Category Archives: Writing

Lies told by Small Presses

Some good warnings to take to heart!

I have a couple of things to add. Unless the market has changed drastically, having a good agent and getting an advance is unlikely to guarantee your book visibility or even entry into mainstream bookstores. I was paid $5000 by St. Martin’s in 1983; even though King of the Roses got superb reviews (check them out in the Amazon preview), the book never made it into any of the many stores, local or national, that existed at the time (before Amazon). I was told St. Martin’s would have had to commit to a massive advertising budget before any of the stores would find spine-out space for my book, let alone any kind of display or prominent position. (This despite the fact that my mother wrote many angry letters to bookstores demanding that they put my book on a stand in the doorway!) St. Martin’s did minimal advertising, but did make sure reviewers got copies and paid attention to them, which is a big deal, and something that will be hard for us to do for ourselves.

It’s my understanding (possibly erroneous?) that publishers’ budgets are even tighter today than they were in 1983. So true traditional publishing by one of the major houses doesn’t mean authors don’t still have work to do to get their books out there. But articles like this help us avoid pitfalls that will make our efforts go for naught!

Steven Capps

Like many of my posts, this stems from something I saw in an online writer’s group. Essentially, someone who has been traditionally published from a small press was putting down people who self-publish. Personally, I have my own problems with self-publishing that I discuss in my “Why I’ll Never Self-Publish” post, but that is besides the point. At this point, I’d like to formally begin my rant against small presses.

In my opinion, traditional publishing is best done through an agent and then with a professionally recognized publisher. Small presses, unless they are recongized by writing organizations like Codex or SFWA, often give little more than what someone can do through self-publishing but will suck away 40-60% of the author’s share of royalties and then use self-publishing tools (like Createspace) to produce the book. Small Presses get away with this by telling authors lies in order to get them to sign…

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Filed under business of writing, indie publishing, King of the Roses, Marketing books, Money!, Myths and Truths, novels, Publishing, publishing contracts, Scams, Self-publishing, small presses, V. S. Anderson, Writing

Posts in My InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet!

indd pages panel w text

Complete with Screen Shots!

Here are the current posts in my InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet that will help you format your own print-on-demand interior for IngramSpark. Soon to come: ISBNs and creating your PDF.

Formatting for IngramSpark in InDesign: You’re Almost Already There!

InDesign for Book Formatting: Cheat Sheet I

InDesign Cheat Sheet 2: How to Get Started

InDesign Master Pages: No Big Deal!

InDesign Cheat Sheet! Add Some Text!

Finally! Formatting Text in InDesign, Part I

InDesign Obstacle: When Smart Text Reflow Doesn’t Work

InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet: Finally Formatting Part II

Finishing Up, Part I

Finishing Up: Part !!

Finishing Up: Part III

 

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Filed under book design, business of writing, indie publishing, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, Tech tips, Writing

Creating a Universal Amazon Link – One Link Amazon Sites in all Countries

This is really important if you’re trying to run ad campaigns. It worked perfectly for me. Thanks to Don Massenzio for reposting his original advice.

Don Massenzio's Blog

I posted this tip a while ago and got some positive feedback. If you set up buying links for your books, many of you are probably posting Amazon links for each country that you think your book will likely realize some sales.

There is no need to do this.

I was getting frustrated when I ran a free book promotion weekend and experimented with placing a Facebook ad that reached out to multiple countries. My dilemma with doing this is that I didn’t have a way to post all of the links for the various Amazon sites in other countries on my ad without it looking clumsy.

I searched for a way to create a universal link for my book. A universal link, when clicked by a potential reader, is designed to take them to my book on the appropriate Amazon page for their country.

All they needed to do was…

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Filed under business of writing, ebooks, indie publishing, Marketing books, novels, Print on Demand, Self-publishing, Tech tips, Writing

Do You Hate Semicolons? Prepare for Battle!

Do you hate semicolons when you read?This lively post by Aliette de Bodard at Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog not only defends semicolons but also encourages us to learn to use them well.  My take: I’m an enemy of rigid rules, period. That said, there are some conventions writers really need to know, such as how to punctuate dialogue so it’s clear when it begins and ends. Readers get used to some of these conventions, and get jerked out of the story when their expectations are not met.

So whether to break a rule can really be a judgment call. Definitely: you best serve your prose if you know the rule, and the consequences of breaking it.

And by the way, I’ve been reading an awful lot of wonderful books that are unself-consciously replete with adverbs. I think I’m going to go back to some of my stripped-down paragraphs and slip those adverbs back in. Judiciously, of course. And in the dark of night.

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Filed under correct grammar, Editing, grammar rules, indie publishing, Myths and Truths, punctuation, self editing, Self-publishing, style, Writing

4 Ways to Handle Backstory

Thanks to Andrea Lundgren posting over at A Writer’s Path for addressing an issue of craft I see us all struggling with all the time! I like a variation on number 4: dropping in short fragments of backstory in the course of ongoing narration. For example, when a new character engages with the protagonist, he or she can fill in a line or two to bring readers up to speed on the past relationship: “The last time Mark met Jane, the experience had been traumatic for both. He’d been in the middle of X, she’d been involved in Y, etc.”
Similarly, when a character enters a setting, a few lines of backstory can set up the role of that setting in the character’s life: “The first time she visited New York, she had been young and naive. . . . ”
It doesn’t take an entire flashback to establish histories like these. Simple inclusions in description and dialogue can tell us much about characters’ pasts.
The big caveat, for me, is that our readers don’t need to know EVERYTHING we know about our characters. Just as with all descriptions and exposition, I have to work to find the information that is really relevant to the story, perhaps to what’s happening in a particular moment.
Thanks, Andrea, for touching on a part of craft we all wrestle with in our writing!

A Writer's Path

Four 4

By Andrea Lundgren

Every story has exposition–details of the character and world that you, as the author, need to pass on to the reader. You’ve spent hours fleshing out the world of your story and learning about your characters, and now you have to find some way of getting this information (or at least the essential part) from your head to the readers’. (This is especially true in science fiction and fantasy, where you need to tell how the world of the story differs from our world.)

So what’s an author to do?

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Amazon Book Review Myths? Did You Hear These?

Some useful information about those pesky Amazon Review rulesStack of many books from Build Book Buzz. Share your own methods for getting reviews.

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Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, business of writing, ebooks, indie publishing, Marketing books, Myths and Truths, novels, Print on Demand, Reviews, Self-publishing, Writing

Do you want to know just the right word?

Thanks, Jean! I’ve been using Thesaurus.com with excellent results—way better than that thin list on Word. But this tool looks even more useful. I’ll give it a try today and pass on my results.

jean's writing

Happens to me more than I’d like to admit!

I’ve found a tool to help!

I’m on a roll, typing like a maniac. 

Until I stumble over a word.

My writing comes to a screeching halt. A word isn’t right. But I don’t want to stop my progress. After all, I’m a writing maniac. So I use a placeholder, I’ll come back to this section later and figure out the right word or words to convey my thoughts.

However, I’ve now got an itch I can’t scratch. That thought, that missing word or phase will not leave me alone.

Ever happen to you?

My protagonist whispers he can’t work like this, it’s too unprofessional.

Sigh, okay, I cave, save what little progress I’ve made and return to my placeholder. So I…

  • Think, think, think, I’ve got nothing.
  • Look up the placeholder word. Huh? Not even close. What was I thinking?
  • Check thesaurus. What…

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Filed under ebooks, Editing, indie publishing, novels, Print on Demand, self editing, Self-publishing, style, Tech tips, Writing