This week, Createspace (CSP) sent an email to indie authors, announcing it was merging with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to become one service. Going forward, indie authors who want to pursue print will need to begin using KDP Print. If we can help you in any way, please reach out to us. We’d love to talk to you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.emoonpublishing.com.
By Lee Warren - author, editor, and EMoon team member
Amazon announced recently that KDP Print will now make proof and author copies available to all publishers on the platform for the cost of printing, plus shipping and all applicable taxes. Previously, these features were only available on Amazon’s Createspace platform.
This announcement comes on the heels of two others from Amazon about Createspace.
Last fall, Amazon announced it was closing its Createspace e-store. Books published on that platform would continue to be available through the Amazon.com store, as well as redirecting there.
Early this year, Amazon announced it plans to lay off all 58 employees in its Createspace editing, marketing, and design division, saying it was getting out of the author services business.
This restructuring would seem to indicate that Amazon is intending to move all of its self-publishing print operations under its KDP Print umbrella, giving indie authors access to all of their information on one dashboard. Some in the indie author community speculate that Amazon’s ACX audiobook program might follow suit at some point.
Previously, the drawbacks of using KDP Print included the inability to order proof and author copies, as well as not being able to opt for expanded distribution. Presumably, expanded distribution will be available through KDP Print in the future.
What does all this mean for the indie author?
If you haven’t used the editorial, marketing or book cover design services offered by Createspace, you might simply consider familiarizing yourself with KDP Print or IngramSpark now. That’s not to say Createspace is necessarily going away soon. But given Amazon’s recent actions to bolster and promote KDP Print, you have to wonder if the writing isn’t on the wall.
If you have used the editorial, marketing or book cover design services through Createspace because you aren’t interested in handling the technical aspect of publishing, you’ll need to find an alternative. You can either contract with freelancers or choose a custom publisher like Electric Moon Publishing (EMoon). We can handle everything for you, giving you the control you want while maintaining the publishing rights you deserve.
Current Createspace authors need not fear being left behind during this future possible transition. Industry professionals believe current Createspace users will be grandfathered into the KDP print program. Createspace remains a primary place to publish books as a print-on-demand option and publishers like EMoon, will continue to assist indie authors to use the Createspace platform, moving to KDP Print only as the interface becomes more user-friendly and comprehensive.
By Laree Lindburg, owner/manager, Electric Moon Publishing, LLC and Signal Speakers
Amazon recently announced their intention to cease author services (editing, marketing, book formatting, design, etc.) through their self-publishing entity Createspace as reported in The Post and Courier.
This should be no surprise. The massive company is not known for their delicate handling of indie authors—their size makes it almost impossible to work one-on-one in a personal setting. And this is not a terrible loss on the author’s side. As those who use the author services supplied by Amazon may not have needed to sell the farm to pay the ticket price, the end product quality often left much to be desired.
A spokesperson from Amazon shared the company’s thoughts on this move. "After a thorough review of our service offerings, we've made the decision to discontinue Createspace's paid professional editing, design and marketing services. We will work closely with impacted employees through this transition to help them find new roles within the company or assist them with pursuing opportunities outside the company."
This layoff will sadly affect many workers in Createspace’s editing, marketing and design division starting as early as spring 2018. We can only hope Amazon will stay true to its word and assist impacted employees in their quest for new jobs.
If you are a Createspace author you may be wondering how this decision by Amazon/Createspace affects you. Only if you are used to procuring the editing, marketing and design services offered through Createspace, will you notice a change. No concern is necessary on the part of printing as Createspace will continue to print paperback books for indie authors.
Custom publishers, such as Electric Moon Publishing, are set up to support authors who would normally default to the employment of Amazon’s author services. Either way, at Electric Moon we are ready, capable, and eager to work with you on your first, next, or final book project. Along with being personable and friendly, we offer custom illustration, content and copy editing, proofreading, design, e-book formatting and publishing set-up/distribution, paperback/hardback printing through us or POD setup, paperback distribution options, and marketing assistance.
Contact a team member at email@example.com for more information or visit us on the web at www.emoonpublishing.com.
By Becky Swanberg, author and EMoon Team Member
NaNoWriMo is a mere two days away. Have you officially signed up? Are you plotting out your story arc? Have you cleared your schedule and loaded up on your preferred form of caffeine?
Sounds like you're well on your way to hitting that 50,000 word count before December 1. Aside from registering and story prep, here’s a few more things you can do to set yourself up for success.
Carve out time….now. That’s right. When is this novel magic going to happen? Early mornings? Lunch breaks? Late nights? Start to think about how this novel is going to fit into your every day, and allow extra time the first few days. Remember- the daily goal is around 1600 words. Will you break it into pieces? Slay it all at once? Your plan can be flexible, but it helps to hit November 1 with an idea of when this is going down.
Tell your people. Now wait a sec, I don’t mean you need to blast your NaNoWriMo aspirations on all your social media platforms (though if that’s your thing- go for it!) I mean to let the people who are close to you in on this goal. That way when it’s Friday night and you ask friends to see a movie, someone will say, “Where’s your wordcount? Did you write today?” Then you’ll roll your eyes, ditch the movie plans, and feel sorry that you ever told anyone as you open your laptop. But later, when you hit your goal, you’ll be glad your people pushed you to it.
Don’t forget to account for Thanksgiving. NaNoWriMo rookies will find themselves pacing along, coming upon the end of the month with just a few thousand words left and then...Thanksgiving. That turkey coma will not only stall out your Black Friday aspirations, but it will kill a few days of novel writing. Work ahead, or plan makeup time on the back end. And if you’re travelling, don’t even pretend you’re going to hit your word count all those days. Trust me.
Don’t over edit. Your goal is 50,000 words- not 50,000 amazing and publishable words. If you stop to fix, you may kill the flow of your thoughts and feed the ego of your inner critic. Which leads me to my next point….
Ignore your inner critic. There’s a small voice that will tell you this is a waste of time, that your novel is terrible, and that everyone in your life is actually making fun of you behind your back. Turn down the volume on that voice.
Celebrate the glimpses of greatness. Have a storyline come together? A witty dialogue that makes you smile? A phrase or description that came to you in just the right moment? Be proud of those simple things. Sometimes stopping to acknowledge a little something gone right will help you to ignore the other 1500 painful words you wrote. Or the laundry piling up. Or the strange smell coming from your fridge.
Read the pep talks that arrive in your inbox. If you’re official with NaNoWriMo, they’ll send you regular pep talks from real deal authors- and they’re legit, my friend. Some of these authors tried this very experiment and have lived (and published) to tell the tale.
Take yourself seriously without taking your story too seriously. The goal is the quantity of words produced in such a short time. Give yourself the space to hit the goal, but don’t add the pressure for those words to be reader ready by the end. Let your main characters wander and grow and make decisions that are completely unsupported by their backstory. It’s OK. Really. It is.
Be open to what your novel wants to teach you. You may find that the greatest victory of the whole endeavor is learning that you actually don’t have a novel to write. Maybe you’ll discover that you don’t enjoy creating fiction. Or perhaps some things will clarify for you about why or when or what it really means for you to write. How do you push through? What time of day works best? Who are the people in your life who really get it and support you? Those are things that your novel can teach you if you let it.
Prepare yourself for the harsh reality that you might become addicted. You may think you only signed up for a month of this, but then this main character gets into your head and suddenly this novel is nowhere near done. It’s only fair to warn you that the art and craft of storytelling is a complicated hobby rife with writer’s block, endless decisions, and rejection letters. (I mean, who in their right mind pursues an interest where you pour out your soul, send it to strangers, and then they send you rejection letters? Why is anybody doing this?)
The reality is this: in this crazy month of pounding out words each day, you may find that writing a novel brings you joy. That you make more sense when you’re writing. That the every day of life is tamed a bit by the words you give to a story. And if you have the courage to admit that you can’t not write, then you’ll be glad you set out on this NaNoWriMo journey. You’ll thank this horrible first novel for waking you up, and then you’ll start the hard work of doing it all again.
Will I participate for NaNoWriMo this year? I’ve been there done that. I logged the hours, cringed at the writing, and came out at the other end knowing a bit more about story and a lot more about myself.
Happy writing, friends.
Read the two previous posts in this blog series here.
BY BECKY SWANBERG, AUTHOR AND EMOON TEAM MEMBER
If you were preparing to host a dinner, maybe you’d research recipes, carefully curate the menu, and then make a detailed shopping list. You’d head to the store with the list in hand and buy exactly what was needed. Then, with all these specific ingredients, you’d come home, follow directions, measure carefully, and execute. Nicely done!
Or perhaps you prefer to go the store and see what strikes your fancy. I mean, you have a leaning towards beef, but if you get to the meat section and the pork tenderloin is calling your name- you go with it. Toss in some veggies, a carb or two, and a surprising dessert. Then you head home, excited for the mystery of how this will all turn out.
Whether you cook more with your head or your heart, there’s an ease to it that makes sense with who you are and how you’re wired. The same goes for writing your novel.
I first stumbled across the idea of the two writing personalities while watching a writing class on YouTube. The professor was talking about a writer’s natural bent toward the craft, referring to the two ends of the spectrum as gardeners and architects (often called pantsers and plotters).
Like most of my experiences with personality types, I found myself surprised how well a simple descriptor could make me aware of things I could only vaguely sense about myself. I was in the midst of writing my first novel, and my husband kept asking me questions about the villain and the ending and the fate of the characters.
“I don’t know!” I would answer, frustrated that he was trying to pin me down.
“Of course, you know,” my husband would reply. “You have to know. You’re the author!”
But what I couldn’t quite explain was this subtle feeling that though I was typing the words of this novel, I wasn’t really steering the ship. The story felt to me like it wanted to tell itself. I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized that this was a common feeling among writers. I wasn’t a psycho; I was a gardener.
Like all personality types, there certainly is room for people to have a bit of both or fall right in the middle, but as I read about the craft and talk to other writers, most people have a strong sense of being one or the other.
Architect vs. Gardener
Writers who see themselves as “architects” tend to write best with a plan. They outline. They timeline. They pre-write with gusto. These writers find that the outline frees them, the work done ahead makes the words come more clearly, and the work done long before they start chapter 1 helps them write most efficiently. Self-proclaimed architects include J.K Rowling, Brandon Sanderson, and John Grisham.
In contrast, “gardeners” are writers who see the process as more of a winding road than a step-by-step process. These writers are more likely to start with an idea, water it (add words and chapters), and then watch it grow. Gardeners do not generally plan a story as much as they discover the story along the way. This doesn’t mean that gardeners don’t think about it ahead of time or do some character development before starting chapter 1--they may. However, the storyline itself is generally more fluid and open to possibility. Famous gardeners include Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, and George R.R. Martin.
And what does this have to do with NaNoWriMo?
As you set out to tackle a novel, understanding your writing temperament can help you prepare and execute more effectively.
If you’re an architect, you’ll want to spend some time considering your characters, the major scenes, and overall plot progression of your book. You might find it helpful to make some decisions right away: genre, setting, main characters, central conflict, and the point of view that will serve your story best. How will the story open? What do your characters want? What challenges will they face? How will those challenges be resolved?
Gardeners are more inclined to think about the feel and growth of their story. Are you drawn to a certain voice or setting? Why? What could you add to those elements to create more pieces of this story? Write a short descriptive paragraph about your main character waking up for the day. Did you write in first or third person? Did it help establish voice? Most gardeners who write efficiently say they will try to nail down a general story outline- not a road map but at least a destination for their story. A list of scenes or possible challenges for your main character may help you focus when you come to a wall, when that story seems like it stops growing for awhile.
With National Novel Writing Month just two weeks away, the time for prepping those novels is right now. Hopefully, these tips will help you prepare in a way that is helpful as you sit down each day and tackle that wordcount goal.
Wait- what if you don’t know if you’re a gardener or an architect? I don’t know any magic secrets to figuring that out, but here’s a surefire way: try to write a novel, and I think you will quickly know.
Up for the challenge? Two weeks and counting until NaNoWriMo kicks off. This could be the year of discovering not only your novel ambitions but also what kind of writer you are.
Join us this week and throughout the month for a chance to win Mike's book Your Brand is Your Calling: Build a Personal Brand to Reflect and Connect.
All you have to do is either contact us using our website form or "Share" and "Like" our posts on FB, Instgram or Twitter to be entered to win.
Best of luck!
Allow us to introduce Mike Loomis. Mike is a friend of EMoon and possesses vast knowledge on the topic of branding. He helps people launch their dream projects and books. Since starting and selling two businesses, he has been strategic partner to best-selling authors, non-profits, publishers as well as startups, and aspiring messengers.
And he will share a snippet with us during the month of June.
by Mike Loomis--author, ghostwriter, branding extraordinaire
“Branding” has become a buzzword. The term has been misused and distorted, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss the concept. Branding is a force for personal expression and influence.
What is a brand?
One of my favorite definitions of a brand is from Seth Godin:
A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. Design is essential but design is not brand.
Here’s what branding is not:
Branding is not trying to please the masses, as in, “How can we be more relevant to this demographic?” or, “I need a cool logo.” Branding is not aspiring to a trendy vision to grab market share. This is fake, outside-driven, and gives branding a bad name.
My definition of personal branding is: The public expression of your calling.
Let the simplicity of that definition sink in.
The goal is to be intentional when creating your brand in the age we live in. One hundred years ago, if you were a boot maker, the sign outside your shop would have probably been a huge image of a boot.
You love to make boots.
I want new boots.
I see your sign, and walk in!
Simple, right? Clearly defining what you offer, in a unique way is the essence of personal branding.
Two keys for a powerful brand - You must be both:
1 – Authentic
2 – Persuasive
Most brands are one or the other. For example: “A blog about my life” may be authentic and true, but will anyone be interested?
Or: “The most amazing keynote speaker on the planet” might sound persuasive, but is it authentic?
A purely factual approach to branding will probably be boring. Hype that’s not grounded in truth will fizzle. An influential brand must be 100% Authentic and 100% persuasive. It’s possible, and essential, to express both.
Mike Loomis helps people launch their dream projects and books. Since starting and selling two businesses, he has been strategic partner to bestselling authors, non-profits, publishers as well as startups, and aspiring messengers. He and his wife live in the mountains of Colorado with their pet moose. www.MikeLoomis.CO.
In 2016, almost half a million people on six continents joined the writing movement called National Novel Writing Month. This non-profit (often referred to as NaNoWriMo) is an online community that recruits, supports, and celebrates writers as they attempt to pen 50,000 words in the thirty days of November. Volunteers can use the NaNoWriMo website to mobilize their local participants and schedule kick-off events, writing nights, and other activities along the way. And on those hard days when the word count is lagging and motivation ebbs, participants receive emails from famous authors who cheer them on from the sidelines.
by Laree Lindburg, owner/manager Electric Moon Publishing, LLC and Signal Speakers
Do you ever feel different, out-of-place, odd? Possibly you have felt as though you didn’t fit in with the crowd? The thing is, we are all different and made to be just that—unique and one-of-a-kind. But often times we don’t embrace this truth about who and how God has created us. Instead, we insist on being the same. Cookie-cutter. Common.
Carey Scott’s newest book Uncommon: Living a Life of Purpose and Pursuit takes the reader on an explorative journey. Using actual examples from Scripture, Carey builds a case that those of us who feel different are actually supposed to feel exactly so because we are meant to be uncommon—and in God’s point-of-view it’s all good.
Being uncommon contradicts the world. The world insists we stay in our weakness and worry dependent upon nothing or no one but ourselves. This leads to sure and steady failure. Which is exactly what the world wants! To be uncommon is to lift up our eyes to the mountains where our help comes from the Lord the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121: 1,2).
We can and should be uncommon in the areas of courage, forgiveness, generosity, obedience, leadership and more. “Fear is a virus,” Carey writes on page 38, “that spreads, and so often it’s what keeps us from choosing the uncommon way.” On page 47 she continues. “But regardless, having the uncommon courage to overcome fears and live different than the status quo takes guts and grit. And God.”
Uh, does anybody else feel like Carey just jumped into your head with a notepad and pencil, wrote down your inner thoughts then published them? And that, friends, is who Carey Scott is. A wife, mother, writer, speaker, and child of the Most High God who does not mince words. She loves Jesus. Studies the Bible because she longs to know her Creator. She’s genuine—the real deal in a world of plastic pretenders. She is uncommon.
And I think I’d like to join her.
This post was inspired by the book Uncommon: Living a Life of Purpose and Pursuit by Carey Scott. You can learn more about the book and order at http://careyscott.org/uncommon/.
By Laree Lindburg, owner of Emoon
In life, one thing we rarely lack are questions. What time is it? When is dinner? How long until we get there? When will my show come onto Netflix?
Book publishing tends to add to the mishmash. One inquiry, in particular, pops up more often than most:
- What is the difference between the various types of publishing?
Solid question. How do traditional publishing, self-publishing, indie publishing, and hybrid publishing differ? Which is best for you? Are some just like others only with varied names? My explanation may be slightly different than most given that the world of publishing has evolved more in the last decade+ than other industries. Definitions are constantly being redefined. Mediums are weekly being invented.
All that said, here goes!
The most common of the lot of publishing is traditional. These are your long-standing, old school publishing houses like the "Big Five:" Simon & Schuster, Macmillian, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, and Hachette Book Group. These dinosaurs are the Mt. Everest; many wish to summit. Some attempt. Fewer succeed. Traditional pubs offer contracts where the author's work is 'owned' by the house. Royalties go through the house and a hefty cut is taken before a quarterly/yearly check is sent to the author. Occasionally, though rarely anymore, authors are offered an advance against royalties. A typical traditional house will take 1-2 years to release a book. They market and promote their titles although reports from less famous authors tell me these publishing houses are putting most of their marketing dollars in their "A" list author baskets, leaving those with smaller, less Hollywood platforms to fend for themselves.
Due to the rampant changes in the publishing industry today, traditional publishers are beginning to offer alternative models, such as self-publishing . . .
Self-publishers traditionally require authors to purchase X number of copies in order to print their book. They care little or none for quality and content. They are not evil but serve their own purpose for larger quantity orders on titles that have already been proven or edited, or the occasional person who simply wants to see their book in print. The author pays for production.
Independent publishers work with indie authors (those who have decided to take the destiny of their book into their own hands) and help them from start to finish produce their book for the reading population. No quantity requirements. This can often be a cold interaction as many indie publishers do not work closely with authors but require them to do much online--independently. The author pays for production. This option is great for those who know their marketing strategy and already have a platform in place. Individuals who have a following, a going business or ministry and simply need a place to print paperbacks to sell at merch tables during speaking events can find this option financially beneficial.
Hybrid is a newer publishing model, which also has the most fluid definition. Hybrid publishing can be one of a very personal experience between author and publisher. Each are invested and want to see success for the title. Sometimes the publisher charges a fee per project (and retains no rights or royalties) and other times the publisher and author discuss options for payment such as a smaller fee with agreement to share royalties of book sales. This model of publishing is suited well for those who tend toward indie publishing, but who also would like a little more guidance. Indie publishing can be more involved and time consuming for the author, whereas a hybrid publisher shoulders the burden with the author.
Which model is Emoon?
Emoon's publishing model is hybrid and a bit independent. If you have had a chance to check out our website, you will notice we offer many services. Anyone can come and ask us for just one of those services, say, a cover design or an edit, and we will happily do so. No obligation to publish through us. We also work one-on-one with authors who desire to tackle the entire publishing package, i.e. cover, interior layout, editing, e-book pub, paperback publishing, distribution, and marketing. This does cost a fee (we do not offer a royalties sharing option), yet the author retains all of the rights and royalties to their work.
And Emoon sticks around to help them succeed. We are like a personal assistant to the indie author. Emoon markets books that we help along the publishing road by posting notices on our social media outlets and offering giveaways and marketing exchanges. We can also create a sales sheet to promote the author's work and will design custom banners for book signings. These amenities are included in full packages contracts, and can also be contracted a la carte.
All that said, Emoon does not accept just any author's manuscript like a self-publisher. The authors we work with us must prove their title of a high enough quality and meet other publishing requirements before we will agree to go into contract as their publishing partner.
I hope this helped you navigate the murky waters of publishing a bit better. If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to contact us through our website or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy weekend to you!
Kevin Shoemaker published his first novel in 2015 through Electric Moon Publishing. Walk This Way, Walk His Way; Effectiveness Through the Greatest Commandment is a non-fiction biblical narrative encouraging Christians to live in the freedom and power of Jesus Christ. We will go more into that another day, today we would like to get to know Kevin.
Kevin attended Iowa State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. While attending ISU, he met his now wife Barb, on a blind date. They have created a beautiful grown family in Omaha, NE.
Through the writing process of Walk This Way, Kevin began a passion for a company that could nurture and grow the journey all Christians have started. And so was birthed Maker Ministries, an organization whose goal is to develop effective disciples of Jesus Christ. Kevin’s greatest want is to help people live freely in their faith. His answer to the debacle that many Christians encounter is in the Greatest Commandments:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34 NASB).
“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31 NASB).
Through his novel, Kevin teaches us what exactly these two verses imply, and how to go about implementing them in our daily lives. He makes convincing and encouraging connections for new and aged Christians on what our walks are missing.
Walk This Way, Walk His Way is a great start on a deeper journey to becoming more Christ-like; every day and in every way. A study guide to the novel will be released this summer for bible study groups and individual studies.
By Jeannie McPherson, Emoon author
Have you heard the story about St. Peter closing certain doors in heaven, at least those labeled” missed opportunities”? It seems the new resident to heaven did not pay much attention to the earthly nudges God was sending his way.
I’ve heard many St. Peter jokes, but this one touched my heart when it was shared in church. My pastor asked, “How many doors has God opened and how often have you turned away due to excuses like time, resources, or skill?” Previous to this sermon, I gave momentary thought to offering to be a lay servant in an effort to give Pastor a long-needed break. It likely was not just a coincidence in timing.
Was God nudging me, yet again?
I casually acknowledged my willingness to the pastor, thinking he really would not take me up on the idea. And, for Pete’s sake, he did. What I discovered is writing a sermon is like writing a good story. And, I see myself as a good story writer.
The Christmas following 9/11, I included a short story in my holiday cards about Olivia, a dove, who kept watch over the manger the night of Jesus’ birth. She represented the peace that only Jesus can bring to us individually and globally. It was written with the plea, “peace begins with me.”
The comments from friends were positive. The next Christmas I wrote another story, different animal, different characteristic. Eventually a pattern emerged and I began intertwining the animal characters with one of the Fruits of the Spirit. My real horse, Charlie, a very big horse, is also called a Gentle Giant (English Shire). He represents gentleness. Max and Maggie, Labrador dogs, were faithful until their call to eternity. Eventually I had nine stories written about nine animals and nine fruits found in Galatians 5:22.
Periodically, I would feel a nudge to compile a child’s book with illustrations. I considered self-publishing, but ran into roadblock after roadblock finding an illustrator. The nudge grew stronger when I began attending Christian Writer’s Conferences, where I met Electric Moon Publishing.
Even during life stressors, the staff have been there to encourage, give me hope, andwait patiently (one of the short story titles) until I was financially and emotionally ready to put one foot in front of the other. Even though I had been warned by other authors, I became bent out of shape by the editing process and have come to believe it is an expectation in the publishing world.
I’ve given this project over to the Lord to do something good with it. He owns it. I am only the messenger. This means letting Emoon take leadership when I could not. If all goes well, I will contribute at least half of the order to churches in high-poverty areas, where few children own even one book. The remaining first publish run will also be used to serve Jesus, in programs like Samaritan’s Purses’ Operation Christmas Child. Though only published in English, the illustrations can be understood in multiple languages.
I don’t know what other earthly “opportunity” doors will open, but Luke 11:9 “….knock and the door will be opened to you” (NIV) is my guide. From the Sunday I heard the St. Peter story, I made a vow there will be few missed-opportunity doors when I enter heaven. Instead of looking at a project as work, I try really hard to look at it as a blessing
The title is still a mystery, even to myself. If any ideas, please give a shout-out!!!
By Jeannie McPherson, EMoon Author
With dreams, come nightmares. Not that we necessarily want them, realistically they happen. When God nudges us toward and through our dreams, we celebrate and express thankfulness. After many decades, I realize God also nudges through nightmares. After all, I don’t do a very good job thanking God when life is difficult.
Test-taking was not just figuratively a nightmare for my young self, I had nightmares about the real thing. Writing was my academic salvation and more than once my letter grade went from a B to an A or even a C to a B when essays were a major component of a course. My first college English class was a disaster and no number of nudges were going to help me learn grammar, in all its confusing glory. In other academic areas, professors liked my unique way of expressing thoughts, facts, opinions, or positions. But, I still struggled through test taking.
My first graduate class required writing an essay question on why I would be a good school principal. In no fewer than 10 rewrites, I shared my story precisely, concisely, and convincingly, to the extent the professor wrote, “You need to write and publish.” Writing was again the easy part. In my career, I was typically successful writing grants, memos, and emails. In my personal life, I wrote Christmas letters and short stories and dabbled with a few manuscripts, but the word publish was as scary as test taking and nightmares. The word written on a note card was just… a nudge a long time ago.
I found my career path, and soon started a family. I had fulfilled all the dreams I had conjured up, except for one; becoming a published writer. Retirement brought new opportunities but nothing that pushed me to attempt to concur the publishing world. For fun, I took a week-long writing class with a published author at my alma mater, the University of Nebraska. The writing I submitted brought me more positive compliments and assignments, like “write every day at least 550 words.” We discussed how to get an editor’s attention, thoughts on self-publishing, and lots of “stick with it, you can do it.” All these were nudges, but apparently, these were not enough to fulfill the dream of holding a book with the author’s name, Rogene McPherson.
In April 2015, God connected me with Rebecca, also a writer and survivor of personal tragedy. The complexity of this meeting could have only been organized by God and His angels. This nudge was not subtle. God definitely sent me a message that day. Then only a year later, God was at work, again at Christian Writer’s Conference in Omaha, when I met Laree Lindburg and her sister Erin with Electric Moon Publishing. I was immediately impressed by what Emoon could offer me:
- Wide basis of technology without my becoming a techie, a valuable asset in the writing world
- Multitude of services provided by Christian sisters including an editor and illustrator
- Consistent support even when the proverbial nightmares interfered
- Honest and educationally sound support when needed
I better stop before I sound like a marketing expert trying to get a job. I really only want to write. All of the Emoon Team providing the support indicated above have been like a gentle nudge. God in my world has a new name, Master Nudger.
By Jeannie McPherson, eMoon author
Dreams often begin with a nudge. One of my little pushes came during an eleventh grade English. It was likely a beautiful day outside, probably February, and one of the first signs spring was just around the corner. It was 1967, nearly 50 years ago. Some details have become vague, but the important parts are as vivid as if it happened yesterday.
One particular student had been giving the English teacher as much grief as anyone should tolerate in one day. Just before the teacher’s meltdown, the teacher gave all of us an extra assignment. I remember in my angst, going to the library, randomly choosing one of the 20 volumes in that year’s annual encyclopedia set. I flipped through a book and read the first page I came upon to get a possible idea for an essay topic. It must have been the “L” volume because I wrote an essay on one of Abraham Lincoln’s pearls of wisdom.
The topic I chose was how to react when all suffer the consequences of someone’s poor choice(s). My writing strength is to take a topic and figure out how to write a manuscript to fit the need. At sixteen, this strength was the last thing on my mind. It was truly just my reaction to the teacher’s unfair discipline of one student. With my father on the school board, I knew better than to be outwardly disrespectful. So, I created a respectful and convincing essay.
I received an A , but the relevancy is the recognition I could write to express my feelings. This is how I have often problem-solved difficult situations. At a minimum, writing has become an acceptable alternative to yelling. Has it always worked? No, but writing has likely made me a better person emotionally.
That same disruptive student died in a car accident a few years after graduation. He knew nothing of my frustration nor my gratitude for this experience. I wish I could tell him how the Lord gave me some adult-life tools to cope with what was just the beginning of a life of trials, temptations, and tests. I wish I could thank him for what he didn’t know he had done for me.
Fast-forward to 2008. It was Memorial Day weekend and the 40th anniversary of our class graduation. It was a simple gesture, but I placed a bouquet of flowers on his gravesite. I was still alive to honor those who need to be understood, to make something beautiful out of frustration, and most of all, glorify God in everything. Did God nudge me to buy the flowers? I know the answer.
Now, I dream of the day I can officially call myself a published writer. I am counting the nudges I have had to make this dream come true. God is good. His nudges are gentle and kind.
By Moira Murphy, Emoon Author
There will come a time when you have to just… let go. Let go of your manuscript in more ways than one. I say that like it’s an easy thing to do, which I can attest that it is not. After a second round of beta readers (if you so choose) and many, many editing sessions late at night, you have to come to a consensus with yourself that it’s time to be done. I came to this point last week. I did my final rounds of skimming the pages, searching for any changes it should need, and had a feeling of completion.
“I’m done.” I thought to myself. A year and a half after my little adventure began, I was finished. Can this be? Surely, there must be something I’ve missed or an improvement to make. Well, there probably is, but I think there will always be something to add or take away or change, and as an author you have to end it at some point. Your book will never be perfect—to you. I can assure you that even the greatest of writers, will take a look at their already published work and see something that could have made it better. That thought will never leave, years and years of rewrites will not change that.
After staring at Wiklow for over a year, it’s almost as if I can’t see what needs changing anymore. Even a simple comma or period escapes my eyes; I am blind to my own book. The story is complete and perfect in my head, but making the words equate to my imagination is impossible. All I can do is my best, and that is far from perfect.
So, last week I sent my manuscript off to the editors after an internal monologue of—what if I change that one part? I should switch the ending. That character needs more developing, etc. But, I came to a point where I knew I could do no more. I became blind to my own work. Therefore, I knew it was time to send it off to capable hands.
I want to thank you all for listening to me rant about the publishing process on Emoon’s website this last month or so. It’s been helpful to me and I hope it’s been helpful to you, too.
By Moira Murphy, Emoon Author
After you have decided on what to keep and what to ignore from your beta readers, the next step presents itself.
Do you use a second round of beta readers?
Well, I suppose that would depend upon how much changed from the first draft to the second draft. For example, if the corrections you made were minuscule, then I’d suggest that your editor could probably finish off the last few steps. However, if the changes from the first to the second draft were a bit more drastic, you may want to consider finding a second round of beta readers. As for myself, the changes from my original manuscript to my second was beyond drastic, therefore I required a round two. I changed the characters, part of the plot, and even the storyline.
So, if you find yourself in my position of needing a second go around with the beta readers, the question becomes; do you use the same group or find ‘fresh meat’? I feel like you can find out quite a bit about the beta readers editing style from the first round. Using that information will help determine whether a change is required. I kept two of the original beta readers, because of their beneficial comments the first round, but I also hired a few new ones. It really is up to you to determine who offered up valuable feedback, and sadly who did not. And again, I must repeat the importance of finding the right type of person to read your manuscript: fan of your genre, ability to be firm and kind, willing to be bribed. The right beta reader can be the one thing to perfect your novel.
I’ve just received the final comments from my round two, and while the critiques were much scarcer than the first novel, I am struggling to finish!
After working over a year and a half on this dang book, the last few weeks have been the most difficult to push through. But, now that I have a book launch date (*cough* May 6th *cough*), I kind of have to forge ahead.
So persist, I must. And you must, too.
By Moira Murphy, Emoon Author
My Dad had a saying growing up, "Opinions are like butts; everyone has one, but that doesn't mean I want to hear it." Wow, Dad, thanks for that philosophy to carry with me. Sadly, it has stuck around into my adult life.
However (number one), it didn't leave me with the traumatizing fear of flatulence that you'd think it would leave me with. I actually use it when it comes to beta readers. Yes, every one of my beta readers is entitled to their thoughts—I mean—I did ask them for it. But that doesn't mean I have to change my work based upon every single personal feeling.
There is always the creative license that writers have, it is your book, and ultimately your freedom to choose what ends up in the final work. If you choose to publish indie, as I am, it is you that has to feel content with the printed novel, so if you don't see eye to eye with all of your beta readers—that's okay. They aren't the ones who will have to look back at their novel in twenty years and wonder "what if I had left the book the way I wanted, would it have sold more copies? Would it have gotten better reviews?" That's you that has to deal with those crushing thoughts.
So, please be sure you agree with all the changes that are happening to your book.
However (number two), you did hire these people. And if you read my article about how important it is to choose beta readers wisely, they do know what they are taking about. The main thing I consider when reviewing beta readers’ comments and critiques is whether there was a common theme among them. Did they all say the same thing about the same part in the book? If so, then it is something you should STRONGLY consider altering.
I'm on my second round of beta readers now (which we will talk about next week), and I already have two of the beta readers’ comments back, and between the two of them there was only one commonality. So, now I need to take it upon myself to decide whether that part of the book they mentioned is something I need to change.
It's a hard thing to decide whether a few readers or your creative license is the route to take. My advice—which I should take right now—is to wait to hear back from all the beta readers before making a decision.
*GULP* I'll try, if you try.
by Moira Murphy, eMoon Author
So, now you’ve received your feedback from the beta readers. Visualize it. You are sitting in your favorite green reading chair, okay so that might be just me… anyway, you’re sitting in your favorite reading spot. You have compiled all of the comments and critiques into a handy dandy manila folder.
Take a deep breath.
Hold it in.
Now before you open that folder, I must warn you: you can never be fully prepared for comments on your work. You may think you are, but I promise, you are not. It’s going to hurt, even if the majority of the comments are positive, just one of the negative comments can destroy you. As mentioned in the previous blog; to creative types, our art is our soul. It is at our core, the deepest parts of our psyche, a part of us. More than that; it IS us. And when someone has the slightest of constructive criticisms, it’s salt in the wound we didn’t know we had.
Okay, open the folder.
In my folder, I received all sorts of feedback; not in depth enough, too knit picky, just not into the genre, loved it, hated it, didn’t even bother to read it at all, etc. I got one of each, and the most helpful beta reader came from the person I was hesitant to ask.
We will call her… Sarah. Sarah is a very nice, very kind, good friend of mine. She loves to read, especially fiction. My one concern with Sarah is that she wouldn’t be able to be mean if necessary. After all, she didn’t have the smallest of mean bones in her body. Surprisingly, Sarah gave me the best feedback out of the group. She stayed away from grammar and punctuation edits, and gave me helpful suggestions, rather than offering unhelpful “this doesn’t work” comments. She went in-depth enough, yet she was kind in her criticisms. She had sticky notes, high lighter and red pen marks; it was ominous… and great!
I think the most helpful part of the whole experience was the physical meeting I had with a few of the beta readers. Being able to have a conversation about the manuscript was productive. Doing so helped to bring questions to ask them to my mind. I was able to examine the queries I had been wondering myself, but was too afraid to confront.
Being that open with someone, in person, about a piece of myself was absolutely terrifying and yet, so liberating and beneficial.
Who needs a therapist when you have beta readers critiquing the physical copy of your life?
By Moira Murphy, emoon author
Now that I’ve discussed the advantages of beta readers, and how great it is for writers, let’s discuss how to find beta readers. I was not going to simply stumble upon the perfect group of beta readers. Of course, it couldn’t be that simple. First, I had to create an internal checklist of qualities I’d appreciate in readers.
- They must have a love of reading, and a love of the author’s specific genre. (I learned this along the way, as I mistakenly chose a beta reader who was not a fan of fictional works. He made me cry.)
- They must understand that, while I don’t want them to be completely aggressive, I do actually need criticism. I need to know what didn’t connect in the story and what characters didn’t seem authentic.
- But, they also don’t need to crush my soul. I need constructive criticism, not to be beaten to the ground with every comma I forgot. We call it a ‘content edit’ in the publishing world. I want an edit that is not about grammar and punctuation, but about plot, characters, and flow. And as the author, you need to make that fact known to the beta readers.
- Lastly, they had to work for cheap, close to free. Which sounds greedy and mean, but I haven’t become a world-wide success, yet. I need to publish first. (It’s a joke. I’m not a narcissist. Calm down.)
So, I began my quest for proper beta readers.
I found a few beta readers from work and family friends, and I also asked two previous teachers I’d had. I expected an excited ‘yes!’ from everyone I asked. However, I did not receive these. Truth be told, I was asking a good chunk of time out of their lives to read and critique my manuscript. Hence, the bribery. I used Starbucks gift cards for a few of them, promises of signed copies of the final product for others, but for the most part those I asked were kind enough to offer their services as an effort to benefit the world of arts. They knew I was a poor starving artist, with nothing more than hope in my wallet and a pencil in hand, as most people who pursue their artistic dreams are.
While I was disappointed that I didn’t hear an adamant “of course I will take time out of my busy life to help you perfect your craft” from everyone, those that did answer were very helpful. I talked about how great beta readers were in the part one of this blog, so I won’t go into it again. However, I do want to reiterate how important this experience is for those looking to publish.
I can’t say give enough positive feedback on the benefits of beta readers… Do it. Do it. Seriously, do it. Do it.
Continue to follow Moira Murphy through eMoon in her series "Beta Readers Love Me; They Love Me Not" on 1/13/2017: What Do You Do with Beta Reader Feedback?
By Moira Murphy, eMoon author
I had no trouble deciding that I wanted to publish with Electric Moon Publishing, LLC., what I did have trouble with was when Laree told me it might be a good idea to find some beta readers. For those of you who aren’t familiar with that terminology, a beta reader is someone who reads an authors’ manuscript before they move along with publishing. The idea is to get the opinions and thoughts of a third party reader before the final steps of publishing. While this idea may not seem utterly terrifying to those who have yet to publish, let me tell you, as an author, it is.
Yes, I knew people would be reading my book, and I knew that some of them may not enjoy it as much as I hoped they would. Heck! Maybe, no one would like it! But, the idea of having to hear their comments, their dislikes, and their critiques on each of my pages was close to unbearable. I told Laree, ‘no!’ with a scoff. At least if they didn’t like it after publishing I wouldn’t know about it; I could avoid commentary on social media and I’d be perfectly content without reading the Amazon Reviews. But to see that dislike head on; that I could not handle.
But, Laree persisted. She promised me that it would be beneficial to my writing process; that it would change my book for the better. She promised that it would give me a point of view that I couldn’t see in my own writing. I caved. I hired five beta readers and lived in pure agony for a week while I awaited their critiques. I waited by the computer, staring at my inbox, praying that one of them would get done early. And at the same time I prayed that they wouldn’t finish at all; could I handle the criticisms?
The truth is, Laree was right. I couldn’t believe it, and I’m reluctant to admit it, but everything she promised happened. While, I didn’t agree with all of the beta readers, for the most part it showed me aspects, storylines, and character developments that I had missed. It is so difficult to completely delve into every aspect of a piece of writing you’ve been working on for over a year. Your eyes begin to skim the pages, and you become numb to what it may be missing--because the story is alive in your head. The characters are real people in your mind; with personalities and quirks. The plot has depth and is woven perfectly together in your mind, the question is: did those characters and that plot translate to your pages? Because, as creative people, our imaginations tend to be extravagant and magical. However, with this amazing gift, it becomes horribly difficult to show other people what we see in our minds’ eye. It is our curse. And my beta readers helped me to see what I had difficulty translating to the page.
So, to Laree; thank you for gently shoving me out of my comfort zone. And to authors at any stage in writing; I whole-heartedly encourage you find a few beta readers. It is so worth it to get another pair of eyes on to your work.
Look for Electric Moon’s next blog post by Moira Murphy in her series "Beta Readers Love Me; They Love Me Not" on 12/30/2016: Bribing…err…Finding Beta Readers.