Will Technology Drive Readers to Demand More?

It rarely happens, but this year, I had the opportunity to go somewhere nice on vacation. Not only was it somewhere nice, but it was on a river cruise, a “cozy” setting where I had a week to get up close and personal with 140 people, pretty much all of whom had disposable income, at least one variety of electronic reading device, and no shyness about whipping out their TBR lists.

Really, authors. Stop salivating. It’s unbecoming. And you’ll short out your electronic reading devices.

Okay, I sold a few books. But during the week, I had a lot of chances to talk to readers. Not like at the usual events, where I’m reading and signing, answering questions, having the briefest of exchanges. But really talk to them about what they read, why, and how technology is changing their experiences.

“I’m disappointed in e-books,” one gentleman told me at dinner. Continue reading

So You Want To E-Pub Your Novel?

You’ve finished writing your novel, your baby, your joy, your passion, and you’re considering self-publishing as an e-book. Why not, with nearly everyone you know toting around a Kindle or Nook or planning to get one? It’s awfully tempting to tap into that market, get your book out faster to your eager readers, and maintain more creative and financial control than with traditional publishing. But before you send that document to the digital arena, here are a few things to consider:

1. Editing. You are a professional, right? If you were to submit your manuscript to a literary agent or a publisher, you would present the best possible version, yes? Why approach this concept any differently because you’re self-publishing? You can edit your own work, to some extent, although a second opinion may do a better job. Can’t afford a professional? Find another aspiring writer and offer to swap. You’d be surprised what an objective eye can find. Until I employed a professional for the first novel I tried to sell, I had no idea that I’d started my story in the wrong place, had left a few plot threads untied, and had a character or two who could have been easily cut.

2. Proofreading. Ditto points from #1. For your own credibility, try not to do this yourself. After three or four read-throughs, even the best of us start missing little and big mistakes. If you don’t have the budget for a professional proofreader (often NOT the same person who did the editing), find a fellow writer with an eye for detail and propose a swap, or offer to barter for other skills. Just because you can pull down your e-book, revise, and republish rather handily, don’t let that ease make you lazy. Unedited, typo-strewn copies could already be out there, damaging your reputation.

3. Formatting. This can be a HUGE pitfall for the aspiring e-novelist. If you opt for the traditional publishing route, even if that publisher puts your novel out as an e-book, they are responsible for formatting. That means, for instance, new chapters start on a new page, paragraphs are properly indented, time/space breaks are properly spaced, symbols and punctuation are represented accurately, and your table of contents (if you have one) gets linked up correctly. You may be accustomed to checking for typos and grammatical errors, but how many writers think about formatting? (Well, me, but a background in graphic design will do that to a person.) Over several hundred pages of manuscript, formatting can get complicated. And worse, different platforms have different rules. Mess this up, and your e-book can become an irritating read. Fortunately, most of the major platforms know this. Amazon has a decent tutorial. Smashwords will even let you download a free e-book on how to format your manuscript to be compatible with their word-cruncher-uploader-doohickie that spits out proper file formats for different devices. Again, you can go through the learning curve if you feel inspired, or if you’d rather focus your energy elsewhere, outsource it.

4. Cover design. A cover alone may not sell a book, but a good one definitely helps. A dull design can get you passed over, and an inappropriate design might make a reader feel deceived. Again, here’s a place where you’ll want a professional. You definitely get what you pay for in this department.

5. Title. Consider your working title. Because you know your traditional publisher will. Does it suit the work? Is it too commonly used? Ask your writing and reading friends what they think of your intended title. Also, try Googling it. You can’t copyright a title, but you can make sure it’s not already in use for a book in your genre.

6. Read the fine print. Know what you’re getting into before you publish. Some platforms reserve the right to yank your content if they don’t think it’s “fit” for public consumption. Some reserve the right to re-price it at their discretion, or even offer it for free during certain promotions.

Finally, be prepared to market your ass off. But that’s a topic for another blog.

Are you planning to e-book it? Already a pro? Let’s talk…

(Photo courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti)

Drawing Breath: A Serial Novel

Charles Dickens did it in magazines. Stephen King did it with The Green Mile. I’m very excited to announce that now I’m doing it: publishing a novel in serial installments, which you will be able to download to your favorite electronic device.

In Drawing Breath, sixteen-year-old Caitlin Kelly wants to be an abstract painter, and wants to learn from her crush-worthy upstairs neighbor, Daniel Benedetto. An artist in his mid-thirties, Daniel suffers from cystic fibrosis, a chronic and often debilitating disease that usually kills by age twenty. Although he’s on borrowed time, with a sister who frets over his every move, he longs to live as normal a life as he can. And if Caitlin’s mother agrees, that may include taking the girl on as a private student. Whether that’s a generous act of mentoring or a recipe for disaster remains to be seen.

I’m looking forward to sharing this tale of literary suspense with you. Chapter One is now available for Kindle at Amazon.com. Chapter Two should be up by the end of this week. Installments will appear monthly (or so) after that.

Nook version to come, as well as fantastic cover art from my favorite illustrator.