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Formatting for Print

A couple of weeks ago, I started a series on formatting. You can find the posts here and here. I promised to come back and do a post on how to format your interior file for print versions as well. That’s what today’s post is going to be about. As we start out, I’m going to make a couple of assumptions. The first is that you are working in Word or one of the equivalent programs. Yes, InDesign is a much better program and gives you much better control on kernaling and the like, but it is 1) expensive and 2) had a learning curve many find daunting. So, let’s get started.

The first question, even before you start your formatting, that you have to ask is where you are going to turn for printing and distributing your book. There are all sorts of options out there. To me, the two best — and for different reasons — are Createspace and Ingram Spark. The latter can get you into bookstores but the downside is you have to pay to use them and you aren’t guaranteed shelf space in those stores. The second can be completely free or it can cost you a whopping $10 if you buy an ISBN from them. The downside is that Amazon owns Createspace and that means getting into bookstores is going to be much more difficult.

All that considered, you have one more question to answer. Do you really want to spend the time, effort and money (yes, money. Even if you don’t pay someone to go out and try to sell your books to those bookstores, you will have to do it and every hour away from your keyboard is money out of your pocket.) trying to get into those stores? In other words, will the return on investment be worth the money spent to use Ingram Spark?

For me, since the vast majority of my sales come from e-books, I am more than happy using Createspace. It keeps my initial financial outlay down to a minimum, puts the print books in Books in Print, in the Amazon stores and lets me order copies at a discounted price when I need them for events, cons, etc.

So that is my second assumption for this post. Everything I am about to tell you is based on Createspace. If you decide to use Ingram Spark or one of the other services, you will need to check their formatting requirements.

So, how do you format your book for print?

The first thing you do is decide what size you want your book to be. Remember that the more pages you have, the more it will cost to produce and the higher your price will have to be in order to make money. I choose standard trade paperback size of 9 x 6. Now the fun begins.

Take the final version of your book and save it as a new file. Because I have been known to get confused on an occasion or two, I tend to save the files as NameofNovelPrintVersion. Once I’ve done that, I selection all (if you are using a PC, that ctrl A) and then go into layout and change the page size. Save it again. In fact, you should save often — and back up to other media.

Once you have changed your page size, check your front matter. Compare it to other print books in your genre. You want your books to have the same basic layout as those of traditional publishers. Here is how I set up my last several books:

  • Title Page (title only)
  • Also by (list other works)
  • Second title page (title, series, author, publisher, logo, etc.)
  • Copyright page

You can play with fonts and font size on your title pages. The key is to make it look as much like a traditionally published book as possible. In other words, imitate what you see. Also, remember that the font size limitations you had in your e-book go out the window when you move to the print side of things. For example, I have nothing with a font size of more than 16 in an e-book. For a three line title page (title of the book only), I used Minion Pro SmBld with font size of 36. Line spacing before was set to 100 and line spacing was set at multiple (1.15).

Now, before we go any further, each of the above pages had a page break after the last line of text. That means the “Also by” by was on the back of the initial title page and the copyright page on the back of the second title page. The exception is the copyright page. That page has a section break (odd page) instead of a page break after the last line of text. What this does is insert a blank page where needed so your next bit, your dedication, appears on the right hand page of your novel. To insert the section break (odd page), click your layout tab. Then click on “breaks” and scroll down until you see “section breaks” and “odd page”. Click on odd page. You won’t see the additional page in your word document but it will show up when you save your file to pdf.


So now you have a new “section” and this is for your Dedication. Replace the “page break” from your e-book with “new section, odd page” after the last line of your dedication.

In my books, I make a change here from my e-books. Because e-books use your style headings to build the active table of contents, I don’t use Heading 1 (or any other) on “Dedication” in the digital version. However, with the print version, I want “Dedication” to match my chapter headings, so I highlight the word and then apply Heading 1.

And this is where we start changing the formatting from the digital version of the book.

My Heading 1 is set up as follows (for science fiction):

  • Font:
    • Minion Pro SmBld
    • size 20
    • all caps
  • Paragraph:
    • centered
    • spacing before: 100
    • spacing after 50
    • line spacing: multiple 1.15

This drops the heading down the page and gives spacing between the chapter heading and the first paragraph. Once you make this change to your heading settings, it should apply to all your headings in the document. In Word, you can make this change pretty easily by simply right clicking on the heading, choosing “modify” and then enter what you want.

Your next section will be Chapter 1. Your chapter title/number is Heading 1. If you had added spacing after in your paragraph dialog box for the Heading, you do not need to have more than one line return between the chapter title/number and the first line of your first paragraph.

And this is the next place you can play with your formatting and make it different from your e-book. Again, I suggest you look at books in your genre by traditional publishers and see what they do. You don’t usually see Drop caps in science fiction or fancy fonts, but you might in some fantasy or romance novels. For my SF novels, I small cap the entire first line. Now, when doing this, I sometimes have to play with the spacing in order to make it look right. You can do this in word by highlighting the word or words you need to adjust. Click on the font dialog box and then click on the advanced tab. When that opens, you have the option of changing your spacing and scale. Play with it and see what works best.I usually leave “scale” alone and work only with spacing. (Note: you will need to check this again later, after you have set your margins and gutters. I’m not having you set these yet because your page count is going to change based on how many sections you have and how many blank pages have been included.)

My paragraph settings, which are “Normal” on my style ribbon, are as follows:

  • Justified
  • First line indent 0.3
  • 0 spacing before and after a paragraph
  • line spacing of 1.15 (multiple)

My font is set at Georgia, 11 font size.

For section breaks, you can do pretty much whatever you want. Just remember, if you use an image, you need to embed it in your document and each time you use it, it increases the size of the file and, if you are in the 70% royalty program on Amazon, it will increase the transmission cost per download. Instead of an image, you can use symbols that are part of your font package. Once more, see what the trads in your genre are doing.

Add a section break at the end of the chapter (making sure you removed the page break, if it was already there). Rinse and repeat until you are done with the book.

Now that you have the body of your book formatted, select all and go into your paragraph dialog box. Click on the line and page break tab and make sure you have unclicked widow and orphan control. This is so every page, except for partial pages, end on the same line. Now save your as a PDF. Yes, yes, I know. I haven’t talked about headers and footers. We will in a a moment. Just bear with me. Once you have the PDF file, see how many pages it is. Make a note of the number. Now, go back to your working print file. It is time to set up your margins and gutter.

Createspace at least helps you here.

If your books is 24 – 150 pages:

  • inside margin of 0.375
  • outside margin of 0.25

If your book is 151 -300 pages:

  • inside margin of .5
  • outside margin of 0.25

If your book is 301 – 500 pages:

  • inside margin of 0.625
  • outside margin of 0.25

If your book is 501 – 700 pages:

  • inside margin of 0.75
  • outside margin of 0.25

If your book is 701 – 828 pages

  • inside margin of 0.875
  • outside margin of 0.25

Open your page dialog box. Your first tab should be margins. Choose the appropriate margins from above and fill them in. Choose your orientation (portrait). Where it says “pages”, choose mirror margins. Now click on the “paper” tab. Make sure your page size is appropriately entered. Now click the “layout” tab. Make sure it says a new section starts on the odd page. Under headers and footers, make sure both “different odd and even” and “different first page” are clicked. Press okay and then save your document.

Now, finally, it is time to do your headers and footers and this is where you will see why we switched to section breaks instead of page breaks between chapters. If you look at a traditionally published book, you will see that most do not have headers or footers on the first page of each new chapter. Also look at how they do their headers. Are the author names set out in the same manner as the book title? Some will be and others will not. Some will italicize the author name and cap only the first letter of each word of the author’s name. Now, how do they do the title? Capped? Small caps? Choose which you like best and now we will get to work.

Go to your first chapter. Click insert header. If you are working in one of the later versions of Word, this should take you to the “design” tab. Make sure “different first page”, “different odd & even” and “show document text” are clicked. Now look for “link to previous” and make sure that is not clicked. You do not want headers or footers on your front matter. Once you have that done, scroll to the second page of the chapter. Type in the author name. I have it centered in my manuscript but you can align it however you want. My only reminder is to do what is common in traditional publishing in your genre. Once you have it typed in, highlight it. Make sure it isn’t indented. If so, open the paragraph dialog box and removed first line indent. Also, consider changing the font size slightly to offset your header text from your main text. I drop my font size down to 10 for my headers.

Once you have done that for the author name, scroll down to the third page of the chapter. Type in the title of the book. Repeat the check for indents and font size. Now scroll to the beginning of the document and make sure you haven’t accidentally wound up putting headers in the front matter. If it looks all right, save your document.

Page numbers are next. These can go up in the header or down in the footer. I put them in the footer because that is easier to do. So, go to “insert” select page number, and basically repeat what you did for your headers. Once you have them aligned how you want, make sure there is no first line indent. Match your font size with your header font size. You have one more step. If your page number doesn’t say “2” on the second page of the chapter, click on “page number” and then “format page numbers”. The dialog box that opens up lets you choose what number to start with. Choose 1 — it won’t show since first page is different — and save. Make sure it works. If not, choose 2.

You’re almost done. Skip ahead to your next chapter. If your headers and footers aren’t there, don’t panic. Double click in the header section of your page and that will open up the design ribbon. Now you can click link to previous section. That should import all your settings from the first chapter. If you have done it right, you will have no header or footer on the first page of the chapter but those should be in place after that page, complete with correct page numbers. Check the rest of your document and save.

Now it is time to save as a PDF again. This time, when you save, you want to go back and check your formatting as it imported in. Pay close attention to how your first line of each chapter looks — did your special formatting carry over as you thought it would or do you need to go back and play with it? Does each page look right or do you need to tweak the formatting some. One problem that can happen on occasions is weird full justification of a short sentence. This happens when you accidentally put in a soft return (ie, you accidentally hit “enter” while holding “shift”). All you have to do is go to the end of that paragraph in your Word doc and erase the soft return and then hit “enter”.

Tweak as needed, until you are satisfied with how the document looks.

One more thing. You don’t need all the end matter in a print book that you have in an e-book. You have already listed your other work at the beginning of the novel. So there is no need to list it all again. You can add a “Note from the Author” or “About the Author” if you want, but you don’t have to. I do, simply because I don’t like the book ending with the last page of the novel and there being no chance to thank the reader. Again, and I know I sound like a broken record, check what the trads in your genre are doing.

In other words, copy, copy, copy but make yours look better than the trads.

Save our your final version in both DOC and PDF. You will upload the PDF version to Createspace — or whoever you chose to do your POD versions. Now you wait for them to tell you whether you passed review or not. When you have, download the PDF file they have compiled. Make sure nothing happened to your formatting and your book still looks the way you want it to. If you haven’t been doing this for awhile and aren’t comfortable with it — and even if you are — go ahead and order a hard copy proof of your book as well. See if you like how it looks in print. If not, change it.

In other words, don’t rely on the downloaded proof. I had a book where the downloaded proof looked great but when the printed version got here, my 250 page book was something like 125 pages. The font had screwed up somehow and you needed a magnifying glass to read it. Fortunately, I caught it before it was released into the wild. Believe me, it is better to spend $5 or so plus shipping to avoid that sort of headache.

I know this is a super-long post but there is no easy and quick way to handle this. Now I’m off for coffee and food.








Tommy and Tom

“For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! “
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country ” when the guns begin to shoot;”
Rudyard Kipling, Tommy.

By the time this post goes live it should be Memorial Day in the US. I’m not American, but my father served alongside American Soldiers in North Africa (“They got ice-cream!” was one of the things he must have said a thousand times. Funny how small things can make a big impression) and I owe my sf reading and what I’ve ended up doing to American service personnel leaving pulp sf mags for my Artillery Sergeant mother to find (my mum served the naval guns that guarded Cape Town and Simonstown), read read and become addicted to. My respects and gratitude to the fallen. I am aware of what that sacrifice has brought. I wrote about this in SHADOW OF THE LION – I paraphrase (but I can do that to myself) a comment about the feared Knights of the Holy Trinity. “The fat little burgers watch us ride past. They sneer. They call us ‘Knots’. But it is because we exist, and because of what we do, that the fat little burger sleeps safe in his bed tonight, with a full belly.”

It’s certainly easy to forget when you’re safe in suburbia, absorbing the MSM, or at WisCon telling each other how bad men are. The various Puppy Kickers, including George Martin (who suggested it should have a separate award to keep us happy in our ghetto) love to denigrate Military sf. They don’t like the military, and they don’t like those who read it, let alone the books. Hmm. Given the way old foes seem to be creeping back out of the woodwork, stronger, nastier and more determined to devour the fat little burgers I think it’s worth quoting Rudyard Kipling’s TOMMY

“Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap.
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul? “
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes,” when the drums begin to roll.”

A wise person would remember that. Those are the same ‘bad men’, the same second class citizens not good enough your awards.

On a somewhat different track and totally unrelated to that Tommy, I finally got through with digitizing TOM – my book based on the universe of short ‘The Goth Sex-Kitten’, and have put it up on Amazon. It is intended to be light and fun, with a few pokes at various shibboleths and SJW inanity. The picture is a link.

Tom is a cat in trouble. The worst possible kind of trouble: he’s been turned into a human. Transformed by an irascible old magician in need of a famulus — a servant and an assistant, Tom is as good at being a servant as a cat ever is. The assistant part is more to Tom’s taste: he rather fancies impressing the girl cats and terrorizing the other toms by transforming himself into a tiger. But the world of magic, a vanished and cursed princess, and haunted skull, and a demon in the chamber-pot, to say nothing of conspiring wizards and the wickedest witch in the west, all seem to be out to kill Tom. He is a cat coming to terms with being a boy, dealing with all this. He has a raven and a cheese as… sort of allies.

And of course there is the princess.

If you were looking for ‘War and Peace’ this is the wrong book for you. It’s a lighthearted and gently satirical fantasy, full of terrible puns and… cats.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but this seems to happen to me a lot with good shorts. I find myself saying ‘I wish that were longer…’ – and with my own work I can do something about it.

New Releases!

Brings the Lightning

Brings the Lightning by Peter Grant

When the Civil War ends, where can a former Confederate soldier go to escape the long memories of neighbors who supported the winning side?

Walt Ames, a former cavalryman with the First Virginia, is headed West with little more than a rifle, a revolver, and a pocket full of looted Yankee gold. But in his way stand bushwhackers, bluecoats, con men, and the ever-restless Indians. And perhaps most dangerous of all, even more dangerous than the cruel and unforgiving land, is the temptation of the woman whose face he can’t forget.


Rimworld: Stranded by J L Curtis

Senior Sergeant McDougal isn’t a combat troop, he’s a maintainer. He’s good at it, proud of his status, and on his first planetary detachment as the lead maintenance troop for an outpost.

But, when he gets stranded on a Rimworld that forms the DMZ between the Patrol and the Dragoons, his status doesn’t mean a thing…

Improvising, adapting, and trying like hell not to panic, he’s doing his best to fulfill the Patrol’s prime directive to destroy the portable stargate, and still get himself off the planet in one piece before the Dragoons get to him!

Yes, they’re both cross-genre new releases for the authors, and they’re good! Check ’em out! And if you want more to read after that, check out the Nearly Summer Indie Author Sale!

Nearly Summer Indie Author Sale

Clearly, summer is upon us. Have you got your beach reads lined on the Kindle yet? Well, here are a whole list of selections on sale, or free!, for you to choose from. Already have one? Want to share the joy you found in reading it? You know it’s easy to give the gift of an ebook! Introduce friends and family to your favorite Indie Authors today. Or you could just share this post. That works, too.

The sale will be running through Monday, but as always, check the price once you click the link in the title. Some books will vary as the weekend progresses.

Death of a Musketeerdeath musketeer

by Sarah Hoyt


When D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis discover the corpse of a beautiful woman who looks like the Queen of France, they vow to see that justice is done. They do not know that their investigation will widen from murder to intrigue to conspiracy, bring them the renewed enmity of Cardinal Richelieu and shake their fate in humanity. Through duels and doubts, they pursue the truth, even when their search brings them to the sphere of King Louis XIII himself and makes them confront secrets best forgotten.



Ill Met by Moonlightill met

By Sarah Hoyt


Young Will Shakespeare is a humble school master who arrives home to find his wife and infant daughter, Susannah are missing, kidnapped by the fairies of Arden Woods, the children of Titania and Oberon. His attempts at rescue are interrupted and complicated by a feud over throne of fairyland, between Sylvanus, king regnant, and his younger brother Quicksilver who is both more and less than he seems. Amid treachery, murder, duel and seduction, Shakespeare discovers the enchantment of fairyland, which will always remain with him, for good and ill.




By Dave Freer

On sale for $2.99

The Interstellar Empire of Man was built on the enslavement of the gentle Stardogs, companions and Theta-space transporters of the vanished Denaari Dominion. But the Stardogs that humans found can’t go home to breed, and are slowly dying out.

As the ruthless Empire collapses from its rotten core outward, an Imperial barge is trapped on top of a dying Stardog when an attempted hijacking and assassination go horribly wrong. Trying to save its human cargo, the Stardog flees to the last place anyone expected – the long-lost Denaari motherworld. Crawling from the crash are the Leaguesmen who control the Stardogs’ pilots by fear and force, and plan to assassinate Princess Shari, the criminal Yak gang, who want to kill everyone and take control of a rare Stardog for their own, and an entourage riddled with plots, poisons, and treason. But Shari and her assassin-bodyguard have plans of their own…

take the star roadTake the Star Road

By Peter Grant

On Sale for 99 cents from May 28-30

Nineteen-year-old Steve Maxwell just wants to get his feet on the star road to find a better homeworld. By facing down Lotus Tong thugs, he earns an opportunity to become a spacer apprentice on a merchant spaceship, leaving the corruption and crime of Earth behind. Sure, he needs to prove himself to an older, tight-knit crew, but how bad can it be if he keeps his head down and the decks clean?

He never counted on the interstellar trade routes having their own problems, from local wars to plagues of pirates – and the jade in his luggage is hotter than a neutron star. Steve’s left a world of troubles behind, only to find a galaxy of them ahead…




By Kate Paulk

A vampire, a werewolf, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. Whoever picked this team to save the world wasn’t thinking of sending the very best. But then, since this particular threat to the universe and everything good is being staged in science fiction conventions, amid people in costume, misfits and creative geniuses, any conventional hero would have stood out. Now Jim, the vampire, and his unlikely sidekicks have to beat the clock to find out who’s sacrificing con goers before all hell breaks loose — literally.

ConVent is proof that Kate Paulk’s brain works in wonderfully mysterious ways. A sarcastic vampire, his werewolf best buddy, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. The “Save the world” department really messed it up this time.


Nocturnal Originsnocturnal-interludenew

By Amanda Green


Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

Pixie NoirPixie Noir

By Cedar Sanderson

$0.99 from May 27-30

You can’t keep a tough Pixie down…

Lom is a bounty hunter, paid to bring magical creatures of all descriptions back Underhill, to prevent war with humans should they discover the strangers amongst them. Bella is about to find out she’s a real life fairy princess, but all she wants to do is live peacefully in Alaska, where the biggest problems are hungry grizzly bears. He has to bring her in. It’s nothing personal, it’s his job…


Memories of the AbyssMystery Horror Genre Bender

By Cedar Sanderson

Free from May 27-30

Violet is trapped in the prison of her own mind. Her body is dwelling in the insane asylum, but when her friend Walter is killed, she must make a decision to avenge his death, or stay safely locked in her own broken soul. He’d drawn her out of her shell, and she finds she still has honor left… But will anyone believe the crazy woman?




The Scent of Metalscent of metal

By Sabrina Chase

On Sale for $1.99

The expedition ship Kepler races to Pluto, intent on uncovering the secrets of the alien structure recently discovered under the ice. Computer scientist Lea Santorin can’t wait to figure out the alien technology. Instead, she wakes it up … and it continues its long-interrupted journey across the galaxy, taking Lea and Kepler with it..




By Sabrina Chase

On Sale for $0.99

Young Jin survives on his own in the streets of Thama, using his wits and climbing skills to find food and shelter. On a bitterly cold night, desperate to avoid freezing, he enters the burned wreckage of a long-abandoned warehouse searching for anything of value. Searching despite the danger—for the warehouse once belonged to jinxers, and no one knows how their magic works…or how long it remains. Jin discovers a beautiful crystal sphere in the ashes—and suddenly finds himself transported to the desert world of Darha.

His foreign appearance immediately brands him an outsider, and he must rely on his Darha friends to conceal him from the mysterious rulers of the local fort. But Jin must face the fort’s dangers—for inside may lie the key to his return to Thama…and the key to his own hidden magic powers.


Tales from the Uplandsuplands

By Alma Boykin


Uncanny things haunt the high country, where mountains bring justice and men tell mysterious tales. A place where churches seek the lost and deadly forces lurk below the peaks.

Contains eight short stories drawn from locations and legends of Central Europe, including the Drachenberg version of a famous folk-tale, and an excerpt from the next Cat Among Dragons novel.



Four Dragon Talesfour dragons

By Alma Boykin

New Release!

If dragons walked the earth . . .

From a missing hiker (with really bad taste) in the Appalachians to WYRD and Drako’s Dark Roast all-night show, to a water-expert with a talon-t for trouble, and a search for justice, this quartet of stories explore life in a world where dragons and humans live side-by-side.

Short story set, 15,000 words.

Mischief, murder, mayhem, and music to rock the night away!

Sword and Bloodsword and blood

By Sarah Hoyt

The France of the Musketeers has changed. Decades ago, someone opened a tomb in Eastern Europe, and from that tomb crawled an ancient horror, who in turn woke others of its kind.
Now Paris is beset by vampires, the countryside barren and abandoned. The Cardinal has become a vampire, the church is banned, the king too cowed to fight.
Until now, the three Musketeers, Athos, Porthos and Aramis have stood as a bulwark against the encroaching evil, their swords defending the innocent and helpless.
But last night, in a blood mass, Athos was turned into a Vampire. And a young vampire orphan has just arrived from Gascony: Monsieur D’Artagnan.
Things are about to get… complicated.




By Robert Hoyt


… Long before the bird reared its ugly beak, there was beer. And lots of it.
In the humble world of alley cats, Tom has everything he needs: interesting enemies, a long list of girl cats who’d like to scratch his eyes out, and enough beer to make sure his repressed memories and his mysterious destiny stay repressed.
Until Wild Rat microbrewery shuts down.
To restore his favorite beer to its former glory, Tom will have to fight prissy bureaucrats, streetwise alley cats, and Broxton’s most barbaric rats. And behind it all, an evil so great that even Broxton’s most hardened rodents dare not squeak of it.


By Ellie Ferguson


When Meg Finley’s parents died, the authorities classified it as a double suicide. Alone, hurting and suddenly the object of the clan’s alpha’s desire, her life was a nightmare. He didn’t care that she was grieving any more than he cared that she was only fifteen. So she’d run and she’d been running ever since. But now, years later, her luck’s run out. The alpha’s trackers have found her and they’re under orders to bring her back, no matter what. Without warning, Meg finds herself in a game of cat and mouse with the trackers in a downtown Dallas parking garage. She’s learned a lot over the years but, without help, it might not be enough to escape a fate she knows will be worse than death. What she didn’t expect was that help would come from the local clan leader. But would he turn out to be her savior or something else, something much more dangerous?


Dan Hoyt

it is as quirky and enjoyable as the title promises.

9th Euclid’s Prince

by Dan Hoyt

On sale for $2.99

Welcome to New Rome!
The far-flung heirs of the empire have been called home to the capital of worlds. In these mean streets, no wife is above suspicion, and no man above assassination. With the Emperor poisoned and prince Oswald in jail, Ninth Euclid, a mathematically gifted secretary from a rural backwater, must solve the knottiest problem of all: How will he keep his liege lord safe from daggers in the back and politically scheming trollops in the night?

How To Piss Off Your Readers

(And ensure it will be the proverbial cold day before they spend their hard earned lucre on anything you create.)

This process is simple, and requires only a modicum of effort from you, the creator. First, create a character. Make them interesting, sympathetic, and human (unless, of course, they’re not human, in which case the other two still apply) and then throw them headlong into adventure. Present them with a struggle, preferably one of high stakes: a life or death conflict in which they, their loved ones, and perhaps the world are in mortal danger. Put them through the proverbial wringer, a figurative rollercoaster of highs and lows, of glittering triumphs and guttering defeats. And then, when you’ve firmly established for your readers your protagonist’s heroic ways, when everyone is comfortable with who your character is have Steve Rogers kill an ally and reveal that Captain America has been an agent of Hydra all along.

Y’know, like that.

Ok, yeah, sure. The MCU that “everybody knows” is different from the comic canon. In the former, according to the link immediately previous, Hydra begins (maybe sorta-kinda) as the super science R&D branch of the Third Reich, while in the comics, the roots go back to an ancient secret society of geniuses (mad, or otherwise) infiltrated by aliens (cue wild hair and stoned expression). So Steve Rogers (whether it actually ends up being him, and not an artifact of the Reality Cube, as I’ve heard rumored), is NOT a Nazi. He’s just a life-long agent of a secret and criminal organization bent on world control. Sooooo much better, right?

This is a writing blog, so I’m not going into the entirely appropriate fan reactions to a fundamental undermining of a beloved character’s character. I’m not going into the
social and political spindling and mutilating of which this is but a symptom.
We’re writers and publishers here, and so I’m going to discuss to you the way in which you keep getting paid, instead of alienating your readership with stupid pranks designed to boost falling sales numbers.

The thing about this, the annoying thing about this is similar things have been done. Killed Superman. Killed Jean Grey, or any number of others. Killed Batman, most recently, I believe. And yet death is expected, in the comic world (and in that of genre fiction, I’m not looking at Mum at all, nope, not at all) and it’s often temporary. Or at least overblown.

This? By all accounts, to include the writer’s and editor’s, Steve Rogers has always been, and will always be an agent of Hydra. Cap, the same guy whose first appearance is punching out Hitler. That Cap. The one whose arch nemesis for a goodly while was Red Skull, and who’s foiled more of Baron Zemo’s plots than pretty much anybody else. That guy, is the deepest of deep cover agents for the same parent organization. Pull the other one, gents.

This, fellow writers? This is what you Don’t Do.

Now, if you’ve started a series, and you have a character who comes off a bit paragonish-paladiny in the shiny AD&D sense, it could be a killer reveal that they’re actually in the service of the Death God, or a greater demon of some sort. That works. But if you’re four books in, they’ve handled baddies, and suffered loss, had nose rubbed liberally in defeat, and yet risen to triumph over the forces of evil, etc. And then, at the climactic moment, they haul off and rip out the soul of the innocent they’ve just spent most of a book rescuing, and use that stolen power to tear open a portal to the Nether Hells, you should not be surprised if your books become harnessed as launch devices to get cargo into orbit.

Seriously, character consistency is paramount. Sure, if you have that particular yen, you can show how your beacon of light and goodness gets tarnished by the much of existence, slowly over time, until you can’t tell them from the ostensible baddies they dispatch with little more than a grimace of effort. IF you put in the time. If you develop the chops to do it with finesse, and make clear to the reader that this is a story of descent.

What you don’t do, is take a character you’ve created and developed in one direction, and turn them around in an instant with no warning. What you truly don’t do is take a character created by someone else, and give them a hard face-heel turn after decades of adherence to a strict code of honor and principle. At least, you don’t if you want to sell. And that’s exactly what Marvel is going to find out with this latest adventure.

Post Delayed…

Look, Someone stole my car! There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! IT WASN’T MY FAULT, I SWEAR-

Actually, my post was corrupted (twice) and then the kids woke up. I think I can get it back, but I need a free hand, which anyone with a toddler understands is little more than a comforting illusion. I’ll get to it, I promise. In the meantime, go check out ATH for a thing with relevance. Later,

Hugo Awards – The Nominee Highlights – Best Fan Artist

Since I misremembered and I won’t have the detailed numbers to slice and diahem… analyze until after the winners are announced, I figured I’d start the reviews and highlights of the nominees instead, along with some side commentary on what numbers are available.

So, what with the Hugo parcels being a tad delayed, I’m starting on the freely available categories, the first of which is Best Fan Artist. First off, ballots in this category soared from 296 nomination ballots last year to this year’s 1073 nomination ballots. That’s phenomenal, and exactly the kind of thing I wanted to see this year. Given that last year, the lowest-ranked of the finalists received 23 nominating ballots and the highest 48, more ballots being cast is a really good thing. It’s not that hard to round up 50 or so people to vote for some specific work after all (I couldn’t, but my marketing ability is negative. Some of the writers I know could do it without breaking a sweat).

On to the finalists, as listed on the Hugo site :

Matthew Callahan  – Magnificent Galactic War Fighters art series showing Star Wars clone troopers in combat situations is all that needs to be mentioned here. Go and look at it.

Christian Quinot – the site is in Russian, the artwork does not need translation. Or just run a google image search for the name and feast on the results. While there’s a broad streak of dark in the works, there’s also a number of fun and playful ones.

Disse86 – This artist also leans to the dark, but is very good- and I’ve got to admit to loving the humor in the Metallica-loving skeletal dude in his den.

Kukuruyo  – This artist works in a much more manga-influenced style, and is – of course – the creator of the GamerGate life series (as well as several other damn good series – go check out the site. Just make sure you have plenty of time free when you do).

Steve Stiles – I’ve got to admit most of what’s here isn’t to my taste but I can see the cleverness and skill in it. The website and gallery are horrendously out of date and not exactly what you’d call stylish (and frankly not exactly attractive, either). His tumblr blog  is a little less unfriendly to people wanting to check out his art.

Go check all of them out, take a good look at their eligible works, and decide which you think are the absolute best of the best of fan artists.

P.S. For those who want the numbers, the detailed data for last year’s awards is available here.

Going Indie For Dummies – Checking Before Flight

Okay, what you need to understand is that I actually get flustered very easily.  I particularly get flustered if I have a long list of things that I have to accomplish in a given order.

Partly this is because my men (husband and sons)keep forgetting that I’m actually working, and so will pop in to ask me a question.  Often these are very nice questions on the order of “what would you like for dinner?” but if you interrupt me in the middle of a complex process, I’ll forget where I was.

So I developed the “Idiot checklist” — the idiot being me, of course.

Of course, right now the idiot checklist is packed, so I’m going to reconstruct it from memory.  Stop laughing.  If I forget some thing, one or more of you will remind me.


Manuscript check list:

1- Make sure you have the copy edited manuscript and not the finished but not copy edited version.

2- Make sure you have deleted all comments and accepted all changes.

3- make sure you run it through your word processing program’s version of anonimize otherwise the meta data will identify the copy editor as the author.

4-Make sure you ran the change replace to eliminate double spaces after periods, at least if you learned typing when I did.

5- If you’re using a manuscript submitted years ago, make sure that your underlines are now italics.

6- Make sure your front matter has the right book title.  Yeah, I know, hilarious, right?  Yeah…

7- Make sure you have the right front matter, copyright notice and cover credit note AND that your upcoming, will also like links are right.

8- Look at the cover.  REALLY look.  This is usually where spelling mistakes slip in.

9- change the spacing line to one and a half, not two.

10- Make sure you have no tabs, and that the indent is set at about 2 1/2 not the one inch we used to do.

11 – Optional: all-cap the first word of each chapter.

12 – Make sure your chapter titles are larger font, and centered.  Oh, yeah, if you number your chapters do one last check to make sure they’re in order and no duplicates.  (I TOLD you it was an idiot list.  The number of times I have five chapter 10s.)

If everything is ready, now you’re ready to convert.  I know people use Calibre, but it’s too complicated for my head, so I use Atlantis.  It’s fairly useless as a word processing program, but unlike Word which hasn’t caught on to this yet, it allows you to save as epub.  This is usually good enough to upload to, but I find I get fewer errors by running the kindlegen program.

Uploading checklist:

1- Make sure you have the right description for the book, not your first three iterations.  I find it easier to copy-paste.

2- Make sure you don’t have spelling mistakes or typos in your description.  (you’d be amazed! I TOLD you it was an idiot list.  I become an idiot under pressure.)

3- Make sure you didn’t check that your book is in the public domain.  Yeah, ahah, not even an idiot would do that… right… er… welllllllll….

4 – Make sure that you upload the right cover, not the version you discarded with the upside down title.

5- Make sure you have the right price.  Not that anyone EVER put her short story up for $999.  Ah ah.

6- Now after the manuscript is uploaded, download the preview and check it on every kind of reading implement you have.  Yes, I know, but … it wouldn’t be the first time all my m-dashes because AA in the final manuscript after conversion, and if you’re still using Smashwords, you’d be shocked how STRANGE they can get.  (How strange?  Well, half a manuscript in small caps.  That’s how strange.)

7- If you’re putting the book up for pre-order make sure you do that, not put it up for sale.  (You wouldn’t be the first, the last, not even in the first 1k people to make that mistake.)

8- If you put the book up for preorder, set up a calendar to remind you of the drop dead date for it.

Now sit back and relax.  I’ll let Amanda do the instructional on how to set things up for print (ehehehehe) because I haven’t done one in 3 years.  And yes, I need to, but time. Move. Lasers.

Soon enough the first people to read it will start annoying you with typos some of which won’t be typos or errors, just regional dialogue or whatever.

But for now, you’re done.

Of slush piles and indie and tigers and bears, oh my!

Sorry for the delay this morning, everyone. I have had an upper respiratory infection for the better part of a week that is laying me low. Because of that, I’m taking a break from the formatting series. I will pick it up again, hopefully, tomorrow on my blog. Today, however, I’m going to take my cue from JL Knapp’s comment earlier about his friend who had made it through the slush pile but who did not make it to publication.

As most of you know, there are very few publishers (other than small and micro presses) that still have a slush pile. Most of those who don’t, require submissions through an agent. I’m convinced a big part of this is because they are using the agents as the first guardians of the gate. After all, by using the agents to winnow out those manuscripts not worthy, the publishers don’t have to hire as many readers, editors, etc. It also makes the agents more of an, well, agent for the publisher than for the writer. That sort of incestuous relationship can lead to some questions of where loyalty lies. But that’s not where I want to go with this post.

For those publishers that still have a slush pile, publishers like Baen, you don’t have to have an agent. In fact, if you talk with some of Baen’s writers, you will find a number of them no longer work with agents. After all, why give an agent a percentage of their money if they don’t need to? Tor/Forge is also open to unagented submissions. There are others but most require an agent and, as JL Knapp said, that adds time to the submission process and takes money out of the author’s pocket if a contract is signed.

So what is the submission process for a publisher like Baen. Our own Pam Uphoff can probably discuss it in more detail than I can but here’s what I remember from my own forays into the slush pile, both as an author and as a slush reader.

The first step is having your manuscript in the best shape possible. Baen offers various slush conferences where an author can post their work for critique before submitting to the slush pile. Once you are ready to submit your work, you fill out the online form, upload your work and wait. There are volunteer slush readers who, if they think something is worthy of publication will send it up the chain where, iirc, Gray Rinehart takes a look and decides whether it needs to go further up the chain. If you are lucky, you manage to make it through all that and your book lands on an editor’s desk for consideration.

All of that can happen in a couple of months, if you’re lucky. It is longer for other houses. But, once your book hits an editor’s desk, there is no solid timeline in which to hear back. That’s the truth whether you are with Baen or Tor/Forge or some other publisher. Your book may sit there for a few months or a few years.

So, do you go indie, even if your heart is set on traditional publishing?

There is no easy answer. My immediate response is to say, yes. Go indie and never look back. But that’s the course I chose and, yes, I would still go with Baen if the opportunity presented itself. Why? Because I respect the house and, more than that, I respect Toni Weisskopf. That isn’t something I can say about most other publishers.

So, here’s my response to that person who is set on traditional publishing but who doesn’t want to sit around waiting months and years to find out if they have made the cut. Submit that one work, consider it a sort of throw-away novel, and move on to something else, something unrelated. Indie publish that second work. Then continue writing and publishing until you either hear from the traditional publisher or you decide that isn’t the path for you.

What we all have to remember is that there are several different paths open for us now and we aren’t tied into one path only. Just remember if you are offered a traditional publishing contract to check the terms very closely. Some of those contracts include a right of first refusal clause — often without a solid time period in which to respond — for any of your work for as long as you are contracted with that can prevent you from shopping your work anywhere else, including indie publishing.

There are a couple of other items to keep an eye on. Thanks to the Passive Voice for the links:

The first deals with author’s payments and, in a roundabout way, whether those e-books we’ve been buying are really only licenses or actual e-books. A class action lawsuit has been filed against Simon & Schuster because S&S is reporting those purchases as “sales”, which mean a lower royalty rate for authors, instead of as “licenses”. Funny that, if you read what most publishers say we are buying as readers, it is licenses. We don’t “own” the e-book.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

The second deals with Elora’s Cave. There have been rumblings for some time now about whether or not EC is paying its authors what they are owed. Some months back, EC filed suit against the blog Dear Author for reporting on this. If I remember correctly, the suit was decided in Dear Author’s favor. Now, it seems, EC is threatening RWA for taking action to warn its members about the problems EC is apparently having. If true, things are going to get interesting — and entertaining — before it all plays out.

Post will come

Sorry, guys. I’m  running late today — actually, that should be dragging late. I’m on the recovery side of the worst bout of something in a very long time. Add in the fact that my laptop is giving me the horrid blue screen of death, among other things, and this morning is not going well. So I will be back later — after coffee and after the meds have kicked in. Until then, the floor is yours.