Tag Archives: digital publishing

Imposter Syndrome

Happy Friday everyone. Casey here. If you have a moment, please stop by my blog. I’m hosting another Goodreads giveaway to celebrate the paperback release of The Undead Space Initiative.

Lighthouse, Stonington CT In case you hadn’t yet heard the news, Mystic Storm will be published in 2013. And while this is my third published novel, I still feel like a giant imposter.

Like someone is going to single me out and yell – “Fake! Fraud! She’s not a real writer!”

I know that sounds totally ridiculous but I know I’m not the only one who sometimes feels this way. I have heard an established NY Times bestselling author admit to having the same feeling – that no matter how many novels you write and sell that this one might be your last.

That you will never, ever write anything “good” again. Your career will be over!! You’ll be a “has been”, the equivalent of a dried up old spinster.

Eek! What’s a writer to do? Well, for starters, it’s time for a reality check.

By the power invested in me I say to you –  You’re a writer. A real, honest to goodness writer. Doesn’t matter if you’re unpublished, published big, published small, self-published, or any variation in between. If you’re dedicated to the craft of storytelling and you are actively putting words on a page, you’re a writer.

Feel better?

If not, and you’re still fretting,consider this:

1. Ignorance is bliss. Remember back in the early days of writing before you knew any of the “rules”? When it was a thrill just to type those words on the page and “publication” was some far off dream on a distant shore? If you find yourself traveling down the road of uncertainty, hark back to that earlier time. Too many “rules” equals zero fun. Ditch’em. Be that dreamer again. The completion of one book doesn’t mean you’re doomed to never write another good story again.

2. There are many paths to publication. Readers don’t care who published your novel. All they want are well-written, entertaining stories. I know I don’t go looking for books based on who published them. I just want to read something good and judge accordingly.

3. Tell the Doubt Monster to shut his (or her) gob. If you’re suffering from imposter syndrome, consider it a form of self-doubt. Cut it out.

And finally, square your shoulders, hold your head up high and be proud of your accomplishments (no matter how big or small they are that day, week or month).

Now say it with me – “I am writer, hear me roar!”

Time for the truth – who else has had imposter syndrome? And what are your suggestions for combatting it?

Eyes Wide Open

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

mysticink_72dpiLast week on my website, I announced the start of my very first Goodreads Giveaway to celebrate Mystic Ink, now in paperback. I was inspired, in part, by Katy Lee’s giveaway back in December. And because, I realized that while the book has been in paperback since late November, no one knew about it!!

It’s still not too late to enter, the giveaway runs until January 31 (open to US residents only, see Goodreads for all contest rules & details).

It’s interesting to me that Goodreads only allows paper books in their giveaways. I’m not sure if that is because of the inherent concern about DRM issues (digital rights management). All I know is that the reader’s world today is vastly different from the one I grew up in.

As a kid, I got my books from two places: the library and the bookstore. That’s it. The format was paperback or occasionally hardcover depending on the type of book. If someone had told me that, in my lifetime, music, movies, and books would be condensed into a digital format accessible on a single device, I would have said, “Awesome. Sign me up!”

Maybe I would have shown a smidgen of disbelief, but not too much. Hey, my reading (and movie/TV watching) of choice has always been science fiction and fantasy. I was one of the kids who watched Star Trek re-runs every day after school and geeked out over Star Wars.

But, because I’m a sci-fi fan, I also know to ask this question: “What is the evil dark side to having everything digital?”

C’mon. We all know there has to be some tarnish on the silver lined cloud of convenience and easy access. As Rumpelstiltskin always says on Once Upon a Time, “Remember,dearie. There’s always a price!”

Here is what concerns me the most. Eventually, maybe not in my lifetime, if all physical copies of books, music and movies become obsolete, who really controls ownership of that content?

Already, courts are working to decide if customers who buy e-books are only leasing them or do they own them? With a physical book, you can give it away, sell it or keep it forever and pass it to your heirs.

Right now, if you buy a book from Amazon or B&N (or whoever), you are only licensing that content. It doesn’t really belong to you, the reader. And someday, if you don’t even have a physical copy of your digital content, that means you have to go through a gatekeeper to buy it, store it, and use it.

A gatekeeper could be a benevolent corporation or maybe a controlling, not so nice, company (or gack – the government!). Today, cloud storage is free, but will it be tomorrow?

Whoa! This all sounds so Orwellian, doesn’t it?

Now with all that said, I do own e-readers (Nook, Kindle), Kindle Fire,and an iPod Touch, in addition to hundreds of physical copies of books, CDs, DVDs/Blue Ray, etc. IMG_1440And, since I’m a writer, I like knowing that my books ultimately belong to me (and I have the control).

I am not advocating that digital content is bad. I love it. If it weren’t for the computer age, I wouldn’t have spent the last 23 years working from home and watching my sons grow to (almost) young men. And my books would probably still be languishing in some slush pile if it weren’t for small presses.

All I ask, dear Scribesters, is keep your eyes wide open and consider the future possibilities.

Hopefully, I haven’t scared you all away. Anyone else see the evil dark side? Or, conversely, the positives of digital content?

E-Books Beyond Amazon and B&N

Hello Scriblers!  Happy Saturday to you again!  J here.  Wow, this day comes around fast.  I’m going to change things up a bit – here’s today’s secret, right at the beginning: You can buy e-books for your Nook or Kindle (or other e-reader) in more places than just Barnes&Noble or Amazon.  You might already know about this, but whenever I’m out and about talking about e-books (often, very often) people I’m talking with have never heard of Smashwords.com.

In case you are one of those people, let me tell you about Smashwords.  Smashwords is an author driven publisher of e-books.  The authors set the prices and the authors get a higher percentage of the purchase price as a royalty.  Lot’s of authors set their prices at $0.00.  Yes, that’s FREE!  I love free stuff, don’t you?  And there are lots and lots of authors with books out there for less than $5.00.  Since traditional publishers are charging a teensy bit less for e-books than for print books (highway robbery if you ask me since there’s no paper, printing, shipping or storage costs) you can really feed your reading habit on a budget using a site like Smashwords. 

Of course, shopping at Smashwords is like shopping at Marshalls or TJ Maxx.  You can find designer stuff at wicked cheap prices if you take the time to look through all the…well, let’s call it less than designer quality stuff. 

For example, I recently “discovered” author Sharon Gerlach.  She has written a few books, the two I’ve read were women’s fiction/romance stories. These were “designer” quality – for sure.  They were very good, well written, well-edited, intriguing stories with compelling characters.  Office Politics is $1.49.  Very reasonable!  She could easily be charging more – perhaps you could ask her about that when I interview her in a few weeks.  I’ve read, well started, a book by a different “unknown’ author and it was terrible.  You win some, you lose some.  But if it’s free (or practically free!) who cares if some of them are less good than others.  Most of the books I’ve bought at Smashwords were great.

When you buy books at Smashwords, you do need to have your computer handy.  Once purchased, you download the file type you need (I need mobi for my Kindle) and save it somewhere.  Then you plug your e-reader into your computer with that handy-dandy cord they give you when you buy it and drag and drop the file to the device. 

It does take a couple of minutes more than ordering from Amazon through Whispernet, but since the books are so cheap, you can load up a bunch at once.  Also, if your Kindle 2 is nearly dead like mine (I can’t use Whispernet to download books anymore, I have to use a computer – I understand this is a somewhat common problem for the older Kindles) you can still use it if you buy from Smashwords.

There are also many new digital publishers popping up these days and a couple of our very own Scribes are publishing with some established ones.  Perhaps Casey and Katy can tell us a bit about buying books through those sites. The point is this: E-book buyers, you have options when it comes to choosing a place to purchase your books.  Shop around.

Today’s Question: What new authors or book stores have you discovered lately?

Just for fun: here’s a bit of eye candy to get you through the rest of the day.


he-he    🙂


Interview with Author Jenn Reese

Greetings Seven Scribes Fans!  Jamie K. Schmidt here filling in for J Monkeys.  Keeping with my crafty resolution, I’m going to give away another pair of earrings to a lucky person who comments on this blog post.

Today, I’m pleased to introduce to you an old friend of mine, Jenn Reese.  Her MG book, “Above World” is scheduled to be released on Valentine’s Day this year!

Tell us how Above World came about.  What was the spark or the “what if?” moment that made you decide to write a middle grade book about Aluna and the Coral Kampii?

As ridiculous as it sounds, I was sitting around one day and I thought, “You know who would make an awesome space captain? A mermaid!” That’s what gave me the idea of combining mythology and science to get my various bioengineered humans of the future. Although I dropped the space captain angle, I do mention “sky ships” in book 1 in honor of that initial spark.

How did you go about searching for an agent and what made you decide to go with Joe Monti from Barry Goldblatt Literary? What was harder to write, the query letter or the synopsis?  Got any tips for improving a query/synopsis?

I am fortunate to have many published friends, so the first thing I did was ask them for their agent spreadsheets. Then I researched for months using agentquery.com, Publisher’s Marketplace, and several different mailing lists. I created my own spreadsheet with data and feedback from others until I had a three-tiered agent hunt list.

I got two offers from my first tier, and chose Joe – a decision I have never regretted. Joe had been to my website, read my blog, and I was confident that he wanted to represent me – in all my geeky glory – and not just this one book.

I spent over a month working on just my query letter and synopsis while friends read the latest draft of my novel, and I think it was time well spent. I’m certainly no expert, but I definitely recommend going lean and mean in your query. No unnecessary details about either your novel or yourself. Your goal is to get agents intrigued, to get them to ask for more. The longer your query letter is, the more likely you are to say something that will turn them off.

Did Joe have any edits for you? What about Candlewick?  How long did it take you do the revisions?  Did you wrestle with the changes or did they fit with your vision of the book?

LOL. Yes, both Joe and my editor at Candlewick, Sarah Ketchersid, had edits. Lots of edits. They all made the book stronger. (Joe is notorious for wanting more fight scenes, a request I am always delighted to indulge.)

Admittedly, you can’t always tell right away if you agree with the suggestions. I have to sit on editorial notes a minimum of four full days before my brain starts thinking about them constructively. For Above World, I actually changed the book’s villain. Instead of killing him at the end of book 1, I killed off a lieutenant instead and saved the Big Bad for future books. (A suggestion that implies the need for future books? I’m all over that!)

In the end, every single editorial pass — one from Joe, one before we sold, and two under contract – made the book immeasurably better. I will be forever grateful that no one has to read the book as I originally wrote it.

The cover to Above World is gorgeous. As a graphic designer yourself, can you tell me what you think makes this cover so great?

I love the cover! Candlewick was generous enough to include me in design discussions. We all wanted something bright and gender neutral that hinted at the fantastical elements of the science fictional plot. I think the intense colors and simple, bold design scream “adventure,” and I couldn’t be happier!

The artwork is by  Alexander Jansson (http://www.alexanderjansson.com/) and the cover design is by Candlewick’s Kate Cunningham.

Your first book, Jade Tiger — an adult urban fantasy, was published in trade paperback by Juno a few years ago and you’ve just recently released it out for Kindle and Nook. What can you tell us from an author’s perspective about the difference between the two mediums?

When the rights to Jade Tiger reverted back to me, I enjoyed converting it to ebook format – mostly because I was able to edit the book slightly and take out a section that had always bothered me. (No, I’m not telling you what it was!) I’m also loving the ability to change the book’s price whenever I want, just to see what sells. Ebooks give authors the control that they crave.

Having said that, I still vastly prefer to sell my books traditionally. It’s not just that the money is better, it’s that the book itself ends up better. All those amazing editorial notes! Copyediting! Proofreading! Professionally designed cover and interior pages! Marketing, sales, and publicity teams! Distribution channels! I would be lost without Candlewick.

Traditional publishing is for me – no question — but I love that authors now have a choice. And I also love that many authors are now putting their out-of-print backlists online. So many wonderful titles that we once again have access to! “Out-of-print” will soon be out of style.

I noticed you’re doing a book signing at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach, CA on 2/17/12.  Did you set that up or was that something Candlewick did?  How did you set it up?  What are your plans for the signing are you going to read chapters or give a talk?

The signing is a result of networking. While I was at the World Fantasy Convention, a good friend introduced me to the awesome Maryelizabeth Hart who manages publicity for Mysterious Galaxy. She took care of everything, including contacting my publicist at Candlewick (the equally awesome Tracy Miracle). I’m sharing the signing with a fellow debut author Sara Wilson Etienne (check out her novel Harbinger!), and we have yet to decide what we’re going to do. It will be my first-ever such event. Suggestions welcome!

Jenn Reese’s book “Above World” will be available on February 14, 2012. You can pick it up at Barnes and Noble  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/above-world-jenn-reese/1104308923  or wherever you prefer to buy books!

Inspired by the denizens of the City of Shifting Tides, the Coral Kampaii, I’m giving away a pretty pair of lampwork glass fish earrings to match the cover of Above Word.  I’ll announce the winners here around noon Thursday, January 12th.


Last week’s winner, Katy, will receive these funky vampire earrings.