Editing Fiction with Scrivener

Editing Fiction with Scrivener Editing fiction? I wrote about my editing process with Scrivener in my writing journal today.

Since I’ve also received questions about it, I’ll post the info here. I’m editing a novella. Unfortunately I got carried away, and wrote several thousand words more than I need. The novella’s rapidly rushing into novel territory. Not to worry.

By the way, this is my process, so if you’re new to Scrivener, please don’t think it’s the only way to edit. Scrivener’s endlessly fluid. You can use as many, or as few of the tools as you please. So if talk about Collections or Snapshots puts you off, don’t worry about it. You don’t have to use them.

Edit with Scrivener

1. Compile and read the project

Your project’s done. It’s time to take it out of Scrivener, to see what you have. I like to compile projects for MOBI (Amazon Kindle format) for a first read, but you can compile into PDF, or other formats. Your choice.

Why compile? So you can read without distractions, and can get a sense of the project as a whole. Stuff that needs to be cut will stand out.

2. Back to Scrivener: slash and prune

You’ve done your read-through. Now it’s time to clear away the undergrowth and prune. What needs to go? Go through it your novel or short story and slash everything you don’t need. Remember to take a Snapshot of each document before you wade in. You can take as many Snaphots as you like. Scrivener guru Gwen Hernandez on Snapshots:

A snapshot (Documents—>Snapshot—>Take Snapshot) is a record of the document as it is right now, that gets saved as part of the document’s meta-data. It’s a great way to keep track of different versions of a scene or section without muddying up your binder with versions. I rarely go back to an old version, but I like knowing I can find my original words, if necessary.

3. Oh, how sad… it’s a mess :-)

You’ll have a messy manuscript now. :-) Go through and add material as needed.  At this stage, don’t worry about spelling or grammar errors, or any fine tuning.

Fix holes in character development, and in your plot. Remember that you can split documents, to make it easier. I like to both split documents, and add new documents, so that I can add them to Collections.

I have a Collection for each main character, and for the plot. Here’s an article on Collections.

With Collections, you can focus on specific elements. You can create “automatic” Collections with searches, as well as your own Collections. Done deleting and adding? Check your character and plot arcs, in their Collections. You’ll need to add more material.

4. You’ve patched it all together

Final pass. Smooth out sentences, paragraphs and scenes.

If you’re sending your novel off to an editor, give it a final read-through. At this stage, fix egregious errors in grammar, but don’t go over-board.

There’s no need to get clever with word choices and phrasing — you may yet need to slash entire scenes, if not chapters.

You may not have an editor. If you don’t, and you’re doing the editing, go through the process above AGAIN.

This will be your second draft. Remember to take lots of Snapshots.

Whether you have an outside editor, or do all the editing yourself, you’ll know when the novel’s ready for your beta readers.

Forget about the novel for now — it’s time to start on your next novel, or write a short story.

, and on Twitter: @angee. You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

photo credit: Rakka via photopin cc

Write a Novel, or a Short Story?

Write a Novel, or a Short Story?

It’s been decades since writers could make money writing short stories. Even then in stories’ heyday it wasn’t especially lucrative. Writers writing for pulp magazines had to be prolific to survive. Several writers have asked me: “Should I write a novel, or a short story?”

I wrote about writing and selling short stories here, on the freelance writing blog.

“Should I write a novel, or a short story?”

Short answer: write a short story. You can always turn it into a novel later:

I recently completed a short story that I could easily turn into a novel. The story has three main characters. We meet another couple of characters, and we hear about several other characters.

Without bending my brain too much, I could easily expand the short story. I’d just need to give the main characters more scenes with each other, and with the minor characters too. Everyone has an agenda, so the all the characters’ conflicts could be developed.

I’d need to add many scenes. We looked at the number of scenes in short stories, novellas and novels. Currently my short story has seven scenes.

Kindle Unlimited — a “market” for your short stories

I’m publishing my writing journal each day, and wrote about Kindle short stories this morning. I mentioned Kindle Unlimited: “Readers can download ten ebooks at a time. Why not download a short story? They can finish a story quickly.”

Kindle Unlimited is very new. No one knows what the ramifications will be for authors. However, it may well be that short stories become more popular.

As I said in Short Stories Sell, no short story you write is ever wasted.

Use short stories to gauge the market: consider a story market research

I’m not taking on any new fiction ghostwriting projects. I’m completing the projects I’ve agreed to do. Next year, I’ll be focusing on fiction — short stories, and novels.

Before I write a novel, I’ll test the market with a short story. If the short story gains NO interest, that’s useful to know. It’s never been possible for authors to figure out what will sell before they invest weeks and months in novels.

An example. I’ve been thinking about a series of historical mysteries. Before I start the first novel in the series, I’ll publish a long short story on Amazon. If the story sells, then it’s worth writing the novel.

Ideas are easy. Writing a short story is easy, when you compare it with writing a novel.

So, to sum up: should you write a novel or a short story? Write a story first. Publish it, and see what happens. You can always turn it into novel later, or my preference — write a novel set in that world, if the short story sells.

You can never guarantee the success or otherwise of any project. Short stories can give you a hint of what might be successful.

And also…

Stuck on a novel? Publish it as a short story

One of my students hit the wall in her novel. That often happens. However, she was totally dispirited. I looked at what she had, and suggested that she could turn her unfinished novel into a short story. All she had to do was insert a scene at her current midpoint, and write the ending. She did. It’s selling. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Short Stories for Money: Series, Sales and Reviews

Writing Short Stories for Money: Series, Sales and Reviews

 

Thinking about writing short stories?

A new author asked me about writing short stories and self publishing on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. We had a long chat; it was fun. I hope it helped. Some questions came up which writers often ask, so let’s look at them.

1. “I Started a Series, I’m Bored. Do I Have to Continue It?”

No! Start something else. You need to be able to write with some pleasure, otherwise you won’t do it. You may get fresh inspiration within a month or two for your series, after you’ve written other material. Or you may not get back to the series for years.

Nothing you write is ever wasted. I grabbed a short story I got bored with a couple of years ago, and used much of it for another project. You’ll use the material sooner or later, if you keep writing.

Get excited about what you’re writing. Then it won’t seem like work.

This kind of question often relates to erotica, which some writers can write brilliantly. Others can’t. Or they can, but they can’t write in “edgy” sub-genres, which make the most money. Erotica abounds in sub-genres which skate close to the line. “Monster” erotica used to sell well, then Amazon and other retailers lowered the boom on it.

If you’re pushing yourself to write something risky, and are blocking because you’re wondering whether Amazon will look at your ebook and send it back to draft, or whatever, start something new.

Keep writing. Write every day. I’m publishing my writing journal, so you can see that I just keep going.

Boredom is a warning. If your stories are boring you, they’ll bore readers too. :-)

2. “Help! My Stories Aren’t Selling.”

Firstly, how many stories have you written? If you’ve written fewer than 30, keep going.

Next, read. Authors publish their ebooks as freebies. Download them, and read. Here’s Amazon’s Top 100 Free in Paranormal Romance, for example. Read widely.

You’re not reading to copy anyone. You’re reading to improve your writing, overall, by enhancing your command of language and by absorbing story structure. The best novelists and short story writers understand people too, so read the THE 50 BEST SHORT STORIES OF ALL TIME. You’ll find the stories in short story collections in your library. Older stories are available at Project Gutenberg – here’s Chekhov, for example. I regularly reread his: The Lady With the Dog, it’s wonderful.

Lastly, make some of your stories free. Christmas is coming up, so start writing some Christmas-themed stories now. Write as many as you like. Make at least one permanently free. Your freebie should help to sell your other stories.

3. “A Reviewer Said…”

Don’t read reviews, if you worry about what people say about your material. I recently coached a writer who panics over reviews. I suggested that he ask his wife to screen his reviews. She can then pass on anything she thinks will help him in his writing. We worked a little on his confidence too. :-)

If you want opinions on your work, get some beta readers for your stories; make sure they’re people who read in your genre. Pay attention to what they say, because it will be useful.

Onward. Writing short stories is amazing for one simple reason: you can make money writing short stories. That hasn’t been possible for decades. If you love to write, write on. :-)

Write Commercial Fiction

If you’re struggling with your writing, trading your hours for dollars, maybe it’s time you considered something different: write commercial fiction. Once written, your ebooks will sell for years…

Write Commercial Fiction

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Become a Bestselling Author Now

bestselling author

You want to become a bestselling author. Is it just a pipe dream? Today, it needn’t be, if you’re prepared to learn your trade, write, and self publish. Almost anything is possible for authors today, if you’re prepared to WORK for it.

Read Michael Price’s How Barbara Freethy Became the Bestselling Amazon KDP Author of All-Time:

I knew I had the right look when sales took off. I was also able to release several books within one year, both backlist and new original work, which helped build my momentum. Once a reader found one book they liked, they had another one to buy.

Barbara Freethy is hard-working. People who succeed at anything are hard-working, so that’s nothing new.

Learn what’s possible, right now

I mentor writers, many of whom would love to be bestselling authors. However, they face challenges. Here’s their biggest challenge: a lack of belief in themselves. This self-doubt not only stops them publishing, it stops them writing.

Here’s the big advantage that an author like Barbara Freethy has over new authors. She’s traditionally published, so she knows how publishing works. She knows there’s no mystique in publishing. She knows that the books that leave a writer’s desk need editing. They need good covers. And they need promotion. Most importantly of all, Barbara knows the value of READERS.

From Price’s article:

How has the direct line of communication social media provides between you and your readers allowed you to grow as a writer?

This has been a huge advantage for me. I have more freedom in my content now because it’s just me and the reader! I know what my readers want in my books, and I can give it to them.

 

Barbara understands what’s possible.

New authors don’t. So how do you begin to realize what’s possible for you, and begin your journey from unknown author to bestseller?

Become a bestselling author, starting now

You write, and self publish. You learn the self publishing trade. Alternatively, you go the traditional publishing route, if you need validation. Many new authors do. They need help to believe what’s possible for them. There’s no disgrace in that.

Before the Kindle revolution, bestsellerdom was possible for very few authors. They needed luck. They needed to find not only a publisher, but also a literary agent who believed in them.

Their journey didn’t end when their book hit bookstores. It hadn’t even begun. Their book was on shelves for three months. Then it was remaindered. This was common for most authors.

Apropos of which, one of the funniest poems ever, for authors at least, is Clive James’ wicked ‘The Book of my Enemy Has Been Remaindered’.

It begins:

And I am pleased.
In vast quantities it has been remaindered
Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized
And sits in piles in a police warehouse,
My enemy’s much-prized effort sits in piles
In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs…

I love the final stanza, which begins:

Soon now a book of mine could be remaindered also,
Though not to the monumental extent
In which the chastisement of remaindering has been meted out
To the book of my enemy,
Since in the case of my own book it will be due
To a miscalculated print run, a marketing error–
Nothing to do with merit.

If you choose to self publish, your books will never be remaindered. And if you go the traditional publishing route, once it’s remaindered, you can get your rights back and self publish.

So, what are you waiting for? Your journey to become a bestselling author starts now, with what you do NOW.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Become a Bestselling Author: This Is Clever

Become a Bestselling Author: This Is Clever

You’re writing books, and you want to become a bestselling author. How do you do it? Most writers believe it’s just a matter of luck, but it can be a matter of a strategy too. I’ve heard of writers using what Hugh Howey calls the Liliana Nirvana Technique, but I don’t know whether I’d have the patience to apply it as-is.

Here’s what the strategy/ technique boils down to: you write several ebooks, and you publish them together – all on the same day. This gets you Amazon’s help to make more sales. Here’s how Hugh explains it:

Why does this work? I think it has to do with “impressions,” or the number of times people see a product before they decide to take a chance on it. (In this case, the product is your name.) It also has to do with recommendation algorithms and how new works are treated on various online bestseller lists.

Become a Bestselling Author With an Explosion of Titles

As Hugh says, this strategy – which Liliana calls her “5 down and 1 in the hole” technique apes what happens when traditionally published authors get control of their backlist, and shovel their titles onto Amazon:

They didn’t gain a massive following until after they regained rights to their backlists and self-published. When they did get those rights, they secured works that were already written and edited. They could do some minor tweaks, update cover art, and release those works in rapid order.

Fast releases seem to lead to fast sales and – providing that the books are good, of course – that can lead to bestsellerdom.

I love the idea of the strategy, because it uses Amazon’s database to gain traction. The more books you have for sale, the more Amazon can promote you, automatically.

Wonderful as the strategy is however, it depends on an author having an enormous amount of patience. Not to mention, the ability to write six books quickly. If it takes you six months to write a book, you’ll need to be patient for the next three years, and a lot can change in that time.

A Modification of the Strategy: Three Months to Release

If you’re anything like me, and your reaction to this strategy is, “not in this lifetime”, you can modify the strategy. No one suggests that you need six full-length novels. Why not five short stories (to act as teasers), and a novel, or novella, to act as your “1 in the hole”?

I’m considering creating a pen name to write a series of mysteries later this year, and I’m planning to use “5 down and 1 in the hole” using short stories and a novel. Short stories are quick. The novel will take longer. I should be able to get all six books ready to roll within three months. It’s a way of kicking off the pen name with a bang, so to speak.

Another Modification to Become a Bestselling Author

You can modify Liliana’s strategy in any way you choose. Release two novellas, and have a novel ready to release a month later. You can tinker with the strategy in any way which makes sense to you.

If you have the patience to write six full-length novels, to use the strategy as-is, more power to you. With great books, you’ll get the exposure, and you may indeed become a bestselling author.

Write Commercial Fiction

Writing fiction? Is it commercial? Get more info: write commercial fiction. Once written, your books will sell for years, and if they’re commercial, they’ll sell well.

Write Commercial Fiction

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

photo credit: via photopin cc

HarperCollins To Help Authors to Sell Books From Their Websites

One of the biggest benefits of self publishing is that authors can sell books directly to readers, via Amazon and the other ebook retailers. With the current kerfuffle between Hachette and Amazon, publishers are looking for ways to make more profit from books. HarperCollins is now selling books directly to readers.

More fascinating news from HarperCollins:

According to Publishers Lunch, this is just the first phase of a larger project to work with HarperCollins authors to sell books and ebooks directly to readers around the world:

Within the next couple of weeks Harper “will reach out to authors to make a concrete proposition” on how they “will be able to use the technology to sell directly from their own websites” with some simple code.

This is amazing news, and it’s about time.

Authors: make it easy for your readers to buy your books

Authors aren’t good at selling their books — big surprise. I have many favorite authors, and I’m constantly amazed that when I go to an author’s website, it’s sometimes impossible to buy the book by clicking through to Amazon, or wherever.

Yes, you can read the first chapter of an author’s new book, but authors don’t link to their books on the book retailers, so you need to copy the book’s title, and hunt for it.

It’s understandable that authors don’t know how to link to their books, but their Web developer does know. You’d think that they’d either teach the authors how to do it, or would do it for them.

I hope HarperCollins does make it easier for authors to sell from their websites. They’ll make more sales, and everyone will be happier. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Ebook Publishing: Draft2Digital Now Does Scribd

Draft2Digital

Big news in ebook publishing. If you’re a self publisher, you can now distribute to Scribd via Draft2Digital. Wonderful, but I do wish they’d add Google Play Books as well. :-)

If you’re worried about pirating on Scribd, a KBoards member reports:

I am on Scribd via Smashwords, and the digital fingerprint thing works too if anyone is wondering. I had uploaded samples of my early books onto Scribd myself, and once my Smashwords versions went live, I got an email saying my content had been taken down because Scribd recognise the Smashwords version as the legit one.

Draft2Digital is an amazing service. On the freelance blog, we’re talking about publishing nonfiction this week, and if your ebooks aren’t on Scribd, you can now get them there simply and easily.

Consider formats,  as well as distribution

The more retailers — the wider your distribution — the more ebooks you’ll sell, all things being equal. You should also consider formats.

In my latest program for writers, I share the FORMATS secret with you:

* Discover the big secret of ebook publishing few writers use. Here it is – FORMATS;

* Add value to every ebook you write, and sell it for $4.99 and at many other price points too… Grow your ebooks and sell them for $47 and more;

* Write an ebook in the morning, and sell a version in the afternoon.

Too many nonfiction self publishers leave money on the table because they never consider publishing in different formats. Consider that you have a potential audience of millions around the globe. The more formats you offer, the more you will sell. Everything depends on your topics, of course.

When you write and sell nonfiction, the possibilities for publishing in various formats offer immense potential. So consider formats, as well as distribution.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Characters in Fiction: Love Me, Love My Flaw

Characters in Fiction: Love Me, Love My Flaw

How many people do you know who are perfect? No one’s perfect. We all have flaws – many of them. So characters in fiction need flaws too. Creating a flaw which works can be a real challenge, especially if you’re new to writing fiction.

While all characters are based on aspects of their creator, if you’re a new writer you’ll create characters who are Mary Sues or Marty Stus: idealized people, representations of yourself, and your counterpart of the opposite sex.

To avoid this, focus on a character’s flaw.

Tip: in your first draft, just write. A flaw may emerge naturally from the character – he’s hot-tempered, speaks without thinking, and is dismissive of others’ emotions. She’s too self-centered: she sees everyone in terms of herself.

If your flaw doesn’t emerge naturally, create one in in your second draft.

The Younger Your Character Is, the Easier It Is to Create a Flaw Which Works.

Rita Henuber writes:

I feel the younger the character, the more they have to learn and the more flaw possibilities. Consider the cattle baron’s only child, a daughter, comes home from her first semester of college and announces she is now vegetarian and the family are murderers. What’s her flaw? She’s immature and wants to fit in with her college boy friend’s group who are anti everything.

The older a character, the harder it is to make him/ her sympathetic despite a flaw, because that flaw is part of the character. Few people change in any fundamental way once they’re in their 30s and beyond. Their character is set: that’s just the way they are.

Your readers can empathize with a man who’s hot-tempered in his 20s, and gets in trouble because of that. Once he’s in his 30s, that flaw probably won’t work, unless he’s well aware of it, and is actively trying to change.

Characters in Fiction

Consider my favorite character, Scarlett O’Hara. Scarlett has many flaws; she should be a deeply unsympathetic character. When Gone With the Wind begins, Scarlett is just 16. She’s engaging, and readers forgive her flaws. By the end of the book, readers forgive Scarlett again – why? One reason. Scarlett never, ever gives up. She’s the ultimate in strong characters, and readers love strong characters.

Scarlett has a lot in common with Thackeray’s Becky Sharpe – both are strong, deeply flawed characters.

Character Flaws in Genres: Be Wary of Creating Stereotypes.

I read a lot of romance fiction, especially Regency romances. In Regency romances, the rake is a staple. He’s young, he’s wild. Readers forgive him this flaw because he had a horrible childhood, and never knew love. The heroine teaches him to love, and he’s suddenly reformed, because of his love for the heroine.

In mystery fiction, you have the flawed detective. He’s a sensitive soul, who drinks because he’s seen too much of the dark side of life. If you make your character an alcoholic, he stops drinking for a reason. Something means more to him than alcohol. Make sure that he stops drinking by around chapter three, after you’ve set up your plot.

What are common character flaws in the genre in which you’re writing? Read. You’ll soon spot them. Be aware that if you choose a character flaw which is common in your genre, your character may become a stereotype. Brainstorm, and find ways to avoid that.

Choose Your Favorite Flaw.

Here’s a list of character flaws on TV Tropes, and a list of good flaws, and bad flaws.

Try to make your main characters and their flaws complementary. Consider the characters of David Huxley and Susan Vance in the old movie, Bringing up Baby. David’s a calm scientist, Susan is energetic and confident. They’re pretty much opposites – he’s struggling for money, she’s wealthy, and so on.

Play a series of “what if” games, if you can’t decide on a flaw, or if one doesn’t emerge naturally.

Character Flaws Are Fun to Write.

Character flaws can make your short story or novel. I enjoy creating cynical, snarky characters, and characters with a short fuse. Think about your favorite story characters, and their flaws.

Your characters’ flaws make them memorable too.

Consider Tom Ripley. Lovely man, shame he’s a murderer. Or Walter Mitty, who lives in fantasy. Or David Brent, of The Office fame. David’s totally oblivious to his effect on others.

In summary, characters in fiction need flaws. Flaws are fun to create, and they can make your characters truly memorable.

Make the Switch to Fiction With our Complete Fiction Writing Package

Storytellers' Bonanza - Write Novels And Short Stories FAST

Two of my most popular fiction writing programs have now been combined into one package. (They’re still available separately.)

If you haven’t tried your hand at fiction, you’ll love this. New writers have been asking me for a special deal on the two programs, because they want a complete grounding in fiction.

So here you go: Storytellers’ Bonanza – Write Novels And Short Stories FAST – Complete Fiction Writing Package.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Short Story Shortcuts: Scene Therapy

Short Story Shortcuts: Scene Therapy

Short stories are fun to write, because they’re short. However, they can also be challenging for the same reason. You’re writing to a genre, and your readers have clear expectations for that genre. You can’t shortchange them, you must give them what they want.

This means that you need to be super-clear on a genre’s demands. I love old-style Westerns, so Louis L’Amour is a favorite author of mine. You always know exactly what to expect from him, and he always exceeds your expectations.

It’s been said that L’Amour recycled the same four or five plots, but so what? If you can do what he did – decipher what readers of a genre want, you’ll satisfy your readers.

“How Do You Feel About That?”

Let’s say that you’ve written a short story, and met your genre’s demands. It’s time to revise. I tend to do several revisions, because I write first drafts quickly. For my final revision, I do “scene therapy.” I gauge characters’ ebbs and flows of emotion throughout each scene.

Why focus on emotion? Because your reader lives your story with your characters. Martha Alderson put it well:

A character and her emotional state should be constantly changing. If you write a scene where this is missing, chances are the scene will fall flat and turn your story stagnant.

Start with your first scene. Do you know how the Point of View (POV) character feels immediately? What about the other characters in the scene? In a short story, with just a few scenes, you can’t develop your characters, but you can give them a range of emotions.

As the scene progresses, your character’s emotions will change, according to the action in the scene. (“Action” may simply be dialogue.) Keep asking your character: “how do you feel about that?”

This morning I worked on a scene in which the POV character’s emotions changed from sadness to anger. In earlier drafts, the character was sad, and although the anger was there, it was implied. I made the anger visible, in what the character thought and did, and it immediately lifted the scene.

Try scene therapy for yourself. Don’t try to do it in your first draft; wait until you’re hitting your final revision. Then, dig into your characters’ emotions. It’s huge fun, and it will make your short stories more satisfying for readers.

When You Know You’ll Be Sorting Out Emotions Later, You Can Write Faster

Doing scene therapy with your characters once you’ve got story, setting, characters, and plot all worked out enables you to write faster. You can simply allow your characters to act, and react in early drafts. Later, you’ll reveal their thoughts, and will refine their actions. It saves time, and you’ll write faster. Try it.

Make the Switch to Fiction With our Complete Fiction Writing Package

Storytellers' Bonanza - Write Novels And Short Stories FAST

Two of my most popular fiction writing programs have now been combined into one package. (They’re still available separately.)

If you haven’t tried your hand at fiction, you’ll love this. New writers have been asking me for a special deal on the two programs, because they want a complete grounding in fiction.

So here you go: Storytellers’ Bonanza – Write Novels And Short Stories FAST – Complete Fiction Writing Package.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Giggle: Traditional Publishing Companies and Their Authors

giggle: traditional publishing companies

You may be wondering HOW traditional publishing companies retain authors. It’s easy. They’ve trained them well. Read, and laugh. Or weep.

Oh dear. Amazon hates authors, and only traditional publishing companies have their authors’ wellbeing at heart. (Snicker.)

You may not believe it, but this author certainly does: From How Amazon Means Less Books For You:

In other words, Amazon’s behavior right now is impacting my ability to sell more books to Orbit, since when preorder numbers take this kind of hit it’s harder for Devi to fight for me in acquisition meetings.

That’s the entire problem with authors who’ll stick with traditional companies through thick and thin (mostly thin and thinner), right there: “my ability to sell more books to Orbit”. 

What about readers? Self publishing authors concern themselves with readers. Traditionally published authors worry about publishers.

From the comments on the article:

You know what’s an even better indicator of how well a certain book will sell? Posting it on Amazon for sale and seeing what happens.

Of course PG’s observation regarding the “greedy” and “predatory” nature of Amazon’s author royalties is spot on. I will take 70% and the lack of a contracts dept that takes 6 months to decide whether I’m worthy of being published every day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

It’s worth reading all the comments on this article… In the meantime, if you’re a self publishing author, go back to writing great books for your READERS.

 

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Revising Fiction: Motivation Is Everything

Revising Fiction: Motivation Is Everything

Revising fiction can be complicated. You change something here, and you need to follow those changes right through the novel. Revising short stories is a lot less complicated. If you remember motivation, your stories will not only be more satisfying for readers, they’ll also be a lot more fun to write.

What’s Your Motivation?

Short stories are short, by definition. They’re also easy to unbalance. Here’s an example. You’re writing a mystery. In your first scene, you introduce your sleuth, and he investigates the dead body. Magic: your mystery is on track. The following scenes will include misdirection, red herrings, and clues.

Somewhere in there, you need to do a little characterization. You give your sleuth a toddler. As kids will, the kid takes over. Before you know it, the first draft of well-planned story isn’t a mystery. It’s a story about a single father who just happens to be a detective.

You decide the kid has to go. She’s a nuisance. Not so fast. Yes, eliminate the scene in which the kid appears, but keep the kid. She’s motivation. Instead of giving her most of a scene, have daddy-sleuth thinking about the kid: her chubby fists, her curls… Your sleuth is determined to catch the murderer, because he doesn’t want the murderer running around free in the same world as his daughter.

Motivation Makes Revision Much Easier.

In real life, you want something just because you want it. In fiction, you’re motivated to want something because_______ (fill in the blank.)

When I’m helping students with revision, everything becomes simpler once they fix on a motivation for each of their characters. A character comes alive. He or she starts to make sense. You can rapidly weed out paragraphs and entire scenes, because they’re no longer necessary.

If you’ve overloaded your novel or short story with “telling” – narrative – rather than scenes, you can eliminate much of it, because you don’t need it. Once you’ve motivated your characters, you don’t need a lot of telling. Scenes are easy to write.

Try it. When you’re revising fiction, ask yourself what your character’s primary motivation is. Your revision will go much more swiftly.

Write Commercial Fiction

If you’re struggling with your writing, trading your hours for dollars, maybe it’s time you considered something different: write commercial fiction. Once written, your ebooks will sell for years…

Write Commercial Fiction

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Editing Your Book: Cleverest Tactic EVER

Editing Your Book: Cleverest Tactic EVER

Editing your book can take forever, or at least, it can seem like forever. What if you had not just one editor, but many? You’d get the pesky editing out of the way faster.

J. Travis Washburn writes his books in Google Docs, and shares his books with readers who help him to edit. (You’ll have to read the entire article to discover his process.) In his article, How to Hire the Best Book Editor for Free: Crowdsource Editing, he says:

I like to think of editing in a three-level structure:

Alpha Readers make comments on global issues like concepts, plots, themes, characters, and settings. They comment about the story.

Beta Readers comment on the mid-level stuff. But they’re basically the best of both worlds, commenting on both the big issues and small.

Gamma Readers are the ones who notice punctuation and spelling errors, the small stuff. A misplaced comma never slips by them.

The process sounds wonderful, except for Google Docs. I’m assuming that J. Travis Washburn writes in another app and then posts to Google Docs? I can’t imagine writing anything directly in Google Docs. I’ve tried. It doesn’t work for me.

Of course, there are alternatives to Google Docs. Quip for one; I use Quip with clients. You can import files from Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote to collaborate with others. So you could import a chapter at a time. So if you’re as freaked by Google Docs as I am, you could use Quip, or similar.

“Crowdsourcing” your editing is a clever tactic. With many eyes on your book before it’s published, you could be sure not only that your book works for readers, but also that nary a typo sneaked through.

Not sure how to get alpha readers ? Use your blog (another good reason for creating a blog). In Blogging Books and Your Writing: Do It YOUR Way, we discussed several different types of blogs you could create. Alternatively, try social media websites, like Twitter and Facebook, or my favorite, Google+.

 

Write Commercial Fiction

If you’re struggling with your writing, trading your hours for dollars, maybe it’s time you considered something different: write commercial fiction. Once written, your ebooks will sell for years…

Write Commercial Fiction

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Self Publishing Your Book: It’s FREE

Self-Publishing Your Book: It’s FREE

Wondering how much self publishing your book will cost? It’s free. Last week I was chatting with a group of new authors who’d been told that it would cost them several thousand dollars to self publish a book.

My jaw dropped. I wondered how anyone could believe that. Then I realized that there’s so much misinformation around about self publishing “costs” that yes indeed, some new writers DO believe that. Some of the self publishing misinformation is meant to mislead, because someone’s making money from newbie authors, the rest of it’s just nonsense.

So again: self publishing to Amazon and all the other ebook retailers is free, free, free.

Amazon’s your biggest market, so upload your material there first. Later, you can upload to Draft2Digital, which will get you onto iBooks, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, et al. Draft2Digital has more retailers coming; I’m looking forward to the day they add Google Play.

Self-Publishing Is FREE, Gratis…

Again, it’s free. Whenever you want to self publish an ebook, just create an MS Word or iWork Pages document of the final draft of your nonfiction book, or of your novel, or short story. Then upload the Word or Pages doc to Amazon. Amazon converts the file into its MOBI format for you. You can create and upload your own image for the cover, or if you can’t be bothered creating your own graphic, use Amazon’s Kindle Cover Creator – also free.

If you want to do a print version of your book, use Amazon’s Createspace. That’s essentially free too.

If You Wish, You Can Spend Money on Editing and Cover Images.

I ghostwrite fiction and nonfiction for clients, and sub-contract the editing. I’m a reasonable editor, but my time’s better spent on writing. I also sub-contact cover images.

However you don’t need to do that. Get a couple of beta readers, and swap proofreading with a friend. It’s easy enough to correct errors after your ebook’s selling on Amazon. Just upload the corrected file.

The next time someone tells you that self publishing costs anything, scoff at them, with my blessing. Or better yet, simply ignore them and get on with self publishing your books. You don’t need to listen to nonsense. :-)

Write Commercial Fiction

If you’re struggling with your writing, trading your hours for dollars, maybe it’s time you considered something different: write commercial fiction. Once written, your ebooks will sell for years…

Write Commercial Fiction

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Writing a Book: Editors Are Wonderful, But…

Writing a Book: Editors Are Wonderful, But…
Shock, horror… You’ve heard from your editor.

You’re writing a book. You’ve completed a draft, and emailed it to your editor. It comes back, with lots of suggestions and corrections.

What do you do? A student asked this question because she was very upset.

Let’s address the upset first. It’s your book, you’re very close to it, and having someone make (what seem like) disparaging comments is upsetting. It’s normal to feel as if you’ve been kicked in the head. Every author gets stressed during editing. However, your stress is unhelpful. Your book needs editing, because you wrote it. There’s no way you can read it as a reader would. Editing makes your book better.

You’ll recover your equilibrium. Go for a walk, or the gym – go anywhere, and get some exercise. Wait for your initial reaction to pass…

All better? OK. :-)

Now let’s look at the kind of editing your book got.

Writing a Book: Editors Are Wonderful, But…

What Kind of Edit Did You Get?

There are several different kinds of editing, including: developmental, copyediting (line editing), and proofing.

Developmental editing (also termed substantive editing) is basically a revision. It’s pulling your book apart, and putting it back together so that it’s better. (Or at least, everyone hopes it’s better. I’ve noticed that when indie publishers get a “real” publisher, their books get worse. Readers notice the change in voice, and don’t like it. )

Your developmental editor looks at the book, gets an overall feel for the book and how it might fit into the marketplace, and gives you suggestions for revision. She might offer suggestions for character development, or ask you to eliminate a subplot because you don’t need it, and so on. Developmental editing can be wholesale slaughter. Believe it or not, this is good for you. When you survive this, you’ll be a better writer.

Line editing is what it sounds like. The editor goes through your book, line by line, and offers ideas and suggestions, and asks questions.

A proofread isn’t strictly an edit. However, it can be. If you’ve hired an editor, it depends on what you’ve asked for. Usually the proofread is the final edit before the book goes to print, in traditional publishing, or before you convert your book into MOBI and upload it to Amazon if you’re self-publishing.

Editing and You: YOUR Name Is on the Book.

You need an editor. Every author does. Therefore, read all editorial suggestions carefully, and don’t dismiss them out of hand. When it comes down to it however, remember whose name is on the book. It’s your name. Not your editor’s.

An aside. There seems to be a fashion in traditional publishing, which started in the 1990s, and in some indie books too, for editors to get a credit in the front matter: Editing by… That’s cheer-worthy. YES! Share the blame. (I’m joking. Sort of. :-))

What if You Can’t Afford an Editor?

There’s no shame in that. Nor do you necessarily need or want an editor. Look, currently I’m writing some SHORT erotic short stories under a pen name. They’re around 5,000 words each ebook. Do I want an editor for them? Hell no. I can do it myself – revise, line edit and proof. These are shorts, written for a specific audience. If readers start quibbling about editing when they’re reading erotica, the ebooks have bigger problems than a few typos.

In indie publication, professional editing is nice, but you can do a lot of editing yourself. Or you can trade editing with another writer.

If You Must Say “No” to an Editorial Suggestion…

When you hire an editor, or find yourself edited by an editor at a publishing house, do your best to comply to editorial comments. But don’t be too ready to change anything in your book on an editor’s say-so: it’s your name on the book, so stand up for yourself. :-)

Over the years, I’ve said “no” to editors’ demands and suggestions. The key when you reject something, is to be totally professional. Explain as much as you need to, but don’t over-explain. As we’ve said, your name is on the book.

Keep in mind that editors can be wrong. Developmental editing is subjective. And line editors (copyeditors) can be ignorant fools, to put it mildly. A copyeditor can correct things which don’t need correcting, and introduce errors. You’ll hear many authors swear about and at copyeditors.

Writing a book is an accomplishment. Surviving your edits builds your character. It’s an editor’s job to make your book better, and most editors are wonderful, so enjoy your edits. :-)

 


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, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.