2 Alarming Reasons You Should Self-Publish

Self Publishing

Though I’m early in my writing career, I’ve run across many authors who are not. And, in seeing their experiences, I’ve come to the conclusion that more people may benefit from self-publishing than I once might have thought. These two issues are puzzling (and somewhat alarming) reasons why self-publishing may be a better way to go than waiting on a traditional large publisher or even a small press (with or without the help of an agent) to decide to publish your work for you.

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1. The Lack of Editing

I know this may sound strange, but I’ve found that about 90% of the people I know of who have gone through a traditional publisher–mostly small presses–were not provided with proofreading or editing services of any  kind. They either had to edit the book themselves or come out of their own pocket to hire someone to read their work. I would have thought that fast and accurate proofreading services would have been one perk of involving a third party to publish your work. But if the publisher isn’t ensuring that your copy is clean, why work with them? If you are thinking of going the traditional route to publish, do your homework and be certain that this service is part of the deal.

As a self-publisher, you will have several options related to how you can get your work proofread for cheap or even free ( I discuss this in my online self-publishing courses) because you will have complete control. While there is nothing wrong with reviewing your own work for mistakes, I believe it is critical to get other people involved in reading your drafts. I don’t see any other way to fill in your own mental blind spots. We tend to get comfortable with believing our work is acceptable because we insert what we MEANT to write into what we ACTUALLY put down on the page. Getting various outside perspectives on your work is the only way that I know of to circumvent this.

2. The Lack of Promotion

Just as dumbfounding as seeing people have works published that so obviously have not been proofread or critiqued by anyone, is the fact that many authors working with a publisher still have to do the bulk of their own marketing, especially promotion. You would think that, with multiple outlets at their disposal (pod casts, social media accounts, blogs, etc.) a publisher would be able to help you take your marketing to the next level. If an author still has to do all of the event coordination, social media announcements, etc. what exactly was the benefit of hooking up with a publisher?

Again, should you decide that you want to work with a publisher, talk to them about how much work you’ll be responsible for, versus how much they’ll be responsible for. Take a look at how well some of their other artists are being represented. If possible, have a conversation with some of the authors that they represent in order to get a more fair representation of what working with that particular press is going to entail.

 

On a consistent basis, I get the impression that a self-published writers (like an independent singer or a free agent in athletics) is a more empowered writer. If you’re on the fence about self-publishing, I hope you’ll attend Self-Publishing 101 to learn a little more about the process to help you make your decision about it.

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Author Edition: Individual Mandate

With a document that’s 1,101 pages long, it can be hard to sift through to the “good stuff” (i.e., what will directly impact the average author). Here’s one piece: The removal of the individual mandate from the Affordable Care Act.

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What Was It Like Before? 

In case you missed it (please email me and let me know how you could have, as a citizen of the United State of America, missed any reference to the individual mandate because that is probably an amazing story), the individual mandate was a provision of the Affordable Care Act that penalized you at the end of the year if you had not had ‘approved’ health insurance for any number of months during the previous year.

For example, if you couldn’t afford to pay both your premium and your mortgage, you might have skipped on the insurance premium and gone without coverage for the last three months of the year. This would have resulted in you having a penalty assessed and multiplied by three months.

For some people, my younger brother was the example in my life, this wasn’t a big issue. He was being charged $220 for individual, catastrophic health insurance. However, since he is one of those people who never seems to need any medical treatment or hospitalization (Alien? Demi-god? Who knows!), he opted to not get coverage. He was penalized for it with a whopping…$300 fee. So, as most intelligent people would, he decided to keep $2,640 in his pocket throughout the year and just pay the measly $300 out of his tax return.

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What’s Going to Be Different? 

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (T’Caja? ^_^) this mandate will no longer be in force as of January 1st, 2019. This means that my brother could keep his main $2,640 AND not have to pay a $300 penalty for not purchasing something he didn’t want / need.

 

What Does This Mean For Us Specifically?

As authors, this means that we’ll need to prepare to shop around for insurance products that will protect us (and, indirectly, our family members) as well as fit our budget. Don’t just buy the first policy you come across. From what I’m hearing in my writing groups, some people have already been policy-shopping with the ACA, and others have not. Shopping policies is the only way to make sure you get the best possible deal.

My hunch is that, because people won’t be mandated to get insurance any more, there will be more of a push for insurance companies to provide competitive health insurance arrangements for individuals. So, pay attention to the prices now and compare them to prices this time next year and in the early months of 2019. Look for the cheapest coverage you can get that still protects you as you need to be protected. For us, this specifically means finding policies with affordable coverage for orthopedic and vision issues, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or eye exams, and offering incentives for doing things like losing weight (since writing is a sedentary activity).

It also means that, if you want coverage, you’re going to have to remember to get it. There won’t be a penalty hanging over your head any more. You will have to take the initiative to get out there, shop, and make a final purchase of a policy. If you’re like me, this can be difficult because our brains are going 10,000 miles a minute with thoughts ranging from cover design, to final scenes, to characters, and proposed release dates. I put reminders like this in my paper planner AND on my phone, just to be safe.

 

Where Is This Stuff? 

Page 153. I’ve copied the basic text for you below, but you can click this link to view the entire document yourself (including citations and references to other parts of the T’Caja)!

H. Elimination of Shared Responsibility Payment for Individuals
Failing to Maintain Minimal Essential Coverage
(sec. 11081 of the Senate amendment and sec. 5000A of the Code)

Present Law

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act352 (also called the Affordable Care
Act, or “ACA”), individuals must be covered by a health plan that provides at least minimum
essential coverage or be subject to a tax (also referred to as a penalty) for failure to maintain the
coverage (commonly referred to as the “individual mandate”).353 Minimum essential coverage
includes government-sponsored programs (including Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP, among
others), eligible employer-sponsored plans, plans in the individual market, grandfathered group
health plans and grandfathered health insurance coverage, and other coverage as recognized by
the Secretary of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) in coordination with the Secretary of the
Treasury.354 The tax is imposed for any month that an individual does not have minimum
essential coverage unless the individual qualifies for an exemption for the month as described
below.

The tax for any calendar month is one-twelfth of the tax calculated as an annual amount.

The annual amount is equal to the greater of a flat dollar amount or an excess income amount.

The flat dollar amount is the lesser of (1) the sum of the individual annual dollar amounts for the
members of the taxpayer’s family and (2) 300 percent of the adult individual dollar amount. The
individual adult annual dollar amount is $695 for 2017 and 2018.355 For an individual who has
not attained age 18, the individual annual dollar amount is one half of the adult amount. The
excess income amount is 2.5 percent of the excess of the taxpayer’s household income for the
taxable year over the threshold amount of income for requiring the taxpayer to file an income tax
return. The total annual household payment may not exceed the national average annual
premium for bronze level health plans for the applicable family size offered through Exchanges
that year.

Exemptions from the requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage are provided for the
following: (1) an individual for whom coverage is unaffordable because the required
contribution exceeds 8.16357 percent of household income, (2) an individual with household
income below the income tax return filing threshold, (3) a member of an Indian tribe, (4) a
member of certain recognized religious sects or a health sharing ministry, (5) an individual with
a coverage gap for a continuous period of less than three months, and (6) an individual who is
determined by the Secretary of HHS to have suffered a hardship with respect to the capability to
obtain coverage. 

House Bill
No provision.

Senate Amendment

The Senate amendment reduces the amount of the individual responsibility payment,
enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, to zero.
Effective date.−The provision is effective with respect to health coverage status for
months beginning after December 31, 2018.
Conference Agreement
The conference agreement follows the Senate amendment.

You Lose $21 Every Time You Buy Paper

save money paper volo press

It may seem obvious to some, but I’ve recently run into fellow authors who believed they were really getting a deal by paying $5.00 for a ream of paper or maybe $40 for a 5,000-sheet case. I can’t see how 1.1 cents per sheet or $4 for a ream is a deal (then again, I have to be resourceful with my budget.).

Below is a basic rundown of a recent search I did online that gives you some cheaper options. The last case I bought lasted me multiple years due to digital sharing, critiquing, and delivery being standard for most of my publishing and editing needs. Don’t waste money on something you might not even use that often. Bulk up and store it, like I did!
For 5,000 sheets of white copy/multi-purpose, 92-bright, 20-lb paper: 

Amazon.com: $51 = $0.0102 per sheet / $5.10 per ream

Office Depot (Sale): $33 = $0.0066 per sheet / $3.30 per ream

Office Depot (Standard): $49 = $0.0098 per sheet / $4.90 per ream

Costco: $37 = $0.0074 per sheet / $3.70 per ream

Sam’s Club: $30 = $0.0060 per sheet / $3.00 per ream

For this search, Sam’s crushes the competition with a mere six tenths of a penny per sheet, compared to Amazon’s 1+ penny per sheet (almost twice as much!).

Even comparing total bills, you would save $21 by purchasing paper at Sam’s, versus online with Amazon (sadly, $30 of that $51 was JUST SHIPPING!).

Wholesale Membership

For those of you who don’t have a membership to a place like Costco or Sam’s (use this link and get $20 for joining), please consider signing up. For between $40 and $50 per year, you can rack up some fantastic savings, even if you never purchase bulk food there.

For example, when my bank account’s looking a little faint, I love to go to Sam’s to grab lunch (or dinner…or a snack…you get the picture).

Why? Because I can get a slice of pizza larger than my hand and an extra large drink of my choice for less than $2.50. Most places will charge you that much just for the drink. So, conservatively, you’re looking at at least $5 for the same lunch anywhere else.

If I eat lunch like this at Sam’s just twice a week, I’ll save $20 a month or $240 per year. This is how a $50 membership exponentially pays off! And this isn’t counting other home essentials I buy for my family, including paper towels, shampoo and conditioner, toilet paper, laundry detergent, or dish soap.

The discounts are similar for other non-perishables like pens, dishes, desks, books, bulk notebooks and writing pads, dry erase markers, and more.

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Affordable Services for Indie Authors

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After all the hard work you’ve done to craft, edit, and market a great story, don’t lose out on potential sales because you didn’t promote in every way that you could!

Promoting Via Volo Press

If you go to the Volo Press Services page (volo-press.com/services), you’ll find regularly updated statistics regarding the digital footprint that Volo Press has online. For some of the lowest fees on the web, you can have your hard work shared with another segment of people who appreciate good writers like yourself who produce good work.

Promotion Options

$0: Free Book Review (not necessarily dedicated and likely, but not guaranteed, digital copies only)

$5: Inclusion in 2 semi-monthly newsletters

$5: 7 days of tweets on Twitter (1 per day)

$10: 1 dedicated Facebook post

$20: 1 dedicated LinkedIn post

$25: Showcase Post (cover, blurb, excerpts from reviews)

$30: Review Feature (a dedicated, guaranteed review, hard copies accepted)

$50: Volo Press Sidebar ad (one month duration)

 

Ready to get started? Go to Volo-Press.com/Services now!

 

How Trump and E. L. James Cured My Anxiety

For whatever reason, I actually felt less and less nervous about publishing my first novella the closer the release date came. Here’s an inside look into what transpired in the days leading up to the release of Show Her.



What I Expected To Happen

Given the near-nervous-breakdown I had when I published the first version of Show Her many, many moons ago, I kinda figured it would go the same way this time. I would be making an insane amount of changes up until the very last second and then would click ‘Publish’ with my eyes closed and go curl into the fetal position on my bed feeling like I’d just murdered a herd of puppies with a blunt axe.

In short, I didn’t think that I had really gathered any confidence at all since the last time I tried to do this. I thought it would be a cluster-fuck of epic proportions.

 

 

What I Didn’t Expect To Happen

Yet, it didn’t go like that. Don’t get me wrong, I am a procrastination master (though I am trying to become a better person in this regard), so I was still making major changes to the plot, character descriptions, and even the entire ending as of a week before the launch.

However, I found myself getting more and more excited about release day coming as it approached. I found myself actually telling family members, co-workers, and even strangers early on, with ease and relative comfort.

 

 

 

Why It Happened This Way (In My Humble Opinion)

There are a couple of major things that happened since I began thinking that I wanted to make writing my full-time career that contributed to this more relaxed reaction to self-publishing. Please feel free to use this information for your personal healing if that’s helpful for you.

First, Donald Trump got elected as President of the United States of America. I’ve never been so glued to an election in my life (okay, 2008, I guess, but you know what I mean). So, why was Donald Trump an inspiration that eased my anxiety? Because–following the “rules” of politics–he shouldn’t have won. He should have lost. He should have been an epic failure, a laughing stock. He should have been rejected by every single voter in the country according to traditional political ideology because he “didn’t fit in.” He didn’t look, think, act, walk, or talk like a president or even your run-of-the-mill politician. Yet, he won it all, and by a landslide.

If this man that stood “no chance” of winning the day he announced that he was running made it all the way to the top through sheer persistence and giving haters and critiques the bird, who was I to feel inadequate? How dare I be afraid of rejection! If he can make it to the top of Mount Everest from the Earth’s core, certainly I can make it from the bottom of the mountain (geez, at least I’m above sea level).

Second, E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey not only became a bestseller, but went on to become a proverbial movement in the literary and cinema worlds.  I just had to read it since it was getting so much hype, but when I tried, it was like trying not to pass out while sawing off my own leg.

Why is this inspirational for me? Because I struggled so hard to get through the book. I’ve never been a huge fan of romance novels (though I do enjoy erotica) so that was already a strike against her. Beyond that, I personally thought the book wasn’t well written and the plot was not realistic or thought through very much. It was like she wrote it and sent it in without any rereading it herself, having a friend look at, hiring a copy editor or proofreader, etc.–straight from brain to print.

And yet, look at the enterprise that has been built from it! So, again, what the fuck would be wrong with me to think that I can’t be successful just because I don’t love the things that I write? What kind of sense does it make for me to doubt myself and the reading public? If she can do what she loves successfully, so can I.

As an added bonus, I have my beautiful and talented Curtis Cartel as backup. Forming my own cartel was something I knew that I needed to do in order to keep myself moving forward with publishing and hold myself to deadlines. But I could not have imagined how invaluable they have been in helping me turn Show Her into a solid piece of literature.

 

 

If you find yourself doubting your work or your abilities, just remember that there are people out there making hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars who don’t write half as well as you do, who don’t have the same education and experiences that you have, and who don’t have the same world view as you do. Just because you are technically different from these people doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed at the things that they do. Good luck!

 

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Book Review: The Challenge (Christopher Kokoski)

If you’re trying to spread the gospel, The Challenge is here to help make it a little easier.

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What is The Challenge About?

The Challenge is a non-fiction work meant to help spread Christianity to non-believers. The idea is to have them read through a series of thoughts that are meant to make a logical case for the existence of God and the super-humanity of Jesus Christ.

 

Why is The Challenge Taking on This Task?

In most sects of Christianity, evangelism (spreading Christianity) is part of being a Christian. However, some people are shy, socially awkward, or maybe just too aggressive to deliver the message successfully. The Challenge hopes to bridge that gap so that just about anyone can try to spread Christianity to others without feeling strong discomfort or starting an argument. Just hand them the book and ask them to read it.

How Does The Challenge Accomplish Its Goal?

The book has two sections. One that speaks to the messenger and one that speaks to the receiver. The section for the receiver explores logical arguments for and against the existence of a god and the idea that Jesus Christ is the savior of mankind.

The ideal is for the person receiving it to be open-minded enough to read it. Within the book, the person is actually encouraged to reconnect with the messenger and have a conversation about there newfound religion or why they still don’t believe after they’ve read the book.

 

Where Would I Use The Challenge?

I don’t see that you could not hand this book off to someone in just about any context. Co-workers, friends, family members, even people you don’t necessarily know (that kid that rides the bus with you every day wearing a ‘There is no God’ pin on his backpack).

Who Can Receive The Challenge?

If you have anyone in your life who is a Christian, I could see them appreciating this book (if they enjoy reading, that is). Some of the concepts may be a bit hard to grasp for younger readers unless they excel at reading.

 

When Is The Challenge Available?

The Challenge is currently available for sale on Amazon.com for $4.99 (paperback)!


I was connected to some Mormons for a couple of years (long story), and one of the conversations we had was about how hard it is to reconcile faith with fact. It seems as though the two are mutually exclusive. If I know that something is, I don’t have to have faith because it’s a fact. But when I choose to believe something, even though I have no strong evidence of it, that’s acting in faith.

Therefore, when an attempt is made to use basic logic to convert someone, it can be tricky. But, if any book can help you get it done, it’s The Challenge.

 

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