time

Time and Money: What are They Worth to You?

Going to a restaurant can be fun and delicious but for the most part, unless the restaurant is right next to your home and the service is exceptionally fast and inexpensive, dining out does not save time or money.

I will make an exception for foods which normally require hours of preparation. Croissants from a restaurant, for instance are a definite time saver over making your own.

And sourdough bread? Don’t even get me started.

But my point, and what I have been circling around for the past few blog entries, is that time and money and their relative values in the context of indie and traditional publishing are a tricky thing to measure. In the final analysis, the decision about which way to spend minutes and coins belongs to the individual writer.  The important thing for us as writers to understand is we are making that decision every day.

Finding an agent costs time and/or money. So does hiring editors, formatters and cover designers. Whether that time and money comes out of an author’s pocket directly or whether it has a long term impact on how much a traditional publisher can afford to pay that author is almost immaterial.

Publicity isn’t free, even though sometimes it feels like it is. Social media participation eats time.

Website design does too, unless the writer pays for it, in which case it can eat money too.

There is nothing wrong and everything right with spending time and money on the things that matter to us. For those of us who find their delight in writing romance and getting those stories into the hands of happy readers, the cost is absolutely worth it.

But I think it’s important to stay alert to what that cost actually is. Looking at our expenses in life is a great way to assess what we truly feel is important. Plus, it helps us decide to order Savory Souffles followed by Baked Alaska at a restaurant instead of trying to make those items at home.

Of course, if you do want to make them at home, call me. I’ll free up my calendar for the eating part.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. Wednesday is generally book review day. Unless it isn’t. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

publicity

Publicity and Indie Publishing. And Windmills.

Publicity for your book launch used to be the responsibility of a traditional publisher.

The author would make herself available for the publicity opportunities the publisher arranged. These could include book signings, interviews, or talks at libraries.

In addition, the publisher would arrange for placement on bookstore shelves. The book, not the author. Although that too could probably be arranged.

Also, the publisher would enter the book in contests, promote the book in the appropriate journals. Also purchase advertisements as appropriate.

But fellow authors tell me and my reading confirms that traditional publishers no longer take all the responsibility for publicizing a new book. In part, this is because traditional publishers expect to turn their focus to the next book fairly quickly.

Remember, a traditional publisher sinks significant money into the initial production and broadcast of a book. Once the publisher makes the investment back and, hopefully, a profit, moving on to the next book makes sense. From a publisher’s perspective, while it is nice to have ongoing profits from a book. Unless you wrote the next Don Quixote, the real money is in the launch.

And yes, Don Quixote is the best selling non-religious fiction book of all time. Who knew?

This means that when it comes to publicity, what was once a large gap in obligation between authors who are traditionally published and indie authors has narrowed.

As far as I can tell, the biggest difference in time commitment relates to the learning curve for indie authors. Traditionally published authors presumably have expert guidance in what needs to be done in regards to publicity.

An indie publisher must gather information on how best to publicize her book on her own. This means sometimes she will rely on mistaken or incomplete advice.

There are professional publicists who will, for a fee, do an indie authors publicity and guide her through the process. But, like doing one’s own formatting, there are certain advantages to conquering the mountain one’s self.

For one thing, you only have to learn how to do it once. After that, it’s easy. Plus, if you ever have to launch something other than a book, like a communal campaign to ride swaybacked horses while jousting with windmills, you’ll know how to do it.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. Wednesday is generally book review day. Unless it isn’t. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

formatting

Formatting and the Indies. Wait, is that a Band?

As I consider the differences between traditional and indie publishing, formatting leaps to mind. This is only an issue for those of us who indie publish, but it can be a significant one.

No romance reader of my acquaintance checks a binding for the publisher’s name before choosing a book. But weird formatting like off center chapter headings or margin justification run awry does make a reader wonder.

And the last thing any author wants is for her reader to stop thinking about the hero’s romantic crisis and start paying attention to uneven spacing. Yeesh!

Traditional publishers will format a manuscript for both print and ebook. That’s one way they protect their investment. An indie publisher who wants to protect her investment of time, effort and money, should aim for the same level of quality.

Luckily, fellow authors are remarkably generous in their advice. When I first began learning about formatting, I found detailed instructions online from dozens of bloggers.

I am in awe of folks who blithely talk about waltzing through their formatting in an hour. It takes me a good deal longer. And I am not waltzing, more like clogging, without the finesse.

Using the binder I filled with detailed formatting instructions, it usually takes me about half a day to format my manuscript for paperback.

And a whole day to format it for ebook devices. Because the only reliable way I can do it is by using HTML. And I’m not exactly proficient in hate mail, I mean, HTML.

I really should think of it as hot meal. Then I would look forward to it.

These indie publishers may just be better at formatting than I am. And no doubt they have more practice. But they may also have Macintosh computers.

Many online formatting guides are specific to Macintosh or to the Macintosh version of Scrivener.

Scrivener, a writing program with a lot of cool features, was initially designed for Macs. I own the PC version which has less of those useful cool features. The company is working on that. In the interim, if you want an easier formatting experience, you’ll need to buy a Macintosh.

But if you want to grow big formatting muscles and develop a large vocabulary of inventive curse words, you’ll use a PC. It’s a lot less expensive than a Macintosh and you get bragging rights.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. Wednesday is generally book review day. Unless it isn’t. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

indie publishing

Indie Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

In my last entry, I discussed weighing the value of time when considering whether to pursue traditional publishing as opposed to indie publishing. Based on my own experience, I have come to the conclusion that traditional publishing is more expensive for an author than most of us beginner writers realize.

But indie publishing is no slouch when it comes to time consumption either. Not to mention actual coin of the realm.

Whether you plan to publish a paperback or an ebook, your book will need a cover. And not just any cover – the sort of cover which says, “Buy me. I will bring you laughter, tears of joy and I will infect you with a burning desire to read the sequel.”

So, unless you are a talented graphic artist, you will need to hire a designer. There is a monetary cost, of course. But there is a time cost as well. Because you have to think about what you want in some detail beforehand and must convey that clearly to your designer ahead of time and during the process.

Traditional publishers make those cover design decisions on an author’s behalf and use their own designers to do the actual work. Author friends have told me they sometimes dislike the cover choices their publishers make and feel those choices can impact on the number of sales. In addition, the publisher’s designers quite reasonably expect to be paid for their work. Which impacts in some small measure on the advance a publisher is willing to offer.

So in a real sense, there is a financial cost to an author either way.

And that’s just the outside of the book.

Formatting your manuscript so you can hold your very own book requires some significant author patience. Not to mention research.

Hiring a knowledgeable person to format your work for you is one way to make that happen. But then you will miss all the fun. Plus, you won’t get to swear like a pirate’s parrot. An opportunity no one should miss.

So in my next entry, I will wax eloquent on the joys and risks of formatting.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. Wednesday is generally book review day. Unless it isn’t. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

ravens

Ravens. We’re not winning the brain race, folks.

Ravens and macaques are just the beginning.

I’ve always felt there was something a bit presumptuous in assuming we humans are smarter than animals. Not to mention, self serving. Turns out, according to a recent study, ravens are giving us significant competition.

In an article, Scientific American reports a raven’s ability to postpone gratification is at a four year old human’s level. Which is something we should all worry about. Because I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am personally acquainted with grown up humans who don’t have this capacity.

The implication of this finding is ravens can plan ahead further than we suspected. Ravens don’t have watches. Or calendars. Or multi-page tabbed planners with a zipper ring binder made out of leather. Reasonable, since those binders are pretty inconvenient to fly around with and take up way too much room in the nest.

But just think what they could do if they had those things.

Better yet, maybe instead of banding ravens for scientific study, we should be fitting them with little electronic planners. According to the article, a raven only expects to find a carcass occasionally, so there are a lot of empty hours a raven might choose to fill more productively.

Ravens aren’t the only animals who might benefit from electronic devices. As I write this entry, there is a lawsuit about who owns the rights to selfies taken by a female macaque in Indonesia. The photographer who set up his camera with a remote trigger, says he expected the macaques in the area to find it and play with it.

Personally, I think the question of rights over the selfies is missing the point. The real issue is, shouldn’t all animals have their own electronic devices? If E.T. arrived on earth now, surely he would carry his own cell phone along with him. And if aliens have cell phones, why should our animal citizens do without?

Charging devices in the wild might be a problem, but I hear fireflies and electric eels are considering a merger to create the first Animal Power Company. So maybe not.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. Wednesday is generally book review day. Unless it isn’t. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

performance

Performance Dreams and Real Nightmares

Interpreting performance dreams. Okay, it’s not that complicated.

Performance dreams all share certain characteristics – the absolute knowledge that failure is inevitable, the horror of knowing it is your fault and having little to no control over the outcome. You know the nightmare if you have ever performed anything.

Maybe even if you haven’t.

You start up out of sleep in a panic and realize it is the familiar old dream, fitted perfectly to your fears. The trappings might be different but the bones are the same.

But when I woke up this morning I realized this particular performance dream was about writing. And that was intriguing.

Because I don’t have an employer who will be angry if I get it wrong. Well, I might give myself a stern talking to, but that usually ends with chocolate. I know perfectly well I am growing into a writer and I am willing to be patient with the process. There is no specific deadline and no one cares what I wear when I am tapping out vagaries on the keyboard. If I get it wrong, I can fix it. In this arena at least, I have control over most of the elements one panics about in performance dreams.

So this dream wasn’t about me.

It was about Jock and Charlotte and whether they are ready to be in the story I am writing about them.

I’m one quarter into writing novel number four and I’m worried for them. It’s not so much my own performance which is at stake, it is the performance of these characters. I hope I’ve honed them well, but only learning how they fare in their fictional lives will tell me for sure.

Until then, it is a matter of leaping into the unknown and seeing what happens. I guess that’s what we all do every day, but most of the time we don’t think about it. Writing make you more conscious of the leap.

At least Jock and Charlotte aren’t appearing half an hour late to headline for a medieval lute concert in Carnegie Hall wearing bathing suits and roller skates.

They should be grateful. I can’t say the same.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

avocado hand

Avocado Hand – Count Your Fingers

Cooking like an amateur and proud of it.

I know you didn’t ask, but…I find Avocado Hand annoying. Or maybe I’m just crabby. I guess if I had actually suffered from Avocado Hand, I would be more crabby. If you haven’t already heard about this “on the rise” and therefore extremely hip emergency room issue, apparently more people than ever before in recorded history are slashing their hands in an attempt to cut open and prepare avocados.

Martha Stewart, on a morning show recently, demonstrated the new FDA approved method of cutting avocados by holding the fruit in a dish towel and using a razor sharp knife both of which I consider the perfect way to create an avocado preparation injury no one has ever heard of yet. She explained it is dull knives which create Avocado Hand.

I would argue it is hubris.

I love watching professional chefs on television as much as the next person, but I have no illusions. These folks have professional training handling incredibly sharp tools at ridiculous speeds. I don’t.

I have neither the training, nor the dagger-like implements, nor the dexterity, and I know perfectly well I am not planning to spend twenty years perfecting those skills and accruing those knives. Because that is what it would take for me to be in that league.

But I think television breeds a kind of unrealistic perception in viewers that visual proximity is the same as knowledge. Watching a great chef’s hand motions and copying them, is simply not the same as practicing those motions thousands of times a day. Just as wiggling one’s fingers and owning a piano is not the same as becoming a great pianist.

It’s true most of us have fingers, but that’s not enough. And if we insist on pretending we have the same knife skills as professional chefs, we will be lucky to retain those fingers at all.

 

Which is particularly important if you are planning on typing the next great romance novel, instead of dictating it. So hurry up with the writing because I want to read it.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

manchester bombing

Manchester Bombing – Crime Against Children, Again,

Words fail in the wake of the Manchester Bombing.

How can we respond to the Manchester Bombing? How do we cope with the images of parents and children killed and injured, pointlessly. And it is pointless, make no mistake about that.

This atrocity will devastate the lives of the families who have lost a loved one, their friends, their relatives. For them, nothing will ever be the same again.

But on a larger scale, the most effective response is to make the terrorist’s death meaningless. The residents of Manchester will keep going to public events. Arianna Grande will continue to bless those who love her with the beauty and joy of her gift. Nothing, with the exception of greater vigilance, will change.

Because that is the weapon we have. Normalcy.

I get that. I do. And yet this is not a random attack. It was specifically aimed at children.

There is nothing which angers me in quite so deep a way as the pain evil people intentionally cause children. There is no defense, no argument, no words which can excuse it.

Nor are there appropriate words in any human language which I personally can summon to respond to it.

Still it is not simply silence which is called for when children lie dead. Not the calm silence of acceptance, not the peaceful silence of belief, but a deeper, darker silence. A silence of pulsing life, of red grief, of a roar too loud for sound, too thick for words. The essence of no but without the softness of N, without the rounded welcome of O. A mighty silence which seeps under doors, slams down city streets and shrieks across prairies. A silence which crushes mountains beneath its weight and creeps in great clouds to cover valleys.

A teeth baring, howl of silence.

 

 

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

ritual

Ritual for Home Writing Sessions

Creating a Home Writing Ritual

The space in which we write is significant and giving it sufficient gravitas sometimes requires a ritual. We all find ways to cue ourselves to get to work. Sharpen six pencils. Put loose papers in files. Go stand in front of the refrigerator and search hopefully for a brownie.

Some of those cues are the actual furniture on which we choose to write.

On top of my desk, looking down at my laptop, crouches a wooden sculpture of a cat. Whoever carved him caught the exact moment when a cat is considering jumping but has not bunched his muscles to do so.

I am lucky in my desk, although I occasionally yearn for a larger work surface. It is a high boy sort of thing with pigeon holes and a door which folds open for a work surface. I rarely close the door these days although I think I should reconsider that. Unlocking and opening the desk every time I wrote would lend a sense of occasion to writing time.

It may be that lack of ritual which makes it easier to write in the local library, at least when I am starting out a book.

Going to the library is a ritual.

It includes packing up my laptop, a bottle of water and any books which are due back. Fifteen minutes of driving and parking. Walking up the steps, circling the tables to find an empty one, setting up the laptop and settling into the chair. By the time I finish that process, I feel ready to focus.

This is a bit the way a cat prepares himself to sleep. He locates a perfect sunny spot, circles, pats the surface, kneads it, and kneads it again until he is ready to curl into a ball. Sleep is work for a cat.

So I’m thinking of creating a home ritual for beginning a writing session, a practical physical activity which would be somewhat useful, but mostly repetitive and basically pleasant. If you have already have one, please share.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.

vegetable gardening

Vegetable Gardening For Non-Rabbits

I planted a garden yesterday.

Well, it wasn’t actually as simple as that. I spent weeks dithering over how big it should be and what I should plant. The most complicated part of vegetable gardening for me was figuring out which plants like to be near which other plants. Also which ones detest other plants. It was a bit like planning seating for a wedding reception when the families involved are the Montagues, the Capulets, the Jets and the Sharks.

Tomatoes like carrots, but they stunt them. Eggplant likes being near thyme, but thyme doesn’t like being near basil. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage don’t get along with some nightshade plants, like tomatoes and green peppers. But they thrive when inter-planted with lettuce. Eggplants, unlike their nightshade family cousins, seem to get along with everybody. It took index cards, spiral bound notebooks, scissors, tape and the ever amazing glue stick to finalize the seating plan.

Then I did the actual planting – Woohoo! So far it’s been two days and I have remembered to water the plants. I talk to them, and tell them supportive nurturing things. Maybe vegetable gardening is my thing. If that was all plants required for a successful harvest, I wouldn’t worry.

But I know the real danger is lurking in the dark.

Don’t let the cute ears and twitchy fluffy tails mislead you. Those sweet little rabbits you see on the lawn at night when you are taking your before bedtime stroll are like Pirates of the Caribbean but armed with teeth instead of daggers.

I’m hoping to buy them off with the strawberry plants. So if you see a rabbit with strawberry mash dripping from its long adorable whiskers, you’ll know where it has been.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at www.rosegreybooks.com. Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.