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Self-Publishing is Like Childbirth

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.   

 

Shopping at the Coach store at the St. Augustine Premium Outlets.

 

The Murder Weapon

Mary Preston - March 4, 2013 - 3:13 am

It’s times like these that I am so pleased that I am a reader & not a writer.

It all sounds rather painful to me.

You do look a touch too happy holding that murder weapon I must say.

I look forward to reading MURDER AT THE OUTLET MALL.

Marilyn Baron - March 4, 2013 - 5:11 am

Thanks, Mary. Writers appreciate readers and would do anything for them…even commit murder…on the page. That pan was purchased at Le Creuset at the St. Augustine Premium Oulets, which is where Murder At the Outlet Mall primarily takes place. And that is the “murder weapon” in the story. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Alicia McCalla - March 4, 2013 - 6:31 am

Great experience. I’ve enjoyed the control with self-publishing. It can be daunting but the rewards are immense.

Marilyn Baron - March 4, 2013 - 7:03 am

I agree, Alicia. Controlling your project is a big benefit and this was a great learning experience. Now I have a lot of my questions answered so next time should be easier. Thanks for commenting.

Susan Carlisle - March 4, 2013 - 8:08 am

Marilyn,
It did sound a lot like birth but it looks wonderful. Great cover. Look forward to read it.

Pam Asberry - March 4, 2013 - 8:28 am

What a wonderful accomplishment, Marilyn! Congratulations to you and your sister. Like everyone else, I can’t wait to get a print copy in my hand. In the meantime, I’m headed over to Amazon for the e-book version. Thanks for sharing your good news!

Marilyn Baron - March 4, 2013 - 8:47 am

Thanks, Susan. And congratulations on your final.

Marilyn Baron - March 4, 2013 - 8:48 am

Pam,

Thank you so much, Pam. I hope you like it. And thanks for the retweet.

Elaine Calloway - March 4, 2013 - 9:16 am

I look forward to reading this!!!

I hear you on the formatting and the different options. I was ready to strangle something when I went through my CreateSpace setup too, and they actually have one of the easier more user-friendly methods compared to others!

It’s definitely a process, and I’m glad to see your survived. Great post :)

Elaine

Connie Gillam - March 4, 2013 - 10:03 am

Marilyn-

Congratulations on birthing your baby. And you’re right, you forget the agony of producing your offspring until you’re in labour again.

Marilyn Baron - March 4, 2013 - 10:08 am

Elaine,
You had it harder than me since I think you do your own formatting. That is a real talent. I don’t think I could survive that. It is definitely a test of will. Thanks for commenting.

Marilyn Baron - March 4, 2013 - 10:10 am

Connie,
Thanks, Connie. Isn’t that the truth.

Pamela Varnado - March 4, 2013 - 10:50 am

Marilyn, congratulations on the new book. I love the photos above, the warmth of your smile shines like a bright star. Remember the best results come from hard work, so sit back and reap all the benefits. You and your cousin deserve them. Are you planning to autograph your book at M&M this year? I want a print version.

Marilyn Baron - March 4, 2013 - 11:02 am

Pamela,
Thanks very much. I enjoy working with my sister and we are hoping to do some signings in St. Augustine next month. I am planning to sign this book and hopefully my historical Under the Moon Gate coming out this summer with The Wild Rose Press at M&M. I had my first signing at M&M last year and it was very exciting. The print version has a neat wrap-around cover.

Hildie McQueen - March 4, 2013 - 11:30 am

Congrats on the new book. I love coach so was drooling at the big bags you’re holding! LOL

Marilyn Baron - March 4, 2013 - 11:38 am

Thanks, Hildie. Actually, not all those bags are mine. Sandy Elzie and Debbie Kaufman were with me at the St. Augustine Premium Outlets and I was holding some of their purchases. But I love Coach bags, too which is why they’re featured in the story.

Pauline Baird Jones - March 4, 2013 - 11:42 am

Congratulations! The “baby” looks awesome! I’m going through these birthing pains myself at the moment. Holy cow! :-?

Nancy Northcott - March 4, 2013 - 12:29 pm

Marilyn, what a clever premise for a blog, and so true! The book sounds great.

I share Hldie’s love of handbags, so I envy you the shopping trip.

Maggie Worth - March 4, 2013 - 12:35 pm

This post comes at such a great time for me personally and I’m, uh, semi-reassured after reading it :-) I downloaded the e-book of Murder at the Outlet Mall at the 5am party the other day and can’t wait to read it… soon as I finish the three already in the queue. Best of luck with both the new books!

Marilyn Baron - March 4, 2013 - 1:23 pm

Pauline,
Thank you. I’m having sympathy pains for you. Good luck and I can’t wait to see your “baby.”

Marilyn Baron - March 4, 2013 - 1:26 pm

Nancy,

Thank you for stopping by and for saying such nice things. Actually, we were on a writing retreat in the area and since we were close to the outlet mall, we thought we’d go over and take some pictures I could use later in promoting the book.
Did I say I love Coach handbags?

Marilyn Baron - March 4, 2013 - 1:29 pm

Maggie,

I’m so thrilled you got a copy of the book. Thank you very much. If there’s anything you want to ask me about the production process, I’d be happy to answer it at mbaroncom@aol.com
Be afraid, be very afraid. No, really, it’s not so bad, now that it’s over (ha ha.)

Sandra Elzie - March 4, 2013 - 5:49 pm

Hey Marilyn,
Great comparison…and true…except I had a very short labor since hubby did the he-he-he breathing and birthing (aka the uploading to Pubit, Smashwords and Amazon)

Can’t wait to read it…and sure enjoyed the trip to the mall where the murder was inspired/located.

Marilyn Baron - March 4, 2013 - 6:39 pm

Sandy,
Yes, it was a fun trip and you had your nose to the grindstone the whole time (except at the mall) so you were very productive.
Your husband is in a whole other category. You need to clone him so the rest of us can take advantage of his talent and generosity. You’re very lucky.

Mary Marvella - March 5, 2013 - 1:39 am

Marilyn, I am so proud of you! When I am ready to work on Create Space, will you hold my hand! I haven’t found the guts to try!

Marilyn Baron - March 5, 2013 - 5:01 am

The best hand-holder is Linsey Lanier. She knows everything about it. And I didn’t even do my own formatting. So it should have been a breeze. But I’d be glad to answer any questions. Thanks, Mary.

Linsey Lanier - March 5, 2013 - 7:56 am

Congrats on your first “child,” Marilyn. CreateSpace can be harrowing, but they have a terrific support team. I’d recommend them to anyone. I hear a lot of good things about Kim Killion, too.

Glad I could help. :) Good luck with this story.

Marilyn Baron - March 5, 2013 - 8:02 am

Linsey, Thanks and thank you for always being there and for your support.

Maxine - March 5, 2013 - 9:21 pm

Marilyn, I am so sorry. How did I miss your blog yesterday. I could have sworn I checked it out. But I did love your post! Congratulations and I can’t wait to read Murder At The Outlet Mall. The cover is beautiful.

Marilyn Baron - March 5, 2013 - 11:27 pm

Maxine,

Thanks for commenting and thanks for the compliment about the cover. I’ll pass it on to my sister. The print book is really neat the way Kim enhanced the cover with her wrap-around design.

Also, the winner of a copy of Murder at the Outlet Mall goes to Alicia McCalla. So let me know whether you want the e-version or the print and where to send it. Go to the top navigation bar and click on Contests, Winners Blog Drawing for instructions on how to claim your prize.

Laura Russell - March 6, 2013 - 3:05 am

Marilyn, That photo of you with the murder weapon is so cute! Congrats on your new bundle of joy!

Carol Burnside - March 6, 2013 - 4:51 pm

The post was a fun read, so I’m sure the book is too. I’ve enjoyed your writing in the past. Will have to get a copy of this one too.

Many sales, Marilyn!

Marilyn Baron - March 8, 2013 - 7:08 am

Thanks, Laura. That skillet was really heavy. I think you could really kill someone with that. Red is usually not my favorite color, and Le Creuset has a really neat green skillet, but red went with the story. I’m going to use that as a giveaway in the future associated with the book.

Carol, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I hope you like the book. I’m expecting the first real book (not the proof) today and I can’t wait to hold it in my hands.

[...] Baron compares self-publishing to childbirth. Childbirth was a breeze compared to this. Childbirth was pain, and cramps, and my body doing [...]

Marilyn Baron - March 11, 2013 - 11:08 am

Jessica, thanks for commenting,

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