, i.e.  because they’ve had bad experiences with publishing houses, while others have used it as a stepping stone to success and ended up signing huge money-making deals with a big publisher, namely Amanda Hocking – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/books/amanda-hocking-sells-book-series-to-st-martins-press.html?_r=1

Admittedly, I’ve read self-pubbed books that have made me gag, but then, I have to say, I’ve read books from big publishers that have made me gag as well. Hey, maybe my books make some people gag!  It’s all up to the individual reader, and if an editor doesn’t like your book, you won’t get a contract.   It doesn’t mean you don’t have a great story, so why shouldn’t you have a chance to spring it upon the world?

I’ve decided to dabble my toes in the field of self publishing.  I currently have 18 novels and 2 novellas with small publishers.  It’s been a great experience.  But lately I’ve been hearing more and more about self publishing and the benefits.  There’s also a darker side <g>, but hey!  A walk on the edge never hurt anyone, right?  Or maybe I’ll stop saying that until I see how successful I’ve been.  It’s no guarantee it’s going to work.

First – why did I decide to try self publishing?  Several reasons.  I have sole control over my story, I retain ALL rights, I can change my price for the story, and I get a bigger slice of the royalties.  I figure after all those hours (weeks, months – you know what I’m talking about, fellow writers!), followed by all that promotion, both free and paid for, that I deserved a bigger slice of the cake.  And I quite like the idea of having sole control and ownership.

The road hasn’t been easy, as Jess Dee will attest to, I’m sure, seeing as how I would send a little moan her way now and again <g>.

(Note from Jess: I love her moans and groans. Learn something new every time she mails me!)

There are several things to consider.  Do I want e-book?  Print?  Both?  What about distribution? ISBN?  Promotion?  Tax?  Learning different formats and programs?  Editing?  Covers?  Time to worry about it all as I already work full time?

Here’s what I ended up doing.

For e-books, I chose Amazon.com, because they are one of the biggest stores around and very well known, and I have my other books up on there as well from Wings ePress.  I also chose Smashwords because one of my favourite authors has e-books there from when Dorchester had their huge shuffle into POD & e-book.

Amazon Kindle is fairly simple to learn and upload, as long as you follow their instructions.  Make sure you read their terms (and boy, was that a headache for me!).  It is a bit involved.  They provide you with an ASIN (Amazon version of ISBN).  Their royalties for Aussie authors are only 35%.  You can set your own price.

Smashwords has a more complex style for you to do your manuscript, but follow the guidelines and you’ll be fine.  If not, Smashwords will supply you with some contacts who, for a fee, will format your manuscript for you.  Your royalties are about 60%.     Smashwords will provide you with a free ISBN, or you can by one.  They distribute your e-book to many places.

For print, I decided on Lulu.com.  Yes, Amazon.com does have Createspace, but OMG, I tried to understand it all, and it was way too much for me.  Lulu.com was a lot simpler, and the formatting easy.  Plus it really is a Print on Demand.  No upfront fees.  They take 20% of your profit in payment.  Sounds very simple, but really read into it, as then you come into the ISBN, which is what retailers require for selling your book.  If you’re happy to sell your book straight from the Lulu.com site, you don’t need an ISBN, and you’ll get a nice chunk of revenue.  If you want an ISBN, they will provide one for free, or you can buy your own, and now it’s available for retailers as well, but you also go from revenue to royalties.  If you go for the ISBN, Lulu.com is listed as your publisher.  If you choose no ISBN, they are not listed as your publisher.  Either way, you still retain all your rights and ownership, but read carefully the ISBN agreement for a clearer picture of where you stand.

There are other print places you can go to, but most want up-front fees and a bulk order, whereas Lulu.com don’t – what you see is basically what you get.  I’m waiting for my first print copy to arrive so that I can see how it has turned out.  Even though it’s available now for sale as print, I want a look at it before I put the links up on my website and announce its print availability.

The other nasty you come across with self publishing overseas is TAX.  From what I’ve read, it seems all of the self publishing companies for e-book and print keep 30% of your royalties back for tax.  There is a treaty with Australia for 5% only, but you need a special form to submit.  Basically, you get a letterhead from the publisher, submit to the IRS along with the required form, get a number sent back, and you submit this form along with the number to your publisher, and they then with-hold 5% only, rather than 30%.  Which makes me realise that most of we Aussie writers are probably getting 30% of our royalties with-held by our US traditional publishers!

Amazon.com, I have heard from the forums on there run by the kindle authors, are not forthcoming in helping their overseas authors by supplying the letterhead, even though they mention it in their agreement.  Smashwords is very happy to supply the letterhead once you have $10 in your account.  It takes awhile, I’m still waiting for the letterhead, but it can take up to 6 weeks or more.  So I’m guessing about 6 months all up.  But once I have that magic number, I can apply it to ALL my self-publishing.  So it’s worth going through the hoops.  I’m going via Smashwords for it, as they’re the easiest to deal with, I have found.

Covers can be done through independent artists.  Smashwords provides you with a list of cover artists. The lady who has done my two covers is lovely, she’s reasonably priced, and I own the cover!

Editing is of paramount importance.  Being self-pubbed means you have to raise the bar high.  Once you throw out a badly edited, self-pubbed print/e-book, you’re in the running to be verbally smashed.  You need to keep your bar high, your covers great, your blurbs interesting.  You need to make it the best book you can produce.  The pressure is on even more, being self-pubbed.

I’ve read books from big publishers that have had the worst editing, and I’ve cringed, but because they have been published by big publishers, it’s more accepted by readers.  Once you self-pub, word will get out if your books are badly edited.  So people, if you’re contemplating self-pubbing, and you’re not confident in your own editing, please, part with the dough and pay a good editor!  Yes, Smashwords will also provide you with a list of some editors.

Smashwords helps you heaps, I’ve found.  Amazon.com is quite good.  Lulu.com can be slower in replying, and their support forums aren’t always crash hot, at least, not for me.  Others may say differently.  They do have a live link, but you need to organise your time zone to get them.

Distribution…well, I know how Smashwords, Lulu.com, and Amazon.com distribute.  I have yet to find out about Fictionwise and other e-book stores, and what percentage they’ll take of my profits, or if they’ll even touch my book, seeing as how it’s self-pubbed.  I need to look into my marketing.  I also need to look at how far do I need the e-book spread, in regards to the percentage of money I get back.

So the road has been a huge learning curve, and it remains a huge learning curve.  I still come up against hurdles, and mange to fall over them inelegantly.  But it’s been rewarding, too.  The hours, the headaches, the mind-boggling agreements.  But the control, the power, the knowing that I totally OWN this book, is awesome.  Will I do it again?  You betcha!  I’m working on my next book to be self-pubbed.  I’m waiting for a short story in an anthology to be available, and I intend to pull it and self-pub that as well.

Will I end up with egg on my face?  Will I end up with less money? Will bookstores want my books?  Will review sites suck their breaths in sharply and refuse to review my self-pubbed manuscript?  I don’t know.  I’m about to find out.   As Smashwords said (and this is now in my words) some of their authors sell heaps of books, one of their authors made $100,000, but some of their authors sell none.  No different to the traditional publishers, when you think about it hard enough!

I will leave you now with something that anyone who is considering self-publishing really needs to do – read EVERYTHING on the website of whatever publisher you are thinking of trying.  Research them well.  Read their agreements and conditions.  Don’t go in blind and hoping for the best.  Make sure you know what you’re signing.  It may be for you, it may not.  You may decide to stay with the traditional publisher, you may decide to experiment a little with self-pubbing.  As one author pointed out, if you have a following already, it may work well, but for a new author, you can get lost amongst the other self-pubbed authors.

Whichever pathway you choose, I wish you many sales!

Angela

The books currently self-published:

Zombie Hospital – available in e-book fromAamozn.com & Smashwords (short story)

Doctor’s Delight (Book 1 in the Big Girls Lovin’ trilogy) available in e-book from Amazon.com & Smashwords, and print from Lulu.com

For information on both my traditionally published and self-published books in print & e-book, visit my website at www.angelaverdenius.com

A great read is A Newbie’s Guide to Self Publishing http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/.

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