Now VS Right Now

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This has been a topic of conversation among a lot of authors. Some say, “You have to get books out to succeed.” Authors take this to mean, “I have to put a lot of books out, right now.”

Ah, if it were that easy!

As a publishing company, Stitched Smile has a responsibility. Not only to the authors, but to the readers. We deliver the highest quality we can because we’re asking our fans and readers to pay for these books. I don’t care what other authors and publishing companies do. What I do care about is what we do.

A lot of time and effort goes into helping new authors develop a skill. Yes, being a good story teller may come naturally for some people, but writing a good story is another skill set. It comes later. It comes with practice and challenges. These challenges come with learning to take critique and mentoring others (forcing you to take another perspective and helping you watch for things in your own work).

We have a lot of interns who donate their time to Stitched Smile. They are the backbone of our company. Without them, we’d have poorly edited books and be no different than the hundreds of publishing houses out there. When we built “the house” of Stitch, we vowed to “change the face of the independent publishing world“, and with the help of these talented individuals (both behind the scenes and at the forefront) we’ve accomplished this goal. With our integrity.

It’s been hard. I’ve made mistakes.

No matter what, though, I will keep doing everything I can to ensure that Stitched Smile stays the course.

We offer our time and mentoring to authors who would never have been given an opportunity without us (don’t believe me? ask the authors!). We’ve made dreams come true for authors who only wished to see their books in print. As result, we’ve given them a polished story with a great cover, and helped find them readers.

We’ve protected their reputations by dedicating time away from our own writing, family, etc., and turned out the best face of their work.

Authors who want “right now” don’t usually last in our company. Not because they can’t make it, but because it isn’t our model of business. It’s a sad moment when an author decides to move on. Even more sad when they discover, perhaps, the decision was a hasty one. At the same time, we have authors who have gained all of what we set out to give them and who confidently go on to bigger and better things. (Trust me when I say, it is a proud moment and I wish them all the success in the world.)

It sucks when, as a “boss”, I have to make the hard decisions. And I will. For the rest of the “family”. We’re birds of a feather and it is what has made us so strong while providing an unforgettable experience.

There is no “right now” in Stitched Smile Publications. It must simply be right. I put my name on it. My officers put their name on it. My interns use their experience for resumes. People are counting on me … and damnit, I’m not letting them down.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: By design, Lisa Vasquez creates horror with vivid, dark, and twisted words and images that not only drags the reader in between the pages, but onto the covers that house them, as well. When she releases her grasp, readers are left alone to sort through the aftermath those images leave behind; each one becoming a seed that roots itself within the soft confines of their psyche. She takes this passion for writing horror and uses it to mentor other authors and volunteers as the Publisher’s Liaison for the Horror Writers Association. In January 2016, Lisa took her commitment to the next level and opened an independent publishing house, Stitched Smile Publications.

You can read Lisa’s work in several anthologies, or by purchasing her newly released novel, “The Unfleshed: Tale of the Autopsic Bride”. For more information and updates on Lisa’s work, you can find her at: http://www.unsaintly.com or on Facebook (facebook.com/unsaintlyhalo), Twitter (@unsaintly), Instagram (unsaintly)

Interview with Lisa Vasquez and MF Wahl for Dread Central

Sometimes I come out of the basement…

http://www.dreadcentral.com/news/214013/exclusive-qa-with-stitched-smile-publications-ceo-lisa-vasquez/

WIHM8: Author Vs Editor – Loretta/MF Wahl

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eyeglasses, tree, outdoor and closeup“I enjoyed working with Loretta on my novel “Disease”. She’s respectful of the author’s vision for their work while at the same time being a stickler for the rules of writing. What was really fantastic about the way she works is that she would explain the thought process behind many of her edits, as well as educate when issues were purely technical and could have been avoided.”

“I enjoy the editing process when the editor and I click. It’s like have an extreme beta-reader in my corner, and Loretta was a fantastic extreme beta-reader.”

Loretta is currently working with M.F. Wahl on her novel, “DISEASE” currently featured on WATTPAD! Show some love. Go read and vote!

Loretta is a retired paralegal secretary and loves crafty projects (StampinUp), reading and cooking!

Let’s Talk: Uncensored

Author_Lisa_VasquezAs the CEO of an independent publishing company, things are hard. Let’s be honest, I’m not making six figures or living the life of luxury. You know what, though? That’s not why I do what I do.

Sometimes, people do things because the passion is there. That’s why we have “starving artists”. It’s about the art, the craft, or the calling that comes from someplace else. It doesn’t let you eat or sleep unless you’re pursuing it. Stitched Smile Publications is that calling for me.

I don’t do this for the fame. I don’t care if my name is mentioned alongside the logo. I do this because I want to elevate the independent authors and the independent companies who share the vision.

What I’ve seen lately has broken my heart.

Dishonest business practices standing at the pulpit in front of its flock. People are inherently good and want to help others. They give when they have little to assist those they perceive as suffering. In the end, what happens is bitterness and distrust because they eventually find out the wool was pulled over their eyes.

This … is why the Indie World has such a bad reputation.

Be honest. You put more into the business than you could afford. You screwed up. People appreciate honesty. I don’t want a sob story. I want deep down, gut wrenching honesty.

I guess it stems from my own origins. (And NO this isn’t a sob story, these are facts) My parents never had much. My father was a multi-recipient kidney transplant patient. I watched my parents struggle my entire life. Ever shared a can of asparagus among 5 people? Ever search the couches for change so your kids could eat that night? That’s where I come from.

You want to know what my dad did? He worked.

He went to dialysis in the morning. He came home, took an hour nap. He got up and went to school and made the Dean’s list. He came home and took a nap. He got up at 7 P.M., ate dinner and worked until 4 am at a band gig. He picked up milk and cereal on the way home and woke us kids up for school.

This man killed himself to make sure the bills were paid. The best thing about him was that he could turn an idea into a real business. He was honest, and hard working and watching him create something from nothing with his wife by his side was nothing less than inspirational.

He went from working menial jobs to owning his own successful business. He didn’t do it with hand outs. He saved and worked extra hours (yes, even as a terminally sick man with 3 hours of sleep a night), and he went without. We all did, because we had faith in him.

And my mother? My mother worked a shit job because insurance companies wouldn’t take my dad with his condition. He was dying and they were killing themselves to keep him alive. See the irony here? She would work from 5 A.M. until 2 P.M. on her feet in heels (the owner insisted) as a hostess for a restaurant down the block so she could be close to home in case my father ended up in the emergency room -which happened quite often.

I don’t know how many times we’d come home to an empty house and wonder if our dad was going to come through the door that night.

We were the only kids in grammar school (back in Stone Age) with written consent from the principal to carry pagers. We had to know if we were being picked up by family friends or just going home to …wait.

I watched the tears well in my parent’s eyes when they couldn’t give us a new pair of shoes or afford to buy the name brand cereal we loved. (Though mom got creative and put the generic cereal in the name brand boxes…took us yeeeaaars to catch on. Good one, mom.)

Because I had them as role models, I’ve been sitting here every month putting all the money I have into this company. There were times I wondered how to make the bills and not once did I think to ask for money for the light bill. Not once did I set up a GoFund to help myself. If I set up campaigns or GoFund it’s to help my authors because I know if I help my business, I help myself.

I have no business running a business if I don’t know how to! My authors count on me…Do I make mistakes? Hell, yes. And I am open about it. I’m honest and say, “I fucked up. I’m sorry.”

I don’t lie about it. Once you shake the congregation’s faith, you’re done. I’d rather give you something for the money you donate or offer to me, or do some work for you in return than to be handed charity or help for a dishonest reason.

So What Are My Other Options?

Patreon [link] – (from their page) 

Patreon is the best way for creators to earn ongoing revenue directly from their fans.

For creators, Patreon is a way to get paid for creating the things you’re already creating (webcomics, videos, songs, whatevs). Fans pay a few bucks per month OR per post you release, and then you get paid every month, or every time you release something new. Learn more about becoming a creator on Patreon HERE.

For patrons, Patreon is a way to join your favorite creator’s community and pay them for making the stuff you love. Instead of literally throwing money at your screen (trust us, that doesn’t work), you can now pay a few bucks per month or per post that a creator makes.  For example, if you pay $2 per video, and the creator releases 3 videos in February, then your card gets charged a total of $6 that month.  This means the creator gets paid regularly (every time she releases something new), and you become a bonafide, real-life patron of the arts.  That’s right–Imagine you, in a long frilly white wig, painted on a 10-foot canvas on the wall of a Victorian mansion.  And imagine your favorite creators making a living doing what they do best… because of you.

Tee-Spring [link]

Teespring is a platform for custom apparel. The company was founded by Walker Williams and Evan Stites-Clayton in 2011 in Providence, RI as a way to simplify the process of selling custom T-shirts.

Now, if you’re reading this and you’re offended? This may apply to you. It stands to reason that if this rubs you wrong, you might have less than honorable intentions.

Let me make it clear, if you genuinely have no other recourse than to ask for help and you’ve exhausted all other options, this post is not aimed at you. People sometimes need help. People want to help.

People also want to lie.

Be careful. Ask questions (you have a right to ask them). Ask for transparency (receipts for charitable donations, records, etc.). The last thing I want is to have good people lose money. That goes for those needing it, and those giving it.

 

 

logoABOUT THE AUTHOR: By design, Lisa Vasquez creates horror with vivid, dark, and twisted words and images that not only drags the reader in between the pages, but onto the covers that house them, as well. When she releases her grasp, readers are left alone to sort through the aftermath those images leave behind; each one becoming a seed that roots itself within the soft confines of their psyche. She takes this passion for writing horror and uses it to mentor other authors and volunteers as the Publisher’s Liaison for the Horror Writers Association. In January 2016, Lisa took her commitment to the next level and opened an independent publishing house, Stitched Smile Publications.

You can read Lisa’s work in several anthologies, or by purchasing her newly released novel, “The Unfleshed: Tale of the Autopsic Bride”. For more information and updates on Lisa’s work, you can find her at: http://www.unsaintly.com or on Facebook (facebook.com/unsaintlyhalo), Twitter (@unsaintly), Instagram (unsaintly)

 

 

Do You Review? Calling all Bloggers!

typewriter 1Hey guys!  We’re starting to get things in order for the new year and we’re looking for fresh, new reviewers!  Do you have a blog? Do you love to read horror or dark fiction?

We’re selecting only the most interesting and active people for this opportunity. If you’re interested, please comment and let us know.

We are also looking for bloggers who are looking for authors to do interviews or guest blogs. Are you looking to increase traffic to your site? Give us a shout in comments and we’ll hook you up with one of our fantastic authors!

A year in review (2016) – by Lisa Vasquez

This year has been amazing. Stitched Smile Publications has accomplished so many things and the best part about it is it was all accomplished together.

We’re a small, independent house. We knew going in we weren’t going to be rich and that’s a good thing because being rich wasn’t the goal of Stitched Smile Publications. The goal was to “change the face of the industry” and to “unleash the voices” of our authors.

There have been growing pains, but at the end of the day … or year … I can say we have grown into a company I’m proud to call my family.

THE GENESIS
January 6, 2016 – Stitched Smile Publications was born. Through a 12-hour, grueling “launch party” on Facebook, we emerged with a rebel yell. Our first publications were received well. More than well. We were embraced, and people began talking about us.

CREATING AN IMPRINT
SSP did something unique and it turned out to be a goldmine because we’ve acquired a staff that is professional, educated, experienced, and well-rounded. While some have come and gone for their own personal reasons, there’s not one person still in the company who doesn’t have a hand in the daily operations of Stitched Smile Publications. I’ve said from the beginning, if someone stays, it is because they want to be here. If they leave it’s because they have fulfilled whatever journey they came here for. No matter what happens, the imprint of our company will be in them wherever they go. And for those who stay? They give back in so many ways, from becoming mentors and taking on a leadership role with the VIP authors to adding “illustrator” as well as “author” to their resume.

This truly is … The House That Stitch Built. Brick by brick, word by word.

DEFYING OBSTACLES
I feel the most important aspect of our family is how many close friendships have been forged. Despite adversity, jealousy, and negativity, the core members of our publishing house have remained “stitched together”. What that means is we fight for what we believe is the reason we’re here: To tell stories, to make important changes in the industry, to educate, develop, and motivate new writers. We have cultivated an environment where authors feel encouraged, get the support they need, and have fun doing it.

REPUTATION FOR QUALITY AND EXCELLENCE
In less than a year, we’ve created a reputation for quality and excellence. We’ve raised the standard for how serious authors are treated and in return given them a voice … not only in their writing but in how their company is run.

We don’t believe we have to put others down or perpetuate unprofessional rivalries to make us look better. In fact, that was one of the reasons Stitched Smile Publications was created. Authors were caught in between publishers who felt it was OK to participate in drama, slander, name-calling, and other unprofessional behavior. We’ve seen the negativity and we’ve rejected it. If you have time to post things on social media, it should be things that uplift our author’s work.

That’s what we believe.

THE CREAM RISES TO THE TOP
Am I painting a Norman Rockwell picture for you? Well, it’s definitely not all a rose colored view. Like all businesses and relationships, there are strains and fallouts. With so many personalities, especially when dealing with individuals adept in expression, it is never happy-go-lucky, shiny-happy-people, day in and day out.

It’s the strife which strengthens the bond. It’s the common vision and passion for what matters keeping our eyes on the future.

Without further ado – I’d love to share with you our year in review.

 

“This Anthology, is dark, twisted, sick, and some what erotically perverse at times, and I LOVED IT. An excellent collection of short horror stories that will have you turning on a light in the night. If you love your stories creepy, and scary, do not miss this!”  – Amazon Review of “The Voices Within”

“An excellent tale of vampirism and the age old lore that we all know well. This story was truly scary and filled with numerous moments where I was constantly thinking how what I knew made sense compared to what I learned while reading this. The story was told mostly in a timeline perspective. A series of events from start to finish that made up each chapter and then told the story vividly and in a most descriptive fashion. A history lesson based on lore and real fact about not just Vlad the Impaler but also as he progressed or matured. This story focused on not just Vlad Tepes but also other historically known possible vampires throughout our history. This reader most enjoyed Wallachia being mentioned as the vampire lineage was focused on the further the story progressed. This is a story filled with horror, tragedy and family bonds and so much more. This story is for vampire lore fans who enjoy fiction laced with credible historic fact.” – Amazon Review of “Strigoi: The First Family”

“I have to admit, I’m getting a little burned out on zombie books … but this one is different. It drew me in right away and then I didn’t want to put it down. I love a story that lets me see into a character’s heart and soul. Dredging Up Memories does this very well. At times, I wondered if the main character, Walker, is crazy—his friendship with Humphrey??—but it didn’t matter. Crazy or not, he is so human…so fallible. AJ Brown’s story has more depth than most zombie apocalypse books; it’s almost philosophical in parts. Everyone the main character comes across has an impact, leaves him with new lessons learned. In this sense, it reminded me of The Little Prince—only much darker and filled with zombies. What impressed me most about Dredging Up Memories is the high level of talent Brown shows in his writing. When I finished this book, I immediately got another story by AJ Brown. I’m still reading it, but it’s proving to be just as compelling and well-written as this one. One final comment: I found it interesting that Brown was able to write a ZA story without using obscene language. I’m not a prude when it comes to language, but this was refreshing.”  – Amazon review for “Dredging Up Memories”

 

What we have in store for next year will blow you away. We hope you will be with us for the ride!

Lisa Vasquez
CEO Stitched Smile Publications, LLC.

By design, Lisa Vasquez creates horror with vivid, dark, and twisted words and images that not only drags the reader in between the pages, but onto the covers that house them, as well. When she releases her grasp, readers are left alone to sort through the aftermath those images leave behind; each one becoming a seed that roots itself within the soft confines of their psyche. She takes this passion for writing horror and uses it to mentor other authors and volunteers as the Publisher’s Liaison for the Horror Writers Association. In January 2016, Lisa took her commitment to the next level and opened an independent publishing house, Stitched Smile Publications.

Her work can be found in several anthologies, and her upcoming, full-length novels will be released in 2016. For more information and updates on Lisa’s work, you can find her at: http://www.unsaintly.com or on Facebook (facebook.com/unsaintlyhalo), Twitter (@unsaintly), Instagram (unsaintly)

What Does It Take to Be An Indie Author

People often wonder what’s so hard about writing and being self published. I get asked all the time, “How hard can it really be?”

Let me tell you how hard it is.

Most Indie authors don’t make enough to give up their day job. So let’s guest take into consideration that many are trying to live “double lives”.

They are perhaps any one, or more, of the following:

A full-time employee
A full-time student
A parent
A caregiver
Disabled (and trying to make a living)
A soldier
A police officer
A clergyman
A teacher

And the list goes on…

Working a full-time job (40+ hours a week), then coming home and clearing your head to re-engage a story line, and perhaps having to split that time between family or school makes the job that much more difficult.

If you do not have a publisher and want to make it in the industry, now you get to add the time of research and marketing. I’m here to tell you, that’s a full-time + overtime job, alone.

Let’s get into actually publishing the book. Is it common knowledge to know how create a book cover, book trailer, format interior pages, bleed margins, etc.?

No? Well, Heck! Let’s find some hours to learn all that, too. How about throwing some money at stock art, purchasing editing, proof copies, and actual ads?

I’m pretty exhausted just typing all this out.

The end result is countless hours spent on a minimal budget. However, purchasing Indie had tremendous impact on your community. Buying local is the way to go.

Yes, you’ll run into rough reads. Yes, you’ll wonder why someone bothered to even put effort into hitting “publish”. Who has ever enjoyed every single book they’ve picked up? Even from traditional publishers? I don’t care how you dress up a boring read, boring is boring.

It’s not easy doing what Indie authors do. And they don’t all do it for the fame. Most know what they’re getting into but cannot see themselves doing anything else. So don’t feel sorry for them. Just offer to read their book, maybe a nice review to go along with it if you liked it, and telling your peers about that great new author you discovered!

Marketing for Authors 101 Series

Authors do you feel overwhelmed by everything that goes into running your  business? The process of taking a work from concept to publisher is daunting enough without having to also worry about how you’re going to get it to potential readers.

Stitched Smile Publications can help you get your latest work to the public as soon as you go live. What genres are we interested in?  Crime, Horror, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and that includes short stories.

This article will dispel some of the myths and offer solid marketing know how to get your book the quality attention it deserves.

_____________________________

Some people believe that selling is a natural talent; more about being liked than being trained with a skill. Truth be told, like most other things, pitching a book is a little bit of both – tossed with some old fashioned luck, positive energy in the universe, a good hair day, the right blouse or tie, and mostly, what kind of day your listener is having, which you have NO control over.

Selling isn’t easy, but it can be done, and it can be fun – especially for authors – because who is more passionate about their product than an author pitching his/her book? Yes, some of you may be natural salespeople, and yet some of you may cringe at the thought of self-promotion. Regardless of your past experience, if you have a creative mind, an excellent book, and a keen ability to listen with intuition, you can sell like you never imagined.

This article is intended to serve as a sales training guide for authors; a checklist to help you craft a series of pitches to have ready at any moment. There are three things to remember:

  • The four Ps of marketing
  • The four keys to any successful pitch
  • The four pitch lengths for a simple yet comprehensive book promotion strategy.
  1. Product– First and foremost, you must have an excellent book. If your book is not of fantastic quality (content, cover design, editing, layout and production), you have to ask yourself why readers will notice it, then spend precious time and money on buying and reading it. You also need to consider whether your book will not only be bought and read, but mentioned, discussed, and recommended to others. Will word of mouth help your book take on a life of its own? Considering these questions will help you start to form marketing ideas, along with realistic goals and expectations.
  2. Position– Who are the layers of your target audience? What will your book mean to them? Will it enlighten, entertain, empower, educate? All of the above? Is it a light, chick lit summer vacation book, or a seasonal tax prep guide for dummies? Think about who your readers are, and how you can promote in seasonal message themes throughout the year.
  3. Pricing– Today’s book pricing is, in a word, anarchy. There doesn’t seem to be an agreed standard of right or wrong, but there are loads of opinions about both. Go with introductory sale pricing or even FREE launch days to kick off a new title. Do your homework. Research other books  in your genre and how they are priced per format by various sellers. Consider your margins with each distributor to determine realistic financial goals and a successful pricing formula.
  4. Promotion– Promotion actually breaks down into even MORE Ps… people, prospects, platform, presentations, pitching, press and PR, the list goes on. Promotion is essentially the mix of media channels and tools you select to integrate for massive yet targeted book exposure.

The four keys to any successful pitch:  Simple. Concise. Informative. Entertaining.

When you can accomplish this mix in each of the pitch scenarios listed below, you will have a winning pitch prepared and ready every time, and you will never blow an opportunity to sell your book. There can be many reasons why a…store manager or producer might reject a book, but you want to walk away from every exchange knowing that you were prepared, professional and convincing.

If you’ve done all you could, and the book simply isn’t a fit for them at this time, you move on with your chin up and no regrets. Rejection is a natural part of sales. The gift is when you wisely prepare, then approach each encounter with confidence, so you can walk away with dignity regardless of how it turns out.

Stitched Smile Publications

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