Publishing on Kobo Books

Available at Kobo Books!

Now that I’m well on my way to publishing my first eBook, I decided to give myself a “dry run” through the e-publishing process. I’d hate for my first professional release to be fraught with issues as I learn how to do this, so I thought I’d put together a small collection of poems, work up a cover, and upload it, just to see how it’s done. You can find this attempt–Muzak for the Metro–at Kobo Books.

This is a bare bones release, and certainly isn’t perfect–which is why it’s free–but it served its purpose of walking me through the process. I found it to be a simple and painless operation, though it highlighted some areas I’ll have to learn more about.

Tomorrow I’ll take a more detailed look at the process, but for now, I’ll note two things:

I did this cover myself, just for the sake of having something besides a blank image to put in the store. It’s a photo I took in Paris several years ago, cut to size and doctored up in Paint.net. It was dead easy–but this isn’t the way to get a cover for your book. I admit it’s not great quality, but being a test of sorts, it’s not supposed to be. My upcoming collection will be a more professional job, which is important–despite the cliche to the contrary, many people will judge your book by the cover, so it should be a good one!

The second issue I had was with formatting the eBook. I used Scrivener to create the .epub file, and although it showed fine in Calibre, once I uploaded it to Kobo the line spacing changed. In Adobe Digital Editions, there are no line breaks at all except for between poems; on my Kobo device, there seem to be extra spaces and line breaks in random places. I think the issue has to do with the fact that it’s poetry, and so has abnormal spacing anyway; but I’ll obviously need to learn more about formatting.

Edit: I’ve read on other blogs that this formatting issue isn’t unique, and in fact is relatively common. One suggested solution is to upload the book in a .doc file, instead of an ePub.

So there we are: my first published work. I’m not really counting this, of course–in fact, I intend to take it down in a day or so, because I don’t want this example to seem indicative of my work. But all in all, I think it was a worthwhile experiment, and ‘m glad I cut my teeth on this, rather than fumbling through something I plan to sell.

You can find it at the Kobo store for a day or two, so check it out!

Swooping and Bashing

I haven’t had a whole lot of time (or energy) this week to put up a blog post, so apologies for the delay! This one is going to be short and sweet, but I wanted to get something out there. My intent for this week was to get out a few related articles on the process of editing, but that’ll have to be pushed into next week, so stay tuned.

In the meantime: Swoopers and Bashers.

In the wonderfully quirky Timequake, Kurt Vonnegut wrote that there are two types of writers: swoopers and bashers. Swoopers are those who write everything all at once, just get it on the page, then spend an arduous amount of effort editing the work until it’s “right.” Bashers–Vonnegut identifies himself as one–prefer to labour over each and every sentence, getting it right the first time until it’s done.

I used to think I was a basher too. I’m the kind of person who will stare at a blank page, not because I don’t know what to write, but because I don’t know how I want to write it. I’ll have the scene or dialog all planned out in my head (or, occasionally, in an outline), but won’t put pen to paper until I know exactly how I want to say it. That way, in the words of Vonnegut, “when it’s done, it’s done.”

This is all very well and good, but what I’m finding out now is that it doesn’t work that way. Maybe for an accomplished wordsmith like Vonnegut it’s okay, but not for me. In looking over my existing work this past few weeks and deciding what I want to publish, I’ve been discouraged to see that the pieces I thought were ready for ‘print’ are far from it. Much of it looks immature, if you will. In fact, it looks very much like a (gasp!) First Draft. Which, of course, is all it is, because I thought I was the kind of guy to get it right the first time and never bothered to go back.

Lesson learned. Now that I’ve finished my first collection of short stories–which I hope to have published online in about a month or so, pending setbacks–I’m starting to learn how much work actually goes into writing. And more importantly, how much of the writing process isn’t “creating” at all, not in the sense once like to think of how a writer crafts their work. Most of writing is actually editing, revising, and frankly cutting stuff that doesn’t work. It hurts, it’s dull, and it will drive you crazy–but it’s necessary. I don’t know what kind of magic pen Kurt Vonnegut had that let him bash out the perfect novel on the first try…but I’m inclined to think even he had it harder than he let on.

 

Case in point: a wonderful blog post on editing from Mike Nappa on the Writer’s Digest website. I couldn’t put it better myself, so take a read after the jump: How to Edit Your Book in 4 Steps.

Now, about that collection I mentioned above: I’m in the process of getting an editor, and will be sending it off to be pored over very soon. This is my first experience with a professional editor, so I’m interested to see how my work pans out. And of course, I’ll let you all in on it as we go…watch for that coming soon!

 

 

Another Brick in the Road.

Source: Sarah Reid c/o Flikr

 

So, I’ve set the first brick in the road to becoming a self published author: writing something to publish. Of course, I’ve written lots of things over the years–stories, poetry, novels–but nothing that’s gotten me moving. Today, however, I finished the fourth story in a collection of shorts which I plan to sell on the Kobo store (and via them, on iBooks, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble) in order to establish a presence and start some buzz. I haven’t decided on a price yet, but it’ll be low–and I plan to offer one of the stories separately for free as a teaser, which will hopefully generate some interest.

Why I am I going this route, instead of going straight for the novel-in-waiting?

There are several reasons. First of all, I need to experiment with this. I’ve never published before, and although it’s getting easier and easier for writers to get their work out there, there’s still a lot to learn. I figure it’s best to cut my teeth on something smaller and simpler, rather than going for broke with a large project–and potentially mucking it up.

Secondly, one thing I’ve read over and over again in my research on e-publishing is the importance of building an author platform. This is something I’ll concentrate on in a separate post, but suffice it to say it means developing an audience. You can’t sell books without having people to sell them too, and your readers will be your best source of advertising. It’ll be easier to start building that audience with a shorter introduction to my work, not to mention quicker.

Finally, and most importantly: I need to just get started. I’m not going to publish anything if I don’t start somewhere, and to be perfectly honest, starting small will keep me accountable. And, hopefully, once I get the ball rolling, it’ll be easier for me to keep rolling with it.

Next step: finding an editor. I’ll be writing more about that part of my journey in the coming weeks. If all goes well, I plan to have something published online by the end of September.

A World of Your Own: Worldbuilding part 3.

So we’ve touched on the importance of world building for any story–now it’s time to talk about creating your own fantasy worlds.
This is something I’m genuinely interested in, but have never really looked into until recently. The first novel I’d planned–started more than ten years ago and never completed–took place on a created world I called Gi. It had its own mythology, races, geography, and system for magic. I created it from the ground up, but I never had a process for doing so–I just did it. And because of that, there are numerous inconsistencies.
Now, I’m trying to rebuild that world in anticipation of the “Universe” I want to create as a setting for novels and short stories. The Astrologers–featured on earlier posts on this blog–is the first in this revamped world.
But how does one go about creating a whole new world? As you can imagine, it’s not too different from world building a non-speculative universe, as described in my last post. The difference here is that you have a lot more leeway in what you create, and how everything fits together.
That, however, creates an issue: the more freedom you have in creating your world, the easier it is to develop inconsistencies, as I did. It’s easier to forget a small detail you mentioned several stories ago, or give a character a name that doesn’t really fit into their culture. An especially important danger is changing something major part way through your project (i.e. ‘retconning,’), and forgetting to also change all the little things it affects.

Again, consistency is the most important thing!

So, of course, the main thing is being consistent. However creative your universe is, it should be self consistent. Your people behave a certain way; the geography makes scientific sense; characters of the same race share cultural values, language, and attitudes. World building is a large project, but as long as you’re being consistent, it’s not really that difficult.

What’s different?

The easiest step to take from there is to decide how your world is different from the real world. Does it involve magic, and if so, how does it work? Is this a completely different planet, or are you using Earth as a “template” and changing details? Dos the history of your world follow a similar pattern as our own? Are there comparable social groups? What sort of natural resources are important, and are they different from what we find on Earth? They say you have to know the rules before you can break them, and it’s the same idea here: start with what you know, and go from there.

How different?

This is where you can start getting really creative. Once you know the similarities between our world and your created world, you can start to take liberties. Really, you can go crazy here; the idea is to create something entirely unique, so the more creative you are, the better. You don’t have to think up the details right now, just the major points. In fact, getting mired in details is where I got into trouble with Gi as explained above: I wanted to add all these neat little examples of my creativity that it eventually collapsed upon itself because there was no unifying structure beneath them. So this step should be more conceptual than practical: decide what you want to accomplish with your world, what it will mean to the story, and how you can go about accomplishing that.

Details, details, details…

This is where the job gets challenging–though not difficult, as this should still be fun! There are a lot of websites around that can help you figure out what details to include, and to what extent. Maybe your story centres around a sociopolitical climate–so the variety of food people grow isn’t all that important. Perhaps you want to develop a deeply intricate religious culture, so mythology and theology should be key points of research for you. Or maybe you want to just write a hack and slash adventure, so thinking about politics or religion or history is needless.
But there are certain things you should generally be thinking about, without which you’re not really building a world in the first place. I’d say the most important–and the place to start–is your map. ProFantasy.com has a great suite of software that can help with this; it’s not cheap, but there is a free trial that can get you a quick ‘n dirty map. Or, draw your own.

The next most important piece of the puzzle is who populates the world. Are they humans? Elves, dwarves or orcs? Something entirely different? These are the characters in your story, so get all the details set down early. This is where you’ll thing about languages, culture, mores, history, recreational activities, societal taboos…and so on. You could go really deep here, to the point of creating detailed anthropological histories if your people or creating a language from scratch–and the deeper you go, the more involving the world will be. Just remember to be consistent!

After that, there are a lot of smaller details to think of. What’s the climate? Flora and fauna? Popular entertainment? Important cultural concepts? This is where the world really comes alive. One recent example I can think of is from the special features of the Game of Thrones DVDs, where they talk about creating the Dothraki language. They started by accepting that horses were crucial to their cultural identity, and developed the language around that concept. They ended up with a rich language that made cultural sense.

These details are also where you can get absolutely lost. Keep your notes tidy, and organized. When you come up with a new idea, edit it until you’re sure it fits in the world–and if it doesn’t, rework it until it does. If you need to change a pre-existing concept to allow for a new idea that would otherwise contradict it, make sure you erase it completely, or allow for an explanation if inconsistencies arise.

There are tons of resources for world building online, so for more information, I’d reccomend a Google search. But to start you off, here are a few great ones:

  • 30 Days of World Building: This is a step by stepguide that promises, as the title says, to help create a new world in 30 days. It’s a comprehensive list of things to think about–comprehensive enough that there are some steps you may not need, depending on how detailed you want to be. But definitely worth checking out. You can also download the guide for free in ePub, MOBI or PDF format.
  • Fantasy World Building Questions: This website breaks the creation process down into a series of categories, such as Geography, People and Customs, and Commerce. It’s a solid list, and by going through it all you will end up with a nice comprehensive world.
  • Paeter’s Brain: Free Worldbuilding Tools: A quick post about world building from a Role Playing Game perspective. It includes links to a couple wikis about various RPG settings, which could be good inspiration for your own world. There’s also a link for a town generator, and a city map generator.
  • Speaking of RPGs, I’m a big fan, and a member of a website called Myth Weavers. They have some great tools to help DMs build their own worlds; here’s an example of the wiki. Now, you may be asking yourself why this matters if you’re writing a novel–but really, most of the process is the same. A DM has to create a cohesive world for his players to play in. In fact, building a solid world is in their absolute best interests: because each of their players has a mind of their own, they’ll test the limits of the world in every way possible. A writer would do well to follow the DMs example.

That’s it for today, and for this mini-series on world building. But don’t worry: this is a topic we’ll come back to again, I’m sure. My created world is in something of a crisis, and will need some heavy work–and what better place to troubleshoot the process than a blog about writing and publishing?

In the meantime, if you have any other resources or ideas on world building, please share in the comments below!

World Building, part 1: Why Bother?

Today, I’d like to talk a bit about World Building.
When I first heard this term, I figured that it wasn’t relevant to writing unless you were literally building your own setting–as you would in a fantasy or certain science fiction. New races of characters, unique religions, fanciful creatures, maybe a new language, that sort of thing. But the more I thought of it the more I realized that world building isn’t about creating a totally new world at all–it’s really about creating a cohesive and consistent setting for your characters and story to live in. Although the term normally applies to speculative fiction, I think it’s a necessary part of writing in any genre.

I started thinking about world building when I began fleshing out an idea I had for a novel, many years ago. It began with reading about the theories of Richard Hoagland, who believes that the supposed face on Mars was built by an ancient civilization on that planet. (If you haven’t seen the pictures, go here; NASA has photographed the same area more recently, conclusively showing that it’s not a face–but that’s outside the scope of this article.)
It made me think: if a civilization did exist on Mars, what would drive them to build a giant face? As I was also reading a lot of mythology at the time, I immediately thought it would have to be for religious reasons. I created a mythology for this fictional civilization, and eventually had the workings of a novel.
In creating that world, I started with the mythology and cosmology. That gave me a cultural foundation. Then I drew a map, which turned out to feature three distinct geographical areas–which led me to create three races. The geography of each continent informed their individual cultures–the resource starved Ozym, for example, had to fight for their survival, and thus developed a violent martial culture. And so on. I ended up with what seemed to be a nice, cohesive world.
Then the novel got set aside. I picked it up again years later–and set it aside again after several months. I had four or five false starts before I realized the problem: I could never finish the book because every time I started anew, I brought in all these new ideas. I thought I was developing the “world” of the book, but really I was muddling it. It had collapsed under its own weight, because it wasn’t consistent. By then, making it consistent seemed such a large job that I set it aside once more, convincing myself that I didn’t have time during my University years.

Now I’m ready to start planning for it again. I still have that foundation, but have decided to pare it down to the beginning, and start with a more or less clean slate. What’s more, I want to let the world develop more organically, which I plan to do by first writing a series of short stories in this setting, and seeing where it goes. The Astrologers–which you can find posted in a rough draft in previous posts here–is the first.
But how do I keep from having the same problem as before? I think the main issue was that I was always adding what I thought were cool ideas. This time, I need to concentrate on what the story of the world is going to be about. There’s no sense having flashy plot points or cultural idiosyncrasies if they don’t make sense–or have a definite purpose–in the World.  I’m reminded of Anton Chekov’s shotgun effect: he said that if you introduce a shotgun in the first scene of your play, someone had better use it by the end. Otherwise, why bother including it?
So my first rule of world building is that every piece of the puzzle has to fit–and not only that, it has to make internal sense. It’ll be like editing; if you find a character that doesn’t add to to overall story or theme, you cut it. The same goes for world building.

And that’s why I said above that world building is important for all genres, not just speculative fiction. Are you writing a story set in 1912 New York? Fine, make sure you don’t mention Babe Ruth playing for the Yankees–he was traded in 1918. Is your novel about the Napoleonic Wars? Having a knowledge of the French language will add a great amount of depth. A sociopolitical thriller in Ancient Rome? Keep in mind that slavery was not only condoned, but expected of certain classes. Knowing your World–whether you create it yourself or not–is crucial to writing a good story. If you don’t have an accurate setting for your characters to play in, it won’t seem real. Or, worse, people will pick up on inconsistencies and inaccuracies, and will be pulled out of the story while they try to imagine why you didn’t do your research.

I’ll be writing more on world building as I learn more about the process, so stay tuned!

Editing your Scrivener Project Through Sugarsync

Today I want to give a quick tip about Scrivener. I’ve started following them on twitter (here), where they send tips and shortcuts. One that I’ve seen a couple times from them is how you can back up your work in the cloud by using Dropbox–which is a great idea.

Click for a larger view

But I’m not a Dropbox user–I’m on the other side of camp with Sugarsync. It works the same way: in Scrivener, go to File>Backup>Backup To, and it will prompt you for a folder, as seen here:

You can save it as a .zip file, and you’re good to go. Do this regularly.

But I mostly don’t use Sugarsync for backup; I use it to synchronize my work between computers, so I can work anywhere. One of my first questions about Scrivener was if I could open a project on a different computer, work on it, and see that work updated when I got to my home machine. Of course, normally you can’t do this unless you have Scrivener on each machine–but I’ve found a way to make it work.

Scrivener saves each project in a series of .rtf files. If you go to Windows Explorer and open up the folder containing your project, you’ll see another folder called Docs. This folder contains all the information for your project, including the little blurbs on your index cards, how they’re linked together, and the actual text files for each chapter or scene.

Click for a larger view.

And here’s the trick: if you open one of those .rtf files on another computer through Sugarsync and make edits, those changes appear in Scrivener as soon as it updates in the cloud–and because Scrivener saves your project automatically, the reverse is true. So working on your Scrivener project on the go is as simple as finding the document you want to edit and going from there.
There are two caveats: the first is the way the files are named. Scrivener names those files automatically–or, rather, numbers them. If you try to change the name of a file to something you’ll more easily recognize–for example, Scene 1–it will show up in your Scrivener project as blank, because the program is looking for particular file names. So there is some trial and error in finding the file you want to edit–but really, it’s as simple as opening up .rtf files until you find the one you want. After that, it’s smooth sailing, though it might be inconvenient for really large projects with dozens of files.
Secondly, you won’t of course have access to all the wonderful options and tools of the program–you’re just editing a word file. If you have Scrivener on another computer, synchronizing should work even better, and you’d have full access to the project on both computers. But this suits my purposes; when I write I like to just bang it out, and go over it later when I edit. I can do the really rough draft on the go, and edit and play around with it in Scrivener when I’m on my main PC.

So there you have it. It may not be for everyone, but I’ve found it tremendously useful! And although I’m not a Dropbox user, I imagine the whole process works in just the same way with that program.

P.S. You can follow Sugarsync on Twitter as well, right here.

Writer’s Tools: Online

I unfortunately wasn’t able to post yesterday–good argument for not promising to post daily, not enough time for that–but fortunately was planning a piece on some cloud based technology that will work well with today’s post: tools you can find online.

Nowadays, the internet is ubiquitous. You have it on your phone; you can get information almost anywhere, at the touch of a button. With the increasing prevalence of wi-fi Hot Spots at restaurants, airports and coffee shops, you can even bring your laptop with you most places and plug in. Which makes writing on the go a lot easier.

When I was in University, I had a Palm Pilot with a little fold out keyboard, and everything folded up into a neat wallet sized bundle. I did all my writing on this device–creative and schoolwork–and it was a godsend. But the one thing I always missed was that it was only a place to get my thoughts out; I couldn’t do any decent editing because the word processor wasn’t great; there was no dictionary or encyclopedia on the device; and research was no more convenient than bringing a notepad to the library and writing by hand. Then I got a laptop, and would bring that everywhere; I had a lot more at my fingertips, but still couldn’t connect to the internet for research, and the battery life wasn’t all that great.

Today, your average phone has more processing power than my laptop did back then, and you have a plethora of tools available for you whenever you want them. In fact, information is so readily available that, interestingly, it’s holding us back; in his book The Shallows, Nicholas Carr posits that having so much information so easily available is causing us to only skim it for what we want right now, rather than digging deeper. But that’s a topic for another day.

The internet has a wealth of tools for writers, from forums where other writers will discuss issues with you, to how to’s on publishing, eBook building, getting an agent and so on, to myriad contests writers can enter to get their work off the ground. Here are a few of the ones I visit regularly:

Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com are a must. Of course, nothing beats having a real Webster’s, but for quick reference, it’s a lot better than the options in Microsoft Word. The thing I like most about these online resources is that entries are hyperlinked, so you can click your way from one definition to the next very quickly. It might seem like cheating, but it’s a quick way to double check the spelling of your word or find an alternative to fit the story. You can also check out popular quotes on a variety of subjects.

Wikipedia is another invaluable “quickie” resource. Now let’s get this out of the way first: it’s an open to all platform, where anyone who signs up can edit an entry. This means you’ll find a lot of obscure information that won’t be in Encyclopedia Britannica–but more importantly that you can’t rely on the truth of the information you find. I use Wikipedia as a starting point, looking up a topic I think is interesting and exploring it from there. Each entry should include source material, and that’s where you’ll find the proper books to do some real research. It’s a great place to get the tip of the iceberg–but for real research, you’ll have to dig deeper. As a side note, there are wikis made for pretty well any subject you can imagine, some of which will have much more specific information that Wikipedia, so do your Googling.

One of these separate wikis is TVTropes.com. It’s a compendium of various well used tropes and ideas from all media–the site is quick to point out the difference between a trope and a cliche. This is a place where you can look up, for example, character archetypes. Or your basic plots. Or one of my favourite Sci-Fi devices, The Watson. This is the kind of site that’s worth just wandering around in. You’ll get lost for hours, but there’s so much to learn about the nature of entertainment, and how and why we enjoy it. Getting to know some popular tropes–and how to use them properly–can definitely make you a better writer.

Speaking of becoming a better writer, you can’t go wrong with studying The Elements of Style. This is the seminal grammar text from Strunk and White, and is a must-read for any writer. That website (which includes the entire text), says it best on the front page: you have to know the rules before you can effectively break them. Grammar is important for a creative writer because you want to break it occasionally, whether it’s to fit the tone, alter a character’s dialogue, or create tension. But don’t do it blindly:here’s the road map.

Another way to improve your writing is to get in touch with your audience. That means building a fan base, but also paying attention to what others are writing in the same genres as you. Goodreads is a site where you can review books you’ve read, and see how others are reviewing the same books. By browning through the stacks, as it were, you can see which authors are acclaimed for what they do–and put them on your reading list. With some careful consideration about what types of books people seem to most enjoy, you can start thinking about elements you want to bring into your own work. Now, I’m not saying you need to write for the masses–that’s not what creative writing should be about–but it’s also not wise to write something nobody wants to read in the first place.

Almost any city, province, region or country is going to have a writer’s guild somewhere. Up here, we have the Writer’s Guild of Alberta. Any writer’s guild worth it’s salt is going to be a congregation of like minded–and geographically close to you–writers who can share their craft. You’ll find writing tips, editing services, constructive feedback, contest, and publishing information. If you haven’t already, find your nearest writer’s guild and sign up!

One of my favourite online resources is Sugarsync. Cloud based storage is the Next Big Thing, and Sugarsync got in early enough that’s they’ve got a really solid business model and great software. You can try Dropbox or iCloud or the new Google Drive; they’re all the same idea with different implementations. Now I admit that once I tried Sugarsync, I haven’t gone with anyone else–but that’s because I don’t need to. This program has everything I need–large storage space, easy access to the cloud, integration with Blackberry, and excellent customer service. There’s really no reason not to use them.

I find Sugarsync to be invaluable, not only because all my writing is safely secured in the cloud, but also because I can edit my work anywhere. I’m the kind of person who gets ideas out of the blue, normally when I’m not at my home computer. Sugarsync allows me to open up a document and edit it from wherever I am, even if the computer I’m using doesn’t have the software and isn’t hooked up to my own cloud. I can just go to their site and edit from there, and it’s the same on every other computer as soon as it’s synchronized.

And no, I’m not on their payroll. I just love this company.

So there’s a bunch of links for you to try out. It’s by no means an exhaustive list–there are dozens of great resources out there for writers. Share yours in the comments!

Bonus:

National Novel Writing Month is a website that encourages users to…well, write a novel in one month. Their term is from November 1 to 30, and they’ve got a strict set of rules to follow. The idea is to challenge yourself as a writer under these time constraints–and honestly, a month is a lot of time if you plan it well. Can you write a full novel in 30 days? I haven’t tried this out yet, but am considering signing up for this year’s trial. Hope to see all you other writers there!

 

 

 

 

 

So, what now?

So, I’ve got a blog, a twitter handle, a fist full of unpublished work, and a vague idea of where to begin my adventure in the world of e-publishing. Where do I start?

Well, the first thing I thought I needed to do is figure out exactly what I wanted to get out of this. When I started writing, way back in junior high school, I had grand visions of becoming a world class author, selling millions of books and gathering a rabid fan base. I was going to be rich and famous.

Any writer who’s reading this will know just how unrealistic that vision was. It’s not that you can’t make a comfortable living as a writer, it’s that not many people do–and if that’s the end game, you’re probably not writing for the right reason. As I matured, I realized that fame and fortune wasn’t something I wanted at all; hell, I’d be happy if a few people bought my work and I was able to glean a second income from it. But then life happened, and the whole idea fell to the back burner.

Now, as I mentioned in the previous post, the landscape has changed, and it’s a whole lot easier to get your work out there. There are dozens of success stories around the internet about people who just wanted to write–and discovered whole fan bases waiting for them.

This seems like a good place to start. Just write. To what end? I don’t want to be rich, I’m not dying to get on the New York Times Best Seller’s list. I won’t turn that down, of course, but that’s not why I’m here. I just want to write, and to share my ideas and stories with people. Writing is cool. It’s creative. It’s fun.

The first thing to do is test the waters. I’m in the midst of compiling a couple of projects which I intend to offer online through the Kobo Store, and from there, the Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks Stores. I think it’s important to jump in with both feet and start to build an audience–which will be helped with Twitter and the blog as well. I’m editing these small projects–a poetry chapbook and some children’s stories–and am working on a novella, each of which will either be offered for free, or for $0.95. And we’ll go from there.

Down the line, I have a collection of short stories in the works, and am going to re-tackle the giant novel/series/epic I’ve been wanting to write for many years. It’s had several failed attempts and many unfinished drafts, but with a goal in sight–i.e. publishing as an ebook–hopefully I’ll be able to actually complete it.

The second task item is gathering a system of resources. I’m starting to network with other indie writers, reaching out for advice to learn from those who have tread this path before me. Here’s a blog that I’ve already found tremendously useful. Lindsay Buroker started the e-publishing process around 18 months ago, and has been quite successful. You can find her first novel–Emperor’s Edge–on the Kobo store, where she’s put it up for free. I’ll talk more about Lindsay in an upcoming post.

Another blogger recently posted about why a writer should or shouldn’t blog. It’s an interesting discussion: should a writer blog for their target audience (readers), for other writers in order to network, or both? The link discusses it much better than I can summarize it, but it’s something interesting for me to think about as I set off on this venture.

Another fantastic resource I’ve found out about is Scrivener. It’s a word processor aimed at helping writers–fiction and non-fiction–organize their manuscripts. I’ve only been using it for a couple days with the free trial they offer on their website, but I’m impressed. It’s a robust program that does more than just collect your thoughts, and I could see how it would prove invaluable.

So that’s where I’m at. Now the real work begins.

Edit: A friend of mine just pointed out another useful tool: 750 Words.com. It’s important for a writer to write daily, and this site will not only give you an excuse to do so in a stream of consciousness style, it tracks how many words you write each session and saves it for you, all while keeping it private. I just took a half hour to try it out, and ended up bashing out the beginning of a new story that’s been tickling my brain for the past week or so. Off to a running start!

 

Here be dragons?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and always dreamed of being published–books stocked in stores and libraries across the country. I wrote incessantly, and have binders filled with thousands of hand-written pages to show for it.

But I never published. Why?
Well, simply put, I never did the hard work of being a writer. Writing a story is one thing–getting it into print is a whole different story. There are agents to deal with, editors to fight with, publishers to barter with…it all seemed to suck the life out of writing for me. At heart, I just want to tell and share stories.

Fast forward to adulthood: married with a full time job and a bright future–who has the time to write, let alone go through the rigmarole of publishing? At least, that’s what I told myself. So I stopped writing for a while–a long time, actually. Long enough that I forgot how great it feels to create something from scratch.

And now, the landscape is changing. Libraries are becoming more digital. Wikipedia is replacing (sigh) Encyclopedia Britannica and actual sit-down-and-study research. Buying books online is generally at least 30%  cheaper than going to a brick and mortar bookstore and browsing. And, eBooks are a thing.

I hesitated to jump on the eBook bandwagon because I love reading, and love holding a book in my hands. But am I ever a convert! (That’s a subject for another post.) And, I’m starting to realize how easy electronic media is making it for artists to reach a wide audience. To hear the internet tell it, you can bash out a novel, edit in Word, publish it online and have people line up to buy it–all in a matter of weeks, or shorter. Quality aside for such a quick turnaround, publishing is getting easier and easier.

So it’s time for this writer/budding author to jump in with both feet. I have a lot of unfinished manuscripts, half-developed story ideas, and one so-detailed-it’s-unweildy project on the go. What’s there to hold me back?

Nothing. So here I am, venturing into the world of self-publishing. To what end? We’ll have to see. While eBook publishing has become a lot simpler, there’s still a lot of work to be done, and I’ll have to stumble my way through it. Hopefully this blog will not only serve to help publicize my work, but also to help other new writers discover this new world.This blog will be part how-to, part random musing, and part blood sweat and tears.

Should be fun!