Monthly Archives: March 2013

Publication complete!

The last two weeks has been very busy for me indeed, and I am delighted to say that I am now completed all publication duties for my first novel. Two days ago the final proofs for my printed copy were sent to me, and I approved them. “Seascape” is in printing, and sometime next week, my novels will be shipped. By the second week of April I hope to have my finished novel in my hand. As of April 1st “Seascape” will begin to be available for sale on assorted e-readers. By the time of my book launch it should be downloadable on all
e-reader formats.

After many, many years, I can finally say I am a published author, and this book is done! Having completed the self-publishing process it is time to give my evaluation of the company I used.

I found Book Baby after doing some research into self-publishing, and I selected them because they offered
one-stop shopping. They provided Ebook conversion, publishing, and distribution, cover design, book printing, author websites, and even some basic promotional services. I was especially pleased with their ability to distribute my novel in every E-reader format currently available.

I began the process at the end of January 2013, and today everything is wrapped up and complete, other than the delivery of my books. The process had only a few hiccups.

The first delay occurred with my cover design. The first proof wasn’t quite what I had visualized, mostly because when they sent me the images they had selected, I agreed to them, even though I wasn’t quite happy with the images, which was totally my mistake. Upon seeing the completed product, I explained that it wasn’t quite what I wanted and made a few suggestions for change. They quite quickly responded and I have to say the second proof was perfect.

The next problem was the only major issue I experienced and if I had done my printed book first as opposed to the e-book, this problem would have been avoided. I uploaded my novel as a single Microsoft Word document, which had been thoroughly edited by a professional editor. All the headings and page numbers had been removed, and it was properly formatted. When the proof was returned to me for approval and it was riddled with spacing errors.

I was forced to reject the proof, and I was told that I would have to find, itemize and describe every single spacing error throughout the whole manuscript. There were dozens! This resulted in a three week proofreading delay. My husband thankfully volunteered to perform this chore because I feared reading my manuscript at this point, might spark a self-conscious panic fit, which would lead to a desire to edit further and/or make additional changes.

Book Baby quickly made the changes and sent me another proof. This time I decided since it was going to be the last read before publication, I should be the one to give it a final look over. I told myself that if I found three or less errors I would proceed with publishing as is. I found seven more errors which resulted in another round of corrections and further delay. I accepted the third proof.

The printed copy required only one proof. There were no spacing errors to deal with because I paid extra for black text formatting. They had to design my spine and back cover, and they got it right the first time.
I found Book Baby to be reasonable priced, professional, and easy to use. If I had begun with the printed book first I would not have lost the time to the spacing errors as long as I paid for the black text formatting. If you choose to go with Book Baby, and you intend on doing a printed book as well as an ebook, I recommend doing the printed book first.

As someone new to the process I liked that they were very willing to do as much my way as I wanted, but in areas that I was uncertain, like the black text formatting, Book Baby staff were able to put together a sample for my perusal. Their website has a quote calculator so I knew exactly how much their service would cost. We exchanged a few phone calls. They graciously answered all my questions and everyone was friendly and helpful, but they did prefer all instructions and changes take place in e-mail format so there was no chance of misunderstanding.

Although I have absolutely nothing to compare Book Baby against, I have to say that at this point I found the process relatively painless and easy. And as long as my printed books look like this:

Seascape final cover design

I’ll be happy!

Calling Myself Names

One of the great things about self-publishing, is you get to make the decisions, and everything is in your control. One of the bad things about self-publishing is you get to make the decisions and everything is in your control.

When I am confident I will dash off a decision, and I will rarely look back. I see little point to regret. Most choices happen for a reason, and I usually end up where I should be. I am also comfortable making decisions because I believe a bad choice can be easily changed. It is as simple as making a different choice and moving on.

There are times however where decisions are not so easily untangled. Some choices require more work than it’s worth to change them. Some decisions become mistakes. These kinds of decisions cause me pause. This is especially so if the direction I should take is not clear or immediately self-evident. When I am uncertain, when my inner compass is directionless, committing to a choice isn’t easy.

It seems silly now, but one of the most angst filled decisions for me was the name I was going to publish my work under. I have no problem with someone else using a pen name. I think it’s a smart choice in many cases, but for me it felt inauthentic. When I rolled names around in my head, they felt strange. They were disembodied entities meaning nothing to me.

But I did not want to publish with my legal, married name. That “Shannon” belongs to other people. She is married to a man named Denis and is the mother of two beautiful daughters. She often works in opposition to “Shannon the writer”. I wanted a symbolic separation of “Shannon the mom and wife” from “Shannon the writer”. I wanted the name to reflect that separation.

So why not used my maiden name? I look back on that young girl with fondness, but she was the daughter of my parents; she belonged to them. She is who I was. I am not interested in going backwards.

Evolving into a writer has been a struggle. I have had to fight and claw for every moment of writing time. I have spent years trying to make writing a greater priority. My biggest obstacle has been myself. Sure other people can be a distraction. Life events cause disruptions. But I am my own worst enemy. I get in my way. Writing is the most personal thing I do for “me”. It is on the same level as spirituality, exercise and self-care. It is an activity I need to do. It replenishes me but it makes no money. I feel selfish devoting time, energy, and resources to something that is at best now, just a feel good activity for me. Everything else comes first.

Until now.

I want my writing name to be a reminder that writing is a necessary part of who I have become. My inner writer is truly and deeply connected and rooted to “Shannon” at her most authentic, most spiritual, most human. “Shannon the writer” is the most personal private part of me, and other than loving my family, I believe it could be one of the most important contributions I make to this world. I need to honor this aspect of myself. I need to distinguish this aspect. I want that distinction symbolically reflected in the name I use.

My original thought was to use just my first name. I love the idea of publishing absolutely everything as simply “Shannon”. But I saw quickly it would be construed as trying to be like Cher or Madonna. That was not my intent. I am simply Shannon. Shannon is who I am. I tried it out on a cover design and, I have to admit, it looked unprofessional. “Shannon” on its own, looked a bit like I was hiding, or did not take my writing seriously. This was not the impression I wanted to give.

I also was convinced a second name had to be used so I could create a public persona. Although I don’t spend nights losing sleep over the thought, I would not want everyone who meets me at a book signing, to have access to my private family pictures on Facebook. I do not think in today’s digital world you can be out there and still retain complete control and privacy, but I do not want everyone who wants to connect with “Shannon the writer” to have immediate access to “Shannon the mother and wife”. She whines too much.

The deadline to making the decision approached and I had no choice but to ask for other opinions. I asked family and friends and I asked my writers group. Almost every response was the same, “what’s your middle name?” It was such an obvious choice I could not believe I did not think of it myself. “Shannon the mom” must have been trying to complete this task.

I have two middle names: Rae and Lynn. These two names together were perfect. Shannon Raelynn has always been a part of who I am. She is me. She is not someone newly created. I have been called Shannon Rae Lynn before, mostly by my mom when she was mad, but regardless it is a name I have been called by. It is a name that is me without the baggage my other names carry. As Shannon Raelynn I can compartmentalize without feeling inauthentic.

I have always been Shannon Raelynn. I am just more so now.