Link Of The Week

December 4, 2012

http://www.writershelpdesk.com/

 

While this web site has items that require money, it is also loaded with free webinars and reports for writers as well! If you’ve ever wondered about self publishing, but the whole idea sounds like something from an alien planet, this is a good place to start piling in the information you might need! Enjoy!school_desk


Link of the Week

November 29, 2011

Looking for great read from an Indie Writer?

Indie Reader has book reviews on independently published authors of fiction, non-fiction, young adult, and even children’s books. What a diversified selection.

They offer features such as The Book That Changed My Life, Hot Off The Press,  Can’t Bleiewve It’s Not Vanity, Trad Pubbed Book F**k Up, among others.

This venue has an interesting take on the Independent Market.

http://indiereader.com/


“Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down”

September 15, 2011

No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published.  ~Russell Lynes

By: Stacey Purcell

I’m sure a lot of you have read about author Kiana Davenport’s trouble with a large traditional publishing house. In case you haven’t, I’ll do a short re-cap. This author signed a deal for a book that she wrote which was due to come out in 2012.

So far, so good.

Ms. Davenport has won numerous awards, been previously published and by all rights is a wonderful writer. She is also a fashion model who lived the high life and spent most all of her money. She submitted and was accepted by Riverhead, an imprint of Penguin books. The terms for her new contract were less than what she used to command, but she needed the money that the advance would pay.

Just prior to this arrangement, she came across Joe Konrath’s blog about self-publishing and turned to him for help. With a bit of guidance, she sold a collection of short stories and was successful! She then published a second collection and  the proverbial poop hit the fan!

 “The editor shouted at me repeatedly on the phone.  I was accused of breaching my contract (which I did not) but worse, of ‘blatantly betraying them with Amazon,’ their biggest and most intimidating competitor.  I was not trustworthy.  I was sleeping with the enemy.”

Kiana Davenport immediately hired a lawyer. (Good for her!) He pointed out that the first collection was published before she signed the contract, so they turned their attention to the second collection and demanded that she take it off line, erase all mention on the internet about her short stories and that she submit in writing that she would not publish any of her back log items while her current book was with them. (That would represent a good two or more years of her life.)

Can you say straight jacket?

She refused. (Yay!) They terminated their contract and demanded her advance back. They are also holding her novel hostage until she sends them the money. That’s the whole sordid affair in a nutshell.

My first response to reading about her plight was disbelief. I simply couldn’t believe that an established business under the banner of an even bigger company would resort to classic bully tactics fronted by their legal department. After spending several hours researching articles posted by several amazing bloggers (lawyers included), I can say I was wrong. Do they not realize writers have blogs? Stories like this WILL get out and spread like wild fire.

Authors are urged to remember they are “professionals” in most every writing group out there. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it ad nauseum to always be on my best behavior, remember this is a profession, dress appropriately etc. etc. etc. So I ask the question, “How professional was it that the editor screamed at her over the phone? How professional was it that they called her agent offering treats so she would move forward in the right spirit?” I would also answer the questions by saying that they seem to be on shaky legal ground.

I haven’t seen the contract, I can only interpret the actions by both parties. If the publisher thought they had an iron clad legal stand, there wouldn’t be such an emotional outburst on the editor’s part, and they wouldn’t have tried to offer incentives for her to agree to their terms.

“The vice president and publisher of that house called my agent, offering extra little sweetmeats if I would just capitulate and ‘adopt the right spirit going forward.’  This somewhat sinister and semi-benevolent attempt at mind-control fascinated me.”

I think someone at Riverhead omitted the clause about what they would allow her to publish or not publish during the tenure of their agreement. I also think that if all of the above is true, then they are in breach of contract. By terminating the contract and demanding the advance back, on baseless grounds, they are now in the wrong. I believe they are bluffing by demanding the advance back and I’ll bet that her lawyer is telling her much the same thing. **Remember, I’m not a lawyer and am only expressing my thoughts.**

This whole story makes me sad. Not every publisher is a bad guy, some actually support the idea that the author is out there drumming up business and making their presence known on line. It seems to me that it’s a win-win situation and a model that would help traditional publishers stay afloat in this tumultuous time. Scenarios, like this, hurt everyone and I hope that the coming days as the landscape dramatically changes in our business, we will see calmer, more rational behavior from all.


Melissa Ohnoutka- Self Published And Lived To Tell About It Part 2

May 12, 2011

By: Stacey Purcell

I love writing.  I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.  ~James Michener

Last week we took an in depth look at an author’s experience in self publishing and my head is still swimming. Melissa Ohnoutka graciously agreed to a follow-up series of questions. Couple these interviews with the last two posts of Jenn’s and you have a fairly good idea of what it takes to jump in with the big boys and put your material out there. It’s a brave new world for us-fraught with many woes and frustrations, but the pay off in satisfaction seems to be worth it all.

 

How did you go through the editing process? I know you worked hard on polishing, but did you have help from others to get it ready to publish? Did you hire anyone?

Melissa: The editing process on Faithful Deceptions extended over about the last four years. Heavy critiques, contest feedback, reader feedback and then several read throughs by others just for spelling and grammar. If I find a good editor, I’ll hire them for future books.

 

What specifically have you learned about marketing your book? You say you would have started earlier- how? Do you have plans before your next book or tie in short story is published? Twitter? Blog Tours? Etc.

Melissa: I’ve learned it’s a lot of work and very time consuming. If you don’t figure out a way to balance the marketing and the writing, you’ll get absolutely nothing done on either end.

As for starting earlier, I’m talking about social media. I would have joined every group I could find that dealt with books and made myself a regular contributor. The building of those trusting relationships, even if they are online with people you may never meet, is so important. These are your future readers and promoters.

Future plans….Working on trying to get a book launch set up this summer, but it’s still too early in the editsfor the next book to be thinking about blog tours, twitter, etc. I have formatting and book covers to work on next.

 

How did you decide on a price point?

Melissa: Again, I’ll have to say J.A. Konrath. He has done the research and I just followed along.

Did you really consider the type of fonts you were going to use or did they prescribe what you would have to use?

Melissa: I did a lot of research on what worked and what didn’t. Stick to the normal on this. Fancy fonts are hard to read and just not a good idea when dealing with formatting.

 

How did you decide on your cover? How did you create it?

Melissa: The cover was fun for me. I loved browsing through all the pictures, searching for the perfect fit. I got chills when it all came together. For the how, I used a combination of two programs. Photoshop and Printshop. If you haven’t used Photoshop before, I recommend taking tutorials now. This is not a “learn as you go” program.

What exactly have you done for marketing?

Melissa: Lots of blogging. Visiting Kindleboards, Nookboards, Bookblogs, facebook, twitter. Set up accounts with Goodreads, Shelfari, Bookbuzzar, Googlebooks. Requested reviews from review sites. Been a Guestblogger on several blogs. Printed postcards to hand out to those who purchase the ebook. I’m set to be a guest at several local book clubs hosted out of others homes as well. And my NWHRWA chapter here in Houston has set up a Grassroots Marketing Program. Each month there is an Author Spotlight. That author shares their information for promotion with the group and they spread the word through social media, word of mouth and blogs or any other idea they can come up with.

All this and I’m just getting started. LOL

“There is no requirement to register your copyright, which exists from the moment the work is created. Registration is a service provided by the Library of Congress as a means to record claims to copyright. If you ever have a dispute about your copyrighted work, your best evidence is going to be the registration you made, and the date it was entered, to show you are the originator of the work.” Did you know about this? Have you done this?

Melissa: Yes, and yes I’ve registered my books with the Library of Congress. It’s quite easy and can now be done online. I love that part! You definitely want to register your copyright, even though it isn’t required. Copyright registration will put the facts of your copyright into the public record.

 

 

Finally, if you had to do this over, would you do it yourself again or would you hire parts of it out for someone else to deal with?

 Melissa: Although this was a lot of work and the frustration was overwhelming at times, I would definitely do it over again, and again. I love being in control.

 


Melissa Ohnoutka- Self Published And Lived To Tell About It

May 5, 2011

By: Stacey Purcell

And by the way, everything in life is writable about, if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.  ~Sylvia Plath

I enjoyed Jennifer’s article last week on what it took to prepare for jumping in the waters of self publishing. It made me curious about the actual jumping and what happens after the first splash. What is it really like to try and pull together your manuscript, your baby, and put it out there on the internet? Did you truly edit as much as you could? Did you choose the right font? Can you survive formatting hell? Will you have the fortitude to weather bad reviews? The questions go on and on. So many, my head starts to spin.

My very good friend, Melissa Ohnoutka, has just published her first novel. After much deliberation, she decided to retain all of the control and launch it herself. Faithful Deceptions hit the internet mid February and soon became a top seller on Amazon. I decided to pick her brain about the nitty gritty of this monumental decision and a two part post was born!

Melissa Ohnoutka

Thanks so much for having me today!  This has been one wild and crazy ride, but the support and encouragement from family, friends and the writing community has been unbelievable. 

When did you decide to self-publish? 

Melissa:  I’ve been thinking about going Indie for a long time. After reading Joe Konrath’s blog and his take on traditional vs self publishing, I decided to quit stalling and give it a shot. The “what if’s” were just too loud to ignore.

 

Did you query agents and editors before taking this route?

 

Melissa:  Yes. I feel like I paid my dues and did my time on the query-go-around.  I entered contests for feedback, revised and polished until I couldn’t see straight anymore, attended conferences, had several requests for partial and full manuscripts and it was always the same outcome.  Some loved my stories and writing and others just didn’t get it. The self-publishing route seemed like the next step for me.  I’m a bit of a control freak anyway.  Having so much say over important decisions like my cover, the page count, the release date, promotion and the direction I want my writing career to take really sweetened the deal for me.

Would you ever consider going with a traditional publisher now?

 

Melissa:  It would depend on the contract.  I would never give up e-book rights now that I know I can do a lot of this on my own and what a huge opportunity it is.  A wise friend (wink, wink) made an excellent point the other day.  The traditional publishing route would be an excellent marking tool. J

 

Is there something you learned along the way that you would do different now? 

Melissa:  That’s a big Yes. I would have started making my presence known a lot sooner and researched in great detail the marketing options available.  I’m finding the marketing to be a huge learning curve. But it’s one of the most important aspects of the publishing industry and can’t be ignored.  People can’t buy what they can’t find.

 

I also plan to give myself more time for the formatting and designing book covers.  This part is very time consuming and you must know what you’re doing.  There is no learn-as- you go option.

Looking back now, are you pleased with your decision? 

 

Melissa:  Oh, yes. It’s working out better than I ever imagined. I have only two regrets.  That I  didn’t do it sooner.  And that I didn’t have more than one of my manuscripts ready for distribution.  I’ve read the magic number for this publishing game is 6 months and 3 books.  That’s where I am now.  Working my tail off to polish up the next two books and get them out there.

What would you like your readers to know about you? Any advice you’d like to offer?

Melissa:  I love my family and friends with all my heart. That one was easy. J Hmmm…what else?  My favorite color is red. I love a great belly-laugh, you know the ones that make you cry. Oh, and I enjoy shooting my Px4 Storm 9mm way too much. LOL

 

For advice:  Take those risks and “Never” be afraid to Dream!

 

This was so much fun! I’m going to give away one free e-book copy of “Faithful Deceptions” along with a $10.00 Amazon Gift card, so one lucky commenter can buy more books! It’s a “thank you” for stopping in to say hello.

For more information About Melissa and her books, please visit:

www.melissaohnoutka.com

www.melissaohnoutka.blogspot.com

Direct Links to buy her books:

Amazon – Kindle  http://www.amazon.com/Faithful-Deceptions-ebook/dp/B004OL2JAK

Barnes & Noble – Nook   http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Faithful-Deceptions/Melissa-Ohnoutka/e/2940012197153/?itm=1&USRI=melissa+ohnoutka


Diving into E-Publishing

April 27, 2011

Song of the Day: Fly From the Inside by Shinedown

There is a great deal of excitement buzzing around lately about e-publishing. Authors across genres are casting a favorable eye toward this now viable form of publishing. More and more authors who have been making good money with traditional publishers are jumping ship in favor of more control and ultimately more income.

Add to that, many respectable authors are advocating digital books, hollering at you to pay attention to the shifting tides of the industry. Chief among them is Joe Konrath. If you haven’t already, check out his take on e-publishing. He puts it all in perspective in a series of eye-opening blogs.  Other authors at the bullhorn are Dean Wesley Smith, Barry Eisler, and even Bob Mayer.

There is no doubt e-books are the wave of the future. With Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Createspace, and Smashwords, it’s easier than ever to break into publishing.

The fever from reading blogs, writing communities, and pioneering friends is infectious. Many of us are weighing the idea of wading in the e-pub pool. I say – Great!

But, are you ready?

Don’t swim within 30 minutes of eating. In other words, just because you’ve finished a book doesn’t mean you are ready to smack that baby on Amazon. Hold up. Take a hard look at your work. Have you polished your masterpiece to the best of your abilities? Have you had a million eyes plus two look at your story? Not just friends and family, but people you trust will give their critical and constructive feedback.

Wear the appropriate swimming attire. Make sure you are marketable. By that I mean know who your audience is. Will you appeal to that market? How will you stand out among other authors in your market? You must also either hire someone to design an eye-catching book cover or learn to create your own. Either way, the key is to capture the attention of the reader as well as mimic the essence of the story. Build a web presence. In this digital arena, it is a must to have a website and/or a blog. Readers need to be able to find you, learn more about you, and connect with you. That’s one way to build a fan base. You can’t expect people to find you in an ocean of other storytellers without some kind of name recognition.

Put on your floaties. You’ll need staying power. Digital publishing moves faster than traditional publishing. Readers want instant gratification. If they like your book, they are going to want more. Will you be able to give it to them? Be prepared to offer readers more such as a blurb or excerpt from an upcoming release, even if you are still in the writing stage. Think outside the box!

Slather on the sunscreen. Because once you are out there, you will be subjected to the harsh reality not everyone will like your book.

And don’t pee in the water. Always be gracious when interacting with reviewers, readers, industry professional, and other authors. This is common sense.

Dip your toes in first. Do your research. Make sure e-publishing is right for you. It’s not just about making a book available for online purchase. You can’t expect the currents to guide you. You still need to man the oars, check wind directions, scrape off barnacles, and navigate. You are responsible for promoting yourself and your career. Participate in blogs, submit to review sites, scratch a few backs, and NETWORK.

Wait for the right wave. If you are unsure you are ready to cannonball into e-publishing then be patient. Remember, there will always be readers. But often, we only have one chance to impress.

Me? I’ve got my snorkel and fins and will be joining the tides of e-publishing soon. Stay tuned. I’ll be blogging all about my journey.


A Lesson In Paranoia…They Really Are Watching

March 31, 2011


The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction.  By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.  ~Mark Twain

 

I believe that anyone who is involved in the writing world has heard about the incredible meltdown an author had after a critical review. I don’t want to talk about that. We can all agree that she didn’t handle it well. We can all agree that she damaged her career. Enough said.

What I do want to discuss is that I found a few interesting items sprinkled throughout the 307 comments. (Yes, I slogged through every single one.) The first thing that caught my attention was the side argument rippling through over the idea of indie publishing.

What is indie publishing?

It is a gloriously vague term. Being so, it is open to interpretation. Many of the folks felt there was a distinct difference between being a self pubbed author and being an indie pubbed author. For them, the word indie refered to small, independent presses that accepted submissions and then published. Righteous indignation ran amuck when a different understanding was applied. “There’s self- publishing and commercial publishing, all the rest is smoke and mirrors.” Those in this camp think self published writers are using this word to give credibility to their work when, in fact it isn’t good enough for traditional publishing. Ouch, that’s harsh.

Others weren’t bothered with the interchanging of self-published and indie. Many thought it was a buzz word flung about in an attempt for writers to equate themselves with the hip alternative music scene that brought us great music from artists like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. However, the buzz behind the word was that it was still an attempt to bring more credibility to the arena of self pubbed authors.

There were a few who offered a concrete definition for both. “Indie was one who publishes without the aid of any sort of publisher and self-published was one who publishes with the aid of a pay-to-publish company.” A commenter who has a doctorate in language forensics states that terms in culture shift and that direct publishing is now considered indie. It may have been used differently before, but the meaning is expanding and encompassing all meanings- like it or not.

The best comment: “It doesn’t really matter though, no one cares except other writers. Readers just care if the book is good.” Enough said.

Besides arguing over the meaning of a word, a more serious notion was raised. Did she only harm her career? The answer is no. There were agents, editors and other book reviewers that chimed in on this debacle. Let’s start with the agent. “…as an agent actively looking for clients who has the manuscripts of some of the posters here, I have been turned off from all of you. Furthering this discussion is as unprofessional as beginning it.” Ouch again.

Just because you weren’t the one having the temper tantrum, joining in on the condemnation just got you sucker punched. The lesson here is to not stoop to a level that is obviously not professional.

Book reviewers were out spoken when it came to the topic of self-published authors. “I’ve sworn off reviewing self pubbed because I had two writers that did that. It’s a shame, but burned twice and I had enough.”

Readers also jumped in. “You and others like you have long since turned me off to indies forever.” How about another? “I’m now on an all-indie boycott.”  Still another. “This is the very type of behavior that will continue to tar self- published authors as hobbyists.” Big ouch!

What you put out there on the world wide web will come back to bite you in the tushie because they ARE watching. Agents, editors, our readers, book reviewers, librarians, and book store owners are reading blogs, tweets etc. Be professional. Be courteous. Be intelligent with your comments. Working at your keyboard, you are standing on a world stage. Enough said.