Another Post on Ways to Publish

Recently, a co-worker of mine–someone who knows that I am working on a novel–came to me in the break room and handed me a classified ad out of the Penny Press. That’s a small-town all-classified ads type publication with versions for just about every region there is. (Possibly not yours.) Lemme tell you. If you want a new carburetor for your Ford or if you have a few straws of bull semen to sell, the Penny Press is your best friend.

This particular ad began with the phrase “WRITERS WANTED” and then went on to the glories of self vanity/subsidy publishing your novel.

She had the best intentions at heart, so I thanked her, and put the ad in my purse, and maybe felt a little guilty for not explaining the difference.

I’m not talking about the difference between indie publishing and traditional publishing here. This is straight-up vanity press vs. indie publishing.

So, a vanity press is a “publisher” that never says “NO” to anybody who’s got the money to pay them. You pay up front. They make their money off of you, not off of your book. And yes. Just in case that book turns out to be worth anything, they’ll want a majority stake in that. You pay them to publish the thing, but somehow, they still wind up in control with an on-going stake in your book.

In indie publishing–which is a term that’s explicitly supposed to separate Indie Publishers from vanity publishers–you own the intellectual property rights, and you hire people. So, you might hire a cover artist. You pay him for his work, and then, he’s gone. He doesn’t get an on-going stake in your book. And if you also want to hire an editor, you don’t have to hire the cover artist’s best friend. You pay for everything, and any profits above that are yours to keep.

And in traditional publishing, you’re essentially taking on a very selective business partner. Someone who brings knowledge, experience, and money to the table. They’re very selective. They’re not going to publish your children’s book, Baby Hippo’s First Book of Number Bases because they know it’s not going to sell. They bring value to the partnership  (see knowledge, experience, and money) and YOU bring value to the table (your book/intellectual property) and you each wind up with a percentage of the overall business you start together. (And yes, that’s an oversimplification.)

So, on to analogies. Imagine that you want to sell antiques.

There are three basic ways that you can do this.

Subsidy publishing is like a booth at the local antique mall. Nobody cares whether you’re selling Chippendale dressers, or handmade soap, or that nifty collection of Care Bear themed glasses from 1980’s Pizza Hut. (Yes, or human remains.) You pay your rent, and there you are. BUT WAIT… you’re tied in, because people don’t look up booth #217 in the phone book. They look up Antique-y Antique Mall. And–if you’ve been in one of those places–you know that the profits from snack bar, and the t-shirts and so forth all go to the mall, no matter how much rent you’ve put in.

Indie Publishing is like opening your own antique store. You’re going to pick what goes in there, and you’re going to design the logo, and figure out your own snack bar, and advertise your own name, and your own particular niche and if you do it right… well, you own a business. The risk is all yours, and so are the profits.

Traditional publishing is more like that high-end antique store in a nice neighborhood of a big town. IF they think you have something GOOD, you don’t have to pay the rent or put an ad in the phone book, and they already have name recognition that says “We sell the best Care Bear Collector’s Glasses around.” And the partnership should be worth more to you than the fraction that you bring to it.

Doing Things Out Of Books

Everybody needs things to do with their lives, and in general, books are a great place to go, if you need ideas.

One of the great laws of book people is that you will–eventually, whether you admit it or not–go out and do something because you’ve read about it in a book.

And we’re not just talking cook books and how-to’s. Not that cheese making and battle-robots aren’t awesome.

There are also the is that possibles, the how hard could it bes, and worst of all, the dreaded Oh, that sounds like funs.

And that’s how you wind up knee deep in papier mache or standing on a tourist-infested riverboat.

Yup. You have to go to these places. Some of them are pretty. Some of them are historical. And some of them are… fun.

So, in the wonderful world of American poetry (not generally my cup of peanut butter), there’s a poem that’s always stuck with me, at least in part because of the weirdness of it.  I never really “got” the poem, and I probably don’t, now. The guy pours two glasses, one sweet and the other bitter, and gives the sweet one to his friend, while drinking the bitter. And then, his friend marvels at how happy the first guy is.

The internet informs me that this is a metaphor for service to others making you happy.

In light of the fact that the bitter drink was wormwood, I always thought it was a metaphor for not having worms making you happy.

Or… in my internet enlightened phase… shall we point out that wormwood (one variety) is the same thing that gives absinthe its trippy quality?

Maybe Cliff Klingenhagen was just toasted.

At any rate, it turns out that wormwood is currently legal in the US (using it in alcohol manufacture apparently isn’t.) and that it makes a dandy tea. (I’m really not picturing tea in that poem, but maybe…)

Well, what the hell. Can’t be any worse than the corn meal mush was. And if it tastes worse than the pemmican, I’ll just assume it’s a divine punishment of some sort.

Three Dimensional Puzzles

My sister used to buy me three dimensional puzzles as gifts. Since I was never really into them before, I’m not exactly sure how it began. Maybe as an inside joke, or something “appropriately nerdy.” Maybe she ran into one on sale at some point.

At any rate, the trend stuck, and I wound up with a small collection of puzzles, and at least a little interest in them.

They’re challenging, and in the best of all worlds, also beautiful. (Well, let’s be honest, some of them miss the mark and land somewhere near just plain weird.)

I ordered a new one a few days ago. It’s the Hanayama Mobius, and it does happen to be an attractive do-hickey. It’s the first Hanayama puzzle I’ve had.

It managed to arrive a day early, so it was waiting for me when I got home from work.

So, the challenge–as always–is to take it apart.

And then put it back together.

The process took maybe ten or fifteen minutes, not including the time to take pictures, and eat a bowl of clam chowder. (What?!! I was starving!)

On the manufacturer’s difficulty scale, this is a 4 out of 6.

I’m probably going to place it in the basket with the easier puzzles in my world, but it gets points for being attractive. Really solid and well-made.

I’m probably going to look to the tougher levels for the next purchase. Some of the level 6 puzzles are bound to be nice enough for the bookcase, aren’t they?

So, what about you? Any 3D puzzle enthusiasts in the group? Any suggestions for puzzles I’ve got to try?

In Need of A Road Map

There’s something about the added scenes I’ve been working on that’s vaguely disorienting. I know where I’m going… I’m just not all that sure how to get there.

It’s incredibly easy to spiral off into an endless tangent, a place where my characters may or may not ever get to “the end.”

Right now, I’m being distracted by the romantic sub-plots. Well, the ones that should really be cut to a minimum, and which I’m never sure if I have not enough or way too much.

And, of course, the romance has to be kept quiet, because… plot.

On the other hand, I’m having fun writing worthless scenes that will never make it into the final book.

Must stop that.

There Are Holes in My Socks

I am staring at my online shopping basket, and alternately thnking of deleting everything–because it’s more money than I had intended to spend–and just clicking BUY BUY BUY. I got a phone warning that I’d never seen before–one that told me my phone had been turned off because the battery was overheating–and I’m getting more and more nervous about leaving it to the last minute.

The phone in my basket is a little higher than I would ordinarily buy, but it’s Sooo shiny.

And it’s a bargain… I’m hardly spending at all. It’s more like saving, actually. Just ask the people who want to sell it to me.

Okay. So, I need a new phone. But spending the money? Somewhere along the line a cell phone has gone from being the coolest thing ever to  being more like another pair of socks. Yes, I need one, but it’s still not a lot of fun to think about.

I could keep this going a little longer, couldn’t I?

Not forever, of course…

I probably won’t burn anything down.


So, I just walked 500 miles…

badge imageYou’ll be happy to know I have now earned my Fitbit (brand fitness tracker)’s Serengeti badge. Yup. Have walked 500 miles. On the days when I both wore my fitbit, and remembered to charge it. I’m not sure I feel any healthier, but I do feel more justified in putting my feet up from time to time.

There’s something about keeping track of the things that I have done–possibly more in writing than in “exercising” that makes me produce more, and feel better about it. I keep a calendar with my progress–or at least whatever it is I’m working on–written down on it. You know. Right next to my vitamin pills and whatever I wound up eating for breakfast.

And I have moved–via the Writing Sprints Journal–into bullet journaling. Oh, hey, look. I’m actually ahead of schedule. I have a schedule. I have a plan for tomorrow. There’s something I need to do.

There’s also something to be said for the record. If you’d told me three months ago that I could walk 500 miles, I’d have laughed in your face.

Three months from now… among other things… I’d like to be querying my novel, and I’d like to be finishing up the first draft of whatever strikes me during NaNo.

That’s going to be some time juggling.

Look at That: Growth

It is October first, and I just passed the total number of views that this blog had last year.

It’s all the slow-and-steady thing. (Sometimes, not so steady.) I have been much more consistent (particularly in the early months) than I was, last year, and my daily average for the year is a little higher. I’m not sure what it is about summer–maybe the joy of not being tied to school–but the last few months have been a little lower.

The next three months are all cream on top, and they were pretty good months last year.

NaNoWriMo is coming up, and that gives me a whole forum of fresh people to talk to, and there’s the Halloween blog hop. (Two-ish weeks for those of us who are thinking of participating.)

So, back to the revision. Let me know what works for you in building your readership, or just what keeps you going!

Halloween Horizons

Halloween is still on my mind. It’s one of those holidays where the creative and the geeky, and the generally weird do really well. It’s fun and educational, and sometimes… profitable.

Educational? Well… in my case, I mean I’m going to figure out latex prosthetics, not that I’m going to research the most historically accurate costumes possible. I have an idea in mind, and a…  general idea of how to make your own and a complete lack of sense, so I’m going to try it out.

I’ve also been on Amazon, looking at the kind of trick-or-treat treats that people near me have probably never seen before.

There’s probably a reason why I only wound up with three or four trick-or-treaters last year.

But somehow, I’m not sure the kids benefit as much from an infinite number of Twizzlers and Reeses cups as they do from having their horizons expanded. (I still have time to think about whether I want to do Japanese or Korean candies, or if there’s some other thing that would be more reasonable, right now…)

Oooh, actually. Might do Syrian candies, if I can find any.

Experimenting to Find What Works BETTER For Me

I ordered notebooks and colored pens off the internet, today. The current theory–based on bits and pieces gleaned from comments from writers who know stuff on the internet–is that what I need is a different color of ink for each day (so that I can tell at a glance how much I’ve written) and a more expensive notebook to write it in.  (Because, apparently, my notebooks are supposed to remain intact long enough to need to look back and see how much I’ve written.) (Knock-off Moleskine! Yay!)

This is a part of the writing by hand, and typing as the first round of editing thing.

And it’s a return from the “Type-everything-cause-you-need-to-know-how-to-use-a-computer” that was beaten into me when I was a kid. (See also “worst advice ever.”)

I’m hoping this will result in a more linear first draft, and possibly a cleaner one.  (as usual.)

In other excitement, I’ve been nominated Lord High Plumber for the day, and on to fixing the toilet.

Okay… Yes, I’m probably the most qualified, but still. **grumbles.**


Revising, and the Blog

I hit a chapter that needs to be re-written today. Needs? Well, let’s be honest here! I’ve changed the character’s plot line so much since I wrote it that with all of the deleting… and adding… and remembering that she’s spent the day running for her life (not making jelly sandwiches for her brother) that it’s just easier to rewrite than it is to edit. There’s nothing wrong with the chapter, in itself.

So, I made a list of all of the charges against her… all of the subtext… all of the history… and off I go.

I also took a little time to make a chart of the revision (basically squares to represent each chapter) and I think… I think I’m on schedule.

In blog-y excitement for the day, I’m working on finding a social media plug-in that will work without over burdening my poor hosting account. I’ve cut out a lot of the unnecessary stuff, lately, and I’ve seen some increase in speed. I’m still back to tweeting and Google+ ing the posts by hand, and… mostly, I don’t remember.

I’d also like to find a more professional wordpress theme at some point. Something with a little more style. Seems like all my friends are upgrading, some days. (any pointers would be appreciated. Most of what I know, right now, is that I’d like something else. You know. Not this. And that the header should be narrow enough that people don’t have to scroll down to start reading.

I may also start with a holidays-only podcast. Something to get my foot through the door, and maybe put up on this website, first.