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self publishing

New Editing Course Coming Soon!

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I think I might have run into blogging burnout in addition to being so busy I just haven’t had time. You know how it is.

But with a new year comes new ideas and new opportunities. Warning: BRAIN ON FIRE!

Not my actual brain. Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com
Not my actual brain. Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com

A couple of years ago I presented an editing workshop to some lovely people on Prince Edward Island, Canada. What a magical place! It absolutely oozes creativity, and if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend you visit.

The workshop was well-received, and I thought about really beefing it up and creating an online course for those who don’t live on PEI and might be interested. Well, it took me long enough, but I am hard at work doing just that.

I’m still in the beginning stages, but it looks like in a month or less I’ll have it completed. WOOHOO! That’s a huge thing off my To-Do list, and I’m excited about it!

The course covers self-editing and will take your manuscript from flat to fabulous. It covers everything from plot to passive prose, complete with worksheets and resources. Whether your piece is a novel, novella, or short story, you will find many helpful tips to take your story to the next level.

This doesn’t take the place of a professional edit, but it does get your manuscript into good shape before sending it to a pro. This course is designed to help you become a better writer and to help you save money when hiring an editor.

Keep your eyeballs peeled! I’m going to need Beta testers soon, and if you’re interested, sign up for my newsletter at the top of the page to receive updates as soon as they happen. You don’t want to miss this!

white-pen (2)

WHAT’S KEEPING ME BUSY

Where to start? I feel like I’m stuffing my double-digit body in a size two pair of spandex shorts. There’s stuff bubbling out everywhere.

You’re welcome for the image. Heh.

1. WORK. Lots and lots of work. I knew September would be busy, but I didn’t figure on being this busy. I’m not complaining because I love my job, but holy batballs. October is beginning to look mighty busy as well, so the keyword here is PACING.Note to self: Purchasing additional day planners or calendars does NOT add days to the month.

IMG_2807-1
This is a bat. I have no idea if it has balls or not, and I’m not close enough to find out.

2. We are fast approaching the final stages of ALLEGORIES OF THE TAROT and I am beside myself with JOY. This project has been a dream come true, and to finally see it come to fruition is nothing short of amazing. As we gear up, plans are underway for prizes, surprises, and much merriment. If you’re interested in joining in the fun, Badass Marketing is looking for participants in a month-long blog tour. You can sign up HERE. Come and cavort with us!

3. In more ALLEGORIES news, we are THRILLED to announce a story from the awesome MeiLin Miranda will appear. I’m so stoked this worked out! It means all the pieces are in place and I have my “A” team. COLOR ME HAPPY!

4. Something that helps me keep less busy is a website I found some time ago. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it, because I realized immediately how valuable it was. It’sAbout Me, and if you don’t have a presence there yet, I highly recommend you get your hiney over there and take ten precious minutes to set it up. The interface is easy-peasy to navigate, and once you set it, you can forget it. It updates changes immediately; lists all your pertinent links where people can find you, and provides a peek into your personality. I love it because it is easy, it’s another way to network, and you can include the link anywhere without having to dig for all your links when needed. It’s like a business card for the Interwebz, and best of all…IT COSTS NOTHING.

You’re welcome. Feel free to hook up with me there.

5. New fiction: yeah, yeah. Both CHAINS and the next adventure of Sally Mae are at the halfway point, and I’m also working on a new project which may or may not fly. What can I say? There are only so many hours in the day.

On that note, I have to bounce, because daylight’s burning and I gots stuff to do.

Tell me what kind of trouble you’re stirring up!

<3

 

BACK IN THE SADDLE

While Monday will never be my favorite day just on general principles, I will say I almost caught myself looking forward to this one. I blame the beautiful magic of Prince Edward Island, in which I spent an amazing week with a perfect combination of work, play, and the best company ever.

Please. Just look at this:

I was forced to stare at this for a WHOLE WEEK!

I was forced to stare at this for a WHOLE WEEK!

As difficult as it was to endure the breathtaking gorgeousness of the island (*snicker*) I did manage to teach a self-editing workshop for PEI Writes, and then later in the week, sit on a panel sponsored by Fierce Ink Press on independent publishing. The turn-out was great and I met so many lovely people! BONUS: I did not puke, pass out, or have a seizure. Trust me, as a hardcore introvert, all three were distinct possibilities.

It was a wonderful week of creativity, connections, and relaxation. I returned home with my batteries charged and ready to romp.

I will be working on a number of projects, juggling quite a few balls. There’s my regular work, with several new and returning clients scheduled. I LOVE MY JOB! This is the push before the holiday season, so if you’re interested in a content edit, now’s the time to book services. I’ll also be working on Allegories of the Tarot to get it ready for a Halloween release. I’m so excited about this, I can’t even tell you.

Then, I’ll be working on finishing Athena’s Chains, the sequel to Athena’s Promise plus a new project that’s still in the baby stages. I’m shooting for an end of year release forChains, with the other project due out early in the new year if all goes well. Those are the goals.

So the plate is full, but I like it that way. 🙂

In the meantime, keep an eye on the Editing Work page for new releases of some fabulous fiction.

And of course, updates as they happen and time allows.

Woohoo! Back in the saddle and loving every minute of it!

What are YOU up to? Sound off in the comments and tell me all about it.

Busy Netta Is Busy

But it’s been a fun busy. If there is such a thing.

Of course, I’ve been rolling full steam on Allegories of the Tarot (you can find the official website here), and I have to say it has been one hell of an experience. I’m learning a lot, but the best part of the whole thing is this group of writers are just…well, FABULOUS. They’re funny, and supportive, and seem to want to see this anthology come to light almost as much as I do. It’s a great group, and I love seeing how some of these writers who have never met before are forging new connections and friendships. It’s been a totally team effort, for which I’m really grateful and touched. SO. Much. Fun. You’ll see a taste of what I mean Monday, May 13th when I post a very interesting story about the Tarot cards which have taken over my house on the official website. Too hilarious.

I’ve never put an anthology together before, so I didn’t know what to expect. All I can say from what I see this is what being an indie is all about. Supporting each other, helping out, reaching out. It’s been a blast.

Red Tash graciously gave me some Internet love, and I also appeared on the blog of Pushcart Prize nominee Loren Kleinman. In the meantime, the lovely Eden Baylee interviewed me on her blog. She asked some interesting questions and it was an honor to appear. Then today, the incorrigible Laura Eno invited me to Tuesday Tea With Mistress Snark. I’m still hearing orange yammering in my ear (you’ll have to read the article to understand…) and I earned this beautiful badge, which I display with a big BOOYAH:

 

Except for the orange thing. Heh.
Except for the orange thing. Heh.

We’re working on the cover concept, thanks to the brilliance of Kris Austen Radcliffe, who has also contributed some other stunning images to the campaign. Like my very own Chariot teaser card:

 

How cool is this?
How cool is this?

There are a lot more things in the works, and everything will be updated on the on the official website as they happen. I can say I’ve received six stories so far, and every single one of them has blown off my socks. So happy!

In the meantime, I’m trying to get Sally Mae to cooperate (lawd, that girl is a handful!) and get Pallas out of the sticky wicket in which she now resides. All while keeping up with the editing, which is going really well. I love my job :) I know not many people can say that, and I feel pretty blessed.

Check out the Allegories campaign (widget in the sidebar) because there are some amazing perks up for grabs for donating, including signed pendants/magnets of the cards. Limited run. Oh, and books, mysterious swag, editing services…something for everyone. If you can’t donate, please consider sharing. The more the word gets out, the closer we get to achieving our goal. A huge thanks to the supporters, the shouters, and the writers for getting behind this and all their help. You people rock and I heart you.

 

You guys ROCK!
You guys ROCK!

Decisions, Decisions

It’s been a very busy summer, and it’s only been summer for a week. I’m sure not complaining, just trying to keep up and keep it going. It’s more difficult than it sounds.

I’m very happy with the beta responses to “Athena’s Promise”, and the revisions shouldn’t take long at all. I’ve even started the first chapter of “Athena’s Chains” and I plan on having that done before I release AP so I can include it. Of course, that brings me to the Ultimate Plan.

I have no idea what the Ultimate Plan is. Besides total Universal Literary Domination, that is. How to get there is the real question.

With the publishing world in such flux, I’m really struggling with making a decision on which way to jump. Do I trust my precious work to a “legacy” publisher and hope for the best? Go with a small press, an indie press and retain a better measure of control? Or do I indulge my inner control freak, and blaze the trail on my own?

I’ve been back and forth so many times I’m dizzy.

By the time I get off this ride, I'll probably puke.

I won’t go in to all the pros and cons of each path or I’d be here all night. Suffice to say it’s not an easy decision and I will most likely wait to make a decision until next week.

Why wait, you ask? Well, because of the First Annual Intergalactic Pretendacon Sporkfest (A Very Serious Writing Conference). I plan on picking the brain of my esteemed colleagues, all of whom are in various stages of their own successful writing careers and whose opinions I value highly. I am very, very excited about this conference, especially since one of the participants I have known for nearly a decade yet have never met in person.

I will be connecting with my tribe. Like the Bee Girl. I’m so happy 🙂

In the meantime, I plan to keep writing. And editing. And writing some more.

This is what I see, night and day. Eyes open and closed. Makes it difficult to drive. Heh.

I have a great support system, online and offline. I have great friends and special people supporting me, and I appreciate that more than I can say. Although there have been, and probably will be, very difficult times, I still consider myself quite fortunate.

Thank you, supportive peeps! You lift me up and I love you.

I’m old enough to know everything works out the way it’s supposed to, so I guess for now I’ll just hang on to that.

Change Is The Only Constant

Yep, some changes in Netta-Land, and while change is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be a little disconcerting.
So, if you’re tired of the same old story…turn some pages.

This is me — turning some pages.

***

One of the biggest changes and one I am ecstatic over, is the position I’ve accepted at Etopia Press as a Content Editor. I am over the moon.

This moon. Not the other kind of moon. That would just be wrong.

I am so happy about this because fiction has always been my first love, story my passion. I really enjoy working with new authors and taking a manuscript to the next level. This position allows me to expand my scope and exercise my Mad Editing Skillz, as well as provide an opportunity to meet and work with some outstanding authors. I am very excited about this!

I decided to sign with Etopia for many reasons. One of them was because of the fabulous Managing Editor and founder, Annie Melton. Not only is she smart and savvy, she and I share the same driving passion for story and what really resonates with me is her respect for writers in general. She gets it. Annie has a lot of experience in the publishing and editing field, and she has the kind of high standards I can get behind 100%. I feel very fortunate.

So, if you are interested in working with an indie press dedicated to nurturing and supporting both new and established writers, take a look at Etopia Press. If you think it would be a fit, use their submission form and if you would like to work with me, include my name. If accepted, your story, novella or novel will come to me and we would get to play together! Doesn’t that sound like fun?!

Don't be scared. Those are fake horns. Mostly.

I am interested in all genres, but I will admit a fondness for speculative fiction, horror, paranormal, urban fantasy…you get the picture. Length doesn’t matter (so many jokes here, so little time, but I’ll spare you, heh!) because I love short stories as much as I do longer works.

Send me what you have! I’d love to see it.

***

And not so much of a change, but in addition, I have some new releases on my Amazon. Three of the covers I did myself, but the cover of The Blood is Not Enough was done by Laurie O’Hare who totally nailed it on the first try. I love this cover so much, I’m thinking about getting a tattoo. The story means a lot to me, and could be in development as a longer work.

My other cover, for Of Virgins and Indigestion was done by graphic artist Rebecca Treadway. She brought George to life, and it is SO COOL! This is the first Netta Character ever to have a face, and I’m so happy with it. I love George, bless his heart.

Both of these stories appear in Not Nice and Other Understatements but stand quite nicely on their own. I’ve also packaged a selection of stories in On the Edge of Insanity – A Triptych of Crazy and Little Rebellions for those who aren’t sure they want the whole collection. (And why not?)

For something new, I’ve released a volume of twelve stories called Musical Chairs – A Jamming Bio, a unique look at significant memories over a period of time inexorably linked to a selection of popular music.

More projects in the works as time allows. Stay tuned.

***

Another major change in Netta-Land is I’ve decided, except for a few select clients, to retire from writing web copy. I’ve had a good run, but it looks as though the Universe is poking me to travel in a different direction. To that end, I am currently on the hunt for an Outside Job Involving Real People. (Oh, the horror! Heh. For me, not them! Although some people may differ on that opinion.)

I’ve chosen to do this for many reasons. The main reason is I want to focus on my editing and writing endeavors. Right now that’s not enough to support me, so I will have to adapt. I can do that.

Decisions, decisions.

Another reason is I have become increasingly disenchanted with writing web copy, and this is partly due to the demanding deadlines. Now, I don’t have a problem with deadlines, and I have made it a priority to never miss one and I am proud to say I haven’t. But it is extremely wearing to always be “on alert”, so-to-speak, especially with other factors becoming major issues.

“What factors, Netta?”

Well, I’m glad you asked that question, Dear Reader. Factors like low pay, unreliable payments, disrespect and general Fucktardary (sure to be the subject of another NettaRant. I’m sure you can’t wait). I’ve had enough, to be perfectly blunt. Truth is, I know the world of fiction and publishing a lot better than I know the world of web copy, and I’m much more comfortable with fiction. I’ve straddled the line for almost three years, and it’s time to pick a side.

Talk to the hand.

So, I have.

I don’t count my years writing web copy full-time as a loss. I have learned so much that will serve me well in the fiction arena, and I feel as if those lessons will give me an edge. I’ve met and worked with some fabulous people, and I’ll still be working with a select few. I also feel as if it’s time to put my butt on the line in a different way, and to that end I will focus my energy on what I truly love to do.

Change is the only constant. I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

Caveat Emptor vs. Caveat Venditor

WARNING: This is a true NettaRant. You might want to wear a helmet.

“I’m just feeling kind of truthsome right now. Life is too damn short for ifs and maybes.” ~ Capt. Mal Reynolds of the Serenity

Instead of your regularly scheduled programming in which I feature some form of Fabulous Fiction, I have instead decided to shake things up in more ways than one.

Yep, it's likely to get thick. And I'm pretty sure it's not going to bring any boys to the yard.

As you may well be aware, I am all for supporting the self-publishing wave, also known as the Indie Movement. (Although some contest the moniker, “indie”, as it really applies to a different aspect of the publishing business…still, I’m not one to split hairs.) I believe passionately in self-publishers coming in to their own without the stigma of “if you’re self-published, your work sucks hot rocks.” That being said, some self-publishers are making it VERY difficult to don the pom-poms and rah it up.

Oh, not on purpose, I’m sure. Pretty sure. Right now it seems like it’s the “American Idol” of publishing, and like American Idol, some people are just not right for the stage, and that’s my nice way of expressing it. It’s a buyer beware world out there — I’m not saying it hasn’t always been that way, but at least with the Big 6 as gatekeepers you had some assurance of quality. (You can argue about their control issues another time. I’m on to something else right now.) In this Wild West Frontier of self-publishing, as a reader you have to do your own due diligence as far as sniffing out quality material to read.

Okay. Now that I’ve laid the groundwork, I need to vent. Consider this your wake-up call.

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S GOOD AND HOLY, PEOPLE, GET YOUR SHIZ-NIZ TOGETHER!

It’s not just a “let the buyer beware” world out there, it’s a “let the seller beware” world! Wake up! I understand you want to jump on the bandwagon and present your work to the world, but have some patience! Is it your best work? Could it be better? Have you EDITED your piece? Have you hired a professional editor or just let your sister who has a degree in liberal arts have a whack at it? Did you put it away for a few weeks to look at it with fresh eyes, or did you mindlessly throw it up on Smashwords or Amazon so fresh off the word processor it’s bleeding from a thousand knife wounds? You guys are KILLING ME.

And while I’m at it, let’s take a look at formatting. Is it formatted properly? Is it consistent, or do you have flawed formatting throughout the entire novel? You know, like it starts off with indents, then goes to block, then back to indents? Are there proper spaces between paragraphs? ARE THERE EGREGIOUS TYPOS?? Did you even bother to put it through a simple spell or grammar check?

Am I perfect? Oh, hell no, and I’ll be the first one to tell you that. It’s not perfection you’re going for here, but at least aim in the general vicinity!

Oh my GAWD, you make me stabby, cranky and want to spank you so hard you can’t sit down at your word processor for a YEAR.

Don't make me get out the whip. Because I WILL do it!

I have seen so much potential absolutely RUINED by LAZINESS and that makes me NUTZ and quite frankly, it pisses me off. As a self-publisher myself, every one of you that is too damned lazy to make sure you’re putting out a quality product is adding to the very stigma you’re trying so hard to dispel! I know you’re in a hurry, I understand why you’re in a hurry, but slow the hell down! Will it really kill you to take an extra few weeks to make sure your work is polished, professional and ready to fly?

If it’s not, you run a real risk of wrecking any chance you might have of a successful launch, and instead you’ll be thinking oh, this self-publishing stuff is bullshit, just like you think the Big 6 is “The Man” and keeping you down, when in fact it’s your own fault! If this is any example of the kind of material you have sent to “traditional” publishers, it’s no wonder they kicked you out on your ass. And if your baby is NOT ready, then roll up your damned sleeves and DO THE WORK.

You’re doing even more damage than that. You are tearing down the credibility of every single writer out there in the self-publishing process who actually works their ass off to make sure what they produce is as good as anything from the Big 6. It’s aggravating, defeating and embarrassing.

I realize this post is not going to make me popular at parties, but someone had to say it. Go ahead, make your voodoo dolls and stick pins in me, but in your heart of hearts you know I’m right or you wouldn’t be so annoyed at reading this.

Go ahead. It wouldn't be the first time.

I am really frustrated (no, Netta, really??) by starting off reading a book by an indie and being unable to continue because of the above-mentioned flaws. I am frustrated because many of these pieces have great potential, but have sadly fallen victim to the author being in a big fat hurry or just not caring. And if YOU don’t care, why should I? That’s right, I don’t. I’m not liking your damned page, I’m not liking your damned book, I’m not re-posting, re-twittering or re-anythinging your work if you can’t actually give a rat’s ass about what you’re putting out there. I’m sorry. I just can’t do it. If that makes you hate me, oh well. I’m over it.

Self-publishing is not the easy way — NEWSFLASH — there is no easy way! Unless you realize that you’re not going to be successful and you’re just clogging up the works like a hairball in the drain.

Hire out what you can’t handle, such as formatting, book covers or editing and if you can’t afford to hire it out (and BELIEVE ME, I am so in touch with that!) then impose on good friends who do know how or learn it yourself. Stop pimping writers who aren’t ready. And for the sake of all of us out here, buyers and sellers alike, have enough respect for yourself, the profession and the potential fans to take your time to put out the very best you can.

Otherwise, get the fuck off the stage.

Who Are You Wednesday

You guys rock! The first marketing experiment was a resounding success, and I thank you so much! For your next mission, should you choose to accept it, if you’re on Facebook simply go to the left of my page here, where you’ll see a Facebook box. If you’d like to become a fan, just click on the “Like” button. That’s it! You’re done! On the fan page, you’ll receive occasional bits and pieces and breaking news on the writing front. If you don’t mind, please share the page on your Facebook page to spread the word. And thank you, thank you so much! 🙂

I have met a lot of new people in the last few weeks, and I know some of them have stopped by here to get to know me better. Hell, I’d like to get to know me better, but that’s probably a topic for another post.

I’ll give you the short version, and you can extrapolate the rest.

I was born in California many moons ago (I’m not telling you how many, so don’t even bother asking).

Let's just say it's a lot more than one. A LOT more.

My parents divorced, and my mother, me and my siblings moved to central New York where I lived for most of my life. We moved a lot; I attended seven different schools in seven years. I was the oldest of five. I have been reading voraciously from the time I was three years old. (I was quite precocious, and learned while I was in the hospital with a bout of croup that almost killed me.)

I married, bore three fabulous children, and divorced. That wasn’t a whole lot of fun, but you have to take the good with the bad, right? It was after the divorce I was able to pursue my dream of becoming a self-sustaining writer. At first, my focus was on fiction, namely flash fiction, but it evolved to writing non-fiction in the form of web copy, mostly because it paid better.

I left New York and moved to Kentucky for a few years, then further west to the St. Louis area where I am very comfortable for the first time since I can remember. I returned to Kentucky when my mother was in the end stages of terminal breast cancer; you can read about some of that here or here. Shortly after she passed, my daughter presented me with my first grandbaby, nicknamed “Muffin”.

But eventually, I returned to my beloved Lou.

In my life I’ve completed an LPN program in high school; worked as a dancing hamburger; worked as a shift supervisor in the restaurant business; was employed by a major health insurance company; worked in a urologist’s office where I saw more penises than any woman has a right to see, and served as a reservations manager in a hotel. It has been a very interesting ride.

Yeah. Kinda like this.

My first love is flash fiction. I have released my first collection, titled “Not Nice and Other Understatements” and I self-published for many reasons. I am currently at work on “Athena’s Promise”, an urban fantasy about a hotel run on the edge of Zombie Town (“Z-Town” to the locals) by a demi-goddess and a Gorgon. In the meantime, I write stellar web copy for several private clients, edit novels and craft books, and generally try to cause as much mayhem as I can.

Relax. This is not mayhem. This is just hay.

In pursuing my fondest desire of writing for a living, I have learned and done so many things I never dreamed I would. I learned a lot about marketing, constructing a website, SEO, and social networking. I’ve learned much about myself, as well – that I can be disciplined, I have Mad Research Skillz, and I’m stronger and smarter than I ever thought possible. I’ve worked hard to hone any skill I may have at this writing business because I. Love. It. I never want to do anything else.

Best of all, I have met some absolutely fabulous people along the way, and this has enriched my life immensely.

So, that’s a little bit about me. Welcome to the strange planet inside my head — tell me a little bit about you!

Self-Publishing: The Saga Continues

Not Nice and Other Understatements
Well, it looks like all the care and attention to formatting BEFORE uploading to CreateSpace paid off. The cover passed right away, and just one tiny tweak to the interior — which had to do with mentioning “Available through Amazon and other retailers in the introduction by Joseph Paul Haines — and I uploaded the corrected copy and fully expect it to go through with no problems.

Some notes about the interior for next time:

* It helps if you choose the size of your book and the font first when putting it together. Saves time later on. I chose 6×9 as the size, and Garamond 12 for the font.

* Everything goes on one document.

* Formatting for print is vastly different than formatting for the web. You want your book to look professional. Although, if you are a writer primarily for the web, you will need to resist the temptation to include all the white space and eschew the indents. That’s not how it’s done professionally, so think about that.

* Page breaks after each chapter or story. This way, when you’re tweaking out a chapter, it doesn’t throw off the rest of the formatting you’ve done.

* Page numbers start AFTER the front matter — meaning the title page, the copyright page, the table of contents. Page numbers will go in the footer of the page.

* Chapter titles (or story titles) go four paragraph spaces down the page and centered.

* There’s no such thing as looking through it too many times. I’m sure there’s stuff I missed, and I’ll kick myself when I see them, but at some point you have to let it go. It helps to let it sit for a couple of days in-between picking, because you’ll see a lot more when your eyes are rested. You’d think being a professional editor would be a help — but when it’s your own work, not so much. Heh.

* I used Open Office because for one thing, I hate M$ and Word drives me nuts. Plus, with one click of a button, OO transforms your document into a pretty .PDF file. One click. Love it.

* Label your versions like, Working Title 1.0, Working Title 1.1 to keep track of where you are. After each editing, I exported to .PDF to see what it would actually look like. Sometimes you catch things in the .PDF that you don’t see in the .doc form.

Notes about the cover for next time:

Let someone else do it.

Seriously. I am not good with graphic programs, photo programs, or anything remotely looking like a combination of art and computers. I’m totally lost. I can barely take a digital picture and upload it to Photobucket. Therefore, I know my limits and tapped my good friend to format the cover for me. I commissioned my daughter to take a photo for the cover — something she is very, very good at — supplied the copy and photo for the back cover, sent it to my friend, and he did the rest. For which I am eternally grateful.

Yes, I probably should learn to do that myself, especially since I very likely will go through this process again.

Random thoughts:

When putting together a collection of shorts, flow is very important. You want one story to flow into the next, and you want to vary the placing of long stories with shorter ones.

Leave the Table of Contents for the last thing to do. *sigh*

I included an introduction written by Joe, who knows my work very well; an acknowledgment page; an afterword and a publication history. I copied the format (but not the content, that’s my own) of a copyright page from an actual book. I gave credit to the photographer, the cover artist, and the introduction-writer.

I had to choose a name for my own press. 🙂

The next step will be waiting for the proof to arrive in the mail so I can approve the printing. That will take about six days to three weeks. Then, I can start setting up for pre-orders, autographed copies, and start a marketing campaign. But, that’s for another post, although you can see some of my thoughts about marketing in this post.

“Not Nice and Other Understatements – A Journal of Flash Fiction” will be appearing shortly. I’ll let you know how the next stage progresses.

For now, my brain is really hurty!

Self-Publishing: In Which Our Heroine Wrestles With Formatting

I feel like I just ran a 60 mile marathon. Holy shitkes, I’ve been at it since just about 7:30 AM, and except for a couple of breaks to take care of other pressing business, I have finally stepped back for a breather.

My brain feels like oatmeal. Although, if I’m to be perfectly honest, I’ve had a blast. That is, if you ignore the bald patches, the chewed up fingernails, and the list of things that remained undone today because I’ve been totally obsessed with getting this thing just so.

First off, let me say I believe I probably saved myself a major rupture and hemorrhage by working in Open Office rather than in Word. I used to be in love with Word, but Open Office made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. That would be free. Not only free of charge, but free of annoying bugs designed to drive you straight to the looney bin or nearest bar. (Sometimes, they amount to the same thing, heh.) The other reason I chose OO is because it is supposedly much easier to transform to a .PDF file, and this is a requirement for CreateSpace files. Being somewhat technologically challenged, this is definitely a plus for me.

To begin, I had to format my files into something that looks like a book. I had the material chosen — an assortment of 36 short stories and flash fiction. I had them in a line-up with which I was happy — I added a story and flipped the order around a bit. Then, I had to add a title page, choose a publishing name, and type up the copyright page to include the two people working on the cover (more later) and a disclaimer about everything thing being fictitious and one that prohibits people using the material without my express permission.

I figured out how to add a footer containing the page numbers, which thankfully sorts itself out as you format, add, and subtract pages. Go me!

After that came the table of contents, although I don’t have the page numbers entered yet. Next, the acknowledgments, and two pages reserved for the introduction, to be written by a friend of mine.

Then, the stories.

I had to decide on the font for the titles, which I did to match the title page. Then, decide on the spacing for each story. I kept an eye out and adjusted so no widows showed up on the next page (you know, that odd word or sentence that looks all alone and “widowed”) and added blank pages where appropriate. For instance, a 100 word flash fitting all on one page I’d place on an uneven page number with a blank behind it, because that’s how it looked best to me.

I had to ask for some help with setting the margins, as this was a trifle confusing to me — easy to do on my best days, I have to admit. Heh. Then it was endless re-arranging until the text looked even and consistent. I even managed to pick up a typo or two, which is Very Good at this stage, although I face-palmed at how I missed them in the first place. See? I say it over and over, you just don’t ever see all your errors the first, second, or even seventeenth time through.

Insert the after words, the publishing history, and voila.

That sounds easy, right?

What I learned through this part of the process:

1. Patience is definitely a virtue. It’s like putting a puzzle together, and I don’t know if it’s my flash background, editing background, or just plain old anal-itis, but you really do have to be picky and take your time, often going over and over and over yet again to make sure everything is exactly where you want it. I have long believed in flash it matters a great deal to the story how it appears on the page, and I am quite anal about that.

2. Format the page size before you start formatting everything else. I made this a lot more difficult than it had to be because I was working in an 8×11.5 page size when my book is going to be 6×9. Starting at 6×9 means you don’t have to reformat AGAIN once you realize you need to re-size your page.

3. The inside margin corresponds to the “left/right” margins and the outside margins are everything else — namely, “top/bottom”. I didn’t have to worry about inside bleeds because I have no images in my book.

4. Every time you move something, even something as small as a punctuation mark or to add a space, the whole she-bang shifts. That’s just a fact of formatting life, and you’re gonna have to come to terms with it right quick or you’d better hide the sharp implements and flammable materials.

5. Creating a .PDF from Open Office is as easy as falling off a log. One click. That’s it. HALLELUJAH!

6. I have the most patient friends a girl could ask for.

Is the formatting done, you ask? Oh, hell no. But the bulk of it is done, I believe, although I just took another peek at it and I see some minor things that need fixing. However, my eyeballs are bleeding right now and need a break. I have passed the copy on to someone with un-bleeding eyes to take a look and see if I’ve done the majority of items correctly (not fooling myself for one minute I have) and to get back to me regarding any corrections.

The photo I was waiting for arrived, and it has also been forwarded to a volunteer to morph it into a cover. So, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. At least, this particular tunnel. More tunnels ahead, I’m sure, and I’ll let you know all about the next one.

🙂 Yep, still smiling!