For those of you who don’t know, i.e. anyone not based in the ever-extending and loosely defined Eurozone, Eurovision is a huge annual song contest for European nations plus a few friends to join in. It began in 1956 as a way of strengthening the ties between countries in Europe, which was still recovering from the ravages of the Second World War. It’s grown and grown since then and as far as I’m concerned is an unmissable spectacle of national pride, fun and lots of talent. As ever, I was watching last night and enjoying every minute.

Now, a lot of people love to rubbish the Eurovision Song Contest, saying it’s naff and amateurish, so that immediately suggested a link to me with indie authoring. Too many people, including a lot of mainstream publishers, are all too quick to denounce all self-publishing writers in the same condescending way. And when you start to look, there are a lot more similarities between this joyous, optimistic musical event and today’s enthusiastic indie authors.

ryannolanLast night, poor old Ireland came last. That was tough, and was felt strongly in our Anglo-Irish household. Ryan Dolan gave a brilliant performance – polished, professional, pleasing – but didn’t pick up the popular vote. That happens so often with indie authors. They do absolutely everything right and have a good product but can’t seem to find readers. Ireland had plenty of points in common with the winners, Denmark, namely a good looking singer, catchy music, a prominent role given to drummers and a well-choreographed stage show. Similarly, an indie author can produce a book that is every bit as good and worth reading as one by a best-selling paperback author but can’t get the recognition it deserves. However, Ireland will dust itself down and try again next year, and that’s what indies do. They don’t give up.

Some countries go for a safe approach in the Contest and jump on the current popular bandwagon. Germany’s song was very heavily inspired by last year’s winner by Sweden, ‘Euphoria’. A musical version of fanfic perhaps? In their case it didn’t win, but they didn’t do disastrously. For some writers, following the trend is enough. Think of all the erotica that’s appeared in the wake of 50 Shades. It may not be what the authors really wanted to write, but they knew it would probably sell, so they had a go. That makes commercial sense, if not artistic sense, some might argue. And by all means, be like Azerbaijan and Georgia and play safe; go for something a little predictable and non-ground breaking but still thoroughly commendable and enjoyable.

Other countries don’t want to fit in with the herd. They go for originality and dare to be different – extremely and dramatically different in Romania’s case yesterday! You don’t get many male contraltos in vampiric oufits. Cezar had incredible talent and an astounding vocal range, as well as showiness, and really shook things up. Fabulous. This is precisely what many indies do, and is why they’re indies in the first place. Their books will never fit in with a conservative ‘traditional’ publisher so they take the responsibility for launching themselves and their unconventional ideas. But they have to write is well worth reading and makes us think. Who wants to be stuck in a reading rut?

Greece gave an energetic performance that defied any categorisation. What else would you expect from a group of men, each dressed in what looked like a sports shirt and a pleated skirt (a traditional podea, I believe)? Many indies are like this. The appearance of their books may be a little unconventional and not very slick, but there’s a lot of heart and soul inside. These authors give you their all, and you can take it or leave it.

Which brings us full circle. Take it or leave it is the Eurovision Song Contest’s robust attitude. And that’s shared by indie authors. Love them or hate them, they don’t care, but at least give them a fair chance. Like the Song Contest, they’re here to stay. They make a valid contribution to culture with their genuineness and the fact that artists who might never make it in the mainstream of their art form get a chance to surprise, shock, baffle, delight, horrify and maybe gobsmack, but above all to shine.

 

As part of her virtual book tour for Go Publish Yourself, Katie Salidas is stopping by at Books Are Cool today, at least virtually! (And today is Katie’s daughter’s birthday too – happy birthday!)  I asked Katie some questions about her book, her writing and herself.

1.    What inspired you to write Go Publish Yourself?

It started as a collection of blog posts. I spent about 6 months writing on topics about self-editing, self-publishing, and marketing. The posts were very popular and the feedback I received was wonderful. It was then that my editor suggested I put everything together in a nice easy-to-read format. That’s when Go Publish Yourself took shape. It’s a handy dandy quick reference guide for all levels of self-publishers.

2.    Why did you feel there was a need for your take on the issue of self-publishing?

Through my own process of trial and error, I found that there was so much that I didn’t know. I wished that I had a book like this when I started. The books I had purchased were a little out dated and focused more on the print side of things. I thought that if I could touch on every subject in a quick and informative format it would be helpful. A nice quick reference guide that authors can turn to for answers rather than wading through big thick books or searching for hours on the internet.

3.    Go Publish Yourself has a great cover. Did you design it yourself?

No, I cannot take credit for that, but what I can take credit for is finding an awesome cover artist. He’s also listed in the book! Willsin Rowe of Coverage is my go to man for all things covers. He’s done not only this book, but many of my other covers as well.
4.    You also write paranormal fiction. Why that genre?

Oh I love vampires, werewolves, witches, shapeshifters, and all other things that go bump in the night. Well, almost all things. I don’t do zombies. They really creep me out! I know it sounds silly but they do. I can’t even write about them without getting night mares.
5.    Which character from your paranormal books are you most like?

I like to think there is a little of me in all of the characters I write. They are embellishments, exaggerations of traits I know or have.  Nicholas has my snarky attitude, of course, he says the things I won’t say out loud. Alyssa has the naivety I had in youth.  Rozaline had (RIP) my motherly nature. I could go on.
6.    I bet Halloween is fun at your house! Am I right?

Oh I love Halloween. It’s my favorite night of the year.  Halloween is the one night of the year where you can be something different. You get to play dress up again! I love it. And of course my kids have fun too. LoL!!
7.    Which authors or books are you reading at the moment?

I hate to say it, but since my baby boy was born I have not had a chance to read. By the time I get a few free moments of peace, I’m passed out and snoring. LoL. Hopefully when my baby boy is a little bigger and sleeps better I’ll be able to get a few moments to pick up my reading. I have so much to catch up on.
8.    When did you first realize you wanted to be an author, indie or otherwise?

I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. At the age of 14 I had written my first full-length novel, a novel that was subsequently lost during my move from Texas to Nevada. But that didn’t stop me for long.

I primarily work in Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, but it was my experience in learning how to self-publish that really helped me to understand the behind the scenes business.
9.    What’s the one snippet of advice you would give anyone considering self-publishing?

If you’re going to self-publish, you need to take the time to do it right. One of the biggest reasons that self-publishing had a bad name to begin with is quality. Back before it became more mainstream, self-publishing was super expensive. Editing for example could cost thousands. Many authors couldn’t afford to do it right and self-publishing became synonymous with poor quality. It left a bad taste in many reader’s mouths. Today it is cheaper and much easier to do, but quality is still key. So if you’re interested in self-publishing, take your time, do your research, and put out the best quality product you can.

 

10.    What’s the one best thing and the one worst thing about self-publishing, in your experience?

The best thing is the freedom. I control every aspect of the process. I don’t have anyone else telling me what I can and cannot do. The down side is, I am accountable for the quality of my book. Not that I ever want to put out a bad quality book, but when a reader complains about it, I feel terrible because I could have done better.
11.    OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are your three favourite foods?

Oooh, I love food! I make a mean Beef and Broccoli! But I also love some BBQ ribs. Oooh and Gyros! I love those too. I could do this all day. I love love love food. It’s a reason I haven’t quite dropped all of the baby weight yet. Ha!
12.    And finally, please describe your perfect day away from the computer and writing!

Oh that’s a fun one. I think a perfect day would be one in which I take a real vacation with my family. I’d love to do a Disney theme park! Spend the day in the sun, riding rides, eating good food, taking goofy pictures with my kids, etc.. Yep, that would be perfect!

Finally, my opinion of Katie’s book?

It’s a very thorough and realistic look at the self-publishing process. Katie makes certain you realise that it’s a tough thing to do, that you’re very unlikely to become rich as an indie author and that writing is only half the battle. Marketing is the most difficult and most crucial part. As a freelance editor, I was glad to see her stance in support of getting your indie book properly edited! Katie emphasises the importance of quality in your finished product in terms of its presentation, and she’s quite right.

Katie shares her experience and common sense throughout the whole book. I love her attitude, and her ‘Quick and dirty tips’ that crop up regularly in the text. This is a very well written and helpful book and will benefit everyone who reads it. There was a need for a non-sensational, warts-and-all yet still encouraging book on the subject of self-publishing, and this is definitely it.

Visit Katie’s website at www.katiesalidas.com.

 

I’m just about ready to self-publish my first book on Kindle.

The book is Oh Auntie! that I wrote in 2005 and which was published by Mentor Press in Ireland. I’ve updated it slightly and am rereleasing it since the copyright has reverted to me when Mentor pulled out of the children’s publishing market. It’s a nice story for 7-11 year olds – no issues, no nasties, just plain entertaining, which is how I feel kids’ books should be.

I’ve prepared the text for formatting for the Kindle, I have my ISBN number and I have my fantastic new cover artwork. What do you think of this?

It’s by the wonderful Roger Fereday.

So – time to start the publicity machine rolling while I work through the final stages. And then, well, I just hope the world’s ready!