Learning the ins and outs of going with wide distribution in self-publishing has been quite an experience. I by no means consider myself an expert on it now, but I have a better idea what to expect with the next book.
Blood Curse is the second book I’ve self-published. It is the first I’ve gone wide with, however. When I published The Girl Who Fell from the Sky: the Adventures of Pigg & Woolfe season 1, I went exclusively with KDP. I’m debating whether to stick with that for the Pigg&Woolfe series or to take it wide, as well. I probably will stick with KDP for that one, since it is an episodic serial. (Look for season 2 to start in either January or February. I am drafting season 4 currently.)
I believe I will settle on a 6 month schedule for re-release of the first 7 books in the Waves of Darkness series. Look for Demon Bayou to come out around May 3rd, 2021. I’ve already done the first round of revisions on it.
Audio book editions will be announced when I have a better idea of how I will fund the production and which service I decide to go with.
I also will be putting up a TeeSpring store in the next few weeks. Once it’s up and running, I will put a permanent link in the menu bar of this site.
I will be creating content for my dormant YouTube channel and reviving it, as well.
Pending approval speed for the manuscript and cover files at Ingram Spark, BloodCurse2ndedition should become available for purchase as both print and ebook on November 2nd. The ebook will definitely be available at that time, since I’ll be using Smashwords as my distributor. If approved early enough, I’ll see about setting up a pre-order.
While Smashwords distributes to most ebook retailers, the Google Books version might be a little later coming out. I have to convert the file to Epub and upload directly to Google to sell through them.
The audio book will be sometime next year. I’m still debating on which platform to distribute through. (Audible is NOT the only audio book distributer out there, after all.)
No, I have not actually started formatting Blood Curse second edition yet. Necessary rearrangement of furniture pretty much kept me offline all weekend. I did manage to download copies of IngramSpark’s and Smashwords’ file and style requirements this morning. I used to have the Smashwords one written down somewhere, but haven’t seen it since I moved to my house back in 2017. I still need to see what Google Play Books requires. I already have a copy of Amazon’s from publishing The Girl Who Fell from the Sky: the Adventures of Pigg & Woolfe, season 1.
I did a survey on FB and Plurk on what trim sizes to use. 5″ x 8″ won. I would’ve loved to go with 5″ x 7″ or 4″ x 6″, but the number of pages that would change the book to makes those sizes cost prohibitive.
I managed to finish reading The Gunslinger by Stephen King and start The Drawing of the Three over the weekend. It’s been about 2 decades or so since I first read his Dark Tower series, and I never finished it. I will do so this time around, even though it means buying the last 3 books. Like I need an excuse to buy a book.
I need to contact my author/convention friends about the best route to get my books into audio. Some use ACX and Audible, some use Tantor, and there’s a few other audio book publishers out there to check out, as well.
TIP FOR ASPIRING AUTHORS: Find other authors and writing groups, even if they’re not in your genre. Experience is the best resource to tap for advice. Who knows; someday someone may even ask you for advice.
I finished final revisions on Blood Curse 2nd edition this past weekend. Next weekend (or sooner, depending on available computer time) I will work on formatting. I have to make sure the ebook version conforms to Smashwords guidelines, since I plan on going wide on distribution. I’ll probably still upload directly to KDP, and I’ll have to upload directly to Google Play. While Amazon will accept submissions from aggregators such as Smashwords, ebooks will go live quicker when uploaded directly. Google does NOT accept submissions from aggregators.
I also need to find out what book trim sizes Ingram Spark allows for paperbacks and what cover finishes they offer. I’d like to go with something smaller than the 6″ x 9″ trade paperback size, and a matte finish. Matte will photograph better than gloss and won’t peel with heavy handling. Ran into the peeling issue with my author’s galley of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky: the Adventures of Pigg & Woolfe, season 1 with Amazon/KDP. I was carrying it in a book bag everywhere, and pulling it out to pitch the book. The gloss layer on the cover started to separate on the edges.
Oh yeah, and I need to buy some ISBN numbers, since they’re less expensive in bulk rather than buying one for each book at publication time.
I also need to work up some flourishes for the interior of the print version that won’t be included in the ebook. This is a 2nd edition, but it’s also a 10th anniversary edition. I want it to cause book-gasms for anyone who buys it.
Once the print version is formatted, and I have a page count, I can contract a cover.
I also need to start grilling my author/publisher friends about the best route to get it into audio book format.
I made very good progress on the final revisions/edits on Blood Curse this weekend, which was a pleasant surprise. Last weekend, I made absolutely NO progress, and it was a long weekend. I sometimes think I perform better under pressure (self imposed) and time constraints than I do when there’s plenty of time available.
Anyway, I have less than 100 pages left to edit of the manuscript. In its current format, it is 304 pages. That page count will vary between the draft, the ebook, and the print versions.
I did correct a minor detail this morning. I originally had Viktor saying to head south from Dorada’s island to reach open water. However, I changed the location of her island from the Caymans, which weren’t rocky enough, to Islas de Los Roques, which are just north of the South American coast, back before original publication. Neither I nor my editor caught that I didn’t correct the statement of direction when I made the change. Now he orders the ship northeast instead of south.
I realize this old mistake didn’t really hurt the story, but it bothered me to find it. I truly want to keep any Real World references as accurate as possible. I feel I owe it to my readers, especially the ones who WILL fact check me, and to myself to maintain the best quality I can.
In other news: I have even more incentive to finally carve out some time to do some promo videos. I’ve been interacting in the comments sections of several BookTube videos lately. This has already garnered me some promotion space on one of the channels I follow. The Brothers Gwynn have a unique way of announcing premiering books each month by showing a compilation of authors pitching their books and giving release dates.
I will be participating in this once I’ve nailed down a specific release date for Blood Curse rather than the vague “sometime this Fall.”
I also need to create Instagram and Twitter accounts for the purpose of querying some of the reviewers who run the various BookTube channels. Most of them don’t use FB.
I’ve made significant progress on 1st round edits of The Adventures of Pigg & Woolfe seasons 2 and 3. At this rate, I’ll need to start drafting season 4 before long.
The most enjoyable part of all this editing, both on Blood Curse and The Adventures of Pigg & Woolfe is re-reading and re-familiarizing myself with manuscripts written a few years back. In the case of Blood Curse, the original draft was started in 2006, and the first publication (in ebook) was 2011. I think it’s a good thing for authors of series to go back and read the earlier books again periodically. It helps them see where they’ve been and better visualize where they’re going, both in their writing skills and story continuity. While some may bemoan the skill level of their earlier works, they can also look back and visit with old friends with a fresh perspective and, hopefully, fondness — and then whip up freshly revised 2nd editions to hook new readers. (Insert mercenary grin here.)
Before this week, I honestly thought they were interchangeable and merely a matter of style preference. I have since been educated about their correct meanings and uses. I have also been advised to use them both sparingly.
I posted the question of which people preferred to use or see in published works to a few of the Facebook writers groups I’m on. (These groups are for writers to help each other improve their craft as opposed to groups for promoting one’s books.) My phone blew up the rest of the day with notifications of responses to my question.
Most of the responses agreed I need to use the em-dash for the purposes I have pauses in my prose (and some of my dialog). The most helpful actually explained the difference. The least helpful merely pointed out they have different uses/meanings without stating what those were.
For comparison of the proper use of the ellipsis and the em-dash,here are some samples of the more helpful responses. (Names are omitted for privacy.)
1. They mean different things, so they’re not really interchangeable. The hesitation mark (identical to an ellipsis, but serves a different purpose) is used when a character hesitates or trails off when speaking. The em dash is used to denote when someone is interrupted when speaking OR to denote an aside/additional information (rather than use parentheses).
2. They both serve the purpose of inserting a pause in your writing, but the flavor of the pause is unique between the two.
An ellipsis kind of makes the reader hang on in suspense momentarily. The last thought is kind of mentally suspended. An em dash is also a break, but it represents a quicker transition of thought from one idea to another. An ellipsis might be used where a speaker trails off mid-sentence, for example, getting distracted by something. And em dash in a similar situation would feel more like the speaker quickly coming to a realization.
“Do you know where… Oh, never mind.” “Do you know where—Oh, never mind!”
while they both might seem to say the same thing, and effectively they do, it creates differences in interpreting the scene in this case. The ellipsis in the first example implies a longer pause, perhaps even a thoughtful one. The em dash implies that perhaps the speaker’s question was quickly interrupted by someone walking in, or finding what they were searching for, and thus they swiftly cut their question short.
That’s just the differentiation in application where they are used in a similar formula with different results. There are other uses for the em dash—such as in the place of commas to introduce a related thought mid-sentence—where ellipses wouldn’t make sense.
Additionally, my examples were for narrative works. In other types of writing (journals, articles, essays, and so forth) the ellipsis is primarily used to represent omitted portions of text in quotes.
“Style question… an ellipse or an M-dash?”
In that last example, I quoted you and omitted some text while maintaining the integrity of your question. The ellipsis was used to represent there was more text there that the reader isn’t seeing. An em dash wouldn’t be used in such a situation.
3. An em-dash typically indicates a pause longer than a comma would show. An ellipses is used to indicate an incomplete thought or statement.
4. An ellipsis is a trailing-off. It can read dreamy or scatterbrained and it reads like an intimate, personal narrative in real time. You can imagine the narrator losing their train of thought or suddenly changing the pace of their narration.
An em dash precedes an interjection. It’s jerky instead of smooth like the ellipsis. Use it when you want to insert more information or make a sudden change in direction. A character overflowing with information that they have trouble organizing may have dialog with a lot of em dashes. I speak with a lot of em dashes–I assume there’s more context needed than is actually helpful . . . .
Sometimes an em dash and a semicolon do similar work. Sometimes an ellipsis and an em dash do similar work. If you’re unsure, consider whether you should just have two shorter sentences.
“That wasn’t what she said . . . she wanted the blue one.” “That wasn’t what she said–she wanted the blue one.” “That wasn’t what she said; she wanted the blue one.” “That wasn’t what she said. She wanted the blue one.”
None of these is wrong, exactly, but the first two options are a little excessive on the frilly punctuation. I tend to write run-on sentences so I’d go for the semicolon, but the period works just fine, too, and reads clean and straightforward.
5. Depends. I use an M-dash almost as a parenthesis. The ellipses are typically used as a thoughtful pause in fiction. In academic writing, it indicates that a part of the citation has been left out.
6. Copy editor here. They have different purposes. An ellipses is used for dialogue that trails off and for pauses in dialogue. An em dash is used for dialogue that is interrupted. Em dashes are also used for parenthetical phrases (could be replaced with commas or parentheses and have the same effect). Ellipses are never used for parenthetical phrases.
A couple of the responses also warned me of a pitfall my former ignorance posed for submitting to traditional publishers.
1. Just an FYI: if you’re querying a traditional publisher, best be aware that they KNOW the difference in usage between ellipses and em-dashes, and using them interchangeably is likely to get your manuscript rejected.
2. My opinion only. Definitely not ellipses. That’s a red flag for inexperienced writer. Use em dash sparingly. Restructure sentences not to need it. A few but not many.
So, I now know the correct usages of these two forms of punctuation. I hope sharing this information here will help other writers in their journey to publication. (It also provides me a quick reference without having to sift through reams of FB notifications to find them again.)
This proves you’re never too old to learn. I really don’t remember this being covered in any of my English or Composition classes in either high school or college back in the 1980s. (Not saying it wasn’t; I just don’t remember it.)
Now my next step in revising Blood Curse for the 2nd edition is to go through and fix all this. It’s going to take longer than my first few revisions, since I’ll have to use my desktop (which I don’t get much time on during the week). Unfortunately, my phone doesn’t have the em-dash available for use. That’s a lot of improper ellipsis to fix and/or delete and restructure the sentence.
The rough draft of Hunting the Dragon (Waves of Darkness book 8) is in the bag. The first 10 chapters are with my alpha reader, and she’s promised feedback notes, hopefully by next week.
The remaining chapters are still in handwritten form and need to be typed up. I will start on that soon. I have to admit that the back half of the rough draft is a hot mess and in need of some scene rearranging and serious polishing.
Meanwhile, I’ve completed inking all the Dragon Poker portraits. I will be doing a color accent version of them for special edition sets of the cards. I’m told those will be offered in a wooden case.
Next on my agenda is the reformatting and revision of Blood Curse (Waves of Darkness book 1). The new edition will be in the 5×8-ish (not sure of the exact measurements right now) size rather than the 6×9 trade paperback version it was previously published in. I plan to snazzy up the interior as well. All this is necessary before I can order a new cover design, since I need a page count to determine the width of the spine. The size change will change the original page count, of course.
Finally, happy news: someone bought one of the 6-episode mini-omnibus ebooks in my The Adventures of Pigg & Woolfe steampunk serial. This is the first sale of the year and the first sale in months!
The latest news on the re-release of the Waves of Darkness books: I’ve chosen 5 or 6 potential cover designers from Fiverr.com to contact. My next step before doing that will be to revisit my original manuscript and reformat it for print with possible revisions and at least a new forward. The designer I finally pick will need the actual page count in order to get the spine the correct size.
I will probably pick one of the designers who offer an ACX version along with ebook and print cover sizes. I really want to get the books out in audio format, too.
My art commission is almost done for the 1st phase. I’m shading the last pencil sketch. Next up will be inking them. Color may or may not happen. That has not been decided yet. I will ask my commissioner if it’s okay to reveal what this project is. More on that later.