Posts tagged: Self publishing

SORTA-HAPPY PROGRESS REPORT #1

The brilliant and captivating cover of In Love by Christmas. Thank you, Clarissa Yeo!

THE HAPPY STATUS REPORT: Oops. Never check the facts. The MODERATELY HAPPY, BUT NOT TOO ECSTATIC, STATUS REPORT on IN LOVE BY CHRISTMAS, my in-development Christmas book.

Last Sunday, I got my complete response to my editor’s first content/developmental edit back to her. [That means: I rewrote the whole friggin' thing and shipped it off.] The first editorial pass is the one done with the golden machete. You send your manuscript in, thinking, “I’m *** ****. Boy is this good.” It comes back shredded, with little red and blue comments all over and half the text deleted. The other half says, “Show me, don’t tell me.”

Every time I send a manuscript in, I expect it to come back with, “YIPPEE! THIS IS THE BEST BOOK I’VE EVER READ. YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO A THING,” on it. This never happens. When the second go-round comes back, it always looks machete-ed again. How she can find more things to put those “little notes” by, I do not understand. After taking a few days to stop being hysterical, again, I get to work rewriting. Because, ****, although I hate to admit it, my editor is mostly always right.

I originally started to write this progress report, saying, “YAHOO! I finished redoing the first chapter. I’M 1/37th of the way done with the rewrite of the SECOND EDITORIAL PASS ON IN LOVE BY CHRISTMAS.” I thought it had 37 chapters. 1/37th is pretty good, huh? In not more than a month, working at a pace a normal person might work, I could have the the manuscript really tight.

It has 53 CHAPTERS. I’m 1/53rd of the way through the rewrite. Not so good.

That’s OK. Don’t worry. I’m petitioning the Universe to move Christmas to March 31st this year. Plenty of time to get my Christmas book done. [Responding to the content edit is not all that has to happen to the book. There copy-editing and proofreading and then formatting, wherein it's turned from a Word document like all your letters to your mom and such into a real book and eBook. If you've ever wanted to be an author, you should read this and decide to be an accountant.]

Writing gives you faith. Also takes it away, sometimes. Prayers accept that this sucka gets off the ground before Groundhog Day.

Ciao, everyone!

Sandy Nathan
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Publishing Bloopers: What I Did with my First Book that I Wouldn’t Now: 5.4 Selling Books in the Great Recession

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice

STEPPING OFF THE EDGE: A ROADMAP FOR THE SOUL has a new 2014 edition, linked here. The discussion below refers to the production of the first edition. While easier and accomplished more economically, the second edition was no picnic, either.

by Sandy Nathan

Stepping Off the Edge was my first book. I will never produce a book like this again. See the article below for explanation.


My first book, Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice, is drop dead gorgeous and top of the line all the way, with exquisitely designed interior and a killer cover. It has won––to my ecstatic surprise––six national awards in major contests.

Furthermore, T. Terry Whalen, in his book, Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, reports Bookscan sales through bookstores. (Bookscan US provides continuous measurement and analysis of book sales in and through bookstores.) According to Whalen’s reports (ibid pg 46), the average sale per ISBN in bookstores is 15 books. (Yes, you got that right.) Close to 80% of the books tracked sold less than 99 copies. More than 95 percent sold less than a thousand.

According to this data, Stepping Off the Edge has sold very well compared to titles put out by the majors or anyone else. It’s a success.

So what’s the problem? It cost way too much in time and money to produce. In this Great Recession market place, there’s no reason for a publisher to do an offset print run for a title that may have limited appeal in the market place––and let’s face it, a title about spiritual practice by an unknown author is a long shot. (An offset print run is a traditional publishing run resulting in 500, 1,500, 10,000, or more books being produced. This type of printing is often used by traditional publishers who expect large sales for their books.)

A sensible way of producing a book in this market is to use a POD (Print On Demand. With POD production, books are created as they are needed to satisfy sales orders.) publisher like Amazon’s free set up CreateSpace.com or LightningSource, with its distribution capabilities. (Check out the POD printers before committing. Books are available that evaluate them. I like CreateSpace.com.)

Go digital. No successful publisher, small press, or self-publisher can afford to ignore the eMarkets. I’ve got Stepping Off the Edge on Kindle now, and I’m working on the Sony and other eBook distribution. I missed those sales for years.

Get a good production team and stick with it: Don’t change editors, designers, or anyone else midstream. If you do, you open yourself up to multiple charges, production delays, and chaos. Of course, if you haven’t worked with a team before, you won’t know how well you work together. Life is risky.

Do not “do it yourself.” Owners of small presses and self-publishers–– have your books professionally designed even if you’re going to produce them on CreateSpace.com. If you submit an amateurish piece of ugly, poorly formated garbage to CreateSpace.com. or any POD printer, it will come out exactly as submitted. Use professional designers. The Blogroll on my blog for writers, Your Shelf Life has tested professionals on it. It’s on the right hand column, scroll down and check ‘em out for yourself.

What other bloopers did I make with my first book? I’d make sure someone in my LARGE team of editors and proofreaders knew how to spell “acknowledgment”.  (Yep, the word is misspelled in the TOC, section front, and page header. A judge in the Benjamin Franklin Award pointed it out in my feedback form.) Too late to correct if you’ve done a traditional print run.

What else? I’d spend the money saved on book production on marketing & publicity. There’s a slippery shore. People spent money on publicity and often have no tangible results from it. In that case, the smart author will research low cost publicity avenues. The ‘Net, blogs, social networking sites, on and on.

Looking over the whole picture, what I’d do is budget book production carefully and stick to my budgets. I’d firm up my design team and their cost estimates before doing anything.

And I’d acknowledge that writing the book and producing it are only the beginning: The real work in the book world is selling books for a profit.

Sandy Nathan

Sandy Nathan––Before publishing in the Great Recession

 

Sandy Nathan after publishing Stepping off the Edge, ed. 1. Edition 2 wasn't much better.

Unlock Writer’s Block – What You Need to Know When the Words Won’t Flow

 

'm going to illustrate this blog post with a simple tale springing from ranch life. This is a true story, obviously, since those are photos. This is The Day  Corcovado Learned  to Load and Unload from a Trailer. Note that the horse is not freaking out, pitching a fit, or tramping his handlers. No, Corco is doing something more effective. He's adopted The Mule Stance. My mind is following Corco's example as I contemplate rewriting Mogollon.

I'm going to illustrate this blog post with a simple tale springing from ranch life. This is a true story, obviously, since those are photos. This is The Day Corcovado Learned to Load and Unload from a Trailer. Note that the horse is not freaking out, pitching a fit, or tramping his handlers. No, Corco is doing something more effective. He's adopted The Mule Stance. My mind follows Corco's example as I contemplate rewriting Mogollon.

A while ago, I wrote that I was going to blog about the rewrite, the re-vision, of my draft version of Mogollon, the sequel to my award winning book, Numenon.

That was weeks ago. In that time, we put a Kindle version of Numenon out for 99 cents. Sales went crazy, Numo hit # 1 in Mysticism, and then cruised near the top of the Religious Fiction category.

This was a problem.

Why? Because Numenon is the introduction to the series. It’s got every hook in the world in it to make people want the sequel. It ends with a bang and points the reader dead at  Mogollon, the rewrite of which we are discussing.

Numenon‘s readers are already asking for the sequel; some are getting kinda grouchy about it. How long will my readers wait before dumping me entirely?

The book’s first and part of a  second draft is written. All I have to do is open my computer files and wail away, toiling for a really long time to get the manuscript cleaned up as well as I can. Then I have to go through the editorial and proofing process, necessitating months and months of hard work before a publishable version exists.

As owner of an Indie press,  after I do all the above, I get to manage the design and publication process, and then marketing and sales.

I  can’t open the manuscript’s files.  I’d rather do anything than think about the changes  I have to make. I’d as soon dismember my firstborn child as whack away at Mogollon.

DO YOU THINK I’VE GOT WRITERS’ BLOCK?

* * *

 

An undisclosed amount of time later and the guys have the task in hand. All they have to do is get Corco from where he is into the trailer.

An undisclosed amount of time later and the guys have the task in hand. All they have to do is get Corco from where he is into the trailer. All I have to do is get Mogollon into print.

WHAT IS WRITERS’ BLOCK? Essentially, it’s psychological resistance. Usually it involves the writer’s ego: “My work is so important … The world needs my masterpiece. I can’t write. If I can’t write, I’ll die, and the world will be left without my words … What a tragedy.”

I realize that sounds judgmental and mindless of the pain of the condition, but remember that the blocked up person I’m talking about is me. I exhibit almost every causal attitude I’ll discuss below.

The desire to write the Great American (Latvian, Lithuanian, or Other) Novel can shut a writer down: “I have this HUGE idea. Can I possibly express it? Am I big enough? Good enough?” Hand wringing. Angst. Pain. It’s based on an inflated image of one’s importance in the Grand Scheme of Things.

If you regarded finishing your novel the way ranch people regard mucking out the stalls, would it be so hard? So wrenching? Would you stay awake nights because you couldn’t finish the job? No. When writing becomes a job of work, histrionics leave and you can get the thing done.

Writer’s block also can be associated with positive things. Sherman Alexie, the bestselling Native American author, reminds us that success can block you up good. How can you write when your last book was a national bestseller and your publisher is leaning on you for the new one? And grumbling about your contract and the advance you got for the three book deal?

Heart breaking, isn’t it?

Just plain fear is behind a lot of this. Can I do it? Can I bring it across? It’s the terror that arises when one faces in front of a blank screen or empty page. My eyes widen and I suppress a scream  . . .

Real progress: both front hooves are on the ramp. Corco continues to exhibit the Mule Stance.

Real progress: both front hooves are on the ramp. Corco continues to exhibit the Mule Stance. These photos were taken over several hours of intense human-equine power negotiation. Notice the carrot in Barry's hand. Sometimes positive reinforcement doesn't work. Also–Corco had a bath before these pictures were taken. His coat is wet from suds, not sweat. It's the guys who are sweating.

Laziness sometimes lurks behind the inability to finish a tale. Writing a novel is about the hardest kind of authoring imaginable. (Though I think a surgeon friend’s rewrite of his textbook on arthroscopic ankle surgery ranks up there)

You may begin your manuscript and discover that completing it requires the discipline to sit down and bang it out––to sit for days, months, and years. Despite your earth-shaking, sure to be a bestseller idea, your book won’t exist unless you write it down.

“It’s just too  hard … I can’t do it.” Another tragedy.

So you go to a writing group for support and stick around until you hear their feedback to your cherished production. Sometimes this can be bracing in a “pull up your socks” way, and sometimes it can shut down all creativity. Rough editors can do the same.

The rest of humanity, household pets, inanimate objects, and lousy viruses and bacteria can stop a writer’s progress. Life intrudes.

“Marge, there’s a truck in the living room. It just came through the wall.”

Call it resistance or an errant Mack truck, writer’s block is writer’s block. A cure exists. I have written about it: The Ultimate Cure for Writer’s Block. If you get what I say in this article, block will not trouble you, unless it wants to.

* * *

ON THE OTHER HAND, YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO FINISH YOUR MANUSCRIPT BECAUSE THE TIME ISN’T RIGHT. You and your book idea might not be cooked enough.

In a revolutionary move, Tony has PICKED UP CORCO'S HOOF and placed it farther onto the ramp. Notice that nothing has changed in the horse's stance. True resistance, perfectly executed. Well done, Corco!

In a revolutionary move, Tony has PICKED UP CORCO'S HOOF and placed it further onto the ramp. Notice that nothing else has changed in the horse's stance. True resistance, perfectly executed. Well done, Corco!

THE PROCESS OF TEACHING CORCOVADO TO LOAD AND UNLOAD ILLUSTRATES THE LESSON IN THIS ARTICLE:

YOU CANNOT MAKE A 1,200 POUND ANIMAL DO ANYTHING. IT HAS TO WANT TO DO IT.

YOU CAN’T MAKE A WRITER SPIT OUT WORDS, EITHER.

 

 

WRITER’S BLOCK IS LIKE THE BERLIN WALL:  YOU CAN’T GO AROUND IT, OVER IT, OR UNDER IT AS LONG AS IT’S STANDING AND THE GATES ARE CLOSED.

RECALL THAT THE BERLIN WALL (which some of you may not remember) CAME DOWN WHEN THE TIME WAS RIGHT.

RESISTANCE IS LIKE THAT: It seems like a solid wall, but it’s got invisible cracks. As time passes, doors open, and close. Keep your eye on the wall, and go through when an opening appears. (That means write like crazy when you can.)

WHILE YOU’RE WAITING, DO SOMETHING ELSE.

THINGS TO DO WHILE WAITING FOR AN OPENING IN YOUR RESISTANCE:

READ. You can read all sorts of stuff, including my online magazine,  SPURS MAGAZINE. SPURS is about changing the world, or at least cleaning up some of its nasty bits. I named it SPURS because in life, sometimes you need spurs to get moving. I’ve been writing SPURS since the late 1990s and am about to unleash it in blog form, as soon as I get over my paralysis over rewriting Mogollon.

Advanced training technique: Tony waves his hat while Barry pulls on the lead rope.

Advanced training technique: Tony waves his hat while Barry pulls on the lead rope. Corco remains unmoved. Some people resort to offering buckets of carrots and grain at this point. When that doesn't work, they escalate to use of two by fours and longe whips. Nasty. We don't do that. The inter species negotiation process intensifies as and the sun drops on the horizon …

SPURS’ WRITERS’ CORNER. Not only do I have a ‘zine, I’ve got a ‘zine for writers, dealing with topics that writers must manage or go insane. The WRITERS’ CORNER is one of the most popular locations on my web empire. (I’ve got 52 URLs, compadres.)

[Note: If you think Mogollon needs rewriting, SPURS' WRITERS' CORNER needs major surgery. Read it and know it's a draft. I'll rewrite it before I die. Or make it into a blog. Okay?]

 

 

SPURS’ WRITERS’ CORNER contains a bunch of articles relevant to writer’s block. These articles walk through the process of writing as experienced by me and many others. (Lots of references & links.) Please allow your browser time to open at the links.

As everything else fails, Tony and Barry attempt to FORCE Corco into the trailer.

Tony and Barry attempt to FORCE Corco into the trailer. Barry is inside the trailer, pulling hard, while Tony applies muscle at the other end. Does it work? What do you think? You can no more force a horse into a trailer than your brain to kick out the right words. (Note: Do not do what you see above at home. What's shown in the above photo is extremely dangerous and very bad horsemanship. Corco could kill either man if he lunged forward or bolted backwards.)

TO DISTRACT YOURSELF WHEN YOU CAN’T WRITE,  YOU CAN ALSO CLEAN THE HOUSE, ROLLER SKATE, GO TO YOUR SHRINK, BLOG ABOUT YOUR BLOCK, ENTERTAIN YOUR FELLOW WRITERS, OR TAKE A NAP.

MOSTLY, CONTEMPLATE THE SITUATION UNTIL YOU REALIZE THE REAL REASON FOR YOUR BLOCKAGE/STOPPAGE.

WHAT WRITING THIS ARTICLE DID FOR ME WAS MAKE ME REALIZE THAT:

  • I’m tired.
  • I need a break.
  • A real break where I do NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH.
  • NO book marketing, planning the next move, scheduling book signings, reading blogs on marketing, sales, the latest Net techniques.
  • Take the box of books out of the trunk of the car “just in case.”
  • I need to stop doing what I’m doing and allow my personal process––my soul, if you will––to call the shots.
  • When The Universe wants me to finish Mogollon, I will, and probably pronto.

[HERE'S AN EXERCISE: I throw them in all over Stepping Off the Edge, might as well here. Please jot down any images or thoughts that come to you while you read my list, and the rest of the article, including hops to Spurs' Writers' Corner and Spurs Magazine. Take some time and generate your own list of word blockers. Where are you in the process above? I'm not saying that you're worn out, either. Your situation reflects your writing style and process. You may need a kick in the rear.]

MY REAL PROBLEM IS: I’M POOPED.

I’m taking that break, goin’ to Santa Fe for three weeks. Santa Fe, New Mexico, is like catnip to me. Where we stay, there’s no Internet, no phone, no TV, no roads. Just wind and sky and a few snakes.

 

Tony leads Corcovado out of the trailer.

Tony leads Corcovado out of the trailer. Note how relaxed the horse is. He never had a problem going into or out of a trainer from this day forward.

 

WHAT DOES CORCO  SAY ABOUT THIS?

About a minute after the previous photo, Corcovado walked into the trailer easily and with no fuss. He’d decided that he wanted to.

When your soul/brain/heart/body/hands decide it’s time to write, you will. You’ll write good stuff, that deserves to see the light of day.

PS. If you liked this article, you will like my book Stepping Off the Edge. It has much more about living the writer’s life, success, triumph, despair, and JOY.

STEPPING OFF THE EDGE on KINDLE– 99 cents for a limited time!

NUMENON on KINDLE––99 cents for a limited time!

Hasta luego, amigos! I’ll write more later! I have a date with a dirt road and cactus.

 

Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!

Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a 2009 Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!

 

Sandy Nathan
Winner of the 2009 Silver Nautilus Award for
Numenon
The Nautilus Awards are dedicated to “changing the world one book at a time.” The Nautilus Award was established to find and reward distinguished literary contributions to spiritual growth, conscious living, high-level wellness, green values, responsible leadership and positive social change.

By winning a Nautilus Silver Award with her book, Numenon,  author Sandy Nathan joins the ranks of  Deepak Chopra, M.D., Barbara Kingsolver, Thich Nnat Hanh, Jean Houston, PhD., Eckhart Tolle, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. All are Nautilus Award winners.

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