Write It Like Your Mama Won’t Read It

 

There is an author out there in the self-publishing world who is known only as the Tattooed Writer. In fact, this gentleman has four different pseudonyms and even his family members don’t know them.

I’m starting to see the wisdom of this.

There is a sense of freedom in being able to write whatever the hell you want without thinking of your mother – or anybody else you know – reading it. This is especially true of sex scenes. Though my books are far from erotica, I love to read and write romance and for me, a romance book with no sex is just boring. Romance novels run the gamut from being totally chaste (Christian romance, Amish romance, for example) to hardcore BDSM and erotica. My taste is somewhere in between. Erotica is far too graphic for my tastes and I can’t stand BDSM (it’s fine if that’s your thing, but ordering somebody around in the bedroom is about as unromantic as I could possibly imagine) but I love a good sensual scene in the middle of a sweet, romantic story.

Like all wonderful, supportive parents, my mother reads every word I write (including this blog. Hi Mom!!) but she confesses to skipping over the sex scenes. This is probably wise. Therefore, I suppose, that means I could write a sex scene a steamy as I please since she’s not going to read it anyway!

It’s more than just my mom, though. I need to come to grips with the fact that really nothing I write is targeted in any way toward my family and friends. My father reads a lot of nonfiction, including things like math books. We are very, very different in that regard, my dad and I…. My mother loves mysteries, specifically “cozy” mysteries, and rarely reads novels save for the ones her daughter writes. My sister enjoys nonfiction on various topics, as well as science fiction. Again, not a novel reader, and she is far too practical for silly romance stories (though she is really too kind to say this to me…) My best girlfriend tends to read much more serious, hard-hitting literature. DEFINITELY not at all what I write. And my husband, my best friend, and favorite person in the whole wide world? He hates to read and has never read any of my books in its entirety.

The fact is, there *is* an audience out there for the unabashedly romantic and fantasy-escapism type of books that I love to read and write. Fortunately for me, romance novels tend to sell quite well. I just need to keep in mind as I’m writing that I need to write for my target audience and for myself. I write what I truly love, and I think you can actually feel that passion (and not just the sex stuff!) rising from the pages. When I’m truly “in the zone”, I live in my story practically 24 hours a day. Right now I’m writing a Gettysburg ghost love story, and I’m listening to Civil War music, reading books on Gettysburg, and listening to battle-related audio books in the car. My head is constantly spinning with character ideas, dialogue snippets, and plot twists. If I’m conscious, you can bet I’m thinking of my novel and the special people who populate it. I don’t have any desire to curtail the raw passion and emotion I feel when truly living in the story with my characters.

Though I am acutely aware that the subject matter and style in which I write likely holds little appeal to any of my family and friends, I am incredibly grateful for their unconditional support. I would feel hurt and slighted if they *didn’t* read my stuff (hear that, husband? Of course he doesn’t. He doesn’t read my blog, either. He is still very supportive though, including promoting my extremely gay debut novel to his friends. Now THAT’S love…)

I’m certainly not the only writer who has to worry about what loved ones might think of her work. Can you imagine what it’s like to be E.L. James’ mama? Fifty Shades of Red is more like it…

Just like the old bumper sticker says – Ride It Like You Stole It — I implore my fellow writers to write with all their passion, whatever that passion might entail. Write for your target audience and for nobody else. Write It Like Your Mama Won’t Read It, but like hundreds of readers will.

Family and friends be forewarned – I shall not censor myself! Read my novels at your own risk.

That being said, I do want to send out heartfelt thanks to my wonderful family and friends who read my books without fail and with unfettered enthusiasm, regardless of the weird, silly, and/or sexual plot.

Your support means more than you know.

– Linda Fausnet

 

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Word Choice And Why It Matters

Wannabe Pride welcomes guest blogger Jocelyn Crawley! Jocelyn is a 30-year-old writer. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading subversive literature and drinking coffee. In addition to winning several regional and school-sponsored writing competitions, she self-published her first novel, Erudition, in April of 2007. She is currently completing the manuscript for her second novel.  

There’s something pleasantly unsettling about stumbling upon unfamiliar words when you read a web article or literary work–for me, anyway. Each time I run into a term that’s never crossed my path before, a somewhat disconcerting curiosity dominates my psyche until the word is thoroughly defined and understood.

Although you may have found the previous paragraph interesting, you could also be asking yourself an important question: “How is any of that relevant to you as a writer?” I love these types of pragmatic interrogations, so I’ll try to provide an advantageous answer in the following sentence as well as the paragraphs to come. Learning new words is important and ideal for everyone–and perhaps writers especially. This is the case for several reasons, including the fact that writers have a tendency to utilize the same words over and over again. Once you develop a loyal fan base that is eager to read your new works and make note of your intellectual progress, they will likely be disappointed to find the same $50 words emerging over and over again. I certainly would be. In fact, I find myself irritated with my own writing when the same damn words (generally precipitate and indigenous) resurface. The repetition and redundancy engender an ineffable irritation that is perhaps best described in terms of flabbergasted shame. I know there are other words out there, and yet my feeble mind keeps wandering back to the terms with which it is most familiar.

As a self-published author, I am aware of some of the challenges that people who don’t take the traditional publishing route can experience as they attempt to build their brand. In my humble opinion, one of the greatest challenges is the attempt to prove that one’s work is credible. And while there are a plethora of things self-published writers can do in order to build and increase credibility, using learned language is oftentimes particularly effective. In addition to showing your readership and prospective publishers that you take the time to find the most apposite words to express a character’s thought or the color of the carpet, building your vocabulary can preclude you from one of the most disappointing and mentally stagnating experiences known to the writer: boredom with one’s work.

When I decided to publish my first novel (Erudition), I was unaware that the title would be a relatively obscure term that many would have to look up in order to grasp the overarching theme of the book. Yet as I began to synthesize the plot and give the characters shape and substance, I realized that this title was arrantly appropriate for many reasons. First, the two main characters of the novel were both very well-read individuals who had extensive knowledge about the literary world. In fact, one of the two is an English professor. And in addition to giving the book the type of learned structure and stature that comes from placing two exceptionally intelligent people on center stage, the acquisition of knowledge (both abstract and experiential) is a prevalent motif within the work. Clearly then, Erudition was an ideal title. It was only after I published the work that I realized the somewhat academic term I’d chosen for the title had a specific, dualistic power. Although some people found the title and scholarly words within the book stimulating and intellectually uplifting, others deemed it all a bit “too much.”  Irrespective of whether the language was deemed appropriate or over the top, the use of scholarly language generated substantive buzz.

These days, I’m thrilled to be running a blog that is dedicated to helping people (the public generally and writers specifically) increase their vocabularies in order to write more effectively. Lately, words such as “gimlet” and “anhedonic” have been subjected to a careful overview as I seek to provide my readers with a thorough explanation of their meaning and implications. Much care is given to seeking out all of the synonyms and antonyms that expand the reader’s understanding of the term’s signification so people will know how to effectively contextualize the words they opt to use. I have always felt-and still believe-that words have power. And when we use them with strategic precision, they acquire an insuperable efficacy that enables our readers to gain a better understanding of the concepts we’re attempting to convey.

Several days ago, I had a brief yet meaningful conversation with a gentleman on the train regarding how sad it is to see so many people embracing a monocultural mode of being and knowing when the 21st century has given rise to such a pleasantly postmodern multiculturalism that makes it safe and common for people of all backgrounds to interact with one another in equitable ways. In describing the modality of individuals who have chosen the former (and very limited) form of existence, I used the term myopic. But then-in recognizing that this word was not fully accurate in articulating the idea I was attempting to express-I stated that the term wasn’t quite right. Now, in reflecting on the actions and attitudes of people who prefer to surround themselves with individuals who are exactly like them rather than embracing the beauty indigenous to diversity and pluralism, I realize that the more fitting term would have been parochial. Indeed, these types of individuals have a narrow view of both external reality and their own subjective existence. And in being able to prove the aforementioned term out of my word bank, I’m much more effective in describing the paucity of their worldview.

Whether you’re simply seeking to prevent yourself from growing bored when drafting your next manuscript or want prospective publishers to know you mean business, utilizing a learned vocabulary is oftentimes the best way to accomplish your objective. If you’re ever interested in seeing old words used in new ways or simply want to add new terms to your already impressive word bank, be sure to visit my blog at www.wordhelps.com. Can’t wait to see you.

Best,

Jocelyn Crawley

www.wordhelps.com

Follow Jocelyn On Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jocelyn_Crawley

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Do You Need an ISBN and Barcode for Your Self-Published Book?

Yes.

Well, yes if you want to be taken seriously as an author. It’s part of being a professional writer, and most booksellers won’t accept your book without one. It’s difficult to be considered a “real publisher” without an ISBN.

What is an ISBN?

An ISBN is an international standard book number. It identifies a book from a specific publisher, which in the case of self-publishing, is you or the publishing company you have formed. The printer is not considered a publisher, but is viewed as simply a manufacturer of books. An ISBN is not absolutely required, but most bookstores, libraries, and other industry suppliers require one. It is essential for wholesale and retail purposes.

As the owner of the ISBN, you are the publisher of record. Even if self-publishing companies offer you an ISBN, don’t take it. Get your own. Otherwise, they own the number, not you. Should you leave that self-publishing service, you will have to start all over again. You will lose any traction you established at Amazon, etc. And if your book made it into bookstores, it would have to be pulled and re-printed.

At present, you can buy one ISBN for $125, but you can get ten for $250. You will need a unique ISBN for each version of your book, such as e-book, paperback, hardcover, audio, and so forth. If you plan to publish more than one version and/or more than one book, you definitely want to purchase ISBN s in bulk. An ISBN can never be reused, but it never expires. It only takes about five business days to get the number (s) once you purchase them.

Each country has their own official registration agency which supplies ISBNs. In the United States, Bowker is the only supplier of ISBNs. To purchase numbers online, simply go to www.isbn.org.

The ISBN is composed of thirteen digits. The first two or three digits usually indicate the country of origin. The book industry produces many products, so it has the three digit “country” code of 978 or 979.

Bookland EAN Barcode

The barcode is the set of vertical lines that encodes the numerical information identifying the book. The ISBN is an identification number, while the barcode is essentially a price tag. A barcode means the book is scannable for inventory and purchase.

You must have an ISBN in order to get a barcode for your book. International barcodes are used to identify print books, audio books, and software. As each title and edition of a book has a different ISBN, you will also have a unique Bookland EAN barcode for each edition or format of your book.

Though there are several barcode systems in the U.S, you need to get a Bookland EAN barcode in order to sell your book in a bookstore. The ISBN never changes, but if you wish to change the price of your book, you would need to obtain a new barcode. The EAN includes a five-digit code for the price, beginning with a “5” for U.S. dollars. Thus, a barcode that says 52500 would have a price of $25.00.

It is possible to get an ISBN without a barcode and still get your book into bookstores because the ISBN can be entered manually. However, many bookstores will not accept the book without a barcode. Currently, it costs only $25.00 to get a barcode, so it would be silly not to get one. Besides, getting a barcode makes your book look more legitimate than a self-published book without one.

You can obtain a barcode from Bowkers at myidentifiers.com, and can be purchased at the same time that you purchase your ISBNs.

Universal Product Code (UPC)

A Bookland EAN barcode will work for bookstores but other places, such as grocery stores and drug stores, might require a UPC or Universal Product Code. For mass-marketed books, the UPC goes on the back cover and the Bookland EAN goes on the inside front cover. For non-book products that are sold in bookstores, a UPC would suffice. EAN scanners can usually read UPC, but not the other way around. As a self-publisher, it is unlikely that you will need to purchase a UPC.

International Standard Serial Number

International standard serial numbers, or ISSNs, are numbers assigned for magazines, periodicals, and other serials. These are assigned by the library of congress and do not require an ISBN.

Registering your ISBN

Once your book is ready for sale, you will need to register your title and ISBN with Bowker. Remember, the number is just that – a number – until you assign meaning and product information to it by registering it with specific information on your book. Registering is a vital step toward making sure your book is searchable to libraries and bookstores. Upon registering, your title will appear in Bowker books in print and Bowker syndetic solutions. Registration with Bowker makes it possible for your book to be discovered by online and brick-and-mortal retailers and libraries. To register, go to this link and fill out all the information. Among other things, you will need to list your book’s title, price, primary subject, format, and contributor (s). The contributor can be an individual or a company, but not both. You will need to upload your cover and then the entire manuscript. You must indicate the size of your book in decimals. This link will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to register your book. I highly recommend you read the instructions and tips very carefully, as the information cannot be changed once it is entered!

So, to recap, you will need to purchase an ISBN for each edition and/or format of your book, a barcode for any product you wish to potentially sell in bookstores or online, and you must register your ISBN with Bowker.

Happy publishing!

– Linda Fausnet

 

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Writers: You Don’t Have to Be Good at EVERYTHING

Wannabe Pride welcomes guest blogger KENDALL BAILEY!

I was born and raised in northeastern Vermont. I now live in southwest Minnesota with his wife and son. I’d been interested in writing for a decade or so and finally took the leap (wrote my first novel) the beginning of this year. I’m enjoying my experience as an independent author and am currently working on the second draft of my second novel.

Most writers can’t be everything. There are so many steps in the publishing process that a single person can not possibly be great at every one of them. There’s the writing, story editing, line editing, document formatting, printing, advertising, and selling – that’s the process in broad strokes.

If you’re reading this blog you are probably an author and know that the writing process is comprised of many smaller, quite intricate, tasks. From word selection, to sentence structure, to paragraph building, to scene construction, to overall flow, character creation, believable dialogue, etc. As someone who has self-published and marketed a novel I promise you the other jobs in the publishing process are every bit as involved as the creation of the story. Each step in the process is an art unto itself.

It has been an interesting experience, being a self-published author. In some things (storytelling, dialogue, and flow) I feel like Ali; in others (line editing, formatting, and promotion) I feel like a neurosurgeon whose only tool is a hammer. I have a tendency, when I read my own work, to let minor misspellings or wrong but similar words pass me by. For example, “Brennan knew is dad wouldn’t approve,” when what I meant to say is, “Brennan knew his dad wouldn’t approve.” It’s a small error and most readers would know what I meant but it’s those little mistakes that can distract a reader and take them out of the story.

I thought I was the master of editing when I wrote my second draft. That was until about three people read it and gave me three different, though overlapping, sets of corrections. The point I want to make is, there’s nothing wrong with not being good at everything. As a writer your first job is to be able to clearly communicate an idea. If it’s fiction you need to be a storyteller, guiding the reader along on whatever adventure you have in store for them. If it’s non-fiction, you need to get the facts across clearly and in an entertaining manner so as to keep the reader’s attention. That is our primary function.

 So what now? We’ve written gold, albeit sloppy gold, and we know it. That other people can’t see this fact is their problem, right? Wrong! It’s our problem. Being an author with no readers is the ultimate act of masturbation.

“Oh yeah! My ideas are so good, so cutting-edge and amazing,” the unread author says to the empty room. Insert whatever mental image you want to go along with that one.

I’m an independent author and can not do all of the work alone. As many folks know, the first step in solving a problem is admitting there is one. Knowing that you probably can not do all of the necessary work yourself is a tough admission for an independent author. It was an admission I didn’t make until I’d already uploaded my novel to lulu.com and had some copies sell. There are 33 copies of that original, and quite ugly, version. I own one and the rest were purchased by family and friends.

 We’ve all read commercially published books, probably a great many of them. It’s not difficult to see the differences in our work and commercially published work; at least it wasn’t difficult for me. If I had found someone to format my novel prior to upload I would have saved myself hours of agony trying to get the document just right. I’ve been told my punctuation is a little loose and I don’t doubt it. I simply do not have the right kind of eyes to recognize that myself. What I need is a line editor to give my manuscript a good once-over, make the small corrections, and I would have a pretty kick-ass book on my hands. A book I would feel comfortable shopping around to agents and publishers (After the agonizing querying process – which I haven’t gone through yet. ***SPOILER ALERT*** If I ever do there will be a blog about it.)

 I know I’ve written mostly about myself here and that’s because I know exactly what the problems with my book are. I don’t know you and I don’t know your work. However, some lessons are universal and this is one of them: there is no shame in shoring up your weak points.

Kendall Bailey

My Facebook page
Twitter – @KBaileyWriter
Goodreads Author Page

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