Tag Archives: self-publishing

An Additional Piece on Author Solutions

David Gaughran takes on the Author Solutions situation again, this time from the perspective of their participation in a Canadian book festival.

The festival’s stance boils down to, “Well, writers should know to investigate them first.”

Here’s the deal: Writers trust writers groups and book festivals.  They assume there is a basic ethical standard that would keep said groups from inviting and supporting known scam artists to stand beside professionals at their events.  They assume said groups wouldn’t want their own professional image tarnished.

Increasingly, alas, it’s the assumption of shared basic ethics that permitting companies like ASI to hook new writers with the full support of publishers and book festival organizers.  “Sure, ASI is ripping people off, but we’ll keep endorsing them as Super Cool, and blame the writers who fall for it!”

Go read the article and marvel at the book festival response.


Sand of Bone In Progress

Sand of Bone is a different story today than when I first wrote it because I am a different person.  The plot is the same, but it’s shaded and shaped in ways that alter the characters and their culture.  Motivations are, I hope, better layered.  The emotional attachments produce more diverse consequences.  Characters’ decisions make more sense.

I was on the quick path to finishing it up when I got the news about Patricia’s sudden and irreversible decline.  All progress stopped.  I stumbled through writing nearly all the way to the end in June, then determined I needed an index card session to get everything in place.

My index card session involves putting the scene’s viewpoint character, location, and story-day on the top lines of a 3 x 5.  Then I list out the scene’s key plot points, revelations, critical information, and so forth.  Once I have a card for each scene, I spread them out, in order, on my dining table.

And that’s when the fun begins.  I’ll move cards around, play with the order in which key pieces of information are revealed, check my timelines and locations for consistency, and visually “read” through the novel to get a better feel for its flow.  When I’m happy with all of the above, I re-number the scenes, then put notes on the back of the cards on what I need to add, delete, or alter to make the new shape work.

Truly, I’ve tried to do this with electronic tools, but nothing lets me “see” the entire novel so well as my rows and columns of index cards.  Nothing gives me the same creative support as walking around the table and physically manipulating cards.  It’s a quirk, a habit, a gimmick, a whatever.  It works.

Tonight I’ll get the final cards written up.  Tomorrow I’ll cover the table with almost one hundred cards.  I’m hoping to have the shape solidified by the afternoon.  Revisions then become so much simpler for me.

What I wanted to have completed by the end of April will likely be done around the end of July.  Late, yes.  Better, yes.  More of the story I want to tell today than the story I thought of a decade ago, oh yes.

And in the background, bits and pieces have been completed on The Drunkard, I’ve fleshed out pieces of the sequel to Chant so that I have a few complete scenes and (already) lots of index cards, and I’ve nearly finished three different non-fiction pieces that I want to complete and publish all at once in the fall.

But right now I must pick up the pens and the cards and get to work.

(Thankfully, today’s weather is damp so I’m not fretting about the house catching fire as fireworks arc over the fields.  Nice to not have that distraction.)

Judith Tarr on Escaping Stockholm

Novelist and equine expert Judith Tarr has had quite enough of seeing writers pushed and manipulated by publishers.  The first segment of her series “Escaping Stockholm” is here.  At the end of that post is a link to Part Two, and Part Three should be available May 30.

I never broke into trade publishing with a novel (just a couple short stories), but first met and befriended published novelists over twenty years ago.  I’ve watched and listened to their experiences.  Some years ago, I decided I didn’t want to work under the constraints and conceits of traditional publishing because what such work would require wasn’t the sort of thing I wanted in my life.*  What Tarr is discussing–the treatment of authors on all levels of what should be a professional relationship–highlight many of the reasons I chose to self-publish.

And if you haven’t read Tarr’s work, you are missing some really cool stuff.  You can check out her offerings through Book View Café and Amazon.


*I consider it unreasonable to give an editor one, two, or more years of exclusivity to make a decision about my work.  I get that traditional publishing has many reasons for wanting both exclusivity and open-ended time to decide.  That doesn’t mean I find those reasons acceptable.  Some writers will call me arrogant for refusing a single person exclusive rights to hold what I’ve created–without given either a decision or compensation–for as long as that single person wishes.  Most non-writers would call me crazy for agreeing to such a thing.



Sand of Bone – Chapter 7

Exiles on the run.  Divine rulers fighting to control the desert’s elements.  Dead people secretly walking the sands in search of redemption…

Sand of Bone is the first of two (maybe three…?) novels set in the desert land of SheyKhala.  A new chapter will be posted every Thursday until the novel’s publication in the summer of 2013.

To start with Chapter 1, click here.

Chapter 7

Shella knew she was still weak from her injuries because it didn’t occur to her to question Syrina’s decision to lock her up.  A Blade who wouldn’t look her in the eye had helped her to limp downstairs, below the stronghold, to a cell scarcely as deep as she was tall.  Then he’d set a lamp on the floor and locked the solid iron door behind her—all before she thought to ask why.  The cell held only a small covered pail in the far corner and a narrow bench that jutted from the wall.  Shella wrinkled her nose at the pail, then straddled the bench and lay back to stare at the low and dark ceiling.  Her hand moved to catch her nonexistent sword, finding nothing but air.  Without the weapon and her leathers, she felt almost naked.

Facing down Syrina had exhausted her as much as her own gall had unnerved her.  But the internal voice that had warned her against accusing Raskah in Court had been silent throughout Syrina’s questioning.  Perhaps the truth had become an intoxication of sorts, robbing her of reason, leaving her to again await the whim of a Velshaan to discover if she would live or die.

Continue reading Sand of Bone – Chapter 7

Interesting Timing

Today I followed a link provided by David Gaughran to a website run by Bowker (the exclusive provider of ISBN numbers in the U.S.).  The site purports to be informational for folks looking to self-publish.  The trouble is, their recommended service includes Author Solutions.  ETA: It used to be listed as the first option, but has oddly enough been moved down the list.

If you’re not sure why that’s a bad thing, check out the Writer Beware blog for years’ worth of background.

The rest of the site is also filled with misinformation that does, indeed, make self-publishing sound so immense, costly and daunting, it’s small wonder inexperienced writers, or writers who haven’t researched much, would see it as a relief to have companies like Bowker and Author Solutions on their side.

What’s interesting is that this news–this seeming support of self-publishing from Bowker–comes on the heels of big (yet oddly quiet) news from the distribution sector of the publishing world.  Book distribution company Baker & Taylor changed its policies, permitting self-published titles to appear alongside of, and be sold at the same terms as, titles published by the “Big Publishers.”

So why did this happen now?

I think it’s tempting to assume it’s because self-publishers and small presses are seeing greater possibilities for success than ever before.  But I’ve a cynical bent, you see.

I believe these two major shifts happened because, as is outlined here, the large publishers who work with Bowker and Baker & Taylor now have their own “self-publishing” divisions which are–what a coincidence!–mostly supported by Author Solutions.  While the main source of income for Author Solutions has been authors purchasing services rather than readers purchasing books, I’ve no doubt “Big Publishers” wanted a better chance of making money off bookselling as well.

That doesn’t mean small press and self-publishers can’t take advantage of the opportunities.

Sand of Bone — Chapter 6

Exiles on the run.  Divine rulers fighting to control the desert’s elements.  Dead people secretly walking the sands in search of redemption…

Sand of Bone is the first of two (maybe three…?) novels set in the desert world of SheyKhala.  A new chapter will be posted every Thursday until the novel’s publication in the summer of 2013.

To start with Chapter 1, click here.

Chapter 6

Shella surfaced from a pool of fragmented memories.  Scorching heat and biting cold.  An expanse of parched earth as wide as the sky.  Her numb and trembling body always moving onward.  A voice she almost recognized.  Later, a pair of gentle hands and kind voices, a soft place to rest, the marrow-deep ache of exhaustion and healing.

Her vision wavered when she first opened her eyes, but the shifting images slowly coalesced into a single steady one that emerged from the haze.  Dingy curtains around her cot diffused sunlight to a mild glow.  Discovering her confines were cloth instead of iron brought a sigh of relief.  She felt thirsty, hungry, and hurt.  But above all, Shella felt safe.

Continue reading Sand of Bone — Chapter 6

Sand of Bone – Chapter 5

Exiles on the run.  Divine rulers fighting to control the desert’s elements.  Dead people secretly walking the sands in search of redemption…

Sand of Bone is the first of two (maybe three…?) novels set in the desert world of SheyKhala.  A new chapter will be posted every Thursday until the novel’s publication in the summer of 2013.

To start with Chapter 1, click here.

Chapter 5

Commander Pyrius, once the most respected Blade commander in SheyKhala, rode an old and feeble horse across the barren landscape that surrounded Exile Stronghold.  The wind shifted as the sun slid beneath the sands, its sudden chill making Pyrius shiver.  Within a month, the night air would be cold enough to bite through leather.  Tonight, he knew, it would merely set his joints to aching.

Pyrius’s nightsight adjusted after a few rapid blinks, washing the landscape of color in exchange for sharp clarity in an infinite palette of deep gray and soft silver.  He’d once spent hours staring at the night and concocting metaphors that could let Shella “see” the beauty those with nightsight took for granted.  His attempts at poetry always sounded better in his thoughts than when he spoke them aloud, but Shella claimed to love them all.  Then she’d take hold of his arms and pull him close, matching her lips to his until nightsight didn’t matter and the only beauty that existed was held within his arms.

He let the horse amble along the ridgetop road to Exile, where Blades were dumped onto the dirt, and had to choose to struggle onward or lie down to die.  Over a year had passed since he’d found the last exile, and nearly two years since the bloodkin had recalled an exile home.  But he still rode out every dawn and every dusk, and the exiles still looked at him in expectation when he returned.  Were it not for Velshaan Syrina, who spent most all her time in the little tower chamber she’d claimed her first night, Pyrius might believe Exile Stronghold–his meager command of twenty-six outcast Blades–had been completely and deliberately forgotten.

Then Pyrius glimpsed movement, a long shadow creeping through the eroded gully below.  Continue reading Sand of Bone – Chapter 5

Warning All Writers Should Heed

David Gaughran outlines the on-going influence and growing reach of the Penguin-owned vanity publisher Author Solutions.

Follow the links he has provided.  You’ll find an extensive background on Author Solutions, as well as the current lawsuit against them.

Write down the names of publishers that have chosen to support Author Solutions by funneling their own imprints to them.

Write down the names of those publishers’ imprints.

Consider those lists when deciding which publishers you’ll submit your work to.  Expect to read your contract very, very closely, and have an IP attorney review it as well.  As Gaughran stated, “And it’s much harder to tell the scammers from the legitimate organizations when they are owned by the same people.”

After seeing the number of major publishers and writing-related businesses that have chosen to bind themselves to Author Solutions, this writer is far far far more concerned about steering new writers away from such exploitation than I am that Amazon will somehow subjugate over a 150,000 writers.  Alas, most of the business seems to be otherwise occupied.




What a Writer Deserves

From Joe Ponepinto at The Saturday Morning Post:

“Literary writing teachers are fond of telling students they should write for the love of writing itself. But I wonder what they would tell their charges if the university wasn’t sponsoring that philosophy; if they had to work eight hours in a cubicle or on an assembly line.

That attitude also conditions writers to believe they don’t deserve to make money from their writing, and helps make it easier for publishing companies to keep straight faces while offering today’s Draconian contract terms.”

It’s nice to see that sentiment spreading.  Writers have been offered little or no pay only because so many writers are willing to accept little or no pay–not because there is no money to be made from writing.  Even as novel advances fall and royalty rates remain low, and writers are given the impression funds are scarce, major publishers are posting incredible financial gains.  When a publisher can afford to give all its employees a $5000 bonus, you know things are good.

But the writer is told to never expect to make a living from such work–usually by the folks who make a living processing and packaging the work of writers.

In contrast to Ponepinto’s reasoned piece is this in Salon.  It is, sadly, a view inside the mind of a writer who jumped into self-publishing without researching the business, and who is now angry and resentful that the world hasn’t responded as he wishes.  Had he invested perhaps a month or two investigating what are fast becoming Professional Practices in self-publishing, he would have known that 1) self-publishing isn’t synonymous with ebook only, and hasn’t been for quite some time; 2) sending mass emails to reviewers is the fast-track to being ignored; 3) self-publishing sales tend to happen over a period of months and years rather than weeks.  Lastly, he’d know there is a community of writers who are making good sales and are willing to help other writers do the same.

Every published writer deserves to see their publisher act with competence, diligence and professionalism.  When a writer is self-published, the writer should expect the same of herself.

Alas, given the tone of his piece, I suspect he’s a person who will have a hard time putting down his anger long enough to learn what will actually help him.  Too often, writers who’ve been trade-published expect self-publishing to work the same way and, when it doesn’t, call it a failure.  And that sense of failure will persist until a shift of thought is made.

Is the self-publishing market different for literary works than it is for genre?  Of course.  But “different” isn’t insurmountable.  It’s merely challenging.



Sand of Bone – Chapter 3

Exiles on the run.  Divine rulers fighting to control the desert’s elements.  Dead people secretly walking the sands in search of redemption…

Sand of Bone is the first of two (maybe three…?) novels set in the desert world of SheyKhala.  A new chapter will be posted every Thursday until the novel’s publication in the summer of 2013. 

To start with Chapter 1, click here.

Chapter 3

Not even the midday sun, nigh hot enough to crisp supper’s bread on stone, burned as hotly as Shella’s anger.  She strode from the Blade compound, satchel hitched over her shoulder, and entered the city of Prime without breaking stride.  People on the street, shoppers making daily purchases, vendors hawking their wares, workers on errands—all stepped aside when they saw her approach.  More than a few murmured, “The comdar is angry.”

Though twenty-seven comdars held permanent residence in Prime Stronghold, everyone knew which comdar was angry.  Shella’s temper was as well-known as her expertise in the training arena.  The latter had garnered a large degree of indulgence for the former.

Had her temper learned to be as cunning as her sword, she might have been promoted to commander a decade ago.  The night she’d figured that out, she drank herself into a fury and hacked the hostel’s main bar to pieces before her companions could drag her out without getting themselves maimed.  Come morning, she’d had a magnificent hangover, an impressive bill from the hostelkeeper, a month of barracks confinement to endure, and a cool acceptance of her stunted career.  Her armbands of comdar’s copper would never be elevated to commander’s bronze.

Continue reading Sand of Bone – Chapter 3