literature

Virtual E-Book Fair

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Have you attended the Virtual Ebook Fair? If not, what are you waiting for? This event is taking the Internet by storm. In just a few months it’s become a favorite hang out for readers and authors alike as they mingle and chat.  Started as part of bestselling author, Tammie Clarke Gibbs’ launch for her latest release, SWORN TO SECRECY, a time-travel  romance, the Virtual Ebook Fair quickly became an event everyone is looking forward to.

Traditional book fairs have always been a favorite for booklovers, now you can attend one and meet new and new to you authors as well as some of your favorites without spending for admission fees and gas to get to the event and while there’s nothing that can take the place of meeting authors in person there are many benefits to attending in your pjs from the comfort of your own home.

Originally, a one-day Saturday event, the Virtual Ebook Fair is now held over two days beginning each week on Friday and running through Saturday at 10 pm est.

Each author has their own booth, and some have more than one where they share a short excerpt from their ebooks/books and then give you a link where you can read more or buy the book and visit their website/blogs. In addition to the excerpts, many share funny accounts of the writing process and interact with visitors in a fun way.

You can enter to win giveaway e-books by subscribing to the brand-new  Reader’s Rock emagazine that will launch in June. The subscription is currently free and gives you one entry for each week’s giveaways. You only have to register once.  In addition, authors often give out coupons for free e-books or run one or two-day  sales on their e-books.

If you really love to read, you’ll love this event, and it just gets better and better. Growing by leaps and bounds, it promises to continue to be one of the hottest destinations for booklovers around. What are you waiting for JOIN the event today?!

Blog – http://www.virtualebookfair.com

Blog – http://www.readersrockmagazine.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/VirtualEbookFair

Event Page Link for this weekend: May 31- June 1: https://www.facebook.com/events/381254251993089/

The Big Editing Services Scam

This morning I decided to do a little fun research about the cost of hiring an editor.  Now this is in no way a scientifically based study, I googled and picked one at random, to check out her rates and qualifications.

She charges £17 – £22 per 1000 words.  Multiply that by the number of words in your novel and you’ll get a final cost.  Multiply this final cost by how many books you write per year and you’ll get a yearly cost.

She has some qualifications (allegedly).  A PhD in English Lit, BA in English and an MPhil in medieval studies.  All good qualifications, although I fail to see how a degree in medieval studies makes her qualified to comment on my space operas..!

The job of editor is multi layered.  They have to find your structural errors – spelling, punctuation, grammar, tense, continuity errors, passive voice and all the other structural mistakes we all make when we write.  On top of that, they give their opinions on the other, more abstract areas of your writing, which generally consists of comments about your characters, the environments, situations and the action within the story; whether they like it or not is basically what this part of the job means.  Okay that is simplifying it somewhat, but in essence that what it is.

The structural errors are things we can all learn to correct ourselves.  We don’t need an editor to find our spelling mistakes, wrong tenses, bad punctuation (or none at all), and faulty grammar.  You can google and learn how to punctuate your dialogue correctly, you can learn about the correct use of tenses and you can easily brush up on your grammar.  There are millions upon millions of articles about passive voice versus active voice and it doesn’t take long to find out what a dangling modifier is nor how many adverbs are too many adverbs.

You don’t need to pay someone to do this for you.  You can do it yourself easily, by researching and buying a few books on writing basics. If you pay someone to do this stuff for you, you are either too lazy to do it yourself or you have far more money than sense.  Good for you, whatever blows your skirt up.  Most of us don’t have that kind of money and we’re made to feel unworthy as writers for not shelling out hundreds and thousands of pounds to have someone do it for us.  I once had a gal on facebook tell me she charged “up to 1500” for editing.  Although she didn’t say whether that was pounds or dollars, it’s still a lot.  When I told her I couldn’t afford it, she then posted on her page, naming me by name, that I obviously didn’t value my own work highly enough and that if I did, I would pay.  Those who know me well enough won’t need me to explain how I reacted to that..!

As for the more abstract areas of writing, this is where I have the biggest problem with editors.  No matter what qualifications you have, your opinion as to my characters’ depth (or lack thereof), my story arc, the realism of my narrative or the enjoyment to be gained from reading my work is of no more value than anyone else’s.  This is not something that a degree in English can teach, it is felt by each individual reader.  Some will like it, others will not.

All authors out there feeling bad because they can’t afford an editor, stop feeling bad.  Buy books on punctuation and grammar.  Research the internet about these basic building blocks of writing, all the info is there by the truck load for you to read.  Once you’ve corrected the spellings, punctuation and so on, get family and friends to read it and ask them intelligent questions.  Are the characters believable? Are any characters superfluous to the story? Does the story flow? Are the environments realistic enough?  Is the action right for the story?  Their answers to theses type of questions, rather than just “did you like it?”  will tell you what (if anything) needs to be tweaked, added or taken away.

This gal may be very good at her job, she may be a total fraud.  The thing is, you could be paying her thousands of pounds for a job you can do yourself, with a little time devoted to learning the basics.  People think that because someone calls themselves an editor, that what they say about your book is gospel and you’ll be bound to fail if you don’t apply their recommendations.  This is bollocks.  All they do is give their opinion, which is no more valid than anyone else’s.

Don’t shell out your life savings or remortgage your condo to hire someone to do something you can do yourself.

First of my brand new space opera series to be out soon

I’ve been away from blogging for a while (yeah I know you didn’t even notice I was gone) due to the demands of editing and formatting.

Now that The Lilean Chronicles series is complete, I have the first volume in a brand new space opera series coming out very shortly.  I’ve recently completed the final edits and spent several hours yesterday formatting for smashwords, KDP and then battled with the paperback formatting.  Formatting for paperback always gives me grey hairs but as I do more and more, I get to win the battle more quickly each time.

It’s those damn headers and footers; I  hate them and they hate me.

I’ve found out through trial and error that it’s all down to where you have section breaks and where you have page breaks.  I put all the front matter (title page, copyright notice, dedication) as one complete section with page breaks between the pages and a section break at the end.  Then I put all the chapters as a second complete section, with page breaks at the end of each chapter and a section break after THE END.  Any endpapers (coming soon etc) goes as a third seperate section.

Headers and footers are only required in the actual chapters.  You don’t have page numbers or the book title at the top of the page for instance, on the front matter or the end papers.  I’ve always found that Word keeps putting headers and footers on my front matter when I put it on the chapter section, but then when I remove them from the front matter, they also disappear from the chapters, ARGH..!

Then I happened to find out that the headers and footers have ‘same as previous’ on them by default, which means Word automatically makes them the same as the previous section.  So, if you want them in the chapters, Word will also put them in the previous section (the front matter) because it defaults to ‘same as previous’ all the time.

With me so far?

What you have to do is turn off the ‘same as previous’ thing and then it will just put the headers and footers in the current section.

You must also make sure that the page numbering is also set to start at number 1 (it defaults to 2 sometimes) and that you unclick ‘continue from last section’ and then click ‘number first page’.

It all sounds very complicated and it is, far too bloody complicated but I am determined to get this.  It only took me a couple of hours battling this time.  Hopefully when I release my NaNoWriMo novel in July, I’ll get it right first try.

Now that the formatting is done I just have to wait for my cover art guy to do his bit, although I just found out he has the flu so he may not be well enough to do this one.  I plan to publish within the next two weeks so if he isn’t well enough I’ll be doing it myself.  Thankfully he’s taught me so much over the last four books that I feel pretty confident I can do a front cover without a problem.  I’ve been doing digital fan art for ages and this particular cover is a simple design; just one complete photo with text for the title and author name.

I hope he’s recovered by July as my NaNoWriMo novel cover is quite a complicated one..!

I’ve joined the Amazon fetish club

Since I’ve been writing I’ve learned many things, all of which have value somewhere, somehow.  Until now, I’ve published my books via lulu and smashwords and avoided Amazon.

The reason I’ve left Amazon alone is because I’m English and live in the UK and to publish via Createspace (Amazon’s paperback publishing platform) and Kindle (its e-book publishing platform) you need to have a USA tax code or they stiff you for 30% of all profits for their tax.  The complexity of getting such a code as always put me off, until I discovered the shortcut (which I explained in my previous blog here).

So now I have my EIN code I decided to join Amazon and get my books up there.

One of the things I’ve learned since I’ve been writing is that the book world seems to have a very strong Amazon fetish and unless your work is available there, you’re ignored or not taken as a ‘serious’ self pubber.  I don’t know why this should be but it is, so it’s a case of join up or be left behind.

I’ve spent the last fortnight reformatting all 3 volumes of The Lilean Chronicles for Amazon and finally tonight I got the last one uploaded.  Sometime tomorrow I’ll be able to post the links and stand up with the rest of the ‘real’ writers with my head held high and shriek

…..”I’VE JOINED THE AMAZON FETISH CLUB”…..

Paying for reviews

I recently read an article about an amazon best selling author who admitted to buying the bulk of his 5 star reviews in a deliberate attempt to fiddle the figures so he could get onto the best seller list.  I then read an article about a guy who admitted to running a website offering to write 5 star reviews for payment and how he made an absolute fortune from doing it.

My initial reactions are two fold.  First and foremost I’m not at all surprised that this has finally come out into the open for I firmly believe that this has been going on ever since online publishing/selling has been going on.  Maybe not in such an overtly commercial way but I would be willing to bet that at least 7 out of every 10 self published authors have ‘persuaded’ or ‘cajoled’ or just plain ‘begged’ their families and friends to write a gushing review for them.  I have always been amazed by the vehemence with which authors deny this goes on and similarly, by the lack of discussion or debate on this subject.

Secondly I’m disappointed, of course.  As indie authors we have enough stigma to deal with without this shit adding to our already less than perfect public image.  It also means that no one will ever be able to take a review seriously any more for we will all be wondering “is it a real one or a fake?”  and we’ll undoubtedly assume that gushing 5 star reviews are automatically fakes from now on.  It also means that those who write reviews genuinely (are there such folks?) will be less inclined to give 5 stars in case people think they’re fake.

In reality, it won’t make that much difference to me as I’ve found that people are very unwilling to write reviews at all and although hundreds of my novels have been downloaded, I’ve only received 4 or 5 reviews in total.  This is another thing that proves to me the the vast majority of reviews are fakes; people just don’t write reviews.  They can’t be arsed.  They want your free book and don’t want to give anything in return.  Yes I know readers are our customers but hey, they got my books for free y’know..!

I guess it’s all down to human nature at the end of the day.  People are selfish creatures; we want something for nothing and we don’t want to be bothered giving anything in return.  I used to be a bus driver and I found that passengers were very quick to complain when something was wrong but when everything was as it should be, they never said a word.  This used to amaze and disappoint me and in a way it still does but I’ve become a little more resigned to it now.

So where do these two revelations of review fixing leave us?  What is our next step?  Well, it will still continue of course and possibly even increase now that these two articles have been published to give hundreds of people the idea they never would’ve had before.

Maybe I’m in the wrong trade and I should turn my hand to review writing…!