Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Another Edit

While reviewing the Kindle preview for formatting issues, I spotted several typos (word replacements that MS Word would not have caught). Frustrated, I've gone back for another re-edit. I'm not completely put off by it, perhaps this time around I'll do some rewrites and think about the story.

I read an article that Amanda Hocking edited her first book 50 times and also had others read and edit it - but there were still errors found. I'm beginning to think that those who are spotting incorrect comma placements and grammar usage are word snobs. Maybe it's me, but I fall into the story. The writing has to be good but I don't notice the same kinds of mistakes an English major would. I'm not proofreading, I'm escaping.

And yet no one ever criticizes songwriters for bad grammar.


You can hire an editor and pay hundreds thousands of dollars, which is fine if you can afford it, but even legitimate authors release books with typos. Shit happens.

Then there are beta readers, I'm looking into this. I like the idea of people who will, under guidance, provide solid constructive feedback to help improve a book. We'll see if there's any interest in the first book before the royal we goes that route.

I also read something interesting of a Kindle author who made her book free for a limited time--within hours she had 1400 downloads. That's spectacular. It doesn't mean she lost money, because maybe the book wasn't selling. The real draw is having 1400 people read your first novel and be potentially interested in the others.

Bait.

Kind of like how those store workers in the white smocks hand out small samples of chocolate and pizza so you'll nibble on it while shopping and then buy the product. Evil bastards.

But on the other hand, I wonder if those who download free books have about 400 of them on standby to read. Your book may be read somewhere in 2013. Plus, there is a selfish part of me that thinks about the labor that I've put into these books. It truly is more than scribbling up an idea-especially when you are self publishing.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Title Reconsideration

I hate settling, so I'm still deciding on that stupid title of mine. I've narrowed it down. Ultimately I do not think that it's going to make a huge difference in the long run. Half the books I read, unfortunately I don't recall the title unless it's a stand alone novel.

There's probably been a book using every title imaginable. You don't want to overuse the obvious words: Dark, Dead, Grave, ugh. Whatever I choose will be mine. This is a hobby, not a career. I go to work every day and earn a very respectable living, have wonderful benefits and a retirement plan.

Doesn't mean I won't try everything before I die.

 Meanwhile, I have connected with some authors who are an amazing group of people. There are some hilarious stories on good reviews, bad reviews and everything in between. 

Secondly, now that I have time, I'm slowly browsing through stock photo sites and adding items to my cart which I'll consider for future books. The internet is a wonderful thing. Doesn't seem along ago when dreams of being everything from a musician, author, singer, actor, all seemed limited to who you knew in the industry and luck. Now with social websites and platforms that allow everyone to share, it gives a huge opportunity for people to be exposed to so much variety. Some for the better, some for the worse.

But ultimately, everyone has a chance to be heard.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Before and After


Cover Revealed!

I'm so excited to finally give an early release of the cover. I have settled on a title - and while I went through many different options, I settled on one that was my first choice - LightWalker. I used the same methodology with naming my cat, after 2 weeks I ended up calling her the very first name I considered- Mia. Maybe you shouldn't over think things.

But I digress.

The cover is in a completed status, as is the title. I decided that my future books in this series will not have a common word or theme. I admit after awhile it bores me and they all run together anyhow. Right now I need to focus on writing up a description and working out a few small details before I do the final upload to Kindle.

In the meantime, hope you enjoy. I spent a lot of hours completing this going through who knows how many model images and props (I have about 10 copies of this cover with everything from mirrors to rivers in it).

It starts with a very base image of the model and from there I have to consider what imagery I want to go with it. Then comes finding the free stock. Everything was enhanced from the lighting, effects, dress, hair, flooring, fog, not to mention the titling.

In the end, I'm really happy with how it turned out!


Update: This book is undergoing a title reconsideration


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fighting the Current

After spending literally hours yesterday trying to discover what was wrong with the first paragraph indentation after reviewing my book in MobiPocket Reader, I discovered it was a very common issue.

Scenario:
You want left indentation for the first sentence of each paragraph, except for the very first paragraph of a Chapter which should be block.

The problem:
Regardless of what settings you establish for that paragraph, the conversion will ignore it.

Those who had a solution said it was in the html coding. Well guess what? I have no patience to sit and code html all day. If you design websites or are a retired individual, hats off to you. This girl barely has time to cook dinner let alone jack up my document by accidentally removing brackets where I shouldn't in the code.

So, I'm biting the bullet. If that is the biggest problem I have, then it's not so bad. This is a learning curve and perhaps in the future there will be a solution.

Now, for fun, this is how I envision one of my villains in the book. He is the one, if you read the chapter excerpt, who attacks Zoe.


Ok, now back to my HTML nightmare.
In brighter news - I did my first test upload to Kindle to review the results. I was a little frightened when I saw there were 0 margins, but found out the previewer does not show you margins. I have mine set to .25 so I should be okay. Otherwise there were a few extra spaces here and there in the book, so instead of figuring out why (via html i'm sure), i just deleted the sentence and re-keyed in case it was something behind the scenes.

I took Friday off, and actually got a lot of major things accomplished.
A. I finished the book cover image.
B. I did my test Kindle upload
C. Connected with others who are Kindle authors
D. Organized the crap out of my bookmarks.

I'm still doing the first re-write of Book 2 in-between. Major props to Taco Bell for getting me through these trying times.

THE TO DO LIST
(groan)
  • Title the Book (this has become a daunting task I'm probably putting too much into). Help!
  • Finish the cover including the fonts for Title/Author
  • Upload the book a second time to check formatting
  • Write a description for the book. Now I have to say i'm not overly excited about this part. I wrote the book, and yet I struggle with being able to summarize it in either a paragraph or a title. Of course, authors who go through a publishing house have people do these things for them. Any volunteers? hehe
  • Research DRM and whether or not to enable this. There's a lot of stink about this--pros and cons both ways. It's supposed to help protect your book from piracy, to an extent, but also limits the reader in being able to copy your book over to various platforms after purchase. I could see this being an issue if the book was over $10, but if I'm only charging 99 cents I seriously doubt there's going to be an uproar if I use it.
  • Stop using bulletpoints
  • Go get that taco supreme

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cover Model

I'm excited to say that the model for my cover has been extremely supportive, so I have made some huge progress in completing the design. I have to say that those who offer their images for free, simply because they enjoy the art that comes out of it, are amazing. It's actually inspired me to upload some of the photography I've taken as free stock.

I'm very satisfied with the look of this cover over the other options I had lined up, I think it conveys her struggle than those 'tough bitch' images. Zoe is a tough cookie, but she hardly compares to the bounty hunters that many Urban Fantasies seem to revolve around.

Here's a sneak peek which is not going to show you much at all. It's requiring a lot of editing since I have to work with adding flooring, light, texture and retouching the model. Not to mention the titling and font styles.

Once I've completed the cover and shown the model, I will definitely post it here.




Thursday, August 25, 2011

Name that Book!

As I continue to work on the cover, now comes the daunting task of naming the book. If you know you're going to write a series there's a few things to consider:

A Theme
Most Urban Fantasy have a running theme to identify the series. For instance Jeaniene Frost "Night Huntress Series" uses the keyword "Grave" in each book (with the exception of the spinoffs). Chloe Neill initially used "Bitten" or "Bite", but her running theme is a Vampire bite (soon to be released title is Drink Deep). Kim Harrison seems to enjoy spoofing movie titles.

Common Title
I already know I do not want the main characters name in the title - later books will have dual stories. Another consideration is using a title that already has 400 books with that title (Do a book search on Amazon for Prey and you get over 4,000 results)

While I considered using a keyword, I'm not going to necessarily hold to it. The series itself has a title - Mageri Series.

Does that mean I can go ahead and name the book "Junk in the Trunk?"

Not bloody likely.

Keywords seem more common in the Paranormal Romance series than Urban Fantasy. Lover, Midnight, Ecstasy - you know what I'm talkin' bout. But after too many books I don't remember the title, I just reference it as "Lucan's book" based on which character was the focus.  In Urban Fantasy i tend to refer to it as Book 3 or Book 5.


So how much does a title really matter?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Waiting Game

Unfortunately, I can't sit around waiting for a model to reply. Ah, the trials and tribulations of going the cheap route. But it still doesn't make sense to purchase stock for my first book. I know they've read my message, because my sent folder tells me so, but for whatever reason they are not responding quick enough.

So I will be going through my other stock images and creating more mock-ups. Just quick framework to see if I can use the image. I'll throw out the fishing line to those models/photographers if I end up with an image I like and will see what they say. It's a shame, because I was really hoping that I could get my hands on that one photo.

But at least I'm making effort--I was browsing through recent Kindle uploads and noticed a lot of people use the kindle cover maker (ick), or don't even have an image.

What gets you to click on on a book, or pick it up on the shelf?
If you had to choose between one of the books below, which one would it be?


















I rest my case.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Formatting

So, here's what I'm up to. I just converted my file to mobipocket creator. I discovered some issues. While I thought I was savvy enough to have removed all the unnecessary formatting (see below), I didn't catch it all.

So at this moment, barring a quick break at the Taco bell, I am learning how to insert paragraph spacing. Kindle doesn't like space bars after a paragraph. If you want to publish and have the money--hire someone to do this. In the process of formatting I've had to:

1. Manually remove all extra spaces between words, before a sentence, and after a sentence. You would be surprised how many end up in your doc. This requires going page by ever loving page.

2. Page breaks. Apparently, they are your friend.

3. Setting the proper paragraph settings for the document.

4. Remove all tabs.

Ultimately, I have read many a horror story about an author putting a book out on Kindle with all kinds of formatting issues. Sometimes it creates a blank page, spaces where it shouldn't, etc. So, I am investing my time and willingness to learn all things about converting, formatting, and keeping my sanity.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Musical influence

I don't listen to music while I write. Oh sure, I start off thinking I can but within five minutes I've lowered the volume to 0. I can't hear my own thoughts when I have external distractions.

But I have to give props to Florence and the Machine for motivating me to write Zoe. I felt like the spirit of their album captured the feeling of the book. Every day when I walked 5 miles in my office building I listened to "Hardest of Hearts", "Heavy in your Arms", and what else..."Cosmic Love". During my high intensity walks, I carved out ideas for characters and the direction of the story. I felt more connected to her, because Zoe isn't all that complicated--only her life is. Poor girl never trusted men, and now she's in a position where she is forced to.

During my walks with Florence I discovered one thing: I didn't have anything to write on when I was getting all these ideas. One time I was so desperate that I snatched a piece of paper off a copier and actually wrote down the idea with a charm on my bracelet so it would embed in the paper. In my defense, all the rooms were locked and yes, I did look for a pen. That's devotion.

Or insanity.

The bottom line is the story went with me everywhere so I learned to go prepared with pen and paper at the ready.

What I do know is that I will never be able to hear another Florence song without thinking of Zoe.

LISTEN TO HARDEST OF HEARTS

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

COVER ART

While content counts, no one wants to taste your cake if it looks like a steaming pile of...

So I've been working on a cover for my first novel. When you enter the world of self publishing, you do everything. I'm not sure why there has always been a perception this is the easy road. I don't get the guaranteed marketing, editors, cover artists, let alone a pretty paycheck, and on top of that i have to learn how to code HTML. WTF?

I digress.

It's been fairly important to capture the feel of the book/character.

This meant that putting a slut on the cover wasn't going to cut it, nor was a half naked man. As much as I'd love to...

I want to be fair to the story, and try to convey a good feeling about it. This also ruled out pictures of lone tree's on a hill and eyeballs.

All things were considered.

Now, I'm currently waiting on permission for a model to allow me to use her stock. I'm going the route of free--because its for me.

THE BEGINNING

You can't have a middle and end without a beginning.

CHAPTER 1:

Holy fuck, did i really write a novel? That's what crossed my mind as i stared at my blinking cursor on my Toshiba laptop a little over a year ago. The real problem came, however, when I couldn't stop.It reached a point where I was wandering around with post-it notes on me so I could jot down things that came to mind when I was at work or even in the car. From that moment on it was non stop and i discovered that I didn't miss watching TV as much as I thought i would. I managed to write my way through more books than I knew what to do with.

Now what?

Publish them. Why not?

My single purpose has become to share my characters and world with others, because i know that somewhere out there is an audience who will love them as much as I do.

I wanted to start with The Mageri because it is my first series. (Mageri, the "G" pronounced as a "J").
I owed it to Justus.

How I got to writing the Mageri series began further back when I decided to write again. I spent hours, whole evenings in fact, in my teen and young adult life writing. Short stories and mainly poetry. I was convinced that when I died, someone would discover all my scraps of writing and I would be the next Emily Dickinson.

Then I realized that was morbid as hell. Life went on, jobs, bills, you begin to put the things you love most on the back burner.

So, I started off with a very cliche vampire novel that ended up playing out like a book or two I had read. Scrap that--I shoved that file in folder and put it out of my mind.

Except...I couldn't get Justus out of my head. That sexy bastard was haunting my mind, even though he was only a bit character in the Vampire book. Because of him, I started writing again. I wrote him right into my first completed novel as "Dominic".

Why the hell did I do that?

Well, I kept thinking I might pick up that Vampire book again and Justus would need me. But by the time I got done with writing up my draft I realized that Justus already wandered into my new book, took a seat, adjusted his manlies and made himself right at home. So I did a find and replace on MS Word and Dominic was no more. The spirit of Justus stepped out of that crap ass novel and strolled right by me with a smug look on his face.

So that is how the Mageri series began. Not with the inspiration behind the female lead, but from the pompous attitude of a man i grew to adore.


So, I've decided not to wait until I die to share my writing. ;-)