By Marilyn Baron
Self-publishing is a lot like childbirth. It’s hell while you’re going through it; but when it’s over, you forget about all the pain and you’re ready to do it all again. My sister and I just self-published a humorous short story called Murder at the Outlet Mall. A year ago, we collaborated on a women’s fiction, The Edger, available on Amazon Kindle, but it was only released in eBook format. We had never attempted a print version. Although many people format their own books, I knew I didn’t have the technical knowledge or the patience to do it myself. We liked the first formatter we used, but we met Kim Killion and her business partner, Jennifer, at the last M&M conference and we hired The Killion Group to do the interior book design. They did a great job. They were very reasonable, so much so that it didn’t pay to do it ourselves. Jennifer was very easy to work with and very patient. My sister, an award-winning Florida artist, created the cover, but Kim did a great design on the spine and back to tie it all together. This time we opted for Amazon’s KDP Select program even though The Killion Group supplied us with versions compatible with other publishers.
Writing the story was the easy part. Uploading the file to Amazon was a breeze for the Kindle version. Except we had to re-upload it several times because, for some reason, my author’s bio picture showed up as a big red X in a box, even though it was correct on the proof. My husband finally fixed that and he was very proud of himself. But that was the calm before the storm. The Braxton Hicks of self-publishing.
Trying to upload the file to CreateSpace was a different story. There were complications—such as the fact that I had forgotten my password—and so many decisions to make that had to be made right there online. Paper stock color (we chose white); full color or black and white on the inside (we chose black and white inside even though my sister created a really nice two-color flower, which shows up in color on the E-version but not in the print version). That decision depended on whether you had a standard format. Write the description of the book; enter your financial information; and decide what to charge. It was nerve-racking. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. I had questions while we were on line but there didn’t seem to be a number to call, so I sent email inquiries, which incidentally were answered immediately and it turns out you can request a telephone call, which we did. That call clarified a lot of things. My husband uploaded the file and after we went through this experience (which did not bring us closer—I think it’s akin to wallpapering a bathroom) he said he’d never do it again. But when it finally came together, it was wonderful.
During the “birthing” process I wanted to kill someone. Since my husband wasn’t the father of this baby, he was out of the question. My sister, however, was my coauthor. I looked up the word for killing one’s own sister and it’s Sororicide. Just sayin’. We came close to that a couple of times. I emailed my friend, author Linsey Lanier, who had been through this many times. When I wanted to pull out my hair or jump off a building, she talked me down, via email. Girlfriends are great.
All in all, it was a wonderful learning experience. I said I’d never do it again, but when it was finally over, we had our baby: an EBook and a print version. When I held the proof of the print version in my hand last week, I was so excited. Bad as I thought the experience was while it was happening, I am ready to do it all again.
But the challenge isn’t over. Now we have to let people know about our baby. We just sent out our “birth” announcement. (See below)
MURDER AT THE OUTLET MALL IS TO DIE FOR
Shopping can be murder. Things get deadly when three ladies from China come to blows over a single Coach handbag at the St. Augustine Premium Outlets®. Murder at the Outlet Mall, a new short story by sisters Sharon Goldman and Marilyn Baron, gives new meaning to the phrase, “Shop ’Till You Drop.” Murder at the Outlet Mall is available as an eBook at http://www.amazon.com/Murder-at-Outlet-Mall-ebook/dp/B00BGQLOKW and in print format at https://www.createspace.com/4186465. It should be on Amazon.com in print format in about a week.
Hope you’ll check out the book and read this great review we got on Amazon below:
Shop ‘Till You’re Dropped February 22, 2013
By A.J. Kirby, UK, Author of Sharkways
Once you’ve seen one shopping center you’ve seen a mall, as the famous pun goes. In Murder at the Outlet Mall by Marilyn Baron and Sharon Goldman, the puns are flying, but this shopping-related suspense tale is much more than that. It’s a rollercoaster ride which will have the reader on the edge of their seat until checkout.
It’s a story of love, revenge, and big spenders and it is excellently written. For a co-authored story, you really can’t see the joins. Murder at the Outlet Mall isn’t the first Baron/ Goldman collaboration I’ve had the pleasure to read – I also read 2012′s The Edger – and it displays a sharpening of their already razor-sharp wit.
The location is perfect. The St. Augustine Premium Outlet in Florida is a fashion retail centre where the designer apparel is to die for (and also, there are some well-researched geographical and historical details about Florida which were excellent, especially for a Brit like me, who’s never been: this tour-guiding episode in which (spoiler alert) the duo endeavor to dispose of the ‘body parts’, reads like a comedy caper film script, and is wonderfully wrought.)
Overall, this is a fun story. It’s soft-boiled crime for the discerning reader. It captures perfectly the ‘feeding frenzy’ of shoppers, and the ‘Buyer Straits’ of a shopping mall. Madame Wang and Madame Li are lovingly created and read brilliantly. And a last word to the authors, who never lose their customary humour but at the same time, prove themselves masters of suspense. The ending is straight out of left-field and is completely satisfying for the reader. There’ll be no returns where this story is concerned!
We have a lot of exciting promotional ideas. We contacted the St. Augustine Premium Outlets in hopes of getting a signing there. In April, St. Augustine celebrates the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de Leon’s landing, between present day St. Augustine –the oldest city on Florida’s Historic Coast—and Ponte Vedra. So our release is very timely, as part of our book is a travelogue of sorts about St. Augustine, where two of the women tour the city looking for places to hide the body parts of the mistress of the husband of one of the women.
I’ve been through both processes—self-publishing and traditional publishing—and as far as stress and strain, in my opinion, doing it yourself is harder. But now that I’ve done it once, the next time will be a smoother process. There are a lot of benefits to self-publishing (turnaround time, control, etc.) and a certain sense of pride and sisterhood associated with the pains of having given birth. I hope you’ll all try it (author emits an evil laugh).
I’m interested in hearing about your self-publishing experience. Good or bad? Do you do your own formatting? Any secrets you can pass along to the rest of us?
One commenter will get a copy (their choice of print or EBook) of Murder at the Outlet Mall.
P.S. Notice that our ASIN number begins with the letters BOOB. Do you think the universe is trying to tell us something?
And speaking of childbirth, I’m about to give birth to a brand new Web site at www.marilynbaron.com, which should be live soon. I hope you’ll check that out, sign up for my newsletter and find out more about what I’m writing.