Publishing with Lulu

Lulu is a self-publishing company. Anyone can use this service and this is where I have a problem with self-publishing. If anyone can use it, then there are bound to be badly written books out there. Let’s be honest, it’s a fact that there are.

But…if a book is badly written, or if there is no storyline, or if the characters are two dimensional, then readers will quickly avoid anything else written by that author. They would have wasted precious money on buying the book, and most people don’t like that. Even if a real gem, written by that author, is released many years down the track it can easily be swept aside and ignored (even if it is published by a mainstream publisher). Once bitten, twice shy. This is a risk writers face when self-publishing.

On the other hand, good writers have been noticed through self-publishing. Some writers have made a name for themselves and sold thousands of books. They are often approached by a main stream publisher for publication of the second or third print.

And let’s face it, just because a book is published through main stream doesn’t automatically make it a good book. How many books have you bought that you thought were a waste of money? It happens far too often.

For me, as a writer, I dream of being contacted by a publisher who is excited about my writing, and wants to publish the book. That would be the ultimate moment for me, followed closely by the first time I walk into a book store and see my book on the shelf.

*Day dreams for a few minutes.*

As writers we think all that needs to be done is to write the story, but there is so much more to do. So many other decisions to be made. Writing is NOT easy, no matter what the woman next door thinks, or what your parents/partner might say.

I’ve always believed that for me the only way to go is main stream. I still believe this to a large degree, although I do think that things in the publishing industry will change in the future. However, I’ve recently found myself wanting to know more about self-publishing, wanting to experience it. How can I run something down that I’ve never tried?

And it is for this reason that I’m considering a new project for Scribe’s next year. The anthologies of past did not work out the way I had planned. That’s fine, I learned a lot from those projects. It’s just a pity that I couldn’t manage to get the stories published. Next year, the anthology will be different – completely different – but I’ll share that news at the appropriate time.

For now, if you have thought about self-publishing, but know nothing about it. Deborah Woehr is writing posts on her experience with publishing with Lulu. The first post, Self-Publishing through Lulu: The First Step in Creating Your Book gives tips on getting started. This post is followed by many others. I’m positive you’ll find the series interesting to read.

First Rights

This is a promise the manuscript has not previously been published anywhere, through any media. Often this might read First Australian Rights, or First UK Rights and so on, which means that the work has not been published within the specified country or area before. Once you have sold a manuscript’s first rights in one location it is possible to go on and sell them to other areas, but not in the same area again.

Manuscript Format

Benjamin Solah brought this website to my attention. It’s called William Shunn : Manuscript Format : Short Story and is naturally telling us how to format our manuscripts.

I’ve read through the page and agree totally with what he says. Do yourself a favour, if you want to be a professional, learn to set out your manuscript correctly from the beginning. This site will tell you how, and show you how, so you have no excuses. To do anything different to what is said, is only tossing chances away.

Australian Writers’ Centres

Your local writers’ centre can be a useful resource. Not only can you find like minded people to talk to (if you live close enough to visit in person), but most centres also have a library, an assortment of workshops, regular talks by published writers and they can even provide advice on contracts, agents, and publishers.

Becoming a member means that you have something you can add to your writer’s resume too (which never goes astray).

Below, you will find links to a number of Australian centres, with a short blurb from the appropriate website.

ACT Writers Centre
The ACT Writers Centre has a Meeting Room available free for use by members and a computer, printer, fax and photocopier available for use by members. We have a growing library of books about writing and by writers. We also sell books by members on consignment. The noticeboards are full of information about publishing, competitions, writers’ rights, and writing courses.

Central West Writers’ Centre
The Central West Writers’ Centre provides development and promotion services for literary activity in rural Australia in the Central West of New South Wales.

NSW Writers’ Centre
The Centre offers literary resources and professional information to established and aspiring writers of all kinds. It provides a spacious venue for events such as book launches, readings, literary evenings and lectures as well as meeting spaces for writers’ groups and literary organisations.

NT Writers’ Centre
The Centre offers a range of activities and services for writers including workshops, literary events, manuscript appraisal, a regular newsletter, special projects and an annual writers’ festival.

Queensland Writers’ Centre
Provides writing tips and resources, advice on handling rejection and rates of pay, details for workshops, seminars, competitions and much more.

SA Writers’ Centre
The Centre acts as a resource centre for writers of all ages and experiences. They focus on writing activities and work with a wide range of organisations to promote and encourage writers and literature in society.

Tasmanian Writers’ Centre
The Tasmanian Writers’ Centre supports numerous initiatives that promote Tasmanian’s appreciation of literature. These include workshops, residencies and mentorships for Tasmanian writers, as well as providing professional advice to TWC members.

Victorian Writers’ Centre
The Victorian Writers’ Centre is dedicated to nurturing and promoting the diverse writing culture in Victoria. As the leading provider of information, resources and skills development, the VWC connects and supports writers and writing within the broader communities throughout Victoria.

Set Out Your Manuscript Correctly

Thanks goes to Yzabel for sharing a link to Joe Konrath’s A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. Although the other posts are informative too, the post I’ve link to struck a cord.

Unlike Joe, I have never tried to work my way through 2000+ short stories trying to find “winners” (the mere thought makes me shudder), but I have judged 25 or so stories twice. The numbers do not compare, but it made me see that people do not follow simple instructions and are not professional in their submissions.

I did read the stories from first word to last, but some of them really got my blood boiling. One even made me want to turn violent and through something against the wall, it was so drawn out and boring.

It’s because of this that I can agree 100% with what Joe has said. Put in the same situation – remember, editors received hundreds of submissions a week – wouldn’t you find quick ways to get through the pile? I guarantee that you would.

No, it’s not entirely fair, because one of those stories might be a gem. That’s a shame, but the author of that story will hopefully learn the correct way to set out their manuscript. Being professional at all times is a must. Without it, you’ll never find your way off the dung heap.

The Rule of 12

This is something I’m seeing more and more – the rule of 12. In the last week, I’ve seen words to this effect on several websites, and once in a book I picked up at the library, and now I’m going to put them here.

Serious writers will have several submissions out at all times. This sounds really difficult but it means that you have to keep writing. Don’t write one manuscript only and think that’s enough and wait for something to happen with it before doing anything else. Keep writing. Work on the next idea, and the next, and the next. Once you’ve got a number of submissions out, then you must keep proper track of them and if you do receive a rejection, ensure you already have another publisher/agent lined up so that there’s a 24 to 48 hour turnaround getting another submission out again.

Get the manuscripts out there but be sure to study the market and only send them to places that are looking for material along the lines of what you’ve written. Don’t waste your time or theirs by sending a fantasy story to a publisher who only wants horror.

Pen Names

When I first started writing, I was determined to use a pen name. There were three reasons for this 1) I didn’t want to use my married name because I’m divorced (but kept the name for my children’s sake), 2) I lacked self-confidence, and 3) I didn’t want the people close to me knowing that I’d written a book.

The first two reasons speak for themselves but the last reason is a bit strange. Lately, I’ve found myself thinking about this even more.

When I delve into the reasoning, I have to admit that I was scared. First and foremost, I was scared that they would hate the book, which relates back to the lack of self-confidence. I really didn’t care what other people thought but I didn’t think I could handle my own family giving me that “it’s awful” look. Secondly, I was scared that they might see too much of me in the main character because the main character was me but with a different name. I didn’t want my family and friends finding out all the secrets I’d manage to keep in the closet all those years.

Hence, I chose a pen name. A name I could hide behind.

However, years have passed since then and my view on this topic has changed, and the confidence I have in myself has grown. Suddenly, I no longer care what anyone thinks and I no longer want to use the pen name. In fact, I stopped using the pen name almost a year ago, but I never really felt completely happy with that decision until recently. The manuscript starring me is no longer looking for a publisher either and I believe that plays a large role in all this.

Whether we use a pen name or not isn’t really an issue, but I believe the reason you chose to use a different name should be thought through carefully. For instance, an author who dabbles in many genres might want to use many names – that’s an acceptable practice in the publishing industry. An author with a name that is really hard to say or spell might consider using something that is easier to remember – this is a good marketing ploy. An author with a surname that starts with “W” might use a surname that is between the letters “D” and “L” so that their books are placed at eye level, instead of at the readers feet. However, an author who uses a pen name solely because they don’t want people pointing at them and whispering, should probably admit that they aren’t ready to be published yet.

I won’t use my real name, my married name, because I don’t want to but I’m proud to use my birth name – Karen Lee Field. What name will you use?

Ebooks, POD and Vanity Printing

To put it simply…for me, to be e-published or to have a book self-published is the same as not being published at all. Why? Because anyone can produce an e-book, anyone can go down the POD or vanity press road. Anyone!

I’m not saying that producing these types of books is a bad thing. Some people have gone down this road and have been successful. That’s great and good luck to them, but please remember that a large portion of self-publishered writers are not successful. Some people have manuscripts that only fit the guidelines of a very small percentage of publishers and they have no other choice open to them. And other people have collections of short stories or poetry that are also hard to get published the conventional way. My words are not aimed at these people, and I wish you all the luck in the world.

My statement is aimed at full length novels. Anyone can pay to have a book published, which means that there are many self published books out there that are sub-standard. It’s because of this that self-publishing has a bad name and the authors of these books are not taken seriously.

Many will argue that there is a lot of trash in tradional books too, and this is true. However, as a writer, we all have to make our own decision on what publication means to us. For me, being published the traditional way is the only way I’m prepared to go. It’s the only way that I’ll think of myself as an author.

Writer’s self-publish, authors publish.