Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

Archive for May, 2016

Five Stages of Writing

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 31, 2016

Writing a book these days has five stages. It used to be that you wrote the book, polished your work, and submitted it to a publisher. Then you were done, except for edits, proofreading your ARCs, and some promotion. Now you have many more choices in the publishing arena. Many of us face the challenges of Discovery, Writing, Revision, Production, and Marketing.

Stage One: Discovery

Discovery is the process by which you discover your story. Bits and pieces of character and plot swirl around in your subconscious. Consider it creative energy at play rather than feeling guilty that you’re not being productive. This is the break you need before starting the next novel. It’s necessary to refill your creative well and to gather ideas. Doing a collage, watching movies, listening to music, working on a hobby, walking outdoors, or reading for pleasure are some of the ways you can stimulate your creativity. Search for relevant articles to your story and match photos to your characters on the royalty-free image sites. Explore related issues that interest you or look through your files for inspiration. Often this prep time can take weeks, or it can take a month or two. Be sure to factor this in when you set deadlines.

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Stage Two: Writing

When these ideas coalesce in your head and your characters begin to talk to you, you’re ready to begin writing. This is when I write my synopsis. The outline acts a writing guideline, so I always know where I’m going even if I don’t know how to get there. This still allows for the element of surprise. The plot may change as the story develops. If so, I’ll revise the synopsis later. I may also keep a chapter-by-chapter outline, after I’ve written the chapter. It gives a quick summary of what’s happened, who has said what and to whom, and what day of the week it is. I used to do this on a poster-size plotting chart but now do it online.

Set yourself daily and weekly writing goals. I have to do a minimum of 5 pages a day or 25 pages per week. Don’t stop to revise your work. Keep going straight through to the end. Once the book is written, you can fix it. Just get those words down on paper during the storytelling phase.

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Stage Three: Revisions

When you finish the first draft, put your book aside to gain some distance from it. You’ll want to have a fresh outlook when you start line edits. Use this interval to jot notes for your sequel, do some preliminary research for the next book, plan your promo campaign, write reader discussion questions, create a book trailer, or determine blog topics for your virtual tour.

When you find yourself eager to tackle the story again, get ready for the heavy revisions. Once you begin, keep going, or you’ll lose your sense of continuity. Allow a month or two for this process. Let’s say you have a 300 page book. Plan to edit at least 10 pages a day for one month. This might not seem like much, but you are examining the text word-by-word and rereading it until it’s perfect. Then voilà, you’ll be done in a month. Put the book aside for another couple of weeks. Then turn to it again. This time, look for repetitions and inconsistencies. Here are some items to address.

At some point, you’ll be too close to the material to see straight or too sick of the project to work on it again. Then the book is ready to submit, whether to a freelance editor or to a publishing house. You’ll have a chance to fix things later when you get your edits back and put the work through a last round of proofreading.

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Stage Four: Production

If you have a traditional publisher, this is when you wait for the cover art and the ARCs. You don’t have much say in the book’s production, other than filling out an art sheet if your publisher requires one. However, if you are indie publishing, now is when you’ll add front and back materials to your manuscript. You’ll need to hire a cover artist. Decide if you’ll hire a formatter, do it yourself, or go through one of the third-party aggregates. Convert your work into the appropriate format and upload it to vendors. Read more about this phase here.

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Stage Five: Marketing

It isn’t enough to write a book. You have to throw yourself onto the self-promotional train and embrace technology. As you write your novel, keep in mind the potential marketing tie-ins. Is there a swag item that relates to the story? A blog topic related to your research? Make decisions about doing a virtual tour, a book launch party, an advertising campaign. Book ads ahead of time and solicit endorsements. If you have a trad or small press publisher, they can help you. But you’ll still be doing many of these activities yourself. Reinforce your brand with everything you do. Update your website and be active on social media. Give yourself an allotted time period, like two weeks, just to plan your promotional campaign. And while you’re in this phase, you can begin Stage One for the next book all over again. Go here for a Book Promotion Countdown Checklist

Proofs

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Each stage is valuable, and you should take the time you need. Be sure to assess your activity later on to see what worked and what didn’t. Then put your Butt in Chair and Hands on Keyboard and get cracking on the next book. Now here’s a question for you. Which of these phases consumes the most amount of your time?

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Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , | 29 Comments »

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: , , , , | 2 Comments »

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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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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Contest Alert!
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/

 

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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.

These production steps are similar if you are indie publishing a new and original title. In that case, file for copyright after your work has been published. 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/

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Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, Self-Publishing, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 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: , , , , | 8 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.

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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 »

 
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