Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Tabs are Exciting

Dear Peoples of the Bloggety Blog World,

This is just a quick update to let my followers know that I added a new Works In Progress tab so people can keep up to date with my writing. I'll keep up with the word count there and I'll set release dates as I get closer to finishing them. I'll also use this tab to share excerpts now and again. I have one up now. I hope this is something you're all interested in. If not, feel free to ignore it. Thank you for being awesome readers, followers, and friends.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How to Self Publish Part 2: Revision

Revision is a crucial step in self publishing. Do not assume that your work is perfect. It isn't.

I revised the crap out my novel, but I didn't do as much as I should have.

I recommend AT LEAST EIGHT revision passes, probably more would be better. Each time you will look for errors, typos, and mistakes, cut out things that aren't working, add in better descriptions, remove passive voice and overuse of adverbs, and slash any cliches you find.

You need to revise until you don't want to read another word, until you are sick of your novel, hate it, want it dead. Your eyes will bleed with hours of staring at the computer screen or pages you printed out to mark up.

Are you done at this point? NO!!

Then you need to give it to someone you trust, someone who will be somewhat brutal with you and have them go through it a couple times. This also gives you a break from the manuscript so you can come back to it a few weeks later and go through it several more times.

You will reach a point where you want to take your book out back and set it on fire and then dance on the ashes, screaming at the gray sky in despair and agony. That is when you are close to done.

You should set it aside and wait a few more weeks before doing one final revision to the entire book.

Your next step? Make sure you have a thick skin because people are still going to find typos and mistakes. They will seize these typos like some hard won prize and then shove them in your face.

Why do people do this? I don't know.

Maybe people's expectations are skewed when it comes to books. They expect perfection, demand it, more than it seems any other industry.

I had a podcast review after I had fixed many typos that readers had found and I thought the book was close to perfect. The reviewers talked about how they loved the rich world I'd created, complete with mythology and back histories. They loved that every character felt unique and different as I hopped in and out of a dozen character's heads. They loved the story. Then they had to mention that it had an "unusually high amount of homophone mistakes." They went on to list them, totalling two. TWO!!

My jaw fell open as I listened. Seriously? Two?

All around it was a great review, but I wish they would have emailed me about the two typos they found rather than dump them on the public as some black stain I can never get rid of.

In any other industry with that kind of mistake average, I'd be freaking Employee of the Month!

So, the point of all this ranting is REVISIONS ARE IMPORTANT. Do them, do them until you bleed! You will thank me.

Monday, January 9, 2012

How to Self Publish Part 1: Writing

I'm not going to go into depth on how to write a novel. There are thousands of guides, manuals, books, seminars, software, and trained lemurs out there that can offer you advice on this. I don't think I can do more than they have. In fact, I think less is better.

The problem with telling someone how to write is that everyone writes differently. Some people need a rigid structure with spreadsheets, timelines, and charts. Some would rather just write, surrounded with noise and discarded soda bottles. Some create elaborate webs of yarn that string each idea and character together.

I fall somewhere in the middle of these.

I like to start out writing from the chaos in my head, with little planning. Then, as the novel grows, I have to map it out more and I create an outline. Then I allow my mind to wander, playing with the scaffolding I've made, tinkering it into new shapes. I'll rewrite my outline six or seven times as I continue writing. My characters grow, change, develop, and pop in and out of existence.

I can't tell you how to write, because you may not be able to write this way. But, I still have some universal things I can share, no matter how you write.

1. Find out how you write.

Develop what works best for you. Play with a few different writing styles and locations until you find what works for you. Listen to music. Don't listen to music. Try writing in a quiet room, sealed off from the world, in a library where you can people watch, in a cafe, in the great outdoors. Try making an outline, going without one, making a chart, or any other idea that comes to you. Then, apply what works.

2. Put your butt in a chair and write.

Novels aren't easy. You can't take that wonderful kernel of an idea that you have rolling around your head and turn into a novel overnight. Sorry. This is going to be a long gruelling process. It will be painful at times. You will shed tears over the keyboard as characters die, don't work, and take paths you didn't expect. You will have days where you won't want to write. Do it anyway.

Sit down and write. Nothing gets the words flowing better than writing. Yes, the first few paragraphs may be garbage, but then you warm up and things click together. DO NOT allow discouragement to keep you from writing, EVER! It is a writer's darkest enemy. Ignore it and write. Stick to a schedule where you write every day. Roll the scene you plan to write around in your brain until you are excited to write it. Don't let anything keep you from writing.

3. Allow yourself to suck.

I didn't use the first ten to twelve pages of my novel in the finished product. I also cut another twenty some odd pages from the overall book. There is nothing wrong with this. You can't expect everything to flow as golden drops of awesomeness onto the page every time you sit down. It isn't realistic.

You also can't let yourself edit every sentence or paragraph you just wrote until it is perfect. This will lead to frustration and discouragement as you see very little progress made on your word-count. Ignore that voice in your head that says you need to fix what you just wrote.

You can do that later. Keep writing and allow yourself to write things you are unhappy with. It is the only way you will make it through without pulling your hair out.

That's my advice. The next part will deal with revisions and should be fun. You can go ahead and bookmark this page. I'll add a link to each part as I write them at the top so you can easily flip through the entire series on self publishing.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Beginning of Everything Once Again

I'm not a fan of resolutions. They are weak, flabby, pathetic creatures that do little to improve my year. They have failed me many many times now. I no longer make them.

I make goals. I write them down on paper and put them somewhere to needle me when I am tempted to give up. On the bedroom door, in the corner of the mirror, in a notebook, on my blog. I also make a plan of action, smaller goals that can be met one at a time until the overall goal is done.

Goals with plans are strong enough to push me to be better.

I fulfilled 2 out of 3 of last year's goals.

One of those was to finish my book. Not only did I finish my book, but I finished the little zombie guide too and published them both.

Another was to start a refinishing business. I did. It faltered and failed, but the experience was worthwhile and I do not regret it in the least.

The third was to get back in shape. I did not succeed, but I did manage to loose some weight and bring my cholesterol down from holy-crap-your-heart-may-explode to a much healthier slightly-high-but-okay.

So, what are my goals this year?

1- Finish writing book two, publish it, and begin another book.
The Plan: Write for at least one hour every night during the week. I've told my wife she needs to pretend I'm not home for that hour or more if I'm on a roll. I'll also be trying out some techniques for keeping myself excited to sit down and hammer out scenes that should help improve my writing as well.

2- Get in shape for real this time.

The Plan: Quit soda, cook at home, and do something active three times a week. We went on an eleven mile hike the other day and nearly died. That will change. We'll start with a juice fast for a couple days to clean all the junk out and go from there. I've already thrown out all the leftover Christmas candy and today I'll clean out the fridge.

That's it. I'm not adding a third this time, since I only succeeded with two last year. Wish me luck and I will do the same for all your new goals, plans, and resolutions.

Also, as a present to my readers and the world, I'm going to write a blog series on How to Self Publish that walks through the formatting process. I hope people are interested.
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