Tag Archives: digital publishing

Reader Feedback Request

One of the big advantages for writers, especially independent authors, has been the digital revolution. No longer is an author’s work dependent on literary agents (Literary agents, in my opinion, are like lawyers, low-life bottom-feeders who can’t write themselves so they make a living skimming 15% off the top from people who can write. They simply didn’t have the grades in college that would get them admitted to law school so they could spend their lives chasing ambulances.) and the Big 6 publishing houses who are more interested in churning out re-hashed versions of the same, slightly modified stories by the likes of James Patterson, John Grishom, Clive Cussler and the like. Those with a vested interest in perpetuating the Big 6 domination of the literary world clamor that independent authors clutter the world with trashy writing…yeah? Look above and tell me about their value to the printed word.

Ever since Gutenberg figured out moveable type until just a couple of years ago once an author gave his work a title and a cover was affixed to it that was it. . forever. You were stuck with it. Now, though, with just a few clicks of the mouse (and a new ISBN number) an author whose work is in electronic form whether as an e-book or Print on Demand (POD) can change the title and/or the cover at will.

I’ve never been completely happy with either the title of my book about Christopher Columbus’s horrible fourth voyage. His fleet was denied entrance into Santo Domingo to ride out an approaching hurricane. It took them a month to sail the northern coast of what is now Honduras and when they turned the corner he named it “Cabo de Gracias a Dios” which is still on charts to this day, 510 years later. They constantly battled contrary winds and currents. Their attempt at establishing a colony in Panama was a disaster. The Indians didn’t take kindly to the thought of sharing their land with these interlopers and in a bloody battle literally drove the white men into the sea. With his ship’s hulls leaking like sieves because of shipworms he was forced to abandon two of the four in Panama. Trying to return to Santo Domingo the two remaining ships were so close to sinking that besides manning the pumps 24 hours a day the men were literally bailing with their cooking utensils to the point where they had to be run ashore on the bleak coast of Jamaica to save their lives. They remained there for over a year and Columbus faced starvation, a mutiny and a pitched battle between the mutineers and those loyal to their leader.

The original title of the book was “Despair!” and the cover was an old painting of the “Admiral of the Ocean Sea.” It was okay, I guess, but not really what I wanted. Now, with the book translated into Spanish and being worked on to be offered as a dual-language book, I’ve decided on a new title and cover art. I’d like to get some honest feedback from my readers as to what they think of the new title and cover.

Old cover and title:

 

What do you think about this?

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Editing For Self-Published eBooks

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about  self-publishing since that’s how I plan on publishing my book when I complete the editing.

One of the biggest complaints about the quality of self-published books is the poor editing of the final product. Much of it, apparently, is pretty amateurish. Lots of spelling and grammar errors you usually wouldn’t find in books  published the traditional way having gone through a rigorous editing process.

Not only that, but with the ability to put your book out to the public electronically there’s a lot of real garbage out there, too. Most of the sites such as Smashwords, Amazon, etc., allow you to download a sample of the book you might be interested in. Sort of the digital equivalent of roaming the aisles of a brick and mortar bookstore and leafing through a volume that might strike your fancy. I’ve done that with quite a few books online and quite frankly am glad I wasn’t charged for them, though I did download Joe Konrath’s “Newbie’s Guide to Publishing” and his novel “Shot of Tequila” which I thoroughly enjoyed.Very much in the Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey genre, if you like that sort of thing, and I do. The villains aren’t quite as freaky as those other authors but weird enough to be a lot of fun.

Anyway, in all the reading I’ve done one piece of advice is pretty consistent. “Hire an editor!” After all, writers aren’t editors. They write. Editors edit.

Like a lot of good advice I’ve received in my life I’m going to ignore this bit as well. There are just some things I feel as competent at doing as the so-called experts. For example, one excellent piece of advice given to anyone planning on buying a boat is to hire a qualified marine surveyor. I didn’t do that when I bought my sailboat, Nancy Dawson, or any of the other half-dozen or so boats after her. Why? Well, at that time I’d spent nearly 10 years working in boat yards repairing and restoring boats for a living and I doubt there’s anything a surveyor would have spotted that I couldn’t myself. In fact, there were times when I’d made repairs to boats and they were completely missed by surveyors charging their clients extortionate fees for their services.

Regarding the editing of my book, well, I worked as an editor for nearly three years and think I have a bit of an editor’s eye. In fact, I think I proved that to myself this morning as I was editing a chapter that has been sitting for a while waiting for me to look at it with a fresh perspective. I discovered that the narrator of my story spoke about the crew being “mesmerized” by a sight on the ocean. A perfectly apt description except for one important fact. The narrator is speaking in the year 1502 and Franz Anton Mesmer, after whom the phrase “mesmerized” takes its name, wasn’t born until 1734! Two hundred and thirty two years AFTER the narrator of the story uses the word. Would a paid editor have picked that fact up? Who knows? But I bet most wouldn’t have caught it.

Right now I’m rewriting and editing chapter by chapter and it’s a lot more fun than it was trying to get that first draft down on “paper.”

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