My Rights Reversion Odyssey, or, How I Jumped through More Hoops than a Circus Poodle

By Alice Loweecey

In a perfect world, self-publishing would come with a bottle of wine per book. I picture a shining, fluffy cloud appearing above my desk. With an ethereal sound of angelic voices it would open and a chilled bottle of Chenin blanc would come to rest next to my keyboard.

Still waiting for this to happen, by the way.

My first series ended in 2013 after its initial three-book contract. Because I had a new contract with a new publisher I let the old books hang. Not a smart plan, so a few years later I requested via a formal letter for my rights to be reverted to me.

The letter arrived about a month later, returning all rights, e and paper. Now that I owned my books again, I got to work.

Wine bottle #1: Commissioning covers. I decided to issue ebooks only. I’m no artist, plus I know ebook covers have to be formatted to certain specs. I got estimates from a few artists whose work I liked and fit the tone of the books. When the right artist and I agreed and I had the new covers in hand, I moved on to . . .

Wine bottle #2: Formatting. If anyone heard a primal scream from the east coast of the US at the end of summer, it was me. To make my books available on all platforms (Kindle, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, etc.) I used the Smashwords style guide.

Full disclosure: I opened the style guide, scrolled through, and closed it again. Twice. Only the money I’d already spent on covers and the knowledge that it would be a shortsighted business decision not to have my books out there made me open the guide a third time. Adulting FTW.

There are no shortcuts when formatting. Every chapter needs to be formatting separately. I kept three docs open on my screen at the same time: The final Word doc, the edited PDF, and the new Word doc for self-publishing.

Every chapter. Every book. Night after night (after the Day Job). Rechecking each book after I thought I was finished. Changing certain elements. Updating others. Editing and more editing. The copyeditor in me would not be silenced.

Wine bottle #3: Uploading. So many hoops to jump through. The carrot that kept me jumping was inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog. Again, it would have been short-sighted to skip steps and cut myself off from free marketing to potential readers.

I chose to price my books at $1.99. This way I can run a half-price sale in conjunction with my next new book release. Marketing. Promotion. Getting my work out to new readers. I am so happy my current ten-book contract (!) comes with my publisher’s marketing clout and contacts. Because all that is on the self-publisher. Constant work in addition to writing a new book, because readers want a new book and authors want readers coming back for more.

I tip my fascinator to all writers going it alone. Now to work on clouds that deliver wine. In  between writing, promotion, conferences, the Day Job, laundry, cooking . . .

And maybe a short nap.

Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Alice Loweecey recently celebrated her thirtieth year outside the convent. She grew up watching Hammer horror films and Scooby-Doo mysteries, which explains a whole lot. When she’s not creating trouble for her sleuth Giulia Driscoll or inspiring nightmares as her alter-ego Kate Morgan, she can be found growing her own vegetables (in summer) and cooking with them (the rest of the year).

Force of Habit is the first of three Falcone and Driscoll mysteries, followed by Back in the Habit and Veiled threat. You can read more sleuthing from Alice Loweecey’s character Giulia Driscoll in Alice Loweecey’s latest from Henery Press The Clock Strikes Nun.

Alice Loweecey has a Website. She also writes horror as Kate Morgan.

Mickey vs Maria: Clash of the Screamers

Guest Post by Maria Zannini

There are two things all writers must possess. Nerves of steel and thick skin.

Having been an artist most of my adult life, thick skin is a job requirement, but now, gentle reader, I have proof positive that I also have nerves of steel.

Twenty miles from where I live there’s a five mile long bridge that spans both land and water. Once you get on there’s no place for you to stop. If there’s an accident on the bridge, you can kiss your appointments goodbye because everything grinds to a halt.

Recently, I was on my leg home from a long road trip and traffic was a mess by the time I reached the bridge.

Out of the corner of my eye I caught a flash of movement. I glanced over to the passenger seat but nothing seemed amiss. Traffic was getting rough now. Lots of brake lights and angry horns. Big rigs are jockeying for position as we lose one more lane of asphalt. The bridge is so thick with cars, I decide to move to the far right lane so I won’t miss my exit two miles ahead.

Again something moved at the periphery of my vision. This time I saw what it was.

A little gray mouse was scampering between the seats and up the stick shift in the center of the console.

I think I swallowed my tongue at that point. I kept glancing down at the mouse and then back at traffic. Mouse. Traffic. Mouse. Traffic. There was absolutely no place for me to pull over.

Even if there was, what was I going to do? Order the mouse to vacate my car? He had claws and teeth, and I couldn’t be sure, but it looked like there was an agent contract in his little paws. I had to ride it out.

My hands clenched around the steering wheel until my DNA imprinted on the leather cover. Mickey eyeballed me with those black button eyes. The mouse then leapt from the stick shift to the dashboard, bumping and grinding to the music blaring from the speaker. That mouse had cojones the size of Gibraltar, but I was not to be outdone.

I still had two miles to go before I could get off and traffic was SLOWING down. I glared at Mickey. “Okay, mouse. You don’t come any closer and I don’t drive us off the bridge.” I was bluffing of course, but he didn’t know that.

When my exit came up I hit the accelerator like Mario Andretti. Police usually patrol that part of the feeder road, but I didn’t care. If they were going to arrest me, I’d insist they put that mouse in handcuffs too.

I jumped out of the car as soon as I reached the first parking lot. Doors flew open and I banged on the seats with the flat of my hand, yelling at the mouse to scram. A smart person would have put me on YouTube. I was a crazy woman yelling at an invisible mouse.

Two men from the nearby Home Depot walked toward me, but I wasn’t about to wait around and explain that I was trying to pawn off a rodent on their property.

I jumped back in my car and took off. I still had another twenty miles before I reached home, me all the while checking the floorboards and listening for any telltale mousey sounds.

Once home, I almost dismantled the car piece by piece, cursing at the mouse in three different languages—one of which I made up.

Mickey was gone. And I am alive to tell you this tale. Hallelujah!

So how are your nerves? Would you scream if a mouse scampered up your car’s radio—or would you just change the station?

***

Maria Zannini’s latest release is a science fiction romance called TRUE BELIEVERS.

Mix one cynical immortal and one true believer and throw them into the biggest alien-hunt the world has never known. Rachel Cruz is a Nephilim masquerading as an archeologist and she’s stuck with an alien who believes she can lead him to his ancestral gods. Black Ops wants to find these gods too. They want them dead.

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