Category Archives: V. S. Anderson
I fought Draft2Digital and won!
In keeping with my plan to post on my experiences as I publish and learn to market a new book (after too long!), I’m sharing my recent experiences with the kind of basic stuff I’m sure most folks don’t need to be told about. But maybe somebody out there will understand the learning curves involved and will either find my struggles familiar or will point me in the right direction as I take many wrong turns.
I realized at long last that if I was going to start a newsletter, which I am assured I must do, I needed to be able to upload digital files, that is, epubs and mobis as well as the standard pdfs. A little bit of exploration suggested to me that a basic Draft2Digital account would allow me to convert my Word files into these formats.
Yes, I found I could download files from Smashwords, but when I did so, they opened in an iBooks folder that did not allow me to upload the latest version. Moreover, I wanted the Amazon files as well as the Smashwords files. Creating and downloading the D2D files to a dedicated folder, where I could verify the dates and versions, seemed like a good idea.
(Here’s where I suspect experts know how to move files to my desktop from the iBooks program that opens them.)
As I began work on uploading my Word text to D2D, I confirmed what I had already begun to expect from working on my paperback interior for my new book: templates promise easy formatting—IF you can stop them from wrestling you to the mat and beating all hope out of you!
Okay, hyperbole. But what I discovered was that the only way to make a D2D template work on the first or hopefully at least the second try is to strip all that fancy formatting you did in hopes of making your book look as if it has been traditionally published rather than a homemade little orphan.
Following the instructions exactly is a start. I had set up my TOC using bookmarks and anchors, but unfortunately, I hadn’t bookmarked the chapter titles (Chapter 1, etc.) but rather first words of chapters. D2D read my first paragraphs as chapter titles and converted them all to Heading 1 font. Grim.
I learned about this mistake by emailing for help. The great news is that the help came almost immediately in a detailed and sympathetic response email. Rather than rebookmark and reanchor 44 chapters plus an epilogue, I converted all chapter titles to Heading 1 as suggested. However, my work at customizing the Heading 1 style—for example, to all-caps—was wasted. The D2D template made the font decisions for me, in the process introducing formatting errors in the TOC that took me six uploads to correct.
Equally maddening was that D2D can’t recognize such frivolity as “small caps.” Formatting first lines in first-chapter paragraphs in small caps created leading changes in those first paragraphs. Only plain old Normal with a first-line indent led to a clean upload.
I had already discovered that the little graphics I had tried to insert in an earlier version had to be positioned just so to function the way I envisioned. After two full days of struggling with my new upload, I gave up on the images I had wanted to insert at the beginning of each chapter. By that time, all I wanted was the plain-Jane file. My end-of-book graphics linking to my other books, I am glad to say, did load correctly and do work as I planned.
Moral: when using a template, join it in battle at your peril. In D2D, stay simple. They have their own folderols you can choose if you like.
At least uploading to Bookfunnel was comparatively easy. (Gripes on that front to come.)
Want the free copy of Three Strides Out I’ve complained so mightily over? Here’s the Bookfunnel link. You’ll have to leave me an email address so I can see where the free books I’m hoping to use for reviews are going, but you don’t have to sign up for anything—assuming I correctly figured out all the ins and outs of my Bookfunnel landing page. If you run into trouble downloading, write me from my website and I’ll try to figure out how to get a copy to you. Oh, and puhleeeese leave a review!
Something Fun! “Hemingway” Does Hemingway!
Via Jane Friedman and Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur, I came across this delightful exercise from The New Yorker. Dave had reviewed four top “editing” programs, Grammarly, Ginger, Hemingway, and ProWritingAid. He linked to an article in which writer Ian Crouch takes Hemingway the App on a spin in Hemingway’s actual prose.
You probably know somebody who claims to write like Hemingway (I do). Or who claims to want to write like Hemingway (I sometimes do). So it’s interesting to see that Ernest’s scores vary from a bad, bad 15 to an excellent 4—which means a fourth-grader could understand it— depending on which text you choose. Crouch’s analysis of a passage from The Sun Also Rises also shows how sometimes it’s the broken rules that make a passage work.
Hemingway the App has a free online editor you can play with. I thought that would be fun as well. In general, I find these editing apps annoying, not least because they miss some really basic stuff. For example, in the first page of my novel Blood Lies, published by Bantam/Doubleday way back when and republished by me online, the sentence that is tagged as VERY HARD TO READ (bad, bad, really bad) is actually two sentences connected with a semicolon. Yes, I know some people think there’s a rule: no semicolons. I’m not there yet.
On the other hand, I do find that much of my line editing involves simplifying those sentences that rolled so sonorously through my head when I wrote them. I find that I’ve become more skilled at hearing the ones that need a weed trimmer taken to them. The trick is to give yourself some distance from your prose and come back to it with a stranger’s ear, as much as possible.
In any case, here’s my annotated page with the Hemingway comments. They gave me a Readability grade of 3, only “good.” Crouch says, “The app suggests that anything under Grade 10 is a sign of ‘bold, clear writing.'” Maybe my writing is too simple! See what you think.
red—adverbs (I am supposed to cut one);
yellowish—my 4/51 “hard to read” sentences;
green—passive voice (they say I’m okay with only 3, but I take exception to “was scorched’; “scorched” is a predicate adjective in this construction;
purple—my VERY BAD HARD TO READ sentence. But I had only 1.
Two days and a night. Bitter roadside coffee, the slimy stars of dead moths on the windshield. Poisonous truck fumes on 1-75. An hour’s fitful sleep in the back seat of the Firebird, an hour in which he dreamed that it was Holyhead that had burned.
He had never been to the trailer, but he knew exactly where it was. Alejo had said, “You know the big tree in Langston’s south pasture that lightning hit? Just down the hill from that, on the corner.” And Ted had answered, “Oh, yeah.”
Alejo spent every spring and fall in the fancy doublewide on the small square of land. “Now I am so rich,” he said, “all America is my home. But Keeneland Racetrack was always good to me. I will always ride there. Even when I am more famous than Willie Shoemaker, I will always go back to Kentucky.”
“Yeah,” Ted had answered. “And maybe one day Lexington will elect you mayor.”
“A statue in the paddock at the racetrack is all I ask.”
Alejandro Asolo had not earned his statue. He had not become more famous than Willie Shoemaker. He had not had time.
Ten years ago, Ted’s thirteenth summer, three broodmares had been killed when lightning struck that tree in Langston’s pasture. He found the trailer easily. Very little had changed.
The cops had stretched a large sheet of black plastic on the trodden grass. On the plastic they were dumping small, charred piles. Ted could not believe the framed win picture had survived. He reached to pick it up. It was scorched, blistered, but the row of familiar faces grinned bravely through the soot: Alejandro’s, Teresa’s, Sunny’s, his own.
One of the policemen turned and saw him. “Hey! Put that down!”
He straightened. The cop waved a buddy over and they both advanced, arms held out from their sides.
“Something we can do for you?” one of them asked. He had round, soft-looking cheeks, and a plump, pursed mouth, but his hard little eyes glinted under his hat brim.
Ted dropped the picture wearily at their feet. “I’m looking for Mrs. Asolo.”
“She’s gone. What’s your name?”
“I was a friend of Asolo’s. I drove up from Miami when I heard.”
“Friends got names,” the cop said.
He could smell it. He had told himself the spring wind and the harsh overlay of charred wood, fused metal, and melted plastic would have carried it off, but he had been wrong. He stepped backward, groping behind him. Maybe the fat-cheeked policeman thought he was bolting; he shoved him back against a tree. But the other policeman, a younger, leaner man, said, “Sit down on the ground a minute, kid. Put your head between your knees. You’ll be okay.”
The inner walls of the trailer had been reduced to gummy filaments; the cops sorting the rubbish brushed them gingerly aside, shaking their hands afterwards, as if freeing themselves from cobwebs.
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ALERT: Copyright Infringement by “Internet Archive.”
Do you have hard-copy books out, in or out of print? See this notice from Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has issued an alert on copyright infringement by the Internet Archive. Other professional writers’ groups taking notice include the UK’s Society of Authors, which has posted an alert on its website, and the USA’s Authors Guild and National Writers Union, which have alerted their members.
Strauss posts the full notice from SFWA. What’s more, SFWA will generate a “takedown notice” for you that you can immediately email if your book is included on the offending site.
You can search the site easily to see if any of your titles are involved. I found that searching for a character’s name within the book text generated the best response.
Possibly you may not be concerned at having a pirated version of your book offered for free, but you may want to be informed that it exists.
I found the Bantam paperback edition of King of the Roses on the site. I’ve decided to send the takedown notice. Strauss says that two notices she sent have thus far not received responses.
Please pass this information on to anyone you think will benefit from it.
Lies told by Small Presses
Some good warnings to take to heart!
I have a couple of things to add. Unless the market has changed drastically, having a good agent and getting an advance is unlikely to guarantee your book visibility or even entry into mainstream bookstores. I was paid $5000 by St. Martin’s in 1983; even though King of the Roses got superb reviews (check them out in the Amazon preview), the book never made it into any of the many stores, local or national, that existed at the time (before Amazon). I was told St. Martin’s would have had to commit to a massive advertising budget before any of the stores would find spine-out space for my book, let alone any kind of display or prominent position. (This despite the fact that my mother wrote many angry letters to bookstores demanding that they put my book on a stand in the doorway!) St. Martin’s did minimal advertising, but did make sure reviewers got copies and paid attention to them, which is a big deal, and something that will be hard for us to do for ourselves.
It’s my understanding (possibly erroneous?) that publishers’ budgets are even tighter today than they were in 1983. So true traditional publishing by one of the major houses doesn’t mean authors don’t still have work to do to get their books out there. But articles like this help us avoid pitfalls that will make our efforts go for naught!
Like many of my posts, this stems from something I saw in an online writer’s group. Essentially, someone who has been traditionally published from a small press was putting down people who self-publish. Personally, I have my own problems with self-publishing that I discuss in my “Why I’ll Never Self-Publish” post, but that is besides the point. At this point, I’d like to formally begin my rant against small presses.
In my opinion, traditional publishing is best done through an agent and then with a professionally recognized publisher. Small presses, unless they are recongized by writing organizations like Codex or SFWA, often give little more than what someone can do through self-publishing but will suck away 40-60% of the author’s share of royalties and then use self-publishing tools (like Createspace) to produce the book. Small Presses get away with this by telling authors lies in order to get them to sign…
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How To Set Up An Amazon Giveaway
Just what I needed! I was hovering over the Amazon Giveaway screens for King of the Roses and discovered I didn’t know how the odds-setting worked. This post, from February of this year, explains it! This is Nicholas Rossis’s “secondary blog” that shows a reblog button, but you can access the original, with many informative comments, here. Now watch for my Giveaway, coming up next week!
Amazon has recently started offering everyone the opportunity to offer a giveaway. What’s interesting about this is that you can run one for pretty much any item in their inventory – except for ebooks. So, you can run a giveaway for your print edition, but not your Kindle one.
Alternatively, you could go all the way and offer people, say, a Kindle. Or, indeed, an item that is somehow related to your books. For example, if you’ve written a cookbook, you may give away kitchen gadgets or aprons. The key here is to be imaginative and original.
So, how would you go about it? Here’s the complete how-to.
Step 1: Find your book
Right after the reviews, you will see a “Set up an Amazon Giveaway” button. If you can’t find it, press Control-F (for Find) on your browser and enter the word “giveaway”…
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Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, business of writing, ebooks publishing and selling, Free Books, indie publishing, King of the Roses, Marketing books, Money issues for writers, Print on Demand for fiction writers, Self-publishing, Tech tips for writers, V. S. Anderson, Virginia S. Anderson, Writing, writing contests, writing novels
My Inerview is up at Don Massenzio’s site. Go admire my sweet Paddy!
Check out my writer’s interview, now available at Don Massenzio’s site! This was a lot of fun to write.
My bio on Chuck Suddeth’s site! He’s posting info on sponsors and judges for the Green River Writers 2016 contest, now open. Check out the guidelines! And thanks, Chuck, for sharing!
V. S. Anderson always been a horse nut, and as a young person, was a rabid horse-racing fan. So it’s no surprise that her first novels were about horses: the Kentucky Derby and the glamour of a Thoroughbred breeding farm—but with a little mystery and mayhem thrown in! For King of the Roses and Blood Lies, she drew on her years of working in the horse world, teaching riding, showing hunters, moonlighting on the racetrack, and for a while, owning and galloping her own racehorse.
Since then she has used her doctorate in English to teach writing at a regional campus of a Midwestern university—right across the river from Louisville and the Derby, in fact! She lives in New Salisbury, Indiana, where she gardens, watches birds, writes mystery/suspense (three novels in progress!), and rides Paddy, her sweet, sweet horse.
Visit her at
or follow her…
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A Writer’s Guide to Defamation and Invasion of Privacy: Important Information!
Reblogged on WordPress.com
Source: A Writer’s Guide to Defamation and Invasion of Privacy
This is excellent information that clarifies many issues. One issue Amy Cook doesn’t address is the definition of (and handling of) “public figures.” Well-publicized lawsuits show they’re not totally fair game; is truthfulness the only line? When my novel King of the Roses first came out, I struggled with this issue since I drew on a horse-racing legend for my inspiration. Since I made him the hero and probably a little better than he was (he’s dead now), and since he never made any attempt to dodge the limelight, I was pretty well protected. But this is a dimension of the privacy/defamation issue with its own dangers.
Thanks to Chris the Story Reading Ape for another great share, this one from Tribalmystic stories!
Draft of New Cover for King of the Roses
I’m looking for a cover that will look better in thumbnail. Here’s an effort. All feedback welcomed!
Filed under King of the Roses, V. S. Anderson