Tag Archives: book publishing

Freelancers: Turn Your PC Into a Lean Mean Freelancing Machine

By Celeste Heiter

Throughout my life, it seems, I’ve had to wait for technology to catch up with my dreams. As a child, I grew up in family that valued both academic achievement and creative expression, and in high school, I excelled in the clerical arts. So, as a young woman, I graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in both English and Art.

I loved ad layout and graphic design, but had little patience for the technical precision it required. In those days, graphic artists were still using Letraset dry transfer font sheets to set type, and wax-adhered paste-ups for publication layout. And although my veins practically course with printer’s ink, and I had always dabbled in creative writing, I hadn’t a clue how to break into the world of publishing…Unless I count my first real job, working as a classified ad typist at our local newspaper, a short-lived summer job that never segued into the editorial department.

Upon graduating college, with zero prospects in journalism or graphic design, I earned my daily bread waiting tables and tending bar. I was good at both, and although I loved the culinary world (and still do), I never gave up on the notion of someday working in the publishing industry.

Fast-forward twelve years, to the day I got my first computer. By then, I was the mother of a precocious toddler, and my first attempts at publishing were two parenting books: one called Potty Pals, a children’s book for potty training; and another one for parents titled The Reading Seed, outlining how I taught my son to read at age two. But even with the advent of the home PC for “desktop publishing” (as it was called back then), neither of my books took flight. So I shelved them both and went back to the restaurant business.

Fast-forward another nine years, to the day I submitted my first story to a publisher of web-based travel articles. Not only did he publish the story I submitted, he assigned me to write four more articles, which eventually became the foundation for my first published book, Ganbatte Means Go for It…Or How to Become an English Teacher in Japan.

There was no stopping me now. I had finally cracked the publishing nut, and I wanted more. So the first thing I did was streamline my computer (now a laptop model) for optimal productivity. I set up my Internet browser to maximize my research time, customized all my publishing and bookkeeping software, and organized my documents for easy access. In less than a year, I had transformed myself and my laptop into a lean, mean, freelancing machine, and had written an e-book to show other freelance writers how I did it.

celeste heiterThe next thing I did was quit my day job, and…I’ve never looked back. Ten years and six laptops later, my gaze is firmly fixed on the future of publishing: E-Books! In the past few months, with the help of that precocious toddler who has since grown into a brilliant young man with a degree in computer science, I’ve been hard at work learning to design and code e-books for Amazon Kindle. I’m now offering my e-book design services to independent authors, and have more than a dozen of my own titles in circulation, including Turn Your PC Into a Lean Mean Freelancing Machine.

With machete as metaphor in the jungle of the publishing industry, this lively and colorful e-book (for which I also designed the layout) teaches aspiring writers to streamline their computers for productivity, and shows how to maximize the potential for publishing success.  Each page is packed with my best tips and secrets as a successful freelance writer and published author: from customizing software and setting up time-saving shortcuts, to finding sources for freelance writing jobs. And of course…Freelance Zone is mentioned on my short list of the best resources for freelance writers!

About the Author: With her lifelong love of Japan, its people, and its culture, Celeste Heiter believes that she may have been Japanese in a previous incarnation. In this lifetime however, Celeste was born in Mobile, Alabama, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Art and English from the University of South Alabama.

Inspired by a lifelong dream to visit the Great Buddha at Kamakura, she moved to Tokyo in 1988, where she spent two years teaching English conversation. Celeste now makes her home in California’s beautiful Napa Valley, with the most treasured souvenir of her life in Japan: her son Will, who was born during her stay in Tokyo. Her books are inspired by her travels, and by her culinary creativity as a cookbook author, food writer, and photographer.

Celeste Heiter
Celeste Heiter

Celeste is the author of Turn Your PC into a Lean Mean Freelancing Machine, the creator of the LoveBites cookbook series for Kindle Fire, and the author of Potty Pals , a potty-training book for children (PottyPalsBook.com). She has also written ten books published by ThingsAsian Press (ThingsAsianPress.com); and spent eight years posting her recipes, food photographs, and film reviews on ChopstickCinema.com.

Visit her website at CelesteHeiter.com, and her Amazon Author Page at http://www.amazon.com/Celeste-Heiter/e/B002OXU6S2

Did You Resolve For 2012?

Joe Wallace Vinyl Collector and authorby Joe Wallace

For once, I actually made a New Year’s resolution. I’ve guffawed at them for ages, but this year it seemed appropriate to make the resolution not to say “This year will be MY year” but instead try to work harder at making EVERY year “my year”.

For me, that means finding an agent for my book WTF Records: A Turntabling.net Guide to Weird and Wonderful Vinyl.

It also means NOT wasting my time sending off queries to agents who couldn’t care less about my book about strange and fun records because they don’t work with authors who don’t do narrative non-fiction or manage non-fiction books aimed at more scholarly pursuits.

For my resolution, I’m forced to spend more time doing my homework and research to maximize the postage and printing costs rather than firing blindly at anybody who happens to have an address posted on “Find An Agent” pages on the Internet.

It also means I have to carefully read the instructions on these agent pages when I do find someone who seems suitable–one agent wants only 25 consecutive pages, by mail. Another wants a sample chapter by e-mail, but ONLY after getting a positive reply based on my initial query.

It’s a lot of work getting a book written, polished, and published. Really, the easy part is the manuscript, or so it seems to me. That’s the part that requires no approval from anybody except yourself…until the agent and editors get a hold of it, of course.

Then your property becomes the subject of discussion, critique, possible revision, possible more revision, etc. I told myself to enjoy the manuscript part of it as much as possible, because it’s the only part of this I could do without having to wait on other people.

So the third portion of my resolution, at least where this book project goes, involves being patient and not expecting the world to come rushing to reply to me just because I bothered to drop a line.

I say all this as much to remind myself that I have to do all these things as to share with you what I’m learning from the process. So thanks for reading my glorified To Do List for 2012, disguised as a blog post.

Did I forget to thank you for reading this year? And last year? And the year before that? If so, forgive me for being so ungrateful and know that you are GREATLY APPRECIATED.

Here’s to an awesome and productive 2012 for all of us!

–Joe Wallace

Joe Wallace is the author of WTF Records: A Turntabling.Net Guide to Weird and Wonderful Vinyl, which is currently being shopped to agents interested in pop culture, music, and bad album covers. Wallace is the founder of Turntabling.net, and works as a professional blogger, social media promoter, and yes, he admits to being a music journalist. Wallace has been freelancing since 2003 and thinks the whole world may be joining him sometime soon. Contact him: jwallace(at)turntabling(dot)net

How Much Does It Cost To Print A Book? Doing My Self-Publishing Homework

book and script editor for hire Joe Wallaceby Joe Wallace

People aren’t going to like this. Especially some blogs on self-publishing, print-on-demand, and etc. And while what I am about to relate is based on preliminary research only, it does beg a couple of important questions about cost vs. convenience. Do I have the answers to those questions yet? No.

As some readers here already know, I run Turntabling.net, a blog about vinyl records, record collecting, the “vinyl lifestyle” and related topics. Recently I started a book project about strange, obscure and really weird LPs and found myself facing a dilemma. Self-publish or find a publisher?

Self-publishing these days implies an e-book. But I need hard copies to sell at conventions, record fairs and the like. In my case, knowing my potential audience well enough to know hard copies are the bigger draw, I can’t avoid the printed page.

I’m halfway finished with the book project at the time of this writing, and it occurred to me that perhaps I should look into starting an imprint for this project rather than approach a print-on-demand service. I started researching printing press companies rather than P.O.D. companies or “publish your book” websites. I looked up “printing services” on Google, and “printing presses”.

It’s true that submitting a book to a printing press requires more technical know-how and care than submitting to a middleman who you pay to help you with your book project. But I know I can handle that technical stuff–it’s about margins, PDF files and images formatted correctly. It does not seem THAT difficult with a bit of persistence and stubbornness.

My initial research results weren’t promising. I need full color pages for 101 album covers, so my costs are considerably higher than a non-graphics intensive black & white book. The stateside companies I contacted quoted me a whopping $7000 for TWO HUNDRED LOUSY COPIES! Doing the math…well, I didn’t bother. I can’t afford 7K. Print-on-demand sites weren’t much better. In some cases my full color needs were THE stumbling block.

Then I started researching offshore printing presses, and guess what? I got a $3000 quote for full color inside and out…for TWO THOUSAND COPIES. That’s 250 pages, full color, quality paper.

Imagine, fiction writers and non-fiction counterparts, how much your smaller, non-color book would cost if you had it PRINTED overseas rather than going through a stateside POD publisher. The economics of a black-n-white paperback book with standard paper? Potentially astounding.

I can’t vouch for the quality, reliability or safety of doing an overseas print order. But what I DID do was to take a few of my favorite books and see who/where they were printed. I found that books similar in format or audience to mine, done independently and in small runs, were all printed in China.

Again, I cannot vouch for any of these companies I’ve examined. Yet. But I am SERIOUSLY looking into offshoring my book to China. It’s a simple case of economic survival and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. But I have a book project that needs printing, and I know two printers who will give me two thousand books for roughly three to four thousand dollars.

What would YOU do?

The Revolution in Publishing

by Mike O’Mary

How many of you have tried to publish a book and been rejected? As an author, I was rejected many times. It’s not fun.

As a small (three books last year), indie publisher of other authors, I can also tell you that it’s not fun to reject book proposals — especially proposals for good ideas by some very good writers. But I have to reject books anyway. Part of it is due to limited resources (mainly my time). But part of it is also a matter of knowing my limitations when it comes to marketing and selling books. It’s hard enough to sell books that are in my area of expertise (short creative nonfiction and memoir). It would be really hard — and ultimately disappointing for the author — for me to try to sell books that target other audiences. So I don’t do it. Even if it’s a really good book.

Sometimes I will direct the author to another publisher that might be a good fit. But more and more, I am tempted to give this advice (and you are hearing it here on Freelance-Zone first!): Do it yourself. Continue reading The Revolution in Publishing

Dream Of Things

mikeby Catherine L. Tully

Today I have the pleasure to share with you something really interesting. Editor and writer Mike O’Mary has come up with an idea for writers that I think will go far, and I interviewed him via e-mail so that I can share his ideas with Freelance-Zone readers here today. Let me know what you think, and be sure to sign up for more information at Dream Of Things.

FZ: Tell me a little about your background as a writer/editor.

Mike: I like writing essays, and I’ve also written fiction, drama and sketch comedy. The highlights are the essays I’ve published in various Sunday magazines, and writing and producing sketch comedy in Chicago. As for editing, I’ve edited several books, and I’ve written and edited lots of speeches and annual reports. So I’m a pretty good editor, but to me, writing is more fun.

FZ: What is Dream of Things?

Mike: Dream of Things is a book publisher and producer of videos and whatever else we decide to produce. It’s also an online community where writers and other artists can come together to 1) suggest ideas for books we’d like to see, and 2) write or contribute to books built around themes/ideas that spark our interest. Dream of Things will publish the books, and writers and other contributors will share in the royalties.

FZ: How did you come up with the idea for this?

Mike: I have always enjoyed working with creative people…writing workshops…working with actors, directors and musicians on theater productions…working with photographers, illustrators, graphic designers and video producers on other projects. I am very fortunate to have a lot of very creative people as friends, and I wanted to find ways for us to work together more often. I also hope to make a lot of new friends and to work with many of them… Continue reading Dream Of Things

Writing a Book? Google First

google-analytics1I just helped an old friend out, giving her what I’d call a narrow escape. I had just gotten back in touch with someone I hadn’t seen in years…when catching up, I learned she was working on her first three chapters of a novel that PublishAmerica expressed an interest in.

This set off warning bells as I’ve read many negative things about PublishAmerica–not the least of which includes an author testing PA by sending them a manuscript, reportedly containing the same 30 pages repeated ten times. PublishAmerica has gotten bad ink in respected places including Absolute Write.

Continue reading Writing a Book? Google First