Self-publishing

Storytelling and the Campfire

I notice as I comb through the self-published e-books on Amazon that a good number of the offerings are autobiographies. Non-fiction. People writing about their own lives and experiences. About their own adventures, misfortunes, and triumphs. It occurs to me that perhaps the meteoric rise in self-published works has turned the Kindle into the modern campfire. Only, instead of sitting together, elbows and knees touching, with firelight twinkling upon eager faces as those gathered wait for the storyteller to begin, we now tell our own, deeply personal stories to a computer screen. As wonderful as it is to a reach a larger audience than would be possible without the Internet, I can’t help but wonder what is being lost, sacrificed, in return. When eye-to-eye with other humans, it is possible t...

Writing: The Importance of Word Choice in Translation

For those of you who are fans of Star Trek (or, like me, grew up with a brother who loved all things science fiction), have you ever fantasized about having communication tools like the ones Captain Kirk and his crew had? I have, and I find myself doing it all the more lately. Why? Social media. Daily, the Internet provides readers and writers with the opportunity to connect with new people involved in the book world, and to interact with speakers of many different languages. While I firmly believe that diversity of people, in every possible way, is one of the two greatest strengths the human race collectively possesses (the other is love), I do find diversity challenging when it comes to language. This is not because I can’t learn to speak another language; I can and do. The reason is bec...

The Writing Process

I had dabbled in writing since maintaining a food blog for over six years. Tackling a novel is a whole new ballgame. Wait, let me backtrack a little. I’ve always been a dreamer. I remembered my early childhood when my father always scolded me for being absent-minded. Even then I would think up scenarios in my head and appear to be lost in my own world. In high school, I even started on a science fiction novel which I, unfortunately, abandoned. I grew up learning and speaking three languages. You can just imagine how confusing that can be when it came to writing. Fortunately, I only had to do composition in two of them. I did well in my English courses in high school, but when I headed off to college and took up an Engineering degree, I got rusty in composition. When I started writing a foo...

Remembering (How To) Love

  When I decided to write a novel, a love story was the natural choice. It seems that anything I write, including short stories and poems, ends up being about love. So why fight it? I often wonder if the act of loving is an ability, an inclination, a talent, or a Heaven-sent gift. Maybe it’s a combination. I also wonder why some people excel at love – at the process of growing and nurturing love – while others fail, miserably. Yes, I do believe love is a process. It has steps, sequences, and a risk of failure. And, whether you honor them or break them, love has rules and boundaries. If it weren’t for these things, love couldn’t be the central plot in a novel, because plots are based on a series of actions that take us from one place, location, or extreme to another. I do enjoy love st...

CreateSpace or Lightning Source?

My first novel, Ava, will be coming out in print in a matter of days. While I’m excited to finally have this option for readers who do not use e-readers, it has taken more time than I had originally anticipated to make a paperback version of the book available. On this blog, I’ve been candid about the highs and lows of my journey from occasional writer to self-published author. Even as I write this post, a certain part of me still hopes that a literary agent, one skilled in navigating the release and promotion of print books, will discover my novel and insist on representing it, and me. There is real value in having an educated, experienced guide when traveling to new areas of business, and personal growth. I can’t help but wonder if making the choice to move forward on my own ...

Mea Culpa (You Probably Saw This One Coming)

I said I wouldn’t do it. I even wrote two blog posts (To KDP Select Or Not To KDP Select and a Self-Publisher’s Dilemma) about why I wouldn’t do it. But here I go, anyway: Ava is free today on Kindle.   Am I turning my back on everything I’ve believed up until now? Have I cut a behind-the-scenes deal with Amazon? Have I been hypnotized, or brainwashed? Have I been replaced by a bot? Nope. I simply changed my mind. Evolution by way of experience is like that; one day things are running smoothly, and the next day that same world looks different. On its own, knowledge isn’t what’s important. Context is, and application. It takes time for new information to sink in, to take root. It also takes time to make enough mistakes that only one real option is left. I’m down to the one option. Sev...

Book Marketing: The Genuine Article

I buy books all the time, both paid and free, both paper and electronic. It generally takes me months and months to start a novel once it has found a home on my Kindle or my bookshelf. Part of the reason it takes so long is the sheer volume of writers I’ve come to know through social media. The other part is my determination to read every one of their books while keeping up with my favorite traditionally published authors, too. Twitter is my darling. My Twitter community has 22,000 members. Six months ago it was half that number, and I anticipate it will be approaching 50,000 by mid-summer. Every day, I get to meet new writers – or, at least, writers who are new to me – and, nearly every day, I download a handful of their novels and short stories. My Facebook community has 983 members – th...

2013, The Year of Action

It is New Year’s Day, the year 2013, and I’m excited. Really excited. This morning, I went back and read my first January post from last year and, looking back, I am a bit startled to recognize how much we self-published authors have collectively accomplished, and how different the landscape looks to me a year later. For starters, self-publishing, as a business strategy, is no longer looked down upon by the biggest names in the publishing world. In fact, most have taken headliner steps to incorporate this method into their own product portfolios. Good, good, and more good. I hope the year ahead brings new and mutually profitable ways for the traditional publishing industry to partner with both established and emerging self-published authors. In February, it will be two years since I decide...

Money, Self-Publishing, and Marketing Plans

Anyone who has ever launched a small business knows how tricky marketing plans can be. There are endless configurations for distributing a start-up’s meager capital resources and plentiful sweat equity. The challenge is in determining which steps to take when there is no company history to influence the direction of spending. In the end, every step forward by a business requires money – whether in cost of a product or service, industry membership, or in the form of salaries paid to employees. There is no such thing as free. Decisions have to be made about office space, equipment, insurance, business fees, communications tools, website development, marketing materials, postage, lunch meetings, travel, parking and, of course, salaries or hourly wages. And that’s only the starter list. Self-p...

Sponsoring a Book Club

I’d like to sponsor a book club’s selection of the month. The premise seems simple enough, except that I can’t seem to figure out how to go about connecting with one. For authors, getting detailed, friendly but honest, big picture feedback on our novels is a critical step in our evolution as technical writers and creative storytellers. There are many ways to be published these days, and while the stigma of self-publishing is rapidly diminishing, the challenge of connecting with readers remains. It seems rather obvious to say that the better the story, the better odds are it will succeed in finding a readership. The challenge rests with making each book better than the one before it. The best way, maybe the only way, is to invite constructively critical study of a novel’s main components. H...

The Book Cover Debacle

Maybe “debacle” is too strong a word, but I’ve finally faced the fact that my current book covers have to go. As a part of learning the business of self-publishing from the ground up, I chose to make all of my own book covers. And it shows.           For the short stories, I used an old family photo, one of my all-time favorites, as the focal point of the covers. It made the process extra special for me, and I’m happy I started with it. But it’s time to move forward. Self-publishing is a small business. Part of running a successful small business is to invest time and resources in determining the value, or weight, that each component commands as part of the overall product or service. Outsourcing, whether it is for covers, editing, or website design, shouldn’t be undertaken until the value...

The Book Cover Debacle

Maybe “debacle” is too strong a word, but I’ve finally faced the fact that my current book covers have to go. As a part of learning the business of self-publishing from the ground up, I chose to make all of my own book covers. And it shows.           For the short stories, I used an old family photo, one of my all-time favorites, as the focal point of the covers. It made the process extra special for me, and I’m happy I started with it. But it’s time to move forward. Self-publishing is a small business. Part of running a successful small business is to invest time and resources in determining the value, or weight, that each component commands as part of the overall product or service. Outsourcing, whether it is for covers, editing, or website design, shouldn’t be undertaken until the value...

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