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Writers: Dump your preconceptions (and your word processor)

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Just a quick note to say I’m back from The Writers’ Union of Canada Toronto symposium on the state of publishing. I’ll be going through my notes and giving out reviews and information a bit at a time in coming days as I unpack my notes and cogitate. The conference was packed with information to act upon. Sorry for the tease, but I’m busy setting up a new browser (Opera) and a new file management system (Dropbox) tonight. (Both are free and come highly recommended by a guy you should bookmark,  get to know, subscribe to and read assiduously: Ross Laird. More on that in a moment.)

I met  some nice potential clients and made a couple of new friends. Since last year’s experience  at two writers’ conferences I realize I’ve been impatient for people to catch up with my worldview. At one conference a publisher displayed a pathological resistance to e-book reality. At the next conference I met my first e-reader power user who pledged never to buy a p-book again. I’ve been harping on the change from vanity publishing to self-publishing and all that entails ever since. So it was that I became cynical about this weekend’s symposium. I was so used to the sound of my own voice saying “the future is now” — voice in the wilderness that I am — that I didn’t think anyone was catching up. In most ways, the Writers’ Union certainly has caught up and is forging ahead with the new publishing reality. (I’ll address how they haven’t changed in another post soon.)

The Nugget You Need Tonight

Tech guru Ross Laird opened his first lecture with this:


Note that he didn’t say it will be some day.

His message was strong: stop looking backward because the future of reading is on devices. Choosing self-publishing is to embrace a startling degree of freedom, fun, adventure, work and independence. Scary cool, huh? It was relief to hear someone articulate what I’ve been saying (although he’s more tech-oriented, glib and has slides.)

There is much to chew over from the symposium, but for tonight I’ll start you off with this link:

Read Ross Laird’s article on why you shouldn’t write on a word processor.


Tomorrow morning’s post:

How I Edit

I promise you’ll find this useful.

I’m deep into a heavy edit for a client this week but I’ll throw out some more gems I picked up at the symposium in coming days.

There is a lot of stuff happening all at once for me, this blog, my writing and my editing. It will take some time to get to it all.

Happy days.

It’s all scary cool.


Filed under: blogs & blogging, Books, DIY, ebooks, Editing, getting it done, publishing, Rant, self-publishing, Useful writing links, , , , , , , , ,

Writers: Why self-publishing sucks (and what you can do about it)


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A couple of years ago I put together a chapbook of poetry. A few seconds after I handed a copy to a beta-reader he found a mistake. It was a glaring mistake on the first page he turned to. Alas. Embarrassment is an emotion that can run through you, both hot and cold.

Typos, grammatical errors, consistency problems and a host of other plagues suck the credibility and professionalism from your manuscript. At least for me it was a beta-reader and, contrary to first impressions, the rest of the manuscript emerged clean.

Some writers see self-publishing as a shortcut. When writers treat the medium as the quick and easy path to becoming an author, that’s still vanity publishing.

When you approach it seriously and make sure your manuscript has been combed for problems, that’s publishing (nevermind the “self” part.) When you choose to self-publish, publish. Form a company. Be a publisher. Hire editors (yes, I’m aware of the conflict of interest, but if you are, too—yes, I edit—we’re covered.) Get proofreaders lined up.

Take it seriously and you will be taken seriously.

Filed under: authors, ebooks, Editing, Editors, getting it done, grammar, publishing, Rant, self-publishing, writing tips, , , , , , ,

Writers: DIY vs traditional publishing

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Last month I posted a piece in appreciation of director Kevin Smith after attending one of his Q&As.

Today I ran across Alex Greenwood’s guest post, Shoot the Gatekeepers on Shelly Kramer’s blog. It reminded me again of that indie spirit I love to see.

I’m not telling anyone to go independent exactly. Going rogue is not for everyone because not everyone has the entrepreneurial spirit.

You can find the knowledge and tech support you need to make it happen, but if you don’t want to do all that in the first place, it’s not for you. I guess that’s why I straddle the line here between traditional publishing and going indie. I talk about how to get an agent and a publisher. I also talk a lot about maintaining control of your work, DIY, and marketing yourself to the world. Authors from both sides of the coin need many of the same skill sets, anyway. For instance, even if you’re a traditionally published author, you’re crazy to depend on your publisher to promote and publicize you much at all and none of those efforts are sustained.

It’s frustrating when one entrenched camp mocks the other for their choices. It’s especially bad when those opinions are not so much informed as they are outmoded dogma. For instance, once again today I ran across writers and editors who fail to make a distinction between vanity publishing and independent publishing. I gritted my teeth. Then I found the link above, took a few deep breaths and smelled the roses of someone who gets it. Thanks for a solid post, Mr. Greenwood. I love the indie spirit.

Here’s the shameless plug: If going alone is for you, I’m an editor so I can help. However, if you’re going the traditional route, I’ve been on the inside, so I appreciate what you’re going through and can help with that, too. (At my business site you’ll find more information on getting editing help for your manuscript or web content.)

Here’s the crux: I love books, no matter how they’re produced. It’s about story! Love of story is at the heart. Contrary to what you’ve heard, the medium is not the message. I care much less about a book’s process to publication than I do its narrative. Sometimes I think people who fetishize paper over electronic books love stories much less than they think they do. They’re worrying too much about how the story go to their brains. Dump that worry. Just get your art out there!

Write your story. Make it the best you can. Send it to agents, publishers or directly to fans. Whatever. Just commit to art and the value of your creativity.

Filed under: DIY, getting it done, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Rejection, self-publishing, , , , , , , , , ,

Your Friday Afternoon Reward: publishing advice links!

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Will Technology Kill Book Publishing?

Organize Your Writing Business  by one of my favorites, agent Rachelle Gardner.

Top Ten Statements to Scare Off a Literary Agent

How Publishing Really Works: Reverse Vanity Publishing

Why Agents May be Opposed to Self-publishing

Raccah calls time on book publishers by theBookseller.com‏

Book Industry Problems

The e-Writer’s Place Writers Resource – 10 Tips For Writing Columns‏

Talking to Agents and Editors at Conferences

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , ,


Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

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