Writer Wednesday

The POD issue or something! 😉 I know I mentioned I planned on trying CreateSpace, but the time is flying by so fast, that I postponed to next year. I’m already struggling with Kobo, I don’t want to learn another formatting for a POD – althought they’re probably very similar.

So this year’s novels with come out with Lulu – much like last year. I spent the weekend formatting, and trying to make them more professional than the BoI. I mean the chapter or story starts always on the odd(right) page, even if I have to leave blank pages every now and then.

Having redone also the two volumes of TSK, I put illustrations in the 3 or 4 blank pages between stories. I have also reformatted Soul Stealers for Digest size, so all three titles are currently unavailable for print until I get the new proofs and check them. I modified the covers to fit the Digest format, which is also cheaper on Lulu, as I can choose a cheaper paper.

As for the novels (all CVE novels and novellas), I put a small version of the cover under the title – I’m printing them bundled by two. I probably already mentioned it, but CVE1 will be printed with Allan de Sayek, CVE2 with Records of the Varian Empire and CVE3 with The Warrior Woman.

Still pondering if doing the bundled e-books as well. Or maybe Omnibus e-books of the BoI and the CVE, including all titles of each “series”. E-books don’t have page numbers and it might make for “beefier” e-book titles! 😉 

I also tried the DriveThru print program, as I’m not totally happy with the S.K.Y.B.A.N.D. printed versions I have on Lulu. Lulu handles A5, the format I draw on. I can’t use the “comic book” template, because that’s not the format I use. That’s why I chose Lulu instead of CreateSpace back in 2009 – for my comics and graphic novels. By the way, A5 fits perfectly on tablet/e-readers screens, so I don’t have to add the columns as explained in this excellent book on formatting for Nook and Kindle! 🙂

But this is the POD post, so back to the topic! Of Omnibus 1 I had done both the color and the b&w versions, but the color version is very expensive. DriveThru/Lightning Source offers a “standard color” version that is as cheap as the b&w, so I ordered them – paying with my royalties.

I struggled with the first upload as I hadn’t understood how the cover template worked, but once I got it right, it was almost as easy as Lulu (nobody beats the Lulu Cover Wizard, LOL). It will also help when I’ll have to use a “spine calculator” somewhere else (CreateSpace? This one was from Lighning Source). I had to add 3 pages as well, compared to the Lulu version, as they want the last page to be blank – so I filled the spots with illustrations of the characters. It was quite slow as it took 10 days (and an e-mail asking DriveThru what was going on) to have the two books printed and sent to me. I received them last week, and here’s the comparison.

Covers: looking pretty much the same. The Lulu version has the yellow band to differentiate the color and the b&w edition. But the outside is very much alike.

Inside: tried to take a pic, ended up scanning the books, sorry they came out like this. DriveThru copy is in the center: same paper as Lulu b&w, but in color. The color are duller, but I like it better – they’re more comic-book-like! 😉 I actually thought that the color were too bright in the previous version… so from now on, I’ll print S.K.Y.B.A.N.D. with DriveThru – and they’re the only ones who have the PDF of the single issues as well. That’s because I couldn’t figure out how to get into ComiXology yet, LOL!

Anyway, here are the brand new printed books – also with the PDF available for 2 extra $:

S.K.Y.B.A.N.D. Omnibus 1

S.K.Y.B.A.N.D. Omnibus 2

As I have to order proofs from Lulu, the print versions announced above will probably go live in December. Hopefully sometimes this week I’ll have Records of the Varian Empire out in e-book format on Smashwords, Amazon and Kobo. Oh, and Smashwords finally tipped me on how to find my books on the i-Bookstore, so now I have the neat little widget (to Apple US, so if you’re in another country, ignore it…) on my sidebar and FindMyStuff page! 😉

Here’s how to do it (from Smashwords page):

September 27, 2012 – Apple iBookstore marketing resources.  Apple has an affiliate program that allows you to point your fans to your book at Apple and receive a 5% commission on all purchases within 72 hours.  Click here to learn about the Apple Affiliate program.  Apple has created a cool “Linkmaker” that makes it easy to find the hyperlink to your book at Apple.  Visit LinkMaker here:  http://itunes.apple.com/linkmaker/  Once you’ve got your affiliate code and your hyperlink, add the Apple logo to your website or blog.  Click here for instructions on how to access Apple badges.  Finally, how about a widget for your website or blog featuring a few of your titles?  Click here for WidgetBuilder:  http://widgets.itunes.apple.com/builder  I tried it myself for my three free ebooks over at my image repository blog and found it works quite well for listing one to three books.  View it here: Free Ebook Publishing Guides at Apple.

Why I hate the summer

Because I have low blood pressure.

Because I want to hibernate and wake up when it’s cooler.

Because even if I’m always cold, I’d rather be cold in winter than suffer in the summer heat.

Because during the summer I can’t eat much (which is a wonderful diet, but I don’t really need one).

Because this is the year of the sloth and the summer looks even worse than the previous ones.

Sigh. Anyway, here are a few updates.

Five days and five trojans later, I managed to reinstall the printer. Hopefully the PC will remain virus-free for the rest of the summer.

My stomach is slowly settling, but I still don’t feel like reading fiction, because I’m still too emotional to deal with it. Hence I’ll review a non-fiction book on Friday. And I’ll also postpone dealing with the Amazon pirate to when I feel better – which might mean September, but I don’t care.

Writing-wise: I’ve jotted down all the facts for my historical novel, now I want to add the fiction. I also have a temporary ending, because I feel I’m dragging too long after the climax. So I’ll probably delete a few more scenes or keep the very last two as epilogue (because they’re fiction and not facts). I can’t see the ending I had envisaged originally, so I guess it’s not the right one for this story! 😉

I’m slowly coloring SKYBAND, but my stomach doesn’t allow me to sit for very long at the PC (my seated position is very bad for it in every season, I’m way too tall and tend to curl up even when seated), so I don’t know how long it will take me. Apologies to Dear Reader.

Oh, and it’s sales galore on Smashwords, which means you can have Air with 50% discount, Fire with 25% discount and Arquon FREE – all this until the end of the month, so hurry. One thing I beg you to do is please please please leave a review! How am I supposed to improve my writing if nobody leaves feedback? I’m strong enough, if you hated it and have good reasons for it, say so! Thank you!

Also, especially for the novels, copy and paste your review on Amazon, thank you… and by the way, here’s another deal for you: the first 5 reviews on Amazon, Smashwords or Lulu get the Air merchandising (because I haven’t done the drawings for Fire yet… ahem, sorry!). Offer valid for reviews of both Air or Fire – send your details and link to the review and I’ll post the cards and drawings to you! Thank you!

Have a great week! 🙂


Hope your weekend was better than mine. Saturday morning i caught a virus/worm (in the form of a “malware detector” no less, how wicked is that?) that blocked my PC – my brother saved the day, BUT I still can’t reinstall the printer, the driver fails to install, so I can scan, I have a fax (that I don’t use) but no printer! 😦

The scanner works, though, so I scanned chapter 7 of SKYBAND, so I can start coloring and lettering. This week I’ll be working on chapter 8 at work and the above-mentioned at home. I also went through my notes and research for the end of the historical novel (I had stopped at the death of King Richard and needed to check again the facts under King John), so I hope to write The End on draft 1 this week. Then I must leave it aside for some time and go back to it around the end of the summer – although in this case it might be hard to edit after such a long time, as I’ll probably forget where I found the stuff I used in the book. Although I have a limited number of chronicles to look at… we’ll see.

Still have to hop around your blogs, be patient with me, but I can’t read on screen for very long, so I print out even blog posts and read them offline. I went through the Six Sentences yesterday because Sunday I couldn’t print anything! But don’t worry, you’ll have some links on Friday anyway. 😉

Mailman was good so I got my printed copies of Fire. It is now available on Lulu, although only in the “US edition”. By the way, I took off the “European edition” of Air as well, makes more valuable the copies I have ordered! 😉 I’ll feel less guilty asking for 20euros, as it’s a collector’s edition now! 😀

Fire, "European" Air, and Air!

Something I found this weekend:  things that happen when you choose your cover from stock photos – duplicate. Check these two books from two different authors… Sunlit Days moonlit nights and Safe with me… (I’m going to buy the second as soon as it’s complete, and I see there’s a new cover on the Volume1, good job, Shaina! ;-))

Not being able to “work” meant I watched a couple of DVDs from my pile… and I picked up Dhoom 1 & 2. I can see the influence of American movies such as Point Break, Speed and Ocean’s 11, but all is boiled down Indian style, with wonderful disco songs to dance to.

Did I mention in my last ramblings about Bollywood I might soon have another “movie crush”? Well, ladies, check out Hrithik Roshan in the opening titles of Dhoom 2 (gentlemen, you can watch him do the same number in the company of beautiful Aishwarya Rai in the end titles):

Arf! Pity he’s married and younger than me! 😉

Anyway, both movies are fun to watch, with your “strange couple” of cops who will be back in action next year. Abishek is the tough guy, Uday Chopra the funny one, and if they pick up another bad guy had good looking as the first two (John Abraham and Hrithik Roshan), well, I’m not going to miss Dhoom 3 next year! 😉

Have a gread week! 😀

Thoughts and rants

During the weekend I had a spam comment on an old post which prompted me some reflections. Over one year ago my six impossible things were “the usual”:

1) Find an agent

2) Publish a novel (first step of MANY :-D)

3) Start the Silvery Earth web page

4) Become a best selling author in my genre

5) Write and publish all those Silvery Earth novels/stories/graphic novels (for that staircase, the sky is the limit! ;-))

6) Quit the day job and live of my writing (and I’m not greedy, I only want to be able to quit the day job).

What are they now? 1) I’m not interested anymore, not for Silvery Earth (and even for the historical novel I might look for a small publisher who accepts unsolicited submissions) 2) and 5)  I’ve done it, I’m doing it, thanks Smashwords, Amazon and Lulu! 😀 3) I haven’t done it yet, but might do it by the end of the year, thanks to WordPress. 4) 5000readers is actually enough for me to accomplish 6), I don’t need to be a best-selling author! 😉

I guess the world of publishing has changed a lot since that post, so if I were to redo this list, what would I write? I have a publication (and writing) plan for the next three years or more, I actually have some kind of five years plan so by my 50th birthday I might be able to quit Day Job. But I still don’t know how to reach out to those 5000readers – I probably have a couple of hundreds who don’t leave reviews, so I have no idea of how good I’m doing, besides, they’re downloading free reads, so I don’t know if they’re actual fans, probably not or they’d have bought the other things as well, sigh. I hate marketing strategies and spamming people with my books, so I’m not going to do much more than what I’m already doing.

I guess I’ll just keep writing and blogging and facebooking and reading other blogs (such as I love Smashwords and Dean Wesley Smith and Joe Konrath and Self-published Author’s lounge, but also other authors who are still on my blogroll because they didn’t quit blogging) and meeting other Smashers (that’s Smashwords Authors for those not in the know) and follow what I feel is right, not what everybody says is the right thing to do. As long as I’m having fun, the passion will come out from my work, I think. I won’t have another writer burnout trying to please everybody, that’s for sure.

On Sunday I also tried to upload a one-shot short comic on Smashwords. There are still errors in the e-pub format, but apparently it works. I am very grateful to Jeff Thomason for giving tips on how to do it. I was also very excited because I had my very first review on Smashwords! 😀 With over 500 downloads (full and partial) on 6 titles, it’s the first time I get one… awe! I mean, I know it takes time to read a novel, but all those short stories (over 400 are download of short stories, including the 200 downloads of now 0.99$ Tarun) nobody ever bothered to review… sigh! 😦

Air in print part 2

Ahem, hello dear regular reader of this crazy blog! News from the indie publishing front: I have now made available a US version of Air for those who like reading on dead trees and live in the US. It’s cheaper when shipped to a US address and is made on “publisher” paper with digest size – the inside is exactly the same, albeit adjusted to the new size. And Lulu even gives you this coupon for a FREE mail shipping ending April 30, so hurry!

Use coupon code APRILMAIL305 at checkout, select Mail Shipping and receive the single book shipping cost free. Maximum savings with this promotion is $4.99. Print and tax amounts are excluded. You can only use the code once per account, and you can’t use this coupon in combination with other coupon codes. This great offer ends on April 30, 2011 at 11:59 PM so try not to procrastinate! While very unlikely we do reserve the right to change or revoke this offer at anytime, and of course we cannot offer this coupon where it is against the law to do so. Transaction must be in US dollars.

For the rest of the world, I have some copies (of the “European version“, or the first one that came out) I can sign and add some goodies to for the outrageous price of 20euros which includes: signed book, a couple of cards and a print out of the character of your choice + mailing expenses anywhere in the world. Simply check back on May 1st to choose the print you want with the book.

So, either grab your cheap US print before April 30 if you live in the US, or get the European version for 11euros+mailing expenses for the rest of the world, or, from May 1st, buy a signed copy as above from the author.

If you’d rather save money and trees, please go to the Kindle store or Smashwords, thank you! 🙂

Saturday links – mostly on Borders

OK, Saturday again. Time is really flying! Eek! 😦

From the Blood-Red Pencil ladies, here’s how to pull yourself back from the cliff. Don’t jump yet, there is still hope if you follow this excellent advice! 😉

Clarion defines different kinds of readers – I guess historical fiction caters to the same audience of SF/F (according to them at least), but I’ll keep a different pen-name anyway! 😉

Discussions on POD: Lightning Source vs. CreateSpace. Robin Sullivan (pro-CS) vs. Zoe Winters (pro-LS)! Humble international me went with Lulu because it’s… international! Lightning Source had only US or UK address deliveries at the time (I see it’s become international since), CreateSpace was just starting (from the ashes of BookSurge, if I remember correctly the former POD by Amazon) when I decided to go POD. Hence Lulu seemed the best alternative. Their support team is more efficient than Smashwords even with all those neat little forms even foreign citizens must fill for the IRS, and if I should recommend a POD, it would definitely be Lulu. Also, what I love about Lulu, is the cost calculator that allows you to have an idea of how much your printed book would cost… 😉

One more great post from Zoe Winters about this indie publishing second gold rush. Like she says:  “My goal is to BECOME the best and the brightest, not the person standing on the right street corner at the right time. The latter isn’t repeatable”.

And finally, what is on everybody’s mouth – Borders filing for bankruptcy. As Dean Wesley Smith puts it – “Basically, we’re screwed.” And here are David Farland’s wise words on the topic, his newsletter posted in full.

David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants—Changing TimesAs I’ve been forecasting since last April, we’ve seen some huge changes in the publishing industry this year. 

In the latest news, Borders has filed for bankruptcy here in the United States. Borders of course is the second largest bookstore chain in the United States, but they failed miserably at keeping touch with the changing times. The mistake? They didn’t respond to the online threat from Amazon.com, and they didn’t put together a program to sell electronic books.

As a result, in the fourth quarter of last year, the busiest season for bookstores, Borders group saw sales drop by a whopping 18 percent. So they’re filing for bankruptcy and will be selling about 200-250 stores. Since Borders stores are built, usually, near a Barnes and Noble, one must assume that customers will migrate to the competition.

Meanwhile, Borders doesn’t seem to have a viable plan to stay in business. Instead, some goofball decided to help wannabe authors self-publish their books electronically through a program called BookBrewer. Stay away from Borders’ stock, and stay away from their self-publishing model. Both are poison, in my opinion, and I’m not the only one to think that dealing with them is gonzo.

Borders has a plan to restructure which will pay only about 20 cents on the dollar to its debtors. This is going to hurt a lot of publishers and distributors—to the point that Ingrams, the nation’s largest book distribution company, has ceased providing them with books.

Meanwhile, we’re seeing similar news around the world. A day after Borders announced that it would go into bankruptcy, a major bookstore chain in Australia announced that they were going bankrupt, too. Last week in Canada, a bookstore chain tied to a major distribution company announced that both were filing for bankruptcy, while we see the same happening in England with one of their major chains on its way out.

In short, we’re seeing the dinosaurs all die off. Those businessmen who haven’t adjusted to the way that books are being sold will soon be gone. Whether they’re small private bookstores, major chains, book distribution companies, or publishers, those who don’t adjust will die.

Meanwhile, many publishers are actually showing higher profits right now. With electronic book sales up by 118% for the last year, publishers that take a chunk of electronic rights are actually seeing higher revenues with less in costs, thus increasing their profit margins. So the publishers are healthy. Barnes and Noble is feeling giddy over its sales of e-readers and the accompanying surge in electronic sales. Simon and Schuster, along with a number of other publishers, are seeing a big rise in profitability.

But this leads to a new problem for authors. Those same publishers are finding that the hardcover book market for bestsellers is shrinking. Many of the most active readers, the people who read ten or twenty novels per year, are now reading them on Kindles or iPads. As a result, some authors who were selling three hundred thousand copies in hardcover are finding that more than half of their sales are now made electronically—and that under current contracts, the publishers actually get to keep a larger percent of the author’s income. Thus, an author who might have made a million dollars on a novel last year is finding that he’s losing a couple hundred thousand dollars of that money to the publishers this year.

So now we’re coming to the next big battle. How much of the money on a new release should go to the author? I think that we’ll see some heavy contention—with agents and writers groups lining up to battle the publishers this coming year.

The real battle, perhaps, might re-shape the industry. The argument should be whether “electronic publishing” is really “publishing” at all. Under old-fashioned copyright law, when a publisher buys the right to publish a novel, he’s buying the right to make a physical copy and distribute it.

But with electronic publishing, there is no physical book being created and shipped. The book exists only as an electronic file, in the same way that music files are being downloaded and sold. So the question arises: is the selling of electronic copies in violation with the intent of the copyright law?

At least one judge has ruled that “electronic publishing” should be handled as “electronic licensing.” There is a huge distinction here as far as the author is concerned.

For example, a publisher in today’s world can publish your book, and then hold onto it indefinitely by claiming that he’s still publishing it electronically a hundred years from now, even though he has no other interest in it. The rights to the property would never revert, and the old contracts that are in the books in some cases give very little of the money from those sales to the authors. It creates a perpetual windfall for the publishers, and makes the writer wish that he’d never published the books in the first place.

So authors under the current system basically handle control of their work over to publishers for eternity. Savvy authors don’t want to do that, and if you understand that we see the emergence of a major new market over the next few years, where the control of electronic rights are all-important, it makes you as an author wonder if publishing a book right now is ultimately a mistake. In the long run, an author might make far more by self-publishing his works electronically.

A year ago I would have told you that you should stick with the traditional publishing route. Right now, as we move into a new age, I’m still going to tell you to stick with the traditional route. But here’s the thing: self-publishing electronically looks like a better alternative every day, even to someone like me who is a New York Times bestseller.

So when do you give up on the old system? So much depends upon you as an author. I’m an old guy in my fifties. For me, the old system still makes a lot of sense. But if I were eighteen or twenty, and I was looking at giving up thirty percent of my income on a book for life, just to have it published by some sloppy New York Publishing company that probably wouldn’t do anything to push my books anyway, I’d be giving New York the evil eye right about now.

Think about it: is an extra $20,000 in your pocket right now worth a loss of 30% in income on the sales of your book for the next fifty years? That’s the gamble you’re taking on publishing, and increasingly new authors are saying “No. I’m not getting enough of a push from existing publishers to make up for the long-term losses.” They may be right.

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Pseudonyms and other career plans

I’ve been following a few pro-authors in the past year, two are very much for self-publishing on Kindle, one is still the voice of reason. While Joe Konrath and Dean Wesley Smith keep showing indie authors can have success and the old world of publishing is slowly crumbling, David Farland is still cautious about it.

I think it depends on each writer’s expectations and capacities. Dave is right that most writers are delusional, both in Hollywood and New York (depending if you’re writing screenplays or novels). It’s true that some indie authors are awful, but not all of them. And I think readers are smart enough to pick good stories, well written and well presented, without bothering to check if there’s a publisher behind it or not.

Kindle (or Lulu, or Smashwords) allow a preview of the first, ever-important pages of any book, so readers will immediately know if it’s crap or not. As Dave pointed out (in his newsletter, you should subscribe to it even if you don’t write genre fiction):

I’ve done that same experience on more than one occasion, picked up a self-published novel only to see a dozen horrible mistakes—everything from typos to misspellings and just genuinely terrible prose—all within two pages.

So, depending on what kind of writer you are, self-publishing e-books might be for you or not. If you plan on being the next Amanda Hocking (who, BTW, worked her ass of, if you check her blog), it’s a gamble, just like trying to be the next JK Rawlings in traditional publishing. If, like me, you’re a prolific writer and you’re sick of watching your stories gather dust on your hard drive or old notebooks, I think you have nothing to lose. Dust them off, make them shine and put them out there. It’s a brand new world opening for us, and like Ollin said, it’s think it’s time to join the party and start taking our chances.

Here’s David Farland’s test to know if you’re ready – again from his unmissable newsletter:

So how do you know if you’re ready? There’s an easy test:

1) Write a book.

2) Print it off and pass it around to twenty people.

3) Wait for two weeks.

At the end of two weeks, if you have only a few people, say five or six, who have read your book, it’s not holding your audience. If you’ve got a book that has had fifteen or so people who’ve read it with excitement, you’re doing well.

But what you’re really looking for is “pass-along rate.” If at the end of two weeks you have people who are passing the manuscript to friends to read—to sons and daughters and neighbors—then you have a potential hit. If you’ve got thirty or forty readers at the end of two weeks, then you know that your book will have a life.

Hopefully, you’ll soon find an editor or agent who agrees with you, but if you don’t, that’s when you really begin looking at self-publishing.

As for me, it’s difficult to find 20 English-speaking people in Rome (although officially on the offline writers group there are 30 people) and mostly hard to find fast readers (there’s only one in that writers group). But I’ve done some self-publishing with comic books in the 1990s, so it’s not totally new to me, it’s just the media that is different.

I will use different pseudonyms for different genres, so if one doesn’t work I can rely on the other. I’ve used Barbara G.Tarn since the 1990s as creat0or of Silvery Earth, so I’ll keep using it for my fantasy world and a couple of sci-fi alternatives, but I already picked up two more, for the historical novel(s?) and for contemporary stories (and I might pick up another one if I decide to write in Italian again as well). I’ve seen on Smashwords I could upgrade to Publisher (recommended also for authors who use two or more pseudonyms) and I already have my own “imprint” on Lulu (as Unicorn Productions), so it shouldn’t be too hard…

I will take down everything from Serial Central this weekend, and reissue Modern Fairy Tales on Smashwords with another pen-name, along with the prose version of some of my screenplays, so those stories can see the light of day (and then Hollywood can come a-calling, I’ll be ready for them! ;-)). I won’t mention the historical novel anymore here (except maybe when I finish it), and I’m still looking for critique partners and/or fast beta-readers – I’m fast, compulsive, prolific. But I still need external eyes to see plot holes or inconsistencies.

I feel like a pro with lots of back catalog and I’m very excited to finally be able to put it out at my own pace, without waiting for anybody to tell me I’m ready! 🙂 I’ve written for long enough to be confident in storytelling, I know you never stop learning and look forward to this new lesson, and I hope to find my readers soon.

It’s the beginning of a new era. Let’s celebrate it! 😀

Story Wednesday

Before pointing you to Serial Central for the next episode of Jessamine, I will have another thought or two from my two-weeks vacation. That’s because I didn’t have time to catch up on the other blogs yet, so I don’t have anything to comment on, except this article, and these excellent words of wisdom:

You blog every single day. How do you keep your ideas fresh for your readers?
l don’t buy that the people don’t have enough ideas. It is hard for me to imagine how someone can go through the whole day and have talker’s block, I have never met anyone who woke up in the morning and had so little to say they were mute until they went to bed that night. People don’t get talker’s block, so why do we get writer’s block? We get writer’s block ’cause we are afraid, it’s easy to talk because you can deny it later and it disappears, but once you write it down, that’s when the fear comes from. That’s where you say I don’t have any good ideas and all I do is write like I talk. If I have something interesting to say, I say it and then I write it down, it’s not that hard. I think that the art here is in chopping down the wall, the barrier between what you want to say and what you are afraid of, and letting people hear your best stuff.

Dear Mr.Godin, I’m totally behind you (although I could spend a day or two without talking – I live alone, so if I don’t go out I don’t have to talk, haha!). I know that the first posts were short because of the supposedly short attention-span of internet surfers, but I guess I have more to say now, so I’ll go back to my longer daily post posts.

I forgot to mention another September project – the preparation of the Happiness is… booklet, with the first 50something vignettes and “subtitles” in Italian and French. First I have to color and letter the last few I’ve come up with, or September will be sort of incomplete, though! 😉

I’ll go with Lulu again, as they’re the easiest to use for color publications and international shipping, the format will have to be the usual A5 I used for all my publications (except the Artbook) so far. So hopefully next month the Happiness is… book will be available – definitely in time for Christmas, just in case you want to give it as a gift to somebody! 😉

Now hop off to Serial Central for another bite of Jessamine! Happy reading!

self-publishing… or not

OK, today I’m concentrating on Self-Published Author’s Lounge. Most of these posts are in the “Why self-publishing is good” section, some from the “post-publication concerns”.  In no particular order:

Reasons to self-publish and one reason not to. Point 1

    Your manuscript will not fit into the industry. My romances don’t fit either the Christian market or the secular market. I did my research for the stories I want to write, and there isn’t a fit. I have Christian themes in my work but I also write sex between the husband and wife. The secular market doesn’t want the Christian themes and the Christian market doesn’t want the sex. If you find yourself at a crossroads similar to this with your work, you may want to either change your manuscript to meet up with what the publishers want or self-publish. The nice thing is you have a choice.

made me thing about June… Point 2 is the one I’d pick up for age reasons and Point 5 scares me to death. If I end up self-publishing, it won’t be for the “one reason not to”, though. I’m already doing it with my comics & graphic novels, I only have to make up my mind about novels.

Lessons I learned as an Indie Author: if nothing happens overnight and it takes a couple of years to get in the loop, same is going the trad-pub way. BUT this way the books will already be out there, gathering readers. I’ve never used vanity presses and I’m already a Lulu author (recommended here and on Writer Unboxed, although if you google “Lulu complaints” there are many results there as well), albeit not very famous for lack of marketing, for which I can only blame myself.

How traditional publishing works 101: is trad-pub really that controlled? I have David Farland’s words of encouragement for me here:

Try traditional for now.  Self-publishing is still too risky, though that might change in the near future.  Even if you self-publish, you still have to have a way to advertise your books, and that’s hard to do.

Right now, there is a big movement toward nontraditional fantasy in the U.S., so the fact that you are writing something different should play in your favor!

Well… if he says so! 😉 Still… I’m wondering.

Self-publishing company scams or the Writers Beware of self-publishing and maybe a pro-editor for my book(s).

My reasons to self-publish. I still think an editor is needed on all books (that’s what I missed most on some self-published books I’ve read) BUT I’m aware it can be expensive and/or hard to find the right one for the author (I’m still looking for one, in fact ;-)).

Working with readers: I’d love to work with readers! BUT how can I reach them with my low marketing skill? I need a manager/editor, that’s the truth!

All I can add is this: I’ll be 45 next week, so I kind of look forward to put my stories out there, but still haven’t figured out the way to do it. I’m considering submitting to publishers who don’t request agented submissions AND e-publishers (I have a small list for those). But I still have to do research on publishers.

I am self-published for comic books and graphic novels, but I still don’t know what is the best way to go for novels…

Any  comments/suggestions? What would you writers do? What would you readers want?

Interview with Vivienne Tuffnell – part 2

PART 2 – the publishing process

Here we are again with Vivienne Tuffnell, author of Strangers and Pilgrims. Last time we heard about her writing process, now let’s hear about the publishing process!

B: Did you query agents/publishers before publishing? If yes, for how long?

V: Not with this one. I’ve been through all that before. I had books at committee stage and I even had an agent. If you want to drive yourself into an early grave, go that way. It nearly killed me once and I decided that the stress wasn’t worth it: the game was NOT worth the candle. While doing revisions for a novel for one of the big publishers, I was rushed to hospital with a brain haemorrhage. When I got out I finished the revisions, the publisher decided not to go ahead and I decided enough was enough and stopped writing for eight years. You have to be tough and thick-skinned to get through this stuff and in some ways, that’s the very opposite of what most writers are like. I don’t deal with this kind of stress well.

B: What was your overall experience with self-publishing so far?

V: Overall, excellent. In actual fact, I didn’t do much of that side of things at all, so I will pass you over to my friend Jes, who did that side of things for me….

J: Ahem!! To sum it up in a few words: Trial and error!

This was a new and very steep learning curve for me in that this was my first experience with self publishing or any kind of publishing for that matter. Prior to this, the only kind of publishing I had any experience of was putting a few post on my blog (http://controlyourdestiny.wordpress.com/ ) now and again.

The format of Lulu is fairly straight forward and if you are someone who are good at reading manuals, you may have an easier journey than I did. I am not a fan of manuals and prefer to go at it and learn through mistakes of which many were made!!! However, I found that it was very easy to get the hang of it and the different aspects, from choosing the book size, cover type were quickly learned. The cover design aspect took a little longer simply because we both wanted something unique and not a standard template. Added to this I was working on a very ancient laptop aka the hair dryer (excessive fan noise) which at times did create some frustrations.

There were many small mistakes in terms of graphics, layout etc, but the one mistake I think we have both realised is that for the next one we really need to pay a lot more attention to type setting to create a better reading experience for the readers. Once you have completed your project, you are required to buy a review copy and accept it before it is ready for publishing. I guess the excitement of getting the review copy stopped us from being truly objective. A lesson learned!

Other than that it has been a good experience and the integration with Amazon was easy and completely hassle free.

B: I published with Lulu too, so I know what you mean… my first PDFs were so heavy I had to redo them (but it was graphic novels, thus a bunch of JPGs. the only Italian novel I published on Lulu was much smoother!). But, back to Viv, I think the has a little more to say…

V: On reflection, I realised a couple of things after we’d published. First, three is the magic minimum number for proof reading; more typos slipped through than either of us liked, including one that really made me gnash my teeth. But even in professionally proof-read texts you always find typos so perhaps these first editions may become a collector’s item in years to come like the so-called Unholy Bible! The problem with the format we used is that any later corrections or alterations basically require you to create a totally new edition which then takes another six weeks before it reaches Amazon again. This means that though we’d like to reformat it, along with a few changes to font size( my older readers have commented the print was too small) and typesetting we’re waiting till we can get Kate my editor back and we can also do a print run for more direct distribution in the UK. We all have day jobs that are exhausting and no-one wants to do things twice when once is enough. We’re learning as we go, so there are always mistakes. Seeking absolute perfection is a blight on creativity; there will always be things you can improve on until you suddenly realise you’ve walked away from the real purpose of the creation, like the story about the Taj Mahal. If you don’t know the story, basically the Taj Mahal was built as a splendid tomb for the wife of the king, known as Mumtaz Mahal, (the splendour of the palace). When the building was complete, it was the most beautiful building ever seen but one little thing rankled when the king saw it: the tomb itself where the body lay. The king said, “Take it away” and the tomb itself was removed and hidden elsewhere.

B: Wow. Thank you for your time, Viv, and you readers out there go and buy her novel right now!

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