Self-publishing

The Genie Effect by Virginia King

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree How Authors Write Stories that Are Bigger than They Are Some authors plan their stories in advance. Then the writing process puts flesh on the bones of this outline. A few surprises may turn up along the way, but the story follows the plan. In this post I look at a different process called ‘pantsing’ – writing by the seat of the pants. This is when an author has little or no idea what they’re about to write – until they write it. These kinds of writers – like me – are keyhole peepers who wonder what might be lurking on the other side of the door. Their novels are a mystery to them and they discover the story by writing it. This uncorking of an unknown genie is a wild ride, scary and big. It’s also serious fun. Writing without a plan Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being) has a great explanation: The characters in my novels are my own unrealised possibilities. Each one has crossed a border which I myself have circumvented … Beyond that border begins the secret the novel asks about. Wow. His characters are taking him places he hasn’t been, through…

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Cover Crush: Blue Mercy by Orna Ross

Will you identify with mother or with daughter? When Mercy Mulcahy was 40 years old, she was accused of killing her elderly and tyrannical father. Now, at the end of her life, she has written a book about what really happened on that fateful night of Christmas Eve, 1989. The tragic and beautiful Mercy has devoted her life to protecting Star, especially from the father whose behavior so blighted her own life. Yet Star vehemently resists reading her manuscript. Why? What is Mercy hiding? Was her father’s death, as many believe, an assisted suicide? Or something even more sinister? In this book, nothing is what it seems on the surface and everywhere there are emotional twists and surprises. (“Breathtaking, and I mean literally — actual gasps will happen” said one reader review). Set in Ireland and California, Blue Mercy is a compelling novel that combines lyrical description with a page-turning style to create an enthralling tale of love, loss and the ever-present possibility of redemption. Thoughts on the cover Right away my eye was drawn to this cover. Before even reading the description my mind automatically though “oh, there is going to be darkness and mystery within these pages!” and,…

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Is it worth the effort to actually get your book on these shelves?

  Doesn’t it seem like a dream come true to get your book into a book store such as Barnes and Noble?  Ah, to see your book flying off the shelves in a “real” book store….. a store with thousands of books; hundreds in your genre; many traditionally published by the big guys; all languishing, sad and unnoticed. How do you feel about this?  Is it worth the effort to actually get you book on these shelves?  I wonder.  It is a fact that the big publishers are making a great deal of money- reportedly more than ever and even less to the authors than previously.  The world hasn’t turned exclusively to the online retailers yet.  There are still those readers who want to hold a book –even if the price between a print books and ebook can be extreme.  The usual cry is “what is better selling 2 books at $30 each or 20 at $3.  I would say the 20 books because the more readers you have the better chance you have of establishing the much desired word-of-mouth needed to make your book a best seller (not necessarily a big money maker).  I believe the success of a…

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When Do We Become “They”? by Plum McCauley

      We’ve all seen the articles recounting examples of the staggering ignorance of our student population—college students who aren’t sure who won the Civil War, what the Holocaust was, or even when World War Two took place. I remember years ago reading about a teacher who bemoaned the fact that his students didn’t know which came first, the Renaissance or the Reformation. I wasn’t sympathetic. My only reaction was to think that if any of my college freshman composition students even knew what those historical events were I’d fall into a dead faint... There’s probably not one of us in education who doesn’t wail like a Greek Chorus over The Current State of Education in America.  We wring our hands, frustrated by our seeming inability to DO anything.  This issue reared its head again for me recently when I was looking over the new IndieBRAG website.  I had excitedly awaited the changes in genre divisions, hoping that we’d at last have a proper middle grade section into which I could insert my own mystery/adventure novel for the 9-12 year-old set.  As any of you know who have a BRAG medallion for a children’s book, the wide range of…

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There is a story around every corner

  By Elisabeth Marrion My head is spinning, I spot a story on every corner I turn. What shall I do? The first three instalments of my Unbroken Bonds series were an easy choice once I had started the first book. I knew their stories needed to be told. To be honest, I did not plan on writing a trilogy in four parts. You heard right. Four. Well, other writers have done it, so why not?  BUT the big question is will book four have the same impact as the first three since the narrative is set in a different time? It was not my idea. To be honest, it was my husband, David’s, who, sadly, is no longer with me. Upon finishing book three, Cuckoo Clock-New York, David casually asked, “what is happening to Thomas?” What is happening to Thomas, indeed? I started book four at that point, and we discussed the chapters I was writing. Unfortunately, the project was put on hold as David’s health deteriorated, and I have not picked it up again. Instead, I kept busy translating Liverpool Connection into German. Previously, I had written several short stories. One almost became a novella, and I am…

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Meet my writer’s genie, the most distracting Ms Inspiration by Anna Belfrage

                Anna Belfrage   Sometimes, people ask me where all the ideas for my writing come from. That’s easy. I am afflicted – or blessed – by a vivid imagination and a most demanding muse, my very own Ms Inspiration. Lately, Ms Inspiration has not been much help. Not so that she doesn't spout ideas – she most certainly does, especially around three o'clock in the morning – but her attention span is the size of a newt’s, which means none of the ideas go much beyond an image or two. It's very annoying to have her leapfrog from a (great) idea for a story set in the 14th century to a vague daydream about becoming a hammer thrower and winning the Olympic gold. (This is the aftermath of having watched too much sports lately. Ms Inspiration has sadly concluded that I can neither ice skate, run nor do handstands, so throwing something is the single option that remains.) Mostly though, Ms Inspiration is presently suffering from indecisiveness. What she touts as a plausible idea on Monday is a dead duck on Tuesday, and the fabulous love scene she painted for me on…

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“Lessons Learned from Radio”

                      I recently heard my first play produced on the radio, an experience as nerve racking as the publication of my first book some twelve years ago.  The project taught me so many lessons which I will apply to my novel writing that I thought I could usefully share them here. Before I submitted my proposal, I was lucky that a retired professional theatre producer visited my bookshop and complained that he was asked to read so many well written plays that remained uncrafted.  He emphasised the distinction between a play-writer and a playwright, implying a craftsmanship comparable with cartwrights and wheelwrights. I began to think of a sculptor who starts with a fully shaped form and posture, be it angry or meek, overpowering or tear-jerking, and then works on every inch of the detail.  My visitor, who left without knowing that I had ever put pen to paper, reminded me that the audience has no second chances.  Readers may choose when,  where and  even the mood in which to open a book;  they may reread a section, take time to consider it, put it aside for later or even…

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Bad Review? Hmm, Is there Anything Good to Say About Them?

Helen Hollick Funnily, enough, yes there is! I look at reviewing novels with two different hats (and I do actually wear hats!) as Managing Editor of the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews, and as an author myself. As Managing Editor I have one main goal, and that is to improve the standard of indie-published novels. Indie (that includes all forms of self-publishing, whether using a company to help you produce your book, or completely Do-It-Yourself) has received a bad press over the years, with the assumption that if it isn’t good enough for traditional mainstream publishing, then it must be rubbish. Fortunately this out-of-date, somewhat bigoted view is rapidly receding because it has been proven to be wrong. Indie can, and often does, mean “darn good read”. I have a splendid US and UK-based review team and, as with Indie B.R.A.G., our criteria is to review novels that we would recommend people to buy. To this end, we will not review a self-published book that is incorrectly formatted: you’d be surprised how many books we receive that have such tiny font you need a magnifying glass, or the text is left-justified (i.e. ragged margin on the right… margins should be straight on…

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A Journey to Self-Publishing

Susan Appleyard A long, long time ago, in the days of yore, even before the internet and all its offshoots was anything more than a gleam in a mad scientist’s eye, I was traditionally published. The publishing company gave me a three book contract. Wow! And they actually paid me for the right to publish my book. Wow! Wow! I was very excited and perhaps a little smug. There were a number if people in my life who thought I couldn’t do it. Come what may afterward, my book had earned money and people would read it. So far so good. The book was about the favorite mistress of King Edward IV, and I called it The Merry Harlot because… well, that’s what she was. My editor didn’t like the title. She was afraid my readers wouldn’t know what a harlot was! She suggested The King’s White Rose. Who was I, a young housewife with three rambunctious kids, to argue with someone of such vast experience? So I agreed to the name change. After all, I consoled myself, a king figured prominently in the story and one of his heraldic symbols was the white rose. So there was some relevance.…

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Start at the beginning

ELISABETH MARRION The Night I danced with Rommel is my first book, and it was a long time coming. Over fifteen years, if I recall correctly. It was supposed to have a totally different title: 6 Married Children, don’t ask why. I actually started writing the story at that stage and thought it would be a good idea to contact Manfred Rommel, then the Mayor of Stuttgart, whether he still had the photographs my mother had sent him years ago, especially, the one of her dancing with Field Marshal Rommel. He searched his files, but I was out of luck on that one. I did receive, however, a private photograph of himself with his father and mother. I shelved the project for a while, fearing people might laugh about my idea to write a book. Eventually, I stopped worrying about that issue and joined a local writing group. Thank God I did. Otherwise, who knows what my writing would have been like? I destroyed my first draft and wrote a totally different novel. Which, to my amazement, wrote itself. I was totally clueless about the publishing world, believing publishers would queue for my story. Well, I soon learned the truth…

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