Stereo Goals Redux

If you are a long-time follower of this blog you might remember my first attempt at a DIY audiobook. While I had an awesome weekend hanging out with my dad and cringing through my sex scenes, all in all my efforts didn’t make the cut. Xander’s Claim has yet to make its audiobook debut and while I still have the recordings, I have since revamped the entire novel making them useless.

Oh, the pitfalls of hasty publishing…lol

Xander’s Claim all cued up

Now that I am more experienced and am producing a higher quality of literary work, I have decided to give making audiobooks another shot. Sadly, I have moved too far away to get my Dad into the recording process this time. However, he graciously gifted me with all of the programs and material needed. I am a proud Daddy’s girl and it shows.

The first step in creating an audiobook is choosing which book to read or have read. Since I am a little pressed for time and I don’t want to over tax myself. I decided to take my chances with my latest short story release, Coy Wolf. Get creative with me this August in my first truly solo attempt at an audiobook!

My next sacrifice to the audiobook spirits

Real Talk|Author Politico

In today’s political climate it is almost impossible to keep politics away from your author brand. I say screw being neutral. Art is supposed to stir the emotions, convey the authors world view. It doesn’t matter if you write non-fiction or fiction, romance or horror; at the end of the day your political and moral beliefs will shine through even the most critical of editing.

My words of advice, don’t hide it. Be true to yourself and your beliefs. At least as much as you are willing to publicly defend. I am not privileged enough to be able to separate politics from my daily life and therefore I don’t stress about even trying. It can be a burden at times but mostly its freeing. You don’t have to like or agree with everything I say but I encourage you not to separate the person from the art.

Sincerely,

Stella Williams

Writing Update!

It’s a new month full of new and exciting adventures! Check out the video below to see what I’ve been up to over the holiday!

Spring Into Summer Reading

The following is a list of books I have added to my collection and where to get them. Check out my YouTube Video below for more details!

Write Craft

The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell

The Joy of Writing Sex by Elizabeth Benedict

Thinking Like A Romance Writer by Dahlia Evans

Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes

General Fantasy/Paranormal

Gunship Diplomacy by Jonathan Hanson

Night World No. 3 by LJ Smith

Latino Fiction

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival

Putas Asesinas by Roberto Bolano

Black Fiction

Satan You can’t have my marriage by Aliada Duncan

The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni (1968-1998)

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Stella’s Author Bookshelf

Ferocious (Hardcover)

#NotHotandSuperSticky

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.

#serpentinesummer writing challenge

#HotandSticky

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!

The Write Software: Formatting

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.

Kindle Create

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.

Kindle Create Add-in for Word

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!

The Write Software: Editing

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.

Free Software

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

Paid Software

Grammarly Premium

I have a premium subscription and “I put that ish on everythang!”. No, seriously. I have the keyboard on my phone, the add-in for MS Word, my browser, and email. When you are supposed to be a professional writer, you can’t let them catch you slippin’ in these streets.

Pricing
  • 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

Photo from https://prowritingaid.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. Otherwise it’s the only program I know where you are actually editing for content and not just line editing.

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.

Pricing
  • Offers a 14 day free trial no credit card needed
  • Monthly Subscription $20
  • Annual Subscription $200

For a detailed review of Fictionary Click Here

AutoCrit

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.

Pricing
  • 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 Writing Assistant

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.

Features

  • Online, mobile, and computer based software
  • Grammar checker
  • plagiarism checker
  • Translator
  • Tiered Subscription Plan

Pricing

  • 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!

The Write Software: Writing

Word Processing

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.

The Write Publishing: Judge A Book By Its Cover

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.

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