All posts by Jessica Grey

What the Imagination Movers Taught Me About Self-Publishing

I have two little kids. This means I end up watching a lot of children’s television and listening to a lot of cds that include multiple versions of The Wheels on the Bus. This is generally painful. However, there is one children’s show I can be found watching even when my kids are off doing other things – The Imagination Movers.

Movers

They’re basically the most awesome thing ever: four guys from New Orleans who decided to put their musical skills to use as an “alt rock band for kids and their rockin’ families.” They don’t write “kiddie music,” they write damn good music that just happens to be for kids. And I buy their albums for me and just happen to let my kids listen to them, cause I’m cool like that.

One of my favorite things about the Imagination Movers is their motto: Reach high, think big, work hard, have fun. This motto makes an appearance in several of their songs including the song Brainstorming that appears in every episode and this classic:

So what does this have to do with publishing? I’ve been blessed to be on the self-publishing journey for several years now and I have adopted the Mover’s motto as my own because it encompasses everything I believe about being a self-publisher.

Reach High.

As a self-publisher I have the amazing opportunity to be in control of every single creative process that is a part of producing my book. This means everything from the writing to the editing to the cover design and interior formatting. Now this much responsibility scares and overwhelms some people. I love it. I realize it can be daunting – and I’m not saying you have to excel at each of these fields. A self-publisher is a PUBLISHER and part of that is researching and knowing what you want and then hiring competent people. I firmly believe that the product self-publishers put out can and should be as good or better than that of traditional publishing houses. Sometimes I get raised eyebrows when I say we can be better – “as good” is a high enough goal, I guess.  But why shouldn’t it be better? Why shouldn’t we be innovative and fresh and doing what the traditional houses are too stodgy to do? The internet has not only leveled these playing fields, it’s created a platform where indie artists can meet and work with other indie artists in a way that has never before been seen. As good or better is the goal. I now judge the cover design and formatting of traditionally published books by the standard of my own book. Reach high.

Think Big.

The internet. It’s amazing. I said before that it has leveled the playing field and it has in more ways than I can even count. The biggest way for indie publishers is in ebooks. We can put our books on virtual shelves all over the internet alongside books from those big traditional houses. That’s awesome. More importantly, we can reach readers. Lots and lots of readers. Or maybe only a few readers now…but there’s always the potential to reach more. Because unlike a traditionally published paperback that gets a few months (if its lucky) of promo from its publisher, ebooks are forever. They’re always there on the shelf waiting for readers to download and read them. I want to get my books into the hands of as many readers as possible. Am I expecting to make the NY Times Bestseller list next week? No. Do I think that’s an impossible dream for a self-publisher? Heck no! Countless of self-publishers have proven that it’s not. Is it the only measure of “big” success? No. Every self-publisher has their own idea of “making it” and they are as varied and unique as the authors behind those ideas. Whatever my goal as a publisher – I am not going to think small and I’m not going to allow others who think small to influence how I view my work. Think big.

Work Hard.

This is the big one, the one that make the first two a reality. I am not going to sugar coat this: Being a writer is hard. Being a publisher is hard. Being both is a crap ton of work. If you’re scared of hard work, if the thought of banging your head against your Kindle at three in the morning wondering why in the hell something won’t format correctly scares you…find another line of work (or pay someone to format your .mobi files for you, ta-da!). It’s not always formatting though, there will always, always be something new you have to learn. And there will always, always be more you could be doing. I’m not saying you have to do everything.  There are some things that you will find are just not worth your time and effort. The way you find that out? Effort. Tons of effort. To be great at writing and publishing takes a lot of really hard work. It might be easier if you decided to aim low and think small, but the Movers and I would be disappointed in you. Work hard.

Have Fun.

This, you guys. This. Yes, it’s hard, and yes, it’s a lot of work. I can yammer on about quality and art and striving for excellence all day long. Self-publishing should be about all of that. But it’s also about having fun. It’s about taking your words – your stories – and sharing them with readers. It is mind-blowingly awesome when something you’ve written connects with a reader. There’s no rush like it. And it is FUN when a cover designer can connect with your story and produce a work of art that conveys the tone and feeling of your story. If you can’t look at the process of writing and publishing your books and say “that was a ton of work but I wouldn’t trade it for the world” then you shouldn’t be doing it. It’s okay to have fun. In fact, it’s more than okay, it should be a requirement. Have fun.

Of course this motto doesn’t just apply to self-publishers. If you’re a writer of any kind you can identify with it. In fact, it can be applied to specific professions or to life in general. It’s never not true. No matter who we are, we should always reach high, think big, work hard, and have fun. I’m glad the Imagination Movers have summed it up so succinctly for my kids and I’m glad that I get to sing along with them.

Movers Logo

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Atone: A Fairytale is Available in Audiobook Format

I am so thrilled to announce that Atone: A Fairytale is now available in audiobook format. I absolutely adore the narrator Randi Larson.  She’s done an amazing job!  Hearing Becca and Nicholas come to life is so much fun!

You can grab a copy of the audio at Audible and on Amazon (iTunes coming soon). If you’ve purchased a kindle copy you can get a discounted rate on the audio at Amazon.

Atone-Audio2400Square

Once again, a huge thank you to my amazing designer Victoria Austen Young for creating a gorgeous audiobook cover.

I hope you enjoy the audio of Atone as much as I have!

2014 – The Year of the Girlfriend

Most of my really good girlfriends don’t live near me.  This is due to a variety of reasons: me moving from California to Montana, friends from Montana moving other places, and having lots of friends that I met on the internet.

One of the “life” (as in not writing) goals I’ve made for myself for 2014 is to focus more on spending time with my girlfriends, and in my case that means traveling.

At the end of this month I’m meeting up with Nancy and Patty in Portland for Nancy’s Birthday.  The city might not survive us, but it will be a blast!  I cannot wait…I even have a countdown ticker!

In March, I’m heading to Arizona to spend some quality time watching Spring Training baseball with my friend Tracey.

I also hope to get in one L.A. trip to visit my BFF (hopefully for my birthday?) and possibly a reunion with my best Montana (now east coast) friend Tiffany.  This is going to require a lot of planning and travel, but I’m hopeful.  There’s nothing like spending time with girlfriends to recharge your batteries.

What do you like to do for girlfriend time?

New Year – New Goals

All right, it’s that time again. Setting goals for the New Year.  You can check out my post about being kind to yourself and setting realistic goals over on Indie Jane.  This is something I need to seriously remind myself of not just when I make my goals list, but also throughout the year as I start adding things onto the list.  I always, always add on.  It’s a sickness.

Here are my writing/publishing specific goals for the new year.  Hopefully you’ll help keep me accountable! That whole “putting it out there so someone else knows your goals” is always a good idea.

1.  Finish Sun, Moon, Stars.

I’m making a big push this month to finish the rough draft of this fairy tale adaptation.

2.  Publish Sun, Moon, Stars. 

I’m hoping to get this novel out to you guys by May! (Notice I didn’t give a specific date in May, lol).

3.  Finish Aspire.

This book – it lives in my head but it’s having a hard time coming out through my fingers.  This could be because it’s currently in “chose your own adventure” mode in my brain, there are three possible paths and I need to PICK ONE!

4. Publish Aspire

Look for it in September-ish of this year!

5.  Write the Rough Draft of Red. 

This is going to be my October – December project. I’m kind of giving up on the whole NaNoWriMo idea because November is literally the worst month of the year for me to try it.  But my “end of the year” writing will be on Red.

6. Publish the Fairytale Trilogy Omnibus.

Once Aspire is out I can publish an ebook with all three novels. This excites me!

7. Work on Austen Co-Authoring Project with Melissa Buell.

This is a really exciting project idea and now that we are past the holidays, I’m hoping we can carve out more time!

That’s it for my 2014 writing/publishing goals.  I do have blogging goals (I hope to be more consistent here, and I have another potential project in the works).  I always start out saying I’m going to be kind to myself and then the list looks way intimidating!  Scarily, this is my pared down goals list!

What are your goals (writing or otherwise) this year?

 

In Review

It’s that time of year – the time for top ten lists, and “year in review” posts, and the dreaded New Year’s resolutions…

On the resolution front, I keep promising myself to be kind to myself and to not “over-resolve.”  I make this promise every year, and every year I still put way too many expectations on myself.  This year, though, I’m hoping everyone holds me to my plan to be kind to myself – so much so that I’ve posted over on Indie Jane about the dangers of “over-resolving.”

I also tend to feel really unaccomplished at the end of the year.  There’s something about realizing an entire twelve months has flown by that makes you panic and think “I’m not doing enough!”  So I think it is important to take a breather and recognize the good things that have been accomplished this year.  Here’s some of mine.

2013 Books Image

1.  I published two novels and a short story collection this year.  That’s pretty awesome.

2.  I wrote aforementioned short story collection.  It was a really hard, long, and personal process for me to write those four stories.

3.  I was able to get all three of my novels converted to audiobook.

4.  I took a trip by myself!  My first time spending the night away from my kids. And we all survived.

5.  I took a trip with kids by myself!  Traveling with two kids isn’t always easy, but we had a fabulous time driving to CO to visit my parents for a week.

6.  I was able to beta read for several author friends.

7.  I’ve completely changed my work out habits – from never working out to working out several times a week and doing things I never thought I’d be able to accomplish.  As a result my body has really changed and gotten a lot stronger.

I’m not going to lie, 2013 was a really hard year for me personally.  It feels good to be able to list these off and see tangible proof that things were accomplished and improved.

What are some of your accomplishments this year?

 

 

 

My Top YA Reads of 2013

Nothing says late December like “of the Year” lists.  I thought I’d join in with my top 5 YA reads this year.  These weren’t necessarily published this year (some were, some weren’t), but they were read by me this year.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow

5.  Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George.  This is an adaptation of East of the Sun and West of the Moon and is a sweet retelling.

Mind Games

4.  Mind Games by Kiersten White.   This is an “edgy” psychological thriller.  Honestly, I’d read so much about how edgy/psychological it was that I was expecting it to be quite a bit darker than it is.  Maybe I’ve just got too dark of an imagination already 😉  It is definitely a solidly written and compelling story.

Of Beast and Beauty

3.  Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay.  A dystopian/futuristic/fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast that’s imaginative and well written.  This has made it onto my list of favorite Beauty and the Beast retellings.

Scarlet

2.  Scarlet by Marissa Meyer.  I really liked Cinder by Meyer, but I enjoyed Scarlet even more.  Meyer has a way of creating a well-constructed world that only uses snippets of the fairy tale she’s retelling (in this case Little Red Riding) that still manages to satisfy the fair tale craving.

The False Prince

1.  The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen is far and away the best book I read this year (it’s sequel is almost as good and should probably share the top spot).  The narration in this book is fantastic.  Nielsen writes a believable teen boy in first person and manages to keep the reader on the edge of their seat through the entire book. I devoured this novel.  Thanks to Nancy Kelley for recommending it!