Help Needed for Author of Children’s Books

I have been asked for help by an author who is ready to publish her first children’s book. She’s interested in self-publishing, and has the finished book with illustrations ready to go, but has no idea what to do next. While I’m very happy with CreateSpace, and could offer her help with them, I’ve read they are not necessarily the best choice for image-intensive books.

Can any of you offer alternative suggestions that I can pass on to this writer? I’d love to be able to point her in the right direction.

THANKS!

Authors, do you use editors? Proofreaders? I have a guilty secret… #amwriting #amediting

I published this little confession on my own blog (https://deborahjayauthor.com/) last week, and it garnered so many interesting points of view, I thought I’d bring it over here too…

Since I joined the Indie publishing scene back in 2013, I have read SO many times the

advice, nay, instruction, ‘thou shalt not publish without having your work professionally edited/proof read/beta read’.

But I have a guilty secret…

I don’t use editors or proof readers.

Gasp! Isn’t my work trash?
Well, apparently not, if my reviews are to be believed. Here is a snippet from a recent review, from an Amazon Vine Reviewer, no less:

“This is a good, entertaining read with lots of originality. And THANK YOU to the author for the lack of errors and grammar that mar so many books these days!”

Okay, I admit to working with a writer’s group. They get to see my first draft and pick up on any obvious procedural errors (like the 36 hour day I once managed to write in), and suggest ways of strengthening the plot.
Then I finish the novel and have 2, or at most 3 beta readers. Only if they all say the same thing about any part of the book do I make any changes.


And after carrying this guilty secret with me for years now, I was hugely relieved to read this post from well known author Dean Wesley Smith:
https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/killing-the-sacred-cows-of-publishing-beta-readers-help-you/

This makes me feel SO much better about my writing. It’s how I began, how I’ve continued, and how I intend to continue.
I DO think editors etc. are an excellent idea for writers at an early stage of their careers, when they still have much to learn, but I’ve been doing this job professionally (writing non-fiction for magazines and books) for decades, and while I’m always learning more, I have a fair bit of confidence in my own ability to tell a tale, and tell it in reasonable English. If I break a grammar rule, I (probably) meant to!

How about you writers? Is there anyone else out there who shares my guilty secret. I know a small handful of other. Are there any more?

Creativity, Sensitivity, Laziness and Courage

(Reblogging here with Marcia’s permission)

In which I make the point that it is horribly hard to send our “babies” out to agents and publishers, something I think is overlooked in the ongoing debate re: indie vs. traditional publishing… Would love to hear you all’s thoughts on the topic.

by Kassandra Lamb

Please note that this is not a post about the pros and cons of indie vs. traditional publishing per se (I will cover those in a later post). Rather this post is about the “between a rock and a hard place” spot where new writers often find themselves as they explore how to get their words in front of readers’ eyes.

The indie vs. traditional publishing controversy was resurrected in December, 2016, by a Huffington Post article with the rather obnoxious title, Self-Publishing: An Insult To The Written Word? by Laurie Gough.

Quite a few indie authors immediately responded with some eloquent replies. And then the Alliance of Independent Authors published their New Year’s post: Successful Indie Authors 2016: Part One.

These two posts, along with the responding comments, represent the two sides of this controversy, but I noted that one thing was missing from the discussion. Indeed, I have never heard this point made during debates about the issue.

Creatives are, by definition, sensitive souls.

Van Gogh

One of Van Gogh’s self portraits, this one with a bandage where his ear once was. Creatives’ sensitivity sometimes leads to madness. (public domain)

It’s a cliché really—the tortured artistic poet/painter/musician/actor/author who drinks too much, uses drugs, suffers for their art with an angst-filled life, etc.

But like all clichés, this one has a kernel of truth at its core.

So why would we require that these sensitive souls endure months or years of rejection before they are allowed to show their work to the world?

The author of the Huff Post article calls literary agents and traditional publishers the “gatekeepers” of the written word. Indeed, that term is bandied about a lot in the world of trad publishing. The implication is that they are saving the unwashed masses of readers from bad literature by carefully vetting new works of fiction.

In addition to the implied insult to readers, the reality is that all too often these days agents and publishers are not always as concerned about the quality of a story as they are about whether or not they think it will sell.

That’s not just my perspective; I’ve heard agents say this at conferences. With regret in their voices, because they know good stories are being rejected and good writers are being discouraged by those rejections.

No one deals well with rejection. And the more important an achievement or some aspect of ourselves is to us, the greater the blow to our spirits if it is rejected… READ MORE

What makes a book a bestseller?

teasersquare600After two years of pounding the keyboard and putting out indie fiction, I finally hit what I consider a bestseller. Half Wolf had 6,000 combined sales and borrows during its first three months of life, and the sequel seems to be enjoying even better reviews (and, hopefully, sales).

While my figures still don’t hold a candle to those of some authors, I thought it would be worth mentioning what I did differently in case you want to follow suit. Here’s a quick rundown in what went into my bestseller.

  1. Studied the genre harder. I read widely and often and write what I love to read. That said, I noticed repeated criticisms of my Wolf Rampant series surrounding lack of sex and action scenes. At first, I turned up my nose and said, “Hmmph! That’s what makes me an indie author — I can write what I want!” But then I decided to give it a whirl. And I have to admit I feel like the resulting book was more powerful for the inclusions (even though those component are still below average on a modern chart).
  2. Paid for an amazing cover. I have basic photoshop skills and thought I could make my own covers…and I did manage to make passable ones. Then I upgraded to hiring a cover artist…and was amazed at the difference in sales. Rebecca Frank is, unfortunately, now booked months in advance and no longer accepting new clients. However, I highly recommend shopping around and paying for a top-notch cover to match your top-notch book, hitting all of the same genre buttons to signal exactly what’s inside.
  3. Workshopped my blurb to death. Seriously, I think about ten people helped me make approximately 100 revisions on my blurb. Even before that, I studied the blurbs of the bestsellers in my genre, noting word count and other factors. Overall, I spent nearly a week on the project! But the result is tight and humming with life and it sells books.
  4. Launched with forethought. A lot more goes into a sticky launch than just telling your fans and waiting for the sales to roll in. If you haven’t read it, I recommend Chris Fox’s Launch to Market as a primer. I used a spreadsheet and every bit of social capital I’d built up in recent months on my launch and it was very much worth it.

I hope that gives you some ideas for pushing your next book into the stratosphere! And, if you’re curious, Half Wolf will be free Saturday and Lone Wolf Dawn is already marked down to 99 cents for launch week. Feel free to lurk and see whether my second launch does as well as the first.

#Proofreading – How Important Is It?

Spelling Concept

Of course, it’s very important–absolutely critical to producing a book that impresses readers as being professional. As independent writers, many of know just how quickly reviewers will pick up errors and typos, and then alert the media about same! Here is a link to a great interview that says it all better than I can. Check it out!

 

An Interview With Julia Gibbs

Update on Self-Publishing Workshop

NewsFlash-Thumbnail

*Insert beeping noises, here*

We interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcasting with breaking news! Due to several factors, we have decided to reschedule the April 23 Self-Publishing Workshop at DeBary Hall. The new date will be October 8, from 1:00 until 4:00. The fall is a better time of year for this particular type of event, with fewer folks away on vacations and holiday travels.  If you live in this area and want to learn a bit more about how to self-publish your books, be sure to mark your calendars for October 8, and join us for the discussion. Reminders  will be forthcoming, as the new date approaches. 

And now, we return you to the program in progress.

Oh, and Happy Tewe’s Day! 🙂

Self-Publishing Workshop at #DeBaryHall

debary-hall-two-7136-hdr-edit
DeBary Hall Historic Site, 198 Sunrise Blvd, DeBary, FL

Two weeks from today, I’ll be giving a self-publishing workshop for beginners. I stress the “beginner” category, because I am not an expert in self-publishing, by any means. All I know is what worked for me. But at every Meet the Author talk I give, I’m asked detailed questions on how to go about publishing a book on Kindle and through Createspace, so it seemed like a good idea to set up an event where we can focus on the process.  I’ve published four novels and a book of poetry, so I do have a lot of tips to share, and plenty of suggestions for what authors should NOT do.  😀

If you are a new writer, or at least new to self-publishing, and you are in the area, please consider joining us for a three-hour discussion, with handouts,  at DeBary Hall, from 1:00 to 4:00, on Saturday, April 23. Reservations are required, so call Kayce Looper  at (386)668-3840 to reserve a seat. Hope to see you there!