GENREALITY

Archive for 'details'



Monday, July 16th, 2012 by Carrie Vaughn
“Snapshot” of My Desk at the Moment

You’ve probably been able to infer from all of our posts over the years that being a working writer involves a lot of, well, work.  But “work” is abstract.  “I’m busy,” we all say.  “You know — work.”  Work meaning the thing that most of our lives are focused on that is necessary to put food on our table and booties on our feet.  For the working writer, what does “work” look like on a day to day, week to week basis?

Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve got on my front burners right now — the work of a full-time writer in concrete rather than abstract terms.

  • I just finished the rough draft of the twelfth Kitty novel.  I have a couple of things to clean up, then I’ll send it to my editor at the end of the month.  So it’s still technically sitting on my desk.
  • I’m now working on the sequel to my superhero novel, After the Golden Age.  I’m about 30,000 words in and trucking along, so I’m pouring a lot of wordage into it for the moment.
  • I’m in the middle of writing a new short story in my Harry and Marlowe steampunk series.  I put it aside to work on the new novel, but I really need to pick it up again and finish it. I probably will when the novel hits a snag.
  • In two weeks, the next Kitty novel, Kitty Steals the Show, will be out.  Promotion is taking up quite a bit of time right now.  My publisher set up a blog tour, so I’m spending an hour or so a day on interviews, guest posts, and updating my own online outlets. (Like this thing.)  I also have a handful of signings/appearances I need to prepare for.  I’m avoiding looking at the book’s Amazon page.  (No, really…)
  • Correspondence:  “Catch up on e-mail” is almost always on my to-do list.  Sending updated biographies to editors, responding to requests for short story reprints, answering random questions, following up on various leads, etc.  (This is the kind of thing that ends up aggravating me, because it really only takes a few minutes a day, but I end up putting it off and avoiding it, which makes it much more stressful than it really needs to be.)
  • I have three short story rough drafts that need fairly heavy revision.  I might end up taking these with my when I travel to Alabama for a family reunion in a couple of weeks.  So I’m not really working on these, but I’m thinking of them.  One story is promised to an anthology, due in January, so I’ve got time.
  • I’m in the very early stages of thinking about/outlining a short story I’ve promised to another anthology, also due in January.  I know what the story is about and I have a rough outline, but because it’s going to be a historical piece set in World War II, I have some research to do first.  I’ve got the books out, but I haven’t read them yet.  I’ll keep thinking about this and reading the research until I get a critical mass of “story stuff” in my head that’s ready to pour out.

This doesn’t include all the projects on my back burners, like the stories I want to write and the YA space opera that’s half finished and so on and so on…   Really, this is a pretty average work load for me.  It’s not too bad — I don’t have any galleys or copyedits waiting to be reviewed at the moment.  I have maybe more rough drafts than usual needing attention, which gets frustrating.  The book promotion is the only overwhelming thing I’m doing right now, and it’ll be over in about a month.  By then, my late summer/fall convention season will begin.  So if it’s not one thing, it’s another, which is pretty normal in the writing life.  And really, I love that I always have something work on.  Work = never boring.

Monday, February 13th, 2012 by Carrie Vaughn
In Which I, Just Now, Come Up with a Story

A story can’t just be about a cool idea.  It has to be about the implications of the cool idea — what does it mean, who does it affect, and how?  Many writers talk about how ideas are cheap — ideas are the easy part. (Though a talent for coming up with truly wacky, out-there ideas that no one has ever seen before is a treasure.  A person with this talent must still find ways to express such ideas in a way that interests other people.) I think this is true.  I have notebooks filled with ideas — scrawled notes, a paragraph or two of description, a character sketch that must have seemed marvelous when I wrote it down.  But without a story to hang the idea on?  It stays in the notebook.

How to do that?  How to take that strange, funny idea, big or small — What if my dog could talk?  What if everyone under the age of ten suddenly vanished? — and turn it into a story?  Not just a story, but a story that other people want to read?  (I’ve started telling myself that writing is easy.  It’s writing things that other people want to read that’s the hard part.  It’s the difference between being a hobbyist and being a professional.  If I want to be a professional, I can’t forget about my audience.)

When I’m turning an idea into a story, I try to find the character:  who would be most affected by this story?  In the idea above — what if everyone under the age of ten vanished — the obvious choice is the mother of one of these vanished children.  But what if I didn’t take the obvious route?  What if I chose a father as my main character?  Or the childless local police detective who’s set on the case?  Oh, doesn’t that feel fraught?  And that’s how the story grows.  I start with a limitless number of paths leading away from the idea, and I travel down the one that rings a little crystal bell in my brain that says this is the one, this is the story I want to tell.

The story is about that childless police detective who suddenly finds herself living in a childless world.  Of course she must discover what happened to the children, and as the writer I must make decisions about what happened to the children, how they return, or if they return.  And there’s another crystal bell:  maybe the children don’t return.  The story takes place ten years later, and the mystery has never been solved.  New children have been born, but there’s an entire generation — now aged ten to twenty — missing.  Junior high and high schools lay silent.  Colleges are faced with a decade of empty dorm rooms.  What will Texas do without high school football?  And so on.  Maybe that’s the story:  have people picked up and moved on?  Is the detective still working on the case?  How does she move through this world with no teenagers?  Now my story isn’t about the idea, it’s about my character:  what does she want?  How does she grow and change?  What conflict is she dealing with?  How does that conflict resolve?  Maybe she solves the mystery of the lost children — but it doesn’t resolve her personal conflicts the way she thought it would.  Maybe she doesn’t solve the mystery, but finds an unexpected peace despite this.  I’ll probably need another plot twist — someone from a federal agency she’s been working with or against, an external disaster that prompts my character to action.

At this point, I start to encounter what the story is really about:  coping with loss, with an unsolved mystery, with survivor’s guilt, with failure.  I need to start thinking of the scenes that will best show all this, and draw the reader into this rather horrifying world.  Maybe the original story starts to change — maybe it’s only children five and younger who vanish.  Maybe that would best illustrate the story I want to tell.  Or maybe I should make it worse — children under fifteen.  Maybe I need two main characters — one who lost a child and one who didn’t — to best illustrate themes I want to portray.

In the course of writing, I’ll circle back to the idea again and again.  Both the story and the idea will evolve.  By the time I’m done, the original idea that started the whole thing will most likely be invisible, because the heart of the story — my characters and how they deal with loss and a changed world — will be the real reason people want to read it.

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 by Sasha White
Guest: Yasmine Galenorn

New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn writes urban fantasy for Berkley: both the Otherworld/Sisters of the Moon Series for Berkley and the Indigo Court urban fantasy series. In the past, she wrote mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, and nonfiction metaphysical books.

Yasmine has been in the Craft for over 30 years, is a shamanic witch, and describes her life as a blend of teacups and tattoos. She lives in Kirkland WA with her husband Samwise and their cats. Yasmine can be reached via her website at www.galenorn.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Success can change some people, but it hasn’t changed Yasmine. When I met her she was already a multi-published author with Berkley, but she’d just sold the first three books of her Sisters Of The Moon series and was super excited about it. When I heard the concept, I understood why so it was no surprise when the series put her on multiple Bestseller lists. The series is still going strong, and Yasmine is still an intelligent and awesome woman. Please welcome her as today’s Guest Blogger.

Paranormal Experience—When Life Intrudes on Fiction?

Thanks to Sasha for inviting me here to blog! I’m Yasmine Galenorn and I write two series for Berkley—both urban fantasy: The Otherworld Series, and The Indigo Court Series. I used to write mysteries and metaphysical nonfiction. My newest release—Courting Darkness, comes out on November 1st. It’s book ten in the Otherworld Series.

People often ask me just how much I use of my real-life paranormal experiences in my fiction. Well…first—yes, I am a shamanic witch—I’ve been in the Craft for over 30 years. No, I’m not Wiccan. I follow a different path. I started out my “official” publishing career by writing eight metaphysical books before breaking into fiction with Berkley. I had written seven novels and—after hundreds of rejections—hid them in the closet before I received my first contract for the nonfiction. And yes, they’re still there.

So, when people ask me about the merging of my paranormally-focused reality with my fiction, there’s really no easy answer.

In my perception, life itself is a paranormal experience. Every inch of my life is touched by my spiritual path, every aspect of nature seems magical to me. Science and magic blend in a mystical dance in my world. And yet…this paranormal white noise exists mainly in the background, a part of my very being without always being on the surface. So how does it color my stories?

In my first mystery series—the Chintz ‘n China series—Emerald O’Brien was the town witch—she was psychic and accepted her abilities as normal and natural. And some of her experiences had their foundation in things I’ve experienced, but to turn an interesting tidbit into a great story, I exaggerate and change what happened. For example—Mr. Big & Ugly from Ghost of a Chance was a composite of several nasty spirits I’ve encountered, although amped up quite a bit. So those experiences became the skeleton on which I built the rest of the body. Because reality, while fascinating, doesn’t always make for the best of fiction.

And the entire plot for A Harvest of Bones stemmed from a terrifying incident where two of our cats got loose (they’ve always been indoor-onlies). Somehow, the combination of losing the gurlz (and subsequently finding days later, both alive and relatively unscathed, thankfully), a picture of an autumn path, and the poem The Lady of Shalott, all merged in my mind to create the plot for the book.

Once I started writing the Otherworld Series, (aka—the Sisters of the Moon series), I totally let loose. Based in the genre of urban fantasy, this series has much of its foundation in my study of various mythologies of the world, as well as the ravings of my own warped imagination. What personal paranormal experiences there are, are exacerbated to be almost unrecognizable because of the very nature of the genre. And, after ten books, I have gone farther afield for inspiration. But there are snippets of my reality tucked away in the pages…you just may never know what they are.

With the Indigo Court Series—two books in, I have entered the realm of dark fantasy, verging on horror, and while the monsters are out of my imagination, a great deal of the magic is based on the way I perceive my shamanic witchcraft—only, once again, exacerbated. I very much view the entire world as a magical place, with a spirit inhabiting just about every living thing.

I’ve been asked before how much of personal experience to infuse into the work—and to that, I can only answer, “As much as you need to, with care and thought.” When you insert your experience into your books, unless it’s nonfiction, the writing must seem seamless—as if the incidents were created specifically for the story, not plundered from real life.

Author intrusion can be a big problem. It removes the reader from the story and makes them too aware of the storyteller. But if the experience truly fits the story, then by all means use it. Just make certain to take it out of reality and tailor it to be part of the character’s life. How you do that will depend on the voice of your narrative, on the pattern of your writing and characterization—there’s no one-answer-fits-all. When in doubt, run the scene by a trusted writing friend to see if it feels contrived, or if it sucks them in.

So, to answer the question: Do my personal encounters with the paranormal influence my writing and show up in my novels? The answer is yes, they provide inspiration. And no—because in the novels they are changed beyond recognition.

I’ll be giving away a $10 Amazon or BN.com gift card to one person who leaves me a comment or question here before Friday the 28th. Winner will be contacted by my assistant on the 1st of November (Courting Darkness’s release day—and there was much rejoicing!!!!). Make sure you leave your email addy with your comment/question for me to contact you if you’re interested in entering!

Yasmine

Courting Darkness (book 10 of The Otherworld Series)
November 1, 2011 * ISBN: 978-05150070

We’re the D’Artigo sisters: sexy, savvy ex-operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. But being half-human, half-Fae means our powers go haywire at all the wrong times. My sister Delilah is a Death Maiden and werecat who belongs to the Autumn Lord. My sister Menolly is a vampire who’s dating a gorgeous werepuma, and the godfather of the undead-set. And me? I’m Camille, Priestess of the Moon Mother, married to a dragon, a youkai, and a Svartan. But my dragon father-in-law has decided that he doesn’t like having me for a member of the family…
It’s Winter Solstice, and Aeval welcomes me into her Court of Darkness. With Morio still dangerously weak from his injuries and Vanzir alive only thanks to my silence, the thought of training under Morgaine doesn’t seem as daunting as it did. But then, Hyto returns to shatter my life. Captured and swept off to the Dragon Reaches, can I manage to stay alive long enough to escape, even as Smoky’s father intends to break my spirit, then my body?

Print, Kindle, Powell’s, SeattleMystery.com, BAM, B & N

Monday, October 10th, 2011 by Carrie Vaughn
“This should be a novel.”

So there you are, you’ve written a short story.  Short stories don’t come naturally to you, but you worked for weeks on this one, writing and rewriting, condensing and cutting, and you did it.  Then you turned it in to your critique group.  And the most common comment you get back is:  “You should turn this into a novel.”

And you rail and rant to yourself, because you’re already working on three novels, and have another three in the trunk, you don’t have time or brain space to start another, and you really really want to sell some short stories, for the experience and to try for some kind of publishing credit while shopping your three novels around, and in despair you wonder:  Am I really a born novelist?  Am I really not capable of writing a short story?

Well.  I happen to think that everyone can write short stories.  You may naturally gravitate to novel length, but I believe it behooves you to work at other lengths as well.  It’s a skill you can learn, with practice.

If you get the comment, “You should turn this into a novel,” I don’t think it means that you really should turn it into a novel.  It means you’ve packed too much information into a short story, and the scope of your story may be too wide.  Your options are — sure, go ahead and turn it into a novel; or start cutting, not words, but stuff. Characters, backstory, setting.  Narrow your focus.  You may be trying to build an entire city when maybe you need to work on a street, or a room — or maybe even just a wall.

If the story requires numerous characters, and that the reader know all the characters’ back stories (their families, their tragedies, and so on), it’s probably the wrong story to fit in 5,000 or so words.  So, what does a five thousand word story look like?  It’s a moment in time, it’s one decision or event that changes a character’s life.  It’s a slice of life.  It’s a telephoto, not wide-angle lens.

One of the things that prompts a “this should be a novel” critique is a preponderance of details without explanation:  names, events, flashbacks, hints of backstory that make the reader think that there’s far more going on than what’s on the page.  Now, I personally think this is one of the brilliant things about short stories, that there’s usually so much going on between the lines.  But there’s a danger that your story has crossed a line into summary rather than a dramatic portrayal of an event.  If the story leaves the reader confused and asking too many questions, the story may be trying to cover too much ground.

Ask yourself:  What’s the seed that inspired the story in the first place?  Is it an image?  A character?  Is there a way to focus on that seed with just a few characters, and just a moment in time, requiring no back story?  Put boundaries up around the idea:  it’ll take place in just a day, or maybe even just an hour.  Pick one problem or struggle to depict, not a whole series of problems.  Don’t look at these boundaries as limitations, but as challenges.

You can’t tell an epic struggle to regain the throne in a short story.  But you can show an episode in the life of a man struggling to match the expectations placed on him by his legendary father (a confrontation with his father’s greatest admirer, perhaps).  Or the immediate aftermath of a tragedy.  Or a plan that doesn’t go as planned — the fallout of a magical spell gone awry, for example.  The purpose of a short story isn’t necessarily to tell an epic, all-encompassing tale, but to give the reader an intense reading experience.  It can be a chance to focus on emotion and immediacy in a way that an intricately plotted, fast-paced novel can’t.

Monday, August 1st, 2011 by Carrie Vaughn
Taking Notes on Captain America

**Spoilers Ahoy!**

I loved the movie, and I’ve been loving hearing people talk about it.  Everyone has a favorite moment or three, and what’s fascinating to me is that the favorite moments are almost all quiet character moments.  Or a small action that reveals character.  The film is chock full of them.  When Dr. Erskine asks, “Do you want to kill Nazis?” and Steve says, “I don’t want to kill anyone, I just don’t like bullies.”  When Steve throws himself on the grenade at boot camp.  When everyone keeps telling pre-super serum Steve that he can’t fight, he isn’t strong enough, and he’ll die if he goes to fight, and they’re full of pity and compassion.  The trick with the flagpole.  The conversation Erskine and Steve have the night before the procedure, when Erskine explains that he wanted a test subject who would understand the value of strength, and compassion (that’s my own personal favorite scene).  Then that heartbreaking, terrible, poignant moment right before the credits roll.  A single line of dialog, so full of emotion.

These are the moments people remember.  These are what can make a story great.  The whole movie could have been so cliché and ridiculous, but it was played with so much heart and honesty.  They — the filmmakers, actors — kept it simple and to the point.  Show the audience who Steve Rogers is, so they’ll cheer for the Captain later.  We won’t remember the action sequences, we’ll remember the character.  At least, that’s how it should be.

It’s making me think about my own work.  What are the strong character moments?  Are they the right ones?  Are they memorable or redundant?  Does the dialog pop as strongly as it could?  Have I simplified?  Am I showing the essence of the scene, or am I cluttering it up with extraneous details?

Another thing I loved about the movie:  I thought I knew where the story would end.  I knew the Captain America story enough to make a guess:  he’d be found in the ice, frozen but alive.  I thought we’d end there, roll credits.  But the film went a scene further, to show Steve waking up in a fake hospital room.  And again, there’s a character moment that shows us exactly who he is — he’s got brains, he’s going to use them, and he’s going to fight as hard as he has to to figure things out.  I love that his super strength is a tool, and not his identity.  Then we get the scene I didn’t know I wanted:  Steve Rogers realizing he’s traveled 70 years into the future, and that his whole world has changed.  It was gorgeous, and I wasn’t expecting it.

I keep playing the before and after of that moment out in my mind, and I think that’s the sign of a great scene.  It’s so powerful and true to the story, it implies whole stretches of action around it.  But I think the filmmakers showed us only exactly what we needed.  They got in late and got out early, cut out everything that wasn’t necessary.  So while I’m to the point where I could watch these characters eating pancakes and be happy just spending time with them, the film did the right thing — first by going a scene further than I expected, then getting out quickly.

So a couple of lessons here:  show the scene that may be hard to pull off, that your audience isn’t expecting.  But do it quickly, and don’t show any more than you need to.

Monday, May 23rd, 2011 by Carrie Vaughn
Hiding the Football

I spent all last week at a writing workshop/retreat (and had a lovely time, but the mountain location meant three days of snow.  Crazy!).  The term “hiding the football” was discussed, and now I’m going to discuss it with you.

Here’s a rough description of the most egregious example of hiding the football I’ve ever encountered:  The novel was in first-person point of view.  The protagonist discovered an important piece of information — the secret identity of one of the antagonists.  The text showed this by having the protagonist state something like, “Oh my God, I knew who he really was!”  Then the chapter ended.  I eagerly turned the page, thinking the next page would tell me what the hero had discovered.  Oh no — the hero spent the entire next chapter talking about how he had to tell another character what he had discovered.  And when he told the other character, did he reveal the identity to me?  Oh no again.  The text stated:  “I told her.  ‘Oh my God!’ she said.”  It wasn’t until the next chapter that the protagonist finally revealed what he had discovered.

And that’s “hiding the football:”  deliberately hiding a crucial piece of information that the protagonist/narrator knows from the reader.  As with most writing “rules,” a really good writer can make it work.  But often, the effect falls flat.

This writer (and many others) mistakenly thought that by not revealing the crucial piece of information, he could entice his readers to continue reading in order to discover it.  Instead, readers are so disgusted by this obvious manipulation, they stop reading.  At least, I did.

Counterintuitively, hiding information from the reader is not a good way to generate suspense.  Instead, hiding information often generates confusion and frustration.  If the protagonist knows it, the reader knows it.  Or should know it.  Suspense comes from finding out what the protagonist will do with that information.  If the protagonist knows something, and the author deliberately hides it from the reader, suddenly revealing that information won’t surprise the reader — because we know you’ve been hiding something from us.

Revealing information to the reader can actually increase suspense.  In the above example, imagine what would have happened if the protagonist had simply stated what he had discovered:  I would have experienced a moment of shock right along with him.  And I would have kept reading to find out how his partner would react to the information.  And kept reading after that to find out what he would do with that information.  That’s where the real suspense ought to lie — not in the information itself, but in what the information does to the plot.

Here’s an example of what revealing information can do to a story that I’ve heard attributed to the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock:

  • In one version of a story, we see two people sitting across from each other on a train.  They talk for several minutes.  Suddenly, a bomb that was hidden under the seat goes off!
  • In a second version, we see a man in a black coat look inside a package, which holds dynamite and a ticking timer.  He hides the package under the seat of a train car and sneaks quickly away.  Two people enter the train and sit down on that very same seat.  They talk for several minutes…while we wait for the bomb to go off.

Which version is more suspenseful?  You should have answered the second version!  And that’s how disclosing information to the reader can generate more suspense than hiding information.

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 by Sasha White
Rock My World.

Over the past year or more we’ve been hearing more and more about self-publishing. Joe Konrath has been a force behind the message that we authors can have so much more control, and income, if we override the conditioning of Big Publishing and take control of our own careers. That’s not to say that traditional publishing is bad. I’m not against it in any way, and will still be pursuing it. But I’m also smart enough to know that options are never a bad thing.

In October I dipped my toes into the whole self-publishing pool with MEANDROS. I’d promised to keep y’all up to date on how it went, but have really posted nothing about it since because it’s been very slow moving.

Meandros is a short story just over 5k long. It’s been previously published, and it was also a free read on my website and scribd for a year or so, so I didn’t really expect a lot of sales. But I thought why not, let’s get it out there. I put out some coin to get it re-edited, and formatted and got a nice new cover. I put it up for 99 cents, because that’s the lowest price Amazon allows.

Here’s the stats of what’s happened with that book so far.

* In the four and a half months it’s been for sale, I’ve only sold 1 copy through Smashwords, and 150 through Amazon.

* Sales went up when readers posted reviews.

* Changing the blurb didn’t help sales. Although this could be because my story is about how the main character deals with the death of the love of her life, and I refused to hide that fact in the blurb. It was suggested to me I take that out, to sell the story, but I didn’t think that was cool. I didn’t want to mislead readers

I’m okay with slow sales on that story. Of course I want it to sell lots. I’m human and I want to keep working as a writer, but that particular story is a very personal one, and I really just wanted it to be available to as many readers as possible.

Author Jordan Summers has also been dipping into the Indie Publishing arena by re-releasing some of her backlist, and talks about it openly on her blog. So far she’s released one novella and one category length book, and states that she made a little under $100 in the first month. A few of the sales are from Smashwords and B&N, but the majority are from Amazon. Jordan’s done no promotion beyond her own blog because she wanted to see what would happen if she just put the books out there. Would people find them on their own?

It seems that many of us are not only seeing this as a way to re-release backlists, or short stories that connect to our books, or even new stuff, but also as way to really see what works with readers. We can see what works promotion wise, too. I know I noticed a bump in sales when readers started posting reviews on Amazon, and Jordan confirmed that she saw the same thing.

With that in mind, I went forward with a project with another author. Charlene Teglia and I decided to do an anthology together. We used the theme of rocks or stones of mystical value (ROCK MY WORLD is my story) and we each wrote a short story that connected to our previous print books. Because Charlene’s was paranormal, I chose to write one connected to my own paranormals that were published by Kensington, and not my Berkley contemporaries.

The idea of it is that our fans will buy the book because it’s connected, and hopefully new readers will enjoy the eBook so much they’ll hunt down the print books they’re connected to.

CTSW_ARockandaHardPlace

A Rock & A Hard Place had it’s official release yesterday, and is now on sale for 99 cents through Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble.

Below are some tips from me to anyone out there wanting to go the Indie Publishing route.

*When it comes to formatting…hire a professional. Save yourself time and stress.
Also, when getting the file ready to send to the formatter…Keep it as simple as possible.
Page breaks are okay. Italics and bold are good, but beyond that, there’s no need to format your file a lot. The person who formats it for publication has to break it down and completely reformat it anyway. However, you can make their job easier and smoother by giving them a clean and simple file to work with.

When asked about how she charges for formatting April Martinez of Graphic Fantastic gave me this list

Long Fiction: $30 for the first file, $10 for each additional format
Anthologies of three or more stories: $50 minimum (more if number of stories or authors exceed 5) for the first file, $10 for each additional format. If the ebook file needs to have Interior Illustrations (including diagrams for non-fiction or covers for excerpt books): additional $5 per image embedded (assuming all images are provided by author(s))

April says, “So far, length hasn’t really made much of a difference in either ebook formatting or for print book design. If anything does make a difference, it’s more likely to be the number of chapters or the number of sections or, say, stories in an anthology. This is because where there’s a hard page break, it’s usually the start of a new file — so the more chapters/sections/stories, the more “files” there are in an ebook and in a print book, and the more “entries” there are that refer to them in a table of contents.”

This shows that it’s not so much about the number of words when it comes to formatting, but the work involved..books with more work (Sections, or excerpts, or images that need to be embedded) will cost more to format.

Also…be sure to include the legalese in the front, and your bio in the back. It’s not up to the formatter to complete your file, only to format what you send them.
If you have any specific requests, (a table of contents, or embedded links) be sure to mention them at the same time you send the file in.
When you get your file back, be sure to check them over right away. You’ll likely get a chance to ask for tweaks if there’s something off, but only if you do so right away.

Smashwords was fairly simple to upload to. Step by step, instructions. One thing we did by accident was not check off the ePub version because we wanted to upload our book to B&N via PubIt. That was a mistake, as the ePub version is also what they use for the iBook store and Sony. We waited until the file was published, then went back in and redid it. It wasn’t a huge hassle, but it was a step that we could’ve avoided. Plus, having to republish set our book back in the line for the premium catalogue, a delay thats not really wanted when the goal is to get the book out in as many venues as soon as possible.

*Side note* Smashwords has a fabulous step-by-step guide on formatting your file for them. It seems easy. It wasn’t. I formatted MEANDROS for Smashword myself (The guy I hired for that one only gave me Mobi and EPub files, I didn’t know enough to ask for a word doc) I followed the steps. Everyone of them, and MEANDROS is till no even in the line-up to go to the premium catalogue because they keep saying it’s not formated right. So, I highly recommend hiring someone. )

Kindle also had step-by-step instructions that made publishing fairly easy. The thing we screwed up on there has to do with pricing. You see, we uploaded the story to all three places (B&N, Amazon, Smashwords on Thursday, and decided to wait until it was available on three before we announced the Sale and Giveaway we planned. We figure it was a better way to make an event out of the release. With this in mind we set the price at $2.99 when uploaded, figuring we could change it to 99 cents for the sale on our official release day Monday) On Sunday night Charlene went in to change the price so the sale could start. The change on Smashwords was immediate. B&N took an hour or so, Amazon took over 12 hours. So, next time, we’re not going to worry about co-ordinating and surprising with a sale, we’ll just put sale price in initially. LOL

B&N PubIt. Me, I didn’t bother putting Meandros up on there before because at that time it wasn’t worth it for the experiment I was doing. Charlene uploaded our anthology, and she cursed the whole time. She says “The real difficulty I ran into wasn’t the upload process, it was the account creation and verification. Also, the cover art requirements are different from Smashwords and Amazon, so it takes a separate file that fits their requirements exactly.”

I highly recommend these guys.

ImagineIf Creative Services by Michelle lauren
Editing, (three levels: proofreading, copy edits and substantive editing)

April Martinez of Graphic Fantastic
Fantastic cover design and graphic art as well as formatting for electronic as well as print publishing. *Did the cover for A Rock & A Hard Place* Visit

Anne Cain Graphic Art & Design
*Did my Mavericks Of Space cover not yet released*

And since I’m talking self-publishing, I just have to add that the news of Barry Eisler turning down a two book deal worth $500,000 to self-publish makes me wonder what’s next. While there is no denying this was a revolutionary move, it’s also one that make me wonder what this move means for those like me and Charlene, and Jordan, who aren’t NYT Bestsellers. How will it effect us if more “Big Name” authors follow in his footsteps? Will it effect us?

One thing is for certain, it’ll be along time before things are settled again in this industry.