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Self-publishing: the MS Setup

Since self-publishing has become popular, one might wonder why people still pay big bucks for books by known authors from big publishers. The answer, I believe, is quality. With a self-pubbed book, it's hard to know if you're getting junk or a gem. For example, I once bought an e-book that sounded interesting and found the whole thing center spaced. Using a segment from my latest book, I'll show you what that looked like. “Can you tell me what happened tonight?” Nettie’s gaze met hers. “I shot him.” The abruptness of the admission shocked her, but Belizek recovered quickly. “I need to know why you shot him.” The detective tried to wait out the silence that followed. In training, they were taught to let the witness, suspect, whoever, tell the story in their own way. Silence bothers people , the instructor had claimed. Because they can’t stop themselves from filling it, they reveal things they don’t intend to. In this case, the silence went on and on, and it fel

Take a Step Back

 It occurs to me that I should have discussed why people choose traditional or self-publishing, so I'm going to take a step back and do that. When I finished my first book, there were two options for publication, traditional publishing or vanity publishing. Vanity publishing requires that an author pay for her work to be presented to the world. It's been around for centuries, and some pretty important writers started out that way, but it was definitely a no-no for "serious" writers. Traditional publishing, getting an agent, waiting for her to shop the book to publishing houses, and hoping for an offer was, at that time, the only way to get any kind of credibility. I did it that way. It took years, but the result was good. The publisher who signed me up got me reviews from prestigious places like the Historical Novel Society and Kirkus Reviews . I was thrilled that my first review in HNS (For Macbeth's Niece ), got a star, meaning the reviewer thought it rose above

Step Three to Writing a Book: Publishing

 If you decide to self-publish, there are good prospects and bad ones. It's a complicated process, though it's much simpler now than it was a few years ago. It's hard to break it down, and the learning curve is brutal at times. While I've tried to develop a schedule that covers all the necessary steps, I find myself doing what I feel like doing on a given day and neglecting things I should be doing. That's bad, but since I don't consider writing a "job," I give myself a break and do what sounds doable at the time. Here's what I work on in the months and weeks before publication. Cover Manuscript setup Publicity Corrections Ordering Let's start with the cover. The easiest thing to do is hire a cover artist, and ninety percent of experts will tell you to do that. I admit that I don't have the tools, smarts, or experience that a cover artist does, but here's the thing: they don't know the material like I do. I had a really good cover a

Step Two of Writing a Book

  In the last post, I gave hints on writing your book. Now it's time to make sure your work appears in its best form, whether you plan to self-publish or submit to an agent. However you recorded your story, at this point it has to become a computer file. There are two reasons for that: first, modern publishing requires it, and second, it makes editing a whole lot easier. You'll need to get to know your computer's editing aids, which can be frustrating but will pay off in the end. Things like FIND/REPLACE can save you hours of searching when you realize you changed the spelling of main character's name halfway through the story. When you get stuck, ask the internet. There's always a tutorial or a site where someone asked the same question you need answered. There are different ways of going about the editing process , and individuals arrange them to their liking. I do several self-edits before anyone else sees the book. Sometimes I combine a few of the edits listed

Something Stinks

  Last week, Amazon decided that I'm not the author of one of my books. My first reaction was to make a joke about it on Facebook. Then I sent Amazon a happy little note assuring them that Maggie Pill and Peg Herring are one and the same person. I got the identical email a second time. In the meantime, my FB friends made suggestions, some facetious, some not. A lawyer friend said to get a DBA (Doing Business As) for Maggie Pill and send them a copy. That would be a great idea if I weren't in Florida. I called the county clerk for my home in Michigan, and they won't accept an application that isn't signed by a Michigan notary public.  Another author said she'd had the same problem. She'd sent Amazon an email from her pen name's email address, saying that she had the right to make changes on the book. I did that, also sending a copy of said email in reply to theirs, so they had one from "Maggie"  and a copy of it from Peg. No dice. This time, I di

Choosing Your Next Book

    Whether you open a website or walk into a bookstore, there's nothing like the feeling of choosing what you're going to read next. Sadly, I've been disappointed more often than thrilled this year, and at lunch with a friend the other day, she said the same. "Maybe we read too much," she told me. "We've heard it all and seen it all as far as stories go." While that might be true, I can still get pulled into a book if it's done well, as I have been with my current read, WE BEGIN AT THE END by Chris Whitaker. It's not an easy book, but when I find myself thinking, even worrying, about the characters when I'm not reading, I know it's because of good writing. Of course, reading is as individual as writing. I can't tell you the book will affect you the same way. I can only give you my reaction. Choosing a new book is both easy and hard in our time. There are tons of books and tons of places to find them. Still, I've noticed tha