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Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

The road to publication is filled with pain and tears… bloodshed… mayhem…. I’m being melodramatic here. Of course, that could just be that I’ve recently read several posts about how painful the publication process can be and how difficult it is to write good fiction. Here’s a small sampling:


“This is literally years of work you’re seeing. And hours and hours of work each day. The amount of time and energy I put into marketing is exhausting. I am continuously overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do that isn’t writing a book. I hardly have time to write anymore, which sucks and terrifies me.” — Amanda Hocking’s post Some Things That Need to Be Said


“When it comes to traditional publication, at times, it may feel like the journey is filled with one root canal and subsequent infection after another. We know what’s coming—the long waits, the rejections, the stinging feedback. We’ve heard others talk about it, we brace ourselves for it, but then when it comes we’re unprepared for how much it really hurts.” — Jody Hedlund’s post Enduring the Pain in the Quest for Publication


“I’ve been blogging for a little over three years. I’ve been writing fiction since … well, pretty much since I could write. My blog posts are read by thousands of people. Only 1% of the fiction I’ve ever written has been published. Fiction is incredibly hard to do well.” — Ali Luke’s post Why Fiction is So Hard to Write



Admittedly, I’m picking on these blogger/authors, but it’s only because these posts spotlight the prevailing problem I’m seeing amongst writers, both new and not-so-new. We’ve picked up the bad habit of looking at the challenges, the hardships, and forgetting the real reason behind why we write. Most of us write because we can’t stop writing. We may ask, “Is it time to just give it up?” as JM Tohlin did before finally publishing The Great Lenore, but when it comes down to brass tacks we simply are unable to.

There’s about as much choice in sitting down to craft a story as there is in breathing.

The fact is, yes, getting published traditionally is hard and being self-published can mean hard work (unless you’re JA Konrath). But here’s another fact: dwelling on how hard it is doesn’t get the story written. It’s time we dragged ourselves out of the pit of despair, step down from our high horses, and get to work.

So in the spirit of moving forward, here’s 4 great links to help get you in the groove:

  1. Opportunity Comes in Overalls by Kristen Lamb: She’s a social media expert with a sharp sense of humor who seems to know just when we need a kick in the pants and that’s exactly what she gives us in this post.

  2. A Perfectionist’s Guide to Editing: 4 Stages by Jami Gold: Jami’s a paranormal author on a deadline battling the imp of perfection, something many of us are doing, and gives us 4 great ways to ignore and use our inner perfectionist.

  3. Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris: This book is a plotter’s dream (and can help pantser’s too 😉 ) as it gives easy to use steps in developing a novel from the first spark of an idea to the finished product.

  4. Hooked by Les Edgerton: This book is the simplest guide I’ve found thus far on how to fashion a beginning that’ll keep ’em reading to the end.



What other ways have you found to pick yourself up and find that forward momentum you lost?

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Death and taxes, the two unavoidables in life. Thankfully there are people and web sites out there to help us slot all those numbers in the correct places on the correct forms and keep us from having to visit with a friendly IRS agent because we’ve gotten “creative” with the numbers. Here are 7 links to help you understand how to do your taxes:

  1. The IRS — this one seems rather obvious. It’s their forms, their rules, so it makes sense to check out their site for answers to our questions.

  2. Tax Advice for Writers by Bonnie Lee — simple to read and easy to understand with a great section on hobby-loss information

  3. A Fool And Her Money — depending on when you’ve started getting your tax-related material together, The Money Book may be more helpful for next year’s tax season, but it’s a resource worth investing in

  4. Tax Tips for Writers a guest post by Jessica Monday — more information on what can be used as a deduction including what can happen when you sell your house

  5. Tax Tips for Writers Freelance Income Reporting by Rachel Campbell — includes information on deductions and what forms writers need to fill out

  6. Tax Tips for Freelancers by Julian Block — a short, but excellent article on bad-debts that can’t be deducted

  7. Taxes and The Writer by Daniel Steven — information on accounting methods, types of income and forms, as well as another list of deductions

Doing taxes can be frightening and overwhelming, not to mention disappointing if you have to pay instead of getting a nice refund, but it’s unavoidable on The Road to Writing.

I’d love to hear from all of you. Besides checking with a good tax accountant, what other tips do you have for doing taxes?

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It’s amazing, being a mother of a toddler, how much this little girl has taught me in just the 1 1/2 years she’s been with us. What’s even more amazing is that many of those lessons can be applied to self-publishing.

Lesson #1: Anything worth doing takes time. My daughter has been a little slow in using “big people” words, until recently. In fact, up until a few days ago, she would refuse to say words we knew she knew how to say. I can only guess the reason behind it was she wanted to be sure she could say it right before putting it out there for everyone to hear. In self-publishing,  throwing your work out to the general public before you’ve refined it to its best is a very bad decision. It’s bad for sales, bad for your reputation and bad for other self-publishers’ reputations. If you think it’s worth publishing, then take the time to do it well.

Lesson #2: Learn to have patience, with yourself and those around you. Tiny Tot, as we affectionately call her, can throw some of the best tantrums when she loses patience with a toy that isn’t doing exactly what she wants. She’s actually lost patience with herself, not the toy. Thankfully, Grandma has helped her cope with those moments by teaching her to tell herself that it’s okay, with a little patience she’ll be able to do what she is trying to do. (We now hear her repeating “okay” to herself on those occasions.) As a self-publisher, you want to make it all happen right now, but that’s not the way it works. It takes time to build a fan base, time to build your email list. Everything takes time and that’s okay.

Lesson #3: Sometimes it helps to explain what you’re doing. Refilling a sippy cup of milk used to cause a melt-down. She was getting what she wanted, more milk, but she didn’t understand what had to happen to get it. Since we began explaining each step as we do it we’ve managed to avoid those tantrums. I’ve found gathering support for my self-publishing venture easier to gain when I explain exactly what it is I’m doing along the way.

Lesson #4: If you’re having a hard time making anything do what you want, take a nap (or at least a break). When my little girl starts throwing tantrums over the smallest things, a piece of paper she can’t fit into a bottle or the opening of the freezer instead of the refrigerator (she’s still working on how to make her wants known), I know it’s time for some downtime, be it a nap or just a drink and some quiet rocking time with Mama. I understand where she’s coming from because when I get tired and/or frustrated with a project I know it’s time for a break — or to go to bed when I’m burning the midnight oil. Coming back to a project refreshed means being able to look at it from other angles and maybe finding a solution I didn’t see before.

Lesson #5: You can do anything you set your mind to so long as you believe in yourself. Tiny Tot has done some things I didn’t think she’d be able to. For example, at eleven months old she said her first (and only to date) complete sentence. She asked her Grandma, “Can I do that?”, meaning she wanted to help Grandma re-load the dishwasher. If her Grandma and one of her aunt’s hadn’t also heard her say it, I would have believed my mind was playing tricks on me. She didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to be able to do that, but she did it. Self-publishing can be like that. There are a lot of experts who say you can’t do better than break even by self-publishing; however there are people doing just that. In fact, it’s said that self-published fiction books (especially in eBook form) are the least likely to be purchased and yet Independent Authors like Joe Konrath are doing quite well. These people have been told they “can’t” do what they’re doing. They just don’t accept that they “can’t.”

I’m glad I’ve taken the time to get to know my little girl because she’s given me some wonderful tips. Listening to what my toddler teaches has made my life, and my self-publishing career, a richer experience on The Road to Writing.

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As with all other aspects of independent publishing, the choice of published format abounds. Do you choose hardcover or paperback?

If you publish with a traditional publisher, they will most likely make the decision for you. That can be a good thing if you have a hard time making decisions, but it could also mean the death of your hard work. If your publisher decides to publish your book in hardcover, and it doesn’t sell well, then the chances of it being released as a paperback are slim.

So why would a publisher want to publish a hardcover copy first? For two main reasons: 1) old guard reviews and 2) profit margin. Reason one begs the question, how many people actually read book reviews in newspapers and magazines anymore? And furthermore, how many of those people actually purchase a book based on a review they’ve read? Most of the people I know, myself included, decide on a book based on word of mouth or, if I’m buying online, based on customer reviews of a book.

When I’m in a bookstore I buy a book based on the bit I’ve scanned (usually the table of contents, if it’s non-fiction, and the first couple of chapters). Occasionally I ‘ll buy a book based on what I’ve read on the internet via blogs and web sites, but since I don’t know these people I’m always very cautious about spending the money. After all, haven’t we all discovered at one time or another that our taste in reading material differs greatly from others?

Reason two makes more sense financially. As Justine Larbalestier, author of YA novel Liar, says, “An average royalty for hardcover is 10%, and for paperback 6%. So [paperbacks] are a smaller percentage of a smaller amount of money, which means on average you have to sell three times as many to earn out.” But I don’t see the merit for an independent publisher to make every decision based solely on how many books sell in one format.

In the same blog post, Justine points out that there are several book series that debuted in paperback and saw great sales. So the question becomes, what does the reader want? (And aren’t they the ones we have to please anyway?) That, I’m afraid, comes down to personal preference. There are those who love the look and feel of a hardcover book. Librarians prefer hardbacks because they last longer. Book collectors say the same thing. People who love hardbacks are willing to pay for them. However, I would hazard a guess that only a few will buy a hardcover book from an unknown author without having the benefit of word of mouth or personally perusing the book.

The rest of us prefer paperbacks for some of the same reasons. I love the feel of a paperback, of being able to read one-handed while eating. I also like that I can easily stick a paperback in my purse for those long waiting times at the doctor’s office (assuming my daughter’s not with me :)) or during a solo lunch.

There is one bit of information in favor of paperbacks that Justine passes along in her post and that is that, while hardcover sales are down, paperbacks are only down slightly and in some cases are actually climbing. I see that as a good sign that independent publishers should strongly consider releasing everything in paperback first. For myself, I’ve decided on that route. I figure if it sells well enough in paperback, chances are good there will be those wanting it in hardcover.

Of course, there’s no reason an independent author can’t do both if you’re using a POD company. The choices on The Road to Writing are as wide open as any creative soul could want.

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Love it or hate it, if you’re a writer you can’t ignore it.  It’s the debate on whether being self-published is valid or not and whether we should continue to call ourselves Independent Authors or Self-published Authors.  After reading Victoria Strauss’ “Why You Are Probably Not an Independent Author (or, Another Post for Which I Expect I Will Get Some Flack)” I thought I’d chime in on the argument.

I must admit that Victoria’s idea that using the term “Independent” was: 1) inaccurate, 2) redundant, and 3) euphemistic and that we should all just call ourselves “self-published” (unless we can’t “admit that self-publishing actually does still carry a stigma“) made me rather angry.  If we put her words to work, then we can’t even call ourselves “self-published” unless we do everything, including printing each and every copy ourselves.

As MeiLin Miranda commented, “But why should people be stigmatized for trying to find their own audience? What amazes me is that literature is the last medium where the gatekeepers are still so firmly worshipped and those outside the gates so deeply despised.”  MeiLin goes on to explain that bands and comic artists aren’t stigmatized by going the independent route.  The question is, why are authors?

One person commented that “self-published” equalled poor quality writing.  I can’t argue that in a lot of cases that is true.  However, this person believes that by going the traditional route one’s writing will become better because it must get past the editor’s desk first.  I say, not so!  I’ve seen plenty of traditionally published books that make me shudder from the poor quality.  It was published because the publisher believed it would sell, not because it was well-written.  If a writer wants to improve his or her writing and still self-publish, then that writer must seek out an unbiased third-party to edit the piece.  There are groups like Critters for that.

As Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords publishing, points out, “Part of the problem here is that many traditionalists (uh oh, did I just create a new label?) have spent years maligning the term “self-published” to connote “loser author,” “failure,” “not good enough to get published in a respectable manner,” and worst of all, “vanity.””  He goes on to say about vanity that “…the word also implies conceited and excessive pride in one’s appearance. What’s more vain than an author refusing to publish their book unless its published by a big name NY publisher? Vanity cuts both ways, folks. And let’s face it, publishing is an act of vanity. It’s the author saying, “I have something I think is worth sharing with the world.” Blogging, twittering, public speaking and social networking are all forms of vanity as well.”

There were a lot more comments on both sides.  Obviously I come down on the side of keeping the term “Independent Author”, but I would like to add one more item, something another person added in the comments.  No writer should be stigmatized regardless of what path one takes.  I would like to put forth the idea that both “traditionally published” and “self-published” be abolished from our vocabulary.  Let us all just be writers on The (hard) Road to Writing.

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