Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.


Musings From a Non-Expert

Well, it’s Friday and… I got nothin’. Honestly, I feel like the Industry Friday posts have caught up with me a little, like I’m not sure what more industry ‘expertise’ I can offer because I’m still learning myself, still trying to make a living at my chosen field. What do I know that you don’t know already? Or can’t Google and find out for yourself? I guess I’m thinking of nixing the series or perhaps changing it into something else. A forum for discussion, a day for guest blogs and/or interviews, but not necessarily every week, and not always on Fridays. 🙂

On a different note, here’s an inspiring story about a woman who self-published her first novel and became a best-seller: http://news.yahoo.com/texas-woman-self-publishes-hits-182850961.html

A lot of folks have suggested I do the same with my memoir (about me and Kaz) and I’m considering it. Either way, I need to do a book proposal, which has been an absolute wall that I have yet to figure out how to scale. Not sure what the issue is exactly, except that I’ve never written anything similar and find it difficult to “sell” our story. My memoir is not a ‘how to’ book. It’s a love story that shows how the entire experience of loving and losing him changed my life. For a proposal, I need to articulate why anyone else would care, why a stranger who’s never heard of me or Kaz would want to buy this book. I just started reading Thinking Like Your Editor (thanks, Caitlin) so that might help me figure it out.

Curious what others are working on. Are there writers out there? Have you faced this type of challenge before? Written a book proposal or self-published a book? I’d love to hear from you.

Happy creating and thanks for tuning in to these posts.

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Darcy Thiel Talks Publishing

If you’ve been following the Industry Friday series, you are familiar with guest blogger Darcy Thiel. Darcy has written a book about losing her husband to cancer in 2010 and up until now she and I have been discussing our experiences with caregiving (her interview with me is here http://helpforhealing.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/guest-blog-part-2/). Today we discuss the process of writing the actual book and getting published. The timing couldn’t be more perfect because tomorrow is her book’s launch party! I’m very excited for her.

Q. What has been the most challenging aspect of writing your book Bitter & Sweet?

A. It feels sometimes like “grief brain” is permanent. So accomplishing anything can be hard on some days, much less a huge project like writing a book. Two things were hard. One thing, were the days when a wave of grief hit. I could talk/write/process for days and even weeks like I was just telling someone else’s story. Then for no reason that I could identify, it would be a crying, grieving day and the subject matter was larger than life. The second part was learning new things. I would have given up at least a trillion times if my dear friend Brigitte wasn’t working with me full time. She does all the research and information finding. She has the patience of a saint coupled with a brilliant mind!

Q. How did you secure publishing?

A. We have actually “self-published”. First, we had to form a publishing company, which meant forming an LLC. It is called Baby Coop Publishing, LLC. Once you do the research, it’s tedious but not difficult. You fill out forms and then do legal notices in the paper. Total cost is about $350. After that, we did our research (ok, Brigitte did) and came up with what we thought were the best options. Lightning Source is the company that distributes our softcover book. All of the files were downloaded to them. They have certain companies they distribute to, but it’s most of the biggest in the industry. When they get orders, they print and ship. It’s called “print on demand.”

For the ebook versions, we went with a company called Book Baby. We are still in the process of downloading and revising with them. I thought this would be easier, but it has different challenges. Every reader (Nook, Kindle, Kobo, etc.) looks different. So it’s very hard to design something that looks good in every version. We are hoping to have that released within another two weeks.

Q. What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book?

A. My dream is that my book will be useful and helpful to people in the same way that other books helped us. You have listed a bunch of books and what you have gotten out of them – I’d like to be on that list some day. For a person struggling with cancer, they can find inspiration in the way that Tim dealt with his illness. For a person handling the tasks of being a caretaker, it is full of helpful ideas of how to be a patient advocate. For loved ones and family, it is full of practical ways of how you can truly be a support to the people you care about.

Q. What do you hope to achieve with your book?

A. The previous question answers the more spiritual goals of the book. On a practical level, I would love to pay off the mortgage of the house before my social security runs out! But the reality of how much money you make on a book is very small indeed. When you realize how many books you have to sell to really make a living, it’s almost impossible.

A much for practical goal for me, is that I am hoping that the book will help generate more referrals to my counseling practice. That is my main profession and passion and I will be doing that for many more years than I will be writing books.

Thank you, Darcy, and good luck tomorrow!

For more info on Darcy Thiel, please visit her at

The very touching video trailer for her book is also available here: http://youtu.be/Xapeagk_5tE

Happy creating!


Introducing Darcy Thiel

I’d like to introduce a new blogging friend and fellow widow, Darcy Thiel. Darcy contacted me recently to say that she has been following Riding Bitch for a while and wanted to see if we could join forces because we have quite a bit in common. My response was, “Sure!” So, please welcome Darcy here and take a moment to learn about her story.

Darcy Thiel is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in NY State and has been a couple and family therapist in West Seneca, NY since the mid-1990’s. She is also an accomplished speaker and presenter on various topics throughout the western NY area. Most recently Darcy completed her first book, Bitter and Sweet, A Family’s Journey with Cancer, which she is releasing via her her own Baby Coop Publishing LLC (go, Darcy!).

In the next few weeks/months Darcy and I will be exchanging information and sharing our experiences as caregivers, widows and authors. We started by asking each other a few basic questions.

Q:  Hi Darcy, welcome to Riding Bitch. Can you tell me how you become a widow?

A:  In May of 2010, my husband Tim was diagnosed unexpectedly with stage IV gallbladder cancer at age 48. One of the hallmarks of this rare disease is that there are no warning signs.  It is often not discovered until late stages.  Five months and one week later, he passed away on October 14, 2010.  It was obviously a shocking whirlwind of change.  It’s hard to believe it’s already been two years.  I think I am still trying to understand that it even happened sometimes!

Q: I understand you are writing a book about this.  Had you written before?

A:  No, I have always thought about writing, but this is my first professional attempt.  Tim and I were introduced to a website called CaringBridge when he was ill.  We chose to make our situation public and both journaled our experience as it unfolded.  People often told us we should make it into a book.  It was an exciting idea, but one I never dreamed I would actually make happen.  The book contains a lot of the writing from that site.  I started writing in earnest in February of 2012.  We are hoping to release the book this March.

Q: Who do you think is the audience for such a book?

A: This book is meant to be an inspiration to many: To the person who has been diagnosed with cancer, this book can give them an option of how they might choose to deal with their illness and its progression. To the caretaker, it can help them to feel normal with all the different feelings one goes through as they are trying to care for a person with a terminal illness. To the family and friends of those who know someone struggling with a terminal illness they will not only be able to understand more fully what their loved ones are going through (both patient and caretaker), but they will be given loads of practical ideas of how to support them. Lastly, is the human being in general. It is part of the human condition to be struggling with tough issues, many of which are unfair. Perhaps people will be inspired to try and find the gift in whatever struggle they are facing, and in turn catapult their spiritual growth.

For more information about Darcy Thiel, please visit her website http://www.marriageandfamilycounseling.net and/or her blog http://www.helpforhealing.wordpress.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/HelpforHealing1.

Riding Bitch thanks Darcy for reaching across the blogosphere, and is looking forward to future collaborations

Tomorrow (Saturday) Riding Bitch will be traveling to Vermont for the writer’s residency and therefore not blogging. But I’ll check in with you after the puppy and I get settled.

Happy creating!



Creating a Career out of Ebooks

For all you writers considering self-publishing, today’s Industry Friday post comes via a seminar originally given by best-selling author James Scott Bell, www.jamesscottbell.com. I’ve embellished it a little by adding links to the companies and sites that James mentioned, as well as some related articles. Feel free to add to the discussion in the comment section, especially if you have experience with any of the services listed below.

Step One – Write the best book you can

It goes without saying but never hurts to repeat – quality drives sales more than anything else. Write because you’re compelled. It’s also good to do both fiction and non-fiction.

Step Two – Prepare the book for publication

First is editing, which compromises developmental feedback (content), copy writing (consistency), line by line proofreading (accuracy). This is possibly the largest investment of your time, money and energy, other than writing the book itself.

Next is cover design. Study other books of the same genre for ideas, and never put “by so-and-so” on the cover. The cover should include only the title, your name, and an image if desired.

Next is the book description or cover copy, which might include a brief author bio and picture. If you do a little research, the internet has much information on how to write good cover copy. Again, it helps to reference other books in your genre that you like.

The last stage is uploading. You will have to decide whether you want single channel distribution (which offers the most return on your book) or multiple channel distribution (which requires higher fees and/or royalty splits).

Some single channel distributors:

Kindle – https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin

PubIt! – http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/pubit_app/bn?t=pi_reg_home

Kobo – http://www.kobobooks.com/companyinfo/authorsnpublishers.html

Apple – http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5071

Createspace – https://www.createspace.com/

Multiple channel distributors:

Smashwords – http://www.smashwords.com/about/how_to_publish_on_smashwords

Bookbaby – http://www.bookbaby.com/

This article offers an in-depth comparison of the Smashwords and Bookbaby services: http://selfpublishingadvice.org/blog/bookbaby-or-smashwords-best/

Step Three – Develop a Marketing Plan

Once the book is available, how will people know about it?

– Word of mouth – the best and most effective promotion is informing everyone you know about your book, those people telling their friends, and so on. Be an author people like to read!

– Your blog – though keep in mind it might annoy your readers to bombard them with pleas to read your book.

– Book review sites – get your book reviewed on other sites as much as possible, then use excerpts from the good reviews in your other promotion. Ignore the bad reviews, unless you don’t get any good ones.

– Email list for newsletters – http://www.mailchimp.com offers free email campaigns if you have less than 2,000 people on your list.

– Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and your own website – which you must have, if only as a brochure.

– Google AdWords – pay only when p.eople click on your ad, not to display ad.

– Amazon author page – https://authorcentral.amazon.com

Step Four – Work Your Plan

Step Five – Repeat Plan for the Rest of Your Life

For more info, check out this recent article by Peter Osnos of The Atlantic on the challenges of self-publishing (the comments are just as informative): http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/09/the-cruel-paradox-of-self-publishing/261912/#

And this humorous blog by Julie Gerstenblatt on Huffington Post about self-publishing (she just started it on 12/12/12!) : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-gerstenblatt/self-publishing_b_2272491.html

“Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.” – Ray Bradbury

“Control your own destiny or someone else will.” – Jack Welch

Happy creating!