Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dipped My Toes in the Self-Publishing Pool...

It comes as no surprise that a lot of traditionally published authors are now giving self-publishing a try, myself included. My foray into this bold new world is my previously published romantic suspense novel, DESERT GUARDIAN.

This book has been through a lot. I originally wrote it for a contest sponsored by Harlequin back in 2002. The goal was their Intrigue Line, which I enjoyed reading very much, but I didn't even come close to winning. Oh, well. It was worth a try.

I still wanted to have a category book published with Harlequin and back then, they took longer books than they do now. My next favorite Harlequin line was Silhouette Intimate Moments (it's now called Harlequin Romantic Suspense). So I sent them a query and one of their editors requested the full manuscript. Eureka! Things were looking up.

The editor, Shannon Godwin (who is now an editor with Entangled), sent me an email and asked me to call her. I called her from work (shame on me) and we talked on the phone for over an hour. She'd only read half the manuscript and was incredibly excited, especially since the concept was so fresh and original. She sent me a long revision letter, I made the revisions, she sent me another revision letter, and I made those revisions as well. No offer yet, but it felt like just a formality at that point. I thought I'd finally made it in!

Fast forward 18 months and a move from Colorado to Oregon. I followed up with Shannon to see where we were, and that's when I received my rejection letter, plus the news that Shannon was no longer with the company. I was absolutely crushed.

I took a sabbatical from writing for a while. I was now living in a new town, away from my dearest writing buddies and my amazing writers group, RMFW. I felt lost and alone, and I was struggling to find a job. Once I finally settled into my new home, I dusted off DESERT GUARDIAN and gave it another polish. Small press publishers were popping up all over in 2005, so I figured I'd give one a try. The Wild Rose Press published DESERT GUARDIAN in October of 2006.

I think the most I made from book sales with TWRP was about $100 for the ebooks and maybe $600 for the print books. The brick and mortar bookstores wouldn't carry it because it was POD, and there was only the Fictionwise ereader for ebooks at the time, and Fictionwise was the most popular distributor for ebooks because Amazon had yet to get in the game. The whole process was kind of meh. I learned a lot about this new area of ebook publishing (not so new anymore) and considered it a great learning experience. The contract was only for 3 years, so I got my rights reverted to me in 2009.

I dearly love this book and the thought of it never seeing the light of day again didn't sit well with me. Though it's romantic suspense, I couldn't resist including a few mystical elements, and I can't write anything that doesn't have some crazy in it. The concept of cults fascinates and horrifies me, like a wreck on the road you can't ignore. The characters I created for this book start out terribly damaged, and it was a joy for me to heal them on the page.

I'm very pleased that self-publishing is now recognized as a viable option for authors. I decided to educate myself as much as I could to see if self-publishing was the right direction for me. I still plan on continuing my traditional publishing career, but I'm adding self-publishing to the mix. I thought DESERT GUARDIAN would make a good project to start with. My craft has improved by leaps and bounds since the original book was published, so I gave the manuscript a good overhaul. I cut about 4000 words, intensified the relationship between the hero and heroine, and hired a professional editor. I designed a new cover for the book and did the ebook formatting myself.

One day ago, DESERT GUARDIAN went live on Amazon in their KDP Select program. So for the next 90 days it will be available only through Amazon at the affordable price of $2.99. Amazon Premium members can borrow it from the Kindle Library for free. I'm in the process of formatting the book for print right now, and since page layout design is a specialty of mine, I'm going all out... just because I can. :)

Will I self-publish anything else? Oh, yes. I have 3 more projects lined up, one of which is a novella that I intend to make permanently free. Another is the book of my heart that's a mash-up of my favorite genres. And the other... well, you'll just have to wait and see. My current work in progress is destined for traditional print, but one never knows what the future holds. I'm keeping my options open.

I need to get the word out about DESERT GUARDIAN, and I'm begging for reviews. Hint, hint. Most of the best advertising venues won't accept books without a minimum of ten 4-5 starred reviews, so please help me out here.

Here's the blurb:

When Kelly Bancroft receives a suicide letter from her brother, she knows the star-worshipping cult he belongs to is to blame. She travels to the California desert to try talking him into leaving the deadly Star Mother cult, but he's nowhere to be found.

Cult intervention specialist—and ex-cultist—Sam Reed, aka The Arrow, has his work cut out for him when he teams up with Kelly to rescue her brother. Sam has good reason to avoid the cult that killed his mother, but he's made it his mission to save those who have fallen under Star Mother's spell.

Deluded by their fantasy beliefs, the cult's followers await a starship that will deliver them to utopia on another planet. The caveat? All passengers must leave their bodies behind.

Will Sam’s and Kelly’s romantic relationship help or hinder them in their struggle to stop a mass suicide? Or will they themselves fall victim to the cult’s fatal madness?


Desert Guardian is a fast-paced story that kept me glued from the first page. Wow, what a ride! I loved this book so much. The dialogue is excellent, the banter between Kelly and Sam top-notch, and the roles they play are absolutely outstanding. — 5 Angels, Fallen Angels Reviews

The suspense is exquisitely developed but the love story between the wonderful hero and heroine absolutely shines… Readers will definitely want to make time to settle in for the duration of Desert Guardian. — 5 stars, Romantic Observer Reviews

Desert Guardian captivates the reader from the opening chapter, with a mystery/suspense driven plot worthy of reading. Ms. Duvall creates strong, dramatic characters as Sam and Kelly confront their own personal emotional demons… — Romance at Heart Magazine

“Karen Duvall’s Desert Guardian grabs the reader's interest from the first page and never lets go.” — Jasmine Cresswell, USA TODAY bestselling author


Anonymous said...

Congrats on the re-release of Desert Guardian. I'd love to review it, Karen, but I'm not a Kindle owner so I'll have to wait until after your KDP Select period is up.

However, I will tweet for you.

Karen McCullough said...

HI Karen -- Wowza... I had almost the EXACT same experience with the SIM line about ten years ago. Different editor, same story. They called me, excited about a requested manuscript I'd sent. They asked for revisions, I sent them in, they asked for more revisions, I didn't hear anything for ages, then finally got a form rejection and found out the editor had moved on. Like you, I was crushed and it took me a while to get out of the funk. I've still got that manuscript sitting on my computer and it's still a darn good story. I think I'll have to pull it up and get it out there myself. Meanwhile, I'm going to grab a copy of your book!

Diana Mcc. said...

Congrats on the re-release of Desert Guardian. I am looking forward to buying it when it becomes available for the Nook. Good luck on sales!

Karen Duvall said...

Thanks, Maggie! :) I'd love a review.

Wow, Karen. You, too, huh? It's definitely worth taking matters into your hands. It's certainly better than letting a perfectly fine manuscript linger in hard drive limbo. Thanks for buying my book! :)

Diana, that great! Thanks so much. I thought I'd give this Select program a test drive, see if it's worth doing with future books.

age spots said...

Sounds like a really good read. Thanks for sharing this one, Karen. I'll try to grab my own copy.