After posting two recent blogs on my writing and self-publishing activities, A Day In The Life and The Mechanics Of It All, some readers had questions that I thought I would answer today.
Q. How many copies of your own books do you keep on hand, and when you order copies of your own books from Amazon, is there a minimum order, and do you get a discount?
A. I usually try to keep two or three copies of each book on hand, in case somebody wants an autographed copy or I give one to somebody as a gift. If we are going to be going on a trip and calling on bookstores and libraries to promote my books, I order more. My books are produced by the print-on-demand process through Amazon, so I can order as few or as many as I need at a time. Authors do get a discount on the price of their books when ordered through Amazon.
Q. How do you keep track of all the characters in a series?
A. As I add more series and more characters, it becomes harder and harder to keep track of everyone. I have a Word file for each series that lists the main and recurring characters and a short paragraph about each one, including their backgrounds, physical descriptions, and little quirks. It makes me glad I only had two kids.
Q. Does your mind ever rest, or is it always thinking about writing?
A. I don’t think my mind ever rests. I will be in the grocery store and see someone and make a mental note about them to use as a character description, or overhear someone say something and file it away for future use, or see or read a news item that I later use as a basis for a story or a scene in a story. Sometimes I will be driving, or in the shower, or falling asleep at night, and an idea for a new book or a book title will hit me, and I have to make a note about it for the future.
Q. A couple of years ago, you ordered an expensive office chair to help with your back problems. Has that been worth the investment, and would you spend that kind of money again?
A. Yes, and yes. the Lifeform chair I purchased has been one of the best things I have ever purchased to make my writing life easier. I routinely spend anywhere from 8 to 10 hours a day and sometimes longer sitting at my desk, and I’ve never had a chair that stayed so comfortable for so long. I would definitely buy it again. It was most certainly worth the investment.
Q. Do you back up your book files in case of a computer failure or something like that?
A. After losing two or three years worth of work and saved files to a virus many years ago, I am fanatical about backing things up. During the day when I’m writing, I will manually save the manuscript several times even though I have it set to autosave. Then, when I stop writing for the day, I back it up to two different places on my computer, to an external hard drive, to two separate USB drives, and also to Dropbox. About once a month, I also back everything up to a second external hard drive, which is stored in my fireproof safe. I realize that’s probably overkill, but it makes me feel more secure.
Q. Occasionally, I see books, even some of your books, listed as a free PDF download on some oddball website that I’ve never heard of. Are these authorized, and how do the outfits doing it make any money if the books are free?
A. No, those are pirated copies of the books, and it’s something authors deal with all the time. The websites offering you those books are not doing it because they love books and want to share them with the world. They are usually attaching nasty things like viruses and spyware to the file that you download, as well as harvesting your e-mail for nefarious reasons. Authors can file a DCMA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) complaint against them and supposedly make them take the book down, but it pops up three more places the next day, and pretty soon, you’re spending all of your time chasing these crooks down. None of them ever last long, and as frustrating as it is, I’ve learned to just ignore them, figuring that if anybody is foolish enough to download books that way instead of paying for them, whatever viruses their computer or if they get hacked, it’s their problem.
Q. You have mentioned before that you have three proofreaders for your books. I would love to be a proofreader. I don’t care about making any money. Just the idea of being able to read so many new books would be great. How can I become one of your proofreaders? Do you know of any other authors who use proofreaders like that?
A. I really don’t need anybody else at this point, but I appreciate the offer. Many authors I know use proofreaders or beta readers to go through a manuscript and give them feedback before it’s published. The best way to go about that is to make yourself known to different authors through social media. Follow their Facebook pages and their blogs, and ask them if they are interested in you helping out. But if you’re going to be a proofreader, you need to be very skilled in English and grammar and punctuation. You also have to understand that your job is not to re-write an author’s book for him or to judge the story he or she is telling. I had one proofreader who lasted halfway through one of my books because she did not like the way I portrayed Native Americans in my Big Lake series. She objected to terms like the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, which is the official name of the place, or me saying that alcoholism and crime are problems on Indian reservations. Both of those are facts, just like they are in many communities, not racist statements.
Q. I attended a seminar you did on self-publishing back during your RVing days. Are you still doing those anywhere?
A. No, COVID has pretty much kept us close to home and away from any kind of events for a while now. I have been asked to speak to writing classes at our local Community College and to a couple of local writing clubs, but won’t be doing anything like that until the pandemic is under control.
Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of The Islet of the Virgin, book 4 in my friend Ken Rossignol’s – Famous Murderous Pirates book series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.
Thought For The Day – Facts don’t care about your feelings.