Less is More? Social Networking Sites

Social networking: I’ve never been one to use Facebook, Google+, or Twitter. Honestly, I thought they were superfluous fads. Of course, they can be useful but most of the time it’s about numbers. Yes I want people who are interested in me and interested in my work and want to follow me but blogging and social networking sites look like a popularity contest with a circus on top and I’ve never been the type to get caught up in those types of things or the type to attract that sort of attention. If rather have one reader who really likes and finds value in my work than a thousand followers that I have no real connection to. I’ve created profiles in several different places but I don’t use them, not the personal ones or the professional ones. Now that I have them, I’m not sure I should get rid of them even though I don’t use them. You never know what will be useful later. A tool that’s not relevant now might be a good thing to have in the future.

As much as I hate popularity contests and trying to win people over, planning and scheming, and numbering people, I always agonize over whether or not people hear me (as evident in my agonizing over whether cover art is part of my problem). Am I writing and no one is reading? But aren’t I writing for myself? If that’s true, then why does it matter who read it and how many? But, as a writer, I’m supposed to care about that right? With so many digital methods of reaching people, or audiences as they say, shouldn’t I be doing everything I can to connect with readers? How can you know for sure if you reached even one person on a meaningful level?

I’ve always believed that social networking and the internet has made people lazy and ultimately uninterested in each other. Everything seems so impersonal. Click a button to “like”. Share with contacts. “Unlike”. Follow. Retweet. Reblog. It seems meaningless and shallow. It gives some people a reason to be lazy and hide from solid connections with others. Some it strengthens and helps maintain their connections. Others it gives them a chance to meet in the first place.

So far I’ve deleted my Twitter and my Tumblr (which is still there but I’m not using it). I still have a FB page that isn’t getting any hits so that’s next on the list because I see the tumbleweeds a-blowing ’round. Honestly, I don’t know what will work for me. Even with this blog, I try only to post once a month out of concern for doing way too much.

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a hardback copy of my book + a Valentine’s Day release

I’ve been in the clouds recently filling orders from my almost-small-business and I’m coming up on the deadline for an offer from NaNoWriMo to its winners to get a supposedly free first edition of one of my manuscripts from Lulu.com..

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I have three or so manuscripts that are unfinished but novel length. Path of the Righteous (Book I) is the one I chose.

So I’m in the process of combing through it for as much editing as I can manage then I’m sending it off. As I understand it, I only have to pay shipping and handling for this edition.  I had intended to offer this book for free on Smashwords, but what’s the harm in having both? Someone wants to pay for a hard copy, or they just want to read the book without hassle– all sounds fine to me. Believe me, I want to be paid for my work; however, this need conflicts with my beliefs as an artist (that art isn’t something you should have to pay for). So, as a reader and writer, if I read it for free, really like it, and had the money to pay, I’d want a hard copy 😀

Though I know that not everyone thinks like me, I’m “selling myself short”, and should stop giving things away for free (which is also a problem I’m having with my quasi-small business–not charging people what I feel I deserve to be paid for my art crafts).

In addition, I am also releasing a special Valentine’s Day novella–Cat Eyes (one of my older works). More on both books coming soon.

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not just broke: why I chose indie publishing

Like most things that are labeled as “free”, when it comes to self publishing, there’s all this fine print, double meanings, and hidden agendas and costs. They say nothing in life is [really] free.

I keep finding that to be true everywhere I look in the publishing industry. Its hard to listen to writers with well-paying jobs and published books that people are actually buying tell working class and poor writers to self-publish as if its absolutely free.

See, its not really an issue of me being “broke”. I’ve never had much to begin with and getting paid these days is even harder than it was in my mom’s day when she was building her super working class career.

Some publishers will act like not having presentable and tasteful cover art, an editor, and an agent is a choice. Pardon me for saying it sounds like these people don’t know what it’s like not to have access to those resources or  be able to afford them

I often compare publishing to getting a record deal. You don’t really choose them, they choose you. You are recognized by them. I don’t know if that’s the way I should think about it but it is what it is. Probably sounds very pessimistic.

But it does require you to have money, it requires people of status to recognize you.

There’s this unspoken understanding that nothing is really free no matter what anyone tells you. Pay up or suck it up. This has always been one of my greatest obstacles in really believing I can be published, write from my passion, and make any semblance of a sub-modest living out of it.

I don’t ever expect to be as famous as Octavia Butler, J.K. Rowling, or any of the big names. I think I just want to be heard.

Hugging My Cat Before Step 7 of Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide

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Yesterday, I formatted my novella, The Taker,  for Smashwords.

And, believe me you, I feel like I learned more about Microsoft Word document formatting while reading Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide than in all the time since I’ve been in the vicinity of computers.

Welp, you learn something new everyday, that’s what they say.

As suggested in Step 6, I hugged a loved one. Actually I was hugging my cat periodically  from the moment I started. It was frustrating sometimes and I stayed up all day getting most of it done but hopefully it will be ultimately rewarding. I had three issues or so tho I think my document is almost set.

  1. I can’t get professional cover art for my novella. Coker doesn’t give a lot of alternatives for this–just get a good cover with the right format requirements or miss the Smashwords Premium Catalog Club gravy train. He even stresses the importance of not doing it yourself and how it should look like a NY Times Bestseller cover or the cover of some indie writer who has money and connections. I. AIN’T GOT. NO. MONEY. LIL’ FOLKS. NO, I do not even have $40 and up to pay a recommended Smashwords cover artist. So a rudimentary cover will just have to do it.
  2. I also do not have an editor and cannot pay one. I read the manuscript line for line and had two other people read it. You can always miss things no matter how many times you look at it. I will continue to look for ways to improve but professional editing is not an option.
  3. Before I understood that using TAB for indents was very, very bad, I had these five or six paragraphs that had no indentations and would never format properly with all the other paragraphs. Little did I know that for whatever reason they were like this, these pesky paragraphs were in the right and my TABS/the entirety of my original document was in the wrong.
  4. I only have Word Starter 2010. I cannot afford to get the full version, so no bookmarks for table of contents though I did type it up and include it.
  5. I am persnickety so I was confused about whether or not the Smashwords license notes, copyright page, and title page were all supposed to be on the exact same page. Is there supposed to be an entirely separate title page, or is it straight to the point? (I’m used to looking at print books with a lot of “pomp and circumstance pages” leading to the actual manuscript.) I ended up keeping title and copyright info on the same page and giving the license notes its own page. Being pretty particular and somewhat anxiety-ridden, Step 21 in the guide wasn’t clear enough for me. I can always fix it later, I guess.

I also intend to read Smashwords Book Marketing Guide and The Secrets to Ebook Publishing, and Twitter for Authors and How to Market a Book offered by National Novel Writing Month for participants.

Taking a Step Forward

I’m finally going to take a step forward and try indie publishing. The freer it is, the better. I really don’t have the money needed to invest in a book. Stuff like editors, graphic artists, and print are well out of my reach.

I would like to someday offer my work for free but that is not possible for the time being.

I’m trying Lean Pub and Smashwords right now for my novella, The Taker, and my completed manuscript, The Scholar’s Apprentice: Secret of the Valor Lexicon.