Best Fiction and Writing Blogs

I’ve reached a milestone! This blogger M.C. Tuggle whose site is solid and excellent has curated me onto a list of resources to help people become literary superstars!

Blogger M.C. Tuggle whose site is solid and excellent has curated me onto a list of resources to help people become literary superstars.

Blogger M.C. Tuggle whose site is solid and excellent has curated me onto a list of resources to help people become literary superstars.

Deeply chuffed and yet I can measure up to the task too, there is  no vanity there. I am like the lady at the beginning of Fame from the 80’s saying ‘You gotta pay, in sweat’.

The best thing? The list is great, check out Cindy Harris 8 tips for editing a manuscripts and Nihar Pradhan’s lovely scientific take on writing, which I find oddly comforting.

Best Fiction and Writing Blogs.

It Takes a Village to Raise an Ebook

A fellow blogger and self-publisher to be asked me some very relevant questions.

Q. Is there a synopsis of Gnaw anywhere on here?
A. There is! I have just completed my Amazon Author Page see: Jen’s Amazon Author Page. You can get the synopsis, or what is called ‘Product Description’ here.

My Amazon Author Page, surprisingly easy to set up. Better to have it than not as most people searching books don't know you, your blog, your work.

My Amazon Author Page, surprisingly easy to set up. Better to have it than not as most people searching books don’t know you, your blog, your work.

Q. Is there a project plan/timetable that I can scrounge?
A. What I love about this community? A spade is a spade with bloggers. We are definitely a sharing community. So fellow bloggers and non-bloggers too or just interested persons…here is the best I can do… a handy free PDF printable and screen guide ‘Pre-Conversion Schedule and Checklist’. It’s the first of several I’ll put up as I find my way through the desert of project managing, well, myself!

Instructions on how to download/view the PDF

  1. Click here to open the file.
  2. This link will bring you directly to the PDF.
  3. The PDF will automatically open in your browser.
  4.  View on screen as is or download PDF for printing or keeping.

Just in case it’s not obvious how to download or print the PDF here’s how:

How to Download PDF from browser

Download tools on PDF. This icon will appear when you scroll down. Click the round one with the arrow and the rectangle (computer icon) and it should download to wherever you need it to go.

  1. On a Mac: Point cursor to the bottom of a page in the PDF.
  2. An icon will appear as per the image to the right inserted in this post to give you a visual of it.
  3. See the icon on the far right? The circle icon with a downward arrow and a rectangle? Well, click on this and the PDF will download to wherever you have specified your downloads to go!
  4. On a PC?  I use a Mac, so let me ask one of my PC pals but I’m sure it’s intuitive.

BUT bear in mind, when you are the author as well as everything else? You WILL thwart this plan!!!

Here is the thing — I learnt it’s almost impossible to be all roles and stay on deadline! Which is why publishers exist in the first place I suppose? They say it takes a village to raise a child, well, so too for books. Publishers get people like me, or you (author) prise the work off them for a fee (commissioning editor), improve the sense of it (development editor) craft and produce it (Editorial/Production/Design/Typesetting) then launch and distribute it (sales/marketing, warehousing/distribution/customer service/finance). So you are now 14 roles in one, 15 if you count the fact that you may be also the only reader after all of that heft. So let’s face facts, publishers are very useful villages indeed to produce books. How and ever, you for whatever reason, are crazy enough to do this yourself, so expect delays. All 15 roles will struggle for supremacy. The dominant role shall win.

ebook schedule for pre-conversion

Don’t know where to start? Print this out. It will give a bit of shape to the schedule where it can often feel daunting. This is a four page PDF document that outlines the steps and milestones preferable to take as you prepare your writing for ebooking!

I surprised myself. In the real world, the producer in me would stay firm on the deadline, usually because there’s money riding on it, a print date not honoured incurs fees, loss of publicity. In the ebook world Amazon will close rank if you put a title up for pre-order and then don’t supply by the agreed date. In my indie ‘Gnaw’ ebook, however, I let the author in me take priority. The writing simply wasn’t there yet by the appointed date! I even had it copy-edited and peer read. All I got from both actions was that I needed to clarify, tighten, cut. Producer and Author battled for time and the author won. In this case, from a production POV? Who was really waiting for this title? Me, I was, Production ego was, so after the Writer me explained that to the Production me we decided that it was a sensible luxury to break the rules in this case. My business, my decision. But I in no way would truck with this now that the title is on pre-order, it’s full steam ahead for 30 June. And under no circumstances would I recommend delaying if you were publishing another’s work and had money riding on it. But let’s assume your writing is finished and you are happy with your manuscript? Then handy free printout could help you on your way to organising your first indie ebook!

Q. I expect there’s some other stuff to do as well, like formatting, something called HTML?
A. There is. Too long to go into in this post. I feel another free printable guide sheet coming on. Check back here soon.

Q. SEO?
A. More on that in forthcoming posts.

Why does an ebook have to be a book anyway?

Great author/editor collaboration, T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. Who would Eliot have trusted as a digital collaborator had be forseen his legacy? (pic courtesy of www.wrensnest.org)

Great author/editor collaboration, T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. Who would Eliot have trusted as a digital collaborator had be forseen his legacy? (pic courtesy of http://www.wrensnest.org)

The whole enhanced ebook issue is on my mind. Neil Leyden from the IDSC suggested some time ago that the ebook hasn’t gone far enough regarding interactivity and that the publishers could be arm-twisted to do more. But I always get a bit uneasy when publishers are named as the baddies when it comes to the perceived digital shortfall in this area. Surely the rest of the industry, not least the retailers and distributers, have yet to agree on what the epub3 standard actually is?

What about the writers? What are they doing about their workflow to include digital concepts when pitching manuscript to agents and publishers? Or maybe it doesn’t matter for now? It seems the jury is still out among book people regarding how much enhancement text-centric trade titles (fiction, non-fiction, memoir, etc) need. Now there’s even talk of a ‘lite’ version of epub3 that scales back the dimensions of interactivity as if the magnitude of the digital epic is starting to resonate? But my hope is that digital in its full glory will become the norm or at least an option (Amazon’s MatchBook gives a nod here to help print readers make the shift). If publishers are arm-tied with the technology and resources then maybe writers could future-proof their own content, if only in concept, to cater for an e-readership that that will make the shift in time to the enhanced experience? Shouldn’t a writer’s digital outlook be as important a decision to them as the ending of their story, the voice of their narrator or even the genre they are writing for? I mean, what if T.S. Eliot, who credited his editor Ezra Pound as ‘Il miglior fabbro’ (the better craftsman) hated what Faber did with ‘The Wasteland’ app? I’m sure he would have loved the app as most of us do, but at the same time Eliot seems to be the type who’d have chosen his craftsman as wisely when it came to digital as he did for print.

Orhan Pamuk’s 2008 ‘Museum of Innocence’ displays an enhanced sensibility in the form of his actual Museum in Istanbul where the narrator’s nutty passions take on an authentic quality (pic courtesy of ethnotraveler.com)

Orhan Pamuk’s 2008 ‘Museum of Innocence’ displays an enhanced sensibility in the form of his actual Museum in Istanbul where the narrator’s nutty passions take on an authentic quality (pic courtesy of ethnotraveler.com)

Isn’t enhanced digital a load more work for everyone? Yes. But potentially more market too if content can reach bigger audiences given that fused media is becoming more democratic these days than straightforward text. If I were an enhanced ebook publisher with a load of money (the tools may well be democratized but the money to pay for these tools and the resources to put them into production, for the most part, is not) I’d try to make every ebook have something in it to grab the most reluctant reader and non-reader too be it via film, animation, gaming, music, social networking etc so that the story could be enjoyed on expanded levels. But commissioning editors still have traditional workflows, they are not digital commissioning editors yet, a job that should require  technical, creative, editorial and producing skills and who knows what else. Actually, it’s a job that doesn’t exist fully yet. Writers are supposedly creative thinkers. Can’t they push the agenda? Look at Melissa Diem’s ‘The One About The Bird’. Diem’s poetry film may well be a literary shot in the vein but equally non-readers are not excluded, may even be encouraged to stray into a territory readership-wise they may never have discovered if it wasn’t for digital. Some writers are naturally geared for enhanced ebook. There’s much you could do with Kevin Barry’s ‘City of Bohane’, for example and Barry’s own reading skills (he performs like a pro) would be an asset. Or take Orhan Pamuk’s eerie self-referential work of obsession ‘The Museum of Innocence’ published in 2008. If the book had been published now or any time soon the actual museum Pamuk created in Istanbul with his prize money might have been an enhanced ebook (or similar) that displayed his narrator Kemal’s nutty passions globally so that anyone could stare at one of Fusun’s lipstick coated cig butts for hours if that’s what they wanted to do (I hear the enhanced ebook will be made eventually).

All this enhancement! A book doing it all for you? For shame! Isn’t that for lazy people who can’t read anymore? If there was truth in that, so what? True book lovers are not book snobs, nor should writers or publishers be. If that’s what readers are becoming, fine, or more to the point, if enhanced products will encourage lapsed readers and non-readers to love what used to be books? Fine.

Some writers are naturally geared for enhanced ebook, Kevin Barry’s ‘City of Bohane’ would make great ebooking

Some writers are naturally geared for enhanced ebook, Kevin Barry’s ‘City of Bohane’ would make great ebooking

The tactile is important to me, I adore the smell of ink,  I’d sit for hours with a print book and never leave the house but in another mood I’d watch/listen to Melissa Diem reading her work and feel the text just as much. It’s a different kind of tactile. It’s about choice and informality. It’s about leisure time and how you want to spend it. It’s about loving content as opposed to loving ‘the book’ and unless writers are just writing for themselves (which many do) then maybe they could add another turn to their already twisted arms and carve the industry out a bit here. Think of the alternative? Some well-meaning but completely misguided digi-editor miscalculating your characters’ assets in the future? Surely Pamuk, for example, can be the only true authority on the woman who flipped his narrator Kemal’s heart into obsession? Things like…what  would she actually sound like… or what her theme tune would be…or if she had a blog what on earth would she blog about?

[And the disclaimer; without prejudice, all views my own!]