Suck it up, Buttercup!

I have begun some small marketing things to promote my novel. It’s nothing big as the launch date is still four months away, but I need to feel comfortable with promoting myself, and I thought that if I do some small things now, it would help ease any stress I may have.

Self-promotion can be a terrifying thing, and I would be lying if I said it doesn’t bother me. Sure, I like to talk, but the whole ‘Buy My Book!’ ‘Buy My Book’ is a little intimidating, and let’s be honest, sounds kinda needy doesn’t it?

So what’s a writer to do?

*points at the title*

Look, as much as some of us hate to toot our own horn, if you want to be successful as a writer, whether you’re self-published, Indie, or agented with a publishing house, you gotta blow that LOUD. Sure, if you in the last category some of that is done for you, but from what I’ve been hearing, those writers are expected to carry a lot of that load themselves.

Three of the top means of marketing; Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and blogging. And yes, I hear some of you groaning. I know there are those who will say ‘Well, I don’t like doing [Twitter/Facebook/Blogging/YouTube], and if I don’t feel comfortable doing it, I shouldn’t.’ Fine, but how far are you going to get with that kind of an attitude. You know what I hear? Nothing but negativity; ‘I don’t want to do this,’ or ‘I don’t like to do that’. If you don’t understand it, that’s fine. There are plenty of people out there who are willing to help you learn, but if you shut down at the mere mention of Twitter, you shut yourself off from potential customers. Why should I take the time to look at your book, if you can’t take the time to promote yourself to me, and show/tell me why your book is better than the thousands that are already out there.

I’m not being mean, I’m being honest, especially for the self-publishing and Indie authors. Remember, it’s always the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, but just how squeaky is up to you.          

Digital isn’t just changing the face of publishing.

Along with blogs by authors and agents, I also read blogs written by a few in the movie industry, so I was pleasantly surprised to watch an interview with Edward Burns on Go Into The Story, and his take on the Indie movie business. I advise you to watch and listen carefully to what he’s saying.

Did you note the similarities between the movie business and publishing? I sure did. It seems they mirror each other, and once again, it’s the ‘on demand’ mentality that is driving the digital media. You just have to look at the recent YouTube revelation. They’re now showing movies online, released the same day as DVD. I know there were several indie movies I wanted to see, but I had to wait until they came out on Pay-Per View because they weren’t shown in my local theatres. Not even the ones that promote Indie films.

The people have spoken and they want their entertainment now.     

Arg! Watch out for them, there PIRATES!

No, I’m not talking about the ones that look like Johnny Depp or Orlando Bloom.

I am loving all these new novels I’ve been finding and reading for my kindle app. It amazes me to no end the well of creativity that resides in people, and I can’t say enough times that this is a great time to be a writer. Yet I have found a pitfall. Piracy. I only know of one author who’s had his work pirated, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s one too many.

What can we do to keep this from happening to our work? Copyrighting is one very important option. I’m not sure on prices, as I think they vary from country to country, but make sure you have one on all your work. It might sound like a common sense thing, but you’d be surprised. And make sure your Copyright is situated where people can see it. Preferably right under the title. Some self-published books I’ve read the Copyright is buried within all the ‘Oscar Speech’ of acknowledgments.    

You could place alerts specifically for the names of your novels. Google and Yahoo have web alerts that pop up quickly enough to your email, but there has to be other ways to keep these stealers of novels away from us. One thought was the .99 cent novel. The reasoning is; if your novel is already cheap, then it makes no sense that a pirate would steal your novel and price it lower. If that’s even possible. Maybe for free, but wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of pirating the novel in the first place?

I’m not trying to scare anyone away from self-publishing, I just want you on your toes. Oh, and in case you don’t think lightning strikes twice in the same place, same author has his sequel pirated as well.


E-publishing, self-publishing, and the Taxman.

I’m learning something new every day. Just like you don’t submit the first draft of anything you write, when you self-publish your novel, you don’t just upload the files and wait for it to go live. Sometimes you have to jump through a few hoops, or you don’t get all your money.

That’s right. I said ALL YOUR MONEY.

I have an account with Smashwords (why not publish under both, right?), but there’s not very clear, at least, not in my opinion. They just say that the Royalty Rate is 60%. So if you publish with them, you get 60% of your money? If you publish with Smashwords, and understand their tax rate, let me know please.

Now, Createspace is American so there’s no real problem if you’re American. You just give them your tax number and you’re set, but for those who, like myself, don’t live in the States, it could get a bit tricky. You have to fill out a Royalty Payment Information form before they can release any royalty.

Some of you may not know, but if you live outside of the U.S. and make money IN the U.S., that business is subject to a WITHHOLDING TAX. Canadians know about this, because when we go down to the States and gamble, the establishment keeps 30% of the winnings. That is the Withholding Tax.  Sucks, I know, but there is a way around it.  You still have to fill out a form and submit it to the IRS and get your own tax number.  The standard tax-withholding rate for non-U.S. members is 30%, so that means they withhold 30% of any money you make, and authors make Royalties.

From the Createspace site:

“If you are a non-U.S. member and your country has an established tax rate treaty with the U.S., you may be eligible for treaty withholdings rates if you provide us with a valid W-8BEN.”

Here are some common tax withholding rates by country, which are subject to change without notice:

•Canada: 0%

•Australia: 10%

•UK: 0%

•Japan: 10%

•India: 15%

Well aren’t I lucky, as I’m Canadian the tax withholding rate is 0%, but I have to get a U.S. Tax Identification Number for an individual, and in order to get a W-88EN form that Amazon/Createspace wants, and I need to fill out and return a W7 form before I’m eligible for the 0%.

Then, as I’m reeling from the fact I have to deal with a tax agency in another country, I scroll down and notice this:

“Neither a TIN nor W-8BEN form are required to receive royalty payments, however, if you choose not to provide a W-8BEN, we will withhold 30% of your earnings for tax purposes regardless of any tax treaties your country may have with the U.S.”  

Okay. Great, I can live with those conditions, but then I thought, what about my own country? What’s the deal with claiming royalties with Revenue Canada? So to the phone book I went. After calling several numbers and finally getting the right department, I got a busy signal.

To be continued…

Week Five: New Project!

Some days I could shoot my Muse.

If you’ve been reading my blog long, you know I started writing a demon story last year. It revolves around a group of people who all have a special paranormal talent. Think of it as SUPERNATURAL meets ANGEL. It started off as just one short story, but as I was writing it, more idea’s for future stories with these characters came into my head. I decided to write one per month, creating a little mini-series. Then I discovered script-writing, and turned it into a television script. I know, lofty goals, but it was fun and with Script Frenzy’s one-hundred page challenge, it allowed me to expand on the story. By the time I’d completed the challenge, I not only had two episodes, but an entire television series mapped out in my mind.

Unfortunately, I never got any farther than those first two scripts.

Then, I decided to self-pub one of my other stories, and that got the old creative juices flowing again. Why couldn’t I write out the demon stories and self-publishing one every couple of months? I know, I know I sound like I’m going overboard with self-publishing, but these are all stories that I wouldn’t be able to sell through ‘traditional’  mean anyway, and yes, some small press do take smaller word count novels, but I’m liking the idea of being in complete control over every part of the publishing process. Does this mean I’m going to self-pub all my stories? Probably not. My next novel is scifi, and I may have an easier time finding an agent with it than with my paranormal stories. Also, these stories I’m self-publishing are already written. They just need to be tidied up. I’m not stupid, I know better than to send a first draft out into the world.

Anyway, I’m aiming for a publishing date for the first one sometime in August.

Week Four – Sharing e-books

HLN’s ‘save more, spend less’ guy was talking awhile back about sites that allow people to ‘share’ e-books. I tried to find the video, but only found this link;

Quite frankly, I don’t think I like this idea.

‘Spend less’ guy says it’s good because this site is a virtual library. You can swap books with someone else and not pay anything. Okay, I understand that would be appealing in this tough economical time, but Amazon sells e-books at low prices to start with, and before you buy them, you’re given a chance to see if you’d like the story or not by downloading the first few chapters.

People know what they like very quickly, and chances are, you’re going to know whether or not you like the story within those first few chapters.  So I don’t get it. Why would you go to one of these site to swap ebooks? You don’t know the person who uploaded the book, and I would be afraid of there being a virus planted in one of those swapped books. Plus there’s the whole DMR (Digital Management Rights) issue. How do they get around that?

E-books are cheaper than some paperbacks now, and with the free apps supplied by Amazon (and possibly other sites, I have yet to check into this), you can have your own reader right on your computer.  

I’m sorry ‘save more, spend less’ guy, in my opinion, this piece of advice isn’t worth the money it’s printed on.     

Week Three; I am dreading formatting!

As I travel deeper along this digital path, one thing keeps cropping up and trying to snag me—formatting. The biggest concern I’ve found is that there is no one set format for all eRreaders, which can lead to confusion, not to mention a complete brain meltdown on my part. I have found a program that was highly recommended by AQCrew, and the best part about it, it’s free!

Now, before I do anything, I ran it past my digital guru friend, Karen Newton, and she uses it, so bonus on my part. She listed the pro’s and con’s, and from the sounds of it, it’s a good program to learn with. It’s not the best, but it will give me an idea of what to expect when it comes to formatting the novelette. Something else grabbed my attention as well. Book covers. I’ll have to design my own, and I’m fine with that. Most people have Photoshop, I don’t so I’ll use my program. Again, this is free and they have a wonderful online site for tutorials.

As for my novel, I’ve added about 1k more worth of words in the last few weeks, and I’m pretty happy with that. I think the bugger part is going to be the revisions to the old story and for some reason when I paste and copied it from one program to another, the entire thing came out as one long paragraph, so I have to break everything up.                 

Write. Revise. Edit. Polish. Repeat.

This is my mantra. One of the biggest complaints you’ll hear about self-published books is the poor quality of the writing. In some cases, I agree. I’ve often said you don’t just sit down at a computer, knock out a story and expect it to be published.  Some writers know this, others don’t, and unfortunately, the digital world is being saturated with sub-standard novels.

And as if on cue, the internet exploded with another poor example of self-publishing. I’m sure by now, you’ve all heard about the horrible conduct of the author of THE GREEK SEAMAN, so I’m not going to go there. The sad thing about this (apart from her behaviour), is that it all could have been avoided had she learned proper writing skills.

The good thing about this novel, it is a good plot! The main characters could be appealing as they navigate the uncertainty of their future together. How the female lead accepts and assimilates into a foreign culture, could be engaging. Who wouldn’t want to see everything work out for them? The blogger never said the idea was bad, just the execution.

Ms. Howett, you certainly showed us your spunk, now take that rage and direct it into something creative. Re-write the novel, learn what went wrong and fix it. Show all those people who have written you off, that they’re wrong, and come back with a better and stronger novel.

An experiment in self-publishing

Yes, I’ve decided to self-publish something, BUT this is just an experiment. I don’t plan on doing any more than one novelette. For now, at least. I’ve been playing around with a book trailer, well, actually it’s a trailer for a published short story of mine. It’s done, and I’ve posted it at the bottom of this entry. Il want your feedback on this, as it’s my first one. Does it grab your attention? If you’ve read the short story, does it faithful to the plot? If you haven’t read it, would you because of this? Enquiry minds need to know people!

Now, for the question you’re all probably asking—why am I doing this? One answer – Platform. I don’t mind having my short stories published in non-paying markets, but I have idea’s that go beyond the short story format. I’m not sure how any of this will pan out, but like the title says, this is an experiment. I’m not trying to prove anything one way or the other. I know there are many who want to go this route but are unsure. I’m hoping this will give them a peak into what to expect (or not expect) at each step of the process.

The story I’m using is called Echo Lake. I wrote it years ago and haven’t really looked at it much since. It’s over 14k right now, but as it’s in need of a serious revision, I’m going to try to push it closer to 20k. Why this story and not a new one? Simple, I like this story and want to share it, but wasn’t sure how really. Sometimes my impatience gets the better part of me and I have this need to do things YESTERDAY. Besides, I didn’t know what else to do with it. It’s a scifi time-traveling story about how we can’t change our fate, and it originally started off with teenagers, but I think I’ll bump it up to twenty-something’s.

Anyway, here we go.

%d bloggers like this: