Tag Archives: self-publishing

To-Do List: PO Box

You’re writing your book, you’re all over Twitter and Facebook making friends, you’re trying to build a readership for your blog to build a readership for you book. You’re reading all kinds of articles on what you’ll need to do to get your work formatted and uploaded and converted for ebooks sales, you’re trying to figure out what you can DIY and what you’ll hire out, and you’re asking yourself the question: to print or not to print or to just put it off until later. Or you’ve done all that and now you’re just trying to keep up with what you’ve made and make more.

Since you obviously don’t have enough to do, let me just also suggest you add “get a PO Box” to your list.

I finally got around to doing this about a month ago. I think it cost me like $40 for the year for a little box. Added expenses are never happy-making, but here are my reasons:

1. Unless you make your information private, the contact information you are required to submit for your domain name is public. The company I use (GoDaddy) charges a fee of $9/yr per domain name (I have 2 other domains from my other buisness) to make it private. This pisses me off and I don’t want to pay it.

2. You will probably have to give out your address to people you don’t know. Sometimes I mail out books as review copies or prizes and while I’m sure they’re going to lovely people, basically every time I write my return address on a package, I’m telling people where I live. And guys, that whole Google satellite photo thing just creeps me the hell out.

3. Even though email is the shit, it’s nice to be able to list a snail mail address on your website in case anyone wants to send you a handmade card, or ship you a box of chocolates to enable faster writing.

4. Now while #1 had been my primary reason for having it on the to-do list, I didn’t get around to it until this one. I use Vertical Response to do my newsletter, and I’d assume this is the same for any company you deal with when sending out professional mailings. When I went to send out my first mailing, I found out that anti-spam laws require you enter a postal address. And that postal address is included in the mailing. Are you comfortable with that?

5. ETA: Thanks to Angeline Kace for reminding me about this in the comments. Much like #1, when you register for copyright you have to provide an address and that becomes public info.

So I’m just saying, there’s more than one reason you’ll probably need to do this. If you’re serious about what you’re doing, stuff is going to come up. So just add it to your to-do list now and get it done next to you’re at the PO. Then you won’t have to interrupt your day with a newsletter half finished to go and take care of it.

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Would you ever take a contract?

Ok, so this is sort of a take-off on Ms. Jami Gold’s recent post on Would You Ever Turn Down A Contract? And on that specific subject, Nadia Lee had some interesting things to say about that on Zoe Winters’ blog a while back. Because of course you might. There are some damned good reasons for doing just that.

However, what Jami’s post was really about was someone who was not interested in indie authorship/publishing basically saying that he couldn’t imagine anyone self-pubbing if they had a choice. Which you can either take as one of those “self-publishing is a last ditch effort of the inferior writer to get any kind of audience” things, or you can just assume, as I am, that this person simply has not thought about some of the things we have thought about.

So for those of us who have gone indie, perhaps especially for those of us who never queried and for whom indie publishing was a first choice endeavor, we’ve actually thought about those things a lot. We’ve done a lot of convincing ourselves that we’re doing the right thing for our work and our careers.

Maybe that’s where the backlash against Amanda Hocking came from when she “sold out” for a two million dollar deal. Maybe some of us have just convinced ourselves that hard. To be honest, I was exposed to very little of the nastiness first-hand because I didn’t go looking to read it, but as friends responded to it on their blogs, even I couldn’t help but notice it was going on.

And the bummer I got from that lingers on.

But anyway, the interesting thing is that when I got into this several months ago, a lot of people were talking about starting out in indie for the express purpose of getting picked up by a publisher, or at least starting to get some name recognition going to make themselves more attractive come negotiation time. That’s why Kait got into it, and even though she got sidetracked into being satisfied with staying indie, she ended up with an agent who came to her, who is interested in how the two methods can support each other, and Kait will probably end up very successful with great work in both worlds because she kicks ass like that.

Sorry, I think my waxing about Kait made me forget my point. :scrolls back up to find it: Oh, right. So the with so many indies saying they were doing it for those kinds of reasons and maintaining aspirations of eventual traditional publication, I was pretty astonished by the ugliness that followed Amanda’s news. Because here was an indie who did face rejection, went out a proved herself, got a fabulous deal that will give her security and freedom from stuff she doesn’t want to manage–she did good. It seems like just a few months ago people would have been happy about that.

But they weren’t? Is this how it is now? Are we really down to us and them like that?

How do you feel about traditional publishing? Are you indie but still hoping for that? Are you so indie you can’t imagine a contract that you would accept?

Do you think there’s been a significant climate change in our community, or that the sell-out crowd just barked louder this time?

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Writing to a Niche

So again this morning I find myself clicking from an Etsy newsletter to an article, and in that article finding so much that seems to pertain to us indie authors. I should probably have some kind of Etsyish Publishing category or tag on the blog.

Anyway, 4 Ways to Make Your Products More Niche on the Crafting an MBA blog is a great article for indie authors to read because it carries some of those same messages we read all the time: you can’t be all things to all readers, write the book you want to write and you’ll find the readers like you who have been waiting for just that… So click on that title and give it a read-through. Will just take a couple minutes, and as you read, think of parallels to what you’re trying to do as an indie author.

My early designs were average and unimaginative.

How are we going to stand out and get found? That’s a big thing with us, and it’s part of the reason I continue to click on these Etsy articles, because I know from

Everyday jeans and tees for an everyday doll earned me low wages and only a few very kind fans.

experience that it’s a big thing there too. When I started on Etsy, I really had no direction, except that I was going to make doll clothes, starting with Barbie. I knew they would be better quality than most of what was out there–because that’s part of what handmade is–and that they would fit well, but in terms of design I was very much average in my thinking.

My Blythe doll

When a friend pointed me at Blythe, showed me the doll’s increasing popularity, the higher price points for the indie clothing that was coming into the market, and finally sent me a doll to get me started, she was sending me into a niche. After all, I’d wager that most domiciles in this country have

I moved into the Blythe niche, but my designs were still nothing to get excited about.

seen at least one Barbie doll within their walls at one time or another, while most people still don’t know what a Blythe is.

My early designs for Blythe were boring, just like what I’d done for Barbie. I made more money per piece, because of the niche. A dress for Barbie could get $3. A similar dress for Blythe could get $10, and was more likely to sell (eventually). This was due to the increasing popularity of the doll (or genre, if you will), the demographic (adult collectors vs. children), and the lack of Blythe-sized clothing on the market.

So already I’m hoping that you’re seeing similarities. When you’re selling just another epic fantasy or just another apocalyptic thriller, it may be hard for you to get found. And this is true even if you move into a hot, trendy niche, as I did with Blythe or you might do with vampire romance.

Since Blythe was a growing trend, my friend wasn’t the only one who noticed the premium prices people were paying for her clothing. Soon, more and more Blythe-centric clothing shops opened up on Etsy. And this is very much like with indie publishing: anyone can try to do it. So we saw people who knew how to sew (write) who had been sewing completely different items like baby quilts and children’s clothing (writing in a completely different genre), buy dolls and start turning out Blythe clothes. We also saw Blythe enthusiasts who were just learning to sew opening up shops and trying to sell work that just wasn’t ready for a pricetag (and we’ve all seen those indie writers too).

All those listings flooded the Blythe market on Etsy. Literally thousands of items tagged Blythe or coming up in a search. Even if you were doing quality work,  putting out nice items at a reasonable price, how were you going to get seen in the deluge?

I was enjoying creating for Blythe, but I wasn’t making any real money at it. It was worth doing because I love to sew and play with my dolls, and even if I made $20 a month, it was $20 more than I had before. And then, and I know I’ve talked about this before, so just bear with me, I wanted to do

My first commissioned order.

something different. Something kind of crazy. I wanted to see if I could smock in miniature and make a smocked dress for Blythe. This was taking an embroidery technique that is usually done for babies and very young children on an area say 12″ x 4-6″ and reducing it to an area of about 2″ x 1″, and then crafting that finished embroidery piece into a garment that was somewhat more complicated in construction compared to most of the handmade Blythe garments being sold at that time.

I was really nervous about this. This won’t be much of a surprise to my regular readers as I seem to be nervous about every damned thing, but really, I was actually scared to put out something so different. In retrospect, I see what a ninny I was, but there’s a certain level of comfort in doing what everyone else is doing.

Overindulgence was my most expensive design ever.

Next thing you know, I had more interest in my work than I knew what to do with. My inbox was flooded with compliments and special requests. I had a waiting list of at least 20 special order clients for months, even though I was asking more than twice as much for these dresses as I did for the original smocked design.  I had started out making quality yet boring dresses for Barbie for $3, and these dresses were earning me an average of $45-$50. The most expensive dress I ever did went for

The design had 6 of these detailed floral spray embroideries

$120, and making the second one of that ridiculously detailed dress just about killed me. Let’s retire that design!

Why did this dress and all the others command such high prices, and why was there so much interest in my work? These were doll dresses for Heaven’s sake. Because I was in a popular niche, yes, but doing something that no one else was doing (people started referring to me as “the crazy smocking lady”) and doing it well because it was something that I loved.

I’ve wanted to write the Talent Chronicles because for years I’ve been loving the superheroes and having to sit back and say: That would have been awesome if they hadn’t screwed it up. The kinds of stories that I really wanted just weren’t part of the genre. Hell, the format that I wanted to work in–novels–really hasn’t been part of the genre. The book category is NOT Comic books, Graphic Novels, and Superhero Novels. There’s no place for me there. Which I’ve decided is fine. I don’t think I really belong there.

Your niche doesn’t have to be something that no one’s ever done before. I certainly didn’t create meta-humans. I want to come to be known for superhero romance, but I didn’t come up with that idea either. Superheroes have had all kinds of love stories, just mostly the kind where someone ends up dead or abandoned. And I’m certainly not the only one working on this. So you don’t have to re-invent the wheel here.

But there are tons of books out there and there are going to be more and more–because anyone can do it now. So now, more than ever before, I think we really need to think about what makes our concept different from everything else that’s out there, and we need to think about how we’re going to use that difference to market our fiction. And if you can’t come up with a difference, maybe you’ll want to take a harder look at what you’re working on. (Maybe not. Your call.)

Same sh!t, different doll. Oh no, wait, that's the same doll too.

Your story is so very special to you. Even my boring dresses and t-shirts were special to me because they were lovingly crafted and I spent a lot of time on them. But I look back at these photos and I can totally see how uninspiring they are. Part of why a lot of indies get angry with traditional publishers is because the publisher says they just can’t see how this is going to stand out and sell. And they know that it’s not enough to have a good book, you’ve got to get some people to read that thing. It’s not enough for us either. We have

My special sh!t for a special doll

to have some sense of what we can say about this book, about what makes it different and better than the sea of books already out there, in order to get people to look at it.

Maybe the hardest thing to accept about a niche is that it’s often small, and that often means small growth. It also means that we’re not always going to be able to make reasonable comparisons between our successes and those of our peers, when our peers are writing for a different audience.

I honestly think I’m writing for the same people who read Twilight (whether they loved it or not), and are still talking about Buffy. But I write vampire-free (I’m thinking of starting a tagging trend on that, btw), so I’m never going to get seen on the Vampire Romance Bestseller List on Amazon, and I’m never going to get found in vampy tag searches. I don’t even have any kind of normal demon/angel/shifter/witchy paranormal anything in my books, and how many people are out there searching “superhero romance”?

Not a lot.

Yet.

Hey, I’m just sayin’.

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Formatting for Print on Demand

Ok, so last week I started talking to you about getting started with CreateSpace. We talked about some things you can do and think about before you really dig into formatting. The last step we talked about was doing one last, careful, super final pass to make sure that text is completely typo-free and just the way you want it.

I should preface the rest of this by saying that there’s actually a lot you can do with interior layout, and if you want to be fancy, you’ll want to find references beyond what I’m going to talk about. This post is about get it done, get it out there, and quit being held back by fear or perfectionism. What I’m going for is a nice, clean, legible read, because I really believe it’s your story that matters. But if you want to dive into the fancy stuff on your first time out, go for it. One book I’ve seen recommended may times is Aaron Shepard’s Perfect Pages. That book deals a lot more with the ins and outs of making Word do what you want it to than it does about design type things. I’m sure there are tons of books and blog posts out there if you poke around long enough.

Hopefully you’ve been looking through some books to see what the insides look like, and to think about what kinds of extra information you’ll add. This is your space. As long as you don’t wind up costing your customer too much money, you can add promo for your other works, the works of your peers, a bio, etc. You should definitely leave a little room to tell the reader where to find you online so they’ll know where to go for more info about your future work.

A quick word about margins, which we didn’t get into the other day. I used equal margins on each side, partly because I had read somewhere that just in case the printing got a little off, it seemed a safe thing to do. In retrospect, I think I might have a wider inside (gutter) margin next time around. If you want to do that, in Word, you’ll go to File, Page Setup, Gutter Position Left, set the Gutter amount that you want (1/4″?), for Multiple Pages select “Mirror Margins.” Don’t be surprised if you page count has changed.

You’ll want to go through that section at the beginning of the book before the story actually starts, the “front matter.” Use Insert, Break, Section Break Next Page to make each page a new section. Use this method for any blank pages you want to add to make text fall on odd or even pages.  For example, the title page is on the right-hand side, or an odd page. The copyright info is usually on an even numbered page. Page 1, the way CreateSpace is counting, is the first page of your document. You can’t print anything on the inside cover (save it for your autograph).

When you start Chapter 1, make sure that’s the start of a new section. All Chapters should be the beginning of a new section (meaning there should be a section break, not a page break.) Continue to scroll through your document. Now you’re looking to make sure each chapter starts on an odd page, and if it doesn’t you’ll add extra section breaks as above. Remember to always work from beginning to end of your document. Each blank page should be its own section, and each new chapter should be the start of a new section. This is probably the most tedious part of the whole thing. This is about page numbering, which we’ll get to later.

Once you’ve added all your blank pages and you’re SURE about your page count, you can go back to CreateSpace to make the cover template. That’s as easy as entering your book size and number of pages and downloading a zip file. What you do with this, I don’t know. I sent mine to Robin and she sent me back a cover. (I ❤ Robin.) CreateSpace has some kind of cover creator thing for you DIYers. Remember to look at some books on your shelf to see what goes on a cover. You’ll probably at least want a short blurb for the back. CreateSpace will take care of your barcode, and the blank spot you leave for that is on your template.

Now you’re going to add headers. Go to File, Page Setup, Layout tab, and under Headers and footers check the box for Different odd and even. Also check the box for Different first page. In your document, skip to the Chapter 1 page. Select View, Header and Footer. A menu bar pops up and so does a text box where your header should be. Page down to the header of the next page. Use your regular old alignment buttons to center the text and type your name. Page down to the third page of your book, center the text and type your title. Now page through the rest of the section. You should have your book title on the odd pages and your name on the even pages.

Hover over the buttons on that little menu bar until you find the one that says Link to Previous. When that button is live, the section that you’re in takes the information from the section before it. Go through and click that button for every section. Go back to Chapter 1 and make sure that what you have is

  • your title on odd pages
  • your name on even pages
  • no headers on blank pages or “Chapter” pages

All of the headers and footers in the “front matter” section should be blank (but only if you’re doing it my way–you can actually do whatever you want). If they’re not, check those link to previous buttons and make sure they’re not activated.

Next step is to add page numbers. Go to the first page of your story, Chapter 1. If you’ve lost your footer box and menu, go to View, Header and Footer to get it back. Click in the footer and click the button for Format Page Number. Select Starts at and put in 1 so that this is where you start counting pages (story pages, for the reader, not actual pages for the printer). If you find there’s a 1 in the footer box in your document, delete it.  Go to the next page’s footer. This time, click the Insert Page Number button. Use the alignment buttons to center the number. Check page 3 and see if there’s a page number.

Page through your document. You should have no page numbers on blank and “Chapter” pages (because those are all the first page of a section). All other pages should have consecutive numbers. If this is not the case, play with it.

If you want page numbers on your “Chapter” pages (I have them, because the convention of not having them annoys me as a reader, but it is more common not to have them), that’s doable. You just have to unlink your sections and insert page numbers on the “Chapter” pages. It’s a pain in the butt.

Double check your front matter section and make sure all headers and footers are blank. Double check that all your headers and footers on blank and “Chapter” pages are empty. Double check, again, that all blank pages fall on the left, or even, and that all new chapters start on right or odd pages. And when you’re done checking, check again.

Another thing that’s worth mentioning is your curly quotes and apostrophes. When characters interrupt each other, as they often do, Word has a habit of making the end quote turn the wrong way. (“Hey, wait a min–“) Additionally, make sure any apostrophes at the beginnings of words are turned properly. When you type a word like ’cause, Word always puts the apostrophe the wrong way. These are things I now fix as I type, but had to go back through and fix when formatting for epublishing and print for Book 1. Make sure your double hyphens became em-dashes (the long, unbroken ones). There are probably other common things to look out for, but these are the ones I can think of and you probably worked a lot of this out when formatting for e anyway.

Once you’re all done, you should be able to Print to PDF. If you don’t have a program installed that allows you to do this, you might try something like PDF Creator or other free program. Google is your friend. Then you’re in for another round or two of just get your eyeballs on it and make sure it’s perfect before uploading.

We’re running long, but if you’re actually doing this, I know you just want me to finish it out.

Once you upload your PDF and your cover, it takes a day or few for CreateSpace to look it over and make sure it’s not going to be crappy in some way. Basically they’re checking to make sure you’ve followed the submission requirements, that all your text is in the printable area, stuff like that. Once it’s been accepted by them, you’ll order your proof.

What you pay for your proof is the cost you were quoted based on the page count. You’ll probably pay about the same for shipping via media mail. This should take about 7-10 days depending on how the mail is, although the site quotes longer. Once you get your book, after you’re done oohing, ahhing, stroking it, taking pictures of it, etc., you’ll want to actually crack it open and make sure everything turned out ok.

Go back to CreateSpace and approve your book. Make sure you’ve got your price set the way you want and that you’ve enrolled in ProPlan if you want (you can go free right now and add that later if you choose), and that you’ve opted into the Expanded Distribution Channel if you choose and have done ProPlan. Your book should show up on Amazon within a few days. If you entered your title exactly as your DTP title, your Kindle and paperback versions should link up automatically. If your page finishes building and they don’t, contact DTP customer service and let them know.

There’s a lot more that can be learned on the subject than what I’ve told you, which is mainly the highlights of what I remember having to learn when I did this, only once, about six months ago. But I hope it helps move you toward getting a print edition out there.

My book uses 12pt Times New Roman with 1/2″ margins, no gutter. Headings, headers, and footers are done in Engravers MT. I did no kerning of the text at all. The text is left-justified. If you’d like to see how that came out, you can Look Inside the Book on Amazon.

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Beginning Steps in Print

I don’t know why I’m so all-fired motivated to get you guys to put out print books, but yeah, here’s another post about it. I wrote this before I went on break, but while I’ve been away I’ve read yet again that it’s Soooooo hard to format for print. For CreateSpace even! Arg. It’s enough to make a girl come back and schedule some posts.

This is going to be some more nuts and bolts type first steps, and is going to be about CreateSpace. That’s what I used, I liked it, I recommend it. If you want to do something else, that’s cool, and this post may or may not be helpful to you. Welcome to the crap-shoot that is my blog.

Stuff you can easily do today, so get off your ass.

Ok, possibly unnecessary, but if you’ve been dithering or otherwise dragging your feet on this (like I did), for whatever reason, here’s a little kick in the pants.

Today, just go create an account. You don’t have to do anything with it, you’re not obligated to use it, but it’s a good first step. It’s just your basic username/password, email addy, and they’d like to know what you’re planning to publish (book, DVD, etc.) While you’re there, go find the places where you enter payment info. You’ll need to put a credit card on file for when you buy stuff, like ordering your proof copy, or later when you order your copies at cost for giveaways and reviewers. Also, find the place where you enter your payee info. Because they’re gonna need to know where to send your big fat royalties.

A good next step would be to choose your book size. You don’t have to do anything or commit to anything here, I’m just saying figure it out in your head, so you know. My method for choosing my book size was very scientific. I IMed Zoe and asked, “What size did you go with for Blood Lust?” She said 5.5″ x 8.5″. I went back to CreateSpace and double-checked that that would be a good size with the Expanded Distribution Channel and all that, and it was all good. So if you don’t have a preference, you can also go with 5.5″ x 8.5″ for the simple reason that we did. Decision made.

Can you handle another to-do today? Assuming you have a completed manuscript, open it up, do a Save As, and then in the new copy change the page size to whatever you chose for your book size. See how many pages you’ve got. Go back to CreateSpace and play with the calculators. If you can’t find them, try the Publish tab, click the Books on Demand link, then the Pricing tab. The other calculator is under Sales & Royalties. Between the two of these, you can start to get an idea of what this book is going to cost and how you can price it. You can go back to your document and play with margins, fonts and font sizes, extra content, etc, and more or less decide on a number of pages. (You can find recommended margins based on number of pages under the Submission Requirements tab.)

Do NOT finalize your cover or send a CreateSpace template to your cover designer until you are certain about the number of pages. Changing the page count will affect the cover template.

Now that you know how many final pages you’re shooting for, you can start your formatting. The biggest part of this will be the most thorough proof-reading ever. Be certain you’ve got as many bugs out of this manuscript as humanly possible because once this is done, you will be charged a fee to make changes in the future.

Set a goal for this proof-reading pass, and schedule proofing a set number of pages per day to reach your goal. Because proof-reading is boring. To avoid being caught up in the wonderful awesomeness of your story, I very much recommend starting from the end. Read each page from top to bottom so that you’ll still understand the context, but turn the pages from right to left instead of left to right. If you’re like me, working this way will help you catch a lot more of the missed word/incorrect word typos that your brain typically fills in automatically. If you’re not good at this, consider shipping this off to a professional copy-editor.

That should keep you busy for a little while. Next week I’m going to talk about things like headers and footers, page numbering, blank pages, etc., and how I handled those. It’s easier to do that stuff AFTER the rest of the text is perfected. Trust me.

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Running At An Artificial Pace

At the top of the email it reads, “To: Susan”

These emails I get from Holly Lisle, I so often wish that I could find them and link you to them, because they’re so often very wise. And, of course they are. Holly’s been putting out great books and teaching writers for how long now?

Since I can’t show it to you and I can’t copy/paste it for you, I’ll give you the gist. Once upon a time, Holly decided, based on some extrapolation of daily page count and faulty thinking, that she would be able to write 12 books a year. An agent whom she queried with this plan shot her down, explaining that he wouldn’t rep anyone who wrote twelve books a year, because they would all be crap.

Now it is true that everyone writes a different pace, and I think that a lot of people can write more than the one or two books a year that NY will publish for you. Some people can write twelve good books a year, witness Amanda Hocking with 6 out of 12 in the Kindle top 100, last I checked.

And you know, that’s what I wanted to talk about. They’ve been talking a bunch around the indie blogs lately about what some are even calling the “Amanda Hocking Effect.” (Poor thing, I wonder what she thinks of all this.) I first heard this theory from Kait, and then the term itself a few days later from Zoe. The basic idea is that one of the ways to climb quickly and build a very excited, involved fan base is to keep feeding those fans new work. Amanda hasn’t let two months go by without a new release. She doesn’t have to worry about her fans forgetting about her, and when she comes out with something, it goes to the top of the list for those fans because they’re still reeling from the last Hocking book they loved.

So in addition to having a backlist available, feeding your readers new work without too much time lag between releases now goes into our theory about how things work.

Since that came up, a bunch of indies I know are talking about ways to do that. More short stories and novellas, the possibility of serialization. I don’t like serials. Cue Queen: I want it all, and I want it now. I don’t read many short stories. I like novels, I understand the…physics of novels, and that’s how my brain works. And yet this recent talk has made even me think about these things. I don’t know if that’s me being open-minded, or just plain wacky.

But this was all still stewing in my head when I read Holly’s email because I’m just trying to remind myself that it has to be good. I know everyone who’s thinking about doing shorts knows that. We all know that. But I needed to remind myself that it might be better to play to my strengths. There was the idea that maybe I could dash off some shorts and that would take some of the pressure off, make it easier to ask people to wait for the next novel.

And then the Gin Blossoms came in and said, Susan,

How you gonna ever find your place, runnin’ at an artificial pace?

I know, it seems odd, but people be showin’ up to tell me all kinds of stuff all the time. It’s part of why nothing gets done.

Do you know what occurred to me the other day as I read my piece on Hush Money at 6 months?

It’s only been 6 months. It seems like so much longer to me, but it’s only been 6 months. Jesus H. Washington Christ, what I have I been flogging myself for for the last few months? I’m totally new at this. I set myself an unreasonable deadline. I made a mistake. Criminy, how long am I going to make myself pay for that?

I’d guess that most trad authors get at least a year to write book 2, and probably longer than that to get it all polished up and ready to go. I dunno. It just seems like Holly was giving me a wake up call. Wake up and listen to what you friends have been trying to tell me.

The top of the email reads, “To: Susan,” and it’s like she wrote it just for me.

If you’re a writer and do not get Holly’s newsletter, please consider doing yourself that favor.

That segues pretty well into this week’s

Recommended Reading

Why I’m a Fandrew
Actually, I’m not just any fan of Andrew Mocete, I’m Fandrew #1. And if you want to see an example of why, check this out. Andrew’s writing a Love Series on his blog, about loves that have shaped him as a writer. Who gets the first spot? His wife. In a charming and heart-felt post, Andrew talks about the importance of support, how rare it is, along with some good ideas about why it’s so hard to find in My Wife: Love Series Part 1. (found because you know Fandrew #1 subscribes)

I’m a speshul snowflake too!
Ok, this is a bit of ramble, but stick with it, because it’s full of sincerity, and drizzled with beauty. It may inspire you a bit, and open up your brain a bit, as Larry Brooks so often does for me. Writers, Give the Gift of “Getting off the dime” is Larry’s answer to that every-person who casually says “Yeah, I’d like to write a book someday.” (found via subscription to the Storyfix blog)

I don’t wanna sully my art by doing what I love in any way that’s less than…
If you’re on the fence about going indie because of the stigma factor, here’s a post to think about. Another from Larry Brook’s Storyfix blog, this is a guest post by Carol Tice. (via subscription)

ROW80

I’m a bit backwards this week, and I’ll admit that ROW80 hasn’t been much on my mind. I wrote a lot on the short piece this week. In both the stories I’m working I’m now at a point where I will have to break down and write an action scene on something. Damn.

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Filed under Recs and Links, ROW80

The Hero Had a Certain Owenocity About Him…

Whenever you have an Oweny character named Owen, some blog titles are just moral imperatives. Nuff said.

I finished reading Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia. This book was originally self-published, then picked up by Baen, which seems to be a division of Pocket/Simon & Schuster. Excellent book. I said somewhere, while I was reading this 700+ page monster (in paperback!) that it’s not exactly romance. I really find I have to take that back. It actually really was.

What’s more, while I rarely read books by male authors because I so often find myself disgusted or insulted (and this is probably because I tried to read “classic” SF/F), I found this author delightful. Which may be a strange word to use for a fic that’s got a gun culture following due to lots of weapon specifics (and the author is so good that my eyes didn’t even roll back in my head as I read those), and is just packed with scenes of super violent, gory, monster-slaying action. It’s also well-constructed, really well-written, highly imaginative, and this guy’s got a great sense of humor.

What really endeared the book to me was the portrayal of the first-person protag, Owen Pitts. Yeah, there’s a heroic name for ya. And Owen Pitts is an accountant. He’s a big, awkward, self-described oaf of a man, who doesn’t get a lot of chicks, and, in the absolutely fabulous opening scene of the book, is unhappily working as an office drone for the nightmare boss that most of us have felt we’ve had to put up with at some point. And then he throws the boss out of a window.

But he had a really good reason. Trust me.

The character of Owen is brilliantly done. He’s confident in the skills that he has, but not proud, in the sense that he would brag about them. Because a lot of the things he can do haven’t been doing him much good. His military vet father trained him up to be a great shooter, and Owen loves the hobby, but that’s all it is. He’s a good brawler, and while that earned him some cash in the past as a bouncer and at other things, it seemed to be more bad than good and he’s trying to put all the violent stuff behind him. So he sets about trying to use his brain, and he’s very smart, but then he ends up in the shitty job with the shitty boss from Hell. And all this makes for a character who’s not dark, damaged, and tortured, but sees himself as tends to see himself as sort of socially awkward and oafish, pushed around by life in general.

My Mary Sue warning sirens were going off like anything (not that I’d want to have to call this big guy with all the hardware Mary Sue). He’s got all these skills, and some pretty interesting stuff starts happening to him–this thing was obnoxious wish-fulfillment waiting to happen. But it did not go there.

Instead, the author kept it fully in check. Kept the hero challenged. Let him make bad decisions. Let him fail. Let him want to curl up and die after a hard workout, and have to stand there, trying not to throw up, while talking to the girl he liked. Somehow, as badass as Owen kept becoming, as his importance to the events of the story kept building, he managed to keep both the confidence he needed, an amount of self-doubt and anxiety that made sense, and a humility that made him endearing all the way through.

Probably the most endearing thing for me, though, was the way he thought about his love interest. This guy showed so much respect for his lady that I wanted him to date my daughter–not now when she’s six, but you know. When his ardor for her increased, it was never due to the way her boobs wanted to spill out of the barely there dress she was wearing. It was because of things like courage, competence, brains. (Kind of like “just the way you look tonight” except “just the way you wielded that spear against the undead.”)

Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed it. This book was a great package, a book outside my usual reading zone that delivered on a lot of levels. Recommended.

Now this is interesting. I carried this paper monster around in my purse for the last few weeks–which really shows my devotion. Since it wasn’t even on Kindle, I figured it wasn’t available in E (plus, we had the paperback in house, so it was easy to pick up). While investigating for this post, I FOUND E! Not only did I find it, I found in cheaper than paperback, in multi-format, and they seem to be DRM-free–at least, I was able make sure the EPUB I downloaded would convert for future unknown device. Everything we want. Plus PayPal option. (Yes, you’ve figured out that even though my husband had already bought the paperback and I’d already read it, I had to buy it again in eformat. Is that wrong?)

The only drawbacks I see are that they play this subscription thing out so that you have to wait until they’re done serializing a book before you can read it as a whole. I don’t even watch TV series that way, so hopefully that’s more a sneak preview thing that comes before the actual release. The other is that they don’t also sell the books in e on other sites–like it’s not in the Kindle store–and I think that’s a big loss of browsing customer sales for their authors. I just stumbled across this because I was looking for info about the author, and that only because I had heard he was an indie-to-contract story. At least now I know that if I’m intrigued by a Baen-published book, I can probably actually buy it instead of going through the library. Yay for that! /tangent

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Filed under Superheroes, Heroism, and Romance

Hush Money: 6 Months and 10,000 copies

I’m a real boy!

As I begin this post, a few days before it will go live, days before Hush Money turns six months old, I’m still looking at the number on my spreadsheet. Marveling at it. Recording the numbers from the previous day is usually one of the first things I do in the morning. Seeing how many potential readers I gained overnight is generally a pretty awesome way to start the day.

So let me tell you why I’m posting this, even though I said I wasn’t going to share numbers anymore. Let me tell you why this is a special occasion.

Deciding to self-publish isn’t easy for most people. Even for someone like me who was more or less “it’s indie or nothing” because I didn’t feel like I wanted to get involved in the traditional industry, even for someone who believes in the tremendous potential of independent publishing, etc, etc, it was hard. It was hard to get over that concern of being called a “fake author.”

Now I’m a nice person (right?) and probably,  hopefully, no one’s going to say it to my face. But they’re out there, saying it, saying it about us. And even if it’s not directed at you, you know, you still kind of carry that.

You ask yourself, “Am I going to regret this use of a manuscript that I believe in so much? Am I going to wish I would have at least tried to shop it in a traditional manner?”

So something I did was I picked a number. (You may not agree with my number. You don’t have to. It’s MY number.) They say that many books don’t earn out their advances. I looked around and figured my advance as an unknown would be $6k. I had read that with a standard royalty, authors generally earned about 64cents per copy. So… 10,000 x .64 = more than a $6,000 advance. And that’s how I picked the number of books I wanted sell by the time Hush Money was 12 months old.

That was the number of books that would make me know that I wasn’t a fake author. Because sometimes, the hardest person to convince is yourself.

Now there will be some people who will come across the post and say, ten thousand copies in six months? Why are you even bothering to mention that? Have you seen the cavalcade of stars Konrath has been parading on his blog?

Yeah, I have. And I admire those authors. I’ve loved reading their stories. They’re selling more in a month than I have in six, and I couldn’t be happier for them. They’ve earned that. Maybe when I’ve earned that, I’ll get there too. But this post, this goal, wasn’t about out-performing anyone else. This is about me, something I hoped to get for myself, and how incredible it is to not only pass that mark, but to do that in half the time I thought it would take. No one else’s success takes away from that.

(Dudes, every time I write else’s–and I do that a lot–spellcheck hates me. Is that not a word?)

So that’s where I am today, feeling like Pinocchio, Version Shrek 2, flying through the air yelling, “I’m a real boy!” and waiting for something to strike and turn me back to wood.

Meanwhile, I owe you a ROW80 update, so here it is:

My goals were to spend at least an hour a day in my world and write at least 3 scenes per week.

I’m still spending lots of time in the Talent Chronicles world. Not a problem. I’ve written a number of scenes and thousands of words.

There was a time, not so long ago, when I wasn’t writing. But I wasn’t terribly worried about that. I said that when I was ready to write, I would write, and the words would come. And that was pretty much true.

Something happened this fall as I worked, or didn’t work, on Heroes ‘Til Curfew, as I let my mind fill up with the personal problems that cropped up, and then tried to squeeze in a brand new full-time career as an indie author in on top of that. I tried too much, pushed too far, and pushed those words right out of my head.

I know that there are a lot of people out there waiting. I value all those readers (I know there should have been a paragraph above thanking all the readers and friends and stuff, but if you guys don’t know by now how grateful I am, then I just don’t know what to with you!), and I’m sorry to have to keep saying that it’s just not ready, and no, I don’t know when it will be. But I do know that since I really owned that, since I made up my mind that it’s okay for me to say that and to work on my own schedule, it has been so much easier.

My ROW80 update for this week is that I’m finally starting to feel like when I’m ready to write, the words will be there.

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Filed under goals, ROW80

On CreateSpace

On my to-do list for some time has been to talk to you a little bit about print, how I came to choose CreateSpace for that, and my experience with it so far. Hopefully this will be just an overview and informative while mercifully brief.

Question #1: To print or not to print?

Print! Yes, ebooks ARE the future. I buy digital whenever possible, don’t even like to buy paper books anymore, and I absolutely believe that’s where we’re going. But I also understand that I am not Jill Every-Reader. While more and more people are trying out ebooks and embracing them every day, there are still plenty of people who prefer paper, or who are simply not ready to take that plunge.

For me, print is about customer service. If I were running a retail store (which I have done), part of my job would be to stock the types of products my customer wants and needs. I know from experience that customers can get pretty peevish when you don’t supply what they want. If it’s within my power to give my customer the type of product that best suits their need, why would I not do that? This is as true for providing both print and ebook formats as it is for providing your customer with a variety of file formats for various devices.

Question #2: DIY or Author Services Company?

I think of Author Services as those companies that offer to do this for you. Names that come to mind are AuthorHouse and Xlibris. Companies like CreateSpace and Lulu also offer author services packages in addition to the DIY stuff. This is something you’re going to have to answer for yourself. For me, and most of the indies I spend time with, it’s DIY as much as possible. We simply don’t have the money to shell out hundreds of dollars for someone else to do this work, and it just doesn’t have to be a big deal.

In fact, I think that, especially when you’re talking about fiction which is primarily text without images, print can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. A simple print edition is no harder than formatting for e.

I have read some scary-ass things put out by Author Services Companies. I’m not saying they’re all charlatans, and I’m sure that some of them provide great service which the authors feel is worth the price. I get that they need to make their services sound important, worth the price they’re charging, etc. I have seen some claims that lean toward un-truths, and some really bad “science” when discussing sales numbers. If you’re going that route, beware. Read a lot. And keep in mind when reading testimonials that many people have a need to justify their own choice, sometimes by making it seem better than it is.

Question #3: Which company should I choose?

Keep in mind from this point on that I’m talking about my thought process, my choices, and what works for me. Your mileage my vary. Because we’re obviously going to talk DIY, the conversation usually comes down to three: Lulu, LSI, or CreateSpace.

I’m throwing out Lulu right off the bat as too damned expensive. A big part of the decision-making process for me was: how cheaply can I sell my book? Answer from the Lulu calculators? Not cheaply at all. In just the manufacturing costs, the exact same edition I got from CreateSpace prices out 70% higher on Lulu. (To be fair, I have to say that they price out about the same, except that I’ve added an option to lower my CS price, which I’ll talk about later. As far as I know, Lulu could have something like that, but I don’t know.) Lulu has more format choices (coil-bound, hardcover), but for fiction and a first novel, I don’t see any need to get fancy.

LSI (Lightning Source) is favored by many indies as the most professional way to go. And likely it is. It certainly seems moreso in the way they don’t put a lot of information on the website and expect you to do a lot of talking on the phone. (Oh yeah, you know that’s an issue for me.) Most of going with LSI is about having more options and maintaining ultimate control as the publisher. The trade-off in that seems to be having a somewhat more complicated process with a bit more to learn–although I’m not sure because I haven’t actually worked with them, and shelling out a good deal more up front.

ISBNs and ownership are an issue for some indies. They want to have their own imprint, to have everything in their own name, they have their reasons and they’re willing to pay for that. I’m not right now. Unlike the other options, LSI doesn’t offer free ISBNs and requires you to set yourself up as a publishing company. And while that may look really spiffy, I’m just not into the added hassle right now.

LSI has other initial costs that are greater than CreateSpace. I don’t know if the books cost appreciably more like they do at Lulu, again because LSI isn’t upfront about that stuff. I do know that most of the LSI books I’ve seen are priced higher than mine, but then, most of the books I’ve seen are priced higher than mine.

LSI has some other benefits with regard to distribution and you can find people talking about these all over the web. Most of them don’t apply to me as a beginner, and those benefits don’t outweigh the added hassle and expense.

After I have progressed in my career, if I feel I need to have an LSI edition, there’s nothing that says I can’t go do one later. I still own all my stuff, right?

My choice was CreateSpace and I’ve been very happy with it. And since this is running long, I’ll try to just bullet the pros and cons for you.

Pros:

  • No up-front cost. Nothing. You can go print your book with CreateSpace today for free. Free ISBN (but you can bring your own if you’re into that), no setup fees. We like free.
  • ProPlan- Lowers your cost. You’ll want to add this. It’s an up-front cost of $39.00 (for each book). For this you get a lower manufacture cost which allows you higher profits and/or the ability to lower your retail price. Since you pay the manufacture price for any copies you personally buy, this will pay for itself pretty quickly in your copy for your mom, giveaways, review copies, and the ones you sell out of your knitting bag to sweet people who are just excited to meet someone with their name on a shiny cover.
  • ProPlan- EDC: Just as important, this gets you into the Expanded Distribution Channel which I believe gets your book into Baker & Taylor (but I don’t think into Ingram and I cannot find that info). Don’t get excited. This does not mean B&N is going to order your book to stock in their stores. They probably won’t, even if it’s doing well. I’ll discuss that in the Cons. But it will allow your book to be listed at B&N’s website, at Book Depository (which has free international shipping), and allows registered booksellers (like your local indie bookstore that carries books by local authors) to order your book at wholesale prices.
  • You will find VS. posts around the internet that talk about CreateSpace books not being able to get into Baker & Taylor, not being available to resellers, etc. Be advised that the EDC is a new program, so check the date on those posts when you’re doing your research.
  • Oh! You should also know that renewal of ProPlan is only $5 per year. My annual fee was waived in December, I assume because my book was out less than 6 months. I believe LSI does charge an annual fee to list your book in its distribution network. I read somewhere that it’s around $13, but that may be old or inaccurate info.
  • Easy as print as PDF. Really. That’s all there is to it. Now, getting that PDF just right might make you pull out a few hairs, but you don’t HAVE to get super fancy in your layout to produce a good book. MOST people don’t care about fancy book interiors. What’s important is that your book is readable. With a little thought and care, you can do that. You did it with e, you can do it for print.
  • It’s pretty fast. Once you’re done with your part and you upload your book, it take a few days for them to review it. They’re not proof-reading it for you, but they are making sure you have the right margins, stuff like that, and that nothing’s going to get cut off or anything. After that, you order your proof copy for the price they’ve quoted you as your cost. From my limited experience, I’d say expect to pay about the same amount as your book’s cost for media mail which generally takes a 7-10 days unless it’s a busy season. Expect to pay exponentially more for expedited shipping options. Once your proof is in-hand, all you have to do is log on and say yes! I approve! Go sell that bitch! And then it goes live on Amazon pretty quickly, like within a day or two, if I recall. Other sites will pick it up eventually.
  • Low cost means low price. You know how I feel about low consumer prices. CreateSpace, and some fudging with fonts and layout stuff, allowed me to put together a book that sells for $8.99, the same as what the mass-market price seems to be right now. Not being more expensive than my vetted counterparts is important to me.

Cons:

  • Borders doesn’t list it. I’m at the point of thinking this is more Borders’ problem than mine. I mean, It’d be cool if they would pick it up and I could sell a few more, but whatever. I don’t think I’m losing that much by not being at Borders.com. They’re losing more by not embracing indies in general, that’s for sure. Anyway, I think this may be because I’m not in the Ingram catalog, but like I said above, I’m not sure about that.
  • This edition will probably never be in the brick and mortar chain stores. Doesn’t matter who it’s listed with, CreateSpace does not allow you the option of making the book returnable. Essentially, the bookstores want to order a bunch of books, put out a few for however long they decide to try them out on the shelf, then box them up and send them back for credit. So think about it like this: maybe one day you have orders for a couple hundred or a couple thousand books. Awesome. And then in six months you find that all but six copies were returned. And all the “profits” you’ve been waiting on, that couldn’t be distributed to you because they’re held against possible returns, are now gone, and you get a check for $3. Possibly it’s better to have loved and lost, and certainly I’d like the opportunity to be browsed in the chains, not saying that wouldn’t be a great thing. Just it’s hard to work up a lot of upset about it, and the hassle/expense vs. potential benefit ratio just isn’t impressing me right now. (Ok, who am I kidding, if B&N calls me up and tells me they want to stock my book, my laptop and I will be on Zoe’s doorstep begging her to help me put together an LSI edition ASAP. I will bring a Firehouse Sub to get me in the door. I’m crafty that way. But I just don’t see as a likely scenario right now.) I know there are people who go with LSI for reasons of ownership who still don’t want to exercise the option to make the book returnable.
  • I’m not the publisher. Like I said, I don’t really care about that at this point. CS puts their name on it. I think this may be because I went with the free ISBN, and I think it might also be a requirement of expanded distribution.

I think a lot of the point is that I’m happy with CreateSpace because it was cheap and easy for me to just get it done now without adding fees I couldn’t afford or stresses I don’t need. If I get to the point where it’s no longer the right choice, I figure I can go with something different at that time, when I’ve grown into it.

Sorry about the lack of merciful brevity, and I’m going to continue for a bit because indies like numbers. It’s been absolutely worth it for me to put out the print edition. Extra costs for me were $80 for the rest of my cover and a new title page from Robin (a title page I also put in my e after that), and the $39 pro plan from CS.

I make 5xs more in royalties on Amazon than I do when I have sales through the EDC. Which is fine. The royalty from EDC sales isn’t much less than I’d get from a standard royalty if I had a trad publisher. So I’m not really losing anything, I’m just getting 5xs more from Amazon. Since I put the book out at the end of September (actually 4 months exactly from the day I’m writing this. Print was several weeks behind the ebook version because I thought it would be harder and I was learning a lot of stuff at once), I’ve sold 45 copies through Amazon and 38 through EDC (most of those I believe are via B&N), for a total of 83 paperbacks. I’ve pretty much just cleared my expenses. And that doesn’t count any of the ones I sold to local acquaintances. Having print also gives me something more to offer as a giveaway, which is nice, as people seem to get more excited about a $9 item than a $1 item. Go figure. And it’s cool to know there are people out there who are actually willing to pay that much to read my book. Yay!

So, in conclusion (finally), totally worth doing, really happy with CreateSpace as the cheap and easy alternative, and looking forward to reaching over 150 paperback sales soon so that I can rub Brad’s nose in it. I’d love to hear your experiences, addendum to this info, and will try to answer questions in the comments. Hope this was helpful.

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Filed under self-publishing

#ROW80 and Thoughts on Blogging

So life here is slowly returning to what passes for normal. Last week wasn’t terribly productive as I had a lot of catching up to do in a lot of areas and needed a lot of staring dumbly at the wall time. If you have little kids and a low tolerance for chaos, you know what I’m talking about. But things are better now and this week I found myself faced with the fact that I REALLY have to actually work.

This resulted in a lot of procrastination. But since I had decided to give myself a freakin’ break all around, I was able to allow it to be productive procrastination. I think that when I decide I have to work on JUST THIS AND NOTHING ELSE BEFORE THIS, I end up with more stress and less productivity overall.

I’ve recently been spending more time on my blog. I’m always going around in circles about what I want to do with it and getting it “right,” and like you really care. But I finally came around to some ideas of things I want to cover. I do want to talk about writing and self-publishing because most of you who visit on a regular basis are interested in those things, and often seem to appreciate those posts. Even though they aren’t things that readers are into, and even though they’re not the kind of thing that would draw a reader in or get her to subscribe to the blog, I have no doubt that sharing my experiences and opinions about what works has earned me a lot more support than I can measure. So I’m going to keep up with the posts about writing and self-publishing.

I’ve been trying to blog too frequently, I think, and I just write up a post when I think about it and hit Publish. Now I’m hoping to jump in and write up that post and hit Schedule. And keep those writerly posts for Mondays. Maybe that will keep it from being so feast or faminey around here.

I do absolutely agree with Kristen Lamb–and how can you not?–that readers don’t want to read about writer stuff, and the way to attract readers is to talk more about the kinds of things that readers like in your fiction. Well, it’s easy to get caught up in that expert knowledge trap we talked about the other day. I’ve probably mentioned before that I was caught in that for a long time with regard to the Talents. There’s that bit of wisdom, and it is wise, that says you need to read a lot in the genre you want to write in so that you understand the rules and reader expectation. So I thought that to write about superheroes, I needed to become an expert on comics. Even when I put that aside, I still felt under-qualified to blog  about superheroes on a regular basis.

Just like it was hard to blog about writing before had a book out there to point at and say hey, here’s how I put this into practice. Lately I’ve come to realize that my best posts aren’t the ones where I try to be an expert, they’re the ones where I really personalize what information I have to offer, wrapping it in my own perspective, and feeling less like it’s my turn to stand in front of the class for the oral report and more like we’re all sitting around getting caffeinated and I’m the one sharing for a few minutes before the really hot guy painting the storefront across the way takes off his shirt and I lose your attention.

So in the one day a week reader-oriented (hopefully) posts, I’m talking about what I love in fiction: superheroes, heroism, and/or romance. Those are the things I tend to pay attention to when I read or watch. This may lead to me feeling like I’m reviewing some stuff, which I don’t like to get into, but I’m more trying to think of it as discussing my perspective on a particular facet of the fiction in question, and if I have to include a paragraph or two to gush or whine about the overall fic in general, well, you guys are used to OT babble, so…

We’re in ROW80, and rounds of that are planned throughout the year. So I’m also looking at two more days on the blog for updates. On Sundays, I’ll be combining my update with list of recommended online reading for the week. I don’t have time to read a whole lot of blogs, but sometimes something really stands out and you just think others should read it or might enjoy it. I keep a file on my desktop to make note of those when I read them.

Wednesdays, in case you haven’t figured this out, are for me to be even more self-indulgent than usual. A free day to include in the ROW80 update whatever happens to be on my mind, or not include anything else at all. Today the bloggy stuff is on my mind, along with the fact that our bus driver just told us she’d be coming over 45 minutes earlier starting tomorrow which is going to add more time to my work day (good) and cause less sleep, more morning stress, and take some getting used to (bad). Anyway, a me me me babble day. Witness the babble.

So back to the update: This week’s productive procrastination has allowed me to try out the schedule I had tentatively set for myself, and I now have posts for my topic days scheduled through Feb 4. I’m still spending a lot of time on writing blog posts. I posted the schedule, tinkered in my sidebar a little, gave some thought to what people are looking for when they come to the site, if they can find it, what I’m trying to present and what they see, etc, and I’m pretty satisfied with what I have right now.

Goal #1 has been to spend specific amounts of time on the work. Recently I’ve been suck and fail at that, but I didn’t change my goals because it wasn’t about scoring, it was about continuing to strive for that. This week I’ve been excessive as far as time spent working on problems in the Talent Chronicles world and in Heroes ‘Til Curfew specifically.

Goal #2 has been 3 scenes in Heroes per week. I wrote the first of those three yesterday. I also finished listing everything that was supposed to happen from here forward so that I could identify all my holes and logic problems. A loose outline that allows room to move around is important. But it is amazing to me how it can seem like a solid story and then you get to that part and it’s like–well, that doesn’t really make sense. Why would he do that? Why wouldn’t she just…

Meta-humans are fascinating, but their abilities cause all sort of dilemmas.

So I’ve made copious notes and written all my WTF? questions in pink, and hopefully I’ll be able to draft some of my buds to help me kick ideas around this week because talking things through with someone else really helps me focus, and I often lack focus even though there are no shirtless painters in my neighborhood.

Today’s ROW80 Linky.

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Filed under me me me, ROW80