Monday, June 20, 2016

Book Formatting Tips - Cleaning up the Word Document

One aspect of book formatting most people don’t discuss is the initial cleanup. Whether you are formatting it yourself or someone else is doing the job, here are some things to look for that will make formatting easier.

Step one - Click button to show paragraph marks and formatting. Spaces are dots, paragraph returns are P’s.

Step two - Do a Find & Replace on all of the double spaces. There should be a single space between each sentence and word.

Step three - Remove any manual indents. Those will show as arrows.

Never use the tab key to indent. Open up the paragraph box and set the indent there. This is also where you control justification and line spacing.

Step four - Do a search and destroy for all spaces at the ends of sentences. These can cause a sentence to extend one line farther. In a print book, that might be what sends a lone line at the end of the chapter to a page all by itself.

These spaces come from the habit of hitting the space bar after every sentence. Sometimes we type another line, but sometimes we hit the return key and start a new paragraph, leaving that space (or two) at the end of the sentence. I can always tell when an author is on a roll - those spaces vanish.

Step five - Do a search and destroy for extra spaces at the beginning of a paragraph. This is even more critical, as those will indent the line just a little bit more than the rest, resulting in an unprofessional look.

Step six - Look for odd issues, like forgetting a space before or after * * * or too many asterisks.

These are simple, basic items that need attention before the manuscript is formatted for either print or eBook. But they will make a world of difference in how the book appears. (And your formatter will thank you!)

Did you know to look for those issues?

NEW IWSG Day Feature!

We’re revving up IWSG Day to make it more fun and interactive.
Every month we'll announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.
The first IWSG Day question is for July 6th.

JULY 6TH QUESTION: What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?

To join the IWSG, visit the SITE.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

I feel like I live a double life! And both author and publisher are very, very busy at the moment.

Still making progress on my own book. All five stories are in various stages of writing & editing. Once I have them ready, I will need to find some critique partners for this genre, which is new to me. I love reading paranormal romance, but this is my first time writing it.

If you’d like to get a feel for the stories, I have created boards for each one on Pinterest -
Four in Darkness

I confess I’m a Pinterest junkie! If you’re on Pinterest, please follow me or one of my boards here.

On the publishing side, I’ve been preparing books for review and sending out review copies like a mad woman. I’m very excited about our next two releases. I fell in love with both stories. If you like psychological thriller/mystery or paranormal/horror, then check them out at Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

Two other books are slated for release, one this December and the other next March, plus I have a couple in the hopper than I might sign. One is a science fiction story that I’m really excited about.

This is what really gets me going! Seeing Dancing Lemur Press grow and all the new authors. So many great stories that need to find an audience.

(And if you’re wondering what we accept, please see our submission guidelines for Dancing Lemur Press and our imprint, Freedom Fox Press.)

I guess if I have an insecurity it’s that I’ve always worried I would be a better publisher than author...

Any paranormal romance writers out there looking for a critique partner?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Your Turning Point and Best Promotional Advice

The Thing That Turned Me anthology from Stay Classy Publications is set to release on June 30.

In celebration, I posed the following two questions to some of the anthology authors:

1 - What was your own personal turning point?

2 - What’s your best book promotion advice?

From Randi Lee, owner of Stay Classy:

1 - My own personal turning point came when I gave birth to my daughter; I knew it wasn't just about me anymore. Her birth inspired the birth of Stay Classy Publications, a venture designed to help fellow authors pursue their dreams of publication.

2 - The best promotional advice I can give is to be honest with your message. Don't be too forceful or pushy; rather, allow the writing to speak for itself.

From Christine Rains:

1 - My turning point was my first acceptance. A drabble with which I was paid one dollar in cash. I still have that dollar framed on my desk. It gives me the strength to not give up on my dreams.

2 - Offer one story for free to tempt readers to buy more of your books.

From Roland Yeomans:

1 - When I was dragging my unconscious 150 pound German Shepherd/Newfoundland across the blazing floor of my burning home. I didn't think I would make it. I did. Sadly, Hercules did not (overcome by smoke). Losing him and my home with all my possessions taught me how fragile and precious life is -- material things can be replaced.

2 - Never give up. Think outside the box. And make any promotional effort fun for the reader.

From Alex J. Cavanaugh:

1 - My biggest turning point was of course when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Other turning points include meeting my wife, receiving my first guitar, and my first published book.

2 - Best promotional advice - be willing to promote others.

From Harper Jameson:

1 - The death of my mother. It was the moment that forced me to stand on my own feet and make my life my own. She introduced me to the romance genre and taught me everything I needed, before I even knew I needed it.

2 - Be patient, be diligent and be kind. Make sure all your interactions are positive, whether they be with potential readers, bloggers and fellow authors. Making connections as an author is hard but, losing them is as easy as breathing.

From Imani Allen:

1 - My own personal turning point was realizing that if I wanted More in My Life, I would need to make the Efforts to Do & Give More.

2 - What’s your best book promotion advice? I would say Direct Promotions or at the very least one on one. I go further when I can spend that time with someone & make the most of it.

From Melissa Maygrove:

1 - I've had several in my life, but being pursued then betrayed by my first husband was definitely a big one.

2 - Create professional product, inside and out, and set some money aside for a few good book ads.

From Heather Gardner:

1 - Meeting the man who is now my husband. He changed everything about my life, for the better.

2 - Word of mouth is still the best. Ask your friends and family to talk about your books.

From Misha Gericke:

1 - One day, I realized I was going down a path that wasn't good for my emotional health, all for the sake of money. It made me re-evaluate my whole life, and now I measure everything I do according to whether or not I'll regret spending my life doing it later.

2 - Don't be afraid to do something different from the crowd.

From Crystal Collier

1 - I was 12. Because of my last name, I was teased relentlessly at school. At home, my older brother used me as his emotional punching bag, and at church, I was the youngest girl in my age group and therefore not good enough for the others. Then we moved. I started into a new school. Life changed entirely. Instead of being the victim of circumstances, I embraced my strange name and turned it into something cool. I found the clarity to understand my older brother who was also being bullied. We attended a new church, and the girls my age were welcoming and accepting of everyone. That’s the point at which the Crystal who is now emerged.

2 - Be yourself. Everywhere you go, everything you do—whether virtual or physical—be who you are. Make friends. Be genuine. Look for the good in others. All the good you put out in the world will come back your way eventually.

And from me:

1 - When we moved to NC over 20 years ago, I got involved with a business group that really focused on self-improvement. I’d struggled with a horrible self-image my whole life, but through countless seminars, tapes, books, and association with positive people, I grew more confident. I never could have become a speaker and an author otherwise.

2 - Be willing to go the extra mile - do more than anyone else.

What was your turning point? 
What’s your best promotional advice?

Monday, May 09, 2016

What NOT to Say to a Publisher

The IWSG is now on Twitter!

There are a lot of wrong things to say or do to a publisher. And it’s not always writers who are the culprits.

Publishing is a business. Correspondence and communication going both directions should be professional and polite.

Sometimes it’s just due to a lack of knowledge or understanding how the industry works.

While the list is endless, I’ve compiled a few key items that can garner a negative reaction or destroy a potential working relationship:

1 - The mass query letter. Nothing screams lazy like a mass query letter. And it’s very obvious. Always research the publisher and personalize the whole letter to fit their requirements.

2 - “These are all of my accomplishments and past books and success and...” - while leaving out half of the requested items in the query letter. Impress me with your current manuscript and how well you can follow our submission guidelines first.

3 - No response after a request to read the manuscript. If you’ve received other representation, tell us. Otherwise, that reaction says you either weren’t serious or your work isn’t ready. No response comes off as impolite and discourteous, and there’s a good chance you’ll be blacklisted.

4 - “This HAS to be my cover art - I don’t want anything else.” Most publishers have their own in-house illustrators and have years of experience with producing marketable covers. Often the author has little to no say in the process. Smaller publishers are more open to working with an author on the cover, but always discuss this issue ahead of time and keep an open mind. The final decision still rests with the publisher.

5 - “I don’t want to make these editorial changes!” No matter who you are or how good you are with writing - your publisher WILL request edits to the manuscript. It’s all to make the manuscript the best it can possibly be and fighting it only makes a writer look selfish and immature. There will be instances where you’ll want to stand by your work, but a refusal to make most of the suggested edits is not how you want to kick off the relationship with your publisher.

6 - “Can we change that...?” Constant requests to change the cover art, change the synopsis, change the genre, change the release date, etc. No publisher wants to work with a difficult or demanding author. There should be respect on both sides and mutual understanding that it’s all in the interest of producing a successful book. Besides, authors do not hire publishers to produce their book - the publisher “hires” the author to produce a marketable manuscript, and they are the ones in control.

7 - “Can I get a review copy mailed to me?” - of a book that came out several years ago. Reviews are important, especially when a book is released. And many publishers will honor requests that come in after a book’s release, especially if the reviewer is genuine and an ebook can be sent. But with older titles, it’s just not economical to send out print books.

There are many, many more of course. Some cross over to other areas of the book industry. Top PR consultant Paul Krupin from Direct Contact PR supplied a few things he’s heard over the years:
“I’m not willing to do interviews with media.”
“I don’t have talking points and don’t think I need them.”
“I don’t have any interest in doing social media.”
“Everyone will be interested in my book.”

Finally, I’d like to end with some real-life examples:

The one that sticks out in my mind is the writer who was great in editing but once his book came out he was the opposite. He turned into a complete jerk, saying things to our marketing manager like, "What are you doing to sell my book?" No matter what suggestions she gave him or what she had done it was always the same thing, "so what are you doing to sell my book?"
Karen Gowen - WiDo Publishing

The owner of a website who had featured one of our authors but grew irate when he wasn’t compensated. We stepped in with a polite email and were told “I really was the first one to publish the book cover and the trailer,” which wasn’t true. The next email began with “Do you know who I am?” and went off on a rant. With less than 650 followers (and only 1000 Twitter followers) we do know who he is - someone with an over-inflated ego that we won’t ever deal with again.
Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

Some of the saddest are the illiterate ones, especially when we can’t tell whether they’re wanting assistance with self publishing or it’s a royalty submission. Here’s an example; the gentleman sent us multiple similar emails on a daily basis until we succeeded in begging him to stop:
Dear sir Just a few minutes back I sent a manuscript for approval . I am sending 2 more letters I recieved from others. Try to reply about the amount I have to pay quickly. . Do non not worry for 2 or 3 do;;ars. My advertisement matter is important and not so much editorial work. 
And here’s the beginning of a recent, lengthy submission that definitely fell on its own sword. The combination of dripping hubris and the fact that he didn’t view our guidelines to see what we’re looking for nixed him quickly from consideration. And of course we’d love to open ourselves to working with an obvious felon….
My name is ______ and if you take the time to Google me, you'll see that I'm infamous with respect to my alleged criminal activities. The origins of the charges against me date back to _____ and are related to my formation and participation in _____. Interestingly enough I never merited so much as an honorable mention on the FBI's most wanted list until late 2012, and now for some unexplained reason I've shot all the way up to number three.
Cynthia at Cypress House, Lost Coast Press, QED Press

Actually the worst author (as far as relations with editors) I worked with was a professional! While I was at NASA (where I supervised contractor publishing staff), a “science writer-journalist” was hired to work with several NASA scientists (who had been the primary scientists for the Pioneer Missions to Venus) to do a “wrap up” of 20 years of work on the Pioneer-Venus project. (The primary scientists were about to retire.) The author was just short of openly hostile to the editors. It was quite frustrating...
Pete Masterson, former publishing consultant and owner of Aeonix Publishing Group

And finally, the grand prize winner -

A manuscript was rejected based on the fact it didn’t fall into our genres and the query letter was very poor. A polite rejection email was sent, along with suggestions on how to improve the query letter, including links to query letter sites, so the individual might have better luck in the future. His one line response: “Just read the f___ing story!”
Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

Know someone who is guilty of any of those things or have you heard of authors saying and doing much worse?