Monday, July 16, 2012

Kinda Hate to Do This

I see a lot of questions about where to publishing things, like a LOT. Like, every time you say what you do they say, hey, where would I publish this weird thing I haven't actually written but want to write? I get it in person and every third question on writers' forums is this very question.

Now, I have spent waaaay too many hours writing online publishing articles for Suite101, but I don't really want to direct people there to answer their questions. It's not because they suck or anything, but they kind of do.

So last year I took all of the articles that I have written about online publishers and put them on a site of my own because I thought that would be easier. I have repro rights on everything, and anything a year old or older can be put anywhere I care to put it. I then kind of forgot about it. It occurred to me today that I probably have repro rights to more now, and I totally do. So I put a bunch more of them on the site. Almost all of them are royalty-paying publishers, and two or three are self-publishing sites.

The site is dedicated to online publishers only- and a lot of them you've never heard of. Since I wrote the originals, some that I wrote about have gone out of business, so those aren't included. So, no dead ends. Some of the articles are overly SEOd, as that's what Suite required at the time, so try to overlook that. But overall, I think it's a crazy useful site for anyone who wants to go the online publishing route, but I never marketed the site, so no one knows it's there. So, here it is:

Book Publishing Online

Don't be too intimidated by the award-winning Web design. I know it's hard not to be jealous of such beauty, but you'll be a better person if you try to get past it.

I hate marketing myself. I have a Kindle book and so far I haven't created a single link to it or marketed it in any way. That's how much I hate self-marketing. But, I do feel like this information would be useful to people, so I am dealing with the skin-crawly feeling just this once.

Friday, June 15, 2012


I am working hard on a novel right now, not blogging much because any free time I have is being driven into the story. It's hard to think straight most days because I'm thinking of backstory or coming up with the next step in the plot. It's what I've always wanted to do, but time will tell whether it's worth it monetarily.

I wrestle a lot with whether to spend time on work that pays now or working on a novel that may pay in a year. When I work on paying work I think how it will pay the bills now, but if I spend too much time on it I'll spend the rest of my life doing content and PR work. It's a delicate lime to walk, and I'm not always convinced that I'm walking it the way I should.

I've been researching agents for a few months, and I have one picked out that I really, really want. I have to assume that she will reject me completely and I'll have to keep applying to agents to find one that will handle all of this. That seems to be what people do, and I'm certain that I'll be no different. Ick.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Channels, Writing and Rejections

It's been a while since I blogged. One of the offspring has been very sick for about three years, and that has been taking an increasing amount of my time. It's odd how things crop up and grab your time when you least expect it. I've also been questioning the nature of blogging lately. I've noticed ego taking a serious toll on blogs that I once liked, and I wonder whether that happens to everyone who pours out their feelings in a blog.

Someone at a Kansas newspaper checked my book out of the local library and mentioned it in her column. I thought that was neat. Super neat! I had forgotten that libraries were one of the distribution channels. It's a good book to have in libraries, I think. It might be useful. Isn't that what non-fiction writers want? To be useful? Unfortunately, I don't want to be a non-fiction writer.

As for fiction, I have had difficulties in working on my novel lately. Everyone who has read it, at least, the first 20 pages or so, liked it and had been telling me to finish it. For some reason, I don't have any doubt that it will be published. I've never had that feeling before. I have been writing stories and novellas since I was in grade school, and all of them were fun to write. They got out my aggressions, my anger, my disappointment or whatever was boiling over the surface. They were fun to write, but none of them felt particularly engaging to read. I started submitting fiction works and non-fiction queries when I was a teenager. Oddly, whenever there was interest I froze completely. I had two publishers interested in my queried ideas at one point, in my early 20s, and both times I freaked and didn't respond to them.

I still have this problem. I was powering along this novel when the spouse copied it onto a flash drive and threatened to read all of it while I went to the beach two months ago. That froze me instantly. I couldn't write a word, wondering what he thought of it. I called and/or texted every night, wondering what he thought of it. He hadn't had time yet. The next night, he hadn't had time yet. It must not be that engaging, it must be stupid and an abomination to fiction itself.

I found that I couldn't write a word of it anymore, it was stuck in the purgatory of haven't-been-read and couldn't leave until I was either told that it was terrible or that it was thrown away. I insisted that it be thrown away. I finally succeeded in getting it thrown out this month. I am working on it again, easing back into it. Unlike my other fiction, I enjoy reading it. It isn't just a good experience for the writer, I think it will be a good experience for the reader. Something about the work feels different from any other that came before. I can't think of anything else. I can't follow conversations. It's just there. Always.

I was never afraid of publisher rejections before. I thought they were neat. But when this work is sent in, I will take it personally. I will bristle at every generic little slip of rejection. However, I found this rejection generator that may ease the trauma a little. By reading all of the possible rejection types, you can become immune to their power. You can choose the kind of rejection you want- I chose all of them. My favorite:

Dear Writer,

The void awaits us all, but your prose was a gaping hole of premature death. From your submission darkness seeped, the groaning collapse of the inept, in throes. It shocked us into brain-dead spasms, and we only recovered when a cat happened to jump on the keyboard and hit delete.

We kindly ask that you not submit again.

But one thing remains to be known: what rough beast slouches at your keyboard?

Don’t answer.

The Editors

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kindle Publishing

With all the talk over the past year about self-publishing on Kindle, I finally decided to delve into it in January. I finished up a short ebook that I'd had on the back burner for a few months and submitted it. It was accepted and published in less than a day. The process wasn't hard, but there are a lot of formatting specifications, and I had to reformat it twice to get it to go through. Being so used to Web writing, I hadn't done any tabbed paragraph indents. Who knew?

The niche I chose isn't over-saturated, but it isn't totally wide open either, so I didn't really have much idea about how sales would go or what to expect from any of it. It's been out for about seven weeks now and has sold exactly eight copies. However, sales aren't the only way to do things through Kindle publishing.

If you publish through them exclusively for 90 days, you can join a program they have that makes your book available through their lending library. With that, Amazon Prime members can check it out for free. Why would you want to do that? Good question. The whole idea sounded kind of stupid at first, but I did some research and found out that it's actually a pretty good way to market the book. When people check it out, you have a better chance of getting some reviews, and if you ever buy from Amazon, you know how important reviews are.

And, you don't go without royalties when it's checked out. There's a monthly fund that Amazon keeps for authors who offer their books through the library program, and you get a small percentage of it each time your book is checked out. The amount you earn for it depends on the total library checkouts on the site as well as how many of yours were checked out over the month. Last year, the Authors Guild wasn't happy about this program, but that was a month before Amazon actually started paying authors whose books were checked out. I don't know how much my meager two checkouts have earned, but I'm glad that it's getting out there. My Kindle book may not be sweeping the site by storm, but with zero, and I do mean zero, marketing, it is still selling about a copy a week as well as being checked out. It may sound backward, but I wanted to test the waters a little before putting time into marketing it.

I don't see anything at all wrong with self-publishing non-fiction ebooks. Non-fiction, particularly practical information, changes so quickly that it's actually a pretty good idea to do so in a lot of cases. However, this hasn't changed my mind about self-publishing fiction. Unless it's a short story or short novella that just can't find a home elsewhere, I think it's kind of a cop out. Over the years I've read so many times about writers who were rejected again and again and took that opportunity to make their manuscripts better. The woman who wrote "The Help" was rejected several times, and it made her go over the book again and again, rewriting it and trying to make it something publishable. Apparently, the first drafts were wretched and had little to no actual plot. But by taking months to rewrite, submit, get rejected and rewrite again, she came out with something that was as good as she could make it and that has won her worldwide acclaim. Now imagine if she's just said, "Screw it, I'm going to publish it myself. They just don't appreciate me!" Yeah.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Blogging: What the Heck Is It?

I've been thinking about blogging a lot lately- the nature of it and what it is really about. I've been a big fan of a funny, fantastic blog for a long time, but in the last few months it has turned the narcissistic rant of someone telling its readers how to think. It isn't the first blog that I've seen go in that direction. Getting popular and gaining legions of followers can give bloggers a sense of importance that I frankly hate to see. I think that becoming popular destroys a blog, and I started to wonder whether blogging is nothing more than a narcissistic enterprise.

I actually started this blog because I was doing a lot of guest blogging a few years ago and I wanted some sample blog posts to show to potential clients. It worked pretty well, but I found that I liked blogging for myself so much that I soon made it for myself. It was my place to talk about whatever the heck I wanted to. It isn't SEO'd or marketed. It isn't what the client expects or what will sell a product. It's just me.

It's the tornadoes that I saw last Friday, a day that crushed me utterly. If you've never watched a relatively big tornado pass about two miles from your house, you might not think it's a big deal. But the fact is, it changes you. At least, it changed me. Since last April when I watched an EF-4 pass by, I haven't taken much for granted. Seeing what I think was an EF-3 a few days ago really, really bothered me. Luckily, I have a manuscript that I can channel all of it into. I've created someone who can fight against the elements. Since last April's tornado terror, it feels like the sky is trying its best to kill me. But, my heroine can fight against such things, even if I can't. Channelling your feelings into your work is the only real reason to write, in my opinion.

Have you ever heard someone say that they want to write but they don't know what to write about? I can't fathom such a thought. My feeling has always been that I have to write because I have to channel feelings into something constructive. Most blogs update twice a week or so. But, do they really have anything to say? My posts may be erratic, but I can't post unless I actually have something to say. I guess what I have to say right now is that any day that you don't see this from your living room window is a good day:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Troubles and More

Hi all, I've been away for quite a long time, but I do have a few reasons. I mean, not good reasons, but reasons nevertheless. Since I've been gone:

* I wrote about 8,000 words of a novel during NaNoWriMo. So, I was quite the loser, but I did write more fiction during that month than I did in the rest of the year combined. So, I was perfectly pleased with it. That novel is now about 12,000 words and I actually showed it to a living human. I'm still working on it steadily, and I hope to have it completed entirely by the beginning of the summer.

*I spent part of December in the hospital. That makes three hospitalizations during 2011. Up until last year, I had only been in the hospital to pop out various kids, so it was kind of shocking. I even spent Christmas in the hospital. They were unfestive there, but I did get some killer drugs, so it was merry in a life-threatening kind of way.

*I wrote and published a Kindle book. I started it last year and really got serious about it at the beginning of the year. It has been published for about four days now, and it has made exactly one sale. Promising start. I think.

*My dear, beloved Mac died. He was my best ally and like one of my offspring. Except, he made money for me instead of costing me money. I got a new Mac that doesn't look much like my old friend. It's silver. Why????

*I had a truly disastrous trip out of town for Thanksgiving. It was seriously the worst trip you can imagine and several people who I never thought I'd need to cut out of my life are completely and permanently cut out. Through the disastrousness, though, I learned a bit about myself. If someone messes with one of the offspring, I found out that I am capable of shanking them in the face, and I am not above shanking the elderly. I suppose that's unfortunate in some ways, but it's who I am.

*I started smoking again. I can usually quit for a few years at a time, and I hadn't smoked regularly this time for three years. I thought I had it beat and had reached the occasional-social-smoker phase. I was utterly wrong. I am now trying to beat this, but the events in November pushed me into it. It's up to me to get out of it.

*I redesigned my business website. I put together a complete site that doesn't just rely on samples pasted here and there. Based on what I see others making for articles and copywriting, I really should be making more than I do. We'll see if the new site helps make that happen.

In 2012, I'm going to have to find a lot more private clients. The 2011 Google insurgency collapsed almost every content mill out there and lowered my residual income by about 2/3. It's been icky. About 85 percent of my work last years was for mills because I'm quick at it and make a good hourly income doing that. I got lazy about finding new clients and now have less than a handful. I still have enough mill work to keep me going, but if just one more fails, that's pretty much it.

I had forgotten how difficult the marketing aspect of freelance writing really is. Craigslist is totally useless, and most of the sites that put together writing gigs are scraping the bottom of the barrel right now. I may actually consider going out and getting a corporate writing job if things online don't get a little better. Things are more precarious now than I have seen them in the 10 years that I've been working online. We'll see how 2012 treats freelancers.