Especially for Writers

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Trad vs. Indie–again

Which route should I go? Traditional publishing or indie?

I’ve been battling with this question from the very beginning. Well, not quite. My “very beginning” was a couple of years before indie publishing started becoming an acceptable and viable option. Before then, I was an avid fan of the traditional route.

But within the past few years, we’ve seen networking and service-and-support sites for indies multiply exponentially and become amazingly effective. Freelance editors,  cover designers, formatters, distributors, marketers, and promotional sites, all geared for the DIY author, have made going solo lucrative for the right people.

If you invest enough of your own money, and if you know how to work the logarithms and logistics of the various publishing sites, and if you’re a constant presence in social media, and if you rub your nose just right, you might succeed. Depending upon your definition of success, that is.

I’ve read articles supporting both sides of the story: traditional vs indie. This morning, I read “Stay Away From Traditional Book Publishing,” by Dean Wesley Smith. The article enumerates every single reason most indies—myself included—want to stay indie, primarily control and ownership.

I also read Steve Laube’s “Goodbye to Traditional Publishing?” in which he tackles the complaints of one author with a major publisher who sold 170,000 copies of her book and earned only $20,000 in royalties.

Roughly 11c per book.

Granted, he admitted that publisher pays its authors below the industry standard, emphasizing the house is a nonprofit entity. It must earn a profit to remain in business. Not sure that argument works as a defense for short-changing authors. Very few major publishers are in the business out of altruism, yet they manage to pay the average.

But Laube doesn’t really cover the question of royalties in the article. Instead, he concentrates more on the number of sales the author made. Sales translate to readers, which, if you’re good, translate to a fan base. Probably not the whole 170K, but perhaps a good percentage of it.

With the sales of all my indie and traditional titles combined, I’ll tell you now, I don’t have that many fans.

I already know why I enjoy being indie, and my reasons include many of the ones Smith uses to argue against going traditional. But Laube offers this:

If you wish to wave goodbye to traditional publisher and go Indie (independent) I believe the first question to ask is whether or not you want to start a small business. Just like an entrepreneur.  Those authors who are entrepreneurs are ideally suited for the self-publishing route. The [sic] understand the energy it takes and pitfalls ahead.

The second question is whether they can sell enough copies to make it all worthwhile. And are also are [sic] willing to take responsibility if a book fails.

Apparently, I stink at being an entrepreneur. So far as I can tell, the only ones who don’t stink at it (1) take the time to sift through and understand the mountain of ever-changing information out there and (2) are Type A personalities.

The question of whether an indie can “sell enough copies to make it all worthwhile” is just short of moot when you look at the traditionally published author who made only 11c per book. Using a per-book measurement, I make considerably more. Once the initial expenditures are reimbursed through sales, indies don’t pay a percentage to a publisher and agent, so the bulk of their royalties can go back in their pockets (or, if they’re smart, get reinvested into their businesses).

Like it or not, the marketing aspect of this business lands on the unknown author’s shoulders whether they’re trad or indie. Even if I went with a top five publisher, I can’t expect the marketing budget offered to someone like Nora Roberts. So if I decide against going indie because I hate marketing, I’ll still find myself in the same swamp.

Let me summarize: I love having control and ownership over my books and keeping the bulk of my royalties, even though I stink at the very thing I’d have to do anyway regardless of how I’m published. So I should probably stay indie, right?

Still, my wobbling self keeps going back and forth. What’s pushing me over the edge this time is the 170K sales. Not that every author can expect this, but as long as I’m indie with a Type B personality, I don’t think I can expect anywhere near this. Traditional publishers have access to retailers I don’t have. True, bookstores are closing left and right, but bookstores aren’t the only outlets, and ebooks are great, but they haven’t fossilized print novels as once expected. The TV didn’t kill the radio, the microwave didn’t kill the stove, and ebooks haven’t killed print.

Another thought is that the larger traditional publishers pay advances. Granted, they aren’t as big as they once were, and they aren’t likely to be large at all for a new-to-them author, but having a lump sum up front could go a long way if invested in a publicist or an effective marketing campaign outside what the publisher itself provides.

I’ve been indie for a while now, and I’d like to see how those on the other side of the debate live. I believe I’ve established enough credibility over the years that I should be able to land a star agent and a major publisher—and if not, then the debate between indie and trad will be settled. But I think I’ve made up my mind. Once I finish my newest WIP, I’m going to shop for an agent.

2019 should be an interesting year.




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Especially for Writers

This is me now. Two novels started, one bouncing around in my head, and a dangerous let’s put it off until January attitude.

By the way, my Clean Southern Fiction giveaway ends December 17. Sign up for the drawing to win a bar of Brea Rose Soap Garden’s Coastal Mist Soap and a copy of A Southern Season.

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Step-by-Stepping: Cut the Dross from Your Writing

I read my Tosca Lee newsletter for writers this morning, and right there, under the label of #4, was the paragraph I’ve been trying to tell my clients for quite some time:

Cut anything that does not move the story forward.  

What she describes next is what I call step-by-stepping:

The motions of every day life are exactly that: every day. You would not write “I unlocked the front door and closed it behind me, dropped the keys on the counter and turned on the lights,” unless these actions had unusual or special significance—i.e., it’s a very tense night because a killer is on the loose, and is in fact about to jump out from the closet. Instead, you would sum them up with something like: “After I got home…”

While Tosca’s topic was dialogue, this applies to narrative too. And what she says “you would not write” is exactly what I’ve seen in manuscripts I’ve edited. Sometimes it’s every bit as detailed as her example shows, and sometimes it’s just two steps: “he turned and . . . ” or “she reached out and . . .” or “he opened his eyes and saw . . .”—a real doozy if we’re in his POV, because it’s telling. Just show us what he saw.

Allow your reader to assume things. If the character is actually doing what he turned to do, the reader will assume he turned to do it. If the character is touching something she reached out for, the reader will assume she reached out to it.

I know where the inclination to step-by-step comes from. We see in our heads what we want to put on the page. The drama unfolds in our minds, and we want to present every nuance of it to the reader. It’s like trying to write every single movement an actor makes in a scene. Here’s the problem: what takes the actor a couple of seconds to do on the screen makes for boring reading.

So, as Tosca said, unless those actions have “unusual or special significance,” cut them.

The one caveat to this is if you’ve made a big deal about the action ahead of time. For instance, if you’ve made it a point to tell the reader the characters are fifteen feet away from each other, and all of a sudden he’s caressing her cheek, then you have to move him to caressing distance.

But sometimes, step-by-stepping is made necessary because of an unnecessary preamble.

Say you made a big deal about an action ahead of time. Was that action necessary, or dross? If it was an action beat, for example, could the beat be eliminated? Could it be replaced with inner thought? Eliminating the beat may demand that you strengthen the dialogue, which is a bonus. That’s preferred anyway. Using an inner thought could strengthen characterization, which is a bonus—especially if that thought contradicts the dialogue.

Always aim higher, stronger, than everyday actions.

What if we’re moving our characters from one place to another? How important is the ride itself? Is it filled with tense, vital dialogue or just description of the scenery outside the window? Is the vehicle being tailed? Side-swiped? Bumped? Or is it just a nice little drive?

Unless illustrating the ride from point A to point B is vitally important to the plot or characterization, cut it. You can segue your characters to their new location or simply use a scene break and put them there. Describing how they get there is irrelevant.

If you tend to exceed your word count, eliminating the step-by-step dross will help considerably. These few examples don’t begin to cover the kinds of things that can be cut without injury.

However, adding them in to increase your word count will only weaken your manuscript. There are so many other ways. Choose a better one.





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Christian Releases for December 2018!

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Who I Am with You by Robin Lee Hatcher — Jessica was pregnant and facing divorce when her husband and daughter were killed in a car accident. Withdrawing from friends and family, she feels far away from God. Then months later she receives her great-grandfather’s Bible at her grandmother’s funeral. Ridley has suffered his own loss. Bitter over disgrace at his job, an ended career, and subsequent breakup with is girlfriend, he retreats to a vacation property owned by his parents to lick his wounds and hide from the press. Thumbing through the Bible later, Jessica journeys through the aged margin notes, back to faith and wholeness. And the broken roads they have followed bring Jessica and Ridley to each other as well. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


Three Christmas Novellas by Mary Connealy — Three Christmas Novellas in one volume: Long Horn Christmas, The Sweetest Gift and The Christmas Candle. (Historical, Independently Published)

The Making of Mrs. Hale by Carolyn Miller — Can a runaway marriage ever be redeemed? Julia Hale ran off to be married in Gretna Green, following romance instead of common sense. But her tale isn’t turning into a happily ever after. Her new husband is gone and she doesn’t know where—or if he’s ever coming back. Julia has no option but to head home to the family she betrayed by eloping and to hope they’ll forgive her.Along the way she will learn how relationship with God can bring restoration and hope, and find the answers she needs both for her husband and her future. (Historical, Kregel Publications)

Child of Light by Annette O’Hare — While praying for her own Christmas miracle after five years in a childless marriage, Margaret offers aide to a destitute and expectant young woman during the holidays. She is condemned for her decision to help a woman of ill repute and must face the consequences of doing what is right. Will Margaret’s prayers for a child of her own be answered this Christmas or does God have something else in store? (Historical from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson — Inspired by a Gripping True Story from World War II’s Daring Doolittle Raid–Japan, 1948: A prostitute seeks her revenge; a war hero finds his true mission. (Historical from Mountain Brook Ink)


Historical Romance:

The MissAdventure Brides Collection by Mary Davis, Cynthia Hickey, Kathleen E. Kovach, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Marjorie Vawter, and Kimberley Woodhouse — Seven daring damsels refuse to let the cultural norms of their eras hold them back! Follow along as they trek the wilderness as a fur trapper; teach in the backwoods; campaign for women’s rights; breed llamas; drive cross-country; become a hotel tour guide; and pursue art. Will they meet men who admire their bravery and determination? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Kiss Me Once Again by Gail Kittleson — When Glenora Carson’s first love perishes along with the crew of the U.S.S. Arizona on December 7, 1941, she locks away her heart and her dreams of attending college on scholarship, instead choosing to hold down the home front by helping out the family business – Carson’s Garage. The grease-stained overalls don’t do much to compliment her female figure, but they cover her female heart well enough. That is, until Hank Anderson, a wounded warrior back from battle, walks into the garage and into Glenora’s life. Is an old maid’s future Glenora’s fate, or will Cupid throw a wrench in her plans? (Historical Romance from WordCrafts Press)

Stagecoach to Liberty by Janalyn Voigt — Can a desperate young woman trust the handsome Irish stranger who wants to free her from her captors? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)



Amish Romance:

The Amish Sweet Shop by Laura Bradford, Mary Ellis, and Emma Miller — It’s almost Valentine’s Day at Beechy’s Sweets, where the Amish gifts of love and faith are even sweeter than the home-made candy. In The Sweetest Courtship by Emma Miller, bachelor Jacob Beechy is a master candy maker whose mother longs for grandchildren, so she sets out to find him an assistant confectioner during the Valentine’s holiday—and a wife. In The Sweetest Truth by Laura Bradford, Sadie Fischer can’t see beyond her scars from a barn fire, but there’s a young man who sees only sweetness when he looks at her, and he’s sending her Beechy’s chocolate and mysterious gifts leading up to Valentine’s Day. In Nothing Tastes So Sweet by Mary Ellis, Pregnant widow Hannah wants to buy her English employer’s hardware store, but ends up following a clue from Beechy’s to clear a man’s name—and finds a partnership in work, faith, and love. (Amish Romance from Kensington)

Amish Christmas Memories by Vannetta Chapman — When a young Amish woman collapses in the snow shortly before Christmas, Caleb Wittmer rushes to her aid. Only, “Rachel” remembers nothing of who she is. Now his family has taken in the pretty stranger, disrupting Caleb’s ordered world. He’s determined to find out where she belongs…even if Rachel’s departure means saying goodbye to his old-fashioned heart forever. (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Quilt for Jenna (Apple Creek Dreams #1) by Patrick E. Craig — On her way to win a quilting competition—and a ticket out of Amish life, Jerusha finds her God, her missing husband, and a lost little girl in the heart of the Storm of The Century. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

The Road Home (Apple Creek Dreams #2) by Patrick E. Craig — Adopted into an Amish family as a child, local historian Jenny Springer is looking for the parents she never knew. When Jenny meets Jonathan Hershberger, a drifter from San Francisco who lands in Apple Creek fleeing a drug deal gone wrong, she is intrigued by this Englischer with an Amish name, and offers to help him discover his Amish roots. While Jonathan discovers his need for home, family, and a relationship with God, Jenny finds more than she hoped for—truth and love and the knowledge that you can go home again. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

Jenny’s Choice (Apple Creek Dreams #3) by Patrick E. Craig — When Jenny’s husband disappears in a terrible boating accident, she returns home to Apple Creek, Ohio and her adoptive parents. Working through her grief, she pursues newfound writing dreams and is presented with a possible romance with a handsome young publisher, until the elders of her church confront her consideration of going outside her faith to pursue her dreams. At the same a faint hope that her husband might someday be found alive holds her heart in the past. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

Minding the Amish Baby by Carrie Lighte — Amish store clerk Tessa Fisher isn’t ready for marriage or a family—until a baby girl is abandoned on her doorstep. Now Tessa and her gruffly handsome landlord, Turner King, must mind the baby together. And soon Turner and the sweet-cheeked kind are burrowing into Tessa’s heart. But with secrets between them, can the temporary family find a way to stay together forever? (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

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Especially for Writers: NaNo Edition

For those stressing to make the goal on the last day:

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Cyber-Monday Special!

Skydiving to Love

is on sale for only 99c at all the major outlets!

Find Skydiving to Love at Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Amazon!

Grab it now! This deal won’t last!


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Especially for Authors: NaNo 2018 Edition

Dear NaNo Writers who are sacrificing November to do what you love:

You’re on the homestretch. Hang in there!

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A Day of Thanks

I have a lot to be thankful for, and all my readers are included on the list.

To those who have been with me for years and to those who are new,

Thank You!


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Pre-Black Friday and Beyond!

From today through next Wednesday,

Skydiving to Love

is on sale for only 99c at all the major outlets!

Find Skydiving to Love at Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Amazon!

Great read for the holidays!


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