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The Write Publishing: Traditional vs Self Publishing

Probably one of the most heated debates in the literary world. Which one is better? If you ask the writing community across social media, you will find many strong opinions about both. In this article, I will try and give an objective list of the pros and cons to help you decide for yourself.

Traditional Publishing

Pros

  • The backing of a company
  • Cover design, formatting, finding an editor all taken care of
  • Initial marketing push
  • Implied Prestige and legitimacy
  • More/easier access to brick and mortar stores
  • Advances and multiple book contracts

Cons

  • Deadlines
  • Less control over your work
  • Low royalty rates
  • Long process
  • Rejection
  • Contractual obligations

Self Publishing

Pros

  • Complete creative control
  • Produce and publish on your own schedule
  • The possibility of higher royalty rates
  • Flexibility in content (niche markets)

Cons

  • Covering production and marketing costs
  • Imposter syndrome
  • Harder to get into brick and mortar stores
  • No advances
  • Competition

Not all authors choose between the two. A lot of traditionally published authors self publish works for niche markets not represented well by traditional publishing. On the other side of it, many self-published authors still send out queries and pursue agents to traditionally publish their work at some point. The writing world doesn’t have to be one or the other.
It all comes down to what makes sense for you and your work.

The Write Process: Formatting

Hurray! You’ve completed your manuscript and its run the gammut of editing. Now it’s time to format for publishing.

I am going to be honest. Formatting your manuscript for print can be a total pain. Formatting isn’t just an issue for self-published authors. A poorly formatted manuscript will quickly get your work rejected by agents and traditional publishers alike.

Formatting for Traditional Publishing

Thankfully, manuscript formatting is fairly straight forward. Most writing software already has a manuscript template or setting that cuts down on your work immensely. Still, it’s good to know what the guidelines are in case you need to format on your own. The following is a screenshot of a template for Microsoft Word.

The title page should include your name and contact information, number of words in your manuscript, as well as the obvious title and by line.

Headers should have the author’s last name, the title of the book, and page number.

The Body of the manuscript requires a little more work. If you have chapter titles, include them instead of the basic Chapter One. There should be one-inch margins and double spacing between lines. Text should be Times New Roman with 12pt font. Some Agents and publishers may require slightly different settings or additional content, but these are the basics.

Formatting for Self-Publishing

This is where things get more complicated. Most people skip this part altogether and rely on a formatting program or pay a professional to do it for them. How you format your self published novel depends on your genre and personal style.

There are some template available online, most of them are for word. How you format your self-published work also depends on what publishing platform you decide to use, and if you are publishing an Ebook or Print Book. Sites like Ingram Spark, Draft2Digital, Amazon KDP, and LuLu all provide either a template of guidelines for submission.

If you plan to publish with Amazon, the process isn’t as bad. Amazon provides users with a free formatting app, Kindle Create, for ebooks that simplifies the process immensely. While the app says it works for print as well, having personally used it, I cannot confirm that claim. Hopefully, there will be a way in the future as this is still in Beta testing. Below is a screenshot of Kindle Create using the word file from the manuscript template shown above.

Stereo Goals Day 6

With all of my re-recording finished it was finally time to export my audio files! It was a very exciting moment but still a tedious one.  Part of working with my father is that he loves to teach as he goes. That meant while I would much rather be catching up on some market research I’m huddled over his computer screen listening to him go over every detailed step of his music editing software and how it processes my voice to be turned into my glorious audio book. No harm no foul considering one day I may need the knowledge to create a truly DIY audio book.

Finally with all my files edited and converted to the proper format it is time to upload it! I chose to use Audible.com to distribute my audio book.  I uploaded each file individually and once completed, clicked submit for their final review.  The website says it will take 10-14 business days to review my files to ensure their quality and that I will be notified immediately of any faults.  Let the waiting games begin!

Lessons Learned Day 6:

  • Listen and Learn- If your sound tech/engineer/whoever is recording is willing to teach you the tricks of the trade, GO FOR IT and be GRATEFUL!
  • Be prepared to wait- It seems I spent more time waiting than recording during this whole process.

 

Stereo Goals Day 5

In the beginning, when I gave myself two weeks to record my audio book I hadn’t given a thought to the long editing and publication process. I thought it would take the whole two weeks to finish getting one recording from the beginning to the end of my book. However, since Day 4 was so productive, Day 5 in the studio I finally read the last paragraph. At least I thought I had. Silly me!
Major setback, SNAFU, WTF moment. The version of my book I had recorded turned out not to be the final version of my book as published! I know you are probably thinking, “How in the world did you not know/notice that?!” Well to answer your question. This was my first book ever published and I self-published it with absolutely no clue what I was doing initially. So the book had undergone many, many updates the last and most polished of which only had a few changes, mostly formatting changes, made to it. So while the majority of the story is the same, I may have switched around a paragraph or two. On top of that, I had split my chapters up slightly different in the final version than the version I recorded.
Lucky me these changes could easily be made without too much additional recording since I had the forethought to record in paragraphs instead of long sections. The fix was just a matter of moving around a few audio files and adding a couple minutes more of narration. Still the process is time-consuming and currently ongoing.
Lessons Learned Day 5
Make sure you are recording what you meant to record- It’s seriously embarrassing and extremely costly both in time and money (if you are paying a producer/voice actor) to go through what I am going through now.

Stereo Goals Day 4

I stepped into the studio ready to go. I’d warmed up my vocal chords beforehand by singing while getting ready and was able to do most of my narration with only one or two repetitions of each paragraph. My deadline was still a heavy weight on my shoulder but not because I wasn’t sure I could get everything recorded in time. My worry at this point was mostly editing. After day 3 my father spent three more hours in the studio cutting out extra-long pauses and making sure there was enough air space at the beginning and end of each recording.
It’s important to note that I did let my Dad do this on his own without my input because he wasn’t actually cutting anything important and we had strict guidelines on just how much space was needed for chapters, sections, paragraphs etc. Depending on who you are working with you may want to be a little more hands-on with the editing process and if you are doing everything on your own maybe editing as you go so it’s not some monumental task at the end.
By the end of Day 4, I’d managed a big jump from 30% to 82% complete.
Lessons Learned Day 4

  • Warm Up- Sing a couple of songs and stretch your body out a little helps to minimize how many takes you do and keeps your body from getting too stiff from sitting or standing for too long.
  • Wear quiet clothing- Bulky sweaters and jogging pants might not be the best comfortable clothes for recording unless you want to stand like a statue while recording to minimize excess rustling noise.
  • Edit as you go- A few small tweaks while recording can save hours of time editing later.

Stereo Goals Day 3

The third day in the studio was a lot easier in some ways and harder in others. The pressure of having such a short time frame to complete my audiobook was getting to me. I rushed through my narration and it ended up taking longer than it should have because I kept getting tongue-tied. There were whole sections that had to be recorded over and over again because it sounded forced or rushed.
Day three was also the day I got to my first sex scene. It is infinitely easier to write a sex scene in the comfort of your own space. Publishing them is easy too because although you hope your readers enjoy them, you aren’t there to see their reactions to them. Reading them out loud was a bit embarrassing. Well, to be totally honest, it was extremely awkward and embarrassing, due greatly to the fact that my producer just happens to also be my Dad. I hadn’t thought about that part when I jumped at the opportunity to use his studio and expertise to record my audio book for free.
Despite everything, I still managed to get another 15% recorded which brought me to 30%. Not bad for all my setbacks.
Lessons Learned Day 3

  • Don’t wear earrings- the headphones crushed my studs into my ears and it was very uncomfortable.
  • Don’t rush- it doesn’t sound right in playback and you are more likely to make mistakes.

Stereo Goals- Day One

The first thing I needed to decide was how to produce my audio book. As I mentioned in my previous post, a professional producer and voice actor are pretty expensive. It’s one of the major factors in the high cost of audiobooks in comparison to their print and digital counterparts. Narrating my own work cuts out one cost but the cost of the equipment necessary to make a professional audio file can be just as expensive as hiring a producer. Not saying it can’t be done, it’s just a lot of upfront cost on top of my already meager budget as a self-published author. My saving grace, Big Swang Productions. A small, one man, basement operation with impressive credentials and very reasonable pricing.

 

With that figured out, my biggest issue was time. My whole audio book needed to be finished within a short two-week deadline and with only two-ish hours a day of recording time. Most would think that is plenty of time, to put it in perspective, it took me two hours just to get oriented with the recording space and record my opening credits and first paragraph. Once I caught on to how things worked the process sped up drastically. Overall, day one in the studio went okay. I was a little nervous and it took me a good ten minutes to relax and not sound too much like an automaton while recording. Who knew reading words could be so hard?

Lessons Learned Day One:

  • Have water or tea nearby- After take thirty your throat will feel like sand paper without it.
    Be prepared to repeat everything until its perfect
  • Pronunciation and Annunciation are key- Meaning to say Claude but hearing Cloud and/or Clot can and will happen
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes- The more comfortable and relaxed you are the easier it is to focus on your performance
  • Have a plan/goal- Record your book in sections just as you wrote the book. It’s easier to edit by paragraph or chapter than it is as one long audio track.

 

Stereo Goals

Whoever said, “writing is the easy part”… Well, I’ve said it a few times myself, but lately, I feel like it’s actually the hardest. So in order to keep my brain from shorting out with writer’s worry, I’ve decided to brush off a few projects I had sidelined in my quest to maintain my writing goals. Keeping up with my blog is one of them but also creating an audiobook for my already completed work. I will be documenting my DIY audio book journey in subsequent posts, thus checking both boxes on my “To Do” list.

There are a lot of things that go into creating an audio book that a novice like me hadn’t thought about. The cost of a producer and voice actor can be insane. Still, recording one with my laptop’s microphone and some random free software just wouldn’t be a very good product. Without any clue how to edit it properly my work wouldn’t be accepted on any major audio book site like Audible.com or Audiobooks.com.

So what exactly is needed to create a professional DIY audio book? Well, there is plenty of really good information readily available through google and audiophile blogs. Since I am an admitted Amazon junky; Audible’s Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) blog is where I got all my information. They did it so well I highly suggest browsing here.

The short version.

You will need:

1.) A quiet place to record
2.) A decent microphone
3.) Audio editing software like Pro Tools
4.) A reliable computer
5.) Lots of time and patience

New Book!

Claude's_Conquest_Cover_for_Kindle

The Maura’s Men Series continues…

Claude’s Conquest 

Now available on Amazon in Print and eBook!!!!!

After escaping the clutches of the evil Vampiress Maura, three friends struggle with the past in finding a new way of life and love…

Claude is nobody’s hero, yet he finds himself saving yet another damsel in distress. He should have learned his lesson the first time. Cat had been a major thorn in his side but at least he hadn’t been unfortunate enough to be attracted to her. That had been Xander’s problem. Now he had a problem all his own. The charming and intelligent Gretchen threatens everything Claude has come to accept about himself.

Gretchen is not amused by Claude’s advances. His arrogance combined with the skeletons in her closet has Gretchen on the defensive. Dealing with Claude is merely a means to an end; she wants her independence as well as vengeance. If only her body would get on board.

http://amzn.to/1Irs3yP

Motivational Slump

This post has been a long time coming at least in the blogosphere (I’m pretty sure that’s a word but my spell check says otherwise). I’ve been really MIA on posting for the past two months. I can say it is all a combination of being super motivated to get Claude’s Conquest ready for publishing (sill not even close) and other writing side projects, but mostly just blatant laziness and I dare say a touch of outside world interference (mandatory trips to see my parents and helping my sister move).  Then to add insult to injury my brain has decided it doesn’t want to make sense at all so even when i have the time and I remember to log in, all I manage to put down is a bunch of rambling nonsense.  Kind of like now…lol.  So please, all the people I think actually read my blog I promise to be more diligent in my posts and not just cute pictures of my sidekick although those are sure to come.  Oh and Claude’s Conquest is still set to be out on Amazon by December but in the meantime if you haven’t checked it out already the first book in the Maura’s Men series Xander’s Claim is available now, only 99cents on Amazon.

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