E-book Publishing: It’s Easier Than You Think.

This time last year, I was sweating and pounding a keyboard to get my manuscript for my American Revolutionary story, “Patriot Hearts” done. I submitted my story to another author who was putting together a collection of stories with a patriotic theme in order to publish it on Amazon. I sent her the first three chapters to see if my story would be a good fit, and the rest is history. Pun intended.

This was my first experience with the e-book world. I wish I could report that the book did well, and I am plagued by requests for more of my storytelling. But that is not the case, I found that while some of my Beta readers claimed they couldn’t put the book down. I had one writer friend tell me that the story is good, but my characters are flat and would benefit from a deeper point of view.

I’m telling you this story about my experience with e-book publishing to say that the journey is worth the risk if you learn something from it. Which I did. Would I do it again? Yes.

Publishing an e-book is now easier than ever. The stigma of self-publishing has diminished too. With major publishing houses limiting their publishing abilities to protect themselves economically, e-book publishing has become a necessity for some authors. Many of these venues will help with step-by-step instructions, marketing, book covers, and promotions.

The most popular venue for publishing an e-book is with KDP, or Kindle Direct Publishing. You can make up to 70 % of royalties from you book. You set the price and can make changes anytime. There is no cost to the author to publish and it takes less than five minutes. Your book is available for sale 24 to 48 hours after you upload in Kindle, worldwide.

The downside to publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing is the Select option. If you choose to use this option, you cannot distribute your work to other venues. They will have exclusive rights to your work as far as sales and distribution.

Smashwords is another publishing option. It has the convenience of Amazon, but the difference is your book will be distributed by Smashwords to many venues. Some of these are well known, like Nook for Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Kobo and Overdrive.

You can also publish with KDP and Smashwords for more exposure, just don’t opt for the Kindle Unlimited plan if you also want to publish on Smashwords.  You can promote your book with free marketing tools, such as; a coupon generator, special pricing deals, and giveaways to use in conjunction with your website for promotions. Smashwords will also generate sales by having special promotions where they will pick a genre, like “romance” and everything in that genre is a percentage off in order to help drive those sales.

A new buzzword in book sales is Audio books. When I think of this publishing option my mind conjures up images of people who love stories, but don’t necessarily have time to read a book in print. Audio books are perfect for those folks on the go. I can see the endless possibilities of learning non-fiction information with this concept.

I have researched Audio books, and it’s not very easy to do this yourself. There are options available, but from what I have read the quality of doing this yourself is just not right yet. Of course they said this about publishing e-books years ago. So, technology will catch up. But in the meantime, if this is an option you would like to try, professional equipment is best.

Writing prompt: Your new neighbor has moved in and you have not met. You decide to bake your blue ribbon coffee cake as a “Welcome Wagon” gift. After ringing the door bell, the door opens to your old high school flame who dumped you for the Prom Queen.

Click to Tweet: Publishing an e-book is now easier than ever. #IndiePublish #amwriting

Which Editor Will You Choose?

I will admit right up front that hiring an editor intimidates me to no end. I just don’t know where to begin. There is so much advice and so many suggestions out there in the writing world that it’s hard for me to decipher which direction I should go.

This month we are looking at editing possibilities and how they will benefit us and our readers in their writing journey. There are different types of editors, who specialize in different areas of the creation process. Let’s look at a few.

A DEVELOPMENTAL EDITOR: Helps a writer with structure and content of a manuscript. This editor looks at the pacing, plot, characterization, and setting of your manuscript. They will also assist you in finding a vision for your story.

A COPY EDITOR: Much like a proofreader, they check spelling and grammar. They also check jargon, terminology, semantics, and formatting. Any factual data in text is also checked for accuracy as there could be a potential legal issue which is then brought to the publisher’s attention for correction.

A LINE EDITOR: This editor looks at voice in your manuscript and focuses on the quality and strength of your story. A line editor will look for sentences that don’t flow well, or cliches in your work. Also, they will look for repetition of sentences, and at each of your words and how they are used to help you tell the best story, so your readers understand it.

A PROOFREADER: Reads copy and transcripts for spelling and grammar errors. They work for publishers, newspapers, and other places that rely on perfect grammar printing. Proofreading is also the final stage to ensure a manuscript or article is well written and has a logical structure. They really do make sure that those editors mentioned above have done their jobs, and your story is ready for print.

AN ACQUISITIONS EDITOR: This editor is part of a publishing team to acquire manuscripts for publication. They work in book publishing companies, literary agencies, universities, and professional institutes. They evaluate manuscripts for their commercial potential, and approach authors when a publisher is interested in their work. They build relationships between authors, agents, and publishing houses. Part of their job may also include collaborating with marketing teams.

What if you’re not quite ready for the editing stage of your book? Focus on making it the best product you can before an editor gets into the picture. Working with your critique partners or a trusted friend who believes in you helps a great deal. Microsoft has a feature in it that will speak each word of print in your manuscript, so listen carefully. You might find areas of your story that just don’t flow well, or don’t sound as smooth when it’s read back to you. You can pause the feature and correct it as you go. Self editing can be bewildering, and stressful. Doing your very best before hiring an editor can be a teachable experience, and may save you headaches in the long run. Remember, an editor is there to help you create the best product you can.

Writing prompt:  Tell me a funny editing story.

Click to Tweet: This month we are looking at editing possibilities and how they will benefit us and our readers in their writing journey. #amwriting #editors #editing

Giving a Heartbeat to Your Characters

By Tammy J. Trail

Have you ever heard the expression, “he/she is such a character?” That means whomever they are talking about is a person worthy of remembrance for their larger than life personality. Most often that person has a great sense of humor. I tend to remember folks that make me laugh, don’t you?

In fiction writing, the characters in your manuscript are helping you tell the story. You want your readers to become so enamored they can’t put your book down as they experience a life through that of your characters. This focus on creating a cast of players in your story is called “characterization.” It goes beyond eye, and hair color, age or gender. Although those features are important, it doesn’t really make your reader care about the hero or heroine.

Doing a profile is helpful in developing your character’s personality traits. Consider how your heroine reacts emotionally as you plot your story. How does she react to disappointment, anger, or sadness? Does she eat ice cream when she is stressed? Or perhaps she breaks out in hives when under pressure? These are the types of traits that make our characters more human and not just paper people.

One of the traits I gave my hero is rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet when he becomes impatient. He is a military man, and you could just see this as a normal behavior for someone who is an officer in the Army. Looking at your characters through the lens of a camera, as if they were in a movie helps to incorporate mannerisms; such as biting one lip when caught in a lie. Or the wringing of hands to show worry.

Consider likes and dislikes, incorporate them into your story. Do they have a loving family, or do they come from a dysfunctional background? Do they get along well with others? Do they have hobbies? Do they have a gift of music, sports or crafting? If you think about it our preferences make us who we are whether we want them to or not.

Another great tool of characterization is giving your hero/heroine a goal. What motivates them to reach this goal? How will they grow personally if they meet the goal, or how will they react if they don’t reach it? Our characters need to meet expectations, either imposed by someone else, or from within.

When writing Christian fiction your characters my go through a spiritual growth. My heroine lost someone she loved and became angry at God. If God is all knowing why didn’t He stop her fiance from being impressed into the British Navy and leaving her to become an old maid by societies standards? Though her fiance did not die, she lost him to a force larger than they could defeat.

Elaine’s journey is finding that God was always with her and knew better what she needed in life. Isn’t that true for all of us?

Two sources that helped me with my characterization:

Goal, Motivation and Conflict, by Debra Dixon.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expressions, by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

 

Writing Prompt: Describe your perfect day with your favorite character from a book.

Click to Tweet: In fiction writing, the characters in your manuscript are helping you tell the story. 

Take Time to Look at the Past

Writing in the Historical Genre.

When I started writing it wasn’t hard for me to choose a genre.  As a young girl I loved reading Nancy Drew. Nancy was everything I wanted to be, smart, popular, and fearless. When I turned thirteen all that changed with a book I checked out from the bookmobile. It was called “The Distant Summer” by Sarah Patterson. Romance had taken hold of my page turning habits.  Boy meets girl just made my heart zing. In high school I found a new love, history. Putting my love of history together with romance just made my world complete.

My first novel is set during the American Revolution. With some help from a writing group; a brainstorming session created my hero and heroine. The historical facts took a bit longer. A lot of research goes into historical fiction writing.

There are many sources available to research a historic period. Books, the internet, libraries, and historical societies are all a wealth of information. This summer my husband and I went to Washington, D.C. for a short trip. About two hours south of that city in Virginia is  Colonial Williamsburg, a living history museum. I fell in love with the place! Doing a research trip is totally worth it. I found so many interesting stories while doing my research. There are truly so many real characters who played instrumental roles in forging our country that adding  your interpretation of those historical characters to your novel can add a bit of authenticity.

Throw a dart at a map of our original thirteen colonies and land on a spot rich in history to use in your historical novel. You could choose any time period and do the same. Some of my favorite historical novels are not necessarily considered romantic. You can weave a historical tale without the romance. A character study of a type of historical figure like a spy during the American Revolution, or the Civil War, who happens to be a romantic is a great historical story.  The possibilities are endless.

I have learned through this writing journey to listen to the advice from those who have traveled this worn path. Save everything. Not that you need to become a hoarder mind you, but there may come a time when your historical facts need to be proved. Keeping track of your sources will make this less stressful. A notebook, or three ring binder for keeping documents and the ideas you’ve chicken-scratched on little bit of paper. I also keep a notebook on my nightstand, I can’t tell you how many times an idea will present itself while I lay in bed at night.

There is also a computer application called Scrivener which will allow you to keep all your sources, documents, notes, pictures, and your manuscript all in one place. It will even help you format your book. So, think about those days gone by, there just might a story there.

 

Take a page from the #past

 

Writing Prompt: You just found a diary in a dusty old trunk in your Grandmother’s attic. It tells a story of one of your long lost ancestors. Tell me about him/her and the time period they lived in.

Encouraging Others Through Devotional Blogging

Merriam Webster defined devotion as “An act of prayer or private worship; to show allegiance or loyalty.”  Devotions help with the growth of our faith through spending quiet time with God. In doing so one can be blessed through this act of obedience.

We spend so much of our time these days on the computer that it’s normal to now find devotions in an electronic form. There are many to choose from, and they can target many different ministry needs. Writing a devotional blog is much like writing a devotional book.

Prayer is the first step in the process. Ask God for His guidance and wisdom to create a site where one can find a source of encouragement from the Bible. A great example of this is Philippians 4:6; Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.

You will need to decide what venue to use to produce your blog. A site like WordPress can help walk you through the steps to create a top-notch blog site. Coming up with a name for your site may take a bit more time and prayer.

Once you have your blog site complete. Decide how you can best serve those who will be reading your blog. Will you do it daily, weekly, or monthly? Perhaps share other resources that help emphasize the theme of your blog with non-fiction books, a Scripture reading plan, or a ministry resource. You may also consider using information from professional sources such as medical doctors, psychologists, or other knowledgeable professionals to help with the theme of your blog. It will not be possible to help everyone in every situation. However, you will be able to help some, so create the devotion as God leads you. Then trust in the Lord to lead the people to Him through your blog.

Most devotional blogs tell a story that drives home a biblical truth or theme. Some incident in your life where God was able to teach you through an event, a Bible verse, or even a sermon can help give your reader direction. Consider a theme for your devotional blog. You could target your blog post for an audience that may be dealing with addictions, or raising a family; it can even be based on books of the Bible such as Psalms or Proverbs. Whichever you decide; God will use it for good. You may have gone through some rough patches in your life when you struggled with personal issues. Allow God to use those hard times to teach others and give them encouragement so that they too may come through it in victory.

Making time for devotions is a challenge for most Christians, including myself. Start out with a portion of Scripture. Include your thoughts about the Scripture reading. Share a consideration of how it can be applied to everyday life. Encourage your reader to journal their thoughts. It is a wonderful way to meditate on God’s Word and begin to see how He is truly guiding you. Finish with Prayer leading your reader to ask for continued guidance through the Scripture verses.

Click to Tweet: Encouraging Blogs #Devotions

Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT.  Our direction from God in this Scripture is to always be thankful, in all circumstances. In doing so we can be assured to find joy in leaning closer to Him in prayer.

Please post a favorite Scripture and your thoughts on it.