Self-Publishing

The Length Debate

Lately I’ve been wading into a debate that I thought merited some discussion on. And as you can probably tell from the title of the post, it has to do with length. The length of different pieces of fiction, to be exact. For years, I’ve subscribed to a particular set of guidelines for fiction lengths that go something like this:

•Flash fiction: 1-1000 words
•Short Story: 1000-10K words
•Novelette: 10K-20K words
•Novella: 20K-40K words
•Novel: 40K+ words

(The definitons above are based on many self-help writing books I’ve read and on the submission guidelines for National Novel Writing Month’s online contest.)

Until recently, I had no idea that there was an actual controversy on the lengths of the various forms of fiction listed above. Some people consider flash fiction only goes to five hundred words, while others argue that a short story can’t exceed 7,500 words without becoming a novelette. Most discussion is saved for novel lengths, with many arguing that forty-thousand is too small and leaves readers feeling robbed when they’re promised a novel that turns out to be too short for their tastes.

When I asked a writing group I belong to on Facebook what their thoughts on this issue were, especially when it comes to novels, I got a number of responses. Some said that fifty-thousand was a novel, though they thought it was a short one. Others said sixty or seventy-thousand was an appropriate minimum for novel length, and a few said fifty-five thousand was a good compromise as it’s right between the lowest minimum and the highest maximum values often cited in the debate. (For now, I’ve revised my definition of novel lengths to fifty-five thousand words at minimum, both for the reasons listed above and because my work usually runs much higher than that, so it works for me.)

To be truthful though, instead of making me worry if I’ve been using a bad definition for what constitutes a novel all this time, I’m pleased that authors are having this debate, especially self-published authors. One of the benefits often touted for self-published authors is that they get to write what they want, and this debate is a reflection of that in some ways. Authors are free to use their own definitions of novels and short stories and novelettes and whatever they write, rather than having to listen to what publishers and agencies believe a novel should be. It’s just another form of the freedom self-published authors are afforded.

However if in November you want to take part in the NaNoWriMo contest and decide that the threshold they give for a novel’s length works for you, then go right ahead. You’re just as welcome to exceed it and write as many words as you feel constitutes the creation of a novel. It’s your choice.

What are your definitions for the various lengths of different kinds of fiction? Why do you think that?

Categories: General Writing, Self-Publishing, Writing as a Business | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Guest Post: How Self-Publishing is Made Easy and Effective by Jasmine Roy

How Self-Publishing is Made Easy and Effective

Are you an author aspiring to undertake the big challenge of self publishing your book? Then it is indeed a great challenge to put your own efforts and dedication to publish your creation. Several authors, worldwide, try their hands at self publishing as it allows them considerable freedom to exhibit their research and skills. Also, many authors who want to have full control over their written work and are particular with the artistic expressions opt for self publishing their book. While some go for it since this kind of publishing involves less expenses. If you intend to self publish your written book, then you need to have knowledge and take charge of the complete process.

As a matter of fact, self publishing a book is very stressful process since you are in charge of every step involved in the process. You are supposed to be responsible for everything right from writing your book to marketing it. However, this process has become easy by following some guidelines, in the recent times. It is important that you should never get discouraged and keep in mind your target and profits that you are expecting from publishing your book.

How to Self Publish

  1. The first essential step for successful self publication of your book is to write your manuscripts effectively. Be it a novel, short story book, poetry book to memoir create it in one specific electronic manuscript. Insert relevant pictures of high resolution into the manuscript. The self publishing companies do not impose additional charges for inserting pictures in manuscripts. Make use of alignment tools to align and indent text. This will help you to properly format your written work.
  1. If you are about to publish a hard copy of your written book, then you should first ensure that your book is fully complete, properly edited and also effectively proofread. Make efforts to get contacts of reputed freelance editors and proofreaders who can efficiently do this task at a fixed rate. One of the most important things you need to give your book is a catchy title that can draw the reader’s attention. If you happen to have any contacts with graphic designers or some good cover designers make use of their specialization in order to design the cover of your written book. Or else you can even hire a professional freelancer for this if it fits in your budget.
  1. Be it a comic book or a children’s book, including good designing in your book will greatly help you to win the half battle of self publishing a book. Once you have got edited manuscript with outstanding cover page, contact good printing services for quotations. The rate of printing will differ depending on the number of copies you tend to order and the quality of the printed book that you are publishing in the market. You can even try to contact vanity presses that will offer you an excellent option of print on demand. This option will not have any interference with the content of your book. One of the most important things you need to take care of is to get ISBN numbers for your written books. You should keep in mind that these numbers can only be purchased in blocks of ten and not according to per book.
  1. Invest efforts to self publish your book by making use of the internet. You can approach a great resource of self publishing companies over the web. Such a resource will also offer you the companies that can translate your written book in any desired language so that people can find books written by you in language they are comfortable with. Such companies even reduce the expenses involved in printing and related expenses and handover to you the effective amount that equals 80% of the total amount earned from publishing your book. In the modern times, with the e-book gaining good popularity, self publishing your book over the web makes a good sense since it tend to reach greater number of readers, worldwide. This is even a beneficial option for people looking for self publishing their books for free without shelling out even cent from their pocket.
  1. Last but not the least, while self publishing your written book you might have to face some prejudices. Keep in mind that you should not get adversely affected due to it. Several popular authors, once upon a time, even had faced rejections before being selected by an efficient mainstream publisher. Moreover, self publishing is a great platform for the authors, who have been facing constant rejections, to display before the world their unique writings.

Thus, with the advent of internet, technology and good resource of self publishing companies, self publishing a book has become quite convenient.

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Author Bio :- Jasmine Roy is a expert writer with rich experience in writing books, blogs, and articles on a wide range of topics. Through her years of writing and publication she has come to believe that Pubmatch is a great resource of book publishing companies for writers all over the world. She has complete faith in the book publishing companies over here as they offer various exclusive services such as offset printing services, valuable and up-to-date information in the favor of the book authors and also allow them to have a creative control on various aspects of publishing and promoting their books.

Categories: Digital & ePublishing, Self-Publishing

An Interview With Matthew Williams: A Science Fiction Writer’s Perspective on Self-Publishing

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Matthew Williams is the author of several science fiction novels, including Source, Data Miners, and the riveting zombie thriller Whiskey Delta, all of which are self-published. I recently had an email exchange with Matt to discuss his views on self-publishing and his own experiences with this radical new form of publishing.

Rami Ungar: Matt, why did you decide to go into self-publishing?

Matthew Williams: It was a mentor of mine, Mr. Fraser Cain – creator and publisher of Universe Today – who first got me interested. For years, I had been writing and seeking a book deal, but all in vain. It seemed that publishing houses were taking less and less chances on new manuscripts and would always respond (when they responded at all) with form letters saying what my writing was “not what they were looking for.”

Mr. Cain was the one who told me that this was to be expected in this day and age, where new media and indie writing was making the traditional publishing route a thing of the past. It was a paradox, to be sure, and I understood what he meant. On the one hand, it was harder to get published because of self-publishing and new media. On the other hand, these same phenomena were offering opportunities for authors that were never before available.

After speaking about it a few times, I came to see the wisdom in what he was saying. By becoming an indie and using all the tools that were at my disposal, I could bring my message directly to an audience without the approval of the “gatekeepers” – i.e. a publishing house. This meant I would have to do all the legwork, but it would also mean I would reap all the rewards. On top of that, it would get me out of the slump I found myself in, waiting for others to recognize me and give my work its big break. This way, I could make that break happen for myself.

RU: What was your first step when you decided to self-publish?

MW: Well, the first step was finding a press where I could get my books into a readable, buyable format. I already had some experience with Print-On-Demand and did not want to repeat that, seeing as how that route requires you to shell out a chunk of money in return for basic services that do not guarantee any sales. What’s more, there are renewal fees and the price for an individual book can be prohibitively high. But after talking it over with Fraser and a few other people who are experienced on the subject, I learned of Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords, Lulu, Createspace and a host of other services where you can do publish your books independently and have a far greater degree of control over the process. I shopped around and experimented for a bit, but finally found a combination I liked that allowed me to publish ebooks and paperbacks and get them to a wide audience.

RU: You have several titles out now, including the widely reviewed Whiskey Delta. After so many books, do you feel like a pro at putting together your own books and publishing them?

MW: To be honest, no. Sure, I sometimes feel like I have a lot to share whenever I’m giving advice to people who are completely new to the indie writing game. But there is always someone more experienced, as well as new and humbling experiences that make you realize you’ve still got a lot to learn. I imagine that at some point, I’ll feel like I’ve got things down pat. Perhaps when I’m moving enough books that I can dedicate myself to writing full time, or have several titles that are all making an impression. But for now, I still feel like I’m relatively new to this business and toiling in relative anonymity.

RU: What are some techniques you use to spread the word about your books?

MW: Well, there are plenty of ways. Social media presents plenty of opportunities for new authors to get the word out and online writing groups are also effective at times. These include groups like Authonomy, Wattpad, and services like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. And of course, it’s crucial to have a website that presents followers with updates and insight into your ideas, process, and inspirations. And the most important thing is to make sure that they are all linked, so that any and all updates can be shared across multiple forums, and potential fans are given every opportunity to see where your books can be bought.

RU: Potential fans? So that means you have some sort of fanbase. What’s that like?

MW: Ha, yeah it’s nice. It’s a modest following, but from what I can tell, some people seem to enjoy what I have to offer. It does bolster your efforts, I’ve noticed. Hearing that people like your work and are willing to pay you regular compliments really does make you feel good and spurs on your creative efforts. But it also makes you aware of the fact that now there are people out there whose approval you want to keep. When you’re starting out, the only person you want to please is yourself. So in a way, having a fan base can take away some of your creative freedom. But no artist wants to toil away in anonymity forever!

RU: Yeah, that’s true. Now here’s a question that burns in every self-published author’s mind: if a traditional publishing company offered you a contract, what would be your reaction?

MW: That is a good question, and one I’ve struggled with of late. On the one hand, I would be losing some of the freedom I have right now if I signed a deal. On the other, a publisher could offer me promotional and editorial services I don’t currently enjoy. And in the end, any indie writer has to consider whether or not they would be willing to compromise on their independence for the sake of a comfy contract. I guess it would all depend on what they could offer and if the price was right.

RU: How do you see the publishing industry as it stands today?

MW: I guess the best way to look at it would be as a shrinking community. The gatekeeper gets to decide who comes in, and membership has its privileges. But the community is shrinking and its resources are diminishing. So they’re naturally letting fewer and fewer people in and, if I may say so, lowering their standards. At some point, the community is likely to be gone altogether, though I imagine that will take some time.

RU: That sounds rather apocalyptic, in a way. My final question is what would you say to someone who is considering self-publishing and you wanted to encourage them to try it?

MW: I’d most likely say, “Good for you, because that’s the way to go these days. Most people want to be discovered, to be given a big break, but that’s rarely the case anymore. This way, you can make a name for yourself and make your own breaks happen. It might take longer, and it will all be on you – so prepare to work hard – but the rewards will be yours as well. And if it’s what you love, it will well be worth it. Nothing compares to the feeling of seeing your writing in print and knowing that people are reading and enjoying it.”

Matthew Williams books are available in both digital and print formats on Amazon, Lulu, and other distributors. You can also read his work and receive the latest updates in science, science fiction, and geekdom from his blog, Stories by Williams.

Categories: General Writing, Publishing Basics, Self-Publishing, The Writer & Author | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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