Tag Archives: self publishing

Every Writer Needs a Little Help

I’ve wanted to start bringing you a few author service providers for a long time. I extended a few invitations, and Staci Troilo took me up on it.

I can vouch for Staci’s work. She’s helped me in so many ways. Here’s Staci to tell us about her services.

***

Thanks for inviting me to visit again, Craig.

For those of you who don’t know (and honestly, that’s probably none of you), Craig and I are founding members of Story Empire, a site dedicated to helping authors with writing, publishing, and marketing. Since its inception, he and I have become not only colleagues, but friends, and as such, we’ve come to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

He asked me to visit today to talk a little about editing, one of my strengths.

I started earning money to write and edit when I was still in college. Different professors showed my work to their colleagues who were looking for writers, and each hired me. I tell you this to demonstrate how long (and I mean l…o…n…g) I’ve been working in the field.

When I worked those jobs, the clients “edited” my work. I use quotes because neither of my clients was a writer or professional editor, but each of them had final say on the wording. That work wasn’t too bad, all things considered. But not everyone can edit, and these bosses—though competent in their respective fields—were not editors in the proper sense of the word.

After I got my master’s degree and started working in the private sector, my bosses were always trained editors. And the work I did for those companies was solid.

You’re probably wondering why I’m rambling on about business writing rather than fiction editing. It’s because, regardless of the genre, even experienced writers need an editor. (Also, don’t forget—writing fiction is a business and should be treated as such.)

I’ve got a pretty decent body of published work, and this year it’s poised to grow considerably. (To view my complete catalogue or keep up with my releases, visit my site.) I’m a hybrid author (I’m both traditionally-published and self-published). It probably goes without saying that I have an editor for my work with the traditional houses. It might interest you to know that even though I’m a professional editor, I still have someone else edit my indie titles. Yes, editing is that important in the publishing process. And no, you should not be your own editor.

I’ve worked as an editor at three different publishing companies, and I now freelance. In each case, I’ve conducted all three types of edits*:

1. Developmental Edits

2. 2. Copy Edits

3. Line Edits

(*Please note that terminology may differ for these three categories depending on the source of the information, but the services are the same.)

Developmental edits are the most intensive to complete. To conduct a developmental edit, the editor will help guide the author in the structure of the piece. A developmental editor will do things like:

• point out alternative directions or gaping plot holes

• note inconsistencies

• show ways to further develop characters and their arcs

This service is best for novice authors who do not understand the foundations of writing fiction (things like premise, theme, and structure).

Copy edits are usually conducted after an author has self-edited her draft. This doesn’t mean you should ask for a copy edit of your first draft. First drafts are usually dirty drafts that will benefit from the author’s own clean-up efforts. But once an author has made several passes through the document, made revisions, sent it to beta readers for feedback, and revised again, it’s time to get a copy edit. A copy editor will note things like:

• flow problems

• weak word choices

• POV breaks

This is a type of edit that benefits novice and intermediate-level authors. It is helpful for authors who have structure under control but struggle with mechanics.

Line edits are the simplest type of editing. This is the final clean-up before a work is published. Line editors mark issues like:

• misplaced and dangling modifiers

• typographical errors

• punctuation problems

This type of edit is beneficial for writers of all levels, novice through professional. While experienced writers are probably aware of these pitfalls, even they will find it difficult to pinpoint such problems in their own work. We become blind to our words because we know what we want them to be, and consequently, we don’t see what they actually are.

I joined Story Empire because I enjoy working with authors. That’s the same reason I love working as an editor. I like to help writers expand their knowledge and polish their work. Besides, I learn something from every person I work with. I’ve also developed many friendships along the way and received some truly heartwarming feedback.

• Staci Troilo is a superb editor who understands the creative process, offering suggestions without stepping the artistic choices of the author. She’s thorough, efficient, and sensitive. She’s also knowledgeable in the mechanics of all aspects of writing. (P. C. Zick)

• She is AMAZING! She took my text, and added bullets, subheads, and pull quotes to make the material much easier for readers to consume, all without making any changes to my voice or style. (Jennifer Dunne)

• Staci is the best hire I’ve ever made. She’s talented, dedicated, professional, and as hardworking as they come. (Casey Cowan)

• Staci gets three out of three for the traits necessary to do well in a business environment: she is on time, she has great skills, and she’s easy to work with. (Duke Pennell)

These excerpts from published reviews (see the full reviews plus more of my credentials here) mean a lot to me, because they tell me I’m not only doing what I set out to do professionally, I’m also making other people happy. And at the end of the day, I can consider my career and my life a success if I leave this world a better place (in any manner) than how I found it.

If you are interested in my editing services, you can find more information here. If you like what you see, fill out the contact form and we can talk about your project.

Because I’m also an indie author, I understand the budget-crunch writers face, and as such, I keep my prices well below industry standard. I also offer a fast turnaround time (usually under two weeks) and will consider rush jobs.

I want all authors to shine, which is why I try to be accommodating and flexible. If you have special needs, please feel free to discuss them with me.

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Assuming the fetal position

Well, I’ve gone and done it. I uploaded and hit the publish button. My personal process hasn’t changed over the years. I’m freaking the hell out like I always do.

This may stem from the first experience I had where Amazon took the entire manuscript and squeezed all the letters into one line down the middle of the page. It’s never happened since, but that kind of thing sticks with you. Can you imagine if someone had purchased that book and gotten one line of over-strike text for an entire book?

Anyway, I’m on the dawn of a new book release. This is my novella project, and it’s the origin story of a paranormal superhero kind of character. It’s full of some witty interactions, and I intended much of it to be humorous. There are some dark moments, because it’s got a paranormal undertone. Music also plays a roll in this one.

I’ve shared the cover before, but here it is again.

There are a million things to do behind the scenes once I have a purchase link. I have to update my site, contact the Goodreads Librarians, link this and that all together. I have friends to deliver materials to; like I said, a million little things.

For now, watch this space for updates. I’ll be over in the corner building a blanket fort.

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2017 can kiss my ass

Every year, I try to do an assessment of the year that was. I follow this up with something I call a business plan for the new year. This is my assessment of 2017.

I always have a few goals, and 17 was no exception. I wanted to release The Enhanced League, and The Yak Guy Project. I’m going to declare victory, but it rings kind of hollow.

I released The Enhanced League around the time of Major League Baseball’s Allstar Break. It was a little bit off from the Opening Day release I had planned. Honestly, it sold like crazy… for about two weeks. Then it completely died. I haven’t moved a single copy since the end of July.

Reviews of Enhanced League were all positive. I don’t like throwing a lot of money behind my 99¢ specials, because my royalty is about 34¢ per copy. I view my short form stuff as a way to drive readers to take a chance on my novels.

I knew a fictional baseball league would have a limited audience, so I was aware this could happen. I also know that baseball returns like Spring flowers, and it could have some longevity over the years. (I count down opening day like others countdown Christmas.)

The Yak Guy is a finished book and has been for several months. (Yeah, you can’t read it yet, but I’m looking for something positive about 2017.) I drug my feet here, for a lot of reasons. I waited for a couple of my favorite beta readers to have an opening, and took their advice to heart. I also wanted to submit it to a publisher. This caused me to hem & haw and drag my feet. Yeah, I’m a procrastinator.

I waited for openings with these readers, because I lost my critique group. We held on for years, then everyone kind of drifted away. I found the process very helpful, but there is nothing I can do about it now.

Yak Guy is the story of a spoiled and lazy young man who winds up in an alternate world. He has to learn a thing or two to even survive, let alone thrive. This is the one I based upon the Fool’s Journey from the Tarot. Yak Guy meets many mentors along his journey, and astute observers might recognize them from the Tarot.

I fiddled around for a month or so, then submitted it to a publisher. All I have to do is wait around and see what happens. It’s one of those where they don’t reject you, they simply don’t respond at all. I sent a nice cover letter and a synopsis. About two days after I sent it away, I realized they wanted the synopsis in the body of the email. Mine is an attachment, so it’s probably an automatic rejection. How do you do a cover letter if that isn’t the body of the email?

Aside from that Quantum Wanderlust is the the only other thing I had cooking. This involves one short story, Swift Wings, that is part of a larger anthology. I even did a small bit of promotion and commissioned some Lisa Burton artwork to help things along. It seems to be holding its own, but reviews have been hard to come by. There are some fabulous authors in this collection, so you might want to check it out.

That’s my entire 2017 publishing file. One actual book, and one short story.

My blog stats are stagnant. I have almost exactly the same number of views as I did in 2016. In past years, my stats grew exponentially every year. This concerns me, because this blog is the heart of my presence online. There were referrals from all of the popular social media sites, so that’s good. The biggest referrer was Flipboard. Flipboard is kind of strange, because one post can go crazy there, the others can be completely ignored. Facebook and Twitter are more stable.

The majority of clicks on my site were on media. I checked it out and they are all Lisa Burton art. I wish they were my books, but I can handle this. It has to do with that tiny bit of subconscious recognition. Ya’ll come back, there will be more art and you might decide to read something too.

Lisa Burton Radio grew by leaps and bounds. I was nearly able to post every week. The only gaps were ones I caused, and I can live with that. Children’s books appeared for the first time, and overall they were really popular posts.

There are some things I do here on a sporadic basis. The Idea Mill posts and my October event called Macabre Macaroni. These continue to be popular, but not overwhelmingly so. A lot of authors visit here, but not all of them are speculative fiction authors. To them, the Idea Mill might be amusing, but it doesn’t exactly relate to what they write. I’m going to keep doing these, because I enjoy them. I think I’m allowed a bit of fun on occasion.

The Macabre Macaroni that got the best response was the one about the comatose lady who imagined life with the daughter she lost. I never know which one is going to be the favorite from short story to short story.

I’ve been around long enough that my old posts are getting regular action now. This is a good thing. They aren’t all gems, but it’s nice when a few of them have longevity. I like to think I have a chance of gaining followers when they search for something and find me.

Story Empire is a group blog I helped create. This site is growing like crazy, and I’m honored to be part of it. It started smaller, so it’s easier to gain growth. (It’s easy to get 100% growth when you have one follower; that theory.) It’s doing very well. We did a group promotion we called the Bookmobile, and it was a rousing success for me. All we did was post on each others’ sites, but I moved more copies during this event than any other time of the year. Unfortunately, it was the only group promo we did. I hope we can cobble something together again in 2018. (Hint, if the rest of you stop by.)

On the writing front, it wasn’t great. Flat blog stats, only one book release and it was short lived, and one anthology story. The anthology is still selling, so there’s that.

On the personal front, 2017 pretty much sucked. Part of this was the 2016 political landscape. It felt more like the line from Ghostbusters than anything else. “Choose the form of the destroyer.” Nice to have a choice, but a destroyer none-the-less.

We thought we were doing a good thing by adopting two bulldog puppies instead of one. We wanted to save a tiny baby from a cargo flight to Florida. With their short faces and breathing issues, it was a coin toss as to whether she would be alive at the other end. We brought home Frankie and Nyx. Nyx died in my arms on the Fourth of July. She got heat stroke in a shady back yard with access to plenty of water. My son swears she was only outside for about fifteen minutes. I guess she would have been better off trying to go to Florida. There isn’t a day that passes without my thinking of her.

Shortly after that, their older brother Otto hurt his back. He literally crawled around using his front legs and dragging his hind legs for over a month. He woke up in the middle of the night screaming on more than one occasion. Fortunately, many dollars and drugs later he is back to his active old self.

I feel for him more than you know. I did something to my own back in early December, and missed a week of work. There were times when I needed help to get out of bed or to lift the toilet seat. I had my own drugs to help things along, and am still not perfect. I missed an occasional work day even after the first week.

Somewhere along the way, we lost half of our annual income. My goal was to pay off as much as we could before this happened, but it landed about four months early. We’ll be okay, but it is a life changing set of circumstances. On the bright side, we had that income when Otto was in pain. I shudder to think of the choice I might have been forced to make had the resource dried up back then.

I wound up getting some kind of flu on a working trip during the summer. On a positive note, it led to Marissa Bergen to write a song called Vending Machine Imodium. Marissa completely made it worthwhile.

So overall, 2017 didn’t have much to recommend it. I’m going to take it for a walk in the desert. Just look at the flowers, 2017. What? This revolver is for protection from coyotes.

My 2018 business plan will post shortly after the new year arrives, and it’s going to be a lot more positive. I try to assess the year honestly, but my outlook is unfazed.

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All things updateish

I worked this week, kind of. I managed Monday and Tuesday, but couldn’t do it on Wednesday. My back is getting better, but there have been setbacks. I worked all day Friday, so there is that. These ten hour shifts get rough in my office chair.

On the blogging front, I managed to send off two shticks for Lisa Burton Radio, so I assume there will be one for next week. I don’t plan on having one the week of Christmas. People are doing better things, and I wouldn’t be helping my guest author out by posting their promo that week. I’ll come up with something else for that slot so it isn’t dead airspace.

I hired my formatter and sent off the manuscript for The Hat. Last night I paid the invoice, and today I looked over the formatted book. I’m sorry to say the only mistakes were my own. I found a missing space, and a typo even after all the beta readers and my own efforts. That’s what always happens though. Even books put out by major publishers have errors. I’ll fix these, but none of it is the formatters fault.

I also decided to include the Lisa Burton promotional posters as back-of-the book material. I did this with Enhanced League and they were well received. There is a link to my Amazon page if folks want to check out my other work.

The good news is I could publish The Hat tonight. I won’t though. 2017 has been a sucky year for me, and I’m not donating this cool story to the 2017 gloom and doom. I’ll release it sometime in early 2018. This means I need to get on the stick and write some blog tour posts. Then when I ask for volunteers I’ll actually have something ready for them.

The Hat is a novella. It can be read in one afternoon. I think it’s a ten on the fun meter, so I’m struggling with the price point. I priced my short story collections at 99¢. I intended to do the same with this book, but now I’m not so sure. My novels are only $2.99, and I’m seriously considering pricing the novellas at $1.99. You get more involved with them than a short story, but not as involved as a novel. It’s like a novel, only fun size. It’s either that, or publish it at $2.99 and jack the price of my novels to $3.99. Honestly, this shouldn’t be that big of a decision. I can’t believe we don’t sell our novels for eight or nine bucks each. I’m open to suggestions here folks.

Tomorrow, I’ll probably assemble and schedule one of the Lisa interviews. Then I need to add some new words to my other novella. This has been slow going, but I have the week between Christmas and New Year off, so I hope to make the electronic ink fly then.

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Meet Michele Jones

Quantum Wanderlust
Michele Jones is one of the masterminds behind AIW Press, and the two anthologies I’ve been invited to participate in. She’s also the author of one of the stories inside Quantum Wanderlust. She’s here to give us a behind the scenes of putting an anthology together. Let’s make her feel welcome and use those sharing buttons today. Thanks.

***

Hey Craig, thanks for having me. By the way, I love Lisa’s radio show. You have very interesting guests. If you don’t mind, I thought we could talk about putting together our newest anthology, Quantum Wanderlust.

I believe there are some similarities between producing an anthology and writing a successful story or novel, or producing a live radio show. It all comes down to planning.

Our team meets and discusses ideas and themes for upcoming anthologies. We’ve done holiday, westerns, and wanted something different. Thus, Quantum Wanderlust was born. Of course, the ideas that didn’t make the cut were filed for future use.

Once we have chosen the theme, we develop the concept that all submissions must adhere to. All of our anthologies have guidelines the selected authors must abide by, theme, word count, and of course they must not be offensive to the readers or the participating authors, therefore, we stay away from political and religious topics when producing the anthology.

After hashing out the details, we have a call for submissions. This includes reaching out to the authors that participated in previous anthologies. We provide the details of the anthology, such as theme, word count, deadline, editing process, and marketing.

After we have commitments from the authors, we create an online forum for information pertaining to the anthology. This is where we discuss the progress of the stories and the marketing we will be doing.

While that is happening in the forefront, we work behind the scenes producing the marketing material. We gather the author bio, and any links they provide for their work. As the stories come in we start the editing process. We review all content to make sure it adheres to our rules, and edit for grammar. Once completed, all edits are returned to the author for approval. Don’t be alarmed, any edit that we do will not change the author’s voice or the plot of the story.

Once we have all the finished pieces, we start the layout for the compilation. We come up with a one or two line short synopsis for marketing and we pull a quote to introduce the story.

I’ve read all the stories in Quantum Wanderlust. Craig chose to travel back in time and came up with a great plot twist in his story, Swift Wings. I chose to travel to the future in my story, The Fabric of Time, where one snag in the fabric can alter the future.

Don’t forget to pick up your free copy of Quantum Wanderlust at all the major sites. These thirteen authors will take you on some interesting time travel adventures. Oh, and if you don’t mind, please leave a review.

***

Quantum WanderlustWhat if you had all the time in the world?

Thirteen authors answer that question with short stories about time travel. Go back in time to right a wrong, forward to see the future. No jump is too large, no method unfeasible, no lesson beyond learning.

• Visit the past to learn a family secret.

• See the formation of a future dictatorship.

• Assume responsibility for weaving the fabric of time.

• Travel back in time to WWII.

• Use a family heirloom to solve problems.

• Wear an inheritance to visit ancestors.

• Leave a dystopian future for the hope of something better.

• Make history come true in an unexpected way.

• Fight evil fairies to protect a chosen angel.

• Live with the childhood memory of visitors until the day they arrive.

• Seek medical help for a memory issue and get way more than bargained for.

• Discover that with great power comes great responsibility.

• Uncover the secrets of a pharaoh’s tomb and curse.

Do the characters observe or interact? Is the outcome better or worse than the original timeline? Read these stories to learn how far they go, how they get there, and what happens when they return.

The scope is virtually limitless, definitely timeless.

Pick up your free copy here

Michele JonesBio:

Michele Jones lives in Western Pennsylvania with her husband and two spoiled dogs.

Along with her writing, family, cooking, and sports are her passions. She is a diehard Penguin, Steeler, and Pirate fan… really, a diehard anything-Pittsburgh fan.

Michele writes memoirs, short stories, romance, and poetry, but her passion lies in writing paranormal, suspense, and thrillers.

You can follow her online at www.michele-jones.com

Connect online:

Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Published Works | Goodreads

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With a Little Help from my Friends

It feels like it's been a long time coming, but The Enhanced League is a genuine book now. I played the usual games with my Mac before uploading it. It generally works like this:

“You've been logged out. Please enter your iCloud password.”

I loaded my password.

“You have upgrades.”

I start downloading the newest and greatest to the operating system.

“Your upgrades have just been upgraded.”

I start over. Looks like it will take about thirty minutes. I check back in half an hour. Twenty seven minutes remaining.

Play with he dogs and talk to my daughter before checking back.

“You've successfully upgraded your operating system. Please enter your iCloud password.”

When I clicked the keys, nothing happened. Replace the batteries in everything.

“Something went wrong. You have upgrades.”

Start all over again. Repeat the waiting times, and password entry.

“Do you want to activate Siri on this machine?”

“Whatever! Just get on with it already.”

“Please enter your messenger password.”

“I don't even want messenger on this machine!!!” I click the red dot to close the window.

“Please enter you messenger password.”

“FINE!”

Anyway, after about three hours I was allowed to do the only thing I need the Mac for. Everything else can be done on my iPad.

I just got the email from Amazon that I am live right now.

I'm not the best blurb writer, but here's what I wrote:

The Enhanced league is a collection of short stories and anthems centered around a year in a fictional baseball league. It has a slight science fiction background. This league has a lot more pomp than you might be used to, and nobody seems to care if the players use performance enhancing drugs.

Stories involve existing heroes, up and comers, and falling stars. While there are the obvious stories that take place on the field of play, there are also human interest stories that take place around the baseball gyrations. These stories involve scouting, trades, ruthless business decisions, and even relationships.

I enjoyed researching and bringing you The Enhanced League, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. — CB

***

This is where I ask for a little help from my friends. There are a few things you can do to help, if you're willing.

First is to reach down inside the couch and find ninety-nine cents (99¢), then go to Amazon and pick up a copy of The Enhanced League. This is the link. The widget on my sidebar is also linked. If you need an e-reader, there is a link for one of those on the side too. Grab a hotdog and a beer and have some fun with it.

Second, I need some blog hosts. I have several different posts already written. Let me know in the comments if you'd like to participate. You can request me, or a visit from Lisa Burton, and Lisa has some awesome new posters to share with a baseball theme to them. Let me know in the comments.

I also have a couple of posts I've written by request, and need to get them out to the hosts.

Third, don't be afraid to share the news, reblog one of the posts that pops up online, and tell your friends. I'll be doing the same on your new releases.

Finally, to the awesome group of volunteers who served as beta readers. I used many of your suggestions to improve this book. There is no expectation whatsoever, but if you'd like to post a review I'd really appreciate it.

I'm off to do a whole list of things next. These involve Goodreads, pinned tweets, my book club and more. I'll surf through and keep up with the comments.

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Dragon Ass

Okay, this isn't a post about dragons. It's a post about attitude. My regulars will understand how my mojo flew out the window this week, and it's only fair to give you a small update.

Our veterinarian and our favorite breeder both gave us a measure of comfort with our loss of little Nyx. The vet said that heat stroke should not have happened in thirty minutes. Not with her in a shaded back yard and access to water. He said that Nyx may have had some other problem that was not known and contributed to her death. The other dogs were out there too and were unscathed.

Thinking back on it, she was the one who sat on the air conditioner vent regularly. Maybe he's onto something.

The breeder said she's lost dogs to heat before, and our dogs' father is susceptible to heat problems. She thinks we're lovely people, and can't think of better pet owners. I appreciate her sentiments, but beyond the regular bulldog problems with heat, maybe this bloodline is more susceptible to heat problems.

There is the possibility that our son isn't telling us the whole truth either. Maybe it was more than thirty minutes. We were only gone two hours, and nyx was happily licking my ear before we left.

It could also be a hideous cocktail of those facts. At this point we know all we're ever going to know, and the assessments are not conclusive.

We're both devastated. My wife couldn't go to work on Wednesday, and I had to leave after about an hour and come home myself. We both regularly place a hand on our remaining dogs just to see if they're breathing. We had them both wearing wet bandanas yesterday, because even with the air conditioner and overhead fan, we couldn't get the house below seventy-eight degrees last night. (I almost put one on myself.)

Frankie is having a hard time too. She wouldn't eat the first day, and kept looking for her sister. We finally had to buy a new outer bowl, run the glass insert through the dishwasher, and then she ate just fine. The other stuff smelled like Nyx, and I'm sure that's what the problem was. She's needed some extra ball playing, and spent a lot of time in my lap this morning with what we call poodle time.

Otto is still convalescing himself. He has good days and bad days. We have another appointment to see what more we can do for him. It's some kind of pinched nerve like sciatica, and that's about all we know. He feels decent and wants to play, which leads to a tough night after the exertion.

I'm still waiting for a formatted manuscript. I'll publish The Enhanced League as soon as I get one, then I'll put out a call for blog hosts. I'm the one being difficult and demanding here, in case you're wondering.

Beyond that, I assembled and scheduled next week's Lisa Burton Radio post. I also moved another one ahead in the queue. I need to keep working on these, lest my volunteers think I'm blowing them off, but with twenty five applicants, it does no good to get them all ready at once.

I finally got around to changing my wallpaper. Since July is determined to be so hot, I thought heat was an appropriate theme. Heat has caused all the disasters around my life this week too.

I'm going to see if I can work up a couple more promotional posts for Enhanced League. I may have enough, but might find a decent excerpt to share somewhere and those make fun posts.

I need to catch up on some reading too. I don't know if my mood is great for that until I try. I have several books I want to get to and may take a shot at one.

I really need to get on with The Yak Guy Project, but have been putting it off. This is for a couple of selfish reasons. I don't want to get tangled up during the Enhanced League release, and I don't want to release a novel during the summer months. Releasing Enhanced League around Major League Baseball's Allstar Break might not be so bad.

So that's me this weekend. I'll get some things done, but I'm kind of draggin' ass at the moment. (Wow, I've always free written the blog, but I'm starting a lot of sentences with I today. I don't think I'll edit it either.)

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