Nancy's Notes From Florida

Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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Home Shows

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 30, 2016

We’ve been interested in home and design shows lately. Maybe it’s because we are undergoing a bathroom remodel, and we want to see what we’ve missed. Recently, we’ve attended one show in Orlando and one in Fort Lauderdale. To the left below: Fort Lauderdale. To the right below: Orlando. In the middle: People testing the recliners or just having a rest.

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The Orlando Convention Center is enormous. You have to know which building is housing your event to determine the proper parking lot. You park outdoors and then have quite a walk to the event venue. Inside the one we attended, there was only a single food court with not the most appealing menu choices. We preferred the Fort Lauderdale site that has multiple food booths at either end of the cavernous hall. Be prepared for steep prices. A plain hot dog costs $5.00. This one with an onion is from the food court in Orlando. No onions that we could see in Fort Lauderdale.

Hot Dog

The Fort Lauderdale event seemed more crowded with both vendors and guests. At both events, booths displayed a range of goods of fancy art works, crystal chandeliers, and luxury furnishings to the nitty-gritty air-conditioning systems, hurricane impact windows, and bath/kitchen updates you’d expect to be displayed. Cooking demos competed with vendors trying to get you to sign up for a free something-or-other in exchange for your email address. Below: Choose your art. Frog musicians to the left; spinning shoe rack to the right (buy your own shoes).

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It’s a fun afternoon, if you don’t mind the admission charge. You get your indoor walking in a cooled environment and see all the things for your house that you’ll never be able to afford.

 

Posted in Florida Musings, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 20, 2016

We spent the morning this past weekend getting our exercise at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale. Located east on Sunrise Blvd., this large acreage contains picnic areas, beach access, a fresh-water lake, and walking trails. The garden center is currently closed for renovations. You can go on Segway tours, rent boats or bikes, and more.

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We began our stroll by heading down a trail toward the beach. You can either access the sidewalk along the street, or go underground via a tunnel to the sandy beach. Other than inside the park, this stretch doesn’t have any amenities such as restrooms or snack bars. Entry fees for the park will range from $2.00 to $6.00, depending on if you drive a vehicle and how many people are in the car. For pedestrians only, it’s the lesser sum.

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After viewing the glistening ocean and the freighters hovering offshore, we turned back to explore the nature trails inside the state park. We spied a gopher tortoise before it vanished into the woods. The leafy trees provided welcome shade.

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The twenty-minute Maritime Hammock Trail appealed to us, so we took off along the wooded dirt path. We watched our footing as tree roots and dead leaves provided hazards underfoot. We wore hats for protection against the sun dappling through the branches and against spider webs overhead. The tree trunks were thin this time of year and the swamp not too buggy. It brought back the nostalgia of my childhood days and how I’d let my imagination roam free. In the woods near our house, friends and I would play war. These days I’d picture myself as an adventurer on a quest to another planet, wary of strange life forms and aware of danger around every corner. It refills the creative well to let your mind wander during visits to new places. I didn’t need to imagine my heroine sleuth Marla Shore being chased through the woods as I’ve already written that scene.

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See the grapes growing on the sea grape tree to above right? Another trail seemed to head off into the far distance, so we turned away from that one. Hot and sweaty, we returned to our car and drove the rest of the way around the road. This took us from the beach side to the Intracoastal with views of expensive homes and big-time yachts.

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We’re lucky we have so many parks and nature centers available in Broward County in addition to the beaches. Now is a good time to go, before the summer heat and humidity bring the mosquitoes and being outdoors–except in a pool–is less desirable.

Posted in Florida Musings, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Orlando Showtime

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 18, 2016

Mother’s Day morning found us picking blueberries at the Beck Brothers farm in Windermere. Their berries stay fresh longer than any store-bought varieties. They’re a bit tart this early in the season but are great on cereal or in pancakes.

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Pancakes1Pancakes2

Since we were attending a show (Beautiful: The Carole King Story) at the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando, we chose to dine nearby at The Boheme Restaurant in the Grand Bohemian Hotel. The elegant red décor matched the elevated prices but we felt the service wasn’t comparable to other upscale places, in our opinion. But you might think otherwise, and it is a mere few steps away from the theater. The food was very good.

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The dazzling Dr. Phillips Center was built in a contemporary/modern style. I felt like I was on a cruise ship during show time. Seats at the orchestra level far back had a good view of the stage. There looked to be four floors maybe, with cafés on each one. Anyway, you could grab a substantial snack here if you’re hungry. You can bring drinks into the theater but not food, and seats have drink holders. We enjoyed the lively show and the music from an earlier era. Now this has made me want to see what’s playing in the theaters at home.

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Last Day! Enter May 1-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners.
http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

 

Posted in Disney, Florida Musings, Food, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Disney World Revisited

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 16, 2016

We had another enjoyable visit to Disney World, our favorite weekend getaway. Over Mother’s Day weekend, we strolled through Disney Springs, enjoying glimpses of new eateries like The Edison (under construction) and STK Steakhouse. A new section is scheduled to open this month. Planet Hollywood is undergoing renovations as is the old paddlewheel boat restaurant. New shops have also opened up. It’s great that parking is still free, and the garage is a marvel of technology that parking garages everywhere should emulate. The second garage is still under construction.

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At Animal Kingdom, we saw building cranes over where Avatar land is being developed. We didn’t spot much else that was new. It was already crowded when we arrived late morning, so we passed by the rides/attractions and stood in line for lunch. This place could have used more than one cashier. Sit-down restaurants are not readily available in this park, other than the Asian one and the Rainforest Café. The windows at the fast-food places get crowded. Let’s hope the Avatar section will have more dining choices. It’s still pleasant to stroll around the park with the tropical vegetation and authentic-looking scenery.

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Contest Alert!
Enter May 1-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners.
http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

 

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Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Production, Part 2

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 12, 2016

Step 5 Production—Cover Design, Formatting, Uploads

Cover Design
Decide if you’re going to use stock cover art or hire a designer. I recommend hiring a professional cover artist. You’ll have many things to consider, such as:

· Placement, size, and font for your book title and author name
· Series logo
· Text color
· Type of illustrations—photographic or cartoonish? Pastels or bold colors?
· Mood and story genre
· Endorsements or Awards

See my previous posts on this topic:
Book Cover Design Process
Book Cover Design

Hair Raiser 3D

Formatting and Uploads
Prepare an author bio, book description, and keywords. For a print edition, you’ll also need the back cover copy. Determine the price of your book.

If you need help with the book blurb, go to:
Book Blurbs: http://blurbcopy.wordpress.com/
Blurb Queen: www.theblurbqueen.com
Blurb Bitch: http://www.blurbbitch.com

Book Description Tips: http://insights.bookbub.com/how-to-improve-your-description-copy-to-sell-more-ebooks/

Set up a publisher account at the various vendors.

Amazon: https://kdp.amazon.com
Barnes & Noble: https://www.nookpress.com/
Kobo: http://writinglife.kobobooks.com
Apple/iTunes Connect: https://itunesconnect.apple.com
Createspace: http://www.Createspace.com
Google Play: http://googleplay.com

For upload to iBooks, you must own an Apple device. An option is to go through Smashwords or Draft2Digital. These sites are also useful for access to vendors beyond the big six above. You can choose selective distributor channels. Or you can hire a formatter to do the iBooks upload for you. A professional formatter can customize your document and buy links for each vendor. Here are some popular companies but there are many more. This is not an endorsement of any one in particular.

Author E.M.S. with Amy Atwell
Ebook Formatting Fairies with Marie Force
eBook Prep
Formatting4u with Judi Fennell

The Killion Group, Inc.

If you prefer to do the formatting and uploads yourself, check out Terry Odell’s blog for an instructional series on formatting for various vendors. Also join the Self-Publish listserve that is invaluable for the indie author. Send an email to selfpublish-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. If this link doesn’t work, sign into your Yahoo account and look for the selfpublish group.

You’ll want to upload to Createspace for a print edition. I advise using your own ISBN so you will be listed as publisher. Select as many extended channels as you’re allowed. Order a proof copy. Be aware this process takes a couple of weeks so allow for plenty of time when setting a pub date.

After your book is published, file for copyright. Then proceed to market your new release.

If you missed previous installments in this series, go here:

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Revisions
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Legalities
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Production, Part 1

Contest Alert!
Enter May 1-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners.
http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, Self-Publishing, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Production, Part 1

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 10, 2016

Step 5 – ProductionFront and Back Materials

Continuing our series on reviving your backlist titles, you’ll want to add front and back materials to your manuscript. What should this include?

Front and Back

Front Materials

Minimize the front end of things so when the reader clicks on Look Inside at Amazon, he gets to see the text of your work right away. You don’t want him scrolling through pages of other material and losing interest. Here are some items you might place in front:

Copyright Page—Insert the ISBN number for your ebook or print edition. Add the logo for your imprint, if you have one.
Table of Contents
Cast of Characters
Foreword
Maps or Family Trees
List of Books in Series
Book Description
Review Quotes

Back Materials

This is your chance to add bonus materials for the reader, such as:

Author’s Note
About the Author
Books by Author with Series Listing
Call to Action (i.e. ask for reviews; ask reader to sign up for your newsletter)
Vendor-Specific Buy Links
Reader Discussion Guide
Deleted Scenes
Excerpt from your Next Work or another title in your repertoire

Coming Next: Cover Design, Formatting, and Uploads

If you’ve missed this series, catch up now:

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Revisions
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Legalities

Contest Alert!
Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners. http://bookloversbench.com/contest/ 

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, Self-Publishing, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Legalities

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 3, 2016

Continuing our series about reviving your backlist titles, consider how and where you want to publish these titles. Do you intend to put them into the Kindle Select program exclusive to Amazon? Do you wish to put them up yourself at the various vendors? Or will you use a company like Smashwords or Draft2Digital?

It looks more professional if your book is published by an imprint rather than Josie the Author or Amazon. So consider one of these options below.

Create an Imprint or Legal Entity

Create a publisher name and register with your State for a “Doing Business As” title. Or create an LLC if your accountant advises this route. Either way, this step will give your publications a more professional presentation.

OGP MINI LOGO BLACK

Reserve the domain name for this imprint.

For a DBA: Put a Legal Notice in your local newspaper if required by the State.

Apply for a county business license/tax receipt. Note: if you’re 65, you may be exempt from fees but you still have to apply. Renewal is annual. Check your state and county regulations.

Open a business bank account under the DBA or LLC. As a sole proprietor for the DBA, you don’t need an EIN number. Use your own Social Security number. You will link this business account to the various bookstore vendors for direct deposit of royalties.

Purchase ISBN Numbers

It is advisable to buy your own ISBN numbers. This way, you or your company will be listed as the publisher and not Amazon or Createspace. Your ebook, print, and audio editions each require a separate ISBN number.

Buy ISBNs from http://Bowker.com. Note that you do not need to purchase Bar Codes. These are assigned automatically by Createspace for your print edition. Buy in bulk if you plan to publish more than one title. Get on their mailing list so you receive discount offers.

Once you have your ISBNs and have a particular book to assign, go to http://myidentifiers.com. Sign in and access My Account, then My Profile. Here is where you can register your company name. Then click on My Account and Manage my ISBNs. Assign an ISBN number to your book. Complete all fields marked by a red asterisk.

On the Title page, you can add a book description up to 350 words. Here is where you can list the original copyright date for your work if it’s a backlist title. You add the book cover here. And if you wish, you can upload a pdf file for Bowker to generate keywords for search engines.

Under the Contributor tab, click Add Contributor. Then fill in the boxes with your name as author and your biography. For Contributor Function, put Author.

Under Format & Size, Click on Medium. Input the type of edition (ebook, print, audio). Choose the Format, i.e. paperback or hardcover for print; electronic book text for digital. Click on Primary Subject. Add the genre, i.e. Fiction-Mystery and Detective. Secondary Subject is optional. Next add the size of the book if it’s for a print edition. I use 5.5 x 8.5. Put any other details you wish to provide.

Finally, under Sales & Pricing, answer Where is the Title Sold? This would be the United States. For Title Status, put Active Record. Here is where you can add your DBA or Company Name as the Publisher. For Target Audience, put Trade for a general adult audience. You must also put in your publication date. If you’re not sure, select a date in the future and go back later to change it.

Under Currency, put US Dollars. Add the price in the box indicated, without the dollar sign. Price Type is the retail price. When finished on this page, click Submit. You can change any of this material, except the ISBN number assignments, at a later date.

If you have another type of format for the same title, you can click Clone next to the first one, assign the next ISBN number, and change the data accordingly.

Now you should be all set and ready to go. You’ve had your earlier books scanned if necessary, cleaned up the manuscript, and decided if you want to revise the work before reissuing it. Catch up on these posts if you’ve missed them:

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Revisions

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation

Coming next is the Production phase.

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , | 11 Comments »

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Revisions

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 28, 2016

Reviving Your Backlist Titles Part 3

In addition to reformatting and updating the earlier titles to which you’ve received reversion of rights, will you do a full revision of the work? How long ago did you write it? If you decide to tighten the writing, here is a reminder of what to fix.

Grammar

Remove those amateurish exclamation marks from your early writing days.

Motivate your characters with clear goals. Why is this goal important to him? What is he doing to make it happen? What’s stopping him? If he fails, what’s at stake? If your hero behaves a certain way, tell us what happened to influence this action. Don’t just have him lash out without rationalizing his attitude.

Keep description within the viewpoint of your character. Similes and metaphors should be within the protagonist’s frame of reference. Hairdresser: as limp as a strand of shampooed hair. Or: as tight as a newly permed curl.

When you’re in deep viewpoint, use pronouns rather than the character’s name. Keep viewpoints distinctive. Use a space break when you switch heads.

Avoid flashbacks and backstory. Leave the past in the past unless it’s important for your current story. Keep the action moving forward. Drop backstory into dialogue or relate it in brief thoughts during action scenes. Less is better.

Show, don’t tell. Show your character’s emotions. Don’t tell the reader about them. NO: She felt afraid. YES: Ice gripped her heart. NO: He was angry. YES: He slammed his fist on the table. Physical reactions and nonverbal clues indicate emotions. Without these, you’ve written a cardboard character.

Dialogue should have a purpose. All conversations should have direction. What’s the point you’re trying to make? Who needs to be in this scene? How will it propel the action forward?

Eliminate most substitutes for said along with adverbs that describes speech. NO: “I love it,” he chortled merrily. YES: “I love it,” he said with a chuckle.

Replace he/she said with character tags, but don’t overuse them. Make sure it’s clear who is speaking if there are several lines of dialogue without tags. Eliminate unnecessary tags altogether, like in this example:

His mouth curved in a suggestive smile that made heat rise to her face. “This potato-crusted grouper sounds good,” he said with a wink. “It comes with a salad and herb bread. Why don’t you order for me?”

In my revision, I removed “he said with a wink.” We already know who is speaking and he’d given a suggestive smile. No more is needed.

Avoid long paragraphs of exposition or description. Do these passages really need to be there? Or will readers skip over them? Make the reader feel what your hero feels. Don’t just tell us what’s going on. Also, if paragraphs get too long, split them up. White space is a good thing.

Replace passive verbs with active tense. NO: The slaves were slain by lions. YES: Lions mauled the slaves. NO: His forehead was heated by the sun baking overhead. YES: The baking sun heated his brow.

Replace walked and went with a more visual word. She shuffled toward the door. He raced down the street. He sprinted across the yard.

Watch those “ing” phrases. Make sure your subjects match: NO: Glancing into the rearview mirror, her breath released upon noticing the coast was clear. YES: Glancing into the rearview mirror, she released a breath upon noticing the coast was clear.

Beware of ing phrases that are illogical. NO: Flinging the door wide, she stepped inside the darkened interior. YES: She flung the door wide and stepped inside the darkened interior (i.e. you can’t do both actions at once in the first sentence).

Avoid weak phrases like seemed to, tried to, began to. NO: He seemed to want her input. YES: His smile encouraged her to speak. NO: She tried to tie the knot, but it slipped through her fingers. YES: As she fumbled with the knot, the rope slipped from her fingers. Avoid unnecessary phrases such as she realized, she figured, he decided, he watched.

Avoid weak verbs: is, was, are, were, there was. NO: There was water on the window. YES: Water droplets beaded the window. NO: His pulse was racing. YES: His pulse raced.

Delete redundancies. NO: sat down YES: sat. NO: He thought to himself. YES: He thought. NO: Climbed up YES: Climbed

Check for repetitions: Most of us subconsciously overuse a favorite word. Be alert for these when you read through your manuscript. Avoid the same phrases or words in consecutive pages. Watch out for repeats of the same information in conversations or in a person’s thoughts. As an example, note the word “hoping” used three times in this same paragraph. Oops. This excerpt is from my current Work in Progress.

Hoping to learn more, she focused on what she already knew. “Mr. Ripari was hoping to sell the property. Did you know it had been a pioneer theme park back in its earlier days? He was hoping to turn the house into a living museum. I understand there’s some controversy involved.”
Needless to say, I’ve revised this paragraph.

Remove qualifiers such as: very, rather, quite, really, just, awfully. NO: I remembered that she was really nice. YES: I remembered how her smile lit the room. NO: It was very hot. YES: The heat made my skin itch. One of my favorites is “only.” Vary this one by using “merely” or “simply” or eliminate it altogether.

Beware of flying body parts.NO: Her eyes flew across the room. YES: Her gaze flew across the room. NO: She threw her hands in the air. YES: She raised her arms. NO: Her eyes floated above the crowd. YES: She surveyed the crowd.

Be specific: NO: She passed a clump of flowers. YES: She passed a clump of red tulips sprouting from the ground like supplicating hands. NO: It had been a hard day. YES: Her body sagged as though she’d run a marathon (cliché alert?).

Learn correct spelling: their or they’re; it’s or its; lay or lie; you’re or your. They’re means they are. It’s means it is. You’re means you are.

Be consistent: If you’ve written a series, make sure you are consistent with particular words. Moustache or mustache? Chardonnay or chardonnay? Duffle or duffel? Nightstand or night stand? Think about creating a style sheet so you can have a handy reference for these types of words.

Avoid clichés like the plague. If you spot one during revisions, go back and replace it with something more original. NO: He wore a scowl like a cloak. YES: He wore a scowl like a seasoned samurai.

Go for strong endings at ends of sentences. Don’t end sentences on a preposition. NO: I didn’t know what he was waiting for. YES: I didn’t understand why he waited. NO: He stared in horrified dismay at her. YES: He stared at her in horrified dismay.

Be aware of series continuity. Now that you know where your series is going, you can correct any inconsistencies along the way, plant a hint for something to come, or add/verify the ages and dates when things occur in your characters’ lives.

In conclusion, reword sentences so they’re stronger. Eliminate needless drivel. And make your book the best it can be out of respect for your readers. You want your work to shine so you can be proud of it all over again.

Read earlier post on Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work

Read earlier post on Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation

Posted in Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 21, 2016

You’d like to reissue your backlist titles now that you have the rights back, and you already have a complete digital file as in my previous post. So now what? Are you going to upload the file as is, or will you be revising the work?

I wanted to fix my writing, since my mysteries started coming out in 1999. That’s the pub date for Permed to Death. I wrote that book more than fifteen years ago. Do you think I’ve learned to write better in that time? Looking over the original manuscript, I was horrified by the number of exclamation marks. Many of the Amazon reviews said this book needed editing. You know what? They were right. Now I had my chance to go back and tighten things up.

I had another impetus. I want to offer my books in audio editions but not based on my older versions. I prefer to link these to my newly revised Author’s Editions. (Cover designs by Patty G. Henderson at Boulevard Photografica).

Author Editions2

For your decision, it’ll depend on how recently your title came out and how satisfied you are with the content. I’m proud of my Author’s Editions. The only problem is getting people to read them and to post new reviews on Amazon.

Regardless of your choice whether to fix the writing or not, you’ll need to format the book for today’s digital vendors. In general, remove all headers or footers. Use page breaks instead of section breaks. Choose Times New Roman 12 pt. font; indent new paragraphs 0.5 inches; and remove all tabs. Make sure you have one space and not two between sentences. Be aware that colons and semi-colons might cause problems so try to eliminate these where possible. Use proper Em-dashes. Later, you’ll go to your vendor sites and check their specific guidelines.

Decide what you’ll do about changing technology. In the current book I’m revising, Marla (my hairstylist sleuth) dialed directory assistance to look up someone’s phone number. I changed this to an Internet search. I’ve also changed answering machines to voice mail, flip phones to cell phones, wired home phones to mobile units. And I’ve changed the names of places or restaurants that no longer exist.

Here is an example from Highlights to Heaven. This is the original passage:

“Do you see any possibilities with Barry?” Tally asked Marla after they were seated at Legal Sea Foods in the Oasis at Sawgrass Mills.

There had been a short wait for a table, unlike the crowds at the Cheesecake Factory or Wolfgang Puck. Saturday night was bound to be busy anywhere in Broward, but with the cinema here, shoppers competed with moviegoers for restaurant tables.

“I like him. He’s good-looking, quiet in a dependable sort of way, and sincere. It’s his father who I can’t stand.”

Since two of these restaurants are out of business, I changed it to this:

“Do you see any possibilities with Barry?” Tally asked Marla, after they’d taken seats at a restaurant in the Sawgrass Mills complex. They’d had to wait for a table, but Saturday nights were busy at all the eateries in Broward.

“I like him. He’s good-looking, quiet in a dependable sort of way, and sincere. It’s his father who I can’t stand.”

So as you can see, you’ll need to reformat the text, update the technology, and alter certain place names.

Now comes the tough question. Do you want to do a full revision? Your book has already been professionally edited, and you have the advantage of a copy edit being done. But this time, you can examine the writing in a new light, with the eye of experience. Are you prepared to do a line edit? Because that’s what it will take. You might find repetitions you’d missed before, redundant sentences, inconsistent characterizations, or those pesky “ing” clauses that cause trouble.

Moreover, if you’ve written a series, now you know what comes next. You can fix this story with the sequels in mind. If you choose this path, you’ll have a lot of work ahead. In our next post, we’ll review what to look for when combing through your story to polish it to perfection.

Contest Alert!
Win an ebook copy of Hair Raiser at Booklover’s Bench on my Let’s Talk post. Enter Here.

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , | 16 Comments »

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 18, 2016

Once you get the rights back to your earlier titles, what do you do with them? Try to resell these books to a new publisher? Put them online as ebooks for sale? Offer them in a new trade paperback print edition? Go through an intermediary such as Draft2Digital or publish them yourself directly to vendors? And should you revise and update the stories first?

When I got my rights back from Kensington for my earlier Bad Hair Day Mysteries, I decided to tighten the writing, update the technology, and add back materials to the books. Now was my chance to hire a cover artist and get the design I’d always envisioned.

Here are four versions of Permed to Death, the first book in my mystery series. From the left to right: Kensington, Ereads, Open Road Media, and my new AUTHOR’S EDITION (Cover design by Patty G. Henderson at Boulevard Photografica).

coverPTD  PTD  Cohen_PermedDeath  PERMED TO DEATHeBook

So what should you do first if you’re interested in reviving your old titles?

Obtain a File

First you’ll need a digital copy of your book in one entire file. I wrote my early books in the days when we copied the manuscript and snail mailed it to our publisher. Each file was a separate chapter. I didn’t have a single intact file for the book. Nor did I have the edits that were done by my publishing house. In other words, my original files didn’t match the finished product.

What to do? These books came out in hardcover and then in mass market paperback. I decided to have the paperbacks scanned in since they held the most recent edition.

The Scanning Process

If you’re lucky enough to find a digital copy of your book online, you could buy it, download the file and work from there. You can use the free Calibre program to convert between formats. Otherwise, choose a scanning company. I used Blue Leaf. You’ll have to sacrifice the book you send because it’ll be destroyed in the process.

Once you get the files back from the scanner, make sure you have an editable Word document, if this is the software you use. Then you have to review the text WORD FOR WORD to look for scanning errors. You may see a strange squiggle mark. Note this excerpt from Died Blonde:

Shutting off the blow-dryer, Marla plunked it on the counter. “Did you see how Claudia looked away when I mentioned a power blackout? She knew about it Pro­bably Carolyn went to the meter room to turn off my electricity.”

You have to turn on the paragraph reveal mark in Word to see the irregular mark in “probably.” It looks like a hyphen with a bar hanging off the end. You’ll have to go through the entire document looking for this weird symbol. It’s intense, eye-straining work.

Notice the period is missing after She knew about it. Missing punctuation is another problem. Or quotes pointing the wrong way, use of an apostrophe instead of a quote mark, or an extra space after a hyphen.

In revising and updating your work, one of the things to look for are “ing” sentences like that first one. More about that when we talk about revisions.

Here’s another example with a misspelling for Sun-Sentinel. That weird mark is also present in “released.”

“The medical examiner’s report hasn’t been re­leased yet, but the SunSenlinel reporter is saying Carolyn died under mysterious circumstances.”

Here’s a guide on what to look for after having your book scanned:

· Weird symbols when you turn on the paragraph symbol in Word
· Missing or wrong punctuation
· A number “1” instead of an “I”
· Misinterpretations, such as comer instead of corner. Watch for words like this with “rn” coming out as an “m” instead.
· Misspelled words such as for away instead of far away; “die” instead of “the”
· The letter “d” instead of “tl”: Words like abrupdy. Or see this example:

Marla setded a cape around her mother’s slim shoul­ders.

· Check the spacing for italics that it’s normal and not expanded or condensed (Highlight the word, hit Font, then Advanced).
· Make sure italics don’t come out as bold.
· Replace two spaces between sentences with one space if necessary.
· Format chapter headings properly with a page break and remove any section breaks.
· Look for run-on paragraphs or paragraph marks too soon that split a sentence onto the next line. Example:

“Carolyn promised Linda she would inherit her collectibles, but we couldn’t find any items of value.” “Jewelry? If a collection exists, it makes sense 

they were gifts from her private benefactor. I don’t see how Carolyn could afford anything else. Did she have a safety deposit box?”

This should read:

“Carolyn promised Linda she would inherit her collectibles, but we couldn’t find any items of value.”

“Jewelry? If a collection exists, it makes sense they were gifts from her private benefactor. I don’t see how Carolyn could afford anything else. Did she have a safety deposit box?”

You need an eagle eye and several read-throughs to catch all these errors. Regardless of which route to publication you take, you’ll want to present a professional product. So gear up to begin the next stage, which is revisions and/or formatting.(Coming Next!)

LAST DAY FOR CONTEST ENTRIES!!!

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners. http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Enter to win 35 cozy mysteries and a Kindle Fire in Storytellers Unlimited Spring into Mystery Giveaway. My contribution is an ebook copy of Permed to Death. http://bit.ly/CozySpring

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

 
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