Boast Post #2–And A Word About Prejudice

This week I helped launch an indie novel. The writer did the hard part: she wrote the novel. I did the fun part:  editorial, badgering her with a zillion questions, making her write a bunch of additional material, asking more questions, and formatting the ebook. She contracted with a talented designer to create a cover. Indie authors have their work cut out for them when it comes to covers, too, even if they hire out. The author serves as the de facto art department, doing the research, finding the artwork, making suggestions and approvals, but most of all trusting in the wisdom and skill of the designer she’s chosen.

Then, yesterday, I was reading The Passive Voice blog and saw a few comments that made me realize the old prejudices against self-publishing are still alive and kicking. Nothing big, nothing I haven’t seen before, and even (I am so ashamed) thought myself at a point in my past.

The prejudice is that self-published novels, and their writers, are lesser things.

I’m here to tell you, I have evidence in my hot little Kindle, that is not so. In fact, I would gladly, and with utter confidence, put the novel Julia Barrett wrote, I produced and Winterheart Design designed a cover for up against any romance novel coming out of New York.

That’s not bias, it’s experience. I’ve published 17 novels with a traditional publisher, plus a lot of other stuff. I’ve worked with three publishing houses, quite a few editors, agents, art departments and booksellers. More importantly, I’m a reader. I’ve read thousands of books in every genre, and from across the ages. I know the difference between good and bad writing. I know when a book has quality production. I am confident you could blind test our novel against any produced by the Big 6 or Harlequin, and no reader could pick Beauty and the Feast out as the self-published entry. (Well, okay, if they looked at the formatting and realized it’s far superior to what many of the traditional publishers are producing–and charging a premium price for. Are you listening, HarperCollins? Formatting is not that hard. Really. Trust me.)

Look at number one, Beauty and the Feast. Readers are recognizing quality, too.

Here’s the thing about prejudice. It isn’t evil. It’s lazy. It’s a way to not have to think about our fears. Isn’t it easier to say, “Oh, I don’t like black people. They’re all shiftless,” then it is to actually get over your fear of strangers? Isn’t it easier to think, “Rich people are cheating, evil, power hungry scum,” then it is to beat oneself up over our own failure to put in the hard work, sacrifice, and long hours it takes to become rich? Isn’t it easier to utterly dismiss self-publishers as hacks who lack the patience (and talent) to get a NY contract than it is to examine our own failings and fears about our publishing careers?

This post isn’t an invitation to start a pissing contest about the merits of self-publishing versus traditional publishing. I’ve heard it all, trust me. There’s crap on both sides of the street. I get it. Because I’m old and actually pay attention to things, here’s a head’s up for you young’uns. There will always be crap in the street. That’s life. Deal with it.

This post is a reminder that the person truly harmed by prejudice is the person with the prejudice. Prejudice narrows your life.

And writers? Prejudice is lazy thinking and lazy thinking produces bad fiction. At its core, good fiction is all about using made-up shit in order to tell the truth. You have to be able to think in order to accomplish that.





My Boast Post: A Beautiful Ebook

I have been dying to write this post all week! I had to hold off until the book was launched.

My charming (and courageous) friend, Julia Barrett had the rights to this novel reverted back to her. She decided to issue it as an ebook. She commissioned a great new cover, courtesy of Winterheart Designs. Previously, I had produced an ebook for another of her books and did a pretty fair job of it. So Julia felt confident I could get the formatting right. But this time would be different. I sez, “I want to make it beautiful. I want it to look as cool as the fancy ebooks I’ve seen.” (here’s where the courageous part comes in) Julia sez, “Okay.”

My goals for this project were: A fancy title page and chapter heads; well laid out bonus material; and text with minimal errors (I really wanted zero errors, but you know how that goes, best laid plans, blah blah blah).

I used Word, Scrivener and to produce the file.

Word for proofreading, file stripping and fixing the details like punctuation and spacing issues.

Then over to Scrivener for organizing and layout. This novel includes recipes. (I’m sure I’ve mentioned how I dislike novels that contain recipes. Not sure why they annoy me, but they do, er, did. I now, most humbly, eat my words. Thank you, Julia–you know why, heh) I wanted the recipes laid out so they were useful. (Unlike paper books, my Kindle has proved surprisingly hardy in the kitchen–I like to read while I cook–so I have no problem imagining an e-cookbook) It was the layout, not the vehicle that concerned me. There is plenty of bonus material, too. My goal was to organize it in a pleasing way for readers and make it easy to navigate.

Lastly, I used for the graphics.

Did I succeed? I think I did. You decide. (my photos aren’t that great–had to angle the camera because of lighting issues–the ebook looks much better in person)

A pretty title page to match the lush, sexy tone of the novel.

Fancy Chapter Heading

Page 2 of the Table of Contents

A recipe that's easy to read

I am not embarrassed to say that when Julia told me the book had uploaded successfully and the preview looked great, I did a Snoopy dance. A beautiful ebook! As nice as I’d imagined. So, yes, this is truly a boast post.

But, tempting as it may be to buy this book just to admire my lovely formatting job, you really should check it out for the story. Beauty and the Feast is charming, sexy and fun. And quite frankly, if imagery had calories, I’d have gained ten pounds just reading the sexy food scenes. (my new favorite genre–food porn) Julia is having a special promotion to go with the launch, so hop on over to Julia’s blog to see what she has in store.