Sunday, April 13, 2014

Camp NaNo, Day 13, or: My head is filled with Scorched Earth.

I have had to drag myself away from my new book in order to write this post. You may take that as an indication that the first draft of Scorched Earth, the third and final Land, Sea, Sky book, is rocketing along.

As I mentioned last week, Scorched Earth is my Camp NaNoWriMo project for this month. I am more confident than I was last week at this time that I'll finish the first draft early. I wrote 10,000 words last weekend, give or take. And I've done more than 12,000 words this weekend, even if I don't write another word tonight (which is not guaranteed -- I haven't closed the Word file yet).

I posted the cover on Wattpad, so I might as well share it here, too:


The plant in the foreground that looks like corn is called ayalendo, and yes, it plays a significant role in the book. This is the "Land" book, after all, so you can bet the bad guys will have it in for the Earth before it's over.

Speaking of having it in for someone, although maybe not deliberately, I would draw your attention to this blog post by my IU colleague Chris James. In it, he talks about a new contest sponsored by the Guardian, a newspaper in the UK, that's aimed at honoring indie books at the rate of one per month. On the surface, the contest looks like a huge step up for indies: the Guardian is a pretty well-respected newspaper with a decent book section, and a review there might be helpful to an indie's career.

But it turns out the Guardian is co-sponsoring the contest with Legend Press -- a publishing conglomerate with five imprints, one of which offers what amount to vanity publishing packages. It doesn't take much imagination to conclude that Legend Press will be collecting the email addresses of everyone who enters the Guardian's contest and will thereafter spam them with "helpful" emails, suggesting they spend hundreds or thousands of pounds to buy services for stuff they can do themselves.

I've said before (although perhaps not here), in my best world-weary voice, that I'm probably in the wrong end of this business. Authors, by and large, don't make a lot of money from their work. The stars do, of course, and the star machine (read: the traditional publishing industry) pumps up that possibility to everyone who's ever written a book; it keeps the tap flowing, so that they never run out of material to publish.

In addition, there are plenty of ancillary service providers out there who are out to make a quick buck from authors who dream of hitting the big time. Many service providers are legitimate, and most authors who go indie will have to hire at least some help -- editors and cover designers in particular. And I've worked with blog tour operators and publicists who I would hire again in a heartbeat. But it's so much work, any more, to separate the wheat from the chaff. It seems like a new "helpful" website pops up every day. Even NaNoWriMo got into the act last fall, offering winners (among other prizes) a 30% discount on an "ebook publishing package" at Book Country, Penguin's vanity publishing arm, which is tied closely to vanity publishing megalith Author Solutions (which Penguin also owns). And it's so easy to convince yourself that you need to hand over cash to somebody because you don't know what you're doing or can't possibly learn how to do it yourself.

That's why I'm so pleased to be involved with Indies Unlimited. One of our missions is to encourage indies to learn how to do-it-yourself -- and, if you're dead set on hiring someone, how to spot the good guys from the "service" providers who only want to fleece you.

I didn't mean to turn this post into a commercial for IU. But seriously, if you've written a book and you're thinking about self-publishing it, start there. We have a wealth of information on how to do it, and it's all free.

Now then: should I write some more? Or knit? Decisions, decisions....

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These moments of cautionary blogginess are brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.
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