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Monday, February 20, 2017

Is E-Publishing For You?

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I received an acceptance from from a publisher for the first novel I ever wrote (Magic Creek). Oh, man, I was ecstatic! I wanted to be a published author more than anything in the world! There was only one condition: I had to change the ending. Two of the main characters were a wife and her abusive, controlling doctor husband. In the end of the book, she remained with him. The publisher said that was not acceptable. She simply had to leave.

And I was more than willing. I would have done anything short of selling my soul to the devil to get a book contract. Integrity to my muse? Forget that!

So, I tried and tried....and tried. But Tory would not go. I must have re-written the ending 20 times. Those edits always turned out clunky and graceless. There was no flow. You could almost feel Tory's rebellion and resistance coming out on the pages. At the last, the book knew better than I did what it wanted to happen and so I gave up and let it have its way.

I've written 14 more novels since then and I doubt if I could have sold any of them to a traditional publisher. They fit in no known genre and conform to no known guidelines. The plotting is quirky. The male protagonists are more anti-hero than hero. The scenes of sex and violence are graphic. The subject matter often deals with taboos, such as incest. In short, there are multiples reasons for a publisher to reject them.

Thank heavens, I discovered e-publishing. It is perfect for idiosyncratic authors such as myself. No one can tell you how your book should end. No one can tell you that your character needs to be softened up a bit to be more likeable.

E-publishing is easy and its quick. I hire my formatting done (I think the last book cost $50). I also pay for the cover. I'm no good at the graphic or technical end of publishing. Once those two things are done, you go to Smashwords (Smashwords sells to multiple venues such as Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple and others) and/or Amazon, fill in the information about your book, download the manuscript and the cover and voila, you're done. The whole process takes about half-an-hour.

You have to do your own marketing but from what I've read, if you're an unknown, you have to do a lot of that yourself now anyway. Publishing houses don't spend a ton of money on book tours and advertising in the New York Times for new authors, unless a manuscript has really impressed them.

So, you'll need to have a Facebook author's page and a Google+ account. You'll need to join GoodReads and any other book sites you can find. You'll need to jump on to Twitter. You need to consider writing a regular blog. All so you can promote your books. If you can do it (it's something I'm terrible at), you need to ask your friends to write reviews and share your posts with their friends and "follow" you on your various sites.

None of that is hard but it can be time-consuming.

I won't lie, I'd still love to publish a hardcover novel but I don't think it will ever happen. I don't think my writing will ever lend itself to a mass market audience. In the meantime, my books are out there and people read them and like them (sometimes they hate them too). And I have the freedom to go wherever my characters take me without an editor second-guessing them or me. And I'm satisfied with that.

Vicki's links:

https://www.amazon.com/author/vwilliams - amazon author page
smashwords author page- Smashwords author page
http://www.godlovescirclesbest.com - Nascar blog


Saturday, February 04, 2017

Be Adventurous - Don't Get Stuck in a Rut!



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I go through phases with books. Almost the whole time I was a kid, the books I read were about animals – any kind of animal, really, but mostly horses and dogs. I still have the tiny book with the little one-paragraph reviews we had to fill out to be part of the summer reading program at the Logansport library when I was about nine. I read way more books than I needed to get my certificate. Almost every one of them was about animals – black stallions and Irish Setters that were lost in the wild and little girls who wanted a pony more than anything (which described me, incidentally ).
Into adulthood, I never lost this tendency to toward obsession about certain types of books. For many years, I read everything on the New York Times best seller list. It was one of my claims to fame then (though no one found it exceptional but me) that I’d read every best seller for several years running. No discrimination there. I didn’t care what the book was about, I read them all. Making the list was my only criteria.
Then we moved to the country and I went through my non-fiction period. I was rather smug and self-righteous about my new-found turning to “just the facts, Ma’am” reading list. I looked down on those people who read simply for enjoyment when they could be Learning Something. Most of these books were in a similar vein to my Bible of the time – “Five Acres and Independence”.  They, along with our subscription to the then  new magazine, Mother Earth News, taught me how to milk goats and plant gardens (placing plants so that the dreaded anti-environmental herbicides  and fertilizers were never needed), making my own butter and creating a compost pile. It turned out that our commitment to self-sufficiency was never up to the standard Mother Earth demanded.   I discovered I was too attached to thermostats for heat and that by the end of the garden planting, I no longer gave a darn about matching plants. I just wanted them in the ground and to get done (which is why my cucumbers mated with my melons (or, anyway, why some species crossed ethnic lines because I’d placed them too close together and they fell in love). We did have chickens but we never dammed our creek so as to tie into the electric grid and free ourselves of REMC.
I went through a Louisiana spell with no clue why. I knew everything there was to know about that state. Although I’d never been there, I was convinced that I must have been a New Orleansian in a previous incarnation. For quite a while, it was the Civil War that captured my attention and then later, the Vietnam War.
Quite a few years ago, I settled into mysteries and that’s where I have mostly stayed. Not only did I get trapped in that genre but even certain authors within it. In short, I didn’t care to read anything that wasn’t by a writer I already knew I liked. Adventuresome, I was not. I’d go to the library and never even look at titles, just author’s names. If Ed McBain or Martha Grimes wrote a new book, I got it.
Oddly, my very favorite novel for about a decade was “Lonesome Dove”, which I’d got only out of desperation because my favored authors were letting me down by not writing books quickly enough to keep up with me.  My experience venturing out of my chosen area to find my favorite book taught me nothing. Once Lee Child and Ian Rankin and Robert B Parker came out with new offerings, I fled right back to mysteries again.
Until fairly recently. Once again, my favorites were selfishly producing too slowly. I could find nothing that sounded appealing so, reluctantly, I got a novel, “The Steep Approach to Garbadale” by a Scottish writer, Iain Banks. “The Steep Approach to Garbadale” overtook “Lonesome Dove” as my all-time favorite book. Iain Banks, I discovered, has been one of Britain’s most popular authors for years. His first novel, “The Wasp Factory” has been acclaimed one of Britain’s top five books of all time.  I got another of his books from the library, then ordered the others from Amazon and have loved every one.
In addition to his novels, Iain Banks is a hugely successful writer of science fiction, writing under the name Iain M Banks. I’d always thought I hated science fiction but I don’t know why.  As far as I knew, I’d never read a science fiction book or seen a science fiction movie.  But because I was so enthralled with Banks’ writing, I took a risk and let him lead me into new territory –science fiction – and learned that wonderful writers are wonderful writers no matter what the genre.
Even more recently, I took the advice of several friends and reluctantly began the Outlander series. I didn’t think romance/history/time travel was my cup of tea at all but lo and behold, I fell in love. Now, maybe Diana Gabaldon’s books are my favorites. Or maybe an even newer discovery – Chronicles of a Legend – The Pirate Captain, by Kerry Lynn.
There’s a moral here – about ruts and how you can cheat yourself out of some of the joyousness of life when you let yourself get stuck in them.