Thursday, April 16, 2015

Old Dog, New Tricks

Once again I find myself poised on the brink of entering unknown territory. In this case, it’s self-publishing. My first Talbot’s Peak novel, The Mountain Lion King, is almost done with the editing phase. (I should probably call it my first intentional novel, since our freebie offering, Love to the Rescue, just kind of happened. You can download that one from Smashwords. Just click on the cover to the right and follow the link.) As soon as it’s as perfect as my editing skills can make it, the formatting and the fun begins.

Correction: as soon as I quit dragging my feet.

I’m not in any rush to get to the formatting part. Months back, when we were putting Love to the Rescue together, I downloaded the Smashwords style guide and read through it. Several times. Mr. Brain realized how much work was involved and immediately went into panic mode. That gave my procrastination tendencies an excuse to come out and play. I formatted my copy of the file part way and then just gave up. Fortunately Savanna knows how to format so she put it all together for us (thanks, Sav!). Click on the cover over there and get ready for a roller-coaster ride of romance and adventure. For free. That should be enough plugs for one blog.

Meanwhile, I’ve still got a manuscript rapidly nearing completion, with the prospect of formatting looming before me. At some point I’ll just have to bite that bullet.

There are alternatives, I know. I can hire somebody to format it for me. And I would, except I’m cheap. I won’t pay big bucks for somebody to do something I know I could do myself if I’d just stop whining and get to it. I could take the file to Direct2Digital, which will format the manuscript for me, but they also take a higher cut, and they don’t distribute to as many outlets as Smashwords. I want all the pennies, or as many as I can get away with grabbing. Greedy, cheap and lazy. The manuscript’s not the only thing with issues.

Eventually the greed will probably win, even against the procrastination. It’s just fear anyway, fear of the unknown. Or fear of work. Because in order to master formatting, I’m going to have to work. I’m going to have to do something new. Dear God, I’ll have to learn something.

I don’t know why I’m so scared of this. I did make that earlier, half-assed attempt. Once I got started, the process wasn’t as confusing as I’d feared it would be. It had even begun to make sense. I think it was having to work at something that did me in. Lazy trumps greed, in this case.

Too bad. If I’m going to make it in the world of modern publishing, I should learn as much about the process as possible, so I can do it on my own if I have to. Because I’m also cheap and greedy, I already know I will. I’ll just keep editing while the cheapness and greed beat the laziness into submission. Then I’ll be ready to go.

At one point I was going to self-pub “erotica” (what they’re calling porn these days) on Amazon. I have a finished story I could have experimented with. Never quite made it to the formatting stage. In this case it was more Cheapskate Me than Lazy Me. I didn’t want to pay for a cover. That shouldn’t have stopped me from practicing my formatting skills on the file. I can still do that. I can put off formatting the book by formatting the story instead. Make procrastination work for you!

That’s where my self-publishing career stands at the moment. Lots of intentions, very little forward movement. For now. At the moment I’m in the process of updating the files with all the editorial changes I marked on the printed version. Sure, having a printed version is another form of put-offery. I consider it backup. If the laptop crashes, I’ve still got a copy of the full manuscript, complete with all the changes. Paper rules!

Deep breath. Okay. I’m ready now. Just have to finish the updates. Then read the Smashwords instructions again. Then go to the library to post this blog. Then screw around at the library for a couple of hours. Then watch TV. Don’t worry, I’ll get to it eventually. Trust me.

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I did learn something this week and last, and I have my co-blogger Savanna to thank for it. Being too cheap to hire an editor, I sent the manuscript to the other Shapeshifter Seductions writers for beta-ing. Savanna’s suggestions pointed out more than random typos and shaky sentences. I really did need to put more emotion into the story. All of a sudden, I saw how. Several sentences got reworked to better reflect POV, and one paragraph went from “tell” to “show,” thus improving the story. These are things I’ll have to keep an eye on in the future, if I’m going to edit my own stuff.

Actually, it pays to have several eyes on a “finished” manuscript. People who aren’t as close to the story as you are will spot all the bloopers and blemishes you missed. This is what a good beta or a good editor does. You don’t want the readers doing it. Those are called “sucky reviews.”

So thanks to the other SSS writers, with an extra-special thanks to Savanna on top. You taught the old bitch some new writing tricks. The readers will benefit now, or whenever I get around to learning how to format. Hope you weren’t expecting payment. Like my manuscript, I am a work in progress.


Savanna Kougar said...

Yay! Closer and closer to self-pubbing that wonderful clever romance. Rick and Bari are perfect together, even with their vast cultural differences, and the fact that he's a mountain lion and she's a tigress.

One thing I would suggest. Don't worry about Chapter separations ... forgot the correct term... because on ereaders what does it matter... you can still use the chapters as link points, which Smashwords creates when going through the meatgrinder... or it did last time I pubbed.

Pat C. said...

One of the reasons I don't like to beta for content is because I hate it when somebody tells me, "You need to fix this," but won't tell me how. In my former writers' group they were quick to point out flaws but a lot slower to offer solutions. If I can't come up with at least one fix, I won't even bring up the problem. Grammar and spelling, though, that's easy to correct, and less subject to another writer's agenda.

Had I been a working editor, I would have rejected "Twilight." My ability to guess what the market wants also needs find-tuning.

Savanna Kougar said...

I know what you mean 'cause I've had some critique situations that didn't make sense... now a few, NOT ALL, were because I'd been out of the writing loop for so long, I didn't know the lingo.

I love, love good editors who make good understandable suggestions. HOWEVER, I've also been brutalized by those who didn't really have a clue, or were just jealous, petty, thought they were superior to everyone else* ...whatever... you name it.

As far as the market, I really don't have much of a clue, as far as books like TWILIGHT or FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY... but obviously it hits some deep 'need'... and is then exploited commercially. Thus, I just write what feels 'right' to me personally, and try to keep readers in mind, as well.

My current WIP, Keina and Drev's story, will probably be too vanilla for many readers, even though there are a lot of passion-erotic love scenes.