Sunday, December 23, 2012

On Moving Ahead This Season

JP is cooking with gas. Simple as that. She is full throttle on my book which is a good thing. Vlad is working on my webpage, and he is doing a good job too. I've never been so pleased during this Christmas season. It's almost as if I got a Christmas present early this year. I'm also working on my other manuscripts, editing and re-editing them to try to make them the best I can befrore handing them over to JP to comb through. She's amazing how she finds even the smallest point or error.

As an author, you have to get used to your editor. Some editors breeze over your pages and don't catch much but grammatical mistakes. Some editors work with the story to keep the flow going and the images crisp in the mind of the reader. Some editors will re-write your work until your voice is forever gone. There are different degrees of an editors skill and how much work they're willing to do. You have to find one that suits you.

Maybe you don't like your voice and would rather stick to story development and a full reworking of your manuscript is what you want. Maybe you are more interested in the pace and imagery of your story, and to have someone polish your vision is your goal. Or maybe you think you're the man (or woman) and you don't want anyone touching your prose unless there is a solid, legitimate reason that suits you. There is an editor out there for everyone.

JP was made for me. I feel it. At first, I have to say, I had some serious apprehensions because I just could not believe that my grammar was so appalling. It looked as if I was writing on a grammar school level and poorly at that. There was never a single page that was not hemorrhaging red. I was crestfallen and defensive all at the same time. Every correction I balked against, every refinement I questioned critically. But I decided to just read through the changes and see what everything looked like when a sample of the editing was allowed to pass through. So I did just that.

What I got was light, airy prose, that flowed smoothly from one idea to the next. They were my words, just refined. It was still my voice, just made prettier. I was pleased with the three or four pages that I fully reviewed her corrections. Now we are churning out pages and I've never been so proud of something that I've breathed life into.

Now I have even more time to concentrate on the evolving story as it covers a series of books. This is much harder than it looks. The span of time from one idea to the other, from one character's motivation in one book to the other, from even descriptions of people, places, and things are delicate to say the least. As your book turns into books, your characters multiply, growing exponentially almost. These charaters change and develop, and you have to keep track with their facial features, their understanding of the world around them and how they affect it.

I keep track of facial features by making a Word document with images that I pull off the Internet. I pull faces off of web pages and modeling agencies and don't panic, they are for my own use. But these varied faces keep my characters firm in my stories, as well as provide a place for other pertinent information and motivations with each page of the Word document.

I also bought a program that I'm using and I have to say that I'm still ambivalent about it. I haven't yet unleashed the power of it, and it will take a little getting used to before I can. The program is called SCRIVENER and it's supposed to be a tremendous aid to writers in dealing with book spanning stories and I have to say, from what little I can get out of it now, it does a pretty good job. It allows you to be flexible with your scenes, track information either across the project or just in a certain scene, or search your document and save the search for easy retrieval. The manipulation of your work is possible to an amazing degree.

But what I like the best about SCRIVENER is that it allows you to pull photos and documents from the web or other programs directly into your project for later reference. When you cover a lot of ground on the Internet, picking up documents to educate yourself on unclear matters, you end up with a lot of incidental material all over the place. In PDF files, in web page links, in Word documents, they vary and they multiply. With SCRIVENER you can pull all of these documents in one place, a collection of documents under the label RESEARCH where you can then name them individually so that you will remember what's in the file and store it in any order you wish. Then, when you are working on your project and you need to take an aside to review or refresh yourself on the information that you have gleaned, it's an easy matter of retrieval.

I'm not giving SCRIVENER a glowing recommendation simply because I have not gone though all of it's abilities yet, or its faults. But I do appreciate it greatly now and I have to say I am pleased with it.

Well, that's my overview of what's going on with me. My publication date now looks like it's fast approaching, and I know there will be a pause over the Christmas season, as well as no doubt another pause during the New Years celebrations, so I expect my book to be completed sometime in February, but the good thing is that my author platform is shaping up nicely and at some later date I would like to talk about that some.

Till then, have a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On Using Contractors

Sandy hit us all where it counted the most. The strange thing is that I am totally unscathed by the storm. Not even a minor inconvenience. Nothing, but JP has been without power and hot water and I don't know what happened to Vladimir and his company. Yeah, that's right, I sent Vladimir a check to get started on my web page. Then the storm, and then nothing. He didn't even cash the check. Nothing. Maybe it got lost in the mail system which has also undergone some surprising outages and difficulties. Maybe this is the reason that I haven't heard from him.

I've spoken to JP and she also had bad news for me. The storm had set her back and it won't be until December before she can get back to me and start working on my manuscript. That seriously blows my Christmas release of Cover of Darkness. This may even get in the way of a New Years release. I have to say that I'm not stunned or hurt over this. My thinking now is that the book will be completed, but in its own time. Nothing that I do can speed it up, or conversely slow it down. The book has a life of its own, and I'm a simple custodian. My job is done. I wrote the damn thing. I'm a writer and that's all I do. I'm not an editor, web page designer, cover designer, proofreader.

That's what you have to understand when you're becoming your own publisher, you are not in as much control as you think you are. That is the thing that is most disconcerting. Further, without good references, you are going out and finding contractors to do your work for you and you are trusting in them to get the work done. You are depending on them not to rip you off. That is the rub. You are just building your manufacturing base. This is crucial if you want to get your book in the hands of your prospective readers. Even after everything is finished and done, you are stuck with marketing and promoting your book. Further areas where you'll have to depend on others to get the word out about your novel. What are you going to do then?

You are going to reevaluate what you do and what you are. You will be wearing many hats, but you will be managing even more. First and foremost, you are a simple writer. Your jobs will expand and touch on a number of things in self publishing but you will still only be a simple writer.

Your book will get done, especially if you persevere, but the long and the short of it is, it's like a Mars Lander, which travels millions of miles to the planet, strikes the orbit, separates its landing portion and down it drops. On Earth, at JPL, they separate the orbiter from the lander and then hold onto their hats. The Lander, the Orbiter the trip into the atmosphere, all under the control of the luck of the draw. Their monitors go static and they chew their nails. Minutes later their monitors come on, the radio kicks in, and the Lander reports that it's okay.

Your book is the Lander and you are the engineers at JPL. You build it, do the best job that you can, and then others, plus the luck of the draw will do the rest. It's launched by other contractors, steered into orbit by other contractors and then landed by luck and other contractors and there you have it. It goes into space and you watch it leave. The same with your book after you write it. Other contractors do their part and you aim for the stars. That's the beauty of it all...'re not alone. You're never alone.

Gregory Delaurentis

Thursday, October 25, 2012

On Moving Along

What can I say? I'm an impatient person. I want things to come together, especially when my engines are running and I'm excited to get the job done. That's the thing about me, I'm a go getter and a hard charger. But I've been put into a holding pattern by my professionals that are supposed to be helping me wrap all this up. They are my real creative team. I'm not so creative. I'm just a writer, a key-puncher. I do it because I have to. I need to. These people do their thing because they love it, they're creative and their work is an expression of their creativity.

Well, Damon came though. Yes he did. The other day I got an email from him with two proofs for my book cover. I was overjoyed, because I felt mobile again, I felt as if progress was being made. I looked over the two proofs and it was a no brainer for me. The first one was the one that I actually envisioned. I saw it long before it was made, and it looked exactly like the first proof. The second proof was just too busy to use. The faces were all over the place. Next it was time to make any tweaks to the cover that I felt necessary. I looked it over and there were just two major things that stood out. My black character was given a black shirt, but as I shrank the picture down to postage stamp size, which is how my readers will be seeing it on Amazon and other retailer's web pages, his shirt looked like a black hole, just a black void in the center of the book cover. I needed that changed.

Then a friend of mine brought out a point. Yes, I got four people to give me their honest opinions of the cover and the first two were so way off base that I discarded their suggestions. But my third and fourth persons were right on the money. The title on the first one was the best because it obscured the image of the city the least, and that the tower in the center seemed to be aimed at the jugular vein of my main character, the white guy, in the front.

Also, one of my four critics was JP. I wanted her opinion of the cover because of anyone, she knew the most about the story. Secondly, I wanted to enervate her, to light a fire under her, to get back into the swing of things and work on my book and stop relegating it to the bottom of her work pile. I hoped that this made things tangible for her. She was excited to have a chance to put in her input and I was excited to have it.

Damon made the changes immediately and the second go round was better than the first. It was an awesome cover, just like his website says Damonza's Awesome Book Covers. I highly recommend him if you want a good cover done fast and at a reasonable cost.

But Karma has a way of giving you what you ask for...if you bitch hard enough. And I guess I was doing a lot of bitching because my soon-to-be webmaster, Vladimir, at Webmaster Studios got in touch with me about moving forward. I sent him the proofs of my cover and he wrote me back that he's ready to do an incredible job as soon as I sign the contract and send him his money. This sounds good to me. We revised the contract to suit my needs and now I'm ready to move ahead even on that. In two weeks we'll have that put together and the framework for the book will be complete. Then comes putting it all together into a coherent whole so that I'll have a marketing platform to work from.

From that platform, I'll have the basic thrust of my campaign to get my book to the masses. Hopefully, all this work that I have done and am doing is on par with the book itself. I hope the caliber of my writing is the same as the work of all these people bringing their talents and skills to bear on my behalf.

Like I said, they are the creative ones. I'm just a writer.

Gregory Delaurentis

Friday, October 19, 2012

On Exercising Patience

It's all a waiting game. That's what I'm thinking now. Here I am waiting... waiting for all the profes- sionals in the mix to come up with their end of the equation. That's the wait, that's what I'm sitting on my hands for. Let's take this waiting game one issue at a time and we'll see what I intend to do.

I have been recently waiting on JP to finish up with the editing of the first draft of the Cover of Darkness. That is the first wait. She is an editor with a great deal to do, which I don't mind. I love the fact that she is prolific actually. She also does a bang up job with my editing, which is desirable to me. So she told me that she would be starting up on working on my book again on the first of October. This was in September. Okay, what can I say to that other than to be patient. She'll start on it in two weeks. Alright, October rolls around and in the middle of October I get an email from her that says now that she will not be able to start work on my manuscript until the first of November because of her present responsibilities.

Now this is somewhat troubling to me. Here it is that I was told that I was given a date to start, after she started once. Then I'm told that I have to make due with another start date. I'm a very literal person, and if someone says that they will give me something on this date, and they don't. Then that's called a breach of contract. Then if they change the terms and tell me they'll give me something on another date, how can I not doubt the veracity of the person? Will they give me what I want? I don't know.

Now, it is true that I did say that we will follow JP's timetable because she was too busy to take on my project from the very beginning. I agreed to this, so this is the overarching contract. But she made the terms to the sub-contract that was breached. So here I am, waiting, now, a full month, with nothing from my editor.

So, what should a writer do? Well, when given time, a writer should write. Period. So I went ahead and started working on revisions. Here's the thing: JP had finished the first 40 pages of my manuscript and sent it to me with the admonition not to go ahead and re-edit it before she finishes with the entire manuscript. Well, I did follow this advice until the middle of October, then I went ahead and made my massive changes per her notations in her edit.

The reason why I did this was because I had finished with the third book of the trilogy, Pale of Darkness. I moved on and did what I had initially set out to do, which is complete the third book before having to go back and re-edit the first. Well, here I go. I finish so what actually is there left to do? Re-edit the first. Therefore I went ahead and made my changes...and finished it. So now what? What do I do now? Can you believe that I've started the FOURTH installment of the series? Cries of Darkness. I pray that I don't finish a fourth book before I get work back from my editor.

But I'm not harping on her, maligning her, or complaining about her. She does a good job, it's just that I feel that my work has been relegated to the bottom of the barrel. Further, what are my chances, as the year closes out, that on the first of November I will get an email from JP stating that because of her workload my manuscript will be edited on the first of December? It happened before, it can happen again, as many businessmen will tell you. If you have a tenant paying rent, and they stop paying for one month, what are your chances that it will be repeated the second month? Unknown, but possible. That's why in business, all you have are you balls and your word. If you give up either...well you get my drift.

On top of this, I have a master plan in the weeks ahead. I would like JP to finish her edit, so that I can make the needed changes. Then I want to give it to another editor that I've found, LV for a final edit. While LV is doing the final edit, I want to see if JP will be amenable to undertaking the task of editing my sequel. This is another reason why I am patient with her, because I want to stay in her good graces. Yes, I am the one over the barrel, I'll admit to that. So the ball is in her court. I can only hope that she is a more conscientious businesswoman than editor. When does it become evident that to continue relegating my work to last place because I have a softer deadline is simply unfair?

However, I have not been just sitting on my laurels. I've moved ahead, as you well know and started working with Damon on the cover of the book. This is a good thing, I'm urgently needing this book cover to start the rest of my marketing. With the completed book cover, I can then move forward with the web pages.

So I'm waiting for that. I'm waiting and waiting, and now, on top of the manuscript, I'm waiting on the book cover. Damon also has a soft deadline, meaning, I have to be patient. His web site swears on a fast two day or three day turnaround, and it's been five now and no word. So I guess I'll have to wait again for the product of another professional.

I have to learn to exercise patience. I've waited a year to finish the work, what's a few months more? I also would like to advise you that if you have soft deadlines, or no deadlines at all, you are at the mercy of the person that is working for you. Be really ready to be patient, or you'll just tear your own hair out. If you want a deadline, you had better make it clear. But here's the thing: With expediency do you lose creativity? Do you want someone to do a slapdash job just to get your work out of the way on time? That's the question.

Well back to the beginning. It's a waiting game, and it appears that you need to sit on your hands, even though I'm chomping at the bit to move ahead with my marketing of the book if not the book itself.

Well, since I'm in a holding pattern in every direction I turn, what's a writer to do?


Cries of Darkness...I know it was supposed to be a trilogy, but, here goes nothing.

Gregory Delaurentis

Sunday, October 14, 2012

On Marketing Moves

Moving towards the middle of October. The nights in the city are cool. The days are surprisingly warm and delightful. The trees are stubbornly beginning to turn, and I am working tirelessly on my upcoming book. I have been busy since my last post. When I left off, I had finished paying BOOKBABY.COM for their Premium Publishing Package and I sent them an email to ask about the website and book cover design. I expected them to double talk their way through not doing either, and true to form, they tell me, “I'm sorry, but our services can only be used after you upload your manuscript. We're simply not set up to offer any of them "a la carte". Here's the thing: that's not what their website says. They say when you make your payment you get 60 days free on their website hosting and $30.00 discount on your book cover design. It does not say that you have to upload your book first before you can avail yourself of these things. I called them up and got this really powerful woman who, instead of answering any questions, intended on steamrollering me with her explanation. I got my point off through tedious repetition. If you repeat something over and over again, people get the message that if they don't shut up and listen, you'll bury them with your repeating the same thing.

But even after getting her to understand just how stupid her reasoning was which she continually tried to cram down my throat: “You wouldn't have your book cover or website available before your book is ready because people might want it right away.” She is either a person that is really lost, or will say anything to explain away a serious limitation in their services. I'm not really complaining about BOOKBABY.COM, I think their services so far are beyond parallel, but this is the only thing about them that I think could use improvement. The marketing of your book should come out long before the book is released. I'm not talking about a year before, like two weeks to a month. That way you can build up a buzz before people start panning your book. Not that I'm expecting my book to be panned, I do realize, however, that it will not appeal to everyone.

But never mind. I was enervated by talking to her to DO something now before JP finishes editing the book itself. It's time to get the ball rolling in spite of silly BOOKBABY.COM. Since they will take any book cover designed anywhere else, I decided to find a good book cover designer like I found a great editor. So I put in a search term in Google and found a few designers. I looked over a few, which appeared kind of pedestrian until I came across DAMONZA'S AWESOME BOOK COVERS. I have to say, the books on the site JUMP RIGHT OUT and KICK YOU square in the FACE!!! WOW! Bruce Lee would be proud. I looked at their sample book covers and was mesmerized by all of them. I didn't see a book cover that I didn't like.

I read through the site and acquainted myself with the details and then I did what I call a character search. I put in the name of the company to look for any complaints. I dug around here and there and could find nothing but praise for the company. With this in mind, I took the plunge again and paid the 50% down payment to have the people begin working on the book cover. You have to first fill out a form where you describe what you want the cover to look like. So I went into detail about the story and the cover and sent it off. Almost immediately, I got a reply. Damon wanted more information, and explained some of the difficult to understand issues. We built an instant correspondence, going back and forth, quite rapidly at least a dozen times as he began building the book cover on his end, and he was very professional and cordial.

I've got a tremendously good feeling about this move. I can continue to put together my book without waiting for BOOKBABY.COM. I'm beginning to believe that it's not good to put too much of your project into the hands of one company or person. After I gave Damon enough information to go ahead and construct the cover, I moved on to the web page design. Once again, I did a Google search and came up with several prospectives. I stopped at the second choice after seeing it's sample web pages. Very smart, very sophisticated, and just what I needed to launch my book. Not as generic, cookie cutter as with Bookbaby, where all of their web pages look somewhat similar...this was a company that made unique, high quality pages with a number of perks to go with it, but at a price. Yes, the company was pricey but well worth it if you are looking at any substantial R.O.I. (Return Of Investment). The old biblical saying is that you reap what you sow. If that is the case, if I skimp on the things in the beginning, I will get back meager returns in the end. Therefore, I asked this company, Webmaster Studio for their information, and they right away called me back, speaking to me over the phone. We spoke of a contract and what should go into it, and with that being done they emailed it to me.

I read over it carefully, checking this point, correcting that point to my liking and mailed to back. They had no problems with my changes, especially the fact that I wanted to be free to investigate SEO in connection with my web page (Search Engine Optimization) that uses search engines such as Google and Yahoo to drive web surfers to your site. The more eyeballs on my book, the better the R.O.I. There are a hundred and two other perks that I can avail myself of as I move forward in time after the book release. This was important to me, and this was one of the many reasons why I chose the more expensive Webmaster Studio. I also did my due diligence, searching the web for any negative reviews of the company and finding nothing but good mentions in articles.

I have not signed or paid the half of the job costs down for the contract as of yet. I need to have my content worked out as well as my book cover art completed before putting it all together and handing it over to a webmaster. So, that being said, I am way ahead of the time for implementation and have to put the contract on the shelf until these criteria are met.

However, I am pleased with my choices and am ready to go ahead with putting the marketing framework of the book together. By the time Bookbaby distributes the book itself to the online retailers I hope to have a Facebook Page, a Web page, a blog (this one) and my merchant pages all set up and running at full steam.

It's all about timing. I'm hoping that I can wrap all of this up and get it churning before Christmas. There's nothing like the gift of an e-book for Christmas.

Gregory Delaurentis

Sunday, October 7, 2012

On Following in the Steps of Others

Well, I'm moving on at a good pace with my book, the first of the trilogy. Today I came across an e-book from a website by an author who has laid out a road-map for anyone interested in self-publishing. Her name is J.F. Penn and she has already self-published two books that have done exceedingly well. She has a multi-function site (website/blog) where she offers a very informative e-booklet called the AUTHOR 2.0 BLUEPRINT. You can find her here at THE CREATIVE PENN.

Well, I spent the day reading her e-booklet, and it's so chocked with information that it's going to take me even longer to go through all of the beneficial links. What was really insightful, and what I had somewhat learned from reading the blog from an e-publishing site, BOOKBABY.COM, is that a good marketing tool for your book is Facebook Pages. Facebook Pages are nothing like Facebook because its purpose is not to keep you connected to the everyday life of everyone of your family and friends, instead it introduces you and your work to anyone interested in finding more about you. It's a professional connection that your readers can use as a conduit straight to you.

I put it together in a few minutes and tried to use another site called PAGEMODO.COM to design it. Pagemodo is supposed to be a simple way to make high quality Facebook Pages for a price, but it didn't work. I spent half the day trying to log into it without making ANOTHER Facebook Page, but couldn't get it to do anything but market to me. So, I gave up on it and decided to go it alone. I have to say, I did a simple approach using one of the apps in the Windows 7 operating system called PAINT. A very easy program that allow you to manipulate, on a limited basis, your photographs. I took one of my photos that I like, put my name and sub-title on it and then cropped it to fit the headers on both my Blog-site and my Facebook Page. When done, I was quite pleased with myself. You can see the fruit of my work above on this blog-site. Nothing really involved, but it does look better than the generic header and wallpaper that you get with the BLOGGER application.

Then I went into the third book of my trilogy. I've pushed myself over this weekend...well maybe not pushed but flew through the writing to practically the last chapter. The book was coming together like lightning, so I stayed behind the keyboard to get it done. I seem to amaze myself by just letting the characters do their thing and not really worry about the direction of the story or where I want it to go. It's like it's on autopilot. Or maybe being piloted by the characters and not being forced or pushed about by me to fit a conclusion that might not be organic. I really don't know how this works but it does.

Further today, I drew more from the AUTHOR 2.0 BLUEPRINT, which was an entire self-publishing road-map. So, what I did was take a flowchart template from VISIO and made the road-map into an easy to follow diagram that I can chart for myself. This will work fine for me to decide what actions to take next so that I don't waste time working on things that don't fit in with the plan to self-publish by Christmas. That's my deadline, Christmas.

Finally, today I did it. I went to BOOKBABY.COM and paid for the Premium Package. Yeah, I did it, and the tons of benefits that come with it. Overall, this is the book distributor that I've decided to go with, so since this is the case, why not take the plunge and get the money part of this out of the way. Also I wanted to work on my book cover, which they do for an extra charge, and the website for the book, which BOOKBABY.COM gives you free for 60 days. Here's the thing: I was ready to work on these tools and found that I can't get to them without first uploading my book to the distributor. This messed me up because I wanted to get these things out of the way before the book came into being so that when I was done with it, it would come into the world with all these support tools already in place.

But it looks like you have to do the book first, which makes no sense to me. So I still have to wait for JP to finish editing, and for me to finish revising, and then JP to do a proofread of it before going to the distributor. Which means it's going to be a long time before I can get all these things out (Book cover/web site). I sent BOOKBABY.COM an email asking about this oversight, but we'll see what reply I'll get from them on Monday. Probably a stupid one...”Oh, the 'program' is not designed to do that”, “Oh, I can't do that,” or “Oh, we never thought of that.” All of the above means that they'll not allow me to get these things out of the way first.

So I'm seriously on my way now. If you think I'm doing good so far, and since I haven't gotten hung up in any scams or problems, I've left you links to follow in my footsteps. I hope they are as beneficial to you as they were to me.

Well, everything worked for me except PAGEMODO.COM. If you get this to work leave me a comment. Help me out too.

Gregory Delaurentis

Thursday, October 4, 2012

On Being Upset With Oneself

I apologize for the tenor of my last post. Of course I was upset over the publishing industry. I have a bone to pick with them all. But that's my poor story. The struggling writer who spent his life trying to get something, anything of his published. Being passed over time and time and time again by agent after agent after publishing house after publishing house. Yeah, I should be upset with them or myself. Someone is falling short, so I blame them. And I did so in the most harshest terms that I could muster in my last post. For this, I apologize. I should have been more reserved with my passion.

It took a fellow writer that I regard with a tremendous amount of respect to slap me back to my senses about my writing. I was going on about how much money and how many copies of my upcoming e-book that I hope to sell. I went on about the work that I'm about to embark on getting off the ground and into the hands of my would-be readers and she helped me to see, quite gently in fact, that I am not looking at things in the right perspective.

A writer isn't concerned with selling copies or entertaining the masses. That should come out of their joy of writing. It's more of a byproduct of what they live for, which is to write and to bring something to life. Well more accurately, characters and situations into a work that is entertaining and engrossing to the pleasure of others. That is what a writer lives for. Not the dream of making a million on every work they produce, even though that would be excellent, or bitching about the state of the publishing industry, which is indeed in a very sorry state.

There are just too many writers out there to let loose onto the world and not enough editors and critics to review them all if they were at large. That's the funny fear of the publishing industry: to protect the millions of readers out there from a deluge of mediocrity. They are the first line of defense against bad taste and poor workmanship, if you actually believe this insanity. The same tools that the big companies use can be employed by even the smallest, simplest of writers. The only thing that was at one time difficult was reaching the masses, but thanks to the Internet and tablet computing, this has changed drastically.

Everyone feared in the music business that there would be a torrential downpour of musical artists that would flush down the music industry into the massive toilet of obliteration. Yet, this didn't happen. The music industry had to retool and reshape itself from its fat, bloated profit margins and unfair contracts to leaner, meaner animals in a new jungle of competition. This is the model of the publishing industry. Many people will stick with their major publishing houses and their powerful marketing tools, and continue to purchase their books because of their prejudices against what is seen as vanity presses. However, millions of others will reach out for the fringe writers who take on the world on their own, much like moviegoers search out independent movies to escape the swill of Hollywood hacks.

Publishing houses are letting down many of their newer, lesser known writers, by not giving them the attention of their marketing might, leaving it up to and expecting them to build marketing 'platforms' on their own to push their books. They also have shorter runs of books and edit down the size of novels somewhat unnecessarily to bring down the cost of publishing a work, sometimes at the cost of creativity. Let an unknown try to have published a novel the size of a Mitchner or Clancy novel and you'll find the impossible occurring.

With this abandonment of their lesser known authors, as well as their completely ignoring new talent and you get the picture of a business losing its grip on its stranglehold. Any new author will tell you how slow it is to get a conventional book to market, and even slower to get a check from the publishing houses. Also since they take all of the risks they feel, and maybe rightly, that they deserve the lion's share of the profits. I don't argue this. This is probably the rationale behind publishing houses attempting to breathe life into 'co-publishing', where authors are asked to invest money in their own novels with the publishing house. Isn't this a form of vanity press from the same people that decry it? Publishing houses are even coming out with their own imprints of e-books, attempting to cash in on the inexpensive business model of e-publishing, and it's speed to the market. But here too they face the loss of their prestige by giving credibility and bringing attention the the e-publishing world. Again a loss for them.

Some individuals will always want to have and feel paper or hardbound books in their hands. I was once a hardbound collector, but after running out of room in my modest library, I started to see the logic of e-books...hundreds of books in the palm of your hand. Remarkable when you think about it. And you can never lose an e-book if you have it in a cloud, such as from Amazon, where you can have it on your tablet or your PC with software like Kindle (not the device, although it runs on it). But because of On-Demand Printing, which is the ability to print a book one at a time at a profit due to the computing process, this too will fade as it is integrated with e-publishing giving people a choice between an e-book or paperback.

What this means is that the publishing world is due for a mighty tectonic shift. It has a reckoning coming, and like the music business a sea change. However for them, it will be an even greater change because they've also lost their secret bargain to keep the price of e-books up to make them less appealing price-wise than their hardcover, paperback competition. Now that the courts have broke up this cabal, the price of e-books will fall and a more fiercer competition will come to light. The hounds will be let loose and the hunt will begin. Once again, a bell ringer for the publishing industry.

I'm still bitching about all this as you can see, most likely because I'm beginning to wade into the deep waters. I'm nervous and scared of what the future will bring and if I do have talent or not. However, this is my cross to bear and I no longer blame agents and publishing houses for overlooking me. They have their own horrors to deal with, especially now. I have my own course to chart, all on my own, without the aid of the large fathers of publishing to hold my hand.

Who can say what the future holds, for me or publishing? Good, bad or indifferent, life will go on and change will happen. Will I be able to navigate the waters? Will I sink and give up totally? I have a new energy regarding my work now. I feel that there is a new avenue for me to go down, and go down it I intend to do.

Wish me luck. Now I'll get back to writing.

Gregory Delaurentis

Thursday, September 27, 2012

On Selling Your Soul Dirt Cheap

I feel like some kind of ancient old whore. My tits are starting to sag, lines are appear- ing on my face. My thin, rosy lips have lost all of their color, my hair has lost its deep sheen. My figure is still good, but there were days when it is hot, and I had the face to prove it. Men see me in my tight dress from behind and run around to see my face and are appalled. They shriek back in fright. My feminine mannerisms are so that I exude sex, but it's the sex that nobody wants.

I've done it all in trying to whore myself. I've given back alley blow jobs for seven dollars and no repeats. Needless to say, it was a conquest but it did not last long. I was left barren, dressed in clothing that were old and dusty, ratty and torn. I tried to keep them up, work hard on them, but even if they were the queen's garments nothing would rectify my face. Nothing would give me a chance to do what I do best.

That's right, on paper, I suck as a whore, but if you get me in your hotel room and close your eyes I'll tear your dick right off. I'll shred your mind with pleasure the likes you have never known. You'd be thrown all about the room, with all manner of objects stuck up your anus and leather straps holding down your manliness, stroked from head to toe with my tongue, and as your erection neared its climax, I would toy with it, tease it, frustrate it until you screamed in agony and like a task master, I'll turn onto it harshly, beating your testicles with a paddle, jerking off your member with a soft leather glove until you came like five men, shrieking like five pre-school girls. I would leave you a mess of a man, whimpering in the corner, asking me when can I come back and do it to you again.

I file this under: Don't judge a book by it's cover.

And that's exactly what this business model of publishing does. It wants answers too fast. It has the herd mentality where you pack in the heard of cows and with a bang stick, you blow out their brains, one by one, arbitrarily and send them to the dog food section because you just don't have the time to examine the sheer number of steer that is being walked through the barn.

Publishers and Agents are like Johns. They are looking for the pretty young writers, young writers that reminds them of themselves. The old dinosaur brain that reads: “Like me, good.. Not like me, bad.” They claim to be on a big search for writers, but the big search is in the slush pile where the real work is. “Well, we do conferences too.” Well that's just another way to allowing more of your senses to make your judgement than the simple manuscript of the author. An author approaches an agent who he just doesn't like. Maybe the writer is Asian, Black, Latino, ugly, tall, male shabilly dressed...these can all work to his disadvantage long before he hands over a pitch. This agent just doesn't have the time to speak to them right now. But what in the next second an Ivy-leaguer pops up, maybe from the same agent's alma-mater. They talk about the things that they have in common, the people and stores in their quaint neighborhood. The school teachers of the classes, the friends during semesters, suddenly the Agent finds that this writer has a manuscript. Miraculously he has tons of time to read his work.

What am I saying? The old model of publishing MUST DIE. It's not what talent dictates any longer. It's also weakening the readers who are under the impression that agents and publishers have placed a great deal of risk and money to get their book on the bookshelf and that is a form of seal of approval that its a good book. Sadly, this is far from the truth. Have you ever picked up a book that was simply no fucking good? It meandered, its characters were dull, the story predictable and lame, and an editor/publishing house backed this book all the way to the book stands.

To give a book to the traditional publisher you have to endure months of trial. Months of waiting while they pour over a one to two page query letter that basically tells little of your book. It's already started a cobbled together business of people who swear that they can write for you an award winning query letter so as to get published. I guess they've forgotten that you have already spent YEARS writing a manuscript that should be all that's needed to help you get published. A query was supposed to be a notice to publishers that your book was breathed into life and to get their attention. It would be the book itself that will merit being published or not. Now, the query is like the proverbial tail wagging the dog. Something that took a week to write will now hold in the balance a work that might have taken years. Fair to you?

Publishers are lazy fat cats, no longer interested in putting out good or decent literature, they are more interested in their bottom line. As the economy gets tighter they'll take fewer and fewer risks. They'll keep squeezing their best selling authors for swill that they no longer have. There is no more competition for them. Where is the plethora of writers that they will drown in if they down get up and produce sterling work to overcome them and stand out again. They live in these bubbles and have grown weak and tired in being creative because they will get the large contracts from book publishers too fearful to spread the wealth and take risks.

This model of publishing is on its way out in the worst way possible. Platforms are being developed to usurp the Agent/publisher model and in doing so, it just may spell the end of a monopoly as strong as as the music business once was. When the writer can circumnavigate the entire snail pace process and get their book right out there before the million of people who want to read them, their fans, without the big companies, they will therefore be cutting out the useless middleman.

And they read the writing on the wall, they are quick to use the time worn stigma that self-published books are simply vanity press books who's quality is too poor to be really published. I say choke on it as the other side of the coin falls. Your days are numbered and there isn't much you can do but look for new jobs.

Tough break. Give e-publishing ten years. Just ten years, and there will be new names and new ways of bringing data to the masses and a new day will emerge far unlike the old days when a writer wrote his work, printed up copies at the nearest printer and then went off on his own to peddle it to the towns about. Later, unscrupulous types arrived with their guilds and organizations to print and distribute the books. This was a boon for those writers who could use the expanded coverage of their works being shipped overseas. Soon, for a writer to print and distribute his work was looked down on.

Well, just as that dawn came and did away with the independence of writers, it appears that the new dawn is bringing that independence back, empowering writers to control their own destinies.

I know it's scary now, and it is equally costly, but the trick is that you have it to do. You can wait until the masses cross the bridge, and then you'll have to wait your turn, or you can be a pioneer and cross it when there are only a few of us doing it. You are not alone. Turn your back on the old business model because it hasn't done shit for you for years, some of us for decades, others for scores of years, and even more a half a century. Do you have more time to waste for them? Do you really?

I turn my back now. I'm walking on the uncertain and lonely path towards e-publication. I know when and If I become a success, traditional publishers will arrive with their checks offering me a book contract deal.

And I'll take every cent that they offer in my filthy hands, and do you know why? I was a streetwalker writer for fifty years, doing unspeakable things to get my book even looked at. I'm a whore, and no amount of whitewashing now will straighten that up. But this whore is proud of itself because if that day ever comes, and they bow at my feet, ME, a common whore....what does that make them?

Gregory Delaurentis

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On Gems and Lumps of Coal

JP is working on my story now. She is all ahead full, and I'm grateful. I am myself rolling on with the third part of my trilogy. No more writer's block for me. I mean I have the occasional tie ups and ins in regards to story and pacing, but that goes with the territory. I don't know how other writers do it, but the pacing of a story is important. It is the scene cuts and how you cut them that matter the most in a story. It can't hop around, it can't cut in the wrong place, but then again, to build some suspense you can't have it continue on and on without pausing it at places. But when you do, where to do go from there? To what character and to what predicament? Do you go back in time or do you go forward, or stay in the same time continuum?

Do you hop about in the same time just appearing at differing locations? Do you slip into some private matter or some public spectacle? What do you do? Well as an author, its all your call. Where and when you cut to is your business, but do so wisely. And this sometimes is the cause of a block. A writer pauses to question if this next cut through his novel's reality is the correct cut, an accurate cut that is answering or questioning the readers senses. It is what it is. That's what makes the difference between a good writer and a mediocre one.

Am I a good writer? Hell if I know. I haven't really sold a novel although I have published a short story that was gripping enough. I didn't luck onto the story, I had it fully formed in my head and I brought it to life much like a woman would a baby. I jumped about from scene to scene confidently, cutting my way through the narrative until I got to the end. I liked it, and it sold right out of the gate to a Canadian publisher. This was years ago though, but every time I think of it, I take it apart to examine its inner workings. I tinker with its gears and pulleys to see what made it stand out as a story and then I use it as a form of template for the stories that I am presently writing.

Does this work? I'm not so certain. The fact is that I worry that it might give an appearance of a cookie cutter story when compared to others of mine. Also, stories differ in logic, content and pacing. Since this is the case when making logic leaps in your story scenes you can't really copy success. You can only build an instinct for scene juggling.

You are actually the fly on the wall, the eye of God, as you peer in upon the innerworkings of your creations, but what do you do? Do you chronicle EVERY SINGLE INTERACTION? Of course not. Just like you don't follow your characters into the bathroom to take a dump might be the same reason why you don't listen in on a conversation between two characters in a room. Because it's either boring or irrelevant. You want to appear in either an exciting scene or informative one and as few of them as possible. You want your story to move fast, stay lean, muscular, anything less will never be a page turner. Long winded explanations, tiresome dialogue, listless action, these are murder to a story. You jump from scene to scene, appearing and disappearing, giving your reader insights, or excitement.

But where to jump and when is up to you. Some writers are under the impression that you have to cover everything. The character's drinking habits, drug habits, social habits until tears fall from the eyes. Every single conversation, every single movement, every single event as if fearful of missing something. But that makes a good writer. Missing that which can be missed, and gleaning the few glittering gems from human interaction. The more lumps of coal you collect, the more tiresome your story will be, and the more tiresome you make your story, the less of a chance of getting published, or being well read. Whereas the more gems you search out and sparingly collect in your scenes, the better and tighter your stories, and the more of a chance you will have to catch an agent's or editor's eye, get published, or be well read.

I'm stuck now, wondering where to appear next in my narrative. I'll cook up a new scene, I'll appear somewhere enticing, somewhere informative, somewhere that my reader wants to be, and move the story along. I'm patient. It'll come when it comes.

The same for's your call.


Monday, September 3, 2012

On Finding A Reputable Editor

I'm still waiting on JP to finish editing my first novel in a trilogy and she has not yet started. It's September 3rd and I was hoping that she would start by August, but no. So here I am still waiting, churning ahead with the third installment of my trilogy, forging ahead, so to speak. And waiting. Waiting on my editor to start to work. It's been a long wait. Since July 16th. A mighty long time. But I have to admit, I did do my homework in finding JP so I am not concerned by the delay. We also did agree that I would wait until she started working on it when time allowed her to. So that is another point that needs to be taken into consideration.

How did I find JP and should you go about it the same way?

Well, whose to say my way is the right way, but I will tell you that I have done my due diligence and with that being said, I might be able to lead you in the right direction. I might not be able to lead you into a good negotiation with your editor though, or you might find yourself in the same boat that I'm in. 

Firstly it began on a sunny summer day with me going through my email and finding a mail from BOOKBABY.COM. Bookbaby is an online book distributor. Now lets not get these terms confused. There is a very accurate terminology for things in the e-publishing world. There are publishers, which are your brick and mortar counterparts. These guys produce hardbound and softcover books (and sometimes e-books) and since they front all of the money, you get a small royalty check for the books that you sell. They take the lion's share of the income. This is a book publisher.

Bookbaby and other companies like it are book DISTRIBUTORS. They are not publishers, they do not front any monies to your book and therefore do not take any of the royalties. They take nothing off the top and leave all of the profits to you since you are the one who has taken all of the risks. They'll convert your document and deliver it electronically to several electronic retailers of e-books so that you can sell your work to the masses. They even do some of the collateral work, such as book cover design, format conversion, and the procurement of ISBN numbers for your book.

I was interested in this process, being tired of the Agent/Publisher stranglehold on publishing. There is really no need for all of these middle men and gate keepers in the world of publishing any longer. An author need only reach his/her fans with their latest work. That's how things were done in the past. An author would go to a printer, have copies of their book made and distribute it themselves. Only later did Publishers appear on the scene, using their influence, their guilds and their connections to give respectability to their middleman status and therefore made it appear that the author that continued to resort to vanity printing was not a real author. Shortly after this, agents appeared, creating a further separation between the writer and the reader, and adding a new level of middlemen to sap a writer's royalties and talents. But that's another sad story. With the advent of e-publishing power is being returned to the writer and the useless and unnecessary chain of middlemen can finally be phased out. The only thing really needed is the distributor.

While reading through Bookbaby's site, I found several free publications of theirs that explain the e-publishing process through them. I downloaded their free copy of E-BOOK PUBLISHING: THE HOW TO GUIDE FOR WRITERS. I jumped into it with both hands and feet, gobbling it up on no time, and what I came across was a stern admonition. Get an editor to go over your book carefully to remove mistakes and errors that crop up in your drafts. It is true that you are too close to the work to give it the careful scrutiny it deserves, and fresh eyes can do a better job than you in finding and correcting mistakes. These mistakes are said to be the bane of e-published books, because authors don't follow this advice and turn out books with horrible errors that make the reader feel that the quality of e-books in general is diminished and far from that of the brick and mortar publishers. They warn that once you show a reader that you are lax in this process, you can be hurting your sales later when they see your book again and are turned off by your poor skills.

It's not that your skills are poor. You can be an excellent writer, and your training may be impeccable, but you are also human and humans make mistakes, that's why we don't pull the delete and backspace keys off our keyboards. With a new set of eyes, you cut human error down considerably and the few errors that do slip by, hopefully your readers will forgive you for them. Remember, the book publishers are no better than you. They are just smarter. When they get your work, it'll go to an editor for vigorous massaging, then to the printers who will return with a proof, and this document will go to a proofreader who will search again for errors made by the printers and you and your editor. After such intense scrutiny they will then mass produce your book...and why do they do this? Because it is their image that they are concerned with. They want to send out the best to their readers. Your thinking should not be far from this.

So I decided to use an editor. And in this book from Bookbaby they direct you to The Editorial Freelancers Association. This is something like the Bar Association for lawyers. Here you will find a search-able listing of freelance editors to suit your needs just as you would find lawyers from the Bar Association. With this information, I did a search of editors in my genre and printed out the top ten editors to my liking. Then I went through their individual webpages in search of their qualifications. Some had their resumes on their sites and these are the ones that I centered on. With their resumes I could make a more informed choice than just how much they charge for their services.

This boiled the list down to five and I contacted each of them to feel them out, and that's how I reached JP. She told me clearly that she was busy and that I'd have to wait on her timetable, but with this said, I chose her anyway because of her sterling qualifications.

Later, I thought of Googling her after I paid her the money for her to start her services, which was $40.00 an hour. I sent her a check for $400.00, the first ten hours of her work. Then I Googled her, which frankly I should have done long before sending her the check, but this is my admonition to you to perform first. Learn from my mistakes here. Although, I was pleasantly surprised to find that JP was an editor for several major publications and magazines, and she also contributes to a writer's website giving her advice to the masses. Google your editor BEFORE you send them your money, just as an added precaution. You may get bad news, and the truth is, being forewarned is forearmed.

I am quite pleased with JP and hope that she will be willing to edit my entire trilogy. This will be good for me because she will have the continuity of story to work with and not be lost in the breadth of the tale as what would happen if I had to get another editor to start at the second book in the trilogy.

So, like I said, I did my homework and I am confident in my choice of editor.

I keep saying this to myself as the days roll by.


Friday, August 24, 2012

On Not Being Able to Write

There's been a lot of ink expend- ed on the joys of writing, on the fears of writer's block, on the writing life and on all things writers, but there is one topic that I have not seen, and I don't know if it has been addressed in regards to writers or not. It can be misinterpreted as writer's block, but it's something more insidious. It's called writer's doldrums.

What? You never head of it? It's when you have stuff to write. You have your essays, your short stories, your novel, your blog entry, and you don't feel like writing any one of them. You feel like your life is not about writing them, going over them, editing them. In fact, you don't feel like writing anything, not even a letter to your mom. You want to write nothing.

I have a trilogy to finish, and I'm on the third book. How the other two came to life is beyond me. I've written it in a white hot heat of creativity. Strange, life was breathed into two of the books without effort. I had a lot to say, and it came out like an vomination. But halfway into the third book, I drained out. I got tired and I drained out. There is nothing left inside and my drive has withered away. I have other things to write, but none of them feel as important to do as my third novel. So, everything slumps. It's as if my third novel is an obstruction in the colon.

So now I don't feel like writing. I don't feel like writing anything. And I know what you are thinking: If I tried to write something, anything, I just might free my creativity to go ahead and finish my novel. But that won't work. Simple as that. Why do I say this? Because I am writing this blog entry and I haven't the drive to much do that. I'm only dragging ass to get through this. I'm not feeling it, but because it's a near enough, ardent enough feeling, I felt that writing it now would be a good thing. I can be close to the emotions and place them down on paper as accurately as possible.

Writer's doldrums. A state of being where you are simply not in the mood to write anything. You look at what you've written and it seems trite and boring. You can breathe no life into anything. All of your work and doing is pointless because it seems so wrong. So as your only option, you chose to do nothing until it passes. Whatever the case, you do nothing.

So how do you reverse this? How do you get out of the doldrums and back into productive creativity? You can't. Just like writer's block, that leads to a Sargasso Sea of nothingness, you have a painful road of busted glass and sharp, rusty objects to traverse. Something not easily done. So what do you want me to tell you? I have nothing to say. I can't see a way out of the doldrums. I can see no options other than to ride it out. This blog may seem to be an instructional, and I may seem to speak as if I know what I'm talking about and have all of the answers but the truth is is that I don't have anything to give but my limited experiences. I am one human with one life and that doesn't account for much.

So, I'm stopping to write this blog post, hoping to start a spark, or to place a fire under my ass. But I'm grinding to the end of this post and I feel exactly the same, uninspired. I have no desire to write any further, and because of this feeling, I know that the doldrums will still go on.

If I find a way out, I'll let you know in some later post. Till then, as long as you can, keep writing.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

On Waiting on Decisions

I've never been too patient a man.

Ever. Even when Christ- mas was around the corner, I used to sit at the tree studying the gifts to see if they would give away any secrets as to what they contained. I would have given anything for x-ray vision, but I had to wait.

The process of book publishing is somewhat of a waiting game too. These things do not hurry and they aren't influenced by sales or discounts. I say this because I got an email today how is coming down on their prices for a short time. If you purchase a book package, you'll get an e-book package added in at a little extra charge, and vice versa. But the truth is is that wants your business. But can they move ahead my timetable? No. Not at all, because as I had agreed, JP can start work on my manuscript at her leisure. I'm certain that the expansive reach of some .com doesn't jar her from bed an onto my writing. She is closing down her present clients and is going ahead with mine in time.

So what do I so while I'm waiting? What can I do. Play with my fingers, play games, play with my Playstation 3 or cook a lot. I'm not a good cook, and I can only get so far with Max Payne3 before I start to loose my edge and make stupid mistakes. But you know what I am....I am a writer and this is what I want to do with my life. I want to write for a living, so I write. I write and I write hard. I am a son of a bitch with the written word. So with that being said, I took the characters from the manuscript that I gave JP and began fleshing out another story.

It started to take shape, then form and then life. I poured myself into it and in a shorter time than I have ever had, I had finished the manuscript. Then I stopped back and edited it for the first time. A double whammy in a month. I've worked up a sequel for a story that I never thought I would write a sequel for. Here's another joke, or travesty of life. This story, Cover of Darkniss is one of those stories that I sat down and put together. It was a Noir piece, which everyone hates. It has thin characters and the only reason why it has a twist in it is because, frankly, I was bored in the direction that the story was going in. But after the twist, things became difficult for my simple detective story, which made my ears perk up and my juices start to flow. It cruised along now, bubbling with steam. It was unique, crisp, and written without so much literary weight that I usually put on many of my stories, making it an easier read than most of my stuff.

I packaged it and sent it out to traditional publishers and agents...well, the truth is, and anyone that's a writer can attest to, I sent out a fucking QUERY letter to agents and publishers. Query letters that are demanded to be shorter and shorter as if a good book can be conveyed to someone else in a page or less? Have you ever heard a person speak well about a book that they have just read? They literally gush over it, and yet, publishers and agents want you to get to the point in four sentences or less. How is that giving my MANUSCRIPT a fighting chance? How does that give all the nuances, the twists, the turns, the tension building scenes a voice to be understood and heard?

I'm tired of the Publisher/Agent bullshit now, and I hope that individual publishing takes off and allows the fans to read through your books and see if they want them or not. Let the people who want to enjoy it, take the time to evaluate it before purchasing it. So, Cover of Darkniss was not my best project, not my dream project, or the project that I felt would make me a household name, but it was the project worthy enough to become a victim of vanity press if this is what was. But it was also a good enough manuscript to hit the market if people began purchasing and reading it. It's entertaining, which is the entire point of writing. To entertain the reader from page to page.

So the first part of the manuscript has been sent off to JP whom I'm am waiting for word on. Hopefully sometime in August? That would be nice. But now I'm sitting on the sequel, and like I told you about my early Christmases, I can't take waiting. As I was searching for JP I met up with another editor with similar qualifications. LV. LV was sad that she didn't get my project, but she did say to contact her again if I get any further projects.

Would it be crazy to go ahead and work on two books at the same time and have them published nearly back to back on or all of their distributing outlets. That might not be good, that might not be bad. I'm just going to do what I do best right now to kill time.

I'm going ahead and write the third part of the trilogy.


Friday, July 20, 2012

On e-Book Publishing approached me through an internet email and offered me some free pamphlets explaining publishing my manuscript as an e-book using their services. This is interesting to me and I've read through several testimonials online touting the joys of self-publishing over the Internet by making your book into an e-book. The first boon to self publishing is that you can immediately build your client base, your audience, by sending out your manuscripts directly to the public. There is no longer any need to hope that some agent/editor team can combine their capabilities and approach a publishing house in the brick and mortar world willing to take the chance and produce your book. Now, this entire mechanism can be steered cleared of and your book can be brought directly to the public. But you will have to do some work.

Such as marketing. But unfortunately, book publishers don't really market your stories well if you are a new writer. They would much rather save their monies to market their more established writers. There is a disconnect when it comes to new writers and old publishers. They leave marketing entirely up to you now. And so, since they are not much help in the brick and mortar world, you'll have to learn to market yourself anyway. also helps you market your book. From my overview of the paperwork that I have gone over, I have learned that also has another website called, who can create a professional website for you and your new publication for marketing purposes. Blogging and web pages are the first line of defense that a writer has to get his work out to the public. It's not an end all to be all, but it does start the ball rolling, and does a real professional job when it comes to making a quality website.

All this aside, I download's brochure E-book Publishing The How-to Guide for Writers. My plan is to just take it slow and go over what this new publishing model has to offer writers. Almost immediately the brochure brings out that e-book sales are exploding over the past few years, because of the rapid adoption of e-book readers. Kindles, I-pads, Nooks, Android Tablets have all made it possible to download, store and read ones books quickly and painlessly in the privacy of your own home. Their convenience makes them easy to carry anywhere and their capacity allows you to store scores of books and magazines, keeping them at your fingertips.

The first quarter of 2008 there were little more than one million units of e-book sales. By the first Quarter of 2012, the estimated sales of e-books is expected to have a meteoric rise of 450 million units. To make the argument clear, e-books are quickly closing the gap between themselves and their hard-covered competition.

Further, authors are empowered by choosing to make their manuscript into an e-book. First, the author is in control. The author has complete creative control over their publication, as well as retaining all of their electronic rights. They can also dictate when and where their books are available for sale, something unheard of in the brick and mortar publishing world.

The next benefit is that there is a shorter time-line to publication. A brick an mortar publisher can take 12 to 15 months to get your book through the works and into the bookstores and marketplaces. It takes 3 to 4 weeks to see your e-book on, The Amazon Kindle, The Applestore, The iPad, Barnes and Noble Nook, Reader and several other huge e-book distributors.

Special interests groups can now reach their niches with their specialized content whose audience would have been so small that the larger publishers would not see a significant return on their investment to publish it. With an e-book, even the tiniest niche can be reached as the scale of economy is greatly reduced and can still be very profitable for the author.

And last but not least, the financials. The old payment schedules are upside down in the e-book world. Instead of accepting a miniscule royalty with the brick and mortar publishers, e-book authors are seeing up to 70% of their sales receipts through some online retailers. And even when e-book authors drop their prices to the rock bottom costs of $2.99...$1.99...and even $0.99 they are still receiving much higher revenue totals because of increased unit sales.

But the brochure goes further. In it it says: “So you've finished your book...congrats! What a huge accomplishment! You might think that each and every world is absolute perfection. But is it?

When authors work through traditional system, editing is one of the most important elements that publishers or agents being to the process. Just because you've chosen to go another route doesn't mean that the requirements for editing are no less strict. In fact it's even more vital for you to have a set- or sets - of other eyes on your prose because your writing reputation is on the line. No subject matter or genre is exempt from this requirement."

I realized immediately that I had to get my manuscript poured over by an accomplished editor and to have her give me back a professionally edited work of art that proudly displays my writing prowess. But how does one find an editor. The Brochure continues to float names of organizations across your eyes, such as the Writer's Digest Site or Media Bistro. Also user groups within the world of publishing, such as LinkEds and Writing. Publishing and Editing Professionals; Writing and Editing Professionals; and Freelance Editing Network.

The one source that caught my eye was the Editorial Freelancers Association Which has a search-able directory of its members online. I took this choice. The website is very professional. They break up their editors into small groups after your search of genre and group. I boiled my search down to four editors and quickly sent them emails expressing the need for the editing of my manuscript. After a period of time negotiating and going on a brief vacation for myself, I narrowed my choices down to JP. JP found herself presently overwhelmed with projects with deadlines and she was uncertain that she could take on my job. I assured her that I was not in a hurry and she could edit my work at her own pace. Why did I say this? I do want to get my book to by the end of the year so I do have a bit of a deadline, but out of the four editors that I spoke with, only three asked for a few sample pages for editing. 

And of these three, only two responded with their edited versions of my book. As one editor was pleased with my command of the English language, her changes were minor, tweaks here and there and comments about the characters and the storyline. On the other-hand, JP's editing tore right into my book, moving about sentences, altering my voice, changing the entire way things worked. My manuscript hemorrhaged red corrections which was a little disheartening at first, but then, later, I realized that I wanted the book to be the best that it could be and not just something that I threw up on a bookshelf. I wanted JP's fine tuned comb in the mix, and I wanted her bad. She had me wait several days after my vacation to let me know if she could take me on as a client and we agreed on a $40.00 an hour charge. Pretty steep, but I think it's worth it. When speaking to the other editors on my short list, their prices fared just the same. There was no price gouging here.

I sent her off my manuscript and a $400.00 check for her first ten hours.

Now I'm waiting to wade by feet in e-publishing. This is the most exciting thing to do in my life. As a fellow writer, I'll use this blog to keep you all posted. Will this be a smart move or a profitless one? What were the pitfalls, what were the successes? So far, I can tell you that it's only $400.00 out of my
porcelain piggy bank. We'll see what else transpires.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On Writer's Block

Like a great sailing ship in a dead ocean, sometimes the mighty sail boat sails directly into the doldrums. A tired, airless, windless area of the seas that couldn't generate enough wind to push a sheet of newspaper, much less a ship. And then what happens? Well, I'll tell you. It's time to break out the boardgames, the long baths, the television shows or worse, the movie DVDs. You are going to spend some time here, so dust off the old guitar and start singing those long sonatas that you are used to singing, because it will be awhile.

This is writer's block. This is the last place that you want to be. Like a gathering of wrecks in the Sargasso sea, your stories, some of them, will accumulate here, become derelicts here, ships partially and awkwardly protruding from the black water. It is a gloomy place that you would like your story to power away from as soon as possible, but sometimes you can't.

These are the breaks. This is what happens when you write. Sometimes you end here, if you don't start thinking about the ending of your stories before you begin on a good idea. Your chances are greater that you will end up here. I'm not saying that if you have an ending, you won't end up here. I'm not saying that if you don't you will. What I'm saying is that chances are better if you work off an outline, no matter how loosely.

But how many writers do this? How many writers lay down the arc of the story before typing the title of the novel? I don't know how many. I have no clue, but there are many out there that have a great idea and sit down behind their laptops, desktops, typewriters and bang out prose, only to get to the Sargasso Sea. They reach a place where there is a great fog obscuring their mind's eye and are suddenly stuck with characters that have gone limp. Action that has grown cold. Ideas that have flown away.

So we march away for inspiration. We go to the DVDs, the movies, the television shows, the Broadway play the board game. We scramble and wait, and sometimes we wait, and wait, and wait until there is nothing left to wait for. The characters grow forgetful, pale, fade like smoke in the breeze. They become gone when we stop writing about them. Their motivations, their needs, their desires...and when that happens the story becomes un-writable. It becomes unwieldy and difficult, and we soon give up for another novel inspiration.

What am I trying to do for you in this post? Show my genuine concern and fellow feeling. I have plenty of stories that I have started out to write but are now floating half mast in a dead sea. I find it difficult to get back to them after enough time has elapsed to begin anew. I always say to myself: I'll just read the story from the beginning and pick up where I left off. But without an outline, this becomes difficult and sometimes impossible. I've done it once or twice, but not enough to depend on it.

Its easy and exhilarating to jump right in on a story and start to rip through characters, scenes and dialogue but really, the best bet is to have an outline. A loose one if it really bothers you. It's also good to have an ending before you start. It's not all that exciting, I know. You want your characters to logically and organically draw your story to a conclusion, but that's taking a mess of risks. However you are guaranteed an ending.

I'm not writing to the writers that do this, I mean, have an outline, and have an ending. Many of you already know how important these things are. I'm writing to those out there that don't. There's a reason why this road is seldom tread, and that this course is seldom charted. You just may lose your steam, your wind might pass from your heart, and your ship will founder in the waves.

Monday, April 23, 2012

On Querying Agents

Speaking to a fellow author, he felt that he was a master of dealing with agents and getting things published. Although he had not had anything published in the mainstream, he had had a short dialogue with an agent. One agent mind you, but because an agent replied to his query, he has the impression that he is now a master queryist. I hope that I don’t sound bitter or arrogant, I’m not. I’m just trying to understand the magic and the mission of sending out query letters to publishers.

I’ve been sending out queries for some time now…well several years and I’ve had everything returned to me: postcards, hand written rejections, hand written rejections with comments, form letters on cheap paper, form letters on expensive paper, and even e-mail rejections. I’ve had them all and more. After a period of time I thought to even collect them, and the pile just gets larger and larger. So of course you have to question: what is the problem? Is it my work, who I’m sending my work to, or my query letter?

So to hear my fellow author claim how mechanically efficient he is upon sending out one query (or maybe more, but he was only commenting on receiving a letter back from one agent) will perk my attention. A veteran should never question his battles. Because he’s battle scarred does not mean that he is doing something wrong. It could mean the level of wars he has participated in. A soldier in peacetime will return home with fewer scars than a veteran of many bitter battles. I would suppose the veteran would be me. Maybe it’s just foolish curiosity on my part to ask what is this author doing, but I was interested.

His ‘learned’ response was that he studies the agents. He goes to the website, reads the agent bio, looks over the publication listings to make certain that they would be agreeable to take him on as an author. This to me is really nothing new. I do the same, but he goes the extra yard. He studies the agent, going to their blogs, their webpages and then writes a personal letter to them, pointing out that he’s done these things, pointing out that he’s been watching them in their careers and decisions. He follows them on their current deals, their moves to other agencies; damn, he claims he shadows their footsteps, literally stalking them.

I’m getting out of pocket here, but he goes in depth with an agent before, during and after a rejection. He calls it: “getting his foot in the door with the agent”. This may be so, but if you are only, or have only, sent a query letter out to two or three agents, you can invest time in following their careers or their opinions in a blog. If you have more than one work, and have sent queries out to more than one agent or publishing house, keeping track of your material that you’ve sent out is more involved than keeping track of the moves and dealings of each agent. This is my opinion.

In a world where agents and publishing houses are demanding query letters being one page, 12pt font, one inch margins and so forth, it makes it difficult to praise your book, and an agent at the same time. There just isn’t room on one piece of formatted paper to stroke someone’s ego. This too is my opinion. I want to put my best foot forward. I want to present my work with such polish that because of the query letter, the agent will ask me for further information on the manuscript. I’m putting the shine on my book, not on the agent. But again, this is just my opinion.

I’ve been sending out query letters for quite some time. I’ve read scores of books detailing how to create query letters and across none of them have I seen polishing the agent’s apple until spotless.  I do mention books on the agents or publishing house’s client or publication lists just to let them know two things: 1) that I’ve looked over their lists and, 2) that I believe that my book is a good fit. I do a little work there too.  I don’t send off a cookie cutter query, but then again, I don’t tailor it to an agent to such an extent that he can see his reflection in it. 

I’m going under the suspicion that this agent is a professional. If he needs a stroking on the job, I hope he’ll call his significant other to get it and not expect it in my query. This is a person who should be more interested in finding a publishable book because this means money in their pocket as well as a possible star to hitch their cart to. This is what these people do. They don’t search for friends through query letters, nor even acquaintances. They don’t reply to you to open dialogues, but to give you a brief flash of their experience, or a gentle push in the right direction so that you aren’t clearly wasting your time. They have enough friends and acquaintances in their lives than to search for one in some random author.

I’m no Master Queryist but I do know something. I know that there can be any number of reasons why your query doesn’t make mustard. The Agent may even be so overwhelmed that they take a stack of queries and hand them over to an assistant who opens them and stuffs their SASE’s with rejection form letters. Who knows? But for the most part, whatever way you choose to present yourself to an agent or publishing house is your way. But in my not so humble opinion, you’d better focus on your manuscript, and using that to get your foot in the door and not try to build a relationship with an agent in a paragraph or less because, like any professional, this bores them. They can see through false praise or attention. 

I say give them what they are looking for: a sharp query, a hard hitting story, a gripping tale, a suspenseful thriller that captivates them in a paragraph or less. You only have a few paragraphs to make your case. Make it. Blow smoke up the Judge’s ass and you’ll get no pity.

But…this is my opinion. I have been known to be wrong.