1,000 Words A Day...

…To Create A Writing Empire

Category: ePub/Self-Publishing

Winning NaNoWriMo 2012

Late last night I surpassed the 50,000 word mark for the 9th of the 12 times I participated in NaNoWriMo.

My NaNoWriMo Word Count

Oh I’m not done…yet.

When I get home after having my burger and two Old Fashioned’s at the Timber Grille, I’ll finish my novel tonight. If not tonight it will definitely be done by tomorrow after I get home from work. At that point I’ll have the word count validated and collect my Winner’s Badge and certificate.

Since my last post things got busy with the holidays (as it does with most people) and time to write was still a priority, but it came at a premium. I wrote in drips and drabs whenever I could – late at night before my brain shut down, or for a few minutes before going to work. When I finally had more time, I put my head down and wrote.

How did you keep up the pace through the holiday week?

Knowing you won’t have as much time to write during Thanksgiving, it’s always a good thing to use the time prior to that to build your word count higher so you don’t fall behind when you’re just too busy to write.

What are you going to do when you finish your novel?

I’m putting A Brutal Life: The Warrior on the shelf (so to speak) for the month of December. On January 2nd, I set a calendar reminder to begin the re-write process. After completing a couple of re-writes of the novel, it then goes to my First Reader, who also happens to be my wife, Loly – a language teacher – for editing.

As I’m going to self-publish my novel as an e-book, when my wife has put my novel through the wringer, I’ll send it out to a professional editor. While that’s being worked on I’ll commission a cover artist to create an ebook cover.

In the mean time, I’ll build my platform using this blog and a dedicated website for my novel, and get set up on Facebook and Twitter. Once the novel is done, I’ll release it in formats for Amazon, B&N and Smashwords.

While all this is going on – I’ll be writing the second and third book in the series. Yeah, I’ll be busy, but it’s the way I like it.

I have to make an appeal to my fellow writers – try to self-publish your own novel. At least in the beginning, forget the traditional publishers; it’s a hard, long road to travel with little to no reward.

Also please avoid the so-called self publishing businesses – most are an elaborate rip-off. Dave Gaughran just published an eye-opening post about this scam. I highly suggest you check it out: Simon & Schuster Joins Forces With Author Solutions To Rip Off Writers

See you on November 30th!

Werner

 

Writing Without Limits

David Gaughran published a guest post article on his excellent blog Let’s Get Digital, by thriller writer, Matthew Iden. In the article Matthew discussed the End of Limits in writing and publishing stories. Gone is the need for specific word counts for specific genres of fiction and whether or not you are a new or established author.

If you can tell a good story in 20,000 words, then good on you, but if you have an epic saga taking readers on a journey of a million words or more – then go for it. The limitations of the Big 6 Publishers no longer apply in the limitless digital universe.

When I read the post and the accompanying links, I thought to myself, “You mean I no longer have to plan and outline a thriller story and try and hit the 80,000 word mark? Or needing to make sure a YA novel has to be around the 16k mark?”

The idea hit me upside the head like a late-winter slushy snowball. It really made me sit up and take notice. It was like I was given permission to write a fast-paced thriller with less than 50,000 words or take a YA novel over the 20k mark – or down to 13k.

Word count no longer matters – only story. This is as it should be and should always have been. As the article said, “Story is as story does”, damn straight.

(I wonder what this will mean to NaNoWriMo over the long term?)

I’ve also been reading that strict genre guidelines no longer really matter. If a story can be well told, people are blurring the lines between genres, like high-fantasy-cyberpunk, and finding ready audiences for what they’re publishing.

The article got me thinking about stories I’ve written, but never published because I thought they were lacking because the word count wasn’t where the “norm” was supposed to be.

I have a 23,000 word coming of age story, a 35,000 word road trip story and a series of YA stories in the 10-12k range. I also have a 15,000 word humor story of the correspondence between 4 friends in the mid-1980’s during the earliest days of e-mail, before it was even called e-mail.

The article left me feeling I need to go out and find an editor and a book cover designer for these stories and put them out in that digital universe…and see what journey ensues.

It’s finally sinking in, that in this New Era of Writing and Publishing; you can write what you want…anything at all, just tell a good story.

Let’s Get Digital: A Review

I first came across David Gaughran in the comments sections of J.A. Konrath’s blog posts at the Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. David always gave insightful, levelheaded responses.

In visiting his blog, I found well-written and informed articles about the state of today’s publishing industry at an international level as well as the journey he was on in publishing his on e-books. I became an instant fan.

David’s personable style and voice is evident in his ebook Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should. It was an honor that he allowed me to be one of his “first reader” reviewers of the book. I anticipated that it would be good, but I was blown away by just how good it really is.

Here’s the review I gave it on Amazon:

Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should is brilliant, informative and motivating. David Guaghran is a talented writer who may be new to the self-publishing scene, but he has his finger firmly on the overall pulse of the sea-change taking place in the publishing industry. With the once impenetrable walls of the traditional publishing industry crashing to the ground, David shows you how to publish your own ebooks successfully, which can not only compete with the Big 6 publisher’s, but also surpass them.

LET’S GET DIGITAL is a thorough and indispensable resource for newbies interested in self-publishing their own ebook. David shows you how today’s publishing landscape compares to the way it used to be – and why it’s much better now.

He then covers the steps he took to self-publish his books, including the all-important tasks of getting your book professionally edited and creating the best book cover you can. David also covers how to get yourself and your books known and driving traffic to your blog and ebooks using forums, social media, reviews (and how to get them) and complementary sites and services.

In the last third of the book are motivating and inspirational stories of how 33 previously unpublished authors used similar strategies to turn their dreams and desires for publication into reality.

Make no mistake, to self-publish your own ebook takes a lot of work. To become a successful, well-known, consistently selling ebook author takes Herculean effort. LET’S GET DIGITAL is an excellent resource to help get you there.

At $2.99, this ebook is a bargain. The information contained in it is easily worth thirty times as much with all the time and effort it’ll save you.

Although I received a free PDF copy for review, as soon as it was released I  bought a copy of Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should for my Kindle – and so should you!

Are Traditionally Published Books Really Better?

Since the Ebook Revolution has taken off, there’s been no lack of supporters and detractors of it. One of the things I read repeatedly from the skeptics is that, “…most indie published stuff is trash – or crap…” Those same skeptics go on to state, “unlike indie ebooks, traditionally published books and novels are polished, professionally vetted and edited”.

Watching Good Morning America, they were talking about this years ‘Hot Summer Reads’. In showcasing the new thrillers, Tom Clancy’s ‘Against All Enemies’ caught my interest. I enjoy Clancy’s work, but I haven’t read one of his novels in a long time.

I went to my Kindle and looked up Against All Enemies. A few things turned me off. First, the price of the e-book is $12.99. The hardcover is $15.38. The second thing I noticed is that Tom Clancy and Peter Telep authored the book. Collaborations are nothing new, but when I saw that the book had a two star rating (41 one-star vs. 11 five-star reviews), I knew something was up.

Reading the reviews, it was evident to die-hard Clancy fans that this book “was not written by Clancy”. The style and voice are very different. More telling was that several reviewers stated that the military technical details of the story were incorrect in several areas. Anyone who knows Clancy knows that detailed military technical knowledge is his expertise. It was suggested that Telep wrote it and Clancy just put his name on the cover (without proofreading it) to make it sell.

Here are some of the comments:

“I made it to page 2 before seeing proof that this is another non-Clancy work. Here’s a part of a sentence describing the Pakistan Special Service Group: (it isn’t dialogue)
“…an organization similar to the U.S. Navy SEALs, but, ahem, their operators were hardly as capable.”

‘Ahem’? Amongst non-dialogue description in a book not written in any 1st-person narrative? C’mon. I stopped reading at page 14, and I’m returning the purchase…”

 

“The style is very different, there is none of the descriptive writing that is Clancy’s style. The writing in fact is very poor and vague.”

 

“Why Tom? You surely don’t need the money? Why do this to your fans? To treat people who’ve loved your work like this is worse than low, it’s just crass.

And Putnam? This is a disgraceful act from a book company, supposedly staffed by people who care about books. Was Sales & Marketing in charge of this debacle? Figures low this year, were they? How did the book lovers in your company let this through? Did anyone in Editing put up their hand and say ‘Ah, guys…’ Because edited, it was not… Basically, I’m thinking everyone just threw up their hands and said, ‘Too hard, 5 o’clock, I gotta train to catch.’

A shamelessly cynical exercise, and a sad day for novel lovers. Shame, people, shame.”

‘Nuff said.

In looking at other Clancy novels published over the past few years, also with two star ratings (see Dead Or Alive and Teeth of the Tiger), I saw similar complaints, “shabby”, “needed editing” , and “horrible writing”

I wonder what those who are traditional publishing proponents would say?

Whether Putnam is having sub-standard writer’s pen the books and using Clancy’s name to sell them, or releasing poorly written books by an author who has for whatever reason, lost his edge – is this no less “trash” or “crap”, but at a much higher price? Who is truly doing the reader a greater disservice?

Kindle Ebook Formatting Made Easy

Ebooks are changing the publishing world in the same way MP3 files changed the music industry.  At present Amazon’s Kindle is the King of the Hill of ereaders and is reported to be the driving force in ebook growth.

There are a number of recent news reports pointing out authors making a dramatic shift from traditional publishing to self-publishing, as in the case of Barry Eisler turning down a $500,000 deal from St. Martin Press, choosing to self-publish instead.

Other A-List self-pubbed authors like J.A. Konrath, Amanda Hocking and John Locke ignited the dreams of hundreds of thousands…millions(?) of writers and authors to publish their own ebooks.

There are tons of people looking to publish their own ebooks and going through the process of formatting them for Kindle. As a result, there are a vast number of video tutorials showing self-pub authors how to do this.

Given all the tutorials out there, I’ve not found a good “How to” resource that describes the best way publish a Kindle ebook.  There are references that describes how to format your novel using an html editor, defining bookmarks and tags to specify the table of contents, cover, and start page  in such a way that the Kindle device will recognize them.

All of this is daunting for most people. As novelists, you want to focus on writing stories and not figuring out software. There has to be a better way.

Then I found the Answer in an OpenOffice application called Kindle Template. It’s specifically designed to make  publishing Kindle ebooks easy.  It’s the only software you’ll need to publish a Kindle ebook on Amazon.

All you do is follow the simple YouTube video instructions for using Kindle Template. Once done, you upload the .doc file generated by the template application to the Amazon Kindle publishing site. No muss, no fuss – nice ‘n easy.

The file generated by Kindle Template contains all the tags and bookmarks necessary for a Kindle device, or one of the free Kindle reading apps, to be able to render the cover, table of contents, and book contents correctly.  In addition, Kindle Template will take your text as it appears in your document and format it to appear exactly the same when viewed on the Kindle.

Considering the amount of time you’ll save and frustration you’ll avoid using the Kindle Template, the nominal price is well worth it – especially if you plan to publish a number of ebooks in the process building your own e-book empire.

Ebook Sales Surpass Paper Books!

CNN, engadget, and The Sun (UK) have been reporting that ebook sales have eclipsed paperback and hardback books for the first time.

Ebook sales totaled $90.3 million for the month of February. That’s an increase of 202% compared to the same last year, according to a study from the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

That put e-books at No. 1 “among all categories of trade publishing”. It’s the first time e-books have beaten out traditional publishing formats. At the same time, sales of hardback books fell 34.4% and paperbacks fell 16.1%

What’s driving this ebook explosion? Part of the reason is the increasing acceptance of ereaders like the Kindle and Nook. GenX’ers and some Boomers are warming up to ereaders, while Generation Next and the Internet Generation easily accept and adapt to ereaders over the traditional book.

More importantly, in time, as the children of Generation Next and the Internet Generation grow, it’ll become rare for those kids to pick up a hard copy of any book. They’ll primarily use ereaders – not only for personal use – but ebooks will replace textbooks in schools.

They’re already being used in Elementary Schools in Nebraska and Iowa. Burlington High School, in Massachusetts, will be handing out the iPad’s to students next fall, and colleges and universities all over the U.S. are increasingly using online texts instead of their cumbersome counterparts.

However, the majority of the $90.3 million in ebook sales for the month of February doesn’t come from textbooks. No, that honor belongs to the Romance genre.

Harlequin was the first publisher to really see the writing on the wall and began switching their titles to the ebook format back in 2007. They were also among the first to offer 99¢ ebooks. The next most popular ebook sales were business books.

Another reason for increased ebook sales is the lower price point. The Big 6 Publisher’s still don’t get it. Why on earth would we pay $10-$15 for an ebook, where there is almost no overhead involved, and where in many cases is close in price to a hardbound copy of the same book. It’s just insulting and usury.

Thankfully, a growing number of established authors see the incredible business model self-publishing their own ebooks offer. They also recognize that they can sell FAR more books in the $0.99 – $2.99 range and receive a much higher percentage of royalties per sale to boot!

The AAP also reported:

Additionally, Trade publishing houses cite e-Books as generating fresh consumer interest in–and new revenue streams for–“backlist” titles, books that have been in print for at least a year. Many publishers report that e-Book readers who enjoy a newly-released book will frequently buy an author’s full backlist.

It’s these authors who are blazing the trail for many new writers who have not been able to get their work published using a Big 6 Publisher.

The barriers to publishing have never been lower. As a result, there’s been a tremendous groundswell movement of previously unknown authors publishing their own books in ebook format and realizing sales success they didn’t have with legacy publishing.

Now it’s the consumer who chooses who is or isn’t a good author – not a publisher.

These are exiting times in this Golden Era of Ebook Publishing. Be sure to catch the wave.

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