Authors In Our Midst/Writers Chatting Chapter 14

Reading – Mathis Miles Williams

I follow WereBear on Facebook and the other day she posted a note that she was now doing consulting and I thought it would be a good time to ask her to revisit her path to publishing, website and now cat consulting for our Writers Chatting posts.

From WereBear:

Reverend Jim, foundation blog kitty. His rescue started it all!

More on my adventures in self-publishing. This is a vital next step in my plan to extend the reach of my cat advice website, (click here) which started with a book. Which no one wanted to publish. And here we are: don’t need a publisher!

The last time I used Kindle for a book this amazing angle was still new and not yet fully developed. The conventional wisdom at the time was to create novella length PDFs and see how it went. So I wrote a concise cat care/problem solving manual (since some of the worst cat problems are care problems) and racked up some nice reviews and it sold for a while.

Now, eBooks on a site like Amazon are THE ballgame. The younger a person is, the more they expect a book to be available electronically. Amazon has added new wrinkles to its platform to acknowledge this adjusted reality. This led me to some hoop-jumping as I prepared my new book for Pre Sale. Pre Sale lets even a self-published author put the book up to accumulate sales before it is available for purchase or accepts reviews.

Somebody like Stephen King has months long pre-sale periods, because fans will buy it anyway. Someone like me gets two months, and it seems most people are thrilled… but waiting But this is a fine sales tool, because it lets an author promote the work and allows people to purchase it ahead of its release. This really was nice for me, as I wanted to give it one more polish — every writer knows how that goes.

Just don’t indulge too much, folks: there’s penalties for yanking the Pre Sale. It makes Amazon pouty and your ability to do so in future goes on probation. However, this tactic has made me #1 in Cat Training, and I get a little flag on my book page. So there is that.

The book, The Way of Cats, (available here) is the first in a series, and that’s where the new Amazon thing got strict. I had thought I was going to make the Cat 911 manual part of a series, back when I put it on the site. But now all that has been superseded, and the upshot of it all was, I took it off Amazon. Don’t want to confuse potential readers, who now expect actual books when they, yanno, buy books. Important because a series is a very important tool for both fiction and non-fiction. A mystery reader loves getting back to the next adventures of a favorite detective, (which also means we find the body sooner.)

While this works better for some genres than others (romance would not work unless it was a bit niche) a continuing character is usually a winning addition to our fiction ambitions. In fact, my next book will be the first in a cozy mystery series (so-called because they take place in a contained subculture with an amateur sleuth, downplayed sex and violence elements, and lots of psychological intrigue) so the subject is top of my mind lately.

Kindle Series are now difficult to shift on the fly, so be sure you have some thought put into this kind of commitment before getting everything set up in Amazon’s publisher panel. There’s a variety of ways to upload, but Amazon also has decided their default will be the complete document in Word’s latest format. But don’t panic if you are not a Word fan, since Google Docs, Apple Pages, and my beloved Scrivener are word processors who can export into a DOCX file. (The X stands for the Office Open XML standard, so many programs have embraced it.)

The very good news is that it is easy to format things the way you want them, even photographs and charts, and have it look good once it gets Kindled. Then, use that same file and format it to be a traditional book through the Amazon CreateSpace, an on-demand publishing platform that lets people order your book in paperback, too. An author gets a bulk discount for batches of these, perfect for those fun signing parties at the local bookstore… provided you have one these days.

Thanks folks, and remember that I am also available for Cat Consultations (click here) via Facetime, Google Hangouts, or telephone. I’ll be hanging out in the comments if you have any questions about taking this wild and whacky journey.

Thank you, Pam! Okay, back to our writing chat. How are things going for you? Where are you at these days? What’s got you stuck? And what’s going well? Email me if you have something in the pipeline you want to talk about.

Hit the comments and be kind.


141 replies
  1. 1

    We should have a Google group, or invitation only blog for Balloon Juice writers. We can post our work, give each other feedback etc. I could set it up if people are interested.

  2. 2

    @schrodingers_cat: If you set it up, I’d gladly do a bi-monthly writers chatting post here o we could remember to head over there and participate.

  3. 3
    opiejeanne says:

    Good information. Thanks for taking the time to write this, werebear.

  4. 4

    Now, eBooks on a site like Amazon are THE ballgame

    I buy most of my books in kindle form these days, so this is true for me as a reader. But my better known YA writer friends tell me most of their sales are in paperbacks. I think it’s because their books are in B&N.

    Did you choose to use kindle unlimited?

  5. 5

    I’m trying to write a query letter to send to publishers. Has anybody else done this? Any tips? I have a short story, only 2700-odd words, that I want to publish as a children’s book.

  6. 6
    No One You Know says:

    I have gotten a lot from Werebear’s site, when rescuing and introducing a homeless cat to my two. And the picture of Reverend Jim is gorgeous! I’ll look for her stuff.

    I’m recovering from finishing Camp NaNo with 75,000 words in a very dirty draft. I’ve put it aside to recover. I can barely read anything more difficult than comics at this point, but I feel good, and will be slogging through self-editing when I can refocus on the story rather than the history.

  7. 7
    WereBear says:

    @schrodingers_cat: what a great idea! I would be in.

  8. 8
    debbie says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady):

    But my better known YA writer friends tell me most of their sales are in paperbacks.

    Don’t forget schools, libraries, and whatever they’re calling bookmobiles today!

  9. 9
    CliosFanBoy nee Woodrowfan says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I like that idea…..

  10. 10
    No One You Know says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.): It’s just a business letter. Helps to address the literary agent or editor by name, acknowledge what they look for, as well as their preferred genre (which your submission matches).

    For example on how not to do it, and what your competition looks like, see Slush pile Hell. You’ll do much better than that.

  11. 11
    Elizabelle says:

    @schrodingers_cat: That’s a great idea. It might motivate some of us who don’t write much. (Lucky you guys, hmmm?)

    @ Tamara: That’s a spectacular painting. Love it. It evokes an earlier time — I think of the constraining clothing that young woman had to wear outside the house … making reading doubly the pleasure — but then I think the painting might be more modern. (The wine glass…) Off to look it up.

  12. 12

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.): I’ve written query letters but never for a project like the one you’re talking about. Have you tried google? Do you belong to SCBWI? If you do, that’s a good resources. Le me go look at their website and see if they have anything accessible for non-members.

    ETA: On first quick look, I don’t see anything.

  13. 13
    WereBear says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady): Did you choose to use kindle unlimited?

    Yes, I did, which also creates a price range to work within.

    For those unaware, Kindle Unlimited is the Amazon Library service where people can join to read any book in the Unlimited Library. (Prime is another service that people can access a whole lot of content with their Prime Account.)

    Amazon also has ad services available within the site.

  14. 14
    Elizabelle says:

    Miles Williams Mathis is a contemporary artist; a Texan, sounds like. Way cool. His resume.

    His website. Specializes in portraits of women and children. He apparently likes cats, too.

  15. 15
  16. 16
    Marina says:

    This is a great site for info on query letters:

    Would love to be part of a writing/giving feedback group

  17. 17

    @WereBear: If you submit to a publisher, the publisher usually picks the illustrator. At least, that’s what happens with my friends who write picture books.

  18. 18
    WereBear says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady): Yes, that is what I heard… and no impact on a query letter in any case, I misread.

  19. 19
    Mnemosyne says:

    Romance readers love a series, but there’s a romance-specific way of doing it: the series is about a group of people who are related to each other in some way, such as blood/family, friendship, neighbors, etc.

    For just one example, Regency writer Marion Chesney (who now writes under another name I can’t remember) had a series called “A House For The Season” that featured a main romance in each book that was helped along by supporting characters who were the staff of a house that was rented out each season. The staff all had their own storylines and character arcs that played out slowly over the course of the series and were resolved in the last book.

    You will sometimes get a “true” series where the same characters are the romantic leads over multiple books, but most romance readers get annoyed with that approach because the author usually has to come up with some major contrivances to make it work. Amanda Quick did it in her Lavinia Lake books, but she made them primarily mysteries and had the romance arc play out as a subplot over three books.

  20. 20

    Here’s a site that talks about different categories of children’s books, from picture books up through chapter books. You need to know what you have to describe it so a publisher knows it’s what they want.

  21. 21
    Nicole says:

    Uncanny County’s latest episode, which I wrote, went up on the 30th, and is closing in on 9000 listens so far. If you have 30 minutes, we’d appreciate the listen (it’s free). Link to audioboom here, but it’s also on iTunes.

    I’m really proud of this episode. It’s listed as explicit content, but that’s due to an over-abundance of caution- it’s not really.

  22. 22

    The release of the last Penny Akk book went well. I needed it to, because five months of my publisher not answering me and/or lying to me drained my motivation to write. I discovered I absolutely need readers, psychologically. It’s more important than being paid, even. Now that the book is out, I’m blazing away at A Rag Doll’s Guide To Here And There.

    @Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady):
    The most money, and the most reliable money, is in bookstores. Legacy publishers have almost complete gatekeeper power over it. Small press and independent authors are pretty much stuck with ebooks, and thus Amazon. Mind you, if you hit it big, there can be big money there. It’s just not nearly as good as bookstores. The difference between my successful small press series and my friend’s successful major press series is rather dramatic.

  23. 23
    West of the Rockies says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady):

    B&N have a spectacular YA section covering multiple shelves. It’s rather inspiring.

  24. 24
    WereBear says:

    @Mnemosyne: That is a neat way to do it; romance is obviously not my genre, or one I read.

    Been keeping up with your latest turn of events; glad to see you still at it.

  25. 25
    West of the Rockies says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.):

    Do you belong to the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI)? They might be helpful.

  26. 26

    I spent the week tearing my zero draft apart, reducing it to index cards, and working with them spread out on my dining room table. It helped me get a much better view of the whole book. I added stuff, moved stuff around, noted what inner changes were supposed to go with what plot points. I’m now ready to pick up the first couple cards and revise–extensively.

  27. 27
    West of the Rockies says:


    I LOVE that title!

  28. 28
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady):

    I also wonder if most parents are wary of giving their kid a Kindle and letting them buy anything they want. My parents never cared what I read or tried to control my reading, but a lot of parents do try to do that.

  29. 29
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    I wasn’t sure how to share this via google docs, but this is a story I wrote in the course of an hour on’s ASB and other magic forum.

    The Übermensch
    September 5, 1938
    Nuremberg, Germany
    Nazi Party Rally Grounds

    Hitler was giving a speech to the Nazi Party in Nuremberg. It was opening day of the rally, entitled “Rally of Greater Germany” and after the annexation of Austria earlier in the year the national mood, as well as Hitler’s, had greatly improved.

    Suddenly, while the Austrian-born dictator was reaching the climax of his address, a blonde-haired man with a muscular build literally popped into existence next to the podium.

    A whoosh of air was felt by Adolf and he turned his head in the direction the strong breeze came from. There was a collective gasp from the thousands of Nazi party supporters on the grounds as well as those of the Party bigwigs behind him.

    Shocked, he took a few shaky steps backward from the strange man. Hitler’s SS guards rushed to attack the stranger and extract their Führer from harm. They opened fire, their guns spraying bullets but the man didn’t flinch as the projectiles deflected off his body. After a few seconds of this, the SS guards ceased their fire. The stranger slowly turned to face them. He didn’t have so much as a scratch on him, aside from his bullet-hole riddled clothes, to the terror and amazement of onlookers.

    “Are you quite finished?,” he rhetorically asked in a dangerously annoyed tone, his facial expression conveying complete contempt for everyone there.

    He didn’t wait for an answer as he moved faster than anyone’s eyes could perceive and seized Hitler by his lapels, lifting the Führer effortlessly off the ground with one arm.

    Since the blonde-haired man was so tall he brought Hitler to eye-level with him. The sheer intensity of his glare filled Hitler with a terror that he had not felt in his life since the gas attack he suffered in the Great War. There was a roar in his ears as the blood rushed through them and somewhere in the back of his mind he wondered if his fast-beating heart would burst from his chest.

    “Your time spent terrorizing and murdering the innocent is over,” the man stated with finality. And Hitler believed him.

    Pulling his left arm back and forming a fist, he punched through Hitler’s abdomen and snapped his spine. The dictator died instantly and absolute pandemonium broke out a moment later.

  30. 30
    WereBear says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady): I love outlining, but finally realized I need to do it once I had a draft; it cannot be the first thing.

  31. 31
    WereBear says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: So glad things are moving again :)

  32. 32

    @West of the Rockies:
    Thank you, and I’m very glad, because an eye-catching title is extremely important to sales. You have to get someone to look at the book before the book’s quality even matters.

  33. 33

    @WereBear: Writing a first draft is always painful for me, and this one was no exception. OTOH, I like revising.

  34. 34
    Mnemosyne says:


    Thanks! I feel like I’ve been unproductive because I’ve been reading craft books and the nag in my brain tries to tell me that reading, say, The Emotional Craft of Fiction is a waste of my time when I know it isn’t. Stupid nag.

    I probably need to do what Dorothy did and distill my draft back onto notecards before I get too deep into revisions. I know I have missing scenes in the current draft and I need to parse the mystery elements out a little better.

  35. 35
    germy says:

    I was a teenaged page at the North York Central Library in suburban Toronto, working in the Business and Urban Affairs section, shelving books, taping together newspapers while we waited for their microfilm versions to arrive, and fiddling around with the newly installed (and poorly documented) computerised catalogue/lending system — I worked there with many other would-be writers, like Nalo Hopkinson, who was a public service clerk a few floors down.

    North York Central is now seeking a romance writer-in-residence for a two-month, CAD8,000 residency, which entails spending 14 hours (or more) per week at the library, undertaking “public readings, workshops, evaluation of submitted manuscripts, one-on-one and/or group meetings with writers from the general public, participation in social media and online forums, and other activities as agreed.”

    I owe much of my own development as a writer to my one-on-one sessions with Judith Merril, who founded the “Spaced Out Library” (now the Merril Collection) to house the enormous library of science fiction and fantasy books she donated to the Toronto Public Library system; Judy mentored me and a whole generation of Toronto writers, and her legacy is felt to this day.

    This residency is a brilliant opportunity for a writer to develop their own craft in a fantastic hub of knowledge-sharing and community development — but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to perform a genuine service to literature and the arts in Canada.

  36. 36
    Snarkworth, short-fingered Bulgarian says:

    I agree with Marina about Query Shark.

  37. 37
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    Now, eBooks on a site like Amazon are THE ballgame. The younger a person is, the more they expect a book to be available electronically.

    I don’t get this. You don’t really own the books in digital format.

  38. 38
    West of the Rockies says:

    I’ve recently uploaded a trilogy of novellas onto Amazon KDP. Now comes marketing, of which I have very little experience. Making matters more challenging, the category is, um, dark romance (okay, erotica). You can’t advertise. You have to create a newsletter and hope lightning strikes.

    There. I finally confessed.

    This is just to make money. It is under a pseudonym, and NOT where my writing heart resides.

  39. 39
    HeleninEire says:

    @West of the Rockies: There is a book store here called Easons. Their YA section got so big that they renovated the basement to accommodate it. I love it. I have two girls in my life who I love more than anything. They are 15 (Megan) and 13 (Devon). I have been buying them books since they were born and I have had it up to my eyeballs with picking up books with boy protagonists. Eason’s selection is big enough that it doesn’t make me scream bloody murder when I am searching.

  40. 40

    @West of the Rockies: This is one of the best marketing series I‘ve seen for self-publishers. The writer kept track of all his marketing efforts, noticing what worked and what didn’t. I can’t use most of it, sadly, but I read it, and I had to read slowly because I kept getting overwhelmed.

  41. 41

    @West of the Rockies:
    I know a lot of people judge, but it’s popular, there’s a lot of money in it, it’s harmless, and I’m told it’s fun to write. People like sex, so stories about sex should be available. Preferably well written.

  42. 42

    @TaMara (HFG): I was thinking of it as an addition to these writerly posts.

  43. 43
    WereBear says:

    @West of the Rockies: Online, hang out where erotica fans hang out?

    A lot of people now get started on fan fiction sites, hone their skills, find out what the audience wants… and then they have a beginning of a fan base.

  44. 44

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: I like e-books because I don’t have room for all the books I read. And e-books are cheaper to start with. I toss aside about a quarter of the books I start. I now buy hardcovers of authors I love and preorder, and paperbacks of books I love once I read them on kindle.

  45. 45
    West of the Rockies says:

    Thanks to everyone offering encouragement and info!

    There is a market, to be sure, but tapping into it is tricky. The stuff that sells (of which I have no interest) is Bad Boy Billionaires.

  46. 46
    ellie says:

    @West of the Rockies: I write erotica as well and the market is huge!

  47. 47
    West of the Rockies says:


    Do you belong to Dirty Discourse? I find it to be very informative. There are separate areas for all sorts of writing: romance, sci-fi, YA, erotica, LGBTQ, etc.

  48. 48
    West of the Rockies says:


    I’ve heard that men watch their pRon, and women read it. A female pseudonym is suggested, too. Definitely don’t want to cross-contaminate YA/children’s books with the “other stuff”!

  49. 49
    Miss Bianca says:

    @schrodingers_cat: that sounds great. Looks like my writing may take off in a different direction for a while, as I am about to rescue a Thoroughbred who survived a fire. I wish Werebear were a horse whisperer as well as a cat whisper! : )

  50. 50

    one question:

    1) do people build up readership on sites like Wattpad?

    some notes about libraries as a market:
    1) Libraries make most purchases based on reviews in professional magazines Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist. Each one has ways for self-publishing authors to submit a work for review, or else a way to submit via a small press service (Kirkus is open to a lot of reviews for small and self-published works, but I’ve known only one library system I worked at that read it for titles to order).

    2) You need to see if your works get picked up in distributors like Ingram and Baker & Taylor. Libraries sign up to use them for purchases because they will provide discounts on titles.

    3) Make yourself known to the local libraries, and ask about doing author signings at them.

    Meanwhile, I will be going as a librarian to the Florida Library Association conference this May… and the Florida Writers Association is going to have a table there to promote their authors (and the regional coordinator is asking me to work the table for a few hours). If your state has a writers’ association, get them to set up tables at their state-wide Library conference as well.

  51. 51
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady): In that case, it makes perfect sense.

  52. 52
    West of the Rockies says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    Surely you’ve read Seabiscuit, yes? The author tells such a compelling narrative. Good luck with yours!

  53. 53

    As for my writing, it has been dormant or dead since I moved and after the election happened. The memoir/creative non-fiction about my origins has been too painful to approach. I can’t bear to look at it. Delving in those memories just makes me mad. I will probably start something else, something less personal.

  54. 54
    Mnemosyne says:

    @West of the Rockies:

    Even Avon has an erotic romance imprint now (Avon Red), so there are places to market your books. Did you join RWA? There is at least one and probably more than one chapter specifically for erotic romance.

  55. 55

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    I submitted the ghost girl story to the Royal Palm Literary Award for FWA this year. I’m gonna see what the input is on it.

  56. 56
    WereBear says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: A favorite writer, Donald E. Westlake, did a comic caper novel called Adios, Scheherazade, about a porn writer who finds he has run out of words on that particular subject, and must find a new profession.

    And hopes he gets his libido back someday…

  57. 57


    I know two other people who freaked post-election and stopped writing. One of them just stopped coming to the local writers group.

    I’ve got three – now maybe FOUR – stories that are based on the trauma this nation’s gone through thanks to 2016. I am struggling mightily to get just ONE finished so i can get the catharsis out of the way.

  58. 58


    Can men convincingly write erotica? My understanding – even as a man – is that most male-perspective erotica will come across like poorly written Penthouse Letters.

  59. 59
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:


    Could you refresh my memory? Did you mention it to me before?

  60. 60
    Mnemosyne says:


    I’m going to the national RWA conference in Denver this year and they have a whole librarians’ day and choose a Librarian Of The Year every year.

  61. 61
  62. 62
    Miss Bianca says:

    @West of the Rockies: i have read it, yes. Laura H is a great writer.

  63. 63
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    I should have mentioned that I would like a critique of my writing at comment 29. Go easy, as I only took an hour to write it as well as the first piece of narrative writing I’ve ever done.

  64. 64
    WereBear says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady): That looks very informative, thanks!

    I have expanded out into Instagram and Tumblr, too. Each one has its own “ways” and I’m starting to get the hang of it.

  65. 65
    West of the Rockies says:


    Yes. It takes a deft touch. And women can write excellent science fiction and tech-espionage. Good writing is good writing.

  66. 66
    Nicole says:

    @Mnemosyne: That’s interesting about romance novels. An acquaintance of mine is trying to stretch a romance over four books now, and it’s definitely declining returns at this point.

  67. 67
    West of the Rockies says:


    I have not done so. Perhaps I should!

  68. 68

    @Mnemosyne: Remind me in late June of the dates if you want to try a meet-up with CO peeps (I have the dates bookmarked, but things are looking to get really crazy in my life for most of the summer – so it’ll be July and I’ll probably still think it’s June)

  69. 69
    Ruckus says:

    Have told the story before but when I was 11 or 12 I tried to get an adult library card as I’d read all the reasonable books in the kids section. No go so mom took me to the library and told them to give me the adult card. “He’s not old enough.” Mom almost went over the counter at her but restrained herself and told her, you have a kid who wants to read and learn and you are saying no? Give him a fucking adult card. I got the card, I think the lady was glad to get mom out of the building, no matter that I might just read a bad word or two.

  70. 70
    Mnemosyne says:


    There are a lot of successful gay male writers of erotica and erotic romance like Damon Suede, so it’s not that men can’t write erotica or romance. It’s more that most straight men are unwilling to open up and write about the emotional side of sex, so what they write comes across as cold or mechanical. When you write about sex, it’s never about the mechanical act of what goes where. It’s about the emotions the characters are experiencing. Many (perhaps most) straight male writers shy away from that. Stephen King is actually pretty good at it.

  71. 71
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TaMara (HFG):

    I will. It’s looking like the best date will be Tuesday 7/17 since I’ll be doing conference things all day long on the other days, so maybe we can plan towards that?

  72. 72
    Snarkworth, short-fingered Bulgarian says:

    Thanks for the good promotional suggestions. My debut mystery novel, Same River Twice, will be released in July by The Wild Rose Press (and Amazon etc.). I have a daunting To Do list, including pitching various book editors. The story is set along the Delaware River, where I live, so I’m hoping the Local Author angle works. Then I have to sing my own praises on Facebook and start using my author name on Twitter.

  73. 73
    West of the Rockies says:


    Richard Matheson’s Bid Time Return (better known as Somewhere in Time) has a truly moving (if short) erotic scene.

    Sena Jeter Naslund’s erotic scenes are excellent. A woman can write such scenes in ways that appeal to male readers, too. Personally, I’m actually not mad about the Insert Tab A into Slot B stuff anyway.

  74. 74

    @WereBear: Every once in a while, I contemplate Instagram and Tumblr. The YA audience is there. Instagram should be good for you with pictures.

  75. 75
    Ruckus says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:
    Life changes. Move on.
    Unless you are the printer you never really owned the book, only the intellectual content. And if someone takes your idea and writes another book that is similar you have to prove that the idea was stolen. You are not the owner of the book, electronic or print. You are the owner of the intellectual idea/content of the book. The change in medium hasn’t changed that. But it has given the opportunity to gain an audience that you might otherwise not have.

  76. 76
    Mnemosyne says:


    Some people can write out of anger or outrage, but I’m not one of them, either.


    Yeah, after a certain point, readers get tired of all of the whining and wish the couple would just break up already so they don’t have to hear it anymore.

    The other thing about that other way of doing a romance series is that romance readers LOVE to get a glimpse of the happy couple’s continuing happiness in the later books of the series. When Lisa Kleypas made a reader-favorite couple the still happily married parents of the hero in one of her books, people went insane with joy.

  77. 77
    Mnemosyne says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    You do if you strip off the DRM. It’s not hard. Just don’t be a dick and post the file online.

  78. 78
    Mnemosyne says:

    @West of the Rockies:

    You should at least look into it. If you Google “rwa erotic romance chapter,” there should be a public-facing site or two that you can look at and see if they align with your goals. The RWA is a trade organization, so the members are very focused on publishing and marketing.

  79. 79
    Ruckus says:

    In whatever I have written I try never to include personal stuff, unless it’s the type of thing that everyone has in their history. That sort of stuff has to either be very real or very surreal to be readable in my opinion. And I don’t have surreal so it becomes just boring. And I bore enough people in real life.

  80. 80
    Ruckus says:

    That sounds about right. Wait what, you mean those letters are real?

  81. 81
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Snarkworth, short-fingered Bulgarian:

    Most public libraries LOVE hosting author events, so make sure to go into your local library to talk to them. They’ll love it even more if you can somehow make it a fundraising opportunity for them.

  82. 82
    Mnemosyne says:

    @West of the Rockies:

    Emotion is central to a lot of Matheson’s work, so that makes perfect sense. The guy wrote novel about a man who loves his dead wife so much that he descends into Hell to try and save her from eternal damnation after she commits suicide, so obviously he was not afraid of writing fully emotional male characters.

  83. 83
    Snarkworth, short-fingered Bulgarian says:

    @Mnemosyne: I’ll give that some thought! We also have an indie bookstore that does a lot of literary events. I’ll have to contact them, as well.

  84. 84
    WereBear says:

    @Snarkworth, short-fingered Bulgarian: Congratulations! It’s so exciting.

    @Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady): Yes, I have four (somewhat willing) models and people don’t get tired of cat pics :) But the picture format is very versatile; scenes from book locations? Even photos of a jacket a character would choose… it’s all about engaging the fans in the book’s world, fiction or non.

  85. 85

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: you own one license to the book in one format, just as if you bought it in any more physical format. You actually arguably own more since it can be in multiple places at once and you don’t lose it forever if your reader falls in the bathtub.

    I had a very frustrating week revising my short story! But I think I got through the hard part. Short fiction, man. Never spent so much time on twenty-five pages before in my life. Hopefully this is the last draft and it’ll just be line edits after!

  86. 86
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    Did I make a boo-boo in posting my short-story above?

  87. 87
    WereBear says:

    @Major Major Major Major: One way eBooks have been a boon to many writers is how the major publishers don’t keep their books in print anymore, but they can easily release their backlist this way.


  88. 88

    @WereBear: I don’t have one. Everything I’ve read says it’s better to let the publisher choose somebody to work on the pictures.

  89. 89
    oatler. says:

    @Ruckus: I had an adult library card when I was 12 (including the wrought-iron number strip). Got me into a lot of bars too. I like to recommend Dave Langford’s “Ansible” blog for SF fans, which includes a Thog’s Masterclass section; a cautionary tale for aspiring writers?

  90. 90

    @schrodingers_cat: I could also help set this up if you think I could be helpful!

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Your essential command of English is good (which we already knew) so that’s a fine foundation to work with. Unfortunately, there’s not much of a story here–what’s it about? And on a technical note, there are way too many words.

  91. 91
    CliosFanBoy nee Woodrowfan says:

    @ellie: samples?? asking for a friend..

  92. 92
    CliosFanBoy nee Woodrowfan says:

    @PaulWartenberg: will come across like poorly written Penthouse Letters.

    was there any other kind???

  93. 93
    CliosFanBoy nee Woodrowfan says:

    @Mnemosyne: there is a gay porn author with my last name, which can make author searches on Amazon interesting….

  94. 94
    CliosFanBoy nee Woodrowfan says:

    I love that there are so many writers here, but are there any other nonfiction writers here???

  95. 95
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Major Major Major Major:
    That’s all there is to it really. I know that the Nazis and Hitler were influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche’s Ubermensch, a person that has transcended normal human limitations. Giving him an “Aryan” appearance also adds an additional layer of irony to the story.

  96. 96
    Planetpundit says:

    Great post Werebear. Amazon’s dominant position does make self-publishing exhilarating and each step so tricky.

  97. 97

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: It’s not at all evident to me that this is what you’re aiming for.

    In general, the shorter the work, the harder it is to write. Since you’re just getting started I’d recommend something longer. I’d also recommend staying away from Hitler, since it’s a hard subject material to say anything new about. Some writing exercises/challenges can help you flex your muscles if you’re hard up for prompts. has a lot.

  98. 98
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Major Major Major Major:
    I couldn’t edit, so here’s the rest:

    When I was writing it, the idea that a single person could unilaterally enforce their will and moral code on everyone else was an intriguing one, along with all the problems that would bring about; such a person single-handedly tearing down the most evil regime in history was also really interesting. I thought about writing the reactions that other regimes might have and whether they might decide to tow the Ubermensch’s line.

  99. 99
    Mnemosyne says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    Generic Ubermensch feels generic. What if Siegfried, hero of the Ring Cycle, is real and pissed off about how Hitler is using his name and legend?

  100. 100
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Dr. Who managed to pull off a “Let’s Kill Hitler” plot, but only because the reveal was that it was actually a plot to kill the Doctor and nobody really cared about the Hitler part.

  101. 101

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: some further stray advice: well-written dialogue in most cases obviates the need for verbs other than ‘said’ and for adverbs at all. You can also look into picking more descriptive action verbs instead of using adverbs. (Adverbs aren’t inherently bad, but they are a good indicator that something could probably be better-written.)

    Lastly, I forget who said this (Elmore Leonard?), but never use the word suddenly–it should be obvious that whatever happened was sudden.

    Sample edit of your beginning:

    Hitler was giving a speech to the Nazi Party in Nuremberg. It was opening day of the rally, entitled “Rally of Greater Germany” and after the annexation of Austria earlier in the year the national mood, as well as Hitler’s, had greatly improved.

    Suddenly, while the Austrian-born dictator was reaching the climax of his address, a blonde-haired man with a muscular build literally popped into existence next to the podium.

    A whoosh of air was felt by Adolf and he turned his head in the direction the strong breeze came from. There was a collective gasp from the thousands of Nazi party supporters on the grounds as well as those of the Party bigwigs behind him.

    While Hitler neared the climax of his speech about the recent Anschluss, a large blonde man appeared next to him with a whoosh of air and a loud pop. Stunned, the dictator turned to look at him. His first thought was that this man exemplified Aryan perfection; his next was that he should perhaps be somewhere else. The thousands of Party supporters in the audience gasped…

  102. 102

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Well, that sounds like an interesting story, but I’m sorry to say it’s not the one you’ve written. The Doctor Who episode Mnemosyne mentioned is more along those lines, actually (“Let’s Kill Hitler”, though it might not make much sense if you hadn’t been watching the preceding few seasons).

  103. 103
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Yeah, with that second graf, I would write something more like:

    With an audible “pop” that was picked up by the microphone, a large blond man appeared with a rush of air that rustled the Fuehrer’s uniform.

  104. 104
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    Like I said, I only wrote it in the course of an hour; I didn’t develop the Ubermench character very much and I know that. I was only trying to practice writing like getting the dialogue and formatting of a story right. Also I was trying to get the active voice and “show, don’t tell” right.

    That’s a really cool idea though. Some moron on suggested I make the character Jewish, but I was like “nope, not gonna happen”.

  105. 105

    @Mnemosyne: ah, good details; could be crammed into my first sentence if you were feeling frisky, though it gets a little clunky.

  106. 106
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Wow, you both blew my shitty, bland writing out of the water.

  107. 107
    Mnemosyne says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    Writing is re-writing, my friend. Having a perfect first draft of anything is a myth.

  108. 108
    debbie says:


    I’ve revised one poem more than a hundred times and I’m still not satisfied that it’s completed.

  109. 109

    @Mnemosyne: unless you’re Haruki Murakami, allegedly.

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: also character is story.

  110. 110
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    That’s the thing though; aside from characterisation, it never occurred to me that it could be written better. I thought my writing style was mostly fine as is.

  111. 111
    debbie says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Also Jack Kerouac.

  112. 112
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Yeah, I suspect that Murakami’s claims are bullshit. I know people who consider it “outlining” to write full scenes that are later woven together, so I suspect a process more akin to that.

    And, really, not a single publisher has ever asked for any changes whatsoever, even of typing mistakes? Really?

  113. 113
    debbie says:


    I worked for the publisher for James Clavell. He wouldn’t allow any editing, not even punctuation. So did a few other writers, like Jim Harrison. James Frey tried that and ended up with a published crap book.

  114. 114
    WereBear says:

    Ross Thomas sat down and wrote a best seller his first time at bat, but I’m sure he at least retyped it for a clean manuscript.

  115. 115

    @Mnemosyne: just googled it and rewriting is his favorite part of writing—must have been thinking of somebody else.

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: (almost) no prose is perfect. It’s like one of the laws of software engineering: every program contains at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one line.

  116. 116

    @debbie: was it Capote who said of Kerouac “that’s not writing, it’s typing!”?

  117. 117
    Amir Khalid says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:
    I understand that you wrote this extemporaneously, but the important thing in storytelling is to keep the story, the sequence of events, in motion. Describe only what is necessary to keep the action moving. Let people doing things be the spine of the story, its action beats, as it should always be. You don’t want to fall into the amateur’s mistake of writing essays about the characters andt events instead of just telling the story.

    Don’t get bogged down describing people and things. Mentioning that Hitler is really Austrian doesn’t advance the story, indeed it just slows the story down. Every time you feel the urge to describe something or mention some detail of a caracter’s past, ask yourself: is this relevant to what’s happening in the story right now?. If not, save it for when it is. Don’t be telegraphing that, e.g., this character here is the good/bad guy and here’s why. If you have some larger point to make, some wisdom to impart, let the events of the story do it.

    By the way, I doubt you need to worry about anyone trying to steal this snippet.

  118. 118
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    By the way, I doubt you need to worry about anyone trying to steal this snippet.

    Because it sucks?

    Mentioning that Hitler is really Austrian doesn’t advance the story, indeed it just slows the story down.

    Yeah, it was an unnecessary detail and one that people know. I was trying to be descriptive.

  119. 119
    Mnemosyne says:


    Turns out that even Kerouac’s claim was exaggerated — the famous scroll was his final draft, not his first draft, and he made many, many notes and journal entries while working out the story.

  120. 120
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Every time you feel the urge to describe something or mention some detail of a caracter’s past, ask yourself: is this relevant to what’s happening in the story right now?.

    Then how am I ever supposed to make it relevant

  121. 121
    Amir Khalid says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    Because it sucks?

    Because I really doubt that plagiarists come here looking for material to steal.

  122. 122

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: ‘relevant’ is a bit of a flexible word. Why a character feels the way they do is relevant and can introduce a bit of history or even a flashback.

  123. 123
    Amir Khalid says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:
    If there is no point in your story when a particular detail is relevant, your best bet is to leave that detail out altogether. Sometimes a moment in the story will suggest a place for that detail. If no such moment ever happens, then you didn’t need the detail.

  124. 124

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: @Major Major Major Major: (won’t let me edit) For example, in my current story, I use variations on “he almost ________ but no, that’s more something his father would do” a couple times, which introduces what his father is like, and establishes how he tries to be not like that.

    @Amir Khalid: a lot of sci-fi and fantasy authors are bad at this. Some readers, I hear, even like the exposition of what happened to the dwarves five thousand years ago. Or what the hobbits ate for lunch. Horror of horrors.

  125. 125
    Mnemosyne says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    The character’s past is always relevant, but perhaps not at that exact moment. I have a craft book recommendation for you: Story Genius by Lisa Cron. It’s very dense, but it has a HUGE amount of information about building a story.

  126. 126
    debbie says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Sure sounds like him.

  127. 127

    @Mnemosyne: haven’t seen that one. I will say I’m instantly skeptical of any title that goes “HOOK PHRASE: [how to use/what] THING [to do/tells us about] [thing you’re ultimately interested in].” Doubly so if THING == ‘brain science.’

  128. 128
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    FWIW, there’s, like, one easily skippable chapter about “brain science” and then it plunges into how to do a detailed backstory for your main character that will drive your plot even though you won’t use 90 percent of it.

  129. 129
    West of the Rockies says:

    @CliosFanBoy nee Woodrowfan:

    I write essays. Tom Levenson, our front-pager, writes fantastic science material.

  130. 130
    Ruckus says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:
    I wrote technical bulletins and rulebooks for professional sports for 11 yrs. I used to get A’s for creative writing in college and my stuff was crap. The only thing that changed it was to learn how to edit, especially what I had written. A professional managing editor of a monthly glossy mag taught me that. You think I’m verbose now you should see the crap I cut out of my comments.
    You have to distance yourself from what you wrote and read it as if you’ve never seen it before. It takes a bit of practice but it is doable for most people. If necessary, walk away from the project and do something/anything else, no matter how much you want to work on it. Let it germinate a bit, go back and read it as if written by the worst author you know of if that’s what it takes. Next, be fucking brutal. And if it’s that bad, throw it away and start over.

  131. 131


    You have to distance yourself from what you wrote and read it as if you’ve never seen it before. It takes a bit of practice but it is doable for most people.

    If I’m in a hurry I find that… botanical assistance can help.

  132. 132
    ellie says:

    @West of the Rockies: No, I will check it out!

  133. 133
    Ruckus says:

    @Major Major Major Major:
    OK, now I’m LOL.
    There are different things we write all the time. A comment on a blog is mostly done in real time, why wouldn’t it be? A book, a short story, these need review and rewrites, some far more than others. A comment here is usually a response to someone else, it’s almost a verbal discussion. A book, even non-fiction is totally different, and a short story is as people see above even harder. We need time to build a character without giving away too much and without making the story boring. You are trying to hold the readers interest. One of my favorite books is Something Happened by Joseph Heller because it holds your interest for long periods of time and yet you keep asking “what the hell happened?” At one point I thought that what happened was that I bought the book.

  134. 134
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: they are both much older than you and presumably have more writing experience. From what I can tell, the path to being a good writing involves (1) reading a lot of good writing, and (2) writing a lot. Like almost everything, it takes practice to get good.

  135. 135

    @Major Major Major Major: Definitely. Thanks that would be great.

  136. 136
    J R in WV says:

    @Goku :

    suggested I make the character Jewish, but I was like “nope, not gonna happen”.

    You realize that in what you have written and posted here, there is nothing that prevents your majical character from being Jewish, don’t you? There are plenty of large blond active Jewish people around. Front pager Adam is large, and we have no idea what his hair color is, for example.

    Don’t stereotype when you aren’t aware of what stereotypes exist and which are false.

    One of my best friends is descended from Russian Jews, and has red hair and blue eyes. Grandparents all fled the Tsar, didn’t speak much English after decades in Philly. Wonderful kosher folks! He has large kids with black belts, also! One is an ex-Marine.

  137. 137
    MomSense says:

    The book agent who liked my story is retiring. She recommended three people so now I need to summon the courage to send it to them. I’m working on another story in the meantime but I don’t seem to be able to write it in order. I find myself writing little snippets about the characters.

  138. 138
    Mnemosyne says:


    I write out of order, but I usually have some form of ever-evolving outline. Whenever I’ve written in order, I’ve gotten frustrated when I got to a scene I didn’t know how to write yet and abandoned the whole project. Writing out of order lets me sketch in the big scenes and then figure out what connects them.

  139. 139

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    Oh, sorry my bad. I was trying to notify Dorothy (she had beta read it for me)

  140. 140

    @CliosFanBoy nee Woodrowfan:

    Well there WAS this letter back in the early 90s about a couple hooking up with this Polynesian masseuse on the beach and I swear it had a poetic flair to it… well, uh, that’s what I heard!

  141. 141


    summon all courage. fight that sharknado like Teddy Roosevelt would want you to.

Comments are closed.