On Writing

A place for dreams, advice, and essays on writing.

Book Tango Week 1 Review: 3.5/5

Update: I am no longer with Book Tango. See my responses to inquiries below for more information. Or my article on why I decided to stop self-publishing.

It’s a great idea. Needs polish and a little more transparency.

For those of you who don’t know, almost exactly a week ago today my first book, The Grey Heir, went live and I couldn’t be more excited! (though I suppose you wouldn’t know it from my lack of blog activity – that very inactivity was due in part to other promotional pushes).

I chose to publish with a site called Book Tango. Regular readers might remember I did a review of the site – or at least the idea for the site – earlier in an “author’s resources” post.

Basically, Book Tango offers four features (at least for free): they have an eBook creation tool that can help you take your book from a Word doc to a formatted eBook, they publish your book to ALL the major eBook retail stores, and they help you track your sales.

In theory this sounds like a great service. In practice it has a few rough edges. [Read more…]

Where to Announce Your eBook, via Savvy Writers

Hello from Ohio!

I made it here all safe and sound (for those of you who were concerned :P)

As I get closer to publishing my book, people keep asking, “How are people going to find your book?”

Today’s link from Savvy Writers & e-Books online provides part of the answer. Their article, Where to Announce Your eBook – for Free, has a list of websites that will help spread the word about newly released eBooks! Now I just have to sit down and post to ALL OF THEM!

Enjoy!

Zac

When to Publish Your Novel; or, The Grey Heir Release Date Announcement!

“A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” – Paul Valery

The same could be said for novels, which makes releasing one very tricky. It seems like I could always take my books through one more revision – just one more looking over to REALLY make sure I’ve fixed all the grammar mistakes, the prose is as clean as it can be, and the story shines – and maybe it’s true. Maybe looking over it again would make it a little better and, if that’s the case, don’t I owe it to my readers to make my book as good as I possibly can?

Yes, but this type of thinking is a never ending, circular trap of perpetual doom. (If that seems a little excessive, it is, but you get the point). Novels are never finished, only abandoned.

Yet, the trap of perpetual doom is also useful, because it prevents you from releasing your book too soon. This creates a paradox: The trap has a good point, but it’s still a trap. So what should you (or I) do, as an author? [Read more…]

Author Resource: 60 Places to Announce You’ve Released a Book

Good Morning Friends,

As I get closer to actually launching my first book, I find my thoughts turning circling the idea: how can I make sure it’s successful?

A good way to start (for me or any other author) would be to let people know when it’s available!

Here is a list of 60 places where you can do just that: 60 Places To Announce The Release of Your New Book.

I hope it helps!

Enjoy 🙂

Writing in a World of Women

I – as any good liberal arts educated English Major would – know that women (particularly strong and interesting women) have been grossly under represented in both literature and popular culture.

I know that in Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” (a story structure I find useful and compelling) women are often reduced to a “prize” that the hero wins at the end of his adventure. I know that people still ask Joss Whedon why he keeps writing strong female characters and he still has to answer, “Because you keep asking me that question.”

I also know, however, that this picture of women isn’t the one I grew up with.

Where have all the good men gone?

Growing up, most of my favorite authors and characters were (and are still) women. Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, Cassandra Claire, and Holly Black are all female writers with beautifully crafted fantasy worlds and strong female protagonists. Even Garth Nyx, one of the few male writers I read, had excellent female protagonists for his “Abhorsen” series.

As a boy interested in fantasy stories, I never resented all the strong female characters. After all, since my dad was diagnosed with brain cancer when I was five, my mother was the only fully functional adult in the house. She had to work, take care of dad, me, my sister, and still somehow managed to go to medical school. I knew women could be strong. I did, however, wonder why there weren’t more books with well-developed male protagonists…

So I decided to write one. [Read more…]

Don’t Call Books “Trashy”…Even If They Are.

The word “trashy” irks me.

There’s just something inherently disrespectful about it and, not so deep down, I’m terrified that it will be applied to my work. I’m afraid that because I love writing young adult fiction – instead of what my English Major brain might consider “literature” – my work will be dismissed as money making “trash.”

On the other hand, there definitely is such as thing as bad writing. I’ve picked up books (either physically or digitally), read the first paragraph or two, gagged, and put them back down. Some books really are just poorly written and we, as readers, should be able to express our discontent. After all, if we don’t say anything, how will the writer know their work isn’t doing what they’d like it to?

So, if we have a right to say what we want and could even be helping the author improve, why am I so bothered? [Read more…]

Work, Play, and the Importance of Rest

“Do something you love and you’ll never have to work another day in your life.”

Have you heard this before? or something very much like it?

In our culture the word “work” is becoming stigmatized, so that – if you’re in your ideal career situation “work” should be more like “play.” This isn’t the problem. In fact, by itself, work becoming play is a wonderful thing…as long as it’s not confused with rest.

You might think that if work were as enjoyable as play than there’d be no need for downtime. Work would be fun and fun is downtime right?

Wrong, actually. [Read more…]

How Much Should You Spend Publishing Your eBook?

You should spend as much as you want to spend.

I know that seems like a vague and unhelpful answer, but here’s the thing: there are so many options out there for self-publishing authors that it seems like you could spend almost any amount of money and not be wasting it.

The Big Investment

According to all the blog articles I’ve read on the subject, there are three things that are REALLY worth investing in:

1) Professional Editing: This one’s a no brainer – the better quality of book you have the more it will sell, and the more you will be building a positive brand for yourself.

There’s copy editing, which is the cheapest and fixes only spelling and grammar mistakes. Line editing, which is a little deeper – allowing the editor to replace words and rearrange sentence structure – and, finally, there’s substantive editing. This is the full package where an editor helps with grammar, sentence structure, story integrity and so on.

These services all cost different amounts of money, and all seem worth investing in, if you can. [Read more…]

Sentimental Connections to “Real Books” and Our eBook World

About a year ago I was beginning to think seriously about ePublishing my book and was discussing the possibility with my friends. They were excited by the idea that my work would be available, but almost all had the same reservation:

“I just love books,” Rose said, “The smell of the paper, the feel of its weight in my hand…”

“Yeah!” Karin agreed enthusiastically, “It’s a much more personal experience.”

The sky was blue that day, the sun bright, the air cool, and the curry was warm and tangy. We were eating a late lunch at one of my favorite places in the world (the House of Curries on Solano st.) and we – Rose, Karin, Hana, and I – were discussing our lives, hopes, dreams, and people we dislike. We almost always agreed about things so the 2.5 hour lunch was basically a festival of feeling sharing, laughter, and positive affirmation.

Disharmony

It was strange, therefore, that my feelings did not perfectly align with theirs – an experience made all the more unusual by the fact that in the not too distant past I would have whole heartedly agreed with them. In their glowing discussion of the wonders of physical pages and the chill of the eScreen I could hear my own previous feelings being echoed back to me.

The problem was: my feelings had changed. [Read more…]

Patience: The Most Frustrating Virtue.

Patience is by far the most frustrating virtue.

OK, maybe that’s unfair. Having patience isn’t frustrating, needing to be patient when you’re all out is the challenge. Unfortunately, vast quantities of patience is required to be a novelist – whether you’re self-publishing or using a publishing house.

First, you have to write the novel. This can take anywhere from 1-3 months (if you’re working on it full time) to several years (if you have less time and/or are inconsistent about working on it). I wrote the first draft of my first novel in a little over 1 year. I then took almost another year to “edit it.”

Unfortunately for me, what I was really doing was little more than copy editing – cleaning up grammar, fixing typos and the like. I then tried to shop it around and stalled for another year, left it alone, tried a deeper edit, got about 1/5th of the way done, got distracted, and here I am: almost four years after I finished the first draft, re-writing long sections before I feel comfortable handing it off to an editor so we can take it through yet another draft together…ugh. [Read more…]