Tag Archives: editing

Indie Or Traditional: The Cost Of Publishing

I’ve been going down the road of licensing the rights to print the lyrics to an old Louis Armstrong song from the 1920s. It’s an interesting set of hurdles, and if you ever want to use lyrics in your book I recommend starting with Helen Sedwick’s article How To Use Lyrics Without Paying A Fortune Or A Lawyer over on The Book Designer. Like most things in indie publishing, this will probably cost some money. That’s okay. That’s a part of indie publishing. It’s what I signed on for when I decided to publish my books this way.

I’ve noticed a theme in a lot of writing advice blogs. There seems to be some weird desire to encourage people to go into indie publishing with the assumption that there isn’t any overhead and that indie publishing is essentially cost-free. A vocal part of the community likes to rally behind the idea. I hate it when I see this. Not only is it an outright lie, it does a disservice to the whole idea of indie publishing. When an unfinished, poorly edited, or badly designed book goes to print it affects everyone. The lack of quality control is cited all the time as a major reason why so many readers are very hesitant to read indie titles.

Publishing02
Men with printing press, circa 1930

Doing It Right™ cost money. There is overhead in everything. When you become an indie writer you become a small business. You can’t do it alone. You need to hire an editor, you need to hire a designer, you need to hire an artist. You’re going to pay for ISBNs. You’re going to pay for marketing. You’re going to pay for print copies. Often, the publishing advice you read online skips over these details. But if you want to make a quality product (and you do) then you have to come to grips with the reality that it’ll cost money.

Traditional publishing does provide a way out. It doesn’t require much in the way out of pocket costs. But instead of money it takes a lot of your time and hard work. You need to write queries, polish synopsis, meet and greet with agents, and submit over and over and over again, and then weather the storm of rejections. It’s hard, but it’s (mostly) free.

Publishing03
Hoe’s six-cylinder rotary press from the 1860s

The choice for any writer is to decide which path they are interested in. Both provide ways to share your story with the world, but both are hard work and require different types of out of pocket expenses. It’s up to you to decide which path is right for you. For The Bell Forging Cycle, I chose to go the indie route. For me, it was a matter of control. I didn’t want to surrender the control of the cover design and interior layout to someone else. I have a very specific vision for my series from cover to cover and I wanted to see that through to the end.

So, what if you’re not willing to deal with traditional publishers (and there’s a whole slew of reasons why you’d want to go your own route) but the thought of putting down money is terrifying or out of the question? What options do you have? Why not consider one of the following:

  • Kickstarter

    Crowd funding through Kickstarter is a great option. There’re a lot of writers who have had great success kickstarting their project. If you have a decent social media presence this isn’t a bad way to go. In a lot of ways, you can use this to pre-sell your book, and pay for the necessaries, without a lot of out of pocket expenses. Make sure when you put together your Kickstarter pitch you put as much effort into the pitch as you do your book. People want to see you as excited and engaged as you want them to be, a good presentation is important to that end.

  • Partnerships

    This is another option. Instead of paying people up front, why not offer to split the profits with other professionals. So editors could get a percentage of your sales, as would the designers, and artists, and so on. This is a bit more difficult to manage as it requires a lot of transparency and trust, but it’s a good way to have everyone profit from a good book. You essentially build a team of people who want to see a successful book and the more folks you have to help you market your work the better.

  • Crowdsource

    I tend to shy away from crowdsourcing professionally, as it is essentially spec. work for no pay. (See No!Spec for why this is troublesome.) However, I feel like I’d be remiss not mentioning it here as there are a lot of authors who have found success thanks to crowdsourcing platforms like Wattpad, Worthy of Publishing, and Figment. It tends to be a long road, but if you’re willing to put yourself out there and allow a community to give you feedback as you write it’s a good way to work without a lot of out of pocket expense.

Indie or traditional, the choice ultimately is yours. Decide how you best want to represent your manuscript. Know the choices you have and be willing to understand and accept the costs be they financial, chronometric, or both. In the end, I encourage you to focus on quality. Quality matters and your readers will thank you.

Friday Link Pack 05/01/2015

Happy Friday! It’s time to share a few links I’ve found over the last few days. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Let’s get to it…

Writing:

A Question About Editing
Interesting post from Hugh Howey about editing, today’s reader, and the modern expectation of perfection in writing.

The State Of Storytelling In The Internet Age
A quick overview covering how amazing things are to how much of the industry is in flux. It’s now so much easier to reach so many people, and the internet has opened up so many new channels for creators, but new struggles have emerged.

Little Triggers
I am wary of the phrase “trigger warning”, and I’m glad to see Neil Gaiman is with me. I highly recommend checking out this post from his new book Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances. In this excerpt Neil explores how fiction is supposed to push us, teach us things, and help us grow.

The Story You Want to Read
Fellow author and writing group pal, Michael Ripplinger, explores a specific story arc—the return of an ancient evil—that attracted him to writing. It’s always fun recognizing these sort of things in our writing.

A CthulhuCon Debriefing
Last weekend we didn’t have a Friday Link Pack because I was heading down to Portland for CthulhuCon. How did it go? Fantastic! I break it down in this post, hit the highlights, and share a few pictures.

Art:

Artist Transforms The 12 Zodiac Signs Into Terrifying Monsters
I love monsters. Who doesn’t? So I was on board when I saw Damon Hellandbrand‘s take on the familiar zodiac signs. Libra is my favorite.

Catch My Fade – Seamus Conley
So one of Kari-Lise and my favorite artists is Seamus Conley. There’s something so emotional in every one of his pieces. His latest series, Catch My Fade, currently being show at the Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco, California is nothing short of amazing.

Re-Covered Books Contest: ‘The Old Man and the Sea’
I really enjoy these recover contests that the Fox in Black does occasionally. They’re really handy for indie authors to get some good ideas on cover designs, plus you always find some really beautiful pieces. April’s contest for re-covering Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea is no exception.

Random:

The Dezeen Guide To Brutalist Architecture
Not everyone is a fan of brutalism, but I am. There’s something so combative about the buildings, something arrogant. I love the brash unapologetic retro-future style. In this article Dezeen Magazine explores brutalism architecture, and discusses how we should preserve the legacy.

It’s Time to Retire “Boob Plate” Armor. Because It Would Kill You
I think we’re all well aware at how ridiculous (and often sexist) “boob plate” armor can be, but armor’s job is safety, and in this article for Tor.com writer Emily Asher-Perrin gives us the best reason to avoid it: it would kill the wearer. [Thanks to Spencer for sharing this.]

18 Delightfully Artistic Vintage STD Posters
These vintage PSAs from the U.S. Army shows their focus of stamping out VD. They are amusing, terrifying, and well… a bit strange. It’s interesting how it seems to point the finger at women and not the male soldiers who were the guys actually doing most of the sleeping around. Ah, good ol’ sexism solidly alive and well in postwar America.

The Wikipedia Entry For Guam, Retold As A YA Novel
The fake-wikipedia article you always wanted to read. Tropes delightfully abound. [Big thanks to Christine for sharing this one. Hilarious stuff.]

Random Wikipedia Article of the Week:

The Hyphen War
“The Hyphen War (in Czech, Pomlčková válka; in Slovak, Pomlčková vojna—literally “Dash War”) was the tongue-in-cheek name given to the conflict over what to call Czechoslovakia after the fall of the Communist government.”

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Other Gods
Barzai the Wise and his disciple Atal climb a mountain to gaze upon the gods of the earth and discover more than they bargained for.

Gif of the Week:

gotta go fast!

A Spring Update

A Spring Update

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a news update. Looking back the last time I updated everyone on the progress was back in December. So yeah, time to rectify that. A lot of things have been happening and I am excited about 2015.


  • The Bell Forging Cycle, Book III — Red Litten World

    We’re so close! I can almost taste it.

    • TEASER SITE IS LIVE

      The teaser site for Red Litten World has been live for a while. But I haven’t really called attention to it. You can see what’s happening over on redlittenworld.com. We’re going back to Lovat, people.

    • COVER REVEAL IS COMING

      You read that right. I have finalized the cover of Red Litten World and we’ll be doing a big ol’ cover reveal very soon. I’ll be making a bigger blog post around the coming cover reveal and revealing the date a little later. Subscribers to my newsletter get the first glimpse. So if you’re not a member, sign up today. Just click here to sign up →

    • MANUSCRIPT HAS MOVED TO EDITING

      We’re getting close! As of a week ago I handed the manuscript of Red Litten World over to my editor. Now the hard/fun part begins. The manuscript topped out at 105,823 words which makes this the longest in the series so far. But, I’m sure a big chunk of those will get cut. (That’s a good thing.) Really excited getting into this portion.


  • CthulhuCon Next Weekend

    I’m planning a post about my CthulhuCon schedule later this week. But since it’s coming I did want to hit on some highlights.


  • Another Vague O.D.E. Updates

    So I have been pretty quiet on O.D.E.. So quiet in fact I haven’t really revealed the title! But that’s all going to change real soon. I’m nearly finished with the first draft, and the cover is coming along, and I am pretty excited about the project as a whole. It’s refreshing to write a standalone story.

    As I have mentioned in the past, this is much different from The Bell Forging Cycle but it’s a cool world with some engaging characters wrapped up in an intense story, I think you’ll dig it. More to come later.


  • Introducing: The Faults of Man, A Bell Forging Novella

    If you’re a watcher of my project tracker, you’ll have noticed that I am working on a novella title: The Faults of Man. This is intended to be a short story set in the Territories but not told from Wal’s perspective. I’m keeping a lid on the plot right now (you’ll have to wait until Red Litten World arrives) but the idea is this will take place during the events of Red Litten World and will focus on some familiar characters.


  • Tuesday Tales? Wednesday Words?

    So over the weekend I did a reading. I had a lot of fun doing it, and got a pretty warm reception. Kari-Lise suggested I keep doing it, and I thought it’d be fun to make it a weekly thing. Maybe read through The Stars Were Right. I mention it here to really judge the reception of that. If you think it’s something I should do, shoot me an email or leave a comment below. If there’s enough interest we’ll make it a regular thing.


So there’s the spring update. My writing is all in a weird spot, as you can see there is a lot of things coming, but nothing is quite here. That said, a big part of writing is pushing through, and I’m going to keep on pushing. Thanks to all my readers and fans for sticking around, it’ll be worth it.

Hemingway Editor

Review: Hemingway Editor

Recently I became aware of 38Long’s Hemingway Editor. Over the weekend I had a little time and I figured I’d download it and give it a try. I was really pleased with the result. Taking it’s name from Hemingway himself the software goal is broad: it works to make your writing bolder and clearer.

How does the Hemingway Editor do this? Well, it scans your text and hunts for wordy sentences, annoying adverbs, the use of passive voice, and complicated words. Here’s a screenshot the Hemingway Editor in action, scanning a passage from my upcoming novel Red Litten World. (Don’t worry, I picked one that is spoiler free.)

Hemingway Editor

Ooof, there’s an unnecessary “very” in there there, and some harder sentences towards the end. Wow… look at that awkward lead sentence, how’d that get in there? (Fret not, I’ve already trimmed it down.)

As you can see it’s a thorough and useful piece of software. There’s a few minor bugs with the way tooltips hover, but nothing that makes the software unusable by any means. While not a replacement for a real human editor, it’s a good sanity check for writers, and for the low price of $6.99 for the PC/Mac desktop version it’s worth every penny. The Hemingway Editor also has a free version online, you can check it out at: hemingwayapp.com. Try it yourself, see if it’s something that you’d incorporate into your own workflow. I know it’ll have a place in mine.

Will You Wait For Me by Kari-Lise Alexander

Friday Link Pack 02/13/15

Dun dun dunnnnn… it’s Friday the 13th. While you’re avoiding mirrors, ladders, and black cats why not spend a few moments and browse a few links I’ve found over the last several days. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! All right, let’s get to it…

Writing:

When To Stop Polishing A Manuscript
Hemingway was trolling you.

In Defense Of Editing
Sarah Hoyt discusses the importance of editing. Thinking of going indie? Hire an editor. Think an editor is too expensive? Hire an editor. Your work deserves it.

“Sponsored” By My Husband: Why It’s A Problem That Writers Never Talk About Where Their Money Comes From
It’s a few weeks old now, but I found this article from Ann Bauer poignant. Many creatives often hide the fact they are supported by someone or have been given a leg up. That dishonesty doesn’t help the other artists who might not be so advantaged and struggle to maintain lifestyles that are unreachable.

How Well Should Your Characters Know Themselves?
We don’t always see our own blemishes. Should the characters we create be any different? Some great thoughts from Victoria Grefer.

Art:

Inflorescence
The latest series from my wife, oil painter Kari-Lise Alexander. I highly recommend checking this out and seeing her latest work. It’s quiet, serene, and beautiful. I couldn’t be prouder. Show opens tomorrow at Distinction Gallery in Escondido, California. Stop by if you’re in the San Diego area!

Unsettling Ceramic Sculptures By Ronit Baranga
Life-like lips and fingers emerge from beautiful porcelain. Disturbing? Yes. Yet incredibly engaging. [Thanks to Kirk for sharing this.]

Detailed Close Ups Star Wars Spaceships
I considered throwing this in Random, but the artistry involved in these original models cannot be denied. It’s beautiful and detailed work.

Random:

The 10 Scariest Monsters From Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos
Den of Geek attempts to answer the question: which of the elder gods was the most terrifying? Not sure I agree with the outcome but it’s an interesting list and it features some obscure monsters. (Okay, it’s killing me! You had one job! ONE JOB! YIG!? Come on! The right answer was Nyarlathotep!)

Someone Flew A Drone Through Chernobyl And The Result Is Haunting
This short film from British filmmaker Danny Cooke blew me away. I had seen images of Chernobyl before, but moving through the landscape opens it up even further. There’s something so melancholy about the slow flyovers of Pripyat that I kept thinking about this video for days.

Scientists Plan To Resurrect The Woolly Mammoth, Jurassic Park-Style
Upside: as far as we know mammoths ate plants are are relatives to elephants. Downside: as far as we know… this is Friday the 13th after all.

[NEW!] Random Wikipedia Article of the Week:

Wherein I got to Wikipedia and hit Random Article until I find something good/weird/offensive/hilarious/interesting/etc. This weeks entry:

Fart Proudly, A Letter To A Royal Academy
“A Letter To A Royal Academy” was composed by Benjamin Franklin in response to a call for scientific papers from the Royal Academy of Brussels. Franklin believed that the various academic societies in Europe were increasingly pretentious and concerned with the impractical. Revealing his “bawdy, scurrilous side,” Franklin responded with an essay suggesting that research and practical reasoning be undertaken into methods of improving the odor of human flatulence.

Well… there you go.

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

Discarded Draft Of The Shadow over Innsmouth
I featured The Shadow over Innsmouth in the 10/11/13 Link Pack but since it’s Kari-Lise’s favorite Lovecraft story and her show opens this week I figured I’d feature it again. But! Instead of the original, why not read through the discarded draft. Dun dun dunnnnnn…!

Gif of the Week:

12RB8