Tag Archives: self-publishing

Writing Update

writing, publishing, collections, story sales, Colleen Anderson, Deep Cuts

Creative Commons: Drew Coffman, flickr

It’s been another busy month with the written word in my world. I’ve done very little writing though I’m percolating a green man story and working on some poems. I am reading through stories coming in for Tesseracts 17, and Carolyn Clink and I are going through a few poems for Chizine.

On top of that, I’ve received word that my story “Red is the Color of My True Love’s Blood” will be in the Deep Cuts anthology to be published by Evil Jester Press in Feb. 2013. As well, “The Highest Price” was accepted for publication in the anthology Artifacts and Relics: Extreme Sorcery to be published by Heathen Oracle. My poem “Mermaid” was put up at Polu Texni on the 8th. It is done in the poetic form called a villanelle (which is also a dance). The villanelle has a particular rhythm and rhyme scheme where two lines are repeated in each verse until they come together in the final verse to possibly give a different meaning. It’s hard to write good rhyming poems these days as most writers are not trained in rhyme, nor even rhythm and the villanelle itself takes work. I’d like to try some other forms in the future.

writing, reprint collection, publishing, self-publishing, Embers Amongst the Fallen, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror

Embers Amongst the Fallen, art by Eric Warren

On the writing front, one way or another my book will be available during World Fantasy Con in Toronto. CreateSpace has been more difficult to wend my way through than Smashwords was. They make it a convoluted aspect for searching out royalties and shipping, and while shipping says nine days or five days, it’s hard to find out how long it takes to produce the book first. As it is, I’ll be hard pressed to get the books in time to take to Toronto.

While in Toronto, should you happen to be there, I’ll be doing a reading at the Art Bar Poetry series. It takes place Oct. 30, starting around 8:00 at the Pauper’s Pub (suitable for writers), 539 Bloor St. West. I’ll have copies of my poetry chapbook as well as (I hope) Embers Amongst the Fallen. Watch my blog as there will be a day before the end of the month where I will put the ecopy up on sale at Smashwords. As well, at World Fantasy Con I will be doing a half-hour reading on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 5:30 pm. Now I have to figure out what poems and fiction I’ll be reading. And if you do happen to buy my collection, please leave a review at Smashwords, Amazon or on Goodreads. If someone is willing to do a review now, contact me and I will send you a review ecopy.

So that’s my October so far. Very busy and a lot to do. I’m still trying to get another story up on Smashwords but I haven’t had time. Still looking for that time machine.

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How Do I Hate Thee, Word 2007

I’ve been formatting my book for printing at Createspace, due out this month. Since Embers Amongst the Fallen was already formatted for an ebook, the copy was clean, the headings matched, the front and back copy were done  and everything looked hunky dory.  But I needed to add a few elements that are different from an ebook.

writing, formatting for print, Word 2007 aggravation, Microsoft frustrations, bad programs

Word 2007 is a relationship that would end in a messy divorce. Creative Commons Stuartpilbrow

First, the ebook files had been  set with 1.5 spacing. For print, you want single spaced. That’s simple enough to do. I also wanted to drop cap the first letter of each story. That’s easy too, but don’t drop-cap quotation marks. Just remove them because you’ll never get them to look right.  Next is changing the table of contents to reflect no hyperlinks but page numbers. So page numbers are needed but here’s where it gets to be fun I’m an expert at Word but have found Word 2007 defies logic an intuition (Don’t let that pretty “ribbon” with all its graphics fool you–it’s an energy suck and they change everything around.)

Any copy that comes before the main body of text tends to be numbered with i, ii, vi, ix, etc. Roman numerals of the uncapitalized variety. This shouldn’t be a problem and didn’t used to be in the older versions of Word, or at least not as big of a problem. You start with i, ii, iii and then when you get to the front matter you switch to pages 1, 2, 3 by entering a break.  Consider these preliminary steps the part of a relationship where everything is new and fresh and you get to learn of the person’s interests and personality. Putting in the numbering is when you get to a firm commitment.

However, Microsoft figured out that they could give people more meaningful moments if they expanded the time-to-search ratio and placed things such as  breaks in two different areas, segregating “page breaks” from continuous, odd, even, section and other breaks. Except that you can find page breaks in this section as well but of course it takes more hunting. Already, one thinks, gosh I’m so glad I got to spend such long quality time within Microsoft Word. Just to help in developing a complex and deep relationship, they set these pages to link automatically to the previous section and should you have found the philosopher’s stone that tells you actually which type of break lets you move on to new numbering, as opposed to it wanting to continue the one you don’t want, then you might be in luck of getting it to work right. Because of course they work different and are linked to headers and footers as well.

Now, remember, I’m formatting a print book. This means there are recto (right hand) and verso (left hand) pages. You

Windows 2007, Word 2007, bad microsoft, formatting in Word, fomratting issues

Windows 2007 and I doubt Vista is better. It’s a broken relationship. Creative Commons: Deviantart LarsEliasNielsen

want your book (in Western countries at least) to start on the recto side, which are the odd-numbered pages as we all start reading at page 1. This means such things as dedication, acknowledgements, introduction, afterword, credits, contents and stories all should start on the recto page. You may have to add a blank page from time to time but keep the numbering going correctly. That’s no problem,  just as a page break shouldn’t be, but don’t make it a section break or some other unfathomed system because your numbering might just decide to start over. I believe it involves esoteric rituals and words of endearment to actually work correctly.

And let’s say you want to try something nice, like flowers to make your relationship better, or perhaps a header that says Colleen Anderson on the recto page but says Embers Amongst the Fallen on the verso page. Easy, right? All you do is click on the tab that says Different Odd & Even Pages. Voila, so simple, you don’t have to even work at this relationship. Oh, but wait. When you go back to look at your title and copyright pages the headers are showing. Insert a section break, but wait, the numbering now starts at page three. Delete the numbers, unlink from the previous section and go again. Okay, the numbers are going right, but now both headers say Colleen Anderson. Okay, fiddle back and forth and that should be good. Looking good.

Upload the file to Createspace and review it. What? All the numbers are lower case Roman. Go back, tinker with section and page breaks. Restart or continue numbering and run through it again. But now the text body shows the two different headers but the front matter shows only one header for both pages. But I entered them differently and everything is checked as different odd and even pages. Fix and go again. What? Now some of the headers missing. We’ve got to the point in the relationship where one says, “Where were you last night?” And you say, “I was working late.” This isn’t believed and you go around in circles rehashing the old info and even offering to call the office to verify. Back and forth and forth and back, and finally out of exhaustion the argument dies and the page numbers and headers look right. Please don’t find a typo at the stage or it could all flare up again, as it has before.

After counseling, many apologies, attempts to make things work a different way and finally a clean copy that comes through with everything on the correct side of the page, the numbering in the right order and the headers where they should be. The final is  up at Createspace and my designer is finishing the back cover and we’ll have copies in about 10-12 days, in time for arriving in Toronto.

Four hours. Yes, folks. As an experienced Word user it took me four hours on Word 2007, partly because I don’t use different headers and numbering all the time, but also  because this relationship is sadistic and malicious, and I would toss it out a high window if I could. As it is, I want a divorce and a big cash settlement.


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Writing Update: A New Frontier

This is the last week to get in nominations for the Aurora Award, one of Canada’s speculative fiction awards (also fan works and art). If you’re Canadian and want to nominate and vote you can go here to do so.

writing, publishing, self-publishing, anthologies, collection, Aurora Awards, poetry, fiction, speculative fiction

Creative Commons: Drew Coffman, Flickr

I was also shortlisted for the Friends of Merril contest. The results will be posted in the next day or two and while I don’t know who won, alas, it was not me. Writing is always an evolution and I’m always writing better than I did before but I still have work to do. Sometimes my pacing is off. It’s the elusive golden ring for me and I’m trying new ways to master this. My story was off on pacing and thus is did not win. But it was one of 9 shortlisted out of over 100. That’s not so bad.

I actually have a few stories right now in what I call the bridesmaid stage. They’ve made it out of the slush pile and the editor has contacted me to say they’re holding them for further consideration…but they have not yet been picked. I also looked at the edits for “Gingerbread People” due out in Chilling Tales 2 from Edge Publications in 2013 now. They edits were light and mostly punctuation/spelling related. This story was a look at the nature of evil; is the person who does the crime more evil than the

person who masterminds and gets the other person to do it. The idea came out of the true tale of Paul Bernardo and Carla Homolka, convicted serial killers who did horrible things to several teenage girls.

Self-publishing requires using all the marketing tools. Creative Commons: Kristina B, flickr

I’m also considering a new venture. I wanted to have a collection of my stories published. This would be mostly a reprintcollection, with one or two new tales tossed in. With stories, they sometimes appear in a magazine or anthology somewhere, for a brief time and are never seen again. It would collect those works and make them available to a wider readership. I thought of sending these to several publishers, but truth be told I’m not enough of a name for most publishers to consider my collection. There are many indie publishers who would but I think for a reprint collection I’m going to go the route of self-publishing.

Many people take this route but don’t do well. There are several things to consider; writing skill, editing, proofreading, distribution and marketing. Since I’m an accomplished (as in published more than once) writer as well as a freelance copyeditor, my work is going to be cleaner than a lot of self-published works. Plus these stories have been published at least once before. If I go with Smashwords and CreateSpace it covers the ereaders and print publication as well as distribution. Marketing is something that people have to do themselves these days. This  means posting to Facebook, doing Twitter, using Goodreads and this blog.  And, when I go to conventions I’ll need to promote there as well.

I have the collection mostly together already though I’m going to review the titles in there. I was going to call it Transformations and Temptations of the Wayward Soul but I might just call it Transformations and Temptations. This will be an interesting process and my first venture into self-publishing so I’ll post how it goes.  Stay tuned.

March has been a productive month writing wise. I’ve done two rewrites, finished and written three stories, started a fourth and worked a bit on the novel. I’ve also tentatively started a series of poems that will go under the title of A Compendium of Witches. Of course I hope to have 13 poems in that series.  And that’s the writing world to date for me.

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More Ways to Slaughter Your Career

Creative Commons: @daniel_nelson abduzeedo.com

The human race is capable of mighty deeds and also some pretty stupid ones. We already saw the editor who blew her career (and Food Source’s site) to kingdom come with her arrogance and ignorance in regards to editing and publishing.

Now here’s another end to the writing and publishing world. Writer’s who self-publish may have great works or really humdrum pieces or even gobbledy-gook that is completely unreadable. Some writers who decide to self-publish their works have the unassailable attitude that they are geniuses, their works are brilliant and anyone who doesn’t agree is a misanthrope or worse.

It would almost seem that people should know and understand this but many don’t. Some people have an idea and write it, without having any expertise as a writer. Expertise comes from practice and learning the techniques, and from what I can tell it’s a lifelong process. Publishing houses have editors and copyeditors and proofreaders who all work to make sure the manuscript is shipshape and will sell. If someone is going to self-publish, then they can serve themselves best by hiring a copyeditor, someone to at least go through and fix the grammatical issues.

So, it’s of interest when one Ms Jacqueline Howett was reviewed for her book The Greek Seaman on a blog titled Big Al’s Books and Pals and she did not react well. How badly did she react? Well, I read the review and the sample of her writing and as I read her responses I thought, “This can’t be real. Surely it’s a gimmick to get more hype.” But as I looked a little further and then found her own webpage I realized in fact this woman was real but had no clue. At first I thought she must be only about 12 years of age with the way she responded.

The reviewer says the story is quite interesting but the writing lags, and has numerous grammatical issues and typos, which garnered Howett only two stars. She responded that he didn’t download the correct version (why have the wrong version up). Al responded with posting just two passages of her writing:

“She carried her stocky build carefully back down the stairs.”

“Don and Katy watched hypnotically Gino place more coffees out at another table with supreme balance.”

WTF? I mean seriously, I would not have been as generous in giving two stars. Talk about Frankenstein sentences. How about this for a rewrite:

She carefully walked back down the stairs. (Frankly, it’s difficult to make this one very good at all and would need the context of the scene to rework it. It separates the person from their body in awkward phrasing and would have been better to describe her shape/size elsewhere.)

Don and Katy watched as Gino hypnotically set more coffees at another table. (I’m leaving out the “supreme balance” because I can’t tell if Gino is balancing himself or the coffees, and if he’s balancing them in his hands, on the tray or on the table.)

You can read the full interaction at Big Al’s but here are a few of her responses:

Look AL, I’m not in the mood for playing snake with you, what I read above has no flaws. My writing is fine. You were told to download a new copy for format problems the very next day while they were free at Smashwords, so you could choose any format you wanted to read it in and if their there were any spelling mistakes they were corrected. Simply remove this review as it is in error with you not downloading the fresh copy i I insisted. Why review my book after being told to do this, and more annoying, why have you never ever responded to any of my e-mails? My comments in italics, red for corrections. Wow! She’s accusatory and demanding. What the hell is “playing snake?” She can’t see any errors in her writing. She can’t capitalize “i”, she doesn’t use commas.

And please follow up now from e-mail.
This is not only discusting disgusting and unprofessional on your part, but you really don’t fool me, AL Al. Hmm, discusting?  Al is in all caps, maybe for emphasis; again no use of comma. How can I believe she knows how to write if her comments here are an example of her writing style? Let’s not even get into the highly inflammatory and juvenile language.

Who are you any way anyway? Really, who are you?
What do we know about you? And no one expects the Spanish Inquisition. I wonder if she’s forgotten to take some medications as this has nothing to do with a review.

You never downloaded another copy, you liar!
You never ever returned to me an e-mail I’m not even through all her subsequent curses but I started to think she was a teenager at about this point, though many of them talk way more maturely.

Besides, if you want to throw crap at authors you should first ask their permission if they want it stuck up on the internet via e-mail. That debate is high among authors. Hooboy, yet another example of how people don’t understand a process. Reviewers review. They don’t need permission, and yes everyone is entitled to an opinion but Ms. Howett exhibits arrogance and that she just thinks she’s entitled. What’s debated or discussed more amongst authors is the self-righteous self-publisher and some of the crap that is published. No one debates the right of someone to review anything.

Your You’re the target not me!
Now get this review off here! Demanding, and the wrong use of “your.” Try “you’re”, Jacqueline.

I skimmed through the some 300 comments (before comments were closed) and Jacqueline’s tone gets worse until she’s just saying “F–k off!” At least she spelled that correctly. Although she’s gaining notoriety (can we say viral) and maybe even a few sales from this, I doubt that many people will bother to read her book because it’s not edited and because of her rant that paints her as someone lacking any nobility and just a temper tantrum waiting to get uglier. If you’re thinking of publishing anything, even if it’s self-publishing, please don’t even walk beside Howett’s footsteps, let alone in them. And get a proofreader.

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Harlequin Begins Vanity Press

Anyone who knows anything about vanity presses knows that they’re not respected on several levels when it comes to publishing and being published. A vanity press is called thus because it caters to a would-be writer’s vanity. In other words, a work may be published without any editorial process taking place. This means any piece of drek, shopping list, or untethered ramblings will be printed if one has the funds to bring it to fruition.

Vanity presses often take advantage of unsuspecting new writers who aren’t aware of the full process. For a fee the press will publish your book. Or you have won a contest and your poem/story will appear in the lovely print edition and you can order a copy for $34.95. The publisher doesn’t pay you for your work and basically puts your work, no matter how bad, into the volume so that you, your friends and family will buy copies to show that you’re a published author, not realizing that this isn’t the real realm of publishing.

What happens is that writers are paying the publisher and that’s who buys the books. It isn’t readers interested in the story, just a very small group or just the writer. Little to nothing is spent on marketing and what is, is aimed at the person who submitted the work.

In the past I submitted poems to a poetry contest, only to find out I had “won” and that it was a vanity press. I withdrew my pieces and never looked at those “publishers” again. Self-publishing is also considered vanity press even if someone else (a printer or book packager) puts the book together. A person who pays on their own (as opposed to so-called winners) to have a book edited, laid out, printed and bound is usually considered to be vanity publishing unless they’re trying to put out other books besides their own. They might still have to go through the very hard work of marketing and distribution. Without these important elements, the books sit in the basement.

Small presses should not be confused with vanity publishing. Those who venture on their own to publish their books do so for a variety of reasons. The book may have been turned down by agents and publishers, or the person may want to get a message out there or just sell on their own for whatever reason. Sometimes a self-published book is picked up by a major publisher. But that is a very rare thing. Otherwise, a person makes a cost outlay of anywhere from $1000 to $10,000-plus for editing, production and publishing of their book and if they’re lucky, they may recoup what they put into it. Often they don’t make back their cost so the pay to play.

It is alarming and very odd when a  well-established publisher decides to start another imprint whose sole purpose is to be a vanity press. Harlequin is the biggest romance publisher in the world and has a huge sell-through rate on their titles. They shouldn’t be hurting for money. But they decided to team up with a print-on-demand vanity press call Author Solutions. After outcries from the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Harlequin has taken the name of Harlequin Horizons off of the imprint.

Harlequin reported amazement and as of today changed the name to DellArte Press Book Publishing Services. However, RWA said Harlequin books would not be eligible for any awards and SFWA said all Harlequin books/stories would not count as eligible as a membership fulfillment unless they removed themselves from self-publishing. I doubt the name change will be enough for RWA and SFWA.

I can’t help but wonder why Harlequin even needs to get involved. They’ve been branching out into supernatural and SF romance and shouldn’t need to dupe dewy-eyed writers into parting with money to see their names in print and in hopes of getting to be a Harlequin author. Letting a would-be author think they have a chance of getting their story picked up by first self-publishing it is disingenuous. I checked out DellArte, which has little price packages that start at $599 to $1,599, but that only gets you 5 to 25 free copies, and after that you’re paying extra. That doesn’t cover a full edit at all either and even at $342 (editing services)  it will give you a partial review of a chapter or two. You’ll pay for other copies and I’m sure by the time you’re done you’ll have forked out at least $5,000. If the cover price of a trade paperback (the size they’re advertising) is $14.99 (very cheap and probably higher) and you get it at say, 40% off of cost (the regular retailer discount), that means you make $6 and would need to sell around 833 copies to break even.

Not that many if you’re marketed like Stephen King. But chances are there is little marketing and you’ll have to do most on your own. DellArte offers in the upper end of prices a standard publicity program, which really amounts to a written press release. You still have to do the marketing and distribution is probably all in your lap. So you’re in the same seat as if you went out and found a printer on your own. I’d be interested to know why Harlequin even thought they needed to do this. For various takes on this, follow the links.




I also wrote them as if I was a new author with my book ready to publish in 1-3 months. They said someone would get back to me and what I received was a computer generated reply, which follows:

Congratulations on starting a new chapter of your life by exploring self-publishing. We are glad you contacted DellArte Press to start your publishing journey.
DellArte Press is designed to help aspiring romance and women’s fiction writers publish their books and achieve their dreams. No matter what the end goal for your book is we have the resources and staff to help you reach that goal. Our professional support team will walk with you every step of the way, so please let us know how we can assist you.
Your first chapter in publishing is to explore our Standard and Specialty Publishing Packages. Please visit our Publishing Packages page on our Web site to see how each package uniquely meets your publishing needs. We also offer additional services you can add to your package to give your book the professional and polished edge it deserves.
We’re here to help you select the best package for you, and we’ll be in touch soon to discuss your specific book and your goals. If you are ready to get started right away, you can call us at(877) 217-3420 or e-mail
Publishing with DellArte Press offers several advantages:
Discovery Opportunities – Titles published through DellArte Press will be monitored for possible pickup by DellArte’s traditional imprints
Global Distribution – Extensive distribution networks through Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com and others ensure that your book can be purchased by anyone, anytime, anywhere
Creative Control – It’s your book from start to finish
Professional Editors – Choose to utilize our editors to ensure your book is error free
Effective Marketing – Hire a publicist, have a video book trailer created, set up an author Web site and more
Accessible Support – Easy access to our professional support staff so you’re never left to answer questions on your own
Next Steps: Define Your Desire
Your next step is to define your goals and desires for your book. Whether you want to publish just for fun or to achieve commercial success, we can help. One of our Publishing Consultants will work with you to determine the best options for your publishing needs so your goals are met. In the meantime, if you have questions, please call (877) 217-3420 or visit our Web site at
We understand that your time is precious and you may not always have a lot of time for yourself. We encourage you to indulge your passion for writing and begin the next chapter of your life as a published author. We look forward to working with you to help make that dream come true.

The Dell Arte Press Team
DellArte Press
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
Phone: (877) 217-3420
Fax: (812) 355-1561


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Writing: Mass Marketing & Book Stores

Yesterday I wrote about the demise of bookstores and received this reply from Carolyn Gordon http://creativewellness-carolyn.blogspot.com

I found this an interesting look at the book shop industry. My position on this is as a writer and avid reader. I have to admit I don’t have terribly books published as yet, and I get most of my books from the library, but I have a few ideas.

I’m wondering about the rise in self-publishing. I feel partnerships of self-publishers and independent booksellers could really make a go of it if they got organised.
Self-publishers would have a place to distribute their books, booksellers would have a large range of quirky books to sell.

Maybe I’m a dreamer who had fantasies of running a bookshop and reading books all day, but it’s an idea. Ideas are good things, aren’t they?

Of course all publishers have distribution warehouses, whether their own or a contracted one, with reliable shipping and distribution. If the publisher is a small press, they may mail out/ship their own books. Distribution is the hardest part of the game. You might have the greatest book since the Bible but if people don’t see it, they can’t buy it. The other part of this is, of course, advertising.
Now we get to Carolyn’s point about self-publishers and independent book sellers. The problems I just mentioned can affect the self-published author. How do you advertise and distribute your book? Should you be successful in advertising, how do you get the book to a hundred different bookstores across the country and in a timely manner? I have edited a fair number of manuscripts, some of them then self-published to different success levels. The most successful was the one called Where to Walk Your Dog in Vancouver. Ross had me edit for grammar, consistency and style, as well as checking the page proofs. He did his own layout and then took the book to a printers. The cost breaks are usually at 2000 books. He also found someone to distribute his book and it was region specific. He sold out his first run.
With mass market publishing, publishers may print 50,000-100,000 books or more…or less. Hardcovers would start at 2000 and go up depending on the popularity of the author. This model may have changed in recent years, which I found out when I asked a published friend when her book (in hard cover and trade paper) was going to go into mass market. She said her books didn’t sell enough to warrant mass. In the days of old new authors would be published in the paperback format first and only if their names and stories caught on would they go to hard cover or trade. Nowadays the publisher would rather only make 2000 books than have 45,000 returned.
So a self-publisher may have to deal with what to do with books that don’t sell. It may be bite the bullet and leave them there until they’re put in the super cheap discount bin, or going around to local bookstores dropping off and picking up copies. At the bookstore I was at we sometimes had local people come by with books and comic/graphic novels. They were often sold on consignment, which can be 60-40, 50-50, 40-60 or any other amount in between. Often the books didn’t sell and the author never came back for them.
Self-published books can also range from really good to abysmal. There is no editor or publishing house saying, this doesn’t meet a set of standards. At the same time when publishing houses have a set limit on what they can and will publish it allows an author another way for their work to be seen. A smart author will get some professional copy editing. It will make the book look more professional but there is no guarantee that it will sell. Understanding or paying someone for graphic design and layout will also help.
So yes, a bookseller might take self-published books but it would take some severe dedication on the part of the the self-published author. There is the in-between world of print on demand (POD), which is being used moreso by authors and publishers, especially those that run small presses. I don’t know enough about this area to talk knowledgably on it yet.

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