Archive for self publishing

Polish Before You Publish

The time has finally come. You’ve just typed “The End”, and now your great masterpiece of a novel is finished. Time to upload that sucker onto Amazon and hit the publish button. You’re on your way to becoming a literary legend!

Whoa there, Next Greatest Living Author Ever. Get your cursor off that publish button. I hate to tell you this, but you’re not even close to being finished. There are three more steps that you absolutely must take before you hit the publish button. These steps are crucial to insuring that your book is a quality product that readers are going to want to buy. Not taking these steps is the equivalent of giving birth, then leaving that newborn on your front steps and shouting “All right, go out there and make your parents proud!”. You wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing to a baby; why would you do that to your book? Your book that you slaved over, that you poured your heart into for days, weeks, maybe even years. Your words deserve so much more than that, so take the time to polish before you publish. Read more

A Reason to Write: Revisited

Another article from our series of self-publishing blog posts, written by SIP Head Honcho and resident Author, Jay Norry.

I’ll start off by saying that I am the first to admit that I can be a bit wordy at times. I though of writing more when I wrote the blog I am revisiting, but I wanted to keep the length reasonable. I didn’t call it part one and part two because it’s not a two-parter; it’s a revisitation. It’s a different way of looking at the reason that I have for writing.

One of my favorite parts of my favorite books have always been the author’s notes. A peek behind the curtain at what the writer was thinking or doing while writing the story, or the way parallels and connections start to happen in real life to echo the tale’s voice, have always been interesting additions to the stories I have loved. I don’t do much in the way of author’s notes in my books because I blog in two places, keeping the curtain constantly in motion for anyone interested in what I am up to.

The main reason I wanted to revisit this subject is because I don’t just write. I write a particular way, with a particular bent and a particular purpose. Of course, any writer could say that; but those particulars would be different for them, and thus their reasons for writing are different as well. I don’t just write because I feel like I have ways of saying things that I wish someone had said to me that way before; I don’t just write because when I close my eyes I see scores of untold tales that each fascinates and compels me in its own way; I don’t just write because it’s where it’s easiest to lose myself, and to find myself: I write for all of these reasons, and more. Yet I am more apt to refer to myself as a philosopher than an author, and I think that the biggest reason I write is to think things through.

Much of what I write is just for me. There are some journals that I have written that I am sharing bit by bit on my blog, along with updated commentary, that once fell into that category. The rest of the ridiculous number of pages I have filled consist of writing exercises from books or devised by me to make me happier or healthier or better at life, notes about things I’ve learned or felt or seen or done and chicken-scratch descriptions of things I’ve built or am building or will build one day in some world.

Even the things I write to share in publication or online are built on a foundation of notes and outlining and rewriting and editing that is all hidden work. What do you do with the stacks of pages that made a publication possible? I don’t know, but I can’t muster up the courage to toss them or burn them just yet. I guess it seems strange to me to think that a structure could still stand long after its foundation has been destroyed.

That’s a perspective that is long cultivated. When I looked at writers and philosophers as models for a way of life, I found that those who could marry the practical to the mystical without neglecting either one were my favorites. I’m not a huge self-sufficiency nut or anything, but the practical philosopher in me sees the importance of learning as much as possible about the world around me. Whether it’s auto mechanics or gardening or connecting low voltage DC power (or high voltage AC), I find the unbreakable laws of physics as fascinating as the amorphous rules of philosophy. I also find that my interest in one is intimately tied in with my interest in the other, and I make sure my mind is asking why a thing works as often as how between blessed moments of stillness.

I’m really just getting started with my writing in many ways, with only two very different books published. Working a day job that demands my attention and dedication as much as my writing does has both helped and hindered my writing. It has helped to work with deadlines and scheduling, seeing the big picture and at the same time making sure the details are handled properly. It has hindered it simply in that writing takes time, editing takes time, and all my maintenance writing needs to keep happening throughout it all just to keep the pipes clean.

The value in becoming proficient in fields unrelated to your chosen field of study is evident to anyone who had done it. For a writer, it’s a necessity. For a practical philosopher, it’s a requirement. Nothing bores me more than a story about a main character who happens to be a writer, though it’s fine if the story hinges on it in some way other than that it is the easiest perspective to write from. Telling your readers what it’s like to do some job, even in passing, shows them that you see that there is a world beyond books.

Another cool aspect of doing some real life research are the little surprises you can leave your readers. A bit of specificity here and there about some little-known fact or detail can endear me to an author in itself if they do it right. I know so many goddamned airplane words, after years of reading Richard Bach, I could get by for several minutes talking to a pilot before they realized I’ve never sat in a cockpit. Yet imagine a pilot picking up one of his books for the first time; he knows Mister Bach is authentic even sooner than other readers. They call little surprises in video games Easter Eggs, so that’s what I call these hard-won passing details.

One of the best reasons to publish is to make enough money writing on evenings and weekends and vacations to write full-time. Fact is, research and writing and editing all take a tremendous amount of time, and that extra forty hours a week means more books. I hardly see a complete end to day jobs in my life, however, and I’ll tell you why. Jobs are a great way to learn new things and meet new people; they give the writer or philosopher or just the person interested in life and fascinated by people opportunity to explore a facet otherwise hidden away from them.

A book might be an escape for your reader; it can’t just be fantasy for the writer. If the writer doesn’t bring their whole being to bear on a book, it shows. I write the way that I would want my favorite stories to be written, and I write the stories most willing and able to win me over. I can’t do anything else and still feel authentic in my art, which is a rare word for me to use. My favorite definition of art is that it’s the product created by someone who has something to say that has found an entertaining way to say it. The only person who has to love their art is the artist, but it helps to find others who want to own a piece of that work in a way that gives the artist more time to create more art.

The writer does not get to take vacations, and I suspect comics and painters and musicians feel the same. If there’s not some work underway consuming the writer’s thoughts, there’s at least one upcoming project on our minds. Peace only comes after long hard hours that nobody else sees, and it is followed by the new tension of another story that needs to be told more than the writer needs peace. It’s the only full-time job I will always do, because writing is how my mind already works.

A Reason to Write

Another article from our series of self-publishing blog posts, written by SIP Head Honcho and resident Author, Jay Norry.

It may sound a little cheesy, but I don’t care: I think that everyone has something they were born to do. When I was a kid, I looked at cars and said, “That’s freedom. I want one of those.” I had more than one friend that looked at cars and said, “That’s interesting. How does it work?” That baffled my young mind. I didn’t understand then that the mechanics of something could be more interesting to some people than its actual function. It took me even longer to understand that that’s why the world is full of so much cool stuff.

I used to draw a lot. I thought I wanted to draw comic books or graphic novels, until I pictured myself sitting at a desk and doing it for eight or ten or twelve hours a day. I enjoyed drawing, and I still do from time to time; but I knew before I ever got started that it was a hobby level of enjoyment. If I had turned it into a profession, I would hate drawing now.

When I was sixteen, I learned a little guitar. I started singing and writing songs, and I wanted to be a rock star . . . as long as it came easy. Once again, I looked ahead and saw a dream of tomorrow that looked like a nightmare to me: playing the same songs over and over, spending endless hours on a tour bus, and all the local groupies lay the same.

By the time adulthood came around, the only thing I knew for sure about what I wanted to do with my life was that there were a bunch of things I didn’t want to do.

I was not unaware of the clues around me. The things I had tried to draw were often scenes or characters from my favorite fantasy novels. The only thing I felt like doing when band practice was over was reading books. While other band members read guitar magazines or practiced scales or guzzled whisky (it’s on most drummer’s resumes, I assume it’s a requirement), I gobbled up stories about life in some future or past or alternate world.

It wasn’t just the stories that fascinated me; it was the authors, the process that they employed to get these stories from their minds into my hands. I couldn’t read a book without getting some feel for the author and either liking or disliking them for it. Either way, it seemed a daunting task to write a book and somehow manage to get the story straight. Who but a writer would think like that?

Clues were there when I was younger, too. I always considered English an easy grade, and watching others struggle with it was mystifying. I would write an assignment that everyone was given two weeks to work on while riding the bus to school on due day. Other kids were clearly more disciplined and studious and even smarter than me, but they often couldn’t get the grade I could get by dashing something off last minute. Teachers hounded me all through school, telling me I wasn’t living up to my potential. I agreed inasmuch as I understood, though I understood better at the time that none of those people were living up to their potential either. I was much more occupied with being annoyed with public school teachers using me as some distorted mirror they could view themselves through than I was open to the possibility that they might have something worthwhile to teach me.

When I became an adult, the need for cash flow sent me in some delightful and despicable (and despicably delightful) directions. A little while on any treadmill saw me bored and listless, and I saw why: most of the ways in which folks make money working for other people is because what they’re getting paid to do isn’t very fun. (This is where the reluctant leader that I have always become in my day jobs pipes up and says, “That’s why they call it work! Now do some!”)

My inner supervisor is not writing this blog, though even he would agree that working for someone else is a great way to finance making your own dreams come true. If all you’re working for is the chance to sit on the couch and watch television for the better part of most days, you probably won’t work as hard as the person trying to start their own business or fervently pursue a hobby in their off time. That’s not theory, but rather my experience.

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was about twenty-one or twenty-two years old. No, that’s not quite right. Here’s a better way to say it: I finally stopped fighting all the inner and outer voices telling me that I needed to write to be happy when I was about twenty-one. One of the voices in my head had been telling me all along that I didn’t have anything worth writing about. Then a pleasantly overwhelming cascade of love flowed through me for several months, unbidden, and the direction of my life changed forever as that demonic chant was replaced by an angel singing, “You should write about that . . .”

(To read more about my experience, read my first book “Stumbling Backasswards Into the Light”; to read more about the beautifully blessed role of demons and angels in our lives, read my second book “Walking Between Worlds; Book I: Demons & Angels”. I have to at least mention them; I am still working a day job.)

I started writing, journals at first and then my book (see above). I saw something in my first book that would change the way I worked and the way I wrote forever. Namely, the development of a process for learning and practicing a thing is essential to getting good at it; for me, at least. There are levels of skill and knowledge in every facet of every thing that only reveal themselves when I can set aside everything else and lose myself in that thing. In writing my first book, I learned that I needed to work. Furthermore, I needed to work at a job that was as complicated and intricate as writing in its own way, so that I might learn about how the world works and how different perspectives deal with it to better both myself and my writing. I also needed to learn as much about the way other aspects of life worked, so I worked on my own cars when I could and travelled a lot and listened to people talk about the things that fascinated them and bothered them and bored them.

Now I’m writing pretty aggressively. The last few years have been about building and refining a process to self-publish, and with the help of an invaluable teammate we are doing just that. The second book in the “Walking Between Worlds” series is coming along faster than anticipated as this process is further refined, and a part of me that has felt like a caged animal for years is finally running free in the world. I write because it’s what I was born to do. I write because it makes me happy. I write because it’s who I am.

The Outline; Friend or Foe?

The first in our series of self-publishing blog posts comes from SIP Head Honcho and resident Author, Jay Norry.

There was a brief online discussion the other day during which I was asked if I use an outline when I write. I couldn’t be my wordy self at the time, and gave a brief response. Then I got to thinking about it, and I realized it might have helped me to have a little insight into the outline phenomenon before I started writing books. Although I’m not some hugely accomplished writer, self-publishing two books and the better part of a third has seen some real changes in my process. Among them: meeting the outline.

My first book, “Stumbling Backasswards Into the Light”, was never intended to be a complicated story with lots of character development and plot twists. I saw the scenes play out and I wrote them down. It was like watching a movie that I could pause and rewind but not fast forward. I labored over that book way more than I needed to, but an outline would not really have helped much. The book ended up being just what I wanted it to be, a guide for those beginning to ask questions about the nature of life and an engaging reminisce for those who have been asking such questions for a long time.

When I realized it was time to write a story that was going to take three books to tell, my whole process had to change. For one thing, the entire story was right there in front of me; the first three scenes I was treated to were the final scene from each book. That gave me the inspiration to start writing, but I needed way more than inspiration here. I needed some serious organizing power. This thing needs to happen before we find out this about so-and-so, every character has features and mannerisms that must be kept consistent, show don’t tell (but how the hell do you show something like that?!), don’t let your knowledge of what will happen later affect how you describe someone or something now, et cetera, et cetera . . .

Just writing the story in proper order with so many characters was a challenge I hadn’t dealt with before. With my first book, I watched a single screen play out the story before my inner eye. This story was banks of screens everywhere I looked, telling me everything there was to know about everyone involved and everything that had happened, was happening, and was going to happen all at once. It was a delightful confusing internal kaleidoscope.

I write longhand, and the mess of scraps of papers reminding me what to do after this or before that piled up while writing book one of this trilogy. They got me through the longhand first draft and the first few chapters of book two, along with the help of a character cheat sheet that grew to multiple sheets. In the midst of all of this chaos, I made a new friend.

Yes, my new friend is the outline. I have always seen the need to wear a variety of hats whenever a project worth doing presented itself. Every serious endeavor must be planned, engineered, undertaken and then tested for quality and effectiveness.

In life, we must either become a person of many facets or join a team of people to drive a project from: nothing; to idea; to work in progress; to completion. In writing, the author must play all of these roles or fail to fulfill the potential of their own stories. No one has any idea how many great novels have rotted away in someone’s desk drawer, pending a writer’s final edit or awaiting a submission letter that would never be written.

The people or the parts of yourself that constitute your writing team need to have very different personalities. The organizer writes the outline, for me at least. The organizer doesn’t give a damn about swimming about in the creation of an emotional tone. The organizer makes sure the story flows; relevant information and events happen, and at the proper time; and all the facts of the story are kept straight.

When it’s a good, complex story, an outline can give the author’s creative side safe boundaries to work within. Maintaining an active role in the story is not the author’s job or goal, ideally; minimizing the reader’s awareness of that presence is important in putting the story and its characters first. A not-so-complex story would probably benefit from an outline; but if the writer is used to juggling a healthy handful of ideas in their head all at once, it’s not really necessary. I can foresee completing projects without one, certainly.

Many of the books I need to write will need an outline, and my organizer looks forward to writing them. In a completely different way, my creative side looks forward to reading the outline bit by bit as I write the story. Both aspects are important, as is their satisfaction.

At this point, for me, the perfect outline is a simpler telling of the story. Each chapter is given a section on a page in a notebook. A few sentences tell what actions and interactions need to take place in this chapter. Little squares and bubbles fill up the rest of that chapter’s one-third of a page; essential reminders about a character’s mood or features or mindset, or some clever turn of phrase I’ve come up with that I want to remember, or some detail about architecture or room layout that I wouldn’t normally mention but will be relevant later.

The whole story can be laid out with a good outline in a way that motivates the writer’s creative spirit to come out and play. An outline does more than give a writer boundaries; it gives his or her creativity a well-constructed playground. The fences aren’t the important part of a good playground; it’s the swings and the teeter-totter and the climbing bars that matter.

Make sure your playground is a fun place that you want to go, first by picking a story worth writing and then by writing a compelling outline worthy of the tale. I write in pencil, because the outline is allowed to be fluid as the story whispers secrets that I don’t always get to know right away. The playground I create with the outline that I write is a place I will be spending a lot of time playing in, so I make sure it’s a place that I both enjoy while I’m there and that I think about while I’m not. The outline is my bridge between the big picture and the day’s work.

Sudden Insight wants you (for an anthology)!

The Indie Author community is all about support – sharing information, retweeting, cheerleading, giving a helping hand to a new author – that’s why Indies rock! We wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the the authors/designers/editors that took the time to write about their experiences and make tutorials for those who want to learn. The indie author community has helped us so much over the last two years that we’d like to pay it back. But how can we do this? Well, besides writing articles about our experiences (Jay will be blogging about outlines next week), we thought putting together an anthology might be a great idea.

What, an anthology? Yes, an anthology! Even better, an indie author anthology that benefits our favorite charity, the SPCA!

We’re looking for 8-12 indie/self published authors to participate in this project.

GUIDELINES:
The Theme: Tie-ins. This should be a story that ties in to a book or series that you’ve already published. We’d love to see stories that stand on their own, yet still entice the reader to try your series.
Word Count: 2,000 minimum, 10,000 maximum
Writing Style: Be yourself. No guidelines here.
Genre: Fiction. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit, although we’re going to say no to erotica this time around due to the charity we’re raising funds for.

We would love to have the participating authors contribute to the process, beyond just writing a story. We’ll be asking for input on the title, book cover ideas, marketing, etc. You can be involved as little or as much as you’d like. Any publishing costs for the book will be covered by Sudden Insight Publishing. Authors will retain all rights to their work – we’re not doing this to get the rights to your story, we’re doing this to help get your story out there, and to raise some money for charity while we do it.

MORE DETAILS:
Submission Dates: May 20th – July 31st UPDATE: Deadline is now August 31st!
Publication Date: We’re looking at a mid October, early November release date. While this will initially be released as an eBook, we are very open to getting a paperback version out as well, depending on participating author input. Every participating author will receive a free ebook copy of the anthology.
Royalties: All profits from this anthology will go towards ASPCA. Why? Read on…

Ximena

Ximena lounging on Jay’s lap.

Meet Ximena. She spent most of the first 3 years of her life tied to a rope in a backyard somewhere around Los Angeles, sad and alone. She managed to chew herself loose at some point in June of 2014, and once Animal Control caught her the euthanasia clock started ticking. Thankfully, she was picked up by a no-kill shelter before her execution date, and eventually moved to the Santa Cruz SPCA, which is where we met her in November of 2014. She had Jay at hello. We are eternally grateful to the SPCA for saving Ximena’s life, and for giving her a chance at happiness with a forever family. For Ximena, and for every other dog that’s had a second chance, we’d like to thank the SPCA by raising funds with this anthology.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in participating in, or if you have questions or comments, please email Dawn (dawn@suddeninsightpublishing.com). We look forward to your submissions!

IndieReCon 2015 | Alliance of Independent Authors Global Self-Publishing Authors Conference

Indie ReCon 2015 starts this Wednesday! If you’re a self published author, a burgeoning publisher, or just want to know more about self publishing, then you need to attend this Con! Registration is free, and the conference is online. Don’t miss this important event! Click on the link below to register.

IndieReCon 2015 | Alliance of Independent Authors Global Self-Publishing Authors Conference.

Don’t get Scammed on Self-publishing: What are Reasonable Costs?

We’ve been kicking around the idea of writing a series of blog posts about the various costs and possible scams that a self-published author will run into. Today we read a post from Silas Payton that does a great job of going over this subject. Read on, and save yourself from possible monetary heartache in the future…

Don’t get Scammed on Self-publishing: What are Reasonable Costs? | Silas Payton.

Learn how to turn your book into an eBook.

Our journey into self publishing began in late 2013, when the vanity press that Jay used to publish “Stumbling Backasswards Into The Light” informed him that they hadn’t ever done an eBook, and weren’t sure if they could find someone who could. I began researching eBook formatting services on the internet, in an attempt to find someone that could complete what seemed to be a very important task – with such a large amount of eReaders out there, not having his book in digital format was surely hurting sales, right? My search led me to several blog posts and websites about eBook formatting, and within a day I was convinced that we didn’t need to hire someone to format the book for us, we (well, I) could format it ourselves!

The series of blog posts that I’ve linked at the end of this post served me well as I formatted “Stumbling”, and again when it was time to work on “Demons & Angels”. A little HTML knowledge is helpful (basic HTML is a good thing for everyone to learn), but not completely necessary if you follow this guide step-by-step. DO make sure to check your results BEFORE putting your eBook out into the world – you want to be the one to take your eBook for a test drive, not one of your precious and valuable readers!

Our eternal gratitude goes out to Guido Henkel for taking the time to put up these blog posts and share his formatting knowledge!

Take pride in your eBook formatting – Guido Henkel: Guido Henkel.

PubMatch Bookshelf – The London Book Fair

Will your book be on display at the London Book Fair? You have until March 25th to sign up for the Pubmatch Bookshelf. This is a great opportunity to get your book in front of a large audience of readers, publishers, agents and distributers. Well worth the price to register, in our opinion.

PubMatch Bookshelf – The London Book Fair.