Ron’s Tuesday’s Tip: Choosing a Publisher

Welcome to Ron’s Tuesday’s Tip. Every Tuesday I will share a tip with you. This week is about: Choosing a Publisher.

The following is based on the Guide to Writing book. In that book I wrote about Self-Publishing, Traditional, and Indie Publishing. My primary focus today is on Indie focusing, but I will also cover the other types, so you get a more complete picture.

Traditional Publishing

Unless you are an established author it is very difficult to get with a traditional publisher. That is because the houses are well established, have a reputation, and, probably, don’t want to take a risk on an unproven novice.

Even so, it is not impossible.

Many of these Traditional Publishing Houses will not even consider a manuscript unless the author is represented by an agent. This is good because when dealing with them you need to have the expertise and knowledge of the agent on your side.

It is also important to remember that some traditional publishers specialize in genre. Some only want established authors. Some may temporarily suspend new acquisitions because they already have a boatload.

But there are some traditional publishers looking for new authors. If you write Christian fiction you may be interested in Christian Publishers. Do an Internet search for ‘Christian Publishers’ and you should find extensive lists, but I have included a few in a list further down in this blog.

Additionally, you can access a list of publishers at http://www.everywritersresource. This is a list of publishers taking submissions.

If you are willing to take a chance on publishers that accept unsolicited manuscripts (and may not require an agent), try this list.

Finally, if you are looking for a traditional publisher that accepts new authors try Karen Fox.

Tip: Traditional Publishers are well established, have a reputation, and, probably, don’t want to take a risk on an unproven novice.              
Tip #2: There are lists of publishers taking submissions, accepting new authors, and Christian publishers.              

Never having been published by a Traditional Publisher, I can’t give you a personal example. But you can access their websites and discover their guidelines, list of clients (authors), and success stories.

Traditional Publishing has a long success story. They aren’t going away soon. If you feel that you have written a quality story that will sell and you are willing to wait, then traditional publishing may be for you.

Make use of the lists provided here and study them. You just might strike it rich!

But don’t forget, some of these publishers will require you have an agent. So if your heart is fixed on one of the top publishing houses, get yourself an agent!

Self-Publishing

Self-Publishing has in many respects come into its own with resulting improvements in quality and acceptance. One of the criticisms of Self-Publishers is they rarely reject a manuscript. While this is true, some do reject if the manuscript is deemed of poor quality.

You rarely get rejected if you are willing to pay the fee (usually $400-$800, or more). They are willing to publish but you should still practice thorough editing before submitting the work.

This is an alphabetical listing of some of the better known houses:

  • America Star *
  • AuthorHouse ***
  • Bookbaby
  • DiggyPOD
  • iUniverse***
  • Lightning Source
  • Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
  • LuLu
  • Outskirts Press
  • Smashwords**
  • Tate Publishing
  • Trafford Publishing***
  • Xilbris
  • Zulon Press****

* Between self-publishing and traditional. Recently opted out of publishing and is only interested in marketing.

** Publishes eBooks only. It is free.

*** Owned by Author Solutions.

**** Christian Self-Publishing.

When I started writing I made use of AuthorHouse and America Star. In both cases I was pleased with their work. In fact, any of the houses mentioned above probably provide excellent quality and service.

Tip: Self-Publishing has been around for a while now with resulting improvements in quality and acceptance.                
Tip #2: Self-Publishers rarely reject a manuscript.              
Tip #3: There are many self-publishers out there.                

It would be wise to remember that self-publishing can be expensive. Here are some of the costs you may have to deal with:

  • Professional editing and proofing can cost from $1500 to $2,000
  • Professional cover design ranges from $300 to $400
  • Book conversion and layout ranges from free to $100

That’s not including the ISBN (free to $125), Distribution (percentage of sales), and marketing (skies the limit).

As mentioned earlier, I have used two of the houses listed. Their cover quality was very good (very important to me) as was the overall print quality.

Since I was on a budget, I did my own marketing. America Star provided me a little more help although AuthorHouse may have caught up since I last published with them.

If you are choosing between Traditional and Self-Publishing, Self-Publishing is the better in my opinion. That said, there is yet a better way.

Indie Publishing

These days the author has more responsibility than ever before and more opportunities!

In days gone by the author wrote a novel, submitted it to a publisher, and once accepted, relaxed. But that is no longer true!

There are all kinds of publishers out there. But here I want to present you with a different perspective. I mentioned that there is a better way than self-publishing. You are about to see what I was talking about.

First a brief history. I published my first novel in 2003. Since then I have written a number of books. The first four books were all published by self-publishers. But in 2013 I discovered Smashwords.com and published my first eBook. (My other books are also in the eBook format, but the publisher did this because I paid for it.)

This discovery has changed my life and now I am about to reveal to you what I believe is a better way to publish.

That better way is simply: You are the publisher! Or Indie Publisher!

At the time there was almost no information on the subject but today there’s considerable. It is called Indie Publishing which tells you right off the bat that as a publisher you are independent. This is an important distinction.

Indie Publishing is the author taking ultimate charge of all elements of writing. Basically, it means selecting a printer or publisher to print our books. And there are publishers out there willing to be our printer and even our marketer.

The one I am most familiar with is Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). CreateSpace whom I was with merged with KDP so now all my print books are with KDP. Plus, I have eBooks with KDP and a few with Smashwords.

I will discuss KDP more in the example. I have also located at least one other printer called Best Value Copy. They are an online printing service that provides quality work at reasonable prices. However, I have not used them or any other publishing platform because KDP has proven to me that they are very capable and affordable.

In looking for a quality printer you can try your own neighborhood. For example, there is a Staples store not far from us that gives business discounts to authors using their printing services. That suggests the possibility that other office supply stores may offer the same services.

But assuming the role of publisher is more than just getting a printer. You literally take on the responsibilities of a publisher. You may have to seek your own ISBN, copyright, and other important items.

In our case, we listed ourselves with the State of Florida with a DBA (Doing Business As) name of T&R Independent Books. Because we use KDP we are able to use their ISBNs which are free, although they also sell other ISBNs for a modest price. Copyrights are free.

It is both exciting and scary. But the rewards can be awesome. For example, a self-publisher may give us anywhere from 8% to 40% royalty depending on volume of books sold. But as our own publisher the percentage jumps up to 60% and more (before costs and taxes) from the first book sold.

In addition to that, we have virtual control over every aspect. It is true that with Kindle Direct some control lies with them, but it is also true that such controls are limited.

In establishing our own publishing business, we also took on the marketing of the books.  We are now be able to use the marketing tools that we used to buy from the publisher. Now we will have the authority to market the books as we see fit without incurring exorbitant costs.

Tip: As a publisher you pay the ISBN, the copyright, and other legal fees.                  
Tip #2: Indie Publishers can get gross royalties of 60% or more. Even after taxes the profit is excellent.                  

I promised to discuss Kindle Direct Publishing and here we go.

When my wife first expressed the desire to start writing her own novels it fitted right in with the idea of T&R Independent Books. So, we immediately began researching what the costs would be to publish.

We searched the internet for both local and online printers. Eventually we settled on KDP because of three primary factors:

  1. We would retain ownership of all rights.
  2. Costs were reasonable.
  3. KDP would provide us worldwide marketing (distribution).

(At this time, we were dealing with CreateSpace but in 2018 they merged with KDP. KDP is virtually the same as CreateSpace and both owned by Amazon.)

These are career changing factors. Although we have and will do our own marketing, being in the KDP loop will expand our marketing a thousand times over!

While their imprint will be on our books, there will be no question of the identity of the real publisher which is T&R Independent Books.

In establishing T&R Independent Books we also took over what was formerly known as RFrederickRiddle’s Bookstore. But instead of marketing our books from our own website (an excellent marketing option) we closed down the store and opted to direct all potential buyers to Amazon and Kindle. We still have control over the marketing, including the tracking of sales but the customer has the familiarity of buying on Amazon. Plus KDP has powerful tracking tools!

KDP enables us to exercise several marketing options, some being free. Does this guarantee sales? Of course not. But it does give us maximum control and flexibility.

When we started out in 2014 Indie Publishing was rather new and unknown, at least to us. But now becoming your own publisher is no longer a new idea. It has the potential to change the publishing landscape in years to come.

Not only the publishing landscape, but your future. You should seriously consider this avenue. I can almost guarantee you that your book will be published sooner than traditionally, and it will cost you dramatically less. Quality is another story as it will be up to you to either do the editing or hire a professional.

Getting published doesn’t guarantee sales. But once again being an Indie Marketer involves great responsibility and great rewards. Being an In Marketer has great potential!

A note about TR Writing Services

Our costs to you are very low compared to the averages stated above. We provide editing, proofing, and publishing services under affordable plans. In addition we give each client who publishes through us their own webpage. This webpage includes the author’s picture, brief biography, book cover, and book description with links to their Amazon page. You can use this page for your own marketing efforts!

These links give you the opportunity to work on your next book rather than being over-burdened with collecting payments and shipping of the books, which also means you don’t have to maintain a stockpile of books in your living room.

For information on TR Writing Services (“we edit, proof, and publish the book within you”)  contact us at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. We have a Free booklet telling you about our services. And we are upfront on our prices (all are low).

VISIT MY AUTHOR’S PAGE TODAY: amazon.com/author/rfrederickriddle.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship (Book One), Pauline A New Home (Book Two), Task Force Hunter (Book Three), Black Death (Book Four), or Rise of I.C.E.S. (Book Five), I value your reviews.

If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

 – – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. In addition he is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical and Speculative Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Ron’s Tuesday Tip: Consistent Characters

Welcome to Ron’s Tuesday Tips. Every Tuesday I share writing tips with you. Usually it is about writing, publishing, or marketing. Occasionally it is on other matters. This week it is about:Consistent Characters.

Years ago, when I was getting reviews for a novel I’d written one young man decided he wanted to review it. He indicated he was a Christian and interested in Christian fiction. I sent him a copy of the book and he later wrote a negative review. As a general rule, a writer should never challenge a reviewer. And I didn’t, but I sure wanted to do so!

Why? Because it was negative?

No, because of the following.

This young man didn’t really read the book. Instead he skipped his way partway through it and then never finished the book. Yet, he took it upon himself to write a negative review after first admitting he never read it through.

What caused the negative report?

Before answering that let me tell you about the book. It was a novel based on Biblical events in the Book of Genesis. Many of the characters had the same name. For example, there was Enoch and Enoch. The first Enoch was a son of Cain; the second Enoch was a prophet who walked with God and was translated. There were other same-named people.

Because the reviewer skipped through the story he arrived at sections where for example it talked of Enoch walking with God while earlier had shown Cain’s son Enoch badly. He assumed it was the same person when in fact they were two different persons.

As a commonsense rule it is good to avoid characters having the same name, but when dealing with historical figures that is not always possible. I did my best to clarify who was who but I never imagined a reviewer, let alone a reader, skipping through the book.

Sometime later this person wanted to review another of my books. I had to reject him and I told him why. He apologized, but I didn’t trust him to do an honest review.

So, what’s the point?

The point is that this reviewer perceived inconsistencies in the characters of my story. And his complaint would have been correct if it was one character and not two characters. The personalities of the two Enoch’s were completely different!

A greater point is that if you are writing a novel, always try to keep your characters separate and unique. They are allowed to change, but the reader needs to observe the change, especially if the character’s nature changes from bad to good, or good to bad!

Sudden changes are like thunderbolts. They jar the reader. Now if that’s your intent they go with it. Most likely it wasn’t your intent.

How do I avoid clashes?

It’s not that hard. If you have two or more characters with the same name you can always change the name of one or the other. If they are historical, then you need to provide some kind of characteristic that identifies one of them. For example, one could stutter. When dealing with historical figures your liberty isn’t as strong as with fictional. But you can still differentiate using clothing, speech, habits, or some other unique characteristic to separate one character from the other. The differences can be multiple or just one.

But Characters are not the only places for consistency.

For instance, let’s say that your story surrounds a person who lives in a tent. It suddenly changes to a home and later on in the story changes back to a tent. All without explanation. This is another jolt to your reader’s experience.

How about conversation? If you are not careful it is possible to have the wrong person saying the wrong things. This, by the way, is a strong argument for edits by you or someone else. Conversational inconsistencies are also harder to pick up. I doubt that any software can pick up verbal inconsistencies. This requires actual reading of the text.

How bad can inconsistencies be?

I related above about a negative review simply because a careless reviewer thought there were inconsistencies. That negative review didn’t really hurt me, but it could have. If the inconsistencies were real just think of the impact that man’s review would have had. And it is possible that those people who followed him may have reacted by not buying my book.

In conclusion.

Do your edits! Whether you personally edit or hire a professional editor, editing must be done! That’s the only way you can illuminate potential problems that can turn readers away.

For information on TR Writing Services contact us at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. We have a Free booklet telling you about our services. And we are upfront on our prices (all are low).

VISIT MY AUTHOR’S PAGE TODAY: amazon.com/author/rfrederickriddle.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship (Book One), Pauline A New Home (Book Two), Task Force Hunter (Book Three), Black Death (Book Four), or Rise of I.C.E.S. (Book Five), I value your reviews.

If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or Epub).

 – – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. In addition, he is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical and Speculative Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Writing Scenes Part 3

Every week I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. This week I am taking a look at Writing Scenes part 3.

Below is an excerpt from my book TR Independent Books Guide to Writing:

Principle

The ending scene either draws the scene to a conclusion or sets the reader up for the next scene. Sometimes, when having multiple subplots, you need the scene to at least temporarily draw to a close because in the next scene you will be viewing a different subplot.

Ending Scenes, therefore, are very important to your story and should not be approached carelessly. Unless you are creating suspense or something akin to it, the reader should not be left dangling aimlessly. You might lose him/her. At the same time you want the reader’s anticipation to be alive. This is a fine line, but I would err on the side of mystery.

In some respects it is because of the anticipation factor that the Ending Scene is so critical. So spend some time thinking about it. Does the scene draw to a satisfying close? Do you, as the reader, want to continue reading? Is there anything that can be done to improve the scene?

Tip: Whether you are closing a scene or pointing to the next scene you want your reader desiring more.

Example

&&&

Adam awoke.  Something caused me to wake upWhat was it?  Wait – Eden River.  That is it!  I must have been dreaming about Eden River.

Gently disengaging himself from Woman, he got up.  Being as quiet as possible, he headed for the river where he found a comfortable knoll.  From this position, he had a good view of the river.  It must be about a half-mile across!  I never realized that.  Tomorrow, I will take Woman and we will follow the river to its beginning.

In silence, he continued watching the river, estimating its size.  The question was its length.  A glitter caught his eye.  He smiled as he realized that the moon’s light seemed to dance on the river’s surface.

After awhile, he returned to Woman where he lay down and was soon fast asleep.

&&&

You will notice that I have again used the same example. There’s actually a plan here. While it is not the perfect scene it embodies all three aspects of good scene writing: Opening, Middle, and Ending.

The ending is actually very short: ‘After awhile, he returned to Woman where he lay down and was soon fast asleep.’

In this case the scene was drawn to a close. The body or middle had already pointed to the next scene so that would have been redundant.

Please note once again that the scene started and ended with a separator, in this case the ‘&&&’. The separator is extremely important. (I had one book where the publisher removed the separators and left only line feeds. That was terrible!)

Application

As mentioned in the Middle Scene application you should keep in mind that each scene plays an integral part in your story and, in this case, the ending is very important. The reader should be experiencing whatever emotion you want him or her to feel.

Scenes (Opening, Middle, and Ending) play a crucial role in your story. In effect, this is where ‘page turning’ occurs. The reader’s desire for more action, feeling, or whatever is satisfied yet not completely fulfilled. You want them wanting more.

Don’t let that scare you, though. As mentioned previously, when writing your first draft don’t focus on your scenes. Let the story spontaneously write itself if possible. Then go back and edit.

In these edits you concern yourself with scenes. Don’t fall in love with a scene. If it’s not working, change or delete it. Or even move it.

I often move scenes around. Sometimes I move them to an altogether different chapter so that the story moves better. This is ok to do, but this also requires more diligence on your part. Why? Because when you move a scene from one location to another it impacts both locations which means you need to examine the surrounding parts to make sure that there’s no reference to it before it happens! Also, you want to make sure that your scenes fall in proper order. I handle this at the time of making the move, primarily because I might forget that I moved it!

VISIT MY AUTHOR’S PAGE TODAY: amazon.com/author/rfrederickriddle.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship (Book One), Pauline A New Home (Book Two), Task Force Hunter (Book Three), or Black Death (Book Four), I value your reviews.

If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

 – – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. In addition he is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical and Speculative Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Save Your Work

Monday through Friday I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. Today I am writing about Save Your Work.
Why is it necessary to save my work?
Let me tell you a true story.
Many years ago before I became a writer I started writing computer programs. It wasn’t for a job I had or a school I was attending. Rather I had a desire to write and writing programs seemed a great fit. And in the course of several years I did write a small program for where I worked (this was back in the day when it was easy to get into the company’s software and edit it) and later I wrote a little larger program for my church.
But early on I was learning the BASIC programming language. I had purchased the BASIC software engine and was diving deep within. I basically (pun intended) taught myself how to write programs. And I actually enjoyed it.
This was in the early days of personal computers. I began writing a long program that I would eventually use for myself. But then I started running into a problem. I would make an error and accidentally delete the entire program. This happened at least twice causing me to have to retype the entire program. Fortunately I had printed it out and simply had to read and type. Even so it was time consuming. That spurred me to saving my work every day I worked on it. But I still could lose the program, which then required me to reenter any code I’d already entered for the day. So I began saving my work periodically throughout a session.
When I started writing books I found this practice an invaluable tool. Why? Because no matter how sophisticated the computer gets there is the possibility of losing data. So it is necessary to save the work as you go on. I just saved this work for a second time.
Aside from replacing lost work what other advantages are there?
One practice I have engaged in since writing books has been to periodically save the work under a different name. When writing a book for another person I have done this frequently. This practice then provides multiple copies of the work at various stages. Even when writing for myself I have done this. Sometimes it’s because of a title change for the book. This has occurred several times. Again it provides additional material for comparison purposes.
Theoretically there is another advantage.
By saving my work frequently I can theoretically create multiple versions of the same story and decide which one I like the best. I haven’t done this, but it is possible.
But what is the most important reason?
That’s easy. Peace of mind. If I save my work regularly I am secure in the knowledge that I have the freedom to write without fear of losing the manuscript. Another advantage very close to that is the saving of time. Rewriting an entire book would cause a great deal of lost time, frustration, and energy.
How often should I save my work?
That’s something of a personal decision. But I would suggest you save your work at the very least every session. You might also consider changing it every hour or more often. It depends on the volume of work you do and the time you normally spend on it. But whatever you decide you might want to emphasize consistency. That will breed repetition which in turn will breed a more successful experience.
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four), Death Ship to the Stars (Book One), or Pauline A New Home (Book Two), I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Revising a Published Work

Today I am writing about Revising a Published Work.
Before I became an Indie Publisher I had the frustration of finding mistakes in my books that got through the editing process. And to correct and republish the book would have cost me money.
One of the great benefits of being an Indie Publisher is the ability to edit and republish.
Yeah, but that probably is expensive.
Not at all. For example, I published Death Ship earlier in the year but I had not done the proper title research. I discovered there are several books out there called Death Ship. So I pulled the book (unpublished it), retitled it, and republished it. At no cost to me!
Try doing that with a Traditional Publisher or Self Publisher.
How much work did it require?
That actually depends on the changes to be made. In the case of the retitled book I also made a few changes internally, but nothing extensive. The whole process was smooth and easy to do.
So, how do you do it?
If you’re like me you still think about your book after you’ve published it. It’s one of those ‘I wish I had done’ type of things. Or if you have someone reviewing your book they may point out a mistake or problem. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest you republish every time you have an error, but the thing is you can. What a powerful thing that is!
Another example could be you wanted to update your Front or Back Matter. Again, you can unpublish and then republished after you’ve updated the book.
What about Sales?
Good question. When you unpublish a book it is no longer available for sale. If you are unpublishing an eBook which is in the Kindle Select program, the older version stays in the program until the program time run out.
That is why I don’t recommend republishing often. I only republish if I feel it is necessary.
In Conclusion:
Republishing is a valuable tool that you as an Indie Publisher have at your disposal. Use it wisely.
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship to the Stars I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Beta Readers

Today I am writing about Beta Readers.
You’ve put forth your best efforts. You’ve completed your book. Now you’re ready to publish!
Not so fast.
Have you gone over your book looking for the smallest of errors? Have you followed up by editing the book? If yes, then good, but you’re still not ready.
Let me pause here for a word of transparency. While I have used readers to check my work they don’t necessarily fit within the “Beta Reader” definition. Also, I am not necessarily recommending that you use Beta Readers. It’s a choice. Whether you use Beta Readers or not, it is your choice.
With that out of the way let’s review the following which is based on an article written by editors.
What is a Beta Reader?
A Beta Reader is essentially a person who provides feedback that potentially helps your book to be better than it was. Not everyone can provide that service. A Beta Reader should be:

  • the kind of person likely to buy your book
  • be more knowledgeable than you are on the craft of writing
  • be a reader of books in your genre

It is unlikely that you will find such people in your circle of friends.
Where do you find Beta Readers?
Listed below are some ideas. You are free to add additional ones.

  • Social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) by asking for help
  • Scribofile where you offer feedback on other works and receive reviews of yours
  • Join Wattpad where you upload your book with a compelling blurb enticing people
  • Visit local writing or critique groups for face-to-face feedback

Working with Beta Readers
Just locating Beta Readers is not enough. You must have rules. The editors of the article point out authors don’t usually pay Beta Readers, so your interaction with them needs to be positive and affirming.
Don’t forget this little rule: How you treat your Beta Readers will determine whether they ever help you again. So it is to your advantage to treat them well. Use the Golden Rule: treat Beta Readers as you would want to be treated.
Having established that all important rule, let’s look at some others:

  • Give them your completed manuscript, not a draft
  • Send the manuscript in their desired format and method
  • Keep them informed on what kind of information you’re looking for
  • Provide a list they can follow
  • Never display disappointment or offense at negative feedback
  • Reward them by mentioning them in your acknowledgement page (people like compliments)

What’s the alternative to Beta Readers?
Your circle of friends can provide the alternative. Not all friends will be willing to help, but some may be willing. The thing to remember is to provide the same rules as for Beta Readers. And remember that these people are not necessarily trained to do such work.
But I have found that a friend who is willing to read my book and critique it can be very helpful. As I write this I have in mind a woman who took the time to read one of my manuscripts and critiqued it. Her comments and suggestions played an important role in the writing. Unfortunately she’s not really available anymore because of time constraints but readers like that are like platinum!
What should I do?
My suggestion would be to first look among your circle of friends for one or more people who’d be willing to critique your work. Note: the fact that a person may be an educator doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she should be used. Writing is fluid and sometimes crosses the border of so-called rules of writing as taught in the schools. That doesn’t rule them out, but just be careful.
Once you’ve done that you can try the Beta Reader routine.
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship to the Stars I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Self Critiquing

Today I am writing about Self Critiquing.

It is popular to advise writers to avoid doing their own editing. Get, they say, a professional so that your work will be at its very best. The reason given is very true: When you review and edit your own book you may not catch the errors. Not because you’re incompetent but because you know what you are trying to say and your mind might translate the words on paper to say what you want it to say.

For example, you may have intended to write, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” But you actually wrote, “My son, God will provide his self a lamb for a burnt offering.” Forgetting for the moment this is scripture, you have changed the actual words. The meaning is the same but the words have been changed. Sometimes the meaning isn’t altered but you erred as far as the words are concerned. But when you edit it you may not see the error because in your mind’s eye you actually read it the way it was meant.

That is a legitimate concern. But do you need professionals to review your work? Professionals cost money and if you are on a tight budget then your ability to hire them tends to be non-existent. Whether you use a professional or amateur you need to do much of the editing yourself. It is your book and your responsibility. If your budget allows it then consider a professional, but if not then plan B should involve repeated reviews and edits.

Now some may say that is bad advice. That it will result in errors. But the truth is that whether you edit the book or a professional edits it there will be errors. Don’t believe me, then the next time you are reading a popular or classic novel keep an eye out for errors. You won’t find many, but you are likely to find some.

The key is repeated reviews. If you can involve others in reviewing your work, so much the better for the work. The more eyes the better chances you’ll have of catching the errors. By the way, one of the advantages of publishing your book yourself is that if you discover errors after it is published you can still correct and republish.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship to the Stars I value your reviews.

If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Why I Self-Publish

In 2014 my wife, Teresa, and I went out to lunch at a small McDonalds located in Murdock, part of greater Port Charlotte, and made a very important decision. As we sat there we discussed my writing career and the possibility of hers although at that time she hadn’t started writing her first novel yet. The upshot of that meeting was the establishment of T&R Independent Books.

Let’s look at the Why form our own publishing company.

Up to that time I had been publishing using what is commonly called self-publishing companies to publish my books. But as I studied these companies I discovered:

  • They control the content
  • They control the cover
  • They determine the royalties
  • I still had to do the marketing

In other words, while I had more freedom and control that I’d have with a traditional publisher I still didn’t really have control of anything. By going independent and truly publishing by myself, I would:

  • Have control over the content
  • Have control over the cover
  • Determine the royalties
  • Still do the marketing

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t consider myself a control freak. Rather I believe that if the author is going to invest his or herself into writing a book, any book, then they deserve to benefit from it.

Case in point. With traditional and self-publishing companies the average author’s royalties are scaled. It varies from publisher to publisher but in general it might go like this: 8% of retail for the first 2,500; 15% for the next 5,000; 25% thereafter. Now the numbers I just used may not be accurate (I did it from memory), but the concept is true.

But by doing my own publishing I can receive 35% or 70% right from the start! That is a major difference.

What about the content?

With traditional publishers you generally have to first go through an agent who then tries to find a publisher. The agent has certain criteria which may involve you changing the content. But just finding an agent can be long and frustrating. Then the agent gets to tell you whether the book is good enough for publishing based on their expertise.

Even self-publishers exert control. For example, say you are writing a book and you quote from the King James Version Bible. It is possible they will substitute a different version whether you agree or not. They may also reject passages they don’t like. In other words, just because you are pleased with your results they might not be and can act accordingly.

Another thing involved is the ability to correct. No matter how or to what extent you have had your book previewed and edited, there is always the chance of errors. Moreover the publisher may have printing errors. I ran into this with my books. I was sent a ‘Proof’ copy and given about three days to review, find errors, make corrections, and return (electronically, of course). Three days may sound like a lot. But if the publisher made errors, which in this case they did, the finding and correcting  could be extensive, which it was. As a result I was only able to make a limited number of corrections and then it was published. And once published I could not make any corrections without going through the submission process again including paying money!

But by publishing the book myself I am able to take my time and do a more thorough job of previewing and editing. And, if there are still errors in the published version, I can correct the errors and republish at no cost to myself!

What about the Cover?

In last week’s Free[dom} of CreateSpace I spoke about the Cover Creator and the Photo Gallery. I won’t go into all the details again other than to say I can use one of their free pictures or I can upload a picture of my own. I don’t have to deal with the publisher to get permission like I did with my previous self-published books with a publisher. Even though I had a certificate proving I owned the rights, they rejected the photo and the certificate. But as the publisher I can use them.

And one last thing: Writing a book can be and is stressful; so is marketing. Having greater control over the publishing removes a lot of stress; and having greater control over price and royalties is far more rewarding.

Have you considered publishing your book yourself?

More and more authors are discovering the value of a DIY (Doing It Yourself) approach. Yes it requires more work on your part, but it’s worth it.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship I value your reviews.

If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me

“But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me…” Psalm 3:3

Today we live in a world that is increasingly anti-Christian. They mock us and, in some cases, try to harm us. But no matter what they do we have a God who is our shield. Nothing can be done to us without His knowledge and permission. So even if they kill us, God protects our soul and we are absent from the body and present with the Lord.

But how do I apply this to my writing career?

As a Christian you have standards – Bible based standards. And when you take a stand on those standards the world attacks you. This can come in the form of writing ‘experts,’ editors, publishers, and marketeers, or just well-meaning friends.

When this happens remember that God is your shield. Look to Him for guidance and reassurance. If your stand is Biblical then He will “have your back.”

For example, let’s say that you been searching for an agent to help you get a publisher. You finally found one you like. When he reads your book he says, “Your book is too bland. You need to spice it up. Your characters need to be more realistic.” Usually a statement like that means you need to have more sex, violence, and vulgarity than what you’re conscience permits. That’s assuming of course that your characters are well developed.

Don’t get me wrong. Sex and violence are part of life. But as Christian writers we are not to exploit sex and violence. There is a big difference from inferring sex and actually describing it. As for violence we don’t need to be overly graphic. In both of these areas our understanding of Biblical standards governs what we write.

Back to the agent. The agent has given you his advice and has made it clear that unless you change things as he has described, he won’t represent you. Complicating the matter is the fact that you have not been able to find another agent. What do you do?

You stick with your Biblical principles. You need to remind yourself that God is your shield. And since God knows everything from before Creation, He already has prepared for you a safety net. That net could be the sudden appearance of an agent who will represent your work without compromises. Or God could lead you to go the self-publishing route. Or He may provide something altogether different.

The point is that if we trust God and do things His way He will work it out to be for our good (see Roman’s 8:28). And chances are you may even be surprised by how He does it!

One last comment: As a Christian writer you don’t measure success the same way the world does. The world uses sales, royalties, etc. as the measuring stick. While you certainly shouldn’t ignore such data, your real success must come from a Biblical perspective. Does God approve? Not that you’re going to hear a verbal “good job” from Him, but your Christian conscience will let you know and He may well give you a great sense of peace. And no matter the sales, God takes care of His own!

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.