Monday, November 26, 2012

thank you

wildflowers thanksgiving

Dear Readers and Supporters,

As we enter this last week of November, the holiday season seems to be well underway across the nation.  Most kicked things off with family and friends gathered on Thanksgiving, and some headed into the weekend prepared to participate in the various shopping events while others spent the weekend relaxing, with music or books, or enjoying a big game.  At row press, I even squeezed in a little work and caught up on the news.  Which, in fact, brought me up to speed on a new-this-year charitable event called Giving Tuesday.  Here's a great article describing how this day of giving came to be.

I, personally, am a big supporter of the Local First movement, and promoted Shop Local/Shop Small Saturday in all the ways I could think of.  I like the idea of Giving Tuesday because it embodies the spirit of the season, and truly, wouldn't it be wonderful if we adopted Shop Local/Shop Small Saturday and Giving Tuesday as the predominate recipients of holiday funds?

But, why limit support for these things to one day?  This holiday season I hope you'll consider a small, local business, restaurant, service and any charity in need as part of your giving plan.  Another great idea is to support Independent bookstores and local authors.  Your local bookstore can order any book you could find at a chain store, and they usually feature a local shelf to highlight the local talent.  I'm sure they'd be grateful for your interest.

As for me, I'd like to offer my gratitude to home-ology owners Ryan and Christopher, who recently hosted me for an artist/author event. Not only is home-ology a local, small business, but they are also doing their part to bring green/eco ideas to home interiors.  The night of the event, we also gathered used and new books for a local charity called Kids Need to Read.  I thank all who attended...for your support of my work and this local boutique and charity.

I also received my donation confirmation from Red Cross recently. Thanks to all who purchased books during the wildflowers for sandy donation drive.  This will be a challenging holiday for those hit by the storm, and the Red Cross is doing lots to ease them back into their normal lives, which will take some time, I'm sure. 

Rhonda McCormack has made a donation
in honor of wildflowers readers
Thank you for the support!
E-Card Image

This donation will support:
Disaster Relief

Be well this season, R

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Equation Occasion - How

The How Installment of 
(W5+ H) x (IP ÷ RMs)
The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of Indie Publishing - R McCormack Style

Well, we’ve reached the last variable in our Indie publishing equation.  I’ve added many questions over the last several weeks, filtering the answers through the personal experience and knowledge I’ve gained so far.  I did try to keep to the facts, as I understand them at this moment, but today’s post will be more of a departure into opinion-based material because today we ask:

How do I make the most of my Indie experience?

Just like all things in life, the Indie publishing experience will be shaped by each individual’s skills, expectations, and unique view on personal expression.  The things I may find difficult, another person may breeze through.  The things that send me into fits of frustration may be a delightful challenge for another.  Knowing that Indie publishing is different for everyone is the reason why, in our first post Who, I suggested that you define who you are on the front end.  It’s also why I suggested making a Known and Unknown list in the Where do I start? post.  As you embark on this quest, you’ll hear and read lots of advice, tips, and stories, and it’s helpful to know which bits apply to you and which aren’t necessarily relevant to your process.

I’d say the most important things I was told or read would enhance my experience were:

Keep reminding yourself, you can do this 
Always be aware of your platform or brand 
Trust your creative gut

Here are a few things I wish someone had told me in order to make my experience better:

Give yourself lots (and lots) of room for this
Build up your energy reserves (on every level) before you begin
Leave your perfectionist tendencies at the door
You aren’t a mule, and don’t let your inner critic drive you like one
Celebrate everything, find joy in even small tasks, and laugh often

As I write all this, I’m thinking back on how I adjusted—and didn’t adjust—my work habits or goal-setting based on these ideas.  And it’s interesting that only one of these pieces of advice regard the actual business of writing, and the other stuff is a bit more, shall we say, touchy-feely.  Which is precisely why I’ve included them, and I would caution to never overlook physical and mental boundaries and strengths because these elements can make or break you during big creative movements like this.

Now let’s draw in more items that relate to the organization and actual doing portion of the experience.  Below, I’ll divide out larger parts of the process, and under each heading, list some things to consider if you want to make the most of this deal.

Make the Most of Research and Development By:
Taking a few days (or a week or a month even) to tool around self-publishing blogs and websites or hit the (Independent) bookstore or library in your neighborhood to just absorb information

Finding books and marketing plans that meet your high standards (you’ll be employing Steal Like an Artist techniques as you move forward)

Making your Known and Unknown lists, which will help with goal-setting and deciding who you’ll have to call on to help with things you don’t know how to do

Deciding what your schedule will be and how you’ll manage your time

Preparing your family and friends for the shit-that’s-about-to-hit-the-fan (if they need convincing about the time and energy this will take, show them your Unknown lists)

Preparing yourself with sleep, good food, exercise, and a stress management plan that’s do-able when you’re buried in editing, designing, and uploading

Make the Most of Your Writing and Revising Time By:
Keeping your butt in the chair except when you need to rest, eat, sleep, move the body, read a book, or have a little fun

Setting up your work environment with inspirational items and all needed resources

Asking critique partners to give you honest feedback, and then…

Sitting with that feedback and being honest with yourself about the writing or concept

Asking family and friends to cheer you on and generally proclaim how amazing it is that you’re doing this (this will counteract the brutal honesty of your critique partners)

Not analyzing the marketplace (many a Creative has changed their focus midstream to meet industry trends or demands)

Make the Most of Your Design and Uploading Time By:
Remaining flexible and creatively open

Referring to those books you consider high quality and allowing yourself to learn from and be inspired by how they used fonts, formatted the interior, and designed their cover

Using review and proof-ordering wait times to work on other tasks, like building a web or blogsite, or just to reenergize

Taking the proofing periods seriously, giving a critical eye to all elements of the book

Not being afraid to change, while also…

Trusting your vision with one eye on marketing (different from the marketplace)

And speaking of marketing...

This is a portion of the Indie publishing equation that I’ve really only mentioned in passing, and I haven’t been sure why I was holding out on you readers.  But as I outlined this post, the reason suddenly came to me.  Brace yourself for a serious truth.

Marketing is distracting.

What I mean by this is that marketing requires just as much artistic thinking as bookmaking, and from what I’ve learned, heard, and witnessed, those who simultaneously use their creative energy for publishing and marketing tend to burn out, or fall short.  Remember, this is about the book.

Now, I will say that there are a select group of people who have a well-established platform or brand and need a book to move their vision forward.  These people would still do well to focus on a quality book, but because they have a built-in audience and may have a history of marketing other products or services, would not be robbed of creative ideas or motivation needed for the book. 

With that said, I’m going to stand by my opinion that to be effective most people need to treat the bulk of marketing like a follow-up project.  I mentioned that establishing your target audience, defining your platform and/or brand, and doing some basic research and brainstorming can all happen during the creation of the book, but once the book’s in print and/or sent live as an eBook, you can turn your full focus to the bulky parts of marketing, which includes:

Building a online presence, most commonly done with a web or blogsite
Establishing a relationship with Independent bookstores and/or libraries
Planning events, charitable outreach, and/or promotions and giveaways
Networking (appropriately) online to announce your book and promotions
Creating a word-of-mouth campaign
Earning media attention through book reviews and/or press releases
Developing and living your platform/brand

A word on platforms and brands: your platform may not be easily detectable at first, but just decide what you want to bring to the reading community and work from there.  Your platform is a sort of mission statement.  Branding can be a bit confusing, and I hope I articulate this in an understandable way.  If your brand only describes your writing/book(s) and any related products/services, it becomes separate from your platform.  If your brand describes you as an author and your writing/books then the two essentially combine to be a platform.  Sometimes the author is the brand and the book is about the author, but again, in this instance the industry uses the terms brand and platform interchangeably.  This happens a lot with public speaking professionals who have one topic they present.   

To close out the marketing conversation, I’ll point out a few things that will help you make the most of your experience, though, you may have heard these before.  First, do only what you’ll love.  This includes joining social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or starting a blog.  Second, it’s said often, but deserves repeating, there are online rules of marketing etiquette, and being a good social media steward will earn you the respect of your peers.  And the final note: when I reached out to a savvy marketing professional friend of mine for advertising and public relations advice, she talked first about pacing.  She reminded me that marketing a product is a marathon, not a sprint, and adopting this attitude will not only help us get the most from our marketing experience, but from the whole entire process (thanks SM).

(W5+ H) x (IP ÷ RMs)

So there you have it.  The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of Indie Publishing, R McCormack Style.  I can’t claim to know it all, and I’ve made and continue to make mistakes, but I wanted to share my experience with those that have been wondering about the risks and rewards.  I hope there’s some morsel in this series that speaks to you and helps you decide how to invest in your own personal expression and creativity.  Wishing you abundant words and helluva good time!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Something to Add to Tonight's Event

For the Why Installment of The Equation Occasion, click here.

Update on tonight's

artist author happy hour

Kids Need to Read is a local charitable organization whose mission is to empower every child through a culture of reading.  Located in Mesa, they do many events and drives, including their current Holiday Drive hosted by Barnes and Noble.  At R McCormack Writes giving back is part of the general living attitude, and 
so at tonight's event we're happy to announce that we'll be 
collecting children's books to donate to KNTR.

Tonight will be fun...bring a book to donate, 
do a bit of shopping, or have a martini or 
slice of pumpkin spice cheesecake while we chat about art and writing.
I'll be happy to see you.  Here's more about tonight's gig:  

This Thursday Home-ology, an eco-home interiors boutique in Scottsdale, will host me for an artist/author happy hour, featuring wildflowers and a new series of paintings. 

Cityscapes and Wildflowers
20x20, mixed media
30x36, mixed media
During the event all R McCormack original artwork will be 
discounted 10%, and buyers will receive 
a free, signed copy or eBook 
of wildflowers with painting purchase.

Home-ology features many local and regional artisans, eco-friendly decorator and holiday items, including children’s book illustrator Patience Brewster’s collection of ornaments.  
Come, hang out, chat art and writing, and shop.  
It’ll be great to see you!

thursday november 15 from 4pm-7pm

6137 North Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85250 

to preview my work, visit the online studio:

check out home-ology at: 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Equation Occasion - Why

For information about the November 15th 
artist/author event, click here

and now

The Why Installment of 
(W5+ H) x (IP ÷ RMs)
The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of Indie Publishing - R McCormack Style

Once upon a time there was a bookmaking industry who met three travelers at a crossroads.  The first wayfarer was Creativity, looking for the next adventure.  Then there was Technology, buzzing with potential ideas.  The last of the crew was Economy, who felt a bit sluggish and wondered if he was coming down with something.  Standing in unknown territory, introductions and hellos were made, and soon they found themselves settling roadside to rest and eat, to share stories and advice.  The foursome ended up making merry with tall tales and drink, and all was going well until a scuffle broke out.  Economy had been drinking from Bookmaker’s tin cup, and Bookmaker was sure she would come down with whatever was ailing Economy.  Creativity suggested they both switch to water, pop a Vitamin C tablet, and hit the rolls.  Technology smoothed it over further with a funny retelling of a bad day ending in a reboot.  Never-the-less, the next morning Bookmaker and Economy both awoke feeling terrible, and though Creativity and Technology wished they could’ve done more, they had to move along in their travels.  They left Publishing and Economy well-stocked with provisions and promised to write, email, text, and tweet as they waved from the road.  Bookmaker and Economy huddled in their packs to wait out the downturn in their health.  They knew they’d be okay.  They also knew that all their paths would cross again, for they were headed to same place.  Indie Publishing Land. 

Today I introduce the last W in our equation, W5, the question of Why.  Why is the market changing?  And after reading my Indie publishing fairytale, you may have figured out that there are three evolutionary placeholders that have affected the book-selling/book-buying marketplace over the past few years. 

The Economy, Technology, and Creativity

Beyond my attempt at being cute, there is truth in my fairytale.  These entities did all converge at the exact right moment to initiate change, and the personalities of the characters in the tale are similar to their real life counterparts. 

The economy was sick, and when it tanked, it hit traditional publishing just as hard as it did other industries.  There were layoffs, restructuring, and of course, the Big Six began to take on fewer titles.  Part of this was due to the habits of readers, who were buying fewer products.  And part of this was due to book buyers (book stores, big box stores) who couldn’t sell their stock (think Borders). 

Beyond the supply and demand issue, book printing is an expensive endeavor, where it takes teams of people to write, design, print, market, and sell a book.  Most do their jobs very well, as the traditional publishing marketplace has had years of honing its craft.  And the problem doesn’t lie with the people behind the scenes, it lies with the system, which requires publishers to risk money upfront in order to get books on the shelves.  The book sellers also take a risk by ordering without knowing if the entire shipment will sell.  There ends up being a lot of waste and unsold books are often shipped to disposal centers.    

Enter technology, who was stock-full of ideas for how to rework the system in ways that were more environmentally friendly and would put money back in people’s pockets.  First, we had the birth of the eReaders...Kindle, Nook, and many others.  Second, we had improvements with online publishing, and suddenly anyone with a computer could upload a Word document to become a print-on-demand (POD) or eBook.

When creativity came into the picture, the self-publishing market changed again because dedicated writers, artists, and illustrators saw an opportunity to become their own publisher.  More and more information was shared, and technology responded by creating the templates for craftspeople to take their brand, product, books to the next level.  As social media grew and websites and blogs became easier to build, all the online media sources merged into one big information highway where people could share ideas and market their work.    

Now, there are kinks that need to be worked out.  Traditionally publishing is still in the process of finding their way in the new marketplace, and chain book stores and big box stores (Costco, Target) that sell books aren’t feeling the economic upturn from the growth of POD or eBook publishing.  Independent bookstores are doing okay, though.  They have always dealt in smaller supplies, used books, and individualized service, and they’ve been able to adjust their model to include online sales and feature local and/or Indie published authors.  And let’s face it, most people still love the feel of a book in their hand, so there will always be a place for libraries and book shops.  I’ve heard it said many times over the past year that the traditional publishing houses will enter the POD and eBook market on a larger scale, creating their own online stores and only printing hardcopy books for their best-selling, up-and-coming, and popular authors/illustrators. 

Another issue is the speed at which the market is changing.  And this brings us back to the economy.  The process has become so simple and user-friendly that the self-published marketplace is becoming saturated.  In fact, most writers won’t see a return on their investment.  Luckily, the financial investment is quite low, but there is the matter of time and energy spent.  This is why I’ve been encouraging anyone who wants to move this direction to accept certain standards of quality before they launch their title.  Quality equals longevity.

Along with fast growth, as in any new venture, there are many who come out of the woodwork to offer services to the people entering the field.  Not all of those Indie publishing services are necessary or worthwhile, and I caution you to do multi-tiered evaluations before you pay anyone to do work for you.  In time, the good businesses will rise to the top, so for now use referrals and triple-check what you get for your money.  Remember, in the end this is about personal expression, which can be done with an eye on the wallet.

The markets—traditional and Indie publishing—will also have to flex and bend as their relationship grows.  And there are matters, like marketing, that will affect both.  There will be some overlap, and we’re already seeing players in the traditional game opening their doors to the Indie pubbing world.  For instance, the highly-respected Kirkus Reviews now offers self-published authors reviews for a fee.  How will this reconcile with the reviews they provide on traditionally published books?  Will they always remain separate or will they combine one day?  A good book is a good book, no?  I personally think most things will remain separate but become equal.   

So, with a long road to travel and many unknowns, why would you want to get in on the ground floor of Indie publishing?  Here are a few reasons:

  1. You want to build or grow your platform NOW – Authors who already have an audience, whether through previous published titles, a blog, public speaking efforts, another career, or charitable work, may choose to self-publish because they can tailor the book’s message to fit into a specific framework or brand that they’ve established or hope to establish.

  1. You want to create a related product(s) NOW – Authors who have or want to sell products related to their book may choose to self-publish in an effort to manage brand consistency and get the products on the market in a timeframe that best suits their needs.

  1. You want to earn a higher wage NOW – Authors who are looking to make a higher return on royalties while also holding the copyright to all their work may choose self-publishing.

  1. You want to be the Creativity CEO NOW – Authors who have specific ideas about their book or books and want to bring an exact vision to light may choose self-publishing.         
Get out that calculator, start working the variables.  Is it time to pack the bag and hit the road?  Or maybe you need more information before you embark.  Next week we'll add the final question to the equation when we discuss how to make the most of your Indie publishing experience.  For now, you have the five Ws to consider, and as the Irish say, may the road rise to meet you and the wind be always at your back.

Monday, November 12, 2012

join us

artist author happy hour

This Thursday Home-ology, an eco-home interiors boutique in Scottsdale, will host me for an artist/author happy hour, featuring wildflowers and a new series of paintings 
inspired by the book. 

Cityscapes and Wildflowers
20x20, mixed media
30x36, mixed media
During the event all R McCormack original artwork will be 
discounted 10%, and buyers will receive 
a free, signed copy or eBook 
of wildflowers with painting purchase.

Home-ology features many local and regional artisans, eco-friendly decorator and holiday items, including children’s book illustrator Patience Brewster’s collection of ornaments.  
Come, hang out, chat art and writing, and shop.  
It’ll be great to see you!

thursday november 15 from 4pm-7pm

6137 North Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85250 

to preview my work, visit the online studio:

check out home-ology at: