Wednesday, April 30, 2014

7 Ways to Fail at Self-Publishing

Just follow these 7 rules of thumb and you’re sure not to succeed in your self-publishing endeavor!

1.       Don’t follow basic “rules” of writing. Misspellings are fine; people will get the gist of what you’re saying (who remembers whether it’s effect or affect anyway?). Grammar is for the birds. Oh, and don’t worry about things like storylines, plots, character arcs, themes, and conflicts. If you build it, they will come after all. It’s not like you’re writing drivel, you’ve written a masterpiece!

2.       Do your own editing, formatting, cover design, and proofreading. No one knows this book like you! It’s your baby, born of your sweat, blood and tears. No one should ever get close to it with a red pen. Ever. Maybe Mom can read it before you’ve published it. She thinks you’re awesome.  And you can do your own cover design, even if the only program you can use with any competency is MS Paint.

3.       Market to other authors EXCLUSIVELY. Because people who are trying to market their book surely want to read yours. In fact, CRAM IT DOWN THEIR THROATS! They should see your book cover in their dreams! What a better way to go about it?

4.       Write (or buy) a bunch of rave reviews of your book. Great idea! Let’s pay/guilt/force Mom’s bridge club (c’mon Mom, you know you love your child!) to log into Amazon and write a bunch of phony rave reviews about your book. I can write a few, I’ll trade you a good review for your book if you give me a good review for mine. That can’t get you banned from Amazon for life… Right?

5.       Don’t talk to other authors: they’re your competition! Ack! Stay away from those guys (and gals)! They probably don’t have any experiences or wisdom they can pass on. They’re probably mean and snobby and unfriendly. In fact, they’re probably going to recommend you have someone else proofread your book and attack it with red pen. Better just avoid them altogether, except for when you force feed them another reminder to BUY YOUR BOOK!

6.       Expect through-the-roof sales immediately. Your baby is luxurious, heartrending, pure gold in written form. Everyone will see that, especially when Mom’s bridge club (HURRY UP, GUYS!) posts all those fantastic reviews for people on Amazon. Readers will be crawling all over themselves to read the beautiful things that spill forth from your innermost soul. You’ll probably be a millionaire in weeks, if sales run slower than you expect. Realistically, probably a millionaire in a few days.  

7.       Publish your first novel before you have a second one read to go. This is your pièce de résistance, your Mona Lisa. Nothing you will ever write can compare to the profoundness, the absolute purity of art in this first book. It’s not like you would ever offer it free so people will read more of what you’ve written, and people would be ridiculous to find an author they like and read all of their books when yours is obviously the pinnacle of writing.

Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule, but these seem to be pretty hard and fast. What would you add to this list?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

An exciting novel based in a dystopian society where love, or amor deliria nervosa, has been declared a dangerous, deadly disease. No worries though; there’s a Cure, forced on individuals by the government when a person turns eighteen.  Not only will you never fall victim to love once this cure is administered, you also will never find yourself the proprietor of hate, terror, delight, or wonder.

Lena Haloway is looking forward to being cured. Her mom got infected, and it destroyed her family. She is determined that the same thing will never happen to her. Counting down to the day of her Cure, Lena could not be more prepared to be an adult. Then, she meets Alex, and before she even realizes it, amor deliria nervosa sets in.

This book is a high energy, thrilling book that not only captures the feeling of a first love, but also the terror of being caught. The stakes are high, the action is fast and gripping, and the characters are wonderfully appealing. I enjoyed this book so much that I bought the next two and binge-read (is that a term?) for two days until I finished the whole trilogy! I couldn’t even sleep last night, because the plot was still running through my head.

Absolutely excellent! The whole storyline was completely enthralling, and I highly recommend the book. Heck, I highly recommend the whole series!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Falling into Place: When Things Start Coming Together

Sorry I’ve been absent for a while, friends… I was sent to a training conference in Seattle for work, and the hotel’s internet was flaky, at best. While I was there, I felt it would be an excellent time to come down with lung-rattling bronchitis. Today is the first day I am both a) at home and b) able to string words into sentences. But, I have an exciting announcement (besides not being dead):

My illustrations are done!

Color me surprised, but my original illustrator got back to me. I was convinced she had headed for the hills (over a week past her extension date without a word, even though I tried repeatedly to contact her) and BAM! Over a dozen preliminary drawings show up in my email.

I’m a deadlines person. Things are always completed on time—usually even early—and God forbid anything ever be late. Artists, it seems, may run on a slightly different time table than that. While I struggle to wrap my mind around that idea, I’ve made my peace with it.

But good news all you struggling children's book writers out there: its entirely possible to have your book illustrated on a budget! Onto the next step in this process... Typesetting! 

What do you think of the illustrations?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

10 More Inappropriate Titles for Children’s Books

Because its Thursday, and everyone could use a chuckle!
This is what happens when you don't eat your vegetables!
“Monsters, Vampires, and Boogeymen: What Lives Under Your Bed”

“We Had You to Save Our Marriage”

 “Dissecting Deangelo: Take Apart a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Piece by Piece”

“Your Success=My Love”

“Why You Look Like the Mailman”

“Grandpa Gets His Casket”

“I’ll Love You as Long as You Do What Mommy Says”

“You Were an Accident”

“We Put You to Bed Early So We Can Watch Awesome Television”

“The Little Train that Couldn’t, No Matter How Hard He Tried, Because He Sucked”

Ok, what terrible titles should be listed? And why do I enjoy these so much?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

6 Reasons to Self-Publish: Take the Leap

You might just enjoy the ride!

 I’ve never done things the traditional route. I’m not sure if it’s a strength or a weakness of mine, but bucking tradition is practically my own tradition. There’s just something about making my own way, about doing things a little different than the rest that appeals to me. Because of this, self-publishing, even with all its challenges appeals to me far more than traditional publishing. Here are six reasons that I find self-publishing to be a better fit for me than traditional publishing:

1.       You own what you produce. In traditional publishing, often the publishing company owns the rights. If they decide they no longer wish to produce your book, you have to buy the rights back to change that. However, when you own what you produce, you can keep printing as many copies as you need for as long as you need.

2.       Control. Not only can you control designs and illustrations, you can control the content of your book, the sale price, and where it is marketed. The only thing holding you back is yourself (or possibly, what your mom might say). Typeface, title, and the cover will all be what you want, not what someone else wants. Your book reflects your vision, no one else’s.

3.       Timing. Not only do you get the advantage of working at your own pace, but once you make the move toward self-publishing, the time from submission to published work is far shorter than a traditional publishing company (sometimes as little as one week!).

4.       Profit potential. You have the potential to earn higher royalties. A traditional publisher gives you 5-20%, but because you can set the price yourself, your royalties are up to you. You have the potential of making far higher royalties (into the 70% range is not uncommon), and you’ll get paid faster. And, if your book does “make it big,” you might find yourself receiving calls from traditional publishers anyway.  

5.       Niche. Is your book fairly subject specific? This is more true for non-fiction, but it’s possible that publishers may not be interested in a book on tying dry flies for fishing the Gallatin River. However, if you live near the Gallatin River where fly tying and fly fishing is not only popular but has major economic influence; your tiny little market might be where you make it big.

6.       You are Your Own Boss. You can decide when to write more, what to write about, and what your deadlines are. There’s no one tell you when to jump and how high.

What reasons did I miss? Anything else that inspires you to self-publish rather than traditionally publish?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

5 Reasons Not to Self-Publish Your Book

There’s literally over a thousand articles out there on why you should never-ever-in-a-hundred-million-years (probably not an industry-specific term) self-publish a book. I’ve read a fair number of them before launching into the adventure of self-publishing because I like to be informed and love I a good challenge. Here’s the general consensus among the naysayers:

1.       It’s A LOT of work. Lucky you, you’re on the hook for all of it. You have to find an editor, your own cover artist/illustrator, your own proofreader (and it shouldn’t be your mom… Though I still love you, Mom!), and do your own marketing. Remember all that time you used to spend writing? Swallowed up in the immense amount of time spent doing everything else associated with publishing.

2.       The cost. Unless you can find a way to do this on a budget, you will pay for, at a minimum, a quality cover (because a tacky cover does little to attract readers), editing (I tend to be quite “comma happy”), proofreading (editors miss things too), marketing/promotion, and a website (unless you’re also an internet guru. Some of you are. Color me jealous).

3.       The quality. Its only as good as you can afford up front, and sometimes, it’s not very much. I’ve seen some pretty fantastic stuff and also some pretty poor quality books. There’s not quality control with self-publishing; printing companies will print whatever you send them. Also, traditional publishers know the ins and outs of proper book layout, which increases a book’s appeal.
Its perfect, right?
4.       Lower distribution. Unless you are incredibly good, incredibly lucky, and incredibly talented, you won’t get bookstore or library distribution, and you’ll just been that sad person selling your books at an otherwise empty table at the local farmer’s market.

5.       The perception. We all know someone who has self-published something that my British friends refer to as “rubbish” (thank you, British friends, for being worlds more polite than Americans). Many people think all self-published books are the same sub-par, unprofessional drivel. That stigma is fading, but not nearly fast enough. We know it’s not true, but we’re on the inside.

Those are the top 5 reasons, according to the “experts.” What are your thoughts on these? Do these arguments hold any water?

Tomorrow I’ll give you the top reasons to self-publish, so don’t tar and feather me yet!