Monthly Archives: January 2012

Editing, Book Trailer, Publishing

OK, so now I had a completed manuscript… It was time to look into editing.

I didn’t know anything about book publishing, and had no idea what an editor even did.  I know publishers have editors, and authors work with editors, but what did they do?  I started poking around online and found some independent editing companies that will go through your work and comment on story concept, story development, character development, sentence structure, imagery, spelling, grammar, and a whole host of things.  Fees seem to range from $700 to $2000 and up…

This was not in the cards for me.  I have no interest in having to recoup that kind of money.  If this book was a bust, I would be stuck with a big financial loss.  So I turned to my big sis, Enger.  Enger is an elementary school teacher, and was top of her class in high school, and college.  And to boot, she loves to read young adult fiction.  I begged her to be my editor and she finally agreed.  She did an amazing job of polishing my writing style, and when she was finished, the book had a much better “flow”.  Thank big sis!

It took a bit of time for Enger to complete the edit, what with her job and her volunteering to try and save abandoned pet’s from being euthanized.  So while I waited, I stumbled across a “book trailer”.  I had never heard of this, but I guess it’s become common place.  With my background in the film and TV business, I decided to jump right in.  I wrote a little script for my book trailer, that could use stock photography (no need to shoot anything), and started editing it.

While all of this was going on, my friend Lizzie pointed me in the direction of her good friend and published author Robin Brande:

http://robinbrande.com/

I had done some research on the traditional path to finding a publisher, and was eager to talk to Robin about her experience.  She pointed me towards some great resources, and the trend of “self publishing” or becoming an “indie author”.  Her help and knowledge was a huge help.  One of the best resources was Dean Wesley Smith’s blog “Think Like A Publisher”.

http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?page_id=3736

I won’t go into any detail, because I couldn’t do a better job than Dean’s blog, but self publishing seemed like the way to go.  Using createspace.com for POD (print on demand) and ebooks through kindle, pubit, and  smashwords seemed like the way to go.  I started developing, and quickly finished a cover for my book, and prepared myself for the indie world.

Then my computer crashed, and my genius at the Mac store was Nick, a friend I had met about a year prior when he had newly entered the movie and TV business.  Turns out, he had done a book trailer for a local publisher, Pants on Fire Press.  Nick put me in touch with the owner, David.

David got hold of my manuscript and cover.

Image of original front cover

The first thing he pointed out was that I would need a new cover.  My cover screamed “INDIE AUTHOR”… He had a unique approach to publishing in which the author uses Pants on Fire’s contacts, vendors and expertise to self publish their book under the Pants on Fire brand.  I loved this idea!  My book could look and feel like it was published by a “big”, but I could retain a much higher royalty rate.  The first step, however, was making sure the Gasparilla’s Treasure was a fit for Pants on Fire.  David read my book, and was confident the story would be a good match for Pants on Fire.  He sent it to one of his editors to see what she thought, and she too liked the story, but felt the writing would need further editing.  The $2000 editing price tag was a deal breaker for me, and the necessity for editing was a deal breaker for David, so we decided not to move forward.  He did however connect me with an amazing artist, Natasha, to do my cover work.  As of this writing, we are in the middle of the new cover design, and it’s amazing!

Concept art of new cover

So now, I am back to self publishing, and I am eager to get the book out there.  I am just waiting for Natasha to finish the incredible cover art.

More on my createspace, smashwords, kindle, pubit, and smashwords experience to follow:

 

 

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Turning my script into a book

In my last post, I explained how I came to write my first book.  Now I’ll discuss my thoughts on the process of converting my script to a book:

In short, my script was about three kids who must decipher clues hidden around St Augustine, FL to find Verlof’s treasure.  There was very little in the script about the fictitious Verlof and the origins of his treasure.  As I pondered converting my script to a book, I felt it might be fun to start the book in the distant past, as Verlof battled to get the treasure.  As my brain rattled around, I decided it would be even more fun if the treasure was based on actual hidden treasure, which led me to search the internet for “hidden treasure Florida”.  The results revealed many blood thirsty pirates and the promise of their hidden treasures.

One of the stories, the story of the legendary pirate Jose Gaspar intrigued me to no end.  As an officer of the Spanish Navy, Gaspar was accused by a scorned lover of stealing the crown jewels, decided to commandeer his own ship and pledged revenge on any ship flying the Spanish flag.  This seemed the perfect back-story for my book.  The pirate Jose Gaspar took the name Gasparilla, and so did my book.

The prologue of Gasparilla’s Treasure now told the detailed story of how and why Jose Gaspar became a pirate, and then how his ship was torn to shreds by an enemy ship.  Alas, my wife, who I trust to no end, was bored by the back story and the prologue was rewritten and reduced to its current form, which as painful as it was for me, was an excellent choice, giving the beginning of the book drive and momentum.

Then I set out to convert my existing script to a book.  The story, characters, and dialogue were all there, so all I needed to do was make those elements flow as a book.  It was freeing to be able to mention how a character felt, and mention things that may have happened in the past; something you have to steer clear of in a screen-play.  I expanded descriptions of locations, added subtle plot points, and felt the project was moving along nicely.  Before I knew it, I held a completed manuscript in my hand.

Again, I looked to my wife as a first reader, and much to my dismay, she had a difficult time reading the story.  My text did not flow and my sentence structure was awkward; not qualities you look for in a best seller.  As with my first scripts, I learned that I had to think like a writer.  I dove back into the story with my wife’s notes in mind, and immediately saw the errors of my non-writer ways.  Hours were spent digging through the pages of my story, correcting my mistakes.  Next I forced my wife to read it again, and things were better now.

My next blog will cover editing, book trailer, and thoughts on publishing…

 

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How I Decided to Write a Book

Here’s the journey that lead me to write my first book:

I’ve been working in the sound department for films and television since 1992 and have worked on projects like Dolores Claiborne, Wild Things, My Dog Skip, Burn Notice, and Dolphin Tale.  Feel free to check me out on imdb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0166261/

It seems to me, every person I’ve met in the business has a script idea or script they have written; and I am no exception.  I made a couple of attempts at screenwriting early in my career, and again more recently.  In 2008 I finished a script I had been toiling over, on and off, for a couple of years.  I gave the script to our Burn Notice creator/Executive Producer and he kindly gave it a read.  His advice was simple enough, “Throw that script out, read the books Screenplay and Writing Screenplays That Sell, and then start over.”  He did have some nice things to say, but turns out, you can’t just write a script with no knowledge of story structure and character development.  You need to think like a writer.  I had always assumed I could write a script since I had read so many, but that was obviously not the case.

So I took the advice, read the books, and started over.  Not able to bear a rewrite of the same script, I started fresh with my new-found writing tools to write Verlof’s Treasure.  Knocking out the first draft early in 2009, I had a few of the other Burn Notice writers give me a critique.  This time, the reviews were much better.  One writer gave some amazing technical notes, and the other gave incredible story notes.  I drug my feet a bit longer, and finally completed a rewrite, then another, and then a final draft.  As I proudly held my newly written script, I remembered how difficult it was to get a script produced; even for someone in the business, and decided to take the easy road.  Verlof’s Treasure was filed away to be dealt with later.

I tried to forget about the story, but it just kept working it’s way back into my consciousness, and then made it’s way to my daily conversations with friends.  In a likely attempt to shut me up, one of my friends/coworkers suggested that I should turn the script into a book.  He mused that if I could sell a few copies, maybe someone would be interested in producing the movie.  I instantly dismissed the idea, but for the next twenty months it kept needling at me until I could no longer resist the urge to turn my script into a book.

In July of 2011, I finally sat down and tackled the task of turning my script into a book.  Verlof’s Treasure became Gasparilla’s Treasure, and now in January of 2012 the book is finally completed and edited.

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