Friday, May 29, 2015

Another great conference in the bag, and moving forward. ComicCon here in Denver was amazing and exhausting at the same time, but well worth it!

My husband Rick was my partner in crime this time. We were both worn out on Tuesday, but we got through it together. Now 32 more books are out in the public and I hope everyone who purchased either Fable or Fated, or both, enjoy them. They are my babies, but they aren't perfect. Although I have tried to at least have the creative skills up to par.

I feel very fortunate to have been a part of ComicCon and look forward to next year!

Well, Lore is coming along too. I received the critiques back for chapter 40 last night. 8 more to go. I am a little bummed as to how long it's taking to get it finished, but it is what it is. No short changing with this one. I think you'll find it satisfying once you've read it though. I hope.

I meet with the artist for the cover next Tuesday. I'm excited to see how it's coming along. I'm sure Karla is doing a fantastic job. So it is moving and will be ready before you know it!

Now onto my thoughts for this week in creative writing.

Last night while working with Robin on critiques we touched on the discussion of the writers unique voice. It's different with each person. Some like the longer books and other's don't. Some like the deeper detail and description and some like it better if the story is moving faster. There's books out there that fit the bill for most readers tastes, you just have to discover what works for you.

I like long books, but not a lot of info dump. To me it gets to the point of asking, does the author get paid by the word? But that's just my taste. I do like to be brought into the scene, as if I'm there. Describing new worlds fits the bill with me. Just not pages and pages of description - it can get a little much.

We writers tend to "over" write and add scenes that aren't really necessary. The reader isn't stupid and can figure out things without being hit over the head. Thank goodness for critique partners or I would be doing this all the time. 

So I guess the lesson here today is, don't be afraid to cut. If the information is there, that's all you need. Moving the story is what's important, not every detail of what a character looks like, or acts like. It will become obvious.

So, that's my thought for the day. I know it's not much in the way of detail either, but I think, you as the writer, will get it.

Have a wonderful weekend all. I'll be back here next Friday!

Love, Lisa

Friday, May 15, 2015

Tips For Self-Publishing Part 2

On to the second part. So you're all set and ready to publish your book, but Createspace and Amazon need to know where to send your royalty checks. This is where you decide if you want to be an LLC or just a home business.

1. Limited Liability Corp. I decided to become an LLC mainly because of the legal aspect of owning my own business. It keeps the personal money and the business money separate for one. Two, if you are ever sued, you have more protections, and three, if you ever need to file a personal bankruptcy, your business will be separated as well.

It does make for doing your taxes a little more complex. 

A home business, or based on your brand. The taxes are a little easier with this one, but you don't have as many protections as you do with an LLC. I can't give you a bunch of legal jargon, so you will have to research both of these yourself and make your decision. Also, each state is different so you will need to contact your state to see what best works for you.

2. State Licence. Again each state is different. Here is Colorado, there is no such thing as a business licence but you have to register with the state. It is a small fee and you pay yearly. Paying sales taxes is another issue. In this state you have to earn a certain amount before you are required to pay sales tax, but you should contact your state on this also.

3. Opening a business account. Some opt to use their personal account.  I decided to keep it separate and open a business account. It's much better for me to keep everything apart. If you can find a credit union in your area that does business accts. that would be the best. Less money to keep in the acct and less of a headache. This you will need to give an acct number for your royalty checks.

4. A square. Best thing I ever did was get the square. It sure helped my sales at conferences and even at my private launches. A lot of people only carry their cards. The charge is really cheap to use. It's about 4.00 per every hundred.

5. Filing taxes. I file once a year. If I were making a lot more I would go to quarterly, but right now there's no reason to.

6. Ordering prints. It's really good to have your books on hand. You don't have to go overboard and fill up your garage, but keeping around 25 books is reasonable. you never know when a conference might pop up, or a book signing.

7. Miscellaneous expenses. You could find your self nickel and dimed to death. You need business cards, book marks, maybe some small posters for conferences, a set up for your table, such as table cloth, and the like. I make mini-books of a few excerpts so those cost money and time. Your launch party can cost too. Such as paying for a place to have it, snacks, goodies for the guests. Some like to order pens with their books on them. This can get really crazy so you need to watch it here.

8. Pay for marketing. If you want to show off your book on sites like BittenbyBooks, you have a nominal fee, but they do add up. A website costs money, advertisement on Facebook or Twitter. But if you watch how much, these can pay off. Reviews are another one. Paying for professional reviews is not really something I would suggest, but some do it.

So, you see there's a lot to becoming a self-published author. But once you go through all this stuff, it gets easier. I'm sure I'm missing some information, but I can't think what it might be. I hope I've covered everything.

There are two hats to be worn, but well worth it in the long run. I figure it's about 1000.00 per book for me. I know a lot of people will tell you that you can do stuff for free, but really nothing's for free. I've learned a lot, but still have lots to learn so if you want to enlighten me, please leave a comment below. I'm always open to new and fresh ideas.

Thanks to all of you for your continuing support of me and my books. You really do mean the world to me and I appreciate you!

I won't be posting next week. I ran into a bit of luck and will be at Denver Comiccon next weekend! Wish me luck and I will talk with you all in two weeks!

Love, Lisa 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Tips For Self-Publishing

My mantra lately - Let there be light at the end of the tunnel. 

I am nearing the end of another book. Part of me is excited and part in awe. I've actually written 3 books! Although there is the part that is a little apprehensive, but that's normal. You worry if your readers will like it.

There is so much to self-publishing. If you haven't done it, you have no idea. But the outcome is so worth it. 

I've come to the conclusion that you have to write it for yourself first, but when it comes to creative writing skills, you need to be always working on your craft for your readers. After all, isn't that why you go to all the classes, conferences, workshops and the like? It's for your readers.

Last blog I left you with my mantra list for launching my books. But in between there is the list of things you have to do to put out a professional book. These are things you must accomplish, some before you publish, some can wait a little bit, but they must be done. 

I've talked about wearing two hats in the past, this is the business/detail stuff to accomplish.

1. Your cover - Deciding on a cover can be just as important as the inside. I've been told a buyer usually decides on a book by first liking the cover, second, reading the blurb on the back, and third, reading a few paragraphs of chapter 1. Now you know why you go over your first chapter so many times.

There are a few options when it comes to a cover. You might want to try your hand on designing one yourself. I don't recommend this since most covers I've seen where the author chimes "I did my own covers" I want to say to them, "I can tell". They usually aren't very good.

Option two, hire a graphic designer. Now I have seen some nice covers that are graphic design, but usually they aren't books like mine. Fantasy fiction, I mean. Graphic design is fine for Romance or Women's lit, but not for my genre. You should go to Amazon and look up books in your genre and scan the different covers. Hopefully you find great covers and the decision is easy for you. Either way, you still have to pay for the art. I spoke to a guy next to me at the Starfest conference who thought I was crazy to pay 300.00 for a cover. He said he has never paid more than 50.00. I looked at his covers, and let's just say, I shook my head.

Option three, hire an artist. This has been the best outcome for me. I tried the graphic art, but it just didn't pop for me like a painting. Mike did a great job on my first two covers, but he doesn't want to do book covers anymore, so I hired another artist. Karla Horst is also a great artist and I can't wait to see the new cover for Lore. For me, the paintings give the covers a more three dimension feel. but either way, it still costs money.

2. An editor - This is really a no brainer. If you think your writing is so awesome that you don't need an editor, then you've got another thing coming. Even with editors there will still be some mistakes in your books, just not as many. This is a must do and, if you claim you can't afford it, well, you need to save for this. Your reviews and sales will eventually pay for this. If you are having a hard time finding an editor, or even one that's affordable, try LinkedIn. That's where I found Susan. Or let me know, and I'll refer you to her.

3. Print on Demand - There are three options to this as well. You can look around in your area for a printer, but that's going to cost you a lot of money.

Two, you can go to CreateSpace, which is a great site, and download your book for free. They even give you your ISBN number. You pay as a book is printed but it's pretty reasonable. I pay about 6.00 per Fable print and 3.50 for Fated. It is based on the size of your book. If you order a large shipment for say your launch party or book signings, you still only pay for the cost to print plus shipping. They are the usual printer for Amazon. If you don't want to use Amazon for some reason, then you must purchase ISBN numbers for your books. 

Three, you can go to LightningSource. This site is more expensive. Usually a better site for non-fiction books. 

There are others, but I feel those two are the most used for On Demand.

4. Digital Copies - Yes, this is your E-book. I know that Amazon can help in this. I haven't tried it myself at this point. It took Toni, my sister, a month to figure out how to do this. It's not an easy task, so I will probably illicit help. Last time we hired a girl, but she was close to giving birth and had a hard time doing this herself. I do have some friends that are good with computers and I hope they don't mind me picking on them. Otherwise, it's hiring someone to do this for you.

5. Copyrights - There are those who will tell you once you write your book, it's copyrighted. Technically that's true, but I ran into an issue with Fable where someone claimed I stole their work. I had to go see a lawyer and he said to sign the book up with the Library of Congress. He had ran into issues where thieves had literally stolen authors' books from the book sites and put their names on them and sold them. Through Amazon, all he had to do is present the copyright listed with the LOC and Amazon pulled the stolen books. It's only 35.00 and well worth the money spent.

Next week I will touch on the business side of selling books. Yes, there's more to it. Until then I hope you have a great week and if you want to share any insight on this subject you have, then by all means, leave me a comment below. I'm always up for new ideas and information. 

Have a dry weekend everyone!

Love, Lisa

Friday, May 1, 2015

How Many Times Do You Revise Your Manuscript

In discussions with other writers, I've found there are those who seem to think going through their book once, maybe twice, is enough. If you're a writing your first, or even your second book, you need to go over it again and again - in fact quite a few times before it will be ready for either sending it to a publisher or editor. 

I've developed my own plan to make sure my books are getting the right amount of critiquing before I decide it's ready for my editor, Susan. And even with all the eyes on it, she still finds mistakes. That's normal, and it reminds me how important it is to have reliable people in your corner.

My team is awesome, if I do say so myself. I don't know how I would put out high quality self-published books without them. From my two critique partners, to Susan, my manuscripts are thoroughly scanned. Sure, there might be a mistake here and there once it's published, but no one's perfect. Even several traditionally published books I've read have mistakes.

If you can put together a team of people to help you with your revisions and realize that your writing is not perfect and you must deal with the marks, then you are truly blessed. I'll list my little program and maybe it will encourage you to seek out some people you can trust and are willing to be a part of your team. Of course you will reciprocate with being their critique partner also. 

1. I have two critique partners - Janet and Robin. I began with Robin. Her and I started meeting once a week and had no idea what we were doing. But as time went on, we got a little better at it. Janet had joined the writing group Robin and I were in. She asked to join in with us with critiques, and well, the rest is history. I think we've been working together for close to 4 years now. Janet is great with story structure and plots. Robin is really strong with dialog. Believe me, they are both much better at it than I am.

2. I have a "Junior" editor - Michael. Michael and I had been internet friends for years. He is an author and when he heard I was writing my first book, offered to help with edits. He and I developed a plan. When I went through the critique marks from Janet and Robin, I would then send it to him for a new set of eyes. He has been there for me since the start of Fable. And he's really good!

3. When I've gone through the entire book with the three of them, I read it aloud to my mother, who was an editor for government type books. She is good at letting me know if something doesn't sound correct, or needs added, or cut.

4. I read it myself, and as I find things to fix, I write them down on my big board at home. After I've gone through the entire book, I go back with my list and fix those things.

5. Next, my two wonderful beta-readers - Ken and Jessi. Ken is great at going through the book and marking down things he sees by line and page number and listing what needs fixed. His work proved invaluable to me. Jessi is the read straight through and let me know how it flows. Both of them are awesome and a big part of my editing process.

6. After I fix anything they've found, it then goes to my professional editor, Susan. She usually has the book for a month or so and then I get back her marks. After I go through the book one more time and fix everything, I just read it - usually to my husband.

When all that has been done, I publish. I try to make sure my books have all the care I can give to put out a professional self-pub. I think with all the self-pubs out there, it's important to stand out. A lot of self-pub authors don't take the time to make sure it's right. It will effect your sales in the long run.

So this is my novel mantra. I sure hope you've developed your own or find the great people that I have. It makes all the difference in the world to put out a clean, tight, flowing book. 

Leave me a comment and let me know what your strategy is. I'm always looking for great ideas and I hope I left you with some.

Until next week, have a great one and keep on writing!

Love, Lisa