Self-Publishing 101

I like to thank Sara Rothman for allowing me to upload her presentation over self-publishing. I attended her panel at Anime Matsuri 2017 and found her presentation very informative and decided to share that information with everyone. Sarah Rothman has written An Otaku Abroad: The Affordable Japanese experience for Anime and Manga fans. For more information, you can visit her website here. She has a book, Suicidal Samurai, coming out in May that, if anyone is interested in, can pre-order here.

In this post, I’ll be going over some of the main points discussed in the presentation. I will also upload the entire document on my blog. You can find it here.

So, to begin with:

Self-publishing is basically where an author publishes their own book, independently, without the involvement of a third-party publisher and at their own expense. The author has a lot of control but have to do all the work themselves like marketing, PR, format, price etc. There’s also outsourcing where the author can have someone else do, for example, the marketing part of the process.

There are advantages and disadvantages to self-publishing.

Advantages:

  • Easy to do
  • Control
  • Outsourcing
  • No Gatekeepers

Disadvantages:

  • Personal costs
  • Negative stigma
  • Lots of competition
  • Dealing with bookstores

There are more advantages and disadvantages and those can be found on the presentation.

Next,

Where to start?

It’s helpful to know why you’re writing. Money? Status? Bragging rights? For fun? I think, in essence, each motivation will help with the process and how much time and effort you’re willing to put into a story.

It’s also important to write A LOT. You can publish a book if you haven’t finished it. You may have heard it plenty of times but write every day. Even if what you wrote today can’t be used at all, at least you’re staying in the habit and practice. I honestly believe that practice makes perfect.

  Editing

It’s nice to read through a story multiple times. Read it once for grammar, another for story, etc. If you try to find all the problems at once, I feel that will get complicated so focus on one thing at a time. It’s also helpful to read it out loud or use audio reading software. Another tip, have another set of eyes. I find it helpful when I have someone else read my story because they might catch something I didn’t. And remember, it’s your book so you make the decision on what to delete or keep.

(A few)  Self-Publishing Websites:

  • Amazon.com
  • Lulu.com
  • Ingram Spark
  • Smashwords (ebook only)

A bit more information:

Choose your cover design carefully. People to judge books by their covers.

The pricing for ebooks and printed books will vary. There’s also distribution costs to take into account.

The business of self0publishing is always changing.

Niche books tend to well.

Marketing is touch and requires effort. Social media and freebies help.

Build your email list.

Always keep writing. The more books you have out there, the higher the chance there is of one book hitting it big. Also, the more books you have publish, the more money you can have coming in.

Lastly,

Slow and steady. Self-publishing, and writing in general isn’t something to get rich off straight away. It takes time and effort. Don’t be discouraged. If something isn’t working then change it until it does.

Thanks for reading. Like I mentioned before, this is just a basic summary of the presentation. You can have the full document here.

Map Making

For the past week or so I have been drawing some maps for my fantasy stories. These include: Crimson Queen and Blue Moon. Blue Moon is more of a story that I have been working on the lore and the background story of how the world came to be once the story starts. I haven’t really started writing the novel yet because there’s so much and I need to make an outline for it once I figured everything out.

I will say that I have written a movie script for this idea. Actually, it all startes out as a movie idea and, as time went on, I began to realize that it would be good as a book series. 

So, overall, I’m not saying that I have never drawn a map of lands/worlds before. I’m just saying that it has been a while and they’ve never been so detailed before. How did I mange to do this?

For starters, all I used was a piece of paper and a pencil. Nothing fancy. I’m not an artist, I can’t draw but I do know the name of the town my story takes place in and a few more details. For example, there’s a river near town and a cave. I started off small. Well, it also helped that I had a world generator but more on that later.

Creating a map for Crimson Queen had me going back to the planning section. I needed to create a layout of the town but that wasn’t too difficult. I focused on the main points in town like the church, the Major’s mansion, and enforcement office. From them, I added all the other pieces. The buildings weren’t perfect and I didn’t create any floor plans but I knew where everything was.

After the layout, I zoomed out and focused on the surrounding areas. I added trees, a river, farm land, the cave, and even neighboring towns. Thanks to the map generated by the world generator, I was able to use set my towns on the map and be done. 

At least now, not only do I have notes on the distance betweens towns and those details, but I also have a visual aid. Sure, it might not be perfect but no one but me is going to see it. Plus, making a map makes the world come alive a bit more. 

Beta Reading and a Thesaurus 

I didn’t spend a lot of time writing today. In fact, I didn’t do much writing. What I did end up doing was beta reading through serveral pages of acquaintances’ stories. This was mostly due to the fact that I was avoiding my computer because I used it a lot during November and I, sort of, neglected my reading responsibilities. Either way, I got through a lot of pages today.

I could have read through more but these certain pages needed many comments and suggestions on setting, sentence structure, and missing words. It’s not like I mind the extra work. I’ve told them to let me know if they don’t want me to stop picking out bad grammar. So far, they haven’t said to stop. This also helps me in a way because reading other people’s work not only gives you an opportunity to come in contact with a different writing style, you can avoid some mistakes that you may see in someone’s work and vice versa. I believe that one can always learn something from reading other’s works. 

There was one story that I read today that appeared to be vomitted on by a thesaurus. This is possibly the harshest thing that I have said. I mean it in the nicestest of ways too. It wasn’t as bad as I make it sound but there were a few words that didn’t belong there. I couldn’t even figure out what the original word was meant to be. This isn’t a warning about uaing a thesaurus but more like something to keep mind. 

Usually, I used a thesaurus so that my writing and certain words become repetitive. For example:

It’s not like this person had every word changed. It just so happened to be in one paragraphed and I had trouble figuring out what they were  to describe. You can say that this was my lesson for today.

The Romantic Subplot

I will never be able to write a romance novel. It won’t be for the lack of trying but I don’t think that I can write it effectively. It involves deep characters, patience, planning, and so much more. I don’t mean to sound lazy but let’s just say that writing a romance novel is not in my near future. In part this has to do with the fact that I don’t think I can pull it off even with tons of revisions. 

While I’m not going to write about “how to write a successful subplot”, I will throw my two cents in. In my humble opinion, subplots need to add depth and complexity to a story. They’re like the crew in a play. They work behind the scenes to make everything run smoothly.

Romantic subplots . . . I do tend to have these in my stories. Well, not all of them. Sometimes, the story doesn’t need it so why force it? But when I do, I use the subplot to show more of my character (their reaction, what kind of a person they are); it all has a purpose. Sure, I have some cute interactions between the characters but that cannot distract from the main plot. Sure an antogonist can use a love one to advance the plot but that turns into a cliche (IMHO).

There’s need to be a moderation. I like creating a line table of my main plot and subplots to not only  keep track of them but also to have a plan of action and to see where the main and suplots intercept. Everyone has their own method of keeping track of things and planning out events. 

Romance as a subplot all depends on the type of writer you are and the kind of story you’re. I believe it’s all about balance and staying true to the story you want to write. 

My List of Resources

This week I’ll share with you my list of go to websites when I need extra help in my writing. There are plenty of websites out there and I’m not saying some are better than others. I will say, however, that I have mostly stuck with the following websites because they have worked out for me so far. For the most part, this list is biased toward fantasy tools but there are other websites too.

1.Evernote

I use Evernote to jot down notes, story ideas that pop into my head, and copy down urls. Since I have the app, I can access all my notes on my phone so I don’t always have to be in front of a computer. There’s a free basic version that I think works well and the websites has other features you can pay for.

2. Donjon

This is a website for fantasy generators and it also has information/generators for D&D and science fiction as well. It has a world generator that you can customize and the websites shows an image of your map which is really cool.

3. Seventh Sanctum

This is another website with generators. This is more diverse than Donjon because you can generate armor, weapons, magic, technology, superheroes, and anime and manga.

4. Chaotic Shiny

This website does focus on fantasy (I’m finding a theme here). There’s generators for culture, people, places, accessories with a wide variety.

5. Fantasy name generators

Although it says fantasy, this is primarily a name generator for many things; places, real names, descriptions, and pop culture. For those of you who play WoW, Guild Wars, Diablo, this website is for you. There are generators for every race in the games; Warhammer 40k, LOTR, and so much more.

6. Plot Generator

I don’t use this one often but you can pick the genre you’re thinking about writing and fill in some blanks. With a click of a button, you get your plot. It might not be what you want to write about but I think it’s a good way to start.

7. Writers Plot Idea Generator

This is another plot generator but the website includes plot twists, character name, character profile, and location generators.

8. Fiction Factor

This websites has articles on writing and tips. There are also other genres they talk about with their own website like fantasy or horror.

9. Pronounce names

I use this website when I have no idea how to even pronounce a character name. This situation falls under all the names I make up in my head (or on a generator).

10. Celtx

Primarily I use this website for my scripts but they all have a novel function that you can use. They also have app that can be downloaded.

 

The list isn’t perfect and it all tailored to what I need.  If there are other websites out there that are really great, please tell me. I’m open to any suggestions on other websites that I can use. Like I mentioned, I don’t have all the list of resources but I found these very helpful.