Tag Archives: writers

Writer’s Ramble: Ethan Nahte’

This week’s Writer’s Ramble welcomes Ethan Nahte’ to my corner of the interwebs. Today’s discussion will be on the hazards and pitfalls of working with small and micro publishers. For the TLDR version:

  1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Money flows TO the author (maybe in pennies, but still).
  2. Network. Talk to other authors. If a company has a bad reputation, word gets around.
  3. Pick up a book by that press. Is it quality work or does it read like a ten year old edited it?
  4. How many authors does the press publish? Are most of the books by the owner?
  5. Check with reputable, professional organizations (Writer Beware, Preditors and Editors) to see if there are warnings or if there’s any positive indicators, like awards, and not the kind your kindergarten teacher prints for every kid in the class.

Now, I turn the digital mic over to Ethan:

Bio

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Ethan Nahté is an author, journalist, screenwriter, photographer and musician. He has also worked in TV/Film and Radio. He has nearly two-dozen stories and poems published in various anthologies and e-zines. His work spans speculative fiction, historical fiction, comedy, tall tale and young adult. He recently finished his first novel and will be releasing his first collection, Of Monsters & Madmen, which contains eight previously published short stories along with two new stories, complete with art by guest illustrators and introductions for each tale. At least two more short stories are due for publication spring/summer 2016.

When Indie & Small Press Suck

There are times when modern technology makes matters worse instead of better. The low cost of what was once very expensive equipment, programs and such has made it possible for about anyone to have a radio show, make a movie, publish their own book, record their own album and produce thousands of photographs because the cost of film and processing is no longer a factor for most people.

A lot of us in the entertainment field have felt the downside of modernization at one time or another. I work, or have worked, in all the fields mentioned above. Believe me when I say just because you can buy the Eddie Van Halen model guitar doesn’t necessarily mean you can play like Eddie Van Halen. Just because someone doesn’t have to spend a fortune on cameras and editing equipment doesn’t make someone the next Cecil B. DeMille. And with the opportunity to self-publish at the tips of every writer’s fingers, yes, including those whose writing is so terrible that even Stevie Wonder would pick up the book and just say, “Hell, no!”, the indie/small/micro press has possibly hurt the already dwindling numbers of readers.

I’m not going to write about those who choose to self-publish without spending the time or money to hire a proofreader, copy editor, etc. Instead, I want to discuss the pros and cons of the indie/small/micro press houses. Before you stop reading or decide to tie me up with typewriter ribbon and paint my eyes shut with whiteout, let me say that I am talking about a particular portion of these small publishers that are a bane to the industry—both the authors and the readers. I’m going to divide this into three categories.

Category 1- The professionals

I have had some great relationships with some micro and small press houses. I can depend on honest critiques and professional editing from Yard Dog Press (YDP), ProSe Press, 4 Star Stories and Charon Coin Press (CCP), for instance. I know I will receive royalty statements on a timely basis from YDP, CCP and Seventh Star Press. All of them will get me the promised author’s copy of the book I appear in. I’m certain there are other small publishers that fit within this category but these are a handful of the publishers that have published at least one, if not more, of my short stories. As long as they treat me honestly and with respect I will certainly be willing to write for them again. I also realize that they are on tight budgets and that none of them have quit their day jobs so they can sit in the pool at their million dollar mansions. They treat the publishing business as a business, even if their main office is out of their home and they treat the authors properly. This level of quality will generally carry over to the readers who are willing to take a chance on a book from a small press.

Category 2- MOR (Middle of the road publishers that have good intentions, but poor follow through..and you know what they say about good intentions.)

Some publishers I enjoyed working with and might consider doing something once again for them, but it depends on my mood and if they have made any changes. These are publishers who do no marketing, provide no royalty or sales information, and the story selections and editing of their anthologies makes me question if my writing sucks.

Why?

No one wants their work included with stories so badly written it seems as if they are attempting to crawl out of a basement after being mauled by some insidious creature crouching nearby in the darkness. Now, sometimes it is a case of taste or stylistic differences. Maybe the other authors think my story reeks. Regardless, it’s not a book that I will promote heavily at a convention, if at all.

The lack of promotion is one thing that incessantly drives me nuts. When I am in an anthology with one to two-dozen authors, the royalties are squat. I don’t mean this to be a slap in the face to the publishers. It’s just simple math—if a $10 book, which cost $6 to produce, has finally made its money back for the publisher, the profit is then split between one to two-dozen people, the publisher and possibly the artist. Let’s just say 25 people are splitting $4. That comes to 16 cents each. If 100 of those books sell (after making back its production costs) then each author will receive $16, but unless it’s just a really hot book, that amount may be $1.60 for one quarter and 80 cents the next.

Now, if you are the sole author or maybe a co-author of a full novel, yeah, your cut is much higher if you are working with a good publisher and have signed a fair contract. Although, promotion is still very much on the authors in many cases. Some houses do make efforts to attend conventions and expand their readership base, but others do very little of that. People just don’t seemingly read as much, and those that do don’t risk spending $10-$20 on a small press as often as they spend it on a big name author with a big house.

A reputable publisher should deliver on whatever terms were agreed on in the contract, whether that’s a flat fee for a single short story or royalties, or a combination thereof. The MOR publishers vary on the consistency with which they achieve this. You should receive a statement every six months, or at least annually, showing purchased books, especially when you bought copies to sell.

When an author buys copies of the book they are in they are generally paying 30-40% below the retail cost. Even so, that’s a small margin that doesn’t begin to cover buying space at a convention, travel, food, accommodations, website fees (plus time to design and maintain), taxes and swipe fees for cards. Thanks to retailers such as Amazon that make certain they have the lowest price and cut the retail price back down to near cost, it is near impossible to compete and make a profit. Even worse, odds are the book was printed through their Create Space program, so they made money by publishing it themselves then underselling the publisher and me. Not trying to pick on Amazon, but they are the big white whale of self-publishing and retail at the moment.

Category 3- Avoid

In this category go those publishers who put no effort into promoting their authors or books. They don’t go to conventions, notify book sellers, blogs, or anything. They stick a link on a social media site and expect money to just appear. They don’t pay in a timely manner, if ever. No statements ever show up and if you get the promised copy of the book, your eyes bleed from the horrendous editing.

These are the small press companies that are driving reading into the ground.

It is very easy for a company to make a fancy website with lots of hype to lure writers in, filled with promises they don’t uphold. The newer the press, the harder they are to vet, and while I might miss a great opportunity with a new publisher that is going to hit big, after being burned so many times, I advise steering clear of new publishers until they have established a good reputation.

Things to look for include a poorly put together website. Granted, everyone makes mistakes and after hours of coding it is easy to overlook a typo. Anything more than a single typo tells me that if they don’t care enough to proof their own site (or have the ability) then they aren’t going to put out a good book, assuming they ever actually get the book out at all.

If the submission details on a site are extremely vague, unprofessional, or disorganized in the details, I tend to bypass the publisher. If they can’t put together a simple list of requirements for submissions, is follows that they might be disorganized and unprofessional about everything else.

Publishing is a creative business, but it is a business and should be conducted as such.

Authors, do yourself a favor and strive to work with reputable publishers. If you aren’t aiming for a big house, there are still some great indie/small/micro press publishers. Check sites such as Preditors and Editors or Writer Beware. Ask fellow authors about their experience with XYZ Publisher. Check reputable industry outlets and awards for recognition of an editor or publisher. The winner of The Joe Cool First Annual Great Publishing Awards, you know what I mean, is a no.

Readers, do yourself a favor and search for the same thing. If it’s a publisher you aren’t familiar with, at least flip through a book or two, if possible, and look for mistakes or to see if the writing really grabs you. Check the grammar, pacing and sentence structure. Don’t just read the hype on the back cover or the five stars on a review site. If a book averages a high number of stars and has had several reviews/ratings, then it is probably worth a shot. If it has an average of four stars and one person gave it a five and one gave it a three, then it’s a maybe or a no. I can go and give all the books I am in a five star rating and if it’s a new book I can be the first one to rate it and make it look like it averages five stars. Then I can brag on it (if I had no self worth or conscience). Be intelligent in your selections. If you find something promising, give that small publisher or indie author a chance. Who knows, you may end up with a signed first print of the first book of the next Terry Pratchett that you can proudly display on your shelf, and that beats having a shelf full of garbage that you hope you can trade at the used book store to replace your copy of a book you love.

If you’ve liked anything presented here today, show Ethan some love and wander over to one or both of his sites or visit him on Facebook!

http://www.livenloud.net

http://www.NahteWords.com

 

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Writer’s Ramble: Interview with Kimberly Richardson

Now that everyone has recovered from Christmas, just in time to ring in the new year, we have with us today, author Kimberly Richardson.
10167994_10152341095666122_1417136420_n 10369729_10152451153416122_2380884058884875460_n1) Can you tell us what sparked your writing passion?

As people may or may not know, I am a big fan of Indiana Jones. When I was younger, I wanted to be like him: search for forbidden artifacts, travel to distant lands, and write down my experiences in a journal. So, I did just that. I would place my stuffed animals in my grandparents’ living room, put on my granddad’s hat, use my jump rope as a whip, and pretend that I was Indiana Kim! I wrote down my adventures  and then later typed them out. I loved the feel of using my mother’s typewriter and I think that was when the Writing God tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Greetings, little one! I see you enjoy the sound of a typewriter. I also see that you have quite an imagination. Care to continue doing this?” I said yes, and the rest is history.

On a side note, Indiana Kim grew up and became Agnes Viridian, the heroine in my new series with Pro Se Press. Her first story is in the Black Pulp anthology and she continues with a new story in the upcoming Black Pulp Two. I’m currently working on her first full novel tentatively titled The Floating World of Agnes Viridian.

2) Do you read the same genres you write?
For a while, I did not. I branched out to reading literary works (of which I still do!) because I felt that my work would have been skewed if I read more dark fantasy. Of course, I quickly learned that made no sense and just read books that I wanted to read, no matter the genre.
3) If you could go back and give your newbie writer self advice, what would it be?
 Advice? Typewriters are most cool. That sound is intoxicating. Be prepared to fall in love with not only the art, but also your characters. Never let anyone or anything tell you that being a writer is “dumb”.
4) You started a tea company. Can you tell us about the inspiration for that and how it ties into your writing?

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I have many boxes of tea at home, I am (sort of) a member of a Japanese Tea Ceremony group, and I study Chado, or The Art of Tea. In short, tea is a big part of my life. However, I wanted to make the ultimate proclamation of my devotion – I decided to make my own blends. Goth Librarian was the first; since that is the label that most people know me for, I wanted to create a tea blend that would represent it well. I had so much fun making it that I decided to try my hand at another blend – Elmwood. Elmwood is based on the historical cemetery in Memphis and my photography residency in 2015. Soon, I had more and more tea blend ideas and at that point, I wanted to create a tea company – Viridian Tea Company was born. The blends stem from my life and my experiences and it is also a great way to express my creativity. My mind runs on a million miles a minute, so having added lanes for the ideas that come running out of it are always a good thing!

To connect with the always intriguing Kimberly Richardson check any or all of the following:
To check out her books and short stories: 
The Decembrists
Tales from a Goth Librarian
Tales From a Goth Librarian II
Mabon/Pomegranate
Dreams of Steam (the first one)
Realms of Imagination

Pro Se Press (both Black Pulp and Asian Pulp)

Writer’s Ramble 2.0

Last year, right around the time I had a dissertation to write, I attempted to launch Writer’s Ramble, which involved regularly recruiting authors to guest blog. Well, as one can imagine, this little dissertation thing sort of took precedence and the Writer’s Ramble fizzled.

So now that dissertations are done, wedding done, and another book release is around the corner, it’s time for Writer’s Ramble 2.0! Writer’s Ramble 2.0 will be a twice a momth opportunity for writers of all genres to share their input and advice as well as introducing their work to y’all, my readers. For the writers who follow me, please feel free to contact me if you’d like to participate.

This go around my publisher will be assisting me in the writer recruitment process. So let’s raise our digital coffee mug in a toast to Writer’s Ramble 2.0 and get this party started!

But WHY?

“Why?” That’s probably my favorite question. Whereas some kids go through a brief phase of “But, why?” I never really outgrew that, which is probably one of the driving forces behind my choice to become a scientist.

My editor at Pro Se Productions, who is also a writer, discussed the “why” behind his choice to write pulp and also addressed the fact that most writers will give a rather vague answer when asked why we write and even why we write what we write.

So, why do I write and more specifically, why do I write my personal blend of science fiction, fantasy and romance?

The reason, as with many things, goes way back to childhood. Even before I read, I played make believe. Mr. Rogers showed me that in Make Believe, anything could happen. My family had some rocky times. To be honest it was probably rocky and troubled more often than not. In Make Believe, I didn’t have to be me, people were nice, the bad guys got what was coming to them– or more likely, realized how horrid they had been and became good, and all was right with the world.

I recall sitting down, even as young as five, to watch the evening news. I remember Ronald Regan’s re-election, Challenger’s explosion, watching the fall of the Berlin wall, Tienanmen square massacre, Iran Contra, and innumerable other incidents that are now little blurbs in the history books. While I rarely comprehended all the nuances of the events I witnessed on television, I felt the emotional impact.

I realized that horrible things happened in the world, but I was “the glass is half full, and if it isn’t I’ll make it that way” sort of gal. Along with my daily dose of reality, I watched re-runs of the original Star Trek, and then a few years later ST:TNG won my unending devotion. Those shows, with a smattering of other science fiction shows and movies, reinforced my beliefs that humanity could be so much more, so much better, but sometimes it took a single voice to lead the way. Science fiction wasn’t afraid to question the status quo. It wasn’t afraid to ask “What if?” It made you think. It made you ponder. It wasn’t about the special effects and explosions of today’s sci-fi movies and shows. It invested you in characters and you found yourself wrestling with dilemmas right beside them in your imagination.

On a small scale, when one reads, one is taken to another place, escapes to a universe where horrors or drudgery from everyday life disappear as long as you keep turning pages. Fiction can open your eyes to ideas in ways that mere didactic knowledge cannot. Open one mind to love, acceptance, tolerance and all of the things our world is in so much need of and you have planted a seed of hope for the human race.  Make it entertaining, fantastical, and gut wrenching and you make that world and those characters stick with a reader long after they put the book down.

How does all of that boil down to why I write?

In short, I write to change the world.

Tag, You’re it!: Blog Hop

So, my writer friend, Jeremy Hicks, tagged me in a blog hop.

jhAfter nearly dying at birth, Jeremy Hicks gave up his ghost during the sorrowful autumn of his twelfth year. The outsider that occupied his body from that point onward did the best it could to imitate him. However, this being’s bizarre sense of humor and inability to fully mimic human emotions kept it an outsider. After many unhappy years of trying to assimilate to this plane of existence and its daily doldrums, he turned to the cadre of demons in his life for other options. He teamed up with one of them inhabiting a ginger known as Barry Hayes and together they turned their nightmares into fiction. The writing team of Hicks & Hayes created an original horror-fantasy environment (Faltyr™;), wrote a screenplay (The Cycle of Ages Saga: Finders Keepers) to introduce it, and then adapted it into a novelization of the same name. As a result, their first novel was published by Dark Oak Press in August 2013. Jeremy co-owns Broke Guys Productions and served as Associate Producer on the independent horror film, “Curse of the Rougarou.” He is also a poet and short story writer

Meander over to his page or blog to check him out and see his answers to the questions below.

So, here’s how this blog hop thing works. I get tagged and answer the listed questions. In turn, I chase down three authors and they get to answer those questions as well. It’s an interesting way to discover new writers and books.

What are you working on?

My dissertation. It’ll be long, boring, and even I won’t want to read it. Yay science! What am I putting off to get that little thing called a PhD? I was hopping around among three works in progress: book 3 of Crossroads of Fate series, book 2 of Guardian series, and a stand alone science-fiction/fantasy novel, “Riding Time”.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I completely ignore genre lines and use whatever makes my story work. This often causes editors to scratch their head in puzzlement as they try to figure out exactly what genre they should put it in.

Why do you write what you do?

I want to have my cake and eat it too. Why can’t I have fantasy in a science fiction or science fiction elements in a fantasy story? Why can’t they both have romance? Why can’t there be intrigue and politics, and action? When I said as much to my sister years back, she laughed and said I’d probably have to write it. So, I did. By the time I finished that first draft, I was addicted to the process of creating characters and worlds. There’s nothing quite like it.

How does your writing process work?
  1. Random idea pops into my head at worst possible moment.
  2. Obsessively think about idea until a character emerges from the mists of my brain.
  3. With a vague plot outline rattling in the attic of my mind, I sit down to write… in between barking dogs, complaining kids, work, cooking, cleaning, etc. It comes in fits and starts.
  4. I’ve learned to keep editing to a minimum on the first draft.– Get the story down.
  5. 1 or 2 rounds of edits for plot, have a beta reader give me feedback, export to Word and do another round for spelling, formatting, etc. and address any issues beta readers bring up.
  6. Send to publisher where the merry-go-round of edits begins again.

While I rarely write a formal outline, I do come up with one in a way in my head. Sometimes, with a particularly tricky work, I will actually jot out plot points, conflict and motivations. For me, that stuff has to be done in old school pen and paper. There’s just something about that process that requires me writing long hand. When I type a story, it’s already in my head. I’m merely transcribing it onto the page.

If you’d like to see what this miraculous process produces, check out any of the following:

Reaper COverDaughter of Destiny Cover AMAZONcoverNow, for the fun part, I get to tag three authors and y’all can check them out next week.

First: Jimmy Gillentine, quite possibly the world’s biggest Godzilla fan.

JimmySecond: Ethan Nahte’

Ethan NahteThird: A. Christopher Drown

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In the immortal words of Porky Pig, th-th-that’s all folks!

Weekly Writers’ Ramble: Teel James Glenn

Today I bring you award winning author, Mr. Teel James Glenn, sharing his take on cons.
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Pros and Cons of cons

-Teel James Glenn

 

Conventions are fun, no one can deny that, but for people who want to make it in the writing world they are also work.

When you think about it, science fiction conventions were started by a group of fans in the 1930s who formed groups like the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society or the Futurians who were fans of Hugo Gernsback’s science fiction and science magazine. He connected fans who wrote in to the letter columns.

Many of those fans went on to become the great writers of the era-Julie Schwartz, Ray Bradbury and others. They always acknowledged their roots in the ‘fan’ world, even before the term was really coined.

I’ve been going to conventions since the 1970s, first as a fan myself, and watched them evolve from small gatherings of a hundred or two of fans of comics or Sci Fi to the mega conventions of today where a hundred and fifty thousand people jam into a convention center.

Why keep going to conventions as a professional writer?Well, to quote the famous safe bank robber Jimmy Valentine when he was asked why he robbed banks, “‘Cause that’s where the money is!”

Mind you, it is not so crass as to be walking around with a sandwich board proclaiming your latest book-(though that is not necessarily a bad thing)-But from the moment you walk into a con till the moment you leave you have to consider that you are ‘on stage’- performing as your writer persona. You are there to be seen!

This can be a hard thing for many writers, who are, after all mostly solitary creatures, yet, the target audience for your work- be it romance writing, mystery stories, fantasy, science fiction, that convention crowd is there because they love the exact type of writing you do.

So what do you do if not wear that sandwich board? You write to the con and try to get on panels so people can see and hear you. You go to the panels of writes/editors you like and ask questions and in an un-creepy-I’m-a -colleague- way chat with them after the panels.

If you can afford it, of course, it is a good thing to get a table at the con- it is a great way to chat people up and push your books. If you don’t have a ‘support staff’ of friends who can relieve you at the table it can be a trap-i.e.- you are stuck behind that table when you want to get to panels to meet other pros or see events you want to see.

Of course, any one of these ways to ‘present’ yourself at a con could make that contact with an editor, agent or even fellow writer that lets you in on a new anthology or market looking for stories. All of them give you a pretty good shot at advancing your career.

The thing to remember is that, while it is a place to have fun for fans it can be a springboard for you as a professional writer so be on your best behavior- people remember if you are a jerk and (I’ve heard) that editors are people.

One side bar to all this is that lots of deals and meetings happen in the hotel bar. If you drink (and I don’t so I don’t have this problem), do so under you limit. Keep your head about you so you can make those deals and retain the details of the business conversations you do hear!

If you’d like to find out more about Mr. Teel Glenn, you can meander over to his blog or website. If you have questions, feel free to post in the comments section!

TheKingsAffair4

 

 

The many hats of a writer

Motherhood prepped me very well for being a writer. I’m not referring to funny diaper anecdotes or the odd imaginings of a sleep deprived brain, although those things can serve as creative fodder. I refer instead to the necessity of learning skills of a wide and varied selection. For example, the average mother must be a cook, a cleaning expert, a nurse, a teacher, a counselor, and a mechanical engineer (what!? Have you ever attempted to put together baby furniture?) to name a few.

Writers run into a very similar situation. Here are a few “hats” a writer wears:

1) Historian. If you write anything set prior to oh, yesterday, wikipedia becomes your best friend, but even that doesn’t cut it at times. Hours or days can be lost in the deluge of information when all you really wanted to know was when indoor plumbing became a common fixture in most households. I’ve known of wealthy, famous authors who fly to exotic locations so they can accurately portray the setting. (For us who consider the park exotic due to a distinct shortage of fame and wealth, we use the internet, or even better, make up fictional places.)

2) IRS Taxes expert. Once you’re published and receive royalty checks, or advances (a rare thing now days), Uncle Sam wants his cut. Figuring out just how much he gets involves math that makes differential equations look fun.

3) Social Media PR Rep. A writer must have an internet “presence”. There’s Facebook, and Twitter, and Google+, and forums, and mailing lists, and….. It goes on and on. Worse, people expect you to update and post! Who has time for all that?

4) Website Designer. The number one thing that gets asked when people meet you and find out you’re published (if they’re interested) is “Do you have a website?” It’s the foundation for all that social media updating. Sure there are nifty tools and wizards, but navigating through it is still a pain. Why does the wizard automatically turn all hyperlinks red? Why can’t I click and make the font bigger like I do for regular text? What the hell is a– what’s it called again?

5) Actor. Once you have that nice shiny hard back or trade paperback in hand publishers expect you to go to signings, meet people, sell your soul books, and even attend conferences and the like to build a fan base (or keep it from stalking you demanding the next book…depending on how unknown or famous you happen to be).  No one wants to listen to a boring person. If the person acts boring, well, sheesh, the book is probably boring too!  Whether it’s humor, drama, eccentric behavior or clothing that makes people go, “Woah!”, one has to become an actor to some degree, especially if you aren’t someone that likes public speaking. You must adopt a public face and sell the books. There are a million and three books out there, so getting people to pick yours might involve telling that one story about the green punch and….

Needless to say, it can be rather overwhelming. There are days I channel DeForest Kelly:

Dammit Jim, I'm a writer. Let me write!

What are some skills you found you had to learn to make it in the business of being a writer? What do you do when the business of it threatens the whole point of doing it in the first place; writing?