Tag Archives: self publish

Manuscript Rejected After Only 20 Pages? What gives?

Ever wonder how an agent can reject a manuscript, having read only the first 20 pages? How can they know a book isn’t something they want to represent with so little to go on?

Before a writer curses all agent-hood while typing the url, Smashwords.com, self-proclaimed Novel Diagnostician (and doesn’t she deserve such a lofty title?) Kristen Lamb says, “There are too many authors who dismiss why agents are rejecting them and run off to self-publish instead of fixing why their manuscript was rejected.” (Not that you shouldn’t self-publish; please do, so we can read your book. But! BUT! Before you do, get that MS polished to perfection by a professional–someone with demonstrated
industry knowledge of storycraft.)

Lamb points out, “Agents know that a writer only has a few pages to hook a reader. That’s the first thing. But agents also know that the first 20 pages are a fairly accurate reflection of the entire book. So let’s explore some common problems with beginnings and look to the problems that they can foreshadow in the rest of the work.” Here are excerpts from her post:

Info-Dump

The beginning of the novel starts the reader off with lengthy history or world-building. The author pores on and on about details of a city or civilization or some alien history all to “set up” the story.

In my experience, this is often the hallmark of a writer who is weak when it comes to characters and even plotting. How can I tell? He begins with his strength…lots of intricate details about a painstakingly crafted world. Although not set in stone, generally, if the author dumps a huge chunk of information at the start of the book, then he is likely to use this tactic throughout.

This type of beginning tells me that author is not yet strong enough to blend information into the narrative in a way that it doesn’t disrupt the story.

Readers read fiction for stories. They read Wikipedia for information. Information does not a plot make. Facts and details are to support the story that will be driven by characters with human wants and
needs. Keep the priorities straight. In twenty years people won’t remember the setting, they will remember people.

Book Starts Right in the Middle of the Action

A lot of new writers are being told to start right in the action, and this tip needs to be clarified. We need some kind of conflict in the beginning to make us (the reader) choose to side with/like the protagonist. This conflict doesn’t necessarily have to do with the main story problem (directly).

For instance, in the Hunger Games we are introduced to Katniss and we get a glimpse of the hell that is her life and the burden she has of feeding her family. We feel for her because she lives in a post-apocalyptic nightmare where life is lived on the brink of starvation.
Nothing terribly earth-shattering happens, but we care about this girl. So,
when Katniss is chosen to participate in The Hunger Games–a brutal gladiator game held by the privileged Capitol–we want her to win, because that means a life of food, shelter and relative safety.

Suzanne Collins didn’t start out with Katniss in the arena fighting the Hunger Games. That is too far in and is too jarring. We need
time with Katniss in her Normal World for The Hunger Games to mean anything or this action would devolve quickly into melodrama. Even though in the beginning, she isn’t per se pitted directly with the Capitol, she is pitted against starvation and depravity…which leads us nicely into the main cause of that starvation and depravity (the Capitol) and the solution to this life (win the Hunger Games).

Yet, many new writers take this notion of “start right in the action” and they dump the reader straight into the arena. There are world-shattering stakes and we are only on page 2.

This shows me that the writer could be weak in a number of areas. First, she may not be clear what the overall story problem is, so she is beginning with a “gimmick” to hook the reader. Secondly, this alerts me that the writer is weak in her understanding of scene and sequel novel structure.

Scenes are structured: Goal-> conflict -> disaster

So when a writer begins her book with Biff hanging over a shark tank surrounded by ninjas, two major steps in a scene have been
skipped. When a writer totally skips some fairly vital parts and thrusts us
straight into disaster, I already know the author will likely rely on melodrama from this point on. Why? Because that was how she began her book.

Book Begins with Internalization

Fiction is driven by conflict. Period. Writing might be therapeutic, but it isn’t therapy. When a writer begins with a character thinking and internalizing that is another huge warning flag of a number of problems.

Do you need internalization in a novel? Yes! But it has its place. Most internalization will be part of what is known as the sequel. Sequels transpire as a direct reaction to a scene. When a writer begins the novel with the sequel, that is a huge warning that, again, the writer is weak when it comes to structure. There is a definite purpose for reflection, but kicking off the action is not one of them.

Also, beginning with the protagonist “thinking” is very self-indulgent. Why do we as readers care about this person’s feelings or thoughts about anything? We don’t know this character. The only people who listen attentively to the thoughts, feelings, and disappointments of total
strangers are shrinks, and they are being paid well to do so.

Give us (your readers) time to know your character and become interested in her, and then we will care.

Like people who tell you about their abusive alcoholic father the first 30 seconds after you’ve met them, they likely will keep this trend of rudely dumping too much personal information. When the protagonist begins with all this thinking and more thinking…and more thinking,
it is probably a bad sign for the future. Just sayin’.

Book Begins with a Flashback

We do not need to know why a certain character did this or that or why a bad guy went bad. Again, that’s for therapy.

Did we really need to know why Hannibal Lecter started eating people for Silence of the Lambs to be an awesome book AND movie?
Now I know that there was a later explication of this….but it was an entirely different story (and one that really didn’t do well, I might mention).

Flashbacks often alert me that the writer needs time to grow. She hasn’t yet developed the skill to blend background details with the current conflict in a way that supports the story.

I’ll give you a great example: Watch the J.J. Abrams Star Trek. We find out exactly how Dr. Leonard McCoy gets his nickname, Bones…one line. “Wife got the whole planet in the divorce. All I got left is my bones.” The audience didn’t have to have a flashback to get that McCoy’s divorce was really bad. That is a great example of a writer seamlessly blending
character back story.

Also, sometimes, not knowing why adds to the tension. The Force was more interesting before it was explained.There are three really great books I highly recommend if you want to work on your beginnings (and even learn to fix the problems that bad beginnings foreshadow). Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, Hooked by Les Edgerton, and Scene and Sequel by
Jack Bickham.

Many authors are being rejected by the first 20 pages, and because most agents are overworked, they don’t have time to explain
to each and every rejected author what they saw. Thus, too many writers are
reworking and reworking their beginning and not really seeing that their weak beginning is a symptom of larger issues.

Hopefully, though, today Kristen Lamb gave you some helpful insight into what an editor (or an agent) really sees so you can roll up your sleeves and get to what’s truly going on.

What are some novels you guys can think of that had amazing beginnings?

What hooks you? How long will you give a novel before you buy it? How long will you give a novel you have bought before you put it down?

Kristen Lamb’s best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. Lamb’s methods teach you how to make building your author platform fun. She helps writers change approach, not personality.

Can’t get enough Kristen Lamb? (Me neither!) Check this out: Editing Fiction for Intelligent Readers (No Spoon-feeding Allowed.)

 

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Publishing with Kindle Single for not quite full length Books

I stumbled upon Debbie Weil’s thoughtful take on publishing through Amazon’s fabulous “new” concept, Kindle Singles. Weil is the author of one of the first and most definitive books about business blogging: THE CORPORATE BLOGGING BOOK.

Her article intros with perception I’ve wrestled with myself: your book is your platform. In Weil’s case, she is intrigued by her research about Baby Boomers and social media, but she knows all too well that when an author releases and speaks about her book, it becomes accepted as her area of expertise; young at heart, Weil is reticent about becoming the “old person” expert. I get it, too. I have a collection of published nonfiction materials on the topic of family and spirituality, and the makings of a nonfiction book outlining (what I believe could be) an entirely fresh take on making every part of your life more enriching. On the flipside, my novel in progress is decidedly more edgy, not always “pretty,” and my characters are not necessarily interested in thinking about spiritual or religious ideas.

Debbie Weil explains, “Amazon was clever enough several months ago to identify a new publishing space in the age of short attention spans. It’s called the Kindle Single and it’s for almost-book ideas, 10,000 to 30,000 words in length. For those who’ve written a book, a typical chapter is 5,000 words. Amazon calls a Kindle Single ‘a compelling idea – well researched, well argued, and well illustrated – expressed at its natural length.'”

“This is brilliant,” Weil adds. “It combines the possibilities of rapid self-publishing with the natural appetite of readers for less – quick, compelling and digestible.”

I couldn’t agree more. Like most writers with a variety of niches, this digital format gives the opportunity to cast a wider net to a variety of audiences.

Weil also included a solid list of Kindle Single related links:

Named one of the Most Influential Women in Technology in 2010 by Fast Company, Debbie Weil is a rare species – a Baby Boomer who is a digital native. She launched her first website in 1995, she has been blogging since 2003 at debbieweil.com/blog.

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Filed under Best Writer Tips, For the love of writing, Guest posts

Reflections of an author’s year of revisions

This morning I stumbled upon Nova Ren Suma‘s refreshing blog post: The Year I Revised My Novel Seven Times. Is it simple enough for me to say that I’m touched by her tender and satisfied account of her hard work?

Like every writer, I want my finished manuscript to be my very best work, my heart, and if seven revisions is what I’m required to give, I will tip my hat respectfully to Ms. Suma and dig in. Cheers to her, and to every writer aiming to produce his or her own pride and joy. Here are excerpts form her post:

The first draft of Imaginary Girls was finished on January 1, 2010. I then went on to revise the manuscript over the course of this year SEVEN TIMES. One revision before showing my agent. One more revision after showing my agent. Then five more revisions with my editor. Some of those rounds of revision felt—and I think they were—pretty massive. I put my heart into that book. Then I tore it out and put it in again. I worked with an editor who really knew how to dig it all out of me, and the book that stands at the end is one I can honestly say I’m truly proud of… and I’m very hard to please.

All I know is that I’m going to look back on 2010 and be able to say—to myself, without any exaggeration—that I’ve never worked so hard on my writing in my life. I wrote the way Sugar said we should. For the first time ever in my life, I really did.

(I also started two new novels in 2010, which is miraculous now, looking back on all that time I spent in revisions.)

There’s more to this revision story, and maybe one day I’ll tell you why I ended up revising the book so many times. But I think the lesson here is that it is worth it to work hard to make the book as good as it can be. Even if you’re tired. Even if you think you can’t do it. (And I was tired, and I admit I thought I couldn’t do it.) It’s worth it to put your all into this again… and again… and however many times it takes. I have to tell you now, standing on the other side of it, it feels incredible.

Nova Ren Suma’s Imaginary Girls, her debut YA novel, is coming out from Dutton in June ’11, with a second novel to follow. She also wrote the tween novel Dani Noir, out now from Simon & Schuster.

What was the best thing that happened to you in 2010? And what was the hardest thing you did in 2010?

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The Biggest Mistakes Writers Make When Querying Literary Agents

Generally, I try to spare you overly lengthy blog posts. Most writers work from home and already have enough temptation to procrastinate from our craft with lame excuses such as folding laundry or taking the cat to the vet. This post is worth a sit-down. That is, if you’re serious about writing an excellent query letter for your manuscript.

Written by upcoming author JM Tohlin–whose novel The Great Lenore will be in stores Summer 2011–interviewed 50 agents about mistakes writers make when pitching a book.

The tips he has collected are invaluable. As Tohline comments, “You’ve (presumably) spent hundreds of hours planning, writing, editing and perfecting your manuscript. Now, it is time to treat your query with the same respect.”

He also recommends visits to Janet Reid’s Query Shark page, and to Rachelle Gardner. “Google agents and read every bit of advice they are willing to share. Study, learn, and practice! You already know that writing is an art. Now, it’s time to learn that query-writing is an art as well.”

Ready to be impressed? Here are the superb agents who contributed to this post:

Alice Martell * Amy Boggs * Amy Tipton * Annie Hawkins * Bree Ogden * Brian Defiore * Cameron McClure * Caren Estesen * Daniel Lazar * Danielle Svetcov * Don Maass * Elizabeth Pomada * Farley Chase * Gina Panettieri * Heather Mitchell * Helen Breitwieser * Helen Zimmermann * Janet Kobobel Grant * Jeff Gerecke * Joyce Hart * Kate McKean * Kimberley Cameron * Laney Becker * Liv Blumer * Lucinda Blumenfeld * Lucy Carson * Marietta Zacker * Maura Teitelbaum * Michael Murphy * Michelle Wolfson * Mollie Glick * Pam Ahearn * Rachel Dowen * Richard Curtis * Russell Galen * Sally van Haitsma * Sam Stoloff * Sean McCarthy * Sheree Bykofsky * Stephany Evans * and those who requested to remain anonymous.

In JM Tohline’s words, here are the mistakes these agents mentioned most often:

Mentioned 3x
“Go to my website for a sample of my work…”
“Find my query attached…”
Querying before your manuscript is ready

Note: “Before your manuscript is ready” does not mean “before the first draft is finished.” It means querying before you have written the first draft, allowed the manuscript sit undisturbed for a month, edited it multiple times – during which time you have begun to bleed from the head, due to the number of times you have pounded it against the wall in your pursuit of perfection – and handed it out to people to read, edited it some more, removed about half the manuscript and been tempted to throw the whole thing away, taken another break from it, come back feeling rejuvenated and edited it some more, had some more people read it…and edited it some more. After all this, your manuscript might be ready for querying.

As Donald Maass put it: “Granted, it’s difficult for newer writers to judge when their novels are in final form but I can say this: for first time novelists, 99.99% of the time when they begin querying agents they’re not really done.

Cameron McClure (of the Donald Maass Agency) added this: “Most writers query too soon – either before the book is really ready to be read by an industry professional, or with a book that is a learning book, or a starter book, where the writer is working through the themes that will come out in later books with more clarity, getting things out of their system, making mistakes that most beginners make, finding their voice.

Mentioned 4x
Talking about the book’s sequel, or…
…pitching more than one book at a time
Writing a query that lacks confidence

Mentioned 5x
Writing a query that is overconfident or pompous
Sending a query that has clearly not been proofread

Mentioned 9x
Queries addressed to “Dear Agent” (or anything similar!

Mentioned 10x
Vague query letters!

Mentioned 11x
Queries with more than one agent listed in the “To” field

Mentioned 14x
Queries that have no clue what the agent represents, or…
…that have no clue what the agent’s submission guidelines are

And there you have the basic breakdown. But your pot of coffee is still mostly full. Remember, your query letter is the first (and possibly only) impression you’ll ever make on an agent. Don’t slam the door on yourself – learn everything you can about writing a good query letter.

Jeff Gerecke – who mentioned both writers who send letters to him with a “Dear Agent” salutation and who query him regarding areas he does not represent – told me about a service that generates mass queries to agents. Let’s be honest – if you have not taken the time to find out what an agent represents (let alone to find out anything about them and address them directly!), why would they assume you took the time to write a worthwhile novel? As Jeff said in his email,I do expect writers to submit to lots of agents, but not blindly, so putting my name in the query doesn’t seem too much to ask.” Sally van Haitsma echoed with similar sentiments: “We assume you are sending out queries to multiple agents, and even encourage authors to do so since this is such a subjective business, but as a first impression it’s important to customize queries so they address us by name.

More specific thoughts on this topic came from Sam Stoloff:It might be a silly prejudice on my part, but I automatically discount queries that aren’t addressed to me personally. If the writer hasn’t taken the time to find out a little about me, to make sure that I’d be an appropriate agent for their work, and to put my name at the top of their query as a gesture of professional courtesy, then I am simply less likely to take the query seriously.

Are you starting to get the picture? As Mollie Glick said in regards to the “multiple agents in the subject line” problem:We like to feel special!

Sean McCarthy even took this one step further:I think the biggest mistake that writers make when querying me is not letting me know why I – specifically – would be a great match for their project. I know that it can be time-consuming to customize query letters, but even a simple sentence that references my taste, my background or projects that I’ve worked on will go a long way towards getting your pitch more attention.

After all, writing your novel was time-consuming, right? Editing your novel was time-consuming. Think twice before you send an anonymous query letter; the extra time is worth it.

Incredibly, this generalized sort of approach some writers take stretches itself even thinner than the basic “Dear Agent” letter.

Bree Ogden’s email gave an example of this that was embarrassing even to read (Point 1), and she proceeded to give two more suggestions (Points 2 & 3) that are very important to keep in mind! Her email looked like this:

1. If a writer isn’t going to research the right agents for their project, that’s really mainly hurting them, but at least don’t publicize it to the agent they are querying. For example: When I was a brand new agent, I would get queries that would say, “I am impressed with your sales and recent projects…” It was clear they had no idea who I was. So if you’re not going to do your research (which you absolutely should) at least try to make it look like you did.

2. This may be way more of a personal preference, but I do not like getting queries in which the author bio is the first thing on the page. In my opinion it should be last. I need to be hooked by the premise of the book in order to want to continue reading the query. And frankly, author bios can get a bit insipid. Instant query turn-off.

3. Loooooooong queries. There is an art to writing a query letter. And because the letter is an author’s key to the publishing world, learn that art. Writing extremely lengthy queries is a no-no and I usually stop midway through because I either lose interest or forget where the author was going. Agents have so much going on….an author needs to grab them with a concise, punchy, hard-boiled query.

One of my favorite agents, Michael Murphy (from one of my favorite agencies, Max & Co.) put it like this:
The answer to your question is an easy one.
The single biggest mistake writers make when querying me is sending manuscripts for areas I do not represent. On my website, in all my interviews, and I believe in most websites that list areas of interest for each agent, it is quite clearly stated that I do not represent YA, prescription (How To) nonfiction, nor genre fiction (SF, fantasy, romance, thrillers). Yet almost half the queries I receive are for these very categories.

I am dumbfounded by this. If I were applying for a job as a dental hygienist, I don’t think I’d apply to Jiffy Lube. Writers need to do a bit of research before spewing their query letters to every Tom, Dick, & Harry calling themselves a literary agent.

Normally, I reply with a simple note that I do not represent their kind of work. However, as these queries pile up, I am considering just hitting DELETE. Their lack of effort is wasting my time and their own.

Sorry to come off as a miserly bastard, but in this one area I feel like a miserly bastard.

In other words: If you are going to approach an agent – as Amy Tipton said – quite simply, “Do your homework!

Furthermore, send the query to the agents! Don’t post it on your website and send them the link. Gina Panettieri said,Don’t try to cut corners by simply referring agents to your website rather than writing a well-prepared query. It’s great to let us know about your website and we can check it out to get more info about you and your book, but we’ll only do that IF you’ve intrigued us with your knock-out query!” On this subject, Alice Martell put it like this: “If you’re asking someone to do something for you that they do not have to do, but you really want them to, you should make it as easy as possible for them.

Remember, agents do not have to read your query! In fact, most of them are not especially looking to add new clients. Don’t act like you’re doing them a favor by allowing them a shot at your work – put the query right there where they can read it, and give yourself a chance!

Several of the most in-depth insights came from Helen Zimmermann, who emailed a copy of the “What Not To Do In A Query” section of the lecture she gives at writers’ conferences…. Continue to read this post in its entirety for more excellent, thought-provoking advice, including nine less-obvious mistakes contributed by agent Liv Blumer.

You can  find Mr. Tohline on Twitter @JMTohline. Learn more about him and his new book The Great Lenore here.

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Filed under Best Writer Tips, Fiction Novel Writing, Freelance Writing, Guest posts, Who is Writing What?

Lit Agent Tina Wexler’s 6.5 Tips for Impressing Agents

Does your heart skip a beat when you come within pitching range of a literary agent? When you eye a coveted agent across the crowded room at the writer’s conference, are you prepared to introduce yourself with confidence? Literary agent Tina Wexler offers a bit of advice to authors anxious to make a memorable first impression.

1. Be nice. Agents, like most everyone, want to work with people who are personable. This does not, however, mean “Fawn over the agent” or “Send a bushel of apples to the agent.”

2. Demonstrate knowledge of an agent’s list. This doesn’t mean you have to read every book they’ve ever soldI leave that job to my mombut by showing them you know a bit about who they represent, you’re telling agents you’ve done your research on who to query.

3. Do your research on who to query. Period.

4. Write a really amazing query. Which is to say: take your time, try describing your work multiple ways until you find the best approach, read successful queries online and have as many people as possible read yours so that you’re certain it makes sense and is a shiny apple.

5. Write a really amazing manuscript. Which is to say: take your time, put your work through multiple revisions, read published works in your genre, and consider joining a critique group or finding a writing partner whom you trust who can help make your manuscript a shiny apple. 

6. Don’t ask me, “Why all the talk about apples?” because if you’ve read my client Donna Gephart’s How to Survive Middle School, you already know it’s because I’m constantly daydreaming about Bubbe’s Jewish Apple Cake. But do ask other questions you may have. Be a part of the conversation. Agents want critical thinkers who take this getting-published thing seriously.

6 ½. Take this getting-published thing seriously. There’s plenty of fun to be had, but remember, this is a business, not a hobby or a get-rich-quick scheme. Agents want hard workers, writers dedicated to their craft who view getting published as the first step of a long journey, writers whom they will want to be with on that journey.

 

Tina Wexler, an agent at ICM, is predominately interested in middle grade/YA fiction and adult nonfiction. Tina currently serves on the board of the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature and is an active member of SCBWI.

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Intrepid Insider’s view of E-book Sales – The Real Deal

Opting to self-manage the publication of your book can be highly lucrative–and personally satisfying. For writers clutching a coveted publishing contract with a large publishing house, most of the marketing and promotion is still left to the one who wrote the book, with royalties split among agents, publishers and distributors. To earn more money and maintain control, the option of publishing yourself is worth checking out. But how?

R.S. Gompertz author of No Roads Lead to Rome has let us in on all the juiciest details: how he got started, what programs really work, and what kind of sales to expect. He’s even thrown in a coupon code to collect his E-book at a discounted rate. Now that’s an enterprising writer!

Here is his advice:

After a round of unsuccessful submissions, my first agent left to work on the digital side of a major publishing house. When my second agent suggested I rewrite my novel from her point of view, I realized what every indie rock band had known for years: Given how easy it is to publish and distribute, my success would boil down to talent and grit.

Just as iTunes turned the record industry on its ear, digital editions are transforming the publishing industry. So in October of 2009, I took the leap with a print and digital edition of my novel, “No Roads Lead to Rome.” (For the record, I also invented a new literary genre that derives from the equation: Farce + Satire = Fartire.)

I quickly found that E-books are to new authors what iTunes are to indie rock bands: an easy way to get your message out, generate some buzz, learn how to market and establish a platform for your work.

I use Lightning Source (LSI) for my print editions. They also have an E-book service but finding it fairly weak, I quickly turned to Amazon, the 800-pound gorilla of online book sales. Amazon’s Digital Text Publishing system is easy to work with and very well integrated with their powerful marketing, review, and recommendation engines and affiliate marketing tools. I keep about 25 print editions on hand to maintain stock at a few local stores and sell books at readings, author events and book groups.

LSI handles all print sales through Amazon and other online stores. After an initial surge of a few hundred print sales, I now “ship” mostly E-books, mostly through the Amazon Kindle channel. I can’t tell if this is a trend, but over the last few months, my Kindle edition sales have averaged about 2 per day — not a NYT bestseller, but not a lonely number either!

With Amazon, as long as you price your digital edition above $2.99, you’ll collect a 70% royalty. (It’s 30% if you’re selling your book for less.) Amazon is a “closed shop” in the sense that their E-books can only be sold in their proprietary Kindle format. Since the Kindle device is the market leader, and Amazon distributes free Kindle reading apps for iPads, smart phones and stone tablets, you won’t feel too fenced in.

Right now, Amazon offers Kindle editions in the US and UK. As an exercise, you should download a Kindle app to your device of choice, and then grab Amazon’s free guide book, cleverly titled:  Publish on Amazon Kindle with the Digital Text Platform.

Smashwords is the Swiss army knife of digital publishing platforms. Using a file intake system they call the “meatgrinder,” you can convert your document into most E-book formats including Amazon’s. Being able to port your tome to all formats is a wonderful thing. It means that you, the artist, don’t have to worry about all the competing formats and devices. Given its breadth of formats and channels, Smashwords also puts me in Barnes and Noble who’s oddly named Pubit system for E-book publishing was born after my book shipped.

Much of what I’ve said about Amazon also applies to B&N with their Nook device and online store. I’m currently investigating whether it makes sense for me to set up shop there or just fulfill B&N orders through LSI (print) and Smashwords (E-book). I highly recommend the free Smashwords marketing guide as a general source of good ideas.

Smashwords is also a sales platform that distributes your work out to all the major online E-book vendors. You collect up to 85% royalty as they track sales and collect payment.  They earn their percentage by taking care of all the technical details so you can focus on marketing and writing your sequel. Unlike Amazon, Smashwords allows you to create promotional discount coupons and offer commissions for others who sell your book.

This is so handy, I’ll offer a limited time only coupon right here. Use this code during November at Smashwords checkout for 25% off:  DS89J

In theory, you can restrict yourself to Smashwords because of its wide coverage.  I chose to use both services; Amazon for its dominant market presence and Smashwords to reach all the nooks and crannies that Amazon ignores. I’m not suggesting that anyone set aside their dreams of a traditionally published bestseller. I plan on touting my success as an indie author when I shop my sequel but  I now know that if the traditional path doesn’t yield for me, there are viable alternatives.

R.S. Gompertz is the author of “No Roads Lead to Rome,” a humorous novel set in the ancient world. www.noroadsleadtorome.com is where to find him.

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Filed under Best Writer Tips, Freelance Writing, Guest posts, Who is Writing What?

18 random thoughts about creativity – Not just for writers

What can we say about creativity? Joel Friedlander, a self-published author and book designer who blogs about book design, self-publishing and the indie publishing life at The Book Designer spends a lot of time being creative… and thinking about creativity.

“Where do ideas come from?” he asks. If you don’t know, that’s okay. Friedlander asserts, “nobody else knows either.”

But he does have 18 thoughts for you; please add yours in the comment box at the end of this article..

  1. You are absolutely unique, and what you have to offer the world cannot possibly be duplicated by someone else. Don’t minimize this.
  2. Other people may not understand what you’re doing, and this can sometimes be a very good sign. The trick is knowing when.
  3. Learn when to share an idea with a friend, and when to guard it like the most precious secret in the world.
  4. If you don’t take credit for good ideas when they simply happen to you, you won’t have to take the blame when you find out your idea won’t work.
  5. No one else can see what you can see, or has ever seen what you are seeing right now. This scene has never existed before and will never exist again.
  6. My father told me, “Never be the only one in a room doing something.” I believe he was only partly right.
  7. Let what you’ve created speak for itself.
  8. If you don’t believe in your work, support it with passion, champion it bravely, why should anyone else believe in it?
  9. Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Being productive in the world requires compromise somewhere along the way.
  10. Doing something worthwhile takes time—and training and preparation and resolve. You need to have some steel inside to see a big project through to the end.
  11. Being able to say “yes” to yourself is just as valuable as being able to say “no” to yourself.
  12. The letdown or “anticlimax” of completion never happens if you are present during the process of creation.
  13. Tools have never created anything. People create with whatever tools are available.
  14. Inspiration is beautiful but overrated. Persistance is at least as important, especially if you want to be a professional. Albert Einstein claimed he was no smarter than his colleagues, but that he worked at problems far longer than anyone else.
  15. Realize that most of the models we have of creativity are media depictions designed to appeal to our fantasies. Really being creative rarely looks the way you think it will.
  16. There’s nothing more common than “good ideas.” There’s nothing more satisfying than a good idea transformed from a possibility into reality in the world.
  17. You don’t need wild invention to be creative. William Shakespeare did not invent any of the stories he told in his plays, yet he is regarded as the greatest writer of all.
  18. If you imagine you can do something extraordinary, you’re more likely to take the steps necessary to achieve it. It’s taking those steps that sets you apart.

Go and create.

Joel Friedlander is also the proprietor of Marin Bookworks, where he helps publishers and authors get to market on time and on budget with books that are both properly constructed and beautiful to read. Subscribe to Joel Friedlander via RSS or E-Mail to get updated with all of the latest content from The Book Designer.

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Filed under Best Writer Tips, For the love of writing