Category Archives: Publishing

People! RESEARCH “How to Publish.” It’s Not Hard!

Editing tips for writers

Yet again, on a Facebook page for writers of fiction, someone asked about a clear vanity press scam. Page members quickly jumped in with the appropriate answer for such a query: RUN!

But what amazes me is that I see so many of these kinds of questions. I’m not a particularly patient soul myself, so I had to throttle my immediate response: Don’t you have a computer? Don’t you know how to Google? Shouldn’t basic research be the first step for someone thinking about publishing? Doesn’t it occur to folks that in this day and age, How-To is there for the asking? All you have to do is look.

I consider the answer I composed reasonably tactful (for me):

These days, when we all clearly have access to the Internet, it surprises me that people don’t actively search for information on “how to publish a book.” Of course, a search like that will turn up lots of scams and vanity presses, but it will also turn up many useful sites that offer advice. Everyone who is thinking seriously about publishing should be compiling a personal list of the most helpful FREE sites that lay out the ins and outs of today’s publishing options. A search for “best websites for writers” would yield a ton of these. Yes, you will get some conflicting opinions–some people love Amazon, some hate it–but you’ll begin to get the lay of the land. After a while you begin to get a sense of which bloggers know their business and which don’t. In my earlier comment, I listed Jane Friedman and Victoria Strauss (Writer Beware): invaluable. I also recommend The Book Designer (Joel Friedlander). You can buy books by the carload that will walk you through every step; most are cheap enough as ebooks that you can buy more than one and get a wider set of options. Takes a little time, yes, but not nearly as much time as you have devoted to writing your book, and this basic research will save you many hours by helping you make the best choice for you. Chris the Story Reading Ape also offers regular links to excellent advice. I found these people by Googling, attending conferences, and searching Amazon. Don’t put less energy into this than you would in buying a car!

Okay, I get it that posting questions to Facebook groups is a step in this process. But Facebook friends can’t offer the kind of education we writers need. Learning about style and grammar and showing-not-telling are basic skills, but so are the fundamentals of the business you are thinking of entering. For example, one respondent said she couldn’t afford to self-publish! Facebook friends can’t possibly slap up a full explanation of why this comment is unfounded. They basically have to say, “Go look it up!”

So that’s what I’m saying: Want to be a writer? Go look it up.

Am I completely off base here?

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How Can You Tell Legitimate Publishers from the Bad Guys? – by Anne R. Allen…

Via Chris the Story Reading Ape, one of the most comprehensive guides to publishing options I’ve yet seen. I learned a lot. With a new manuscript almost ready to go that won’t fit into a lot of traditional niches, I am hungry for this kind of guidance and thought you might be, too.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

New writers have much to be wary of these days. New publishing scams are landing in writers’ inboxes faster than we can send out warnings.

Probably the most dangerous predators for the newbie writer are phony publishers, because they can shatter dreams as well as drain bank accounts.

Continue reading HERE

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BELIEVE! Do Not Pay Someone to Publish Your Book! ALLI Agrees.

Your book ready to publish--dreamscape!

Dreams of publication? Yes!

Here’s support from ALLI, the Alliance of Independent Authors, for my claim that you SHOULD NEVER PAY SOMEONE TO PUBLISH YOUR BOOK. Yes, there are some reputable book packagers out there who will charge you for various services, but the chances that you will make back what they charge you are slim. YOU CAN DO THIS YOURSELF. This ALLI article explains why it is so easy to fall for vanity scams. Here’s an important quote:

Many vanity presses will try to persuade authors that they are incapable of producing a professional book without an expensive full-service publishing package. This is particularly effective on authors who may not be comfortable with new technology; the idea of handing off the details of publishing to someone who will take care of it for you is alluring.

Do not be fooled. You can start your book off with a very modest investment if you apply very basic skills to get it formatted and posted. Spend your money on a cover and an ISBN, not on thousands of dollars for “publication” you’ll never get back.

Maybe you’ll notice that I’m very passionate about this. I just hate scams.I swear I'll catch up my SEO!

 

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Can Social Media Ban Your Content? Apparently, Yes.

Cartoon policeman blocking social media posts

Caution: Content Police!

Here are some thoughts from the ever-informative Derek Haines at Just Publishing Advice covering an issue many of us may not have considered seriously: the possibility that social media might refuse to feature our advertising or even allow us to post our content because it violates their “Terms and Conditions.” While I haven’t worried about this very much so far, I do know that my book Blood Lies wouldn’t be accepted for an Amazon ad with the current cover.

What about you? Do you always read the Terms and Conditions? Have you experienced any resistance from social media or other advertising sites when posting information about your books?

SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES!

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Earn a Salary by Writing Novels? Not So Fast.

Books as stairs to publishing successVictoria Strauss of Writer Beware assesses a start-up, “De Montfort Literature,” that promises to hire writers for $24,000 a year plus royalties just to write novels. Strauss and John Doppler from the Alliance of Independent Authors find that there’s a lot less to DML than meets the eye. If you’ve encountered this kind of proposition and it intrigues you, READ THIS CAREFULLY.

For my own part, I take exception to De Montfort’s claim in an interview with The Guardian that in contrast to his arrangement, “self-publishing is costly and time-consuming.” Not so. Anybody with the time and self-discipline to write a novel will find plenty of excellent how-tos that make it possible to publish online in a matter of an hour or so. My book, You CAN Format Your Print-on-Demand Book! is just one of many that make publishing your own paperback the work of just a few days.

Authors have never had so many options and so much freedom. Don’t sell yourself short!

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Now That CreateSpace is Being Absorbed: Try Ingram, Too.

A story hook is like strange headlights coming at you out of the dark on a lonely road. What lies ahead?

Publishing journeys into the unknown?

Now that you’re looking at new options in light of Amazon’s demolition of CreateSpace in favor of KDP Print, here’s help adding Ingram to your mix of choices, from Melinda Clayton at Indies Unlimited. In my how-to book, You CAN Format Your Print-on-Demand Book!, I explain why you SHOULD publish at Ingram as well as at Amazon and show you how to format using InDesign, which Ingram supports. Be sure not to opt for the free ISBN at Amazon. Buy one from Bowker.com that you can take with you anywhere!

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THE THINGS YOU MISS WHEN YOU PROOFREAD, PART 3: Creative Finds and Fixes

Part 3: Proofreading Slips You Can Find and Fix with Creative Tricks

Fact: You will miss things when you proofread your manuscript. Your eyes see what they expect to see.

Fact: A little creative use of Find/Replace, in Word or your preferred program, can find these hard-to-spot slips for you—and fix them with a keystroke.

I’ve split this post into three subposts, so you can use what you need when and if you need it:

These posts are based on Word, but most of the notations are universal. You should be able to apply them in any program you use.

These hard-to-see slips take a little more creativity to find and address than those in Part 2, but most of these searches will return “Not Found,” so you just move on to the next.

In each case below, I will

  • List the problem,
  • Show you what to type in the Find bar in the Find dialogue box
  • Show you when to eyeball if context is important
  • Show you what to type in the Replace bar
  • Tell you when to click “Replace all” or when to click Replace

In some cases below, I tell you that you can click “Replace all” after eyeballing to check that you’re finding the right combination. However, I generally eyeball each instance (there won’t be that many) and click “Replace.”

Do NOT type “+” in the Find or Replace bars unless you are actually searching for the “plus” sign. I am using it below to indicate “then type.” There should be no spaces between symbols in the bars unless you are specifically searching for a space.

For example, the first direction below would look like ^p’ in your Find bar.

Problem: Single quote marks

These are almost invisible! Apply several formulas to find them, since they can occur in different situations.

Formula 1: Single quotes at the beginning of a paragraph of dialogue

  • Find: ^p and a single quote mark (‘). (The ^ lives above the numeral 6.)
  • Eyeball one or two to make sure you’re finding the right combination.
  • Replace: ^p + a double quote mark (“). (This will look like ^p”)
  • Click: Replace all

Formula 2: Single quotes at the beginning of a line of dialogue that’s not at the beginning of a paragraph

  • Find: one space (tap space bar) + a single quote mark (‘). (When you tap the space bar, you won’t see anything in the Find bar, but the cursor will move.)
  • Eyeball to check that you have not found dialogue within dialogue, which takes a single quote mark.
  • Replace: space + double quote (“)
  • Click: Replace.

Formula 3: Single quote marks at the end of line of dialogue within a longer paragraph

  • Find: a single quote mark (‘), then space (tap the space key).
  • Eyeball to check that you have not found dialogue within dialogue, which takes a single quote mark.
  • Replace: double quote marks (“), then space
  • Click: Replace.

Formula 4: Single quotes at the end of a line of dialogue that ends the paragraph.

  • Find: a single quote + ^p. (You might also run a check with single quote, then space, then ^p , since you may have typed a space after the quote mark.)
  • Eyeball to check.
  • Replace: double quote + ^p
  • Click: Replace all.

Problem: An extra space before or after a quote mark.

These can cause your smart quote marks to “turn around,” since Word decides which direction they should face depending on whether they come before or after a line of type.

  • Find: space + quote marks + space. (Finds extra spaces at both the beginning or end of a line of dialogue).
  • Eyeball each instance.
  • Replace: Same as above with incorrect space eliminated.
  • Click: Replace.

OR

  • Find: ^p + quote marks + space bar.(Finds this problem at the beginning of a paragraph).
  • Eyeball each instance.
  • Replace: ^p + quote marks
  • Click: Replace.

Problem: An extra space at the beginning of a paragraph.

These create a ragged indent line that you may not spot by eyeballing.

  • Find: ^p + space
  • Replace: ^p
  • Click: Replace all

*******

Completely missing quotes like those illustrated in the next section are the most challenging to find. This section suggests a couple of Find tricks you can try—and maybe you can invent your own.

Problem: Missing quotes at the end of a line of dialogue. Example: “It’s cold in here, said Tom.

  • Find: comma + space + s. (Make sure you’ve already eliminated double spaces!)
  • Eyeball each instance.
  • Replace: comma + quote marks + space + s
  • Click: Replace.

Repeat with question marks as well as exclamation marks if you use them.

Repeat with the first letter of characters’ names, so you will also catch “It’s cold in here, Tom said.

Repeat with “asked,” “replied,” “demanded,” or whatever dialogue tags you often use.

Problem: Missing quotes at the beginning of a line of dialogue

I haven’t devised a foolproof way of finding these. Here’s one trick that will find some. Examples: X said, It’s warm in here.” OR “Boy,” X said, it’s warm in here.”

  • Find: said + comma+ space  + ^$ (for “any letter”) (Check “More,” then “Special” to make sure this is the correct notation for “any letter” in your version of Word.)
  • Replace: said + comma+ space  + quote marks + ^$
  • Click: Replace
  • Repeat with other dialogue tags you commonly use.

If you can think of a way to find missing quote marks at the beginning of a paragraph or before and after random narrative/actions rather than dialogue tags, please share!

Problem: Capitalized dialogue tags

These errors result when you have Autocorrect turned on, using its default settings. It may be set to capitalize letters after periods, question marks, and exclamation points. Example: “Is it warm in here to you?” Asked Tom.

  • Find: relevant punctuation mark + quote marks + A (or S for “said” or R for “replied” or whatever), and then check “Match case.”
  • Replace: relevant punctuation mark + quote marks + a (or s for “said” or r for “replied” or whatever)
  • Click: Replace

(You can prevent this by adjusting your settings in Autocorrect.)

Back to Part 2: Minute Finds and Fixes

Back to Part 1: Secrets of Find/Replace

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