Aicha Zoubair

Jessica Bell

Tuesday, January 7, 2014



After five years of writing and editing and more writing and polishing, I decided to take the self-publishing route. While I cannot say whether or not I chose wisely, I can share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1.) TO MARKET, TO MARKET: Here’s a little twist on the old tree falling in the forest question: if a book appears for sale online and no one knows about it, does it really exist? In what may have been the cruelest cut of all for an introvert like me, I realized that it wasn’t enough just to write a book, I had to market it as well. Thus began a steep learning curve… part of which is this blog post!

2.) LANGUAGE LESSONS: If you’re not tech-savvy, then you better know someone who is. I know enough to get around online, but when people start tossing out terms like epub and mobi files and metadata and widgets, I panic. It really is all Greek to me. Thankfully, I have a couple of tech-savvy people in my life who have held my hand the whole way.

3.) ISBN: I’ll be honest. This one is still a muddy issue for me. I thought, “One book, one ISBN, right?” Wrong. Evidently, a different ISBN is needed for each platform on which you publish. So one for Amazon, one for Barnes and Noble, one for Kobo and so on (but don’t quote me on this, because I am not an expert). To make matters more confusing, some of these entities have their own internal identifying numbers. See? Clear as mud.

4.) JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER: I’ve always known that people really do judge books by their covers, but for some reason I forgot this when it came to my own. I reasoned that a graphic designer would be too expensive and I could get by without one. When I finally decided to revamp the cover, I did some research and found a graphic designer whose previous work fit my own aesthetic (a big shout out to Streetlight Graphics here!). They created a gorgeous cover that not only pops off the screen, it also tells a story. And it wasn’t that expensive.

5.) “LIKE” ME!… OR ELSE: At the same time I commissioned a new cover, I put in a request for a Facebook banner. For me, creating a FB page was way more daunting than publishing my book online. The act of hanging out my shingle and declaring myself an author felt audacious. Even more daunting was sending out invitations to “like” my page. This scenario was ripe for all sorts of insecurities to rear their ugly heads, but it turned out alright in the end. I now have a lot of fun with my FB page; not only do I use it as a platform to promote my book, I also funnel my literary musings, memes, quotes and blog posts through there. So… “like” me?

6.) TO BLOG OR NOT TO BLOG: I’m not a very disciplined writer and I begged off of blogging for years because I reasoned that if the stars do align and I not only have the time, but the creative energy to write, I should spend that working on my book, not a blog. A compromise was needed. After I placed my book on Goodreads, I noticed they had an option for an author blog. Et voilà, my blog Fierce Bee and Other Falsehoods was born. My posts are used occasionally for promotional purposes, but usually they’re random essays springing from the impulse of the moment. Not only is Fierce Bee an outlet to express myself outside of Echo’s world, it’s also a way to connect with my readers on another level.

7.) HUMBLE TWITTER PIE: Speaking of blogs, I recently recounted my Twitter tale on my blog. For years, I have resisted joining Twitter. As a self-described wallflower, I’m intimidated by Twitter; it’s like Facebook on steroids, a colossal spider‘s web of self-promotion. Then I ran into another author who set me straight. After I loftily declared to her that I would never open up a Twitter account, she solemnly replied that it had been the most helpful tool for marketing her book. Before I could respond, her attention was diverted and I was left standing there… foot in mouth. How did I redeem myself? I went home and set up a Twitter account. Oh how the mighty have fallen. J

8.) MAD WOMAN: In another example of the mighty falling, I was also very much against the notion of advertising. I dipped my toe into the ad waters this month, however, and am coming around to the idea. My budget is small, but I now see how a small ad campaign here and there can be quite helpful.

9.) POSTCARDS FROM THE UNDERWORLD: I contacted that wonderful graphic designer again and asked if they could design a promotional postcard for me. They did and I sent it off to the printer and my order just arrived last week. My plan is to hit up friends with businesses to put some postcards out for their customers to see. I’m also going to visit local middle and high schools and offer to speak about my writing experience to English classes and I will have the postcards to hand out.

10.) IT’S ALREADY AWESOME SAUCE: I encountered this inspired phrase at a recent book club meeting and instantly imagined an old fashioned glass medicine bottle full of magical BBQ sauce. When I start to doubt myself or the path I’ve chosen, I can just conjure up an image of this bottle as a reminder that whatever happens or doesn’t happen with my book, it’s already awesome sauce. The joy is in the journey, not the destination.


On an autumn afternoon, seventeen year-old Echo Tenbrook slips into a woodland park near her Seattle home and unwittingly awakens her ability to perceive the spirit world, setting into motion a chain of events that will lead her across the globe and into a lost world.

When Echo and her younger sister Persephone are lured into a forbidden cave in the shadow of their ancestral Tuscan villa, they find themselves at the mercy of Oca, a witch who has need of Echo’s sixth sense. To save her sister’s life, Echo undertakes a perilous quest to find a magical tree, long since hidden by a dead king. With Oca’s mysterious servant Samuel as her guide and protector, Echo travels across a subterranean sea to an ancient city and beyond, encountering dangerous obstacles and mythological creatures along the way.

The farther she travels into the unknown, the deeper Echo falls under the twin spells of the Underworld and her guide, Samuel. But not all is as it seems. Before Echo completes her quest, she will learn the full extent of Oca’s treachery. With the lives of many hanging in the balance and her own heart on the line, Echo will have to find the courage to confront the darkness that envelops her, inside and out.

Inspired by fairy tales and mythology, Echo in the Underworld is an enchanting adventure story that celebrates the discovery of magic, of things lost and found and of one’s quiet inner strength when all hope seems gone.

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Genre - Young Adult Fantasy

Rating – PG

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