Meet Romance Author: Christi Snow

Today's is my 101st blog post! To celebrate, I bring you Romantic Suspense author Christi Snow! Christi's debut novel Operation: Endgame came out in paperback in August and is now available for e-readers. Yeah!

It's been six months.

Six months since Jake Madsen let Chris Robertson die.

Six months since the passion between Jake and Cassie, Chris's sister, stepped over the line.

But now Cassie's being stalked and it's time for Jake to swallow his guilt, grief, and lust so he can save her life, even if it's a life without him. He owes it to his dead friend and he owes it to Cassie. He's fallen in love with her, but she doesn't have to know that for him to keep her safe.

  Operation: Endgame is full of well-developed characters, a swoon-worthy hero and a wonderful suspense filled plot that will leave you guessing until the end. Of course, I might be a little biased since Christi allowed me the honor of being her editor. :)

But you don't have to take my word for it. Here's a smexy passage to whet your appetite.

Cassie watched the myriad of emotions cross Jake's face as he helped her out of her clothes. She stopped him now though with a hand cupping the side of his face. "Jake, relax. It's just me, the girl you used to tie to the tree and abandon when we were little."

Jake gave a self-effacing chuckle. "Can we not talk about bondage when you're standing there looking so gorgeous in just your underwear and about to get naked?"

The comment was so out of left field and Jake had such a look of pain on his face that Cassie had to laugh. "Relax, Jake, we can do this. We're adults."

"Again, not helping, because I don't need to be thinking adult thoughts right now, trust me."

"Okay, well talking about it isn't helping so let's just get it over with, okay?"

Hello, steamy! To celebrate the release Christi is giving away a copy of her book to one lucky winner. I'm helping the celebration with a free 30 page critique/edit. The details are below, but before that Christi has graciously agreed to share with us her personal path to publication. Take it away, Christi!

Hi everyone! Sarah, thank you so much for having me here to talk about my journey to self-publishing.

First, let me explain a little bit about how I got here. Mine is probably not the normal progression for most authors. My first love is reading. I read ALL THE TIME and that only got worse when my husband deployed for a year and a half over a three year period. I rediscovered my love of all things bookish and became more than a little obsessed. When he came home, it was hard to let go of that and suddenly I needed a reason to keep reading so much. Enter my book review blog, Smitten with Reading. By starting a review blog, I could share my love of books with others AND have a good reason to keep reading voraciously. 

That was January, 2011. So how does this make me a writer? I’m getting to that. I’ve always had dreams of being a writer, but I never did anything about them. Periodically, I’d write a page or two of an opening scene, but that was it. Nothing more. But when I am reading a ton, I literally dream in text. I always have. Is that weird? I honestly have no idea if anyone else does that, but I do. In addition to that, I was analyzing books on a daily basis as to why I enjoyed them and why I didn’t. Suddenly, I was looking in depth as to what makes a book enjoyable and why.  

That isn’t as cut and dry as you would think. Usually, we can tell you why we love certain books, but do you have those books that are simply okay reads? Can you pinpoint exactly why? Try that next time you read a mediocre book. Try to write a review and analyze what made or didn’t make it a good book for you as the reader. I promise, it will make you a better writer.

But back to how this lead me to writing… by July, I was thinking that it was time for me to start really pursuing my dream. My husband retired from the Air Force the year before and after twenty years of following his dream, I decided it was my time. I requested he buy me a netbook for my 41st birthday in August, 2011 and then I set off on my writing journey, not knowing if I could even create anything resembling a book anyone would want to read. By January, I had over 150,000 words written on four different novels and my first completed manuscript, Operation: Endgame.

Operation: Endgame went through several rounds of self-edits and I sent it to a couple of people to see if I was delusional in thinking that it was worth reading. I got some really amazing feedback, went through several more rounds of edits and started thinking about querying it. That’s when I hit the “Oh my God!?!” moment. I probably am not telling you all anything you don’t already know when I say that querying and submitting is torture. I HATED EVERY MOMENT of the week and a half that I did it. LOL!

I waited 41 years to start writing, but this was not the type of writing I had in mind.

At the same time, I was reading the blog of another romance writer who has been published by the big-name publishing houses and how she then decided to go the self-publishing route. Her arguments about the control and money all made sense to me and at that point I was desperate to not do anything else with querying. Yes, I have a very low pain threshold when it comes to doing things I don’t want to do. Again, that 41 years has an influence….I’m too old to do things I don’t want to do anymore.
Plus I am a book blogger. I do promo for other authors all the time. Why couldn’t I do it for myself? I have a few connections with other book bloggers and know the way the whole system works. And honestly, I don’t have ambitions to be a NYT best-selling novelist. I just want to write stories that will engage other readers and make them happy to read them. BTW, did you know that for every $2.99 e-book on Amazon (sold in the US), the author makes back over $2 of that. That money can add up especially when you compare it to the average author contract through the publishing houses.

So I started to do research on how you even begin the self-publishing process. I will tell you right now the absolute best thing I ever did was buy Catherine Ryan Howard’s book, Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing.  I am not a techie person, but she walks you through the process and the different websites you have to use step-by-step with easy to understand and yes, even entertaining explanations as to why you do things. I would NEVER recommend you go through this process without her guide.

There are a few other things that I’ve learned along the way. Some things I think every person should know going into self-publishing:

  • ·         Hire a cover designer- reviewers are not going to touch your book if it looks amateurish on  the outside. I promise you, it’s worth the money.
  • ·         When you hit that button on your e-book or print book that says that yes, everything looks right, you better be ready for it to show up on Amazon. I had no idea about this. I thought there would be more to the process (like a “publish now” or “upload to Amazon” button) so when I approved my proof copy of Operation: Endgame, it automatically went for sale (at least in print)…3 months before I planned on it being available. *oops* BTW, this works the opposite direction too. I planned the release date for Operation: Endgame to be September 14th. To make sure that it definitely was up on all the websites, I uploaded and went through the whole process at Smashwords on August 30th. As of September 12th, it still isn’t up at B&N or most other major retailers besides Amazon & Smashwords. It’s a frustrating process where you have no control and, even though you are told a set timeframe, it may or may not fall within that timeframe.
  • ·         Hire an editor. You NEED someone with fresh eyes to look at your manuscript. I don’t care who you are or how good of a writer you are. There are problems in your book that you aren’t going to be able to see. You are too close to it. And the fact of the matter is your beta readers may just be too nice to point out the nit-picky little things like your hero is annoying and whiny on page 134. (Sarah is my editor and she’s amazing!!! Oh, and she will totally tell you that I use “fact” in my phrases WAY TOO MUCH! Hehe.)
  • ·         Be aware there is a stigma with self-published books. As a result, you need to work that much harder to make sure yours isn’t one of the bad ones. Believe me, I’m a reviewer. I know how bad the self-pub books can be. Even though I am a self-published author, I still have a stigma about self-pub books and honestly probably judge them harsher because of it. On the flip side, I want to scream it from the rooftops when I find a self-pub book that’s an amazing read. Don’t stick something out there that isn’t good. Your reputation will never recover from a badly written book and the reviewers and readers will not give you a second chance. There are too many good ones on the market for readers to choose.
I am going to talk just a tiny bit about the money so that you know how this worked for me. You cannot self-publish without investing a little bit of money on your new business. And yes, this is absolutely a business that you are starting when you decide to self-publish. Here’s a break-down of what you can plan for self-publishing expenses:

  • ·         $100-$200 cover design- This obviously varies greatly between designers, but these are rough figures and around what I paid for a bundle deal on both my e-book and print covers. Print covers take more work so are more expensive. Usually you can get a joint deal for both covers.
  • ·         $1-$3 page for editing- this is going to be the bulk of your expenses, but it’s worth it. BUT PLEASE make sure you’re hiring an editor you can trust. I’ve heard horror stories, so make sure you check out any editor’s work and reputation thoroughly.
  • ·         $50-$200 for e-book formatting- This is one of those things that you can easily do yourself, but for me the $100 I spent was so worth not having the headache of trying to figure it all out. Every e-reader out there needs a slightly different formatting. Yeah, I’d rather be writing.
  • ·         Small fees- there are little fees here and there for KDP direct publishing, Createspace, and Smashwords…all those websites that print and upload your books to the various retailers. All those fees are under $50 each and make your book more available to more people. NONE of them are mandatory expenses, but I think most people find that they’re worth it.
Honestly, you can self-publish with minimal expenses. It all depends on how many favors you want to call in and how computer savvy you are, but again remember…the more professional the package, the more favorable your readers will look at the final product.

There is so much I can tell you about the process and I’m sure that in a couple of months when I go through it again with Operation: Endeavor (book #2) that I will have even more that I learned. But I have already taken up enough space on Sarah’s blog.

FYI, as an e-book, Operation: Endgame has been on Amazon for 12 days when I wrote this post. At this point in time, I am maintaining a sales record of 10 books/day. Honestly, I’m thrilled with this. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but consider this… my promo doesn’t truly start for another couple of days, this is my first book, and I am making over $2/book. Those numbers should only increase as I release more and more books and the word-of-mouth spreads about the book.

Again, thank you so much Sarah for having me here today. I know that I didn’t cover it all, so ask questions. I probably won’t know the answer, but I sure can try.

Feel free to ask Christi any questions you have about her book or the publishing process. And don't forget to check out her website You can find her books on: Amazon, Smashwords, and B&N

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