Put Publishing In Your Own Hands

Book ShopThe dream for most of us who pour our heart into fiction works is seeing them perched on the shelves of Barnes and Noble. The first time I finished a manuscript this was all I thought about.  My days became consumed with searches for agents, queries, and preparing submissions. For a time, I could not work on a new book, because I was so consumed with sending the first book out.  The hurdle of writing a query letter alone took weeks, and I never did feel comfortable with the final product.  Agents and publishers want a condensed version of your work no longer than a paragraph or two that knocks their socks off.   Of course, this is subjective and with the downturn of the economy, you could spend your life trying to perfect this art.  Can you think of any other industry where the artist is expected to perform such a Herculean task?

It occurred to me, the only thing I genuinely wanted was a place to share my work – somewhere I could develop a readership. Ultimately, the most pleasing thing in the world is someone reading your work, and saying, “Wow! When is your next project coming out?”  We want fans, people who are excited to read our next creation.  The world of publishing is changing, and a lot of writers are beginning to question the way we go about getting our work to the world.

SmashWordsEnter SmashWords.com. Smashwords is a dream come true for Indie writers, and here’s how it works. The website allows you to download your manuscript, and the only immediate requirement is following the “Style Guide” so your work is formatted properly for eReaders, and computers.  The Style Guide hits on copyright issues and ISBN numbers. If you have any questions, there is a contact page where you can email the developers of the site. 

After your initial download, your work goes through what they lovingly call “the meatgrinder.” The meatgrinder will kick the file back to you, if the formatting is not right. Of course, the meatgrinder only catches the basics, if your work covers the general requirements it immediately posts to your personal page.  The formatting is not difficult.  You will need to set up a Table of Contents which has hyperlinks to the beginning of each Chapter, delete any erroneous spacing, and create a title page. 

At this time, you can price your book. The website allows you to charge as much as you want, or nothing at all.  Additionally they allow you to create coupon codes, which means you can put a price on your work, and then give discounts to anyone you choose (mine are $1.99 for instance, but I have given discounts up to 100% to increase readership).

Once your work is posted, it will be submitted to the Smashword Team. This is when a human finally takes a look at your manuscript.  The Smashwords team does not edit, or read your entire book,  but they do decide if it’s a fit for the premium catalogue. The premium catalogue is sent to Barnes and Noble, Koko Books, Amazon, Apple, and Sony. Each of these websites will post your work in their eReader stores if it is included in this catalogue! (The steps are simple – all of mine have been included). 

Smashwords is another place to develop your readership, and expose the public to your brand.  There is no better feeling than getting an email announcing that one of your books has been purchased. If you are unsure you can check my site out at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MOJAMES.

Good Luck!

Are you an indie writer? How do you publish your work?

The Opinions, Critiques, and Reviews of Advance Readers

I already had this thought bouncing in my head when I logged on this morning. It’s why I logged on to make a post. Before I wrote it down, though, I had to go peek at the headlines of the other blogs I follow, and thought it was funny that Time of Nervous Waiting was sitting out there approaching this from a very different perspective. It’s not really a parallel, more like a perpendicular. (And that, folks, is about all the geometry I know).

Anyway…as I started writing this, I realized it needed to be two posts – one rife with opinion, and the other more advice-based. This is the advice half – you’ll need to hop over to my personal blog to read the opinion half.

When I first get a story idea – when it’s bouncing around in my skull and begging to be listened to – it’s in the format I want it to be in. It’s the story I want to hear, and it’s got the characters I want it to have. Frequently it even makes it into first draft form that way. And if I was only writing for me, it would stay that way forever. To say that I dislike revising my work would be a gross understatement.

But I’m not just writing it for me. I want other people to see my work. I want it to speak to them the way the original idea spoke to me, and I want to evoke emotions and build worlds that allow them to escape, even if it’s only for a little while. That, and I love the rush that comes from seeing my name in print.

That means during the revision process, I have to make changes and tweaks so the story appeals to other readers. I have to clarify things that make sense to me only because it’s my world. I have to edit, refine, define characters, and pour depth into the original thought. I don’t think like other people – everyone thinks differently, I’m not unique in that regard – so that means I need help figuring out what components are missing, convoluted, unneeded, you get the point.

If you’ve ever heard that you should have people read your work and give their opinions before you submit it, it’s true. That’s not advice you can ignore. I envy those writers who have a wide enough circle of friends that they can get honest feedback from people they know in real life. That doesn’t mean mom tells you it’s wonderful and gives you another piece of apple pie. It means George in accounting spends the bus ride home pouring over your words and then says, “Why did your protagonist jump? Where’s the passion in your relationship? And by the way, I absolutely loved your spy agency; it was so real to me.”

Even though George in accounting doesn’t care one way or the other for my angels, I’m fortunate enough to belong to two online critique groups that do exactly that for me. I don’t always agree with their opinions, but I wouldn’t be what I am today without them. Two and a half years ago when I first ‘met’ some of them, I thought my work was ready to go to press tomorrow. Yeah…it wasn’t. I would have gone through rounds and rounds of rejections from publishers and agents and never known why if I hadn’t learned to listen to them, and trust my own instinct about which advice to take and when.

I guess the point is – even if you’re the next George Orwell, William Shakespeare, or Danielle Steele – don’t believe it until you can find opinions you trust to confirm it. It may take some digging, but there are people out there who want to read and give advice on what you’ve written. If there weren’t, you wouldn’t have a market for your story, right? After all, that first draft is for you, the final draft is for everyone else.

Where do you go for opinions, reviews, and critique of your writing?

Book Review: The Forward Book of Poetry

Title: The Forward Book of Poetry
Author: Various Artists
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN 10: Various Editions

The Forward Book of Poetry” is one of the most impressive and remarkable poetry collections currently being published. Presenting poets who are both well known and new to the scene, the book is a shining example of all that is great about poetry in the UK at the moment.

Published annually the book is a collection of the short listed entries for the Forward Poetry Prizes. The Prizes were first established in 1991 with the goal of correcting the woeful lack of recognition and attention contemporary poetry receives and of extending its audience. The Forward Poetry Prizes themselves are currently the most financially rewarding poetry competition in the UK. Offering the competitive categories of Best Collection (10,000), Best First Collection (5000) and Best Single Poem (1000) the Prizes are regarded as hotly contested and only the very best poets shine through. The Prizes are only open to published poets and the poets cannot nominate themselves, their publishers must enter their collections and poems in their stead.

Poets and poems that do indeed manage to shine through above and beyond their competitors but perhaps do not manage to win are recognized by inclusion in “The Forward Book of Poetry“. Five highly respected literary judges debate long and hard to decide which poems should be included in the annual collection, so it is of little surprise that the poetry offered in the book is of an exceptional quality.

The poets featured in the book are a mixed bunch, sometimes well known names and ex-poet laureates that are recognizable to even those with little knowledge of poetry, and sometimes previously unknown poets making their public debut. The result is a refreshing mixture of poetry about a wide ranging but always griping variety of subjects. Each and every poem is an experience and delight in its own right and the collection as a whole can serve as a fantastic introduction to contemporary poetry for someone new to the genre, or as the treat in the form of the collation of the very best modern poetry for someone already familiar with contemporary British poetry.

I definitely recommend you get hold of a copy today, and see what you have been missing out on.

5/5 – Simply peerless.

Nicholas Cockayne is a 23-year-old UK based writer with a BA in English and a MA in Creative and Critical Writing. Nicholas is passionate about literature, writing, and publishing. He is currently trying to adjust to living in the countryside, finish several novels, and find time to read.

A Pirate On The Social Scene

Arr, me hearties! Send up the mainsail and draw in the anchor. All good Capt’ns, ship dogs, and wenches be casting off their harbor shackles for that thar high seas. Ahoy, matey!

Last Friday, September 19th, was International Talk Like A Pirate Day! This unique event created an opportunity for many people around the globe. For one day, differences were cast aside and a child-like freedom and joy-filled silliness reigned supreme across the world.

Did you take advantage of this jolly event to do something special?

I sure did! – Perth Pirates of PTUB

Devar aka Ben from PTUB. Photograph by Tillee aka Tracy-LeeThanks to the wonders of Plurk and Twitter, a group of Perthites got together at Little Creatures Brewery in Fremantle, Western Australia. We weren’t just the average Perthite computer geek however, we were PIRATE geeks.

From frocks to eye patches, tattoos to frills, and bandanas to booze, up to twenty men and women between twenty and forty years of age dressed for the high seas. This was one gathering more than merry enough to shiver me timbers. Thankfully, we didn’t raise too many eyebrows as even the staff had joined the fun of Talk Like A Pirate Day.

But what does a fun night out on the town really mean to freelancers?

Events, like Talk Like A Pirate Day, or upcoming Halloween, are opportunities to celebrate a social connection. For freelancers it is a fabulous excuse to connect in a diverse range of personal and professional capacities.

Pillage The Pirate Plunder

lu_lu aka Louise from PTUB. Photo by Tillee aka Tracy-LeeHow can we get the most out of social celebrations?

  • Send greeting cards or gifts.
    • Remember:
    • Keep your greetings short and simple.
    • Personalize when possible.
    • Acknowledge any greetings you receive.
  • Organize or attend parties
    • Remember:
    • Get invitations out early.
    • Respond to invitations swiftly.
    • Plan in advance to increase likelihood of attendance.
    • Send out an event reminder as it approaches.
    • Add events to your schedule.
  • Schedule a product launch
    • Remember:
    • Write High Seas Fiction or Maretine Non-Fiction? International Talk Like A Pirate Day might be your ideal launch date.
    • Horror or Supernatural? Try Halloween
    • Family and Children’s Books are great around Christmas
    • Self-Help, Finance or Health at New Year’s
    • Romance Novels for Valentine’s
    • Books with religious foundations suit Easter.

    Kitta from PTUB. Photo by Tillee aka Tracy-Lee

  • Write event specific content
    • Remember:
    • Publisher’s create their lists well in advance.
    • Pitch or Query your time sensitive content early.
    • Consider requesting a publication calendar.
  • Theme your site, blog, office, etc.
    • Remember:
    • Keep any changes low key rather than dramatic.
    • Follow standard Web Tips regarding font sizes, accessability, and color standards.
    • Back up your original so you can switch back simply after the event.
    • Sticky tape and paint are not friends.
  • Host a themed contest
    • Remember:
    • Themed contests deserve themed prizes
    • Carefully plan your deadlines
    • Keep things simple.
  • Consider, then share, the lesson
    • Remember:
    • Every experience offers an opportunity to learn.
    • Not everyone learns the same lesson.
    • It’s important to have fun regardless of the lesson.

Share The Rum With The Crew

Grum from PTUB. Photograph by Tillee aka Tracy-LeeThere are a number of reasons these actions can reap rewards but the number one is that you’re getting your name, your brand, out there. Every time you put your name in front of a friend, client, editor, etc. you’re reminding them who you are and what you can do for them.

Often, freelancers spend extraordinary quantities of time in physical seclusion. Human’s flourish in social proximity. Being able to see, smell, touch, (and taste?), other people enhances the depth of relationships. Physical contact strengthens emotional bonds. These bonds lead to personal, and career, opportunities for the future.

Also, putting an image to a word is one of the most powerful memory tools available. A face to a name makes you more memorable. Your imprint on their mind means they are more likely to think of you for future business.

Finally, lets admit it, being social makes you more human. There are some ways you don’t want to be remembered; dancing on the table, or upchucking all over the shared nachos for example, but by letting your hair down you create a depth to the persona you’ve developed in your work environment online and off. You become human, and humans always appreciate knowing they aren’t the only imperfect being. Humans are more likely to hire or recommend other humans.

Find reasons to get out there and celebrate. Give of your time freely to social situations where you can have fun and be around people with whom you enjoy spending time. Share your contact details and make yourself available to these people. Be where people can know you. Be a friend!

Ultimately, getting into the social scene is great for your own sense of self, but it’s also fantastic for your business. Do you have other tips or ideas about ramping up your social networks to enhance your business prospects? Did you have a fun night out you want to share? Please, feel free to have your say in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!