Saturday, August 09, 2014

Guest Blogger Eileen Goudge

Things That Go Bump in the Night

This weekend Type M welcomes guest blogger Eileen Goudge who began writing at age eight, and went on to publish thirty-two novels for young adults, thirteen (and still counting) of women's fiction, as well as numerous short stories and magazine articles, and one cookbook. Eileen and I were once in the same Simon and Schuster catalog and she talks about the changes in the publishing world.

I’m a worrier.

I don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s generally confined to the wee hours. If I wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, it starts with “Did I remember to email so-and-so?” and rapidly escalates to global warming.

 The middle-of-the-night fears tend to revolve around Amazon rankings and such. But when I joined the ranks of self-published authors, after 25 years of being traditionally published, the worry needle crept a little further into the red zone. I still have a publisher, Open Road Media, which makes me a “hybrid”—not unlike that venerable cross between horse and donkey, the mule. An apt metaphor, because I’m stubborn as mule, according to my husband (said with fond exasperation). Once I get an idea into my head… My idea was to write a mystery, after 15 women’s fiction novels, two of which I was blessed to have on the New York Times bestseller list. Mystery is my first love, starting with the Nancy Drew mysteries I devoured under the bedcovers at night by flashlight. I even published a YA mystery Who Killed Peggy Sue? at one point early in my career. Through the years, readers have remarked on the mystery elements in a number of my mainstream titles. The Second Silence is, at core, romantic suspense. And Woman In Red, with its storylines in both present-day and the WWII era, has at least one body buried in unmarked grave.

The first book in my Cypress Bay mystery series, Bones and Roses, grew out of a walk on the beach. I was visiting my hometown of Santa Cruz, California and thought, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could be here, by the ocean, all the time?” I live in New York City, and though it has its own charms, it ain’t the beach. Moving back to Santa Cruz wasn’t an option, but since the bulk of my days is spent writing, there was no reason I couldn’t create a fictional seashore town that I could visit whenever I chose.

Okay, so the words “vacation destination” don’t normally conjure images of bloody corpses, but that’s what can happen when you combine two loves—in this case, my love of mysteries with my hankering for sand between my toes. You get something that resembles Frankenstein’s monster. In a good way.

The idea took off, and in a year’s time I had rough drafts for the first two novels of my Cypress Bay mystery series. I decided to self-publish. The series seemed to lend itself to that. And a number of my author friends had encouraged me to enter the “brave new world” of indie publishing. “Jump in, the water’s fine,” were the words used by one author-friend. So I jumped.

The writing was the easy part, as it turned out. It was all the other stuff I fretted over. The 2 a.m. worries went from global warming to “oh my God, WHAT was I thinking?” I couldn’t possibly do it all. I had barely mastered the basics of social media! Being traditionally published, I was the publishing equivalent of an adult child still living at home with her parents. What did I know about metadata or hiring one’s one editor or book designer? The first time I heard the acronym BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) it sounded like a scary medical procedure.

I reminded myself I didn’t know anything about child rearing, either, before I gave birth, and yet I somehow managed to raise two children. Little by little I got a handle on the indie publishing thing. I assembled a team and learned the basics. Mostly what I learned was to find talented people and delegate. I now have an amazing “dream team,” which I guess makes me the publisher of a small press with just one author.

The pub date for Bones and Roses was August It’s available now on Amazon. Here’s what it’s about:

From home invasions to cheating spouses, Rest Easy Property Management owner Leticia “Tish” Ballard thought she’d seen it all. Almost four years sober after flambĂ©ing her real estate career in an alcohol-fueled blowout, she’s finally in a good place in her life when the discovery of skeletal human remains rocks her world and plunges her headlong into solving a decades-old crime. Now she must delve into the darkness of her own past, including the one-night stand gone horribly wrong with Spence Breedlove, who happens to be  the lead detective on the case. When the truth comes out at long last, Tish finds herself pitted against an enemy who will stop at nothing in a fight for her own life.

I still worry. Will my women’s fiction fan base follow me? Will my Amazon ranking resemble the numbers for the national debt? Will new readers find me before global warming melts all the e-readers on the planet?

At the same time, I’m thinking, “Hey, I did it.”


Rick Blechta said...

I've been waiting for one of the really big name authors to decide to self-publish. Having the clout of a top publisher behind you makes things easier if you're one of those lucky people, but it's not as if you can't hire people to do the same thing for you and if you can keep the sales up, the percentage of the take would easily be double, especially since the hired guns would only work on a project-by-project basis.

Publishers know this is going to happen sooner or later and it's going to turn the industry on its ear.

Thanks for visiting!

Eileen Goudge said...

Thank you, Rick. I always appreciate your insightful observations True, where we once had little choice but to rely on publishers, we now have options. I will say this: indie publishing is not for the faint of heart. You have to be willing to work really, really hard.Then be patient, for this is long-tail publishing and growth can be slow. I'm hard worker, but short on patience - so now I have to work on that.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Eileen, I would love to see a lengthy article by you on the pitfalls of self publishing. Most of what I've see is written by people who have never had a traditional publisher.

Tell us about the hard work involved. So many people make it sound like just inserting a little web plug and voila! Instant wealth.

Eileen Goudge said...

Funny you should ask... I just did a another guest blog post on the subject.

Indie publishing is not for wimps! It can be rewarding and freeing, and at the same time a slave driver that has you chained to your computer 24/7. If it doesn't seem hard, you're not doing it right!

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