Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Author Maria Zannini: Go In With A Game Plan

roadshow icon, sm
It’s my pleasure to welcome author Maria Zannini as the special guest blogger as she makes a stop on her Indie Roadshow with her recent novella release, THE DEVIL TO PAY.

Maria self-published her novella and she agreed to talk about her experience. Her advice - Go In With A Game Plan. 

Whether it’s formatting, editing, creating the cover art, or writing the story itself, each step of self-publishing is a reflection of you as the author, the publisher, and the promoter. Those are a lot of hats, and you must wear each of them equally well or hire people to fill those roles.

Knowing my penchant for skipping steps, I took extra care not to do it this time, not with something that was brand new (to me) and could jeopardize what I hold most dear. My reputation.
The trick is to go in with a game plan. Know what you want to accomplish and how to make it happen. That’s good advice for any endeavor, but it’s absolutely crucial when you self-publish. These are the steps I took to make THE DEVIL TO PAY a reality. 

*Pick a property. I was about to offer this novella to a publisher for an angel and demon anthology when a thunderbolt hit me. THE DEVIL TO PAY had the makings of a series, and it had never been contracted, so the series idea belonged to me alone.

book cover*Know your market. Originally, the story was meant to be erotica, but I never crossed that threshold. It’s steamy, probably the steamiest I’ve ever written, but like my other novels, it doesn’t cross that line to full-fledge erotica. 

*Research. This was HUGE. I not only researched the technical aspect of self-publishing, but the market. I also read a lot of self-published books to give me an idea of what kind of books were out there—especially in my genre, preternatural romance. Of everything I did to prepare, this took the longest and was the most intense.

*Write the book—and write the best book you can.

*Edit the book. There is no skimping on this one. Not only did I have critique partners who were editors in their past lives, but I worked with two professional editors, one for developmental edits, the other for proofreading. I’ll cover editing in more detail in tomorrow’s post, but I want to emphasize that professional editing is nonnegotiable. 

Mason was kind enough to proofread for me. Despite the fact that I’d had six other sets of eyes look at this, she still managed to find a couple of items for me to correct. Don’t send your work to family and friends to proofread. Send it to people who do this for a living.
*Cover art. I have the advantage here. I was a graphic artist for many years and retired from a career as an art director. But even with decades of experience, I was still smart enough to consult with an expert opinion to create the illusion I was after. If you feel you can’t design a decent cover, hire a professional designer. A great cover is the first step to drawing readers. 

*Formatting. This still gives me nightmares. But do it yourself if only to give you the satisfaction of accomplishment. It’s not difficult, but it is tedious. Follow the instructions to-the-letter.

And the most important tip of all? Don’t publish until you’re ready. I was chided quite a bit by my regular readers for keeping this so hush-hush, but I didn’t want to make any promises I couldn’t keep. I wanted to make sure THE DEVIL TO PAY was as perfect as I could get it.

I hope you’ll follow along with the rest of the Indie Roadshow as I share the things I learned on my road to self-publishing.

The Devil To Pay is available at Amazon and Smashwords for only $2.99. It is the first book of the series, Second Chances.

Maria, thanks so much for guest blogging and the kind mention. I’m sure authors thinking of self-publishing will find your tips must helpful. Having a plan will save time, trouble and a lot of hard work. Your efforts with THE DEVIL TO PAY really paid off. Wishing you much success with this series.

Now for a bit of back ground on Maria. She used to save the world from bad advertising, but now she spends her time wrangling chickens, and fighting for a piece of the bed against dogs of epic proportions. Occasionally, she writes novels. You can follow her on Facebook or her blog.

Here’s a brief synopsis of THE DEVIL TO PAY: The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and bad tequila. Shannon McKee finds herself at the end of her rope, and she bargains her soul in a fit of despair.

Shannon’s plea is answered immediately by two men who couldn’t be more different from one another. Yet they share a bond and an affection for the stubborn Miss McKee that even they don’t understand.

When Heaven and Hell demand their payment, Shannon has no choice but to submit. No matter who gets her soul, she’s not getting out of this alive.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing? Have you given it a try or is it something you’ve been considering? Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.



  1. Mason - Thanks for hosting Maria.

    Maria - Thanks for sharing your experiences in self-publishing. It's always a tough decision for an author, I think, whether or not to self-publish, and your insights are really helpful.

  2. I'm a reader, not a writer and some of the self-pub books that I've read could use the tips that Maria mentions.

    Best of luck on this series, Maria.

  3. Thank you, Margot and Dru. And thank you Mason for inviting me. I always read the reviews and interviews here, but I never thought I'd get an invitation. :score:

    Margot: It was a very tough decision. I think what finally pushed me over the edge is when big named authors started making noises that they might try it too.

    Dru: LOL. A little professional editing goes a long way to make a book readable.

  4. Maria, this is great advice.

    Mason, thanks for hosting.

  5. Some excellent points, Maria. Skimping or thinking you can do it all is silly. It's a matter of knowing your strengths and getting help in the areas you need it.

    Great point, it's your reputation at stake, so what kind of reputation do you want to be known for? Readers are not very forgiving when it comes to crappy or careless authors.

    Story sounds interesting, ma'am.:-)

    Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

  6. Teresa: Nice to meet you!

    Sia: You hit the nail on the head. You have to know yourself, both what you can accomplish and what's better left to cooler heads.

  7. I'm liking your tips and taking notes.

  8. Excellent tips Maria!

    I know I was one of those readers who gave you grief :sheepish grin: but I thoroughly enjoyed the read and am looking forward to the rest of the series.

  9. This is a post ALL self-publishers should read before they push the button. I think (hope) more and more people realize that they can´t sell their own books if they don´t take the time to deliver their very best product, and that slovenly work gives all self-publishers a bad name.

  10. As someone who has no experience with the back end of the business much less writing a book in the first place I can honestly say you took on a huge project Maria and in my opinion for what it is worth you did well with the end result... Not skimping and having professionals do the editing is advice I wish more of the newbies to self-pubbing would take to heart, it would sure make for better book reviews as the bad editing seems to drop the reviewers opinion of what otherwise is a really good book.

    Congratulations on jumping into the deep end of the pool, continue on in the same vein and soon you will be swimming with the bigger sharks instead of just the little ones!

  11. Susan: Nice to see you here!

    Raelyn: You'd give me grief if I gave you four quarters for a dollar. LOL

    Dorte: I think those who don't get edited are just trying to save a buck. It's a bad business decision in the long run. You're better off saving money elsewhere.

    Jackie: Sharks? Big or little, they both bite. LOL. Thanks for visiting me here.

  12. I admit, I'm glad it's something I didn't have to do - so much work!

  13. Alex: Work, yes. But it was also great experience. I loved the freedom of doing my own cover and my own schedule.

    Since starting this little experiment, I've noticed my backlist with my regular publishers is selling better too.

    It was definitely a good business decision for me.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.