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Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

Before you self-publish, count the cost!

In Guest Blogger, Self-publishing on July 29, 2012 at 12:01 am

When I decided to go the self-publishing route, I made a list of every possible expense item. I researched my options, concentrating on the cost of each item. Ask my wife, I’m a cheapskate. Should I pay for a line-by-line edit? Do I try to format and publish without help or use an AuthorHouse or iUniverse? What marketing tools will I need? Will there be extras required such as business cards and bookmarks? What about the expense of purchasing my books for book signings?

Guest Blogger Author Bill Wetterman on Amelia Curzon's Blog - 'Carte Blanche'

I found so many program offerings. I can’t possibly discuss them all. Suffice to say, the cost ranged from literally zero to over ten thousand dollars. I’m not technically savvy. So, zero was out. Ten thousand dollars isn’t in the realm of possibility. No, I decided on seeing if I could do wide-distribution, both eBook and paperback, for a thousand dollars or under.

The more I can do myself, the less I’ll spend. I chose a package from Book Country, a division of Penguin. New York publishers are buying or creating printing companies to grab a share of the Self-Publishing market. The cost with Book Country to-date is worth the return.

A huge decision was line-by-line editing. On a thousand dollar budget for an 81,000-word novel, a line-by-line edit is far too expensive. I had some resources to my advantage. A dear friend, who is a grammar specialist and avid reader, helped me. A text-to-speech program that read my novel to me identified errors, and my patience, editing repeatedly, factored in. The book is as solid grammatically as I could make it.

Research Permissions and Obtain Them

Not all that says free is free. I couldn’t see a neat photo online and decide to use it. I had to get permission. There was heavy research involved to find out what I could use free and what I couldn’t. My book cover and my book trailer were excellent examples. A free photo has limited use. So even using a free photo website, I had to be prepared to spend money.

If a photo was just going in a YouTube trailer, I paid the contract price for limited use. There are standard contracts, extended use contracts, and multi-user contracts. The globe and gold bars photo I use in the trailer costs more than the other photos, because I use it on the book cover, my business cards, and bookmarks, as well.

I used Mahler’s 1st Symphony in my trailer. Mahler’s been dead for a century, surely he won’t mind. Ah, not the case, production companies have copyrights. Performing artists have copyrights. You have to submit your intent to use their work and receive permission. All totaled, I paid right at one-hundred dollars to clear all of the copyright agreements. I have peace of mind. I did the right thing.

When I self-publish, I have the responsibility for everything. I can’t point the finger and say, “The publisher missed the word ‘form.’ The word should have been ‘from.'” Sorry, not the publisher’s fault. The buck starts and stops with me.

Read the contracts and know your rights.

I created everything I could myself. Then I picked a package that provided the rest. I needed to know my rights. What do I own the rights to do? What rights does the publisher own? Like, can I set my own prices?

I have a friend who went with a recognizable POD publisher. That publisher set the price of the paperback and the hardcover books. My friend had no say. She was priced out of the market range and had difficulty selling her books, except for the meager few free copies she was sent. Who is paying $22.00 for a paperback and $33.00 for a hard copy today? She has changed publishers now, but that’s a hard lesson to learn.

In my case, the calculated the publisher’s cost, plus shipping, as a zero profit figure. I was then able to price both my eBook and paperback with a reasonable margin. However, pricey extras will kill you. I compared one (they shall remain nameless) publisher’s low-cost option to their first step-up program. The difference was $800. What did the author get for $800? The author’s book was made available in an overpriced hardcopy book, one-hundred copies of promotional materials, and the Look Inside the Book feature on Nook and Kindle. You can design and have all the promotional materials printed for around $160. Many publishers offer the Look Inside the Book feature at no charge. Remember, overpriced hard copies don’t sell.

I shopped around. Read the whole contract and all the instructions before I signed up. How many books do I have to sell to earn the extra $800.00 in profit? The add-ons can go as high as $10,000. It’s only money. Right?

Here is a book trailer I designed myself through Windows Movie Maker. Here’s the trailer if you haven’t seen it. Room 1515 – YouTube

The pluses of self-publishing:

Advantage 1: Your book will be available in a matter of weeks, not a couple of years. Unless you are a celebrity, you will search for months, maybe years, for an agent. The agent is not a magic genie. He or she may never sell your book to a publisher. Once the book is sold, you will get in line with the publisher’s schedule, an average time of another year to publication.

Advantage 2. Timeliness: If you’re writing about a hot topic or in a hot genre today, will that genre or topic be so hot two to three years from now? One month, I think you’re safe. Three years, you’ve missed the bus. Fact: eBooks have changed the ballgame. Today, to publish in one month is a reality.

Advantage 3: Control and Rights: A well-researched, self-published author retains the rights to the product and its uses–foreign sales, movies, and television. Note: The percentage of self-published books made into a movie is minuscule. The author controls the content and the cover design. There is no editor demanding you rewrite whole sections of your book.

Note: This could be a real negative if you’re a lousy editor. lol

Self-publishing has vastly improved over the past decade. The quality of the printed books, the formatting, book cover design, and feel, give self-published books the look and the pricing of royalty publishing. Depending upon how much you can do for yourself, you should reap a greater profit.

Niche books sell the best. Non-fiction religious books have a nice built-in appeal. Books on self-improvement do well. How-to books can be winners. In fact, books on self-publishing are among the biggest self-publishing sellers. Fiction writers have to be able to find and reach their audience. Unfortunately, this is a huge problem, since genre writers can find each other far easier than they can find readers. Hence, we receive and delete thousands of emails a month trying to sell each other our stuff.

If you are a serious author, you must have patience. Don’t expect to sell a thousand copies the first month. In 2006, Publisher’s Weekly estimated the average book sold 500 copies in the first year. With today’s economy, the average has dropped to closer to 250, and less than 3000 in its lifetime. Put your book out on the market and market consistently and persistently.

Okay, if you are consistent and persistent, self-published authors have an advantage. The publisher can’t Backlist your book for poor sales. Typical houses pull novels off the shelves after eighteen months. A new author needs more than eighteen months to build a following, a platform, and generate a readership. The lifespan of a self-published book is unlimited. Score a point for self-publishing. Don’t give up.

The minuses:

#1: Market everywhere and in every medium you know how to use. Self-Publishing is not for the shy. I call this shameless marketing. Authors tend to hold back, fearful to promote themselves. If you are uncomfortable marketing, don’t self-publish. Having said this, marketing to other authors is a useless endeavor. Don’t you cringe when some author you don’t know asks, “Follow this link and like my author page.” Reach out to readers—not authors.

#2: The rising cost of printing hurts the pocketbook. After publisher and distributor costs, the author typically receives 30 percent of the net. The more pages in the book the higher the printing cost. I priced my paperback at $14.95 to hit a reasonable percentage after everybody took his or her cut. Any higher would have priced me out of the market.

#3: Don’t believe the myth that being on the bookshelf at your major bookstores means you’ll make more money. First, self-published authors rarely have their books in bookstores. The industry requires certain standards be upheld. The ability to return unsold books looms large. Your publisher won’t print a book until it’s sold. The bookstore won’t stock books unless they can return them. A few POD companies offer a Book Buy Back program. You pay for the cost in your contract with the publisher–$600 to $800 dollars. What if distributors and bookstores ignore your book anyway? You are out the money. Your best avenue for both eBooks and paperbacks are Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Kindle, Nook, Sony, and like venues, not bookstores.

#4: I’m sorry folks. Readers still believe self-published books are inferior in quality. With the exceptional training and coaching available today, the quality has improved I believe honest reviews by our peers is necessary. Example: A friend of my published a book. Three months later the book had twenty-plus five star reviews.

Does this happen in the real world? 

James Patterson never got twenty-plus five-star reviews. My friend admitted having friends and family review the book. So there you go. I’ve rated twenty-three books on Goodreads. I gave five stars to four books. Self-published authors need to give honest reviews for each other and the industry. If we don’t improve our quality, the perception will continue and rightly so.

#5: Let’s end on an upbeat. A nice author advance from a traditional publisher used to be a major reason not to self-publish. Not today, this perk has grown smaller and smaller. When offered, the advance is likely to be a $1,000 against future sales.

Again, Amelia, thanks for letting me contribute to you blog.

Now for shameless marketing. To buy my international thriller, Room 1515, click on one of the links below.

Buy at Amazon

Buy at Barnes and Noble

Blog: The Heart of a Novelist

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Guest Blogger Bill Wetterman – First posted July 29th,2012 

Art and the Writing Life

In Ancient Egypt, Guest Blogger, writing on July 22, 2012 at 12:01 am

“When something moves you, FOLLOW. Don’t look back”  That’s the philosophy of my Guest Blogger this week, the lovely Rochelle Campbell.  Rochelle tells us of the outlying origins which helped her to start writing again after suffering from the dreaded ‘writers block’ for a sustained period of time. Thank you Rochelle for sharing this great post with us.

The creative gene is an elusive one. You never know when that gene will kick in and begin producing at its highestGuest Blogger Rochelle Campbell on Amelia Curzon's Blog - "Carte Blanche" capacity. The gene can lay completely dormant, or it can produce minor pulses that tease. Or, it can turn on slowly building and increasing its output.

Sometimes external situations can jumpstart the creative gene. However, like an old car, one may need a sustained boost from the external source in order to produce a spark and get the creative gene going.

This last scenario happened with me. The external source, in my case, was Egyptian history.

Finding out that Ramesses II had red hair was fascinating! I thought all Egyptians had swarthy complexions along with dark hair. Not so. Why? Because of the numerous invasions Egypt suffered through. The Asians (Hyksos), Greeks, Romans, and others have intermingled their genes with the hearty Egyptian stock creating the world’s first mulattos and multicultural Peoples.

Ancient Egyptian shower on Amelia Curzon's Blog - "Carte Blanche"Researching and discovering that Ancient Egyptians had running water in their bathrooms and sturdy ships for warring and exploring amazed me. Replica of an ancient Egyptian ship on Amelia Curzon's Blog - "Carte Blanche" The ships utilized an elaborate rope-pulley system and did not require metal bolts to keep them together — and they were very sea-worthy vessels!

We all know about the amazing pyramids and how modern scientists and engineers still cannot construct a pyramid like those that still stand at Giza.The Pyramids at Giza on Amelia Curzon's Blog - "Carte Blanche" There are thousands of web pages and television programs that speculate that aliens built these colossal structures. One of these programs can be found on the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens (Season 3, Episode: Aliens and Ancient Engineers – http://www.history.com/shows/ancient-aliens/episodes/season-3#slide-9).

All I know is the intelligence of Ancient Egyptians is unparalleled. They were the epitome of creativity.

Some years ago, (okay, like 17 years ago…), I began writing a story about a few of the Egyptian kings and in it speculated about how they achieved their accomplishments. I felt at many points in the research and writing that I was having lucid dreams about Ancient Egypt! The world I was creating seemed more real to me than the nuts-and-bolts world that truly surrounded me. I became frightened and began wishing that my creative gene would stop churning out this Egyptian output and feed me instead safe, non-confrontational, pablum to feed myself and any who chose to read my work.

Around that time, I noticed that my creativity began slowly to shut down. Things stopped flowing for me and stories stopped wanting to be written leaving me with a very long dry “writer’s block” spell. There were fits and starts across these dry years of creative leanings. By actively shutting down that story that greatly inspired me, I did irreparable damage to my creative gene and my writer’s soul.

Akhenaten on Amelia Curzon's Blog - "Carte Blanche"

Nefertiti, the Amarna period on Amelia Curzon's Blog - "Carte Blanche"Tutankhamen - The Boy King on Amelia Curzon's Blog - "Carte Blanche"It took another cathartic experience to revive and resuscitate my creative gene — after 20-odd years, I graduated college and received my degree in Written Communications. That was a little over 18 months ago. In this short time, I completed a novel started over 4 years ago and compiled four short stories into a collection and made both of these works available online via Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble’s Pubit! E-book publishing feature. The blog came next and shortly thereafter, my author’s website. And most importantly? I’m writing real work again — that is, new short stories and work on two novels.

The moral of this story? When art and antiquity — or anything else for that matter — moves you, FOLLOW. Don’t look back, or stop for anyone or anything because your creative life may very well depend upon your complete and utter devotion.

Leaping Out on Faith by Rochelle Campbell, book cover image

 

Opening Up by Rochelle Campbell, book cover image

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Something for the Summer Break!

In Amelia Curzon blogs, Books, Young Adult Fiction on July 21, 2012 at 12:26 am

Looking for ways to entertain and occupy the teens during the  long summer break!

Or, how about something to keep them quiet on those long car journeys!

99c could buy a whole bundle of peaceful driving. Such a big return for such a small investment!

Eight 5 star and One 4 star reviews  amazon.com  and amazon.co.uk 

YA Fantasy - Mungai And The Goa Constrictor - Action, Humour

“With great dastardly characters and lovable up risers, and set amongst the glorious, if disappearing backdrop of an undisclosed jungle, Mungai and the Goa Constrictor is a cautionary tale and a must read book for all”  BookChatterCath Reviews

“The sophisticated narrative will enhance any young reader’s vocabulary while making it an enjoyable read for any adult”  Maria Catalina Egan “M.C.V. Egan” (Delray Beach, Florida USA)

“AmeliaCurzon has created a beautiful fable in “Mungai and the Goa Constrictor” that warns of the effects of destruction of the forest in a fashion that is innocent, entertaining and compelling”  Scarlett Rains (Ohio, USA)

“Excellent book! Thought provoking and fun! This is a story that could take its place among ones the best in fairy tales with a lesson–but not only for children” The Happy Looker “T.H.L.” (Boston, MA, USA)       

“Truly, Curzon crafts an unforgettable story that speaks to the soul” Claudia Moss “TheGoldenGoddess” (Clarkston, Georgia United States)

“Mungai and the Goa Constrictor is a charming story filled with much wisdom of the sort the world so desperately needs. I highly recommend it!”  Jason Sullivan (USA)

“Mungai and the Goa Constrictor is a finely crafted fable that can be enjoyed by older children and adults alike” Patricia Paris (Annapolis, MD USA) 

Set in a rainforest of an unspecified continent, Mungai and the Goa Constrictor is a humorous tale littered with colourful and enjoyable characters, conspiracies and unlikely friendships between the species. Told through the eyes of animals the narrative explores the predatory world of deception and greed. The book carries an important missive: ‘Beware of predators in the guise of friends’.

Mungai, the central character, is a jungle creature of indeterminate origin, who creates a cunning master plan allowing him to find ways of passing through life without too much cost to himself and as little effort as possible and at the expense of others not as strong-minded or as clever as he is.

He goes all out to achieve his objectives, regardless of the consequences, as he sets out to destroy the rainforest for personal gain.

On his travels Mungai encounters an equally ruthless and selfish creature, a boa constrictor called Goa, and together they go in search of innocents to use to implement their designs.

They subsequently meet, befriend and manage to convince all manner of creatures to join them in their venture with promises of great rewards in return for small labours.  The creatures believe their efforts to be beneficial to the environment and look forward to the promised bounty.  Before too long some notice their hard work continues but the rewards are not forthcoming and they begin to realise, with some input from the good outsiders they have teamed up with, the two legs, that what they are involved in is not good for anyone.

Dissatisfaction begins to burgeon and rebellion is imminent.

Mungai finds out, all too late, that those he shamelessly inveigled into his plans are not so naive as he first thought and eventually the tables are turned.

The perpetrators become the victims as Operation Equinox is devised and executed.

Website:  Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

The Role of Strong LGBTQPA Characters in Urban Fantasy

In Guest Blogger, LGBTQPA on July 15, 2012 at 12:01 am

I am pleased to welcome this week’s Guest Blogger, Hannah Clark, aka author A.G.Bellamy. Hannah offers up a very different sort of piece discussing the lack of exploration of gender identities in teen fictional characters.

I was sixteen when I realised that, for half of the film, Mulan had managed to convince General Li Shang that he was gay. “Mulan” is one of my favourite Disney films, one of a collection now known as “old Disney.” The title character must dress in drag in order to fight in the army, and by the end of the film comes to win the respect of the entire army based on her ability to combine both femininity and masculinity in order to defeat the Huns.

The role of LGBT characters has been an important factor for me in most of my reading and writing endeavours. Hannah Clark - Guest Blogger on Amelia Curzon's Blog - "Carte Blanche"I always wondered why most teen romances were about “boy meets girl” rather than “boy meets boy” or “girl meets girl.” It then occurred that in most storylines, the gay characters are just there to be the sassy gay guy-friend or the tough lesbian gal-pal. In Michael Grant’s Gone series, the character Dekka outs herself as a lesbian and is shown to develop around this part of her identity, although it is not often mentioned. Dekka is a strong character who keeps to herself, much like most of the non-lesbians I know in real life. Then again, I hang around with fairly nerdy/sporty crowd. Being panromantic myself, I break my back trying to find stories which include strong LGBTQPA characters like Dekka which aren’t classed as ‘gaylit’ or ‘homoromance.’ I find it shameful that the Western world concentrates so much on the idea of “the hero/heroine must find love with the opposite sex to be happy!” when it comes to literature. This ignores the many other gender identities in the many different cultures that inhabit this planet, and as such I believe that it is an author’s duty to explore as many identities as possible. There is a name for this duty: character development.

Runes Shalt Thou Dream” is told from the perspective of an LGBTQPA youth named Matthew. His love interest, Ryan, has had no previous experience in relationships with either gender and does not have any interest in pursuing a relationship. In the few books I have read which introduce LGBTQPA characters (only five or so, I’m counting the Gone series as one), the LGBTQPA characters have had the most interesting personalities but are left unexplored and often ignored. In fact, the only LGBTQPA character who has been explored is Dekka. In “Runes Shalt Thou Dream” Matthew is explored in a psychological sense – his dreams slowly become reality and he struggles to find the line between them. The fact that he is gay is rarely if ever mentioned. Being a child born into the Norse faith, Ásatrú, Matthew has no religious obligation to feel ashamed about his homosexuality – the Vikings, in fact, celebrated homosexual sex as it was a display of dominance over the weaker men. Ásatrú has no literature condemning particular identities to an eternal doom, so all Matthew has to worry about is his father’s personal reaction to the news.

The continuing debate on marriage equality would be greatly helped by the inclusion and exploration of LGBTQPA characters in modern teen fiction; exploration is the best friend of the author, and if the author can help such a worthy cause it would be a great boon to Western philosophy.

Runes Shalt Thou Dream is now available on Amazon

Runes Shalt Thou Dream - an eBook by A.G.Bellamy

So Long, Andy – Thanks for Everything

In Andy Griffith, Guest Blogger on July 8, 2012 at 12:01 am

I am very pleased to introduce my guest blogger for the week,  author Liz Flaherty. Liz gives us her own accolade to the late, great and much-loved Andy Griffith, whom I am sure many will mourn the passing of.                   

I have changed my mind about the subject for this post every day for a solid week. It could be, Amelia said, anything I feel passionate about. No limitations.

Oh, easy peasy. I’m a romance writer—I incorporate passion into all my books. I’ve been married for 41 years and you Author Liz Flaherty - Guest Blogger on Amelia Curzon's Blog - "Carte Blanche"don’t achieve that without passion—well, maybe you can, but I don’t think it would be a lot of fun. I’ve been visiting my kids in Vermont. There you go. I’m passionate about my family. I’m even passionate about Vermont—I think congress should declare it the National Post Card.

But something happened the week I was in Vermont. Andy Griffith died at the age of 86. The world’s most beloved sheriff, creator of the small town everybody wished had been their own, arguably the best oh-shucks humorist since the days of Will Rogers, has left the world a better place because he was here.

I don’t really know all that much about Andy Griffith, the man. I read that he lost a son to an overdose, so he knew life’s most indescribable pain. He was married three times and divorced twice, so he understood failure. He had health issues that remind us no one’s body is immune to weakness from within.  He had strong faith and gave it free and joyous rein in an award-winning recording of hymns.

That’s enough for me to know. His personal life is after all none of my business. His professional life is the one that gave us all gifts. Like these:

When a man carries a gun all the time, the respect he thinks he’s getting might really be fear. So I don’t carry a gun because I don’t want the people of Mayberry to fear a gun. I’d rather they respect me.

Daylight’s precious when you’re a youngun.

…don’t the trees seem nice and full?

Sheriff Andy Taylor, his most famous role, gave us eating ice cream and singing gentle songs on the porch, celebrating Christmas in the jailhouse, and admitting when he was wrong. He was a comic who acted the part of the straight man because it was what was good for the show. Good for the people who watched it. Who have watched it for 50 years and still counting.

And he wasn’t St. Andy. He was a man who suffered, failed, sinned and been redeemed by his faith. He was forever and ever one of us, no better and no worse. Yes, it was his acting he shared with us, but the line between personal and professional blurred for most of us. We just loved Andy. And we thank him. Passionately.

Biography

Life is new and wonderful for writer Liz Flaherty these days. She retired from the post office in 2011, promptly gained 15 pounds—she swears it was overnight—and promised her grandchildren, The Magnificent Seven, that she would make each of them a bed-size quilt. She also planned to write all day, every day.

What was she thinking?

She’s learned to write when she feels like it, sew when she feels like it, and maybe even to eat a little less. She’s learned to share the house and sometimes even the kitchen with Duane, her husband of, oh, lots of years.

And she’s having a Very, Very Good Time.

One More Summer by Liz Flaherty on AmazonHer fifth book ONE MORE SUMMER, has been released to exciting reviews by Carina Press. She is thrilled to the point everyone she knows rolls their eyes as soon as she opens her mouth. The sixth, JAR OF DREAMS, will be out in January, and she hasn’t annoyed hardly anyone about that yet.

One More Summer is available  at:
Harlequin (Print version)  Carina Press (eBook)  Amazon (eBook)  Barnes and Noble (Nook Book)

Contact links:  lizkflaherty@gmail.com   Twitter   Facebook

Guest Blogging

In Amelia Curzon blogs, Guest Blogger Submission Guidelines on July 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm


Panda cub upside down on branch

If you would like to be featured as a Guest Blogger on this site, or my other site – http://aecurzon.wordpress.com/  please contact me at amelia.curzon@gmail.com All Guest Blogs run from Sunday 00.01 to Saturday 11.59 GMT.The current theme for all blogs is: “Issues I Feel Passionate About”

Guest Blogger Submission Guidelines

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