Sunday, September 29, 2013

Steps Closer to Publishing in Print

First Proof of my first book in print!
I spent hours today working both on my NEXT book Love's Autograph and my first book Trail Swap.

First, last Saturday I received the first proof of Trail Swap. (See Picture) There were some minor fixes to be done, and mostly with the cover. (Thanks to my wonderful editor Mary Humphrey.) I think we fixed and improved things thanks to my lovely assistant, my wife. There were some minor margin errors and tweeks to be done. Then sending off to Create Space again to get another proof.

Second, I finished re-writing, editing, and adding to my next book Love's Recovery. Don't you just love reading what you wrote and laughing at it, and being amused? I love the characters in this book. Ria, Ellie, and Maggie are wonderful together. Next step, send to my editor, and await all the red pen marks! My lovely assistant is creating the cover now.

Third, pick-up on my next novel that will be a series and is yet to be named. I am busy, and heading into a hectic time at my "day job." Hopefully writing will assist with some self-help.

So I would say I very much motivated. How is your writing going? Do you do all your covers yourself? Are you publishing in print and in ebook form?


Lost at Market

Lost in Marketing. Better than lost at sea?
I am trying but lost at the marketing game. I drown myself in looking at ways to market my book, read blogs, read articles, network, and nothing. I fantasize about saving a billionaires life and he/she granting me a wish. That wish will be supporting my publishing success... and possibly a couple million dollars. (It is a billionaire we are talking about.)

Recently I read a Writer Unboxed Article on Marketing it is somewhat helpful, but I would rather drown myself in writing than navigating this muck. I would love someone else to do this for me, but alas I have not met that billionaire who needs his/her life saved.

What have you found helpful? Any articles you would suggest?
Any billionaires who need their lives saved?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Canning, Creating, Stealing, or Making Time to Write

I went out to dinner with a new friend and my partner last night. She does not know us very well, and I announced proudly that I am a writer. She had so many questions. What were my books about? Where did I get inspiration? Where would someone buy my books? One questions stuck with me.
How do I find time to write?
Finding time to write so your keyboard doesn't grow over with weeds!

I don't know anymore. I love my job and the team I co-run, but I would love to write full time. I have so many stories bursting to climb out of me, and I haven't found enough time to type them all out. I also have not had the time I have wanted to research, market, and come up with a good plan on how to be a successful writer.

I was scanning the blogs that I follow and I came across Jody Hedlund post. It was validating to read what she wrote about juggling time. She has five kids (two more than me) and somehow she finds time. She had some great ideas of how to trim the fat out of things she does during the day, and prioritize writing.

Some of my ideas are similar to hers, and there are other tricks I have used or plan to use in the future.

1. Less television. Television is the killer of our time. It is so easy to hit the remote and be swept away by an 80's movie, or a home makeover show. I have made a list of shows that I will watch. It still is too much television for me, but I am working on decreasing it every day.

2. Stop working from home. I used to bring a lot of work home to finish. This has stopped. I just carry my lunch back, and sassy side-kick (some call it a purse, I refuse to). This has freed up a lot more time for my family, and writing.

3. Decrease social life. This is not something I had to work hard to do. I have already limited my social circles, and prioritize time with friends.

4. Parallel Play. I have since avoided the computer in one isolated part of the house, and moved with my laptop to the living room area. That way I am in the room with my family while they watch television. Still not quality time, but I am at least physically closer.

5. Capitalize on Alone Time: About twice a month usually I get the house to myself for a day. Any time I can get up early or stay-up later, I do and I can write.

6. Lay-off surfing the net.

7. Limit iphone apps or other smartphone apps. No problem here... are you sitting down? I don't have a phone!

8. Use many opportunities to come up with ideas for your book or your next book. This isn't actually writing but it is gathering information. Remember phrases, conversation, signs, settings, etc.

9. Try to limit other responsibilities. This could include household jobs, clubs, etc. I stopped going to the kids' sports practices. I go to the games though.

10. Exercise more. It might boost your writing.

Picking a Title

How hard is it for you to pick a title for your book? It is very difficult for me.  It took me weeks to come up with the title Trail Swap. It had gone 10 years with a different name. (I wonder what kind of damage I did with changing its name at 10 year old?)  It took me a while to name Love's Autograph. It went a few weeks with a different name, and when I tried it out on others, they did not like it. Now I am trying to get my cover artist to create a cover for Love's Autograph. I also have a series started taht I am struggling to come up with a series and individual book names.

Here are some things I have found helpful:
1. Think about Genre of your novel, and look up books in that genre.
2. Write a list of verbs, adverbs, adjectives,
and nouns describing your book. Mix these words together and try to find a good combination.
3. Use a name generator online.
4. Write a summary of your book, and then try to generate a title from that.
5. Have a contest on your blog or other writing forum to name your book.
6. Ask friends and families to give you ideas.
7. After your generate of list of a few titles, put the list away for a few days, and then come back to it.
8. Make sure it fits your book summary, and genre.
9. Just name it already. At least it is not as stressful as naming a kid. You don't have to worry about nicknames, what rhymes with the name, initials, etc.

Good luck! Do you have any tricks of the trade? What are some of your favorite titles?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Evil Discovery: Fan Fiction

"Hi, my name is Michele, and  I am addicted to multiple television shows." I admit it. I never really read series either until the last few years, and I get too attached. I don't want to read the last book, because that is saying goodbye to the characters or world in which they live. I won't even start on saying goodbye to characters who I have created.

Is Fan Fiction my solution? I am addicted. I have heard of fan ficton and just did not delve deeper on the subject. I stumbled upon in a few months ago while looking up old episodes of a Showtime series on my computer.

Wikipedia defines fan fiction as below:
Fan fiction is a broadly-defined fan labor term for stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator.
There are people out there who enjoy and connect with the characters on the same level that I do. How cool is that? Why is it an Evil Discovery then? Because it keeps me from my work. I want to create long stories, read ever story that has to do with my books or television shows, and don't even get me started on the crossovers!
Crossovers are when characters from different books, television shows, or movies meet. This brings me back from my childhood. I used to wonder what would happen if characters from my favorite television show or cartoon would meet. I loved the Hanna-Barbara Olympics. Genius!
What are your thoughts on fan fiction? Do you have any favorite sites? Do you write fan fiction?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Creating a Wonderful Back Cover of a Book

Recently, I have been getting my book ready for print. When I got my proof back from the publisher on demand (POD), I realized the back cover was boring. I did some research on how to create a successful back cover. I looked on blogs and other sites, and looked through all the books I own.

Here is some information I think is important to share.

1. The front cover is important, but second in importance is the back cover. The front cover grabs their attention, and the back cover keeps the reader's attention.

2. Don't put your title on the back cover. Not sure why, but people say not to do it. I saw several books in my collection that did this, but it was on several lists of DON'T. What if the back cover gets separated from the front cover, what then? Okay, that is unlikely.

3. Have a compelling headline. Think of a one liner to draw readers in. Look at books to see what they write to interest people.

4. Go to a bookstore or your own bookshelves and look at back covers. If they are on your shelf, your or someone thought it looked interesting.

5. Limit yourself to 70-100 words for the description of the book.

6. Use testimonials, reviews, quotes about your book. Bloggers and writers suggested spending time getting some famous writers, people in the same field of your book, editors, media, readers, etc to give a quote for th
e back of the book.

7. Put the book category in the upper left corner of the back cover. Limit this to two categories. This will help book store staff to find where to put your book. (Fiction, Romance, Suspense, etc)

8. Make it mysterious. End with a teaser or a question. Don't tell the whole story. Make the reader want to open the book. Will they make it? Is it really the end? Who could have guessed how it would happen?

9. Use quotes or a small passage from the book.

10. Add the author's picture and a short biography.  Add credentials, awards, and important information about the author. Don't forget to brag a little. Keep it short.

11. Use bullets when available. Something that is quick for someone to read.

12. Add any pertinent websites.

13. Make sure text is readable.

14. Possibly, add a great watermark picture.

15. Don't forget the ISBN - Barcode.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Writers and Non-Readers

You ever try to explain writing to someone who does not enjoy reading?
My parents tell stories about when I was little. I memorized a book when I was five, and my grandmother thought I could read. When I was six, I would go to the library everyday of the summer and borrow five books. I would read all day. The next day I would go back and get five more.

As a writer I am a big reader. When we go traveling, the used bookstores always catch my attention (even though I am an avid ebook reader now). So, it is always interesting to me when I have good friends or family members who are not readers.

As a writer, it is always interesting to converse with non- readers. They cannot fathom enjoying reading hundreds of pages let alone writing them all! This was further highlighted for me when I asked a friend to come up with some interview questions for an author's interview I was doing. My non-reader friend's contribution was, "How do you write all those pages?" (I am in no way trying to offend non-readers. How could I unless you tell them about this, because they won't read it.)

As I am in the process of self-publishing a book in print, my mind goes to who of my friends and family will buy my book. My brother and father are not big readers, I have several friends who are not big readers. I think about all the descriptions, adventures, and imagination that goes with reading. I love stopping at a place in a book, and wondering what will happen once I start reading again. I love how I can picture a character, and someone reading the same book will read it and picture them differently.

I love reading my writing over and over. It amuses me. I crack myself up. The characters are fun and witty, and intersting to build a relationship with. These are all things non-readers are missing out on. It makes me a bit sad. I guess they will just have to wait until I decide to expand to audio.
(Isn't my dog with my lap top the cutest picture for this? I am sure if she could, she would enjoy my books too.)

Proof is in my Hand

On Friday, September 20, 2013 I receiving my PROOF of my book Trail Swap. As I previously wrote, I have been doing through Amazon's Create Space to get my book into print. It has been a bit daunting learning the formatting end of things, but I will get there. So, my book arrived in the mail and five days earlier than expected. I ripped opened the box, and there it was my book. The words I wrote, the cover I gave input on, and my name on the spine and cover. Only another author could possibly know how this feels.

Now there are some adjustments to be made. Some of the more notable ones are the cover DPI and bleed, more interesting spine, and top and bottom margins of the inside of the book. Otherwise, it looks great. It is a real book, and I feel more like a real author. The book can physically sit on someone's shelf, their table, or in their fireplace. Let's hope they don't do the last bit unless it is completely necessary.

I am excited for friends and family (especially those not into ebooks yet) to be able to buy my book. I am being realistic knowing that not every friend or family member will buy it.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Writing from a New Perspective

From May to early August I started and completed writing a book. I am 80% sure I am going to title it Love's Autograph. The process of writing this book was somewhat of a turning-point for me.

When writing my first book the following was going on:
  • I was not part of a writing community.
  • I had read a lot of books on creativity and writing process, but not as much on technique.
  • I was not thinking as much about conflict, flow of story, core of story, etc.
  • I had the far off hope that some agent or publisher would stumble upon me and make me famous.
  • I had no idea the different levels of editing that needed to happen.
Things have changed. One thing that has helped me is that I have already epublished. I have epublished three works (Trail Swap, Off-Trail, Tunnel W). There is something different about writing when you know that someone will read it. There is a lot of pressure when you have fans waiting outside your house asking you "how many more days until the new book?" Okay, that last part did not happen.

With Love's Autograph I also was aware of conflict. I have the habit of starting to write books thinking in the Beach Boys frame of mind, "Wouldn't it be nice . . ." I would make the main characters' dreams come true. Boring! I made a conscious shift from that to an evil villain's mentality, "How can I make their life more miserable?" This makes for a better read. If you have the Beach Boys problem, you can just imagine everything going well for the main character, and then write it the opposite way.

Another big change in my writing has been being aware of dialogue, showing not telling, point of view, and leaving out unnecessary details. All seems simple logic, but everyone has their quirks to work out.  I hope that I can send Love's Autograph to my editor in a few weeks.

Publishing in Print

I am in the process of publishing a print version of Trail Swap. There is nothing more exciting than seeing my book in print. (Well, making millions of dollars on my book would be more exciting. Being interviewed on Ellen would be more exciting. You get my point.)
I just got Trail Swap back from my editor. Out of 465 pages I only had 70ish pages with no corrections on it.

What does getting my book ready for print look like? So far, I have done the following:
  • Using Amazon's Create Space.
  • Getting it edited and re-editing it. (This is like 30 times.)
  • Picking a book size.
  • Picking a font size and type.
Picking the font size and type has been the most nerve racking and fun part. I printed out the first page in three different types and fonts. (After researching on the Internet what font and size most books are printed.) Then I brought them to work and to friends and had them pick a page. Luckily, most of them agreed on the same page!

Last few steps, I need to get the cover downloaded, get the book downloaded, and send it to the publisher! I am beyond excited. This could be ready for Christmas.