Thursday, December 15, 2011

Guest author Chicki Brown: A Brave New World

Contemporary women’s fiction/romance author Chicki Brown has published four Kindle best selling novels. An avid reader, her favorite authors are Beverly Jenkins, Eric Jerome Dickey, Lisa Kleypas, J.R. Ward and Suzanne Brockmann. A New Jersey native, Brown and her family relocated to suburban Atlanta, Georgia in 1994, and she now proudly calls herself a “Georgia peach.” Her many homes in cyberspace include her website, personal blogTwitter, and Facebook.

A Brave New World

I’m certain this title has been overused when talking about electronic publishing, but it is most appropriate. June 2012 will mark my second anniversary as an e-author. In this short time, I have learned enough about the industry to fill volumes, and the learning process continues daily. The publishing industry is morphing into an organism that’s never before existed, and this is a good thing for authors. We are now in the driver’s seat. It’s not such a good thing for those who are rushing to throw something into cyberspace just to jump on the bandwagon.

My concern is with what I see happening in the industry lately. Many first-time authors are spitting their books out onto Kindle and Nook hoping to cash in on the explosion in electronic publishing. Unfortunately, in their zeal, many of these newbies have skipped several essential steps in the process of becoming a successful e-book author.

During my daily Internet travel, I end up talking to new and aspiring authors. It is becoming clear to me a great many of them are under the misconception that e-publishing is the “quick and easy” road to publication. They haven’t done their homework on the details of what it takes to get a properly formatted manuscript onto Kindle, Nook and the other electronic readers. Some of them even assume those e-tailers will do the formatting, revision and even marketing for them. Wrong!

I know I’m from a different generation, but I believe expecting instant anything other than rice or oatmeal is a joke. Publishing, whether traditional or electronic, involves a LOT of hard work, long hours, tedious revisions and repetitive tasks. Certainly, an author can farm these duties out to someone else, but unless the aspiring author is a celebrity or independently wealthy, they can’t afford to do so. This means the responsibility is on the creator of the work.

Before I started writing, I had always been an avid reader, only I had no idea how my favorite authors created the stories I loved. Writing my first books was a blast, but the plot was convoluted, it was filled with headhopping and tons of backstory. All I did was put the story on paper that was in my head. It will never be published, because every time I go back and look at it, I cringe.

In the past eighteen months, I have released four novels, but what some of the newbies don’t understand is that those novels were written over a period of ten years. During those years, I devoured writing craft web sites, joined my local Romance Writers of America chapter meetings, learned about plot, point of view, characterization, backstory, foreshadowing – all the stuff I didn’t know about when I wrote the first manuscript. Yet I don’t regret doing the process backwards. It taught me how much I had yet to learn about the craft of writing.

Another major misconception I’ve heard is the idea that once your book is published, the marketing aspect can be taken care of by a few posts to your Facebook page and handing out a couple of hundred flyers. Wrong again. Most e-book authors spend several hours every single day marketing and promoting their books. It is essential to learn to navigate the social networks in a professional manner and observe the expected etiquette. This doesn’t mean you still can’t have fun online, but being known as “SuziethebigbootyAuthor” is no longer acceptable if you want to be taken seriously. Posting about how drunk you got at last night’s party gives readers and potential readers a negative impression you do not want as a published author.

Make it a daily habit of reading the top e-publishing blogs like:

My advice to new and aspiring authors is to put in the time it takes to become knowledgeable, so you don’t go out there looking crazy. Invest in preparing yourself for the journey. It will be well worth the effort.

Chicki’s new release, Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing, debuts on January 2, 2012 on Kindle and Nook. 

All of Chicki's books can be found at Amazon and Nook


Chicki Brown said...

Liane, thanks so much for having me and allowing me to share my thoughts!

Jackie H. said...

Great post Chicki:)

Gary Val Tenuta said...

Well said, Chicki. (Love that name). Took me 9 years to write my first novel and 3 years to write my second one. Now, as a 3-year veteran of the ebook wars I can vouch for everything you said. I've suffered my share of wounds along the way and have the battle scars to prove it. Okay, perhaps I exaggerate just a little bit. ;-)

But it has been quite a learning experience and I'm a better writer for it.

Lynn Emery said...

Great post. Congrats on the milestone and writing success.

Christopher Hudson said...

I will heartily endorse your statement: "Publishing, whether traditional or electronic, involves a LOT of hard work, long hours, tedious revisions and repetitive tasks." I will also lament it, because those things happen to require a skill set of which I am in short supply.

Chicki Brown said...

Thanks for dropping in, Jackie and Lynn! It's always good to "see" you.

Gary and Christopher, as you can attest, indie e-publishing is a great experience but not an easy one. I'm glad to be among the ranks with you guys.

Lisa Mondello said...

Great article and some great advice in there. Thanks for sharing!

Lisa Mondello

Liane Spicer said...

Chicki, it's great to have you. Congrats on reaching your year two mark!

Enjoyed your realistic, grounded article on indie publishing. It's not a shortcut, a free pass or the easy way out. It's a lot of work - more so than before. The difference is authors stand a better chance of actually seeing returns on their investment of - you said it - skill, hard work and time.

Speaking of time... I finished the first draft of novel #1 in (drumroll) 1997. I sold it in 2007 and it was published in 2008. I'm glad I didn't get it published in 1997; I had a LOT to learn.

Ashley Barron said...

"In the past eighteen months, I have released four novels, but what some of the newbies don’t understand is that those novels were written over a period of ten years." Chicki - this is such an important point!! The amount of prep work to become a self-published author is extraordinary -- but worth it, naturally. :)

Chicki Brown said...

Lisa and Ashley, I appreciate you taking time out of your crazy schedules to visit. Thanks for your comments.

Liane, this has certainly been an interesting eighteen months. I so agree with you about the first novel! :)

Sherry Gloag said...

I enjoyed reading your post Chicki, I don't mind the hard work, and understnad the theory, it's putting the two together succeffully that still elludes me.
I too have had four books published, the first two written and reworked for several years before they say the light of a publisher's day.
Thanks for sharing.

Sheila Deeth said...

Great advice. Thank you.

Miss Crystal said...

Hang in there, Sherry. It will come together for you if you just stay with it and don't give up.

You're welcome, Sheila. Glad it was helpful.

Chicki Brown said...

That comment was from me, Sherry and Sheila. My daughter was still signed in on Google.

Anonymous said...

Very informative post, Chicki; thanks for sharing! I just self pubbed my first into this new world. Its a Short Paranormal Romance. I was so worried about all the things that needed to be done correctly, I hired a Formatter and a Cover Artist. It was a bit of expense, but I felt better knowing that it was done RIGHT.

Wishing you all HAPPY HOLIDAY HUGS!
Kari Thomas,