Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
For all the Writers Out There
Now, I don't format or line edit other writer's works very often. I've been writing for over three decades now, and doing so professionally for a bit more than ten years. I am very familiar with all things that encompass writing, formatting, layouts, editing, etcetera, and at this point there are no excuses for doing some of the things I see y'all doing.
So listen up and pay attention. If you know someone out there who writes, send them this. Force them to read it. Cause I'm sure I'm not the only one tired of dealing with this particular group of highly annoying behaviors. Again, there's no excuse for this, and if you try to make one, you're wrong. Just accept it. Cause you are.First off: If you're writing in an electronic media and not on paper, or typing on an old fashioned typewriter save your files into the DOC format. Got that? .doc! Docx is also perfectly acceptable, but NOTHING ELSE IS. Nothing! And F**KItAll No PDF!! Never Ever PDF!! No No No! Bad dog!
If you can't put it into doc or docx format, then maybe you need to wait until you've learned how to use a real word processor. The world uses doc and docx. If there is anybody out there in the publishing world using anything else, I'm sure they're also using the finest buggy whips you ever did see as well.
Important Note: Google Docs. Just say NO. Seriously. Putting your writing up on google docs (hell putting ANYTHING up on google docs) is like sending your kids to Jeffery Dahmer's house because it's convenient and you 'know' that he'll 'treat them right'.
Listen up, chowder heads - Google is the Biggest Copyright violator in the history of the world. They have violated the copyright on Every Single Book in Print in the entire world today. Not eighty percent, not ninety, One Hundred. It's only because of a series of massive lawsuits in multiple countries around the world that they were stopped. Putting any of your intellectual property on a site famous for stealing intellectual properties proves to the world only one thing: You're an idiot.
Next! FORMATTING!! Look folks, we are NOT writing on paper. Got that? No editor is going to come along and write comments between the lines of your document.
What does this mean?
SINGLE SPACE! That's what this means. Under NO conditions should you be doing ANYTHING but SINGLE SPACE anywhere in the whole damn document! New paragraph? Single space. Line wrap? Single Space. One point five or double space is both annoying and HARD TO READ. It just looks stupid. Don't do it. There is no excuse and I don't want to hear from any of you why it's okay. Unless you're writing for it to be printed out and sent to an editor in printed fashion (in which case you would NEVER EVER email it to anyone) - Single Space. Repeat after me: Single Space.
Note: The passage of time in a story is often denoted by...? You guessed it, a BLANK LINE! Now, if you're double spacing your lines, am I to suppose that time passes every time I get to a line wrap? Worse yet, do your characters just stand around staring off into space at the end of every paragraph? And when you DO come to a time lapse are you going to leave a quarter of the page blank? Or for those double-blank-line time lags/scene changes are you going to leave a half page blank? A whole page?
Seriously. It's 2021 - get with the program. You're not on mom's underwood or dad's selectric. You're using a word processor on a computer.
Now Every Onward! SMART QUOTES!!! Yeah, there is nothing so stupid as smart quotes. Don't use these. Ever. It's bad enough that in the process of editing you are going to end up with them facing in the wrong directions, forcing some poor soul (including me) to have to go through and do a mass edit/replace on your ENTIRE document to remove them. It's unprofessional. Sure, it was fine when you were twelve years old in school. But you're an adult now. Leave all the fancy stuff out of your word processor and go put some stickers or sparkles on your writing laptop instead (personally I prefer stickers).
Again - just no.
Very Important Note: Smart ANYTHING. Again, no, just don't. Go into your word processor and turn off ALL of the 'smart' characters. Because they're not smart. They also can seriously hose your manuscript. It took Amazon TEN YEARS to get their manuscript processor to figure out the 'Smart ellipses'. Until they did every manuscript with one came out with weird characters in the middle of the ebook. I'm sure there are a host of other 'smart characters' they have yet to fix.
And on a related note: SMART LINKS! You did turn those off years ago, right? You did? Because those (and macros - turn those puppies off too!) will get your document flagged as a virus and tossed into the trash. Because that's all they're good for, viruses.
Other, lesser Sins:
- Indentation: Please use it. It should go only at the start of every paragraph. What you set is up to you, a lot of programs default to .5 of an inch, I use .3 personally, but it's a matter of taste and style.
- Your Name: Please put it on your manuscript and please put it the way you would like it to appear. If there's a difference - for whatever reason - between your name and the name you want it to appear under, please make it clear.
- Markups and Editing Notes: No. Don't want to see it. If you're sending in a story, nobody wants to see that stuff. Clear all of it and turn tracking off. Discussions on altering a manuscript shouldn't take place ON/IN the manuscript. Those need to happen in email text, or on a phone call. Otherwise they just might end up in print. (okay they won't, but do you really think I want to have to figure out how to remove them?).
- Font: I personally don't care what font you use, because I'm going to change it over to whatever font I'm publishing in the moment I cut and paste your short story into my workspace. Others however may have a requirement for what you need to use. If so, please do as they ask. Not everyone understands how to change fonts easily on the documents they receive. And again, this is why you ONLY USE doc and docx formats. Otherwise we're going to be forced to cut and paste text with NO formating. All your paragraph breaks, spacing for time, all of that will disappear and then we have to painstakingly recreate it, until we get too tired to mess with it anymore and leave your manuscript a mess and just let everyone make fun of you. (and trust me, we WILL complain about you - it's what editors do).
So all in all, I hope these few words of advice have helped you. Please remember that this isn't advice, but dictates from on high, offered by the gods (okay, your editors, but seriously, is there that big of a difference when you're sending your story into an anthology?) And it will please them all greatly if you were to follow them.
- Our livers will also thank you.
Sunday, October 10, 2021
I thought I had mentioned this before, but apparently it didn't get spread around, so I felt I needed to mention this now, publicly, so that everyone was aware of it:
Starting over a Month ago, I began removing some books from the Kindle Unlimited program, and they will NOT be going back in.
Right now, it's only the books that have had very poor sales. KU is a numbers game, if a book sells a lot, and people keep buying it, keeping it in KU is fiscally sound. But if sales quickly taper off and they're poor? Then leaving it in KU kills me financially. Going forwards, everything that I write & publish will start off in KU for at least one 3-month term. If it continues to do well, or the series it is in is doing well, that book will stay in KU.
Besides, it's not like the prices on my books are high, when you consider that people who are a lot less popular than me, charge $5.99 to $7.99 for what they're putting out. MOST of my books are priced at $2.99 and $3.99, which in today's market is a steal. Even $4.99 for one of my works is a good deal. Even with the runaway inflation we are having, I have resisted raising any prices (and hope I can continue to do so). But KU has ALSO not raised its payouts. Again - KU is a numbers game - if I'm selling a lot, it's worth being in it. If I'm not, it ain't.
Pulling those poorly performing series out of KU also allows me to try and find a market on another bookseller where they may perform better. One of the terms of KU is that I can ONLY sell those books on Amazon. I've honestly considered (and may eventually) pulling my $2.99 books from KU (because who can't afford $3?) so I can put those out on other booksellers to try and encourage more people to buy my books on Amazon.
There's also another, sadder, reason for pulling some of my series. Every cover on Dan's Inferno was marked as 'Pornographic'. All of the covers. Yes, covers 2 and 3 were a little risqué. Cover 1 wasn't, and cover 2 was as vanilla as it comes. Someone at Amazon obviously took issue with the series and got it banned from advertising. I figured their next step was going to be to claim my having that series in KU was a violation, so they could ban ME.
So yes, sorry, but this is my sole source of income and someone at Amazon has happily been going around attacking my covers on other series as well, which has forced me off of Amazon's Advertising program for a while (and perhaps permanently).
Lastly I want to be clear that I will keep my major series in KU, unless it becomes clear to me that it's no longer safe. There are people at Amazon who use alleged KU violations as a way to remove people they don't like. I put my books in KU as a service to You, the readers, and my Fans, in an attempt to save you money. But there comes a time when I have to put my own well-being and ability to continue to write stories for you, first.
-John Van Stry / Jan Stryvant