Welcome to Wild Card Wednesday! Today, we have a special treat. Myndi Shafer, author of Shrilugh, is here to talk about her indie publishing journey and whatever else strikes her fancy.
Before we start, I’d like to say I’ve read Shrilugh and loved it. The book is YA fantasy, partially set in an alternate universe. This is not my regular genre. Despite that, I really got into the story and was left anticipating the next installment in the series. Recommend!
The Big Decision
Q: As far as I can tell, this is your first fiction publication of any kind. How did you decide you wanted to indie publish (as opposed to going the traditional or the small press route)?
A: Yep, Shrilugh is my first book. Early on, I did the same thing lots of writers do – I queried too soon. I was rejected, lots, and for good reason. So I revised and revised, and queried again. It still wasn’t right, so I revised and revised again. By that time, years had passed and the publishing industry had changed a ton. Indie publishing seemed like a good fit, so I thought I’d give it a go.
Costs & Production
We all know that indie publishing is a business. It takes money to run a business. As a first time author, it’s difficult to know what you need to spend money on, what’s a good deal, and what you should do yourself. Tell me about it! Let’s talk about your expenses.
Q: What (if any services) did you outsource?
A: Very few.
Editing – especially copy editing – is the one thing I couldn’t do myself. It’s too darn hard to see those typos and spelling errors myself, because my brain tells me what I want to see.
My sister (Melissa Green) copy edited for me, and since we’re sisters, the price was right. If anybody’s looking for a copyeditor, she’s great. You can email her at missy0911 [at] sbcglobal [dot] net.
Ebook formatting — If I’d had the means to pay someone to do this, I would have. Formatting requires a part of the brain that I’m apparently lacking. I spent hours and hours and hours doing this, and am honestly dreading doing it for The Darkening.
Cover design — I did it myself. It took a lot of trial and error, but it was fun.
Q: Will you outsource any of this next time?
A: I’ll probably do it all the same again, although at some point I’d love to hire someone to format and do cover design and help me create a marketing strategy to take over the world. All that stuff is so time consuming, and it slows down the writing process, which of course, is what I’d rather be doing. That, and getting a pedicure.
HOW did you do all this stuff? Let’s take it piece by piece.
Q: The editing. Did you work with betas and critique partners?
A: I actually wasn’t plugged in with any other writers at all until last autumn when I joined Kristen Lamb’s Blogging for Brand class. It never occurred to me to.
I had no idea there was a whole writing culture out there…I was just plugging along alone, kind of wondering if I was the only crazy person in the world who lived in imaginary places in her head. It was both relieving (and a little disturbing) to find there were so many other crazies out there, too.
So, no, I didn’t really work with other writers. I read aloud, every page, every sentence, at least twice. It was time consuming, but worth it. And I got bold with the red pen.
Chopping unneccessary parts of the story, to me, is like cleaning clutter from your home. You can always add back in, but you’ll hardly ever regret tossing something you didn’t need in the first place.
It was beta-read by writers for the first time a couple months ago; that was a whole new experience for me. Writers read totally differently than readers do. Most of the feedback was really helpful, but it all came from a totally different angle than my non-writing beta-readers.
Q: For the cover design, did you work with a graphic design program?
A: I used Pixelmator. I really dig it. It’s a pretty basic program, but it’s got lots of the same features as Photoshop. I purchased the image of the tree from fotolia.com.
Q: How did you do ebook formatting? I know there are programs like Scrivener and Calibre that will supposedly do it for you.
A: I do have Scrivener, but I ended up nuking everything and going through the formatting tutorials on Smashwords and Amazon. I like parts of Scrivener, but sometimes it makes my brain freeze. Honestly, after being forced to use Microsoft Word to format the book for Smashwords, I’m kind-of in love. Once you learn it it’s super easy to use.
Q: What marketing are you doing for Shrilugh?
A: Right now I’m depending on word-of-mouth, which makes me über-grateful for folks like you, Catie! Besides that, lots of social media stuff – blogging, of course (myndishafer.wordpress.com), interacting on Facebook and Twitter and Goodreads.
I haven’t attempted any actual advertising – it’s not in the budget at the moment. We are having a launch party/book signing on the 29th in Wichita, so if anyone’s in the area, check out this link (https://www.facebook.com/events/464323156942010/) and come say hello!
Q: Has it been successful so far?
A: Yes. I’ve been astounded, actually, by the amount of people who have been willing to buy, read, and rave on Shrilugh’s behalf. Makes me one very happy girl!
Indie Publishing In General
Q: Did you study any books or websites directed at authors who intend to self publish? If so, have any recommendations?
A: Oh, gosh, it’s kind of embarrassing to answer this question. I’m such a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of girl. If I happened across something somebody was doing I’d make note of it, but mostly I’m winging it. I am, however, a big fan of Kristen Lamb. (Who, by the way, would probably flay me up one side and down the other for my approach to self-publishing.)
Q: What has been the hardest part so far?
A: Self-doubt is a bitch. Self-doubt is Hardest Part Number One. Dealing with self-doubt requires a precarious balance of confidence and humility. Confidence that what I’m doing is worth a damn; but enough humility to see when it needs work. Too much or too little of either one of those things leaves the door wide open for self-doubt to sneak in and wreak havoc on the whole process.
Q: What do you wish you’d known before you started?
A: Gosh, I don’t think I haven an answer for that! It’s been really smooth sailing so far. I can’t think of any instance yet where I’ve found myself saying, “I wish someone would have told me that!”
Q: Where did you get the name Shrilugh?
A: The book is named after trees that glow in the world beyond the silo Door. I needed a name for these glowing trees that told of the fact that (a) they glowed, and (b) at one point, they were revered.
The word Shrilugh is actually a combination of two words from two different cultures. Shri is a Hindu name that means ‘diffusing light, radiance, beauty’. Lugh is a form of the Irish name Lugus that also means light. Both Shri and Lugh are diety-related; Shri if female, while Lugh is male. The two together made a really nice sounding, full-of-meaning name for the trees.
Q: Is the book based on any particular mythology or folktale?
A: Well, I kind of started with the base of a Cinderella-type ideal; a girl who is basically orphaned, technically in the care of (but more indentured by) a rotten family. Obviously I took a ton of liberty with that idea, and the story morphs into something else entirely by the end, but that was kind-of where I started.
Q: How many books are you planning for the Shrilugh saga?
A: Right now, four.
Q: I noticed the next book will be out in October. Does that mean it’s already written?
A: It’s written. I’m revising/editing right now. I really put myself into a time crunch with deciding to release it so soon after Shrilugh, but since the first book ends with a clifhanger, I wanted to release the second quickly.
Q: How many books did you have written and ready to go before you published Shrilugh?
A: The first three are written. Technically the fourth is written, but it’s a super-rough first draft. Like, scary rough.
On a Personal Note
Q: Your main character and the love interest both ride horses. You speak with a fair amount of authority about horse riding and caring for horses. Is this a hobby (or passion) for you?
A: I grew up on a farm and cattle ranch, and I showed horses as a girl, so I was often horseback. Some of my best memories are ones spent riding.
My favorite horse was a bay Quarter Horse named Nana. Sweetest thing on the planet. She was as short as a horse can be without being called a pony, and had the roughest lope you can imagine, but she was always eager and willing to go along with whatever I’d ask of her. Gosh, I loved that horse.
Catie: Thank you so much for joining us today, Myndi and for being so forthcoming about your experiences. I loved Shrilugh and wish you the best of luck with the rest of the series.
Myndi: Thanks so much for having me, Catie! I loved chilling with ya a little bit. Here are some links if you need them:
Myndi Shafer digs: tiramisu, the smell of rain, and freshly painted nails.
Myndi Shafer does not dig: stubbing her toe, eating sushi, and formatting eBooks.
Myndi Shafer lives with her husband, four kiddos, a dog, and a bird, and knows her life is charmed.
Find Myndi Shafer Online:
Tweet with Myndi: @MyndiShafer
Buy Shrilugh (or download a sample):
Comments from the peanut gallery are welcome. If you want to ask Myndi a question, please do. She will be stopping by a few times over the course of the day.