Sunday, June 28, 2015

BOOK REVIEW - Not Your Average Summer Reads

Occasionally I'll read a book that everyone's talking about, but the majority of the time, I like to read the forgotten treasures. Check out these oldies but goodies I've enjoyed reading this summer:

The Stepford Wives (1972): I admit that I didn't know this was a book until very recently, having only seen the movie with Nicole Kidman. I was intrigued to read this classic because it's by the same author (Ira Levin) who wrote Rosemary's Baby (also didn't know this was a book first). Now that I've read The Stepford Wives, I can tell you that the movie and book are both excellent, but they should be judged separately given their exceptional differences. If you're looking for psychological suspense, a commentary on the pursuit of youth and beauty, a few laughs, and some feminist nuances, then this is the book for you.

The Neverending Story (1979): You know when you absolutely can't put a book down to save your life? When it completely invades your dreams at night? When you become totally swept away into another world? When you cry when it's finished? This book instantly hooks you and doesn't let you go! I knew this story was highly fantastical and imaginative, but I had no idea about the many depths of this story, like Bastain's dark side.

I can honestly say that The Neverending Story is one of my top favorite books of all time.

Coraline (2002): Yes, this counts as old given how everything moves at the speed of light these days. Besides, this book is definitely worthy of sharing because it's so wonderfully creepy.

Coraline is a super easy and engaging read, full of strange surprises and haunting imagery. In my opinion, it's Neil Gaiman's best work.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Cookie Made Me Do It

It was the hardest decision I ever made, and the easiest, and it was decided by a fortune cookie. It said, 'Trust Your Intuition.' My intuition to self-publish that is. It all started when I met a woman at the post office who self-published her novel and she couldn't say enough amazing things about the experience. She loved being in complete control of her vision and overseeing all aspects of her novel from start to finish. But how in the world would I, Amie Irene Winters, ever complete such an enormous undertaking while working full-time, being a devoted wife, maintaining a household, and having a life? It seemed impossible!

As time went on, self-publishing made more and more sense, but I was still too afraid to do anything about it. For a year, I tried the traditional route of querying agents, but grew tired of waiting, and waiting, and more waiting.  My fate was eventually decided over Chinese food with a friend. I joked, "Let the fortune cookie decide what I should do," and as soon as I read 'Trust Your Intuition,' something clicked and I knew what I had to do. I got to work that night, remembering Crowley's inspirational quote: "If you believe passionately in your will to do something then power to achieve it will accrue to you." Somehow, all the pieces seemed to fall into place and I've never looked back. Here's how I did it:

-Read, Re-Read, and Read Some More: I must've re-read my final manuscript at least a dozen times on my laptop and a dozen more printed out. Over the course of 1 1/2 years, I took lots of breaks from the book so that I'd always come back with a fresh eye and perspective. When I was happy with it, I worked with an awesome editor who helped me polish it to perfection. 

-Research Your Platform: There are a lot of self-publishing companies out there so it's important to first understand what exactly you want to accomplish. I wanted control over everything and the option to hire someone if I wanted to. I didn't want to be forced to pay for services I could very well do. CreateSpace Independent Publishing was the perfect solution for me. They have tons of helpful resources, videos, community forums, etc. on how to do everything from formatting to making the perfect cover.  I decided to do all of the formatting myself and work with an independent graphic designer for the cover via 99Designs

-See What It Looks Like: Over the course of 2 months, I ordered 3 different proofs before I submitted the final version of my book and design. I shared it with family and friends and made the necessary tweaks. I read and rigorously reviewed the entire proof each time to make sure everything was perfect.  

-Utilize Resources: CreateSpace makes it super easy to set up your book for Amazon and extended distribution channels. They even offer PR tips for a successful book launch. And, the best part is that it's all free.

There are a wide variety of ways to publish your book traditionally or through self-publishing. If you go the traditional literary agent route, I highly recommend you check out Predators & Editors. For me, it just made sense to self-publish and I feel like the whole experience has made me that much more connected to my story. Whatever you decide to do, know that it's truly an amazing feeling to be able to share your story with the world. My advice is to listen to the cookie - trust your intuition. 

Thinking of Self-Publishing?

Some Famous Authors Who Self-Published:
-Sylvia Plath
-Edgar Allen Poe
-Mark Twain
-Virginia Wolff
-Beatrix Potter

Some Famous Authors Who Were Rejected By Publishers:
-Dr. Seuss
-George Orwell
-Herman Melville
-John Grisham
-Deepak Chopra