Guest Post: Self-Publishing, by Mark Bierman

Not too long ago, I had the privilege of being hosted by talented blogger, DA-AL, on her wonderful blogsite Happiness Between The Tails. I encourage everyone to visit her site, there is a variety of topics, it’s well crafted and there’s something for all! Thank you again, DA-AL for this opportunity.

Human trafficking occurs in every country, including Canada and the U.S. In light of this, Ontario novelist/blogger Mark Bierman dedicates 50% of profits from his book, “Vanished,” to organizations that help victims of this terrible crime. He first guest posted on Happiness Between Tails here. Read on for what he’s learned about self-publishing…

“Self-Publishing” by Mark Bierman

It’s 5a.m. as I climb out of bed and begin to brew the cognition ignition potion, or coffee if you wish to go by its scientific classification. The percolation underway, I pad off to my writer’s den, or the “spare bedroom,” as some in this house call it. The computer is poked awake and generates particles of light that spread across the mahogany desk until they reach the ‘bills to pay’ file box. A tiny shadow figure climbs into the box, and peers malevolently up at me.

“Karl Jackson, if you wish to pay my bills, that’s fine, just be sure to hop back into the story when you’re done.”

If anyone can afford to liberate us from debt, it’s the villainous King of the Klondike. I keep my voice calm to hide my concern. Oh, he goes on these forays almost daily but has never before managed to enter our world until the file marked, ‘trimmedprodigalson,’ has been opened. Hmmm . . . I must look into upgrading the firewall. The filename is not the title for the new book but rather denotes the concept. The ‘trimmed’ portion is the result of my cantankerous nitpicking of the original manuscript. I can’t speak for every author, but for me, a book is never really finished. I’ve yet to reread my first novel, Vanished, for sanity’s sake.

It’s a Wednesday, and I’m off from my survival job as a Correctional Officer. That means I have a full two hours of novel writing before the rest of the house is awake and the nineteenth-century morphs back into the twenty-first. When the clock chimes seven, my role as an author ceases, and I put my parenting hat on. There are kids to feed and drive to school, after that, chores, a workout, and whatever else the day brings. I try to squeeze in marketing between it all and combine it with other tasks. Instagram is often dealt with while riding the stationary bike, what else am I going to do, count the tiles in the basement ceiling? Twitter, best posted on between the hours of nine am to three pm, can be done at lunch, Facebook too. I’m careful not to crow about myself, too often. The rule of thumb is to focus 80% on others and 20% on yourself. So far, that formula has worked well for me.

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Blogs are the hardest and most time-consuming. I commit the sin of failing to post regularly, I know better. To truly grow your audience, you need to be consistent. Many bloggers post daily and have themed days. It’s something I’m working on, but time is not my ally here.

So, how did this all begin? How did someone in my profession decide to become an Indie Author? To tell you the truth, my job is precisely the reason. The pay is great, and with twenty years in, I have plenty of vacation days and a pension at the end of it all. Sounds great, right? Well, those perks come at a cost. The toll on your mental health can be overwhelming. Five years ago, I decided to find a positive outlet for my creative side, a place to share and bond with people who are focused on a dream and appreciate the work you do. The one positive thing I will say about my years in law enforcement is my vast collection of story and character fodder. Oh yes, there’s plenty of that in the good old Big House.

So why Indie? Are you not good enough to find a publisher? The truth is, I tried, but only twice. I waited six months to be rejected by both. I’m too impatient for that. Plus, I’ve heard stories of publishers changing parts of storylines or characters, nope, I wanted to control my own material. Of course, this may not apply to all publishers. Please don’t get me wrong, if you wish to pursue the traditional route, go for it! It’s a personal choice.

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Whichever path you choose, I highly recommend using Beta-Readers and professional proofreaders. No one wants to get those Amazon Reviews that call in to question the author’s level of grammar comprehension. Some of the best reads I’ve come across are Indie, others, not so much. However, I can say the same about traditionally published works. Remember, tastes vary, and some will cry for more chocolate while others prefer vanilla. Don’t expect a romance junkie to read your thriller through the same lens. You can’t write for everyone, find your niche, and build your fan base.

One last thing, before I go, find your ‘people.’ By that, I mean your support crew. Be it fellow authors, bloggers, reviewers, those in the industry, and in the know. They will help you become a better writer, offer constructive criticism, encourage and open doors for you.

I love this gig but writing and marketing a novel is a herculean task. This may sound silly, but I liken it to pushing a giant boulder that resembles a half-moon. The flat side remains motionless until heaved onto the rounded side. There may be a brief reprieve as you watch it roll for a short distance, but then it lands on the flat side again. If you leave the stone too long, moss grows on it. Yes, you can keep hoisting that stone in solo fashion, hoping that the flatness wears into a curve, but you’ll probably end up overworked and discouraged. Wouldn’t it be nice to have loyal and encouraging people to help keep that sucker moving? You will, of course, do likewise for them. I’ve been fortunate to find such a community. This includes da-AL and the members of Rave Reviews Book Club. Rave Reviews, founded by author Nonnie Jules, is an online community of both Indie and Traditionally Published writers, of all genres, all walks of life, and from around the world. I’ve been part of this family, because that’s what it feels like to me, for several years.

I found them by accident one day, as I was searching for more book clubs to join. I had been a member of several at this point, but something drew me to Rave Reviews, they are genuine and committed to helping. Currently, it is the only book club I’m involved with. They have helped me grow as a writer. Yes, there is an expectation of paying it forward. While that does take you away from your own project for a brief time, just remember, others are doing the same for you.

 

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There is a catalogue that includes books written by members. Everyone is encouraged to pitch in and do their best to support their fellow members by answering questions about writing, providing feedback about works in progress (Beta Reading), as well as advice and support on social media platforms. They have great programs such as, ‘Books of the Month,’ which feature member’s and their works, podcasts that allow a member to discuss their work, and even emotional support. I’ve personally been a ‘Book of the Month’ author and have also been featured on several podcasts. I once had a question about a book I was working on, whether or not to publish it as a series or as a single book. The problem was I had too much story for a single book, but not enough for a third. I was unsure and posed the concern to the group. Within a half-hour, I received advice that two-book series are acceptable. What a relief!

I highly recommend joining. You can find out more about Rave Reviews here.

Thank you, da-AL, for having me as a guest on your wonderful blog! I also want to thank you, the reader, for taking the time to visit this post. I wish you all the best in your writing career, or whatever you choose to do in life. Follow your passions, and take heart that setbacks are usually temporary and often the greatest teachers. Now if you’ll please excuse me, Karl Jackson is drinking my coffee and using my tablet to play Minecraft. It’s time to write him home.

Find out more about Mark and his writing at his website here and his blog here.

What’s your publishing game-plan?

A Fireside Tanka

I thought I’d try my hand at a bit of poetry, so here goes.

firedenbigh

Lighting up the night

Fearless of the dying light

Crackling warmth you give

Fed by rot, what joy you bring

It makes my heart wish to sing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Word Trivia Answers Revealed

We’ve settled into a blood freezing cold snap up here, in the great white north, so I’m taking advantage of breaks between shoveling the snow, and adjusting the heat, to reveal the truths about some wacky words I’ve tried to fool you with.

I thank all of you who took the time to play, and for challenging the quiz organically, instead of turning to Google. If you didn’t know a single one, don’t feel bad, these are not your everyday drivers.

Drum roll . . . please! Prepare to be amazed! Prepare to be enchanted! Enlightened? You get the point.

Once again, here are the words, the possible answers, and the correct answer below each.

Woopie: 

A: To declare oneself victorious, in spite of logical argument(s) brought forth by one’s opponent(s).

B: A beveled edged chisel used in nineteenth century cabinet making.

C: An affluent retired person able to pursue an active lifestyle.

D: A pie (any flavor) that is offered to another in order to win their affection. (shortened and derived from, To woo with pie).

Correct Answer: C 

Sockdolager: 

A: A forceful blow

B: A nineteenth century derogatory term for someone who begs for money or food on a wharf

C: To shun.

D: A mythical creature responsible for missing socks. It is believed to dwell in the linen traps of clothes dryers.

Correct Answer: A

He’s still adorable, though.

Winklepicker

A: Style of shoe or boot with a long pointed toe.

B: Another name for the threshing drum on a nineteenth century grain threshing machine.

C: The long claw on the middle toe of an African Wild Dog.

D: An ancient fairy who steals periwinkle flowers.

Correct Answer: A

Erinaceaous 

A: The characteristic of excessive boldness.

B: A term used in marine biology to refer to the time period during which the Great Barrier Reef began to form.

C: A term used to describe someone attractive enough to resemble a goddess. This was derived from the goddess Eriu, the goddess of Irish Sovereignty.

D: A term that refers to something or someone who resembles a hedgehog.

Correct Answer: D (yes, really 🙂 ) 

There you have it. Go forth and share your newly acquired wisdom about these peculiar, and obscure, Quasimodo’s of the English language. Rescue them from the darkest corners of the attic, mind the spiders, though.

If you enjoyed this bit of trivia, you can play again, just click on this link: Bibbles, Ratoons, And Bumfuzzles. Oh My!

 

Word Trivia Answers Revealed

Back in the middle of September I set up a little word quiz here. I included some of the most waggish terms that can easily befuddle even the most sagacious word smiths.

Now, you could altercate that what’s typed here is mere trumpery from an old pettifogger, and therefore not worth the binary code that was used to form the letters, but truly, who doesn’t like the odd bit of trivia?

You’ll find a review of the quiz below. Those who have not yet undertaken the challenge have been accommodated, as I have refrained from revealing the correct answers until the end. To those who’ve already participated and practiced Googlestraint (ya, I just made that up), I thank you for playing and for your abstinence. However, I lament that this format is a decoy to lure you far down the page, and thus closer to the ‘Like’ button.

I’m sorry to say that this time my daughter, vexed by her existing ‘mono-cookie’ contract, and failing in her attempts to have me ratify a ‘multi-’, decided that the world needed more Crayola unicorns than word pictures.

Nonetheless, onwards to the review and impartation.

Snollygoster:

A: Someone who is unwanted and shunned at social gatherings because of their habit of creating tension.

B: A monster that lives in sump pump wells and is the true cause of those terrifying gargling sounds. The “logical” people claim the noise is caused by the activation of the pump.

C: A politician who does or says things for personal gain.

Wabbit:

A: A term for being exhausted.

B: What Elmer Fudd calls Bugs Bunny.

C: A type of metal used to make wheel bearings.

Nudiustertian:

A: One who adheres to a hedonist lifestyle, for whom ‘everything goes’.

B: A word for the day before yesterday.

C: A mundane occurrence.

Abibliophobia:

A: The fear of bibs.

B: The fear of running out of reading material.

C: The fear of libraries.

Here is what’s ‘On the beam’:

Snollygoster:

C: A politician who does or says things for personal gain.

Wabbit:

A: A term for being exhausted.

Nudiustertian:

B: A word for the day before yesterday. Not as much fun as it sounds, is it?

Abibliophobia:

B: The fear of running out of reading material. I think most of us can relate to this one.

And as a bonus:

Bibble: The sounds of people eating/drinking noisily. This can be especially bothersome if you suffer from misophonia, which is the strong negative feelings, thoughts, and physical reactions to  “trigger sounds”.

Ratoon: The small shoot that comes from the root of a plant.

Bumfuzzle: A state of confusion. This term is so fitting for this article.

So, you have the meanings, take a bow if you knew most of them off hand . . . you are a true crackerjack!

Thanks for playing! Remember, a day without learning something new is humdrum.

 

 

Bibbles, Ratoons, And Bumfuzzles. Oh My!

Okay, raise your hand if you want to play a word quiz game today. Great! That’s everyone!

These words are some of the wackiest the English language has ever come up with, and that’s saying something.

Three choices are located under each word, and you guessed it, only one of them is correct (I challenge you to try them without Googling).  There are four words in total. You can put your guesses in the comments section, if you wish. The correct answers will be revealed in my next post.

For your viewing pleasure, I’ve asked my daughter to draw her interpretation of the word meanings. She really likes purple, can you tell?

Now, on with it.

Snollygoster: 

A: Someone who is unwanted and shunned at social gatherings because of their habit of creating tension.

B: A monster that lives in sump pump wells and is the true cause of those terrifying gargling sounds. The “logical” people claim the noise is caused by the activation of the pump.

C: A politician who does or says things for personal gain.

 

Monster

 

Wabbit:

A: A term for being exhausted.

B: What Elmer Fudd calls Bugs Bunny.

C: A type of metal used to make wheel bearings.

 

wabbit

 

Nudiustertian: 

A: One who adheres to a hedonist lifestyle, for whom ‘everything goes’.

B: A word for the day before yesterday.

C: A mundane occurrence.

(sorry, no picture, didn’t want to try to explain that one)

 

Abibliophobia: 

A: The fear of bibs.

B: The fear of running out of reading material.

C: The fear of libraries.

 

Library

 

So, there you have it, a few more words to add to your vocabulary arsenal that should have your friends and family rewarding you with an expression that might look like this:  (have your camera ready)  You’re welcome.

 

 

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