Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Guest Post by Celeste Buie

I have so much gratitude for being lead to Joe’s blog. It’s a winding road but an interesting journey.

I was born in 1980, so that makes me 34 today. (This is relevant, I promise.) I was an avid reader in my early teens, reading a book a day if allowed.

Then I went to high school. The pressure I put on myself to get good grades as well as my involvement in band, sports, a boyfriend I would later marry, and extracurricular clubs meant my free time was occupied with other things. Of course, assignments forced me to read books I never would have chosen to read (but they weren’t all bad). Analyzing plot, characters, symbolism, comparing and contrasting events, etc, for reports took the fun out of reading.

In college, I majored in mechanical engineering and had even less time to read. It wasn’t even on my radar. I actually scoffed at people who said they read for fun.

Fast forward to November 2008. My neighbor invited to me come over for breakfast to meet some of the neighbors. I went and found out it was a book club meeting. They had made recipes from the latest book they read and gathered to chat about it.

That night, my husband came home from work to find a book on the table. He didn’t know what to think.

“What’s that?” he asked pointing to it.

“I went to Laura’s today, and guess what?” I said, outraged at the situation I found myself in. “I have a month to read it, and I have to make 5 dozen cookies for a Christmas cookie exchange!”

He laughed.

I did, too. Later.

I put off reading that darn book for 2 weeks. Then my analyzing side kicked in. If I didn’t start reading it that day, I had to read a minimum of 47 pages a day to finish in time. (Adult peer pressure at its finest, and ever the good student!)

I begrudgingly started it that day, and read throughout the night because I couldn’t put it down. When I finished, I read it again, then had to get my hands on the next 3 books in the series. I finished them in 4 days. Then I went to the library of all places and got a library card. I read all sorts of different books. I even learned surprising things about some of my close friends during this process – they were avid readers too, and recommended authors to me.

I realized I could find out about said authors by looking online, something that didn’t exist when I was a teen. I scoured their websites, read their FAQs, and learned about their publishing journey. I learned that some gained their inspiration from dreams, real life, and conversations in their heads.

I played out conversations and situational scenarios in my head all the time, so I figured I should write them down too, just to see what materialized. That was the beginning of my book.

As I did more research on the business of writing, I realized the overwhelming majority emphasized how difficult it was to get traditionally published. Yet, it was the only path I knew of. I had only read traditionally pubbed authors at the time. “Difficult” is too mild a word, as many of you know from your own experiences, so I worked on my book less and less, and it became something I’d do only if inspiration hit, although I enjoyed working on it. I’d think, “One day. Maybe.”

In the meantime, I had my first son and worked on the book while he napped. I still read blogs about the dreaded query letter, and author bios, hoping to learn how to increase my chances whenever I finished it. I like to be prepared, and I like to know what to do before I have to do it. I came across an archived article Nathan Bransford wrote titled “Amanda Hocking and the 99-Cent Kindle Millionaires” (link:

Naturally it mentioned Amanda and Joe, whose sites I soon visited to learn more. I couldn’t 
believe what I read on Joe’s blog. His publishing experiences made me question what I thought I knew. It was scary. I didn’t want to have to think of a title to my book, let alone have input for a cover. I wanted the experts to do that. I also wanted them to tell me what worked and didn’t and what I should change to make it better. After all, they were the professionals with experience in all these areas. I just had a story I wanted to tell, and would leave the ‘marketability’ aspect to them. As I read further into Joe’s archives, I realized that editors and the publishing team sometimes make great decisions and not so great decisions, and maybe I didn’t want them in control, let alone give up my rights – which was something I never realized, after all.

It’s true that you should write the type of book you’d enjoy reading, because not only do you read it so many times you have to love it, but also you have the potential to fill a vacancy. And the more I had read, the more I realized there needed to be more complex books out there for teens and adults who like to read YA, among other genres. I don’t do the things I find tedious and annoying in other’s books (which is a whole other topic), or meaningless fillers, or even endings that aren’t true to the direction of the plot.

The point of this is to say, I think readers are smarter than the way some authors treat them, and my intention is to provide readers with above average stories in my genre, and emotional investments in the characters that pay off. That’s not to say I won’t ever temporarily toy with readers’ emotions, but I strive for every plot element to cohesively work together, as well as make sense in the grand arc of the series.

The book writing process has been the most challenging, infuriating, and rewarding creative outlet I’ve ever had. There were many times I wondered if I could even pull it off. I had to do a lot of growing and stretching in the 5.5 years it’s taken to get to this point, but I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve created.

Learning about the self-pubbing revolution was like learning about a different sector of life that I never knew existed. I thank the universe for conspiring to make this happen, for giving me the curiosity and tenacity to finish what I started, and to Joe for continuing to post about his experiences, views, and lessons along the way. Joe, I wouldn’t have done this if it wasn’t for you rooting for us and showing us another way, or the input from your awesome contributors. Thank you all! Self publishing is the publishing path I was meant to take. I would have easily been taken advantage of and signed a crappy contract, never knowing better!

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Joe sez: Happy birthday, Celesete. And congrats! I just bought your book, and I hope you do well.


Brynn Emerson has always been in control of her life—until a mysterious stranger invades her dreams and her boyfriend, Trevor, suddenly dumps her.

Life gets more complicated when secretive newcomer Landon shows up at school. The playful and handsome Landon is somehow connected to Brynn’s ex-boyfriend.
Determined to find out how they know each other, Brynn draws closer to Landon…only to realize too late that she's risking more than she thought possible.

Meanwhile, a person of power has his sights on Brynn. Will Trevor and Landon work together to keep her safe? Or will she be pulled against her will into their mysterious world?

MIDNIGHT RUNES, THE BESTOWED ONES BOOK 1 is a YA paranormal suburban fantasy over 300 pages available today on Amazon here

About Celeste Buie

I live in Michigan with my husband, our two sons, daughter-on-the-way, and huge adopted dog. 

We’ve lived in three cities within this beautiful state and have visited many of the places mentioned in the Bestowed Ones’ series. One of the most adventurous things I’ve done is horseback ride across the state on the Lake to Lake trail. I love traveling, giving back to the community, and taking on all forms of creative projects.

Joe sez: There are two universal takeaways from Celeste's blog post that I want to reiterate.

First, I'm constantly reading about how overall readership isn't growing. Reading for pleasure is dwindling, people say. There is too much other competition with other, sexier media, like games, movies, TV, Internet, music, etc., people say. Children aren't reading for pleasure anymore, people say. Only one adult in a billion actually read a novel in the last fifty years, people say.

Blah blah blah.

Reading will always be a viable for of entertainment. I'm sure of this because even though the delivery system may change (cave walls, paper, ebooks) there are very few leisure activities that are as immersive. Reading stimulates the brain in a way watching YouTube never will, and even people who believe they have an aversion to it (something I hear a lot) get addicted when they read the right book (something I also hear a lot).

Just as playground jokes get passed down from generation to generation (Orange you glad I didn't say banana?) all we need is for book groups to keep inviting 30-somethings and 20-somethings and reading will continue to hook new readers.

The second take-away I got from Celeste's post was something I get a lot of: people thanking me for opening their eyes about self-publishing.

I beat the same drum, continually, because this is the Newbie's Guide to Publishing, not the Old Pro's Guide. Just as every ebook is new to readers who have never heard of it before, the idea that self-publishing is a viable alternative to legacy publishing is a revelation to writers who, like Celeste, thought there was only one way--the query/agent/publisher meme so many of us have grown up believing.

Just as new readers need a little nudge, new writers do as well. We all have preconceptions about things. The best way to shatter those preconceptions is to actually try something different. If more adults were peer-pressured into reading, a percentage of them would enjoy it. And if more writers learn about self-publishing, they'll give it a shot.

It's the job of every one of us to encourage both activities. I've bought over a dozen Kindles for friends and family. I've given away over a million ebooks. And I keep preaching the same things on my blog, over and over, because these things still aren't known by newbies.

One of the greatest gifts you can give is teaching people something new. And one of the greatest joys in life is creeping out of your comfort zone and trying something different. 

Do both.


J.R. Pearse Nelson said...

Great to meet you, Celeste! We have a lot in common. I was also born in 1980, and got serious about self-publishing my books after reading about Amanda Hocking and ending up on Joe's blog.

A guest post on Joe's blog right after your release is genius. I just bought your book and shared it on FB.

Best of luck with this release, Celeste! And keep writing!

JKBrown said...

Welcome, Celeste!

As a 26yr old gamer, I can definitely empathize with your former desire to not read. It's not that I hate books, but I find more gratification in gaming, combined with other life happenings like work and family. As Joe rightly pointed out though, give me the right book and I'll consume its ideas immediately.

Good on you for rediscovering that passion and presenting new material to YAs. Good luck!

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

My daughter just asked me for the best site for aspiring indies, so I sent her here. Thanks for continuing to beat the drum, Joe. And good luck, Celeste! I'm going to check your book out right now.

Burton said...

Given how much Amanda Hocking was apparently making self-pubbing, anyone have any ideas what kind of deal she signed up for? I can't fathom giving up all that control and royalty for a trad pub deal. It had to be REALLY good, right?

Celeste & Larry said...

Thank you Joe, J.R., JK, and Patrice for the warm welcome and support!

I've been a lurker for years and this site alone gave me the tools to end up with the 'product' I have today. I'm well into the creation of the second book that will be out later this year.

Joe, I had forgotten how much fun reading was. And your comment about reading igniting the creative part of our brains resonates. One of my favorite books has the main character saying something close to: movies show you the red house. A book tells you it's a red house and lets your imagination create it for you. I love a good movie, though! ;)

And YAY for adult peer-pressure!

Burton, if you search Amanda's blog, you'll find some of her reasoning. It's been a while, so the details are fuzzy, but I don't remember her discussing specifics to the deal. I do know she really wanted to have her books in stores, and that was part of the deal, probably the driving force.

~ Celeste Buie

kathie said...

Congratulations, Celeste! Your book sounds fabulous and will buy a copy for my daughter. Keep up the great work--that sounds very teacherish, but it sounds like you have it all together.

Hollis Shiloh said...

It felt sadly ironic to me recently when my brother was saying how "internet books" aren't real. The words are what matter, not the format with dead trees. It made me doubly sad because he doesn't read for pleasure. I read a book a week, at least, and I'm completely sold on ebooks.

josie downey said...

I'm a year younger, 1981, I went with self publishing because I didn't want an editor to change my story and I just didn't want to have to submit query letters. I just wanted to find readers. I haven't regretted publishing this way yet.

josie downey said...

BTW Celeste
What is your favorite aspect of the indie publishing process? I think mine is putting the book together so it looks like a book, formatting etc. I love to try and do fancy formatting.

Celeste & Larry said...

Thank you for your support, Kathie!

Hollis, I understand what you're saying. I have a friend that has to have all the newest gadgets, yet is waiting for my book to come out in paperback because she likes reading on paper better than electronic. It's like a glitch in her brain!

Josie, my favorite part of the process is knowing I did it all myself...with the help of a few key people (cover artist, editor, beta readers). It was a tremendous growth curve!

~ Celeste Buie

Burton said...

I Googled Amanda Hocking and read up on her story. She really cut out early, around 2011, barely what, a year into publishing on the Kindle? I guess it was true what they say. Those were the Gold Rush Days!

Alan Spade said...

Celeste, I found your journey as an author, and especially as a reader, heartening. Best of luck for your book!

@Burton: Amanda got a $2 million deal for her series with St Martin. It's amusing, when you go back to the comment section of this blog, to note she posted comments in 2010. And Joe did blog about her early, too:

As an author, I mostly sell my books on signing sessions, and when I compare my reading experiences with readers, I find more and more that we share something: our time is more divided up these days, with the Internet. I find it more difficult to immerse myself for a couple of hours in reading, as much as I would like to do that.

I also find it's more easy to read for briefs amounts of time with an ereader device than with a book.

When I had a dayjob, I used to write in the train for periods of fourty minutes, so my writing was also more sequenced - it could be very frustrating, by the way.

I guess abundance generate its own problems, but like Joe, I don't fear about the future of reading.

Scott said...

With respect to the idea children aren't reading anymore, I was actually surprised by the number of kids in my 6th grader's class who listed as their fondest wish to have a library with comfortable chairs and every book every printed. (My son listed it too, but there were several with the same wish.) Another surprise for me was how many of them wanted to be writers/authors. They're all reading Hunger Games and Divergent and Matched and Monument 14 and...well, you get the idea. I think that we'll be okay with respect to actual readers...

Celeste & Larry said...

Thank you Alan, I always enjoy reading about everyone's journey, and mine was particularly fitting with the timing of Joe's previous post!

~ Celeste Buie

Celeste & Larry said...

Also, I received the following comment on my FB Author page. Can anyone shed light on this? I had read here that it's easy to get a Kindle book on a non-Kindle device, just an extra step even while DRM free. This isn't something I have experience with since I have a Kindle, so any further experience is appreciated. I don't want to misinform anyone.

"Just to let you know, your instructions assume that interested readers have a Kindle-capable device, along with the willingness to play musical e-book library. Not everyone does. The Kindle-for-Mac apps, for instance, only work on certain models onwards, and then some phones literally don't have the memory available to run the Kindle for Android app, which makes that not an option, either.

If you don't have a Kindle-capable device, Amazon won't let you download even DRM-free Kindle e-books for conversion into other formats."

Thanks in advance,
Celeste Buie

Buron said...

@ Celeste,

You can download a Kindle-capable app on just about anything. I have one on my iPhone and PC. I'm not sure what the person was talking about. If your PC can't "run a Kindle app," it must be 30 years old and still running on DOS. Once you have the app/software installed (free), you can log in with your Amazon account and buy Kindle books.

Thanks everyone for the Amanda Hocking story. I didn't know about her journey, but oddly enough, I did read one of her zombie books (I think I got it during a free promo) and enjoyed it enough to buy the sequel.

Kate said...

Great article, Celeste. May I ask which book sparked your interest?

Burton, Amanda Hocking stated (at least in the post I read. I'm not a frequent reader)that she wanted to "just write" and not have to deal with all the other aspects of publishing. She said she went with a smaller publishing house so she'd still retain some input.

Peter Spenser said...


If, for some odd reason, a person can’t find a Kindle app to fit his or her device, one of the options from Amazon is to download a book to one’s computer as a digital file, from which one can transfer it to somewhere else.

If the file needs conversion before it’s transferred to your device, there is a free conversion app called Calibre that is designed to do exactly that: convert a DRM-free eBook from one format to another. Actually, one can even read the eBook file on one’s computer right from the Calibre app itself, without a device.

Calibre is the most comprehensive converter that I’ve ever found. It can go from just about anything to just about anything. It’s also pretty easy to use.

Diana Stevan said...

Like you, Celeste, (though I'm decades older),I thought traditional publishing was the only way to go. I wanted the stamp of approval that comes with getting an agent and then a publisher. I've since learned there are no guarantees. I did have an agent years back for my screenplays and that came to naught. There are so many reasons why books sell. It's luck, positioning in the marketplace, persistence, word of mouth, and of course a good story well written.

I'm about to self-publish my own debut novel and it's been an interesting journey. As you mention, sites like Joe Konrath's have been a big help. They've not only provided insight into the whole process but also much needed encouragement that it can be done and done well.

Wishing you the best of luck. Your storyline is intriguing and should get a lot of sales.

w. adam mandelbaum esq. said...

I majored in mechanical engineering WOW! You did that, and you can write English well. I now believe in unicorns. Good for you, and may you make so much money on your book, your tax bill takes care of the national debt.

Celeste & Larry said...

Buron, thank you for the input! I felt her response wasn't accurate but couldn't articulate why. Your post made me LOL too.

Kate, I had wondered if someone would pose the question of what book it was, and boy does it seem like a lifetime ago. It was 2008, and the movie was about to come out, so all the moms were reading it...Twilight. I got adult peer-pressured into reading Twilight. And I became obsessed with the story itself as well as the story behind it with Stephenie Meyer. It was absolutely fascinating to me how all of it came about! And I will be forever thankful because it helped lead me here. :)

Peter, thanks for the reminder about Calibre! That's the key, and I'm going to use your explanation to clear up some other confusion with friends/family who keep asking "Only available on Kindle?"

Celeste & Larry said...

Diana, I agree, and thank you for the well-wishes! I feel like as long as people give it a shot, there's a good chance they'll like it. It sounds conceited, but it's not meant that way. The challenge, of course, is making them aware of it. I'm anxious to have some official reviews roll in. But all in time!

W. Adam, thanks for the laugh. It was a challenge for me to pick one career for the rest of my life, because there are so many things that interest me. I worked for 3 years on passenger car calipers before I had enough of corporate life. And I like the way your mind works for the future success of the book! ;)

Aaron Carter said...

I always read the books that come from quality book publishing companies. They won't publish it if it's not good. That's why I stick with my publishing company.

Aaron Carter |

Kate said...

Celeste, now this is funny! The reason I asked was because the amount of pages you had to read (Twilight is long), combined with the reading in one night and buying the other three in the series, I thought, "This HAS to be Twilight." LOL

Been there, sister. You are not alone. So, so many of us fell victim. ;)

If you haven't checked it out yet, Google Rifftrax and Twilight. It's the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew. So worth the money! =)

Alan Tucker said...

Congratulations and Happy Birthday! I hope the book brings many sales and wonderful reviews. :-)

Regardless of what we may think of Twilight, it did get many young people like yourself reading. That is the important thing to remember.

Celeste & Larry said...

Kate, I Googled Rifftrax and Twilight, and all I can say is that's hilarious! Thanks for letting me know about it. It's such a unique thing to both love Twilight and be a 'fan' yet be able to have a laugh at its expense. I get sucked in whenever I happen to find the movies on tv. They bring back such great memories.

Alan, thank you so much! Twilight will always hold a special place in my heart, and I'm not afraid to say it! ;)

~ Celeste

Silas Payton said...

Hi Celeste,

Congratulations on your new release. It is very exciting I'm sure. I am almost there many other things getting in my way lately :(
I'm very happy for you. I'll pick up a copy once I'm done here.

For two years I downloaded books from Amazon and converted them for my Sony Reader. Calibre made this quite easy. Occasionally I found books with DRMs that posed a problem. There is a patch for Calibre if you Google How to strip DRM using Calibre it will come up but as Joe mentioned recently, this may be considered illegal. If you can't strip the DRM or the converted format doesn't work in the reader the person is trying to use, they can always return the ebook to Amazon for a refund -- No risk, really.

I haven't done this in a while since I got a tablet and use a Kindle App.

Best of Luck on the book. I'm off to get my copy.


canonizer said...
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John Erwin said...

Celeste --
I got my mechanical engineering degree the year before you were born, so that makes at least 2 engineers and one lawyer (I read w. adam mandelbaum esq's book on psi warfare a while back -- good read) who can string coherent sentences together. I didn't publish my first novel until I was 57, so you have a good head start. Good luck with your book sales and future writing!

Celeste & Larry said...

John, thank you for the well-wishes. The more I think back to my engineering days, I realize I had to write reports on test data and draw conclusions, so there was writing involved. And I guess some creativity, too, depending on if we were for or against a product or supplier change. ;)

Celeste & Larry said...

A big THANK YOU to all for commenting!

Best of luck to all who read this!!


John Ellsworth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.