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Showing posts from July, 2012

Jess Lourey and The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One

Thank you to Dani for inviting me to talk about my self-publishing experience. Going the self-pub route had not been my original choice. I had what I thought was an awesome idea for a young adult novel—two kids realize they’ve been living inside To Kill a Mockingbird for the past five years, and they undertake an adventure through great literature to find their real home and parents—and I wrote it. My agent loved it, I mean dropped the “F” bomb on the phone with me she loved it so much, but she couldn’t find a home for it. Publishers gave us positive feedback but said that ultimately, they couldn’t sell teenagers on classic literature. Now, I’ve traditionally published seven mysteries, with the eighth coming out in October. I also serve on the national board of the Mystery Writers of America. I’ve got some hard-earned publishing knowledge, and I’d been hearing the same buzz as everyone else: self-publishing is big. It’s huge. It’s the future. You can write a book and quit your job c

Which is Right for You - Lightning Source, CreateSpace, or Both?

If you're thinking of self-publishing not only in electronic form, but also in print, a huge consideration is your goal. Do you wish to be considered a publisher in your own right? If so, I recommend Lightning Source as your printer. If not,  CreateSpace will work fine. With Lightning Source as your printer, you'll need to set up your own publishing company, which will establish you as a separate entity in the publishing world. This applies whether you're having your own books published or if you're widening the field as a small publisher and offering your services to others. Relatively speaking, it's not horribly expensive to set up a company, but there's some bother involved. You'll need to decide on a unique name for your company. You'll probably want to purchase a post office box, unless you wish the company's address to be your home's; then you'll register the company and send out notices. You might also consider a special log

Shonell Bacon Opens Up About The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories

CONTINUING SERIES - 18 Stories! 15 Authors! Talk About A Project! The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories  is riding high in sales, after a spectacular performance at its first freebie weekend on June 9 and June 10, 2012. The book is ready, but the work's not over. Dani Greer, owner of The Blood-Red Pencil, along with Morgan Mandel, Helen Ginger, Maryann Miller, Shonell Bacon, and Audrey Lintner, all contributors to the collection and members of The Blood-Red Pencil, are sharing our ongoing experiences with you about the project in this series. Perhaps, what we've discovered will aid you in your own endeavors. Shonell Bacon's contribution to The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories is "I Wanna Get Off Here," about a bus driver with a dream who must unchain herself from circumstances sttanding in her way. Click Here to Find Shonell Bacon on Amazon. Shonell's answers to our hard hitting questions: 1) What surprised you

The Printed Book and CreateSpace

I recently received a Kindle as a gift from my husband, which was a lovely gesture. But my first thoughts went directly to the two large boxes of books “To Be Read” under my bed. I do like the Kindle for portability and it will be wonderful when I travel. Also, the success of the Kindle and the Nook and all the e-books that are hitting the market right now can’t be ignored. But I still find myself drawn to my paper books. I attended the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference this past weekend and went to a CreateSpace Workshop. Tom Kephart gave a presentation on how easy it is to use this program and the benefits that Amazon provides its “indie” authors, including a new application that is supposed to easily convert your book into Kindle format. I recently did a book layout and helped an editing client publish her memoir about being one of the first women engineers to work on the Alaska Highway, Engineer in High Heels . I used CreateSpace and I found what people had

POD: A Means to an End—or Simply the End?

For years, the term POD (print on demand) has been controversial. Recently, it garners less animosity than in the past, but its mention can still heat up the conversation in a room full of authors. The reasons for this may be varied, but it seems that some still don’t believe that using POD truly makes one a published writer. Is that true? Let’s examine what POD really is and the role it can play in getting a book from writer to reader. POD technology came on the scene as a result of digital printing. Before that, it wasn’t financially feasible to print a short run, or just one, or a handful of books on an offset press. POD means that books are printed after they are ordered, not before. Garages and basements don’t overflow with unsold novels, and large publishing houses aren’t stuck with huge inventories. Self-publishing authors who, in the past, have been required to pay for large print runs no longer have to do that.  They don't have to save thousands of dollars—or max out a

The Lazy Way to Make a Story Sell

Form is everything in a successful story. Everything? True, we have to flesh out characters, engage the reader in a compelling theme, get our language right and do a dozen other things. But without form, a story’s dead. People read - and tell - stories to discover the form that their lives, afflicted by random events, might otherwise lack. Why else has storytelling been a feature of human life since records began? Bards have always found an audience among unhappy folk, hungering to invest their lives with meaning. Simply to perceive form is to create meaning. We have only to look at the patterns of stars in a night sky to speculate upon their meaning. A cluster of random dots becomes a horse, a plough, a shield ... humans are a pattern-forming species. Is that why a great story lasts forever? The enduring myths of Cinderella, the Sleeping Beauty, the Ugly Duckling, to name but a few, can be found in every culture. Each has a strong, simple form. The form implies

To Print or Not to Print, Is That the Question?

By Dani Greer, Chief Red Pencil It hasn't been very long since the traditional publishing model meant printing a hardcover edition of a new book, then following that with a low-cost paperback edition, and maybe, if the publisher was really sharp, making an e-book available on the heels of print. In today's rapidly changing publishing environment, all three versions of the book are usually published simultaneously, or at least within very narrow time-frames. This gives readers all the options quickly, and multiplies the opportunities for sales. In the past year, a growing number of publishers have started printing new titles in only e-book version first, presumably capitalizing on the success of indie authors who have discovered the potential of feeding the e-reader market. Later, if e-book sales proved successful, the door might remain open for a print run, particularly if libraries and schools demanded the title for their shelves. But fast disappearing are the days of larg

The Art of Book Design

Even those of us who've purchased e-readers miss certain aspects of the print book. Perhaps it's the paper: its color, texture, or ragged edge. Perhaps it's the elegance of the font, or design of the headers. As we pay homage this month to the print book, I wanted to take a look at the unsung hero of book beauty and reading comfort: the book designer. Assisting me is Glen Burris , of Baltimore, MD, an award-winning book designer who has worked for Johns Hopkins University Press for more than twenty years. ~ Kathryn : What exactly does a book designer do? Who do they collaborate with, and how does their work fit into the production of a book? Glen : A book designer takes an edited manuscript and, using his or her expertise, determines the appearance of the printed book. This involves determining the page layout (page margins and type area), type specifications (sizes and appearance of the text, titles and subheads), sizes and positions of any art, and layout of display p

Reflections of a Living Fossil

Not long ago, while spelunking in the garage in search of my husband’s fencing foil and kit bag, I came across a storage crate labeled Garillon Originals . Inside the crate were Kelloggs Cornflakes boxes sealed with packing tape. These proved to contain the original hard-copy manuscripts for my Garillon trilogy. It was like stumbling across the ruins of some lost civilisation. An archaeologist, pondering these documentary artifacts, might be moved to write the following article:   The Pre-Industrial History of Writing a Novel Evidence garnered from a recent study of the Garillon manuscripts suggests that, prior to the dawn of the Cyber-Age, professional writers composed their works on crude hand-operated devices known as typewriters . Using a proto-model of the computer key-board, writers inscribed their works on sheets of paper, letter by letter, one page at a time 1 . There were only two font sizes available: pica (large print) and elite (small print), and each indi

Do Writers Still Need New York?

Publishing is in flux—an understatement if ever one existed. The industry is in the midst of some of the greatest changes and challenges since Gutenberg sent us into the modern era. One issue of huge importance revolves around whether or not traditional publishing will even exist as we know it in the very near future. The digital age, and all of its advances in technology, has revolutionized this business in a mind-bogglingly short time. Such a short time, that NY is scrambling all over the place, and as is often the case with big publishing, the tail is truly wagging the dog. Now major publishers are chasing the e-book phenomenon like a puppy spinning after that tail.  Many are releasing e-book serializations as teasers before the hard or soft covers come out.  We’ll see how well that works—the jury is still out on it.  But the point being, NY is trying to get creative.  Even if the traditional industry found itself fifty yards behind at kickoff.   Will initial print runs soon be a

The Accidental Way to Becoming a Published Author

Please welcome Lauri Kubuitsile back to The Blood-Red Pencil on her blog book tour for her Kate Gomolemo Mysteries series. My first published book was The Fatal Payout , the first book in my Kate Gomolemo Mysteries series. The entire process, from writing to getting published, was a textbook case of “How-not-to-be-a-Writer”. In my thirties, I found myself owning a small printing company that published our local newspaper. I never really thought about being a writer although I wrote articles and an editorial each fortnight for the paper. But then we were changing formats and were afraid we’d get lost in the crowd and I had the idea that I would write a serialised novel, a thousand words each issue, to try and hook our readership to pick up the free paper. I’d never written a novel before, I hadn’t even written a short story, but I was undeterred. I didn’t know enough to know I didn’t know enough. There was no plot plan, no character sketches. In most instances, the Thursday night

The Demise of Print? Greatly Exaggerated

Not that long ago, if you wanted to see your book in print and you couldn't land a contract with one of the New York publishers, your primary option was to go with a vanity press. What's a vanity press? One where the author pays to have the book published. And this violates an unwritten rule in publishing: money should flow to the author, not the other way around. Recently, I judged a contest for published authors. I was given four books to judge, and I noticed something different from entries I'd judged in previous years. All four of mine were from small presses, most of which I'd never heard of. Yet they're all legitimate, royalty-paying publishing houses, not vanity presses, even though they're not part of the "Big Six" New York publishers. Differences? Most of these small presses rely on "Print on Demand" (POD) to create their product. Not that long ago, POD publishing was scoffed at, and lumped in with vanity presses. People did

Just Like Jo

Who do you admire? Who we choose to call our heroes may have great power over our lives, whether we know them personally or not. Do you remember who your first writer hero was? I do. Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a writer. I wrote plays, poems, stories, and even a newsletter for my family, which I subjected them to every Sunday night at the dinner table during the year I was nine. It seemed a miracle to me that color, excitement and action could bloom out of black lines on white paper. I still remember the Christmas when I was nine or ten and given Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I fell in love with its heroine, Jo March. She, too, wanted to be a writer, and her “scribbling” meant more to her than anything else. She wasn’t one of those namby-pamby, retiring, “good” girls – no, she was exciting, bold, tumultuous, a passionate rebel who had problems with anger and who rebelled against female restrictions. I strongly identified with her. Jo March was my first author men

Cues from the Coach: Q and A

Recently, I asked writers whose first books I had edited what their questions and concerns had been when they’d completed their manuscripts and were ready to move on to the next step in the publishing process. The responses I’ve received thus far have been revealing and worth sharing. This month’s input from a Florida writer relates an overwhelming situation for the author and includes multiple questions. We’ll consider two of her questions this month. Please tell us how you would reply to her. Situation/Questions: A writing group I participated in online had given me a harsh critique, implanting in my mind the thought that my book wasn’t worthy of publication. Heartbroken, I left the group. (1) Should I pay the price of retaining an editor? (2) Would an editor do any good? (1) Should I pay the price of retaining an editor? Answer: A competent editor who “clicks” with a writer is always worth the price—assuming that price isn’t exorbitant, aka, outside the parameters of industr