Monday, December 5, 2011

CreateSpace, or: You Ought To Be In Paperbacks

Once again I return to share with you all the wisdom I gained from beating my head against the formatting wall. Once again I found out that formatting is easy, but the instructions are scary.

Today's topic is 'CreateSpace', a website much like Smashwords that translates your online manuscript into a book and then lets you sell it through online sources. The difference is that CreateSpace is a pay-to-print service. That is, you're not turning your manuscript into an ereader file, you're turning your manuscript into a paperback book. People will order the book from CreateSpace or Amazon as if it were any regular paperback, and a copy will be printed up and sent to them. Your overhead cost is buying one copy of the book itself so that you can look at it and send back a 'yes, I'm satisfied' message to CreateSpace.

This is a pretty great service, but there is one downside, and it is a BIG downside. The paperback will cost much more than a normal paperback. I'm going to have to charge 19.99 for Wild Children, because Amazon will take a whopping 17.24 for printing (and whatever else) costs for each book. That is based on a 6"x9" (standard paperback size) 441 page book. Lower page count means less cost, but I did some experimenting and it looks like Amazon won't take less than 12 bucks no matter what you do, so the basic situation is the same: Your paperbacks will cost much more than legacy paperbacks.

Having decided it's worth it for the few copies I will sell and to tickle my vanity, I plunged into the formatting. Createspace ( walks you through the process step by step pretty easily, giving you pages to assign a title and formal sales information, getting you a free ISBN if you want it and explaining how specific the ISBN is, uploading your manuscript and creating a cover. They have a wonderful 'review the interior of your book' page that shows you what it'll look like, so you can see if you did it right. They accept very standard formats, although you'll be most confident the end product looks like what's in your word processor if you make a .pdf. They have a couple of nice instruction pages in case you can't figure out how to do anything. They have a sample manuscript so you can see what the layout should look like.


Here are the things I had to do to format my manuscript. The most important was to change the page size to 6"x9", which is standard paperback size. There's a link to instructions on the website, but it's easy. Under 'page layout' Word has an option for page size. Set it to 6"x9", and Word will convert. Done. Change font size and type. I found a great web page that explains not just what fonts to use, but why. I ended up using Palatino Linotype (didn't have Helvetica) for the body of my text and Calibri for my headers. Body of text should be 11 point. That's the really crucial, mysterious information right there, isn't it? Make sure you have page numbers in the footer, and that your page numbers match up with your table of contents, because you just completely rearranged the size of your manuscript. Decide if and what you want for headers, because professional paperbacks do have those.

That's about it. When I uploaded my .pdf the reviewer squawked that I hadn't imbedded my fonts - but that didn't matter. The interior review program showed that it knew my fonts and everything looked good. If it does matter for you, there's a link on the site telling you how. I went back and added a blank page here and there until it looked the way I wanted. Looked great in the review page. Done and dusted.

Creating a cover is even easier. They have a webpage program that helps you build it, and hopefully you already have a cover image from your ebooks ready to use. One warning so it doesn't catch you by surprise: The names of their templates are all ridiculous and inscrutable. No help at all. I had to poke around for awhile until I found the template that let me submit an image for my front cover with nothing added to it, and put simple text on the back cover. That option is there, as is a separate image for front and back covers, as is a single prepared image for the whole cover. Once you find the template you want, it goes back to simple step by step stuff.

I hit one land mine there, by the way: The review information came back saying they want the title and my author name half an inch from the edge of the image. So be ready for that niggling detail!

That was it. I gave them information on where to send my royalties, then sent the book to their reviewers. 48 hours was predicted for review times, they got back to me within 12. I'll have to fix the cover and resend, of course. After that I'll order (and pay for) my review copy, and when I get it send them a confirmation 'I Like What I See' message.

Good luck to anyone else who wants to try this! It was less complicated than I feared. Less complicated than ebook formatting, actually.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Space Wars are Over, or HTML is a Harsh Mistress

There’s only one subject more contentious than politics or religion: single spacing versus double spacing at the end of a sentence. Think that’s hyperbole? Google it. There is no better example of literary internecine warfare than sentence spacing. (For a pretty concise history of the conflict, go here.)

For years, I’ve been vocally in the single space camp. Having gone to high school and college in the ‘80s (before personal computers), I learned to double space at the end of a sentence. But subsequently, in every publishing/writing job I’ve held (newspapers, magazines, publishers, advertising) I’ve been required to single space. It took me the better part of a year to retrain my finger/brain connection, but I finally managed it. And as a freelance editor, you have to pick a bible. Mine is the Chicago Manual of Style, which – along with the AP Style Guide and the MLA Style Guide -- state that single spacing is the norm. But – and this is a big but – style guides also state that double-spacing is okay. You’ll probably never get a rejection based on your sentence spacing. Still the war raged on.

I’ll readily admit to my participation in the war. If you ask me to explain why, I can’t. Maybe it’s the deep-seated need to be right. Maybe it’s the desire to control my environment by making everybody follow the same set of rules. Maybe it’s the fact that editors tend to sometimes act like petty fascist dictators. I really don’t know. But I discovered something yesterday, something simple and right under my nose, that showed, at least from a writer’s standpoint, what an idiot I was to argue about it.

I want you to do something for me. Go to your bookshelf and pull down any 10 books published in the last 60 years. Now get a ruler. (Go ahead, I’ll wait.) Flip open a book to any page and measure the distance between ending punctuation and the beginning of the next sentence. Repeat until this becomes clear to you: there is no single or double spacing. Yep, you heard me. There isn’t any. Books are typeset with proportional spacing. Each character is given its own spacing in relation to the characters around it. Sometimes it’s a fraction less, sometimes it’s a fraction more.

Example from the first book I pulled off my shelf, the novel Crime School by Carol O’Connell, paperback edition published by Jove, page 97: between a period and the top of capital T is 2mm; between a period and the bottom of capital A is 1mm; between a period and the bottom of capital N is 2mm. You don’t have to trust me on this, do the experiment yourself.

“That’s fine” you say, “but I’m self-publishing my novel. I don’t care what publishers do.” Well, if you’re publishing for Kindle, at some point your manuscript will be converted to HTML. And the thing I learned yesterday was that HTML doesn’t care about you and your spacing. HTML laughs at your spacing. (Actually HTML seems to always laugh at me, but that’s another issue.)

In HTML there’s this thing called “whitespace collapse.” What this means is simply that HTML ignores any spacing that isn’t coded for in the underlying CSS. Whether you single space or double space at the end of a sentence, HTML will ignore it and space it how it sees fit. You can single space, double space, hell, you can put 27 spaces in, and the HTML will still follow the algorithm and end up with the same space, the one judged to give the best readability for the medium.  (As an aside, you can code to preserve spacing, but it takes a pretty high proficiency with HTML.)

Now let me be clear: HTML did not pick single spacing or double spacing. It doesn’t care. Nobody won the war, the war just ceased – from a publishing standpoint – to matter. It’s like trying to decide whether the rooftop aerial or the rabbit ears gives you better TV reception and suddenly realizing you’re hooked up to digital cable.  Or maybe a better analogy: you and a friend are making smoothies. You insist that you should chop the bananas before putting them in a blender, while your friend insists, no, no, you must slice the bananas first. You know what? Once you put the bananas in the blender, they all come out a uniform consistency.

I had two feelings upon making this realization. First of all, I was appalled that I didn’t know this. How could I not know this? It’s discomfiting when you consider yourself knowledgeable about a subject and then realize you didn’t even consider the underpinnings of your argument. The second feeling I had was one of…relief. I never have to make the argument again. I never have to try and convince someone I’m right and they’re wrong. If I like Mumford and Sons and my daughter likes Lil’ Wayne, it’s a waste of breath me saying, “Lil’ Wayne sucks” while she yells, “Yeah, well Mumford and Sons is for wannabe hipsters.”  It all comes down to personal taste. Neither of us is right or wrong, and we can program our iPods however we want. (And no offense to Lil’ Wayne – I don’t think you suck, really. And I’m not a hipster, so shut up.)

So, this being a blog about self-publishing and all, what does this mean for you as writers? It’s simple: if you’re submitting a manuscript, format it exactly how the publisher/editor wants it submitted. (Which was always good advice anyway.) Don’t waste your breath arguing about it. If you’re used to doing it one way and they want it the opposite way, find/replace is your friend. For your own manuscript formatting or personal correspondence, do what you like. Whether Simon & Schuster gives you a six-figure advance or you’re publishing your first novel for Kindle, it’s all going to come out looking the same. The war is over. Nobody won, but nobody lost either.

(P.S. Many people blame typing teachers for starting the war, but if you research the history of typography and publishing, the truth is far more complex. Still, I did an unscientific sample around here and found that anyone over 30 was taught to double-space, while anyone under 30 was taught to single space. When I asked my 20-year-old daughter, who’s a junior in college, she replied something to effect of, “God, mom, single space. It’s not the stone age.” So I suspect that double spacing will disappear about the time that gay marriage finally becomes legal in all 50 states and marijuana is sold in grocery stores. Why, when I was a girl, we had to type THREE spaces at the end of a sentence. Now get off my lawn.)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Amazon Slushpile?

Some quite interesting news this week, as first-time indie author Traci Hohenstein has signed a four-book deal with the Amazon mystery/thriller imprint Thomas & Mercer. David Gaughran has more info on his always-interesting blog.

As I said, this is an interesting development. Unlike the majority of authors Amazon has approached and signed deals with, Traci Hohenstein is truly a newbie fiction author. Burn Out is her first novel, only published to Amazon in April, and she has no backlist and no traditional publishing background. In addition, the novel is short (clocking in at 170 pages), and has some mixed reviews, the bad reviews mainly a retread of what you often see with new authors: poor editing, typos and grammatical mistakes, lack of development.

First of all, let me make myself crystal clear: this is not a discussion of the merits of Ms. Hohenstein's book or her writing ability. I haven't had a chance to read the book yet and will not comment on it until I have. (And as far as the discussion of reviews, we all know to take reviews, either good or bad, with a grain of salt.) In fact, I wish her a hearty congratulations and great success in her career. (Really, Congrats!) This post is strictly using the basic known facts of her deal as a jumping off point for discussing what we can possibly extrapolate about the coming future of self-publishing, specifically as regards Amazon.

If you've read David Gaughran's piece, he lays out a lot of the specifics as to who's being "published" by Amazon. Mostly somewhat well-known writers with a strong following, a history in traditional publishing, and a backlist of books. Ms. Hohenstein doesn't have any of these indicators. What she does have is sales. She has been kind enough to share her numbers on David Gaughran's blog, and they're quite impressive for a new self-published author (selling 10,000 books in August).Kudos!

After reading David's blog and checking out Ms. Hohenstein's Amazon listing and her blog, a thought popped into my head. Since Amazon announced its new imprints and began approaching authors to sign with them, a lot of people have wondered about what Amazon's designs are in grabbing a bigger piece of the publishing industry. As with any news about Amazon, a lot of the details are shrouded in mystery. Smart authors know that it's great to come to Amazon's attention; it can do great things for an indie author's career. But you can't query Amazon for a book deal. As an indie author, you also can't take advantage of a lot of the marketing possibilities available to big publishers: you can't set up a pre-release sales page, you can't offer a short story or book for free. (Amazon does list books for free, but no one really knows how or why they make those decisions. First, you have to have a book listed for free on another site, but beyond that it's all a black box.)

So how do you get Amazon in your corner? Previous to Ms. Hohenstein's success, it was a general consensus that you had to have an established name and a history to build on, and a stable of books to go with it. In other words, no first-time authors need apply. But that applecart has been, if not overturned, pulled around a corner really fast so that some of the produce has spilled onto the thoroughfare.

So this is my theory. If Amazon does want a bigger piece of the traditional publisher pie and wants to establish a cadre of authors to promote, but doesn't want all the dreary work of the query-go-round and the slushpile, what better way than to have their self-publishing service work AS the slushpile, and let buyers work for free as readers? In a mercenary world where a publisher wants at least a semi-sure product, this is a brilliant strategy. You buy a property that's already selling. You don't need to agonize over whether a brilliant author is marketable or rely on the whims of an editor. You already know that the property will sell and all you have to do is HELP IT SELL MORE.  Amazon can wait until any author hits some internal limit in sales, and then offer them a deal. I have no idea if Amazon offers any kind of advance. I've only heard that they offer very a very favorable split, help with mechanics (such as editing, formatting, covers), and great publicity. So they really have very little to lose if an author tanks, unless they are eventually known for publishing bad books.

Should that be true, it's both horribly depressing and wildly exhilarating. Horribly depressing in the sense that you may be a great writer and a terrible salesman, and Amazon will keep their thumb on the scale to help great salesmen while great writers languish and are further shunted aside and kept in the basement. In other words, nobody at Amazon is going to say, "I read this wonderful book absolutely nobody knows about, let's make it a bestseller!" Instead they'll say, "This may be a mediocre book, but look at those sales! Let's make sure people see it!" (And you find that grumbling already -- just read the Kindle boards and any number of indie blogs).

But conversely it means that Amazon may be more willing to help first-time authors who can do a lot of the heavy lifting themselves. If you believe in yourself, get out there and find readers (as Ms. Hohenstein has apparently done quite successfully) get your sales, and you too can get the key to the executive washroom. At least now instead of a few mercenary editors being the gatekeepers, readers will be the thing that pushes you up the ladder to success, which, after all, is what indie writers have been arguing should be the paradigm all along.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Finding an Editor Part 2: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

In my last post, I talked about the importance of being edited. Here’s a nice post by David Gaughran that backs that assertion up.  I also identified the two hurdles that self-publishers (or really any aspiring author) will run into in the quest to be well-edited: the cost and the difficulty of finding a good editor. Today I want to tackle what makes a good editor and how you can find one to match your needs.

All Editors Are Not Created Equal

There are three flavors of “bad” editors. The Editor Who Only Thinks He’s An Editor, The Editor Who Thinks This Is a Seventh Grade English Class, and the Editor Who Thinks He Should Write Your Book.

If you look around the Net, you can see a plethora of sites suggesting that “You, too, can be an editor!” According to them, all you need is a passing acquaintance with English and a website. I cannot count the number of people I came across who thought they knew how to edit. Some of them have touted their experience as getting good grades in high school English. I’ve gotten into knock-down virtual fights with people who were not fighting about the relevance of the Oxford comma, but who didn’t even know what an Oxford comma was. Or an em-dash. Or passive voice.  People who, when asked if they used the AP Style Guide or the Chicago Manual Style, replied that, “Hey, those are expensive. I just use common sense and what I remember from my college composition class.” Make no mistake, editing is hard. It takes skill, practice, continuing education, experience, and a shelf full of reference books. Fortunately, these are the easiest bad editors to pick out. Their samples (we’ll get to that later) are terrible. They have no track record or references. Their correspondence is riddled with mistakes. Steer clear.

Editors in the second category know proper grammar, usage, and punctuation, but they know it too well. They are trapped by rules that kill good writing, and can’t see beyond the bars of their self-made prison. They want everything to turn out like a freshman English paper. Usually they’re not up on the fluidity of style, because they’re still traumatized by the time Sister Mary Ignatius smacked their knuckles with a ruler and told them to never start a sentence with “but” or to never, ever to use a contraction. Again, these are pretty easy to pick out once you have a sample of their editing style.

The third type of bad editor is harder to recognize at first blush, because it’s a very small space to navigate, especially for writers who are also editors. You see, a good editor will help you to see your mistakes and will also point out where you can improve your voice, characters, plot, style, etcetera. Occasionally, you’ll find a good editor that goes too far, and starts to step all over YOUR style and insert their own. Sometimes this is a passing aberration, and you and your editor will be able to work through a back-and-forth and find the happy medium. If you can’t find that happy medium, then you’ve either got a good editor who just isn’t right for you, you’ve got an editor that really should just stick to writing their own books, or – gasp -- YOU are the problem. Which brings us to….

Don’t Be THAT Writer

We are creative, driven people, gripped by vision, in the thrall of our art, pounding out a masterpiece that….well, you get the picture. Despite the fact that we are sometimes racked by our insecurities, we still like to think that we know what we’re doing and if people would just give themselves over to our genius, why, they would see our tremendous talent. Whatever.

There’s a point where you’re too close to see your work. In fact, you’re almost always too close to see your work, at least in the way it needs to be seen. I’ll say it again, you need outside advice. And you need to be able to discern when it’s good advice and when it’s bad advice. This is brutally hard. This might hurt you and make you curl up in a ball and weep uncontrollably. But every sentence you write is not a special little snowflake. Some things you write are, shall we say, less good than they could be. Some things you write are crap. Some things you write might be an abomination that will blind someone. (Okay, maybe that’s hyperbole, but you get the idea.)

If you’re going to hold on to every adverb, every lovingly written flashback that interrupts the forward flow of the narrative and delivers nothing, every flowery description of the grocery clerk’s honeyed locks, well, there are going to be problems. If you’ve found a good editor, for dog’s sake, LISTEN TO WHAT THEY’RE SAYING. This in no way means that you should roll over and accept every suggestion. But make sure the things that you’re fighting for are worth fighting for. And if you determine something is worth fighting for, fight hard. But you will often find, even after a long-drawn out campaign to save the word “stealthily,” it really was telling and not showing and not worth the millisecond it took to type it out.

There are writers who can’t be edited. Not because they’re brilliant, but because they won’t listen. And in truth, even if they’re brilliant, they most likely won’t get very far and they’ll end up insane in a basement somewhere, scribbling out would-be masterpieces that’ll never be read.

So, Where is This Good Editor You Speak of?

Aye, there’s the rub. The best way to find a good editor is through word-of-mouth. Find out who edited writers you admire or self-pubbed books you fell in love with. There’s one giant problem with this. These editors are often backlogged well into the future. Still, ask around, you might get lucky. Networking is a great way to find editors, proofers, formatters, cover artists that you can trust are professional.

No, luck? Search the Web. Steer clear of obvious noobs and charlatans. Look for professionals who have experience, a track record, a good presentation. Now comes the important part. Never hire an editor without a sample. Even if an editor comes highly recommended, you need to see how they’re going to edit you. Conversely, they need to see how you’re going to take to being edited. Different editors will offer different sample lengths, but you want something representative. A full chapter, 10 pages, a decent part of a short story. You’re entering into an important partnership, and you need to know you’re going to get what you need out of it. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for references.

And this is equally important: not every editor, no matter how skillful, is right for every writer. You need someone you can work with. You need someone who understands your genre, if  you’re a genre writer. You need someone who is a personality match. You need someone who is willing to tell you the hard truths, but who is also willing to listen to your side and admit when they are wrong and you are right. (Which does happen, more often than you would think.)

You also need to have clear goals, on both sides of the equation. You need to work out payment, deadlines, expectations, level of service. Work these details out beforehand, and it will save a lot of grief later on. Most editors I know work in Word with Tracking Changes. This allows an easy back and forth where you can accept and reject changes effortlessly and easily read and make comments. Inquire if you have other expectations or methods you would care to use.

Lastly, don’t despair. You may have to kiss some frogs, dance with some uncoordinated llamas, whatever  analogy you want to use. But once you do find an editor that works for you, magic can be made.

(Standard Disclaimer: I am an editor. I am also a writer. I think of myself as a writer first and foremost, but have worked for many years as an editor to pay the bills. I take on new clients sparingly, and I do know some other editors whom I trust. Please feel free to email me with questions or comments at jacypods(at)gmail(dot)com.)  

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Finding an Editor Part 1: Don't End Up In the Digital Dustbin

The old saw says “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Well, the same concept goes for writers: a writer who edits himself has a fool for a client.

Since leaping into the indie publishing field, I’ve met a lot of great writers and read (or at least sampled) a lot of indie books. I will guarantee you right now that, with better than 98% accuracy, I can tell you pretty damn quick which of those books were professionally edited and which weren’t.

See, the thing is, you can be a fantastic writer and a terrible editor. And even if you’re a fantastic writer and a pretty good editor, you’re still going to run smack into hidden blind spots and camouflaged pits full of sharpened stakes onto which you will impale yourself and wriggle helplessly. And even if you are a writer who falls into that fraction of a percentage point who is both a fantastic writer and a fantastic editor and you spend hours looking out for your poisonous little darlings, your book is still not going to be as good as it would be if you have independent eyes looking over it.

If you think that’s not true, I can’t help you. But most any writer worth his or her salt knows that a finished story can’t exist in a vacuum. I’ve harped over and over again about the importance of beta readers and editors and proofers. In the halcyon days of publishing, if you were accepted by a publishing house of a magazine or an anthology, you didn’t need to worry too much about dealing with editors. Having your work edited was part of the contract. You shipped your baby off and someone somewhere worked their magic on it. And unless you were a prima donna and apt to get in screaming fights about your art, that was that.

Times have changed. Publishing houses are increasingly getting out of the editing business. Unless you’re incredibly fortunate, it’s terrifically hard to get someone to pay you for an unpolished work. Agents and publishers are looking for professional, ready-to-publish manuscripts. Self-publishing is no way to get around that fact, either. If you want to be a successful writer, either in traditional publishing or indie publishing, you need professional help.

For the indie writer this poses some problems. One, editing is expensive. It’s a job that takes a very high skill level and is time-intensive. Two, all editors are not created equal, and it can seem near impossible to find a good one.

First of all, let’s tackle the money problem. What does editing cost? I would say for a baseline you’re looking at minimum around a penny a word or a couple dollars a standard page or $25 to $60 an hour. (Keep in mind, those measurements are not equivalent to each other, just a baseline from looking at different service packages).   For a full-length novel (a minimum of 55,000 words), you’re looking at around $500 as a base price. Wow, you say to yourself, how many books do I have to sell to recoup that cost? A lot, but at least with a properly edited book, you have a chance to recoup your cost. An unedited book is going to die a quiet and unmourned death. Don’t believe me? Ask any writer who’s selling well. Good editing won’t make a bestseller, but no editing will ensure that you’re consigned to the digital dustbin.

There are ways to lessen your costs. Join writer’s groups, network, make friends. Trade manuscripts with other writers. You can learn a lot about making your work better, and if you’ve been practicing your craft long enough and hard enough and you find compatriots who have a high skill level, you can get a lot of the heavy lifting done before you get to the final editing/proofing stage.

Sometimes you can trade services. Your strengths may be someone else’s weaknesses. You may be a whiz at web design and find an editor who needs a website. Barter when you can. Ask about payment plans. Many editors will take a deposit and collect the balance when the job is finished.

Remember the old Christmas Clubs at the bank? Sock away your spare change in a book fund to pay for editing, proofing, cover design, and formatting. Save up until you’ve got what you need. Put $10 in a jar every time you finish a chapter or hit your weekly goal. As trite as it may sound, it’s an investment in your future. And I do mean that. Every time you work with a good editor, you learn things that you can apply to your writing going forward. A good editor will make you a better writer, and that will carry through your career.

Okay, you’ve accepted the cold, hard fact that you need editing. But bear in mind, a bad editor is just the same as having no editor at all. If you’re going to shell out your hard-earned clams for a professional service, you need to make dead sure you’re getting your money’s worth. In the next post, I’ll go over what makes a good editor (and what makes a bad one) and what makes you a good client. (Hint #1: Always get a sample! Hint #2: You are not James Joyce.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Short Story Cover Extravaganza

Spent today working, working on covers for the  coming short stories. Way more fun than cleaning my closet. You've got vampires, zombies in two flavors, and a contract killer trying to do a good deed. Just shows what you can do with $12 worth of artwork and seven hours of free time. Yay! Please let me know what looks good and what sucks!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Digital Rights Management Trap

I am hardly an expert on the subject of Amazon's DRM (Digital Rights Management) for Kindle.  No doubt others who are will weigh in.  But my purpose on this blog is to pass on wisdom I had to learn the hard way, and here is today's lesson:

DRM is controversial and unpopular and there are people who will not read your books on Kindle if DRM is set.  How many?  That's for the experts.  What I can tell you is that you cannot casually go back and uncheck DRM.  You must go back and unpublish every title you want to fix, then resubmit them as brand new books from scratch.

I just got back from doing that.

So decide how you feel about DRM before you publish on Amazon!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tip of the Day - Fonts for Book Covers

All you DIY indies out there who are either brave or foolish enough to design your own covers, one of my favorite blogs, The Book Designer, has a nice post on good fonts for book covers.

You've all seen crappy covers that look like they were slapped together in Microsoft Paint. Cheap graphics, boring design, and cheesy fonts. You're doing yourself no favors if you skimp on cover design. But what if you can't afford a professional designer? Well, that's still no excuse for doing a crummy job.

There are three elements to a good cover: the concept design, the graphics, and the font. Leaving aside concept and art today, let's talk about fonts for a moment. The first mistake DIYers make is not doing research. When you set out to design your cover, get yourself to Amazon and starting searching for books. Look for books in your genre, look for books by your favorite authors. What do their covers look like? What strikes your fancy, what turns you off?

One of the most important things for ebook covers is finding a font that is easily readable in a small view. Then you need a font that expresses your story/genre/theme. Your cozy mystery is not going to require the same type of font that your splatterpunk horror novel will. Then you need to find a font that fits in with your design and art. You want a thematically pleasing cover that expresses what your book is like and tells the reader what to expect.

After doing some research, you should have some ideas of the look of the font you want for your book. It's probably not going to be font you've already got installed. Trust me, the common fonts on your computer are not necessarily optimal for typesetting and design. So how DO you find a font?

Say you came across a book on Amazon with a great font, how do you identify it? Unless you're a physic font reader or a typesetting savant, you'll have to do some sleuthing. One great way is using the WhatTheFont tool. You just upload the image and it will tell you what font you're looking at. This sometimes takes some jiggering, but once you're got a clear image that contains the font you want, this will identify it for you.

Now, of course, you've got to find that font in True Type to download to your computer. There are lots of sites for fonts. You can go to a graphics site like Veer and search for fonts. These tend to be a little pricey.  You can go to a free font site like and start searching. Looking for a free font to match the font you've chosen can take a little time. Sometimes you'll be helped out by a description that contains the words "similar to" and references a font you're looking for. Look around, experiment. Download a number of fonts and plug them into your design and see if it gives you the look you're going for. Make sure you decrease your design image to thumbnail size. What looks great big may be just a blob small.

What I Did

When I was looking to design the covers for the mystery series, I had to think about what I wanted to present to my desired audience. When a reader looks at my book, what associations do I want them to make? I decided to go with what's called the "big book look." This consists of a bold background image over which can be placed the title and the author's name in big, bold letters. I chose this because I was targeting readers that might pick up books by Kathy Reichs or Tess Gerritsen or Patricia Cornwell. I have a backup plan that goes a different direction, because while I think the mystery series will appeal to the readers of those books, it will also appeal to readers of cozier, funnier books. Those covers would be more brightly colored, with a font that's friendlier and not so bold. The great thing is, if I want to switch covers next week, I can. (That's, as Stephen King would say, another story for another time.)

Going back to the present covers, I looked on Amazon for covers of mystery series by women authors featuring women protagonists that I read regularly. I looked at covers until I found a font that I loved and that fit the picture in my mind's eye. I copied the cover, went to WhatTheFont and found out the font name and then did a search for fonts until I found some "similar to" fonts that were free for commercial use. I downloaded several and plugged them into the design until I got what I was look for. Then, using Adobe Photoshop, I adjusted the font size, beveled it slightly, gave it some depth with shading and it was good to go. This was all done with no special knowledge, just a decent design program and the will to experiment. 

(Oh, and about those other covers? I've gotten feedback from some readers -- and looked at the "also bought" suggestions from Amazon -- and realize that the series might better be represented by cozier covers. So I'm going to do an experiment and design a new set of covers and see what happens. This is a definite plus for indie publishing: the ability to hone the presentation of your work. Updates coming.)

Link of the Day

Mentioned on The Book Designer Blog is a fantastic site for fonts that I was heretofore unaware of.  Font Squirrel is a great site with tons of swell free commercial use fonts.  I collect fonts like some people collect stamps or coins or hideous ceramic figurines, so it's like being a kid in a candy store. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Using Twitter Better

For a long time, I resisted the Twitter. I'm not a big Facebook user, and I viewed Twitter as just a bite-sized Facebook with people yapping about their Starbucks order or asking for a goat for their imaginary farm. Besides, how can you say anything in 140 characters?

But I was wrong and I'm learning to love Twitter, or at least appreciate its usefulness. And, yes, if you're self-pubbing, you can't not use Twitter. It's invaluable in meeting new people, learning new things, and, yes, promoting yourself if done correctly.

That said, a lot of people are using Twitter poorly and annoying everyone while doing so. Paraphrasing Glinda the Good Witch, are you a good tweeter or a bad tweeter?

The site has a great list to start you out on 10 totally uncool habits you may have fallen into.   I particularly dislike people who do mass follows and unfallows and who promote themselves mercilessly.

But What About Promotion?

Yes, Twitter is a great tool for promoting your work, but you don't want to be the guy with the poorly lettered sandwich board blocking the front door of the coffee shop accosting passersby and shouting at them. Use self-promotion smartly and sparingly. If you've got a new post on your blog, don't tweet about it non-stop for three hours. Instead, tweet a few times throughout the day with different hashtags. If you've got a coupon or  an announcement or a sale, make it a fun tweet, pique someone's interest with a tagline, change things up.

There's nothing wrong with self-promotion, but don't look like a selfish noob. Follow some other authors that you admire and see how they go about promoting themselves. You'll probably notice that all their tweets are not screaming "BUY MY BOOK," but instead they tweet links to other sites, news, or posts of interest. They make comments of encouragement or tell jokes. In short, they act like somebody you'd want to have a drink with instead of some sweaty guy pounding on your door with an armload of encyclopedias. The way to get people to buy into your promotion is to be interesting, informative, and friendly. 

But how do I get followers if I don't mass follow?

Everybody wants to have tons of followers, and there are lots of gadgets and widgets and websites that will automatically add followers and do all kinds of annoying things. And while it's an ego boost to see your follower list balloon, in the long run I don't think it helps you much. You want to follow people you're genuinely interested in, and you want followers who are genuinely interested in you, otherwise you're just tossing messages into bottles that no one's going to open. 

There's a strategy that you can use that's going to take time and effort, but in the end is going to make you much happier and serve your needs much better.

First find people. One way I find people is I look at the follow/followed by lists of people I admire or follow or who have a blog/service that I like and use. For instance, I love David Gaughran's blog and I follow him on Twitter. He's a swell writer and his blog is indispensable for self-publishers. So I'll look up who David follows on Twitter and who follows him. Now I've got a ready-made list to sift through for likely people to follow. You can also check out tweets by people you follow or admire and see who they're retweeting or what blog posts they're recommending.

Now comes the work part, the time-consuming part. Once you've got a list of likely people, check out their tweets. Are they interesting, informative, current? Or are they only about themselves or do they espouse some viewpoint (political or otherwise) that you detest? If you like a person's tweets, then visit their website, check out their books, check out their blog. If they interest you or you find their work useful or informative follow them.

If you're interested in having someone follow you back, give them a reason to. Sign up for their newsletter, become a friend on their blog, leave a comment on their blog, tweet about their blog or their book, or send them a direct message introducing yourself. Something like, "Hi. Just read your blog and really enjoyed the post about Twitter." 

Don't do this insincerely, because most people can smell insincerity a mile off. And you don't have to do the same thing for every person you follow. Don't manufacture something (like the thank-you letters you wrote as a kid) but try to be friendly or helpful or even snarky. I find snark works much better than insincerity. 

Set a number of followers you'd like to add per day or per week and work to make that goal. Remember, you're not just adding followers like trophies in a case, you're looking for people you have some connection with, whose stuff you enjoy, or you think might be interested in what you have to offer. I try to follow five new people every day I'm on Twitter (which is not every day). Today, I followed 7 people and six have followed me back. And it's not just about the follows, I found a really great blog that I enjoyed reading   --   -- and I found a book I put on my Amazon wishlist for when I've plowed through the seven books on my nightstand and the five on my Kindle. 

So it's not a race or a storefront, it's a way to connect and find other people who are cool and worthwhile, and just might think you're cool too. 

Link of the Day

Okay, so it's shameless self-promotion, but, hey, it's my blog. The S/O has been working on setting up a new authors website -- which is still very much under construction -- but I'm setting up showcase pages that consist of a cover and a quick sample for each novel. The idea is to let the writing speak for itself without a lot of blurby stuff stepping all over it. So check out the bare bones prototype for Darker By Degree and, if you're so inclined, tell me what you think of the idea.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tick Tock - Finding Writing Time

Not long ago I was editing an interview with an up-and-coming writer (that's often the day job - editing). He has a hot new book that everybody's all gushy over, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, the interviewer asked him about his process for writing this novel. Apparently he'd written it at a secluded writer's retreat somewhere over a few months' time. His day went something like this: after a leisurely breakfast he would brainstorm for an hour or so, then write for three or four hours. After lunch and a walk in the woods, he would go back to his nice quiet room and write until evening, where he would commune with other writers over drinks and dinner, where presumably they would sit around and chortle about hard it is to write in absolute peace and quiet with no children pegging things at the back of your head, no cat throwing up under your chair, no washing machine spouting gouts of foam, and no day job (or two).

At that moment, I hated that man. It's not his fault, I suppose. He didn't say how he had wrangled two months at a swanky "writer's retreat." Maybe he'd saved his pennies for 10 years or maybe he'd married a rich widow and then pushed her down the stairs. All I was thinking at the moment, was, yeah, think of what I could do with 14 uninterrupted hours of writing time. Every day.

And there's the rub.  Most of us are lucky to have a few hours of free time a day where we could possibly write. And even when we have time, it's not quiet time. If we're careful we can create a happy little soap bubble and sit inside it, just us and the blank page. But that bubble is easily popped by the first wailing child, the significant other who's lost something they can't find or broken something they can't fix, by the client asking where project is, by the alarm that beeps letting you know you're late for doing something that must be done RIGHT NOW and damn your flow of narrative.

It can be done. People do it all the time.   But it's hard and frustrating and painful. You can do all the affirmations you want and perform the little tricks to eke out writing time and try to cobble together some platform from which to launch your work, and still it's damned difficult to maintain some kind of coherent writing life. Add to that the time you must spend marketing yourself, which is a sink hole if you let it be.

I myself have fallen into that sinkhole the last few weeks, doing things in bursts. I would edit madly, then realize I had to do some paid work to buy the groceries. I would drop the editing and work, then realize the book sales had stalled  and I needed to do some marketing. I would spend hours on social networking and realize that I needed to start the next book to make the publishing schedule. As I'm starting work on a new book, I feel guilty that I haven't finished the edit on the finished one. And it starts over.

Figure out how much time you can give each day to the three segments of your writing life: marketing, manuscript massaging, and writing. You need all three. You need to market yourself, you need to make your finished work the best it can be, and you need to be generating new work. Now think about how much time realistically you can carve out per day or per week and divvy it up. Split the time in thirds if you want, or make one day for writing, one day for marketing, one day for editing/book designing. Experiment until you find a balance.  But stick to some kind of schedule, at least for the marketing. Don't spend five hours on Twitter and then realize you haven't written a word.  And don't skip the editing, just because it's the most frustrating.  If you are going to let one segment take over and flow across the boundaries, make it writing. Find a balance that works for you.

This weekend, I vowed to wrest control back and I've made some resolutions:
  • Do marketing/social media first thing in the morning and limit it to 90 minutes max
  • Do my editing like it's a job - two hours a day then step away
  • Write 1,000 a day on the new novel
 Not some great, earth-shattering plan, but doable. What can you do take control of your writing life? Make a goal. Make is simple, without a lot of bells and whistles. Pick a word count that gets you somewhere, whether that destination is a short story that's been bubbling in the back of your mind, a work in progress that's been lingering on your desktop, a new idea that keeps tapping you on the shoulder. At 1,000 words a day my next novel will be through first draft by the end of October. 

Where are you going to find your writing time? 

Link of the Day 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Beat the Heat Giveaway - Darker By Degree Free on Smashwords This Weekend

Just dying for something to help you beat the heat? How about a little murder and mystery? Nothing more refreshing than spending the weekend with a good book and a cooler full of your favorite beverage.

This weekend Darker By Degree is free on Smashwords with the coupon code  EG95Q

Just pop on over to the Darker by Degree Smashwords page and type in the code in the checkout line.

If you enjoy the book, post a review on Smashwords or Amazon. It's good for your karma.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Still a Pathetic Fangirl

[cross-posted at The Spectral Obelisk]

This morning Lawrence Block followed me on Twitter. For those of you who do not know Lawrence Block, shame on you. He's a crime writer par excellence, and rather than go through the litany of accomplishments I'll direct you to his Wikipedia page and also to his blog. And his Amazon page for good measure.

Besides being a fantastic writer, he's an all-around swell guy, and he's been an invaluable resource to writers over the years.

And, yeah, I know it's just a follow-back on Twitter, it's not like he's dropping by for cocktails or a barbecue, but still LAWRENCE BLOCK! Squee!

And in a weird coincidence, I was rummaging through used books at a thrift store the other day (five for a dollar!) and was thrilled to come across Block's Keller novella Keller's Adjustment as part of the Transgressions series edited by Ed McBain. AND I'm actually working on a short story about a hitman who grasps at his last chance at redemption. So, yeah, it all makes sense inside my head.

Also, too, if you're not following me on Twitter, why not? It's not the Stone Age, people!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What Makes A Great Review?

Last night we got the best review ever for Darker By Degree. Well, maybe not the best review ever, but a damned satisfying one, the kind that makes a smile pop out on your face throughout the day and gives you the warm fuzzies, the kind that lets you know you did what you meant to do. More about that in a moment.

Reviews are important, especially for those of us who've taken the self-pub route, and they're important for a number of reasons. First, most readers are reluctant to take a blind jump. If they've never heard of you, they may be reluctant to give you a try, even if you've got a nifty cover and a catchy blurb. But if they see other people dipping a toe in the water, and then caring enough to describe that experience, they're more likely to take the plunge. Second, well-done reviews give a little more information, and information from a reader's perspective as opposed to the author's perspective. We as writers sometimes miss what's best (or worst) or most compelling about our own works. Reviewers can point that out, especially to other potential readers who might be of a like mind. Third, reviews help you get noticed. They move you up in searches, they help you get linked, they drive people to your books.

So, yes, we want reviews. We need reviews. But we want good reviews. And by good reviews, I don't mean, "Oooh, that was the best book I ever read!" reviews. I mean thoughtful, meaningful reviews. Yes, we hope they're flattering and complimentary, but we also hope they add something to the conversation, that they pique someone's interest, that they illuminate.

I've seen people tweet about "Another 5-star Review!" But I've also learned that the vaunted 5-star review is not all it's cracked up to be. It's common knowledge that reviews can be gamed, and are gamed quite regularly. Many people don't "trust" a 5-star review, figuring that it's either friends of the author or the authors themselves salting the mine. I've read time and time again in comments hither and yon that potential readers are really interested in the 3- and 4-star reviews, because they tend to be better balanced, reasoned, thought-out, and explained.

There was an interesting post on Konrath's blog earlier this week where he sort of trashes the notion of 1-star reviews. I can see his point -- which was that a lot of 1-star reviews (hell, a lot of reviews, period) are nonsense because they're not really reviews, but instead knee-jerk reactions to what may or may not even be legitimate critical points, like the price of the book or the genre. As someone who often writes in the horror genre, I would like to personally pound anyone who gives a horror novel an automatic 1-star because they "don't like horror." But I do think Konrath kind of wanders off his main point just a tad by twisting things to say in effect there are "no 1-star books." In his defense, he did start off my stating something about "assuming a certain level of competence," but still, there are some pretty atrocious books out there. As always, nice debate in the comments section.

There's also mixed feeling in readers about soliciting reviews, mostly because many don't understand that's how any traditionally published book gets reviews: you send out arcs or free copies and hope that reviewers will read and review them. It's really no different than, say, using a service like the new BookRooster, which for a reasonable fee will give free copies to their readers (in your genre) until you've received a minimum of 10 Amazon reviews. The part that makes people feel squidgy about it is that each review has to start out with a disclaimer that the reviewer received a free copy to review. For readers who understand the process, this should be no problem, but more casual readers may think, "Hey, why do they have to GIVE the book away...." Hopefully, that kind of attitude will be dispelled over time as the practice becomes more common. After all, you're not guaranteed a "good" review, so it's not like an old payola scam.

And there are increasingly people and sites, like Red Adept, that will review self-pubbed books for free. Also joining groups like GoodReads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing can link you up to readers who are more likely to review your books.

But sometimes the best review is the one you haven't sought out, the reader who found your book, who enjoyed it, and who took the time to tell everybody why. Which brings me back to the most excellent review that we got last night for Darker By Degree. Yeah, it wasn't a "5-star," and it wasn't all gushy, but it was better than that.  First of all, it was by someone who does lots of reviews (over 600!), and they're thoughtful reviews, not drive-bys or love fests. And in looking over those reviews, the reader is not afraid to point out what's good and bad in a book. They didn't give away too much of the plot, but they hit they high points that they found compelling. And then at the end, they gave the best compliment a self-pubbed author could hope to receive:

"Maddie Pryce has a career as an actor, but not a lot of work. In fact her day to day bills are paid by her job as an usher in an elegant but crumbling old art deco theatre showing vintage movies.

One night after a triple bill of 30's and 40's classic horror, she finds one of her coworkers murdered. Another coworker makes himself scarce when the cops try to interview him about the homicide. One detective in particular, Kyle Oberman, takes a more than casual interest in Maddie, as it seems that she has managed to become the object of a stalker who is looking for a missing porn actress and thinks Maddie might know something about the missing woman.

With a dose of action, some good dialogue and Maddie's entertaining views on Hollywood, this mystery is well worth reading. I read it on my iphone and didn't notice any major formatting problems. In fact I would not have been surprised to pull this one off a library shelf in hard cover.


Yep, the best thing about that review, the thing that warmed the cockles of my cynical little heart? "I would not have been surprised to pull this one off a library shelf in hardcover." Wow. I will say, Susan and Harold and I worked our collective butts off to not only put together an engrossing read, but to present is as professionally as a traditionally published novel from a major house. For at least one reader, we accomplished that, and that is a fine, fine thing.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


The first two books in the Maddie Pryce mystery series--DARKER BY DEGREE and DIRECTOR'S CUT--are available NOW on Amazon and Smashwords!!

DARKER BY DEGREE is 75,000 words, or just about 300 pages, and DIRECTOR'S CUT is 82,000 words, or about 330 pages, and they can be yours for the great low price of only $2.99 each. (That's a penny or so a page!)

Please check them out; we're every pleased to have them go live today, and very proud of the quality of the writing. If you enjoy intrigue, action, and wit, I think you'll find these to be welcome additions to your electronic library.

More formats will be added over the next few weeks, and print editions will be available in roughly a month. I will add this information here as soon as I have it to pass along.

Thanks for your readership and your consideration of our novels. And if you have an Amazon account, and feel so inclined, we'd appreciate as many "likes" as we can get to help us spread the word. Thanks!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Behind the SCENES: Collaboration

Keri and I began our writing partnership 14 years ago. I clearly remember fellow authors warning us of the hazards: you'll ruin your friendship, you'll never be able to agree on rewrites, you will clash over the propriety of your intellectual property. Sure, those things can happen and perhaps they often do, but luckily for us, we've never spent a single moment regretting our decision.

To the contrary, it seems that with each new project we gain more enjoyment in our ability to hone the style we've created together. She leans toward horror and fantasy while my bent is more mainstream and quirky humor, but in concert, and with a similar eye to description and ear to voice, we've found that the variations can mesh beautifully, even artfully.

I believe we have taught each other many things about writing, about process, and I know that our collaboration has improved us both, vastly. Put simply, it's great to have that sense of your own accomplishments and it's even better when you have someone with whom to share your excitement.

I look forward to watching our "family" of books step out onto the stage of publication. They're good kids, and we've shepherded them along with every ounce of care and talent at our disposal. It's time to let go--they are ready.

If we are fortunate enough to have your readership, I hope you'll get a sense, as you read along, of the egoless teamwork that we employed then enjoyed as we worked. Back in those first couple of years, people actually came up to us in the cafe where we chose to do our writing to tell us how much we had entertained them as they sat and ate their lunch. We didn't intend that and for a while weren't even aware of it, but as time wore on we came to embrace not only the work, but the comedy relief we were accidentally providing.

When I was a kid, I remember watching the old Dick Van Dyke Show and thinking, "That's it! I want to be a TV comedy writer like Sally and Mort." I wanted to know what it was like to sit around that table and come up with the gags that would crack people up week after week. It was my most earnest wish to be a part of that kind of team.

Now that I look back on how we started, what we're about to launch into, and where we envision going, I think I got that wish.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Importance of Rewrites and Edits

I have been scarce -- really scarce. That's because I have found that the mental fortitude to get these novels ready has become a slippery thing. Not because it's hard to rewrite, to edit, to proofread, to format -- oh, it's hard. But more because I'm dealing with the prospect of actually finishing these books and putting them out for public consumption. That, my friends, is pretty scary. No changies, no take-backs. They will be finished. They will be ex-projects, they will be things that stand out there on the stage by themselves so that passersby can throw overripe fruit at them.

Which brings me to the lesson for today. In reading blogs about self-publishing (both pro and con) a constant theme you see brought up is that a lot of the books that are self-published are bad. I definitely don't disagree with that. Most of them shouldn't be published. I can't give you a percentage, but I am rock-solid positive it's over 50%. Probably way, way over 50%.

There are a lot of reasons these books shouldn't be published. First and foremost, they're written by people with the delusions that they're writers. But they won't ever be writers. It takes both talent and practice to be a readable writer. BOTH. Some people can't do it, but they're sure they can.

Then there are the group that has the talent, but haven't practiced enough. People throw around the "10,000 hour rule": you're not going to be really good at something until you've spent 10,000 hours doing it. People don't want to hear that. They want to be just good enough. They don't want to have towers of pages that are unpublishable. But unless you're a savant, there's a lot of hard work that goes into being a good writer.

Then you get to the group that's almost there. They have the talent, they've been toiling, they're getting close. At that point, you're talking about rewrites and edits. (This are sometimes interchangeable terms. For my purposes, a rewrite means you need to make substantial changes, sometimes structural changes, to a manuscript. And edit means you've got it mostly where you want it, but it needs to be streamlined or better fleshed, you need to add or subtract a few things. You need to check you're not using the word "massive" as a descriptor in 17 different places, you're two main male characters don't have the exact same speech patterns.....use your imagination. Proofreading is just for errors and continuity.)

Some writers stall at this point. They don't know any good beta readers or trustworthy critics, they can't afford an editor. Maybe they're just tired. Maybe they just want to move on. (And sometimes you DO get to a point when you've edited as much as you can and you're just scared. I'm not to that point, but I can see it out the window. The changes I'm making are still important ones.)

I struggle a lot with the "okay" versus "good enough" versus "really good" versus "perfect." There is no perfect. Good enough is not good enough. We should all shoot for really good. Before you publish, try your best to look at your work with a critical eye. Have others look at your work with a critical eye. Beg, trade, or save your pennies for some help here.

Darker By Degree has been agented, has been in editorial committee, has been accepted by an initial editorial committee at a respected publishing house, but ultimately vetoed. Editors and agents have said good things about it. But no one took the ultimate plunge. Since this happened several times, we took a step back and looked at the book. We had other people read it. When they came back with the same weaknesses, we decided it was worth ripping the book apart and rewriting. It's been a process of several months, but we've cut whole chapters, introduced new characters, strengthened motivations, really looked critically at making every word written work. By the end of this week, the final edit will be done.

If you want to be noticed in the flood self-published books that are becoming available, you've got to be brutal in your assessment. You've got to find people who will be honest and have the knowledge and experience to tell you what's good and bad. And then you have to put in the hours. I've sampled a lot of books that are at that "almost" stage. They have the potential to be really good, but the writers have settled for "okay." Settling for "okay" is not going to garner you an enthusiastic following or enhance your skills as a writer.

I also want to add something that people don't say often enough when giving advice to writers. READ. You can take classes and workshops and join critique groups and exchange chapters and pay an editor, but the thing that is going to contribute most to your growth as a writer is reading books. Read in your genre, especially. But also read out of your genre. Read good books. Read bad books. What's the difference between the two? Pick things apart. Watch. Listen. Find your voice. And then write, write, write, and rewrite. Don't settle.

Friday, June 10, 2011

When You Least Expect It

I'm too blitzed to be detailed with this. As of a few minutes ago I got the notification that Sweet Dreams Are Made Of Teeth was approved for the Smashwords Premium Catalog. They gave me a free ISBN and it will be going on Barnes and Noble, Apple, Diesel, Kobo, and Sony. Oh, and Amazon under Smashwords' publishing header whenever they get things worked out with Amazon. Soon KDP may be unnecessary, an interesting idea.

The upshot for others considering using Smashwords to self-publish: It takes about two weeks for a book to be reviewed for the Premium Catalog. After every revision, that two weeks starts over. Once it's approved, like it was tonight, it may take as much as three more weeks to actually go on those catalogs. I don't understand why it would take that long, since it's approved, but they 'ship' to publishers weekly and once received it takes about two more weeks to integrate the title into those publishers' catalogs.

Thank you all, and tip your waitress.

PS - Oh, and we learned that I was right about what was wrong with the book, and the previously mentioned formatting instructions did fix it!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Roundup of Links

I'm laboring under the burden of rewriting and editing 3 books right now (not to mention the day job and the last week of school for all these children who insist I'm their mother), so just a quick rush through the past week in self-publishing.

The big news was that Barry Eisler signed a deal with Amazon's new mystery/thriller imprint. Depending on who was shouting loudest at the moment, this was a great thing, a cop-out, a smart move, a bait-and-switch, a death knell for the Big Six, a death knell for self-publishing, the key to nirvana, or the incantation that starts the apocalypse. Writers can be a little overwrought.  More about the new imprint here.

Robin Wright at Write2Publish, has several interesting posts regarding book sales numbers, the BEA, Eisler's deal, and various sundry publishing things.

Via Dean Wesley Smith, Dear Author shows that you don't have to design your cover yourself  to have it suck.

And speaking of Dean Wesley Smith, he has a swell post about what will kill you career and what definitely won't.

Michael Stackpole has an enjoyable post on the extinction, or not, of the book. 

And just for fun, a few blogs by writers that are just cool to read and a great way to kill time/inspire yourself/learn something/wait for the zombie apocalypse. Drop by or follow them on Twitter!

Albert Berg's Unsanity Files

Chuck Wendig's Terrible Minds

Evelyn LaFont's Keyboard Hussy