How?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions that sum up simply as “how?” How do you write a whole novel? How do you write a series? How do you self publish? How do I book cover? Sales how!?!

Simple questions often have a complex answer that seems discouraging but shouldn’t. I can, and  have, outlined pretty much all the steps in writing a novel and/or a series and how to format for epublication. I’ve outlined how to do it for as little money as possible (though there’s no real way to do it completely for free, you have to have at least one editor and they will cost you) but still I get asked “how.”

So I’m thinking of setting up an ecourse to help people through the process, step by step though of course that brings up all kinds of new questions. Like what do you want/need to know first? Besides write the damn thing; I’m sure there’s something hopeful independent authors are really struggling with and want to know how to do right off the bat.

Let me know what you think in the comments and I’ll try to come up with something to help. Now back to work on this massive bloody novel.

 

A Vital Reminder

This last year has been a not so great time for me. I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on family (often at the expense of my writing) while my family minimizes my written work and suggests with full candor that I would be better off doing literally anything else. I might be a stone cold bitch that habitually writes about getting away with murder but that still hurts, a lot.

Thankfully other writers are always there to remind me that awful as that is, it’s also kind of normal. We all have to fight for the time and space to do that thing that no one else really understands and seems largely composed of staring at blank walls from time to time. And we’re all here to help each other out and deepen our craft as we go.

So let’s do a relink of some of the more visited posts on my blog that are full of helpful tips for other struggling Indie Authors out there.

Starting with the most important step:

Once you’ve got that you should update your series “bible” before tackling the beast that is formatting for paperback.

There you go Indies, a recap of everything that I’ve written on writing in this digital era that should prove useful to anyone looking for the information. Sign up for updates if you would like to keep abreast of anything new going on with my books or on the blog. Keep strong, keep your heads up and for the sake of the old gods’ keep writing!

Scrivener: Series “Bible”

Scrivener-LogoI love Scrivener, it makes writing novels (and writing novel series) so much easier! One of the things I noticed while constantly changing my writing process, however, is that there’s not that much information out there on how to effectively use Scrivener for writing a novel series. So I’m going to try and outline some ways that I use Scrivener to do just that.

First up: The Series Bible.

A series bible is a compilation of relevant information about a series that can be referenced by an author and their editor during the editing/revision process. A good bible should include:

  • Character Outlines
    • bio’s
    • important traits (physical/mental)
    • nicknames
    • key moments for their development in various novels
    • Compilation of character outlines/timelines (if you have them)
  • Locations
    • Where exactly it is
    • Furnishing
    • Style
    • Anything that’s been altered by the story over time (ex: broke that expensive Ming vase/set fire in that room and haven’t managed to clean up the damage yet/changed the color from green to blue)
  • Vocabulary
    • Special words or word usages
    • Grammatical notes specific to the novel
  • Creatures (where applicable)
  • Details Details Details
  • Style Guide
    • Any special notes for grammar usage in the novels to flag for an editor to ignore
    • aka “It’s not a mistake it’s a feature
  • Full copy of previous novels for quick reference if necessary
  • Quotes
    • Characteristic sayings
    • Quotable bits of dialogue to be used in promotion
    • Potential tie ins for later novels

I created a bible for each of my series using Scrivener. Th bible is an entirely separate document to the document that contains the actual novel writing, this helps to keep things clear and easy for reference. You’ll notice there are no notes or references for future novels in the bible, I keep all of those in the doc I’m actually writing in.

In Scrivener I create a folder for each of the main points and subfolders inside of those as needed. For example, Characters-> Rin Tyler -> Outlines etc.

A good bible is a wonderful reference guide! The first few novels I wrote, I didn’t have Scrivener – or any kind of bible. When I went on to write the second book in the series, I had to reread the first book in the series before I could edit my new novel properly and make sure there weren’t any giant plot holes! Though it was fun to reread the work I’d written so many years earlier, it was a huge time sink that’s best avoided whenever possible.

I recommend starting your series bible as soon as possible and keeping it updated as you go.

When To Pay, When NOT To Pay: Book Baby Update

I’ve previously mentioned BookBaby here in the “you’d have to be crazy to pay these prices for this ‘service’ which you could do just as well yourself for free,” column of my When To Pay, When NOT to Pay series. Things have changed though so I suppose it’s worth a quick update.

The primary sticking point for me with BookBaby in the past was their paid ebook formatting and publishing options, all of which any ebook author should be able to do for themselves. Far as I’m concerned knowing how to properly format your own ebook and upload it to the sites of your choosing is as essential as knowing how to change a flat tire and any site that preys on people who haven’t yet figured out how easy it is for authors to do for themselves – is bad news. Now that BookBaby is offering to let authors do these things for themselves, for free, has my opinion of the site changed along with their policy?

Not really no.

There are already a lot of great ways to aggregate your ebook on the various ereader sites, most of which have always been free for authors to use (any cost comes out of the ebook’s price, authors pay nothing up front). Then there’s the various ereader sites themselves for which multiple formatting might be a bit of a pain but it ‘costs’ authors even less than going through an aggregate site. Most of those aren’t mostly in the business of trying to push additional services on Indie Authors (don’t get me wrong, some do offer ‘extras’ like cover design etc. it’s just never been their main money making focus) while BookBaby has always been about selling authors a bill of goods first and selling the authors books second.

That’s just not a great way to get my business or my endorsement.

Book Interior Formatting: Dotting Your I’s and Crossing Your T’s – Final Checklist

Formatting. Every time I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Every time, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Every time, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

At this point I’m almost done formatting my second paperback book, so it’s time to go back over the whole and make sure I’m not making any glaring errors that would make all the hoops I’ve gone through so far, to save money and appear professional, a waste.

  • Odd numbered pages appear on the right (During the hell of formatting page numbers, double checking them, fixing them, etc; you might notice that you’ve got everything perfect and working, except – all the even numbered pages appear on the right side of your book. Yes it’s worthwhile to go back and fix it as it’s the #1 amateur mistake noticed by book designers and readers alike.)
  • Copyright page (Yes, some indie publishers don’t bother to include one in their paperbacks and the lack of one is a clear give away of an amateur operation.)
  • No page numbers on Chapter pages and other front and back matter and/or appropriate roman numbering for those pages that need it. (First page of a chapter – shouldn’t have numbers on it, you can have numbers on a index page or prologue but they should be roman numerals.)

If you’ve got those three covered – congrats! You should be able to print a passably professional looking (at least from a distance, if you squint and don’t know too much about book design) paperback novel!

Be sure to check out the other steps on formatting your paperbacks interiors with Microsoft Word:

And as always – if there’s anything I’ve neglected to cover that you want to know, just ask in the comments and I’ll see what I can do to help.

Draft2Digital

By now if you’re an indie publisher, author or hoping to pursue independent publishing in one way or another – you’ve probably heard of Draft2Digital. But just in case you haven’t, Draft2Digital.com is a publishing platform like Smashwords’ infamous meat grinder in that Draft2Digital (D2D) lets you take your unpublished manuscript, format it for various stores.

What makes D2D different from all the other publishing platforms? You get access to all the markets at once! That means you can publish on the Kindle, Apple devices, Nook, various other ebook readers and even Createspace from one simple website. Not even Smashwords allows you to publish paperback books at the same time as your ebook and Smashwords’ method of taking your carefully crafted manuscript and placing it on all those platforms is, to be horribly frank, nothing short of putting your work in a mangler and hoping it comes out the other end in a legible format.

Continue reading

Book Interior Formatting: The Dreaded Page Number

Formatting. Every time I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Every time, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Every time, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

The Dreaded Page Number

Dead tree books, unlike ebooks, require page numbers, page numbers that can be an ever loving pain in the all get out to format properly. In order to mimic as closely as possible a book published by one of the big six publishing companies (never mind that the sizes available from Createspace are all wrong for a proper pocket paperback) you’ll need page numbers at the top of each page but excluding most of your front number pages as well as the first page of each chapter and you’ll also want the author’s name on alternate pages from the title of the book, again excluding your front and pack matter pages.

In any other document, page numbers are easy so it always throws me for a loop how hard they are to format for a paperback. Click on images for a larger illustration of the steps.

Section Breaks

First thing you’re going to want to do is open your document and click on “show paragraph formatting” in the ‘home” tab of word. Then you need to go through each chapter (currently I find it’s easiest to do these one at a time) and make sure to delete any Page Breaks you see, in their place you’ll go to the “page layout” tab and select “breaks,” you’ll be adding “next page” or “next odd/even page” Section Breaks where you previously had page breaks.

Author/Title

Once you have those set up you can go ahead and click on the header portion of your document to open up the header/footer editor. Find the first page of your chapter and enter in either your name or the name of your novel, make sure that “different first page,” “Different Odd & Even Pages” and “link to previous” are all checked.

Page Number

Pg-#-Current-Pos-1

Continue reading