HalCon Review – Author Panels

On Saturday November 5th, I attended HalCon, the biggest, geekiest sci-fi convention in Atlantic Canada. There were many wonderful demonstrations, vendors and author displays. There was also author signings, autograph sessions and endless streams of characters.

Shortly after I arrived, I sought out the room for the Editing and Formatting panel session. The speakers for the event included

The description of the session stated: To Oxford Comma, Or Not.  This and other questions about editing formatting will be answered.  If you’ve ever wondered about cutting parts, proper structure or when not using proper grammar is okay, then this may be the panel for you. Continue reading

Old Habits are Hard to Kill

The other day while driving home from picking up hay, I ran through the current scene I was writing in Healing Stones. I played it out in my mind as if a movie. The actors spoke their lines and I analysed each one. I got inside their heads and thought about how they were feeling, what they were smelling and what they were seeing. Did their equipment dig into them uncomfortably?

Then something disrupted the scene. The image of the story on the computer stuck there like a sore thumb. Had I done it again? Had I started this manuscript, which will most likely end up around 150,000 words, just as I would a genealogy column?

In other words, were there spaces between all the paragraphs? If I were only a fiction writer, the habit of creating an easier to manipulate document would become habit. But I switch from fiction to nonfiction weekly, so sometimes, I begin on the wrong foot…in the wrong format.

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Publishing 101: Formatting the Interior

Publishing 101This is one in a series of posts entitled Publishing 101: Draft to Book in 30 Days. To learn more about this challenge, visit the Publishing 101 page, where all links regarding this topic will be listed as they become available.

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There are several options available to format the interior of a paperback book. They include:

  1. Hiring someone to format it for you
  2. Purchasing a preformatted template
  3. Formatting from scratch in a word processing program
  4. Using one of CreateSpace’s templates

I’ll briefly describe the top three and then provide more information about the option I chose.

Hiring someone to format your novel

This may be the easiest method for individuals who are not software savvy or who do not want to take the time to learn how to format the interior of the book themselves. The increased popularity of self-publishing has created a demand for this service, so it’s much easier now to locate someone to format your manuscript than it was fifteen years ago.

Formatting prices depend on the size of the project (word count and complexity of text) and the individual offering the service. I’ve seen it as low as $35, but that was a few years ago.

Formatters can be found by searching the web. You can also post the job to eLance and choose the bidder that best suits your project.

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Creating a Clean Manuscript

Keep it cleanQuestion: What’s the difference between a badly formatted manuscript and a clean manuscript?

Answer: The price you’ll pay to have it edited or formatted.

It’s difficult to edit a horribly formatted manuscript, so the editor might clean it up a bit to make it more manageable. Anything that cost an editor time will cost you money.

If a horribly formatted manuscript is sent to someone to format into an eBook or paperback, it’s going to cost extra because it will take extra time to create a workable copy.

The writer can save her hired hands time and at the same time save money by learning the basics of how to create a clean manuscript.

It all starts here…with this weird little symbol that probably has a name but I don’t know it. I’ve called it ‘the one who reveals all’…all the wrong formatting techniques. Here’s its mugshot:

Cleaning up a manuscript example Image 2

Here it is with a few close neighbours.

Cleaning up a manuscript example Image 3

If you click on ‘the one who reveals all’ strange creatures and mystic beings appear instantly on your manuscript and dance between your words and sentences. Little dots, circles, arrows and other mysterious beings get you looking into places you’ve never thought to look before. They’ve always been there, but in the other realm, behind the cloak of invisibility, until you clicked the magic button.

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Updating Published eBooks

eBook UpdatesTime ages things: bread, people…eBooks. Every now and again, we must spruce things up, get a make-over or update information. Although I’ve tinkered with my eBooks a few times since originally publishing them, I haven’t done major renovations.

I’ve decided January is a good month to perform the task. I think I might even turn this into an annual event.

When I speak of renovations, I’m not talking about editing the story. I’m talking only about updating the actual file and the information that completes the remaining space in that file.

In the past twenty months, I’ve learned a lot about what an eBook should contain. My writing material has also expanded, much of it still ignored by eBooks published more than a year ago.

In the next few weeks, I’ll renovate each publication to date (all nine of them). Although updating files and ‘republishing’ them may take only minutes at some vendors (Smashwords) and twelve hours at others (Amazon), it will take much longer for other outlets (such as iTunes, Sony, Barnes & Noble) to receive them from Smashwords. These slow reaction times will mean the whole process will take a few months to complete even if my part of the job is done in one week.

eBooks are different than print books. Different information goes in the front and the back. After much research and consideration, here is what I’ve decided to put as front matter in my eBooks this time around:

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