The Format Wars

A short while ago in a novel pretty darn close to home. . .

The Format Wars
Episode I
My Novel

It is a period of civil war. Curved quotations (“ ”),
striking from my word processor, have won their
first victory against my novel.

During the writing, straight quotations (" ")
sporadically appeared, creating a difficult
editing process. Teamed with inconsistent
hyphen lengths (- en dash) (— em dash), when
sentences are broken up, editing difficulty ensues.

Pursued by a drive to make things perfect,
UncannyDerek races to format the book
aboard his computer, custodian of the
novel, that can finally be published to
restore semblance in his life. . . .

Format Wars

But Really

I originally had wrote my novel in one font. While changing fonts while editing, I somehow overlooked how the quotation marks and apostrophes. Apparently not all of the quotation marks and apostrophes change when you “Select All” and change the font. It’s quite a bugger. So I’m going through my novel line-by-line AGAIN to make sure it’s all consistent.

When you self-publish, there’s no one to fix these issues for you. You have to do them yourself. I’ve spent most of my day going through my book to change them over, but my eyes can only take so much!

Another thing I foolishly missed was the dashes, or hyphens, while writing. There are two different types of them (as shown in my opening scrawl). I have to make sure they’re consistent too.

Ah, the little things to focus on before the book hits the printer.

Let my folly be a lesson for you all!

And for the record, I’m using curved quotation marks for my novel and so should you.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Where is It?

I’m sure many of you are asking yourselves, “Damn it, Derek. When are you going to give us information about your book?”

The answer is: very, very soon.

I have a bit more finalizing to do with creating promotional material for the novel in order to present it.

I’ve knew with self-publishing that I would have to create a lot of hype. Most importantly, I want to do it right. There’s a lot of stylistic ideas for the promotion of the book which I have to still get all sorted out, such as copyrighting and what-not. It’s not really complicated as it is so much time-consuming. I definitely will have something up before the Christmas holiday.

Novel

Speaking of copyrighting, I’ve been learning quite a bit about that, as well as getting a proper ISBN for my book. They’re actually surprisingly easy to get done.

Being in Canada, the process is fairly straight-forward and relatively inexpensive to do. Fortunately, these are all costs I’ve expected to absorb while creating my book so they do not necessarily come as a surprise. It’s more the “cheapness” of their price that is the surprise.

In fact, they’re so straight-forward, I may as well show you the websites for them. (They are both Canadian-based sites as I’m Canadian and this is how I roll).

For ISBN’s, check out the Canadian ISBN Service System (CISS).

For copyrights for a novel, see the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

Both sites require standard information to get started. Outside of that, it’s just a matter of actually publishing the book.

But like I said, there will be more on that later.

In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter for my ridiculous ramblings.

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Onwards & Upwards! To Self-Publishing!

It hath been decided!

For the quite some time, I’ve been butting heads on whether or not to find a publisher or self-publish.
Rocket Science
I’ll admit though, it wasn’t as fun as watching Blitzwing and Astrotrain getting their heads butted together.

After some careful deliberation, I have decided to self-publish! It was a difficult decision to make. Let me write out my thought processes for both.

Why See a Publisher?

I obviously didn’t go this route. So why DID I consider it?

There were a few reasons why I personally thought to go this route. First and foremost, I knew it would give me the biggest distribution. Getting picked up by a publisher would obviously mean better sales and a mass market. It also would give me some pretty hefty credentials for future projects (which I will have) down the road.

Secondly, it’s good for the ego. Sure, that sounds selfish and greedy, but to be officially published by someone would be amazing. I definitely had a-many dreams about meeting with publishers and discussing my book in great length. It made me excited.

As weird as this one sounds: I wanted to get a rejection letter. I enjoy critical analysis of my work. While I know a rejection letter would not go into any detail at all, I personally take rejection as a sign of having to do better – which is something that motivates me. Albeit, I know it de-motivates others. But that’s how I work!

While I’m still not confident with royalties on self-publishing, I know a lot of the hassle and finances would be covered by the publisher. They want to make money, too. Seeing a publisher would take the financial strain off.

Why Stay Away From a Publisher?

I was still reluctant to see a publisher for a few reasons as well. The biggest reason was creative control. For example: I have an idea for my book cover which I know they won’t adhere to. However, it’s my novel, not theirs. It’s my artistic ideas. While this is arguably quite nit-picky for a first-time author, it’s still a big deal for my overall idea.

Money also isn’t everything. While I like the idea of making money from my novel, it’s not my ultimate goal. It’s not even a real desire. My desire is to write. Money comes second. While I know it’s not financially viable to continue a path of self-publishing (under the assumption my books suck and sales slump to zero forever and ever), money isn’t my driving force here. A publisher thinks otherwise, and that’s totally okay, but not what I want. I desire to write a novel. Sure, if my first novel did well and they’d pay me to write a second, that’d be great. But it’s not what I’d want. Let me be me.

My other big reason to stay away was just reading about trying to submit a book. Looking into many different publishers, some require a literary agent, while others require a book to meet certain criteria. For example, one publisher wants to publish science-fiction, but did not want religious overtones. Another was willing to publish fantasy and horror, but refused to take upon zombies books unless they were unique. While my book doesn’t include zombies, it does include religious overtones. Certain publishers want to market a book based on their image – which is totally fine – I just don’t have to send my book there. Other publishers I considered actually had their submissions closed until they decided to reopen again (seriously). However, if I were to send a copy of my manuscript in only to find out it’s “too religious” by their standards, or that their “not accepting submissions at this time,” then I’m out the money from getting my book printed, plus postage. (I figured it’d average around $60 per publisher submission).

Reading about it all made me feel as dizzy as Starscream after Gears spun him around for a bit.

Gears Spin

Why Self-Publish?

In case I hadn’t said it enough, I’m big on creative control. With self-publishing, I get to control everything about my novel. From how the cover looks, to the price. It’s pretty freeing.

I can also get published faster. Most publishers were asking for at least three months to review the book. It’d take still another few months for it to get published after that. With self-publishing, the road can be paved right away and I can get started.

Challenges are fun. I really enjoy them, even if they’re super-stressful and nerve-racking as publishing a first novel. Especially if they’re financially stressful. I just enjoy being stressed I suppose? I’m a sick man.

But it’s also quite self-fulfilling. Being able to publish all on my own is quite an accomplishment. I accept all of the responsibility on whether the book succeeds or not. It’s exciting and strengthening. I hate asking for help, so I feel being able to do this on my own is what I need to do.

And I’m not in it for the money. I have to stress that again. Why? Because realistically, I won’t break even. At least I don’t expect to. I’d be surprised if I did. So that poses the question again: why self-publish?

The answer: because I want to do this for me.

Shockwave Dance

And maybe Shockwave.

While my reasons for self-publishing may not be the “best” reasons in the world, they’re the best reasons for me.

Keep on Space Truckin’!

NaNoWriMo – Good or Bad?

It’s November and everyone is jumping on the NaNo bandwagon. Thousands of people from around the world get synced-up online on November 1st and start writing the first of 50,000 words to become an author!

But before we start, here’s a full disclosure: I totally did my own NaNoWriMo in January of 2012 (as I couldn’t partake in November). Later, I did something similar when writing my current novel. I did a Thirty-Day Challenge, where I didn’t force myself to have a word count. Instead, I would spend a part of the day to plan and organize my novel.

So what’s up here? I did NaNoWriMo (kinda) then I didn’t. So what?

Let me BLOW YOUR MIND

After getting over 54,000 words during my “JaNoWriMo,” then eventually reaching over 70,000 a few months later, I SCRAPPED THE BOOK. Why? Because it was garbage, that’s why!

I can remember reading it over and just hating everything I had done. All of the characterization, plotting, the pacing, descriptions – oh, god, it was terrible. I still have a copy of it (unfinished) just to remind me how bad it was.

The problem with NaNoWriMo, which a buddy of mine, author Sean Munger, touches upon on his blog, is that it promotes bad habits. It promotes vomiting out word count over actual quality. While it may make a book, it doesn’t make a good one.

It Stinks
“It stinks!”

So when I did my Thirty-Day Challenge (which was for a different story), I took my knowledge from my JaNoWriMo and applied it to my busy lifestyle. I simply dedicated time to creating the project, rather than actually writing it. I would spend an hour or so getting 1,000 words of characterization down, rather than the novel itself. And I didn’t write every day (nor give myself a word count like 1,000 words a day for when I did). It made for a dramatic improvement to my story-telling and my skills of writing, pacing, and oh-so much more!

So NaNoWriMo is Bad?

There’s a silver lining to it all. I found that NaNoWriMo certainly didn’t make a good book, didn’t promote good writing, and didn’t promote good writing habits, what it DID do was get me to write and learn from my experiences. There’s a lot more to writing than just plugging yourself down and firing off words to reach a numerical goal.

I learned a lot about how to characterize and plot. My NaNo-Novel was a pale comparison to the newest one I wrote. The pacing in my newest novel is exciting and pulls the reader in – because I planned for it to do that. The rules of NaNoWriMo doesn’t let you.

Even if you plan out your novel before NaNoWriMo, you’d be surprised how many little things you will miss. Even with plotting out my novel like how I did, I had to go back multiple times and make sure things remained consistent and flowed together. NaNoWriMo doesn’t really give you time to pause or reflect. You’re just supposed to punch in a word count and call it a day. Coherent writing is important, but it’s not reflected in NaNoWriMo.

But as I said, NaNoWriMo got me writing. That’s important because it helps you hone your craft. You learn little tricks and the proper way to create sentences (And yes, I know this blog is littered with errors. Pot, meet Kettle).

The way I look at it is NaNoWriMo is the biggest Creative Writing Class you’ll take all year. It’s great writing practice, but terrible if you’re looking for quality.

And for all that is good in the world: if you do partake in NaNoWriMo, do NOT give your novel to publishers! You’re congesting them with a bunch of sub-par books! Stop it!


Thanks.

That’s my take on it. But have you participated in NaNoWriMo? What kind of learning experience was it for you? Did you go anywhere with it? Does my opinion sound ridiculous? Sound off below!