I took the self-pub plunge

Most of my author friends are self-published or hybrid writers. I often feel “out of the loop” when it comes to the details of the self-publishing process, so I decided it was time to take the plunge. At the behest one of them, I took the six blog posts about my workshop experience and why a rejection is an opinion (not a death sentence), and created a book: Rejection 101: A Writer’s Guide

Although it took all day, it took far less time than I thought it would.

I already had the KDP account set up, but I had never worked with the KDP system or Vellum (the layout software).

Here’s the run-down of what it took to go from a series of blog posts to a finished product.

I chose an image off DepositPhoto.com, and fired up Pages. This probably ate up most of my time. It had been awhile since I’d worked with Pages for anything other than writing, but it all came back to me. Create a black background. Add image on top. Check the reflection option. Add the fonts for the title and author. I spent more time playing around with fonts and colors, to be honest. Way too many choices, most of them bad. Saved it, changed the type of file, and done. Reopened it in Preview in order to adjust the ratio of image width to height, per Vellum’s suggestion. That took like another minute.

Next, Vellum. Great software, took about ten minutes and one very specific question posted to a group, and I had it figured out — the front and back matter, the chapters, the headers, dividers, everything–bam, bam, bam. It was amazing. By contrast, I was struggling with Jutoh for days before I threw my hands up in disgust and wished I’d never heard of it. With one press of a button, Vellum generated everything for all the platforms/venues/formats, all in one step: Generic ePUb, GooglePlay, iBooks, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and Print (i.e. a PDF).

It took longer to actually proof the PDF, Kindle and iBooks files (by looking at every page inside the file) than it took to put the book together, and that includes futzing around with the fonts and colors. (BTW, leave the extra pages in the PDF alone. They’re there for a reason.)

Vellum is pricey, but worth it (works only on Mac). You can play with a full version for free, but you have to have a license to hit that magic button that spits out all the stuff you can then upload to the various venues. No, you don’t need Vellum if you’re doing KDP because you can upload a .docx or .PDF or .rtf file instead, but that doesn’t mean that all your versions will look the same if you wide (other platforms).

Uploading to KDP was simple enough. The one snag I hit was with the paperback version, which took two tries to get right, so maybe fifteen minutes to re-do.

Did learn that you don’t need an ISBN–Amazon will “give” you one.

There was a 24-hour turnaround on the approval process.

Voila. That’s it, in a nutshell. Even a rocket surgeon can do it.

Up next, publishing on iBooks, Kobo, and Nook. Also CreateSpace, D2D, all this stuff I’ve heard of but never had a reason to look into too deeply.

When the heroes are bad guys

“Make your characters interesting.”

Don’t recall exactly where I got this little bit of writing advice, but I was thinking about it when a few someones came up to me and asked if I’d seen Lucifer. I think it was prompted by “The Devil You Know” (an unpublished short story of mine) which featured The Duke of Hades.

Fast-forward a couple of weeks and I’ve got the first disk of season one and I’m setting myself up for another Hollywood disappointment—my standards for anything coming out of Hollywood have fallen so much that I’d rather watch Korean dramas with subtitles (which I hate because they’re distracting).

Nevertheless, hat tip on Lucifer. I loved it. From the first episode. And no, it wasn’t all because of the eye-candy, or the arrogance, but because they somehow managed to make him interesting in a good way.

Plus, I seem to have a soft-spot for anti-heroes.Continue Reading

A rejection is an opinion, not a death sentence (part five)

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Mar. 1st, 2018

The fifth story was an exploration of dragons.

The first thing the buying editor admitted to was the fact that she did not articulate what she wanted as well as she thought she had. Unfortunately, that wasn’t apparent until she got the stories and it was too late to do anything about it. This brought up another important point about things that influence editorial decision-making. When they get a lot of stories that aren’t quite right (for whatever reason) the pressure on their time increases. They need to keep an eye on these time pressures, so they are more likely to buy stories that don’t need work.

Read the rest here: Rejection 101: A Writer’s Guide

Part Six

A rejection is an opinion, not a death sentence (part four)

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Feb. 28th, 2018

 

The theme for story four was “chances,” and although there were plenty of clues in the submission call that it was to be a romance anthology, it was never explicitly stated. Two people that take chances to be together didn’t say “romance” to everyone in the group, and I can see why that would be the case. If you don’t write romance, your version of “two people taking chances to be together” could manifest in other ways—a father and daughter trying to find each other when war comes to their world. Therefore several well-written pieces just didn’t make the cut because they were not, technically, romances.

Others had romantic elements, but the romance wasn’t the main focus, but a sub-plot.

But romances are right up my alley and since one of the examples in the call was “Anthony (conquerer) and Cleopatra (conquered)” that was the first plot bunny I chased down the wrong hole. For four days. Yep, I gave up on it some time late on Thursday and went to bed knowing I’d have Friday and the weekend to start fresh. Fun times. Fun times.

Read the rest here: Rejection 101: A Writer’s Guide

Part Five

A rejection is an opinion, not a death sentence (part three)

Part One

Part Two

Feb. 27th, 2018

The story for the third week had to do with strangers dealing with each other. And it was another one of those that made me scratch my head, especially the part about not wanting to read anything icky since it was a parent-child editorial team. No definition of “icky” was provided.

In retrospect I realize that my fear of putting in any details about sexual attraction actually kept me from adequately fleshing out the emotional aspect, which was something they did want. But, apparently, I can’t write anything that doesn’t tend towards having a romantic aspect of some kind—yes, it’s a personal flaw and probably not one I will fix since I like my romantic tensions too much.

This story started with an image of a blonde woman in a white suit and pumps, holding a pearl white briefcase, getting ready to go through a stargate.

I had no idea she was going to end up in Hell, no idea I was going to use a character I’d used in another (unpublished) story, no idea it was going to be about what it ended up being about, no idea that I was going to play off the Persephone/Hades myth. I had no idea I was going to bring in the concepts of war being hell, of military traditions, or a statement on totalitarianism.

Read the rest here: Rejection 101: A Writer’s Guide

Part Four

A rejection is an opinion, not a death sentence (part two)

Part One.

 

Feb. 26th, 2018

The workshop’s second assignment was another difficult one. The theme was “Broken Dreams” and the editor specified that she didn’t want the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” Even with the 8000-word limit, I wanted to skip this uncomfortable subject.

But I had to try. Otherwise, I’d be wasting my time and money, and losing a chance at getting some valuable feedback and insight on how to do it better later.

I’d been researching privateers for some reason (probably because something shiny flew by and led me there) so the first thing that came to me was to do a story about a guy that got cashiered and lost his opportunity for command. This turned out to be one of those cases where I was doing pure discovery writing (I had no end in mind at all) and no idea how to get there. I started with a character and waited to see where he took me.

After a couple of false starts, the character took 5500 words to take me here:

Read the rest here: Rejection 101: A Writer’s Guide

Part three.

A rejection is an opinion, not a death sentence (part one)

“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” – Norman Vincent Peale

One-point-two million words.

Two-hundred-and-seventy stories.

Six editors.

Why sign up to write six stories in six weeks without knowing a single thing about what you were going to be asked to write? Well, one answer is, to see if I could do it. The other answer—the real answer—was that what I really, really, really, wanted was the feedback.

I went into this expecting to sell nothing. As a first-timer, I knew that the likelihood that any of my stories would make the buy pile was going to be extremely low. And I was fine with that. What I wanted was an insight into the editorial process of some real pros, people who have been doing this for decades.

When you want to learn, learn from the best.

Read the rest here: Rejection 101: A Writer’s Guide

Part Two.