So it has come to my attention that one of the creators of the #HotandSticky Summer writing challenge is a total creeper who preys on young women across social media. In light of this news, I am no longer going to be completing the challenge under the #HotandSticky banner. I have also stopped following the Stripped Cover Lit channel on YouTube.
A summer writing challenge to reinvigorate the writing soul! Set for the months of June through September I created my contract and am steadily checking off my to do list. Check out my contract video and Week 1 Update Below!
You can skip this part if you don’t plan on publishing your work. Who are we kidding? Of course you want to publish your own work!
Multipurpose or Workhorse Software
A lot of creative writing software like Scrivener and come fully loaded with word processing, outlining, and formatting features. Either way, even with the help of software and applications, formatting can be the worst.
I personally still format my own work using word. It’s a tedious process but well worth the effort to learn how. That doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally take the easy route. I almost exclusively publish my eBooks with KDP so for simple time saving I generally use the Amazon Formatting Programs.
It’s Free! Kindle Create is perfect for people who don’t want to deal with all the fuss and have opted to go with Amazon as their sole distributor. All you have to do is open the application, import you word document or PDF and follow the simple on screen instructions. Of course, you still need to make sure everything lines up the way you want but its a simple and easy way to play with different styles for your eBook and print books. Once you are done you save it as a KDP file and upload directly to Amazon. The only downside to this is that since it saves as an Amazon specific file you will still need to figure out how to format your book for distribution on other sites.
It’s still in its beta testing phase but I’m not trying for anything too fancy. It’s simple and easy to format a decent eBook for kindle. At the moment it doesn’t work well for a paperback.
Check out this short video from Amazon KDP to see if this option is for you
Like I mentioned in The Write Process: Formatting there are lots of templates and services for formatting your novel online. With a little trial and error you can find what works best for you. If you have any suggestions or methods for formatting your work, feel free to comment below!
Oh No! I said it! Editing Software! Editing Software! Editing Software! Okay, I’m done being silly. Seriously though this list is in no way a guide to replacing a professional or human editor. These are just a few ways to help catch basic errors and possibly save a few bucks in the editing process.
Hemingway Editor– I personally haven’t tried it but many of my writing peers enjoy this program immensely. It’s not as flashy as Grammarly, but it does have a desktop app.
Basic layout but functional
Grammarly– Yes, I know that Grammarly offers a paid subscription to access their full features, but if you write short stories and don’t mind using a web browser to edit your work, the free version is just fine.
Fancy layout but similar features as Hemingway
I have a premium subscription and “I put that ish on
- Monthly Subscription $29.95/month
- Quarterly Subscription $19.95/month billed as one payment of $59.95
- Annual Subscription $11.95/month billed as one payment of$139.95
For a detailed review and a 20% discount on the premium version, check out Grammarly Review 2019 by Brian Collins on becomeawritertoday.com
Fictionary is meant to be an extra editing layer between your self-edits and a professional editor. I found it to be a little cumbersome with a slight learning curve even after watching the provided tutorials.
The best feature: Being able to see your plot points in graph form.
The worst feature: Only able to work on one project at a time.
- Offers a 14 day free trial no credit card needed
- Monthly Subscription $20
- Annual Subscription $200
For a detailed review of Fictionary Click Here
Biggest Claim to fame is being able to compare your work to Best Sellers in your genre.
Best Feature: Whatever algorithms they use, it actually works! I got lots of positive feedback from my beta readers and editor after submitting a short story I put through the program.
Worst Features*: It’s a web-based app so not good if you have slow internet or a computer with not enough functional memory. I have issues with it lagging or freezing up when working with larger documents (close to their 50K max word suggestion). Also no reliable autosave, have to manually save before switching tabs otherwise your editing progress will be lost.
- Basic Plan $10/month No comparison feature and limited to 1000 words at a time
- Professional Plan $30/month Comparison Feature, genre preference, customized report
- Elite Plan $80/month adds an author spotlight and writing courses to the Professional Plan
- Deals on Membership: 14-day Trial for $1 if you sign up for the professional or Elite plan. NaNoWriMo 2018 deal $45 for three months (what I am currently using)
Check out this article by TechRadar for a detailed review
*Update 5/20/2019: I can’t honestly recommend AutoCrit as I had a terrible customer service experience with the billing department. Was over charged several times despite paying for several months in advance. I was refunded but cancelled my subscription because I rather not have to worry about random funds being pulled from my accounts.
WhiteSmoke is another option that I have just started playing with. I haven’t used it much but it seems to be comparable to Grammarly and Hemmingway just without the fancy platform.
- Online, mobile, and computer based software
- Grammar checker
- plagiarism checker
- Tiered Subscription Plan
- Essential (online only) $8.33/month billed as $49.95 for the year
- Premium (online and software download) $13.33/month billed as $79.99 for the year
- Business (online and software up to three computers) $22.99/month billed as $137.94 for the year
Mobile App can be included with each for an additional $1
So that’s it for the editing software that I am aware of. If there are any others you use or have heard of feel free to put it in the comment section below!
With so many different writing apps to choose from it can be hard to know which ones are the best. No two writers are the same and that makes it even harder to find which ones will work best for you. I will give a brief description of the various apps I have tried as well as price comparison.
I have not been compensated in any way by the companies or program creators mentioned and all opinions expressed are my own.
The key part of writing is writing!
So what better place to start than with word processors. There are several different types of word processors. The three different types I will go over include computer-based, web-based, and writer-specific.
Microsoft Word- Probably the most well known, it’s the gold standard of word processors. It’s both computer-based and web-based but nowadays costs a pretty penny unless you are lucky and have a free or discounted account from your day job or school.
With the push to get people to buy into Office 365 unless you want to purchase from a different retailer or chase down a free/pirated version of MS Word, buying the program outright is upwards of $300 and the monthly subscription is $9.99 a month or $99.99 for the year.
I use Word 2013 since that is when I last upgraded my laptop and there was a Black Friday deal that made it worthwhile to buy it at the time. I mostly use MS Word because I am comfortable with its layout and functions. I write individual scenes here and make use of add-ins for my initial editing and ebook formatting, but more on those later in the series.
Google Docs– Best part of Google Docs, it’s FREE! You also don’t have to worry about having access to your files when on the go since documents get saved to the Google Drive Cloud aka a web-based application.
Google Docs is great for writers who like to write on their phone, tablet, or don’s have regular access to a computer. Also, those who work co-write with others since all updates are kept in the same place no matter which authorized user works on the draft.
The layout is comparable to MS Word, but I don’t like working in Google Docs. The feel isn’t quite the same for me, and I am one of those people paranoid about cloud storage of my precious work.
Not down for paying a premium but don’t want a web-based service?
Open/Libre Office– For those of you already familiar with these programs don’t jump on me for lumping them together. In my experience, Apache’s Open Office and Mozilla’s Libre Office are basically the same thing. A free computer-based open source word processing program. If you want more of a comparison between the two programs, check out How to Geek’s Comparison.
Want a program more tailored to the needs of creative writers?
Scrivener– Available for Windows, Mac, and iOS, Literature and Latte blessed the literary world with this one. Part word processor, part formatting app, it’s my go-to app for organizing my word vomit into a cohesive novel for publishing. There is a bit of a learning curve, it’s computer/device-based, and it’s not a free program. If you can afford the $45 regular price or $38.25 for students and academics, I highly recommend it!
I love having the ability to see my work outlined in different ways. It streamlines my content editing and story flow process immensely. One of the main features I use is their compile feature which allows me to take my work from outline to formatted manuscript, text file, paperback, ebook etc…
I cannot express how much this one writing app has changed my writing process for the better.
More Word processors specific to creative writing that I have absolutely no experience with, but are worth checking out:
Storyist– Mac and iOS Only. $59 for new users and $39 to upgrade from an older version. Like I stated earlier, I am not an Apple Product person, but I have heard rave reviews from people who do use it.
Ulysses– Mac and iOS Only. Subscription based, $4.99/month or $39.99/yr US price.
Novlr- Web-based subscription, $10/month or $100/annual
Dabble– Computer-based software with a $10/monthly or $100/annual subscription.
No matter what your preference there is sure to be a word processor out there that will suit your writing style. Don’t be afraid to give the ones I’ve mentioned a try. If you have your own feedback to add to mine or other programs you use feel free to drop some knowledge in the comment section.
They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover but in the world of self-Publishing the right or wrong cover can make or break you. In the saturated world of eBooks having an eye catching cover is everything.
Choosing the Right Cover
Research book covers in your genre – not saying you need to get a cookie cutter copy that will blend in with the masses but at least make sure that your cover has similar themes as the top books in your genre.
Consider your theme– Make sure your cover conveys the theme or tone of your novel. You don’t want to confuse readers before they even open your book. I made this mistake with my first covers. While I thought they were awesome they made my book seem like a comic or manga and possibly turned off readers in my genre, paranormal romance.
Repeat Covers– Unless you are writing a serial try not to use the same cover for all the books in your series. While they need to have some similarities to show that they are part of the same series. It’s not good form to keep the same exact cover for each. Also if you are using stock photos you would need to purchase a license for each book anyway so it doesn’t save you too much cost wise either.
Model Drama– There are only so many models available in the stock world. Especially if you are on a tight budget. If you use popular sites like iStock or Deposit Photos, don’t be upset if you see multiple books with your same model and pose.
DIY or Not– You may opt to create your own covers to reduce the production cost of your book. If that’s the case be sure to do your research on basic design principles like the rule of thirds. Don’t forget to check the licensing on any stock photos and fonts used in your work, especially from so-called free sites. Not all of the photos and fonts have free commercial use licenses and most have limits on how many copies can be made with the image even with a paid license.
Custom and Pre-Made Covers– If you don’t feel like figuring out how to make your own cover or just don’t have the required skills, there is nothing wrong with buying a premade cover or hiring someone to make the cover for you. A lot of authors, including myself choose this option. Premades can range from $25-$250 based on the detail of the work, quality of the stock photo, and type of cover (eBook, Print, audiobook). Custom covers vary in price based on the same criteria although custom artwork for your cover increases the cost exponentially. Custom covers range from $5-$500+.
Credit your artist– If you choose to buy premade or have custom work done, best practice is to credit the artist or firm in the front cover of your book as well as in the book data. Some artists even require this in their contract with you. As an author, it is important to credit those you have worked with not only to show support for your team and the other artists involved int he project but also to cover yourself in case of copyright issues involving the art.
Super excited to post about the first ever POC Paranormal Authors Book Club review/ discussion video. Purely out of coincidence my book Ferocious was chosen as the first book to be read.
Find Out More About Ferocious Here!
Since I obviously could not review my own work, this months discussion was more of a Q&A with me about the book. It was a fun a lively discussion that included several spoilers for the series as a whole. If you would like to see that video feel free to join POC Paranormal Authors Book Club on Facebook!
If you want to skip the spoilers without missing any of the action, watch my summarized video below! Don’t forget to check www.pocparanormalauthors.com for more info about authors of color in the paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi genres.
You may have seen a lot of this information floating around the interwebs but I’ve decided to put all of my knowledge and experience with ISBN’s here in an attempt to uncomplicate and facilitate new authors starting out.
Do you need an ISBN?
The short answer is YES!
Where do you get ISBNs?
Some publishing platforms offer free ISBNs but I prefer to get my own. There are many shady places that “sell” ISBNs but the only official and recognized source is Bowkers www.myidentifiers.com
Why should I buy my own ISBNs?
You should buy your own ISBNs if you want to have yourself listed as the official publisher of your work. If not the platform you publish on will be listed as your publisher and it can cause issues if you want to publish across multiple platforms with that ISBN.
Can you use an ISBN more than once?
Nope. Once you use an ISBN it is assigned to that book and that book only. That includes the same work in different formats. You will need an ISBN for your ebook, another for paperback, and another for hardback. eBooks thorugh Amazon will be assigned an ASIN which is not an ISBN and is not transferable to any place outside or Amazon.
Do I really need an ISBN for Ebooks?
That is honestly up to you. I personally rather have all my bases covered and have ISBNs for my ebooks.
How much do ISBNs cost?
On Bowker’s My Identifiers Prices are:
- 1 ISBN $125
- 10 ISBN $295
- 100 ISBN $575
Those prices can be pretty steep for some and a lot of self publishers opt for the free ISBN from their preferred platform for that reason. I know I did when I first started. So if you are on the fence about where you want to go with your writing. If your self-publishing journey isn’t something you are pursuing as a career than having an ISBN isn’t necessary but I highly recommend getting an ISBN for your book if you plan to become a professional author.
Now that you have your marketing strategy and time management down. It’s time to talk actual publishing of your work. If you have followed along with The Write Process Series you should already have a good idea of what formats you would like to produce and how to format them. If not then here is a quick rundown.
Audiobooks– The most expensive to produce, even if doing DIY. Not very lucrative without a dedicated following who prefers audiobooks. Complicated setup and high fees can be discouraging to some. I won’t be discussing Audiobooks in this post.
With that in
Kindle Direct Publishing/Createspace– Amazon is by far the largest distributor of eBooks in the world. Their set up is very user-friendly and a bonus it’s free! Even the royalty rates are more favorable to authors than other platforms with both 30% or 70% options available. Most self-publishers use this platform for that very reason, but it isn’t without its flaws.
New updates to reviewing criteria that denies or removes reader reviews, the demand for exclusivity to participate in their on-site promotions and kindle unlimited, and ever-changing algorithms that can either boost or bury your work make succeeding in sales on Amazon tricky.
Another thing to consider before doubling down with Amazon is if you want to see your work in brick and mortar stores. A lot of them see Amazon as a competitor and don’t stock books only available through Amazon. Especially if you choose to use the free Amazon ISBN. More on ISBNs Here.
Ingram Spark– The indie publishing arm of the massive Ingram complex, Ingram Spark provides quality print and ebooks with the backing of Ingram’s extensive distribution network (which includes Amazon). The downside, it’s expensive compared to other option running $50-$100 to upload your work. Formatting is much more involved for Ingram as well, and the provided tutorials aren’t very helpful. Ingram also has a dismal royalty rate compared to Amazon.
For example, the print version of my novel Ferocious is listed at a price of $8.99 but subtract the wholesale discount of 50% and the print cost and I only get roughly $0.30 per book. To get a larger cut I can raise my price, but being a lesser known Author I risk out pricing my audience by doing so.
At this point, you are probably wondering why I chose to use Ingram over KDP for my book. The reason is that I wanted to see my book in Brick and Mortar stores, have greater distribution into libraries, and I honestly feel the color and print quality of Ingram is better than Amazon if only marginally so.
Draft2Digital– This is basically a giant agreggation site. You upload your work to them and they take care of all the different criteria required by various sites. I have not used the print side of draft2digital nor their audiobook services but the ebook side is similar to Amazon in ease of use and cost.
I’ve only been on Draft2Digital for a week at the time of writing this article so I can’t say if it’s a better option than Amazon for ebooks. I can say that it is nice to have a single link to all of the places my books are available. No more giant lists of links for each format and platform. I will provide an update when I have more experience with this site.
Other sites that I have little to no experience with:
- Google Books
- Barnes and Nobles
- 24 symbols
- Mondadori store
- Angus and Robertson
I highly suggest checking out each platform and deciding which best suits your needs and wants as far as distribution and offerings. Where you publish and how your book is distributed can really make the difference in how professional you come across in your publishing endeavors. If you have any questions, comments, or additions to this post please feel free to add them to the comments section.