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

JOIN YOLANDA RENEE ON HER BLOG TOUR!

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.









Monday, 22 July 2013

A writing themepark! Which is your favourite ride?

Do you relate to this? I think it's priceless!


Theme parks are on my mind. I'm off to Euro Disney, Paris, in early December. Have you been to any of the Disneylands?





Saturday, 20 July 2013

#RomanticFridayWriters Honeymoon challenge - set in the post-war Greek Islands

My RomanticFridayWriters story this month is set on a ferry crossing the Aegean Sea in post-second world war Greece. If you were expecting a hot and steamy honeymoon story, I'm sorry to disappoint. I'm sure there will be one of two, so click on the names and read some more entries during the next three days.

Eirini’s Journey Across the Aegean Sea




The war was over. The occupied forces had fled her island.

Eirini was fleeing too.

Sunrise sparkled the still water with silver and gold. She squinted, desperate for a last look at her home. Syros was a vanishing bony apparition--shadowy mountains, dark earth, white stone--an island of shattered dreams.

The early morning sun blurred the scene, but she recognised faint lines, tiny roads winding up slopes like wobbly mirages, jagged roads that led to her cave. She watched until she saw nothing but tears.

She huddled in a corner of the boat, scrunched between filthy tyres and rattly drums. The sun was now a relentless heat haze of Greek summer, beating her head, her arms, turning the black water gold.

Aunt Acacia had accompanied her to the ferry just before dawn, screaming endless instructions before placing a linen-wrapped object in Eirini’s hand. But Eirini was to travel alone, criss-crossing the Aegean Sea to Thira...and her fate.

The air was as hot as Hephaestus’ breath as she sat, surrounded by a sea, still as olive oil. Shadows in the water slithered past the boat, playful as dolphins. She stood, leaned over the side, reached out her free hand.

An angry shout from the upper deck. “Idiōtēs! Get back!”

Eirini dropped on to an upturned drum, smudging her white pleated skirt. “Eiie, Syros,” she wailed. “You are ruined. The long years of war have broken you.”

The Golden Age of Syros had shot into oblivion, smashed by bombs, killed by artillery fire.

Even the soil was dead. It could not feed her people during the war. There was food for the Germans and Italians, but not for Eirini’s people. Her people starved by the thousands.

A tear trickled down her face as she remembered how things used to be before the war. Stone mansions straddled the waterfront, stood proud in the sea like Venetian palazzos. But now Syros’ mansions were fallen on their knees in the water like partisan fighters begging for life.

Her parents bartered their mansion for food – six gold coins bought some onions and potatoes. When there was nothing left to sell, they scavenged wild herbs, boiling them over burning sticks in their cave.
***
For Eirini the terror continued. Her husband’s figure loomed large--the boy her father had chosen for her. Her father was dead, but the boy arrived to claim her when the war ended. She’d danced with him. She’d laughed with him. A few broken plates, then he was gone.

Now Alexandros Christofis waited for her in Thira.


Monday, 15 July 2013

How do you cope with Rejection? Here's a happy ending for you! Plus a writing challenge and blogfest.

You open your email, and there it is...the Subject Line that you've been checking feverishly for months, weeks, days...but do you like what you see?

When you receive a rejection letter or email, what do you do after you finally open it?

a) Yell, scream, sob, and vow never to put yourself through that pain again.
b) Keep on reading, hoping there is some gem you can take away from the experience and use in the future.
c) Decide that you don't care...that agent/editor just didn't get it! They're so dumb.
d) Look skywards and thank that agent/editor because you know you can make your ms even better...and send to someone else.
e) All of the above...(sometimes we go through stages)



Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The winter of discontent -- with social media -- is it making us less human? Books...Movies...Great Writing Opportunities

Okay, from time to time I'm going to do a long, rambly post. Take a peek at what you're interested in...and I hope you'll leave a comment...


SOCIAL NETWORKS:

An author friend recently told me that facebook has been throwing her off after about five minutes. I said: "Good!" This is an author whose face appears on my facebook feeds in one long line every time I check facebook on my phone (the only time I use facebook, twitter or google+). My author friend is amazed at how much more writing she is getting done -- she has two books published and is working on her third. Social media definitely interferes with our writing schedules...and lots, lots more.


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression. 5 Editing Tips I've learned.

Hi there Insecure Writers and friends!

Some people hate the editing process, others (of which I am one) love it...er, maybe too much. When is enough, enough?

I 'finished' Fijian Princess at the end of November 2012. If you've written a novel during NaNoWriMo, you'll know that the ms I completed was pretty rubbishy...but it was an exciting story...I felt it had potential. Maybe it was going to be the first novel I actually finished...and got published. But I'm quite aware that:

"Writing is rewriting" - Eudora Welty.

I earnestly believe that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Publishers these days don't have a big budget for editors, so they are more likely to accept a good story that has been fully edited (publication ready is the term) - it's not just finding all those typos/misspellings/punctuation/grammar errors - there are development editors, structural editors, copy editors...ever look at the list at the back of a bestseller? It certainly takes a village to write/finish a book, a good seller anyway.

Most of us do the bulk of the editing ourselves. Who can afford to pay a heap of editors? That's where critique partners, beta readers, clever editing writer friends are worth their weight in gold. And don't forget the heaps of 'how to edit' books we have on our shelves.