Why Writers MUST Have an Email List

 

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I have recently developed an email list of readers and writers for Wannabe Pride. If you’re running any kind of business, and self-publishing is a business, it’s vital to have an email list of your customers. Sure, Twitter and Facebook are the big social networking tools now, but anybody remember MySpace? The next big thing for today may be gone tomorrow, taking with it most of your customer base. Having an email list ensures that you are able to stay in contact with your readers for as long as they still want to hear from you. They can unsubscribe at any time, but if they still want to know about you and your upcoming books, you want to be able to contact them.

My target audience consists of both readers and writers, so I send out book recommendations and writing tips and articles – in that order. The top half of a typical email is book recommendations for books of various genres and the bottom half consists of articles and other information and advice on the craft of writing. That way, readers can simply read the top half and skip the rest if they aren’t interested in writing techniques.

After all, there’s only so much to say about my own books week after week. Um, yeah. QUEEN HENRY is available for purchase. That’s…yeah…that’s all I have to say right now….Nothing more to report…you know….stay tuned…. In order for any email list to be successful, you have to offer something of value to the people who subscribe. I inform readers of newly released books, as well as ones that are discounted or even free. For writers, I hope to provide them with helpful writing information and an opportunity to promote their books.

I hope you will sign up for my list!

– Linda Fausnet

**Writers:

Join my WRITERS email list for Writing Tips and Book Recommendations!

**Readers:

Join my READERS email list to receive just the Book Recommendations!

Self-Publishing Will Never Be The Same as Traditional Publishing

 

Publish all the Books

No matter what you argue, self-publishing will just never be the same as traditional publishing.

In many instances, it’s far, far better.

For one thing, with self-publishing, it’s a lot more likely to actually happen. If you’re determined, it will definitely happen. If takes an awful lot of hard work, but that work is certain to result in the publication of your very own book. There’s absolutely no guarantee that the book will sell, but success is not guaranteed with traditional publication, either. I don’t care if your book is published by one of the Big Six with all the publicity they have to offer – nobody knows what’s going to sell. In fact, if your traditionally published book doesn’t sell well, you’re going to have a lot of trouble getting a second book published. With self-publishing, it could be your third book that really takes off. With the traditional model, nobody’s gonna give you three chances to be a success. 

Traditional publishing is a lot like winning the lottery. It’s fun to fantasize about, but it probably won’t happen.  Even if you are wonderfully talented it Probably. Won’t. Happen. That’s a very hard realization to come to when you are a serious writer. You can spend a lifetime working for a dream that has very little chance of coming true. Literary agents can reject up to 99% of the works submitted to them. They have to. It’s a numbers game that is very difficult to win. Unfortunately, hard work and determination won’t get you as far as pure luck when it comes to getting published. You have to catch the right agent at the right time to get them to give you a chance. Many agents will only talk to you if you are referred by somebody else. That’s luck, not talent. If your neighbor is Stephen King, you’ve got a much better shot at being traditionally published than I do even if I work ten times harder. 

Another great thing about being a self-published author is the feeling of empowerment. You don’t ever feel like you’re degrading yourself or begging for an agent or publisher to throw you a crumb of bread. Most professionals in the traditional publishing world really don’t treat writers that way, but it still feels degrading. You send out hundreds of query letters that are mostly met with resounding silence. The recipients aren’t being rude – they simply don’t have the time or the resources to answer all those letters. I don’t blame them at all, but it’s still quite demoralizing.. I’ve always felt degraded whenever I’ve gone to literary conferences. Good luck getting near anybody who could help advance your career. You just get caught in the stampede of other hungry writers and you almost always go home empty-handed and with a lighter wallet. Very, very discouraging.

In the traditional art-by-committee model, the creative person – the one who comes up with the actual product you are going to sell and profit from – is often treated as the lowest man on the totem pole. This is especially true in the case of screenwriters. They’re pretty much treated like dirt and their work will get re-written by a team of executives so the final product is so homogenized that most screenplays start to all sound the same.  I don’t think traditional publishers are quite as bad, but the fact is that they’re only going to select tried-and-true book ideas that have already made money and that they think are going to hit again. Good luck trying to shop anything even remotely original to a traditional publisher.

Enter self-publishers. We can write whatever the hell we want. If we want to write a romance about two robots from the planet Mercury, we can do it. If it doesn’t make money, oh well. There’s more ideas where that came from. We can write the most outrageous, most creative things we can think of and send them out into the world with very little risk. We can take control of our own destiny without waiting for external validation that may never come.

 So what are you waiting for? You’re in charge now, so get to it!

– Linda Fausnet

**Writers:

Join my WRITERS email list for Writing Tips and Book Recommendations!

**Readers:

Join my READERS email list to receive just the Book Recommendations!

The Formatting For My Manuscript Did Not Go Well…

This article is part of my ongoing Wannabe Pride Self-Publishing blog series in preparation for publishing my novel, QUEEN HENRY, in July of 2014. Proceeds from this novel will go to the Harvey Milk Foundation. My author page is www.facebook.com/lindafausnet

The Most Interesting Man In The World - I DON'T ALWAYS SCREW UP, bUT WHEN i DO, i BLOG ABOUT IT AND TELL THE WHOLE WORLD

 8 WEEKS UNTIL PUBLICATION

I paid a formatter $170 to format my precious manuscript, QUEEN HENRY, for Createspace. They promised to have it to me in fourteen business days or fewer, so I was happy when I received it in a little over a week.

That is, until I looked at it. The sad thing is, the formatting looked beautiful at first. Fancy chapter headings, etc. It looked great! Then I started skimming…. On the first page, they had hyphenated the word sake. So it said sa-ke. (As in, for Heaven’s sake…except Henry uses the F word…)

Strike one. An amateurish error and it was on the first page.

Then, on the second page, the dialogue of two characters was smashed together like so:

“They just said it on the radio! They don’t know who it is, but
they said it’s an Oriole.” “Oh. That’s kinda weird,” Tuna said. He
grimaced a bit, but shrugged. He glanced over at some of the other
players on the field, no doubt wondering who it could possibly be.

Then, on the third page, I’m greeted with a sentence split right in half:

“Go Henry, go! Go Henry, go!” A group of preteen girls
chanted my name. I
loved that. I really did. Loved those cute little twelve-year-old
girls who probably had posters of me in their bedrooms.

The book is 308 pages. Either I painstakingly go through every page to see what other nonsense awaits me, or I have to give up and get it formatted somewhere else.

Look, I get that everyone makes mistakes, but when you are doing an allegedly professional service, what say we take a quick look-see before we send it off to someone who paid a lot of money for said service? I found three errors on the FIRST three pages! Well, technically it was four, since they neglected to put the Library of Congress Number on the title page.

I was a little mad. Okay, a lot mad. The truth is, it takes a lot to get me going but once I’m there, you best look out. I emailed the guy and used the word “disastrous” to describe the formatting. Okay, maybe that wasn’t exactly nice, but I was really angry to receive such sloppy work. The whole point of paying someone to do this so that it would look professional and not amateurish. I wouldn’t dream of taking somebody’s money and then sending them a “finished” product like that. Before I send my writing out to an agent or publisher, I read and reread it to make sure it looks professional. Not perfect, maybe, but certainly not sloppy. If there were fairly obvious errors in the first few pages, it’s obvious that they didn’t even look through the manuscript when they were done to make sure it looked okay.

I work in customer service, okay? The customer is always right – even when they’re not. Still. I don’t care what the formatter guy said. I had every right to be mad. The work he sent me contained four pretty egregious errors by page three. There’s no telling how many more errors the manuscript contained, and I would have had to comb through the book line by line to find them all. A few formatting errors here and there I could understand, and I did have every intention of going through the manuscript and checking for normal, human errors but this? The first few pages just looked so awful. And shouldn’t the formatter have skimmed through it, too, to check for said errors?

The guy argued with me, saying that all these errors were not “disastrous”. No apology, no concern. Just basically – what are you complaining about? Did I mention I paid $170? (Well, it was closer to $300 including the ebook formatting) It’s frustrating, because I’ve worked in many customer service jobs and I would never, ever speak to a customer the way this guy spoke to me. Even when a customer is wrong, you still hear them out and address their concerns. I think the number one thing customers – and people in general – want is just be heard. Nobody wants their concerns dismissed like this guy dismissed me.

QUEEN HENRY is my baby. Nobody messes with my baby. I’ve waited 20 years to be a published author and I’ve worked way too hard on this book to have it released looking like something a kindergartner threw together. I am terrible at technical stuff, which I why I saved up money to pay to have my book formatted so it will look professional. A quality self-published book should be indistinguishable from a traditionally published one.

He did refund my money because I was “unwilling to work with him.” As I said, the physical layout looked very nice. If he hadn’t treated me like I was unreasonable to be mad, I might have let him try to fix it. The minute he started defending the work, I think I was pretty much done. To tell you the truth, though, if I had it to do over again, I would have waited to fire off an angry email until I cooled down. That’s what I usually do. Then maybe he, too, would have been more reasonable and have come to a better conclusion.

Then again, I found another formatter who is going to format my book for $56 and he refuses to take any payment until I get the final product.

Even if there are errors in his draft – and there may be- he already seems like a better person to deal with because he gets the fact that he is providing a paid service and he shouldn’t be happy with the product until I am. If he does a nice job, I will be sure to share his name and contact information here.

I hate fighting with people. I really do. it literally keeps me up at night because I try to be kind to everybody I meet and when I’m not, I feel bad about it. It’s just that I felt so devastated after seeing how beautiful the layout was, only to find the formatting was all screwed up.

We all make mistakes, but you have to own up to them and then work to set things right.

As for me and my company, Wannabe Pride, I strive for excellence. I won’t always achieve it, but I’ll never stop working for it. And I’m not gonna make excuses when I fall short. This blog is all about my experiences as a writer. I report my successes and I don’t hide my failures (see last week’s blog….) To paraphrase the Most Interesting Guy in the World :I don’t always screw up, but when I do –  I admit it, blog about it, and learn from it.

–       Linda Fausnet

UPDATE: I wrote this blog article yesterday, and then I got a message from the formatter. He basically said that we shouldn’t be arguing and that we should be able to work together to fix this (He already refunded my money for the print book, but he also did the Amazon ebook, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble). He said that they weren’t angry, but sometimes emails can be misinterpreted. He also said that sometimes they forget what an emotional time this is for writers. I wrote him back and told him how much this book means to me and that’s why I got so upset. Basically, I should have cooled off before sending the email and he should have cooled off before firing an email back. I told him I felt like he was dismissing my concerns at first, and that’s why I didn’t want to work with him after that. It’s very possible that the four errors I found were the only four in the whole 100,000 word document; it just didn’t instill a lot of confidence in the work since they were on the first four consecutive pages…. So we’ll see what happens. Anyway, I do feel better. Stay tuned…

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Horrible Formatting Error…A Cautionary Self-Publishing Tale

 

Comma

It was a pretty scary day when I sent my final draft of my first novel to the formatter. I’d had it professionally edited twice and read through it myself who knows how many times, so it was as perfect as I could possibly get it.

Or so I thought….It was so weird to think that it was finally locked down. No more changes, no more adding lines, tweaking words, or rearranging sentences. This story started life (as a screenplay) in 2005, so I’d made an awful lot of changes to it in in the years since then. Not anymore. It’s done.

It was scary, exciting, exhilarating. It cost about $300 (!) to get the book formatted for Kindle, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Createspace (for the physical book). It was a small fortune to me and it’s money I won’t get back – ever – since I’m donating the funds from QUEEN HENRY to the Harvey Milk Foundation. Still, it really was a small price to pay for peace of mind. Many self-publishers format their own books, but it’s tough to do. You have to carefully format your manuscript to fit for each device that it can possibly be read on – with wraparound texts and other stuff that makes my head spin. I wouldn’t even think of trying it myself, for fear of my precious book looking amateurish and awful.

Speaking of amateurish and awful…

After I sent QUEEN HENRY to the formatter and after spending $300 non-refundable dollars (well, non-refundable if I’m the one that screws up) I realized one minor detail.

I never spellchecked my manuscript.

I’ll say that again, people.

I NEVER SPELLCHECKED THE MANUSCRIPT.

I realized this as soon as my completed, expensively-formatted Kindle document arrived in my inbox. Of course, I’ve had the book professionally edited, then re-read by other people for further proofreading, and then finally proofed it one more time myself. Of course, even during my final proof, I was still tweaking stuff, adding words, etc.  It only takes about five minutes to run a spellcheck and I simply overlooked that item on my agenda. Several times in the past, I’d found something weird like- 000035 – right smack dab in the middle of a document. That means I leaned my elbow on the numberlock keys… That was one of my biggest fears about my manuscript. There’s really no fix for that if it ends up in your final document. After all my painstaking editing, I just simply forgot to do a simple spellcheck. Sure, I noticed all the underlined words as I edited and fixed any that were wrong, but spellcheck underlines so many things that are actually correct (words like wanna, gotta, gonna etc in dialogue) that your brain kinda tunes them out sometimes. The biggest danger is when you make a “tiny change” in a line to make it sound better – AFTER the professional edit is done. If you’re not really careful, you’ll miss a word or a letter, then you’re done for.

Enter spellcheck.

Unless you forget.

As soon as I realized it was too late to do a spellcheck, I did what anyone else would do.. I did a spellcheck.

I spent the next excruciatingly long five minutes spell-checking QUEEN HENRY now that it was too late to do anything about it. It was terrifying.

In my 100,008 word document, I found one word that was incorrect. It had a missing letter.

I can live with that.

Whew.

This publishing stuff ain’t for the faint of heart…

– Linda Fausnet

 

**Writers:

Join my WRITERS email list for Writing Tips and Book Recommendations!

**Readers:

Join my READERS email list to receive just the Book Recommendations!

 

 

10 Weeks Until Publication – The Final Countdown!!!

 This article is part of my ongoing Wannabe Pride Self-Publishing blog series in preparation for publishing my novel, QUEEN HENRY, in July of 2014. Proceeds from this novel will go to the Harvey Milk Foundation. My author page is www.facebook.com/lindafausnet

Final Countdown

10 Weeks Until Publication

Yes, I’ve been playing Europe a lot this week.

Well, I’ve been chronicling my journey to self-publishing starting at 52 weeks to publication, and now I’ve made it to the Final Countdown. T-minus 10 weeks and counting. It’s exciting, but nerve-wracking. It feels a lot like wedding planning. Exciting, fun, scary, and I’m terrified I’m going to forget something.

I’m doing my final read-through of QUEEN HENRY before I send it to the formatter. It’s so weird knowing that this is the last time I will read it before it goes into actual print. I have to be so careful to read every…single….word to make sure everything is correct. It’s hard, because I’ve read this thing so many times that I can quote passages verbatim. I already know what it says, or at least I know what I meant to say. Your brain automatically fills in words that it knows should be there. I have to read over the manuscript very carefully to make sure that it says what I think it says. I can’t help but tweak it here and there to make it better, but sooner or later, I’m going to be forced to quit tinkering with it.

Well, not sooner or later. It IS later. I always refer to my last draft as the FDFN. That stands for Final Draft For Now. The FDFN is the version that is the best that I can possibly make it. The next step after that is usually to send it out to whatever agents and publishers that are willing to read it. They’ll read either a partial or full manuscript, and then they’ll tell me what needs to be improved. After that, I open up the “final draft” and start fixing it again.

It’s hard to wrap my brain around the fact there is no FDFN. Just FD this time. FINAL DRAFT. Wow. Scary, but a good scary. Each week, each day, brings me closer to the day when I will be able to hold my book in my hands.

That’s a moment I’ve waited a lifetime for.

Preparing for publishing may be like planning a wedding, but getting that book in the mail will be like having a child. (sort of….) Instead of counting fingers and toes, I plan to flip through the book to make sure it looks okay, then check the first and last lines to make sure everything is in place.

I’m a little worried that it won’t be perfect the first time. You only get one chance at that moment. This first time I hold my book in my hands – I’ll either break down crying because it’s a lifelong dream come true, or dread will settle in my stomach if the formatting is off or anything looks wonky. If that happens, I should have enough time to go back and fix it before I publish, but I won’t ever get that moment back.

Still, a dream come true delayed is still a dream come true. Sometimes the biggest, most important days of your life don’t happen the way you plan. I got my period on my wedding day and I caught a cold during my honeymoon. I suffered a life-threatening emergency with my daughter and essentially “missed” her birth. I went to bed one night and woke up in Intensive Care and she’d already been born. My entire family got to hold her before I did.

But you know what? My husband and I will have been happily married for thirteen years come this Monday and I now have two beautiful, healthy children. IT’S ALL GOOD. None of it happened the way I planned, but it happened. I had years of happy marriage and of being a mother to make up for those disappointing beginnings. In the end, it doesn’t really matter how you got there as long as you eventually make it.

I know QUEEN HENRY will eventually be perfect – at least to me – even if I don’t get there on the first try.

One way or another, in ten weeks, Henry and I will be ready to take on the world.

– Linda Fausnet