Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category
Formatting a book for print, that is.
Actually, I’ve never formatted an eBook, either. I usually farm out my work. But this time I’ve decided I should learn to format myself. It makes updating files so much easier. For some unfathomable reason, I decided to start with print formatting.
CreateSpace has templates for use with Microsoft Word, and it would probably be a lot easier if I just downloaded one of those templates. Only problem is, my copy of Word is so old (the 2003 edition) that I can’t save as PDF, which I need for uploading to CreateSpace. And…years and years ago, when I built this site and my pen name’s site, I decided to upgrade my Dreamweaver and PhotoShop. They came combined in a program called Adobe Creative Suite 2. Creative Suite has since updated to a cloud-based service, but for someone like me the $20 U.S. a month when I only put out maybe two books a year (that’s being generous, LOL) isn’t worth it. And I don’t design my own covers. So, being the obstinate sort, I decided to try learning how to format my print interior pages with the very old InDesign CS2. The problem? Back when I was buying how-to books for Illustrator and PhotoShop, I didn’t buy one for InDesign, thinking I would never need it. Now, there are a lot of great free templates available for InDesign book interiors, but try finding one for the CS2 version of the program. So, instead of downloading a premade template and creating my book from there, I’m building the template from the ground up. Thanks to YouTube and Google, there are a lot of places I can go for help, but the set-up is never quite the same because, you know, Cindy has old software. This might take me awhile…
Just to prove I’m really at work, here’s a shot of Page 1 of PICTURE IMPERFECT in my Word doc, followed by how far I’ve gotten in InDesign (I finally created page numbers on my Master pages, but they aren’t starting in the right spot. My next challenge is creating running, alternating page headers.)
The idea is that once I have the template down pat, I can use it for future releases as well. And, if you can read Page 1 of the Word doc, that’s the world’s first peek into PICTURE IMPERFECT! (Which will go up for pre-order just as soon as I’ve got the cover commissioned).
Yup, I need to create a new website page for the book, too.
Yesterday marked my last Tuesday Deals column. Click here to check the archives and note which deals remain available (please check expiration dates mentioned in the posts and also please check prices before downloading).
While I enjoyed writing Tuesday Deals, it was an experiment designed to force me to blog more often and get out the word about Indie romance authors. Then, one weekend, I accidentally wrote a column two weeks ahead of time. So I had to write two columns that weekend, one for the Tuesday I was originally supposed and one for the Tuesday two weeks ahead. The upside to this is that I did two weeks of work in one afternoon. The downside is that I spent my entire afternoon working on the columns.
That’s when it hit me. While I enjoy writing the columns, it would likely take several months to build up enough of a following to warrant the time away from my own writing. And, what was a writer with dry eyes following laser surgery and a rotator cuff that is nearly completely healed (but why risk it?) doing blogging about other authors instead of focusing on her writing?
Well, she was being nearsighted, that’s what.
The plain fact of the matter is that readers don’t visit blogs as much as they used. I get much more interaction on Facebook and Twitter than I do on my blog. People might be reading the blog, but they aren’t commenting like they used to before Facebook and Twitter really took off. So, unless I want to be checking blog stats all the time (and I don’t; I haven’t even installed a plug-in, although I guess I should), I have no real way of knowing how many visitors are reading, unless they comment. I think readers feel more comfortable commenting on Facebook and Twitter, because they’re closed networks. A blog is open to everyone. And that’s okay.
Do you know what’s the most important thing an author can do to forward her career?
Write more books.
In the day of the ebook boom, a writer’s production is more important than ever. When readers discover you, they want to read your backlist and look forward to your front list, those books that are coming. I’ve often bemoaned that I’m a slow writer, however, I’m not willing to sacrifice quality to increase my input. And, I write under two names, which means sometimes I have to ignore Cindy to focus on my alter ego. And, when real life interrupts, you can imagine how that might affect a slow writer’s production.
The best thing I can do for myself and my readers is focus on writing more books. Not worry that people aren’t commenting on my blog. Not come up with ideas to force me to blog. Not concern myself with the fact that I haven’t updated my Dear Cindy… Q & A or Articles pages in eons. That maybe I should redesign my website so it doesn’t include those pages, so then they wouldn’t remind me that I haven’t updated them. I can update them when it suits me. I can blog when it suits me. I can interact with the public on the social networks of my choosing. And I can write.
This doesn’t mean I’m completely stopping showcasing other authors on my blog. When I happen to see a deal I think is great, and I have the time, I’ll write up a post. If a writer I admire has a new release, I might write a post. But I’m not going to go looking for deals and I am no longer considering requests. It’s kind of weird that I’m making this decision just when authors are starting to come to me instead of me searching them out. But it’s a decision I need to make.
Romance readers, do you like epilogues? Writers, do you like to write them? How do you choose when to write an epilogue?
I have never written an epilogue, however, I just drafted one for the upcoming reissue of BORROWING ALEX, and I think it will wrap up the story nicely. I also added a new scene to the last chapter. I’m not padding for word count. With digital publishing, there’s no reason to (not that I would regardless). The lovely thing about ebooks is that an author can write her story the length it needs to be, or wants to be, I guess. This is especially freeing if you’re, as I am, updating and editing/revising a book that was originally targeted to the category romance market.
While BORROWING ALEX was originally written for a long-defunct Harlequin romantic comedy line, the line shut down just as I was finishing the book. Another category romance romantic comedy line sprung up in its place, but the new line wanted less zany and quirky and more “heartwarming,” as the editor who rejected my manuscript explained. BORROWING ALEX simply did not fit what this major publisher was looking for anymore.
By this time, I had discovered my former ebook and print-on-demand trade paperback publisher, Amber Quill Press. The second edition of HEAD OVER HEELS (which was initially published by a publisher who wasn’t fond of paying authors due royalties), as well as the first edition of BORROWING ALEX, were published by AQP and I had a great editing experience there. However, I (as well as many other ebook authors) was a bit ahead of my time. Kindles and Nooks and iPads didn’t exist and the mass market paperback was still king. That’s my way of saying that the first edition of BORROWING ALEX “enjoyed” a very small audience. I’m looking forward to reaching a larger audience by self-publishing digital and trade paperback editions through my own Blue Orchard Books.
Ebooks have changed the ways readers read, and, to some extent, they have changed how writers write. We are more in tune with readers than ever before. We no longer have to rely on publishing houses to forward letters and emails. Readers can get in touch with us directly. That’s not to say that whatever a reader says goes. Authors are still the creators of our books. However, as the market changes and readers who might not have read a lot of category romance back when that was the only game in town (for a book of about 50,000 words) discover new-to-them authors, I find it interesting to hear what they have to say, in the form of reviews and social media. Often I’ll follow a link from Twitter or Facebook to a reader’s blog and a light bulb will go on.
Recently, I read the term “Insta-Love” on a blog to describe how rapidly romance heroes and heroines fall in love. Readers who might have never read print category romances at all find Insta-Love a little unbelievable. Neither do they necessarily believe that a book needs every single thread tied up neatly in the last scene. However, for those of us schooled in category romance by the biggest category publisher around, well, wrapping up threads was a very strong guideline. And stopping the story as soon as possible after the hero and heroine committed to each other was another. As was getting in a marriage proposal before the book ended. After all, romances are supposed to end on a positive note, and, in category romance, the marriage proposal is the ideal.
That began to change as the readership evolved even within category romance. However, as I said, I initially wrote and published BORROWING ALEX while these tropes were strongly encouraged. Now, going over the book for reissue, even though no one complained (to me, anyway, or in the form of reviews) that my characters were guilty of getting engaged too quickly, I can see that, all right, maybe, in some books, they can slow things down a bit.
And that’s what I’m doing with BORROWING ALEX. The story takes place in the span of five days, and, yes, the H/h do experience Insta-Love. But does that mean they need to experience Insta-Engagement?
I’m not saying where the engagement now occurs in BORROWING ALEX, although some of you might guess (and, no, I couldn’t bring myself to eliminate the engagement entirely and make Alex a Mr. Right Now, because that’s just not who he is). But once the light bulb blinked, “Hey, Cindy, you are allowed to write additional scenes if they forward the story,” and, “Hey, Dimbulb, guess what? An ebook can be longer than 45,000 words computer count and the editor won’t strangle you,” well, it’s opened up a whole new world for me as a writer. To continue to learn and grow and develop as a writer… That’s a good thing and something each of us should continually strive for.
P.P.S. If you want to be among the first to know when the second edition of BORROWING ALEX releases from Blue Orchard Books, sign up for my Newsletter.
Just in case anyone’s wondering.
Check out this post and the comment trail on Liz Fielding’s blog. Liz was recently plagiarized and so were several other romance authors mentioned in the comment trail. Kudos to everyone who helped uncover the thief.
It doesn’t matter if you downloaded a story for free when it was offered as such from Amazon or a publisher or the author herself. That doesn’t give you the right to RE-publish the story yourself! That doesn’t give you the right to change character names and titles and upload the story for your own financial gain. It doesn’t give you the right to upload the story under your name and then give it away for free, either.
You know what right it does gives you? The right to read the story. To save it for your re-reading pleasure.
Plagiarism is illegal. And authors will not stand for it. You can only hide for so long. The Internet will help expose you.
In case you didn’t know.
I keep wanting to type Covert Art…
For the past few days, I have been obsessed with filling out Cover Art and Cover Copy forms for Penny’s single title erotic romance coming in the fall from Samhain Publishing. I’m very glad to report they are now in the hands of my editor.
Filling out Cover Art and Cover Copy forms sounds very exciting to an unpublished writer, and it IS exciting, even though I’ve been through it several times. I love to feel a part of the process of making my books come to life. But filling out these forms can also be nerve-wracking. I want to get it right. Because what I write down helps the art department and the story blurb people work with a vision that might otherwise remain in my head.
I write under two names and have worked with four publishers so far as Cindy and two publishers as Penny. Every publisher wants the forms filled out a little differently. Some forms are more challenging than others. However, not all publishers use the information on the forms, or they use it in a different way than you, as the author, might envision. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just because the author writes the story doesn’t mean she’s the best person to decide on cover art.
In the case of Penny’s three novellas in print anthologies, the cover art has to reflect an overall tone for the four stories within each volume, not for one of the four individual stories. So, for me, the Red Sage author forms were easier to fill out. I considered it a marvelous fluke that the couple on Penny’s first anthology just happened to have the same hair color, etc., as the characters in my novella.
For WHERE SHE BELONGS, coming from Five Star Expressions in December, I wrote the cover copy, but I don’t know how much it will be massaged. I’m eagerly awaiting the final results.
This is sort of a scatterbrained approach to describing how authors go about filling out Art Fact Sheets, as they are often called, and Cover Copy Forms. Sometimes I need to provide a tag line, a short blurb and then a longer blurb (like you would find on the back of any romance novel). In the case of HEAD OVER HEELS and BORROWING ALEX, the blurbs appeared on the books exactly as I wrote them.
When I first saw the cover of HEAD OVER HEELS, I was ecstatic. I thought the artist did an excellent job of portraying the tone of my story. Whereas the cover for BORROWING ALEX had to grow on me. My initial reaction was that the cover art made the book like a romantic suspense. Sure, it has a kidnapping, but it’s a comedy. I talked about it with my editor, and she was able to allay my fears. After all, how many romantic suspense novels have pink covers? And the guy on the cover certainly looks like Alex, the hero of the story. The other elements on the cover are all included in the story.
No readers have complained that I gave them a romantic comedy packaged as a romantic suspense. So, it turns out, the cover artist did know what he was doing. I love the cover now.
Well, I’m not doing a very good job of describing the process, am I?
For those who aren’t writers, the Cover Art form might ask you for your synopsis or a shorter version (and then you have to write it—ack!), descriptions of the hero and heroine, descriptions of important scenes in the book or elements you might consider important. Do you hate covers where the hero’s head is cut off? The Cover Art form is the time to mention it (I love what I call “body part” covers myself, because they allow my imagination more rein). I always, always, always, include pictures to show an approximation of how I see the hero and heroine in my mind. For WHERE SHE BELONGS, I included pictures of the fictional setting (well, the real town and area on which Destiny Falls in the book is placed). Because the book is set in rural British Columbia and Five Star is in the Northeastern U.S., I felt it was important to show the setting on the Cover Art form. Whether the setting is used in some form or other on the cover remains to be seen. Just in case, I wanted to get in my two cents.
Some publishers also ask you to include links to or pictures of covers either from their publishing house or other publishers that you feel convey the tone of your story. I love doing this, although it takes a lot of time. But artists are, naturally, visual creatures, and providing pictures helps them.
However, in the end, the decision is up to the publishing house, not the author. We have input, but we don’t have final say. Unless you’re self-publishing AND creating your own covers as part of the process (rather than hiring a cover artist), describing your characters and tone of story and providing examples of what you might like to see is often the author’s one and only chance for some say in what her book looks like. If you hate the cover, it’s not often you get a chance to rectify it. Horror stories abound of an extra arm appearing on a book cover, or a cartoon cover that reflects a comedic tone when the book is really ultra-emotional. 99% of the time, the author just has to live with it.
Okay, class, time for break. My Peanut Butter Cup is at the ready.
My brain is rebelling. Although I can’t really blame it on the writing. It’s rebelling against being stuck in Doing Taxes Land (for my American readers, the Canadian deadline for filing is April 30th). Yesterday, I finally conceded defeat on this year’s taxes for My Liege and myself and trundled all down to the accountant. Usually, I find doing the taxes pretty straightforward. However, this year there were some elements that made it just difficult enough that my brain hurts even talking about it. I had a year-end to take to the accountant, anyway, so this way he gets double the fun!
Now that I have that excuse out of the way, I’m still in the midst of swapping Penny’s brain for Cindy’s. I find it always takes me a couple of writing days to make the switch. I had a great day Friday brainstorming Cindy’s (well, my) romantic comedy short story series. I plan to write 5 stories in the series, and one is already complete. Four female secondary characters are introduced in the first story. So, Friday, I sat down with my netbook and brainstormed bare bones ideas for the four secondaries while reading the first story. I’m pretty sure I now know all the stories’ heroes, except for one. I’m sure he’ll come to me. Better yet, I know which H/h gets Story #2. And I think I know when it starts.
Today I’ll start brainstorming Claire and Ridge’s story. Yes, that’s really the hero’s name. How embarrasing, the poor guy. But that was the name I saddled him with in Story #1, because he appeared as a male stripper at a bachelorette party in Story #1 and Ridge seemed like a good, solid (no pun intended) stripper name. However, now that I’m turning the first story into a series, I’ve realized Ridge is not only my hero’s stripper name—it’s his real name. For reasons I won’t go into, because I haven’t yet decided which of two reasons it is. Just know it’s his mother’s fault.
Keeping the Ridge name and not just making it a stripper name seems like a great way to torture my poor hero. And this is a cindypk story—I do love to torture my romantic comedy heroes!
Other elements of the story and characters have come to light. But I need to hunker down for more serious brainstorming, this time devoted to Claire and Ridge instead of the series as a whole. Penny’s still waiting for legalities of sorta news announced last week, so of course I keep sliding into Penny brain.
By the end of this week, I should be firmly entrenched as Cindy again and will have begun drafting Claire and Ridge’s short story. Like usual, I probably won’t know exactly what’s going to happen when I start the writing. I find it’s more fun (and more natural to my creative process) to find out just enough about the characters and the opening situation to get me started. And then I head off. Into the mist. Or the fog. Or the granite-hard mountain with only my trusty, rusty spoon to dig my way out.
Wish me luck!
Today I’m guestblogging on writing humor at the RWA ChickLit Writers blog. You don’t want me to be lonely, do you? You want to hop on over and lap up my knowledge, right?
Just in case not…
You are feeling sleepy. Very, very sleepy.
Your typing fingers are not under your control. No, they are under mine! They will do whatever I say. And I say that your typing fingers will click this link to the ChickLit Writers blog, read and comment on my post.
Then, and only then, will you be able to move on to anything else. Then, and only then, will you find the will to eke out a productive day.
You will have no memory of this conversation.
Next time you see me in person, say, at an RWA conference, you will feel strangely compelled to buy me a drink.
I had blog topics planned for this week, but an opportunity has descended and I’m too busy developing ideas to do a blog post justice. I’d wanted to write about the great books I read over the holidays. Might still get a post in on the topic later this week. The books I read are definite, “I Recommends.” And you know how much weight my opinion carries! (Or it should. Sheesh, people). (Yes, I can hear you rolling your eyes).
What’s worse about Elle Muse kidnapping me is that I was slated to do revisions/edits for Penny this week and the next and the next. She’s most upset that I’m ignoring her. I’m giving Elle one more day to mess with my mind and tomorrow she can begin annoying Penny again.
In the meantime, I’m a slave to my muse.
This video is making the rounds. I love the mechanical voices and how the bear on the left doesn’t listen to ANY advice from those gone before him. You’re right, buddy. None of us know what we’re talking about. We’re just trying to hold you down.
Follow your dreams! But educate yourself along the way.