Worderella Around the Web

Dear Reader,

We’ve been busy here behind the scenes, researching and writing and preparing for contests and such.

I’m also continuing to do research for The Rebel’s Hero. As I learn, I’ve been going back through chapters to better describe the situation of the Civil War at the timeline of the book. This gives me a much more solid understanding of who the characters are, and why, which will help me write the best of the book. It stinks to backtrack, but it’s worth the effort.

And that’s everything that’s happening in my part of the world! Tell me, how are things going for you?

Best,

Belinda

Worderella Tries Online Marketing

Dear Reader,

I’ve spent most of this week adjusting to all the responsibilities of my new job, as well as calming down a bit with this whole self-publishing thing. I’m the sort of person who sets her mind on something and will work until she collapses to achieve her goal.

But that isn’t healthy, smart, or sustainable if you’re seriously planning on going into a new business venture, which is what I consider this self-publishing journey. I am determined to become a micro-business owner, which I contend is different from a small business owner.

#amwriting

And, I’ve been writing. After I complained about how I hadn’t written in two weeks, I am now on a four day streak of writing at least 750 words a day. Go me! It turns out that once I get past 600 words, I get into the flow of things and my characters stop being characters and start being people.

Online marketing as an author

I felt so good about finishing chapter twelve of Haunting Miss Trentwood tonight that I thought I’d dabble in some marketing.I’ve uploaded the first section of my book, Catching the Rose, on Scribd. I’ve also uploaded an essay I wrote about how English accents are undeniably hot to American women, and my theory why. All tongue-in-cheek, of course.

I’m maintaining a spreadsheet so I know exactly what I’ve spent, where I’ve marketed, what I’ve uploaded, etc. I’m sharing this spreadsheet because I believe in iteration. I’m certain there are many of you who are better marketers than me. You’ve been at it longer, or it’s closer to your day job responsibilities, or you’re just not as shy as I am from the get-go.

Paying it forward

I’m also collecting useful links with my Delicious bookmarks. It’s a small list right now. With your help, we could make an awesome collection of links for authors trying to self-publish, market, etc. Whenever you see something I should link, send me a tweet or leave a comment.

And now, it’s time for Miss Worderella to go to sleep.

Self-Publishers Unite!

As a published author determined to self-publish all future works, I always find it fascinating to read about others’ adventures in the self-publishing world. More people are doing it these days with the help of digital processing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a new trend. Many “established” authors self-published, such as Virginia Woolf.

Where do I begin?

Jumping into the self-publishing realm is not for the faint of heart. In fact, I would do a subsidy/vanity publisher first, just to get your feet wet. Something like Lulu would be a nice start as well, because they walk you through the process.

Once you’re certain you want to self-publish, subscribe to Publetariat. This is a blog peopled by a collection of self-publishers who write about everything, from hand selling your work to finding a good copy editor. They discuss the highs and lows, and provide resources to learn more about self publishing.

Then I would hop over to Dan Poynter’s website, which is chock full of free online resources for publishers.

Start watching Self-Publishing Review to get an idea of the quality people are looking for in terms of good self-published fare.

Listen to The Creative Pen podcasts on “writing, publishing options, internet sales and promotion – for your book.”

Most importantly, keep writing! If you don’t have anything to sell, what’s the point?

How are your projects going?

Have you decided if you want to self-publish, subsidy publish, or go the traditional route? Now that I’ve returned to the blogosphere, what would you like to see me write about?

Networking for Writers: Crit Partner Match

Hi all, I know I’m disrupting my posting schedule, but this is too cool to pass up. Zoe Winters, our guest blogger today, clued me in on a new networking opportunity that is both fun and useful, too. It’s called Crit Partner Match, and the premise is that it’s like eHarmony.com or Match.com… but for writers looking for a critique partner. I’ve already set up a profile and wrote my introduction in the Historical forum.

So join us at http://critpartnermatch.ning.com/. I hope to see you there, no matter your genre!

And make sure to read Zoe’s wonderful post on changing your mindset so you can acually accomplish your goals.

Share and Share Alike

“Good writers are those who keep the language efficient.
That is to say, keep it accurate, keep it clear.”
– Ezra Pound

Today’s post is a distillation of news I’ve seen around the blogosphere.

First of all, I’m about 60% done editing the WIP. Maybe not a great bit of news for the writing world at large, but something worth noting anyway. As I’m editing by paper and pencil, I can’t tell you how many pages I’ve cut, but this is one substantial tummy-tuck of which everyone will approve.

J.A.Konrath collected over 300 of his A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing essays into a free E-book this week. It’s 750 pages bookmarked by topics such as writing, breaking into the publishing world, promotion, reviews, motivation, and more. The no-nonsense style of writing is appealing, and Konrath’s got a pretty good sense of humor, so at least give it a try. It’s not every day a published writer hands out a free book about how they got published in the first place.

Bernita at An Innocent A-Blog reminded us to check out Absolute Write’s Bewares and Background Checks forum for those of us looking for an agent, small press publisher, print-on-demand company, or traditional publisher. The forum is beyond huge, so I wouldn’t try browsing. But if you have a specific company in mind, this is the place to look them up and see the experiences other writers went through. (For some reason the search is at the bottom of the page… annoying.)

Sidenote: Notice how there’s an entire conversation put aside for PublishAmerica? Summary for that conversation: Don’t publish with PublishAmerica. I looked up Aventine Press, the company that manufactured my first book, Catching the Rose, and found the comments there to be accurate. (As for my own opinion, I’m thinking of working with them again because yes, I liked them that much.)

And in that vein, I hope all of you are keeping up with the Writer Beware! blog. In this technology-driven age, there is no excuse if you sign up with a bad editor/agent/publisher. Do your research before you commit to anything. The professionals will understand if you take a couple of days to decide. The scam artists will tell you, just like those infomercials, that you better decide in the next ten minutes or you’ve lost the deal.

Rather than going to the annual Romance Writer’s of America convention, Lynn Viehl is hosting a substitution Left Behind & Loving It week of online workshops (July 28 – August 3). This is where Viehl organizes fellow authors to host workshops on their own blogs, much like Eliza’s Villain Month. Published and aspiring authors alike can host the workshops as we all can stand to learn something new.

I updated my Affiliates and Links page to include the new websites. Leave a comment here or on the affiliates page if I’ve left out a resource you consider valuable. Also, tell me how your work-in-progress is coming along!

Self-Published Authors and Taxes

Tax ManIt turns out that if you’re self-published, you’re considered self-employed. If you’re self-employed, you need to report your income if you accept more than $400 a year for your services (as seen on the form, here).

Some of you may know this already. But let me tell you, back when I was a naive, trusting seventeen-year-old (as opposed to the naive, not-so-trusting twenty-two-year-old I am now), I was completely bummed out that if I became the author I wanted to be, I’d have to pay taxes on my hard-earned royalties. This includes selling your books online, through PayPal, etc.

So for you writers that are either self-published or vanity-published, here are some tax forms you might want to take a look at.

  • Publications and Forms for Self-Employed Individual: These are all the forms that apply to any sort of self-employed writer. Self-employed in this case would imply self- or vanity-published, because you are putting the money into having your work produced.

    That is the key distinction: you are producing your work. Otherwise, you are working with a small press or traditional, large press, who pays all of the production/marketing costs and eke out a small royalty your way.

  • Filing Requirements for Self-Employed Individual: This page lists the different forms you may have to fill out in order to be kosher with the Tax Man.
  • Business Use of Your Home: This page gives you some idea of what is considered a business in the home, and what benefits you can get by claiming your home office as such. Keep in mind, you need to keep separate receipts, as well as make sure that your office is specifically for your writing, etc. If you’re going to have a business office, keep it a business.

For more information, check out Taxes and the Writer, which goes into more detail (and in paragraph form) about allowable deductions, home offices, retirement plans, etc. And read Death, Taxes, and the Writer for an emphasis on the importance of filing your return, even if you only made $401 in income the previous fiscal year.

P.S. For those of you needing a bit of extra help with your writing, I’ve begun re-compiling my general writing notes on my website, along with all the quotes I’ve compiled over the past couple of years. Stay tuned for more goodies!

Books on Display

Typewriter by Goodfaythe
I live in a 12′ by 10′ room when I’m at home during the summers, and I share it with my younger sister. We don’t have bunk beds, and hardly any storage space. In fact, we have those bed-risers so we can shove things beneath our beds. Most of my stuff is shoved into external storage spaces because there’s hardly any living space in the room.

I would complain, except I don’t pay rent or grocery fees.

The best part of my room is in the back corner of my closet. My closet has those 70’s sliding doors, and it goes deep into the wall on either side, about two feet. That’s where I hang my dresses, jackets, suits, etc…And all the space above the closet rod was wasted until one day, my mother said the most magical words I’ve ever heard: “What do you think about making a mini-library up there?”

Book reader by Banui_graphics Being a bibliophile, I effused my gratitude and excitement at the idea. Problem: I was in school at the time, battling my way through programming assignments and midterms. I couldn’t come home to do it. Time passed. Winter break brought me home to find my mother having already completed my library. To the point where she carefully took out all of my books (numbering above 100, I think), measured the tallest one to determine where the first shelf should go, and so on. Then, she put them back in the order that I had them. I have my own library in my closet. I’m so proud of that library that I smile at it every time I reach up to grab a book. I always talk about expanding, too… when I have my own place, that is. It’s a family joke that I won’t marry a guy who won’t let me have a library. Among other things, like my own writing office, a chaise lounge…

But I understand that other people don’t have the luxury or know-how to create a library in their closets. So, keeping in mind that I haven’t tried some of these products, nor am I receiving any sort of kickbacks for talking about them, here are a couple of really cool book display ideas that I found while searching online.

  1. Conceal Book shelf by Umbra. The idea is that you basically screw a large metal bracket onto the wall, with a small groove. You tuck a hardcover book into the groove, which becomes the bottom “shelf” as it were. The regular size shelf will hold about 10lbs of books, the large one 14 or so. The coolest thing about this shelf is that your books look like they are floating in the middle of the wall. I once had a dream that my walls were covered in floating books when I was younger. What an odd dream to see come true.
  2. Flybrary bookshelf by Umbra. This is sort of nifty, you hang the books on a series of metal arms, essentially creating a shelf out of books. I like to see the spines of my books, however, so this one wouldn’t be for me, but a cool idea nontheless.
  3. Folding Ladder Bookshelf by Picotee Int’l. I just like the look of these ladder bookshelves. The dark wood contrasts any bright colored book you might have, and complements traditional/old books. It’s pretty.
  4. Corner Space Saver Bookshelf by Stacks and Stacks. I hate it when corners go to waste, but then, I hate when anything goes to waste. This is a nifty idea where you can use your corner space and be stylish about it, with books facing the two different directions that the shelves offer.
  5. Flying Nun Shelf by Woodform. All right, I admit that I added this merely because the name made me laugh and think of Sally Fields. A simple floating bookshelf with built-in bookends. Comes in multiple colors.
  6. Hanging Wall Book Display by Children’s Factory Inc. For those of you with children, you can tuck books into the plastic sleeves (much like a hanging shoe sleeve), and that way, the child can always see their favorite books, and make clean up easy.

Let me know if any of you happen to buy these products, and tell me what you think! I’m always looking for new ways to display my books, but I have to be careful with the money I spend, poor college student that I am.

“Gender Genie” saves the day

So about a week ago I read about an author who was having trouble with her hero’s voice… that is, she couldn’t seem to make him actually sound like a man. And then she remembered a great online tool created from an actual study in which some academics discovered men and women do, in fact, speak differently: The Gender Genie. They even came up with an algorithm that predicts whether the person speaking was a man or a woman.

So that got me thinking, “Goodness, I wonder if Alexander sounds like a man or a woman? I think he’s a man, but maybe I’m wrong…” I copied and pasted a series of his chatter into the Gender Genie, provided by the BookBlog. Saints preserve me, the genie thought he was a he! But I only pasted in the first couple hundred words spoken, and the genie says it has a better idea after five-hundred words.

Picture me going through my text and copying my hero’s dialogue from the first 2.5 chapters. Result: my character is a male! But only just so, by two hundred words, more or less. Which worries me. Apparently I also have to take out pronouns and the like, since men tend not to refer to people as much as women do. Apparently men are a little more comfortable talking about objects. Who knew?

Now I know all of you are testing out the tool for yourself, so, you have to tell me… How do your characters fare?

Good-bye to Miss Snark

I bring sad news! Miss Snark { http://misssnark.blogspot.com/ } is leaving us, though not without a prize: the archive of her blog, thus allowing us to search it at will so we can learn from the snarkiest of snarks. Miss Snark, if you don’t know, is an agent with a penchant for telling the truth, as brutally as possible. A form of tough love, if you will. I suggest you look at her snarkives (a.k.a. archives two years in the making) for guidelines on how to write a proper query (any of the submisions Crap-O-Meters will give you an excellent idea of what not to write to an agent).

So good-bye, Miss Snark. Do send my regards to Killer Yapp.