ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Friday, 26 July 2013

Frustrated with self-publishing? Shocking facts! Things are starting to look up, starting with Mardibooks. And Michael Di Gesu cover reveal news!

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because I could end up with egg on my face if you detect any mistakes lol! Go on...find one...

Most of us have done it -- picked up free e-books, bought 99c e-books, bought blogger friends' self-pubbed books -- sometimes a worthwhile read, often not. I don't think self-publishing quite works yet, even though it's been around for a long time. Due to market saturation, there is a quest to find REALLY GOOD SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS. How do we work through the maze of books riddled with bad grammar, punctuation, plot holes, unsympathetic characters, and get to the good stuff?

I like to read -- I read over 200 books a year. I review books, but only the ones I can say nice things about.

Shocking fact number one! 
I'm not a big fan of e-books ((claps hands over red face))). Would still prefer to prop a print book onto my knees late into the night and read, Luddite that I am. But e-books on the kindle or phone do have a place in my life -- they are great to fill in any downtime throughout my busy day. But...

Shocking fact number two!
To be cruelly honest, most of the e-books I start, I don't get past Chapter 1. If I do keep reading, I often put it down before the finish as I just lose interest in a shaky plot or bad/no editing or characters I couldn't care less about. Even poor formatting puts me off. I know I'm not alone.

Shocking fact number three!
Our best-selling classic authors throughout history used a truckload of editors. Margaret Mitchell, beloved author of Gone With the Wind re-wrote her Chapter 1 sixty times in longhand, gulp. So...what makes us think we can do it all by ourselves, or with the help of our family or friends who won't like to tell us our story sucks? In self-pub forums you learn a lot about attitude. One beauty was from an author who said she writes her first draft and doesn't have time to waste editing. If an editor buys it, it's their job to fix it. Hmm. Wonder if she has editors knocking at her door? At the very least, I'd like to see a bright badge on e-books I buy which proclaims: "EDITED BY..."

I've discussed this problem with other writers/authors, and many of them share my opinion. The self-published amongst my friends use multiple beta readers, CPs, paid professional editors and book cover gurus. Costs them about $1300 to produce an e-book. Then...the promo begins. 

Not-so-- Shocking fact number four!
Authors hate self-promotion. Readers hate self-promotion.

Self promotion is not loved by anyone, I'm sure, well, maybe by a few. However, how can you sell your book when there are thousands of new books up on Amazon et al each year unless you promote, promote, promote? Even if you're a debut author with a publishing house, you won't get much help with promotion and have to find your own way to tell people it's out there. Sadly, many authors think self-promotion means drowning their followers on social media in countless twitter hashtags about their book, countless facebook blasts, fb 'like me' requests...these just annoy, annoy, annoy when our twitter and facebook feeds contain little else other than author promotions, sometimes running one after another. And most of these authors make it clear it's all about them, nothing reciprocal about it.

I read a great post by Anne R Allen this week who calls this self promo Twitter-Fritter and Facebook-Fail.

Shocking fact number five!
Readers now know we can't trust reviews, so there goes that 'Get 10 Reviews and you'll sell tons of books' good old standby. I, along with most other readers, want to have some excellent e-books recommended to me so I can actually finish them. And if I ever go the self-pub route, I want to do it properly.

And hello, happy fact...I feel a ripple of hope.

IS THIS THE WAY FORWARD FOR SELF-PUBLISHED NOVELISTS?

A forward-looking publisher is Mardibooks. Like regular imprints, it only accepts mss with commercial potential. It does the usual editing and pre-press work and puts up the result on Amazon and Kobo without a fee. It covers its overheads by charging for the production of an e-book or paperback on a cost-plus basis. Mardibook authors then market each others’ work collectively on their own social platforms. Whereas familiar services like Lulu and CreateSpace deal with authors one-to-one, Mardibooks claims to create a ‘cross marketing’ platform: one to many.
I like the sound of this. Is this a viable model for a global collective of the future?
Then there's self-publishers' review sites. They review and endorse selected books.
B.R.A.G. Medallion looks good.
Compulsion Reads also has possibilities
Nash Black for mystery and ghost tales has an awesome website

There's always Indie sites out there, polishing their swords, ready for a good fight. Here's one I follow...

Indies Unlimited Direct from their website: 'We are at the beginning of a technological revolution in how books are written, published, marketed, purchased, and read. This site is dedicated to the independent authors, publishers, reviewers and readers who are on the cutting edge of that technological revolution.' At this stage, I am pretty impressed with what I've seen on this well-set up site.
These are just some I have discovered. There must be many more. I am yet to test their reviews, but maybe some of you have already. If so, tell us about it.

I am indebted to Write to Done for the inspiration and some information in this post. Go here to read the full post.

***
We all know what a crucial marketing tool is the cover!!! What a lot of work needs to go into this to create that most important first impression.

And here is the BEST news! Beloved blogger, the gym-honed Michael Di Gesu, has illustrated a cover for Siv Maria Ottem. They will reveal this wonderful work of art on Monday July 29. I'm a town crier ringing the bell - 'Don't miss this!'

I loved Michael's cover reveals during the A-Z. They were INSANE to use one of his favourite words! I'm not going to try to emulate his talent here. 

So, lucky Siv. Her book is due for publication in October. Swing by both Michael's and Siv's blogs on Monday and give them the old ooh aah!
I just hope, selfishly, that this won't result in an explosion of cover requests for Michael. That would mean Michael would have less time to swap biscotti recipes with me, swap manuscripts, swap travel stories, swap positive mantras for future publication...what a hell that would be for me!! But, on second thoughts, go for it, send Michael your requests for a cover and fall into line.
  • What is your e-book experience as a reader or an author?
  • Would you value a site where you could make a selection of great e-books, well edited?
  • Can you add to my list of potential sites to de-clutter the e-book universe?
  • Don't forget to visit Michael and Siv on Monday.









54 comments:

  1. Not everyone's a fan of ebooks. They ARE kind of annoying, plus it's hard to tell if you have a good one or a stinker. You have to find someone who's a trustworthy reviewer. I think a self-publish review site is a good idea. One where I could see the best would be awesome as long as it doesn't turn out they're there because of fake reviews or something.

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  2. Excellent article Denise, I agree Amazon reviews are questionable, especially now that authors are purchasing reviews. Goodreads seems a little better. I checked that publisher's site, looks pretty professional.

    And congrats to Michael, that's awesome news. I will go visit his blog now :)

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  3. I read more and more on my ereader and my iPod although I still love my books too. Depends on the book, the timing and where I'm at (I often have all 3 going at once...like now :))

    Editing is crucial for all books and I can't imagine putting out one of my own without going through the process!

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  4. Congrats to Siv and Michael. I hope I remember to check them out on Monday.

    I rely more on my Kindle, which I carry everyday, but I'm also a lover of books.

    Would you believe me if I told you I saw a disclaimer in a book that said writing is hard work and that the author had caught as many as she could and was not responsible if a few got away? I couldn't believe it either, but I knew what to expect from that statement and it's exactly what I got.

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  5. Very interesting,I had no idea of the process for one who is doing self-publishing.

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  6. It's a shame that a few authors who just throw up first drafts and expect success tar the reputation of authors who are diligent and recruit outside help for the editing process. There are some fantastic ebooks out there, and some brilliant ebook-only publishers too!

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  7. A very difficult field to negotiate, Denise, I just keep working hard and hoping that my small contribution will be recognized as of a good standard. (had to change recognised to recognized, spell checker wanted the American version) :0)

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  8. That's why I'm glad I have a Ninja Army and a publisher to help with promotions. I don't like doing them by myself.

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  9. Yes, self-promotion is not something I relish. eBooks are a mixed bag -- not unlike Forest Gump's box of chocolates!

    Thanks for the links. You do a great job of helping us.

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  10. I am not a huge fan of e-books, prefer the hard copy. I am not good at self-promotion. Will need help there.

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  11. I know there will be new options and cross over groups popping up as publishing is changing and growing, and I think that's a good thing. As it is though, I'm with you that I just don't make it very far into many self pubbed books.

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad there's changes happening for the good.

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  12. Here's a great link talking about editing your self-pubbed book I just discovered:

    http://blog.janicehardy.com/2013/07/what-you-really-want-to-know-about-self.html#more

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  13. Hi, Denise! Thanks for stopping by today and for following. I hope you will join us next month. August's link list goes up tomorrow.

    I'm eager for recommendations of strong reading material, no matter the medium. I, too, find poor editing to be headache-inducing. If the author doesn't care enough to go back over his/her material, why should anyone else bother to read it?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by and letting me know. I already know the book I want to review.

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    2. Wonderful! Looking forward to it.

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  14. The whole ebook phenomenon has gotten crazy. I think things have to change and are. I have almost 500 books on kindle, most are free, some I've read and enjoyed, others not so much, but I buy the books of authors I know and want to add to my library. When it came out that reviews were bought and paid for on amazon, it's a sad state of affairs, but the majority of the buying public aren't guided by good writing.

    A good editor is worth their weight in gold, plus!

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  15. Hi, Denise,

    YOU are TOOOO KIND!!! Thank you so much for the lovely words and sentiment. I will ALWAYS have time for you and our chats, baking recipes, and crits.... never worry about that.

    I couldn't agree more about ebooks. And MANY self pubbed books ARE riddled with unprofessional results. Look at us... How many re-writes have you done on your novels. I've lost count on my first. HA.... triple digits for sure. Even my second I've re-wrote at least thirty times and ready for another go... ALmost there though...

    WE are perfectionists and passionate about our craft. We would NEVER send any work of our out that wasn't as close to perfect as we could get.

    I like the sound of those new companies. Self pubbed writers need this. It's SO important to produce a worthwhile product. After all, many sales will be coming from WRITERS!!! All the more reason to polish until it blinds you....

    I need to drop you a line.... maybe if I get a chance tomorrow... more news. lol.

    Sending you a HUGE cyber hug!!!!!

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  16. I've found a few self-pubbed books I've enjoyed, but as you say, those have generally gone through paid editing sites. Sounds like I need to visit Write to Done for some excellent writing advice. I've fallen off the writing advice sites lately.

    Congrats to Michael and Siv, can't wait for Monday and the big reveal.

    ......dhole

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    Replies
    1. Write to Done gets my vote as one of the most helpful sites.

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  17. Hi Denise! Excellent post and some interesting sites to check out. It was a blessing in disquise when my artist backed out at the last minute and I turned to Michael for help. Like a super hero he swooped in and saved the day! He did a fantastic job on the cover and I am really looking forward to sharing it with everyone!

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  18. I'm also a fan of traditional books. I just haven't been able to get into e-books yet.

    Have a lovely weekend!

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  19. I don't really enjoy reading anything on my Kindle, and I don't think I could get through a full length novel. If I download anything it tends to be novella length, or short stories. Yes I think we do need some kind of quality control system for self published books. It's very democratic, I guess, that anyone can publish their own book now, but for readers it makes it so hard to know what is really worth buying.

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    Replies
    1. Imaging ploughing through Gone With the Wind on. kindle!

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  20. Denise, before I'm influenced by what others have said here, I'll put my own thoughts. I have been published and have just gone back to self-publishing which I did before I got published. I was thrilled at first to be published. It felt like a confirmation of my writing. However, I am small fry, so as with all small fry, the onus of marketing my books is still on me, only now with more pressure, greater demands for activity and a need to prove what I have done. I find this really hard as I have a full time job that is also very demanding. I have therefore gone back to self-publishing with my most recent book. I use Lulu.com because I can do as much or as little as I want. I love formatting books, I love editing, and I love the whole process of the creation even though it can be very frustrating too - small example, I cannot get my page numbers to the precise same position on odd and even pages! Crisis! Seriously, it is great to be acknowledged by a publisher, but I am so relieved to have my new book totally down to me. As for editing mistakes, there are still plenty in professional publishers editions! I think it has something to do with the digital age, though. Lastly, about Kindle? I am a real book lover like you, but I've published on Kindle too as I think you have to offer both options. I don't like reading off a screen myself though. Thanks, and sorry for rambling on!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for rambling on. It's great to hear the insiders view. Things will have to change.

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  21. PS: Catherin Ryan Howard's book on Self-Printed: The Sane Person's Guide to Self Publishing is excellent. She's bossy but she's good!

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  22. I like your shocking facts, and they all add up to one thing: Writing well is a must. Then there's all that stuff that comes after the writing ......It's not an easy way to wealth that's for sure! I'm looking forward to Michael's cover. He is one talented guy!

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  23. But that is not to say traditionally published print books are without issues or typos. It does have them, Denise.

    While editing, I do so many go throughs on different screens, yet, I still get the missed typo. So no one person is enough for one book, either self-published, eBooks or print books.

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    1. That's my point, Nas. A book needs quite a few eyes over it. I am quite aware a traditionally pubbed book (depending whether small press or NYTimes best seller) will have the occasional typo. I just finished the most delicious print book, The Bookseller by Mark Pryor. Only found one typo, but it was a beauty - "shit" instead of "shot". Then I thought maybe they left it in just to be funny.

      I don't find many typos in your editied books NAS. That's why I recommend your editing services.

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  24. I'm an ebook reader. I'm not a fan of the traditional book anymore unless it's a book I have to have on my shelf because it's simply a brilliant read. However, I tend to shy away from self-pubbed ebooks. I MUST read the sample chapters first and if I'm hooked, only then will I buy (unless helping out a fellow blogger/writer friend in which case I simply buy their book). It's amazing how many samples I've read where I stop at the first line or first paragraph.

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    1. Hee hee Lynda. The first e-book lover to comment so far I think. Yes, I always read the sample chapter now, and if an author hasn't taken care of Chapter 1, the rest of the book will continue with more of the same. Those samples tell the reader all he/she needs to know.

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  25. This is the third time today I've run into Michael and Siv! Absolutely amazing cover btw.

    Excellent advice about marketing. Who else but the author *really* cares about your book? yeah, we all hate marketing. It feels like I'm throwing myself to the wolves. It is terrifying to introverts like me.

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    Replies
    1. Being an introvert, I know how you feel. That's one reason I keep putting off submitting my novels - geek, can't imagine promoting myself. How distressing!

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  26. Excellent post. It is hard to wade through the multitudes of e-books and find one that I really like. These review sites sound helpful. Although, I have to confess, I really love a print book in my hands.

    On another note, I think it's sad that some authors are paying for good reviews. But some of the reviews at Amazon are reliable. You can often tell by the writing of the review itself, and how they critique it, whether it's a bonafide review.

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    Replies
    1. Amazon and reviews is another question. Most of my 4 star reviews disappeared and all that Amazon kept were 2 star or less. Hmm.

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  27. I have thought ebooks needed a "edited by" section too. I think you can add something like that now thought Amazon direct publishing.

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    Replies
    1. That's good news Southpaw! It would make all the difference to me. Then I'd check out the editor.

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  28. I'll check out the cover reveal.

    I'm more likely to read a self-pubbed novella or short story. I've read many good short works. There have been some good self-published novels I've read, but it isn't easy to find them. There are some authors who do very well on their own, but there are also those who need to wait and do it right.

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    Replies
    1. Yes Medeia, so many seem to be in a hurry, but we need to be a bit more careful. E-books need to become more trustworthy.

      Delete
  29. Whether we self-publish or traditionally publish, decent editing and good storytelling are a must. As a self-published author, both in print and ebooks, it's always been something that I've never compromised on. Recently I've been publishing stuff to amazon Kindle, with more to come in the coming months, and I've been hard at work editing and ensuring that my writing is the best possible quality. I don't believe in putting out substandard work ever.

    Thanks for the self-publishing links. And the info about Mardibooks. I'll have to check this resource out and see how it all works.

    Michael's cover reveal with Siv is great. I saw it earlier today and loved it.

    Jai

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    1. Hi Jai. I know you believe in careful crafting. No one said self editing was easy, but we need a lot of that before we hire pros.

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  30. Wow. Those are some great insights. I'm with you--on ebooks they have to have rave reviews--and at least 30 to 50 of them, then they must keep me through the first chapter. And then the second. And then the 3rd. I have actually stumbled across some indie authors who've pulled this off, and I'm addicted to their writing.

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    1. Well Crystal, I reviewed a lot of blogger friends on Amazon, giving them 4 stars when warranted. However, Amazon removed my reviews and left all the 2 star ones. Go figure.

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  31. LOL Denise I love your shocking facts. I'm not a big fan of e-books either and don't plan to do any more of them. Margaret Mitchell must be amongst many successful authors who wrote and re-wrote their work until they were happy with it and then got professional publishers to commit to it. That's what I aspire to.

    Congrats to Michael and to Siv.

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    Replies
    1. I think, unless you're a genius, you won't get a GREAT book out there unless you take the time and get more than one editor to work through it. That's just my opinion. Most NYTimes bestselling authors have a whole village helping them create their masterpiece. We can't have that, but we should aim for more careful crafting.
      That said, there are some GREAT ebooks out there that have been carefully edited, but I'd still prefer to read a print version.

      Delete
  32. Hi Denise .. I agree - I've just started an ebook .. and must now pick it up and see how it goes - but I do prefer book in hand ...

    Yay for Michael and Siv .. saw those .. good for the artwork and then Siv's folklore creativity ..

    Cheers Hilary

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  33. Hi Denise,
    Good to hear your comments about Mardibooks. My first attempt at fiction 'Sleeping with the Blackbirds' was published by PenPress and was written to raise money for homeless kids and the UK charity, Centrepoint. Having received nice reviews off my own bat from the author, George Layton, book site lovereading.co.uk and the broadcaster and composer, Bramwell Tovey, PenPress were hopeless. Having just had one of my short stories accepted by Mardibooks, I have now ended my contract with PenPress and have offered the book to Mardibooks - if, that is, they'd want to publish it.
    http://rhubarbrabbit.blogspot.co.uk
    http://sleepingwiththeblackbirds.co.uk

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