Adventures in Self-Publishing – Why Write for Anthologies – Part 1

 

Why write for anthologies? Part 1

The first anthology I became involved with was A Splendid Salmagundi – put together from the UK based Goodreads group. They’d done one the year before and had some success with it. The royalties were fed back into the group for various uses – promotion and get-togethers for example. That wasn’t the point, however – it was a good way to get an author’s work in front of a new set of readers. Salmagundi was a mixed genre book – with everything from fantasy, to romance, to sci-fi, to mystery and beyond. I remember reading a heartbreaking story about a woman who was suffering from an incurable illness, and the tenderness her husband showed. That story touched me profoundly, as it wasn’t long after my own mother passed away. I cried. Some of the stories made me laugh, some I wasn’t as bothered with, but all were well crafted, and gave a good insight into the author’s style.

Not all the stories were for everyone – it depends on the reader’s tastes but there was bound to be something enjoyable, and that’s the point. A reader may take a chance of a short story from an author they aren’t familiar with – and enjoy their work.

Several groups write anthologies for charity – A Fifth of Boo! for example. I became involved with this one, and it’s predecessor through a writers’ Facebook Group. I usually see at least one anthology asking for submissions every couple of months. Now it’s not guaranteed your story would be accepted – some of the anthos have strict guidelines – but it’s worth a try.

For Boo! I wrote a ghost story based around the mysterious bunker at the site where I work.  It was a story wanting to be written every time I walked past that damn building. It is good fun to get involved with a genre outside my normal fantasy writing. It’s also great writing practice. Anthologies are a great way to find a home for those stories which pop up at 3am and don’t have a place in the main body of your work.

Single shorts are a hard sell – especially very short ones – after all, are you, a reader, going to pay 99p or 99c for a 500-word story? Probably not. You might pay for a collection of stories, however. And thus find a new author.

There is definitely a knack to writing shorts – after all the author has to introduce the characters and the world, get the action going and then conclude within a relatively short space. No flowery descriptions there, or protracted scenes.  I’ve read some super shorts and some crap ones, but that’s the same for novels. That said, I’m far more likely to persevere with a short than a novel I am not enjoying. There will be a post of writing short stories at a later date.

Anthologies are a great lunchtime read, or on the bus, or the half hour before sleep, or even on the toilet! All those times when a reader has a few minutes but not enough to get really involved.

Finding Anthologies

The places I’ve found anthologies:

Goodreads author groups, Facebook Groups (either via links or directly through the groups), word of mouth. Networking is a must for indie authors, and once you build these relationships it’s far easier to find this information. Indies tend to be supportive, but also needy (in the nicest way – it goes with the territory) and are often looking for people to join anthologies. Ask in groups, check online.

https://www.authorspublish.com

https://thejohnfox.com/publishers-of-short-story-collections/

https://www.mywordpublishing.com/2017/08/first-time-writers-self-publish-anthology/

https://www.janefriedman.com/getting-an-anthology-published/

 

 

 

 

 

.

Review – Green Men and White Swans – The Folklore of British Pub Names

3.5 Stars.

This book is a potted history and folklore of some of the names of British Pubs, past and present. Not every pub name is included – it depends on the origin of the name (and the ability to find out what it means).

Some of the names are odd, not obvious and many are reminiscent of attitudes long gone (Such as Quiet Woman – depicting a woman with no head, or wearing a scold’s bridle; or Nags Head – could also be sexist; Saracen’s Head or Black Boy – now viewed as racist.) In many cases the signs or names have been altered in our more enlightened times. Some of the pubs are old – they show which side a local landholder was on in the English Civil War, or whether they supported the Catholics or Protestants during the Reformation.

There are many mythical references – Unicorn, Green Man, Dragon, George and Dragon, Phoenix, etc. Not all in a locale directly related to that creature or hero – and some are named after ships, for example.

The snippets of local history and pride in that history are the most interesting aspect – and some of the references would be largely unknown outside a particular area.

A lot of research has been done for this book, and that shows.

The cons – there were a lot of formatting/typo errors, including a duplicate paragraph and the way certain aspects were laid out with specific topics interspersed did not work well as an ebook, as the formatting was all over the place.

Subject – 4 stars

Technical side – 3 stars.

 

Adventures in Self-Publishing – Part 1.1 – The Basics

(C)A L Butcher

I have been trying to think of useful and interesting posts to share in 2019. I love the interviews, and these will continue, but I’m going to try the ‘Adventures in Self-Publishing’ series of posts – detailing advice, pitfalls, highs and lows and upskilling.

When I read the KDP forums (that’s Kindle Direct Publishing – Amazon’s publishing system), it never ceases to amaze me the newbies who write a book (or occasionally scrape content from the internet, or upload a public domain book with barely any new changes) and then wonder why they aren’t the next Stephen King or JK Rowling.

I’ve posted up KDP advice before:

KDP: A Noob’s Guide

KDP: A Noob’s Guide Part 2

KDP: a Noob’s Guide Part 3

However there is a lot more on offer than just KDP, and a lot more to do that writing.

Most indie authors have little or no money to spend buying services or advertising – so the easiest way to get around this is to learn how to do these things yourself, network (really important), or trade skills.

I published my first book in 2012 (yep that long ago), and since then I have learned about many, many things.

Depending on your genre you may do research (I love research but I am easily distracted), but there is more to it. Unless you’re a wiz at everything (If so I hate you) then you’ll probably need to be proficient in the following:

Marketing, cover design, editing, networking, formatting. And that’s just the start. If you can write, then you can learn these things. It takes time, and patience.

Let me see in the 6 and  half years since Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles was published I have learned:

Networking (this is really important); editing (currently editing for Perseid Press so I can’t be that bad); cover design (I’m learning Photoshop); marketing; formatting; how to convert to Epub/Mobi etc; how to produce audiobooks; how to format for paperbacks; MSWord; Calibre, Book bundles. Not to mention courses on creative writing, grammar, historical fiction writing, copyrighting and lots of other fascinating (mostly) stuff.

If you are on a low budget then check around. Sites like the ones below are useful.

  • Living Social – offers bargain prices on courses. I got the Diploma in social media marketing and the Creative Writing Certificate for less than 20 GBP each, instead of several hundred pounds.
  • Udemy  – discounted online courses – currently using for Photoshop, and they have lots of writing/marketing based courses. You can pay full price but usually if you wait then a course will appear in the sale – for as little as $10 or $20. You can do them in your own time.
  • Coursera – mostly free but you can pay for the more advanced ones.

And there is You-tube of course.

Much of it comes with practice, but it’s not a simple case of writing a couple of hundred thousand words down and whacking it onto KDP (not that writing is simple – I’m not belittling the craft). None of the publishing sites which let authors publish for free will edit/format or promote the book. That’s the author’s job. It’s a steep learning curve.

Look out for more posts on Adventures in Self Publishing.

 

 

Guest Post – Self Publishing Platforms and Accessibility – by Victoria Zigler

Victoria Zigler is a prolific author, mostly of books for children and poetry. She has an impressive catalogue. She is also blind – and has visited the Library Of Erana in the past to discuss the accessibility (or otherwise) of publishing, reading and enjoying books. I’m pleased to welcome Tori back, where she discusses the issues of self-publishing on Amazon vs Smashwords.

Tori – over to you

“Which platform is best for self-publishing?”

It’s a question you’ve likely heard many, many times – one especially popular with people comparing Smashwords to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) – and one that will have a different answer, depending on who you ask, and what experiences they’ve had using one platform or the other.

Here’s another question for you though:

“Which platform is more accessible for visually impaired authors who rely on screen readers?”

This one may also come with different answers, depending on who you ask, and their personal experiences.  The screen reader and browser you use may make a difference too.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it does.

I’ve only ever used JAWS (Java Access With Speach) so can’t compare screen readers for you.  But I’m going to give you my opinion on which platform is more accessible if you use JAWS and Firefox, which is what I use.

Although, I can only answer it using a comparison of Smashwords and KDP, because I actually haven’t dealt directly with the other platforms.  My books may be on other retailers, such as Barnes & Noble and Kobo, but it’s because of distribution.  Something I’m very grateful exists, since it makes my life easier.  Actually, it makes things easier for a lot of people, and not just screen reader users.  But this post isn’t about distribution.  This post is about which publishing platform is more accessible for screen reader users using JAWS and Firefox.

So, what’s the answer?

The short answer is Smashwords.  They’re easier to navigate, having a less cluttered page.

Although, in all fairness to them, KDP do appear to have improved their accessibility a little.  So at least they aren’t as much of a headache to use as they were when I first started publishing, which was almost seven years ago now.  Navigation is still a little more difficult on KDP than it is on Smashwords though.  Still, any improvement helps.

Of course, there’s room for improvement on both.  There’s always room for improvement, no matter what we’re talking about.  Especially since whoever invented drop-down menus obviously hasn’t had to use a screen reader.  Then there’s how graphics happy everyone is these days…

You know, I think we should make it essential for every company’s technical department to have a team of visually impaired people whose jobs are just to check the accessibility of websites using different screen readers and browsers.  It would create more jobs, and improve accessibility for screen reader users at the same time.  It’s a win- win situation!

But, in the meantime, if I had to recommend either Smashwords or Amazon to someone, based on accessibility alone, I’d recommend Smashwords.

Unfortunately, a lot of people still prefer to go directly to Amazon for their eBooks, and you have to sell a lot of books to have your Smashwords books distributed to Amazon.  Something very few authors actually achieve.  That means your best chance of having your books listed on Amazon is to put them on there yourself.  So, as I’ve recently realized and accepted, you’re going to want to deal with both platforms.  At least, you are if you want all those people with Kindles to buy copies of your books.

***~~~***

About the author:

Victoria Zigler is a blind poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK, with her hubby and furkids.  Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’s wandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world.  She has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, and dabbles in them at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time.

To date, Tori has published nine poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the future.  She makes her books available in multiple eBook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio.  She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, which is available in eBook only.

Links:

Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk

Blog: https://ziglernews.blogspot.co.uk

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/toriz

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/victoriazigler

Google+: https://plus.google.com/106139346484856942827

 

Find Tori’s books on…

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/toriz

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Victoria-Zigler/e/B00BHS9DQ6/

…Along with a variety of other online retailers.

 

Audiobook Narrator Interview – Judith Bareham

*Name:   Judith Bareham

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I am  British born,  married to Jonathan (a Brit also) and mom of three children –( a daughter 23, and two boys 20 and 15) who moved to the USA in 2000.  Now I live in Charlotte NC and until recently was a stay at home mom, who home-schooled my sons for three and 8 years respectively.   Until now,  I didn’t have the capacity to pursue being a voice actress but the time was right this year to step into it fully and embrace it!

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? Well last year I began training with a voice acting coach and decided this was now or never to pursue

That dream.  I want to pursue other voice acting realms too, but I think narration will always be the solid foundation of what I do.

I have always narrated for as long as I can recall, from High school back in the day to amateur dramatics in plays, and I was asked to narrate because I was a good storyteller.

I have always loved acting but love being behind the mic as well as on stage.

Way back, I read newspapers for the Blind, near where I lived in the UK as I believe it’s vitally important that there are great resources available. And of course, audiobooks fit that brilliantly.

I began with Audible this year and auditioned for titles which interested me and were a good fit and here I am.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? Well, as I have just started out I don’t have a long list to my name yet, but I completed Mathamagical in the spring which was a brilliant rendering of a teenage boy who is struggling with math and generally down on his luck. Until he discovers a magical world of math and is able to succeed in solving problems along the way.

I am working on a “how to book for teachers”  which although is not a story, is motivational in style and I am finding I really enjoy this style of book too – I like to solve problems and help people so I feel a passion for what I am reading.

I volunteer for the Library for the Blind in Washington DC too, when they have titles for me and as time allows.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.)

A book with multiple characters like Mathamgical (there were 19) I have to think about how they would sound of course, but I begin to imagine how they would move, what they would wear, their characteristics – are they snippy or patient, do they zip through life or are they moody or grumpy about life?

This helps me tap into the voices better and help them become believable.

In the case of Lilie, she just fit a Scottish voice because of her breed but I have a dog Nelson, who I believe is very human in his responses so I took facets of him too and applied that to her voice.

Prior to the recording I spend time editing and looking for any misprints or issues which might cause me a problem as the narrator, so I try to fix those before recording.

That’s harder for a long book but it saves headaches down the road!

Then I begin recording and that’s the fun part.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? Definitely doing accents and dialects and acting in my booth.

I love it when I can really get into a part

What do you find least enjoyable? Editing – it’s a beast.

Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? I think they always have been popular but increasingly so in the age of people being more mobile and able to access great content more easily.

It used to be incredibly expensive to buy a hard copy of an audiobook on CDS and you were limited to what your library had perhaps.

But now there are hundreds of titles made accessible – we can listen anywhere, anytime.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? Black Beauty and I wore it out

If you could narrate any book you wanted which would it be and why? Oooh that’s tough.  Specific titles are hard ………

I love Maeve Binchy novels because the Irish accent is one of my favorites to do

And I love the lilt and pace of it.

But equally children’s’ stories with trolls, knights, pirates, or woodland creatures – I love mice, rabbits, badgers and live in a world in my head where animals talk – a combination of any of those would be fun to do!

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I am pretty competitive and so I have this hang up from childhood,  where my brother and I used to outwit each other by being the last person to have sweets or chocolate left from Easter or Christmas.  He beat me every time. So to this day,  I still have little stashes of chocolate and sweets I haven’t eaten yet,  in the house – it drives my family insane! They’re just jealous they don’t have the same will power…….

Where can we learn more about you? My website – Judith Bareham tells a little more about me.

I have a blog which I write approximately every other week and you can access on my site.

Social Media links:

Instagram

Facebook – Judith Bareham

Twitter

Linkedin

Pinterest

***

Judith is narrating Where’s Noodles? by Victoria Zigler. Check out the links here:

Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Wheres-Noodles-Audiobook/B07JKBT76W
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/880958
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wheres-noodles-victoria-zigler/1129141679
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/where-s-noodles
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/wheres-noodles/id1415553711
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/wheres-noodles-unabridged/id1439954293
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1724843222/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1724843222/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1724843222/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40890298-where-s-noodles

Where's Noodles Audiobook Cover.jpg

Flash Fiction Contest

For those of you who don’t know flash fiction is usually under 500 words. In this case it was under 300.

Writing short, and very short stories is surprisingly hard – how does one convey the setting, the action, the dialogue in a couple of paragraphs? But it’s fun, squeezing that story down to the bare bones! Making it behave when it wants to wander off an be a novella.

There are 18 stories – from romance, to fantasy, to vampires, to ghosts, to halloween, and more. Check out all the stories. I am not allowed to say which is mine – in order to allow a fair vote.

Those of you who know my style will guess, those of you who don’t – it’s always great to support an author’s work – and I am sure all the authors will be delighted you voted.

https://asmallgangofauthors.blogspot.com/2018/11/flash-fiction-contest-at-ourauthorgang.html

Authors – this is a great blog to follow/support. Readers – looking for great fiction – check out the authors here.

Voting November 1st thru 10th. 
Binge all these in 1 day OR space them out over the next 10 days. 
Do what works for you and have tons of fun.
Winners announced November 11th!

Tears and Crimson Velvet – Audio Edition

When murder and mystery begin at the Opera House, one woman knows who is behind it and what really lies beneath the mask. Secrets, lies, and tragedy sing a powerful song in this “might have been” tale.

A short, tragic tale based on characters from The Phantom of the Opera.

Audio Edition narrated by Matt Jenkins

Available on Amazon, I tunes and Audible.

TCV  SQUARE White 1.1.png

Links:

Amazon UK audio

Amazon audio

Audible UK

Audible

Audiobook Narrator Interview – Matt Jenkins

*Name: Matt Jenkins

*Tell us a bit about yourself: Born and raised in a church (literally, in a church – the graveyard was my playground…) I have been reading in public since I was able to see over the lectern. Then I got dragged down the dark path of technology and computers consumed my soul. At least for a while. Then, thankfully, I escaped. Now I’m a Buddhist (much to the chagrin of my Christian folks) and a freelance electronic designer. One side-effect of all the technology is an understanding of audio production, and I am the chief audio engineer for the local Talking Newspaper for the Blind. I also sing in a number of local choirs.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? One of our reading team at the Talking Newspaper mentioned ACX to me one day, so I thought I’d look it up and see what it was. Sometimes when reading a book I’d secretly visualise myself producing it as an audiobook, and ACX has opened that door to me.

Is this your day job? Nope.  As I mentioned above I am a freelance electronic designer. I spend my days sat in front of my computer drawing lines on the screen. Industrial control and monitoring systems are my thing.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? This is a tough one to answer: I have only produced two books so far – The Watcher: A Jack The Ripper Story, and Beyond The Vale, by Kerry Alan Denney.  I’m not sure which is my favourite, as they are like chalk and cheese.  Both have been enjoyable to produce, and good stories that I enjoyed reading.  I hope for many more to come.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? Not really a preferred genre. I do, though, think it’s important to enjoy the stories you read. If you’re not enjoying the story it comes across in your reading. You have to enjoy the story to take a proper interest in it and bring the story to life. There’s no genres that I won’t touch, but if the book doesn’t appeal to me I won’t bother with it. Mostly I gravitate towards fantasy and science fiction, but I’m not fixated solely on it.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? Just finished The Watcher. Nothing lined up at the moment, but I do have a few auditions out there – one I’d really like to get selected for is Among The Dead – a Zombie book.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) My first book was produced all manually. Lots of reading and re-reading, then cutting up, splicing together, etc afterwards. The editing took longer than the reading. That was the worst part of reading, actually – the editing. So, being a technofreak, I decided to do something about it and wrote my own software to do it all for me. Now the editing is done while I’m reading by the program itself at the press of a key and afterwards is just a brief cleanup to make it sound as good as possible. The editing for The Watcher (it’s only a short story) took about 30 minutes, and 25 of that was just listening through.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  Getting to read books I’d otherwise never think to read – and (hopefully) getting paid for it 🙂

What do you find least enjoyable? The post-reading editing. Hence the spiel above….

Have you ever found an author you couldn’t continue to work with? How was this resolved? Not yet. But that’s only after 2 books…

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? Yep, I do. Being a freelance designer my income tends to come in lumps, with vast expanses of poverty in between.  With royalty share, I’m hoping to get a little bit of regular income to help smooth over those dearths.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Indeed I do. They’re great to keep the right side of my brain occupied while I’m working with the left.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I don’t know if it’s the future, but it certainly has a prominent place in the future.

Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? They’re great for when you’re commuting, jogging, working, whatever it is you do. You can listen and do other things (which is important in this fast-paced, need it yesterday, world).

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? Probably a Terry Pratchett (read by my hero Tony Robinson). Sourcery + The Colour Of Magic I think it probably was. On cassette.

If you are an author, do you produce your own audiobooks or do you prefer to look for an independent narrator? Why have you made this choice? I’m not an author (yet).

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) I’ll let you know next year 🙂

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Not as yet.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve had? Pause. Just that. Pause. The silence is as important as the words.

What is the worst piece of advice you’ve had? Is there such a thing as bad advice? If you learn from the experience it’s still positive, yes?

If you could narrate any book you wanted which would it be and why? Well, there’s The Wheel of Time series (Robert Jordan). That’d keep me in work for the rest of my life. I am (of course) a Terry Pratchett fan, but there’s no way I’d be able to match up to Tony Robinson’s readings. I quite like Tom Holt’s works – they combine fantasy with the kind of warped humour that appeals to my twisted psyche. Plus doughnuts.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I spent 3 months living in Sweden when I was 4. When I came home, and started school, the teacher asked: “Who can count to 10?”. I put my hand up, stood up, and counted to ten, perfectly. In Swedish. Ett, två, tre, fyr…

Where can we learn more about you? I keep my personal life off the internet. But you can check out my company site if you like: https://majenko.co.uk

Social Media links: Social media is a mug’s game. You won’t find me on there. Twatter, Basefook, etc – not for me. I value my sanity, and I don’t need the rest of the world to tell me I’m fat: I already know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books now on IndieBound!

For those of you in the US print editions are now available via IndieBound!

Indiebound – the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles
The Shining Citadel
The Stolen Tower

The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Banner.jpg

 Tales of Erana: Just One Mistake

Tales of Erana: Volume 1

The Kitchen Imps

Shattered Mirror

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Review – The Day of the Triffids – audio

The Day of the Triffids – Audible UK

I’d forgotten what a great book this is, and the radio adaptation was splendid. This post-apocalyptic tale of plants, the destruction of civilisation and the human spirit is told in a series of episodes. The cast was well-chosen – and I especially liked the lady playing Josella. There is a good deal of suspense and fear. As civilisation rapidly crumbles the hero (Masen) questions everything.

The book – although written in the 1950s this tale is also (as they so often are) a tale for today. Genetically modified plants – the titular Triffids – are bred from an assortment of other plants (and it hints not just plants) and produce oil which surpasses other types of oil. Of course, humans need this oil and merrily breed these plants – which not only are rather aggressive but also mobile. When a comet (is it a comet or something brought about by the Triffids?) brings world blindness to anyone or anything who saw the impressive light show the triffids now have the advantage. They are tough, mobile, poisonous, aggressive, can communicate and are ruthless.

As with many of the sci-fi books written around that time, there is a good deal of classic horror – expect a body-count, and the majority of humans don’t come out so well. Civilisation is only a veneer – and as soon as the comforts and safety of it disappear the fighting, the looting, the backward steps start. Our heroes have to review their moral code. Decent folks who would not, under normal circumstances steal, or cause harm, are now looting, shooting and uprooting.

There are many facets – GM crops (as we would call them today), bio-warfare, the fall of civilisation and a good deal of survival of the fittest. But of course, the human spirit, and brain will find a way to survive.

It’s a great book and a great audio rendition.
5 stars