Zigging and Zagging through the World of Publishing


I've been self-published. I've been traditionally published. I've been vanity published. Now it's eeeeee-eeee-Books...

(Sung to the tune of "I've been bad; I've been good. Dallas, Texas...Hollywoooood.")

That song is running through my mind because 1) it was suggested by the opening lines of this post, 2) I am from Dallas, 3) I do live near Hollywood, the location of my latest book, and 4) mostly I've been good. :-)

The book in question, released through CreateSpace on March 26, 2010, is:

Copy of Copy of HHH-Front-cover_web.jpgTHE HELLRAISER OF THE HOLLYWOOD HILLS: A McAfee Twins Novel

Hellraiser was partly inspired by the fifteen years I spent toiling in the entertainment business in Los Angeles. It's the fifth novel in a comic mystery series starring the McAfee Twins – identical redheaded sisters who run Double Indemnity Investigations, and who vanquish an impressive array of bad guys from the back of their hot pink Harley. (Only $1.99 on Kindle for a limited time!)

The series began with an ebook published through iUniverse, called THE BUTCHER OF BEVERLY HILLS, and has wound its wacky way through Malibu, Venice Beach, and Catalina Island. Originally dubbed "screwball mysteries," they later came to be called "chick-lit crime."

I was the typical aspiring novelist who couldn't get an agent at the time self-publishing was coming into its own around 2002. I have an entreprenurial streak and am a sucker for a good rags to riches story, so I thought I'd just send my book out through the Internet and achieve international fame that way.

International fame eluded me. However, after self-publishing two books, I finally got an agent, who landed me a three-book deal with Random House!

I really thought I'd arrived. The books looked great, got terrific reviews, and the publisher was very excited about them...at first.

But when they didn't become overnight successes, Broadway Books kicked me to the curb with my two subsequent manuscripts.

That entreprenurial streak reasserted itself, and I self-published the fourth book, THE CON ARTIST OF CATALINA ISLAND: A McAfee Twins Christmas Novel (Now only $1.99 on Kindle for a limited time!), giving myself a promotion to hardcover, which was a bold maneuver and...big mistake.

It was very costly and time-consuming, and I only recouped about 40% of the money.

When I was promoting the book online, Amazon announced the first annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. On a lark I submitted my other unpublished manuscript, and watched in mute amazement as it made the first, then the second, then the third cuts, and almost gagged on my coffee the morning I had a call from Seattle, telling me I was a top ten finalist.

I figured that even if I didn't win the top prize of a publishing contract, I'd surely be picked up by Penguin Books for one of their imprints. They wouldn't have selected any finalists they wouldn't want to publish, because any of those ten could have ended up the winner.

As it turned out, the winner was a very worthy novel, FRESH KILLS, by a cool guy named Bill Loehfelm. Hellraiser came in fourth place. I won some great prizes from Hewlett Packard (one friend pointed out to me that they were better than many book advances), and was offered a CreateSpace Total Freedom package as another prize. Penguin books did not come knocking, so I took CreateSpace up on their offer.

They did a SUPERB job on the cover and the interior of the book. I'm not shilling here, I swear – I like the cover much better than the ones done by Broadway. I'm glad they made a total departure from the earlier design of the books because it's infused new life into the series.

Sales are pretty brisk, but here's the main thing:

I had somewhere to go with my manuscript. People who aren't immersed in the publishing world do not know, and probably do not care that it's "independently published." It looks great, the reviews are great, my fans are happy, and best of all, it cost nothing!

I had seriously considered giving up on what I'd originally planned to be a long-running series. Now my fans are writing me asking for the sixth book, and you know what? I will be able to give it to them. It'll take me a few months to write, but only minutes to upload. And I can count on having a beautiful cover and plenty of marketing support from Amazon.

Thanks to CreateSpace, my girls can continue making the streets of Los Angeles safe for a long time to come,

Happy reading,
Jennifer Colt