Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Guest Post by Celeste Buie

I have so much gratitude for being lead to Joe’s blog. It’s a winding road but an interesting journey.

I was born in 1980, so that makes me 34 today. (This is relevant, I promise.) I was an avid reader in my early teens, reading a book a day if allowed.

Then I went to high school. The pressure I put on myself to get good grades as well as my involvement in band, sports, a boyfriend I would later marry, and extracurricular clubs meant my free time was occupied with other things. Of course, assignments forced me to read books I never would have chosen to read (but they weren’t all bad). Analyzing plot, characters, symbolism, comparing and contrasting events, etc, for reports took the fun out of reading.

In college, I majored in mechanical engineering and had even less time to read. It wasn’t even on my radar. I actually scoffed at people who said they read for fun.

Fast forward to November 2008. My neighbor invited to me come over for breakfast to meet some of the neighbors. I went and found out it was a book club meeting. They had made recipes from the latest book they read and gathered to chat about it.

That night, my husband came home from work to find a book on the table. He didn’t know what to think.

“What’s that?” he asked pointing to it.

“I went to Laura’s today, and guess what?” I said, outraged at the situation I found myself in. “I have a month to read it, and I have to make 5 dozen cookies for a Christmas cookie exchange!”

He laughed.

I did, too. Later.

I put off reading that darn book for 2 weeks. Then my analyzing side kicked in. If I didn’t start reading it that day, I had to read a minimum of 47 pages a day to finish in time. (Adult peer pressure at its finest, and ever the good student!)

I begrudgingly started it that day, and read throughout the night because I couldn’t put it down. When I finished, I read it again, then had to get my hands on the next 3 books in the series. I finished them in 4 days. Then I went to the library of all places and got a library card. I read all sorts of different books. I even learned surprising things about some of my close friends during this process – they were avid readers too, and recommended authors to me.

I realized I could find out about said authors by looking online, something that didn’t exist when I was a teen. I scoured their websites, read their FAQs, and learned about their publishing journey. I learned that some gained their inspiration from dreams, real life, and conversations in their heads.

I played out conversations and situational scenarios in my head all the time, so I figured I should write them down too, just to see what materialized. That was the beginning of my book.

As I did more research on the business of writing, I realized the overwhelming majority emphasized how difficult it was to get traditionally published. Yet, it was the only path I knew of. I had only read traditionally pubbed authors at the time. “Difficult” is too mild a word, as many of you know from your own experiences, so I worked on my book less and less, and it became something I’d do only if inspiration hit, although I enjoyed working on it. I’d think, “One day. Maybe.”

In the meantime, I had my first son and worked on the book while he napped. I still read blogs about the dreaded query letter, and author bios, hoping to learn how to increase my chances whenever I finished it. I like to be prepared, and I like to know what to do before I have to do it. I came across an archived article Nathan Bransford wrote titled “Amanda Hocking and the 99-Cent Kindle Millionaires” (link: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2011/03/amanda-hocking-and-99-cent-kindle.html)

Naturally it mentioned Amanda and Joe, whose sites I soon visited to learn more. I couldn’t 
believe what I read on Joe’s blog. His publishing experiences made me question what I thought I knew. It was scary. I didn’t want to have to think of a title to my book, let alone have input for a cover. I wanted the experts to do that. I also wanted them to tell me what worked and didn’t and what I should change to make it better. After all, they were the professionals with experience in all these areas. I just had a story I wanted to tell, and would leave the ‘marketability’ aspect to them. As I read further into Joe’s archives, I realized that editors and the publishing team sometimes make great decisions and not so great decisions, and maybe I didn’t want them in control, let alone give up my rights – which was something I never realized, after all.

It’s true that you should write the type of book you’d enjoy reading, because not only do you read it so many times you have to love it, but also you have the potential to fill a vacancy. And the more I had read, the more I realized there needed to be more complex books out there for teens and adults who like to read YA, among other genres. I don’t do the things I find tedious and annoying in other’s books (which is a whole other topic), or meaningless fillers, or even endings that aren’t true to the direction of the plot.

The point of this is to say, I think readers are smarter than the way some authors treat them, and my intention is to provide readers with above average stories in my genre, and emotional investments in the characters that pay off. That’s not to say I won’t ever temporarily toy with readers’ emotions, but I strive for every plot element to cohesively work together, as well as make sense in the grand arc of the series.

The book writing process has been the most challenging, infuriating, and rewarding creative outlet I’ve ever had. There were many times I wondered if I could even pull it off. I had to do a lot of growing and stretching in the 5.5 years it’s taken to get to this point, but I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve created.

Learning about the self-pubbing revolution was like learning about a different sector of life that I never knew existed. I thank the universe for conspiring to make this happen, for giving me the curiosity and tenacity to finish what I started, and to Joe for continuing to post about his experiences, views, and lessons along the way. Joe, I wouldn’t have done this if it wasn’t for you rooting for us and showing us another way, or the input from your awesome contributors. Thank you all! Self publishing is the publishing path I was meant to take. I would have easily been taken advantage of and signed a crappy contract, never knowing better!

For exclusive content, announcements, and more, please visit www.celestebuie.com and sign up for my newsletter, as well as “like” my Facebook page www.facebook.com/celestebuieauthor
Joe sez: Happy birthday, Celesete. And congrats! I just bought your book, and I hope you do well.

WHEN YOUR FUTURE’S AT STAKE, DO YOU FOLLOW YOUR HEAD OR HEART?

Brynn Emerson has always been in control of her life—until a mysterious stranger invades her dreams and her boyfriend, Trevor, suddenly dumps her.

Life gets more complicated when secretive newcomer Landon shows up at school. The playful and handsome Landon is somehow connected to Brynn’s ex-boyfriend.
Determined to find out how they know each other, Brynn draws closer to Landon…only to realize too late that she's risking more than she thought possible.

Meanwhile, a person of power has his sights on Brynn. Will Trevor and Landon work together to keep her safe? Or will she be pulled against her will into their mysterious world?

MIDNIGHT RUNES, THE BESTOWED ONES BOOK 1 is a YA paranormal suburban fantasy over 300 pages available today on Amazon here http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Runes-The-Bestowed-Ones-ebook/dp/B00KGGQA0W/ref=pd_rhf_ee_p_d_1

About Celeste Buie

I live in Michigan with my husband, our two sons, daughter-on-the-way, and huge adopted dog. 

We’ve lived in three cities within this beautiful state and have visited many of the places mentioned in the Bestowed Ones’ series. One of the most adventurous things I’ve done is horseback ride across the state on the Lake to Lake trail. I love traveling, giving back to the community, and taking on all forms of creative projects.

Joe sez: There are two universal takeaways from Celeste's blog post that I want to reiterate.

First, I'm constantly reading about how overall readership isn't growing. Reading for pleasure is dwindling, people say. There is too much other competition with other, sexier media, like games, movies, TV, Internet, music, etc., people say. Children aren't reading for pleasure anymore, people say. Only one adult in a billion actually read a novel in the last fifty years, people say.

Blah blah blah.

Reading will always be a viable for of entertainment. I'm sure of this because even though the delivery system may change (cave walls, paper, ebooks) there are very few leisure activities that are as immersive. Reading stimulates the brain in a way watching YouTube never will, and even people who believe they have an aversion to it (something I hear a lot) get addicted when they read the right book (something I also hear a lot).

Just as playground jokes get passed down from generation to generation (Orange you glad I didn't say banana?) all we need is for book groups to keep inviting 30-somethings and 20-somethings and reading will continue to hook new readers.

The second take-away I got from Celeste's post was something I get a lot of: people thanking me for opening their eyes about self-publishing.

I beat the same drum, continually, because this is the Newbie's Guide to Publishing, not the Old Pro's Guide. Just as every ebook is new to readers who have never heard of it before, the idea that self-publishing is a viable alternative to legacy publishing is a revelation to writers who, like Celeste, thought there was only one way--the query/agent/publisher meme so many of us have grown up believing.

Just as new readers need a little nudge, new writers do as well. We all have preconceptions about things. The best way to shatter those preconceptions is to actually try something different. If more adults were peer-pressured into reading, a percentage of them would enjoy it. And if more writers learn about self-publishing, they'll give it a shot.

It's the job of every one of us to encourage both activities. I've bought over a dozen Kindles for friends and family. I've given away over a million ebooks. And I keep preaching the same things on my blog, over and over, because these things still aren't known by newbies.

One of the greatest gifts you can give is teaching people something new. And one of the greatest joys in life is creeping out of your comfort zone and trying something different. 

Do both.