Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What I've learned (so far) about self-publishing

Self-Publishing, or Indie Publishing, has become a really big movement, what with the creation of ebooks and Paid On Demand services. There are groups designed specifically for writers/authors who "do it themselves", as it were. And I'm no exception.

My first two books, The Unknown Elf and Kas, were both self-published. I also published a short story, Dorcha Adhmad.

So, here are a few things that I've learned since I started trying to get my work out there.

1- Writing is the easy part. Sure, it took me what seemed like forever to write each story, especially since I started both of them way back when I was in junior high, but, really, it didn't take as much time as it could have. (I'm just a perfectionist, so I blame that. And I was still learning, am still learning, my craft.)

I'm not saying writing isn't hard, because it really is. Trying to put down a story, especially when the story/characters don't want to cooperate is difficult. It takes a lot of time and patience, and nurturing, on the part of the writer.

2-Editing is hard. For example, I took apart my novel, Kas, at least ten times over the course of the past ten plus years. And those include the times I remember consciously sitting down to edit. The original version was only like fifty pages long. The end result? Closer to two-hundred.

Editing is hard because you have to take your story and find the right balance between everything. And you have to make sure it makes sense. (I include BETA reading in this category, because every good story needs to get feedback from others.) And then there's content editing and copy/technical editing. I'm not a fan of either. But, thanks to modern technology, it makes things a bit easier. I'm a personal fan of the Hemingway App.

For The Unknown Elf, I asked a bunch of BETA readers to give me feedback. Then I had my mom edit the crap out of it. We used to joke that she could turn any paper into Swiss cheese, or make it bleed red, no matter how perfect. Which is a good thing, because it means she's looking at the basics. For Kas,  I relied on the fact that I'd taken the story apart so many times that the original muse wouldn't recognize it.

In the end, editing is a matter of polishing the story, taking out typos, and making it sparkle.

3-Formatting can be a nightmare, especially if you're not used to computers or the specific programs. Some people find it easier to just ask someone else to do it, either as a favor, or for a fee. I toughed it out and learned how to do it the hard way. Took me a while too, since I prefer to use an older version of Word than any tutorial has instructions for. Call me old-fashioned that way, if you like. I'd write on a typewriter if they were still in fashion.

Every place you publish wants things formatted, though, and that's not exactly something you can do with a typewriter, at least not these days. Once you learn, it's not really hard to do. But if you haven't got a clue, it's TORTURE. And yes, I did purposely cap that word, because that's what the first time I formatted something for publication felt like. Tutorials were useless and I ended up learning as I went.

My advice, if you are not computer savvy, have someone else do the formatting for you. It may cost a bit, but it's worth all the time and frustration you might have trying to go alone. Unless you can find a good teacher, or are just persistently stubborn like I am.

4-Cover Design is essential and can be a real pain. For The Unknown Elf, I knew exactly what I wanted my cover to look like, and I got it because I did it myself. Actually, I've done all of my own cover work, minus having a photographer friend take pictures for Kas. I did everything else.

Your cover design is going to rely on several things. The first thing is your book/story's genre. Take a look at the different cover designs others have done for similar books. No one wants to see a romance book with pictures of serial killers on the front. Not all genres like having an illustration, or a photo. Some prefer simplistic approaches, while others like complex. The point, though, is to look for something that will get the intended audience interested but not push them away because it's "too busy" or has too much information screaming up at them.

If you have skills as an artist, be it graphic or traditional, you have a good chance of being able to design your own cover. If you don't, I highly suggest finding someone to design the cover for you. Sure, it will cost you (how much depends on what you work out with the designer, including the potential for royalties, etc. So do your homework before you hire someone.)

As for me, I practically grew up on Photoshop and art. My mom was a painter (though she doesn't do much with art currently), and my dad is a professor of graphic design. With that combination, it became easy for me to figure out what to do to create my own covers. Almost double-majoring in art with my English degree helped as well. The hardest part, for me, was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for Kas' cover. But once I got the general idea, it just fell into place.

Something else you can consider when creating a cover, illustration vs. photograph vs. manipulation. I think all three have a degree of difficulty to them. Photography requires a location, potential models, lighting, photographer, costumes, etc. Illustration needs some kind of reference material, different art tools (computer or traditional), and manipulation takes a bit of both. So, whichever is your cup of tea, run with it and see what happens.

As for fonts, I highly suggest 1001 Free Fonts as a reference to what's out there.

5- Publish your work. If you've figured out where you're going to publish, great! If not, look at your options. (Pending on what you pick, this step might come before formatting and cover design. Each service is a little bit different.) For me, I like a combination of CreateSpace, Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP for short). They're all pretty easy to use. Once you have everything formatted, cover ready to go, you can pretty much just upload, wait for it all to get approved, and you're done! At least with this part.

Please note that if you go for a paperback (or any kind of "physical" copy, your cover design is going to have to fit specific size requirements. That's part of why you need to know which service you will be using in advance before designing.)

6-Promotion. From everything I've experienced, this is the BIGGEST part of getting a book out there, especially if you want it to sell. And I don't mean just a copy here, a copy there. If you don't let people know your work is out there, they're not going to look for it. So, you have to promote it, which means advertise and putting yourself out there.

I"m still new at this one, but there are TONS of resources out there on how to get your work noticed. Advice spans the horizons of social media sights (facebook, Instagram, etc), to having Twitters, blogs, websites, etc. Marketing your book is exhaustive, time consuming, and seems to need constant care, like a plant that, if not watered and pruned every day, will die. Okay, maybe not exactly that drastic, but still, it works as an allegory.

The point is that your books are not going to sell themselves, no matter how well written, how awesome the cover design is, etc. You have to get it out there. Enter contests. (There are tons if you just look for them.) Join associations and support groups, even promotional groups. They can be a great source of information on how to market.

Research how to do blog tours, book launch parties online. Post facebook ads. Create fan pages just for your books, and one for you. Create a simple website. There are a lot of free options out there if you're on a budget. Wordpress is great, as is Blogger. Or, you can hire someone to create a website for you. Whatever works best for you.

Try different email lists that provide discounted or free ebooks, such as Book Bub or similar. Google them. There are a lot out there. Get on Goodreads as an author and do a giveaway. There are so many options that there is no "sure" way for everyone. You just have to find what works best for you.


Questions? Comments? Feel free to add them!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Announcements, Giveaways, Promos, and so forth......

Hey everyone. I have a few announcements to make. 

First is that my book, Kas, will be featured on day seven of Loving The Book's 12 Days of Back to School Books event. There will be many blogs featuring some really awesome sounding books on all twelve days. You can either click the link above to go to the "home" page of the event, or you can check out the posts in my "Reviews" section.

During the last week of this event, August 2-9th, to be precise, Kas will be available for $0.99 on all ebook formats. Yes, you heard right, $0.99. This is an updated version with an added bonus on the end, a sneak peak at my next book, Tarragon: Key Keeper (more on that later).

Also, don't forget that there is still a Goodreads giveaway going on for this book, so enter for your chance to win a paperback copy (signed, of course) of this book. Sadly, this format does not have the added bonus sneak peak in it, but hey, if you want to enter for your chance to win the book, AND buy the ebook during that awesome week, you'll still get the bonus material at the end of the book. (Goodreads giveaway ends on August 11th.)


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Kas by Karlie Lucas


by Karlie Lucas

Giveaway ends August 11, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway 

Something else to keep in mind, I have another book blitz coming up in November. The 13th, to be exact. This time, for The Unknown Elf. This event is also being hosted by the lovely ladies at Loving The Book so Please go show them your support and check out the other great events they have going on.

And finally, the best announcement (I hope):

Coming in April/May of 2016 (tentatively):




The fate of the dragons rests in her hands.


More information will be released about this story as the time draws closer. In the meantime, if you want a small taste, don't forget to purchase your copy of Kas, with the sneak peak at the end!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Who all writes fan fiction?

I have found a reconnection, lately, with the genre of fan fiction. Admittedly, most of what I write in that are tends towards anime and manga related stories, but I wondered who all out there writes, or has written fan fiction.

I find that fan fiction is not only fun, but also helps me improve my craft. It can be a challenge to get into a character's head, especially one you didn't originally create. But when you do get into their "heads", it's rewarding and challenging.

Right now I am working on writing a fan fiction that crosses anime/manga with Doctor Who.Crazy, right? Well, if there are great writers out there who have done it, so can I. I hear there are a bunch of writers who got their start through fan fiction.

So, what exactly is fan fiction? Well, in a nutshell, it's fiction written by fans. Some of it is really good. Some is not so good. Ideas can be really awesome or just mundane, just like in any other genre. And inside fan fiction stands all the typical genres as well, well, in the fiction area. It would be really weird and hard, I think, to have a non-fiction fan fiction. Could just be me.

In my original works I lean towards fantastical and comfort/hurt with a dash of game changing growth in my characters and plots. It's the same with my fan fiction. I admit, though, that I don't give my fan fiction the same level of editing as my original works.

That being said, how does like reading a good continuation of a story they never thought would be finished? Or a potential sub-plot that just fits in there somehow, though you never thought it would? Or, how about something totally off the wall that seems like it couldn't happen ever but then, somehow turns out amazing? Like salsa and chocolate ice cream. The combo, admittedly, still sounds really weird to me.

If you are not into writing fan fiction, but would rather read it, I can recommend two sources for your fix. Fanfiction.net and Wattpad.com. I actually post to both. But there are a TON of amazing fan fictions out there, some more well written than others. But all in all, there is something for everyone, from anime/manga to popular television shows, previously written novels by some of the best authors out there, to who knows what. It's like exploring an entirely new kettle of fish. You never know when you might find a mermaid stuck in there somewhere, or a rare seashell or blue lobster or whatever strikes your fancy.  If you haven't taken a look at the idea of fan fiction, I highly suggest you do.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Summer Giveaway Time!

So, the contest for Pinterest is still open. But, to add to this, I have created another Goodreads giveaway. Eight signed copies of Kas are up for grabs. All you have to do is enter. No purchase necessary. I would like, however, to ask that you give my book a read, if you can. And please leave a review.

You can get Kas as an ebook at the following websites:

 Barnes And Noble

Keep your eyes peeled for discounts on Kas later on near August.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Kas by Karlie Lucas


by Karlie Lucas

Giveaway ends August 11, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day, America!

I am an American. And though there are a lot of things that happen in my country that I don't agree with, I am still proud to be an American and live in this great country.

This Independence Day, I wanted to share a few thoughts.

When I was a kid, we would celebrate this holiday with fireworks in the front yard, sparklers, little things I liked to call "rotten apples" (because they looked like apple cores when they finally finished spinning around), fountains, snappers/poppers, and the like. One year, we even had firecrackers, courtesy of my grandpa. Those were fun.

We used to have a big family camp out in Grandpa's backyard, complete with bbq over his homemade stone grill and outdoor oven. For breakfast, they'd pull out the portable grills and make pancakes, cook up eggs, bacon and sausage. And each family slept out on the back lawn in their respective tents. We'd wake early to the sound of a cannon being fired by the city, and Grandpa talking over the HAM radio with his buddies. We'd even have outdoor movies on a projection screen Grandma kept in the backroom.

As I grew up, these traditions began to fall by the wayside. Our families became too big to share the backyard, and cousins and their families started traditions of their own. City ordinances changes so that we couldn't fire off our own little fireworks and we started just going to the big shows in town.  And if we timed things right, we got two fireworks shows because we lived right on the border between the two.

And there was, of course, the patriotic parades down Main Street, with firetrucks and lots of candy thrown to the spectators. Among other freebies. And, I believe there were events at the park, fairs and the like. Always fun.

Since moving away from home, celebrating the 4th has been different. I live in a major city now. Going to a fireworks show can be a hassle, with tons of traffic and events going on all over the place. And seeing people in parking lots parked out in their lawn chairs, chugging beer and who knows what.... Advertisements for beer and other alcoholic beverages.

I think it's kind of sad how we have gone down to such base means to celebrate our Independence. So, for the sake of those who helped secure our freedom, I offer this, Thank you. Thank you for fighting for our rights and freedoms. Thank you for being willing to give up your lives for what we celebrate and enjoy today. And Thank you to those spouses, family, and friends who sacrifice time and the lives of their loved ones so that we can enjoy the liberty and freedom that we have.