I’m participating in a Strong Women in Fiction giveaway! You can win an audiobook code for any one of my books! I’ll be giving away 2 codes for the US Audible store and 1 for the UK Audible store. (If you can sign into Audible from your country just sign up for the appropriate country.)
I try to make all my female characters strong. They are strong in different ways. Eva is sort of physically strong, but she is very strong in intellect in her particular field, she is strong because she is a survivor. Faye is a survivor, she is physically strong, she is a leader and has the strength of her community. Daisy is strong, she’s got a long way to go to grow into her strength but she has the strength of convictions and passions. Diane’s strength comes from her kindness and love. Heather is strong in her passionate defense of nature. Jenna has the strength of a survior and her sense of self is strong. Ethel is magically strong and strong in that she has seen everything during her lifetime. Liv is physically strong and she’s strong for her daughter. Allie’s strength lies in dealing with the disasters she makes for herself (maybe someday she’ll learn how to not do that, but don’t hold your breath). Strength is different for different characters. I’ve only really got 2 physically really strong characters (and only 1 of them is incredibly strong).
Strength comes with complexities. Allie charges forward with a great strength of conviction into lots of impulsive decisions. She’s always sure they are the right choice. And she’s strong enough to struggle her way out of it when it turns out that they aren’t really. She’s not that smart, she’s fine and does ok at work, but wow does she make bad choices for good reasons. Coming to realize that would be strength…we shall see if she’s strong enough for that.
Diane is passionate about helping others. She loves to help animals. She cares so deeply for those around her. She would sacrifice anything to help and care for those who can’t help themselves. And that strength is incredible. Even if she’s clumsy and not quite sure how to piece things together and doesn’t always see what’s obvious. She’s going to be the one to bring you soup when you are sick and walk your dog. And that’s absolutely strength too.
Another round of Insecure Writer’s Support Group. This time I’ve been thinking about revitalization.
The Official March Question
Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?
Um…yes and no? “Really old” is pretty subjective. I feel like it’s hard to say yes because I’ve not pulled out anything that existed only on paper. (Though my mom did find a story I wrote when I was 5. It was adorable. But I didn’t feel the need to rework it.)
Dangerous Metal was initially a radically different story. I wrote it, tried to go back and edit it, actually went through and changed the tense and POV for about 75% of the book before I realized that the whole story didn’t work. I finally reevaluated what the story really needed to be about, what was the core of it, what was the conflict, what was interesting. So I sat down and wrote Dangerous Metal with the same(ish) cast of characters and what had been barely a side plot turned to be the focus. What had been the primary plot trashed entirely. What had been the genre trashed entirely. And really pivoted hard. Hard.
I think it turned out really well for the most part. Far better than the initial, which had some good moments, but was still really rough. I’m not a great writer now, I hope to always be able to be a better writer and be able to see that I can be a better writer. But wow was I worse then. I’ve learned a lot of stuff since. And that’s continuing to be true.
I feel like I’ve had several hurdles I’ve manage to climb over (because that’s what you do with hurdles, I mean, you’re supposed to effortlessly leap them while staying low to the ground and maintaining an incredible speed… but when I as not a magician try to deal with hurdles I climb over them). Each time I manage to get to the other side I do better, so I look back and go WOW.
First, characters. This was a long time ago, creating characters-for the most part-seems like the natural thing to do.
Then I spent a lot of time, strangely writing …descriptive things? I once write a wikipedia style thing about an alien solar system, including all the math. That was fun. (I’m not kidding, I quite enjoyed the math and structure that came with it.) Then oddly once it came to creating characters or plot I just went…nah! (And more of these hurdles…dot.dot.dot boring!)
I think I’ve come a long way, and I can see that what I go back to redo doesn’t have the benefits that present me brings to the table so it is hard to rework some much older things, or things that are significant hurdles ago. Sometimes it is easier to set things aside. I know the times I struggle the most are when I try to rework something that has real deeply fundamental flaws because I’m simply a writer with more knowledge now than I was before. That’s ok. I’d say that’s great. But it does make it harder to rework things.
How about you? Check out what other insecure writers have to say too!
I’m giving away 5 audiobooks for winter. You can pick which of my audiobooks you’d prefer. All you have to do is tell me your favorite episode and you are entered for a chance to win. Fill it out below, share, and listen.
In case you don’t remember the episodes, here they are. Enjoy.
The thing that was hard for me was what do you put in a book.
I looked at something like hundreds of ebooks. I looked at giant well known published by huge companies books and lots and lots of self published books. There are things all books should have, but even that? Not every book is the same.
The only thing every book I looked at had was a copyright page. (Many of those were different). I read a bunch of stuff about this page and really tried my best to model it on what I needed and what seemed to be required.
Table of Contents
I was a little surprised not all movies had one. I really like having them, but not everyone does. The weirdest version I decided was not for me was the TOC at the end of the novel.
I wrote like 30 of these and trashed 30 of these. I’m not sure if I’m not good at it. If it was the book. If it was something else. Lots of authors had them, but it was far from universal.
OK I lied earlier. All books also had content!
About the Author
Not all books had one of these. A short bio, future projects, other things. This was hard to write as well, but once it is done, I’ve got a bio to use for lots of things. It was important to include. I struggled over which links to include, I still don’t know if that’s what I should have in there.
I didn’t include this because Dangerous Metal is the first full length novel. The next project I’ve got coming out will have one of these pages. It does seem incredibly important. And it does seem like some authors are going in to update these, which I appreciate.
I really like when authors group them by genre or series. I like when these are linked and easy to get at.
This is something I need to do better with.
I don’t have anything that fits really well with this book. This may still be an error. I have 4 novella’s that are pretty close to ready to go, it would have been easy to include them. Except they are all much more urban fantasy bent. I like both fantasy and sci-fi (hey! have you heard of the podcast? I’m really really big tent with that!) but not everyone does.
I think looking at it now that I may have been overly conservative. I have a tendency to do this in things. Like no one will want to read the excerpt of Oak Stream Hollow! ACK Dangit Mariah. Share! Put it out there. I’m bad at this.
MORE! Links! Extra content! Sharing! More, hey if you want more, there is more.
I love reading the next chapters at the end of a book I loved. Honestly? Even more when it is something I wouldn’t have normally read but also love. So yeah. I need to do some more of this. I also want to do better at sharing audio and promoting the audio. Mostly because I love audio and I want to share it.
I promised to talk about formatting for Dangerous Metal so here it is. (For a straight up roundup of formatting links I’ve already made that post.) If you have questions about it please let me know!
For me there were really two elements to formatting. One technical. (Not entirely difficult, I used Scrivener, which made it much easier.) The other just…what should a book look like. This post got long so this is mostly just the techincal piece. Why I picked the tools, where it goes, etc. I’m not sure what else people want to know, so again, fire away with questions!
So the primary decision for me was to make it an epub. A couple reasons.
Works for just about everything. You can use it to upload your book to Amazon and Smashwords (which are the 2 places I’m going for right now). It is portable and reflowable. It is easy to make and easy to read. EPUB is readable on most devices. It isn’t DRMed. It is fairly small. Basically, it holds all I want and flows the way I want.
I don’t have or use MS Word at home. (I do at my day job, I do so much that I cannot wait to be not using it. Some days I want to come home and hug my Mac just because it isn’t MS and I didn’t have to answer 300 questions about why does MS do things they way they do it.)
I use Google docs (pretty extensively, especially for sharing, any feedback work I do is within google docs, I also use google sheets almost exclusively for my spreadsheet needs, I use google drive to share audio with authors, etc. So I’m pretty comfortable with the google sphere.
Google docs does let you export as an ePub. I did that once, never again. (Well maybe, if my workflow stops working and google improves I may have to look around again.) I would imagine that doing appropriate things like using headings is very important to getting a good product here.
But google is generally just a stop in the workflow (especially now that I can scrivener on my phone!) so it doesn’t stop here.
Sometimes I use pages. I’ve used it for some specific projects. I’ve used it when I want to do a lot of editing on a long document. My biggest issues with google docs is that it slow down so very hard on big documents. I feel like once I pass 10K I need a new solution. Pages has often been the long form editing tool. It’s not perfect either. But it is better so far than Google docs, especially when I want comments or markup/revision/whatever you call it on something longer. The big downside is I basically only use this with myself.
I have liked its direct exports better than I’ve liked the google ones so far.
I’d say that it would likely take a few solid hours of practicing, trying, tweaking, adjusting, and just learning. But less than a full day’s work can turn out a very good one the first go round if you know what you want. If you don’t know what you want it is a lot harder. At this point I can put out a ready to go epub in much less than an hour, including testing it out and going back to fix all the stuff I missed, because there is always something I missed.
I like all the tools that Scrivener has, but even if it only easily turned my novels into pretty, easy, useful ePubs that would be enough. Downside? You currently can’t make the ePub from the iOS version. You need the desktop for that. Good news? Highly syncable.
Why not PDF?
Because I’m not writing a textbook? I know this sounds a little snarky, but seriously. Please please please don’t make your novel in PDF. I know there is some value in it. Heck I know I have options for it if you look under “Free” up at the top. But the more I do this the more I go, no! No! Why?! When I have to read one it just feels slow, old fashioned, and clunky.
I will likely be re-evaluating my own PDFs later this year and possibly getting rid of them. I’d rather put in the extra work to make a nice smooth ePub. For me at least they open up nice and smoothly on my iPad. I’m not 100% sure how they flow on Kindles which is my primary concern with dumping them, but I feel like I’d rather make a mobi than a PDF.
I know PDFs are easy. They are SO easy. And they look exactly like what you tell them to look like. I get the draw. I am drawn. They are universal, everyone knows them. Every device opens them. Heck they probabally even work on Blackberries!
But there is no flexibility. The beauty of an ePub (or a mobi) is that in iBooks (or Kindle) I can make the font bigger or smaller, I can do that and it doesn’t make me move the book around. I can make the background a different color, I can go for a dark mode, I can change the font (if you picked a cutsey hard to read one? great, I can change it!). I personally am a sans serif reader. I know many others are serif readers. We can each do what works best for us. I can flip pages or I can scroll. I can do all those things.
So yes, I guess PDFs are important. But not primary!
This got long. I cut the next piece which was more what to include when formatting, and why I picked what I picked.
For Dangerous Metal I went the self-publishing route, and some of my reasons for that were in last week’s post. Today I’m going to talk about distribution, why I am distributing the way I am.
First a failure!
Personally, I read on iBooks most of the time. If I have the option to read in iBooks or Kindle I pick iBooks every time. (I read enough on iBooks that I got enough money back to buy a couple of new author programs and new books!) I got set up with iTunes for the podcast very easily. I went well I’ll try to set up with iBooks directly.
Dangerous Metal ebook cover
…….no. Just no.
I knew you needed to own a Mac, I do, so no problem there. I knew that epub would work. Great. I can make an epub. (more on that later) I spent three nights after work fighting with it. Trying to find the iTunes Publisher, and get signed up because I need a different connect account and I need all this other stuff and emails weren’t coming through and you know what? Maybe next time. (And I will likely try again, just my frustration got too much so not this round.)
Actual Distribution with Kindle and Smashwords
My choice has been to submit directly to Amazon and submit everywhere else with Smashwords.
Direct to Amazon?
Some of the things I’ve published I’ve tried the exclusivity thing with. (Nothing has done well. I’m not doing it with Dangerous Metal for that and many other reasons.) I can upload the epub and so far it has always worked smoothly for me. It has been quick and easy to upload.
I’ve also had some concerns about the connection with ACX. For ACX you claim a book on Amazon and then set up from there. If the book is updated there can be Whispersync issues, etc.
For me, it makes a lot more sense to do Amazon directly.
I know that Smashwords is one of several different distribution companies (I read a bunch of stuff about Smashwords vs D2D. The primary downside of Smashwords seems to be that it is “harder” to format. The primary upside is that they have more distribution locations (libraries! and I can set a lower price for libraries). I haven’t had any format issues with Smashwords at all. The epub I’ve created has so far turned out just fine, no formatting throwbacks at all. So Smashwords works well for me.
You had to know it was coming! Audio distribution for me is through ACX. It is incredibly easy. Once the book was on Amazon (even just for pre-order) I can go into my ACX account and claim the book and then upload it.
The reason my audiobook was out before the ebook is because I can’t set a preorder date on ACX. I have a couple books that I narrated that have been hung up for a long time so I thought that it would be slower. HA!
ACX turned my book around and published it in under a week. It can sometimes take longer so it is a little hard to judge when that goes live. (The other book is still hung up, go figure!)
ACX sends the audiobook to Audible, iBooks, and Amazon.
I’m not 100% sure what gets something set up with Whispersync but most of my stuff has ended up Whispersync.
So Dangerous Metal has 3 primary distribution points. Amazon (KDP), Smashwords, and ACX.
But wait…what about paper?!
Nope. This may be an error, I’m not sure. I am open to working on this later. For me, paper books are a super low priority. I am not excited to see my book in the store. It isn’t something I am pushing for. I know I’m not going to go out and get my local bookstore to sell it on their shelves. (Because that would require talking…to people…) I don’t go to conventions (again…people….) or do events (with people….) so for me at this point I’m not doing that.
I might in the future. But I’m not right now for Dangerous Metal.
This might be too personal and it will have some Dangerous Metal spoilers so I’m going to put it behind a cut. (Yes, even though I don’t believe in them…spoilers, I believe in read more cuts…) I will do more posts about formatting and publishing, this is sort of the how it was to write it and such.
I’ve been a bit busy and haven’t been posting as much last week and this. But it is all for a good reason. I’m putting the finishing touches on my novel and getting it ready for launch. Dangerous Metal is a cyberpunk thriller and I’ve got some brand new things to share.
Dangerous Metal ebook cover
I will, of course, be doing an audiobook version as well. (Recording is what has been devouring my time.)
Dangerous Metal audiobook cover
Eva is happy to get her life back to normal, or as normal as it can for a woman who had half her brain replaced by a computer implant of her own making. Then Ernie, the ex who put a hole in her skull, shows up for dinner with her parents.
It isn’t up for preorder on audiobook but as soon as that is live I’ll be sure to post a link. I’ll also be giving away a few audiobook codes.
I keep warring with myself about this. Do I warn people? This isn’t a nice book. One of my beta readers called it unglamorous and a book that sits cold in your gut. This isn’t a warm fuzzy book. This isn’t about people taking a happy vacation. It is a cyberpunk thriller so it really shouldn’t be, but even for cyberpunk…it isn’t just a noir with pretty tech. Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots of pretty tech. I love the tech. But it isn’t a detached story.
Part of me is like NO!! don’t tell people to not read your book, you have got to be kidding me! That is the worst idea. You are supposed to tell people how awesome it is. (And it is awesome, another beta reader said it had all the feels.)
But…I don’t want someone to pick this up thinking it is a light-hearted romp. So, buy my book, but be aware.
As I mentioned I still have some finalizing pieces to do so I think I won’t likely post again this week. Podcast episode on Friday (and it will be a light-hearted romp!) but that’s all until next week.