Tuesday, January 26, 2016



My favorite tip to self-publishing writers is: watch what the Big Boys & Girls do.  If you want to see how something is done, open up a book published by one of the heavy-duty publishing houses and take a look. 
But that doesn't just apply to the text and cover of a book, writer friends.  You should also check out BB&G logic and experience when deciding on what to charge for your book. 
  • Ever once see a major publishing house release a book at 99 cents? 
  • Ever see a Stephen King or Anne Rice or Robert Ludlum book go on "sale" for 99 cents? 
  • Ever see a major publishing house release a BOX SET of Harry Potter books for 99 cents? 
  • Ever see a major publishing house release a book for FREE?

So why would you?  If you cannot see yourself charging at least $5 for a novel that you spent months to write and perfect, you should start asking yourself why.  Do you not have confidence in your work? 
If that is the case, then get someone else's opinion (who will be brutally honest) and ask them to compare the quality of your work to a (Big Boys & Girls) author in your genre. The person doesn't have to like the genre, or even like the story, just give you an objective opinion concerning the book's quality and marketability as compared to best-selling authors.
If your work is comparable in quality to books by the Big Boys & Girls, then you should be charging equivalent prices. 
Stop cheating yourself. Stop cheating the self-publishing industry.  The Big Boys & Girls never do.  Why should you? 

Friday, January 22, 2016


Lots writers want to dive into self-publishing, to reap all the rewards for themselves when they put a book out, and I have to admit 70 percent royalties beats the crap out of 30 percent – or less in some cases. 

However, they hesitate to publish their own material because they are afraid their book will come out looking amateur-nightish.

And judging from some of the ridiculously unprofessional books I've seen out there, I can see why they feel that way.  I have come across books (exceedingly more often in the past decade, unfortunately) and thought that though the story was fine, that the presentation was horrific, and had I been that author, I would have preferred my manuscript stay in my desk drawer than have it be published in such a state.

So how do you make sure your book looks like it was published by a big, swank, publishing house? 

Simple:  Watch what The Big Boys and Girls do. 

Spy.  Sounds like fun, doesn't it? 

If you're anything like me, you most likely have piles of books on your shelves, right? So if you want to know what a Table of Contents should look like, or how long an author bio should be, and exactly where it should appear in a book, look through half a dozen books by famous-ass authors, put out by big-ass publishing houses and take a look at how they do it. 

Decades of knowledge and experience garnered by the crème-de-la-crème of the publishing industry will never fail to show you what you need to know.  Learn from the best by merely following their example.

Do a thumb-through and look at everything that appears on the cover, and how it's placed, sized, whether or not it's embossed, glossy, matte, and what the pictures are like.  Check out the title page and look at what belongs there – and what does not.

Look at the waiver and copyright blurbs.  The Big Boys and Girls leave nothing to chance – they cover their asses quite well legally, so you might want to copy down their legal blurbs and use them in your own books. 

See how they set up the Table of Contents and set yours up that way as well.  And for eBooks, make sure you go on Youtube and learn how to make them interactive.  (There are many helpful tutorials there that can get you through the self-publishing process without too much sweating of blood and bullets.) 

Is there an acknowledgement page, and if so, who does the author acknowledge -  everyone he's ever met from the mother who bore him to the barista at the coffee shop who foams his cappuccino?  Or just his publisher, editor, and spouse for putting up with his moods? 

Look at the headers, page numbers, and footers.  Where do they start?  What goes on what page?  Where do they go on the page?

Is there an introduction? A foreword? A dedication?   Where?  Is it in regular print, italics? Bold? Does it get a number on the page?  Is it dated?  Are there headers on those pages? How many pages is an average foreword? 

Is the text in a standard print? How many spaces are the indents?  Are there two spaces after end of sentence punctuation or just one?  Is the manuscript single or double spaced?  Are there titles on the chapters? Are the chapter numbers or titles centered or left-justified?

Do reviews of the book go in the front or the back?

Is there a sample chapter or two from the author's next book?  How is that set up?  Is there an introductory blurb for that?

Is there an author's bio?  How long is it? Strictly professional info or is there some personal info as well?  Does it include a picture of the author?

Is there a bibliography of the author's other work, with links to make it easy for the reader to access?  Or a straight list?  Is the bibliography in the front or back matter? 

In children's books, are the illustrations all the way through, or just at the beginning of each chapter, or is there no interior art at all?  Is the text always at the bottom of the page or varied throughout?  How is the illustrator credited?  How does the copyright read when there is an author and an illustrator? 

If a book is co-authored, how are the dedications and acknowledgements handled? 

Not every book will be set up exactly the same way, but there are some standard rules, and you will notice consistencies as you spy on several different publishing houses and the way they do things. Make note of when they break with traditional formatting, and why.  Notice their differences.

The small details that you might think don't matter, actually do.  Little touches mean the difference between your book looking like it was produced by a self-pubbing hack or a professional, seasoned author who respects his or her readers.

Most important, apply every single scrap of knowledge you pick up from The Big Boys and Girls to your book.  Give yourself a professional edge and readers will gravitate to your work again and again. 

TD – 1/22/2016

Friday, January 15, 2016



George Weinstein has written an extraordinary novel that placed me on Hardscrabble Road (Georgia) in the late 1930s/early 1940s.  Even though it was before I was born, I felt like I'd shared Bud's childhood. 
The story reminded me of ones my mom used to tell me about her family when she was a little girl and so I loved this book from a personal standpoint from the get-go. 

From the point of view of an editor and consummate critical reader, this novel is one of the best written books I've read in years. 
As for Mr. Weinstein's style and ability to take his reader on a journey into the center of relentless drama, decades before their time, I can with all confidence compare him to John Steinbeck. 

Well done, George Weinstein! I thought "The Caretaker" was a masterpiece (and it is!).  Hardscrabble Road is a career achievement.  I am looking forward to your next!



Terri DelCampo

Recently, a non-fiction internet market that I freelanced for, writing brief articles (500 words max) shut down. I only spent half a day writing each article that I submitted, so it was fun, and many times I could weave the topic into a horror tale for Owl's Eye View Magazine as well making my research do double time. 

Unfortunately, the site eliminated the contributor's market, deciding to handle the department with in-house staff rather than freelancers, and cut all of our material free, which meant we could go ahead and submit it to other markets or post it in blogs of our own (hence, my four non-fiction blogs). 

While I was dismayed about the paying market disappearing, I took it in stride, set up my blogs, and went on with my life. 

What shocked me was the hysteria that the announcement stirred in the other freelancers on the site.  They were going absolutely insane trying to download their articles, do screen shots and otherwise copy their work to their computers.  Some of them had thousands of articles, having written for the site since its inception. 

I could not believe the number of writers who wrote their articles directly onto the site, without backing them up to their computers. I thought every writer pretty much did what I do: write the article on my computer as a word doc, perfect it, then copy and paste it onto the site. And after that, I copy the original to a flash drive, as well as a one terabyte external hard drive.  Now that might seem like overkill to you, but I have hundreds of short stories and articles.  I've had computers crash on me, and to date I've lost very little material, because I've made saving it a part of my daily writing routine.   

When I commented about this on the community's Facebook page, the writers who were frantically scrambling to retrieve their material within the two-week window they had to do that before the site shut down, got very defensive and told me that not all of them are professional writers, some have expertise in other areas and writing is a secondary thing. 

But even at that, if you are good enough that your work is accepted by an editor, and you have an expertise that allows you to publish your experience, your tips, and opinions, why wouldn't you want to store those articles to share in other venues or just with friends on social pages?  There have been many times when I've messaged someone an article I've written, right from my computer, rather than digging for it in a site's archives. 

Perhaps I am overly possessive about my portfolio, but I can't imagine losing any of my material because I didn't have the foresight to save it in more than one place, especially when that one place is the internet.    

Hopefully my fellow writers will save their articles as they write them from now on and never experience such downloading nightmares in the future. 

TD – 1/15/2016