Archive for August, 2012


Black and White Self Publishing Advice

Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method makes writing light as a feather. Or at least lays it out in black and white.

Writing the book, and writing the next book, can so easily get lost in the process of self publishing. I am constantly trying to stay current in the writing world, and one piece of advice I gleaned from a teaching author was to continue to study my craft. Keep learning about writing. So I joined Willamette Writers and was delighted to listen to Randy Ingermanson at one of the Willamette Writers meetings in 2011.

Randy Ingermanson wrote Writing Fiction for Dummies, among other books, and he was talking about his patented Snowflake Method. I’d never heard of the Snowflake Method before and it hit me ‘tween the eyes like a well-received plank of brilliant break-through. I’d just rolled up my sleeves and resurrected the Outline…  effective, yet somewhat grueling.

Randy’s Snowflake Method is better. It’s a way of approaching story design, planning, forethought – working it out true to the rules of storytelling (beginning middle end, characters who live and breathe, scenes that make sense) while at the same time accomplishing the things that a book must have (one sentence summary, one paragraph summary, a plan…) and it’s a step by step, encouraging, hand-holding method.

He made some software and I bought it and I’m using it. Plus Randy’s website is fun to navigate and FULL of resources.

I made my publisher pay for the software and the Willamette Writer dues.
Which was pretty satisfying until I remembered that my publisher was me.


self publishing advice for social media peacocks

Social Media, in my eyes, is a dazzle of alluring content… all looking back at me with big blue eyes. Where do I start with it all?

As an author, I am a self publisher because I want to sell my book… and write and sell more books. Because I want to make a living at it.
It’s important to keep telling myself this so that I can stay focused on WHY I am doing all of this… the website, and the research, and the learning, and the contacting people, and the blogging…
Especially as I start reaching out into the noisy, distracting, alluring, challenging, fast moving, and fast changing world of social media.

My purpose for using social media is the same for any other business… to get my product and brand to more and more and more people. And to create a dialog with my customers – which enhances everything I want to do with my business. It’s more than traditional marketing, because the responses from people through the medium of social media will influence how I do business. It’s modern marketing… it’s relationship building.

And now that I have my purpose firmly in mind… I’m ready to take the plunge,
But there are HUNDREDS of social media sites… literally.
So I will start with the ones with the biggest market share… because there my efforts will reach the most people.

I’ll start with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pintrest.

The determination of who has the biggest market share is big business in the big business world, and in June 2012 Forbes Magazine said that Experian Marketing Services said that Pintrest was #3. But SEOmoz doesn’t yet agree, and I like their approach better. But more than all that… Facebook and Twitter are undeniably number 1 and 2 and they are pretty easy to get started. LinkedIn is where I’m supposed to be spending a lot of time polishing my resume to get or keep a real job. And YouTube is movies… I can make movies. Pintrest is on my list and it’s important, but it’s a brain bender because it is a totally new social media approach.

I’m an author. I’m a writer. It’s not a stretch to imagine that I’m kind of an introvert. The social media work is challenging for me – both to understand for my business, and to take the plunge and interact. It’s also so very very tempting to go clicking away for hours as I see bright shiny object after shark-eating-whale-carcass clip… (just. so. tempting.)…. and I’ve noticed that this effort is one of the things offered by self publishing helper companies. They offer to establish your platform on some of the major sites, populate it with your content, and link you up with the right kind of groups and people. And that might be worth the money. I won’t suggest any helper companies by name because I haven’t tried them… have you?

I’ve got to Do It Myself because that’s part of my mission. Do it, learn it, understand it… but
…. those shark videos……… so distracting.


Cloyce Joseph Tippett Wendelins Basketball Team

Maybe somewhere in the photos lurks inspiration for the title. Like… why isn’t my grandfather dressed out? “The Aviator Who Didn’t Dress Out…” hmmmm

As a self publisher, I have the delightful burden of choosing a title for my book.

If I had a book deal with a traditional publisher, this would probably be out of my hands, and also out of my control. Usually, the idea that such an important issue for my book would be out of my control makes me glad to be a self publisher. But not this time. Choosing a title for a book can be a hard slog.

The title for my first book, Just a Couple of Chickens, came easily. It was a family catch phrase during the whole time we were struggling with over 101 infant poultry that arrived from my online catalog order.

“I thought you said you’d ordered just a couple of chickens,” my husband kept saying.

The sequel to that book, which is currently underway, has also come easily.

“Just a couple more?” asked Andrew. “Just a couple more what? Not chickens, right?”

But for my grandfather’s aviation history biography, I’m stumped. It’s got a working title of “CJT, A Biography” because my grandfather is Cloyce Joseph Tippett and it’s a biography. Riveting start. He was such a pioneer in the history of aviation, I must be able to do better than that.

I’ve compiled a list of book title building tips from my research here-there-and-everywhere, and I’ll post again once I’ve successfully found out how to choose a title for my book.

 Here is what the experts suggest to help me choose a title for my book, and I’m going to try each approach:

  •  Write down everything I can think of and everything everyone suggests
  •  Search the genre in amazon and see what other titles there are for other similar books
  •  Sum up my book in one sentence. Write several of these sentences.
  •  Choose a detail of the book and name the book after that detail.
  •  Check out Google keywords on the topic and zero in on the best keywords
  •  Make a list of nouns and verbs that reflect the book topic, then cut them up and line them up in different combinations
  •  Have a 92 character limit, so that it’ll fit in the  Books In Print catalog
  •  List my chapter titles, maybe the title is lurking there
  • Read the book and write down any sentences or paragraphs that capture your title imagination
  •  Sleep on it. Literally, have the title list under my pillow and sleep on it.

(That last tip suits me best. If there’s something I’m good at, it’s sleeping!)  I’ll keep you posted!


Self Publishing Advice shoots for the moon

Self Publishing isn’t as hard as putting a man on the moon… but it’s still a LOT of work.


Here’s the plain truth. Self publishing is a LOT of work.

And the rewards can be as big as you can imagine, but are more often just under the rewards of traditional publishing…. who are all claiming to be on the brink of going-out-of-business.

As long as an author keeps the ISBN number in his or her own name, it is still Self Publishing, even if the author hires out all the editing, book design, cover, upload and marketing. But hiring it out can cost more than the book will reasonably earn… unless the author hits the big jackpot we all dream of.

And this is why I keep coming back to the suggestion of putting out more than one book, or a series, or a sequel, or a lifetime of book after book. Because doing it once is the biggest effort. Doing it again uses all of the prior work. Doing it yet again begins to make it worth it.

Once I have my first book design, I can use that as a template for the next book. Once I’ve learned the process of ISBN, Copyright, LCCN, Books In Print… I can do it again. Once I have a website, I can make a page for my new book. I can repeat my marketing efforts.

Producing a book on our own is big work if we are going to try hard to combat the main critique of self publishing, which is that self published books are poorly produced. But it can pay off. People are doing it.

But it doesn’t make money very fast, and the whole-lot-of-work doing it means that I am not writing my book when I am busy self publishing it. I think this needs to be said, needs to be taken into consideration, in any discussion of self publishing.

These are the elements of DIY self publishing that will take time, work, and sometimes – whenever there is no alternative – money:

  • Establishing a business (this isn’t hard or complicated, but it does have to be legally done. Sole proprietorship, licensed, with a name… don’t use your own name so you have flexibility…)
  • Editing, Designing, Producing a finished book
  • Paying for or DIY creating a cover and title and cover text
  • Uploading and/or printing an inventory of books
  • Marketing, getting reviews, getting distribution
  • Learning wordpress and creating a website… and set up your keywords properly… and make sure you are set up to catch passive income off your website..
  • Following through… (ebooks… make it into an ebook or start with an ebook…)
  • Writing the next book and doing it all over again

So which parts are you going to do yourself, and which are you going to hire out?
Do you have a choice?
If you have more ideas than you have money, then you are probably destined to do-it-yourself, and self publish in every sense of the word.

And this is a LOT of work, but it is not impossible. The how-to information is all out there on the web, and the costs involved for true DIY are less than a week of groceries… (depending on your culinary habits). (um, not including a short print run…)

I’m fessin’ up here… it’s a big effort. But I’m encouraging too… it’s not impossible. You can do it. Step by step and don’t give up… and write really good books.


Mars Curiosity Image of Rover Wheel

The Back Tire of the Mars Rover, “Curiosity” sent within minutes of touchdown.

How uber-cool is NASA’s live feed of the Mars Rover “Curiosity” touchdown?  Mega UBER-cool… as was the substitution of a hover craft (wha, sky crane is more accurate?) for the bouncing ball tech of the last touchdowns… also successful, but what, less precise?  AND Curiosity sent back images right away…. of her own back tire.

Okay, still an UBER COOL back tire!

And another image…. of her own shadow,

Okay, her shadow on MARS!

And then NASA’s websites crashed.
The touchdown was a success…
but the websites all crashed.

But then they came up again….

Curiosity's Shadow On The Surface Of Mars.

Who hasn’t taken a picture of her own shadow? On Mars!

And anyway, I already had my pics of their pics…. the ultimate in public domain,

I hope.




Self Publishing Advice Duckling

What is Short Run Printing? What? What IS it?

Short Run Printing is a small (short) order of printed hard copy books (usually paperback, but could refer to hard cover) produced by a professional printing company. Short run printing is important to self publishers because it is the main way we can get a physical inventory of our books to sell at a profit. Traditional publishers usually order big numbers of books at a time, more than 5,000, and that’s how they get the books for a low enough price to be able to make a profit selling them in bookstores or anywhere else.

Before Print On Demand came around, small presses had to rely on short run printing to bring a book to market.  Now most self publishers can get a very good start with print on demand – having very small stocks of books on hand. But with enough sales volume, self publishers quickly look to short run printing to provide more inventory at a price that makes room for profitable sales.

As the self publisher, you write and create and design the book and have a final file of book interior and cover ready, then you work with a book printer to produce anywhere from 500 to 5,000 books. Some printers won’t do less than 1000. The cost per book goes down when the print order goes up. More and more traditional book printers are willing to do short runs in our current economy, when before it was not worth their time to work with the smaller orders and less experienced publishers.

We used Worzalla for the second short run printing of “Just A Couple Of Chickens” and were VERY pleased. And they did have to take more time to work with us, since we were less experienced as publishers. They were very patient… (…headsup the proof is called a blueline and it comes to you uncut and if you find a typo that late in the process it’s going to take a couple of hundred dollars to fix…)

I deeply believe in buying American, so I didn’t even consider a printer in China. With rising gas prices worldwide and rising basic wages in China, that competition is beginning to change – but regardless, I believe it is important to our economy to do our business here.

And that is Short Run Printing!


Self Publishing Advice Busy Bees

The editors at Writer Beware Blogs have been busy bees gathering important information for us writers.

The technology that has made self publishing possible has opened new possibilities for scammers. The industry is so new and so confusing that it’s way too easy to get caught in a scam. But writers are artists who create with their minds – using words as their medium, and we are not helpless marks.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, with support from the Mystery Writers of America formed a Committee on Writing Scams and They Have An Excellent Blog.

As a self publisher, you will use one of the dozens of print on demand companies out there to produce your book and make it available for sale online, but you should be very aware of the fees they are charging. As a true self publisher, you will be using your time more than your bank account. There are basic fees you can’t get around, like the cost of a business license, ISBN number (don’t accept the free one – buy your own to be your own publisher), and proof copy of the book… but you shouldn’t be paying extra to get the book on, for instance. If you choose the right print-on-demand company, there’s just the royalty schedule and distribution channel choices.

I use CreateSpace and I’m happy with them… and LightingSource is highly recommended also, and although each of these companies offers service packages so that you can pay to have things done that you can do yourself… I suggest you only do that if you would rather pay the money and save the time, not because you think you have to pay for it.

Do it yourself self publishing takes an enormous amount of time and learning – but it does NOT take an enormous amount of cash.
You also may not make an enormous amount of cash doing it… but then again, you might!


Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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