Publishing Possibilities


Wordsmith Six members have been writing and critiquing together for many years now, and we are continually exploring opportunities for our work. It’s very exciting to move into new creative venues, and with that I’m happy to announce that two of our members have started their own publishing companies!

Yesterday’s Dream – Today’s Reality!

Rory C. Keel is now accepting clients for Carpe Diem Publishers, offering complete services for authors. Rory will take your book wide, in print and eBook, and offers a variety of services to help you realize your dream of holding that book in your hand.

Carpe Diem Publishers will be publishing our Route 66 collection of novellas soon. Stay tuned. We will let you know as work progresses.

Website: http://carpediempublishers.com

Always Keep Moving Forward

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know my books did not find a home through traditional publishing route, and that’s why I started NKB BOOKS, LLC. I write stories set in the West about the days of horse drawn wagons, cowboys, and the wild Texas frontier. Definitely not something that would appeal to a mainstream audience, but hopefully there is are readers out there who appreciate a good western story as much as I do.  I’m working to release my body of work, and that means hiring cover designers, finding formatters, and planning promotional events.  I am also working with several people on a few co-authoring projects that I will be publishing through my new LLC. I like the control so far, but it is a lot of work. I am not taking on any new clients at this time.

Website: http://nataliebright.com

Keep writing and always be on the lookout for new opportunities. You never know where this crazy journey will take you!

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Formatting Your eBook for Publication


Formatting Your eBook for Publication

Natalie Bright

I tried.

With open mind, I tried to learn everything about book formatting, because smart business owners should have an understanding about every component of their operation. Because I kept reading about issues with Microsoft Word conversions, I decided it might be best to make sure my book looks perfect in the format each distributor prefers.

The Scrivener online class was great [learnscrivenerfast.com] and I LOVE how organized my writing projects are, but the power of Scrivener is in the compile feature. I don’t like those 15 space paragraph indentions when my book comes up in the Kindle previewer and I cannot make them go away. Uhggg.

Another online class on Adobe InDesign for my picture books, researching conversion software with reviews out the whazoo (use this one vs. never use it, only use this one…), more instructional videos. And yes, I know there is exceptional software for MACs only. Don’t own one.

Appeals to our 20-something office manager who is supposed to be keeping our other stuff going while I do book stuff. Even she couldn’t help me, and she’s brilliant, so moving on. 1 month, 2 months, 3 months. What did I write during that time, you might wonder? A few blogs and the draft for an easy reader, and we did finish parent taught driver’s education which is HUGE and has nothing to do with my writing career.

Here is a rundown on the different formats to take our book “wide”. In a nutshell, set up an account and submit your properly formatted manuscript:

Amazon Kindle: MOBI

Kobo: refer to their conversion guidelines, but everything is converted to EPUB.

Smashwords: prefers DOC, DOCX which goes through a MeatGrinder, which turns it into an EPUB.

CreateSpace: PDF for print; fonts and pics must be embedded.

Ingram/Lightning Source: refer to the 37 page “File Creation Guide” (yikes! This made my stomach hurt.)

Draft2Digital: Their process creates an EPUB. Good news: you can skip the distributors above, as D2D will do the conversions for free and put it everywhere you want for 10% of your sales.

The Question

So, it boils down to this very important question: would you hire me to do your book formatting?

Absolutely NOT. Are you crazy? You are a savvy Indie Author and a smart business owner to boot. I wouldn’t hire me either, so I fired myself. There is this guy I know who is an absolute whiz and saved me another three months of learning software that I have no desire to understand.

Thank you, Phillip! www.GessertBooks.com

The Next Question

Accounts are set-up, submitted books are approved, tiny prayer for no typos, and then I am moving on to the next question. Who are my readers and where can I find them?

 

THE END! Now what?


THE END! Now what?

Natalie Bright

We had a great discussion at WordsmithSix meeting about the next step, after you’ve edited and polished your manuscript. You are ready to publish: now what? Several of our members have finished, or are in the home stretch with their manuscripts, and have a very big decision: a) shop their book with agents and editors and pursue a traditional publishing deal, or b) become an Indie Author. We try to keep it real here at Wordsmith Six, so here’s your reality check:

Today’s publishing environment is exhilarating and exhausting. It basically boils down to the following issues, assuming you have a polished and edited book ready for publication.

A. Traditional Publishing

1. Author receives 10% royalty from sales (+/- depending on deal).

2. Author pays 15% from their share to a literary agent, who negotiates the deal.

3. Publication date: years (some smaller presses move faster)

$. Advance: possible, but not guaranteed

6. Sign on the dotted line and give up ALL rights to your novel, characters, cover design, content. You are out of the process, which is a huge relief and appealing to some authors. Go write the next book.

7. Big name publisher assists with promotion (minimal for first-time authors, but invaluable if you are at best seller status). Authors maintain website and social media.

8. Publication Date: Years from now.

9. Validation from a traditional publishing house and the writing community (this is exciting because we all have big dreams).

B. Indie Author

1. Author receives 70% cut of sales (+/- depending on venue)

2. Author learns how, or pays out-of-pocket for professional editor, formatting, cover design, promotion. Most indie authors agree, the work is 50% writing and 50% business owner. You maintain complete control.

3. Go wide as in world wide eBooks and/or Print. You identify the target markets and you design promotion that best connects with your readers.

3.Publication Date: within weeks from this very minute. You decide launch date.

4. Validation from family and local community. Your cousin doesn’t care if the publisher is Me Writer, LLC or Random House, they just want to buy a copy of your book. The local book club is excited to hear your talk.

Have I left anything off of the list that might be significant to newbie authors based on your experience?

This past Saturday, I went to the Texas High Plains Writers workshop by Indie Author Bethany Claire[bethanyclaire.com who has propelled herself and her Scottish time-travel series to best-selling status. She has become successful on her own terms, to the point that she was able to hire her mother as her assistant. They are developing an online class to help other indie authors who are serious about elevating their writing to the next level and who want to build a successful business.

After Saturday’s workshop, I feel better about a recent decision regarding my own work. At the end of last year, I turned down an offer from a small press. For the standard 10% royalty and no advance, I would have signed away an entire page and one-half listing of rights for my inspirational book. Sure, this deal might have propelled it in the market place, but I had to submit a marketing plan as well. Why do publishers want rights they never intend to exploit? That’s not to say traditional publishing deals are something I’d never consider. It depends on the book. For this one, I said no thanks.

Remove your author big-dreams cap for a moment and look at things through clear, sensible eyes. This is business. YOUR business. What process will be optimal for the book in hand, and for your continued success? You have three choices: traditionally published; an Indie AuthorPrenuer all the way; or a ‘hybrid’, which is an author who has published books through both options. It’s all good.

Keep writing, be excellent, and more importantly, get your work out there so I can read it!

Formatting Your eBook for Publication


Formatting Your eBook for Publication

Natalie Bright

I tried.

With open mind, I tried to learn everything about book formatting, because smart business owners should have an understanding about every component of their operation. Because I kept reading about issues with Microsoft Word conversions, I decided it might be best to make sure my book looks perfect in the format each distributor prefers.

The Scrivener online class was great [learnscrivenerfast.com] and I LOVE how organized my writing projects are, but the power of Scrivener is in the compile feature. I don’t like those 15 space paragraph indentions when my book comes up in the Kindle previewer and I cannot make them go away. Uhggg.

Another online class on Adobe InDesign for my picture books, researching conversion software with reviews out the whazoo (use this one vs. never use it, only use this one…), more instructional videos. And yes, I know there is exceptional software for MACs only. Don’t own one.

Appeals to our 20-something office manager who is supposed to be keeping our other stuff going while I do book stuff. Even she couldn’t help me, and she’s brilliant, so moving on. 1 month, 2 months, 3 months. What did I write during that time, you might wonder? A few blogs and the draft for an easy reader, and we did finish parent taught driver’s education which is HUGE and has nothing to do with my writing career.

Here is a rundown on the different formats to take our book “wide”. In a nutshell, set up an account and submit your properly formatted manuscript:

Amazon Kindle: MOBI

Kobo: refer to their conversion guidelines, but everything is converted to EPUB.

Smashwords: prefers DOC, DOCX which goes through a MeatGrinder, which turns it into an EPUB.

CreateSpace: PDF for print; fonts and pics must be embedded.

Ingram/Lightning Source: refer to the 37 page “File Creation Guide” (yikes! This made my stomach hurt.)

Draft2Digital: Their process creates an EPUB. Good news: you can skip the distributors above, as D2D will do the conversions for free and put it everywhere you want for 10% of your sales.

The Question

So, it boils down to this very important question: would you hire me to do your book formatting?

Absolutely NOT. Are you crazy? You are a savvy Indie Author and a smart business owner to boot. I wouldn’t hire me either, so I fired myself. There is this guy I know who is an absolute whiz and saved me another three months of learning software that I have no desire to understand.

Thank you, Phillip! www.GessertBooks.com

The Next Question

Accounts are set-up, submitted books are approved, tiny prayer for no typos, and then I am moving on to the next question. Who are my readers and where can I find them?

 

THE WRITING PROCESS


THE WRITING PROCESS

            Head Games minus the Publishing Part

 

By N. Bright

 

It’s true that there are as many different writing processes and ways to craft a book as there are writers. However, based on what I’ve learned, all writers go through similar angst before they type THE END. Whether it’s your first book or 49th, I’m guessing you’ve probably experienced a few of these head games yourself.

 

  • You’re hit with an absolutely brilliant idea set in an amazing world. You are certain it will be a #1 NYT bestseller and a movie.
  • Realizing that you will never completely understand the time period, character profiles, theme, setting, plot—whatever it may be—to effectively write an entertaining story. Why are you torturing yourself?
  • First Draft. There is no possible way this can ever be a cohesive novel worthy of any reader. You should just watch television.
  • This isn’t that bad. Maybe your critique group will like it, and it might show promise after you tweak it based on their input.
  • Return to your life. The novel disappears under a stack of short stories waiting to be submitted and rough drafts of magazine articles.
  • Final Read. Outloud. To yourself. You discover it has some brilliant parts, but in your mind no one will ever read it. YOU like it and it’s done. Now what?
  • Spark…. See No. 1 above.

 

Happy NaNoWritMo everyone!

 

Parts of a Writer’s Brain


Parts of a Writer’s Brain

Reflection and Making Sense of Today’s Publishing Environment

by Natalie Bright

 

A Publisher’s Weekly article announced deluxe hardcover editions for 20 of Marguerite Henry’s novels for middle grade readers beginning this fall. The repackaging will include the original artwork by Wesley Dennis which were missing from some of the paperback editions. I have a treasured first-edition copy of SAN DOMINGO, published 1972. Part of me is jumping for joy that generations of readers will be able to discover these wonderful historicals. I’ll definitely be adding them to my home library, and what a perfect gift for a few horse-loving young people I know.

Business-Minded Part

The practical, business side of my brain completely understands the need to make low risk decisions. Selling books is a profitable business. Marketing professionals generate statistical analysis to determine what consumers will buy, knowing what the marketplace will embrace. As a business owner, I understand first-hand the pressures of having families depend on your ability to be profitable and to make payroll. This side of me also sympathizes with frustrated agents who are out there beating the bushes to tout stories in an industry that sometimes embraces work generated four decades ago. Taking chances on an unknown is risky.

Literary Fan Part

The artsy, fictional part of me will never understand the business side of this game. During the past month, I’ve attended two writer’s conferences where I’ve heard numerous unique and wonderful story ideas. Granted, they involve writers at various stages in their careers, but the point is these folks are working hard at learning their craft and creating original material. The ideas and creativity of today’s writers inspires me. I really want to read their work someday, any yet they’re continually dismissed and denied.

The Writing Part

The creative part feels dark and powerless. I realize how little control we have over our chosen profession. On some days my heart is crushed and my willingness to keep submitting is very much annoyed.

There are other days, rising from the dark side, that are filled with hope. The joy of words transforms me, I disappear into my WIP and I don’t want to come back to the reality of life. The story drives me to keep going. One feisty character in particular will not leave me alone. My super agent likes her too and is working hard to find her a home. I’m BUSTING to tell middle grade schools, book fairs, and cowboy symposiums about Silver Belle’s wild west. Right now. Today.

Patience: a willingness to suppress annoyance

when confronted with delay.

 

The Big Picture Part

In this crazy time of publishing I force myself to take a breath, step back and consider the big picture. In my mind, the big picture continues to be our ability to write a great story. As readers, we can find great stories as well via any medium you choose. Whether it’s indie published or traditional, if you discovered a gem by one of today’s authors, tweet or post a review so that other readers can discover their work too. It only takes a few seconds.

As an author, if you are absolutely committed to the craft and the story that only you can create, put aside your emotional artsy self, find your business cap and consider all of the options available for publishing your work. Best of luck on your journey.

In the meantime, I’ll be anxiously anticipating the re-release of Marguerite Henry’s wonderful books and I’ll keep writing the stories that are occupying the space inside of my head. Writers write.

 Perseverance: steady persistence in a course of action,

especially in spite of discouragement.

What to Expect at OWFI


What to Expect at OWFI

By Natalie Bright

 

The Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc. hosts an annual conference in the spring. If you’ve never been to a conference for writers, I highly recommend this one held in Oklahoma City. My head’s still buzzing from this years, and while it’s fresh on my mind, I thought I’d share what you can expect from the experience:

1)    Buzz Sessions: After a full day of learning followed by a banquet with a keynote speaker, OWFI organizes late night discussions. Usually the current faculty along with several other published authors lead discussions on specific topics either in the lobby area or in their rooms. Beginning right after the banquet around 9:00, these talks can go well past midnight. This year I attended one led by Christine Taylor-Butler. I used up my cell phone battery taking notes because I forgot my notepad. She talked about the Highlights Foundation workshop which she attended as a newbie, her experiences with agents and editors, submitting work, breaking into nonfiction for children, how she organizes her research, plus some. This is where you gain insider information about the business from people who’ve been in the trenches writing and launching careers. Buzz sessions have become one of my favorite parts of OWFI.

2)    Bookstore: Books by the speakers and OWFI members were available for purchase at a bookstore located right across from the meeting classrooms. It’s a good place to catch faculty when they’re not doing presentations to ask specific questions. Conference bookstores may not be the best place to sell your books unless you are a keynote speaker so don’t expect huge sales, but it’s still good exposure so bring bookmarks and business cards too. This year authors were limited to only five copies, which is understandable due to space issues. Be sure to follow the rules of the conference carefully so that it’s fair for everyone. For me personally, it’s a weekend for learning (it’s nice to have a few days out of book seller mode). In the bookstore, I asked Jerry Simmons about the NYC submission process, and visited with David Morrell while he autographed copies of FIRST BLOOD for my teen boys.

3)    Breakfast: The best way to start the day is with hot coffee, a huge breakfast buffet, and writers everywhere! Go early, grab a big table, invite people to sit down, and ask them what they write, where they’re published, how their critique group works…you get the idea.

4)    Diversity: The most surprising thing to me when I attended my first OWFI conference many, many years ago was the diversity of the speakers and of the attendees. I didn’t know there were so many people working is so many different genres. Writing is not just for novels of fiction. It was definitely overwhelming at first, but I came away from that first conference inspired to work realizing that there are so many opportunities. The organizers do a super job at lining up speakers who represent a wide range topics for every level.

5)    Friendly and Helpful: I had been told by more than one person that the Oklahoma Writers bunch is one of the friendliest conferences around, and that is definitely the case. I’ve been to other conferences in several different states and OWFI continues to be the one I look forward to every year. People are more than willing to help you. Ask about their first publishing experience, how to with an agent, writing a query letter, places to send a query, writing for a magazine; you’ll discover people are more than willing to share. Ask, learn, and leave inspired.

Put back $10 bucks each week for 52 weeks and by then it’ll be time to register for OWFI May 2015. Make an investment in your writing career and get another step closer to reaching your writing goals.

Heart vs. Brain: the Business of Writing


Heart vs. Brain: the Business of Writing

by Natalie Bright

At a community book fair, I shared a table with a energetic lady who self-published a lovely book about her life-time passion of quilting. As it goes at these events with other authors, the conversation always tends to be about writing. Her questions shocked me: “What’s an agent?” “How can I sign-up for social media?”

There seems to be a change occurring within publishing that troubles me. I’ve seen a mother re-arrange the event stage and podium for her writer-daughter, authors texting and ignoring readers at their table, hateful comments to event planners, unapproachable attitudes towards the general public, and misinformed authors who demand that book store owners  “make my book a bestseller”.

I do know of an author who was dropped by Amazon because of the posted book reviews, and this author is extremely bitter and disheartened as you can well imagine. And yet the comments were about bad grammar, senseless plot, and numerous typos.

The opportunities for writers are HUGE, but people are jumping in with both feet before even learning about the industry. After pouring heart and soul into a novel, which is years in the making, it’s devastating when faced with rejection, but it seems some authors sabotage their own work by their lack of understanding and their attitude. What happened to friendly professionalism? The best advice; put your heart into the writing and use your brain to be successful.

A Questionnaire for Your Brain

Do I have a well-written manuscript that is the best that it can be?

Does it exhibit a general understanding of genre structure and story craft?

Is it grammatically correct?

Do I want only eBook versions, or print copies as well?

Do I have the budget to ensure my work is a professional, finished product?

Am I clear about my target market; who will buy my book?

How can I reach my target market; social media, speaking, emails?

Do I have the time to successfully promote my book?

Am I willing to act in a professional manner to do all I can to ensure success for my book?

If I don’t understand all that I need to know, am I willing to learn or pay someone who can help me be successful?

Agent: Yes or No?

Read about agents, editors, publicists, and publishers, if you don’t know the difference.

My manuscript is complete; should I consider an agent?

Does my book have a universal theme which would appeal to a major publishing house?

Is my theme more specific with a limited target market?

Should I consider small, regional or university presses where I can submit directly without an agent?

Can I Have it All?

You may have a vision of what you want, but it may not be a practical vision. Talk to other authors and learn from their mistakes and successes. Join a professional writer’s group, attend the meetings, and ask questions. Learn all you can about story craft and the publishing industry. I have talked to too many people who’ve paid good money resulting in no book in hand. Be receptive to other people’s ideas and then make a decision that best suits your situation. Today, I think that YES, writers can have it all.  You might have one story suitable for an eBook and you might have one story suitable for a regional press.

As in my case, I self-published a nonfiction day-job-related book that has done extremely well based on word of mouth throughout the industry. I had a platform for promotion. However, I’m working with an agent for my children’s historical fiction because I wanted a whole team of publishing professionals behind me. The characters seem larger than life (heart talking), and my brain wants to reach the highest potential of seeing these books in a school library some day.

Go ahead and dream big. Write the book of your heart, make it the best that it can be, and then take your personal feelings out of the equation. As a professional, use your brain to achieve your dreams.

I’m excited for you and can’t wait to read your story, and mostly, I hope your publishing experience is a positive one.

Thanks for following WordsmithSix!

www.nataliebright.com