Worderella Re-releases an Old Book

Dear Reader,

You might wonder why I’m publishing a second edition of my first book while in the middle of writing my second book. You wouldn’t be alone in wondering this. My mother has asked why I bother in looking to the past when I’m also planning for the future.

It’s a good question, and one I thought I’d answer here at Worderella Writes. You see, Catching the Rose was my learning book. When I say that I mean this was the book I wrote in which I learned how to:

  1. write a novel.
  2. edit a novel.
  3. ensure my book was the only one with that particular title.
  4. look for a reputable vanity/subsidy publisher.
  5. deal with a vanity publisher.
  6. make a cover sketch so my cover designer would know what I’m looking for.
  7. twiddle my thumbs while I waited for the proof to arrive.
  8. scream with excitement as I held my book in my hands.
  9. gain local buzz for writing a 384 page novel as a high school student.
  10. set up a professional writing website.
  11. set up a professional writing blog.
  12. compare my cover to other covers in the genre.
  13. recognize my back cover copy was sadly lacking.
  14. recognize my marketing plan sucked, because I didn’t have one.
  15. accept compliments and criticisms with the same smile.
  16. swallow my pride.

I learned a great many more things, but there’s no need to list them all. The point is, I love Catching the Rose, and a great number of my readers do as well. Almost seven years later, I’m still hearing about how a friend of a friend of a friend of my mother picked up my book, and liked it so much that they asked my mother when my next one was coming out.

If you’ve ever had this happen to you, you know the quiet joy that spreads within your chest, blossoms in your heart, and makes your eyes shine.

So I’m releasing a second edition of this book, giving it a real chance this time because it deserves it. I know so much more now about the book industry, though I have a lot more to learn. I know how to do page layout and cover design; I did both for this second edition. I removed a number of my glaring rookie mistakes, such as

  1. spelling out accents (“Why how dayah you, Mistah Williams, foah speakin’ to me in such a mannah!”)
  2. allowing widows and orphans to mess up the visual harmony of the typographical page.
  3. adverbs run rampant.

I didn’t catch everything, but like I said, I’m still learning. Catching the Rose is my baby. I spent six years writing it during the developmental stage of life. I poured in all of my teenage confusion and angst, edited out the worst of it, and made an entertaining and engaging read for women of all ages. And a few men, too.

Even as I was re-doing the page layout last night, I caught myself reading passages and chuckling at the characters, or wondering what was going to happen next. Isn’t that odd? I mean, I wrote the book. Shouldn’t I know what’s going to happen?

I do, because I did write the book. But for me, it’s always been about the journey. I’m that jerk who reads the end of the book before I read the entire thing, because I don’t want to read it if I won’t like the ending. That doesn’t mean I only like happy endings, because I don’t. I like well-written endings. And a well-written bittersweet ending is clutch.

So I’m re-releasing Catching the Rose because:

  1. It was, and still is, my learning book.
  2. As per #1, I’m learning how to truly self-publish so when I self-publish Haunting Miss Trentwood, I’ll have worked out the kinks.
  3. I love this book.
  4. I love the characters, and I love their issues.
  5. My readers ask me, years after reading the book, what happened to Veronica and Brad.
  6. While formatting the pages, I got lost in my own story.
  7. I am a writer, and I must write.
  8. I am a storyteller, and I must tell this story.

So what do you think? Am I being dumb? Am I being greedy? Or something else entirely?

A Micropress, a Vlog Campaign, a Contest

It’s been a busy week in Worderella World. I haven’t done much writing because I’ve been busy setting up my micropress, which I finally named Bright Bird Press. I like it; it feels good. I set up the website the other night with WordPress and threw up a fairly nice theme to hold me over until I have time to design one or find something better.

Vlog Campaign

I’m also starting a mini-vlog campaign series a la The Vlog Brothers, Meggin Cabot, and Zoe Winters. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, but with grad school taking up so much time, I didn’t have the resources. Now I have the resources, and I feel like a total copycat because Zoe released her videos a week ago. She made the great point that we’ll have different topics and styles, so I shouldn’t feel like a copycat, but I do anyway.

This weekend I’m going to make my first one-minute video, so look forward to that. It should be pretty fun. I’m having one of my friends help me out with the script and stuff because when I try to be funny, I’m so very not funny, and when I say whatever pops into my head, I’m hilarious, apparently.

An experiment

I tried out a free press release website to announce the re-branding/second edition of my first book, Catching the Rose. If you’d like to win a free copy, comment on this entry about who you are and why you’re following my blog in particular.

I will pick two winners to receive a coupon code to receive Catching the Rose for free. Everyone else who comments will receive a coupon code to receive the book for a dollar, if you so choose. So make sure you submit a valid email address!

So this weekend will be dedicated to working on the video, as well as writing the next couple of chapters to make up for the lack of writing this week. I’m pretty excited. Things are definitely ramping up.

Lightening Source Publishing

Just for the record, I’m switching my posting schedule to once every two weeks. Hopefully I can keep up with this schedule once school starts again.

I’m getting into the self-publishing gig again, and I’m liking it. Last week, Zoe wrote an article about Lightening Source, which is the best-kept secret in the self-publishing industry, methinks. Zoe has written about this before, but in case you know nothing about Lightening Source, read the article linked at the beginning of this paragraph.

The main points are as follows:

  1. Lightening Source is a print-on-demand printer, not publisher. You maintain all rights, etc, as they only print for you. This is what you think you’re doing with Lulu, right?
  2. Publishing through Lulu is a nice alternative to creating a micro-press, but when it comes down to it, Lulu is using Lightening Source.
  3. All the major publishers use Lightening Source for their back-end printing, why not you?
  4. Lightening Source is cheaper than offset printing.
  5. Lightening Source already has an in with many of the book distributors, so half of your work is done for you!

Has anyone had experience with Lightening Source? My Worderella on Writing book is through Lulu, and while the quality is nice and I was pleased with how easy it was to create, I have to admit I want more control. May stick to using Lulu for small projects, and then use Lightening Source for actual novels.

For those of you not interested in self-publishing, what do you think about this?

Contest Winner

Don’t think I’d forgotten! The winner of the autographed Worderella on Writing is Kait Nolan! Use the contact form on my website to send your address and I’ll ship it ASAP. Congratulations!

Featured Author: Zoe Winters

Happy new year, everyone! I’m starting this year with high hopes; I’ve completed the surface edits of Trentwood’s Orphan and am ready to send it out for impressions/critiques. This is the second draft, so whatever comments I get will hopefully make the third draft ready for publication.

In other news, my blogging friend Erica Ridley has made a sale of her book, Touched!

Today we’re talking with Zoe Winters, another of my author friends, who has answered questions about Kept, now available as an ebook and on the Kindle. According to Zoe, Kept is about…

Greta is a werecat whose tribe plans to sacrifice her during the next full moon. Her only hope for survival is Dayne, a sorcerer who once massacred most of the tribe. What’s that thing they say about the enemy of your enemy?

What are the main points about you and/or the book that should be emphasized to the audience?

This is  paranormal romance novella, available as a free ebook and available on the Kindle reader.

Who do you think will buy your book (i.e., your market)?

My market is romance readers, as well as Buffy fans.  People who like Buffy would probably like my writing style and subject matter, though it is NOT a Buffy knock-off.  It’s just geared toward that type of reader base.  Interestingly, I’ve picked up a few male readers.  Not sure if they know they’re reading romance or not, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

If you could construct an interview for yourself, what questions would you want to be asked?

As for what questions I’d want to be asked, I don’t really have any specific preferences there.  Though I do find it very interesting how romance as a genre is ghettoized, when romance and love and sex are a part of the human condition and as worthy as any other subject matter to be written about.

Is there any competition for your book? How are the other books alike? How are they dissimilar?

Hellboy, in my opinion, was a paranormal romance movie, it just wasn’t marketed that way.  But everything ultimately revolved around Hellboy getting together with the fire chick.  And yet it was geared to a largely male audience.  The Hulk movie was another romance.  Almost everything revolves around Bruce’s love for Betty and hers for him.  Yet, another movie that was marketed more to men than women (lots of sarcasm, lots of explosions), but it’s STILL romance.

Yet, when we get to books, a strong romantic plot gets ghettoized as “not a real book.”  If this is true, it is only because of the ill-advised behavior of romance publishers marketing departments with clinch covers, shallow plots, and cheesy expository titles, because it surely isn’t the subject matter.

What was your inspiration for the book? Tell us anything about you as a working writer that you think might be interesting or unusual.

Originally I wrote the novella to submit to a special Samhain novella anthology.  But I didn’t make the deadline for their open submissions.  I could have made it but the story wouldn’t have been as good so I chose not to enter it.  Later I submitted it elsewhere, but in the end decided to self publish it as a free ebook, as an introduction to a much larger universe I’ve created.

For more information about Zoe and Kept, visit http://zoewinters.wordpress.com/.

Are you interested in being a featured author on Worderella Writes? E-mail answers to the following questions and I’ll post them as soon as possible.

  • What are the main points about you and/or the book that should be emphasized to the audience?
  • Who do you think will buy your book (i.e., your market)?
  • If you could construct an interview for yourself, what questions would you want to be asked?
  • Is there any competition for your book? How are the other books alike? How are they dissimilar?
  • What was your inspiration for the book?
  • Tell us anything about you as a working writer that you think might be interesting or unusual.
  • What do you hope readers will learn/discover from reading your book?
  • Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Self-Publishers in the wilds of Amazon

I was going to post a Thursday Thirteen on graduating with my bachelors of science in computer science and engineering. Note the past tense. Instead, I’m going to weigh in on this ongoing hooplah about Amazon.com making a business decision that no small or self-publisher wants to hear: that print-on-demand books sold through Amazon must use Amazon’s subsidiary, BookSurge, rather than relying on the industry standard, Lightening Source.

A panic quickly ensued, and my RSS reader was flooded with blog entries about how Amazon is becoming a book monopoly. PublishAmerica was the first victim of Amazon.com’s new policy by having all of their “buy this book now” buttons removed. As such, PublishAmerica books are now only available through resellers on Amazon.com. Same with Whiskey Creek Press, which is a traditional publisher who uses print-on-demand technology to produce their books.

I am, of course, concerned. As an author who has vanity published, and plans to self-publish, Amazon.com’s contract with BookSurge doesn’t sound too attractive. To register with BookSurge, you have to pay $50 per new title in set-up fees, and Amazon.com takes 48% out of the sale price to pay for the printing of the book. If you choose to use the Advantage Program (using a POD other thank BookSurge), then you pay $29.95 a year to keep the book in print/stay a part of the Advantage Program, pay all shipping and handling to get the books to Amazon.com warehouses, plus Amazon.com still takes the usual 55% from the sale price.

It’s no wonder there’s little more than a dollar or two per book for us poor authors once the royalty check comes in the mail!

For the record, it seems that the big three print-on-demand companies have already signed the contract, so books printed through Lulu, AuthorHouse/iUniverse, and possibly Xlibris, remain available on Amazon.com. The general consensus is that Amazon.com is being really unfair to the little guys, and there is a petition to stop Amazon.com, along with an active suit against Amazon.com for becoming monopolistic. For updated information if this continuing drama, see here: http://www.writersweekly.com/amazon.php.

I do realize that this is a business decision, and a smart one on Amazon.com’s part. In fact, I’m surprised they, or Barnes and Noble.com, didn’t do this before. But it still stinks for the little guys like me, who are going into self-publishing. And now that there’s a class-action suit against Amazon.com, who knows where this will lead? This may go nowhere, and all this worry will be for naught… or, Amazon.com could win the suit, and I’ll just have to sell my book from my website and independent booksellers only… because I doubt I can afford such a cut of the sales if I want to make any sort of profit, even if only to break even. (FYI, if I break even, I consider myself a success.)

I’ll try to keep you all updated on what’s going on as I hear more, and I’m sorry for not breaking this sooner. I’ve been watching myself, hoping the entire issue would die down to reveal a mistake on the part of Amazon.com’s PR staff, or something.

In the meantime, I’ll need to take a short two week haitus as I take time to graduate, visit the extended family, start my summer internship, find a place to live for grad school, and hopefully find time to edit. See you the week of June 23!

To read more about this issue…

An Update

So. How is the WIP going? Fairly well, I would say. It’s a new month, which means I’ve printed out the previous month’s (incomplete) draft, kissed it, set it aside, and convinced my mind that I’m starting this month with a new inspired view of the WIP. I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it seems to work for me. I’m 29% complete with this draft that I call The Rewrite of Novel # 2 ™.

It’s sort of a running joke between my friends, or, at least, those who are interested in my writing, to call my books by the order in which I started them. There is, of course, Number One, which is my self-published (subsidy) book from high school, Catching the Rose. Number Two is what I keep calling the WIP here, while Number Three is the sequel to Number Two, and the result of my participating in NaNoWriMo 2006. Number Three’s fun and quick tone convinced me to rewrite Number Two. (All of this is more information than you cared to know about, I’m sure, but I find the writing habits of other writers fascinating… so every once in a while, I indulge myslf.) I haven’t had a chance to write in the last four days or so, other than blogging, and I can feel the strain. This is funny, in a not-so-funny way, because last week I suffered from a mini-Block. This week, I’m struggling to hold the reins of my imagination until I have control of everything and know the exact route I want to take. Talking through the plot, or just talking about the WIP in general, does help, however, which is what happened this time around to kill the infamous WB.

I’d like to make an update, however, about a previous post in which I talked about Lulu’s Published By You package. According to POD Critic, while the package claims that the author (which would be you) is designated as the publisher (which essentially means you are the publisher and Lulu is merely the printer), the truth of the matter is that everywhere else you submit your book, Lulu will be listed as the publisher.

I began to think about this, and what the implications are. So, let’s walk through this. By registering your book with Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, etc, POD Critic claims that these websites still list Lulu as the publisher. Which means Lulu is still a subsidy press, rather than a community of self-run micropresses. It does make sense. After all, you can’t actually buy ISBNs separately, you have to buy them in groups of ten. So, Lulu is still being the middle-man by buying the blocks, and then allowing you, the author, to buy the ISBN separately, from them, Lulu. The U.S. ISBN Agency, however, will still list the ISBN as owned by Lulu. Anything that happens to the ISBN after selling it to Lulu is not really their problem.

Tricky, no? I think it’s a tricky move, and kind of mean, actually, but then, I suppose it is the author’s responsibility to look up and understand all the details of such a transaction. And really, if you’re going through all the trouble of buying the ISBN from Lulu, you might as well just set up your own micropress, like how POD Critic advocates. If you’re that serious about self-publishing, you might as well go all the way and just do it yourself.

We Have the Power!

Another of the many reasons to read POD-dy Mouth‘s blog: you get to hear about some pretty big and great news for self-publishing authors. So what is the good news? Let me give you a little bit of background first.

Any publisher, whether they are a self-publisher, vanity publisher, or traditional publisher, have to buy ISBNs (International Standard Book Number) in blocks of ten. I don’t know why, that’s just how the industry set it up. I believe it’s to make the ISBN cheaper since you’re buying in bulk, but in the long run it makes much more expensive to self-publish one book because you have to buy that block of ten. Anyway, this ISBN is one major key to getting your book published. If you don’t have an ISBN, it won’t matter how great or cheap your book is, no bookstore will ever carry it. Nor will any online store (such as Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Borders, etc) carry it.

What’s the point to all this? Well, Lulu.com has made publishing your book through them even easier. They are one of the largest self-publishing companies, and they fulfill my definition of self-publishing because they don’t format or edit anything. They aren’t vanity publishers because they don’t make you pay for anything, they simply take a commission from each print-on-demand order. They are, in other words, one huge and efficient printer of your work, and that’s it. You are responsible for editing and formatting your book, from the interior layout and copyright page to the cover. I remember checking them out back when I was looking for publishers for my first book, and at the time, I wasn’t too impressed because their book sizes were limited and I didn’t know enough about book layout design to do it. Lulu.com today is much better. You have the option of printing a mass market paperback sized book! What does that even mean? All those paperbacks you see in the grocery store? Mass market paperback. Most fantasy, science fiction, and romance? Mass market paperback. I don’t know why but I’ve always wanted to have my own MMP book, and the fact that Lulu.com now offers this is a big selling point for me.

But back to the ISBNs. How has Lulu.com made self-publishing even more powerful? Lulu.com is working in conjunction with the U.S. ISBN Agency to allow authors to generate ISBNs on a one-at-a-time rate. This means the ISBN is owned by the self-publisher, saving cost on buying more than is needed. This also means the work is not limited to only being sold on Lulu.com, you can migrate to other websites and submit it for sale. This is big. This is huge. This is splendid and wonderful and brought such a smile to my face. The service is called “Published by You”, and while I’ve been searching the site and haven’t found the exact description of the service yet, their press release assures me they are serious about it.

So. Go out there. Do the good thing. Be a self-published author!

Self-Publishing Experiences

When people ask me about my book, I tell them I self-published it. This is true and untrue. I paid to have the book printed, I bought a set of the book and sold it to my family and friends, and was interviewed by my local television station about it. Mainly because I was a senior in high school and it was my senior thesis. But if I had gone the actual self-publication route, I would have found a printer, custom designed my cover and interior, and kept all the profits for myself. What I did in reality was go through a print-on-demand company, Aventine Press. This route means I used an interior template, a cover template; in other words, the company limited my choices to what they had available.

For my first time in the publishing realm, I really have to say that Aventine Press kept my concerns in mind. Because of production delays due to the cover designer needing a root canal, they custom designed my cover. My book was placed online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many more. My dad helped me with local marketing by sending the press release to the news stations. I can’t even tell you what it felt like to hold my book that first time after opening the package. But looking back, I should have waited. They require that you pay extra for editing services, and let’s face it, my first book could have used some last-minute editing.

Other things to keep in mind: yes, if you put forth a good quality product and perfect your marketing plan, there is a larger change of a traditional (aka commercial) publisher of picking up your writing, as long as you follow the rules (querying, sending partials when asked, etc). But out of the thousands of people who went the self-publishing route (we’re talking POD, Vanity, and Self Publishing), only 20 were picked by commercial publishers.

So, I guess my point is that if you have the money and patience, research the “actual” self-publishing route. It’s more impressive, and you complete control. But most of all, be careful with the Vanity, Subsidy and POD publishers. Seeing the market now, I realize I was lucky.

The following definitions were found here.

  • A commercial publisher purchases the right to publish a manuscript (often along with other rights, known as subsidiary rights), and pays the author a royalty on sales (most also pay an advance on royalties). Commercial publishers are highly selective, publishing only a tiny percentage of manuscripts submitted, and handle every aspect of editing, publication, distribution, and marketing. There are no costs to the author.
  • A vanity publisher prints and binds a book at the author’s sole expense. Costs include the publisher’s profit and overhead, so vanity publishing is usually a good deal more expensive than self-publishing. The completed books are the property of the author, and the author retains all proceeds from sales. Vanity publishers do not screen for quality–they publish anyone who can pay. For an extra fee, some may provide editing, marketing, warehousing, and/or promotional services (often of dubious quality), or they may provide variously-priced service packages that include differing menus of extras.
  • A subsidy publisher also takes payment from the author to print and bind a book, but contributes a portion of the cost and/or adjunct services such as editing, distribution, warehousing, and marketing. Theoretically, subsidy publishers are selective. The completed books are the property of the publisher, and remain in the publisher’s possession until sold. Income to the writer comes in the form of a royalty.
  • Self-publishing requires the author to bear the entire cost of publication, and also to handle all marketing, distribution, storage, etc. However, rather than paying for a pre-set package of services, the author puts those services together himself. Because he can put every aspect of the process out to bid, he may pay a good deal less than what’s charged by vanity publishers; self-publishing can also result in a higher-quality product. Completed books are owned by the writer, and the writer keeps all proceeds from sales.

Self-Publishing

Ah, the woes of being a writer in today’s world. It is hard to break into publishing, especially with the big names. Even small press publishers are closing their doors to unsolicited manuscripts, meaning if you don’t have an agent who is willing to back your work (which is sometimes a trial in and of itself, finding an agent that you get along with and is willing to work for you), you’re a little out of luck. And that’s why I turned to self-publishing for my first novel.

Well, that’s one of many reasons why I self-published my first novel. There is the fact that, if you pick a reputable and cost-effective publisher, you will get higher royalty checks than a traditional publisher. Also take into consideration that there is something amazing about doing something for yourself, by yourself. And having total control of your work (be careful who you publish with!). For instance, did you know that when a major publisher picks up your book, you can suggest what you would like for the title and cover, but keep in mind that they have the final say, and consider it a compliment if their editor tries to persuade you to like it. Now, if your working title of your manuscript is in the take-it-or-leave-it section of your heart, you’re golden. If not, and your dream is to be traditionally published, you better start preparing for disappointment. Though, they might think your title is good enough; the key is marketing.

Now. On to the trials of self-publishing. It is dangerous. If you don’t do your research correctly, you will end up with no rights to your work. Or, you could be sucked dry, financially. Ron from PublishingBasics.com has this to say:

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