Tag Archives: self publishing

Campaign to Support the Emerging Writer Prize

This year was the 7th Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize. This program started in 2008 as a scholarship for Master of Fine Arts students and was broadened to any emerging writer in 2011. Originally, one writer from each genre of poetry, fiction and nonfiction was selected. In 2012, the scholarship transitioned to recognizing one writer, regardless of genre. In 2013, the competition became completely electronic with all submissions via submittable. Also in 2013, the competition was listed on Duotrope as a means to widen the availability of information about the Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize. The average number of entries over the past few years has been approximately 30 each year. This makes the odds of winning very good.

I’ve personally funded the scholarship every year, committed to a no fee competition. My commitment to that remains, however, I’m reaching out to the indie publishing and writing community at large to help fund this scholarship. My goal is to raise enough funds to support the emerging writer prize over the next ten years. I pledge that no more than 12% will go to the administrative costs for the scholarship. These include costs associated with the electronic submission process, competition promotional advertisements, recognition items for the winners, etc..

Help me keep the Emerging Writer Prize going strong. Over the course of this year, I’ll check back in on some of the previous winners to find out how they’re doing and what they are writing now. Stay tuned.

Please visit the Emerging Writer Go Fund Me site, your contribution is appreciated and please, share this site throughout your social media networks. Thank you very much.

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Indie Author = Publishing Professional

This site is more than just my author website – here you will find information about upcoming events, the Three by Five Interview Series where traditional and indie authors give some back story on themselves, an opportunity to highlight a work in progress with Author First Look and occasional book reviews or trailers. On the Submission Guidelines page find anthology projects open for submissions and the guidelines to submit. Each year I sponsor an Emerging Writer to attend the San Francisco Writers Conference, watch the counter for when submissions will open. The blog space provides a place for my own musings about writing and the writing life, but it also serves as  clearinghouse for other good resources out there – all to help the indie author and emerging writer reach that gold standard of professionalism where they produce and publish something as good as or better than what comes out of the traditional houses. 

One of my favorite things to post here are when I find kick butt blog posts from someone else that really speak to issues in or for the indie community at large or might be a good resource for some individuals that take the time to visit the site. I’ve got one coming up at the end of this post that is right on target with some of the distractions in the indie author community. Stay tuned.

First though –

Three by Five is always looking for more writers, authors and interesting writing community people to interview. Message, email or tweet me for more information. First Look will post your bio and synopsis of your work in progress first chapter with a link back to where you have the chapter posted. Let me know if you want to participate. This year for National Poetry Month, I’m looking for poets to interview about their favorite poem they’ve written and I’ll post the interview and poem during poetry month. There are several call for submissions still open, take a look and please submit for consideration. Submissions for the annual emerging writer prize will open in September – read the results and what has won in the past. Submit your response to the prompt. Maybe you will win your registration to the San Francisco Writers Conference in 2015. Got a book? I’m happy to read and review a copy. And if you’d like a grab bag of literary magazines sent your way and live in the United States, I’ll send you a few free or for a small donation to cover postage.

Can’t say this enough – if you are an indie author, you are in the publishing business. You are a publishing professional. If you have a book that you’ve written, published and are selling – make sure that book was ready when it went out the door or across cyberspace. Meet the standard of the big house published books. Invest in an artist to design your cover. Know the difference between a beta reader, copy editor and proofreader AND EMPLOY them on your book. If you commit to attend an event, attend it! Urban fantasy and paranormal romance author J. M. Gregorie has posted a direct and right on point blog posting on actions that negatively impact the indie author community and degrade our ability to be taken seriously as writing professionals. Read her Open Letter to Indie Authors.

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Sharing a Resource

A resource I continually return to is Joel Friedlander’s website The Book Designer. There you’ll find a wealth of information that I’ve written about on this site before. Right now, he’s got a terrific promotion for his book design templates with a free download of all five of his self-publishing guides with any purchase, even just a $5 gift certificate! Even if you don’t have a writer friend who would benefit from a gift certificate or you aren’t quite ready for that fiction, nonfiction or children’s book template or very useful book proposal template – gift your buddy, your mom, your neighbor with a simple gift certificate so you – Independent Author – can benefit from Joel’s generosity. Really though, if you’re an independent author – you just might want to give his templates a try. The free eBooks are a great incentive and bonus. Click the banner below for more information.


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Self-Publishing Means Always Learning

When I published No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique, thought I’d prepared myself pretty well. I’d gone to workshops, attended conferences, read a lot of blog posts and talked with indie publishing insiders at those conferences – and I still made a 600 print run mistake that cost me a couple thousand dollars and left me with unsalable inventory. In the second printing, the costly error was fixed and I was a bit more humble about what my capabilities were. My education about independent publishing continues and I will continue to share some of what I find here on this site.

Today, check out Kristen Lamb’s blog post Five Mistakes Killing Self-Published Authors. Especially, if you are ready to click that upload button for your first self-published book.

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Breadcrumbs to Blogs

There is so much to read on the web! Think of these as breadcrumbs, leading to a banquet of selections for your plate of experiences here in the wild internet.

First up – Molly Greene: Writer.

Molly has two previous books  and launching now, her latest mystery novel Rapunzel. Find out more about her books on her site. She blogs on writing and the writing life several times a week. Check out her post Self-Publishing: 6 Valuable Lessons I Learned Between Book #1 & #2 for some helpful hints post publishing that first book. The one that really stood out for me? Number 3 – “Confidence and experience strengthened my personal filter.” The key take away: There is a great deal of information out there, use other opinions on what to do as a guide but do what is best for you as long as you cover the basics – “You must have a well-written, well-edited, well-proofed and well-formatted book with a professional-looking cover.”

Second – O-Dark-Thirty.

O-Dark-Thirty is the literary journal for the Veterans Writing Project. The Veterans Writing Project provides no cost writing workshops and conferences for veterans, service members and military family members. Combining both print (O Dark Thirty) and online (The Report), the site offers opportunity for members of the military community to publish their work and for those without military experience to gain insight and perspective on what our service members and their families go through. The print journal publishes 4 times a year. The Report updates often with new work. Make this one of your must read stops when surfing the net and order a print subscription. For a sample read, Kevin Neirbo’s Later explores a Marine’s coming of age.

Third – Beyond The Margins.

Truly a smorgasbord of writerly edification options. “Think literary magazine run amok,” is how the site describes itself. A dozen contributing writers plus guest posters present diverse voices and experiences on the craft of writing and business of publishing. A recent post by Randy Sue Myers entitled Manners for Writers has some useful hints about writer behavior in the literary community. A key point not enough bloggers and tweeters understand – “Most readers…don’t want to hear complaints about how tired you are, how much you hate writing, and what a grind it is to revise. It’s better not to show how the sausage is made.” Yep,  and I’ve done this too, it’s easy when it’s time to log on and make a new post to fall back to what isn’t working. I see more than a few updates that are complaints and there is nothing in a complaint that encourages me to keep writing. If you can take that complaint and turn it into a useful piece of reflection, well, that’s another story.

Three breadcrumbs to follow, and each will lead you to other resources and readings. Enjoy.

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Life’s metric – Straight and Narrow or Hills and Valleys?

IMG_5027Recently I responded to a follow-up from Paul Dorset who interviewed me back in May for his Indie Author Interview series. Paul asked if the writing life had been good to me this year. This got me thinking about the zigzag of writing. According to Duotrope, I have a 22.2% acceptance rate, which the site tells me is better than average for users submitting to the same type of markets. I’ve submitted to about twenty markets and about a quarter of what I sent out published. Metrics are useful, and metrics need definition. If the metric is solely published or rejected – straight and narrow rubric of assessment – 22.2% doesn’t seem all that good when 100% is far at the other end. However, if the metric definition is writing produced, revised, drafted as well as submitted, published, and rejected plus craft study in a writing group, online course, or attending a conference, writing related marketing – Hills and Valleys of writing related activities – that one out of five pieces published seems a pretty good accomplishment in context of 20% of my time with the family, 20% of my time volunteering with community organizations, 20% of the time with self-development and craft related work, 20% of my time at the grindstone of production with 10% for submitting and marketing and 10% for whatever distraction that is all about me that I want. (World of Warcraft, catching up with TIVO, mindless surfing on the net, rugby) Looking at my writing life this way makes September, where I was home from traveling maybe 5 days the entire month and thus accomplished no actual production done – balanced with May through August where I attended not one, but two writing conferences, wrote and revised a dozen or so new poems, and sent out a slew of work – means September was a in the valley of writing month while the summer I was scaling the hills. Those acceptances that came periodically? Those are the standing at the crest of the hill and marveling at the scenery surrounding, the victory after the toil.

So, keep your writing life in perspective. Define the metric that you are measuring your life and work with and keep it all in context.

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Indie Author Stops on the Information Super Highway

Today’s post is about two very useful sites I visit often. Both have useful and interesting topics posted daily that provide insight and information for any emerging writer or indie author.

First is Joel Friedlander and The Book Designer blog where over 700 articles are available that guide and educate authors through the publishing process. Discussions covering diverse aspect of publishing a book are covered from fonts and using aspects of specific word processing programs to self publishing do it yourself issues. Blogging and book design, E-books and E-readers, Marketing and Reviews, Social Media and Webinars, Blog carnivals and guest posts – Joel Friedlander has created a clearinghouse of information for authors. The tag line for The Book Designer is “Practical advice to help build better books,” and that is exactly what the site visitor finds. Looking for more detailed, specific ways to improve your own author toolbox? Check out Tools and Resources, want to invest in some training, click on Training Courses for classes that Joel offers and Books and Guides for links to order his books. Joel Friedlander is a recognized authority in self publishing and book design. Just reading the free resources on this blog provides an informative apprenticeship in self publishing with exposure to many other perspectives via the blog carnival and guest posts that are also part of the site. This is a stop on the information super highway that belongs on every blog roll. Visit often. Follow Joel Friedlander on Twitter @Carnival_Indies and @JFBookman

Next up is Molly Greene who blogs her journey as an indie author with frequent guest posts that will help someone looking at the independent author route make more informed decisions and maybe prevent a few regretful ones made from lack of information. Molly blogs her personal experience, with occasional bits from her real life, resulting in an informal, chat around the kitchen table atmosphere. She talks about the challenges and opportunities for indie authors and brings in occasional experts with interesting perspectives. I’ve returned to Molly’s site numerous times for a refresher on Createspace verses Lightning Source for self-publishing – a vital bit of self-education for the indie author. Looking for helpful, effective tools for promotion and use of social media, Molly Greene has some insights to share. When scrolling down my twitter feed, Molly is one of the authors I most often retweet, her information is always timely to what I as an emerging indie author is interested in reading and need for improving my promotion and self marketing. Another stop on the information super highway worth visiting. Follow Molly Greene on Twitter @MollyGreene.

There are many resources on the web in the community of writers and independent authors. Actually, there are numerous circles (or tribes) of writers and there are many more helpful sites out there. These are two I visit on a recurring basis which makes them definitely worth sharing.

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Author + Community

Coming up in the next few months I’ll introduce several new features here on the site intended for the writer community at large that will highlight emerging and indie authors. I’ll pull over some book reviews I’ve posted on my blog Home and Hearth and write some new ones for a book review page titled Book + Review. Another feature will be Three by Five, where I’ll post interviews with authors that will include five questions and will post monthly on either the 5th, 15th, or 25th of the month. Eventually, I’ll put up three different authors a month but at the start, I’ll stick with one each month.

A new feature I began this week is Author First Look. Indie authors and emerging writers send a bio and information about a current work in progress which I post on the Author First Look page along with a link to the author’s web site where the first chapter was posted. There are two very different writers on Author First Look currently, as well as the first chapter of my novel in progress.

The intent is cast a wider net for those authors and emerging writers I include in these features, and for myself via the generated link backs, that will introduce readers to writers they might not otherwise find. This is an outgrowth of the discovery I’ve enjoyed on Twitter, where following a link in a tweet that someone I follow has retweeted that I never would have seen on my own, leads to an author or journal I otherwise would not have found.

Writing is a solitary journey, but that doesn’t mean any of us has to go it alone.


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Chow Nominated for Global E-Book Award

Chow has been accepted into nomination for a Global E-book Award. The Global Ebook Awards honor and bring attention to the future of book publishing: Ebooks. Now in its second year, the Awards are in 72 specific categories. They are open to all publishers large and small so that a winner is the best in its category not just the best of small or regionally-published ebooks. Most ebooks are also available as printed books as well. The awards ceremony will be in gorgeous Santa Barbara on August 18, 2012.

Chow is an excerpt from Hudson’s unpublished collection of essays recounting her career of 32 years in the Army Reserves. An Army moves on its stomach but combat rations only go so far for so long and a Soldier has to find something else to eat. From mess halls to mess kits, Chow chronicles one Soldier’s inventiveness and adventure in food while deployed in wartime. A small snapshot into what many never think about – what’s to eat?

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The value of Subject Matter Experts

In 2007 while a Fellow at the Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Retreat, one of the Retreat events was a panel discussion with publishers and editors. I asked a question about the future of self publishing and across the panel, the agreement was that for serious authors, the traditional route would remain the way to go if you wrote anything besides poetry, which has a long history of self publishing. Listening to publishers and editors the last few years at the San Francisco Writers Conference, self publishing has become a viable, honorable, non-self-indulgent method towards becoming published. A sea change over these five years.

I first explored self publishing with Chow,  an excerpt from Weekend Warrior, Dispatches from the Army Reserve, a future collection of narrative essays from my 32 years of service. Using Smashwords, I attempted to do all the work myself and swiftly accepted that in terms of cover design, I could spend the time to learn the software or I could spend less than $100 bucks and hire out. I had a design in mind and using the free list of recommended designers Smashwords will provide I found a great one, Joleen Naylor. I took the photo for the cover, described the concept I had in mind and Joleen put that concept into reality.

I chose to do the internal formatting of the text myself. Smashwords gives you all the direction needed, if heeded, no problem. But it took time. I’m pretty handy with word, I did learn a few things after reading the Smashwords style guide that made taking the time to read the style guide well worth the investment.

When I moved on to No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique, and actual complete work that I wanted to get into print. I got help again. Joleen again took the concept I had in mind, and the photos I shot and turned the idea into an excellent cover. (The photo is of the actual manuscript after I received it back from editing.)

With internal book design, again, I realized I was out of my depth if I wanted a good, professional product. There is also a world of difference between design for e-book publishing and design for print publishing.

For the initial print run, I chose a digital print company, 360 Digital Books, Using their recommendation list I choose book designer Patricia Rasch. For a few hundred dollars, Pat made sure that my internal formatting met the requirements for 360 to offset print, she also tweaked the cover files for the digital print press and turned my word document into the proper format for a create space printing.

Why, you may ask, would I do both a short run via a digital press and a create space print? Excellent question. I wanted to have copies on hand for the SF Writers Conference where I was presenting a workshop with Tanya Egan Gibson on writers groups and critique. I didn’t think I’d get things through create spaces process fast enough. Create space also solved distribution for me by putting the book up on Amazon.

Would I do the same next time? Another good question. No, but that is a different blog post.

Many self publishing authors seek to do as much as they can, if not all, themselves. That is admirable, and in my mind, not good use of an author’s time. First, I’m not a design expert, internal or cover, so paying someone to accomplish better what I would have to take time to figure out frees me up for what I want to do more, which is write. Second, in becoming my own publisher, I take on the responsibility to meet the standards of the publishing industry. That means a well done, professional product. When you look at my self-published book, and hold it up against any other book, there should be nothing that screams “SELF PUBLISHED BOOK”.

Ensuring I publish a quality product means I need one other type of professional help – editing and proofing. That’s where I went wrong. I did have professional editors, though I did not hire them as they were friends that volunteered to provide edits. They did good work and I still should have hired a copy editor to catch the dozen or so small details that both them and I missed. When the proofs came back, again, I should have had someone else, someone that had not read the work hundreds of times (like I had), someone not intimately familiar with all the incarnations of the work (me, the author), someone with patience to read the copy word for word, line for line, (not me the tired of looking at this author). Because I did not get that level of help, I have hundreds of “uncorrected proof” copies.

Moral of the story – yes, you can produce a product all by yourself. But why do that, when for really not a whole lot of money, less than $1000 all told, you can ensure a quality, professional product by contracting out with some subject matter experts (SME). Together, you and those SMEs will ensure a quality, meet or exceeding professional standards, product – the book.

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