Photos of my Print on Demand book

This is what the book looks like.  For some background, see this post.

Here’s the cover:2013-12-04 21.38.11And the back cover (somehow the angle makes it looks like there are no pages–but there are!):2013-12-04 21.38.42And the inside:2013-12-04 21.39.04I dunno.  Looks just like a real book to me.






Who needs an editor?

Jeff Carver has a post on the Hugh Howey article I recommended.  He says:

It’s pretty interesting, although I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says. (For one thing, he doesn’t mention the role that traditional publishers play in helping writers, especially new writers, improve their craft and produce better books. Some say that that role is diminishing these days, but I think it really depends on the publisher and the editor.)

This got me to thinking about just how much help my various editors have been to me.  The answer is: not much. Probably the best known of my editors was Judy-Lynn Del Rey, who bought my first novel for the Del Rey imprint of Ballantine Books.  She did two things, as I recall:

  • She made me change the book’s name to Forbidden Sanctuary, claiming this was a more commercial title than the one I had come up with.  Can’t say if she was right or wrong about that.
  • She pointed out that “He shone the light” should be “He shined the light.”  That’s a fair cop.

And that’s it.  Well, she also ordered a cover that was ludicrously unrelated to the actual events of the book.

My other editors were similar.  They made various small suggestions, some of which were good, some of which weren’t so good (in my opinion).  None of them helped me improve my craft, or made any of my novels substantially better.  They didn’t have the time or the interest.  Or, possibly, the talent.

This is not to say that a good editor can’t help a writer.  I just don’t think the odds are good you’re going to find such an editor in mainstream publishing.  If your book isn’t deemed publishable as it stands, it isn’t going to be published.

What most writers do need is copy-editing.  But, as Howey points out, you can hire a copy editor, just as you can hire an artist to create your cover.  There are lots of people out there who know the difference between shone and shined, even if you don’t.  And they don’t charge very much for their expertise.  When you’re self-publishing, you’re the boss.  That can be a bit scary, but it’s also liberating.

A great article about self-publishing ebooks

Hadn’t heard about Hugh Howey until last week, when Jeff Carver mentioned his success as a self-publisher of speculative fiction.  Now he’s written this piece for Salon, which encapsulates a lot of what I think about self-publishing in the ebook world.

With self-publishing, you learn your craft while producing material. You win over your fans directly. You own all of your rights, and your works stay fresh and available for your lifetime (and beyond). Nothing goes out of print. I think this advantage is difficult to fully appreciate. My bestselling work was my eighth or ninth title. As soon as it took off, the rest of my material took off with it. To the reader, it was all brand-new. To those being born today who will become avid readers 15 years from now, those works will still be brand-new. My entire oeuvre will always be in print and always earning me something. Nothing is pulled and returned from the digital bookshelf.

For me, one of the main motivations for entering the ebook world was getting my previously published novels, long out of print, back out onto the market. But even if you haven’t been in print before, self-publishing ebooks really does seem to be the way to go.  You may not be successful, but most print authors aren’t successful — I can’t say that I have been particularly successful.  At least the books are out there, available to anyone and everyone.  And you have a chance of finding an audience, the way Hugh Howey did.  And even if you don’t become rich, you’re likely to get more feedback from your readers than most print authors ever get.  Here’s a sample of reader reviews of my books in the past few weeks:

On Summit (four stars)

The beginning is a bit confusing but it becomes clear as you go along. I enjoyed this piece of fiction. Valentina and Daniel made very good heroes.

On Dover Beach (five stars):

One of the best scifi books I’ve read in a long time. . . . you’re right there, experiencing everything along with the characters and can’t wait to see what happens next… more please!!

On Senator (five stars):

Kept you guessing til end, lots of twist and turns. Better yet was the way he writes about politics in Washington, where lies are told til they believe they are the truth.

Praise like that is better than money.  And I like money!