Monday, September 28, 2009

Plot or Character?

With Dan Brown's recent release of The Lost Symbol, there has been the usual flurry of fans and haters ready to comment. One of the most interesting that I've read is John Grisham's recent supportive comments in light of Philip Pullman's negative ones. Check out this Telegraph article to read them.

One of the interesting comments that Grisham makes that rings true for other thriller writers I know is the focus on plot versus character in an unapologetic, purposeful way. Truly, more literary writing does tend to focus on character more than plot. Many suspense-driven fiction has characters that lack that depth, but not necessarily without reason.

So how many of us are writing plot-driven fiction versus character-driven fiction? Do you think about it when you sit down to write? Or do you experiment with both sides? Let us know!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kindle Issues

Finally in the process of trying to convert first self-published novel into a Kindle doc. Several problems:

1) Files uploaded to Kindle do not automatically transfer all of your indents and formatting to "digital text,"or basically in a way that looks the same on your Kindle screen as it does in your computer document.

2) You cannot edit the Kindle document; you have to fix your own document, hope it works, upload it to Kindle, then preview it to see if it shows up on Kindle the way you want it to.

3) Some documents transfer better than others. PDFs do not necessarily transfer well. HTMLs are one of the best for transferring.

4) Why is the above a problem? The most revised copy of said novel that we have is only available in PDF. I converted the PDF into Word and HTML. Tons of paragraphs with varying margins. Will take a loooong time to go through and fix so that it will upload correctly. :(

5) Older, original Word file, which might be the fastest way to get onto Kindle, was found, but will still need to be meticulously read through to re-catch errors that were revised and saved to PDF. (If you're wondering why they weren't changed on the old Word document it is because a self-publishing company was making the changes and saving to PDF during the creation of the hard copy of the novel.)

Headache, headache. I've tossed it on the back burner for now while I attend to paid work. I'll be playing around with Mobi (a free computer program for converting files for Kindle). If all else fails and I want to cut mucho into profits, I may turn to eBook Architects, who apparently will convert your files for Kindle within a few hours, paid by the hour (one file usually takes between 1 and 3).

If anyone has any quick advice or experience, let me know!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Publetariat- Check it out!

As a follower of thecreativepenn on Twitter, I was directed today to a wonderful post on a site called Publetariat: People Who Publish.

The post is a wonderful post to read for food for thought. It's called "Should You Blog? And If So, What are Best Practices?" The post is geared toward newbie writers (whether newbie published or still unpublished), and is a great read for those of you considering blogging or somewhat timid about the idea.

This is the second time I have clicked on an interesting link to Publetariat, so I took a bit more time today to look through the site. I recommend that readers of my blog do so as well in case it is a site you would like to follow. The group is dedicated to burgeoning small press authors and publishers, and if you go the "About" page, you will see this impressive list of contributors:

John Backes - co-founder of The Children's Book Insider

Alan Baxter - Blade Red Press

Mark Coker - Smashwords

Nick Daws - freelance writer/consultant

Guy LeCharles Gonzales - Spindle Magazine &

April L. Hamilton - author, and founder of Publetariat

Michael R. Hicks - author

Highspot, Inc. - consultants to authors and publishers

Jude Johnson - Scorched Hawk Press

Hugh McGuire - Bookoven, Librivox, earideas &

Joanna Penn - The Creative Penn

Dana Lynn Smith - The Book Marketing Maven

Joshua Tallent -

Heidi M. Thomas - author, writing instructor, consultant

Zoe Winters - author and indie publishing consultant

Reading the above list made me positive that I will be checking in with this site from time to time for some great advice!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Backword Book Contest- My Entry

For those of you who haven't heard of this through other writer-publisher Twitters, The Backword Books Blog, a collective of self-published authors, is throwing a contest in order to create more buzz/ dialogue on the very, very broad topic of self-publishing. The rules:

The rules: We want to hear your thoughts about self-publishing – a blog post about the merits of self-publishing and how it might change the face of publishing in the future. What will self-publishing look like 25 years from now, 50 years from now? How has self-publishing made strides in recent years? That sort of thing. The drawbacks of self-publishing are welcome as well, but a scathing attack on self-publishing probably isn’t going to do it for us. Basically, we want to know: What’s your opinion about self-publishing?
(Rule #2 includes making them aware of your posting- visit the original post for details.)

SOOO, here goes. There is so much I have read about self-publishing and so much to say, so I am going to limit myself to addressing how self-publishing has made strides and the drawbacks of self-publishing.

Years ago, self-publishing was viewed as a fall back for people who weren't skilled enough to be traditionally published. If you don't know how tough it is for any writer to get published, this would be a natural assumption. In addition, the fact that anyone can self-publish means that many sloppy or unskilled writers do self-publish, which reinforces the stigma of self-publishing.

The drawback to self-publishing is that the stigma has not entirely died. However, it has most definitely lessened. There are a number of authors, even if they are a minority,who have used self-publishing to gain recognition and eventually had their self-published books or subsequent books traditionally published. In my s.o.'s experience, self-publishing has helped him to gain recognition as a serious author and led to a book award that agents have said will go a long way in a query letter to influence them to look at future work.

On the downside, a self-published writer still has to do all his own marketing, which is both time-consuming and costly. Yet, many traditionally published writers who are published through smaller presses are put in the same boat. Newer authors in this situation may initially be under the illusion that all the marketing will be done for them, and struggle when the book does not get much press. For a self-published author, there is no illusion. Again, based on personal experience, what I and the s.o. have learned about marketing and networking through our self-publishing experience is not only helping now, but will continue to be a resource we will tap into when he has a future book (fingers crossed) traditionally published.

Also, as a final thought, there are plenty of writers who would like to get their ideas out there, leave stories for their families, etc., who genuinely don't care about going through the work, and ups and downs, that it would take to *possibly* become the next big seller. For people in this situation, self-publishing is exactly what they need.

I'm what I like to all a recreational poet. I don't have the time or discipline to make poetry my life. Maybe one day I will, but for now I value my teaching career; I like to fence in my spare time; and I love traveling, watching movies and good TV and spending time with family and friends. If down the road I eventually had a book of poems, but not the time or inclination to send them out again and again to journals and agents, I would definitely consider self-publishing for the joy of seeing them in print and gleaning even a handful of sales.

As for the future of self-publishing, it's not going away, but I have no idea exactly where it will go! I guess we'll just have to wait and see. :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Inspiration for Stressed People

My week is crazy busy- is yours? I'm helping out 112 high school writers- here is my inspiration/ stress relief for the week: killer duo performer Samuel Tsui and arranger KurtHugo Schneider:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Book Review Sites for Authors and Readers

A Twitter friend recently alerted me to an amazing resource both for self-published authors looking for book review blogs that will review their books and for readers simply looking for great blogger/ book reviewers. The site is Step-by-Step Self Publishing and this particular post contains links to MANY blogger book reviewers. While the blogs listed will review self-published books (if that is your interest), most that I checked out review all kinds of books all the time, so they appeal to any reader. Also, the site gives a descriptor for each site, as some cater to certain genres, which is also helpful to know. Have fun!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lemonade Award

I am excited to announce that follower coffeelvnmom, Jessica Brooks (Thanks, Jessica!), has nominated me for the Lemonade Award, a feel good award for blogs that show gratitude or a great attitude. Check out her blog, My Thoughts Exactly, and the posting.

My Thoughts Exactly is also a great blog for links to writing and publishing related sites and for finding links to other great blogs by authors, agents and other writing-minded bloggers. Enjoy!

p.s. My apologies for the light blogging this week- I'm back to teaching and home sick already!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Beware: Publish America

Publish America has recently been receiving a lot of negative attention for being a "scam" publishing company, in the sense that they are considered by many to be a vanity publishing company, known for bad business practices, masquerading as a traditional publishing company. Read this Publisher's Weekly article for more info, or check out this dialogue on Absolute Write.

Do you have experience with Publish America or any other company that you believe readers/ writers should be warned about?

OR Can you recommend sites with more info for interested parties?

Self-Publishing on Kindle

Interesting blog entry on Kindle publishing experience from Publetariat.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Giveaways: Peeking Between the Pages

I just became aware of a great book blog through coffeelvnmom's Twitter: Peeking Between the Pages. Peeking Between the Pages has drawings for multiple free books from publishers. Check it out and see if you're interested in any of the titles!