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I could use some advice

REP

I enjoy the creativity of writing and that is the primary reason that I started writing and posting stories to SOL. On several occasions, my wife has suggested that I sell my stories as e-books to make some additional income.

I have mixed feelings about selling my stories. One of the reasons is the time necessary for getting a story ready for publication would take time away from generating new stories, but if the money was worth it, I would definitely give it further consideration.

I have three basic questions. 1) What are the hassles and how much effort is involved in selling a story? 2) Is the financial reward worth the additional effort? 3) What do you recommend as the best approach for contacting a publisher and which publisher is the best for a newbie author, if I decide to pursue commercializing my efforts?

Crumbly Writer

@REP

Sadly, this isn't as straightforward a question as you'd suspect. You'll need to decide whether you want to go with a mainstream publisher, or self-publish it yourself. Don't go with the vanity presses which charge you to publish a set number of books, as I've yet to meet a single person who didn't regret going that route. You'll get a beautiful book, but you'll end up with a garage full of books with no way to sell them, as the vanity publishers typically have no mechanism for actually selling the books on their own.

Going with a traditional publisher means: editing, formatting and targeting the book for a specific publisher (you may have to adjust the book for different publishers Style Guides with each submission) and be prepared for years of rejection letters. Traditional publishers only publish a set number of books each year, and typically go for specific types of books. They also tend to promote already successful self-published books now, rather than trying to promote new, unproven works.

On the other hand, most of the authors (who publish) here go the self-publishing route. The advantage to this is that it takes no money to publish (other than formatting, covers and/or editing, most of which you can do yourself) and you keep substantially more money per book than with published works (think $0.50 for a $20 book vs. $3.50 for a $4.99 book).

Unfortunately, you'll never get rich going either route. The advantage is, it's immensely satisfying getting paid for your work, even if it only amounts to an occasional dinner for you and the wife. It's one thing to get theoretical downloads, but it's another when readers vote with their hard-earned money.

If you want to try self-publishing, try talking to either Switch, Ernest or myself. Switch has some experience with traditional publishers as well (1 book, I believe). We each have experience with self-publishing a variety of books and help guide you in the process.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@REP

A little to add to what Crumbly said.

I assume you're talking about a novel (or possibly a novella), not a short story or collection of short stories. There's no market for the latter in traditional publishing.

The Big-5 publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts from unknown authors. You must go through an agent. There are exceptions. Sometimes an imprint of one of the publishers has an open submission, but it's done rarely. So you get an agent by writing a great query letter. You have to pique his interest. And then you have to have a great novel. If you get an agent, he then has to sell it to a publisher. Once the publisher accepts it they will give you a short time to make changes. And then it could be a year or two to actually have it published. The only way to get on bookstore shelves is this way. And you'll only stay on the shelves for a short time unless it sells really well.

There are smaller publishers that do accept submissions, and not all are vanity publishers, but they don't do much more for you than you can do by yourself if you self-publish (and they take a large chunk of the royalties). Some medium size ones do assign an editor which will polish your manuscript and you will learn from working with her. And of course they do the cover. But you won't be in bookstores.

Self-publishing is an entirely different animal. The authors on wattpad who do this for a living all pay for editing (and there's multiple edits), cover design, and formatting for print. They typically spend around $3,000 for each book.

The problem with self-publishing is that, most likely, you won't sell many if any books. The obvious reason is a lousy cover and/or lousy novel (with traditional publishing they make the cover and they vetted your manuscript and made it even better). But there's more.

Self-publishing is all about marketing. Even if you wrote the greatest novel of the year, and had a wonderful cover and blurb, how will you get people to even see it? That's marketing. After all, your book is buried in the millions of other books on Amazon.

Some authors pay for advertising. Some have other techniques. In my case, I already had a following. I have a Yahoo group with around 2,500 members who I announced my novel to. Not that they all took out their credit cards and bought it. They're used to free stories and most were not willing to pay even the $3.99 for a book. But some did.

Another thing the self-published authors mention all the time is that if you only have one novel don't self-publish. I learned that lesson. You have to put a book out there every few months to keep the readership that did find and liked your book. The best way is with a series.

docholladay
Updated:

I just thought of something that may or may not be off topic here.

Everyone talks about bookstores. Trick is not the bookstores but finding the local "Distributors/Wholesalers". Those are the key to getting books placed on display not only at the bookstores but also in other stores as well. I don't know how to say what to do in order to find them. Normally the publisher is already supplying them but they do handle more than one publisher's merchandise.

edited to add: Don't forget to check into their return policies for unsold merchandise by retailers. There are different policies based on genre and media. Scifi and Romance as book examples, Magazines and other periodicals also have return settings. Those return policies can and do vary from one genre to the next.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

Sorry, REP. Hope the above doesn't discourage you too much. While I enjoy self-publishing, and consider it rewarding, none of us are getting rich doing it. Hell, I don't even earn enough to warrant declaring the income, simply eating any tax money taken out of my meager earnings.

My brother and sister have also published, my brother through Shiffer, a smaller publisher who did a great job with his book, but he had to sell each copy himself, and he's made a pittance. My sister went with a vanity publisher, despite my warning her about what to expect. She hasn't sold many copies and hasn't covered any of what she's paid out for the book.

I'd suggest that you start small. Try Amazon first, as it's the easiest with the greatest market potential. Try to develop a market for your work (website, blog postings, encouraging readers to check in and look for your work), so you can hit the ground running. Again, sales of a first book are meager, but each subsequent book will help sell each earlier book, so the sales grow over time.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

Everyone talks about bookstores. Trick is not the bookstores but finding the local "Distributors/Wholesalers". Those are the key to getting books placed on display not only at the bookstores but also in other stores as well.

Sadly, few 'Distributors' will carry self-published books, though you'll need to select the distributor networks (which drives up costs) when you self-publish the books (otherwise bookstores and libraries won't be able to purchase the books, since they don't like purchasing from individuals).

The biggest hurdle will be selling print books to individual book stores (one at a time in your region), and hopefully arranging book signings (where you'll sell anywhere from 3 to 8 books a shot!)

Mostly, what you save in dollars in self-publishing you'll instead invest in time learning new skills: formatting, design, marketing, blogging, social media, etc.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


simply eating any tax money taken out of my meager earnings.


Amazon doesn't withhold taxes.

I do declare my Amazon income, though. If I get a 1099-MISC so does the IRS.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I'll have to look at my tax reporting requirements in that case (SW always withdrew taxes), but I'd have to earn over $25,000 USD from my ebooks per calendar year before I'd have to pay any taxes, so I'm not worried.

REP

Thanks for the advice everyone.

I had been thinking of publishing as an e-book, but it sounds as if the hassle would be more than it is really worth. I think I will stick to posting free stories.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@REP

It's easy to self-publish an ebook. It's hard to sell it.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@REP

G'day REP,

You've got some good advice already. However, I do have a bit to add.

I first started making my books available for sale through an e-publisher in Ireland, later I found SoL and made the ones the e-publisher didn't like available there for free. A little later again I found Lulu and started making them all available at Lulu. Sales for the first few years didn't qualify as dribbling money, let alone drinking money.

I've had some legal experience and don't like the terms of service used by some sites like Amazon, so I don't deal direct with them. It's my experience Lulu offers the best royalties, but I'm told (by many sources) Amazon has the best market. Despite that I sell all my books through Lulu now. I do have some books I give away for free that I allow Lulu to market share with Amazon, Kobo, Apple iBookstore, and Barnes & Noble. These are mostly help guides and short stories with a message I wish to get out there, like How to Make a Good E-pub - Lulu link below:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/ernest-bywater/social-inertia-keyboards/ebook/product-22724516.html

You asked how rewarding is making the books available for sale. I enjoy the emails I get from people who tell me they bought the book as much as I enjoy the emails from people saying they like the book on SoL. On the financial side sales were very low until I finally came up with a way to make an easy e-pub that displayed in a way I liked in late 2014. Sales has picked up a lot since then, I'd say about 99% of my sales are e-pubs, but some people still buy the print versions as gifts for family and friends.

For a number of reason I don't wish to go into, the bulk of the money I get from sales goes to others and charities. However, income from books at Lulu from 1 January 2016 to 31 May 2016 is US$2,040.00, and while income for the 2015 calendar year was US$3,130.00. To give you some perspective I've been selling through Lulu since early 2007 and the total income since then is US$7,872.00 for the sale of 3,244 books, including a large number of free books. My average income per book is a bit over US$2.43, but most e-pubs now sell for US$5.95 of which I make US$4.00. The average is down because I make less on the print books, and used to sell for less before, as well as the free book sales in the figures.

Hope this helps you.

edit to add: I can't give a clear figure, but a large percentage of my sales come from readers at SoL and FS who buy the e-pubs because they want to give them away as gifts or they can't wait until it finishes posting.

typical typo edit too.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

It's easy to self-publish an ebook. It's hard to sell it.


I heartily agree with that, Switch.

docholladay

What ever your decision is REP, thanks for sharing your stories with me here on SOL.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin
Updated:

@docholladay

If you decide to sell your books, you might want to use DEM as a pen name rather than REP. With Trump as the REP candidate, its hard to believe people will buy things labeled REP. It might be best to avoid politics entirely.

Replies:   Capt Zapp
Bondi Beach
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


It's easy to self-publish an ebook. It's hard to sell it.


Second that.

Plus, if you're into formatting and other compulsive behaviors, you can make the ebook come out any way you like. For the record, the SOL epub is clean and easy-to-read, but you have no control over layout (beyond what you produced for the original posting, and there is no cover (at least for now; I suspect that might be offered at some time in the future, but who knows?).

EDIT TO ADD: As for selling your work, a quick Internet search will turn up something over a zillion sites with advice for self-published authors. Here's the short version: impeccable presentation first, marketing marketing marketing through blog, discussion group, social media, etc., etc. for about 25 hours a day second. No sweat, of course.

bb

Crumbly Writer

While I caution to keep your expectations (of sales) low, I'd still encourage you that it's not as hard as it sounds. The key is, it takes times (to learn the various required skills). However, we've got several people experience at here here who can guide you. In fact, many of us have experience with designers (for covers) and other contacts too.

Decide what you're interested in doing, and whether it's worth the effort on your part. If you're interested, ask for advice to make the first book easier. Once you get that first book out of the way, the rest are much easier, and each additional book helps sell more books.

Capt Zapp

@richardshagrin

It might be best to avoid politics entirely.


Yes, that is good advice. Maybe you could follow it as well as give it.

Crumbly Writer

What good is life without booze, politics and religion--hopefully enjoyed all at once. Ah, there's nothing like election season to get everyone riled!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Ah, there's nothing like election season to get everyone riled!


except the post election results period.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

except the post election results period.

Then you begin the Serious drinking while you Google new homes in Canada.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Then you begin the Serious drinking while you Google new homes in Canada.


So where do the Canadian's look for new homes?

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Dominions Son


So where do the Canadian's look for new homes?


according to this they take an RV to Florida:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8n9SuvPYy74

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsOMeru8pxQ

REP

Once again thanks for the advice.

@Ernest
Thanks for sharing the effort and financial details of your venture with me. As you said, there is a payoff in addition to money for an author.

I lived in Perth for a year and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. If I had to leave the US, Australia would be my first choice with New Zealand, where I lived for two years, a close second. Florida is not even on my list of acceptable locations to live. Way too many problems and the only good thing I can think of is no snow.

@docholladay
Thank you. I enjoy your stories also.

@Richardshagrim
Probably good advice, however I created REP as my pen name using my initials. I don't see changing it because of an idiotic narcissist who believes he is worthy of being President. It is a sorry state of affairs when the two leading candidates for President seem to be both poor choices for the country.

@Bondi Beach
Thanks. The results of an internet search would yield many sources; I suspect most are more interested in separating me from my money than providing assistance to further my goals.

@Crumbly Writer
Thanks. Hard I can deal with. The main issue is do I want to commit the level of effort necessary to be a success. Personally I think booze, politics and religion are three of the four main factors that make life interesting with sex being the fourth.

Dicrostonyx

@Dominions Son


So where do the Canadians look for new homes?


https://www.realtor.ca/

...

Seriously, Canada's demographic & political layout is comparable to the US in that in centre (prairies) are more conservative than the coasts, and the West coast is both more progressive and tends to have better winter weather than the East coast (think Seattle, Washington).

As with anywhere, home costs will be higher in the cities, but with the added element that the further North you go the cheap homes become, but other costs go up. Smaller populations in the North mean less well-maintained infrastructure.

Prices right now are still depressed from where they were in 2007, but Canada's market is bouncing back a lot faster than the US's is, in part because space is at more of a premium in most areas. A report from March 2016 said that the national average price of a Canadian home was $508k (15.7% higher than March 2015). Minimum wages in Canada are between $10.50 and $11.25 per hour in the provinces.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Dicrostonyx

Seriously, Canada's demographic & political layout is comparable to the US in that in centre (prairies) are more conservative than the coasts, and the West coast is both more progressive and tends to have better winter weather than the East coast (think Seattle, Washington).


Whooosh! (the sound of my comment going over your head.)

My comment was in reply to a comment talking about people in the US upset with election outcomes looking to move to Canada.

So in that context, to which country would Canadians upset about national election outcomes want to move?

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Dominions Son


So in that context, to which country would Canadians upset about national election outcomes want to move?


Not that they're upset about anything other than the weather, but they're flocking to Arizona, usually as snowbirds.

Dicrostonyx

@Dominions Son


My comment was in reply to a comment talking about people in the US upset with election outcomes looking to move to Canada.


I'm aware of that comment being bandied about. I find it especially entertaining that Americans, who STILL haven't taken in any Syrian refugees, think that they can just move to Canada because they don't like the political situation in their own country! And this is coming from the ones who consider themselves to be progressives...

So in that context, to which country would Canadians upset about national election outcomes want to move?


Back during the 2015 election, I recall a US news anchor commenting that the positions of the candidate from our Conservative Party put him slightly to the left of Hillary Clinton.

Honestly, I doubt many Canadians would talk about moving away from a bad political situation. It didn't happen under Stephen Harper, and he was so disliked the past several years that the party lost 40% of their seats (from 166 to 99, out of 338 total). Honestly, a lot of Canadians worry about who the US president is more than our own politics.

More likely would be that if the US does elect a nut, it will encourage Canada to strengthen our trade ties with Europe and Asia, so that we don't get pulled down as badly during the next crash.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dicrostonyx

Honestly, I doubt many Canadians would talk about moving away from a bad political situation. It didn't happen under Stephen Harper, and he was so disliked the past several years that the party lost 40% of their seats (from 166 to 99, out of 338 total). Honestly, a lot of Canadians worry about who the US president is more than our own politics.

I agree with you on that. I responded to the comment simply because I find the entire premise so hilarious. I can't picture any "America, do or die" and "No one is going to take our guns" conservatives moving anywhere else, nor can I picture liberals moving elsewhere just because they're nervous about Trump doing something in the heat of the moment. THat's not how American politics work.

Instead, I expect all those threatening to leave simply choosing to say nothing once the election is over, claiming they never said any such thing, just as Trump has when caught out in an unpopular move.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I find the entire premise so hilarious. I can't picture any "America, do or die" and "No one is going to take our guns" conservatives moving anywhere else, nor can I picture liberals moving elsewhere just because they're nervous about Trump doing something in the heat of the moment.


True, but there has been a trend, going at least back to the 2000 election of liberal/progressive celebrities saying that they would leave the country if the Republican candidate won. Of course, I was disappointed when none of them actually left after GW was elected.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I find the entire premise so hilarious. I can't picture any "America, do or die" and "No one is going to take our guns" conservatives moving anywhere else, nor can I picture liberals moving elsewhere just because they're nervous about Trump doing something in the heat of the moment.


There has been a trend going back to at least the 2000 presidential election of liberal/progressive candidates saying they would leave the country if the Republican candidate won.

I am not aware of any similar statements on the other side.

Of course, I was rather disappointed in 2000 when none of them actually left.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I can't picture any "America, do or die" and "No one is going to take our guns" conservatives moving anywhere else, nor can I picture liberals moving elsewhere just because they're nervous about Trump doing something in the heat of the moment.


There has been a trend going at least back to 2000 of liberal/progressive celebrities saying they will leave the country if the Republican candidate wins the presidential election.

I was rather disappointed in 2000 when they didn't actually leave.

I am aware of no similar statements from the other end of the political spectrum.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

I am aware of no similar statements from the other end of the political spectrum.

It started as a joke, when someone in a small town in Canada that was slowly dying as their young flew the coup with no one to replace them. The Mayor run an ad in a nearby American city, and it took off. Thousands of Americans contacted the town making inquiries. Although the original add stated "If Trump wins", he also got several calls from Republicans, saying they'd be interested if Hillary won, so he changed the ad, and they got over double the number of responses and it became a media sensation (at least in the U.S. where all the major news channels highlighted it).

The interest seemed to run both ways, though I'd love to see these people all moving to the same town, and then having to deal with the liberal/conservative neighbors if it ever comes to pass. Seems like a scene right out of Purgatory! However, it was enough that the poor town got several serious individuals making offers to move to the town, regardless of who won.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

It started as a joke, when someone in a small town in Canada that was slowly dying as their young flew the coup with no one to replace them.


No, it started way back in 2000 when Alec Baldwin said he would move to France if Bush won. At least one liberal celebrity has made a similar clam in regards to the Republican candidate in every presidential election since. I'm reasonably sure that that is where the Canadian town got the idea in the first place.

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2000/10/16/escaping-from-bush-in-canada-peveryone/

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

No, it started way back in 2000 when Alec Baldwin said he would move to France if Bush won. At least one liberal celebrity has made a similar clam in regards to the Republican candidate in every presidential election since. I'm reasonably sure that that is where the Canadian town got the idea in the first place.

Instead of building a wall, we could offer free flights to Russia so they can join Snowden.

Perv Otaku

Alright, question for those of you active in ebook self publishing (Amazon or otherwise).

Does it seem like the readership there is a different group than the readership on the free sites (here, Literotica, etc.)? Which is to say, are there folks out there buying ebooks that literally don't know they can get the same stories, or the same types of stories, on the web for free? A potential untapped audience, if you will?

Or do the bulk of sales tend to be more along the lines of "I read this story on a free site but am buying the ebook as a way of tossing a dollar into your tip jar"?

I know a lot of authors actually remove their stuff from the free sites in order to ebook publish. Is this a hard and fast rule, or are there equal numbers that don't? (Though I've heard Amazon will drop a book's price to free if they catch you at this.)

Ernest Bywater

@Perv Otaku


I know a lot of authors actually remove their stuff from the free sites in order to ebook publish. Is this a hard and fast rule, or are there equal numbers that don't?


The majority of those who pull the story when they publish do so because the publisher insists on it, like Amazon do with their price dropping. I use Lulu and they don't have that policy, I do know many of the sales I get on Lulu are from SoL and FS readers who want the e-pub I prepare, but I also get readers from other sources who buy the books. I don't know if all the non SoL and FS readers know they can get them free, but some do.

Switch Blayde

@Perv Otaku

Does it seem like the readership there is a different group than the readership on the free sites (here, Literotica, etc.)?


Of course I don't know who's buying my novel, but I would guess the majority of them are people who read free stories. The reason I say that is because I built up a following starting when I had a free story site. So those people are free story readers. A lot of the sales came after notifying them. And when I post a new story on SOL it seems to generate sales.

I don't know if people realize it, but there's quite a difference between my free short stories and my novel. There's a lot more to the novel. And at a price of only $3.99 (US), it's not that much different than free.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Perv Otaku


Or do the bulk of sales tend to be more along the lines of "I read this story on a free site but am buying the ebook as a way of tossing a dollar into your tip jar"?


It runs both ways. For most of us, it's the 'tip jar' analogy that works. I post my stories on Amazon and get a pittance of views after years of trying to develop Amazon fans, but when the sales slow, I post to SOL and see my biggest sales, plus I get tremendous feedback which improves the stories.

On the other hand, if you can build a following (like on Wattpad for free), and can transfer that (via trading favors with other authors and fans), you can trade that into huge sales (for free books) on Amazon which will lead to massive book and movie deals.

For most of us unwilling to dedicate our lives to milking the system, we'll only get tepid results. For those into social networking who just happen to write, the options are much bigger. (I'm not belittling those who do this, I'm just bemoaning how difficult it is to break into.)

That said, Generally only 2% of SOL readers (based on download counts) will respond to what they read. Sales drop even below that, so most who 'read for free' will never purchase a book, including those who 'buy' hundreds of free books on Amazon.

Another factor is 'price elasticity'. Some stories (think porn short stories) are highly price elastic. The cheaper the story is, the more they'll sell. Better quality stories are highly price inelastic, meaning you'll sell the same amount regardless of the price. So for many of us, we'll do better selling at high prices, while others can make money by giving their stuff away.

It's a fairly complex system.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@REP


On several occasions, my wife has suggested ... if the money was worth it


To REP: My sense is you would like some arguments so your wife will get real about the potential for extra cash.

Without judgement of your work, I suggest:

1. "Look at how much EB makes, and he's been doing that for over a decade. He has 40 works of great variety, and most rate over 8 on SOL. If it's money we want, I'd get more at McDonalds for my time (meaning the extra time to publish, and not including writing time)."

2. "Most sci-fi fans think everything that comes down the internet should be free."

3. "My crystal universe could never be made into a movie - studios would think the costs of special effects for the crystals were way too high."

My advice (for living) is devote your energy to things you enjoy (writing), not on work (self-publishing) that cannot make enough money to change your lifestyle.

One other option exists. You might make efforts on the small chance of gaining something that changes your entire life.

Wattapp appears your best shot at a big payday, based on comments here, and the 'success story' thread. BUT, you must then work on self-promotion using its social media function, in addition to the work needed to self-publish.

If you do make the considerable effort, at small chance of winning a lottery seems a better target than the certainty of a pocket full of loose change.

In the interests of marital harmony, I suggest I should delete this post before you ask your wife to come here. If you post a comment you have read this, I will then delete it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

In the interests of marital harmony, I suggest I should delete this post before you ask your wife to come here. If you post a comment you have read this, I will then delete it.

General rule of thumb: if you want the wife to read something on a male-centered 'sex story site', you'll do better printing the individual items rather than risk her stumbling across scat stories or rants about unrelated topics. He'd want her to focus on the items supporting his claim, not the many missives which suggest we're all a bunch of wankers! 'D

But no one is getting rich self-publishing on SOL (though one guy was earning a decent income by taking advantage of Amazon's beneficial 'short story' premiere on Amazon Prime). In general, you don't get into writing to make money. It's generally a money losing proposition, just as editing is. You do it because you love writing, or you lose words. If anyone devoted the hours we spend writing on any other occupation, they'd be way ahead of the game. Instead, you write because you have to, but once you do, you want to get it out to as many people as possible. Part of that is reaching new audiences, so you start posting to new sites. Nowadays, 'new sites' include publishing to Amazon as much as it does visiting Wattpad. It's a way to reach a few more readers with the added emotional benefit of giving you a little extra spending money. That's it!

But the big trap in writing, is someone writes a story, then tries to promote it by opening a website. Then they start posting weekly or daily blogs to attract readers to their website, and the next thing you know, they haven't written another book in years. All they've done is to write their blogs about writing, which is also non-paying!!!

The other, equally bad trap, is what most of us fall into, where we're so busy cranking out stories that we don't bother marketing ourselves. Selling books is more about marketing yourself than it is quality of writing. You've got to develop a cult of personality. Convince readers that you personify everything they want. In the old days, someone wrote a book then spent the next five years trying to sell it to a publisher, gathering rejection slips like falling leaves in the fall. Now we can post online or publish independently, but that doesn't help if we can't market ourselves.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

you write because you have to, but once you do, you want to get it out to as many people as possible.

To REP: I think CW makes the very valid point that there are good reasons (and pitfalls) for wanting to self-publish, but the likelihood of making significant sums of money for your efforts is NOT one of them.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

It's nice, when you spend all your time locked in your office writing, to be able to take the spouse out to dinner and announce: "This is from my book proceeds."

It won't significantly improve your life, but you can return his/her kind understanding with some attention of your own and a 'it's not ALL a complete waste of time' moment. 'D

You're unlikely to get rich, but it's got a certain added emotional significance to it that makes it worth the added effort, for some of us, at least.

REP
Updated:

FYI Everyone.

I first heard from Ross.at.Play when he wrote to let me know that he read my story Opening Earth because it received a second place award in the Clitorides Awards and he found it to be tedious and offered a suggestion on how to improve my writing ability.

I informed him some people liked the story, but apparently he was not one of them and that he could go with God with my blessings.

Mr. Ross responded with a long contradictory rant. I responded to inform him of several things regarding his rant and informed him I would not reply to him in the future.

Since he doubted that I would open future e-mails from him, he had a friend forward a letter to me - - - that was when I realized that Mr. Ross is probably a Troll.

@ Crumbly Writer

Thanks for your supportive remarks. I know nothing about Ross, but from the remarks he made to me in his e-mails I have no respect for him, therefore his "advice" is worthless to me.

My recommendation is that everyone just ignore him.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@REP


My recommendation is that everyone just ignore him


I did loathe the beginning chapters of Opening Earth, but I sent all my comments to him PRIVATELY.

In my comments here, I was careful to avoid anything discouraging. There is a weight of comments here that speak for themselves about the chances of even great writers making much money.

My first comments were clearly only intended if his real preference was not publishing. It appeared he might be happy to just continue writing, but his wife's hopes of making money had become a problem.

CW responded; I replied by stating the points he made were valid - there were very good reasons for wanting to publish besides making money.

I only interpretation I can see of my comments above is intended to assist him get what he wants from his writing.

Regarding our exchanges about Opening Earth. The comments sent to him after he ended exchanges were to explain I had found a way to interpret his work less negatively. If I viewed chapter 1 as an introduction to the new universe, and Opening Earth as beginning with chapter 2, some of problems I saw when reading the work as a whole disappeared.

This is the ONLY work I have every commented on negatively. I would not have commented on it if it had not submitted it for the Clitorides Award. I expect I am too idealistic for the modern age, but I do not think awards should be mere popularity contests. I expect authors who submit works for awards to believe their work is well written, according to accepted standards of what that is. I cited the Writers' Guides available on this site.

To put things in context, I would like to reiterate the positive comments I also made about that work. The grammar and punctuation were almost perfect (I noticed one sentence that needed a comma). All sentences convey their meaning without ambiguity. The popularity of the work suggests the story is excellent, despite what I see as little attention to enhancing the writing for the enjoyment of readers.

The saddest thing I see is someone with the potential to be a superb writer being content with mere popularity.

Replies:   Grant  Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

Now you've both had your say, can we get back to the original topic and main discussion points, please.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

To EB: I agree. I am about to suggest Lazeez deletes BOTH our comments.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Grant

@Ross at Play

I expect I am too idealistic for the modern age, but I do not think awards should be mere popularity contests.

Unless such awards are voted on by those in the industry, then that's all they are. And even for those voted on by the industry, as the Oscars show, the results can be somewhat skewed.

I expect authors who submit works for awards to believe their work is well written, according to accepted standards of what that is.

Unless an Author nominates themselves, the nominations are done by the readers.

The saddest thing I see is someone with the potential to be a superb writer being content with mere popularity.

Even sadder would be something superbly written that no one is interested in.

Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

To EB: I agree. I am about to suggest Lazeez deletes BOTH our comments.


each poster has the ability to delete their own post, just so you know. Jost go to the post and click on the little glass or rubbish bin like icon in the bottom right corner, second from the right.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

I think the following comment is destructive when made on a public forum and not supported by EVIDENCE. He only alluded to comments made to him privately.


My recommendation is that everyone just ignore him



each poster has the ability to delete their own post


I will delete my RESPONSE immediately once his first post is deleted, and also delete every other post of mine on this thread.


nominations are done by the readers


Surely authors are entitled to ask for their nomination to be withdrawn if they consider a work is not the best they could do.

I have suggested Lazeez consider extra categories for the awards. I do not think that work should be compared to other works nominated for the same category. However, it certainly has its merits, and there is no other category more suitable for it.

I stress my final attempt to communicate with him privately was a sincere attempt to withdraw negative comments I had made. They no longer seemed valid once I viewed chapter 1 as an introduction to the new universe, separate from the first story.

I belong to a group which stresses the importance of "and when we were wrong promptly admitted it."

I have always tried to be constructive in my comments to this writer. I want him to become a better author. However, there was a lot I disliked about the work, and I can see that if someone did not read my comments carefully, the first impression could appear to be a negative rant.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play


Surely authors are entitled to ask for their nomination to be withdrawn if they consider a work is not the best they could do.


I don't want to get in the middle of what this argument is about. However, I will make a comment on this one sentence:

Yes, authors can request a nomination be removed, be it your best or worst work. But why would you want to? What I regards as my best work is not the one with the most downloads or the highest score. People have differing ideas of what a good story is, and how you rate them, just look at the range of scores on stories here, author can do that for their stories - we get a stats page. Also, look at some of the crap that gets on the Best Seller lists. Thus I understand why you say he could have withdrawn it, but I disagree as to if he should have withdrawn it.

Mind you, I've not read it, so I'm not prepared to say anything about the story itself.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@REP


his "advice" is worthless to me.


I can understand how you came to that conclusion.

I would like to withdraw every comment I have ever made about your writing, and replace them with one comment that can only be viewed as constructive.

A regular poster on this forum, EB, posted this comment on his blog on April, 9


I recently started a program of revising all my old stories to update them to my newer and smoother style


EB has posted 39 stories with many different genre. He has been posting for 10 years at 1000Kb per year (approx 600 pages per year in typical paperback format).

His AVERAGE RATING is over 8, if weighted by size of the story.

I suggest you ask him to list the things he will be concentrating on and looking for as he reviews his older works seeking a smoother style.

To EB: I think all of us here would like to see that list.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


I disagree as to if he should have withdrawn i


I thought I was clear I was NOT suggesting he SHOULD have withdrawn it. The work has its merits and is popular.

The author is definitely ENTITLED to allow it to be considered for an award, and the category it was nominated for was the most appropriate available for it. Personally, I would not want an award if I thought I was capable of making the work significantly better.

I have listed the merits I do see in it above. I do not intend to list here my specific reasons for disliking it. Such comments should only be included in a formal review submitted to the site

I had already suggested Lazeez consider new categories for the awards, explaining why (in my opinion) apples were currently being compared to oranges.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Ross at Play


To EB: I think all of us here would like to see that list.


The change has slowly developed as a result from a number of friends and editors. One is retired, they did professional writing of text books, technical books, and academic papers. The advice they gave me was along the lines of this is what always annoyed me about having to do it that way when writing things. Much of the rest came from my main editors: Jim7, Dan, and The Rev. It was an accumulation of the things they often spotted as causing confusion in the meaning of what I was saying. The last came from a friend who read a few of my books, and pointed out how often I was using certain words, way too often, so I have to replace a lot of them with alternative options: the top ones being and, as, because.

For clarity, the two biggest are to ensure all uses of a proper noun with an apostrophe 's' are possessive and not a contraction, plus the uniform use of a comma before every use of the following words that appear in a sentence, and not as the first word: and, but, because.

The next big one is to replace as many of the uses of the word as with alternatives like since, because, while, when - whichever makes the most sense for the sentence. This doesn't mean remove them all, just 85+% of them. Similarly, look closely at how frequently I use any word within the same sentence or paragraph, and look for variants to minimise usage close together. Some common words are exempt from this rule, like 'the.'

If a sentence you normally see the word 'that' in still makes clear sense with 'that' removed, take it out. This is a good thing you can do in vernacular English, but causes issues with formal English. Check the uniformity of the contractions used.

Minimise the use of commas to where they have to be. Too often you see commas that actually fragment a sentence because the writer has taken the advice to separate thoughts with a comma. However, a thought will often flow into the next and they make more sense when left as one flow. The most common use is when s paragraph or sentence opens up with a few words to identify the place or time before going on with what's happening. Example: On Saturday, Fred went out, to the ball game. - On Saturday Fred went out to the ball game. In the first the thoughts of the time, the action, and the place are split by commas, it almost comes at as a first reader text, while the second flows on with it all as one item.

Another is to review and the use of words like 'he,' 'him,' 'his,' 'she,' etc to ensure the can be no confusion over who it relates to. If there may be confusion, replace with the person's name. A common situation is where two people are spoken of in the same narrative section. To deal with this I now assume the use of a pronoun refers to the very last name used, if it doesn't I replace it with the person's name. Often it's not needed, but it does ensure a higher level of clarity.

In some areas I've been a bit sparse with descriptions and adjectives, a few are expanded, and some where they were a bit long are being shortened. Ensure the correct tense is used throughout the whole story.

Very long complex sentence are being reviewed and rewritten to be shorter, often cut into two. Better use of semi-colons and colons, especially when using them to provide extra information about what was just mentioned, and complex lists.

Some of the early stuff is a mix of formal English and vernacular English, thus they need to be cleaned up. Also, some early stuff has mixed tenses that need fixing.

The aim is to be more free flowing in the reading, and to ensure the total clarity of the meaning of what's written.

edit to add: This is what I found I needed to fix, and I hope it helps others, but please do not take it as instruction for on high. No one can give you perfect advice on how best to write for you, like me, they just say This is what works for me.

extra edit: I have noticed a few stories that have been cleaned up have actually had their scores go up a little.

One other point. When we started writing Cazna and I wrote in the exact same style because we often collaborated and discussed how to write. I've started on revising his work as well, the short stories are with an editor right now. So if you look at some of his stories and some of mine, you should see a difference in the style, right now. Hopefully that will change as I revise them properly. I did revise them a little a few years back, but more so in the current round.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

To EB: Thank you for your effort to provide those comments. I will not regard them as "instructions from on high". I am hoping what will work for me is seeking to emulate authors such as yourself, until I can achieve a basic level of competence in my use of language. Perhaps then I could make informed choices for when not adhering to general guidelines is appropriate in particular stories.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

basic level of competence in my use of language. Perhaps then I could make informed choices for when not adhering to general guidelines is appropriate in particular stories.


The advice I've given a few others is to concentrate on learning the basic rules of grammar as applied to vernacular English. They're a lot looser, less of them, and make for (in my personal view) for a more entertaining read. The best way to learn how to write is to write. Like all things, you improve with practice. The other thing I advise is to wait several weeks between when you finish a story and when you re-read it and review it before posting it.

I find when I finish writing or revising a story it's best to send it to someone to edit, then review each of their edits, and adjusting the story accordingly. Although I accept more edits than I reject, I do regard every edit as a need to review that part of the story, never blindly accepting or rejecting. Then put the story aside for a few weeks, if possible work on another. Then come back to the story re-read it, and revise and repeat or post if no important revisions are made.

I can't over emphasis how much easier it is to write within the rules of vernacular English than it is to stay within the rules of formal English.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

the rules of vernacular English

Can you recommend any guidelines for the rules of vernacular English, or differences between the rules of vernacular and formal English?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

Can you recommend any guidelines for the rules of vernacular English, or differences between the rules of vernacular and formal English?


That's one of the oddities of life. I've not found a single definitive source for the use of vernacular English. Part of the problem is it isn't exactly the same everywhere, the way formal English is. The literal meaning of 'vernacular' is 'as spoken,' thus it's English as spoken, but people speak differently in different places. In some places 'g'day mates' is said while others have' hi y'all.'

This site is one of the best sites I've found on most English rules, most of them are for formal English, but she is open to questions and giving wider answers and advice.

http://www.grammarbook.com/english_rules.asp

However, what you need to think about is the way things are said, without dialectic and slang terms, as against the way they're written down in formal English. The biggest single difference is the use of contractions like isn't, haven't we'll, etc.

The best way to write in vernacular is to put down what you'd say if telling it to someone else. If it vocalizes well and doesn't sound stilted, and also flows freely, then you're either there or dang close to it. Always think three times before you include the word 'that' as 90% it isn't needed to carry the meaning in the sentence, but sometimes it is needed.

The only issue I've had with using vernacular English was when I wrote a story with a US narrator, and had to work hard at using the US vernacular as against the Aussie vernacular - very similar, but some fine differences. That's why most of my main characters and narrators are now Aussies, it makes it easier for me. Some examples of the differences are: An Aussie ute is the same as a US pickup, while an Aussie narrator will call it a pick-up in the US. An Aussie car sales yard is a lot in the US, and similar word choices vary between the two forms of the vernacular.

In my free guide on what to think about before writing (URL below), I have this to say:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/ernest-bywater/writer-guide/ebook/product-22733371.html

quote:
This is about the style, syntax, and grammar you use in your work

Technically Correct English is a must for technical books and text books, but is very boring in novels. This should be perfect grammar and very few adverbs or adjectives, because it is meant to be exact and dry

Vernacular English is more colourful and much more active than the technically correct English. And also much more fun. I write fiction this way, because this is how people talk and how I would tell you the story if I was speaking to you. Thus giving the impression of someone telling a story over a camp-fire, or the like.

In this it's also common to use contractions - isn't, can't, won't, I'd, he's, etc. - since they make the story more like how people really speak. It's also common to use slang terms and other colloquialisms, but with these you should take great care to not use ones the readers may not understand, unless you explain them at their first usage, or include a glossary of terms.

An example of the different usage: The scene is a lounge room, a sixteen year old is awaiting the arrival of her favourite cousins who will be staying for a week.

Technically Correct: I sit in a lounge room chair while I await the arrival of my cousins with great anticipation. The doorbell chimes, I stand up and proceed to the door. Opening it, I see it is they. I open the door wider, and speak loudly to mother, saying "Mother, it is them, they have arrived."

Vernacular: Laying on the lounge I'm eagerly awaiting my favourite cousins' arrival. The doorbell rings, jumping up, I race to the door, and open it. It's them, throwing the door wide, I yell "Mum, they're here."

There's plenty of scope in the level and amount of vernacular you use, but it is a much more active and colourful way of writing than the way wanted for text books and technical documents. This is because in the technical documents and text books you are striving for the highest level of accuracy and exact understanding, while in a novel you use the vernacular to make it much more appealing and enjoyable.

The level to which you use the vernacular should also match the characters and how you expect them to behave. A proper English butler in a story wouldn't use the same language as a boy off the streets.

end quote

I can only add you try reading stories and see what you like and dislike about them, and work out why. One of my favourite authors at SoL writes damn good stories, but always uses formal English, thus they often seem stilted, especially the dialogue. And that's one point I almost forgot, in most story there's a marked difference between the way they write dialogue and the way they write the narrative. many have formal English narrative and vernacular dialogue, so just using vernacular in both makes it easier. Sadly, some use formal English for narrative and dialogue - it looks odd when the street urchins speak like English butlers.

Sorry I can't be of more help. Maybe I'll get around to doing a guide on the use of vernacular when I'm felling up to it.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

Thanks, EB. I'm sure your free guide and the grammar book will get me a long way for starters.

I have vowed I will always read my works aloud before asking an editor to review them. I find that helps me hear stilted language; and finding typos and tense errors.

I will also seek non-Aussies to edit them. I was surprised to learn that dob in, bludge and skerrick were Aussie vernacular.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

The saddest thing I see is someone with the potential to be a superb writer being content with mere popularity.

Although unsuccessful authors complain about the lack of integrity, I don't know of a single author who doesn't dream of a big paycheck, even if they have to change their entire stories to reach it.

As Steven King shows, it's easy being principled after you've made several million.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Personally, I would not want an award if I thought I was capable of making the work significantly better.

There's nothing that says you can't accept an award for an existing story and still improve on it. They aren't mutually exclusive.

However, I've discovered that revising a story isn't always justified, as you'll never get the same response you get to the original story. Thus it's usually in an author's best interest to focus on the next story, rather than trying to 'clean up' their earlier works. It's usually best for every person to focus on the future and strive to become better, rather than fretting over past failures which they're unlikely to change substantially.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

I understand your point.
In this instance, I think those who write big paychecks would have similar objections to mine. They would not be impressed by a modest level of popularity on SoL with an average rating for 10 works of 6.9.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

They would not be impressed by a modest level of popularity on SoL with an average rating for 10 works of 6.9.

Scores aren't the be all and end all criteria. There have been some decent authors who write gay or scat stories who'll never score higher than a 5, but that's more a reflection of the readers, than of the author's work. But then again, that's why those authors don't last long on SOL, going somewhere else where their works are more appreciated.

Grant

The smell and heft of print books are hard to replace, so it's no surprise that rumors have been circulating about the death of the no-good, unloveable, cold, glassy ebook. But despite claims of slumping ebook sales, two new reports show this simply isn't true.


http://qz.com/699275/self-published-authors-have-found-a-way-to-actually-make-money/

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