Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Self-Publishing is Not for Sissies

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with No comments

 Meet my Guest Poster, Gwen Overland and her Millicent Winthrop novels. 
(Bad Guys Therapy Dogs and a mystery romp)
Gwen is giving away a signed copy of Just My Luck.
Rafflecopter at the end of the post.

By Gwen Overland (writing as Cunigunda Valentine)

Making the Decision: I first decided to self publish when at one of the go rounds at a national RWA conference it was suggested by a well-respected agent that I considered doing so. She thought I had a great idea and that the character sounded intriguing. However, she said it would be a hard sell to traditional New York publishers without having to dismantle the books and rewrite large portions (which she strongly suggested I not do). On the plane ride back home I made up my mind that self-publishing was the avenue I was going to take. Later that week I had lunch with a friend, who’d been self-publishing for the last five years and doing a great job of it. She was instrumental in helping me get started.

I had already published two nonfiction books describing what I did in my private psychological practice, and I had also published two romances for a small press. This particular rom-com/mystery series turned out to be a four-book journey in which the main character, Millicent Winthrop, with the help of her psychiatrist turned boyfriend and two therapy dogs chase down the bad guy until he is at last captured. I had a feeling from the onset that Millicent Winthrop could continue as a never-ending series, solving one case after another book by book, and that alone excited me greatly. I also went nuts for the crazy characters which inhabit Millicent’s world—her pugs Holmes and Watson, her boss Buckminster Smythe, her love interest Doctor Alfredo Martolini, and, of course, the villain Vasilov Bugàr and his henchman Luca “the nose” Nasato.

The Journey (Literally): I hate to fly, and so on long, trans-Atlantic flights I generally stay awake the entire time it takes to get from southern Oregon to somewhere in Europe. The first book I wrote of this series was actually Book 2, Make Mine the Italian. This I did over the period of a short three-week visit. The second book I wrote was likewise Book 3, To Die For. By the time I finished those two books, I had a terrific brainstorm as to how I wanted to end the series, yet I knew I’d somehow have to set it up in an additional book that preceded the other two. That’s when I wrote the introductory novella, Just My Luck (Book 1)
By the time I complete it, I was ready to write the last book of the series, At Last You (Book 4).

Why German?: Last June I was invited to participate as a featured author in the LoveLetter Convention in Berlin, Germany. Most Germans read easily in both English and German, so it was not too big of a stretch for me to present the first two books of the Millicent Winthrop series in English to a conference full of avid readers.
My son and his family live in Berlin, and he had been after me to have my books translated for some time. It was a wonderful case of Serendipity and Kismet that I was introduced to a well-respected translator during the first day of presentations, panels, and signings. We hit it off immediately and firmed up our contracted agreement in NYC at the RWA Conference that July. As a result, the first two books of the series are already out and on the German market, with the remaining two to be released later this year.

The Covers (What a Find!): I spent a great deal
of time looking at covers for the Millicent Winthrop series, none of which really turned me on. I knew I wanted something colorful, whimsical, and playful to encapsulate the tone of the series, but where to look? Finally, after digging through archive after archive of photographic choices, I decided to scout out which books already published had covers closest to what I wanted. When I finally found what I was looking for, I at last had a name which I could Google. Luckily for me, I found the watercolor artist of my choice on Etsy.com. After filling out several forms and having a myriad of email discussions, we both settled on what the covers should entail. My assistant and I then chose colors for the back of the books, the spines, and the borders around the cover pictures for each book. It was an expense that I am so glad now that I didn’t hasten to pay. Fortunately, I own the covers, and so it was easy for my cover artist to rewrite the front titles into German. Having these four books translated has allowed me to continue my relationship with my cover artist, which is important for I have additional Millicent Winthrop novels in store for the future. I am so proud of these four covers, for not only do they capture what I was after, but they’ve been wonderful tools for marketing. Look for Millicent Winthrop Takes Berlin early in 2021.

My Advice: Before turning to fiction, I’d already written two doctoral dissertations and a myriad of academic articles, so I felt secure enough with my craft at the time to forego an editor. After all, what more could they possible know than what I already did! WRONG!! My best advice to any self-published author is to get the best editor you can afford, who, by the way, is probably not your mother or big sister (unless that’s how they earn a credible living). It would’ve saved me a world of grief if I had done then what I absolutely do now. Take the best of what a good editor offers and listen hard to what he or she has to say. Then be willing to take an eraser to your text—no questions asked. Well, maybe just a few.
The Milllicent Winthrop Novels are available on Amazon.
Just My Luck (Book 1)
is 2.99 for Kindle and 6.21 for the paperback.
Make Mine the Italian.  https://smile.amazon.com/Make-Mine-Italian-Millicent-Winthrop-ebook/dp/B07N8N3F3Q/
is 3.99 for the Kindle and 5.94 for the paperback. There are two more books available now in the series.
About Gwen: Born and raised near the Puget Sound in Washington State, Gwen Overland and her family now live in Ashland, Oregon, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Prior to that Gwen lived in Los Angeles and had careers in directing, acting, and singing while performing at the piano. After years in academia, writing one research article followed by another, Gwen turned her talents toward writing fiction and found she happily could not stop. Love’s Harvest and Free My Heart, two novels from her Salmon Run Series, have been published by Soul Mate; she is currently working on the third Salmon Run novel, Waiting for You. Her self-published, romantic comedy/mystery series, The Millicent Winthrop Novels, is available in both English and German. In addition, Gwen also has two published non-fiction books on the work she does in conjunction with her business, Expressive Voice Dynamics: Soul of Voice and Soul of My Voice. When she’s not reading, writing, or playing with her two black pugs, Buster Keaton and Emmett Kelly, Gwen works in the theatre, teaches college students how to muster the courage to follow their dreams, or assists psychotherapy clients in discovering more joy and meaning in their lives.
Thank you for being here, Gwen.
Keep up with Gwen by following her on Twitter @gwenoverland; Gwen Overland Author on Facebook; @GwenOverland on Instagram, or at www.gwenoverland.com and www.cunigundavalentine.com.
Stay Safe. Avoid the News. Laught three times a Day. Enter the Rafflecopter. Happy Reading.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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