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Showing posts from November, 2010

Top 5 Tips for a Sustainable Home Office

Working from home may seem a bit lonely, but I guarantee that you are having an impact – on the environment, that is. Whether a cubicle, a corner office, or a corner of your living room, office spaces generate a lot of waste, much of which can be reused and recycled. Even if you are the only employee in your humble office, printer paper, empty highlighters, and ink cartridges add up quickly. Here are 5 easy ways to reduce that eco-impact you don’t want your writing to have. 1) Your computer is the heart of your office. The next time you are in the market for a new laptop or desktop, look for those that are Energy Star-certified . Certified computers are proven to use energy more efficiently, helping them last longer and save you money (up to $100 every year!). 2) Install the GreenPrint software on your computer. Available in 3 versions, the free software does exactly what you need it to do: remove unnecessary pages, text, or images from all your printing jobs. You’ll save paper,

Writing in 140: Writing, The Soundtrack

Every story I write has a soundtrack--whether it's the one I impose on to it while I write or the true one that resonates when I'm revising. When I'm writing, I tend to listen to music that keeps my energy up, keeps my body moving and fingers flying across the keys--hip hop and 80s music mostly, but also classical music. When I’m revising , I hear the music in the words, in the genre the story is written in. When I'm revising romance or rom com stories, for example, I listen to artists like Michael Bublé, Adele, Jill Scott, and Duffy. When I'm revising a dark scene in a mystery, I like guitar riffs, sounds I can hear deep in the center of my chest. How important is music to you when you’re writing and revising? ----- Writing in 140 is my attempt to say something somewhat relevant about writing in 140 words or less. ~~~~~~~~~~ Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically, and her debut solo novel, D

I Love My E-Reader. I Love Indie Bookstores. Can This Work?

I own a Kindle. At first, during the infatuation phase, I figured I was going to become Joe New School, leave printed books behind forever and buy everything on my new device. Then, I thought: What about the handful of indie bookstores I love and purport to regularly support? True, they're probably doomed in the long run as e-books grab radically more market share in book publishing with each passing year, but I'm damned if I'm going to watch these good folks watch their dreams dissolve on my watch. After much deliberating, here's what I've decided to do with my book-buying money: — My Kindle will be used to purchase exclusive and specially discounted e-books. One of the great pleasures of exploring the e-book publishing world has been finding self-published e-gems in the cyber-bargain bins (from free to 99 cents to $2.99) of the Kindle Store or in Smashwords. I write mystery stories, and there are some good thriller, suspense and traditional myst

An e-Pub Solution for Traditionally Published Authors with One or Two Titles

When I signed up for Colorado author and publisher Brian Schwartz ’s workshop on The Fast Path to Publishing , I had every intention of formatting my own manuscript for Kindle and the rest of the e-books on the market. It was a great workshop, but I quickly realized the process would take more time than I had available over the next few weeks. My second published novel won’t be eligible for e-book publication for at least a year, and by then, the rapidly changing world of digital publishing could make all that learning obsolete. In addition, while older book contracts rarely included digital rights, it will be harder for authors to retain those rights with future sales. These two books may be my only opportunities to convert manuscripts for digital reading devices. The published author with an extensive backlist and enough time to do the work on his own will save money and possibly gain enough experience to set up his own e-book formatting business. In my case, remaining a e-dunce was

But It's Just a Reprint

By Brenna Lyons, guest blogger from EPIC (Electronic Publishing Internet Coalition) A lot of readers state that e-books should be sold for pennies, “because the money preparing the book was already spent on the print release and there is no physical printing and shipping involved.” In their mindset, that means there are no additional costs to preparing the e-book for sale, and therefore, a book should cost little or nothing in e-book. There are a lot of holes in this theory. For one thing, not all publishing ventures produce the print version first. Most indie presses either produce the e-book version first or the two concurrently. Even in NY conglomerate, lines like Carina Press and Spice Briefs (both Harlequin ventures) produce only the e-book version. If there is print, it will come later. That means the costs of producing the book fall solely or primarily on the -ebook version. Assuming the print version was indeed produced first, this line of thought disregards the fact t

Sofia's Dream Becomes an E-book

Little Pickle Press is an environmentally conscious publisher of children's books and other 21st century media. From its inception, digital products like e-books and downloadable tunes for each of the titles were part of the product mix. Their global focus made this particularly important, so that readers around the world could download the books with the click of a button. When their latest book, Sofia's Dream by Land Wilson was released, one of the team's agenda items was e-book conversion - a particular challenge as picture books don't transfer very well to digital products like Kindles and smartphones. Little Pickle Press has a professional team of artists and designers hired to enhance their socially and environmentally relevant stories - the delivery of the artwork had to maintain the creative integrity of the original works. Today, we talk to Doug Rowell of Media Tavern , and he explains how his company is able to create quality e-book products for Little Pic

CreateSpace for Smarties

CreateSpace, Amazon’s print on demand service, is one of the Internet’s best-kept secrets. It provides quality, cost-competitive printing, for audiences as small as one. I know this is true because I helped my thirteen-year-old son create a book for his Social Studies class last year. It cost about fifteen dollars—arguably less than I would have paid to get color prints and a binder cover for a standard report. CreateSpace also provides templates for live areas and margins, which makes page-setup a simple process. The CreateSpace site lists an impressive array of services, from CD and DVD production to book production to Kindle conversions to editing, design, and marketing.The site's basic premise makes it an excellent option for book production services that can be automated—things like printing, distribution, kindle conversions, and disk duplication are absolutely invaluable. However, for services that are less amenable to the turnkey approach—text editing, book design, and mar

Formatting for E-Readers

With the increasing availability and acceptance of e-readers, electronic self-publishing of fiction is a growing avenue for writers to pursue. If you would like to offer your readers the option of downloading a PDF of your novel (or just an excerpt) you may want to format a version to suit e-readers. The most common screen display size is 6 inches diagonal (152mm). This equates to roughly 3 inches by 5 inches (82mm by 120mm). Most e-readers are able to adjust, though, to suit a variety of page sizes and font and spacing options, so keep it straightforward and uncluttered. Word 2007: Page Layout Tab, Size, More Page Sizes...  Enter new width and height values under “ Paper Size ” in the Page Setup Dialog Box (Paper tab). Word 2003: File, Page Setup, Paper Tab Margins With such a small page area you will need to adjust the margins to allow more room for the text. Word 2007: An easy option is to select Narrow Margins from the Margins drop-down menu. Or select C

Recycling Is Good

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was a prolific short story writer. I have dozens of them cluttering up computer disks (some of them on those old 3x5 floppies – yes, I am old!) Only about a third of them were published, most in small literary magazines that are probably out of business by now. The other two-thirds I had never even tried to have published. I was more chicken back then. I’m a better writer now than I was then, but still – some of these stories are really quite good. They just needed a bit of tweaking here and there. (In the eighties there was no Internet to speak of. Few people had cell phones. Mr. Rogers was still alive. It’s surprising how much these cultural changes can impact a story.) A few months ago I took one of my old unsubmitted, unpublished stories to my writing group and asked for critique. I was amazed at how positive they were, and how many good suggestions they had about how to rework the story so it didn’t seem dated. Suddenly I saw that my

EPIC is for Authors

With the popularity of Kindle and the iPad, more readers seem to be hopping on the e-book bandwagon. I now have my newest book, Follow the Dream , on Kindle, so I’ve officially entered the “big time” of e-publishing. I was also recently was given the honor of winning an EPIC award for my first novel, Cowgirl Dreams . The first question I usually get is, “What is EPIC?” EPIC, the Electronic Publishing Internet Coalition, is a professional organization for published and contracted e-book and print authors. It was established in 1997 to provide a strong voice for electronic publishing. Even though E-Publishing is a relatively new venue in the big picture of publishing, many readers, writers, and traditionally published authors believe this is one of the major marketplaces of the future. EPIC was designed to help professional writers learn more about the best publishing opportunities on the Internet and to provide networking opportunities for information about promotion and market grow

E-Book Self-Publishing Roundup

With Borders getting into the act, there will soon be four platforms on which authors can self-publish e-books directly to readers. I summarized them for comparison and thought I would share my findings. Amazon: Digital Text Platform This venture has been around the longest, has a reported 76% of e-book sales, and publishes content directly to the Kindle bookstore. Authors can upload a Word, html, or PDF file, which Amazon reformats as mobi file. Or authors can create their own mobi files to upload. The latest requirement is that files have active TOCs. For books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, Amazon pays a 70% royalty. For everything else, it pays 35% of the list price. Authors can price their books however they want, but Amazon reserves the right to discount the book. To be in compliance with the 70% agreement, authors can’t sell their e-book cheaper anywhere else. Amazon pays monthly and deposits royalties directly into the author’s bank account. Most DTP e-books are purchas

Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing III

By Scott Nicholson (With Kindle giveaways)   Today’s little list of the “Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing” comes from someone who has been there. I’ve had agents, not had agents. I’ve been rejected hundreds of times. I’ve published in major, small, and independent presses, and now primarily self-publish. I’ve been a bestseller and had books I couldn’t make someone read at gunpoint. And all of the routes are difficult. If you think it’s hard to write a book, try selling one. But before you draw battle lines, know the territory. Pros of having agent 1. Most writers can’t arrange lunch with an influential publisher, talk over salad, and leave with a book deal. 2. An agent can get you more money, usually more than the 15 percent commission. 3. An agent can guide you for an entire career, point out the landmines, dun publishers for money owed, and stay ahead on trends. Cons of having an agent 1. The best book in the world won’t matter to them if they can’t sell it. 2. Your boo

The Evolution of E-Books

It is really exciting to see the big surge in e-book publishing and sales. It has been a long time coming. My first e-book was published in 1997 with The Fiction Works , a new independent publisher who jumped on the early hype about how e-books were going to take off like wildfire. I remember the conversations with the publisher and the editor about how there were going to be kiosks in shopping malls where people would be able to buy electronic or print-on-demand copies of books and we would all get rich. In the meantime, the books were produced on CDs and packaged much like music, with very nice covers. Customers had an option of buying the packaged CD or buying a direct download to their computer. One nice thing about the CD was that it gave the authors product to have in hand to take to signing events, and we were encouraged to do that kind of promoting. I was living in Nebraska at the time, and there were a few other authors with e-books, so we set out on a little mini-tour of

What do you know about e-books?

This week the Blood-Red Pencil is launching a series of posts about e-books. What do you know about this emerging segment of the publishing market? Take this quiz to see if you're up to speed! True or False? 1. Kobo, Ectaco, Nook, and Aluratek are all names of Native American tribes. 2. E-books still haven’t quite caught on. 3. E-books will replace print books. 4. E-books are cheaper to produce. 5. E-books are mostly bought by young techies. 6. All digital readers can read all e-books. 7. Authors make less money from e-books. 8. Digital reading technology will evolve and render currently owned e-books unreadable. 9. E-publishing is only for book-length material. 10. Self-publishing, subsidy, non-subsidy, vanity, royalties, reseller: the age of e-books will simplify the publishing process and negate the need to learn all these terms. Answers: 1. False. Okay, I was trying to throw a bone to all the rank beginners out there. (Like me, before I researched the

An e-Book Special

Welcome Blood-Red Pencil Readers, Starting tomorrow, editors and guest bloggers will present a special series about e-books and everything we can think of related to the topic. From a history of e-books to the newest trends and statistics, we'll try to cover the good, the bad, and the ugly in this publishing phenomenon. We'll run with this until the end of the month, so visit us daily. Tomorrow we start with an e-book quiz compiled by team blogger, Kathryn Craft. Stop by and see just how much you know about e-books! And Scott Nicholson's imfamous disappearing e-book post will reappear, for all the fans following his three-month blog book tour. ;) ~~~~~

Writing To Sell: Knock ’Em Dead!

Intrigue Captivate Thrill Enthrall Grip What do these words mean? In this case, they’re synonyms for “knock ’em dead.” Of course, you don’t want to literally eliminate your readers. Writers need all the fans (aka readers) they can get. But the idea of “knocking” them into a chair with your book in their hands and holding them in place with your compelling story does have considerable appeal. A man who read my latest novel recently said to me, “I want to talk to you about your book.” Looking me straight in the eye, he offered no hint of a smile. Oh, oh, I thought, here it comes. Then he continued. “I started reading it at one o’clock one afternoon and finished at one o’clock the next afternoon. I couldn’t put it down.” I let out the breath I’d been holding. He went on to say that he’d stopped reading only long enough to eat and sleep and he absolutely loved the story. My first novel had been aimed primarily at women readers. This one, a psychological drama, targets a wider

Arresting Research

I like doing research. Years ago, I spent a weekend at a women’s prison. Very interesting and informative -- and I was happy to leave. Not long ago, I made trips downtown to the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice System . I picked out a particular courtroom and sat in. Didn’t really attend any actual on-going cases, but rather tried to get there while things were getting ready to begin. One day I arrived about 8:45 a.m. Went through the security check point. For the first time, I got through without being wanded. I’ve decided the trick is to keep on all my jewelry – watch, earrings, ring, necklace. I’d always taken it all off before and gotten beeped. Or it could be that today I was running late and had to run out with my hair still dripping wet. Perhaps the guards decided I was not a terrorist – no bad guy would be caught dead looking like a pool rat. Took the elevator up to my usual courtroom and found a seat. They were already in the middle of calling names. If they call your

Before You Write. . .

Much is said about the necessity of developing a daily routine for writing. We signal our readiness to work by bringing a big cup of coffee to our computer, logging off the Internet, and placing our hands on the keyboard. Every day. Without fail. But writing is not always a serious business. Our newest contributor to The Blood-Red Pencil is Elspeth Antonelli, who will show us the lighter side of this creative adventure. Here's how Elspeth views the pre-writing routine: BEFORE YOU WRITE... 20. Mentally pat yourself on the back for blocking out time to write. 19. Wonder how difficult it would be to literally pat yourself on the back. 18. Try it. 17. Try it with the other arm. 16. Try it with both arms at the same time. 15. Catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and realize you look like a demented bat. 14. Write a sentence. Caveat: "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" does not count. 13. Take a sip of coffee, remembering to keep the liquid

Leave The Tip on The Blood-Red Pencil

New Feature The first Tuesday of the month here is devoted to our Ask the Editors Free-For-All, when our Editors answer your questions. Now, on the second Tuesday of each month, we're inviting you to Leave The Tip on The Blood-Red Pencil by showing us what you know. You can do this by using our comment section to share a writing related tip. It could be about formatting manuscripts, marketing a book, a great e-group, a website or blog, self-publishing, using a publisher, getting an agent, or any other writing tip you consider useful. Your tip might come from experience, something you’ve picked up from a writing group, or maybe something another writer has mentioned that sticks in your mind. If you're not a writer, but you've noticed something a favorite author does that you like, please share that with us. If it so happens that someone else mentions the same tip you wanted to mention, it’s okay to agree and say something like, Yes, doing such-and-such works for me to

Writing in 140: Finding Space to Write

When talking about writing, we often focus on storytelling components, such as character, setting, conflict, and dialogue. What you write is very important. Where  you write is important, too. I have a perfectly good office, complete with large desk and comfy chair. However, I love sitting in my dining area. Why? Because the front of the house has more light. Also, the TV is in the living room, and I like to play movies as background noise. And of course, I’m closer to the kitchen--where my coffee pot is located! Sometimes, I head to a coffee shop where I can indulge in my two loves: writing and coffee drinking. Like my favorite spot at home, the coffee shop gives me the noise I need to get focused and to start writing. Where do you like to write? Why? ----- Writing in 140 is my attempt to say something somewhat relevant about writing in 140 words or less. ~~~~~~~~~~ Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically, a