Shopping Out Your E-Book: Are you covered?

Hi Writers!

I discovered an interesting surprise today. Many of you are aware that my first E-Book, Stealing Time released just two days ago. A friend told me yesterday that it was up on Amazon. This seems obvious, I know, but I was paying attention to sales from my publishing company’s site rather than thinking about other venues. Today, curious as to how far across the boards I could find my book, I did a little bit of digging. It is a wake-up call to see how many markets a book crosses to get it in front of the viewing public.

Some might view it as checking out the competition; but that is an incorrect assumption. Perhaps the venues compete with each other, but for the author having your work available across a wide range of venues increases your chances of being picked up by a new reader. That is good marketing at its simplest form whether you are a self-published author or with a traditional company. Make sure your readers or even just the curious can find you with minimal effort–every click is a potential sale. So where can you find a copy of Stealing Time? Check this out!

Stealing Time on Amazon only $0.99 cents!

Stealing Time on Smashwords only $0.99 cents!

Stealing Time on Barnes and Noble only $0.99 cents!

Stealing Time on Manic Readers only $0.99 cents!

Stealing Time on Musa Publishing only 0.99 cents!

I only covered five venues, but you’re getting the idea, right? Make sure that your readers can easily find you across multiple websites. Market wherever and whenever you can.

Thanks for reading, now go and check to see where your readers can find you, and add a site if needed. Remember to come on back for Write to Pub Wednesdays!

Cheers!

C.K. Garner

Write to Pub Wednesday: Traditional Publish or Self Publish?

That moment of self realization has come; you are ready to begin the publishing process. So self pub or traditional? Holymoly, this is a huge subject, and lately all over the news and the Net. How is a writer on the verge of discovery to choose which route to follow?

Let me begin by saying that my coming release is traditionally pubbed. That said, I’d still very much like to try my hand at self pubbing, too, just to have that experience. It is not whether one is better than another; it is more which one works for the present situation. It is about achieving the balance between life as an author and commitment outside a writing career. Choose the one that  suits your current position best, keeping in mind that the other stepping stone awaits should you decide to walk that path at a later date.

So why did I decide on traditional over self-pub for my book even though the traditional process takes longer? Chalk it up to inexperience. I can write, am a decent fact finder and edit with some success; but technology? Not my strong-suit. I decided to learn from the experience of going the traditional route and hone skills already present. Now, I have that knowledge to build on for self-pubbing later. Going initially with my strongest skill-set; learning and perfecting those before delving into self-pub is akin to an athlete changing their ultimate competitive sport. Could a swimmer make the transition to competitive rowing? Probably. Will the skills I’ve learned and perfected from traditional publishing transfer to self pubbing? Absolutely.

Balancing a day-job along with family needs left  little time to commit to another venture–but commit I did. While researching traditional and self-pubbed authors, the importance of scheduling time to write vs other needs cropped up time and again, mirroring my own situation. Having elements ready to go is like having a pre-made lunch packed for a long haul; very convenient and ultimately saves time and money.

Mastering the technology of self-pub appeared daunting for this newbie; I can barely program a cell-phone, let alone design cover art, format a manuscript into shape for an eBook or printrun, not to mention self-editing vs other people’s eyes making a huge difference in quality of the final product. The traditional publishing house was golden because they provided technical items such as no fee in-house editing, free cover artist, access to house-only master classes taught by seasoned professionals to better perfect writing and marketing skills, guides for style and content, a built in network of editors, and other authors for mutual support. All this leaves an author free to decipher the wonders of social media and set up a marketing platform for the book release. Did I mention that my publisher helps with that, too? The big picture here is getting a book to publication takes a commitment of time no matter which way you go. A traditional publisher can help free up your valuable time by providing a variety of services.

There exists the option of paying for most items listed, but funds were dear, and time to explore providers was being sucked up by my research for how to craft a better story, setting up and sending in a manuscript and to whom, learning about submitting to a big house vs a smaller house, and avoidance of predators within the business. Are you becoming aware that the true price of getting your work published involves a dogged perseverance and an Iditarod Musher’s drive? Good! Then we’re on to the next leg of our trip: Self Publishing.

You have some tech skills, are comfortable enough in the social media-sphere that set up comes easily, have a manuscript that looks like it is ready to go, and possess some knowledge about photo-shop. Sounds to me like you are a candidate for self-pub road-trip. There is a whole host of information about self-pub how to sites on the web,  in books, and even indie groups to help in setting it up. As with traditional publishing, there can be a lot of footwork involved in tracking down the right elements needed for your self-pubbed book, but there are plenty of authors who boast great success at it. Self published books are a hot ticket, if you do the research and put in the time to do it right, you can have your work in your readers hands the second you hit send. But wait! Before you hit that golden button, lets time out from the publication race to discuss proper execution of form.

What are the drawbacks of self Pub? The foremost gripe about self pubbing is the number of mistakes that appear in the final copy. Self pubbers need to allot plenty of time for rewriting. Run that manuscript by a handful of friends for critiquing, maybe join a writing group, hit up an old teacher for advice; anything to whip your manuscript into shape and catch errors. The downside of these books is that they have a reputation for poor content. I say rubbish to that. It isn’t a lack of good content; more it’s a lack of proper editing. The value of an outside editor is that they aren’t in your head.Your work comes across to them in an entirely new perspective because it is seen through different eyes. If your invited beta reader doesn’t get it, neither will your future audience. Time to chop sections that don’t work and rewrite until the meaning is clear.

Which brings us to the finished product–or does it? You have created your cover art, edited and polished your manuscript until it shines, consulted with indie groups for content and formatting, chosen where you are going to upload it for release day–what did you miss?

Marketing. Second to editing, for a self pubbed author, the trail of a social media platform through keen distribution plan is key to hitting a home run. In this arena, self pub is no different from traditional pub. Your name is your brand as much as your product, so getting it out there is what will make you visible to future customers.

So, which path is the best for you? If you research, train, and map out a good plan, there are multiple ways to reach the summit. Consider both types of publishing as valuable components in building your road. The short  answer is; each writer is unique; so their paths in publishing will differ too, but both have the same goal on the journey from writer to published author.

Odyl and Facebook Marketing: Worth it for Authors?

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For my next act I will gargle peanut butter!

What does it take to get your FB page noticed as an author? How can you market your brand name as an author and make book(s) more visible to fans and potential new readers?

Here is a company that appears to have a solution. Odyl has its eye on authors. From what I can see, it markets not only to the big six, but also to smaller publishing sites and indie authors through a fully integrated Facebook platform. What does this mean for authors? Take a look at what author J.T. Ellison has to say in a guest post on Odyl website. She’s not the only one touting its virtues. I scouted around the web and found several authors using Odyl to boost their visibility and sales.

I’m interested in seeing what it might cost for such a grand scheme. Sent a note to Odyl to have a look at prices and see if they have something manageable for new authors. I’ll let you know the results.  Have a look at the article from AllFacebook.

Facebook Marketing Tool Odyl Boosts Authors

Submitting without submitting: Becoming the Hunter to Get Published and Avoid Predators

Howdy readers.  So, the time has finally come.  I’m shopping my short story around for publication, checking out various sites for submission into the hallowed grounds of first time Publication.  I’d like to say that I found a whole bunch of opportunities for legitimate submission, great gobs of contests, and publishers just aching to grasp my tiny tale and get it into print at first bite.

The truth is, it wasn’t very hard to find the welcoming trail bread crumbs. However, the more I looked into things the more confused and wary I became of the offers. If it sounds too good to be true, is it really? Are those sharp teeth and claws I spy on those happy websites with their clutching hands?

To wit: I saw calls for submissions and contests where the fee to enter is $15.00 (US) and the awarded prize is $20.00 to $60.00, but only if yours is pick of the litter. I also saw publications that were foreign, inviting submissions for free, but with no information to be found, and several US companies already on the watchdog sites of Preditors and Editors, Absolute Write, and Writer Beware lists as badguys.

It is typical for Indie Publications to charge an entry fee for their contest, but they trend toward the manageable, which is good news.  Some journals and magazines indicate calls for submission with no fees involved, at least not that I saw outright. To clarify whether these would be a good start for a noob, I headed over to Writer Beware (WB), that great website like an eye in the sky keeping new Writers and Authors out of  the clutches of the Damned Unscrupulous Malicious Publishing Scammers (DUMPS) for any advice. (yes, I just coined that acronym this evening!)

I learned to research EVERY SITE because the Dumps monsters will bite the unwary and uneducated, and received advice to not click on any links within sites, but instead do a direct Google search (http://www.blahblah.com) to confirm information on a prospective publisher.  I learned that publication of a short story could be equally good or a nil sort of venture, depending on the publication.  Here’s the link to the page where I questioned WB, and their responses: 2011-Writer Beware Retrospective  Under 2011 WB Retrospective discussion, scroll down to comments to C.K. Garner (se Moi!) asking a question, and read Victoria Strauss, Author and Co-Founder of Writer Beware and Grace Peterson of WB Blogs, answers and advice.

Once in their website, I highly recommend clicking around. The advice contained in Writer Beware is an invaluable resource for you. Just in case you are skeptical, these fine folk are part of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  They do this as a community for free, to aid other Authors and Writers. So check them out, you can lose the monster DUMPS and get some sound footing to navigate the path out of  the woods!

We must, do the assignment of protecting ourselves by asking the questions and then following through to find the answers, and using the proper resources before submitting to any contest, or Journal, or publishing entity.

So, how well do you know your intended publishing company?  When you are ready to send in a submission, have you done research on the Publishing company? Did you check with Writer Beware first?  Did you run them by Preditors and Editors, or check with Absolute Write? Did you Google the company to see how much you could find out about them, and find other Authors who have used them?

I need to sign off now.  I’ve got a lot of work to do before I send off my short story for submission.  Good luck to you, and have fun researching those prospective publishers! Here Goes…

C.K. Garner

Can you take the Heat?

A good Critique hammers out the bumps in your manuscript!

If someone asks for a critique, or for you to go over their writing, should you?  Would you be kind or let ‘er rip and tell them what’s  not working for you? On the receiving end, how do you handle being Critiqued? Today, I read a  manuscript from an acquaintance, then related what I felt worked and what didn’t. Instantly I became public enemy #1.

In nicer words than those here, I pointed out a lack of tension causing the story to flag and my interest to wane. I tried for constructive criticism— because I want very much for my fellow writers to keep working at it and not give up– applauded parts that flowed to the concept of the tale; but mentioned disconnects between actions of the characters and the reader trying to comprehend the flow of the story. The key here is, what I took in was what the writer conveyed in their manuscript.

The writer decided I am too much of a novice to critique them and could not see the picture they conveyed. Au contraire; I was picturing Giovanni Ribisi, one of my favorite actors, in the Protagonist role, and I tried to see scenes in full realization as they stuttered past in my mind, Giovanni looking for direction. I presented a few suggestions that might improve the MS, but the writer rejected any alterations, fearing tidier segues would change it too much; if they introduced more  feeling of the place, tried to build a bit more on the characters, then it wouldn’t be their story anymore. Topping off the list of backpedaling the writer expressed they shouldn’t have to personally explain each scene for a reader to get it.

On the last gripe I agree. The writing itself should speak to me. Setting, conflict and resolution should convey to me, the Reader, what is happening in the story. Tension should keep me wanting to turn the pages to find out what happens next, and each scene should ease into the next instead of me flipping back and forth to find a connection; bringing to mind Giovanni: all apologetic, his character says, “I’m sorry, but can you point me to the nearest segue?”

I have come to the conclusion that some folks don’t really want a critique.  They want you to read their work and tell them it has points so well-formed they stab you in the eye while perusing the brilliance of their  DARLING bit of fluff, and now you must wear an eye patch and become a pirate, you are so blown by the wave of their stature.

Give me an effing break.  Better still, don’t ask for a critique if you can’t take the heat.

Here is my take on how to handle a Beta Reader‘s POV: Welcome the harsher voices, the gulls of Criticism if you will; their opinion is as valuable, perhaps more so, than the sweet voiced variety of Critique.

The best Authors and Writers, or at least my favorites, are happy to have people read and share their thoughts of the characters and settings and how these work with each scene.  Equally, they welcome the point where you fell asleep reading their  tale. This is because they want to kill that bit of needless fluff  to make it read better, and take their writing to the next level.  They crave, I crave (!) to know what interferes with the flow of the story, where the bogs are that suck away the action, when it is too candy coated and needs added complexity, or where the story has too much description and wants a good conversation between the prime characters, or even the comic relief to ease darkness, just a little, see?  A good Critique gives you possibilities.  

The best thing about encouraging your friends and acquaintances to read your work, to critique it, is that they are your first audience!  *applauds beloved Beta Readers* If you pay attention, really take their constructive criticisms to heart, you will discover that their eyes are invaluable, because they are not in your head. They are Joe Reader. If they get it, chances are your future audience will, too. If they are struggling to wrap their heads around a passage, perhaps you should revisit and make that concept clearer.

It is human nature to balk at criticism, but if we unplug from our initial negative reaction, we open ourselves to the Reader, gleaning that pearl of wisdom that makes our story have luster. So, leap into that boiling cauldron with a smile. Find some Readers to critique your work, then tell them to please, turn up the heat, you can take it. Your work will be better for it, and your naysayers will at the very least respect you for being able to swim in the deep end of the pool of magma.

Well folks, my manuscript calls…a great friend of mine red-inked the heck out of it…for which I thank her!  I’ll take the advice and change what needs tending, toss the rest…that, too is valuable. 🙂

Keep writing!

See You Around,

C.K. Garner

And the Blog played on…

Coffee Break!

This weeks Blog is dedicated to Tunny, who gave me props for focusing more on the Writing of my manuscript and less on my Blog.  So, it is a little ironic  that I’m here blabbing to all the world about it, but it got me thinking about all the ways in which I procrastinate about hitting the keys.

If you are like me, it’s really hard to make yourself write more and visit with folks less.  There always seems to be one more person you can share with, one more funny email you can respond to, eight more things you could Blog about, someone who needs an answer to a text message, etc., right?

However,  all the texting, visiting or emailing with any of those wonderful people are sucking up time you could be spending on your manuscript.  You wanna get those idea down on the page?  You need to detach a little from your electronic umbilical cords, and tell everyone to sit tight, you’ll get back to them after you’ve written the next chapter.

Now that I know I can begin a story, craft a middle, and have a notion of an end, from where I’m at now, the point is to COMPLETE my manuscript .  Completing my manuscript needed to become, and has become more important to me than socializing.

If I spend a majority of time Blogging, my manuscript writing time suffers for it, period.  But, because it is my Blog about my writing, it’s okay to take a break now and then and Blog for a little while.  Did y’all catch that, NOW & THEN .

I am Blogging now because I took a bit of Writer’s Break.  I was on a writing roll for the last several hours, body starting to grow sore and stiff, and my eyes feeling a bit dizzy.  Good time for a break and a cuppa Joe.  So, I decided to check my email and I noticed a comment on my Blog.  This being my break, I allowed myself to follow it, and here’s why:

I’ve a new rule about breaks:  During a Writer’s Break, all socialization and attachment to the electronic umbilical cords must be solely to people who are Authors or Writers.

I know that other Writer’s understand the need to be mostly absent from the world so you can write, and you don’t expect me to Blog or contact you every day.  You expect me to have my nose to the proverbial grindstone, churning out the pages and mixing my metaphors.  I expect the same of you…except the part about hashing up the metaphors.

One of my favorite Authors, Seanan McGuire said, “Writing a book is a solitary exercise, actually finishing it is not.”

She is referring to all the people who helped her in getting her manuscript through all of the stages of proofing and the many people it took to read and reread and hack out the stuff that she couldn’t see through to edit out herself, along with those who hosted her when she was writing abroad, and folks who simply listened to her whine.  Notice that even on the home stretch there is still a lot of writing to do?  I highly recommend McGuire’s Blog  50 Thoughts on Writing for her best Writing tips.  Check it out.

So, our writing Blogs are important for us as Writers aspiring to be Authors.  They are a place where we can get writing advice when we are crumpling up the 20th false start.  They are a safe venue for venting our frustrations and cheering ourselves and each other on when the going gets tough and the tough want to quit and take an aspirin and a shot of whiskey, or to offer the same to another Writer in need.

All of this until the day we become an Author.  That’s when our Blogs become part promotion and part lesson, where we answer questions about how we got there to our fans, and why we didn’t off ourselves instead to our worst critics.

Right.  Time to get back to my manuscript, folks.  Thanks to you all for reading this Blog, and may you get right back to your manuscripts; my coffee is finished and this Writer’s Break is over!

What?  Are you still here?  We’ve got work to do!  Ciao,  C.K. Garner  😀

On Writer’s Blog

I'll be around...

Dear Blog,

I’m afraid I owe you an apology.  I have been neglecting you lately, I know.  Like a houseplant or a pet you desire interaction, and must have your nutrients and my time to be happy and thrive, and I have been spending my time with a different love.

This may be hard for you to hear, but I feel I must say it, just get these guilty feelings out so I can clear the air!  So, yes, I have been neglecting you in order to spend quality time with my manuscript.  She’s so creative and beautiful, and I find that the more time I spend with her the better she gets, and the more rounded a writer I become.

So, I just want to say that our relationship has to be whittled down to, I hope, a mutual friendship.  I just need a little space to work on my relationship with my manuscript and see where that will take me…Us.

Just remember, you can rely on me still, as a friend, a shoulder to cry on, whatever you need.  I promise to visit periodically, but I don’t feel it is fair to you to stay in a close relationship…for now.

It’s not you, it’s me.

I’ll be seeing you around.

C.K. Garner