Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Production Notes

*Post Blog Publication Note: THE EARLY BIRD GETS THE WORM! Good, Clean, Murder is Now Available*

Since I am inches away from publishing Good, Clean, Murder, I thought I'd share some of the steps it took to create it!

First, I brought pages and pages of the story to my critique group. My critique group is amazing, and led by none other than the man who wrote Writing Fiction for Dummies. They gave feedback on pacing, character, action, dialogue--and anything else they thought I was doing wrong.

While I was still writing it,  I polished the beginning to within an inch of its life, and sent it off to a couple contests. As the prizes included feedback from agents and publishing house editors I knew this would be invaluable for me. I finaled in both contests, and won the mystery category at the Phoenix Rattler. (You can read more about that here and here.) Contests and crit groups are a great way to help develop a story.

After that it was time to refine and polish. I sent the whole story to a couple of beta readers. Beta's give your book a "second" reading and give you feedback on weaknesses and strengths of the story. My romance beta let me know she thought my description of the male romantic lead wasn't handsome enough. I decided that was worth fixing! After betas my little baby went through three professional editors and then another reading by yours truly. I have to say, for that final read through the kindle and it's note taking function was a life saver! No more staring at a bright white screen and trying not to add more mistakes than I fixed!

With a clean document in hand, it was time to format. Like editing, many writers chose to hire professionals for this. I have done it both ways--though when I hired formatting help, it was for the paperback books which I find more challenging. This time I decided to do it all myself because there were certain features I wanted to learn. I won't give away all of my new tricks but I will say that the mobipocket app is a life saver, and I wish I had been using it all along.

Towards the end of the project I hired a graphic designer (Andrew Rothery) to create the cover. This is another aspect of the job I can handle myself, but prefer to hire out, as usually my vision is beyond my ability.

I began my story in June of 2012, so all in all, creating Good, Clean, Murder has been an almost ten month project!

Now I'm going to get really open, and share how much all of this cost. If you are a writer considering self publishing, this is the kind of nitty gritty that really comes in handy. Good, Clean, Murder is my most professional book to date, and also likely my most expensive to produce. The cost of the cover was about $80. The cost for the three editors was around $400. Entrance to the two contests cost me $50 total.  Prizes for the launch party will come in around $100. Advertizing for the release will be $60. We can round up and say that producing Good, Clean, Murder was $700. All of my other mysteries made a profit by their second month, but none of the others cost even close to this much to produce. We shall see if the prizes and advertizing do their job. *praying!* As for hiring three different people to each edit it, I will never regret spending that money. I know where my talents lie, and it isn't in self-editing!

To win some of these fun prizes, stop by my Facebook event on March 2nd! I'll have games throughout the day with prizes ranging from signed copies of the book to Plain Jane coffee mugs, to a gift certificate for a great online yoga studio!

Thank you all for being a part of this process!

Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of Good, Clean, Murder, The Mitzy Neuhaus Mystery Series, and one of the authors in the The Tangle Saga series of science fiction novellas. She was the Mystery/Suspense Category winner for the 2012 Christian Writers of the West Phoenix Rattler Contest, a finalist for Speculative Fiction in the same contest, and has a Drammy from the Portland Civic Theatre Guild. Traci serves as the Vice President of the Portland chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association.
Traci earned a degree in History from Portland State University and still lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest with her husband the mandolin playing funeral director, their two daughters, and their dog, Dr. Watson.
More of Traci's work can be found at http://www.tracihilton.com


  1. Traci,

    Hearty congratulations on your new book! Personally, I think you did extremely well on the costs - thank you for sharing your journey on this one. Most helpful to indies!

    ~Nancy Jill

  2. Thank you, Nancy. I rarely share info like this, but I did so many things differently this time I thought it would be fun to talk about. :)

  3. Traci,
    This is a great article and very informative. Is this going to be an ebook or is it going to be an ebook and paperback? I'd like to ask you more questions sometime.
    Deborah Malone
    "Death in Dahlonega"
    "Murder in Marietta"

  4. This is an ebook and paperback, though the paperback is still in the works. I haven't fully decided if I am using createspace or lighting source this time. :) I'll message you on FB--ask me any questions you want!


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