Since I got serious about writing in 2004. I’ve had 4 books go to acquisitions. Yes four. Two of those - a MG and Nonfiction book – almost sold BEFORE I had an agent. After I signed with a top agent in a top NY agency, I had TWO more books go to acquisitions with her – a tween paranormal and this book – Untraceable. The tween was in noncontractual revisions at a couple houses for over a year only to not sell. Instead of giving up, I edited this book. My agent sent it out to a few editors. It also went to an acquisitions meeting at one house but didn’t make it. Another house said the wilderness angle wouldn’t sell unless it was a dystopic book like Hunger Game.
My agent didn’t know what else to do. She didn’t want to send my book out on another round without editing but she didn’t know how to give me a fresh perspective. I wanted this book to go out. We separated. Which sucked.
Needless to say, I was depressed. I’d worked so hard for nothing. After spending time wallowing in my self pity, eating chocolate, and yelling at the world from my office window, I came to the conclusion Untraceable didn’t have a future in traditional publishing – no agent would touch it since it had been submitted - so I went out on a limb and decided to do it myself. And blog about it.
That was a hard decision. Unfortunately, even today, the view of self-pubbing is very negative. Many feel self-pubbed books are of a low or cheap quality and usually come from people who were not good enough to get published.
Here are a few things to take into consideration if you decide to self-pub:
1 If you do it for 100$ it will look like a 100$ book.
Self-Publishing is not free. There are costs involved – especially if you want to do it right. I say, you get out of it - what you put in. Do what it takes to make it right or don’t do it at all. Spend some money to make sure your book is of high quality and doesn’t look self-published then you might get your foot in the door.
2) Everyone Judges A Book by its cover
I think it’s critical to have a good cover that does not look self-published. A quality, high res, and unique cover. I saved money to hire a photographer to do my cover because I wanted something original and high quality. I wanted my book to blend in to the other traditional books that were so successful. I didn’t want to give anyone a chance to say – “Oh this is self pubbed”. Because then my book never gets a fair shot. And trust me, you will get turned down just because it is self-pubbed. It sucks and is totally unfair but it’s true. So make sure it looks good. The cover sells books.
3) Don’t skip the editing
I had my book edited by a children’s editor and then paid to have it copyedited when it was done. I’ve spent a long time on this book to make sure I was proud of it. And I am. Self-pubbing is a short cut to the long publishing process. It is NOT a short cut to writing, revising, editing, revising, and editing.
Self-pubbing is HARD. It may seem like the easy answer but it is not. You do it all ON YOUR OWN. Getting reviews, doing blog tours, cover, typography, editing, formatting. It is a long and arduous process and is a huge time commitment. Before and after you publish. It doesn’t end. Don’t do it if you don’t have the time to put into it. Don’t do it if you feel uncomfortable marketing and promoting yourself (in a classy and non pushy way).
This has been a hard road for me, but I’m proud of where I’ve landed. I did this book my way and I feel I did it the rigth way for me.
Basically, Untraceable is the book no one believed in but me. This book is my blood, tears, sweat, fears, and dreams all bound in 300 pages.
About the Book:
Stay-at-home mom’s teen wilderness thriller proves girls can be tough and independent without living in a fantasy world or possessing special powers.
Untraceable, by author S.R. Johannes, gives teens a realistic heroine set in today’s world and - somehow - makes getting back to nature cool again.
ATLANTA, GA (November 29, 2011) – With the popularity of Twilight and Hunger Games, contemporary thrillers for teens have been practically nonexistent. Shelli Johannes-Wells hopes to change all that with the release of her debut young adult thriller, Untraceable, the first in The Nature of Grace series. The book will be available Nov 29th in ebook and paperback at all major bookstores.
Set in the Smoky Mountains, Shelli brings her love of nature back to teens. In a world where teens spend an average of thirty hours a week in front of some kind of screen, Untraceable makes it cool - yet thrilling– for kids to get outside again.
Grace has grown up in the woods. Her first swing was a forest vine and her first pet, a wounded bear cub. When Grace’s forest ranger father goes missing on a routine patrol, she heads off into the Smoky Mountains in search of him. Soon, she’s enmeshed in a web of deception and murder that challenges everything she knows about the wilderness, survival, and self defense. And, it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this heroine to emerge from town conspiracy that’s spreading like wild fire, threatening everything and everyone she’s ever loved.
“When people ask me what the book is about, I always say, a contemporary thriller with kickbutt teen heroine, an unsolved mystery, a rollercoaster adventure, and – of course - two hot boys. That usually gets girls interested.”
When Shelli started writing the book, there were a few things on her mind. “I wanted to create a tough character who didn’t need to turn to a computer for entertainment. Someone who was tough and feminine with an honest love of natural things in this world. I guess I wanted my character, Grace, to be the Katniss Everdeen of today’s real world in the unexplored setting of Gary Paulson’s Hatchett.”
"Grace is a spunky, independent, nature girl who doesn't need a boy to save her. With wilderness survival, a juicy love triangle, and more twists and turns than a roller coaster, this fast-paced novel had me holding my breath until the very last page—and still begging for more!" -Kimberly Derting, author of The Body Finder series
"This thrilling story is a dramatic entanglement of mystery, deception and teen romance. The action flows like a brisk mountain stream interspersed with rapids, holding suspense to last page." - Kirkus Reviews
About S.R. Johannes:
S.R. Johannes lives in Atlanta Georgia with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world. After earning an MBA and working in corporate america, S.R. Johannes traded in her high heels and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and a love of writing. You can find her hanging out online and visit her at srjohannes.com.