My summer plans may be to self-publish ebooks.
(Edit: I don’t know what happens when you follow posts, but I did accidently publish this last night and didn’t want to publish it until Friday.)
I made the joke earlier this week about how I should run an etsy account this summer to get money, because OBVIOUSLY, I’m not getting the job I want. (One that has me working with kids. :) ) Yesterday, I looked into it and dropped the idea completely. Etsy seems dangerous and very much of a scam. I prefer places that take a cut of what I sell, instead of have me pay in hopes of selling.
But I began thinking: I have so many other skills. I’m not great at crafts. I’m not bad. Just not great. However, I am pretty good at two things.
1) Writing stories. (At least, I think so, and you guys haven’t said anything contrary. :) )
2) Sketching people (and drawing people in general.)
That made me wonder: Why don’t I see about publishing ebooks over the summer instead? So I did whatever I do whenever I get an idea; I researched it. (And now you get the benefits of my research.)
(That isn’t to say I won’t also pursue sketching people. You can actually find me and submit a picture via Picture for Pencil on facebook.)
It starts with this article about how this person, who analyzed the ebooks published on Amazon, discovered that the majority if ebooks sold were actually bought from independent sellers.
When I began my research, I found this one cnet review on the numerous ways to self publish ebooks out there. That made me look at smashwords. I have done some slight looking into self-publishing and ebooks before, and if I recall correctly, smashwords was where I liked the best. Mainly because they reach out to the majority of separate publishers, so I can get on the ibookstore, Barnes&Nobel and other places all from one place.
(Here is a random link on what some authors thought of smashwords, but note that it is from the smashwords blog.)
I really began looking into though, because I have nothing better do with my afternoon besides play mario kart battle (online). There are some huge, mega success stories out there, such as here with Amanda. But does that mean anything? I don’t know. I know there is still a one in a million chance.
Here’s my thought, and then I’ll go into everything else. I have already submitted two works of mine to traditional publishers. One, Shad, I won’t hear about until probably May or June. Another, Just Trust Me, I won’t hear about until probably August or so. (My mouse is acting funky and it’s really hard to type a post with that going on. :P I know. Totally off topic.) That’s all fine and good, but I don’t think much of anything is really going to happen with either of them.
What if I offically published my short stories as ebooks though? I am currently loving short stories (I’m reading Sherlock Holmes right now.) because I can read them in an hour or two, and then move on. Or, if I don’t have time, I can not do anything. Between my two stories I just finished and Time of the Dragon Slayers (the newspaper version), I have two stories I can put up almost immediatly. Then, I also have two to three stories that just need a bit of editing, and they can go up as well. I’d only sell them for $0.99.
Would this work? Would anyone buy anything? I don’t know. I look at my stats and I see that there has been only a handful of views in the stories I provided here. However, I would think that when someone is going to read a story, they won’t go browsing wordpress; they go directly to the place that sells their ebooks.
On the negative side, people don’t buy short stories as much as they buy novels. Apparently, not everyone agrees with me. On the other hand, though, I THOUGHT short stories was how someone got into publishing novels, but the more I read today, the more I saw that it seems many places don’t even buy novels anymore. (Or maybe they just don’t buy collections of short stories. Not sure about that one.)
So, what is involved? Well, a lot of things.
I would need to design a cover. I’m trying to decide if I would want to do that myself or hire a friend of mine to do it. (Well, friend’s sister.) I think it would be fun to design one but I’m not sure if I can do a good job at it. And even though everyone SAYS not to judge a book by its cover, you know everyone does.
I would need to format the books so as to actually be able to upload them. That means I need to use Word. (EVIL!!!!) Then again, no big deal. I can work with that.
Finally, I’d need to do some promotion. I don’t know how to do that. I don’t even know how much is too much. According to that post by Amanda, it is a good idea to get the book reviewed on book bloggers sites. However, I’m not a very assertive person when it comes to self promotion. (I might not even post it on facebook, which, as I think about it, is really stupid. But I’m shy like that.)
One final thing that I must do is have it edited on some level. This one is really hard for me because I THINK I have become a pretty decent editor myself. But no one sees all of their mistakes. So I don’t know how much I will or won’t do that.
Why would I pursue this over traditional publishing? The biggest reason is that I like to maintain my rights to everything. It’s mine and I want to keep it that way. From what I was reading, traditional publishers don’t let you do that. They also don’t let you maintain your rights to an ebook. (Some of what I read today talked about how much they might make you change, which scares me. I’ve worked hard on tightening my stories as much as possible.)
There’s also the fact that I can get more books out quickly. I’m waiting from February until at least May or June to get an answer back on Shad, which, since it’s my first novel, will probably be no. So it’ll take a couple years until I get any kind of acceptance. On the other hand, I can start getting my writing, and not just my name, out there by next month. Besides that, people do get contracts if they are popular ebook sellers.
Also, though this isn’t as much (okay, it’s some. I need $1000 for school next year. $3000 if I decide to drive.), I can make more money through an ebook venue per book. Don’t know if that’ll make much of a difference or not. Compared to a traditional publisher, I won’t be getting any kind of advance.
(See the Pros and Cons of self-publishing and More reasons to self publish for more information.)
Traditional publishing helps you more in the editing process. They also may get books in the store. An article promoting traditional publishing said that if most people who got rejected immediately by a traditional publisher went the self publishing route, they would never actually improve. (Which I disagree with actually. More writing improves practice.)
However, they don’t help you much with the promotion of your book. I, as the writer, still must do that.
Am I going to do this? I don’t know. I’m seriously considering it. If I did, I would get both a smashwords account and an amazon account. However, as a word of warning, Amazon’s lending system (AKD) mandates that you do not have your book for sale anywhere else. You can disable this, and I would do that. This way, I get both the Amazon market (which I’m pretty sure I don’t get with smashwords. Still trying to figure that out.) and all the other markets.
Any thoughts on ebook publishing?
College takes way too much time. (And when is a story actually done?)
That’s pretty much my only excuse for not posting. I get distracted doing homework, classes and other things like that.
Anyway, the real reason why I’m posting (besides that I’m on spring break and have time to post) is because I “finished” two stories this week.
I know. Impressive.
What do I mean by finished though? Well, I wrote them, determined they had a strong enough plot (in one, I had to add more tension), edited them repeatedly and honestly don’t really know where to go from here.
The last time I actually finished something, I either came to the deadline or got bored with it. (That’s how I decided Shad was actually done. Bored. I think I read that advise somewhere.) But right now, I don’t have any deadlines. I’m actually really excited about the stories. (And I don’t have anyone to read them [RIGHT NOW!], because my sister, who used to read everything of mine, is so behind and lazy about it that I’ve pretty much given up on her reading anything. Even though she THINKS she’s doing me so much help. (Which she used to. Not anymore.))
So how do I know it’s finished?
I don’t know. The plot seems good to me. The writing seems good to me. Overall, I think it’s done.
But I’m just waiting for someone to read it and tell me that “Erm, Abigail, this makes no sense.” or “Abigail, this is really stupid. I don’t get Reve at all.” (I know. I character I haven’t mentioned before. He’s new, he’s not demanding a novel, but I still have written two stories about him and intend to write a third maybe someday.)
And (though I have used Critters in almost a year), if I used Critters, it’d take me a month to get feedback. Who knows what I’ll be doing in the middle of April?
Basically, I’m impatient. I want to be done with it but I want to work on it while I like the story. And I know. Everyone says to let a finished story sit and see how it looks in a month. But–I get so distracted that may mean I never actually finish it.
So I suppose I should just say it’s done and post it here.
Anyone else have any thoughts on when a story is actually done?
Inside a writer’s brain
Keep in mind with this post, I’m still learning. I think I’ll always be learning. That’s part of being a writer.
SAying that, here’s how I actually go from an idea to a good novel. (I think.)
1. Come up with an idea. The idea comes from anywhere. Someone sitting with their hands covered in blood at night. My teacher saying “Save the Males.” An imagine conversation that I have while sweeping the floor.
Often, these ideas will eventually connect themselves. In September I made a space ship out of a piece of wood and some string. I had a rough idea about some guy who wants to run the mail route. Then a couple months later I had a conversation in my head that eventually developed the idea of Shad as a sweeper. The ideas I enjoy most are the spontaneous ones.
Sometimes, I need to force it a bit. Such as, why does Sagi hate the Yoni so? That took me a couple days of actual forcing to get, but it worked out.
2. Clarify the idea / write an outline. This section will include anything from writing an outline to learning about the characters. I have papers and papers where I’ll write comments about the characters, the motivations. If I need it, I’ll even write the timeline. This is all the pre-planning phase and this is where, if a story isn’t work out, I should drop it.
This is also my weakest area. I do not do enough planning because I rely too much on the characters eventual talking to me. Because of that, I end up having an extra step that I don’t always need.
3. Pre-draft writing: THis is the part of the writing where I actually begin the write the book. For some stories, I plan them well enough I don’t need to do this. However, this is my chance to take all my ideas and just spit them on the page. I need to do that. Otherwise, I’ll just keep staring at the outline and thinking, ‘This looks good. I’m ready to write.” when in reality I have no clue what their houses even look like. (Very important for science fiction stories, don’t you think?)
While writing this, I’ll put anything on the paper. I even changed my mermaids from fins into feet in the middle of it. Because I knew I would be going back, explaining, expanding and fixing.
Note: I’m sure some writers out there will call that actually my first draft. However, because it’s so bad and so vague, I call it the pre-draft. This is where I’ll drop a story if I need to.
4. 1st draft editing: Now, I go through my pre-draft and fill in everything. The things I learn about the characters are added. I add details of dress and mannerisms. Words become uniform throughout the book. By the time I’m done with this part, I have a first draft and a pretty good idea about where the story is and where it goes.
This is where I am at with my mermaid novel, if you care.
5. 2nd draft editing: Now I’m ready to actually improve the text. I’ll change things from, “Avi felt angry at Eyal for his betrayal.” To something more along the lines of, “Avi wanted nothing more to do with Eyal after his betrayal.” I remove passive words if I see them and overall just make it an easier read.
6. Paper edit: Now I actually need to invest money. I print out the novel on paper and begin the long, long process of editing it, then inputting the corrections. This not only lets me see my errors better, but I, for whatever reason, can play around with the words more. It gives me more freedom. Don’t ask me why a computer doesn’t do that; I don’t know. This is a really, really important step. By this time, I’ll probably show it to a few special people.
Right about now is also when I should start working on a synopsis.
7. Second computer edit: Now, I go through the story again, this time highly critically, and fix all of the errors I see. Anything! I remove as many passive verbs as I can. I keep the story tight and interesting. From that, I see what else I need to do and go from there.
By now, I pretty much get bored with my novel for one, and for two, I don’t see much of anything else that needs to be fixed.
Obviously, all writers are different. If you’re a new writer, you’re going to do less or more. I actually only did a one time read through–on the computer–of my stories and thought that was good enough when I began. So I’ve come a long way.
I’ve also seen how you can edit by putting on five different kinds of glasses. Something like, first you look at it just for structure, then you look at it for clarity, then grammar, ect. (I don’t remember them all.) That doesn’t work for me. I have to fix everything at once. Also, just because this is how it seems that I work doesn’t mean that’s how I do it for everything I write.
And, like I said, I get bored. But I’ve also heard that when you get bored with a story, that’s generally a sign you’re done with it.
So–tell me about your character?
I took this out of my textbook for creative writing, then added a question to handle the science fiction / fantasy character’s that I typically deal with. It’s actually kinda cool how it comes out. I did it for two characters so far and it was rather fun. Especially for the one chararacter that I just randomly started writing for.
What is your character’s name? What sounds right for this character? What fits? What does this name suggest about your character’s personality? Does your character use his/her given name or a nickname? If so, why? Has your character ever had a nickname?
If you were going to buy a casual outfit for this character, what would you buy? What image does he/she cultivate? What does this image say about him/her?
If your character could have three wishes granted, what would they be?
Likewise, what three things does your character most want NOT to happen to him/her?
Does this character have any special skill or ability; if so, what? How did he/she discover this ability? How did he/she train? What limits does he/she have on this ability?
If you were to enter this characters’ bedroom for the first time, what would you notice? Name four objects that immediately stand out. What are the dominate colors of the room? What sounds do you hear?. If you were to spend an hour snooping in this room, would you find anything hidden? If so, what?
What obsessions does your character have?
Describe your character’s belief systems–or lack of belief system–and sketch out how he or she came to believe these things.
Your character is in an uncharacteristically honest mood. How would he/she finish these statements?
To understand me, you first need to understand….
I don’t usually tell anyone this, but when I was a kid…
If I had a million dollars I would….
Where does your character work? What specifically is his/her job? How does your character feel about this job? How long as he/she worked there?
Describe your character’s average Wednesday? Where is your character at 8AM, 10 AM, noon. 3 PM, 6 PM and 10 PM? How does this compare to an average Saturday?
How much money does your character have in the bank or in investments? Where did this money come from?
What are your character’s most substantial character flaws or shortcomings or personality? Does he or she recognize them?
What are your character’s most significant character strengths?
Does your character have any brothers or sisters? If so, which one is his or her favorite and why? If your character only has one sibling, what does your character like best about this person and like the least? If your character is an only child, did he/she ever want another sibling? Why?
How many closes friends does your character have? Name them.
Who is your character’s closest friend and why? Describe their history as friends.
What is the worst thing your character has ever done? What is the worst non-illegal thing your character has ever done?
Describe your character’s relationships with his/her parents.
If your character were in to die today, what would he or she be most like to be remembered for?
List three things about your character that will most likely NOT be included in your story.
Lessons from Editing short stories
Did I mention that I’m writing a story for my school newspaper? I would have posted a link to it but for some reason I’m not there.
Anyway, I’m only allowed 750 words an issue. For me, that’s hard. I’m having to cut out a lot while still maintaining interest in each issue. But I think it’s really good for me too because I tend to write too much into my short story.
So here’s what I learned from all this editing. A big secret behind short stories I think actually.
There is no such thing as background conversations.
Some people would call this maid-and-butler conversations. I don’t think of them as that, because the characters don’t know each other. It gives the characters a chance to tell each other some about themselves, while hinting information to the reader.
I like these. Sometimes they’re boring and need to be cut a lot later on, but I typically think they work out well enough.
In a short story, every word, as my book puts it, needs to serve double and triple duty. Immediately, when I am cutting out words, this is the first to go. Because my readers want to hear more about the fact that these illegal things are going on in town, what Colton does about them, and that Justin gets in a fight than that Colton and Justin have been arguing for a while.
Here’s another bit of advice for you to think about. Dr. D in class said that short stories are about change. I wrote it down. It would be interesting to see what would happen in Just Trust Me if Nessa went the other way.
Which reminds me of what I really wanted to mention. (Besides that I need to go eat lunch before my mom comes.)
ALL MY DUMB CHARACTERS FROM MY SHORT STORIES WANT THEIR OWN NOVELS!!!!
Seriously. I don’t know what to do. I’m writing a story right now about this body guard who a) loves the person he guards and b) is at high risk of losing his job (well, the draft right now doesn’t show that, but the character in my head does). And for some reason the important person is telling me that she wants to overthrow her uncle (the ruler) and lead a revolt. In a novel. And the the guy is going to go back home where there is a riot. And that the whole country is in unrest.
I know that I said writing short stories tend to seem to help me come up with better characters but this is ridiculous.
ALL YOU SHORT STORIES CHARACTER CANNOT HAVE YOUR OWN NOVEL. PERIOD!
I just don’t have the time. At all.
Anyone else have this problem?
So there you have it.
I didn’t change a lot. The biggest thing I would like to point out is that I have uploaded all of my stories as PDFs so you can download them at your connivence, read, and leave comments.
I’m also trying very, very hard to get ahead in my homework, so I’m not panicking the day before to get it all done. Unfortunately, at this moment I am currently writing this post instead of taking some quizzes but writing posts is more fun. :)
I also took on a challenge. I didn’t realize it was going to be a challenge when I said I could do it though. See, i volunteered to write for the school newspaper. NO big deal. Except I volunteered to write as a creative writer. I figured I’d just take Time of the Dragon Slayers, cut it up into the sections I already have, and turn that in.
I get an e-mail. Abigail, try to keep it to 500 to 750 words. Take out the first section and run a word count. 2000 words. O.o.
I end up deciding to chop the first section into two sections. Not sure how that will work in the long run. Then, I proceeded to cut out another 300 words.
There is the chance, the very slight chance, that this might end up actually being a better version. I’m cutting out a lot of description though so I don’t know. if it is better, I’ll obviously post it.
Here’s another challenge with that. I need to have some kind of tension every 500 to 750 words. Moreover, I need to make it interesting to both guys and girls. For some dumb reason, the guy part of my brain isn’t working. The guy part that says explosions are cool and love stories are stupid. I want to write a love story. (Yes, I still did swear them off.) I also want to write a sad story (since I can’t spell the real word I want) . No one is going to like me if I write a sad story for the newspaper. No one where the guy’s wife turns out to be a spy and then kills their baby.
So, I can’t write something either. Not too sure what to do about that when I start short stories at the end of October. And the short story I wrote this summer isn’t coming along well because the real story doesn’t start until six pages in. The horror.
Anyway, the real topic, that I actually updated my blog, has been long lost. As such, I will leave you with one final question, since it is question Sunday: What was the hardest writing project you tackled?
For myself, it’s a toss up between these poems, though I seem to be doing not that bad on them, since they confuse me like nothing else. Or it is when I actually wrote articles for the newspaper at DWU. That made my brain somewhat explode. Anyway, what about you?
Novels Versus Short Stories
I’m not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.”
I wrote this story last year called Miles’ Love. It came out to 34 pages, poor writing and too much dragging. I didn’t like it and left it on the shelf for some later date.
That later date happened to be yesterday. See, I figured out how to cut out a good 10 pages from the story, and that’s just the beginning. It also made it ten times more interesting I think. The reason for this change is the story started much too slowly, because it had too much background.
Now, this does mean I have to change the story from third person to first person, but I kinda like it like that actually. We’ll see where it goes at least. I thought about doing this before type of introduction before but this is the first time I actually tried it.
So here’s the very beginning of Miles’ Love.
“Your father and I believe that the time has come for you to be married.”
“We have been told that you can help us with a bomb issue with are having, involving the SFFC.”
“Rachel is a nice girl. You will do well for each other.”
“I’m just here for therapy. Nothing more.”
“You weren’t really on guard duty, were you?”
“Three years is more than enough to be running around the world with the military. It’s about time you settled down.”
“I know I’m the eldest, Luke, and that my tradition my marriage is arranged. But I don’t want to be married, let alone to a girl I don’t know.”
“I can’t tell you anything. It’s classified. Mother can’t know either. If she knew….”
“You take care of Rachel, you hear?”
“Thank your for your help, Major Jospehson. We are indebted to you.”
“Don’t go to the mall–not until Wednesday at least. It’s not safe.”
“You should take her on a picnic. She would like that.”
“How much were you hurt when the bomb exploded?”
“What did you hear?”
“Stop playing games with us, Jospehson.”
“You used the bomb to lure me out.”
“We have our sources.”
“Don’t you dare hurt her.”
I was ten when I first heard about the Changers. These people would voluntarily removed parts of their body to have new, improved bodies, generally speaking for criminal purposes. The prosthetics had become so advanced by now that a person could sometimes move faster, quickly and more. Changers were the future of the criminal race, for they used these skills to exploit and steal.
accurately with one. By the time I was fifteen, everyone believed that any amputee was probably a Changer. Not that they could be easily recognized, since most artificial limbs looked normal. Still, people would see, or think they would see, the small metal band and know. As such, most everyone would do anything to keep a limb, no matter how maimed they were.
Except me. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I imagine I would become a Changer.
I didn’t mean for it to happen. I should have seen the bomb, realized the location, not miscalculated the time–anything to keep myself from being caught in the explosion. But it did explode. Before I could get out. When the pain cleared enough for the doctor to give me a choice, I told him to use his best judgment.
But I never thought he’d chose to remove my arm. And even then, I never thought I’d be pressure to opt for a millitary-issued arm. Nor did I expect that injury would encourage the military to select me to go to Bordino, a third world country who current sold telepathy to anyone willing to buy.
With an advanced arm and a telepathic ability to sense other’s emotions, I might as well be a Changer. I couldn’t tell my parents though. A lord’s son–without an arm? Even if that would be found out soon enough, no one could know about the telepathy. That was against the contract. Nor could they know that my expertise lay in bombs, both decoding Intel and defusing. I made too many enemies in the war zone to allow that to be known here.
And where did all this end me? My specialized skill set and training? A basement cell, kidnapped by the SFFC because I prevented a bomb explosion earlier this week. And my betrothed pretending to sleep against the wall, her dark hair falling into her face. Luke, my brother, told me to keep her safe before we left for the picnic, but I couldn’t have imagined this would happen. I couldn’t have known they would know about me, let alone go after me.
I took a deep breath. No matter. First, I would get free. Then, we’d deal with how they found out. But about Rachel… I had been in worse situations.
I shifted and stretched my legs. “I’m thinking it’s about eight.”
Rachel pushed herself up. She didn’t really sleep. Only pretended to. “I don’t know. Why does it matter?”
“It just does.” The sun set within the last hour, so we would have enough twilight to run and enough darkness to hid. I fumbled with the handcuffs behind my back. Rachel just stared at me, her large brown eyes not even bothering to hide her fear.
“Did–they say something? When they questioned you earlier?”
So, what do you think? Did it work maybe? What do you know about Miles (the person who is telling the story)?
Have you done any kind of unique beginnings like this for your writing? How did it work out for you?
Three stories, five books and not enough time
I realized today that I have actually started three separate books. I’m stunned. And worse, I don’t know what to write.
- Mermaids: This story revolves around a political turmoil in a mermaid world. Nessa is the youngest daughter of the king but wants to be queen. Under their government, she can be elected as queen. However, it is only through the Adamahs, humans who have been changed to mermaids, that she can do this. In this I have the election, and the result afterwards, and it’s really awesome. :)
- Intentional Accidents: This story revolves around two characters, a pirate and an assassin. They’re stories interweaves into smiliar threads and storylines but I only know about the pirate. She is feeling lonely, hurt and wants off the pirate ship but doesn’t see a way to get off. A police man unknowingly gets on the pirate ship and encourages her to find her own way. The assassin is also tired of her life, wants out, but doesn’t know how to leave. I haven’t dealt with the assassin much, focusing on developing the pirate story, then the assassin, then merging them at the end.
- Mindskill: In mindskill, a doctor develops telepathy as an implant. He implanted his daughter without her knowledge, understanding that soon it would be a necessary skill to survive. He dies though before he can tell her, in an “accident” and she must discover the truth for herself, along with a plot to take over the world and a plan to keep those with this skill safe. This was going to be my shot at writing a trilogy (Which is a huge task, let me tell you.)
I’ve written 36 words of Intentional Accidents (9,455 words), 93 pages of mindskill (25,000) and 61 pages (16,000 words) of mermaids.
Here’s the problem: I like them all. I stopped mindskill because I needed to develop it more. I stopped Intentional Accidents because I needed to skim and I didn’t know how to. (I’m playing around writing the ending scene to that.) And I’m currently writing mermaids (which may not end up being mermaids, which makes me sad, but that is fact.)
I have every intention of finishing all of these. All of them are probably good. But how? I’m mean, seriously, I probably have enough to write about for three years (at least), not to mention that I need to write synopses to send these books out, and I want to write Sagi’s tragedy (short story), and I’d really like to write one of the stories my friend and I write out (novel), and I’d like to edit Hope (or at least make a logical decision whether to toss it), and edit Giant’s Wife and–
*stops for breath*
I just have too many ideas I think. How do I choose?
Things to remember while writing my first draft:
As I work on my first draft of my mermaid story, I’m find myself having to remind myself about how to write. As this is only my second or third novel, I want it to be just like the novel I already finished. So here is a list of things to remind myself as I write.
- This will not be perfect.
- Write first; edit later.
- Your characters talk to you more while you write than when you plan. So write already.
- Facebook and wordpress are only there to distract you.
- As related to number four, facebook and wordpress do not need to be checked every five minutes. They can live without you.
- Mail doesn’t need to be checked either.
- Facts about how much caffeine a dog can intake doesn’t need to be looked at.
- It’s just ones and zeros. Ones and zeros are cheap and easy to change, so keep writing.
- Your perceptions of how good a section is aren’t reliable. Just because you think it’s boring doesn’t mean that it’s boring. Wait a little bit.
- Sometimes character histories have to change.
- Sometimes it’s best to wait until later to look up a small bit of factual information. After all, the internet will then distract you.
- Be open to change.
That’s all I have at the moment. Do you have anything to add?