Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blog Moving

Hello Writers and Editors!

Fromonewriter will now be moving homes to sit at  I have finally published my first novel, Shattered, and it's easier to keep all my stuff in one place. You can find all of the posts right there. Thank you and I hope you continue to visit/read! Happy writing and editing!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

8 Reasons To Self-Publish

Though this article says "8 Reasons to Self-Publish" it is really my reasons for doing so. Your reasons might be different, or you might not agree. This is just one author sharing her insight. 

You've worked on this novel for months, probably years. Your blood (paper cuts), sweat and tears have gone into it. You've researched all about query letters and have a list of agents you plan to submit to. You've created the perfect query letter after reading piles of books on the subject from your library. Sound about right?

That was me too. For years. Until I opened my eyes to what was going on around me. Until I noticed where my audience was and realized how it shouldn't be that much trouble just putting your work into a reader's hands. It just shouldn't. Sure, your work needs to be readable. Edit it, I beg of you. But if it's the best you can do, and you feel it's worthy of readers, why should you have to wait and wait and change your work to cater to what's "in" right now? That's right. It isn't just if your book is good, a page-turner with gripping real-life characters or non-stop action. It doesn't matter if your idea is genuine. It doesn't matter if the literary agent absolutely adored your book. If it's not "what they're looking for" it means you don't get published.


Believe it or not, even some very famous authors were rejected! Stephan King, C.S. Lewis (800 times!), Rowling and even Tolkien (read his rejection letter here) among others. Here all this time you were assuming if your work was that good, it would surely be published right? Wrong.  If Rowling's famous Potter series wasn't even accepted, what chance do you stand? My point exactly. It means good work is rejected EVERY DAY because it wasn't "trending". It does NOT mean it isn't a great book.

But what if they had self-published instead of sending it out to more and more lit agents? Well they might have made a ton more money and been noticed a lot sooner. So finally, my rambling done, I'll tell you why I decided to self-publish, if that wasn't reason enough.

1. Be An Author:  I was born to be an author. So when I realized I didn't have to wait for a single person to give me the green light, I knew it was possible. No other career do you listen to one person (or a few) to determine if you can have the career you want (apart from the entertainment business). I wanted to be an author. So I became one!

2. Build My Audience: By getting my books out there, rather than waiting on baited breath for a lit agent to accept and then sell my book, I'll be working on building my audience now!

3. Experience: No my books aren't perfect. My craft isn't perfect, my characters aren't perfect, my ideas aren't perfect. And they never will be. But by putting more and more books out there, I will become a better author. Something if I had waited for one person's approval, might never happen.  I wouldn't know what was good and what wasn't. I'd just know that for some reason my book wasn't accepted.

4. Money: Yes, shameful I know. But who wants a career without money? There are far better posts on how you can earn tons more money self-publishing than traditional. I'll sum-up what I know. I'm not worth anything right now. Zilch. I have no fan base. If traditionally published, I might get, say a $5000 advance. That sounds great right? Well then I have to earn that back in royalties before I earn anymore. And royalties might be 35% tops. On the other hand, I could self-publish and immediately start earning 70-90% royalty. Forever. Also by setting your own sell price, you'll get more buys which also leads to more money!

5. My book, my way: When you traditionally publish they can tell you to change the characters, tweak the plot, change the voice, cut characters completely. They also design your cover, pick/change the title of the book, write the back copy, pick the price, and a million other things. You basically don't have any control at all. Self-publish...yes it's more work, but you control it all! Now for a book I've worked on for years, I'll spend a couple months and some money to make it everything I ever dreamed. I don't have to make one change to appease the "masses". Not only that but I can choose the price of my book. Which means I will have way more readers/buyers setting my no-name debut novel at a measly $3.99 than publishing it in bookstores for $8.99. How much more likely is someone to buy your book at the lower price without knowing who you are? A lot more likely! More readers=more money=bigger audience. Not only that but I can offer my book for free, offer discounts, bundle them together and set the price indefinitely! You go the traditional route, you don't pick the price: ever. Nor can you offer faithful readers any bonuses or freebie days.

6. Honest/Helpful feedback: By submitting to lit agents and publishers you aren't getting any real feedback. You are getting a yes or a no. Well that isn't helpful at all. By self-publishing, you are getting immediate feedback in the form of reviews. No you won't please everyone. Even the best authors have 1 star reviews. But, you will learn where you are lacking. Maybe people love your characters but found your conflict is lagging. Or maybe people love the way you handle dialogue but hate your descriptions. This can be an immediate boost to your self-esteem you never would have had if you waited on a traditional publisher, thinking your book wasn't good enough. Sure your first, second, and even third book may be crap. But guess what? You're still getting helpful feedback on what you need to work on.

7. Tempt Traditional Publishers: What?? You just said to not traditionally publish. Yes, yes I know. BUT if you're down to #7 and still insist on traditionally publishing for whatever reason, this is for you. You as you are, with no fan base, and nothing under your belt, have zero clout. Which means if by chance you are picked up by a publisher, you'll get a stinky advance. However, if you publish enough books and gain a big enough reader fan base, you'll have much more clout which means the next time you submit, you'll be given more consideration since they know they'll make money off you! Also, some are approached by publishers to take there work to them! So show 'em how much you're worth and make them treat you like it!

8. Why not? If all those reasons aren't enough, I'm afraid I can't help you. The only thing pulling me to traditional for all those years ( I later realized) was the fact that people still seem to respect traditional published books. It's because there is a standard. With so many authors hitting publish as soon as they finish, without editing or getting beta reader feedback, indie author's reps have been a little tarnished. But who are you publishing for? Others or yourself? I decided I didn't care what others thought of me. I had published a book and they hadn't. I was an author and they weren't. They don't understand how the rejection process works. They assume if your book really was any good it would be picked up. But you and I both know, that isn't how it works. So screw them all and publish your work and get better!

How Many Betas Should I Have?

Beta readers are indispensable! They are your first readers *knees shaking* which means they can really help get your book in shape. After writing for months, even years and re-writing for even longer, you are way too close to your work. Something might not make sense, you might have major plot holes, you might drop of secondary characters half-way through, and your antagonist might change from age 50 to age 30. But you wouldn't notice. But your betas would!

How Many?

But how many do you need? You want as much feedback as possible right? Yes and no. You need more than 2 because they might contradict each other. One might say they loved your main character and the other says that character needs work. (Which happened to me.) So you need at least 3. At least. I sent my first book, Shattered, to 12 people! Then had 3 more round-two betas waiting to read it once I put in the first round of improvements to make sure they didn't complain of the things I thought I had fixed.

But you don't need that many. In fact, it is really hard to find betas. I found mine on Goodreads and World Lit Cafe and a few co-workers that read a lot. But you should always submit to a few, on the chance that one or two don't provide feedback. Yes, it does happen. Two of my readers never provided feedback, and 4 others took an extra week past deadline. So I'd search for 5 at minimum, 15 at maximum.  

Why do I advise getting so many? Here is what happened to me: I got great feedback from 4, so-so feedback from 3, poor feedback from 3 and 2 others never finished. For the second round of betas, of which I had 3, I had two good betas and one reader who absolutely despised my book and didn't finish past page two. This is bound to happen. Good thing I had 3 betas huh? Am I beating a dead horse? Probably. I'll stop. 

How To Sort the Feedback

Now it can be very overwhelming when the feedback comes in. So pace yourself. Print out their feedback and highlight critical feedback in one color and positive in another. Then map it out and keep tallies for things mentioned. Remember to take it with a grain of salt and if it doesn't feel right, ignore the changes suggested. This is still your book and that is just one person's opinion. Remember, it's like a lit agent. One might hate it. Another might love exactly what they hated. So only input the changes if they feel right to you.

To save yourself trouble on the next book, make sure your questionnaire includes a question asking them if they'd like to beta read for you again. Get a beta list going to make it easier and easier with each book. You'll learn that some betas provide great feedback, while others provide just crap. I mean it. When I asked: what scenes were hard to visualize, the answer I got: yes. Okay.....which ones? So the more betas you try out, the more likely you'll find some gems!

Do NOT Ask Family or Even Close Friends

Oh and save yourself the headache and do NOT ask anyone really close like a family member to beta read. They'll only tell you how lovely and perfect it is. Not helpful at all. In fact, that is detrimental. You don't need a big head right now. And trust me, your betas will provide that positive feedback even if you don't ask them. But it is the betas job to help make your book the best it can be. If you really want your family to read it, give them an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) so they can read it before publishing and still feel special. If they love it, they can write a review. If they lied, they won't. No harm done.

That's all I have on betas, since I've only used them once so far. I'll add/update as time goes on. Just please please...make sure you let your betas know how much you appreciate them. They do this for free. And if they liked your book for the most part, consider asking if they'd like to read the polished/published version for free in exchange for an honest review!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Media Bistro Copy Editing Certificate Program Verdict

Happy September all my writers and editors!

Well it has been less than a year but I did finish the Media Bistro Copy Editing Certificate Program I enrolled in in October 2012. Ladies and gentlemen, if you take one piece away from this post, let it be this: stay far away!

After taking three Copy Editing Courses, two Grammar courses, and a course on Freelance writing, I should be able to at least edit a paper with confidence, right? I thought so too. Unfortunately, these classes were not at all what I had hoped and expected. I read the "reviews" from people who had supposedly taken the courses, read the impressive biographies of the teaches and was confident in the syllabus of each course. Until the courses began.

If you've read my previous posts Media Bistro Copy Editing Cert...So Far and Media Bistro Copy Editing--another update then you already know of the horrible "lessons" and how much of a joke the "class times" are. So if you are interested in this program, I highly suggest at least skimming these posts for a more thorough review.

If you have been following (or if you just went and read them and came back) then I'm here to wrap up and give my final verdict of this program.

I finished with glee, hey the classes were a joke but I worked and submitted my assignment every week. I was looking forward to adding Certificate in Copy Editing to my resume and proudly displaying my Certificate in my office. Until the certificate came. By email.


 No, that is not the cover page. That is the actual certificate. The certificate Media Bistro claims is "suitable for display". You tell me: would you display that? Not be Miss Braggy-pants (since I don't really like her but she does have a point sometimes) but I've received participation certificates that looked more professional than this. If you thought it looked like a Power Point slide, you weren't alone. Not only that, but it is digital. Yep. Another detail conveniently left out.

I have expressed my concern and frustration with my "counselor" who has been asking me for reviews. After telling her my feelings, she suggests if I had participated more I would have gotten more out of it and offered to send a print version of that horrid certificate. No offer for a refund, no taking my validating my concerns, no defending their canned courses, nothing. Why? Because they know these courses are a joke. They know poor people like myself will buy them because we can't afford huge school loans for simple copy editing.

If you are still considering Media Bistro for your Copy Editing Certificate needs, consider this: I signed up October 2012 and paid $1500. I noticed several times in the lessons that these were the same lessons year after year and offered no "voice" of the teacher, as they all sounded the same and one even left the date in. The exact same certificate course today, September 2013, is now $1650. For the exact same classes and I guarantee the exact same PDF lessons. So why they are charging more money? My question exactly.

I'm sorry to say, if you are looking for an affordable option to obtain a certificate in copy editing, it is not this. You will end up in my exact position: with no more confidence, a shoddy "certificate", and $1500 in debt. Oh and if you wanted to at least see if you learned anything, you'll be disappointed. No final test is offered. Correction; no test is offered at any time to mark your progress. Shocker! The scammers strike again!