UGH! Should You Beat Your Head Against the Wall (DIY), or Hire Someone...
The Self-Publishing Dilemma
When it comes to getting your book ready for the variety of self-publishing markets now available, do you do it yourself? Or, hire an expert?
Many authors want to save money and do it themselves. It is what I refer to as, the Costco/Walmart mentality, save money, buy cheap. But, do you really save money? Hiring an expert can save time, therefore saving you money, and ultimately costing you less in headaches. Each of the big eBook sites (i.e. Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, etc) all require different file formats. Each come with their own set of problems. This means having multiple versions of your book created and multiple formats to learn and fight with. No two are alike, nor does the process work flawlessly each time.
Many authors think they can just do a quick and easy conversion of their Word files. All you have to do is upload it and it will instantly look fantastic. If only that were true, but then there would be no need for small businesses like us. Or, worse yet, there are the authors that don’t bother doing anything and upload their Word documents not caring how it looks.
There is actually a great deal more to the process then what you hear, or read. It isn’t quick, most of the time. And it most certainly isn’t always easy, usually. Once in a while, you will get lucky and it will be simple, but the next time it is maddening and uncooperative. Just avoid it all - hire someone.
Focus on what you do best - WRITE! Leave the headaches to the professionals.
Preparing for Print:
1. Hire a professional for the layout. A professional can do the layout, format it for print and work with the print company to provide a file that works.
2. Professionals understand page layouts, correct page numbers, chapter headings, headers and footers, table of contents, index, and more. If you have ever tried using Word to set margins or format, you understand what a pain this can be, not only for you, also for the printer.
3. Different printers may require different file types. Hire someone that can work with the printer (this includes CreateSpace) to provide the right type of file for your project.
4. Fonts may not always match. The fancy little font you used in parts of your book may not always be compatible and would need to be substituted. This may throw of the format and the layout of the book.
5. Images, graphics, photographs - all create their own unique complications. You need someone well-versed in working with these specific file types. Preparing them for print requires another skill set best left to the professionals. You can’t just place an image and that’s it, there is print resolution, size, placement and more to consider.
Ebooks create their own set of problems and frustrations. Author friends may tell you it is so easy to do it yourself, just upload your Word document and it will be fine, but it is not always fine. Creating an ebook that is pleasing and easy on the reader is both challenging and critical. Good enough is not always good enough.
For you DIYs, more power to you. For those that just want to write - there are companies who specialize in services, they work with you to help create your MASTERPIECE.
Do It Yourself vs Hire A Pro! Frustration vs Peace of Mind! Either way, do what is best for your story, and for your readers.
You can't do it all, so why try. A writer's job is to - WRITE! And to market their writing. So, why try to do it all? Why try to learn to be an editor? Why try to learn how to format for all of the different types of self-publishing venues? Why design your own cover?
That's the problem, especially with new writers, they think they can just figure it out and do it themselves, even if it is just good enough. Traditional publishers use to do all of this for authors - they did the editing, the formatting, the cover, but now it's up to the Indie Authors to do it all, but where and how to start?
For some, the different stages of a book may come easy, for others they struggle and it takes time away from what they need to do - WRITE! Then there are the handful that think - THIS IS GOOD ENOUGH! Instead of writing, authors now spend hours, or days, doing everything the publisher use to do. But at what cost? Time? Money? Poor Quality?
Small businesses learned this lesson a long time ago - DELEGATE! There is a reason small business owners do not do everything. When you try to do it all the business suffers. The products, or the service, becomes sub-standard, the business owner suffers from major burn-out and the customers leave that business with a sour taste in their mouth. But when they DELEGATE, hire others to do what they don't know how to do, or don't have the time to do, the business grows and expands. The owner spends time doing what they love to do and what they were meant to do. Everyone is happy!
Bottom Line - DON'T DO IT ALL. Hire the professionals to do it. What you will have is a finished product/book that you can be proud of. A book that will be enjoyed by your readers. Other small businesses will thrive because you hired them to do what they do best. This will leave you more time to WRITE and to market. This is where your true success will come from.
ACP - The setting in a book is sometimes just as important of a character as the characters themselves. If I were a setting, what would I look like?
The Magic Garden
by Terry Persun
Leave it to Karla to come up with some of the most interesting questions. So, I sit and ponder the question from my small office separated from my house by a dozen or so steps. It looks onto a courtyard. The sun this morning shines through a smattering of disinterested clouds, across the water, the town, and onto the posts of the porch. The cat is perched in its cat bed, eyes closed, soaking up the morning warmth.
I close my eyes as well. I often do that while writing, which is like meditation to me, it’s like prayer. It’s the greatest connection to the universe that I have during the day, and I love the feeling like I love nature. I am myself in this state…and no one can touch me.
I think of this as a magic garden: anything can grow here, anything can appear, animals speak, trees and flowers move, everything is fluid, everything possible. When I am a setting, I am that magic garden. Inside me, you might find your own animal totem, you might shape shift like those in my novel “Doublesight”, or you might invent something inside a small laboratory like in “Revision 7: DNA”.
The truth is, I don’t make this stuff up. It appears to me like magic. All I do is open up to it, allow it to come through. I am often more amazed than anyone when a novel pushes through my psyche and onto the page. At that moment I have become the fertile garden it needs. The weather is perfect for the moment, whether raining, like in a recent novel I wrote, or barren and desert-like, similar to a sci-fi novel that’s going through production at the publisher’s.
If I think of myself as a setting, I think of that fluidness of growth, the fragrance of honeysuckle or lilac, the taste of rain on my tongue or metal from a gun barrel, the feel of a lover or a punch to the jaw. Could I go on? Of course, and each image, sound, smell that comes to me also comes with a character, an idea for a book. When I am at my most open, anything can come through the garden of me—and often does.
Look, the sky is gathering its cloak around the moon. A murder of crows leave the comfort of branches and travel across the light from the last glimmers of day, behind them the flat and scruffy terrain of a swamp. Something resides in that swamp, something beautiful and horrible, I’m going in after it.
Terry Persun writes in many genres, including historical fiction, mainstream, literary, and science fiction/fantasy. His novel, “Cathedral of Dreams” is a ForeWord magazine Book of the Year finalist in the science fiction category. His novel “Sweet Song” just won a Silver IPPY Award, too. His latest sci-fi thriller is, “Revision 7: DNA”, and his first fantasy novel just came out. “Doublesight” can be found online. Terry’s website is: www.TerryPersun.com or you can find him on Amazon.
by author, Barbara Bickmore
I have often said that if I weren’t paid so well, people would put me in a looney bin, an insane asylum.
I don’t think like you do. Or anyone else I know.
I live in a world of make believe. No one in the entire universe lives in that space I inhabit, except me. No one else in the world knows the people who dwell there with me.
I live in my mind. That world I live in is more real to me than the real world.
When you were a little kid did you hear of someone who was ridiculed because she had make believe friends? I’m a big girl (and I seem to get bigger with each passing year), and I have a multitude of make believe friends. While I live with them I am quite obsessed with them. I stalk them. I crawl into their minds and think like they would think, though often they surprise me. I mean shouldn’t I control them if the only place they live is in my head? But I don’t. I have heard other authors say the same thing. Instead of my telling the characters what to do they quite often surprise me and do things I hadn’t expected. Sounds silly, doesn’t it, that figments of my imagination should control me.
When I was writing my first novel I sat down at my computer one day and stared at it. I sort of knew where I was going but looked at that blank screen and was slightly panicked to realize it was a reflection of my mind. I hadn’t a clue what to paint on that screen. And then, from nowhere, I wrote, without even thinking, “Anoka came out of the jungle.”
Where did that name come from? Who was he? Why had he suddenly appeared? I sat there amazed. I had, and have, no idea at all where he came from. He was not premeditated. I had no idea where to fit him into my already planned book. But now that he was there, alive on that page, I felt he would lead me to some place. And he did. Though he did not become a secondary character, he became what I shall call a tertiary character, and became important to me and to the others in the book. How did he arrive?
In my second book, The Moon Below, in my outline and about two thirds of the way through the book my heroine was going to end up with a doctor, whom she had loved for years. He was not her husband. Her husband had left her, to try to sell wool in England, half the world away and was gone for five years. I loved that doctor. But my heavens, after the husband returned from England he did unexpected things that made me start to fall in love with him. Well, if I was falling in love with him, my heroine had to too. What to do about the doctor? None of this confusion had been in my mind as I started the book. How the hell, I mean what on earth, made me start falling in love with the husband and thus upsetting the last third of the book.
I had to mentally rewrite my outline (the original was on the desk of my publisher in New York City). The book ended up being not at all what I set out to write.
In my next book about China, I was two thirds of the way through it when friends, a couple in my new town of Ajijic, Mexico, and a friend visiting from California, and I went to the coast for four days in December of 1990, my first Mexican Christmas. Bill, of the couple, had heard me griping that I had writer’s block, I couldn’t figure how to go on. So one night as we sat out on the balcony in the balmy evening air he said, “Okay, tell me the story so far.” I said no, I couldn’t do that. It was involved and no one could help me anyhow. He said, “Try me. We have nothing else to do.” So in about 20 minutes I caught them up to date. He said, “Oh, easy. She’s a dove. Doesn’t believe in killing for any reason. So you have to have her kill someone.
“Next, the bandit kidnaps her from a train in the first third of the book. He does not think women have very good minds and they are below him and he would certainly never give his life for a woman. Well, what you have to do at the end is have him rescue her from a train so it’s full circle and he dies trying to save her, giving his life for a woman.”
I stared at him. How had he done that so easily? How could I put his words into a complex plot? Right after Christmas I followed all his suggestions and it was, again, not the book I started out to write, but far better.
It takes months, sometimes as many as 9 months (like actually giving birth) for my characters to gradually come to life. It’s odd how often the color of their eyes change. On page 9 they have blue eyes and on page 311 they have brown ones. It’s like pulling teeth and sometimes the agony connected with that to fully realize a character. Then, by golly, she goes off and does something so unexpected I sit and think, okay, now that’s she’s done that I’ll have to change the entire direction she’s going. And the story I thought I was telling suddenly veers away to a new direction I hadn’t planned.
Years ago I read Shirley MacLaine’s Out on a Limb. She’s written several autobiographical books. I like Shirley, but when it came to channeling, I thought, “Oh, Shirley, come off it.” She claimed that in Peru, high in the Andes, something or someone from the past channeled ideas through her that were relevant to her life or maybe our lives. It happened again when she was visiting Sweden. I thought she was a bit off, somewhat quirky I thought, perhaps too kindly.
But, my goodness, there I was channeling. I found myself sitting at my desk in Ajijic, Mexico, and I knew I was writing, but I was in a trance. I was in Shanghai, not a place to which I’d actually been, but I saw it and described it and felt that I was watching a little TV screen and simply writing down what I saw and heard. When I finished the chapter I sat back and sighed with satisfaction. Then I looked around and realized I was in my bedroom in Ajijic. I was not in the China I had been to but moments before.
I went and got some iced tea and came back and printed out what I’d written and took it and the tea out on the porch to read. I shook my head. I had not written that. Who had? Of course I’m sane enough to know that I really had written it, I had hit the keys and put the letters on the screen, printed it on the paper I had just read, but I swear I had not written it. And then I understood Shirley. I had been channeled. I simply do not know where it came from.
That has happened to me time and again. Sometimes I have to force the writing. Sometimes I have to drag the characters onto the page, force them to do the things I have planned for them. But often, at least half the time, I sit in trances, for I see and hear my characters talk and think and move. They are as real to me as....well, more real to me than real really is.
The main character is heroic, she grows to noble heights. She has great lovers, men who really and truly love her and who also happen to be great, inventive lovers, who take her to great heights, both physically and emotionally. Note I say lovers. I always have two and often three in a book. They are men as I’d like them to be. They are men I wished I’d had.
I go to countries where I want to spend time. Except for one book they have been warm countries because I want to spend the nine to twelve months it takes me to write a book in warm climates. And when I write about those countries I am there. I do not pretend that I am there. I am.
However, I am fickle. When I am through with the characters I discard them, quite completely. Can’t even remember their names a few years later, don’t recognize them even if someone mentions them. I have gone on to a new love affair and there’s nothing much deader than a dead love affair (if you are the one who has said goodbye, that is).
Visit Barbara's Website
Is it the writing or the story that sells? It should be both.
The other day I was having a discussion with a friend, and client, who is a well-known and long-time published author. We were discussing Fifty Shades of Grey. She had heard, like so many, that the writing wasn’t that good. I am not one to judge if the writing is bad or not, my own writing always needs help. My answer was - it wasn’t the writing that captures you it was the story, the characters, how it draws you in and how it makes you feel. The same thing happened with Twilight by Stephanie Meyers. The writing experts judged her on her writing, but it was the story, her ability to tell it and how she drew you into it that sold it.
Both of these are examples of how important the story is. I personally don’t like a lot of the classic literature stories. The writing might be perfect but the stories just don’t grab me. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the writing is not important. I am saying that if you are not that good of a writer but have a story to tell - don’t let that stop you.
I am avid reader and I have always wanted to write, but I am not a good writer technically. With the encouragement of my author friend, a teacher and my writing group, I have started my first story. The best advice I was given was just write, get the story out, we can always fix the writing later. This allowed me the freedom to just let the story unfold, to not get hung up on the writing.
Today’s Indie publishing opens up doors for people like me, doors that would have otherwise been closed. It also opens up doors for poor writing and even poorer stories, but who are we to judge someone might like them. Many of us would love to be the next big author, but most of us would just love to tell our stories and have someone read them.
A snipped from my upcoming story - LOST SOULS (this is a rough draft, so remember don't judge the writing).
When she reaches the bottom step, she stops to catch her breath. “Damn, I must be gettin’ out of shape if I can’t keep up with a pesky child anymore.”
Giving herself a moment to calm herself she closes her eyes, waiting for her senses to detect Hanna’s emotions. There is a slight feeling of anger and pouting annoyance emanating from the back of the house. Carefully, Louisiana works her way in that direction. Rounding a corner, she bumps into a solid wall of muscles; a manly fragrance wafts by, causing a temporary memory of longing. Just as suddenly she’s encased in a bear hug, wrapped in strong Thor-like arms.
Craning her neck, she looses herself into the most beautiful golden eyes she has ever seen. Entranced, she almost didn’t hear him drawl, “Well, hello darlin’. You were the last thing I was expecting to catch today.”
Stiffening, with a hint of annoyance, she yanks herself out of the lulling security of his arms and backs away. “Who the hell are you? And just what are you doin’ here on private property?” she demands. As an afterthought, she adds, “And I am not yours to catch.” Crossing her arms she glares at him with a piercing scowl.
Tilting his head slightly, he gives her a smile that would charm the devil. “I could ask you the same thing?”
“You could, but I asked first.”
A snippet from the upcoming children's books, THE CASE OF THE LOST CHEDDAR.
Mr. Cheeze squealed in fright. "Oh dear, it's missing," he said.
"What's missing?" Simon asked.
"The Golden Cheddar," Mr. Cheeze answered.
"When my elderly mother Esther arrived at my house with a large cardboard box full of letters and documents, I was motivated to write her life story.."
Visit Wilma's blog to read more.
During the Spring of 1929, a terrible accident changes the life course of Esther Clark, a young teacher in rural Indiana. Hearing a scream, she races out the schoolhouse door, finding six-year-old Willie writhing on the ground, holding his bloody eye. A whirlwind of events carries the unwilling and skeptical Esther through revival meetings by a charismatic traveling evangelist and dumps her in despair when the school board unexpectedly fires her. What's more, her mother shames her into an unlikely marriage that propels her on a cross-country journey which challenges her faith, explores the hardships of poverty and loneliness, and ultimately provides testament to the perseverance of the human spirit
To purchase visit Wilma's website/blog.
Also now available as an ebook.
The Author in all of us
There is a story inside. One that needs out and to be read by others. It's there and now it's time for it to flow from author to the reader. Join us as we celebrate Indie authors.