Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Do You Commit These Deadly Sins of Self-Editing?

7 deadly sins of self-editing
This was too good not to share -- and appropriately themed for Lent! Janice Gable Bashman & Kathryn Craft, on the Writers Digest web site, analyze the Seven Deadly Sins of Self-Editing, describing not only the "sin" but also prescribing the salutary "penance" to overcome it.

They seem to understand not only writers but human nature, saying:
We’re most likely to sin when we’re at our most vulnerable—and for creative writers, there may be no more vulnerable time than the delicate (and often excruciating) process of editing our own work. Sidestep these too-common traps, and keep your story’s soul pure.
What are  your besetting sins as you seek feedback and revise? Perhaps you tend toward sloth:
The lazy scribe is one who’s failed to develop and utilize all her natural talents. To draft a story—and then stop there—is to ignore the very nature of literature, which constructs meaning through the deft layering of craft elements. If you find yourself bucking that notion, you may be guilty of sloth.
If you hate having your work critiqued, you may fall into the sin of wrath:
The editing process can inspire uncontrolled feelings of rage in a writer. It’s difficult to discover or to hear from a trusted reader that you might not yet have fully developed your work—but it’s also an important step in growing your organic talent.
Read the article to learn what "penances" the authors prescribe for these and the other 7 deadly sins of self-editing.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Writers Beware! Electronic Vanity Presses

Beware electronic publisher scams
In the last few days, I have noticed a lot of chatter about new imprints of major publishers for electronically published books (ebooks), which target new authors specifically. It appears that these new electronic-only imprints are little more than vanity publishers for ebooks, luring in writers thrilled by the idea of having major publishers such as Random House and Little & Brown publish their work.

A vanity press is one that caters to the writer's desire to get published at all costs. They take (almost) all comers, with no editorial screening of submissions -- undoubtedly, one of the things that contribute to their appeal. Typically, their services are limited to getting your book laid out, typeset, and printed -- which you pay for. If you want the services of an editor, you pay extra. If you want cover design, you may have to pay extra for that, too. They do not pay you any royalty; they do not market your book; they do not distribute the book; they may not even warehouse your inventory (hope your garage is empty, because you'll need some storage space). The vanity press is just that -- a press, not a publisher.

Now, with ebooks there is no press -- no paper, no ink, no bindery required, no warehouse needed to store printed copies, because there are no printed copies. How on Earth, then, can an electronic vanity press justify its existence? Only by offering big-name recognition in the inventories of online retailers, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And yet they still want your money.

This post from the Savvy Writers & eBooks Online blog explains what is wrong with these new ebook publishing ventures:
Now it seems that reputable, traditional publishers step into the foot prints of these “vanity publishers” and go into the business of deceiving authors.  Many jumped on the bandwagon of the success of e-books and created imprints for digital books, such as “Hydra” [science fiction], “Flirt” [romance] or “Alibi” [mystery and suspense] an imprint of Random House, or “Blackfriars” an imprint of Little & Brown in the UK.
These new digital imprints became the subject of controversy recently since John Scalzi, president of Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA), carried on a public debate with representatives of Random House's new Hydra division, which publishes science fiction ebooks (Random House has also started arms for books in other popular genres). Writers are not eligible to join SFWA, a prestigious organization of science fiction authors, unless they have published at least one title with a "legitimate" publisher -- one that pays advances on royalties from the sales it expects to generate from an author's work. Scalzi has stated that SFWA will not recognize these new electronic publishing arms of Random House as "legitimate" publishers, chiefly because they will not pay royalties, and also because the contracts they offer are massively disadvantageous for the author.

This article on io9.com summarizes Scalzi's objections:
1) They don't pay an advance, which is usually pretty standard, even for most smaller publishers
2) They charge the writer up-front for all sorts of costs that the publisher normally pays for, including editing, sales and marketing, cover art, publicity and so on -- which can pile up, and which are quite possibly whatever Random House says they are.
3) Random House takes the license to your book for the full term of copyright, and the clause allowing you to regain the right to your book after it goes out of print is really problematic.
All in all, this adds up to a situation where authors might never see any money from Random House, and meanwhile they never get to own their own work.
By comparison, ebook publishing services such as Book Baby and Book Tango, which help you self-publish your book for a reasonable fee, look quite inviting. Such services help you with formatting, publishing, and listing your book with major online booksellers, and also offer optional paid assistance with editing, cover design, and other tasks that you may wish to contract out. And unlike the new Random House ventures, they do not command the lion's share of your profits on book sales. Even so, make sure you know exactly what you'll be getting, or giving, if you decide to use such a service.

Writers looking forward to publishing their work should become acquainted with the Preditors & Editors website, which offers a wealth of information on publishers and publishing services. The publishing world is suffering a lot of upheaval these days, and the business end of writing is more complicated than ever. Make sure you educate yourself so that you understand all of your options before you decide how, and where, to publish your book. There are some wonderful opportunities that didn't exist a decade ago, but there are also plenty of pitfalls to be avoided. Writers, beware.

A Freebie to Help You Market Your Book

Author Marketing Club Badge
I just discovered a new web site, the Author Marketing Club, that may be of interest to any writer (especially self-published writers) who manages to finish writing a book and needs to think about marketing. I have only just discovered it, so I can't testify to its usefulness or effectiveness, but so far I'm impressed.

Let's face it, for many of us, having to think about marketing makes us want to do almost anything else -- write another book, take a nap, flee. What makes a good writer is not the same thing as what makes a good publicist, so we need all the help we can get. The Author Marketing Club (AMC) offers lots of help.

This web site is apparently still quite new, but it seems to offer lots of good free (and low-cost) help to making sure your book is well-packaged and well-known. Essentially, they offer a network of freelance editors, cover designers, links to resources, and even free resources on the site, such as video tutorials on book marketing and helpful ebooks you can download for free. I just downloaded two nice freebies:   The Ultimate Digital Book Promotion Handbook: The Author’s Guide To Finding Places To Promote Your Book Online, and The Write Word’s Easy Editing and Spiffy Style Guide. I would include download links for those, but they are available only to club members. However, membership is free, so anyone who would like the free books can get a free membership first. A very nice freebie is their offer of a free book landing page, along with discounted hosting if you need it.

AMC also offers a tool for getting the word out when you run a free promotion on your Amazon ebook -- allowing you easily to submit your freebie to a number of sites that list free Kindle books, such as Pixel of Ink and The eReader Cafe. While some of what the Author Book Club offers seems geared toward ebook publishers, most of the resources will serve as well, regardless of the medium in which the book will be published, such as networking with other writers, finding guest-blogger opportunities, and ways to get your book featured on their site, simply by writing a blog post or posting an AMC badge on your blog or website.

I'm planning to test out some of the club's offerings, using the ebooklet I've already published as a test balloon while I learn book marketing techniques, and I'll let you know how it goes. If anyone knows of any other nifty resources for marketing books, please leave a comment.

By the way, I learned about the existence of the Author Marketing Club from a mention in Steve May's Kindle book, You Too Can Moonlight As An Amazon Bestseller (Beginner's Guide to Publishing on Amazon),
which I snagged when it was being offered for free (it's now $2.99). 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fab Friday! Another meeting March 8

join us
The next meeting of the D/FW Catholic Writers Group will be held Friday, March 8, 11:30 a.m. to 1-ish. Our Friday meetings are held at Half-Price Books, 5803 E. Northwest Highway near Central Expressway in Dallas.
Click here for a map and directions.
Bring something to share about your writing that you would like feedback on.
Look for our group in or near the Community Room at the far left back corner (just past the Hollywood Lights). Feel free to bring your lunch or pick something up at in-house café.