Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Publication Party Session 6 - fantasy author N R Williams

Welcome again to all! It seems every week we learn something new from our guest speakers. Last week we heard from Lisa Maliga who warned us of some of the pitfalls within the publishing industry. Today we learn the route N R Williams took to become a published author. The common message I'm getting is that it takes hard work and determination to become published whatever route you choose. 

Before we proceed, I ask you all to grab a drink and put your hands together for last week's winner of Lisa Maliga's e-book Notes from Nadir. Congratulations Ellie. Contact Lisa directly and make arrangements to receive this wonderful book onto your kindle.

Now let me introduce Nancy.

N. R. Williams lives in Colorado, U.S.A. with her husband. She is delighted to have two three year old grandchildren, cousins. She’s a long time member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and has been privileged to attend conferences and workshops. Since her formative years, she’s been inventing fantastical stories and since she could spell she’s been writing them down. While she majored in art in college, she didn’t make a living at it. Now, she uses her skills of observation to create fantastical worlds, interesting characters and stories that touch the heart.

Thank you Denise for hosting such a timely subject of publishing for all of us authors and for letting me grace your blog.

For anyone who doesn’t know, I self published my epic fantasy as an e-book in Dec. 2010, and just finished a blog book tour to promote, The Treasures of Carmelidrium, in Jan. 2011.

So here is the burning question: Why did I choose to self publish my book as an e-book? Did I try traditional publishing? Did I query editors and agents?

Answer: Yes, I did query both, I pitched my book in person to both, and I sent out many letters and was rejected. However, I was also asked for partials or the complete manuscript. In every case, not just a few, who actually read some of my writing, they replied that they “loved it, but it’s not right for us.” Yes, I know publishers and agents like to say that, but I also had over fifty people to read the book for feedback. I was told they couldn’t put it down. At one point I had two co-workers fighting over who would get the next chapter. All this before I hired an editor.

Because of the reaction of my test readers, I was confident that I had an excellent story.

Turning point is not just for our stories, it happens in real life too. I had two. The first was three years ago at The Colorado Gold Conference, hosted by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, of whom I’ve been a member for years. (RMFW)

I had a two minute pitch, my fourth. I sat down across from this agent and began by introducing myself. She said, “How long have you been a member of RMFW? Why aren’t you published yet?”

I answered the best I could, began again, she interrupted to say, “Why aren’t you published yet?”

I answered and began again and she interrupted again with, well, by now you can guess. Was she rude? You bet. I was hurt, and I couldn’t get over it. I stopped writing altogether. I still monitored my critique group, but I didn’t take anything. Fast forward nine months later to May 2010. Okay…I didn’t connect the dots to realize until just now that nine months is significant in giving birth.

I began to meet with a fellow member of RMFW, Lynda Hilburn. She writes sexy, x-rated, vampire stories and is published, but had lost her publisher and just wanted to get together with a few other writers to talk about the publishing industry. I figured it couldn’t hurt for me to join in. It seems that every author has their share of horror stories, in Lynda’s case it was her previous publisher. Lynda had the e-rights to her novels and decided to put them up on Amazon.

Here’s the difference between us:

Lynda is a published author and had a following already. She had two books on Amazon kindle and smashwords, that were also paper books, but no longer available as paper. The first month, April, she earned $300 from the sale of her two e-books. By the end of May she was making $1,000 a month, making Lynda one of many authors on Amazon kindle's best seller list. She also added a novella and as of this writing has signed with a new publisher.

I am an unknown author. At this writing I have just put my first book on Amazon kindle, and smashwords, who distribute to Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, Borders and others. I have plans to write two novellas this year, one to complement my epic fantasy and the other with a completely different setting and a phoenix heroine. I also plan to complete the next book in my epic fantasy series, titled: The Rise of Lord Sinon.

I didn’t do any of this blindly. I did research. I had first had knowledge of Lynda’s case and that was followed by many articles that I’ve read online. In many cases the experience of some was outstanding. But there are also those who don’t do well at all.

So, here’s what you must do:

Write the best story you can.
Get an editor and multiple eyes on it before you publish it.
Hire a professional illustrator (unless you are a professional illustrator.)

You can publish without doing any of that. But if you put out junk, no one will ever buy your books again. Amazon has multiple book covers to choose from but they are also on multiple books. You want yours to stand out.

Now that you have a gem, it’s time to put on your business hat.

You must promote your book. If you don’t you will fail. Do a blog book tour. Use CreateSpace or another such site to give you a print copy. Do book signings. Offer to meet with a book club. Join Goodreads. Ask others to read your book and do a review. Pay for the book so they don’t have to. Don’t expect to make a lot overnight. Especially if you are an unknown writer.

If you are close to publishing and need inspiration, go to this link and read what Joe Konrath of a Newbie's Guide to Publishing has to say:

Here is an excerpt to whet your appetite:

Currently, I'm selling an average of 7000 self-pubbed ebooks a month on Kindle. Those numbers are for 19 self-pubbed titles, though the top 6 account for more than 75% of my sales, roughly 5000 per month.

That means those six are averaging 833 sales, or $1700, per month, each. That equals $20,400 per year, per ebook, for my top sellers.

Those six are my top sellers because they're novels. My other 13 ebooks are novellas and short story collections, which don't sell as well.

Considering the average advance for a new novel is still $5,000, each of these ebook novels is quadrupling that, annually. And these numbers are rising, not falling.

Read the entire article, it’s worth your time.

Note how many books he has available: 19

This, my friends, is a numbers game. Now that you have paid your dues and you know how to write…do so.

Other web sites to help you:

2010 The Year Self-Publishing Lost Its Stigma, at PBS.

Ever heard of EPICA? Check them out for the latest news, contests, etc. on e-publishing.

The Blood Red Pencil did an entire series on this subject. To find, go there and in the search this blog type in e publishing.

N. R. Williams (Nancy).

Whoa, Nancy, that was super! Such a lot of info and links today. I hope your talk inspires all aspiring authors to polish off that story and hit the e-publishing road.

Now before our session ends a word about the PRIZES. N.R. Williams is happy to give away a copy of her e-book, The Treasures of Carmelidrium, as well as offer a chapter critique on a lucky someone's WIP.

Here's a little about The Treasures of Carmelidrium to help you decide if you'd like a copy:

When a hooded man steps in front of her car, Missie is thrust through a portal into a medieval world where she encounters monsters and mythical creatures. Here, her flute has magical powers to heal and destroy and to empower “The Treasures of Carmelidrium.” She is romanced by a prince and hunted by the villain. Will she find her way home? Does she want to?

THE TREASURES OF CARMELIDRIUM is available at Amazon for Kindle and Amazon UK for Kindle. The book is being sold for $2.99 until July 1, 2011 when it will increase.  

 Before you leave, please do the following:

•please leave a comment with your email address if you want to be in the draw for this week's ebook prize or the GRAND PRIZE and giveaway books and writing paraphanelia at the end of the series - next week is the last session (you must comment on each post to win, starting at the first post. If today is your first day, go back to the previous sessions, read and leave a comment. I'm keeping track...) I attached links to all previous sessions in session number four's post.

•ask Nancy a question or two
•if you're published (book/short stories), tell us about it in the comments
•e-mail me @ if you'd like to find a Crit Partner.

Thanks for stopping by. Winners will be announced at our final Publication Party next week, Wednesday 23 February when author Ann Carbine Best will be speaking to us. Now isn't that going to be exciting!


  1. This is some more terrific info for authors. Thank you N.R. for the great links and the detailed straight-forward information.

    L'Aussie, I love this author series. It's educational and presented in an entertaining manner. Keep up this great work that you're doing.

    Tossing It Out

  2. Hi Nancy, Hello Denise.

    Thank you for the terrific information and the links! Lots of good information here.

  3. Hi Nancy, Hi Denise,

    Thank you for another wonderful party, so much info and links to digest! I love JA Konrath and his blog. Times are changing very quickly in the publishing world and authors are in the driving seat.

    You've put a lot of hard work into your promotion, Nancy. That agent sounded horrible!

  4. Hi Denise, Hi Nancy,
    Well done with your research and with all the promotion work you've done for your book. It seems to me that it's hard work selling books whether you have a publishing contract or are self published, but if you're self published then you're in control. Significantly, you're also not giving away most of your royalties that way too.

    Good advice and a well researched post.

  5. I won! Thank you!

    All the interviews so far have been excellent, but this one has surpassed all expectations. Inspirational and full of great links.

    Thank you for inspiring me, Nancy!

  6. So far so good guys. An inspirational speaker is our Nancy. Thank you sor supporting a great writer and friend.


  7. Thank you both for an inspiring and helpful post!
    Best of luck with your novel, Nancy!

  8. Thank you again, Denise, for hosting me.

    I hope the information helped you Arlee.

    You're welcome Nas.

    Yes, Margo, I wonder if she still has a job.

    Thank you, Tony. It is true, e-publishing has now allowed writers a way to control their work like never before.

    I am please to have done so, Elle.

    Thank you Catherine.

    I'll be back and forth all day. I'm beset with unexpected errands later, but they shouldn't take too much time. Have a wonderful day everyone.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  9. Thanks for some solid, helpful information, Nancy. Your post here is a great source of reference on so many levels, including that agent story. Words are so powerful, I'm glad you're using yours to the extent that your are, publishing and reaching out.

  10. Denise, thanks for hosting Nancy. I've picked up some of her other posts during her blog tour, too.

    Nancy, I read every word of this because I'm thinking of doing this very thing. Thanks so much for the detailed primer. Publishing is changing.

  11. Nancy,

    This is wonderful info! I tried the traditional route for my devotionals, but they are seasonal and I, too, had to "Good stuff, but it doesn't fit us." comments as well. I self-published as paper and knew I would have small, local sales. So far, so good. I'm considering the e-pub route. You've given me a lot to think about on that. Thanks.

    And, Denise, WOW! You've put together such wonderful writers for us. Thanks.

    I'd love the crit for my mainstream novel (crossing my fingers)

    zanmariess [at] gmail [dot] com

  12. I loved hearing your story Nancy. I’m so excited for you. I’m impressed by your goals this year as well, and I can’t wait to see your progress.

    I read those articles you mention. I also read an article that talked out how to avoid self-published books. That was disappointing.

    I am curious how you found and decided on an editor.

  13. Thank you Joanne, I'm glad you appreciate the information.

    Yes it is, Carol.

    I look forward to helping you Zan, if you win.

    I met my editor through the blogbooktour class we were in together. I shared my goals with everyone and Heidi offered to help me at a rate I couldn't refuse. There are many writers who are also editors and the ones I know I have on a blog roll on my blog. You're welcome to come by and browse.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  14. What an informative, link packed piece Nancy. Thank you.

    Aussie, you rock. Keep up the good work :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  15. Hey Nancy, Hi Denise,

    I like the fact that u were very frank about this and i have a couple of frank questions too.
    How will you judge your book sales so far? have u met your goals?

    Do you intend to stick with self publishing or will you go the traditional route if you receive an offer?

  16. Wow what great information. I was offered 2 traditional contracts for my books but neither felt very comfortable so I went out of my comfort far so good!
    I hope I end up with a success story.

  17. Hi, Denise, Hi, Nancy...

    SO nice to see? both you ladies today at this fantastic party.


    You really hit on some very valid points. These are wonderful sources.

    I think you're doing a great job of promoting your book.

    I am now trying to get Roland Yeomans to do a book blog tour. His book just come out on kindle. He's such a shy person, I have to nudge him in the right direction. I told him how wonderful your tour went. I hope to implement some of your fantastic ideas for his. I guess I am sort of managing the tour. We had a few issues with format that we correcting.

    You are a wonderful influence to all of struggling writers.


    These parties are GREAT!

    SInce I a my very own copy of Nancy's book, I'll let another have the pleasure of winning the book, but I would like to placed for the critique.

    mculi (at) aol (dot) com

  18. Hi Jules, I'm hoping this information will help some friends.

    Joanna, I plan to post an update on my blog the first part of every month. Not sure what day that will be but close to the first. If I do as well as the guy I quoted today, I won't sign with a traditional publisher. There are some very real negatives that must be considered along with the positives. I think I smell another post.

    Nice to see you too, Michael. I hope Roland finds the path that is right for him.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  19. Grrrreat interview, Denise...thanks! Actually, I just left a comment on Nancy's site as I saw a dynamite review of her book on Cherie's blog (

    And I have questions. First, I'm self-publishing an expanded Louisiana story into a chapbook (whatever fits into 7000 words), kinda a boutique book several boutiques have agreed to carry. But I want to e-publish (gulp, so many questions, sorry)...what's the approximate cost for a pro to design an e-book cover? how does one find a reputable designer? Does Amazon format? Why do you prefer Amazon over Smashwords?

    Thanks for the links. I'm a research nut.

  20. Hi Kittie:

    I would recommend my own book designer, Sherry Watcher who writes as Bodie Parkhurst at Magic Dog Press. She's on my blog roll or you can email me and I'll connect you. Also, Michael at In time...who left a comment here as gideon does book covers. Each designer has their own price range. There are many out their. I will use Sherry again.

    Next question: I published to both Amazon kindle and also to smashwords. They have instructions on how to format, you can follow those or purchase a computer program to help you or find someone to do that. The Blood Red Pencil had a link to a company that charges $50.00 to format and then you would have to put the book up yourself.

    There are companies that will do all that for you but then you are agreeing that they are the publisher and they keep 10% of the commission plus whatever fee they will charge you to do the work. Essential 10 is one. Look for them on my blog under previous post. I will add this, that essential10 will not submit to smashwords. I asked for help from the writers group that I belong to and someone did it for free.

    So book cover, editor, and formatting are what you're looking for.

    Another caution for you. At 7,000 words you're little book is too small to price at $2.99 which is the required amount to get 70% commission. I recommend 99 cents.
    But another caution on that front. There are writers selling full size novels for 99 cents.

    A lot to think about before you jump in. Wish you much success.

    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  21. Hey I'm having a great time checking out these comments and Nancy I can see you need to do a series for us to flesh out some of these important issues/questions. It is a brave new world out there! I'm rivited by all this info that is just buzzing around.

    Keep the love coming!


  22. I'd be delighted Denise to do a series. Just let me know what topic you want to cover first.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  23. Thanks so much for all the fantastic information! It is always nice to get the straight scoop...

  24. NR helpful and nice as always, glad to see her blogtour is progressing nicely! :)

  25. Hey, I know that Nancy-girl! She's doing a super job, and I wish her all the best! :o) <3

  26. Nancy, this is such great information. Thank you for sharing it. Denise thanks for a lovely party. Drop me in the drawing. Kariwhite(at)charter(dot)net.

  27. Wow, Nancy! Awesome information/links. You did it, and did it well. You get people to critique your work, and then if you can't go traditional, you go the ebook route. I've read Konrath's journey. I think those kinds of sales depends somewhat on the genre, what people are reading. Thrillers are in. I think fantasy is too, so with your determination and your excellent product, I think you'll do well. I'll continue to follow you to see how it's going. I read your book. I usually don't read fantasy, but I liked yours. It was very well done!

    Thanks, Denise, for hosting such wonderful writers. I'm honored to be in the lineup. See you all next Wednesday.
    Ann Best, Author @ Long Journey Home

  28. Wow Ann, what praise and thank you so much for reading my book. I am honored. I do believe some genres do better than others. However, the first thing we all must do is write the story that speaks to us the best way we can and then be willing to do what it takes to put it before the reader.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  29. Self publishing has opened up so many opportunities for writers. It's hard work though -- but what isn't?

  30. Really inspirational, thanks for the in-depth look into how you got published.

  31. Yes, it is hard work, Lynda.

    You're welcome Catherine.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  32. What a great interview Denise and Nancy. I was quite engrossed! Now to go check out some serious linkage :)



  33. I think most of us have had at least one negative experience with people who comment on our book. Mine really galvanized me and spurred me to succeed. Whatever route you take, good luck!

  34. NR, whatever route we choose we need courage and determination. I'm so glad that you saw your book through to self-publication. It's becoming a more viable option for a lot of people and it's a great thing. I self-published my historical fiction novel 'Follow the Cowherd Boy' and was so happy that I did because of the responses I got from readers that convinced me I'd made the right decision.


  35. Those #'s of sales are huge. I wish NR Williams the best with her self-published book.

  36. An inspirational story with a lot of really helpful advice and information. I hope to be traditionally published but I will admit that I am leaning towards self-publishing anyway. The two are not mutually exclusive, after all.

    Great blog, L'Aussie - I'm on the Crusade as well so I just popped over to say hi and found this awesome post! Thank you :D

  37. Thank you Rachel, Beth, Trisha, Jai, Theresa and Anne for leaving a comment. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post.

  38. Yay, an author that lives near me (wyoming). I went to the rocky mountain writer conference in 2010. My first year and it was an interesting experience.

    Do you recommend RMFW membership and any groups? It's hard to find writing groups up here in small town wyoming.

    Great post, it is interesting to read about your method of publishing and how much work you have put into your journey.

  39. making crusader rounds. Nice to meet you, now following!


  40. Hi Dawn, yes I do recommend RMFW, but it may be better if you join Northern Colorado Writers, they have members in Ft. Collins. Patricia Stoltey is one and her blog is on my mystery writers blog roll, left had side. I don't remember if I added this writer's group to my blog roll. There is also Pikes Peaks Writers. They are in Colorado Springs. If you write romance there is RWA (Romance Writers of America. They have chapters all over the country.
    Same with mystery and others.

    Thank you for following me Raising, I'll hop by your blog too.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  41. It is wonderful that the comments are still happening. Great advice Dawn about writer's groups from our Nancy!

  42. Great interview! I love self-pub success stories!

  43. Great interview, it's good to keep your options open.

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