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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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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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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 connect through social media. 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 don’t believe you can’t. 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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Editing. Possibly one of the most loathed words in a writer’s vocabulary. It’s a necessary evil, but with the right tools and some help from people who understand what you’re doing you won’t need to put it under getting a root canal on your to-do list.

The first thing you need to do is to evaluate is your budget. That may seem like an odd thing to suggest, but there’s a good reason I have. If you can afford to pay a professional to help you in the editing process, then do it. They get paid because they know what they’re doing.

Once you’ve checked your budget and know what you can afford, decide who you need to hire. I recommend reading Joel Friedlander‘s post What Every Self-Publisher Ought to Know About Editing before actually hiring anyone because each part of the editing process calls for a different skill set. You want to hire the right person for the right job.

Once you know who you need it’s a matter of searching for the individual who can do the job within your budget limitations. Start with your POD or print house. They often have editing packages that easily fit into smaller budgets. If you don’t find what you need there, then ask around. Most self-published/Independent Authors will be happy to make referrals. It’s in our best interest to help other self-publishers/Independent Authors find people who will do a great job editing.

Perhaps you’ve looked at your finances and found you have a big fat ZERO in your budget for editing expenses. Let me just say, not having a budget for editing expenses does not excuse you from the process.

If you absolutely cannot afford to pay someone to edit your work, then you must be even more vigilant when you do your own first edits and re-writes. Invest in some good style and grammar books (you may find them in your local library or, better yet, second-hand on Amazon.com). I like Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing and the most recent edition of the AP Stylebook. You can also find a lot of free editing information on the internet just by doing a quick search. Just remember that searching for an answer can be time-consuming (especially if you tend to get side-tracked) and sometimes confusing.

Once you’ve done plenty of editing on your own, it’s time to submit your work to a writers’ group like Critters or Absolute Write. Be sure you choose the right forum when you submit your work or you’ll be in for some nasty returns. Keli Gwyn of Romance Writers on the Journey: Resources for romance writers en route to publication suggests in her post “How to Find Critique Partners” that writers find a critique partner in their particular genre.

Another good idea is to let plenty of people read your work before sending it to your POD or print house. I particularly like getting the insights of my non-writer friends since they make up the largest part of my readership.

Whether you have money to burn or a wallet full of moths, there is no excuse for skipping the rigors of good editing on The Road to Writing.

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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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