Tag Archives: edit

The War Against Self-Published Authors

A definite war has been waged against self-published authors. Sentiments that just because you can take pen to paper and hit submit does not make you an author. In a world when anyone with access to internet can submit a book, what exactly defines an author?

There has even been an argument over writer versus author in this article (Self-Publishers Should Not Be Called Authors, by Michael Kozlowski). The overwhelming amount of snobbery was clear, as it would appear the elite once again do not enjoy “indies” trampling their path. To summarize the article in a nutshell, Mr. Kozlowski states, “If you can earn your living from your writing, you are a professional author, anyone else is just a plain old writer.” The premise to most of this article is that self-published authors (or writers) have not honed in their craft and publish, for lack of a better word, crap.

Some would say that self-publishing is for those who don’t want to spend years on perfecting their art in an apprenticeship as stated by Ros Barber in this Guardian post (For Me Traditional Publishing Means Poverty. But Self-Publish? No Way. “…you will be very glad that the first novel you wrote was not the first novel you published, because it will now feel embarrassing and amateurish,” he states. Going on to state in one of his sections that “Self-Publishing Can Make You Feel Like a Fool.”

These are not the exceptions. I searched many different terminologies and encountered several different blogs, reports, and editorials waging battle against Self-Published authors. Take into consideration that many articles were first littered with self-proclamations of their success. After reading articles for hours, I, as a self-published author, felt more like a peasant at the house of the tax keeper begging for mercy. My place is not among the elite. Maybe that was their point: put us groveling self-pub writers, because we haven’t yet earned our stripes through multitudes of failure, in our order on the literary food chain. Can you say, accomplished writers eat their young?

By definition a writer is one who writes in a particular text. This can encompass all types of writers: journalists, screenplay, novels, blogs, reviewers, scientific findings, technical, email. An author is a writer of a book, article, or report. Which makes, by definition, a self-published writer an author. Are there variations of authortude? I would say so. As any person who takes a picture, selfie or otherwise, is a photographer, that does not make them a “professional” photographer. By definition, professional is defined as, “one engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur.”

To recap: anybody who puts pen to paper (or types) is a writer. I wrote an email. I sent a text. A writer who has written a book, article, or report is an author. I am a self-published author. A professional author makes their living from their writings. Nicholas Sparks and James Patterson are professional authors. I am a  registered nurse by profession and an author by passion.

So why the war against self-published authors? If there is one main theme that runs through the disdain of each article it is one I can relate to the most: poorly edited books. Yes writers, just because you can put pen to paper and easily upload to a publishing platform, does not mean you should. I’ve written on this topic several times, and if you read the comments of some of those articles named above, you will see a plethora of readers agree that poorly edited books have turned them off to self-published books forever. They go so far as to research authors before purchasing books, and I do mean some deep research is going into this.

“… we must all strive to put out the best.”

Readers are most certainly looking for the next best thing, and they do not feel that traditional publishing is the be all to end all in books. They are looking for progressive story lines. Stories that break the rules. They are tired of being dictated to by big publishing houses. They want you! But, as a writer looking to author a book you have the duty to produce remarkable well polished work; inside and out. Yes. Yes. Yes. Readers judge a book by a cover.

You don’t need to build upon failures in order to become accomplished, but you do need to know that self-publishing is not free, requires editing, requires the ability to take criticism, requires writes and rewrites until you want to throw your manuscript at a wall and never see it again. Sometimes it takes years and for others it takes months. Do not be that author that hits submit on a non-edited book, that took no criticism prior to publishing, just because the opportunity is there. These faulty books are damaging the reputations of self-published authors.

self-publishing-cartoonWith all that being said, for every article found on the internet bashing indie authors there is an article praising us. There may be a war waged against self-pub, but there is an army of accomplished and professional authors backing up our industry. We are not alone, but we must put our best foot forward. Sometimes our first book is a jumping off point, one that does not need to be published. I’ve worked with several new authors who bled through their  first book then shelved it. That was the learning curve for them, and they knew it wasn’t worthy of publishing, but it was momentum to do better next time, to learn from mistake after mistake. And some get that award winning novel spot on the very first time. We are all different in skills, in stories, in our failures, but we must all strive to put out the best. You only get one chance to make a first impression, make it your best. And remember, you represent a larger group: self-published authors.

Tania L Ramos, RN BSN and author
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Starring in Her 1st Professional Interview

Back in January I wrote that someone from Iuniverse contacted me about doing an interview. They said I did a lot of social media work, really worked up the book, and made myself known across different platforms. Well, that’s what us indie’s do, right? Of course I agreed to do the interview. How amazing is that? In the world of indie authors, that’s a pretty stinkin’ big deal.

A month or so later, I did the interview. It was all very nicely done, and the interviewer was a real sweetheart. Once it was wrapped up there was nothing to do but wait. And wait. And wait. Okay, just so you all know–and maybe it’s just me–but when I have to wait for something more than a minute, I assume something is wrong.

OH MY GOD!!! The interview sucked! I sucked! I looked hideous and they just couldn’t put that for people to see. I sounded dumb, or made no sense. They decided nobody wanted to hear my story. The lighting was wrong. Did I have a huge zit on my nose? Did I just mortify them to the point that my interview was laying on some editing room floor?

Eventually, I simply repressed the memory of any interview ever happening. Yet, a piece of my soul was shattered (cue dramatic clutching of the chest). Then, Sunday night, I was searching the pages of Iuniverse to find some info, and when I landed on one page I saw a video clip and thought, “Hmm, that girl looks like me.” The name was wrong (Tonia Ramon), it was close but oh so very not me. I took a closer look and yelped. It was me. What I found was that they didn’t just make one video about using Iuniverse, but turned it into two videos with the other about the importance of editing. Worry? Who me? Pshhhhaw. I knew it would be awesome.

So, please watch my videos; show some love and support, leave a comment on YouTube and let Iuniverse know that I’m kind of a big deal. 😀 Thank you all.

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author with 3 Minutes of Fame

Be Still by Tania L Ramos available on ebooks, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon
Life by Chance coming this holiday season

Choosing an Editor

I’ve sought out several editors and received a few sample reviews. As an author you either feel elated to get some feedback or dread any kind of feedback. After my first book, I was dreading any kind of feedback. Imagine building something tangible, something that you think is the most fantastic thing to ever brew forth from your imagination, and then imagine someone comes by and tells you what could be better. That’s how it feels to send a manuscript to editing.

But there’s more. Perhaps you have heard of the author’s voice. This is the mannerism in which an author writes: short sentences, long sentences, lots of detail, lots of dialogue, minimal dialogue, to the point, and so much more. This way of telling a story is an extension of the author. It is a creative process built on blood, sweat, tears, and lots and lots of hallucinations and voices. We tell a story the way we see fit . . .

Then enter the editor to tell us what we saw fit isn’t what the reader sees fit. And so ensues a battle of the creative process. There are things to consider when getting an editor, here is my list:

  • Get a sample edit of at least 1,000 words
  • Explain your voice
  • Give a small synopsis of your story
  • Explain what you expect: line editing, review, developmental, copy editing, etc
  • Know the cost up front. Don’t waste your time or theirs.
  • Ask for references
  • Be leery of all cash up front services. Ask if there is a payment plan, and ask for an invoice of services.
  • Be sure they work in your genre
  • Ask what the ETA of editing is

There are things an author needs to be prepared for:

  • The cold hard truth
  • Lots of red marks
  • Changes to your words
  • Changes of entire sentences
  • Lots and lots of advise

Before you submit a manuscript to editing be sure you are mentally prepared. Limber up. Eat healthy. Watch funny movies. Do anything that gets you in a good frame of mind. When your manuscript comes back, you may want to do that all over again. Take a deep breath, hug a kitty, then send the kitty away because you don’t want to harm anyone of anything when you open the file.

Above all, remember you own creative rights. You don’t have to change a damn thing. That being said, after you read it the first time, walk away for a day or two and then come back after the dust has settled. Keep an open mind always.

As for me, its time to choose my editor.

Tania L Ramos, RN and Author Reading the Red Stuff

Live Bat in Your House Kind of Day

Ever have a really bad day and think it just can’t get worse than this? I had that week. Suckish paycheck. Two week headache with sinus pressure. Sick kid. I start feeling sick. Writer’s block on top of editing. All thrown into one big giant migraine salad sprinkled with a cancelled trip to Tampa.

Could it get worse? I heard meowing at my room door. Not the typical, “hey let me in, I need to be scratched,” meow (yes, I know the various meows). This was the one, “Hey, let me in because I have a surprise for you,” meow. This could be good or bad. I take that back, it could be mediocre or, “Hey, look momma–I caught a live bat and let it loose in your house,” kind of bad.

I ignored the first meows and realized she had gone away. Five minutes later she was at my door with the same noise. Realizing there could be a shrine of carcasses at my door, piling up, I decide to go see the fuss. Could it get worse? At the door, looking rather curious and harmless, was my cat with her tauntings: a pencil and a guitar tuner.

I have writer’s block and my cat wants to write music. Figures! Well, when life gives you lemons, you get your musically inclined cat and start a band called Kitty and the Lemonade Stand. Could it get any worse? It could, but after writing our hit single The Dog Ate my Cat Food, I felt surprisingly better. Time to get writing.

guitar cat
Tania L Ramos, RN and Author Singing Backup

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Something Amazing Happened

Life by Chance has been sitting on the cyber shelf for months now. I’ve complained for sometime that my own life has gotten in the way of my budding writing career. I was able to put two books out in ten months when I was staying at home and my only written doctor’s orders were to not get fat and not eat Oreo cookies in bed. As if! Mmmmm, cookies–

So, I opened my cyber shelf and pulled out the book to start edits.  I had already edited the first so many chapters a few months back, so I started where I left off. Something amazing happened! I was so enthralled by this story line that I forgot to edit. Two chapters in, I was blubbering like a wounded child. My own story made me cry. Holy cow.

It had been so long since I wrote it that I forgot just how intense and wonderfully dark it was.  I text Glenn just to announce that I was an amazing writer.  Not  to toot my own horn but beep beep.

Once I wiped my eyes dry, I went back to do the editing. Something amazing happened! I realized that my grammar and my creative writing skills were at the opposite ends of the “amazing” spectrum.  I was blubbering like a wounded child. My own story made me cry . . . at just how much professional editing is going to cost me.  Holy cow.

How do you feel after rereading your manuscript that has been shelved for a while? I’m loving all the Twitter and FB responses so far.

Tania L Ramos RN, Author whose day job pays for editing

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Cover design concept by Mariano

Cover design concept by Mariano

Hello Goodbye

Life is exhausting! It is downright, sometimes, just painstaking to climb out of bed in the morning. The earlier I try to get to sleep, the worse it seems to get.  I’m an episode of Scooby Doo where he is trying to run forward but is remaining in place.  That’s me; stand still motion in a forward motion world.

So several things have come to fruition and not all of them positives.  In fact, when I initially thought of writing this bit on Monday about giving bad news, I was handed some bad news.  Word hit me that a good friend of mine took his own life Sunday afternoon while his wife and kids were at market.  This is a very young man and amazing poet.  In hindsight, his poetry sometimes left stepping stones into the torment he felt, but he masked it in pretty words.  Sometimes blue simply means blue, and sometimes it really is a metaphor.  Friends and family–and myself–wish we would have read between the lines.  What if? I get tired of that question, it is the one that haunts the longest and burns the deepest, always leaving a crater in my soul.

What was my original blog supposed to encompass on Monday? Two things: bad reviews and self defeat.  I’ll start with the first.  Unfortunately, not all books we read for my website WritingApocalypse.com are top quality, and so we must write letters of rejection. Boy, do we hate that.  Seriously, it tears at our gut, especially when people tell us this book will be life changing or is going to be the best we have ever seen. And it isn’t. How do you tell someone that without feeling some sense of sorrow. I hate getting bad reviews, but hate giving them more. It’s part of the job we tell ourselves.  It’s part of writing.  “Why can’t all books be good,” one reader stated.  What is the answer to that?  We wish they were.  So comes the point where have to write a tactful letter and say goodbye to a book that will not make the website.

And what of self-defeat? I’ve hit the topic a time or two, as it seems to really be creeping around the soul a bit more lately.  I love to write.  I love to write. I love to write.  At the same time, I love having free time to work in my yard, to workout, to hike, to walk, to sit and talk without remorse that I should be editing or writing, to enjoy reading a book for pleasure, and to enjoy my family. There is a story in my head, but it is difficult as I have no real map into this one, just bursts of colors like fireworks and hope that people will care to see the show.  Couple that with the fact that it will inhibit how I can distribute the book, and I’m doing a total face-palm. Should I take a hiatus from writing to catch up on life? Or is writing my life? Between a full-time job, part-time job, kids, health, home and writing, something has to give. I’m at a crossroads, as I do not want to say goodbye to any of them, but only one is truly able to be put off.

Monday was a day of mourning on so many levels.  I must say goodbye to a dear friend and with that I have no choice.  The team must turn down a book for inclusion on the website, and that is just a fact of life . . . they aren’t all winners.  Finally, do I also say hello to a goodbye of my own? I’ll sleep on it . . . perhaps jot down a chapter and see how easily it flows.  Until then, I say goodbye to “How to Save a Life,” which is finally finished and still in the working title stages.  At some time, I will find the time to finish editing.  Sometime . . .

I hope you found your sunset Matt. RIP

I hope you found your sunset Matt. RIP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tania L Ramos, Author Hating Goodbyes

The Great Escape: Las Vegas, NV

It has occurred to me that I can not finish my next book while at home.  The endless noise, questions, stares, and distractions make this a near impossibility. But, Tania, you wrote 95% of the book at home, so what’s your problem, you ask?

Answer: Although the beginning and middle are all great, I think the end deserves a special kind of finesse and must be done with tact.  It is hard for me to wrap my head around this concept with so much going on around me all the time.  Did I mention before that my home was a hostile? Okay, not really. I love my family, but it’s time for the big escape to finish this book without any distractions.

lasvegas

My plan: The mission I have accepted is to spend four days in beautiful Las Vegas at a wonderful resort courtesy of my expiring timeshare. Each day I will wake-up and spend my time divulged into finish the book. I have 2 days to do this. TWO! The next two days will be spent on doing a quick go over, before submitting it for editing.

Agenda: Wake-up and do some social media for Be Still and Surviving the Writing Apocalypse (available in print soon). I am allowing only one to one and half hours to do this then …

9am: write

12 pm: snacks, smoothies, nurishment

1 pm: reading (for http://www.WritingApocalypse.com books for review)

2:30pm: more writing

5pm: dinner

6:30pm: poolside reading for reviews

7:30pm: more writing

9pm: frozen cucumber slices on my eyeballs because they are going to hurt

Goal: Finish writing and first round editing

Milestone: I’ll be ecstatic if I just finish the book!

If anyone is in the Las Vegas area and wold like to meet for coffee, tea, lunch, or dinner let me know. It would be nice to mingle with some authors during my tentative breaks. I’ll be there early April

Tania L Ramos, Author With a Plan

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By the way, The Writing Apocalypse website is accepting submissions for books for review to be accepted onto the website. The March cost is $25, and you get a full content review along with a basic review to be posted on Amazon and here. If your book is accepted we place it on the website with a link directly into Amazon and share you across all our social media sites. Plus you’ll be eligible for Book of the Month and Book of the Year. That’s a huge package for a small cost. (we only charge because it helps us keep the website up and one of our guys does this job full time) Click for info: SURVIVOR All reviews are honest! Just because you pay does not guarantee a good review or acceptance onto the website.