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Showing posts from May, 2013

FastPencil compared to Smashwords & BookBaby

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I was going to write a post comparing Smashwords (which is how I self-published) to BookBaby (which I have not used).  However, in my research, I came across this excellent post from last year that gives a much more in-depth comparison than I planned on doing.  Since it's silly to re-invent the wheel, I thought I'd link to this post and move on to another topic.  If you're interested in comparing the two self-publishing services, check out Giacomo Giammatteo's fantastic guest post (and resulting comment thread) on How to Successfully Self Publish.

A third self-publishing/distribution service, with certain similarities to Smashwords and BookBaby is FastPencil (which I have also not personally used).  So I wondered if FastPencil was different than Smashwords and BookBaby, and if so, how?

For starters, FastPencil is a self-publishing platform that targets not only authors, but publishers and enterprises as well.  From my perspective as an indie author, I'm most intere…

Running Best-Sellers through an Online Writing Editor

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Did you ever wonder what an online editing program would say about the work of a best-selling author?  Well, I have, and to satisfy my curiosity, I ran portions of three famous books through the Pro Writing Aid free online writing editor. The results of my experiment are described herein.

If you're asking "What's the point?" I wanted to see if there were any mechanical deficiencies in my writing that best-selling authors had mastered (i.e., too much passive text, too many pronouns, excessively long or short sentences, etc.). These are the types of analytic data an online editor can provide (among other information).

A secondary question was to see if the information provided by an online editor offered any insight on the marketable quality of the writing. I'm already convinced that there are enough features in a good online editor to make it worth my while to use in self-editing my text, so this wasn't an exercise to determine if there was value in using edit…

A New Twist on Dictionaries

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"Mom?  How do you spell precocious?"
"Look it up in the dictionary."
"But I don't know how to spell it!"

Ah, the dreaded dictionary. For many of us, our first experience with one was an indirect childhood punishment. A dry, sterile, overwhelming tool. No fun at all. Look up a word, and find it described by other words you don't understand. So you look them up, and then repeat. Next thing you know, you've accidentally learned something.

My favorite entries in the dictionary were always the ones with pictures (they still are, truth be told). Seemed to me, every entry should have a picture (not possible, I realize, but such was the case with many of my childhood wishes). That leads us to today's post, where in keeping with the overall theme of this blog, I'll describe some free, online resources that I've found valuable, especially as an indie author.

First, a dictionary where every entry does have a picture! The Merriam-Webster Visu…

See Your Characters

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Before I jump into this week's subject, I want to thank everyone for the feedback on last week's topic regarding naming my new book. The voting results and associated rationale were quite unanimous. Mirrors & Mist is officially the title of Book II of The Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy. As far a progress report, I'm still editing the first draft of Mirrors & Mist, currently on chapter 13 of 18, with the novel currently at around 68,000 words.

This week, I'm going to talk about a way to bring your characters to life. As I've mentioned before, I'm a visual writer: I imagine scenes and characters in my head, playing out like a movie before I describe them with the written word. One problem with this is that my memory is not infallible, and sometimes characters have a tendency to mutate or evolve. Or I just plain forget how I described them six chapters ago.

Like many writers, I use a spreadsheet to record details on my characters--what they look like, what they wea…