Monthly Archives: January 2012
Posted by Cat-Gerlach
Ever since the eBook revolution started, reviewers complained about the lack of quality of self-published stories. They claim that too many of the available eBooks are badly edited, have confusing stories, or are plain boring. They are partly correct, but there are also wonderful new authors that deserve to be noticed (like my colleagues here on the Independent Bookworm). Therefore, I will present a new Indie author once a month; one that is worth being read.
I read a book by Delle Jacobs by accident. She offered it for free on Smashwords, and I took it to be a historical novel. It turned out the be Romance, a genre I usually can’t stand. But his was different. The characters were interesting, the historical setting accurate, and the story surprisingly twisted without being overcomplicated. The one thing I hate so much about many Romance novels (the lovers not getting each other due to a misunderstanding that could easiyl be solved if only they talked) never reared its ugly head in Delles stories. I ended up reading many more of her novels.
Now, let’s hear what Delle has to say for herself. Here are some questions, she answered for me.
Thanks so much for inviting me to share some time with you. One of the most exciting things about the new realm of independent publishing is that the markets have opened up to include the whole world. I love getting to know people who share some of my interests and who love to read and write.
How did you get started? Was it a childhood dream?
I guess I’d have to say I’m one of those authors who has always felt the compulsion to create, especially stories. My older brother fed this need by teaching me how to read when I was four. I was probably about five when I first decided I’d write a story, But I quickly discovered the only word I could really spell was my own name. I tried again when I was nine, using an old typewriter, and I even had the story figured out. But by the time I got to the end of the first paragraph, my story had taken a sudden turn in a different direction. I couldn’t make myself give that up but it wouldn’t fit with my plot. I had no idea back then that revisions are always a part of writing. Since I was a terrible self-taught typist, I couldn’t type one complete page without errors, so I really take off until I had my own computer.
Why are you focusing on Romance?
That was an accident. I thought I wanted to write world-sweeping historical sagas. But when my daughter read my first work, she told me I was writing romance– which I haughtily denied. But I soon had to admit she was right.
I believe that each of us who chooses to write has our own inner story that meshes in many ways with mankind’s Universal Story. The genre we choose is what shows both how our own story is unique and how it dovetails with the Everyman story. I’ve always been fascinated with the pair bond and its strength, and I see it as a driving force in my own life as well as others. I can’t say I write “Happily Ever Afters”. It’s a myth to say that conventional romances reach that point. They stop far short of forever.
Instead, they highlight that one segment of a relationship that shows the development of the pair bond overcoming obstacles to reach the stage of full commitment. At that point, a new, different story begins. It might be romantic, but it isn’t usually the same type of story as what we call romances today.
So for me, my own life story is heavily laden with the developing relationship and showcases the human spirit triumphing over tragedy and cruelty. I have no interest in stories that showcase the sexual relationship and cut short character development or plot. I care about how people change, how they save each other. If sex belongs in the story, I want to put it there. But sex for the sake of selling more copies of a book is a total waste of time for me.
What formats do you offer your customers (eBook, POD)?
I do have three books that are available in print, but most are just in digital form. I’ve been doing this since 1999, and I’ve come to realize my particular readership lies mostly with people who are willing to read ebooks. The production costs for print books, not to mention marketing, shipping, personal appearances, and all that don’t work very well for me. I had one book put out as audio, but I didn’t think the narrator was a good choice at all. I think it sold five copies at the most.
What’s your greatest obstacle in writing?
Without question, I am my own worst obstacle. I’m easily led astray by shiny objects and pretty words. Computers, digital art, Sudoku puzzles, email– I can fritter away a whole day if I’m not being careful. And like many authors, I’m also very good at telling myself this isn’t a productive day, or I’ll just go do something else while I’m waiting for the Muse to return. Muses do love taking the day off, and they will happily oblige and desert you for however much time you want to waste. I say, Kill the Muse! Grab her, hogtie her to a chair, water-board her or best of all ignore her and write anyway. It’s your story, not hers, and don’t let her intimidate you into relinquishing it to her. She will only laugh and destroy it further.
Who is your favorite Indie author?
I really had to think hard about this because I’ve read so many new Indie authors this year and loved a good portion of what I’ve read. Unfortunately, that’s the best I can do for an answer. Pamela Beason captured me with her book, The Only Witness, a story about a signing gorilla who witnesses a baby kidnapping but doesn’t have the linguistic skills to make people understand what she saw. I love the Western romance writers, Dr. Debra Holland’s Montana Sky series, Paty Jager, Patricia Watters, and Alexis Harrington. I love the Regencies that are making a comeback as ebooks. I love Cat’s Urchin King as well as Ann Angel’s Freedom for their nearly invisible prose. Another surprise to me was a friend, Susan McDuffie, who asked me to do her cover for A Mass for the Dead. I love Medievals, but I don’t love imitation medieval stories. I wouldn’t have tried this one if I hadn’t done the cover. But the more work I did, the more I just had to read the book. This book is set in the remote Western Isles of Scotland, and the hero is the bastard son of the prior, who is found murdered. It’s completely off the beaten track, and it’s a great mystery too.
Who is your favorite traditionally published author?
This one is even harder. I realized that I’ve grown very bored with so many of my once favorite authors, and some of them have moved on to other genres or quit writing. I would have said Laura Kinsale, but she isn’t producing new books these days. So I’m slipping the genre boundaries more and more, even though I realize I need to keep focusing on my own track. My most recent discovery is Alan Brennert’s Honolulu. He has been criticized by some reviewers as getting bogged down in details. But that’s the very thing I savor. I have ties to the Korean community, and I love Hawaii, and both of these subjects were beautifully handled in this book. And I read Gabby, the story of Gabrielle Giffords. I think she is such an amazing, gutsy woman.
Tips for other Indies?
1. Write, write, write. Polish, polish, polish. Then do it again. Today’s Indie author only has a chance at success if she can find her readership, and that is very hard to do. She also has to keep her readership, so if she doesn’t continue to produce, her readers will move on to other writers who
will satisfy her.
2. Invest in your future. Put out only the best product you can, and keep on making it better. I owe a big debt to Cat and to a young woman in Indonesia named Sofia who reported problems with my books that I was eventually able to resolve. You can make changes with an ebook, so you have to fix things.
3. Dare to take risks and know sometimes you will not succeed at winning your dreams. That’s what makes them even more precious. If you don’t take risks, try new things, then you are only doing what many other people could also do. You cannot ever become outstanding by doing something anyone can do.
4. Remember that each book you publish is an investment in all your other books. Building your reputation and brand can be excruciating, and it’s very easy to give up in discouragement. I’d say if you can give it up, then you probably should. If you can’t, then keep on going. Believe in yourself and your product, recognize that no one can write a book everyone will love. And have the confidence to know you’ve turned out a truly high quality product that you will always look to with pride.
Oh, and one more thing: when you publish to Kindle, use html. There’s something in the Kindle formatting that doesn’t play nice with Word. The problem is not in the Word document. It’s in the Kindle conversion of it. I don’t think they’ve found out yet what it is, but I’ve learned if I save my book as Web Page (html) and submit it, all those errors disappear.
Thanks for having me.
Thank you Delle. It was fun for me too.
Posted by Sue
Do You Write For Money? Or Love?
Why do you write? Have you read about authors who rake in big bucks with their millions of sales on Amazon? Do you have visions of being the next Amanda Hocking or John Locke? Do huge dollar signs dance in your dreams? Do you scan the best seller’s list and focus your writing efforts on the type of book you think will sell the most copies?T
Or–do you write because writing is like breathing: You can’t not write. Do story ideas come to you in that edge between sleeping and waking that you hastily jot down? Do you have more books to write floating around in the back of your mind than you can possibly write them all? Do characters pop up and wave their hands at you, saying “Me! Me! Write about me!”? If you never sold anything, would you keep on writing?
Ask a roomful of writers why they write and you will get as many different answers as there are writers in the room. “I have to.” “I enjoy writing.” “To say something.” “My characters keep talking and I keep writing down what they say.” Few writers are so crass as to say that they are writing for money, even if they are. So what is wrong with writing for money? Nothing, unless that’s your only reason for writing.
Money is nice. We all need it and most of us would like more than what we now have. But, money isn’t everything and should not be your reason for writing.
If writing for money is your only reason for writing, then I hate to break it to you, but you most likely will not get rich selling your writing. In fact, you probably won’t even make a living writing. Why? Because if your only reason for writing is money, then where is the soul in your writing?
It is possible to make a living with your writing. Many writers do and enjoy both writing for money and for love. No matter what the genre in which you write, to have a story that draws the reader into your world so that they reluctantly come to the end, you need to put part of yourself into your book: your deepest desires, your deepest fears, your deepest needs and longings. When your book comes from deep within you, then it will resonate with your target reader. You still may not get rich, but you will enjoy your work, instead of churning out what you think you have to write to make money.
Of course, this is all just my opinion. What do you think?
( A good way to tap into your inner self and to learn how to write a good book is to take Holly Lisle’s writing course. She also has lots of free writing advice and information on her site. No, she’s not paying me to say this!)
Posted by Debbie Mumford
I’m not talking resolutions, I’m talking GOALS. What do you want to accomplish this year? Do you have an action plan in place to act as a road map to accomplishment? If not, today is a great day to put one in place.
First, let’s talk about S.M.A.R.T. goals. You know, the realistic kind. The ones you have control over. Writing, revising, submitting…those are all controllable goals. Getting an agent, being offered a multi-book contract…those are in someone else’s court. They’re great ambitions, but they’re not goals. The S.M.A.R.T. acronym is a great goal test:
- Specific: Goals need to be specific, not some loose, vague, impossible to quantify statement. “I will write better this year″ is not a specific goal. “I will write 2 pages a day” qualifies.
- Measurable: Goals need to be measurable. Again, a concrete goal is far better than an amorphous wish. You need to know whether or not you achieved it! “I will write for 45 minutes a day” is a measurable goal.
- Achievable: Goals need to be reasonable and achievable. Don’t set yourself up for failure by shooting for the moon. “I will complete the first draft of my 90,000 word novel in 6 months″ is much more achievable than “I will write a 90,000 word novel in January.” Also, as I mentioned above, make sure your goals are within your control. “I will write the first draft of my novel” is achievable and within your control. “I will secure the services of Dream Agent” is not.
- Realistic: Goals need to be realistic. Evaluate your time and your lifestyle. Be honest with yourself. Set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic for who you are and how you live.
- Time-Bound: Goals need to have a time frame. Lots of people dream of writing a novel…someday. But without a deadline, a time pressure, there’s no reason to do anything today. Put a date on your goal and then get started on it today. When you reach that date, you’ll know whether or not you accomplished your goal.
Now that you’ve designed your S.M.A.R.T. goals, you need an action plan. I like to use a calendar for this part.
Pull out a calendar (mine is a word processed document…I don’t write with a pen unless forced *LOL*) and think about your work and family commitments. The first thing I did was to go through and cross off major holidays and family events that require my time and attention (birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions, etc.)
Next I looked at my goals, made arbitrary decisions as to anticipated page counts (Young Adult = 180 pages, Single Title = 375 pages…your mileage may vary) and tried to anticipate how much time would be required for revision and polishing drafts. For planning purposes I chose a goal of 5 pages a day, 5 days a week. Then I simply plugged my numbers into my calendar.
I made notes in an empty cell as to how many pages I expect to write each month on each project with running totals in another cell. Leaving time for polishing the first draft, sending it out to my beta readers, and then tweaking it per their comments, I figure I can write one YA and two single titles this year.
Now, we all know that nothing in life goes according to plan, but it’s also true that if you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know when you arrive. So…I’m planning to write three books this year. If something wonderful (like an unbelievable multi-book contract) comes along and knocks my plans askew, I’ll adjust. But for now, I have goals and an action plan in place and I’m ready to shine!
How about you?