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YA Indie Carnival: Book Length

Posted in book reviews, indie, publishing, romance fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , , , , on June 3, 2013 by rachelcoles

Hi fellow indie writers and readers!

Had an exciting weekend! It was the Denver Comic Con weekend, and we dressed up! Got to show off the costumes we’ve been working on for months. My husband and I went as Stilgar and Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohaim. PUT YOUR RIGHT HAND IN THE BOX! THERE’S BACON IN THE BOX! RESIST THE BACON! No, there wasn’t any bacon in the box, but you need to adjust the motivation for your current applicants to the Sisterhood.

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And our daughter, the cutest…I mean scariest weeping angel! I have discovered that while you can’t blink, if you put on iCarly, you can distract this one. But make sure not to leave out spaghetti or chocolate milk. It attracts weeping angels.

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Now that the insanity of Comicon is over, today’s topic is book length! How long should your book be?

The short answer for me is: However long it needs to be to feel done.

I don’t know how long books are supposed to be. I’ve read books that were very short that were page-turners that were amazing and left me satisfied. I’ve read books that were like War and Peace length that felt like they breezed past because they were so well written. And I sometimes feel as though long series with complicated arcs are like that. They don’t seem like separate books. Perhaps they are only separate for the sake of physical publishing limitations, but it is really a seamless story from one book to the next: such as with the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons. Some ideas are so sweeping, they need a lot of space to tell. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve read, or tried to read books that felt like I was reading a library after only a few pages. They filled up my attention span with three pages of description about the main character’s baroque button on his velvet shirt against his well-sculpted chest.  For that kind of detail or attention to the characters’ appearances, I have porn.

How well the story is told is, to me, more important than its length, knowing how long it needs to be to really tell the story fully without being repetitive or getting lost in the weeds. That’s not easy to do. I just kind of wing it. I’ve had both situations happen to me in writing where I started off spare, and then realized when I was almost done that a character thread was missing, or I hadn’t given enough detail or backstory. So I go back and add whatever I feel is missing. On the other hand, everyone falls prey to repetition, so I’ve also written pages and pages, then gone back and realized that what I was trying to say could be said in a couple paragraphs rather than three pages. Or I’ve realized that the bit that I was putting in, while interesting to me in terms of the character’s backstory, was slowing down the rest of the flow, and wasn’t really necessary to move the plot.

I think the best advice I’ve gotten about length is: Write the book. Don’t even think about the length unless you are going to submit to somewhere that has a limit and needs to fall between a range of words. And then, go back and see if the length needs to be dealt with in editing, or not. Read through it and decide whether it tells the story you want it to tell. That will let you know if you need to add or take away.

But see what the other indies have to say at the websites below!

1. Laura A. H. Elliott 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series 4. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga
5. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 6. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
7. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 8. Liz Long | Just another writer on the loose.
9. Ella James 10. Maureen Murrish
11. YA Sci Fi Author’s Ramblings 12. A Little Bit of R&R
13. Melissa Pearl 14. Terah Edun – YA Fantasy
15. Heather Sutherlin – YA Fantasy 16. Melika Dannese Lux, author of Corcitura and City of Lights

And here’s what’s new at the YA Author Club!

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YA Indie Carnival: The Importance of the Wolfpack, Beta Readers, Cover Designers, Editors, etc.

Posted in book reviews, publishing, romance fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , , , , on October 5, 2012 by rachelcoles

Wow, as important as the writing itself is, making sure that what gets out there to readers is good is equally important. I had a blast writing Pazuzu’s Girl. That was the fun part. The real work part came when I needed to turn it into a real book. Fortunately, we have lots of skilled people to help us do that, or at least we should.

The first thing should be to get someone else’s eyes on it other than yours. As writers, our words are like our kids. We fall in love with them no matter how cranky, pimply, or dorky they can be. But words aren’t kids. And when they suck, we need to cut them from the story or change them. We can’t see that, because we’re busy reveling in them, like parents poring through every inane picture we’ve ever taken of them. So we need someone else to make suggestions about how to make the story better. That’s where editors and beta readers come in. If you are a writer, get in a critique group. Free beta reading and sometimes free editing help too. This is critical, getting critiques. I go to the Denver Fiction Writers Critique Group, but it doesn’t matter where you are, there are usually groups in your area, and if there aren’t, yay internet! There are online groups too that are awesome. The one thing that is the most important about a critique group is that it is honest and constructive. You don’t want people who are just going to tell you you’re wonderful and pat your ego because that won’t help your story, and you don’t want a group that will just tell you that you suck either because that is discouraging and doesn’t make writing very much fun. You want people who will tactfully point out what’s wrong with this or that part of the story and maybe even give suggestions on what might make it better. On the other hand, it’s still your story. If you feel strongly about a feature of the story even after being really honest with yourself, it’s okay to stick to your guns. Writing by committee doesn’t work because it erases your voice and changes your story into something that isn’t yours, or what you were trying to say. But the bottom line is, make editors and beta readers your best friends when you are trying to clean up your story and make it good.

Cover designers are equally important when you are ready to get people interested in picking up your book. They must say in one picture,  for a two-second glance what you took a 100,000 words to write. Or at least, they have to convey enough information to make someone, preferably lots of people, pick up the book and go, “Ooh, this looks cool, I wonder what it’s about?” Artists tell a story too, so what story they tell on your cover is the representation of you and your work. They are highly visual, and so they can identify whether simple is better, or more complicated. Sometimes the simplest images are the most elegant and communicative. Other times, more elaboration is needed, but your artist will usually be the one who has the most expertise on what would represent your book visually the best. That doesn’t mean that you should just go with whatever they think. It is your representation, so you approve and make suggestions based on your knowledge of the book, to make sure that the picture conveys what you want it to.

Formatters are, for me, the wizards of the word processing world. The best book can be wrecked if the format is confusing to read. And maybe it’s just my generation, at the beginning of the personal computing wave, or maybe I’m just kind of neo-Luddite, but formatting myself has always been a challenge. I have 15 years of experience with Word, and still, every time they come out with a new version, I might as well be reading the Handbook for the Recently Deceased from Beetlejuice for all it takes me to figure out how to do things like format, all over again. So I am eternally grateful to people who can work formatting magic and make it look like it wasn’t written by a computer-illiterate 2nd grader, though my 2nd grader is probably more literate than me, given that she’s never even seen a television that you had to change channels by hand, or an old-fashioned rotary phone.

Ultimately, getting a book out is a group effort! Yay wolfpack!

So, see what other tips and stories our carnies have and their experiences with working with the wolfpack?

1. Laura A. H. Elliott 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series 4. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga
5. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 6. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
7. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 8. Heather M. White, author of The Destiny Saga
9. Liz Long | Just another writer on the loose. 10. Ella James
11. Maureen Murrish 12. Valerie Sloan
13. YA Sci Fi Author’s Ramblings 14. A Little Bit of R&R
15. Melissa Pearl

And see what’s new and being released soon at the YA Author Club!

3 Tips for YA Indie Authors

Posted in indie, publishing, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2011 by rachelcoles

Indie publishing, while it’s come a long way in the past decade with the advent of the internet and associated technologies, is still a challenge. Some challenges come as part of the new arena. You are one voice among billions, trying to be heard above a cacophony of other voices who want to be heard as much as you, and have as much access to do so now. I have a six-year old, and so I’m reminded of Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who, of course. So how do you rise above being like the individual Who’s in Whoville about to be dropped into beezlenut oil, and collectively become the ‘YOP!’ heard by the waiting public? In my limited experience here are the three most prominent tips I’ve found helpful so far.

1. Edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit. And when you’re done editing, edit some more. And when you’re done editing some more, get someone else, or several someones, some fresh, but experienced eyes, to edit. Unlike the Whos in Whoville, the ‘YOP’ they called out wasn’t going to be judged on timbre, clarity, tone, pitch or the quality of visual effects they could use for background music video. It just had to be heard. One of the biggest barriers to indie authors is not only that there are so many, but that many, out of lack of a formal editor, put out a product that is unpolished. Not necessarily bad, most ideas I see are very good ones. It sometimes just takes a few tries to get the execution right. That’s where publishing houses have an advantage, that needs to be made up somehow. This is more than possible. Join a writers group, hire a freelance editor, hit up your English teacher friend and buy them dinner. But get an editor, someone not as close to the work as you. Your work is your baby, it’s a part of you, which means that you are too close to see flaws by yourself, no matter how awesome you are.

2. Promote yourself. I’m notoriously bad at this. I forget to mention important things like, ‘Oh yeah, did I tell my own mother that my new story just came out in a horror magazine a week ago?’ Nope, I didn’t. She read it on Facebook. It might even have been an automated post. And when I do remember, I’m as blunt as a hammer. ‘Hi, Buy my book! It’s really cool! Buy my book! Hey, guess what? My books are cool, buy my books!’ Even if I could write elaborate stories, be a Mensa supergenius, and have a vocabulary that covers the entire dictionary, (which I’m not, and I don’t), but once I start thinking about self-promotion, I turn into a six-year old tugging on Mom’s sleeve to get her attention while she’s on the phone. But all the same, it’s a critical step in indie publishing, in any publishing. The only difference, is that in traditional publishing, you have formal help. This is where social media is useful. Have a website, use Twitter and Facebook. They broaden word-of-mouth into something potentially global in scope.

3. Join a group, like this fine YA Carnival group. Like the Whos in Whoville, together, we can make a sound heard by far more people than alone. Rather than thinking competitively like other business ventures, authors, like musicians often realize that collaboration creates new projects and ideas and takes each author’s voice higher and to more places than it could have gone otherwise. It is like a swelling symphony rather than the dissonance of competing yells in a bazaar. Without collaboration, the world of indie publishing will go right into the boiling vat of beezlenut oil.

So explore the world of indie authors, and visit my fellow YA Indie writers, and see their tips, and check out some of their work. They’re well worth the read!

http://www.refractedlightreviews.com Danny Snell’s Refracted Light Reviews

http://pattilarsen.blogspot.com Patti Larsen, Author of The Ghost Boy of MacKenzie House, the Hunted series, and the Hayle Coven novels.
http://courtneycolewrites.wordpress.com Courtney Cole, Author of Every Last Kiss, Fated, Princess, and Guardian. Also a contributing author in The Glassheart Chronicles.
http://wrenemerson.wordpress.com Wren Emerson, Author of I Wish and a contributing author in The Glassheart Chronicles.
http://laurasmagicday.wordpress.com Laura Elliott, Author of Winnemucca.
http://nicoleawilliams.blogspot.com Nichole A. Williams, Author of Eternal Eden, and the upcoming Fallen Eden. She is also participating in the Glassheart Chronicles.
http://fisheramelie.com/blog/ Fisher Amelie, Author of The Understorey, as well as a contributing author in The Glassheart Chronicles.
http://amyjonesyaff.blogspot.com Amy Maurer Jones, Author of The Soul Quest Trilogy as well as a contributing author in The Glassheart Chronicles.
http://thewarriorseries.blogspot.com T. R. Graves, Author of Warriors of the Cross.
http://ctefft.blogspot.com Cyndi Tefft, Author of Between
http://pjhoover.blogspot.com P.J. Hoover, Author of Solstice, The Emerald Tablet, The Navel of the World, The Necropolis.
http://www.aliciamccalla.com Alicia McCalla, Author of the upcoming science-fiction novel Breaking Free.
http://heathercashman.com/better_off_read Heather Cashman, Author of Perception.
http://www.abbiglines.com Abbi Glines, Author of Breathe, and the upcoming Existence and Vincent Boys.
http://cidneyswanson.blogspot.com/ Cidney Swanson, Author of Rippler.
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