20 January 2016

Publish VS Self-Publish: Know Before You Start

You write a book. You have options. Most people categorize those options as either finding someone to publish their book for them or doing it themselves. But, if we unravel the mystery of publishing in 2016, it's much more complex.

Anyone can learn to write using MS Word or Scrivener. And anyone can learn to format and create ebooks and order printed copies, which means anyone can publish you. We should be talking in terms of a continuum of publication options between the two tired standards of publishing past.

Somewhere out there is someone willing to publish almost anything.

1. Traditional Publishing

Convince an agent to represent your book to one of the major publishers who will love it, create it and distribute it if it ever finds its way to the top of their slushpile. Although this sounds like a fool proof plan for fame and fortune to some, the vast and expansive majority of first time authors who are published by the few major publishers are not able to support themselves from one book. But, the professionalism of their finished product is high and the bragging rights last a lifetime.

It's something to think about for most writers.

2. 100% Self-Publishing

You take your files and turn them into ebook files. It's quite simple. If you can save your work as a word document or a PDF, you can upload it into a file converter. I don’t mean you can make it look good with a file converter, but you can create ebook files with minimal button clicking involved. To get more professional, get writers find apps like Sigil, and make great friends with all their features.

You edit. You format. You make the cover. You ask each person you meet individually if they will read it. If you have no money to invest in developing your work, this may be the only way to start, but your weakness in design or marketing or whatever area will show.

3. Small Press

I've met quite a few people who believe that all self-published books earn less than 100 USD. And that may be true for the writers who couldn't find a publisher and decided to self-publish as a second option. BECAUSE... if you want someone else to publish you, you will find someone to publish you, UNLESS your work is to the readers what gum on the bottom of a shoe is to a pterodactyl.

A small press is any press operating with a budget less than 50 million USD annually. That can be a retiree at his home computer in the country working on dial-up or a successful and growing business that turns out quality niche works.

4. Somewhat Self-Publishing

100% Self-Publishing sounds romantic and all rebel against the system, but DO NOT think for one minute that readers do not judge your book by its cover. Unless they LIKE the cover or hear something good about it from someone they trust, the book IS the cover.

And if you're like me, who uploaded and formatted a draft of my first book without noticing, who may need a professional editor or at least, a professional proofreader. Or you may need help with marketing and website design. Somewhat Self-Publishing is when you have learned your strengths and weakness and decided to pay other people to ensure your work reaches a professional standard.

It is my firm belief that no one should self-publish, because they failed to find a publisher.

And in the end, there is only one true path to success as a writer no matter what route you choose.

Write! Write! Write! 

Like every successful businessman, any writer with enough determination will eventually be able to connect a product to the people who want to pay them for it.

I’ve personally never submitted my novels for publication by a small press or a major publisher. I considered it, but the thought decreased my passion for writing. I want to self-publish just as my grandfather did the year I was born. He bought an old printing press and made copies of his writing by setting each letter of each page by hand.

It is a romantic ideal for me, but I also have aspirations to publish other people's work. I dream of thermal binders and a warehouse of shelving to stock an inventory of warm comfortable escapist scifi.

Yes, it's good to dream, but it's even better when you have a plan to go with it.

12 January 2016

The Author and The Persona

Earlier this year a guy I dated in college, asked me how to be popular. Online. He wanted lots and lots of people following him so he could look more important.

Naturally, he works in foreign affairs. He would never admit otherwise, but it wasn't so he could help other people. He's also been interested in art. He asked me how to do that, too.

I've never had answers to questions like these. I don't know anything about art. When I was younger, I thought good art was putting a dollar bill on the end of a fishing line and hanging it over the balcony at my friends apartment that faced the college row.

1/3 of the people laughed when I told them I was fishing for capitalists

1/3 of the people pretended they couldn't see it and walked past
1/3 were angry if not before I explained what I was doing, certainly after

I tried different types of lure, but the results always ended up the same. And when I left my pole dangling out of reach to have cheap beer and homemade wines, two boys were running and jumping at it when I returned. But, they left quickly.

I guess that's the most important lesson about art. In writing. In painting. In living. If you are as much yourself as humanely possible, then it becomes art. You break the barrier between normal life and having fun. You make a persona. You are more sad than sad. More serious than serious.

More real than real.

I don't know anything about art even though people react to my talent in the same proportion as they did my dollar bill when I was in college. And the same holds true for my writing. The only difference between me and my ex-boyfriend is that I don't wait for permission to be myself and I am ready for the consequences.

But, those 1/3 who laugh and those that play along. How anyone behave the way they're supposed to behave when it could be so much more interesting.

24 December 2015

3 Good Reasons to Follow and 3 Good Reasons Unfollow

I've been cleaning out my Twitter account after five or six years as a "Happy New Years to Me" present. I love meeting and supporting authors, but I've not enjoyed it as much in recent years. I can't find the art under all the marketing.

After doing an inventory, I found about two thousand people who were dragging down my social media experience or simply not adding to it. So, I did a MASSIVE purge based on the following criteria:

1. You RETWEET with spammy hashtags - I can only see the cover of that #free #kindle #ebook #bestselling #indie #novel six thousand times before I never ever ever want to read it.

2. We've changed since we first met - You and I have no interests in common besides writing. Maybe we did #nanowrimo together in 2009, but I'm now writing science fiction and you're writing contemporary thrillers. We're at different stages in our lives. If we were going to interact, it would have happened by now.

3. You TWEET or RETWEET too much - I don't know how anyone can tweet 400 times per day. It's a Christmas miracle that apparently lasts all year. I can't find regular people without making extensive lists and I don't have time for that.

That being said, I also had important criteria prevented me from unfollowing authors:

1. We have had a conversation and I remember you - Sure, people change. Profiles change. But, if I know you had something to say to me and I see your username or your avatar and I remember you as a real person, then you're a keeper. I love conversationalists.

2. You were unique - Maybe I don't know anybody from your part of the world or your profile doesn't look or sound anything like all the other author accounts. I needed to know more about you even if we have never had a chat, because you're special. You're a little different.

3. We had something in common - Basically, if you write about science fiction or say COFFEE in your profile. I want to hear what you have to say. Especially, if it's about coffee.

As soon as I started my purge of old mutual follows, I got called someone who follows for numbers and then unfollows. That is scummy behavior and I don't approve. I expect people who just want a mutual follow to unfollow me. That's okay with me.

As a rule, I don't automatically follow back, but I do follow people while trying to find people who share common interests. AND TALK. I'm on twitter to meet people who TALK to me (see criteria #1 above) or at least say interesting and unique things. I want perspectives.

If I've made a mistake by unfollowing you, because maybe I didn't recognize your account or I hit the wrong button, which I think I did in a quite a few cases, tell me and I'll fix it.

Or, if I've never followed you back, but you think you I should. Tweet me and I will follow you.