Oh, What A Brave New World This Is

I spent all day catching up on much delayed indie publishing, though for those of you who read Amazon, I regret to say there’s not much new yet.  Mostly I was taking stuff that had expired on Prime and bringing it out on Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.  (I haven’t anything – yet – that justifies All Romance.

Then we had to move my auxiliary brain/work space from the old laptop to the new one.  It is an odd thing to update to a much faster laptop and yet retain all the same stuff I had in the old one, including all my files buried away somewhere in the depths of the computer.

I finally have control of the new machine, and figured out my password to get into wordpress.  I am, of course, somewhat  dead on my feet (oh, the wild and amazing excitement of a writer’s life.  The once every three/four years changing of the computers [and only because I needed a better one for the new office-ish arrangement which starts tomorrow.  That inherits my old one, and now I have new one at home.]  This TOTALLY is how I visualized the mad glamour of being an author.)

Anyway, so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned from self-publishing so far TM.  (It’s almost a year since I put my first “trial” story up and about nine months since I did the first real for-sale story.


1-      Dean Wesley Smith was right.  (It’s a bad habit of his.)  This thing grows exponentially for every five stories or so you have out.


2-      I only have short stories out – right now, close to 23, then those same stories in some collections – but by December if I put a few more out, I should hit $200 a month (Should – it’s hard to calculate because Smashwords affiliates pay by the quarter.)  The thing to remember is that I had/have around 250 short stories sitting around.  Of course, the older ones will need substantial rewrites.  Which brings us to:


3-      Even after I was published in novels, I was capable of untold cruelty towards innocent short-stories.  Part of it was trying to be flip, something that I think short stories tempt you to do, and part was that I was trying to conform to what I saw in the magazines.  Well, now I don’t have to conform.  Mwahahahah.  Which brings us to:


4-      My bestselling short stories are the space operas one, only very few of which ever sold to the traditional presses.  Bestselling, you ask?  What do you mean?  Oh, nothing much, but these stories are selling 6/7 copies a month, while most of the ones that sold to magazines sell NOTHING.  Weird, uh?  Which brings us to:


5-      As soon as I have time, I need to write two more stories in the ever popular (in anthologies Nephillim Kentucky ) shorts, so I can do a collection.  The next story they get married by Zombie elvis in Vegas.  (Hey!  They’re supposed to be funny.)


6-      I can see, (though not yet) having another fifty or so stories out and a few novels (they say novels sell exponentially better) and making what I make now, only the work is already done, and then I can slow down a little.  Maybe.  Which brings us to


7-      I have three novels in various stages of completion and requiring only some rewriting.  Which brings us to:


8-      Since it’s clearly going to take novels to make a living wage off indie, I need to sleep less and write more.  Which brings us to


9-      That is not going to happen tonight.  I’m shutting down and going to bed.  See you tomorrow afternoon.

214 thoughts on “Oh, What A Brave New World This Is

      1. Had a doctor’s appointment with my PCM this morning, and she confirmed it. You MUST have two to three hours of deep sleep, or your blood sugar will be elevated 10 to 30 mg/dL. That’s more than enough to push a diabetic from the “safe” level to the “that’s not good” level. I asked because I’m NOT getting enough deep sleep. It also makes you groggy and caffeine-dependent.

          1. Depenent (for other than tax purposes) is undesirable. Becoming caffeine-dependent means you need caffeine to operate at normal levels, like having to drink a pint of ripple to reach sobriety.

          2. If there is a collaspe, even short term, in world trade, it might be very bad thing to be caffeine-dependent.

            1. The headaches aren’t very fun, but they go away in a few days as your brain chemistry adjusts. Or is there some other consequence of a caffeine addict having their drug of choice taken away? I’ve been on-and-off addicted for a couple of years, and the headaches and possibly slight irritability seem to be the only real consequences I’ve suffered when I can’t get my fix for a few days or a week.

                  1. Migraines and caffeine, a complicated matter. Too much caffeine can cause them, too little caffeine can cause them. Really, people seem to have a preferred level of mild uppers. And when the migraine’s already happening, caffeine is good.

                  2. I used to get bad headaches every few days. Coincidentally, they occurred when I was in the field with no access to caffeine. Turns out it was caffeine withdrawal.

                    I no longer drink the stuff, or at least rarely enough to avoid a relapse. I know I’m strange, but I don’t get headaches anymore either. 😀

                  3. I need my espresso; and my anti-zombie medication; or I turn into . . well, a ‘zombie’ of sorts, the muscle fatigue takes over and I wander around mumbling about needing ‘brains, can’t feel my brains, where did I put my brains’ . . . That being said, I only drink one or two cups of espresso a day, and one or two glasses of sugarless soda.

              1. Coffee is my drug of choice, I say caffeine doesn’t affect me, because it doesn’t wake me up or cause me to be hyper. I am drinking coffee right now, and usually do drink coffee right before going to bed. But caffeine actually does affect me, because if I don’t have any in the morning I get a headache. Also as I have gotten older, I found out that to much sleep deprivation causes a headache, no matter how much caffeine I have. I don’t know if when I was a teenager and stayed up all night and the next day I didn’t get headaches, or if I did and just don’t remember them (or blamed them on something else).

        1. Sleep apnea. I was getting 14 hours a night and still not enough deep sleep to avoid cascading the Type II. On top of that, I was (ich) dreaming. ACCOUNTANT dreams. Horrible dreary things.

          1. I also suffer from sleep apnea, and have been for ten years or more. My problem is caused by three dogs that decide they need to run the raccoons off at o-dark-thirty, and every hour after that. Daughter is (hopefully) moving next month, and will take two of the dogs with her.

            Depending upon outside weather, blood chemistry, and phase of the moon, I may sleep soundly, or be in enough pain I have to have the heavy duty pain meds. They’re supposed to put me to sleep. They wake me up. I also have weird dreams, some of which make me want to take brillo pads to my mind’s eye, and some of which I can’t wait to jot down for the next book…

            1. Sleep meds put me to sleep, but after a while, I wake up, as someone else, who may or may not have some sort of hallucinations (when I was a child, suffering a bad flu, I woke up from sleep meds and went to the kitchen, where I spent time picking imaginary things – bugs, or something, I was using my forefinger and thumb) off the kitchen table and “eating” them. So my parents said.

              1. When Marshall was three he took asthma meds that gave him … well… if I didn’t know better, I’d say it was possession. He became someone else. Someone about 50 years old. He wanted to go home to his wife, and made me take him out — into the snow — and walk across the mountain town. We walked until we saw this ambulance pulling up in front of a cottage, and then he calmed down and became himself again. I never asked who lived there or why the ambulance was there, but honestly that’s the weirdest thing that ever happened on prescription meds to anyone in my family.

    1. Could be my problem. Due to the work schedule I usually sleep in two shifts, which may have something to do with the fact that I just can’t seem to be able to lose weight, and tend to gain if I slip even a little bit with what I eat.

      1. Dan had it untreated for five years. It makes you gain weight like crazy. Also, because I can’t sleep away from him and I can’t use ear plugs (foreshortened ear canals.) we were both sleep deprived for five years. We call this “the apnea years” There are still boxes in the attic packed during the apnea years and there’s no rhyme or reason to the contents.

        1. Sleep apnea can make the sleep deprived non-apnea spouse contemplate strange actions. I can’t use ear plugs, for other reasons. Besides, I could feel it when The Spouse would stop breathing and then shudder before he started again. Arg.

        2. My fellow had it, probably, for more like 15 years — and that’s just how long I was married to him. The first night, I slept in the guest bedroom. After that… I would wake up if he didn’t snore, and then be poking him to make him breathe, in the middle of the night.

          He’s genetically slow to gain weight, which is probably all that saved him from that.

          1. After that… I would wake up if he didn’t snore, and then be poking him to make him breathe, in the middle of the night.

            The Spouse took a while to realize that I was not attempting some esoteric kind of wifely torture upon him.

            1. My wife stayed married to me despite the fact that for the first couple of years, I would randomly stretch out in my sleep and clock her one. It was in that weakened, can’t-make-a-fist-let-alone-a-haymaker sort of state, but still…

            2. My Darling Man figured I was being just that tortuous and bitchy, but I must be asleep, so why bother mentioning it?

              We’ve both slept much, much better since he got the CPAP.

  1. Is it afternoon yet? Seriously, you’ll function better on plenty of sleep, I recommend you save time by skipping something less important, like dinner 😉

  2. My darker half writes erotica (I also write non-erotica but I’m just now starting to get that in the publishing stream and right now it’s all on submission for my SFWA Subversion Project.) Novels do NOT sell exponentially better in that genre, I am here to tell you. 🙂

    I have longish shorts to novellas as well as a novel. The novellas sell the best other than one .99 supershort I have as a loss-leader-try-it-you’ll-like-it sort of thing. One of them outsells the others three or four to one and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. It hasn’t any more reviews than the others, they’re not any better than the others. One of them was reviewed on a pretty popular genre website and it got one tiny little spike from it: the popular one has not, to my knowledge, been reviewed anywhere at all other than one review on its Amazon page.

    Nobody knows nothin’.

    1. “My darker half writes erotica […]Novels do NOT sell exponentially better in that genre, I am here to tell you. ”

      Well, yeah — for the same reason the first three minutes of “adult” videos are always worn out while the rest is pristine…. >;)

      1. ?? I thought that portion was where all the plot and character development occurs. The rest is just boring denouement.

      2. Erotica is a continuum – some of it’s eight pages long and the exchanging of bodily fluids starts in paragraph 3. (I don’t write that. It’s not that I object morally: I just can’t do it. I have to tell a story.) Some of it’s novel-length. Some of it’s in between.

        The average Kindle erotica seems to be between eight and twenty thousand words, with at least two fairly lengthy sex scenes, which don’t start until the reason for the sex has been at least somewhat established other than “Jack and Jill realized they were characters in an erotic short and commenced to humpin’.” Most of mine are in this range, although I tend toward the longer end, and because of the genre I write in the establishing part is longer than average. (Let’s just say that my readers like a certain kind of “foreplay” and leave it at that. And no it’s not BDSM. Good guess, though. 🙂 )

        Interestingly, I find that I can do one sex scene per 5,000 words without feeling like it’s just sex scenes nailed together. This ratio has not changed appreciably over more than ten books. (It ranges around 4 to 6 but not more, not less.) I can do a lower ratio – my novel has somewhat more words/sexytime, but not much and that’s mostly because of the fairly long epilogue (which is both the denoument of the adventure story and a sequel hook.)

  3. Hi, Sarah. I have four novels out now, and one collection of essays and articles. The four novels required nearly two years each to research, write and edit (oddly enough, I managed to do all of that in four years – it must have been a truly Einsteinian moment or something). I used to write short stories, but the time required to write and polish a short story (for me, at least) can be downright depressing compared to what I could do in a full-length novel int he same amount of time.

    Regarding income for all of that work, I find that in the last two years paperback sales have fallen into the toilet while Kindle sales have taken off like a rocket. I normally sell between 100 – 200 copies for the Kindle each month.

    At the same time, I try to keep firmly in mind that a day laborer can clear in a day what I earn in a month from my royalties…

    Oh, well.

    1. Both halves of your wave/particle duality each wrote two novels during that period. Whenever you let anyone observe you at work, you can only work on one at a time, so do it in a locked room to be more productive. 🙂

  4. I have been doing this now since March 2011 and I found that my short stories are starting to pick up. Someone found them lol. My best seller was a small book that I wrote on my disease for my Vasculitis Group. That one sells at least one or two a month and sometimes more. It was doing really well until someone stomped on it but my group came to my rescue. They were pretty mad at the review.

    The review said that the book was not emotional enough. I wrote it so that other patients would know what to expect. If you are emotional in the midst of a fatal disease, then you die. You spend that emotion trying to stay alive. Anyway, that review still sticks. The person who wrote the review deleted it, but it still hurt the book.

    BTW has anyone noticed certain people who write 1-2 star reviews that give no reason why they didn’t like the book other than it was an indie and indie stories are not edited enough? In my writing group we are thinking that it is a jealousy thing. I don’t answer to those reviews (except the one about my disease), plus I don’t ask or buy for reviews.

    Good luck with the experiment. I found that when I went with the suggested prices (Dean), that I did better on selling as well. I didn’t believe that one until I tried it. 😉

    1. I’ve noticed the one-star “needs more editing” too. I’ve nibbled a few sample pages, some that seemed to justify the review, more that didn’t. *shrug*

        1. I have been plugging two Internet Rules for about fifteen years or so now:

          1) Every spelling or grammar flame will contain at least one spelling or grammatical error.

          2) All arguments are about definitions.

      1. I cannot recall reading any book in the last five years that didn’t have several wants more “editing” requirements, and that is merely restricting it to spelling and grammar — clunky phrasing and inane plotting are a matter of taste.

          1. I normally gloss over most minor typos without even really noticing them. But I recall reading a review of a John Ringo book where the reviewer stated that, “like all of Ringo’s books the action is fast paced, but there are a plethora of typo’s, unlike David Weber’s books” I confess to never having read a book written by either author since then that I haven’t noticed a ‘plethora of typo’s’ in. I really scratched my head over that review, since both are published by Baen, and probably editted by the same person.

            1. That was mostly a joke implying that my self-published book had exactly one typo in it. And it wasn’t even a typo, it was a formatting error. 🙂

              I am currently reading the fourth Safehold novel by Weber and I have noticed a few typos, but certainly not what I’d call a “plethora.” I have read almost all of Ringo’s books and haven’t noticed that he has a particularly high ratio compared to other authors and books of similar length. *shrug*

              1. Ringo started writing during a Time of Many Typos at Baen (and elsewhere) because the software/proofreader balance was very bad. Sadly, I still associate him and Weber with typos because of this. (Also because I gave up on both of ’em not long after, but not for typo reasons.)

                I mostly associate Weber with repetitions of the same explanations, in the same words, multiple times in the same book. I’m sure this has been fixed in more recent editions of his work.

                1. “I mostly associate Weber with repetitions of the same explanations, in the same words, multiple times in the same book. I’m sure this has been fixed in more recent editions of his work.”

                  If your talking about the geometry of firing missiles traveling 184,000 kps while traveling .7c and doing a reverse rotational sideways inverted flip, at closing angle of 43 .7 degrees, while the ship you are shooting at is traveling .63c, but because they are curving away at a…. Yeah, I skim those, and no, they haven’t gotten a lot better, he still puts them in at least one battle (usually multiple battles, because Manticore has developed some knew missile tech he needs to show off) in each Honor Harrington book. The rest of the books are good, so I just skim over that, I sincerely assume the reason he puts them in each book is because he knows he has fans that actually do the math to make sure he got it right. In his early books some fans were bored enough to do the math on the size/volume of his ships, compared to weight; and slap him upside the head with the fact that his spaceships were at approximately the same weight as air, or lighter.

                  1. Re: Weber

                    I’ve been knee-deep in a tricky physics problem centered around a somewhat unique orbital bombardment and it’s taken quite a few unanticipated turns. Yesterday, somehow I came across a guy that claimed to be a science adviser to David Weber, Mike Williamson, and John Lumpkin. He said he’s been after Weber for years to do an “afterward” in his books explaining his choices and the science involved.

                    Then he quoted me $30 per hour for science grunt work along with a couple of other tidbits like the right of first refusal for any possible gaming applications on any of my work he assists with. Odd, that. I told him I needed to think about that, but was grateful for the info.

                    Honestly, while it usually isn’t RIGHT NOW, I’ve been able to get my more technical aspects ironed out either with assistance from random professors around the country (email enough of them with the same question and SOMEONE will answer you, from all things astronomy and physics to classical Latin). Yahoo Answers is likewise a wonderful tool.

                  2. Of course there are fans who do the math. I have it on good authority that there are fan who can tell you what color each musketeer’s hair is. There is no end of nit-picky specialized fandom. 😉

                    1. …and that bugs me a little bit because, as a fan, I’ve always put the author in the seat of authority, holding him or her only to maintaining consistency within their construct. “Number Of The Beast” is the only one I think I ever gave up on in that regard.

        1. I agree – RES… I found that over-editing can be worse (in some cases) than under-editing. You can edit the heart out of a story in some cases. Unless the grammar problems are every sentence (or spelling errors) I usually give it a pass.

          1. Or they overedit, and fix all grammatical errors in the dialogue, most people I know don’t speak grammatically correct, and if all the characters do (including the bootlegger from the hills of western North Carolina) it comes out stilted and dry.

          1. William Fortschen in One Second After drove me insane. He’s a pro and should know the difference between could’ve and could of. Grr…

            1. Huh. I remember berating that book aloud for … well, a lot of things, from getting many of an EMP’s effects wrong, to letting the kids swim in their only drinking water, to trusting the unknown teenage boyfriend with a gun when your narrator’s competent daughter is a known variable and is familiar with gun safety … but I do remember at least two typos, and that was three years ago or more, before I had any actual proofreading experience.

              That may have been the first “professionally published” book I read where I realized that no one had checked for basic continuity. You can’t catch a bandit in the middle of a rural area in a no-electrical-grid zone and then have a couple hundred people magically appear within three minutes to hear a speech. It takes time to assemble a crowd that big, and with no one in the story actually trying to get the news out, that scene makes even less sense. And this was a bestseller? (If I recall correctly.) So imagine how little attention non-bestsellers must have been getting…

  5. One Star Needs Edit Reviews. The acronym isn’t rude enough. I think these are written by unemployed MFAs, who don’t understand why their perfectly punctuated, grammatically correct, heart’s work isn’t being snapped up by a Big Publisher.

    For some people, like Sarah, the choice is between Indie or Traditional. But for most of us, the choice is between Indie and waiting another ten years to _maybe_ come to the attention of a Traditional Publisher.

    Those reviewers need a dose of reality, and possibly to buckle down to learn Indie publication.

    1. One Star Neads Edit Edit Reviews should serve the desired acronym.

      It captures the lack of editing in so many such reviews.

    2. Not necessarily. I’ve read a couple Indie books that passed the first chapter preview. As soon as you get past the first chapter, the mistakes start. There are words dropped entirely so you have to guess at what was intended, things like loose instead of lose (not just once but every time the word is used), sentences completely scrambled, formatting switching randomly (and for no reason) between different fonts, some of which are tiny are extremely faint and hard to read, others so big one sentence took up the whole page.
      Those authors lost any respect and chance I might have bought another of their books. The formatting might have beeen the result of uploading and not checking, but if you have gone to all the work of writing a novel in the first place, how long does it take to flip through the pages and see if the formatting worked? And it’s not minor pickiness, using the wrong word, or dropping words entirely makes your story hard to read and doesn’t clearly communicate what you intended. I don’t expect perfection, but a second pair of eyes would have helped A LOT. I found myself wishing for a red pen. The sad thing is, one of those books would have been quite good if I hadn’t had to stop and puzzle over sentences.

      1. I should say that the reviews that are left just to be mean are not nice, and probably really do hurt when they aren’t deserved. But I really think some authors can’t see the grammar problems in their own work and how hard it makes their work to read. They are too close and read what they meant to say not what is actually on the page. Readers are not telepaths, we can’t figure out what was intended we can only read what is there.

          1. Exactly, another pair of eyes will catch a great deal. I am not a professional, but I know that when I have worked too long on a piece of writing (over-worked?) I will often start seeing what I meant, rather than what is there. Also give the piece a rest and come back to it. It helps me to read it out loud.

      2. Depends where you get it. A lot of what you mention could be formatting issues. I’m now correcting some of those in my early-released books. It’s a learning process.

      3. Not a defense, but an explanation (if you’ve used these engines before, you probably know this.)

        The conversion engines at KDP, PubIt, and Smashwords (Smashwords’ engine is affectionately called “Meatgrinder”) accept .doc (Microsoft Word) files. However, they use Word’s embedded control codes (which look and work a lot like html tags) to determine formatting.

        Word is NOTORIOUS – and has been for years, long before epublishing went mainstream – for inserting, deleting, changing, and otherwise randomly effing with your embedded control codes. Depending on how it does said effing, the result may not (probably won’t be) visible when reading the file in Word. But upload it to a conversion engine, and Katie, bar the door: that file’s getting unceremoniously effed up. This is so common, so frustrating, and so hard to diagnose and repair that Smashwords’ style guide has a section devoted to what it calls “the nuclear option,” which is a method of removing all embedded control codes that USUALLY (not always) gets rid of them. It’s called that because when you’re done you have to reformat your text (and if you don’t do it EXACTLY right the problem may very well re-appear.)

        So, suppose Eager Young Space Cad… I mean, Novice Indie Writer writes their Magnum Opiate in Word. They are being very careful when they begin and, of course, the odds of a random control code effup increase proportionally with the length of the book. Somewhere around Chapter Three, feeling more confident, they start getting a little freer with the formatting, and a control code sneaks in and sets the font to Comic Sans, 4 point Italic. Since it’s between two paragraph breaks and the second break is in a previously-formatted section, it’s not visible in the .doc. But Word doesn’t always close/reopen control codes properly: if it doesn’t close this one, the conversion engine doesn’t switch off the control, and from that point on the book is typeset as if it were the fine print in Roger Rabbit’s last will and testament.

        If Novice Indie Writer doesn’t read THE WHOLE PROOF, but just looks at the first chapter or so, they will not know this is a problem, and will ship the book. They SHOULD look at the whole book, which is why this is an explanation and not a defense, but they might not, and if they don’t, they won’t know until someone points it out.

        1. It sounds as if there is a market opportunity to develop a word-processing program for E-publishing. Whether it would be large enough to provide an adequate return on investment is a whole ‘nother thing.

          1. There are at least two that I know of, and their chief distinction from Word is that they suck in new and innovative ways. And besides, since the conversion engines won’t accept their native output, they have to convert to .doc anyway and in the process said control code errors often sneak in regardless.

            I happened to come into a little money and I plan to buy a copy of InDesign and do my own final output – which will work for every reseller except Smashwords, which ONLY takes .doc. No exceptions. I’ll still do all my writing in Word, and then flow it into InDesign.

          2. Do any of y’all have experience with OpenOffice / LibreOffice? Is it prone to the same formatting screwups as Word, or is it better? It has a plugin called Writer2Epub which, from the reviews I’ve read (I’ve never tried it), seems to be pretty good — and you could then check the quality of the generated Epub files on your own computer and/or E-reader(s) before uploading them.

            Given that Open/LibreOffice is 100% free while Word costs quite a bit of money, I’m continually surprised that more people aren’t using it, and I wonder if it’s just because they haven’t heard of it before, or if it’s because OpenOffice lacks feature X that they consider an essential part of their Word-based workflow.

            1. Had I scrolled further down in the discussion, I would have seen that Rick Boatright has made similar comments. Oh well, it doesn’t hurt to have the information higher up in the thread where more people can see it…

            2. the problem Robin, is that writers can do various formatting things in their document that the current crop of ebook readers -can-not-render-.

              Drop caps on a kindle are impossible.

              Kindle readers do not accept non-native fonts. The first three generations of kindle e-ink readers do not render html TABLES!!!

              So, it’s quite a challenge to take a random doc from an author and turn it into a decent ebook.

              1. So you are saying that the whole thing is far more complicated than 8-track vs. cassette or VHS vs. Beta?

              2. Just in case anyone’s curious… Dropcaps Hack: make the first letter bold, and a couple sizes larger. (E.g., from 10 to 12, or 12 to 14.)

                I don’t really notice dropcaps or the lack of them, though, when e-reading.

                  1. Drop caps are those extra-large capital letters at the start of a chapter, which take up the vertical space of several lines of text. In other words, this.

        2. Moral of the story: when using Word, do not adjust the formatting from Normal. Define Normal, save it, and don’t touch it again till you are ready to format the thing for the Meatgrinder. Indicate Bold and Italic in raw HTML tags around the affected words, so that you can search on them and make the changes when you’re prepping for grinding. Do not use headings. Normal, and that’s it.

          Me, my thoroughly beaten version of Word, and Meatgrinder get along marvelously — because for everything aside from Search and Replace (Word’s is the most powerful I know of), I treat Word as a text editor.

          (Well, okay, I’ve been prepping some stuff for PDF. We’ll see how that works when I get a couple of books back from Staples…)

      4. Rachel — while I agree, some of the formatting and editing problems aren’t the fault of the author, but the poor way some programs translate them when they’re uploaded. I’ve seen that happen, especially with Amazon. I use a fairly common but not standard font (Diploma) in one of my books as part of the scene. B&N converts the book to epub format, and retains the Diploma font. Amazon converts the book to mobi format, and changes the font to Times New Roman. My books are commonly written using Bookman Old Style font, which I find easier on the eye than Times New Roman, or anything else. That font converts quite well.

        I’ve also seen several places where the conversion process will transpose two lines of text, or some words within a line from one line to another. This is usually just a conversion foul-up, and can be corrected simlply by re-converting the document. I guess some people just don’t check as closely as they should.

        On the thread as a whole, I, too, have noticed many grammatical, typographical, and spacing errors. I also see these in TradPub paperbacks, even by some well-known writers. There are at least three errors in Herman Wouk’s “War & Remembrance”. I guess you just can’t catch EVERY mistake, no matter who you are. If you catch most of them, you should be happy.

          1. In my experience, Scrivener works well. What it doesn’t do so well, apparently, is converting to .doc so I can upload to Smashwords. I have to take that file and run it through Word and then Word adds page numbers or something and Smashwords says they don’t want it. I’ll have to sit down one day and really think about it, but I’d honestly would rather write than beat my head against Smashwords and Word. Smashword promises they’ll support epub uploads one day “soon”, so I’m really waiting for that.

            1. Trivia: Smashwords used to accept epubs. (Or PDF, or something.) They stopped because of constant technical problems caused by a) user error, b) differing output standards, and c) user error. They decided it was easier to stick to one format which limits the potential kinds of user error and allows for the Nuclear Option correction method. You can’t really use the Nuclear Option on an epub effectively.

        1. I do give a pass on some formatting issues, and I’m not leaving 1 star reviews for these, although if you know there are problems with up loading why would you not page through and see if the upload went through properly? I’m not talking about reading every word, just paging through and catching the entire chapter appearing in a grey so pale it’s almost invisible, or the chapter that appears in 5 point font. (I do sometimes privately contact the author and let them know if the problem is really bad)
          I’m not complaing about funny spacing or even the ocassional weird comma. And I don’t complain when a character talks without using proper grammar because i don’t always use proper grammar when talking. I’m talking about the grammar in the rest of the story, like the loose vs lose thing (the author didn’t do it just once ever single place where someone loses something it was put in as “loose”), or scrambled sentences that are fairly obviously brain freeze moments. I’m also not talking about the one off errors, I see those even in the big publishers’ books.
          I’m talking about when you get to the point where every other paragraph has homonym mistakes, scrambled sentences, etc. The sentence shifted thing, even an occasional missing word can maybe be traced to the upload process. The never fixed-in the first place constant mistakes really do interrupt the flow of the story. I read to disappear into another world for a while, I think other people do too. When you have to stop and puzzle out what word should be used, or what order the sentence should be in, it throws you out of the story.
          I think it’s even more annoying when it’s a enough good story you want to know the end of, so you keep reading, but keep getting thrown out of every time you start to get lost in it because of grammar problems.

          1. Rachel, for what little value it is worth, I understood that to be the problems you were describing. It is the little things, such as treating there, their and there as interchangeable that drop you out of the writer’s world and into the editor’s that can drop the willing suspension of disbelief curtain faster than a strained metaphor.

      5. The font-sizes may or may not be the author’s fault; I got a small-publisher book that had that issue. It was linked to italics in the sentence, and quotemarks, and therefore had about 3 noticeably different font-sizes. (I even fussed at the publisher, who basically went with “whatever” after a bit and just gave me an epub copy that didn’t have the errors.) It appeared to be part of the conversion process at B&N that was inserting them.

        …I haven’t really dared to look and see if my books look okay if bought from B&N (passed through from Smashwords). 😦

    3. I’ve got a couple of 2-star-needs-edits, but then I’ve got at least one four-star “OMG, SUCH GREAT EDITING!” So… Yeah, this basically tells me that different people have different preferences.

      1. “but then I’ve got at least one four-star “OMG, SUCH GREAT EDITING!”

        You know, someone should show that review to the publishing houses. I can sorta understand the one star reviews for editting, at least there is a problem that disturbs the reader. But I thought in theory books were SUPPOSED to have no typo/font/continuance errors. This was assumed, much like when buying a new car you assume it has no current mechanical problems. You don’t buy a new car, drive it home, and rave about the way it ran great all the way home.

  6. This tale of woe inspires deep sadness in my self-centered lizard brain. You’re in the position to write for your profession, and do so, and you’ve clearly still got the ability to go to sleep and recharge the batteries. It’s been almost a year since I slept two hours without chemical assistance. Quit whinging, Swears.

    1. Wow. Self-centered is right. On top of (in my opinion) a focus on an ironic (sarcastic? sometimes I get confused) comment as if it were the actual thrust of the article. Sheesh.

      1. I believe that Mr. Swears is trying to cheer up Sarah with the lovely thought that it could be worse. He tells a bit about his own problems as an example. He then tells himself not to complain too much (possibly thanks to the unlovely thought that it could be worse for him too).

        It’s the Internet. Long comments about tiny bits of post are the whole point, I thought. 🙂

        1. Well, if you’re right, I’ll take it back. Lord knows, MY meaning doesn’t come through to people the way I intend it sometimes.

    2. You seem to assume that no one has any medical issues. Also, it wasn’t a tale of woe. I’m happy to be released from the traditional-only publishing. I am, however, having to push limits I didn’t even know could be pushed past. However, I think there’s gold at the foot of that there rainbow, in case that didn’t come through. I think a year or two and I can be well. As for “write for my profession” I know that beginners are often envious of this, but there have been many times in the last ten years when I’d have walked away if I didn’t need the money. It was as close to aversion therapy as a profession gets.
      But it has changed and for that I’m grateful.

    3. I haven’t slept at all without chemical assistance in nearly a decade, your point?

      I don’t think Sarah was whinging, she was simply being humorous about the way the new publishing realities work. Sleep suddenly becomes a secondary priority.

      Which is something any small business owner knows.

    4. Only a year without chemical assistance to sleep? Piker. It’s been a good ten years since I last slept without chemical assistance, and longer since I was last awake without chemical assistance. Naturally I’m big on the whole “better living through chemistry”.

      How many balls are you juggling right now? Me, I’ve got at least a dozen in the air and life keeps flinging more of the bloody things at me. Sarah is the same. If you’re not in the same boat, either admit you got your wires crossed, or tell me I’ve misjudged what you said, because it sounds like the “Quit whinging, Swears” is actually a backhanded “Stop whining, Sarah”.

    5. Oh. Double wow. I misread the last line of that comment. Somehow, I read, “Quit whinging, Swears.” as “Quit whinging, dear”. Now I feel like a total dumbass.

  7. It is conducive to long-term author-publisher/reader relations to make it clear when short stories are included in collections so that people not inadvertently (some careless readers can’t be protected) repurchase items in collection.

    1. I make sure that the collections have the short stories listed in the description. I do a lot of collections– ghostly glimmers I, II and my flasher collections (flash fiction–get your minds out of the gutter) lol

      1. Suggest that the ToC include things like, “Previously published in X and on Amazon” for people who remember stories, not names. It may encourage them to check, and if they complain, well, you told them!

        *beth has a laundry list for when she gets her collection, er, collected, yes*

  8. In the adoption of new technology the initial modes mimic the forms of the prior technology. Movies initially used a single camera in fixed position, following the format of staged plays, but eventually evolved to incorporate such innovations as multiple perspectives, camera movement, cutting between shots, and other innovations. Comic books initially employed the format of the comic strip, for example, and television drama followed the forms of radio drama.

    We have similarly seen the development of Cable-television dramas that followed the form of network programs for show length, structure and open-ended series concept. In recent years the cables have explored evolution from that style, exploring limited-length story structure (it took comic books 50 years to properly reach this conclusion, with Gaiman’s Sandman) and targeting more limited audiences.

    Back in the day when SF was a magazine-centered genre it was possible to read a story (or novel) and know what magazine(s) initially published it. Magazines rejected stories not because they were not good but because they had already recently published something similar, or because it was not a story they expected to appeal to their perceived audience. Gatekeepers, but with a wide-variety of gates they functioned as a sorting mechanism — you read Analog for one type of story, Galaxy for another, If for yet another style.

    With the advent of the SF novel as a dominant form, publishing hoses established house styles, or brands, to help readers suss the product. Lancer, Ace, Ballantine, Bantam all had recognizable, if somewhat over-lapping, styles. Baen today stands as unique in maintaining this tradition, and profits well from so doing.

    Electronic reality promotes a faster evolution. We are already seeing a diminution of strict adherence to the lengths (word counts) required for publication (consumer acceptance.) So, too, are reader preferences becoming more directly observable — witness the greater traffic in space opera. In time, as the scale of readership grows, the tendency for a small group of readers to distort the metrics will become less, and writer ability to refine their work to reach a particular audience will grow.

    It will be interesting to see how the form evolves.

      1. I eagerly await Vammmmmmmmpiiiiiiiiiiiires In Spaaaaace.

        Discarding FTL drives, a vampire would be an ideal space voyager, enough so that it might justify genetic manipulation a la Simak’s Werewolf Principal*.

        *Yes, that is a gratuitous Simak nod for the hostess.

          1. I seem to recall that from somewhere, but can’t recall where. The fact that they don’t need air to breathe though is a big bonus, having to bring quantities of live food along for the journey would be a detriment however.

            1. OTOH, in most vampire setups vampires who don’t eat go into a sort of suspended animation. Let ’em go into that, rig ’em to get a transfusion when they get where they’re going. Problem solved.

              1. Frozen blood packets would serve as a food supply, especially if you’re able to produce “artificial” human blood for the purpose. Given the likelihood that any such exploration would be government funded and in recognition of the probability of continuing government deficit spending, actually bleeding taxpayers for such exploration would probably be viewed as adding injury to insult.

                1. On the other hand, the way things are going right now, giving blood in lieu of taxes might be a tempting choice.

                  (I’m sorry, was that political?) /runs/

          2. Oh dear. I have some vampires in space short stories hanging around somewhere. Vamps make wonderful explorers and scouts since they’re immortal – if you can supply a viable blood substitute and keep them from snacking on any populations they might encounter.

            It’s a universe where there have been multiple colonization waves followed by collapses so it’s pretty common to come across more or less human populations that think they’re natives.

        1. The Werewolf Principle is possibly my favorite novel — depending on the year, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress MIGHT edge it out.
          First, though, you get nuns iiiiiiiiin space, I think, though HOW who knows? Toni has made noises about sending it in already, so whether it’s indie or Baen… depends.

          1. Easy – the Nuns iiiiiin Space are vampire hunters.

            I considered vampire nuns in space, but a moment’s thought about counting their rosary made clear the problems inherent in that.

          1. Beloved Spouse advises me the Anime crowd has been there and done that. Still room for more. Always room for more of that.

            What is not needed is stories about space spores that come to earth and start growing a dingy mold on everybody, turning them into passionless zombies. There is already too much grey goo written as is.

            1. What is not needed is stories about space spores that come to earth and start growing a dingy mold on everybody, turning them into passionless zombies.

              I got around the space spores and the passionless zombie thing. I’m still somewhat worried about the genre mishmash, but I’m too far gone now to second-guess myself 😉

            2. Back in the late 80’s or early 90’s, there was a Sime/Gen -like vampires in space trilogy from Lichtenberg or one of the usual Sime/Gen suspects. (And Sime/Gen was always fairly vampiric-ish anyway, so no big leap there.)

              I know this, because old school Trek fandom intersected with Sime/Gen fandom. Not a fan of Sime/Gen myself.

      2. Yep, now look at what is most commonly disparaged; space opera, vampires and urban fantasy, romance, westerns. Then go by your local supermarket or Walmart (because they have much less shelf space than a bookstore, they only stock what sells) see what the majority of the books are. Chances are there will be only a few SF books, but if they aren’t all space opera, I would be surprised, and the most common genres will be those mentioned above.
        Elites like to think they are better than the unwashed masses, therefore they can’t have the same tastes.

        An author who is trying to put food on the table however, would do well to cater to the market.

        1. There’s that, and there’s also that those genres sell and literary fiction by and large doesn’t, so anybody who views commercial success and literary value as mutually opposing attributes is going to HAVE to believe that those genres must be by definition bad. Cognitive dissonance – it’s not just for UFO cultists anymore!

        2. oikophobia is what afflicts the elites. HOWEVER me? I have low tastes. I LIKE America and most things about America — I love diners, and cheap amusement parks, and okay, yeah, Natural history museums. And I like vampires (that don’t sparkle, because that’s ew) and space opera and adventure fantasy and…

              1. Why fight off the bears? Bring a proper rifle, and fill your freezer with tasty, tasty berry-fed bear meat, as well as the berries!

                1. While you are at it you can get a warm fuzzy rug, and some excellent elements for jewelry making. And a lot of work. I keep wondering at all these city dwelling back to nature nuts. Do they have any idea how much time and work any semblance of self-sufficiency takes?

            1. One of my wife’s few Mother’s Day requests was for blackberry bushes. We’ve had them for ten years now, and need to buy some more. We’ve had several good years. This year was not one of them. Between the drought and the hailstorm, both my blackberries and my apples were all but destroyed.

              1. Oh, that’s too bad. The drought seems to have allowed my dad’s Concord Grapes to prosper this year, and we got 3 1/2 gallons of them, which I am making into jelly. I made one batch the regular way, and am getting ready to make one with artificial sweetener to see how it tastes.

          1. To make a vampire sparkle:
            1. Shove a magnesium flare up his waste-outlet portal.
            2. Dust him with white phosphorous powder.
            3. Spritz him with an atomizer filled with holy water.

          2. I actually read some fanfic of the Sparkly Vamps and have developed a soft spot for the concept. It was a very good fanfic duology.

        1. Actually, I think that would be more of a space Gregorian chant. But yeah, there’s no reason nuns wouldn’t go to space. It’s quiet, for one thing. Can’t get more “wilderness” than that.

          1. I got infested with the order of St. Lucia of the space ways (Her crown of stars, her spangled mantel) and have been considering doing something almost archaic structure wise. I now have two short stories, one of which sells shockingly well on Amazon, and am thinking of writing a few more. In fact, there will be a Christmas one soon. I was thinking of doing those in chronological order, over my future history, with interspersed between, the story of the original St. Lucia Of The Spaceways, an artifact (in the Friday sense. Non mechanical) built to be a joy girl, who is sure she has a soul and conceives the idea she also has a vocation, and manages to prove herself and be accepted into a nunnery — and eventually, of course, become blessed, then canonized. HOWEVER her story would finish at acceptance. It’s highly likely no one would buy it — it is, after all, a very odd mix of the lives of saints and space opera. But as long as the short stories sell… It’s worth a try.

            1. “It’s highly likely no one would buy it”

              Do you mean the concept is too incredible for any reader to accept it, or do you mean no magazine or anthology editor would give you money for the publication rights?

              Or are you insulting your audience? I lack time, else I would list a long series of descriptions of “ideas nobody would buy” — starting with a one-armed IT mechanic meets a self-aware computer and they start a revolution.

              1. I mean giving me money. It’s WAAAY too weird and up Sarah’s own peculiar mind.

                I KNOW no mag or antho or … well, maybe Baen. At least Toni said “Sounds good to me.” But no one else would buy it. It’s downright … peculiar.

  9. 1) If you have a word doc that needs formatting cleanup for epub, consider running it through my public epub cleaner… http://vocshop.com/rick/ebook-prep.html

    2) if you are not using Calibre to create your base epub documents, I have to ask why.

    3) if you don’t have a copy of Sigil to edit your epubs with, ditto.

    In general, the best results on Amazon come from creating a very very clean epub and uploading that rather than a doc file or even an Amazon AZW or Mobi file, don’t ask me why.

    1. How do you define “base epub documents?” First conversion out of native writing app? Or base document (i.e. the file you type your story into?) I suspect you mean the former, in which case the answer is “Because not all of the conversion engines take anything but .doc anyway so I concentrate on outputting a very clean .doc since they all *do* take that.”

      if the latter, the answer is just “because I’m not a masochist.”

      1. A base epub doc is a well-structured epub file which will be acceptable to Barnes & Noble, and to Kindle Direct Publishing and result in an ebook doc that I am happy with and proud of when they post it.

        I can not get that by submitting a doc file to B&N pubit, nor by submitting a doc file to KDP. I can do it by submitting a clean epub to them, so I do.

        Even if you choose to submit a doc instead of an epub, the tool is worthwhile because it strips out ALL the extraneous stuff from your doc and produces a very very clean set of HTML which you can then paste back into word. All comments, all edit history, all revisions, all revision history , etc etc all will be gone along with extraneous font information, extraneous line height settings, multiple returns, tabs, etc, all the things that make submitting a word doc to B&N and to KDP a nightmare.

        What it doesn’t currently do is reduce the style info in P and SPAN tags to CSS styles. I’m working on that, but it’s marginally hard.

        1. I submit a doc to Kindle, then take the HTML that it generates, clean up the HTML like woah (it’s gotten worse with their new kindlizer; yeesh!), and re-submit the HTML form. So far, no complaints about formatting, and the samples look good!

          1. I do the opposite– submit it to Smashwords. For Kindle I html it and then do the mobipocket creator. So far (knock on wood) I have had no problems.

            1. I haven’t published anything, but I have taken Word docs, converted them to HTML and then used Calibre to create ePubs.

              1. Word’s HTML conversion is amazingly bloated. I would not willingly do that unless it was the only choice, since I doubt that Calibre would strip the bloat. (If it does, that’s awesome. If the HTML file and epub are similar sizes… Well, Amazon charges me for the file size, and there’s a lot one can carve off without affecting the quality of the document.)

            2. I start with Smashwords, because it’s easier. Hm. Wait. Smashwords generates a HTML form, don’t they… Daaaaang. I should just download and edit that sucker rather than the Kindlizer’s version, and see how that does! *beth headdesks repeatedly*

              Thank you.

    2. I’ve been using Open Office for my base documents, and I’ve been very happy with it. I’ve developed a template that I can use to write my books with. I have a few problems when converting to either a .doc or .epub format, but not many. I find Mobi Pockets not that intuitive, and haven’t used it much. I do have Sigil, but I haven’t prepared anything for sale yet since I got it. Most of these programs are free, so there’s no reason NOT to use them when they work best.

  10. Sarah, have you considered running an experiment to see if either $1.49 or 1.99 would substantially reduce your short story sales??? Underpricing seems to be one of the things that Dean harps on over and over.

    1. actually it seems to be the opposite — I have a 1.99 short, only slightly longer than the ones at 99 and it outsells them every month. OTOH 4.99 for a collection SEEMS to be a bridge too far, even though it’s a collection of novellas. Go figure.

        1. The thing with month or two tests is that what month it is can be way more important than the pricing or the book. Bookselling is seasonal and anyone who says different is smokin’ banana peels.

            1. While I have no direct, personal knowledge (and any pictures are photoshopped) I seem to recall hearing of a stripper named Banana Peel who slipped into the S&M scene, specializing in bookbinding.

              1. That story brings a whole new meaning to that old traditional warning on the title page about “stripped books”…

                *Ducks and runs*

            2. Banana peel smoking is a favored substitute for marijuana, studies show prisoners prefer smoking banana peels over lettuce more than 3 to 1.

              1. I have smoked lettuce. It was advertised as tobacco (I quit at 21, so shuddup.) You see, Portuguese cigarette sellers were on strike, so all we could get were Spanish cigarettes. I don’t want to sound jingoistic, but they really, really sucked. It was like smoking dried cabbage.

                1. Can’t say as I have smoked either lettuce or dried cabbage (I assume you must have smoked dried cabbage also, since that is what you compared smoking lettuce to?) I have however seen people smoke both lettuce and banana peels. They claimed banana peels give you a high like marijuana, but it only lasts a minute; I wouldn’t know, but it is good comedy to watch drunk teenagers dig through the trash for banana peels to smoke 😉

                  Disclaimer: I have never actually polled prisoners on their preference of smokeable vegetation, avialable in prison, that was just my snarky play on the Wendy’s baconese burger commercial.

                    1. I think that that would inspire me to quit right then and there. Of course, some find tobacco foul as well, but still smoke it.

                    2. There are a couple of plants that grow in the swamps of Louisiana that people smoke when they can’t afford tobacco. In fact, one of them is called ‘poor man’s tobacco’. Turns out that if it’s not TOTALLY dry, it’s considered toxic. I’ve smoked a pipe for awhile, but quit even that back in 1980. I later discovered I’m allergic to tobacco juice, and it’s hard to filter it ALL out of a pipe.

          1. The 1632 editorial board hasn’t seen that in our Amazon sales of the Gazette.

            In any event, if you see a factor of 10 drop in sales over 2 months on all your titles you changed the price on, and then see it go back up after you revert, it’s a pretty decent test.

          2. Not to mention that the market for one’s book may have odd seasons. My sales are rebounding, after the Day Pandaria Was Released For WoW heralded a sudden drop in sales… I guess my readership has hit level 90 by now.

      1. Depends on the size of the novellas and how many… Trad pubs put four novellas of four writers in one book and sell it for 7.99 paperback. 4.99 seems reasonable when you look at it that way.

              1. One rarely encounters, in any business, an undertaking which makes as much money as one wants it to. Some make more money than you *expected,* but very rarely does one make more money than you *wanted.* (I have, however, seen this happen. It’s a funny story in the Byronesque sense.)

  11. and, completing my endless series of comments, three more tools an indie publisher should not be without.

    These export filters will take an entire document, and produce an epub file as an export from open/libre office. Open your doc in Libre Office, save as an ODT, then export to epub. Each of these extensions has slightly different abilities and strengths / weaknesses, but all are worth looking at.


    http://extensions.libreoffice.org/extension-center/elaix *** Out of date***


  12. I had a “well, duh!” moment a few days ago. One of the things I do when I find a new author that I like is to look for whatever else that author has written and had published. Usually that means looking in the front (or back) of the novel for a list, doing an Amazon query, and then doing an Author query using two or three search engines (using only one will miss something). What I thought about last week was why make the reader search? Why not put it in my current novels, and upload the newly-edited version? I’ve downloaded four or five novels by other writers, and most do not list ALL of an author’s works. Most list what is in the current series, and a few (like mine!) don’t list any. This is a problem I WILL correct!

    1. Good plan. (As long as you’re not Isaac Asimov, of course; but I shall risk the vague surmise that very few of us are. In fact, it’s been decades since I heard from anyone who claimed to be him.)

      1. I recall seeing Louis L’amour books with well over 100 titles listed on one page, if your that prolific you just need to list them in several columns instead of centered. Also, I hate the fact that most publishers only list books published by them, not other books by the author published by different houses (this is especially annoying when an author switches publishers mid-series)

        1. OTOH, I have found that Wikipedia is generally pretty good about listing an author’s ordinal info so that if, f’r instance, you want to read Pratchett;s Discworld books you can easily get that info from a Wikivisit – whether you want them in sequence by sub-group (City Watch, Death, Granny Weatherwax, Tiffany Aching) it is relatively easy to get.

        2. Publishing is a business. Publishers are supposed to be in the business of selling the books. Specifically the books they publish. Prior discussions indicate that they aren’t excelling at this. (For reasons we have discussed elsewhere, such as failing to print books people want to buy.) Why should they compound their problem by sending you off to find books printed by some other publisher?

    2. Such lists should (should!) provide more information than simply the titles. If in a series they ought be listed as such, with clear indication of a proper reading sequence. A surprising number of publishers skimp such basic information, leaving one to wonder whether they actually understand reader psychology. (I joke — we know they don’t.)

      1. I think they’re like the grocery stores. If they make it hard for us to find things, we will be tricked into buying rainbow colored skittles when we went in for eggs.

      2. Yes, I have seen at least one publisher (can’t recall which one off hand) list books alphabetically, either without noting which titles are in which series, or in a true head*desk moment, seperating out the series, then listing all the titles in each series alphabetically instead of chronologically.

  13. Here’s to earning a living wage!

    If you have any projects you think my eyes might be good for, feel free to send them my way. I’ll probably drag my feet for a few days (and next week I’ll be on a family vacation – so I’ll have little time for the computer but some extra time to read I think), but I’m happy to help. 😉

    Now off to work on my current project so I can (hopefully) get this one out before I leave!

    1. Hey, I have two novels, a nonfiction book, and a couple of shorts going. Of course if I just concentrated on one, instead of running around from one to the other like a chicken with my head cut off, I might actually finish something. 🙂

      1. *Raises tea mug in toast* Non-fic in progress (research and outline stage), two short stories pending, waiting on revision list from a third party *glares in publisher’s general direction* and novel waiting for revision. And an article that hit a brick wall yesterday.

  14. For PC migrations, PC Mover is the tool to use. Anyone reasonably tech-savvy can use it (make your life easier, however, and buy the special USB transfer cable). Follow the instructions on their website, only install the OS, OS Patches, and drivers on the new device, and transfer your apps and docs. I discovered through sad trial and error that it is a good idea to transfer all the weird Office remnants so the addresses cached in Outlook will be available, too. Remember NOT to transfer Anti-Virus/AntiSpyware type stuff, but reinstall on the new machine. It’s a great tool, and you can puchase a license or two for about 50 bucks on Amazon. Will save a lot of headache, just be willing to devote a weekend to the process.

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