Friday, November 15, 2013

Middlemen, Mayhem and Mysteries with Anne K. Albert

Welcome back to Mysterious Writers, Anne. Tell us how and why you left traditional publishing to become an independent.
Life is a journey, and so too is the road to becoming an indie author.

 I never imagined I would one day publish my own books. But then, I never imagined ordinary people such as myself wrote books either! Yet, at 45 I decided to give writing my all. I spent the next fifteen years honing my skills. With seven completed manuscripts in hand, I entered contests (won several), attended workshops and conferences, queried agents and submitted my stories to editors.

The rejections piled high until three years ago when a small publisher offered a contract.

At 60 I became a published author! While I knew nothing about the book industry, and even less of social media, I was determined to do my part to promote my books.

And promote I did.

For two solid years I spent every waking hour online. I blogged. Took part in blog tours. Tweeted. Established a presence on Facebook. I also read how-to books, posts and articles that promised success if the author did this or did that as advised by the experts.

So, how did that translate into royalties? Sadly, it did not. Payments always arrived late (as in months, not weeks). Statements were nonexistent, while excuses from my publisher were so plentiful I lost count.

When my husband pointed out I’d earned more at ONE Saturday morning yard sale than I had during my two-year writing career I fell into a funk. I stopped writing. I stopped promoting. I stopped blogging. I ignored Facebook. And I was totally and utterly miserable.
Worse, I suspected my publisher was partially to blame. But how was that possible? Was I being paranoid? Delusional? Unable to decide I terminated my contract in May 2013. Within hours my books were withdrawn from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. I was stunned. I had no idea my publisher could move so fast!

I expected to feel relief, and that did happen. But what surprised me was the depth of sadness that washed over me now that my books were no longer available to readers.

I spent the summer in a writer’s purgatory. Towards the end of July I received the rights back to my books, and also discovered 14 other authors had recently ended their association with my ex-publisher. The reason? Fraud and breach of contract. One writer was swindled out of $5000.00 in royalties.

Misery changed to anger, and that’s when I made the decision to go indie. I realized no one cares more about my writing career (or the proceeds I would make from it) than me. So, I set up my own publishing company. Because I’m Canadian I applied for my EIN (US Employer Identification Number). Next, I set up an account with Amazon’s KDP, and in early August re-released DEFENDING GLORY, book one of the Piedmont Island Romantic Suspense series, in ebook format. FRANK, INCENSE, AND MURIEL hit the shelves this month.

These may be small victories in the grand scheme of things, but they’re huge in my world.

Was it scary? Yes. Did I make mistakes? Oh, yeah! Would I do it again? Absolutely. In a heartbeat.

If you’re considering going indie, my advice is go for it. It’s a fantastic time to be a writer. It’s an even greater time to be self-employed and queen of your universe!

Here are a few tips to help you get started.

(1)  Read everything you can get your hands on about self-publishing. Start with these sources:

(2)  Once you have a better understanding of what is required, decide how much of the process you’ll do yourself. Will you edit and format your books, design the covers, or hire someone to do it for you?

I chose to do it all myself. (I do have beta readers, however, that are worth their weight in gold. They believe in my stories as much as I do, and for that I am eternally grateful.)

 Money was also a factor, but the experience with my ex-publisher also left me with some trust issues. I wasn’t prepared to hand over my books to a stranger. Besides, with a degree from an art college (I graduated in the Stone Age!) and my past work experience at a daily newspaper, as well as a stint as editor for a weaving magazine, I felt confident I could do this. Plus, I love being in total control. If I succeed or fail, I have no one but myself to blame. J At this point in my life, that’s important.

(3)  Start your indie career by publishing something small such as novella or small non-fiction book. The task will not seem as overwhelming, and it will allow you to get a feel for the process. Each time you publish a book it will get easier.

At the moment my books are only available as ebooks. To be honest, when I set out on this journey I could not cope with the enormity of formatting in both versions. So, I took it one step at a time. Sure, it may have cost me a few sales, but my blood pressure is normal! I am determined to offer my books in print in 2014.

(4)  Embrace your mistakes because you will make ‘em! The joy of self-publishing is you can fix them lickety-split. It costs nothing to upload new content, and those mistakes are golden opportunities to look at something differently or tackle a task from another angle.

(5)  Dreams can come true. It can happen to you! If a 60-something woman who first saw a computer in her forties can be an indie author, so can you.
About the Author:Anne K. Albert has taught high school art, sold display advertising for a weekly newspaper, and worked for a national brand water company, but now writes full time.When not at the keyboard, the award winning author enjoys traveling and housesitting with her high school sweetheart husband (22 countries to date), visiting friends and family, and of course, reading using "Threegio" her cherished and much beloved Kindle.
She writes the Muriel Reeves Mystery series and the Piedmont Island Romantic Suspense series. Her books are available on Amazon. Visit her blog. She is also on Facebook and Twitter @AnneKAlbert.

Thanks, Anne.



Anne K. Albert said...

Thanks so much, Jean. It's always a joy to visit with you on Mysterious Writers!

Jean Henry Mead said...

It's my pleasure to host you here, Anne. I enjoy your work.

Melinda said...

Wonderful post, Anne. You and I have had a remarkably similar journey. :-)

Sun Singer said...

As I read this, I felt like I was reading about another writer's journey that had so many similarities to my own, I wondered how common such trials and tribulations and joys might be.


Anne K. Albert said...

That we have, Melinda. And a few other talented authors as well. As cliched as it sounds, what doesn't kill us really does make us stronger!

Madison Johns said...

Thanks for sharing you story. I have read a few stories about you publisher too. Writers so deserve to be treated better than that! I have several experiences also, on publisher wanted to tear my book apart and turn it into theirs because they totally tried to kill my voice. I got out of that contract real fast. Welcome to indie publishing where you are in control of everything. It's hard work, but so worth it.

Jackie King said...

What a fascinating journey! And good for you for NOT giving up. It always makes me furious when we writers are cheated out of our royalties. Writing is hard work and like everyone else who receives compensation for their labor, we too deserve to be paid.

Best of luck to you in your publishing venture.

Anne K. Albert said...

Hi Malcolm.
It IS sad so many authors, musicians, and other creative souls, are valued by some more as a commodity and dollar figure than people. Hopefully, spreading the word, pointing out warning signs, and just refusing to remain silent will help.
Thanks, for dropping by! :)

Anne K. Albert said...

The funny thing is, Madison, the one thing my ex-publisher did not do was try to kill my voice. Of course, later I learned my books were not edited either. There is always a pro and con in every situation. Even this one!

Marilyn Levinson said...

Good for you for seeing that you could do a better job than your previous publisher, and took the initiative to publish your books yourself.

I was published traditionally when that was the only route there was. I tried self-publication with two books that had gone out-of-print and one mystery because I wasn't happy with my publisher, either. Since then I'm back to having my books published with 2 e-publishers and one small publisher. I do this because I prefer having my books edited and my covers provided for me. And I feel the distribution is better. That's my choice. The wonderful thing is that these days we have a choice. And we can be successful, regardless of the way we choose to have our books published.

Anne K Albert said...

Thank you, Jackie. I do my best to view things in a positive manner, although DURING the experience it's often difficult.

Still, if not for this journey, however, frustrating, infuriating and demoralizing, I doubt I would be where I am today.

I honestly believe I'm a better person for it. I've learned new skills I never thought possible. I've done things I never imagined I would. Life, and writing, are truly more enjoyable!

Being a typical Canadian, I will now apologize for my rose colored glasses and cheery attitude...but seriously, what choice do we have? Giving up and yelling 'uncle' isn't an option! :)

Anne K Albert said...

You've got it right, Marilyn. Each of us has to decide for ourselves what's right for our writing career. It's like the process of writing itself. There is no right or wrong way. It's unique for each individual...and so it should be!

Patricia Gligor said...

Thank you for one of the most informative and inspiring articles I've read in a long time.
You've been on quite a journey and I know that you're going to reap the rewards for all of your hard work and persistence. I love your books!

Anne K Albert said...

I giggled when I got to the word "persistence", Pat.

Being tenacious is a requirement for writers.

Who else will sit alone day in and day out with no clear idea what they're doing, where it's going, or whether the end result will ever see the light of day? We're dreamers, and we're definitely persistent! :)

marja said...

Anne, I took the same path that you're taking and I haven't regretted it for a moment. Your books deserve to be read by many. Best wishes! Great post!
Marja McGraw