Posts Tagged ‘self-published’

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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Sorry folks, but this cold virus is really causing havoc here, so I’ve decided to do you all a favor (read: not write anything in gibberish as that seems to be how I’m speaking today :P) and repost Improve Your Writing with these Editing Tips by Dustin Wax. He’s got some great advice I think we can all use, especially if you’re a DIY-er.

Improve Your Writing with these Editing Tips

Teachers, business people, and just about everyone else it seems complain often and loudly that people today (usually “kids today”) don’t know how to write. I’m convinced, though, that a big part of the problem (perhaps the biggest part of the problem) is that people don’t know how to edit. We labor under the notion that good writing flows easily from the pen or typing fingers, and that editing too much will “kill” our work.

The best writers know differently, of course — their memoirs and biographies and writing manuals are filled with stories of books that needed to be cut in half to be readable, sentences that took weeks or months to get just right, and lifetimes spent tinkering with a single work that never strikes them as “just right”. To paraphrase a common saying among writers, there is no good writing, only good re-writing.

But if writing isn’t taught well enough or often enough these days, editing is hardly taught at all. This is too bad, since editing is where the real work of writing is at. More than just proofreading, good editing improves the clarity and forcefulness of a piece. Here’s some tips and tricks to help you make your writing more effective:

read the rest of his post, with all the great tips and tricks here.

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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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I blame academia for my inability to fully enjoy movies, television shows and books.

Okay, so earning my BA in English isn’t the only reason I find it difficult to enjoy those things. A lot of it has to do with being an Independent Author and valuing well-written stories over flash. I cannot sit down to any form of story-telling entertainment without my writer’s hat. It’s a little like the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter, talking to me the whole time about what “should” be happening or what’s about to happen because the story is so predictable or… well, you get the picture. Since I can’t seem to enjoy a book without picking it apart anyway, I’ve chosen to use that annoying habit to my advantage — and hopefully yours.

As Independent Authors, getting your book reviewed is very important. It’s also one of the most difficult things to accomplish. That is why I’m going to answer April Hamilton’s An Indie Call To Action and begin reviewing self-published books. I hope to be able to do this on the first Saturday of each month, but it may be less often. However, I think it’s important to lay the ground rules before starting a new project like this.

First: I’ll be focusing mostly on eBooks because they are less expensive, are in the fastest growing market, and are convenient for my schedule requirements. That is not to say I won’t review a print edition if someone wants to send me a freebie or I find one with a blurb that really catches my eye.

Second: I take notes as I read the book. If something catches my eye, be it good or bad, I’ll make a note of it. That way I can give specifics as well as an overall opinion. Unfortunately, that will also mean giving out some spoilers. I’ll do my best to alert you to those, but some may slip through.

Third: I will strive to do a review and not an all out critique, something that I think should be between an author and his/her critique partner or group. Occasionally, though, I’ll find technical problems in a work that just scream to be pointed out and, as M. B. “Bud” Fields, Jr., author of Review vs. Critique: My Personal Philosophy, says “When these difficulties “take over” my reading, I either grab my critiquing hat, or put the work down.”

Getting good reviews are important for any author, but especially for those who self-publish. It is my intent to find those shining examples of self-publishing and share them with my fellow travelers on The Road to Writing.

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I recently read a guest post by Chris Keys, author of The Fishing Trip – A Ghost Story and Reprisal!: The Eagle Rises!, about the difficulties of selling self-published books.  According to Chris, he’s only sold about a dozen books.  It seems typical of independent authors, but here’s the catch: I looked for Chris’ book The Fishing Trip – A Ghost Story on Amazon and found that he only had it in print.

What really bothers me about this is that he used CreateSpace to publish his book.  I would think putting out a Kindle edition as well as a print edition would have been a no brainer.  It’s really too bad Chris didn’t go with both because I was poised to purchase an eBook edition, provided the price was right, on the spot.  I wishlisted the book, but that doesn’t mean I’ll remember to go back and buy it later.

I’m left wondering how many indie author sales are lost because of this kind of shortsightedness.  Between earning higher profits on lower prices and the immediate delivery (aka immediate gratification) of eBooks, how can anyone afford not to publish in electronic format?  That’s especially true now that epublishing is free on major bookseller sites like Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

I suppose many authors cringe at the idea of formatting their manuscript into eBook format. It’s not as difficult as you might think, though it does take some time. There are numerous articles on the web on how to do this, including “How to Format Ebooks” by Jamie Wilson and “How to Format an Ebook” by Smashwords’ Mark Coker. If you use Adobe InDesign, check out EPUB Straight to the Point by Elizabeth Castro. For basics on Kindle formatting browse Joshua Tallent’s Kindle Formatting web site.

If you still don’t want to try formatting your own book (or find you just can’t wrap your mind around it) then find someone who can. Indie Author April L. Hamilton of Publetariat offers eBook formatting at a reasonable price. She also warns us of taking the cheap route and simply converting a manuscript rather than having it formatted properly.

Formatting is different from conversion in that formatting standardizes the manuscript and creates any companion files needed for the eBook while conversion is simply loading the work into a program and clicking a button. Conversion is easy. Formatting takes more time and effort.

Regardless of whether you choose to do it yourself or have someone else do it for you, if you want to get your book into the hands of more readers, don’t neglect the eBook format on The Road to Writing.

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Publisher’s Weekly has announced that they will begin “showcasing” self-published books in a “special” quarterly supplement — for a price. That price includes only a listing and brief book description, no review unless you’re one of the few the staff deems “worthy.”

Worthy? I’ve read plenty of highly acclaimed traditionally published books that I found unworthy of the paper they were printed on. A book’s worth is in the mind of the reader and I don’t like someone telling me what’s worth my time (which is why I seldom pay attention to reviews). This new “acceptance” of self-publishing by Publisher’s Weekly is no better than a back-handed compliment.

Yet, maybe Independent Authors are asking for it.

It’s well known that there is no love loss between Independent Authors and traditionally published authors, but there is one thing I don’t see amongst traditionally published authors that is rampant among indie authors. They don’t quibble over how a book is produced. Among indie authors there is hot debate (and a lot of derogatory words flung from both sides) over whether a POD author can be considered self-published or not.

Who cares?! Isn’t it the quality that matters? Crap is crap regardless of whether you’re a self-published author, POD author or traditionally published author and readers know that. Perhaps if Independent Authors — ALL INDEPENDENT AUTHORS — would stop bickering over whose method is better and start doing a better job of producing a high quality product we would gain the respect our hard work deserves instead of being told by someone else that we have to pay to be included in a second-class supplemental with no guarantees of being reviewed.

I say it’s high time all Independent Authors stand together and march forward with quality products in hand on The Road to Writing.

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I was recently browsing the blogosphere for eBooks on self-publishing and blogging when I came across Kristen Lamb’s eBook We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. It sounds like a very interesting read based on the blurb at Who Dares Wins Publishing. Will I buy it? Not without a lot of thinking and considering.

The information available in the book sounds great. I enjoy reading Kristen’s blog. I’m looking for whatever new info I can get on self-publishing and blogging. The price for the print version ($14.99 @ Amazon) is reasonable for a self-published book. The eBook version is also not terribly high ($7.99 for .pdf, .ePub, MS Reader, .mobi and Kindle). So why not jump on it? Because I have no idea exactly what is in it.

Think about the pull bookstores have on potential readers. What’s the one thing they still have in their favor? You can sit and peruse a book before you buy it. It’s the same reason customers prefer to buy books on Amazon that have the Look Inside feature. No matter how fantastic your blurb is, it will never fully capture what lies between the covers.

I could buy the less expensive eBook version of We Are Not Alone, but I’d still be out $7.99 if I don’t like it. (Even if I hate a book, I rarely return it or try to sell it.) That’s often the risk readers are faced with when looking at self-published books/eBooks and, with people reigning in their spending, giving away a free sample can mean the difference between a sale or clicking on by.

There really is no excuse for not providing a sample, especially if you do the work for your book yourself (which is what self-publishing is all about). I know of at least three ways to make a sample available to potential readers.

  1. Create a .pdf version and make it available for free download on your web site. You’d want to create something similar to an Amazon Look Inside for it to be of real value to potential readers.  Hacking up your book into sample bits like this can be a challenge, but it’s better than not having a sample at all.

  2. Use a service such as Scribd. Again, this means creating your own .pdf sample of your book, but you’ll reach an audience you may not reach otherwise.

  3. Go with BookBuzzr. This service is by far the best available to Independent Authors. They will hack your book however you want and give you widgets to use for your blog, facebook and email. Beyond that you can set up automatic tweets to market your book.

If you plan to sell your self-published books, you must reach readers, entice them to give you their hard won money, and the best way to do that is to offer them a sample of your wares on The Road to Writing.

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