Thursday, December 25, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Alright, I’m just going to write this because, after looking over the last entries, I’m already getting sick of the whiney piney bullshit that I‘ve been doing. So here goes the rest of my writing history - to make a long story short.
Doing mounds of research online, I decided to go with a self-publisher called Iuniverse. Booksurge, Outskirts press and various other online publishers were too high in the price range for me.
After going through the process of filing out the contract, setting up a complicated cover design which was way too crowded and finally releasing the book -- I had set myself up for the speediest premature launch of all time. Two months went by and I had only sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 books, not counting the 15 free copies that I gave away to friends and family.
It was too early for me to go launching the book like that without a marketing plan. And because no one had ever heard of the book, it sold poorly. So I went ahead and pulled the book. The royalties weren’t all that high and I felt the book needed some more revisions and a reboot before it went public again.
That was Summer of 2006.
From 2006 to now, I’ve been hard at writing.
Here is what is currently in my arsenal:
Mr. Dead Eyes (Sci-Fi) - 243 pages
W.D.T. (Supernatural Thriller) -306 pages
F.W.I.W. (First Short Story Collection) - 207 pages
W.A.S.L. (Second Short Story Collection) - 26 pages
P.F. (Coming Of Age Adventure) - 40 pages
(Titles will be revealed when I have the story 100% completed and copyrighted.)
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I come to grips with the fact that I actually completed a full-length novel. But holding that manuscript in my hands wasn’t even half the battle. I tried writing something close to a novel at least four times before with no progress or just deleting them altogether. Even after spending all those sleepless nights, I had to brighten up and start making some plans. And here were the things I realized during the time of then and now:
1. Read & Repeat - Go back over your manuscript at least 5 more times. Read it frontward, backwards, read it out loud to yourself. This all helps with perfecting your story or it least make it have some kind of sense so that people won’t scratch their heads over it. Have someone you really, really, really, really, really (sheesh! can he emphasize enough!), really, really trust to read your first draft, or the draft that you are comfortable with. You must make sure this person is trustworthy, calm, listens, cares, critiques, is gentle, is critical, is not a bitter writer and will provide pages of notes. There are some well known authors who say show it to several people but that could be risky territory if you ask me. Unless, that is, that you can find several people who encompass all of the above traits. Let the novel leak out slowly. Start with one person. If you are compelled to show more people be cautious. Don't open the flood gates to your own destruction. Perfect example: Stephenie Meyer, 5 books under her belt, showed Midnight Sun to four people she 'trusted very much'. The result: Midnight Sun, unpolished version, accidentally finds itself on a downloading site. Now who knows if she'll actually publish it. Get the picture?
2. Book cover art - Unless you have an art degree, or took some legitimate classes, do not design the cover yourself! I did. And it couldn’t have been a more jumbled mess. You can contact artists through a service or pay someone to design your cover from anywhere to 500 to 1,000 dollars. Once I called an artist whose work I really admired, Chris Mcfrickin' Grath! Talked to this guy on the phone for 30 min. Cool guy. Awesome covers. Expensive but those covers are complete eye candy. But, alas, I was without coin of the realm. If you’re a “brokie” ( a person who counts on pocket change to pay for gas, like me) then you might want to save up or find someone within reasonable price range. If you’re in a pinch, and just think the work speaks for itself, no need to dress it up, then go with a simple color cover with the title and your name. A friend of mine did that and he got picked up by a publisher despite the basic first edition cover. More on that later.
3. Edit the hell out of it - And I mean this in every sense of the word. Edit. De. HELL. OUT. OF. IT. There’s nothing more frustrating, as anyone will tell you, then a book that has sloppy, little or no editing in the book itself. One misspelled or misused word could sink the potential imagination titanic and the reader will put the book down and move on to something else. But, if you’re a who-cares attitude reader, you might pass over those because the story is really compelling. Even in the titan world of professionally published books, I’ve seen numerous editing mistakes in books by such authors as Stephen King, Stephenie Meyer, Dean Koontz, J.K. Rowling and James Redfield. Altogether, five people have edited Mr. Dead Eyes, myself included. The first draft is never the final draft. My book went through 10 different drafts and in all those changes, the story itself changed.
4. Find the perfect route - While some shout either literary agent or go for the gold and send it to a publisher, there is much difference between the two. I’ve sent a few queries out to publishers as well as literary agents. I never even got any rejection letters to be mad over. Hell, sometimes I wonder if my query letters are still on their way there or if it they are stuck under a pile a mile high. I doubt that the postal service works that slow. For a literary agent, you need to be noticed first and you need to have some kind of exposure. It seems that they want you to already be a best-selling author before they represent you. Big name publishers as well are very hard to reel in. There used to be a big stigma around self publishing a novel but it looks as if that fire has calmed down. A lot of first time authors self-published.
Big things to consider.
But they help in the long run.
So, here I was, with my dandy new finished novel. All typed up and nowhere to go. When you think ‘finished novel’ in your head, the words ‘must publish’ jump into your mind really quick.
Through talking with my relatives about the book that I had finished, I learned from one of them that an author lived just across the street from them. Frantically, I made the necessary arrangements to meet this complete stranger. We talked on the phone briefly, set a date to meet, and I was on my way. Originally, I would meet her at her house, but, as it was, she was planning on visiting the local fire station to chat with the boys and hand out some free copies of her first book. It wasn’t far from her house, just four houses down.
After some time of meeting the men who protect us, we decided on a conference room upstairs where we could chat about books. Like a newborn dunked in water cold water for the first time, I was flushed with morbid curiosity about the world of the publishing industry and how, in some way, to scoot around it.
This woman loved writing. She showed me a print copy of her book, which I later bought and read. She also had a second book out dedicated to the memory of the people who bravely stood up and helped when the tragic event 9/11 occurred. Both books had to deal with 9/11. But her first book was fiction, dealing with a couple who meet on a plane and whose lives are changed when they marry, move to New York and how they dealt with life after that infamous day.
She told me how she had tried, time again to send out her manuscript to a few publishers, how she wrote query letters and such. Then, finally deciding that she wanted to tender her manuscript to an online publishing website known as Publish America. From the meeting I collected papers detailing how I would submit my manuscript to them and how long it would take to see my book in print. Not very long. As excited as I was, later on I calmed down, discussing this fact with my most trusted friend and first time reader - my girlfriend.
Publish America was not the way to go. There seemed to be no restrain on their selection or approval rate of the ever-growing titles. Later on, I bought some books to educate myself on what the Writers Market is and how the hell do I mitigate through the slush to find the right path for me?
Some magazines, publishers and online publishers accept an average of 5 to 20 unsolicited manuscripts a year. That only leaves a small window for a new writer to break out and let the world know that they exist.
Publish America has an average of 800 accepted authors a year.
That number concerned me. Through more research I found that the royalties were low and that their services are very contradictory in nature.
But, nevertheless, I sat there, talking to this woman, educating myself on the world of publishing and the backdoor that is self-publishing, which is what Publish America basically is. Or, to put it bluntly, a self-publishing service posing as a vanity publish service.
Looking back, it was good that I didn’t go with them. I was overexcited and easy to swoon, even forgetting that I should get paid a fair amount for the work that I had done. Plus, I was trying to peddle a first draft, which is a big no-no when it comes to writing.
If I was going to do anything right, I had to learn some hard lessons along the way.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Well, I guess the first blog entry was a way to be upfront with all of you; my potential readers. And yes, all that stuff is true. And yes, you’ve probably never heard of me. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to get to know you. I’m very interested in life stories. Hell, I have to be, people. I’m a magnet for people to come up and tell me about their life. Sometimes people confess and confide in me even when I didn’t ask them to. It’s a weird thing, but it doesn’t annoy me. What really amazes me is how they could trust me that much to just launch into their life story.
So, in order to familiarize with you guys, let me start with this - one poem is all I got.
In 2005, right around the time I had completed my first draft of my manuscript Mr. Dead Eyes, I got anxious to get something either copyrighted or published. I had about four poems in my arsenal and one manuscript but it was at least something.
So I searched online for where I could stick my work. Not knowing that much about Poetry.com, I decided, what the hell and why not. I uploaded my poem and we were off to the races. Time goes by and I receive a letter. A letter saying that my poem was fantastic and original and groundbreaking and blah-dee-blobity-blah. You have to understand, at that time I was easily swooned by anyone who said anything about what I wrote. And they were kissing my ass royal. Finally they say that they’ll stick it in a book along with about 100 other poems and authors. It was a book titled Twilight Musings.
“Imagine it, Roberto, your very own poem alongside a small biography of yourself in a book for you to keep or share . . .” the letter encouraged on.
Then it got to . . .
“. . . . a fifty -no -eighty -no - a hundred dollar value available to you for the price of forty dollars.”
The drawback was I ordered two copies which rounded off to eighty dollars anyway. But, at the time, it was no biggie. A lot of authors have to pay sometimes to publish their work, right?
My parents even offered to pay for the copies just so that they can own a copy themselves.
And then, the reality hit me somewhere in the vicinity of a year later. The book itself is professional bound and the cover looked descent. But the book has no ISBN number or barcode. So it’s a good chance that you can’t find it anywhere except poetry.com. So that meant not only were the 100 other authors my only audience, they were also my phantom friends who took the dive with me.
And for years, Poetry.com has been begging me, pleading with me, digging the lint out of my ass just to get me to send them something else, do a reading. Imagine it, a forty-no-eighty-no-a five hundred dollar value available to you at a mere $100 dollars. They sent me letters non-stop. Finally, I got sick of the constant butt-kissing over a poem that was 3 stars at best but would not cure cancer and told them to stop sending me letters. They politely did.
So, while I was jumping up and down, excited and with an ego that could fill the room, over my poem being published in a book, I was able to send in my draft to the library of congress and three months later had the letter saying it was officially copyrighted. It wasn’t a total loss. It is part of the learning curve that we all go on. Or should I say Turnpike?
In any case, the point of this is to say do not be scammed or easily be heart struck when a company says your stuff is gold and not only do they want to publish it but they want YOU to pay THEM to publish it. And no royalties - just exposure.
Do your research, contact publishers, get rejected a few times and then get sold, get an advance check and be happy. That’s the way it usually goes. Or you can take the self-published route. Many famous and notable authors have.
So that was my little piece of exposure.
Friday, September 19, 2008
I currently have -40 dollars in the bank, so I think that pretty much sells the ‘starving artist’ title. I’m the product of creative and sometimes eccentric parents, classic 3 children ‘middle child syndrome’ kick. I’ve been through that, an identity crisis, a meltdown, survived a house fire, survived a car crash and yes, even constipation. Life and death play a big part in my life. I constantly battle with the enormity of adulthood while observing the mortality of our rented space which we call earth. I believe in Christ. I am a non-drinker as well as a non-smoker. I’ve had several hourly jobs, had many pets, watched many movies, read many books and have many friends. My biggest passion is writing.
My name is Roberto Scarlato . . .
. . . and I am the author you’ve never heard of.