Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

Notes on the Submission/Publication Posts

So, as you know, Squiders (or if you missed it), I’m going to be interspersing in blog posts about submitting and publishing to help me put together a book on the subject. We talked about the types of publishing last week, but I wanted to let you know how the posts will be working going forward.

The bulk of the posts will be on a publication type combined with a type of submission/publication process. So one post might be Self-Publishing Short Stories, for example. For the blog, I’m going to focus on novels and short stories; in the book, I’ll also touch on nonfiction books, articles, and poetry. (If you have other prose-based types you’d like to see included, let me know. But I would like to stay away from things such as screenplays, music, etc., both because those aren’t my specialty as well as the fact that I think you can go too broad.)

There might be two or three posts on a particular subject, depending on the amount of information. In the book I intend to also address the pros and cons of using a particular submission/publication process with that particular publication type, but I’m unsure as of yet if I’ll do that here.

Once we’re done with that, we’ll move into troubleshooting topics, such as how to tell if an agent/publisher is reputable, things to do if you’re having trouble selling or getting bad reviews, how to tell how many rejections should be your limit, etc.

And then that should be that!

Please let me know if there’s anything you’d like covered that you don’t see above, and I’ll see if I can fit it in here, or perhaps in one of the other nonfic books I’m planning. (I have a series of seven planned, with a book and a half written at the moment.)

Anyway, Squiders, I hope this week hasn’t been too tough for you. Have a good weekend.

Types of Publishing

Let’s move into our nonfiction topic, shall we, Squiders? Before we can get into the nitty gritty of publishing and submitting, it will help to know about the general types of publishing so you can consider what’s best for you and your goals.

Publishing basically comes down to three types:

  • Traditional publishing
  • Self publishing
  • Hybrid publishing

Traditional publishing

Traditional publishing can essentially be boiled down to “someone pays you for your writing.” Someone who is traditionally published has submitted their manuscript to a publisher, has had it go through an acceptance process, and gives the rights of the story to the publisher in exchange for something, which typically is some sort of monetary reward. It is called “traditional” because this is the way the publishing industry has generally operated over the past hundred years or so, with the publishers acting as the gatekeepers for what was acceptable or of good quality.

Self publishing

Self publishing, as an antithesis to traditional publishing, is when you publish without any oversight. Someone who is self published has made their manuscript available when they wanted to without having to go through any sort of gatekeeper. Self published people often have to wear many hats, as they must do everything themselves or hire their own help, such as editors, proofreaders, cover designers, etc. It is “self” publishing because the author remains in full control.

Hybrid publishing

Hybrid publishing is, as it sounds, a combination of traditional and self publishing. This can take many different forms and often varies from author to author. Someone might, for example, traditionally publish novels, but self publish novellas or short stories in between so their readers can have new content. Someone may self publish their novels but send their short stories off to magazines. Some people may traditionally publish one genre and self publish a different one.

What about indie publishing?

Indie publishing is hard to define. Indie, or independent, publishing, in some cases, can be used interchangeably with self publishing. In general, indie published people do not go through any sort of formal submission or publishing model. Indie published authors usually retain full control of their manuscripts and their rights. For some people, the difference between being self published versus indie published lies in the end goal: is writing a hobby? Is this release a one-time thing? Or do you intend to make a career out of this, regularly releasing new content? The distinction is that someone who is self published is a hobbyist, whereas someone who is indie published is someone who is trying to make a career/business out of their publishing.

What about vanity publishing?

It used to be that self and vanity publishing were used interchangeably, but with the event of print-on-demand and e-readers were authors can interact directly with readers, the two forms of publishing have separated. Vanity publishing is when you pay someone else to publish you, making it the direct opposite of traditional publishing. Vanity publishers are often consider to be scams, since they will publish you, no matter the quality of your manuscript, as long as you pay them money. Vanity publishers may offer a variety of services, such as editorial work or cover design, but the quality may vary wildly.

Types of publishing I’ve left out? Questions on the basic definitions?

Let’s Talk Format (also MileHiCon)

Okay, Squiders. The winner of the nonfic subject poll was submission and publication, so I’ve gone ahead and outlined that subject. I’ve tentatively called it a “quick” guide, but now that I’ve outlined it, it’s kind of massive, so I may have to rethink that.

Anyway, my general plan is to talk about the different types of publication, and then go through the submission/publication process by type of work (short story, novel, novella, etc.). I’m also going to have a “troubleshooting” section.

Which seems more logical to you?

  1. Organize the topic by publication type. So have all the self-publishing together (with the different work types as subsections), all the traditional publishing, and onward.
  2. Organize the topic by work type. So have a section, for example, for short stories, and then have subsections inside that for self-publishing, traditional publishing, etc.

Both seem like they could be equally useful (for example, if I do by work, someone who writes only short stories would have all the information they want in a single section, but if I do it by publication type, then someone who’s only interested in traditional publishing would have all that information in one place…), so I thought I’d see what you guys thought, especially since you’re my guinea pigs.

I suppose I could try it both ways here and see which works better in the end. Anyway, thoughts? Which would work better for you?

Also, if you have specific submitting/publishing questions or topics, let me know and I’ll incorporate them if I’m not already.

Also, as a reminder, I’m going to have a table at MileHiCon again this year! (Well, technically, it’s a table for Turtleduck Press, but since I shall be the only one manning it due to life eating people…) So if you’re in the general area of Denver, Colorado the last weekend of October, you should come and say hi!

Anyway, hope you’re having a lovely October! Let me know what you think about the format.

Smashwords vs. Draft2Digital

I’ve seen a lot of people talking about doing a wide distribution of ebooks (i.e., not just Amazon) lately, and, as someone who has never done Amazon exclusively, I thought it might be helpful to some people to do a quick rundown of the two major ebook distributors.

(As a quick aside, there’s two general ways to do ebook distribution, assuming you are doing it yourself and your publisher isn’t doing it for you. One is to upload your book individually at each ebook service. The other is to use an ebook distributor, which is what we’ll talk about today.)

Everybody knows Smashwords–it’s probably the biggest name in ebook publishing after KDP. I use Smashwords for the distribution of both Hidden Worlds and Shards. But there’s a new kid in town, which is Draft2Digital (or D2D, as I will refer to it moving forward). After some research, Siri and I decided to use D2D for distribution of City of Hope and Ruin.

Why did we forsake Smashwords? Well, let’s look at each service individually.

Smashwords is the big kahuna. You upload a document, which goes through Smashwords’ meat grinder and gets turned into a variety of formats, which you can then have distributed to the channels of your choice, assuming your manuscript passes muster to get into the Premium catalog. Additionally, you have a page on Smashwords itself where people can buy your book and leave reviews.

Smashwords distributes to a number of retailers, such as the iBookstore, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc. They also work with libraries so that libraries could potentially download your book into their systems. You can set a specific library price which is different from your sales price.

Occasionally Smashwords has site-wide sales that you can enter your book into rather easily (normally just by indicating how much on sale you’d like the book to be).

Draft2Digital is smaller and newer. It also distributes to the iBookstore, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc. It doesn’t have a library option as of yet, however. D2D does not have a sale page for your book on their site, but does give you a universal link that lists all available retailers (you can see the one for CoHaR here). It’s a leaner service than Smashwords, and distributes to fewer retailers.

Okay, pros and cons.

Smashwords is massive and has a huge reach. Most of the books I have sold on the site have been during sales, so I appreciate being able to jump into those with a minimum amount of effort. The sale pages are nice, though I’m not sure how many people use Smashwords as the main way they buy ebooks. The meat grinder is a pain in the butt. It’s gotten slightly less picky over the years, but essentially you have to strip all formatting out of your manuscript to get it to take it. So the version of your book that goes out to the retailers is pretty plain. Additionally, it can take a long time for your books to show up at said retailers, to get payments from the retailers, or to update changes. Every time you change something, you have to go through re-approval for the Premium catalog as well, which is a bit of a pain.

D2D is smaller, as I said above, and doesn’t distribute as widely. They also don’t convert to as many formats, only epub, mobi, and PDF, though one could argue that you don’t need much more. (Smashwords does have an online reader that you can open on their website, which is arguably nice.) What is nice about D2D, and is a major reason we went with them, is that they update fast. Changes go up in less than a day, which is good for, say, price changes at the end of a sale and whatnot. Sales and payment go through a lot faster as well. This may be purely coincidental, but I’ve sold a lot more copies of CoHaR through the retailers than any of the books uploaded at Smashwords.

So I guess it depends on your end goals and what is more important to you. And I know some people upload to both, so they can have the sale page on Smashwords and the potential library distribution, but still make use of D2D’s faster distribution and payment.

Have one service you prefer? Used one or both? Have horror stories? Inquiring minds want to know, Squiders.

Revisiting Published Stories

Morning, Squiders. I hope you all had a lovely long weekend (for American Squiders), or that you at least didn’t get stung by a bee and fall down the stairs like some other people I know.

In slightly related news, how do you tell if you are allergic to bee stings?

Anyway, on to the topic at hand. There seems to be two camps when talking about books you’ve published. One camp says leave ’em alone–they’re out in the world, for better or worse, and you’re likely to just drive yourself crazy fixing things if you don’t just cut yourself off.

The other camp says, if you have access to your books, why not fix them? If there’s something consistently wrong, according to your reviews, and you can easily upload a new version, why wouldn’t you do it?

Personally, I find myself more in the first camp. Perfection is something we all hope for in a book, of course, but it is something that is hard to obtain, and even if you think it’s perfect, there’s no guarantee that anyone else will agree with you. Why drive yourself crazy tweaking this thing or that?

(One exception, I would say, would be nonfiction books. Then I say update, because it’s important to have the best information out there.)

That being said, I’m not against some tweaking, and it can be fun to go back through a book, to remember the writing journey and so forth. And it’s not a bad idea to occasionally read through and remind yourself what the story is about and what you love about it, so you can talk to the book if someone asks you about it.

(And I advocate reading through a book if you’re planning to write a sequel or related story, so you can recapture tone/characterization/etc.)

Last night I started reading through Shards. If you’ve been with me for a while, you were probably around when Shards came out in December of 2013. Shards is kind of off-genre for me, and it’s proven to be the most mixed of my books, in terms of whether people love it or hate it. Part of that, I think, is the book description, which I think may be somewhat misleading.

So, I’m going to rewrite the book description and see what that does. But, to do that, I have to remember what the book is. So, reading.

I’m only a chapter and a half in, thus far. So far, I’m enjoying it, though that is probably to be expected. I have noticed that the writing is not as tight as my more recent stuff, but that is also probably to be expected. One does hope that one gets better over time, after all.

Have you ever revisited a story that’s already been published, Squiders? Are you in the let it free and leave it camp, or the update as necessary camp? Any thoughts on Shards or its book description? It might be handy, if you haven’t read the book, to read the book description and then let me know what kind of story it sounds like so I can tweak appropriately.

Hybrid Publishing and Making It Work For You

Our storycraft meeting next week is on marketing and publishing, so as I’ve been working on putting the meeting together, I’ve come across some things that I thought you might like too, Squiders.

So, today, let’s talk about the concept of hybrid publishing.

What is hybrid publishing? Simply put, it’s any publishing model that falls in between traditional and self-publishing. Some indie publishers refer to themselves as hybrid publishers, because they have aspects of both. For example, Turtleduck Press has a traditional editing model, but allows authors full control of things such as pricing, covers, and where to list the books for sale, and it relies on POD and e-book technology.

That’s publishers and presses. For individuals, being hybrid published can mean a number of things, but typically it means that you have works that have been self/indie published, as well as some that were traditionally published.

You might be asking why one would want to do hybrid publishing. Well, let’s look at the pros to being traditionally published. You get some marketing/PR (hopefully). You are eligible for most major awards, can get your books reviewed by the snootiest of reviewers. There’s the clout, the respectability of having made it the “right” way. And you might get a large advance.

And the pros of self-publishing: you get full creative control of your story, cover, etc. You get more royalties and potentially more money over time. You can publish on your own schedule instead of waiting a year or more for each book to come out. You can switch genres and write whatever suits you at that particular moment of time.

So why hybrid publish? So you can get the benefits of both methods. An author can publish novels traditionally and self-publish short story collections and novellas in between novels to give their readers new stuff while they wait. An author can traditionally publish one more serious series while self-publishing another sillier series. You can traditionally publish short stories and link them to your self-published or indie-published novels. Hybrid publishing can be done in any number of ways.

In this day and age, is there any reason to not do both in any way that works for you?

Are a hybrid author, Squiders? Do you have any authors you follow that have a system you like?

Picking a Title: Surprisingly Hard

My co-writer (the lovely Siri Paulson) and I are deep into our revision for our novel coming out in May. I feel like it’s going fairly smoothly, because we identified a lot of issues ourselves and got started on fixes before we got our comments back from our editor. Siri may feel otherwise. We haven’t been in several-times-a-day touch like when we were writing and so now I feel like I have no idea what she’s thinking anymore.

But we’ve run into what’s turned out to be a difficult and complex issue: we can’t pick a title.

Titles are notoriously hard in general. You want something that evokes the theme and tone of the story without being too obvious, something catchy but not misleading. With my novels, I tend to pick a title before I start writing. This isn’t really the best practice, as the titles often times don’t fit by the time I’m done, but I find it hard to undertake a large project without a name. (Luckily with short stories, I can write them and then title them, which works much better.)

Siri deemed this the “Sekrit Project” at the beginning, which stuck, and has worked for getting around whatever name-hangup I have with novels, but now we need a real title because we’ve got to get the book up for pre-order, get the cover art done, reach out to reviewers, etc. And we can’t do anything of that without a title.

And we’re stumped. Because of the structure of the novel, we essentially have two of everything–two main characters, two settings, two plots. There are things and themes and everything that overlap, but finding something that makes sense for both characters and both worlds and the over-arcing themes has proven elusive.

We’ve bounced from more literal titles to more metaphorical titles and back again with no luck. We’ve looked at recent releases in the same genre to get an idea of title trends with no luck. We’ve asked our editor and our betas for suggestions. Again, no luck.

I kind of want to laugh. We worldbuilt together, we plotted and wrote and are now revising together, and we can’t manage a little thing like picking a couple of words to slap on the front of it.

Siri jokingly suggested we just call it the Secret Project, but alas, it will not work.

Any suggestions, Squiders? We’re at our wits’ end. Any thoughts about titling or things that have worked for you (or things that you look for when picking a book to read)?

Community Stories: Inkshares and JukePop

Oy, my main website got hacked. Boo hiss. ANYWAY.

There seems to be a trend toward community input these days. The general public has become the gatekeepers, and I think that’s okay. Things like indiegogo, Patreon, and Kickstarter allow people to support projects and artists they believe in and that they enjoy, even if those people might not be able–or want to–go through more traditional channels.

Self-publishing has somewhat done the same things for writing, but there are so many books out there, which makes it hard for self-published authors to connect with readers. So I’ve started to see some services come into being recently that allow authors to reach a reading community that just might work for them without having to go it alone.

I’ve been looking at two of these services myself, because they kind of seem like fun.

The first is Inkshares. Inkshares works more like Kickstarter. Authors pitch their stories, readers back said ideas, and when enough “pre-orders” are attached to a book, Inkshares professionally publishes (with an editor, designer, etc.) said book. Authors earn royalties as well past the initial process. Authors can also gain draft feedback before the start the pre-order process.

The second is JukePop. JukePop allows you to release a story serially. Stories that update at least monthly are eligible for rewards which can be used to offset publishing costs. Readers can vote and leave comments on stories as they go, and the ones with the most votes get the most rewards.

I haven’t used either of these services myself, but I do think they sound interesting, both from a reader or a writer perspective, so if they sound good to you too, you should check them out. And maybe, when I find myself in need of a new project, I’ll set something up on one or both of them. What do you think?

The Mess of the Query Letter

The mess of my life too, Squiders.

I’ve finally got everything in order to start getting my submission stuff together for my YA paranormal novel. So now I need to construct a query letter and a synopsis. I haven’t had to do either in, oh, five, six years? And sky sharks, does it show.

I kind of flipped out for the first few days this week. Do query letters still work the same way they did back then? If not, how have they changed? And then I cavorted about the Internet for an unnecessary amount of time. And then I procrastinated writing my query letter for as long as humanly possible, and then I wrote two of what are perhaps the worst query letters known to man.

I’d really like someone else to look at them. But my main writing community has undergone a membership shift in the past several years, and there’s not as many experienced people on a regular basis anymore. Do you know of any good communities for such things, Squiders? I promise that I will reciprocate (I’m actually decently at telling what’s wrong with query letters that are not my own) and not just be that annoying poster who shows up and asks for critique without so much as a “How do you do?”

And for the sake of why not, I’ll post my two current attempts here underneath a cut. If you’re interested in such things, you can give them a look.

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Some Websites Writers Might Want to Know About

Good morning, Squiders, I hope you’re all doing well. I haven’t been sleeping so well lately, so I’m a bit sleepy.

I’ve come across a couple of websites lately that I feel could be of interest to other writers and authors, so I thought I’d share them with you all in case you’re unaware of them.

The first is The Grinder, which I found randomly yesterday while I was submitting some short stories to various markets and looking at different anthology calls. Everyone remembers Duotrope, right? Duotrope was (is) a site that kept track of short story markets and allowed you to track your submissions. It had (has) stats for each market based on user input, including likelihood of being accepted. But a while ago it went paid, $50 a year or something. Well, the Grinder aims to do what Duotrope used to do–allow writers to track short story submissions and provide user-based input on markets. It’s still in beta, but if you miss Duotrope, definitely give it a look.

The second is WriterPitch.com, which looks like an interesting concept, but I do not claim any first hand knowledge as I have not personally participated. WriterPitch allows both writers and agents to make accounts, and the idea is that writers can post pitches for their books, and then agents can go through and see if anything interests them. Alternately, agents can post wishlists, and writers can query if they have a story that’s a good match. I have no idea what the writer to agent ratio is (it looks about 10:1 based on number of profiles), whether any agents are seriously looking at the website, and whether anyone has found any sort of success. But if you’re actively looking for an agent, you might give it a look and see if you think it will meet your needs.

Have you noted any interesting websites lately, Squiders? I got an interesting survey from Goodreads some months back, asking about new author features, but to my knowledge, none of those have gone into effect yet.