Other Writer Wednesday: Call For Submissions

I’d like to start a new feature on my blog, designating Wednesdays for promoting other indie authors and their work. I’ll accept guest posts and book spotlights, and they’ll be scheduled in the order that I receive them. Guidelines are listed below.

The last Wednesday of each month, instead of posting a submission, I’ll simply host an open pimping thread where anyone with something to promote can leave a link to it in the comments.

Reviews & interviews–at least, those conducted by me–aren’t part of this. I simply don’t have the time to do them on anything resembling a regular basis.

Guidelines

Guest Posts

Maximum word count: 1,000 words. I try to run a family-friendly blog, so keep it clean. This isn’t the place to promote erotica or anything x-rated, and I reserve the right to use my best judgement as to whether something is appropriate for my audience. This blog is pretty eclectic and runs a gamut of topics, but try to tie it into any of the following topics: self-publishing advice & experiences, writing advice, the craft of writing, inspiration for your story, pop culture & fandom. Avoid political screeds, and be respectful of beliefs that differ from your own. This isn’t that kind of blog.

Include your byline, author bio, author photo, a link back to your blog, and purchasing links to the book that you’re currently promoting, along with a cover graphic.

Book Spotlight

Include your author photo and bio, your book’s description and cover (if you have a series, you can describe the whole series, but please choose only one cover image to represent it), links to purchase, and links to your blog and social networks.

Again, I reserve the right to use my best judgment as to whether your book is appropriate for my audience.

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You can comment here, e-mail me, or PM me on Facebook with any questions. E-mail your submission to jmbauhaus @ gmail.com.

In Which I Defend Romance And Gush My Little ‘Shippy Heart Out

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all. For the occasion I wrote a guest post for my friend and fellow Nano-ite, Rebekah Loper. Here’s an excerpt:

I don’t write romance novels. But the stories I write usually contain plenty of romance. My writing feels empty and lifeless without that romantic element. I find that, as both a writer and a reader, and for that matter, as a member of the viewing audience, it’s usually not the MacGuffin driving the plot that I’m invested in, or the hero’s destination, but it’s the relationships between the characters; whether it’s the beauty of a deep friendship that tests the bonds of brotherhood and loyalty, a la Sam and Frodo, or the tension between sworn enemies like Batman and the Joker, or romantic tension that blossoms into full-fledged love between two characters who obviously belong together, I can never seem to get enough.

I guess you could say that I was a born ‘shipper. ‘Shipper, in case you don’t know, is short for “relationshipper,” someone who roots for certain characters in a story to get together and stay together. The first couple I remember ‘shipping with a passion was Han and Leia… or maybe it was Superman and Lois Lane.

You can read the rest at Rebekah’s blog. And if you haven’t read Restless Spirits yet, you can also enter to win a free Kindle copy. Go! Read! Enter! Yay!

Guest Post: Editing for Indie Authors

Karin CoxSelf-publishing has always suffered a bad reputation when it comes to quality, but guest blogger, author and freelance editor Karin Cox is now starting to see independent writers taking real pride in their work and ensuring it is as polished as possible before they publish—even paying an editor, a cover designer, and, in some cases, a publicist. As a result, the old stigma of self-publishing as a vanity exercise is fading as some successful independent authors, such as Mark Edwards and Lousie Voss, J Carson Black, and Amanda Hocking, are snapped up by agents and publishing houses.

Despite having worked in the trade publishing industry for more than 14 years, and being published by traditional publishers for children’s fiction and non-fiction, Karin’s forays into editing for self-publishers have inspired her to self-publish some of her own work. Her poetry anthology, Growth, and ebook of short stories, Cage Life, were published in July. Here’s what she has to say about editing for the self-publishing market.

Cage LifeI’m the first person to admit that a subjecting a book to an edit can be daunting, but as an editor and an author, I also know that the editorial process is necessary. Many people skimp on editing because they think it is too expensive (and it can be), but in reality, most freelance editors don’t charge for all of the hours they actually put into a manuscript. Why? Because writers would simply baulk at the cost, and, as in all markets, you’re only worth what people are willing to pay. For a long time it seemed the amount most self-publishers were willing to pay was nothing. And that has adversely affected the perception of quality in self-publishing.

That indie authors were reluctant to pay for editing was probably a result of them having to set aside a huge wad of cash to have their books printed. Nowadays, that cost has vanished. Using print-on-demand services for print books, or publishing e-books, has removed those costs, allowing authors to put their hard-earned dollars into professional editing and cover design instead, which are, in my opinion, much more important to the overall success of a story than what ‘container’ the words come in.

I think self-published authors are also far more aware of industry standards, largely thanks to the internet and to really helpful networks of independent authors, agents and editors willing to share information.

Growth: PoemsIn the past, many self-publishers thought editing was simply proofreading—picking up spelling errors or typos—rather than about dissecting a manuscript to see if it worked on many levels. There was a tendency to think, “Mum’s good at English, I’ll get her to do it.” But, usually, even the most literate mum or aunt, or even journalist friend, isn’t up-to-the minute on grammatical practices or preferred word usage in the book publishing industry. Even what I was taught at school is no longer common practice in some editorial styles. I’m seeing more and more independent authors with good grammatical knowledge and writing skills (and I’d urge all authors to invest in a style guide of their choice and really study their craft), but even so, an editor’s eye is objective in the way an author’s eye can never be.

Although every author, and every novel, is different, many of the writing errors I see are the same—showing instead of telling, overwriting, poorly punctuated or unauthentic dialogue, adjective and adverb overload, dangling modifiers, plot issues and loopholes, and characters that lack dimension or the relevant motivation to play their “role” in the plot. Even from genre to genre, the issues vary only slightly. As a result, I rarely do straight proofreading or copyediting jobs, and tend to see myself as a freelance book doctor, focussing on a range of issues and offering a complete substantive and copyediting service for self-published authors, which means doing several reads through a manuscript and editing in track changes mode in Microsoft Word.

I know that there will always be authors out there who can’t afford to pay for a full edit, so I also offer manuscript appraisals, which are more affordable but far less comprehensive. Ideally, I’d love for all self-published authors to be able to afford the luxury of an edit, but I know that’s not always possible. It hurts to see a manuscript with so much potential crippled by flabby prose, or an overcomplicated plot, or battling on with characters whose actions are inconsistent or implausible. Thankfully, the more I work with the indie community, the fewer such books I’m seeing. My advice to indie authors would be: do what you can yourself and self-edit your book as carefully as you can, and then seek editorial advice. Also, remember to look at editing as an investment not a “cost.” It’s an investment in your writing skills and it’s an investment on behalf of your readers. Not paying for an edit could well cost you an audience.

You can read more of what Karin has to say about the publishing industry, editing and writing at
karincox.wordpress.com or www.editorandauthor.com, follow her on Facebook, or follow her on twitter.

Author Interview: Arshad Ahsanuddin

This week marks my first time participating in the Indie Writers Unite! blog exchange. You can read my guest post, all about what scares me, at the blog of horror author Todd Russell.

My guest this week is Arshad Ahsanuddin, author of the indie vampire fantasy series Pact Arcanum, who was gracious enough to answer some questions about his self-publishing journey.

JWG: What first motivated you to become an indie author?

AA: I wrote a novel, kind of accidentally, and posted it online. One of my readers kept pushing me to try and publish it, so I showed it to a couple of agents, who basically laughed in my face. Then I did some research and discovered substantive editing, so I sent my book to an editor, who really gave me some positive feedback and helpful advice on things to improve. Then I did more research and discovered that traditional publishing is a huge game of beg-and-wait, with years of crushed dreams in my future. So I decided it wasn’t for me, and decided to self publish. I didn’t know it was going to become a second profession.

JWG: What has been the biggest challenge for you when it comes to self-publishing?

AA: The writing, definitely. Good marketing skills will get you in the door, but if you don’t have a good product, then no one will be interested in what you’re selling. Learning the skills to be a better writer and not to rely on an editor to fix my shortcomings was a long, drawn-out, and difficult road, which I have not yet completed. I am improving, however, though I don’t think anyone ever feels they are as good as they could be.

JWG: Has any aspect turned out to be easier than you expected?

AA: At first, I was terrified of ebook formatting and cover art design, but as I saw the difference between what I initially paid people to do and what I eventually learned to do myself, there really isn’t any question that having the skills to DIY is the way to go.

JWG: Do you take a strictly DIY approach, or do you hire help with things like editing, cover art, etc.

AA: I hired people to do the illustrations, cover art, back cover copy. Afterwards, I took an active role in modifying their designs/text to be more in line with my own vision. Again, it’s a learning process, and advertising copy and marketing are probably the hardest things for me to get a handle on.

JWG: How has the decision to go indie turned out for you? Overall, are you happy with the choice?

AA: The fact that people are reading my books now, rather than waiting two years for traditional publishing and biting my nails the whole time (assuming I ever got a book deal in the first place), means that I have succeeded in my goal. I’ve put a lot of effort into this, and if people enjoy what I have written, then it was all worth it.

JWG: Are there any stand-out lessons you’ve learned about self-publishing that you’d like to share with my readers?

AA: You need at least three levels of editing to make a book ready for market: Substantive editing (themes, overall structure), line editing (word choice, language refinement), and copy editing (spelling and grammar correction). Skimp on any of those, and your actual subject matter will take a back seat to the fact that your book is unreadable. Whether you find one person to do this task, or many people, you must take the time to edit your work, or no one will give it a chance.

Bio: I am Canadian-born, but lived in the United States for most of my life. I moved back to Canada for work a few years ago. I am a hematopathologist, a physician who specializes in using biopsies and laboratory data to diagnose diseases of blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes, such as leukemia and lymphoma. Yeah, I’m a blood doctor writing about vampires. The humor is not lost on me.

The first book of the gay vampire saga Pact Arcanum, Sunset tracks the Daywalker Nicholas Jameson as he fights for peace among the Human, Sentinel, Nightwalker, and Daywalker races.

Visit Arshad at Pactarcanum.com. You can also find him on Facebook and on Twitter.

Sunset: Pact Arcanum: Book One is available on Smashwords. Get a 100% promotional discount for the month of July! Just enter coupon code SSWSF at checkout. Feel free to leave a review.