Posted in book covers, books, contemporary romance, cover design, date shark, date shark series, ebooks, editing, publishing, romance, writing

Re-releasing the Date Shark series

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Earlier this year, I got the rights back to my Date Shark series, and I knew it wasn’t going to be as simple as simply republishing them for several reasons.

The editing on the first book had been horrible, and I realized when I started re-editing that the edits I had sent back to the publisher five years ago had been ignored. I’d received multiple complaints about the editing from readers when it first published, but it was out of my hands at that point.

The editing did improve over time as the publisher I was working with upgraded their editing staff, but there were still enough errors remaining that I knew the entire series needed to be re-edited. That process took me almost five months because I didn’t have a lot of spare time after starting a new job at the newspaper and taking on a few too many freelance projects.

I also needed new cover art before I could republish the series. I was happy to redo the first book’s cover, but I had chosen the model art for books two through four, so at least I didn’t have to start completely from scratch. My main challenge was not being able to use the cool shark fin A in the original cover art and trying to find something comparable. My husband helped me choose a new font and rightly steered me away from trying to include any water-like effects and just go with the sketched shark logo instead.

My next challenge was when to re-release each book. I asked other authors and got advice on scheduling, but in the end, it took me so long to format each book that they ended up spacing themselves out well enough, for the most part. Books two and three released within days of each other because, honestly, I was sick of working on them and just wanted to be done.

Going back through these books was actually a fun experience overall. I hadn’t chatted with these characters in almost three years and had forgotten how much I loved them! Sabine and Michael’s story is still my favorite of the series, and rereading the books reminded me that poor Leo never got to have his own story.

I had planned to give Leo a voice as the final book in the series, but because of issues with the publisher and limited writing time back then, I stored the idea away for later. I do have some other projects that need attention, but I want to eventually come back to Leo’s story and finish off the series by giving him his own happy ending.

For now, the series is back up on all the major retailers and ready to meet new readers!

You can find all the links here.

Posted in cover design, editing, marketing, publishing, self publishing

Choosing a #Publishing Track

Choosing what to do with your book baby is a tough choice. You have so many more options that you once did, and choosing the right one for you can be an agonizing decision. 

This is a topic that has been coming up a lot lately in groups I belong to and with other author friends who are nearing the point in their career where they have to make that decision. So, I thought I’d share some of the pros and cons of traditional and self-publishing I’ve experienced and why I’ve gone the way I have.

Let’s break this down by the most common pre-publishing aspects like editing, cover design, formatting, and marketing, and what you’ll get with both traditional and self-publishing.

Editing

 Traditional

Most reputable publishers will provide editing at no cost to the author. If a publisher wants to charge you for editing, that’s a big red flag that you should take your book elsewhere. HOWEVER, finding a good editor is like finding the Holy Grail, and that applies to publishers and indie authors. I’ve worked with many editors and I can honestly say that only two have done a good enough job that I would work with them again. Don’t think that going with a publisher means you’ll get a perfectly edited book unless you sign with one of the Big 6. Smaller publishers can’t afford multiple edits of a book, so you should plan to do a very thorough read through and possibly even hire an outside editor if the quality of the publisher’s editor isn’t what you were hoping.

Self-pub

Editing is all up to you when you self-publish. Editing your own work is tough. It’s hard to catch all your mistakes. So, what are your options for a well-edited book? Hire an editor, of course, although, really good editors are extremely hard to find. Vet your editor well. Ask for samples of their work, references, and request a short sample edit of your work to test their skills. Many editors are willing to do this.

You can also work out a trade. However, don’t just assume that another author can edit as well. Trades can be great, but do your research first. There’s also the option to ask a friend. Know a good technical writer, English teacher, etc? See what they would charge you or work out a trade.

Formatting

Traditional

Formatting varies by publisher. Some will put a lot of time into making the formatting look nice and others will just do the basics. For ebooks, there’s not a lot you can do as far as fancy formatting goes. Print books are different, but formatting is one of the easier areas of publishing (in my opinion), so it’s usually not a huge concern with choosing a publisher. If you’d like to see the quality of their formatting, download samples of some of their books to check them out.

Self-Pub

Formatting can be learned by anyone willing to put a little time into it. There are great tutorials online, and most ebook publishers have guides for authors that spell out what you need to do. It may be a little time consuming at first, but it gets easier the more you do it. All of your formatting can be done in Microsoft Word, but if you’re interested in trying some fancier paperback formatting, InDesign can do some really neat things.

Cover Design

Traditional

Cover design is hugely important no matter how you publish your book. Most publishers are willing to pony up for a good cover designer because they understand this very well. Even still, having a publisher does not a gaurantee that you’ll end up with an awesome cover, but most do a pretty good job. When shopping around, check out their previous covers, and ask about whether or not they’re willing to let authors have any say in the cover design. If you’re with a big publisher, chances are you will get zero input, but some of the smaller publishers are willing to listen to author input.

Self-Pub

Cover design is one of my favorite things to do, but I do have a background in art and graphic design. For those who are not artistic or aren’t familiar with GIMP or Photoshop, cover design will be a challenge in self-publishing. Createspace and now even Kindle KDP have cover creating software to help you put together a nicely formatted cover.

You’ll still need good pictures or stock photography, though. Fortunately, there are plenty of sites out their to find great stock art fvor reasonable prices. My personal favorites are Dollar Photo Club, Shutterstock, and iStock. If you know a photographer, you can get original photos as well. Just make sure to give credit to the photographer.

And if you’re not comfortable putting together a cover, there are some amazing designers out there who work for very reasonable prices, like Tirzah Goodwin. Having a great cover is extremely important, but self-publishing doesn’t mean you can’t have that.

Marketing

Traditional

Marketing. This is probably the area that most new authors will struggle with, and what will push them toward a traditional publisher, but authors need to have realistic expectations about marketing. Most publishers, small or Big 6, have a limited budget for marketing, especially if you’re not a top seller. Big 6 publishers will only put their money behind books they KNOW are going to sell tons of books. Newbies won’t get much help and will be expected to pull most of the marketing weight. A lot of small publishers (though certainly not all) will put more effort into helping authors market because they need the sales too, but they have very small budgets and most of the work will fall to the author.

Sel-Pub

Obviously, all the work of marketing is on the author in self-publishing, but you also get the full benefit of your efforts by not giving up royalties. Marketing is hard, no matter what publishing path you take. When you self-publish, you have control over how your book is marketed, how much free or paid advertising is done, and what audience you’re targeting. With self-publishing, you also have direct access to your sales numbers, so it’s a little easier to monitor how effective your marketing efforts are by watching changes in sales numbers. There’s a big learning curve to marketing if it’s new for you, but there are many articles and books available to help you figure it out, and other authors are a great resource and source of marketing help as well.

What does it all boil down to? 

For me, I’ve been doing this long enough and put out enough books, that I’m comfortable finding editors, doing my own formatting and cover design, and coming up with my own marketing plan. I have worked with four different publishers since I began publishing. Some have worked out, some haven’t. I currently still have my contemporary romances with a publisher, because that’s a new market for me and I felt the exchange of roaylties for their knowledge of the romance genre was worth it. For my YA books, that trade wasn’t worth it for me and now I have all my YA books published independently.

I also like having control over my covers, formatting, editing, and how my books are marketed. I put a lot of time into learning more about the publishing industry and increasing my skills in design and marketing. Self-publishing takes a lot of work, but I enjoy doing it, and it’s a good fit for me and my books.

Choosing a publishing path is a completely individual choice. What each author is comfortable with doing on their own will play a huge part. Break it down and see what you’re willing to do on your own and what you need help with, then decide whether or not that help is worth giving up the percent of royalties the publisher is asking for. Don’t jump into either option without knowing what you’re getting yourself into.

What aspects of publishing intimidate you most? 

Posted in editing, writing

The Joys of Editing…

I don’t know how most authors feel about editing, but it’s not my favorite part of the writing process. It can be tedious, and I usually end up feeling rather foolish when I get my edits back and see the same mistake pointed out over and over again.

At least, that’s the case when you actually work with a good editor.

It’s been a while since I’ve worked with an editor who actually knew their stuff. Cynthia Shepp, who not only has her own freelance editing business (Cynthia Shepp Book Reviews and Editing), she is also the fabulous editor for Clean Teen Publishing, one of my publishers. Aide from the lovely Phyl Manning, who passed away this year, I’ve had a heck of a time finding an editor who is thorough and truly an expert in their field.

I was thrilled when Wicked Power was recently handed off Cynthia, because I knew she was top notch. When I got edits back from her and I didn’t find an error free page until I got to page 95 in my manuscript, I had mixed feelings. Cynthia clearly did a great job and caught all my errors, but I was rather annoyed at myself because the errors she fixed were pretty much the same four errors over and over again.

So, to serve as a reminder to myself, and possibly to keep other authors from tripping up over the same things, here’s what I learned from Cynthia. 


Ellipsis

Three dots. Not too difficult, right? It’s the spaces that were getting to me this time. 
There should not be a space between the word and the ellipsis. Ex: I want to…
There should be a space after the ellipsis and before the next word. Ex: The kids are… somewhere.

There should not be a space between the ellipsis and final punctuation, but their should be a space between the last word and the ellipsis. Ex: How are we supposed to …?


Hyphens

“Compound adjectives and/or compound modifiers need to be hyphenated when preceding the word it modifies, unless one of the modifiers is an adverb ending in –ly. They don’t if after the noun.” ~ Cynthia
Ex: Three-foot platform, petal-soft, miniature-sized ballerinas

Also, I may be the only who frequently forgets this one, but five-year-old sister should also be hyphenated. 
I and Me

Poor Cynthia had to fix so many “you and I’s” and “me and my family’s” because I can’t ever seem to get this rule straight. 
I kept writing things like “With that, the privacy window rolls up and secludes Ketchup and I.” 
  • Here’s what Cynthia had to say about this one: “
    • Easy way to remember whether to use I or me. If you take out the other person, the sentence has to make sense with either I or me. 
      • With that, the privacy window rolls up and secludes Ketchup and I. (WRONG).
      • With that, the privacy window rolls up and secludes I. (WRONG)
      • With that, the privacy window rolls up and secludes me. (RIGHT)
      • With that, the privacy window rolls up and secludes Ketchup and me. (RIGHT)
Another rule I learned, or maybe re-learned, is that the person who is speaking should be put at the end of a list of people whenever possible. 

For example: Aside from my siblings and me… rather than Aside from me and my siblings… 
Commas

On every other point, Cynthia was able to explain why what I had been writing was incorrect, and it made sense. I’m sorry to say, I’m still a mess on commas, and I fear I always will be. 
I don’t know why commas are so difficult for me, but they are. I’m good with commas used for series (I was taught to use the Oxford comma), and setting of introductory elements. Here’s some of what I get tripped up on when it comes to commas: 
1. Apositives and Parenthetical Elements. This trips me up a lot, because what is or isn’t essential to a sentence isn’t always easy to decide. I read a sentence one way, and it makes perfect sense, but my husband will read it and disagree. I’m sure most of that is because I know what the sentence means, so I’m reading it the way I want it interpreted, but it’s hard to read it any differently. 
  •  Although Andrew spent several years in Africa, he still found the heat of the desert overwhelming. 
2. Strong and Weak Clauses. Again, this seems open to interpretation, and for some reason, I seem to interpret it differently than other readers. 
  • Ex: If you’re not sure about the color, let me know VS Let me know if you’re not sure about the color.
3. Separating Strong Clauses. This one can depend on the length of the sentence, but it’s still be tricky, in my opinion, because sometimes the way I read it makes me unsure. Strong clauses should be separated by a comma when they’re joined by a conjunction. 
  • I have done all the laundry, but he has only vacuumed one room. 
I’m sure there were other rules I was breaking, and will continue to break, but I will do my best to send less commas errors to Cynthia the next time we work together! 

What grammar and punctuation rules do you find yourself breaking regularly?