Thursday, February 2, 2023

Spaghetti and Books

This Sunday, February 5, I'll be selling and signing copies of Relic and Eye of the Peacock at what sounds to be a very fun event!

Boy Scout Troop #40 will be hosting a spaghetti dinner at the Wrights Corners Fire Hall on Lockport Olcott Road, New York, from noon to 6 p.m.

In addition to the dinner, guests will be able to meet local authors and peruse and purchase books. A local country group, Reunion, will be providing entertainment for the afternoon. There will also be a basket raffle and a 50/50 raffle. The spaghetti dinner is $10.

This sounds like my kind of fun! Join the Boy Scouts for a fun afternoon. And bring questions about writing -- I always love to talk about that!

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Publishing Series: #13 Prepping the Manuscript

So, you've decided to indie publish. Good for you, but remember, some hard work lies ahead.

First, you must commit to being a detail person. You want the best version of your work out there for public consumption. Your author reputation is on the line.

Second, decide on the publishing platform you will use and become familiar with it. For instance, I found that if using Kindle Direct Publishing, my manuscript transferred easily if it was written in Word rather than in a Google doc. 

Third, prepare the entire book document before you transfer it. This means preparing what is called the front and back matter as well. What do I mean by this? Pull some books off your bookshelf, and look at what is written on the pages before the story actually starts -- this is the front matter. There are blank pages, a copy right page, a dedication, extra title pages, sometimes a table of contents. If you want your book to appear professional, you need all these "extra" pages. These pages appear in a certain order. Model the appearance, type font, and order and your work will appear professionally published.

Look at the back matter in these books as well. Back matter is anything that comes after the book is finished. You'll need an "about the author" page. Read some professionally done examples and model yours after theirs. Will you need author notes? Look at several examples of what other authors do.

Then you'll need to finalize the actual text. This involves inserting either a heading or a footing for page numbers. Again, look at several professional examples and decide which basic design will work for you. Word offers you several options that can be tailored to fit your needs.

This is also the time to finalize other details. What font do you want the body of your text to appear in? Take out spaces between paragraphs, unless it is used as a device to indicate a change in setting. Make sure that paragraph indents are only about 3 spaces, not the typical 5. Don't indent the first paragraph of each chapter. (Don't believe me on this one? Check out some professionally published works!) Do you want an oversized letter at the start of each chapter? Play around with that. What font and size should your chapter headings be? Should they be centered? Flush to the right or left margin? Should they have titles? If they have titles, you'll definitely need that table of contents.

As you can see, there are a lot of decisions to be made and a lot of work to be done. Take your time, and do it right. Now is not the time to rush. Remember, you want your work to look its best out there in the world!

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Publishing Series: #12 The Difference between Indie and Self-Publishing

We've been exploring publishing options now that you have your book crafted. We explored traditional publishing in the last entry in this series, and there are two other options: Indie Publishing and Self-Publishing.

There is a huge difference between these two methods of publishing your work.

With self-publishing, an author finds a printing house, usually a small one. This printing house agrees to publish the work, but the author will have to pay to have a certain number of books published. This will usually cost the author several hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for a run of, say, one thousand books -- possibly more. After paying the agreed amount, the publishing house will print the books and deliver them to the author. It is then the author's responsibility to sell this inventory of books. He might talk bookstores into purchasing them, or he might sell them at author signings. Usually, the author is left with a large number of boxed books that he doesn't know what to do with. This method is also often referred to as being printed by a "vanity press."

Independent publishing has one major difference from self-publishing. It is a print-on-demand process, so that the author never has to carry an inventory. There are several ways to indie publish, but I'll probably talk a lot about Kindle Direct because that is the method I use and that I am most familiar with. Kindle Direct is the independent publishing arm of Amazon. When one of my readers purchases one of my books through Amazon, their copy is printed just for them. It's not pulled off a shelf somewhere. Amazon pays me my royalty. I am also able to purchase a small number of books, say 20 or 30, at a low author cost, when I have an author signing, so I never have to worry about boxes of books that I have to store. I also haven't invested a ton of money.

To me, this is a no-brainer. But it probably also depends on the type of book you are publishing. Explore the products of each method. Look at the quality. What do you want your book to look like? You want your name associated with the best-looking product possible.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Happy New Year!

It's the time of year that people make resolutions, and by the end of the week many of those will already be broken! Nothing wrong with having goals though.

I have a few goals in mind for this year. 

First, I will finish my latest novel. This is a must and a top priority on every list I have.

Second, I will finish the series on how to get those ideas of yours published. There are some tricky entries coming up for this series, but I will do my best to give you quality advice.

Third, I am going to expand my author platform. There are several social media platforms I'd like to explore.

Fourth, I am going to make a concerted effort to make new contacts for expanding book sales. Marketing is always a challenge for an indie author, but if our books aren't out there, how will you ever find them to enjoy?

Fifth, I am going to work on developing the cover for my latest novel. I have ideas in mind, but I need to find the right artist for the job. I have one in mind...

So, there are my top five goals for the year. To me resolutions are a work in progress, that's why I like to think of them as goals instead. Sometimes you conquer them, sometimes you get close, sometimes the goal changes as you work toward it.

So what are your writing goals for the year? Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, December 12, 2022

Publishing Series: #11 Traditional or Indie Publishing?

This is a huge question.

There are folks out there who want to be traditionally published and are willing to die on that hill. Traditional publishing means being offered a book deal by a major publishing house.

This path requires finding an agent first. Back in the old days, you could send your manuscript right to a publisher, but no more. If you do that, you'll be lucky to have it sent back to you.

Nowadays, you need to find an agent first. There are tons of them out there. If you have no other publishing credits behind you -- in other words, you haven't published any articles, short stories, or poetry in magazines or newspapers -- it's best to start with an agent who is new to the business. Sounds like it won't get you very far, but these folks are eagerly looking for a good manuscript. Search out new agents on google, in the Writer's Market, or in ads in writer's magazines. Since agents specialize in certain genres, you'll want to find an agent who handles the genre you are writing.

When you have gathered a few names, you'll want to craft a query letter. The first paragraph of the letter should tease your book, much like the back cover blurb would tease a perspective reader. The rest of the letter should include your book's length, genre, and your contact information. This letter will accompany the first part of your book -- usually the first 30 pages. To an agent, these first 30 pages are key, so make sure something big happens in the first 30 pages. If it doesn't, rewrite!

Then send off your packages. And wait.

As you might have guessed by now, this is the hard part. You'll get rejection letters. Some of them nice, some of them form letters. The most disappointing part of this path is that agents will only represent one writer per genre, so if they already have a science fiction client, for instance, and you write science fiction, they won't represent you also -- at least not until they have sold that first client's book to a publisher.

Book deals are hard to come by. They take talent and a whole lot of luck -- but there are other options.

Next Up: Indie Publishing

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Publishing Series: #10 Are We There Yet?

So the beta readers have given your manuscript a look-see. You've taken their comments and questions under consideration and made the necessary changes and improvements. Now you're done, right?

Well, not quite.

The next suggestion is going to sound a bit odd.

Close yourself up in a room with your manuscript and a pencil. Make sure there will be no interruptions. Your job now is to read the entire story to yourself out loud.

Yes. Out loud. 

By reading out loud, you hear how the sentences sound in another person's head. You are reading what is there on the page, not what you think is on the page. You may catch awkward wordings that other read-throughs haven't caught, or even noticed words you intended to include, but have left out. 

If you are good at punctuation and grammar -- and really make sure that you are before attempting this part by yourself -- you can also catch these types of errors. If you are not good at editing -- and by that I mean punctuation, capitalization, and usage -- than I recommend finding a good editor. But this can cost money. Either spend the bucks or educate yourself by using resources like Strunk and White's Elements of Style, the Associated Press Stylebook, or Warriner's Grammar book.

This is one of the last read-throughs your manuscript will have, and when it goes out into the world, you want it to be as pretty and shiny as it can be!

Next Up: Indie or Traditional Publishing?

Monday, November 28, 2022

A Huge Thank You!

I had a wonderful time this weekend at the Buffalo Historical Society's Maker's Market! A huge shout-out to friends Laura, who showed up for moral support, and Ann and Jay who traveled great distances to support my efforts as well. So great to see them!

It was a great venue, and the folks who run and volunteer at the museum are the friendliest!

What a super time meeting so many people -- young and old alike -- who were interested in Relic and Eye of the Peacock, their story lines, themes, and inspiration. I had some great conversations! This was my first big signing since Covid hit, and meeting potential readers is really the best part of being an author. Writing is a very isolated craft -- you're really kept company only by the characters you create. But when you do a signing, you get to connect with people who are interested in those characters that you have become so close to. 

So many people out there like to read -- and write. If you bought a copy, I thank you. If it was a gift, I hope they love it. Please feel free to contact me here. And don't forget to write a review on either my Amazon or my Good Reads page. Friday and Saturday let me also talk about this blog and the writing tips I've been offering. I hope you all visit and take advantage! It felt so good to be back in the saddle again!