Monday, October 31, 2011

Getting Published, Part 3

Independent Publishing

As promised, this week we'll continue our discussion of Independent Publishing.

Files You'll Need

E-Book Publishing

Each e-publisher available to Independent Authors requires a specific type of file from writers who want to use their services to distribute their books. However, most publishers want authors to begin in Microsoft Word, not the later "docx" version but the older "doc" version.

If you're using the latest version of "Word" or you're using a different word processor, you'll still likely be able to save your file as a "doc" file. Most word processing software offers a variety of file types for saving documents.

Once you have your book saved in "Word" according to your publisher's specifications, you will be able to follow the instructions on how to proceed from there in the publisher's "How to" FAQs.

Read and follow instructions very carefully. If you don't complete your file exactly as instructed, you'll only delay the availability of your book to readers.

Publishers use both mechanical and human reviewers to vet books. If manuscripts vary by even as small an error as using all caps when it's not allowed, adding an extra space between the words in chapter titles, or any small infractions like these, your book may not convert into the format needed to successfully distribute your book to major vendors.

If your book has illustrations, photos, a table of contents, footnotes, or any of a number of other additions besides straight forward text, formatting will be a bit more complicated and will vary from publisher to publisher. Here again, be diligent in following guidelines in order to successfully publish your book.

Hard Copy Publishing

If you're distributing your book in paperback or hardcover you'll need to choose a book size. Places like Lulu and Create Space offer a nice selection of book sizes.

You'll find paperback/hardcover publishers usually want a pdf file for their books. They may make the pdf for you from whatever word processor you use, or they may require a pdf file right from the start.

Hard copy publishers also dictate page counts for the various book sizes. Be sure to heed these requirements, or your book file will not be accepted.

Final Copy Reviews

Whether you're publishing your book in hard copy or e-formats, it is important that you review a copy of the book in all formats. If your publishing with a distributor like Smashwords, and you choose to make your book available in several of the formats they distribute (mobi, pdf, e-pub, etc) look at your book in every format to be sure it's clear and easy to read.

Be sure the layout of your hard copy books looks professional. Covers should be clear and attractive.

Ah, yes, covers. It looks like we'll have to put off a more in depth discussion on those until next week. However, I can give you a bit of info on e-book covers because they are less complicated than covers for paperbacks/hardcovers.

If you've got good photo editing software, that's really all you'll need in order to make a cover for your e-book. Most publishers require only a jpeg file of a specific size and resolution. Details of what they need are in their FAQs.

I look forward to continuing our discussion next week when we'll discuss covers and a few odds and ends. The following week we'll talk about marketing your books.

Hopefully, you'll have a pleasant few days until we meet again.


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Getting Published, Part 2

Publishing Your Book

Once your book is written and reworked until you're completely satisfied with it, you're ready to publish it.

In my last post we discussed publishing your book traditionally and independently. Today, we'll expand on that topic.

1. Traditional Publishing. If you choose to publish traditionally, I recommend using the "Writer's Market" published by Writer's Digest Books as a resource in finding a publisher. However, do not restrict your publisher research to this book. While it is extremely helpful in finding a publisher who puts out your kind of book, it is important to check other resources for the right publisher for you.

Magazines like "The Writer" and "Writer's Digest" can be helpful.

Writers' organizations like Epic Authors often list publishers along with descriptions of the types of books they publish. It's also a good idea to do an Internet search for publishers. As with other topics, Internet searches can turn up some very helpful information when you're trying to find a publisher for your book.

2. Independent Publishing. There are many ways to publish your book independently. An Internet search will help you find this type of publisher too.

Let's take a look at the biggest publishers available to Independents first, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Amazon offers publishing services through their Kindle Direct Publishing program. Barnes and Noble offers the same type of service through their Pubit program. Amazon's publication is for the Kindle, B & N's is for their Nook.

Publishers like Smashwords, Lulu, and Create Space offer publication services in e-formats and/or print formats. With companies like these writers have access to worldwide distribution through many Internet Stores such as B & N, Apple's I-Books, Sony, Powells, Books a Million, etc. instead of just one store as offered by Amazon's KDP and B & N's Pubit.

As you research these companies and others you'll find through your Internet search, you will learn that you can publish your book at more than one place--as long as you hold all the publication rights to whatever format you wish to use to distribute your book.

For example, if you want to publish in Amazon's KDP and B & N's Pubit program AND use Smashwords to distribute to Apple, Sony, Kobo, etc., you can do that, as long as you own the publication rights.

The publishers referred to in this blog post offer authors the opportunity to publish their content absolutely free. They get paid for their services when you sell your books by taking a fee or a percentage of the sales price. Some of them also make money by offering paid publication services to authors such as editorial and cover services or promotional services. The paid services are for the author's convenience. You don't need to use them in order to publish your book with the companies mentioned here.

Next week we'll discuss the types of files you'll need to upload to use Independent Publishing services, book covers and more.

Please don't be overwhelmed by this mass of information or confused by it. Like everything else, if you take Independent Publishing or Traditional Publishing one step at a time, you'll be able to figure it all out and make the best choice for the publication of your book.

Perhaps between now and my next blog post you'd like to check out the companies mentioned here and other companies you find on your Internet search and learn more. It would be great if you could share via comments whatever you learn that would be helpful to this blog's readers. Sound good?

Have a great week!


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author

Monday, October 17, 2011

Getting Published, Part 1,

Traditionally, few writers were able to see their books in print because a small percentage of books written, maybe five percent or less, were ever published.

Today, however, thanks to the increase in the number of small publishing houses and to the availability of resources for Independent Publishers, many, many more books are being published.

Consequently, your chances of becoming a published author, your chances of becoming a multi-published and a regularly published author are better than ever.

As you may know, I've had books published in hardcover, paperback and e-book formats by traditional publishers. In fact, my very first book MONTANA MATCH was published exactly 10 years ago this month by Avalon Books, New York in hardcover.

However, in the last couple of years I have begun to publish my back list of books Independently, and I've been pleased with the results.

In this series on "Getting Published" I'd like to help you become a published author too whether you're writing your first book, second or your twentieth. So let's begin.

1. Write your book. The very first thing a writer must do in order to be published is to write a book. Easier said than done, right? Believe it or not (and I'm sure you believe it if you've already written a book), writing a good book is much more difficult than publishing it these days.

If you're still in the pre-published stage, here are some tips to help you insure your book is at it's best.

A. Let it set. Once you've finished your first draft, let the manuscript set for at least a month (two months is better) and work on your next project.

B. Critique. After a month or two, go to your manuscript and read it as though someone else had written it. Be critical and site the good and the bad. Be ready to cut, add, rewrite, recheck facts, look for inconsistencies, etc.

C. Let it set again. Once you've finished the second draft, let it set again as you did with the first draft.

D. Share it. Repeat as above with succeeding drafts. When you're satisfied your book is at its best, you may want to share it with a critique group, friends whose opinions you value or a professional editor you trust.

2. Your book is ready. Okay, your book is looking great, and you're ready to share it with the world. Next, it's up to you to decide whether you want to publish the book traditionally or independently.

A. Traditional Publishing. If you've set your sites on having a major publisher distribute your book, you will have to get an agent first. Major publishers generally look only at projects submitted through agents.

If you choose to submit your manuscript to a smaller publishing house, you may be able to submit directly without using an agent. Once you submit your manuscript be prepared to wait three to six months or more. Publishers usually have a backlog of submissions. Oh, and be sure to follow the publisher's guidelines when submitting. If they want a query first, don't send a completed manuscript.

B. Independent Publishing. If you'd rather have full control over your book's content and distribution, then Independent Publishing may be right for you. In the past writers who published their books themselves undertook a very difficult, expensive venture. They had to find a printer they could work with and afford, order a set number of books to be printed and pay for them up front. Then came the daunting task of finding bookstores willing to try to sell their books. Obviously, unless these writers were willing to front a great deal of money their distribution was very limited.

Today, because of Internet companies, Independent Publishers have access to worldwide distribution of hardcover, paperback and e-books at little or no cost to them at all!

Next week we'll discuss publishers who offer free services to authors for e-book, paperback and even hardcover publications.


Fran Shaff

Monday, October 10, 2011

Relax with Classic Love Stories

Classic stories of love have been favorites among readers for hundreds, maybe thousands of years.

I love all kinds of stories of love, that's why I write stories about love.

But my stories aren't only about romantic love. They're about family love. Except for the love of God, is there any more powerful love than that shared within a family?

Love doesn't mean life is all flowers and sunshine. Sometimes families which are filled with love can also be filled with strife, but if true love exists just about anything hurtful and negative can be overcome--at least in fiction this can happen. (Hopefully in real life too, at least some of the time.)

I call my books "Family Novels" because they are about families and because they are suitable for most members of the family. My classic romances are written for adults, but they are suitable for teens. My "YA" books are enjoyed by those aged ten and older. [I, like many other writers, enjoy YA and Middle Reader books. They aren't only for kids. :-)]

In a world where things move quickly, and our lives often leave little time to enjoy the slower pace of relaxing and reading something besides e-mail, text messages and headlines, the moments we take to enjoy classic stories about love are precious ones indeed.

Here's hoping you enjoy whatever it you're reading this week...


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author

Monday, October 3, 2011

Writing Tip ABCs, Part 8, V to Z

We have finally reached the final post in my Writing Tip ABCs series of blogs.

Thanks for the positive feedback on this project. I'm glad it's been of help to so many of you.

Letters V to Z coming up.


Readers want to live VICARIOUSLY through your characters. They don't get to be super heroes, villains, FBI agents, temptresses, doctors, chamber maids,dog trainers, natives of Venus and Pluto, astronauts, cowboys or ballerinas in their normal lives. While they're reading your book, however, they can do or be anything. Give them a good ride.

The VOICE you use to tell your story depends on your book's genre, the time period it's set in, its setting, the type of writing you want to convey, etc.

Achieving VERISIMILITUDE in your writing is critically important if you want readers to believe your manufactured world, people, premise, etc. are believable.


Heroes and heroines shouldn't WAFFLE when it's time for them to make decisions. Decisiveness even in the face of fear is a trait readers admire in protagonists.

When a violent or erotic scene is required by the plot, authors who intend their book for a PG type of audience may have to WHITEWASH the scene in order to make it less objectionable to sensitive readers.

Choose your WAYS AND MEANS of telling your story carefully. The methods and resources you use should suit your genre and your audience.


A XENOPHOBE can make an interesting archetype, whether he is a hero or a villain. A political drama (or comedy) comes to mind because hardline party members are often contemptuous or even afraid of the competition.


Sidekicks who are YES MEN add comedy (Lex Luther/Otis) or insight (Sherlock Holms/Watson)to stories.

When spinning your YARN be sure to knit your scenes together smoothly.

The use of YOKELS and their vernacular will make a setting which is foreign to readers seem clearer, more believable.


The battles of protagonists against antagonists result in ZERO SUM GAMES. One side wins, the other loses. The best stories allow victories and losses on both sides.

Once your story has reached its ZENITH, resolutions and an ending should follow quickly.

Decide whether readers should see a scene in macro view or if you should ZOOM in on a critical action within a broad situation.

As always, for more Writing Tip ABCs, go to my Twitter page at:

Thanks for sticking with me throughout my Writing Tip ABCs series.

Remember, later this month I'll be starting a blog series on Independent Publishing. You won't want to miss it!


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author