For the Indie publisher, consumers want to be told that they are getting something good for what they paid for. Often, this is by word of mouth; someone they know has told them. Or, perhaps, it’s something that everyone wants because everyone else already seems to have it. How do you create that spark?
The fact is that few people who read ebooks want to review them, and fewer still give rave reviews, yet at the same time, this is exactly what readers (read: book buyers) are looking for. If you can’t find someone to read your book and give an honest and hopefully ecstatic opinion, could you bring yourself to buy one? It appears that such is the way of the internet, from fake Twitter followers to rave reviews, some estimates at one-third being false.
Wanna peek behind the black curtain? This isn’t pretty.
The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy
You just finished your tale of adventure, romance, intrigue, and woe. But whoa! You’re not ready to publish just yet, not by a long shot.
One of the biggest complaints by readers (and competing traditional publishers) about the Indie/self-publishing community are the obvious mistakes and a general lack of anything resembling actual editing… and they have a point. Fortunately, a fresh pair of eyes will catch things you’ve been missing (or, in this case, several pairs of eyes, each with a different view and function).
This is part of the editorial process, which can easily be broken up into four distinct tasks:
- Developmental Editor – helps develop the author’s concept, the scope of the book, the intended audience, and the way elements of the book are arranged
- Copyeditor – examines the manuscript line by line, word by word
- Production Editor – responsible for the entire production process
- Proofreader – the last guardian of the publisher’s reputation for accuracy and care (and the protector of the author’s reputation for diligence)
Many Indie writers take on both the roles of developmental and production editor themselves (gotta cut costs somewhere, right?) but the addition of at least two more pairs of eyes (a copyeditor and separate proofreader) can make a good book better and much more professional.
Will you catch every mistake? Nope… even some of the most renowned authors have a mistake or two slip though, but that a far cry from having multiple issues on every page, every paragraph, or even in every sentence. Don’t be that writer.
See more details, see the full article that inspired this post at What Every Self-Publisher Ought to Know about Editing.
Terribleminds is at it again. After a nice, positive-sounding list of 25 Reasons Readers Will Keep Reading Your Story, here’s a list of things to consider NOT doing if you want to keep an audience. As always, the language is a bit strong but the information is thought-provoking.
25 Reasons Readers Will QUIT Reading Your Story
Awkward language: when the quality and clarity of your prose fails to meet the intention of the writer. Put differently, it’s when your writing is clunky, clumsy, and the greatest sin of all, unclear. If I don’t know what you’re trying to tell me, I will put a bullet in your book’s brain and bury it out by the marigolds.
Confusing and illogical plots stop me dead. Newsflash: I need to know what’s going on. And what’s going on needs to actually make some fucking sense. I don’t want to feel like I’m machete-chopping my way through your snarled and tangled pubic thatch just to get to the good stuff.
I can feel when an author is pulling punches, when the story is the narrative equivalent of lobbing softballs. This isn’t about being edgy or hardcore, I only mean to suggest that I know when the author is treating his plot and his characters — and, by proxy, the audience — gingerly. He’s not taking any risks. No danger in plot, no conflict for the characters, no risk in the prose one writes. Go big or go the fuck home. Every book is in competition with every other book, movie, comic book, porn movie, and breakfast cereal in existence. Put your back and your heart into it, goddamnit. Stop phoning it in.
I’m really starting to like this guy.
A newly discovered bit of thoughtfulness over at http://terribleminds.com has unleashed not so much as a checklist but a great list of things to consider. As a writer, you like to read, don’t you? Sometimes we forget what it’s like to consume instead of create, and the following is a nice reminder.
25 Reasons Readers Will Keep Reading Your Story
A few highlights:
A good story should always be raising questions — not asking them directly, but instead forcing the reader to ask them. “Wait, what’s that weird symbol they keep seeing on the walls? What was that sound? Something’s up with that top hat-wearing fox that keeps following them, too. Where the crap are they going?” This is why too much exposition is a story-squasher: exposition provides answers and answers rob the reader. Answers must come, yes, but only at the right time — and, if the answers come before the end, it helps to raise further questions to replace those we lost. It’s a cruel game the storyteller players, like teasing a kitty-cat with a laser pointer. “Go here! Now here! Now back over here! Ha ha ha ha stupid cat you’re so adorable the way you chase an insubstantial red dot on the floor like it means something. Silly jerk.”
A great antagonist — a true villain, a genuine malefactor — is “conflict” but given a face and a name. If you need proof that a great antagonist will keep people reading, I need only mention: Hannibal Lecter.
Aww. Poor widdle kitty cat dangling from the twee bwanch! Will he fall? Will he manifest the magical gyroscope cats reportedly possess and land on his feet? Will a hawk swoop in and carry him up into the clouds? Tune in next week to find out! Behold, the power of the cliffhanger: one of the great motivations for a reader to tell his loved ones, “Yes, yes, just five more pages. I need to see what happens! No, I know, I know, it’s Grandpa’s funeral, but Jiminy Christmas it’s not like he’s got anywhere to be. LET ME KEEP READING OR IMMA BLUDGEON YOU WITH THIS BOOK.”
While many authors that I deal with today are up and coming or established independent/self-publishers, what about traditionally published authors who haven’t yet but want to make the leap to ebooks? One of the things that readers cringe at is the so-called publishing cycle; ever hear that your favorite author has a book you haven’t read, but when you track it down you find it’s out-of-print and unavailable? In the digital age, nothing should ever be out-of-print, nor are there any significant print, distribution, or warehouse costs.
This is a link to an article regarding just such a question: a traditionally published author making reasonable money being offered a relative pittance by their publisher with the claim that 15% royalty on electronic delivery is the maximum they are allowed. Additionally, the author is also being told that if they don’t accept it, they will continue getting the same 5% they’ve been getting for the print sales and that the publisher technically has the rights to ALL printed material whether on dead trees or in ones and zeros (yeah, that’s sounds a bit fishy). And what if the author doesn’t like it?
… we’d much rather go forward with your blessing/involvement.
Ouch. Really? In this day and age? Compare this to all-digital publishing.
First of all, 25% royalty (in the US of A) seems to be a normal minimum, but sites like Smashwords.com offer 70% to their creators. Book costs are lower ($0.99 up to $4.99 per book seems to be reasonable, the price of a smart phone or tablet app) but sales are made up for in volume. Some publishers (such as Kindle Direct Publishing via Amazon.com) are attempting to create exclusivity by offering higher rates and perks (such as lending rights for actual money) if you don’t sell your books elsewhere.
Also, many of those contracts never considered a change in medium to a digital space. Like moving from books or comics to film and television, Kevin Smith (aka “Silent Bob” in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) may have said it best (in the actual film, no less): “When said property was optioned… you were legally obliged to secure our permission to transfer the concept to another medium. As you failed to do that… you are in breach of the original contract, ergo you find yourself in a very actionable position.”
But 15%? Sounds like someone is hoping (and praying) this author doesn’t have a clue and won’t bother to find out more.
A blog called Terribleminds (as retweeted by Barbie Wilde) has some pretty good stuff about rejection letters presented in an entertaining way. Here’s a few favorites.
2. Rejection has value.
It teaches us when our work or our skillset is not good enough and must be made better. This is a powerful revelation, like the burning UFO wheel seen by the prophet Ezekiel, or like the McRib sandwich shaped like the Virgin Mary seen by the prophet Steve Jenkins. Rejection refines us. Those who fall prey to its enervating soul-sucking tentacles are doomed. Those who persist past it are survivors. Best ask yourself the question: what kind of writer are you? The kind who survives? Or the kind who gets asphyxiated by the tentacles of woe?
6. It’s not about you.
It’s about the work. I mean, unless it is about you. I guess it could be personal. If you send a story off to an editor, and you once shat in that editor’s fishtank, well. That might be personal.
9. Some rejections Are as worthless as a short-sleeved straightjacket.
Not every rejection — or every person wielding the big red “NUH-UH” stamp — is a quality one. Form rejections won’t teach you anything other than the fact that the editor didn’t have time. Rejections that never come — a “no” by proxy — are even less valuable. Sometimes you’ll receive a rejection that just doesn’t add up, leaving you scratching your pink parts in slack-jawed bewilderment. Recognize that some — not all, not even most, but some — rejections are as fruitful as a shoebox full of dead mice.