Showing posts with label independent publishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label independent publishing. Show all posts

Friday, January 4

How To Format A Word Document For Uploading To Amazon

How To Format A Word Document For Uploading To Amazon

Apparently it's possible for the editor to eat an entire post. I know this because it just happened. (sigh) I think after this I'm going to type my drafts into Word or Scrivener so that at least I'll have a rough draft to fall back on if Blogger feasts on my finished, polished, prose.


I'm going to take a day off from my Starburst Method series to talk about how to format a Word file for uploading to Amazon. I think everything I say will also be applicable to Smashwords but that platform may have one or two special requirements.

The Anatomy of a Formatted File

When your Word file is formatted ready for upload to Amazon it will have several sections. Below are the most common ones I've seen.

1. Title section

- Title
- Author's name

2. Copyright section

- "Copyright"
- Copyright symbol
- Person or company that is copyrighting the work.

3. 'Plain language' explanation of your wishes regarding whether your book should be copied without your permission.

4. Link(s) back to your website or blog, social media sites, etc.

5. Reading samples of your other books

6. Table of contents

7. ISBN number

8. Blurbs

- One or more authors telling prospective readers your writing is terrific.

9. Book description

- Tell readers what your book is all about and hook them in 500 words or less.

10. Acknowledgements

11. Dedication

12. The story

Many of these sections aren't mandatory and I've listed them here in no particular order. Yes, you'll probably want to start off with your title section, and certain sites will want you to put your copyright information up at the front of the book but, other than that, the order the sections come in is up to you.

What follows is just what I do. If you decide to do it differently--for instance, place your acknowledgement section at the back instead of the front--that's great! Do what works for you and the book you're publishing.

Required Sections

Here are the sections you need to have in your finished, formatted, file before you upload it to Amazon:

1. Title section
2. Copyright section
3. The story

That's it.

If you've never published a book before I'd suggest that you be kind to yourself, take things easy, and publish a short work and keep it simple. After you have one success under your belt and you're feeling bolder then start adding sections.

One section I would add, even if this is your first time, is a link section. This can be as simple as a link back to your website or blog. That way folks will know how to find you and your other work. (I'm taking it for granted that you have a website or blog where you list all your work.)

So that's what I'm going to talk about. Publishing a simple, bare-bones document with minimal formatting. No bells and whistles. But, first, let's get a couple of questions out of the way.

Do I need an ISBN number?

You don't need to have an ISBN number to publish your books on Amazon. It's easy to procrastinate publishing your first book because the process is unfamiliar and perhaps daunting. You can always get an ISBN number after you publish your story. The important thing is to publish it.

I do think it's a good idea to buy a block of ISBN numbers from (if you're in the US) Bowker. Here's a link to Bowker's extensive FAQS.

In Canada ISBN numbers are free but you have to be a publisher to obtain one. (See: How To Get A Free Canadian ISBN Number)

Do I need to register my copyright?

I'm not a lawyer, and this is NOT legal advice, but I think it's better to have something and not need it than need it and not have it. That said, you don't have to register your copyright in order for your work to be copyrighted. This is from Wikipedia:
It is a common misconception to confuse copyright registration with the granting of copyright.

Copyright is itself an automatic international right, governed by international conventions - principally the Berne Convention (which dates from 1886). This means that copyright exists whether a work is registered or not. (Copyright Registration)
Having a copyright and protecting it are two different things. This is from the U.S. Copyright Office:
Do I have to register with your office to be protected?
No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration.”
If you want to be in a position to defend your copyright in court it's a good idea to register your copyright.

Also, and as I'm sure you know, a number of sites pirate books--offer them free for download without the copyright holder's permission. If you find your book on one of these sites you have a chance of getting it taken down if you can provide proof of copyright.

Whether you want to register your copyright is up to you. You can publish your book without doing so.

Hello Amazon!

It's conventional that the first program one writes in a new language prints out: Hello World! Or at least that was true in my day. This is our equivalent. We're doing this to get the hang of things and show ourselves this publishing thing isn't scary at all. So go through your writing, do you have a short story that is finished, beta-read, proofed, edited, typo-free with sparkling prose that's ready to be uploaded?

Great! Let's do this.

The sections in our simple book

1. Title section
2. Copyright section
4. Link to your website or blog
5. The story
6. Link to your website or blog

To Be Continued

Well, I'm at just over 1000 words so I'll end this post for today and pick it up again tomorrow.

Update: Here is the second installment in the series: How To Format A Word Document For Uploading To Amazon: MS Word Styles.

Have you ever published your work yourself? If so, what did you think of the experience? Was it harder than you expected? Easier?

Other articles you might like:

- The Starburst Method: Discovering Your Characters
- The Magic Of Stephen King: An Analysis Of The Opening Paragraphs Of The Dead Zone
- How To Sell Books Without Using Amazon KDP Select

Photo credit: "Destination Unknown" by VinothChandar under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Saturday, December 22

Writing And Publishing in 2013: How To Survive And Thrive

Writing And Publishing in 2013: How To Survive And Thrive

I've been reading various pundit's predictions for 2013, what the New Year has in store for writers.

Today I was going to write about Mark Coker's predictions for 2013 and take a closer look at what future the large traditional publishers have, especially after they tied themselves to the millstone of Author Solutions.

Somewhere along the way, between draft and finished piece, I lost heart. Avarice isn't new or interesting; on the contrary, it's relentlessly depressing. That a business only cares about he bottom line is hardly news. So let's talk about things we--whether we're traditionally or independently published--can do to help ourselves, and each other, in the coming year.

What follows are my opinions. You may have different opinions and that's great! I'd love to talk to you and find out what they are. The fact is, I've changed my mind about a couple of things this year. That was partly a response to the world changing and partly a result of talking to other writers and being persuaded by the evidence.

1. Where Should We Sell Our Books: Is Amazon KDP Select Worth The Price Of Exclusivity?

Yes, I think so. In certain cases.

If you are a writer just starting out, you have no following. If no one has the slightest inkling who you are then I can't think of a reason not to take advantage of Amazon's KDP Select program.

That said, I believe it would be a mistake to put all your books into Select and leave them indefinitely. There is a lot to be said for not putting all your virtual eggs in one basket. Also, writers don't want to alienate any potential readers. We don't want to require them to jump through hoops to buy our work, and forcing readers to buy from only one store is a pretty big hoop.

If you already have a following, the benefit of Amazon's KDP Select program is going to be markedly less. If you are releasing the first book of a series or if you are branching out into a previously unexplored genre, you might think about releasing the book with Select to pick up a few readers. After the three months are up, though, you'd probably want to pull it out of Select and make your book available on all platforms.

Other articles on the price, and benefits, of exclusivity:
- Does Amazon KDP Select Drive Away True Fans?
- Amazon's KDP Select: The Best Long-Term Strategy?
- Amazon's KDP Select Program Has A Lot To Offer New Writers, But What About Established Ones?
- Kobo Becoming a Player for Self-Published Ebook Authors, Lindsay Buroker

2. How much should ebooks sell for?

I don't think you should price your ebook under $2.99.

You'll probably want to try experimenting to see what the best price point is for you. I think $2.99 is the minimum you should offer your ebook for, but the maximum is up to you. I've seen indie published books for as much as $9.99 selling relatively well.

That's not to say you can't make a book free, or dramatically lower its price, for brief periods of time as part of your marketing strategy.

Also see:
- Writers: How To Use Permanently Free Books To Increase Sales

3. Should I Blog?

The answer for me was: Yes!

Before I started blogging it was difficult to write every day. I knew that in order to get better one must write but it was difficult to find the "butt-in-chair" time I needed. When I made the commitment to post one blog post a day--then two--writing every day became part of my life.

Blogging Helps Newer Writers

I think blogging benefits newer writers more than established ones. Old pros have their community, they have their routine, and they've written well over 1,000,000 words.

1,000,000 Words And Competency

There's a notion that in order to learn to write saleable fiction one must first write 1,000,000 words. That's an approximation, certainly, but 1,000,000 words is ten 100,000 word books. That seems about right. But there's another way of looking at it: One thousand 1,000 word blog posts! If you did two 1,000 word blog posts a week by the end of one year you'd have written about 100,000 words.

Blog posts count toward your 1,000,000 words, so after one year, just by blogging regularly, you'd be 1/10 of the way there!

Your Blog And Serials

I can hear someone say, "But wouldn't it be better to use those 100,000 words and write a book?"

There's no reason blogging and writing fiction can't be combined. I think one of the big things in 2013 will be serials. Every week you could do one non-fiction blog and and one episode of your serial. Start building up an audience for your fiction writing, get more eyes on your blog, and then--when your story is finished--publish all the episodes on your ebook platform of choice.

A number of writers are taking up the challenge of writing serials. Recently I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of one of them, Ben Guilfoy. Ben wrote an excellent article about his experience with the art form as well as how he structures a serial.

Here are a couple more articles on the subject of serials:
- Serial Fiction: Is It Profitable?
- Is Serial Fiction Profitable? Hugh Howey Says: Yes! Even With Absolutely No Promotion

To Be Continued ...

It turns out this post is going to be a bit like a serial! I try and keep my word count under 1,000 so I'm going to break off here and finish my list of 'things writers should do in 2013' tomorrow. (Update: Click here for the rest of the list: Writing And Publishing In 2013, How To Survive And Thrive: Part Two)

In all things, do what seems right to you. If something I wrote resonates with you, great! If not, that's fine. It was nice having you stop by, I hope you'll come again. :)

Other articles you might like:

- Writing Links: Blogs For Writers
- Ready. Set. Write!
- How Many Drafts Does It Take To Write A Novel?

Photo credit: "Another Pillow!" by CarbonNYC under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Tuesday, August 14

Seth Godin: When To Go With A Traditional Publisher

Seth Godin: When to go with a traditional publisher
Seth Godin

I love Seth Godin's ideas so I was thrilled to come across this video over at the Smithsonian! Seth's video came up on the heels of one about independent publishing, so the videos displayed on that page probably change, but from what I've seen they're all great (which is pretty much what I'd expect from the Smithsonian!).

You may also like:
- Seth Godin: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
- Seth Godin: Resist Greed, Do Not Pander

Photo credit: Unknown

Thursday, June 14

Indie vs. Traditional Publishing, Which Should You Choose?

In today's business world writers have more choice than ever but sometimes that makes life harder rather than easier. Today writers can choose whether to self publish or submit their work to a traditional publisher. Sometimes the right choice is to self publish and sometimes it isn't, so how do you decide?

In her weekly article on the business of writing, Kris Rusch talks about this choice.

Indie publishing: Hurry up and wait

With indie publishing you write your stories, get them out to the world, and then wait for the book to be downloaded, read, reviewed and, ultimately, earn money so you can continue to write (and eat!).

The thing is, with indie publishing, it can be a long wait. Kris writes:
Sometimes you don’t even have your first sale for weeks, maybe months. The cash doesn’t roll. You panic. You stop your current project and do “promotion,” contacting all the book bloggers you know. You annoy your followers on Twitter by mentioning your book’s title every other Tweet. You look at the real-time sales numbers (or lack of them) over and over again.

You’re waiting for the book to “catch on,” for “lightning to strike,” for “miracles to happen.”

And if you’re smart, you’re also writing your next book. More on that a little later.

But really, what you’re waiting for is time to pass. Five sales per month over 120 months will make you quite a bit of money. Only it won’t seem that way at first.

The indie writer, particularly the indie writer with very few books published, has to be patient. The readership—and the income—will grow exponentially if the writer continues to produce work. One day, the indie writer will wake up and realize she’s making $1,000 per month on a single title, and that amount spread out over a year is more than she would have gotten as an advance for a first novel. (Most first novel advances in all genres are under $10,000.)

The thing is, if she earns $12,000 one year, nothing will stop her from earning the same or possibly more the next year, and the next, and the next.

The indie author must be patient, but if she’s a good storyteller (and her book has a decent cover and is copy edited, and if she keeps writing and publishing new material), she’ll make a living wage over time. In fact, over time, she’ll sell as many or more copies of that book than she would as a first-time novelist who is traditionally published.

The key phrase, though, is over time. Years, in fact.

Traditional Publishing: Wait and hurry up

With a traditionally published book you can wait for years while you query agents and/or editors but if your book is accepted it could have the benefit of the kind of support it would be next to impossible to generate yourself. Interviews for instance, and book reviews. I've been collecting the names of book review blogs that accept queries from independent authors and, let me tell you, there aren't a lot of them.

Kris' Advice:

Only you can know what kind of writer you are, what you want, and what you can live with.

And, of course, all publishing is not equal. Traditional publishing has long-term contracts. Indie publishing has agreements with distributors that can be canceled with the click of a mouse.

All publishing isn’t the same within one publishing house. One fantasy series writer might make millions on his series; another (with the same cover artist, editor, and sales department) might make thousands on her series.

All publishing isn’t even equal inside one writer’s career. I have books that sell really well and books I can’t give away. I’m the same writer. But readers have different reactions to different books.

So the key is to give readers what they want. What do they want? Good stories. And the readers will differ as to which of your stories are “good.” So give the readers a lot of stories to choose from.

That’s what traditional publishers do. That’s why they release a new set of books every month. Because they’re giving the readers a choice all the time. You have to do that too, no matter how you publish the books.

What you decide to do, how you decide to make your books available to readers, is truly your decision. If you go traditional, make sure you have an IP attorney vet your contract so you know what you’re signing. Be prepared to wait before seeing your book on the shelf.

If you go indie, spend some money to get that book in fighting shape before launching it at those bookstores. And be prepared to wait before seeing sales of your book.

Neither decision is right or wrong. It’s only right for you.
I agree 100%. These days the choice between publishing independently and publishing traditionally is made on a project by project basis. The days of having to commit to one way of doing things is, happily, behind us. Hopefully something Kris said makes it easier to choose whether to go indie with it.

Keep writing!

Related Reading:
- 5 Points To Ponder Before You Self Publish

Photo Credit: Mysteries and My Musings

Wednesday, May 16

Joe Konrath On Going Indie: "This isn't simply following your dream. It's chasing after it, full speed, until you catch it"

Joe Konrath
Joe Konrath

I don't like to quote extensively from other writer's blogs, but I had to share this. Sometimes it's hard, lonely, going the indie route but Joe's right. Being a writer is risky, but if a person never takes risks then ... well, I won't say it's impossible to get a reward, but I think it's less likely.

In any case, I needed this pep talk so I'm sharing it.

Joe writes:
I started this blog seven years ago, and I've long preached that is important to take chances, to experiment, to try new things. I'm also a believer in going all-in. This isn't a Newbie's Guide to Leading a Balanced and Happy Life. It's A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. If you want to get lucky, you have to gamble first.

Gambling in this case means devoting time and effort to something that may never pay off. It means devoting your energy to something beyond what the world says you should be doing.

This isn't simply following your dream. It's chasing after it, full speed, until you catch it.

We're all, to a certain degree, risk-averse. It's scary to fail. Failure can mean a loss of time and money. It can mean bad feelings and disappointing others.

But if you aren't failing, you aren't trying hard enough. You aren't taking enough chances.

A lot of people dislike me. They dislike my tone and attitude. They dislike my opinions. They dislike my writing.  They dislike my blog.

I. Don't. Care.

We could all benefit from caring less about the opinions of strangers. Especially since, let's face it, there are so many pinheads in the world.

That's a learned behavior, as we all grow up seeking approval.

Taking risks can also be learned.

It'll be difficult, because it is unnatural and uncomfortable. It requires unlearning many of the coping mechanisms you've learned. It requires failure, and in many cases ridicule, monetary loss, and depression.

But no one ever became successful without taking chances. If you think about it, many of the important things in your life--the things that you're proudest of and that define you--are all about taking risks. Things as ordinary as asking or agreeing to a date that ends up in a long term relationship. Going to that job interview. Making an offer on that house.

Self-publishing that novel.

Risks are risky. True. But they can also be rewarding.

So what chances have you taken today?
- Guest post by Tom Schreck
The article started out as a guest post, but Tom brought up the topic of risk and Joe caught the ball and ran with it. Go Joe!

I tweeted the link to Joe's post yesterday, but I found this section of it very moving and thought it well worth sharing again. 

Photo credit: A Newbie's Guide To Publishing

Tuesday, May 8

Ann Voss Peterson, Long time Harlequin Author, Goes Indie

Ann Voss Peterson has been writing for Harlequin since 2000 but doesn't have enough money for her son's braces. Joe writes that, in paper sales, Ann has outsold him at least 5 to 1 but that he earns triple what she does.

Granted, Harlequin gave Ann, and many other authors, their break into the industry -- and she thanks them -- but if the company isn't going to give her a decent contract (20% ebook royalties on net but with "net" undefined) then they're practically pushing her, and other authors in the same boat, out their doors.

To announce her departure Ann is offering her new book, Pushed Too Far, free for the next few days. Get it on Amazon here: Ann Voss Peterson, Pushed Too Far.

Read Ann's guest post on Joe Konrath's blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, here.

Go Ann!

Friday, April 27

Self publishing on Smashwords


Of all the publishing platforms, Smashwords is my favorite.

I'm not saying you'll earn the most through it, the jury is still out on that one, though the race seems to be between Smashwords and Amazon.

One of the reasons I like Smashwords is because they give your ebook a great marketing boost by putting it on their front page. Granted, this lasts only for a minute or so, depending on the number of writers publishing their ebooks at the same time, but -- and this is coming from a gal addicted to Google Analytics -- that's enough to give your digital baby a nice introduction to the world. It's difficult to build a platform even if you're willing to spend a lot of money, and Smashwords is offering offers writers a helping hand, and for free.

But that's not the number one reason I like Smashwords, this is: they are, hands down, the best distributor of e-books in the world. They will distribute your intellectual property through literally dozens of channels.

The following is from Smashwords Distribution Information Page.
Once your book is accepted into the Premium Catalog, we automatically distribute it to major online retailers such as Apple (distribution to iBookstores in 32 countries), Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, WH Smith in the UK and FNAC (both powered by Kobo), the Diesel eBook Store,  eBooks Eros (operated by Diesel), Baker & Taylor (Blio and the Axis360 library service), and other distribution outlets coming soon.
Atom/OPDS Catalog (Reaches Major Mobile App Platforms): This catalog contains all the books for sale at Sample distributors include Stanza on the iPhone and Aldiko on the Android mobile device platform. These two e-reading apps alone reach millions of readers combined. The catalog is also distributed to the Word-Player and FBReader apps, and to the Inkmesh ebook search engine.
Of course there are conditions. You have to get your book into the premium catalog at Smashwords, but that isn't hard to do. Just make sure it's formatted property, has a decent cover, and doesn't violate any of Amazon's content guidelines. I've published a few books through Smashwords under pen-names and haven't had any difficulty getting all of them into the Premium Catalog. If you'd like to read more about how to get your book into the Premium Catalog, I've put some links at the bottom of this article.

Amazon's KDP Select Program
One more thing. KDP Select is a program available to folks who have elected to publish through Amazon. It's the name for Kindle's lending library. In 2012 a fund of about six million dollars will be divided up between the authors of books that were lent out.

The advantages of KDP Select are clear: if one enrolls in KDP select one gets some money, one's book is still for sale in the Kindle store, and your books gets exposure through the lending program that it wouldn't have gotten otherwise.

Now, for me, the idea of having my book in the library, any library, sends me into fits of ecstasy. Okay, maybe that's an overstatement, but only slightly. Like many writers, when I was a kid my local library was my hang-out and the school library was my refuge. Knowing a new generation of readers was borrowing my book from a library would mean the world to me. AND I might get some money from it . What's not to like?

Here's the catch: If you enroll your book in KDP Select you must sell your book exclusively through Amazon. This is from the KDP Select website:
When you choose KDP Select for a book, you're committing to make the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP. During the period of exclusivity, you cannot distribute your book digitally anywhere else, including on your website, blogs, etc. However, you can continue to distribute your book in physical format, or in any format other than digital.
In other words, you can't publish your books through Smashwords and, by so doing, take advantage of their mammoth book distribution system.

The 60,000 dollar question: How much more money would an author make by publishing their book with Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Amazon, Sony, and so on, than if they only published through Amazon?

I don't have any answers. I haven't been able to find statistics on this, but I am doubtful that the average author would earn enough through the lending library to justify signing the exclusivity clause with Amazon. That said, if anyone reading this has information to the contrary, please let me know. I'm willing and eager to be proven wrong.

Thanks for reading, your comments are always welcome.

Further Reading
How to Self-Publish an Ebook with Smashwords: 32 Authors Share Their Tips and Tricks
Publishing with Smashwords
Self Publishing on Amazon: Kindle Direct Publishing
How to self-publish on Barnes & Noble

Smashwords Premium Catalogue
Amazon KDP Select
Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author, by Zoe Winters

Photo credit:

"Self Publishing on Smashwords" copyright© 2012 by Karen Woodward 

Tuesday, August 16

Amazon Launches Kindle Indie Store

Kindle recently opened up a store, Kindle Indie Books, for books that have been submitted by independent authors.

Authorlink writes:
AUTHORLINK NEWS/August 16, 2011— today announced the launch of the Kindle Indie Bookstore ( This page will provide readers a way to explore and browse some of the indie selection available on Kindle from KDP authors and publishers.

"We hope the Kindle Indie Bookstore will showcase top selling, popular and high quality books from independent authors and publishers. We are excited to highlight our growing selection of indie books to Kindle readers through the launch of the Kindle Indie Bookstore and provide this new avenue of exposure to KDP authors and publishers,” said Atif Rafiq, General Manager, Kindle Direct Publishing.

Those interested can find answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) in the Kindle Indie Bookstore.
Read the original here: Amazon Launches Kindle Indie Store

Saturday, August 13

Let's Get Digital, by David Gaughran

There is an excellent article about David Gaughran's book, Let's Get Digital, over on Mark Williams International.

David's book receives a glowing recommendation from indie-publishing success story Sibel Hodge who writes:
If you want to self-pub, you absolutely have to read this book. When I started out, I didn’t have a clue about all the things that an Indie author has to get involved in. It’s not just a question of writing a fab book – that’s the easy part! The hard bit is what comes next…

I didn’t have a clue where to find covers, good editors, how to market effectively and gain lovely readers and fans. PRC, MOBI, Epub sounded more like a scratchy disease than anything to do with e-pubbing. I had to learn it bit by bit and very slowly, but in LET’S GET DIGITAL you get you all the information you need in one place. David’s done all the hard work for you!

And the authors who contributed their stories to this book will show you that it really is possible to be a success as an Indie self-pubbing. Their experiences are uplifting and truly inspirational.

So do you want your manuscript sitting in a dusty drawer somewhere, or do you want to live your dream? If so, you need to get a copy of this book!
Click here to read the article: Don’t Believe The Hype – David Gaughran Separates Myth And Reality About Indie-Publishing

If you would like to buy David's book, here are the links. You can even get it free!
- Amazon UK
- Smashwords
- Free PDF file

Sunday, August 7

Writer Offered Six-Figure Deal After Self-Publishing

I'm a big fan of Dean Wesley Smith's excellent series, Killing The Sacred Cows of Publishing, in which he sets out certain widely held beliefs that many people, especially writers, have but that happen to be false.

One of myths that I've heard over and over again is that only writers who are already traditionally published can make money self-publishing. Another is that if an author self-publishes then no traditional publisher would even think of publishing them. Well, here is one instance where both are shown to be false.

The London Evening Standard reports that:

A struggling writer landed a book deal with a major publisher after putting her novel online for 96p a copy and promoting it by using social networking.

Louise Voss, 42, shot to the top of the Kindle charts after publishing the book in digital form herself after being rejected by literary agents.

It attracted the attention of publishers HarperFiction, which offered her a six-figure, four-book deal.

As a result, her ebook Catch Your Death will also be printed and stocked in bookshops in the traditional way.

Read the rest of the article here: Writer puts novel on Kindle for 96p and wins a six-figure deal

Wednesday, August 3

Selling A Book: Getting Noticed

When Walter Ellis told his brother-in-law he was going to publish his book, London Eye, on Amazon, he said: "Make sure you price it at 99p like that fella who sold a million."

Yes, John Locke has definitely raised the bar for what self published writers can accomplish. Walter Ellis, though -- like many of us -- is far from the million book mark. It is comforting to reflect that John Locke too started off with a dribble rather than a bang.

Ellis calls for:

... a proper grown-up site, possibly run by Amazon, in which hot new arrivals, bestsellers and chart climbers are featured as if they mattered, and not as if they were the products of small-time eccentrics who really out to get out more.

Personally I think we need a site for big-time eccentrics, forget all that penny ante stuff.

Thanks to Roy Greenslade over at the Guardian for bringing my attention to Ellis's article.

Tuesday, July 26

Foreign Rights: A Rosy Future For Self-Published Writers

Foreign rights represent a barely tapped market for self-published authors. This is the message of Joe Konrath's last blog. He writes:

Times have changed. The potential to make money world-wide is an unprecedented opportunity for vast riches that makes current ebook sales pale by comparison. There are billions of people in 196 countries. More and more have acquired computers, cell phones, and mp3 players. Ereaders will come next.

Read the article here: Thinking Global

Saturday, July 9

How Do You Know If Your Book Is Good Enough To Be Published?

Here's what Dean Wesley Smith has to say:

1… How many words have you written in fiction since you started trying to write? Mystery Grand Master John D. McDonald used to say that all writers starting out had a million words of crap in them. I started selling stories just short of the million word mark and have sold some of my stories that I wrote between half-million and that first million. However, because of a house fire, I can’t look back on any of the words before that.

But if you have a bunch of stories done, maybe a novel, and have been working at writing for a time, I think you are more than safe to let readers be the judge.

2… Realize that you may have paid your storytelling dues in other areas besides fiction. Say if you have written a couple dozen plays and had a couple produced, your storytelling skills are probably pretty good. If you’ve been a reporter or worked nonfiction. Things like that. Lots of other areas transfer over into fiction writing. In that case you might be writing quality fiction right from the first hundred thousand words.

3… How much are you studying writing to become a better storyteller? If you only have three how-to-write books on your shelf and have never even listened to a professional writer speak at a conference, you may be way ahead of yourself in thinking of publishing.

Publishing and telling stories that readers want to read does take skill and craft and it takes some study to even learn the basics. For example, a couple of the writers who attended this last novel workshop brought first-written novels, and wow were they good. But the key is they had spent a lot of time writing other things and were avid learners, which is why they were here in the first place.

In other words, in short, what I am talking about is a learning period, and the learning must go hand-in-hand with the typing.

It’s called “practice” in any other art. In writing you need to practice as well.

But when in doubt, put the story up and let the readers decide. Writers are always the worst judges of their own work.

And readers who pay money always trump any other source of feedback.

So grow a backbone and trust your work and get it out there, either to a traditional publisher or electronically and POD published.

And, just because it is too good not to quote, here is Dean's advice to beginning writers:

1) Never stop writing and learning. Never think you know it all after a few sales. Never believe you are good enough. Learning in this business never, ever ends.

2) Get rid of the early words, the first hundred thousand words. Then after that keep your work for sale somewhere, either on editor’s desks in New York or self-published or both. You are like an artist with your work hanging in an art gallery or a musician working a small bar. You are practicing and earning from your skill as it grows. It might not be much at first, but if you keep learning and practicing, the sales and the money will come with time.

3) Don’t be in a hurry. This is an international business. You can’t get there overnight. Put your work out for sale one way or another and then focus on the next book. Never look back. Leave the book up and alone.

4) Grow a backbone. Believe in your own art without cutting off the learning. No writing is perfect and maybe a few people out there will think it works just fine and enjoy it. No book is perfect.

5) Never do anything that gets in the way of the writing. Stay away from stupid, time-wasting self-promotion beyond your own web site and social media, and just write the next story and the next book. In other words, be a writer, a person who writes.

6) And most of all, have fun. If you are not having fun while at the same time being scared to death, get off this roller coaster. The ride only gets more extreme and more fun the farther you go along the track.

I would encourage you to read the whole article, here's the link: New York Works as a Quality Filter.

Monday, July 4

Self-Publishing Will NOT Hurt Your Chances Of Being Traditionally Published

So says agent Rachelle Gardner. She writes:

Self-publishing probably will not hurt your chances of traditional publishing.
[T]he lightning-fast turnaround of the “perception” of self-publishing is nothing short of astonishing. Most of us in “traditonal” publishing no longer think of it as a negative thing ...

You can read the whole article here.

Thanks to Passive Guy for the link.

Tuesday, January 25

Canadian Heritage and the Legal Deposit

Usually I blog about issues related, however tangentially, to writing and keep my personal life out of it but, today, the two have combined. 

"What is so special about today?" you might ask. Well, let me tell you. Today I got an ISBN number for my book, The Sandman. What I didn't know when I applied for the ISBN number is that every publication in Canada—I guess any publication that's assigned an ISBN number—has to be submitted to Archives Canada for inclusion in a vast archive to "collect and preserve the nation's published heritage."

I think it is incredibly cool that my book—which is a retelling of a story my father told to me—is considered part of Canada's heritage.  I know, I know, it really isn't that big of a deal, but for some reason I'm thrilled by it.

So, there it is, that's my blog for the day. :)

Wednesday, January 5

Big Trouble in Little China

This morning I was working on my rough draft for the second novel of my trilogy, writing a juicy bit of bad guy versus good gal violence, and found myself thinking about the Storms in Big Trouble in Little China.  I realized that my bad guy was looking and acting a lot like the guy with the ... what color was the lightening? ... phosphorescent blue?  Mmmm, that might be an excuse to watch the movie again.

Anyhow, back to the topic of this post.  The points of similarity between my bad guy and the Storms got me wondering about those characters and what, if anything, they were based on.  Were they based on Chinese mysticism or, perhaps, some of the recurring character types in Kung Fu movies?

After about a half hour of research (it's amazing what gets to be called research; but it was, it really was) I had no answers to my questions but had found out some amazing things about the movie.

(I guess I should say up-front that I love the movie Big Trouble in Little China, if you dislike it the following tidbits probably aren't going to be all that interesting.)

- Big Trouble in Little China -- although regarded by many (or at least by me) as a great movie -- actually lost money, a lot of money, at the box office and garnered a less than enthusiastic reception from the critics, including Rodger Ebert.   Ebert wrote,

"special effects don't mean much unless we care about the characters who are surrounded by them, and in this movie the characters often seem to exist only to fill up the foregrounds", and felt that it was "straight out of the era of Charlie Chan and Fu Manchu, with no apologies and all of the usual stereotypes (Wikipedia, Big Trouble in Little China)".

(Here's the link for Rodger Ebert's original review, it's well worth the read.)

- Carpenter cited the film as the reason why he became an independent film maker.  He said in an interview that:

“The experience [of Big Trouble] was the reason I stopped making movies for the Hollywood studios. I won’t work for them again. I think Big Trouble is a wonderful film, and I’m very proud of it. But the reception it received, and the reasons for that reception, were too much for me to deal with. I’m too old for that sort of bullshit”.

I'm not sure how similar it is, but currently many writers are blogging about the pros and cons of going independent.  I thought it was interesting that Big Trouble was the movie that pushed Carpenter in that direction.  Interesting and cool.

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