I am now semi-retired, aiming for full retirement by December 2015.

There will be no more posts.

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I have always loved school and office supplies

I have always loved school and office supplies

My latest printer is making me much too happy. Do I need therapy?

It began before I started Kindergarten. Pencils, crayons, paper. I graduated to lined notebooks, erasers, pens. I even loved calculators. Office supply stores are my favourite/favorite places to haunt. I like the smell of file folders and markers. When I got my first computer I thought I was in paradise. My two laptops are computers four and five and I am now on my fifth printer.

Is there a twelve step program?

This entry was posted on May 12, 2014. 5 Comments

New Year, New Goals and Priorities

I find it fascinating how easily and naturally we slip into recap mode as a year on the calendar winds down. We reevaluate, take stock and look back at what has worked and what hasn’t and we begin pondering our options, rethinking decisions and choices. There are definite phases and passages to life.

For me the last several years have been about attracting new clients and the emphasis has been on growth. It has been fun and exciting in the fast lane.

My GPS is re-calculating

A few unexpected, serendipitous events have helped me to realize that I want more time for friends and family. Relationships, both on a personal and a professional level, have risen to the top of my priority list. Quality is more meaningful than quantity.

The importance of balance

I find that I want to concentrate on better serving existing clients. I also need time for other things and for people who have been neglected. Life needs to look different in 2014. When I feel restless it is an indication that it is time to expand some things and rein in others.

This is going to be a year of transition

How are you approaching 2014? Is there a course correction on your horizon?

Unless you are ‘of a certain age’ you will not relate to Guy Lombardo’s orchestra playing Auld Lang Syne. You may even have to be Canadian. I sat with my parents on many a New Year’s Eve and listened to the old year ushered out to this tune. Out with the old.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDFCwpl1z7s

auld-lang-syne

Can you afford to be a writer?

Everybody and his uncle is writing books and self-publishing. While it is exciting to be able hold your own book in your mitts it will be expensive to get to that point and it is a gamble. Don’t kid yourself. The odds against you being able to recover your costs, let alone turn a profit, are astronomical. You need to know that. You need to be prepared to deal with that, and absorb the loss if you are determined to brave the fray.

Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose

Thousands of new books hit the market every single day. The market is saturated. If you want to stand a chance of success you  must invest. It is imperative, however, that you not invest your retirement funds or education savings. Don’t put your nest egg into the self-publishing basket.

NEVER count on book sales to bring you income.

Counting the cost

There are things on which you dare not scrimp. Once your book is up on Amazon you will have a difficult time recovering from a dreadful first impression, although I know authors who have managed to do it by pulling the book down, having it edited and releasing it again with a new cover. With all of the additional costs involved. But those success stories are rare. The fickle reading public will not buy twice from a writer with substandard work, and they post bad reviews, too.

Cover art, editing, PR coaching/marketing, technical assistance

Editing is not optional. I am not saying that because I am an editor. The quality of English knowledge and usage is deteriorating and you may believe you have written a manuscript which is error free. Please believe me, you haven’t. Don’t assume you have “dumbed down” readers who won’t notice. Don’t insult your audience and don’t set your standards that close to the ground.

Cover art is your greatest selling tool and it has to be top-notch. I have seen some covers with lousy drawings and graphic design and I scratch my head and say, “Are you serious?”. Don’t get a friend or neighbor or computer geek to do this for you. Hire professionals with a proven track record.

Know this: 100% of the marketing and publicity is your responsibility. You must attract attention, do interviews (yes, even radio and TV) and connect with people who can help you make this happen. You will need to devote at least half of your time to marketing. Even big publishing houses are leaving more and more of this to the authors. You are on the hook. It all is riding on you.

If you cannot figure out how to upload your PROPERLY FORMATTED work to Smashwords, Kobo, Apple, Amazon and others then you must hire people who can. I know a handful of authors who have sweated this out successfully, but most cannot or simply don’t want to. (Hint: Don’t expect your editor to do this. I can’t, nor do I want to pull time from my field of choice to do the technical stuff.)

Try publishing the smallest run possible through outfits such as Lulu and see how well you do at lining up your own launches and book signings. Find out if you really have what it takes to market yourself aggressively.

Manage your own Amazon account

Know how to check your stats, your royalties, know the tax laws in the countries you market to. Yes, you will have to answer to their revenue people. Unless you have an agent or a manager who can oversee this for you, you are on your own.

Freelance individuals or full-service companies

I am a freelance fiction editor. I edit. That is all I do. If you are hiring individuals for every specialty (I can’t believe I am about to say this) you may not be making the best use of your dollar. You can find full-service businesses which provide editing, cover design, formatting and uploading to multiple marketing venues.

Beware of any person or business which guarantees success

There is not a person alive who can promise you success. In fact, the truth is that you are unlikely to recover your investment costs.

We all post platitudes on Facebook about chasing your dreams, never giving up, not becoming discouraged, not letting others rain on your parade. The philosophy is positive, but may not be realistic. If your self-esteem is riding on this venture please pull out now.

Want to Be Successful? Beware of End-of-the-Rainbow Thinking

While not abandoning our dreams, we must also guard against having stars in our eyes. ~ Wendy

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Our culture has been infected with a disease of distortion, what I’m calling “End-of-the-Rainbow-Thinking.” We can all be guilty of this. We see the mega-best-selling-indie, the New York Times best-selling author, the successful small business, the guy with the big house or the family who lives debt-free and we scope-lock on the end result as if this “success” POOF! erupted from the ether.

Reality television superstars, fluke mega-advances for first-time authors, and lottery-winners only reinforce this Get-Successful-Quick-With-No-Effort-On-Our-Part mindset.

The Kardashian Konundrum

A couple days ago, I was checking out at the grocery store and there is an entire issue of a magazine devoted to Kim Kardashian. Why? What has she contributed other than fodder for the gossip mill? Yet, these are the role models that, whether we like it or not, can infect how we view ourselves, our goals and what we seek to accomplish.

We must be mindful to…

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Author Yvonne Hertzberger’s “Guidelines for Beta Readers”

I wish I had thought of this. This list will be a blessing to any author electing to utilize it. Yvonne Hertzberger is an excellent author, spinning yarns which wrap you up in their fabric and don’t let you go. Her approach to readying a novel for publication is just as thorough. Enjoy.

Guest post by Author Yvonne Hertzberger:

Guidelines For Beta Readers

Recently I sent out my third Manuscript to my beta readers. I wanted to them to have some idea of what kind of feedback I would be looking for so I drafted some guidelines for them and sent them along with the manuscript. I never thought that this might be useful to more than my chosen victims. In the interest of thoroughness I also sent a copy to my editor, Wendy Reis. That lovely lady made some minor alterations and suggested others might benefit from my list. So, here they are. Thank you Wendy for nudging me on this. I hope my writer friends find it useful.

GUIDELINES FOR BETA READERS:

If you find yourself unable to complete this in the time I need you can let me know. I will understand, so don’t be concerned if you have to turn me down. I am sending this ahead of time so that if you cannot do this I will know and can approach other readers instead. In the meantime, thank you so much for offering to do this. You will never know how valuable this is to me.

When you come across something in the manuscript that needs to be looked at please take down the page number, and paragraph so I can find the spot.

Please keep track of everything in a word doc (preferred) or email format so you can send it to me via email as an attachment. (Or in the body if no Word doc.)

WHAT I AM LOOKING FOR:

1:  Awkward sentences – anything you feel the need to read twice, or just doesn’t read smoothly.

2:  Places where the pace is off or bogging down – where it gets slow and boring.

3:  Grammar, spelling and punctuation errors.

4:  Where would you like to see more description.

5:  Where would you like to see more dialogue or tension.

6:  Anything that just doesn’t work for you.

Please be as specific as you can, especially as to location of the problem. I want honest feedback. I promise I will not be offended. If something bothers you it is likely to bother other readers as well. I will not promise to use all your suggestions but I will take them seriously. This part of the process is very important. Your honest input will make this a better book.

Thank you all again.

Successful fantasy author Yvonne Hertzberger

Successful fantasy author
Yvonne Hertzberger

Stratford Authors article about Yvonne

 Back From Chaos  Book One of the Earth’s Pendulum series

Book One

Book One

Through Kestrel’s Eyes  Book Two of the Earth’s Pendulum series

Book Two

Book Two

Watch for Book Three, The Dreamt Child launching January 18 2014

Book Three

Book Three

Spare your words, save your money.

Dollars and Sense

Dollars and Sense

Word Count

I see dozens of authors posting their daily word count on Facebook. I understand the sense of accomplishment and I know the precarious perch of self worth on which most authors are balancing. But volume is not necessarily productivity. Quality over quantity.

Editing Budget

Independent authors usually have day jobs. There are mortgage and car payments, daycare, food, utilities…red ink. It is easy to hope you can get by without professional editing, but if you ask a few who have done it and then had to eat crow while pulling their books down and reloading them after an edit, you can grasp the fact that you are much better off to do it right the first time. Which does cost money.

How much?

Please fix this permanently in your mind. Every word you use is a cent you spend. It doesn’t matter if your editor charges by the hour or by the word. Tightening up writing consumes time. If your editor has to do it for you, it will show on the bottom line. I charge a cent per word of your original word count. I just did a 2000 word sample edit in which I deleted over 500 dead-weight words. See what I mean?

Readers become bored quickly. Keep the action moving along. Don’t waste time and space with inner dialogue and musings in your characters. This is not a journal or diary. Don’t get bogged down in flowery descriptions. If it is not critical to the plot the fashion commentary is just so much bilge.  Details about decor are superfluous. Keep it simple.

You work hard for your money.