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Posts Tagged ‘self-publishing’

It’s been a tough week for us all, one way or another, and one reason is that it is now obvious that all this . . . [gestures to everything] . . . is not going to end any time soon. In addition, I took my own advice and spent much of the week listening and learning from diverse voices. I’ve been rethinking and reevaluating many long-standing notions of society and America. You might have been doing likewise, and like me, you may have found it both depressing and exhausting.

But this post isn’t about any of that.

This post is about how I’ve been taking a moment here and there to brighten these dark days with a really, really bad book.

After sharing what I previously described as “the worst piece of professionally published fiction I have ever read,” a friend loaned me a book he felt was even worse.

And boy-oh-boy was he right.

It’s a self-published work, so my stance on “Man-Gods From Beyond the Stars” remains unchanged, but while “self-published” is by no means a synonym for “crap,”—I’ve self-published a few works, myself—there is a lot of the latter contained within the former. A whole lot.

And this book, well, it is utter crap.

And it is also absolutely adorable.

Seriously, it’s just adorable. From the mistake in the dedication straight through to the formatting error on the last line, it is chock-a-block with typos, malaprops, misused homophones, and errors of grammar and punctuation. Stylistically, it’s a hot mess. Unwieldy character names abound, used in every line of dialogue and the attached, adverbially enhanced avoidance of the word “said” (e.g., “Not to worry, Gondranth. I’m a trained professional,” stated Ik’nolt greedily). It has (dis)continuity issues that make you flinch and wonder if you’ve just had a minor stroke. And there is So. Much. Telling.

But here’s the thing: it’s just so earnest, so fervent, and so . . . enthusiastic . . . that it’s impossible not to cock your head to the side and say, “Awwww, how sweet.”

I won’t mention the author or title or even the genre here, because my point is not to humiliate the pen that created this trashy treasure. This book is an obvious labor of love, a gift to friends and family, and the author isn’t trying to be famous or “strike it rich” as a bestselling novelist, and isn’t complaining about the heartlessness of the publishing industry. This author just wanted to write a book, an homage to their favorite genre, and share it with others, and I will not make them feel bad about that.

I haven’t, and I won’t read the book in its entirety—frankly, I’m not sure that’s possible—but when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by [again, gestures to everything], I will pick it up, open it to a random page, and chuckle at such fervid prose so inexpertly crafted.

We should all be that passionate about something. I’m glad this author found their dream and congratulate them on achieving the goal.

k

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The 2000-oughts and -teens have been a Spartan period, where society repeatedly pared and trimmed and shaved away at norms, ushering out elements deemed unnecessary in favor of brutal efficiencies and ever-more-draconian austerity plans.

I am, of course, speaking of typography. (more…)

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Two weeks ago, I tried an experiment.

As some of you know, in addition to this blog I have a Facebook page for my writing, which feeds through to my Twitter account. (I don’t like Twitter, but I’m not convinced it’s useless.) Posts here also go to my LinkedIn profile, to Google+, and to Tumblr.

I don’t have too many readers here—hundreds, but not thousands—and membership on my Facebook page is . . . modest, if you catch my drift . . . but I figured that this situation was the perfect foundation for a small experiment.

In short, I ran an ad. (more…)

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Dragons AheadThe 14th century was a seriously bad time marked by The Black Death and The Hundred Years’ War. After the plague, to combat the wage inflation caused by there being 30-50% fewer folks standing around, the nobility said, “Sure, I’ll pay you twice what I used to pay you,” and then they turned around and devalued the coins they used. Thus, even though you were now paid 6 sous each day, with their value cut in half they’d only buy you 3 sous worth of goods. Complain as you might, you were powerless to change it.

Amazon is like that. No, not like the Black Death. Like medieval nobility. (Though you could make an argument for the Black Death, too.)

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It's a Trap!To be honest, I started this blog because I want your money. That’s not the only reason, but it’s definitely in the mix.

As a writer, I want people (i.e., you) to read my books. I’ve worked hard writing them, I’m proud of them, and I want folks to read them and enjoy them. I think my books are worth something, though, so I (generally) don’t give them away for free, which means readers must part with some of their money.

Ergo, I want your money. (more…)

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ND Author Services

Since the day Gutenberg pulled the first sheet off his press, we’ve been told “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and for just about as long, we’ve done precisely that. It isn’t fair, but we do judge books by their cover and now, with the Big-Bang-like expansion of the self-published sub-industry, we probably do it even more.

For self-published authors, cover art is a morass of high cost and low quality. If you’re lucky enough to be an expert photo-manipulator, you may be able to create a decent cover, but even so, the costs of stock images and the complexity of rights and royalty limitations can be daunting.

I’ve created covers for some of my own titles. I’ve negotiated with photographers, fussed with fonts, and tried to apply the wisdom I’ve gleaned from those who do it for a living. I’ve had varying levels of success (the art for Unraveling Time and Cryptogenesis are probably my best), but I’ve never truly been satisfied. Still, whenever I’ve looked into contracting a graphic artist to create a cover, the prices have been out of my range, especially for shorter works which don’t have as high an earnings potential.

Enter ND Author Services.

ND Author Services (NDAS) is the publishing arm of the Hendee writing empire. The Hendees, Barb and J.C., are the authors of the best-selling Noble Dead Saga and other great series, and I’ve sent you over to NDAS before, to learn from some of their excellent articles on the business side of writing.

What most people don’t know is that J.C. Hendee is the talent behind most of their short-form covers. While all their long-form work is published by major houses, they self-publish all their shorter tie-in works, and J.C. crafts the covers. A while ago, I had the opportunity to look over J.C.’s shoulder and study how he builds layer upon layer of graphic elements to create his unquestionably high-quality covers. At the time, I could only dream of having cover art that good.

Now, however, we can all benefit from J.C.’s graphical talents, and you won’t believe how affordable it is.

NDAS began offering “pre-made” covers last year, and they now have an impressive gallery of artwork available for licensing. There are dozens and dozens of high-quality cover art on display, all organized into genre-specific categories. Select the artwork you want, and NDAS will customize it for your title, name, and other specifics. Then they’ll reserve that artwork for a year, so other authors can’t use the same piece.

You can license the work for e-book, print, or both, and here’s the kicker: the price for these is $30, $75, and $85, respectively.

Yes. You can get quality cover art for your electronic and printed book, both for only $85.

I know I sound like a shill, but anyone who has looked into hiring a cover artist knows that this is an incredibly low price, especially if you consider the quality of the work. I’ve paid more than that just to get the rights to a single photo to use in my covers.

Don’t see that perfect fit your title? No worries. NDAS offers services to create custom cover work, as well.

Trust me on this: if you are part of the self-publishing world, you really need to check this out. It may very well be the only cover art resource you need.

k

Typewriter

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Recently, Roger Sutton (editor-in-chief of The Horn Book, a magazine that reviews children’s and YA books), declared in an open letter to self-published authors his reasons for not reviewing self-published books. The next day, Ron Charles (editor of The Washington Post’s Book World) picked up Sutton’s commentary for an article and interview, adding his own two cents of support at the end. Other editors and reviewers chimed in, echoing the comments and sentiments of both.

A few hours later, the self-publishing universe achieved critical mass and exploded.

Unfortunately, most folks involved in that explosion didn’t bother to read Sutton’s letter or the WP article. They just heard that their books had been interdicted, and that was enough send them into orbit.

Which illustrates a huge part of the problem: Self-published authors don’t understand the industry.

(more…)

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