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Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Q: What’s the difference between traditional and self-publishing?

Valerie J Lewis Coleman

Valerie J. Lewis Coleman, self-publishing

A: With the advent of technology, writers have numerous options when it comes to publishing. If you’re blessed to get a book deal with a traditional publisher (e.g., Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins), you’ll get an advance, royalties and marketing allowance. Given the volatility of the book industry, explosion of self-publishing and emergence of eBooks, landing a deal with a traditional publisher is a rare feat.

An independent or small publisher usually focuses on a specific genre. These publishers may or may not pay advances and often have fewer than twenty authors on the roster.

Enter book producers. Authors pay these companies to produce their books; often at a premium. Most book producers are piranhas that eat away at your money, confidence and publishing rights one bite at a time. Although reputable book producers are available (e.g., QueenVPublishing.com), most fall into one of three categories of awfulness. I’ll discuss this publishing option at the retreat.

I am a proponent for self-publishing for many reasons:

  1. You control the process. You decide when the book releases, the cover image, the retail price, the marketing strategy and more. If executed correctly, you can save thousands of dollars, mountains of frustration and hours of research by implementing the do-it-yourself method.
  2. You keep 100% of monies earned. As opposed to waiting for royalty checks from your publisher, or fighting with your publisher for compensation, you keep every dime you make. Caution: Just because you earn it, does not mean you should spend it.
  3. If the content is relevant and you are actively marketing, your title has an indefinite shelf life.
  4. Short lead time to market. After writing the manuscript, you can have your book published and on the market in a few weeks. The longest component in this process is professional editing which can take several weeks depending on how well the manuscript is written and the editor’s proficiency.
  5. Affordable. Emerging technologies have made self-publishing more cost effective. With the advent of eBooks, the most expensive aspect of publishing—printing—is eliminated. In addition, since only a front-cover image is required, the cost for cover design is cheaper than that for print books. Note: Editing is required regardless of your book’s format.
  6. Quick changeover. Updates and revisions can be made quickly. And as new technology hits the market, a self-published author is in the perfect position to leverage the opportunity without delays from fighting chain-of-command bureaucracy.

 

Q: How much does self-publishing cost?

A: The answer depends on several factors including book format, word count and printer specs. The least expensive route will cost a few hundred, but I have worked with authors who were tricked out of $15,000, couldn’t earn a profit and then hired me to fix the mess. As I serve clients, we work through the intricacies of publishing, find reputable service providers and assess expected expenses. I’ll explain how I can save you thousands of dollars at the retreat.

 

Q: Do I have to get the bar code and numbers myself?

A: As a true self-pub, yes! Other options are available, but I caution you to avoid them.

 

Q: Do I have to design my own cover?

A: Unless you’re a gifted graphics designer proficient in designing book covers, you better not! As amazing as I am at publishing books, I do not design covers. I hire a professional designer with years of experience and a thorough understanding of colors, fonts, placement and more. Your book cover is a marketing tool. Don’t leave the success of your book to a novice designer. It’s not worth the few dollars saved.

 

Q: Doesn’t self-publishing have a bad reputation?

A: In a nutshell, yes and no. Barriers to entry have been eliminated so anyone with internet access can publish a book. However, with over 10,000,000 books on Amazon, almost 90% of them will sell less than 75 copies. Why? Many self-published authors don’t invest adequate resources to produce a quality book causing readers, libraries and bookstores to shy away from their crap…I mean books.

On the flip side, self-published authors like James Redfield (The Celestine Project), Amanda Hocking (My Blood Series) and E. L James (50 Shades of Grey) produced books that hit the New York Times bestsellers list, the big screen and millions of readers. In addition to having outstanding marketing strategies, these authors created amazing content—well-written and well-edited—which competed with standards held by traditional houses.

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Friday, Oct. 26
4 – 5              Wendy/Sandy, Registration
5 – 6              Wendy Faculty, Introductions
6 ­– 6:30         Sandy, Ice-breaker (writing games)
6:45 – 8:15    Jason, General fiction, especially short
8:15 – ?          Private time for writing, enjoying YS, or meeting for MS critiques
Saturday, Oct. 27
8 – 8:30           Wendy, Welcome back
9:00 – 10:30   Valerie, Self-publishing
10:15 – 10:30 Break
10:30 – noon  Donna, Long fiction, especially romance
Noon – 2         Lunch at Peach’s
2:00 – 3:30      Ann, Narrative nonfiction
3:30 – 3:45      Break
3:45 – 4:15      Wendy, Writing prompt (writing and sharing)
4:30­ – 6:30      Dinner
6:30­ – 8:00      Sandy, Author panel
8:00 – ?           Private time for writing, enjoying YS, or meeting for MS critiques
Sunday, Oct. 28
8 – 8:30          Wendy, Welcome back
8:30 – 10:00   Faculty reading
10 – 11:30      Faculty Q&A
11:30 – noon Wendy, Wrap-up, evaluations
Retreat to the Springs is a roaming writers’ workshop that takes place in such places as Capon Springs WV, Yellow Springs OH and Steamboat Springs CO.
Here’s our next one!
Yellow Springs, Ohio
John Bryan Community Center
October 26 to 28, 2018
Join us for a retreat in a fantastic village setting, where you’ll receive expert instruction from Ohio writers: Ann Hagedorn, creative nonfiction; Donna MacMeans, romance; Jason Sanford, scifi/fantasy; and Valerie Coleman, self-publishing. Learn the strategies and tactics of being a successful, published author. Sign up for an optional one-on-one manuscript critique! The retreat fee of $195 includes Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning. (A separate $25 fee will be added for manuscript consultations.)

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Oct. 26 to 28, 2018 Yellow Springs OH

At Retreat to the Springs! in October 2018, our faculty will be reviewing participants’ writing and providing a one-on-one feedback session. Each review costs an additional $25 for the critique and 15-minute discussion.

Here are the guidelines for what each faculty member will review:

 

Ann Hagedorn (4 manuscripts)

  • What: Nonfiction
  • How much: Three-paragraph synopsis and up to 10 pages of manuscript
  • How: Send an email to Wendy at whbeckman@gmail.com for the address.  Put “MS for Ann” in subject line.
  • When: No later than Sept. 17

Donna MacMeans (10 manuscripts)

  • What: Fiction, particularly romance
  • How much: First chapter and a synopsis
  • How: Email to whbeckman@gmail.com with “MS for Donna” in subject line
  • When: No later than Oct. 12

Jason Sanford

  • What: Short story manuscripts, any genre
  • How much: Up to 6,000 words
  • How: Email to whbeckman@gmail.com with “MS for Jason” in subject line
  • When: Send by Oct. 12

Retreat to the Springs! is a roving writers’ workshop held in various “Springs” cities around the country. The next one is Oct. 26 to 28, 2018, in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Join us for a retreat in a fantastic village setting, where you’ll receive expert instruction from fantastic writers: Ann Hagedorn, creative nonfiction; Donna MacMeans, romance; Jason Sanford, scifi/fantasy; and Valerie J. Lewis Coleman, self-publishing. Learn the strategies and tactics of being a successful, published author. Sign up for an optional one-on-one manuscript critique! (One-on-one manuscript critiques cost an additional $25.) Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning are yours for only $195.


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Scifi/fantasy Fiction Presenter Jason Sanford

Another of our faculty members at Retreat to the Springs! (October 26 to 28, 2018) is Jason Sanford. Let’s get to know him a little!

 

What were the first meaningful things you wrote?

I wrote a short story which won my high school’s writing contest. The story was a science fiction tale about two kids with special powers escaping from government control. In hindsight I realized the story had serious echoes of Escape to Witch Mountain, one of my favorite films as a child. But that story still taught me that I could write something which other people would want to read and enjoy. That meant so much to my development as a writer.

Do you read your stories after they’re published?

No, and yes. I reread and edit my stories prior to submission and publication, and I’m always willing to work on editorial suggestions to one of my stories (as should any author — if an editor you trust is willing to help improve your story, listen). But once a story is published I try not to reread it because I can’t make changes at that point. And every time I read my stories I find changes I want to make.

That said, I do occasionally reread published stories when they’re being reprinted. But in these cases I can make new edits and changes.

How do you feel about self-publishing? It has lost a lot of the stigma of “vanity” publishing.

Absolutely. Self-publishing today is nothing like the vanity publishing of decades ago. A number of authors have created viable careers and readerships through self-publishing. But that doesn’t mean the traditional publishing route isn’t also a path to possible success. Authors need to weigh the pros and cons of both approaches to publishing and find the one which is best for them.

What is your writing routine? Do you have one?

I write whenever I can. And when I’m not writing I’m thinking about stories to write. For me, the writing process never ends.

If you didn’t write in your genre, what would you be writing?

Interesting question. I’m honestly not sure. I love writing science fiction and fantasy because these genres provide the tools for me to explore fascinating subjects and ideas which I believe are extremely relevant to our world today.

For the last few decades humanity has experienced an unprecedented technological explosion, with data sharing, social media, and information technologies expanding and changing the ways humans interact with both each other and the universe. In such a rapidly changing world, science fiction and fantasy are two of the best literary genres for understanding what this change means for humanity.

Because of the world we live in, I can’t see writing any other types of stories at this point in time.

What was your harshest rejection? What was your best rejection?

One of my first professional publications was in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, a storied SF magazine with one of the largest readerships in the world. I’d been trying for years to be published in either Analog or its sister magazine, Asimov’s Science Fiction.

After my Analog story came out I wrote a sequel to the story and submitted it. I was certain the story would be accepted, but nope. I was devastated and had no clue what to do with the story. I decided to submit it to Asimov’s and the magazine’s editor, Sheila Williams, accepted it, to my total surprise. That was my first publication in Asimov’s and opened the door to subsequent publications there.

That would be both my harshest and best rejection.

Where do you think your genre is going? What are the changes you’ve seen?

I think all literary genres are expanding their scope to reach new diverse audiences and points of views. A few decades ago the only way to succeed as an author was through traditional publishing and this, by the nature of any somewhat closed system, limited the types of stories which were being published. If you wrote a story which didn’t match what publishers and editors at publishing houses thought would sell, you’d have great difficulty finding an audience or even getting published.

But today there are multiple routes to finding an audience, from traditional publishing to self-publishing. Because of this more types of books and stories are being published than ever before, and many of these stories are reaching audiences which were frequently overlooked or ignored in previous years.

Everyone has a story to tell, and these days there are many ways to share those stories and find an audience.

Do you recommend getting an agent?

Again, that depends on the career path a writer wants to take. If you want to go the traditional book-publishing path, then yes, I’d recommending finding an agent. But if you want to self-publish your book, an agent isn’t needed.

If you write short fiction, as I do, an agent probably also won’t be needed because venues which publish short stories are well known for working directly with authors. And most short fiction markets are very open to works by new authors.

Anything else you’d like to add?

The best stories come from a love and passion for stories. To succeed as a writer you must first love reading stories. You must see the stories all around us every day. Then you take that love and write your own stories, and keep writing.

I can tell when an author wrote a story without this all-consuming love and passion. Even if the story is technically competent and well written, it will still be lacking. Life is short, so why would anyone want to waste their time reading a story by an author who lacks a love and passion for the very stories they write?

So reach out to your love and passion for stories, then find a way to write toward those emotions. If you do this there’s a good chance your stories will succeed.

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Oct. 26 to 28, 2018 Yellow Springs OH

 

To register for Retreat to the Springs! workshop in Yellow Springs this fall, go here

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Enter my Goodreads Giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The 8 Wonders of Cincinnati by Wendy Hart Beckman

The 8 Wonders of Cincinnati

by Wendy Hart Beckman

Giveaway ends November 18, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

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Full of Myself

Writer Lee Martin recently posted “Looking Back on the Follies of Youth” on his blog. He challenged the reader to do the same, examining something from the past through the eyes of the child at the time and the adults we’ve become. So I turned the microscope on myself.

I have gotten very comfortable, smug even, in my role as a 58-year-old tutor of high school students. I raised three boys and am a grandmother. I was a straight “A” student; my sons were not. I am ashamed to admit that I’m a know-it-all. I’ve seen it all: just ask me.

Every now and then, I sit across the table from a student, working pleasantly with him or her but thinking “Aren’t we full of ourselves?” Such a student has an aura about her that the expensive tutoring her parents have paid for is unnecessary and inconvenient. That I’m bothering her with my expertise gained through three college degrees, eight books, 38 years either attending or teaching at universities, and hundreds of articles published.

My first published piece was a poem, written when I was in third grade. It appeared in a national children’s publication called Golden Magazine. Riding on my early success, I then wrote my autobiography at the age of 12.

My mother said no one would buy it because I hadn’t done anything important yet.

Harsh words? Yes. Typical of my mother? Don’t get me started. But she taught me early about rejection, about criticism. However, my mother’s denigrating remarks were because she had high (and in all humility, not unrealistic) expectations of me. She was trying to challenge me to achieve my best. I understand that now; I didn’t understand that when I was a pre-teen, teenager, or 20-something. All I understood was that I was never good enough.

Then I became a mother. I had watched my siblings and in-laws with their kids and realized there are many ways to convey your expectations to your children. One way is my mother’s. I tried to avoid that. A sister-in-law told me about something she’d read in which some expert said to focus on how the child feels about something, then go from there. Other parents heap praise on their children for every accomplishment, every action, every “participation” trophy.

I think it is this last situation that creates children who end up with over-inflated ideas of their self-worth and their contributions to society. Many of my students take advanced placement and honors courses, but can’t take a given punctuation example and then apply that to another similar question.

So, as I have watched the students who think they know it all, I have thought how haughty people can seem. As if they’re all powerful. Then I am reminded of an incident in high school when my best friend had a difference of opinion with our chemistry teacher, who was the advisor of the school newspaper, Maroon Reflections. I’ve long forgotten what the disagreement was about. What I do remember, with some embarrassment, is how my friend, two other girls who were on staff of the paper, and I marched into the Chemistry Department office and confronted the teacher. The teacher looked at the four of us and said calmly, “Is this discussion between you and me, or do we need a whole army?” My friend said it was just the two of them, really, and glanced at the other three of us. Here’s my shining moment: as we filed out, I turned and said to my friend, “We’ll be right outside. Let us know if you need us.”

What did I think was going to happen? A fist fight? By the time this teacher could have gotten out of her chair, my friend could have run to the next county. But the bigger thing is that this was a teacher we all liked. I don’t think I ever heard her raise her voice. In retrospect, I think I just wanted to act important, “too big for my britches,” as my grandmother used to say. Maybe I wanted fodder for my autobiography.

So I sit with my students now and remind myself that the mission of most teenagers is to find purpose, to find worth. My job is to help them develop that sense of genuine worth. As a mother and a teacher, my responsibility is to give them roots and wings. Their responsibility is to flex those wings and soar.

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We won’t be meeting in May so that those who are mothers, have mothers, love mothers, or have something else to do on May 8 can gather with their loved ones. On June 12 we will be back at it, reading and critiquing!

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