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Topics - Puddleduck

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Writers' Cafe / grammar question - seven years bad luck
« on: May 26, 2018, 07:38:46 PM »
So, the phrase "seven years bad luck" ... is that supposed to be possessive? I'd been thinking of it as not, but then I thought, is it technically supposed to be like "seven years' worth of bad luck"? Should there be an apostrophe after "years" to indicate a possessive? Or not? Or does it matter? (Considering this phrase structure as a title, and I don't want to have a grammar error in my title.)

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Writers' Cafe / How many words can I write in just under two weeks?
« on: May 01, 2018, 05:55:15 AM »
So I'm about to try that "lock yourself in a hotel room and write" thing. My goal is to not leave. At all. It's got a little kitchen, so I'm gonna try to bring all my food, though I may need to go grocery shopping at some point.

My goal is to complete a novel which, currently, I've only got one chapter done on. But I haven't done this before, and I've never actually written a novel that quickly. I'd post daily updates, but I'm also going to try to stay away from the internet the whole time, so I'll have to just report back when I'm done. Not entirely sure how long I'll be there, but I think I'm scheduled for 13 days.

Does anyone have any tips for me?

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Writers' Cafe / Question about file formats for sideloading
« on: March 25, 2018, 09:39:38 AM »
I use Vellum to make ebooks, and it creates store-specific files for the major stores. I had at first thought that there was no real difference in the epub files, until I found out that a Kobo-specific epub file looks much better on my Kobo e-reader than a generic epub file does. I then tried opening a Google Play specific epub file on my Android phone and discovered that there wasn't even any way to open it without downloading a separate epub reading app, so I assume there's no difference there between a generic epub and a Google Play specific epub.

But what about Nook and Apple? I tried testing it on my parents' ipad, but that has go through iTunes, and their device isn't connected to my iTunes account, so I couldn't test it. Can anyone who has an iPad/iPhone and/or a Nook confirm whether a generic epub file looks any worse on those devices than a store-specific one?

I'm trying to determine which file formats I should include when providing ebook downloads on my website so that people can have the best file format no matter what device they have, without including totally unnecessary formats. If there is any improvement in providing the specific epub over the generic epub, I want to go ahead and include the specific epub, but if there's no difference at all, I don't want to include it.

So far, I've determined that I should include:
mobi
generic epub
Kobo epub

And not include:
Google Play epub

Undetermined are:
iBooks epub
Nook epub

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Writers' Cafe / Currently with Mailchimp - Should I switch?
« on: March 20, 2018, 09:12:16 AM »
By "with Mailchimp" I mean I have an account and a newsletter set up, but I haven't actually used it yet and only have like 3 subscribers. So it would be very easy for me to switch to a different service.

It seems like people aren't using Mailchimp as much as they used to, so I'm wondering what the thinking is on what the best service is currently.

What prompts my current wondering is that I'm trying to get the list sign-up embedded in my new website, but when I modify the text in the form editor, those changes don't carry over to the actual HTML code, and I don't know how to change them. And I can't contact Mailchimp for help about this because any kind of support is only available to paying subscribers. (Which is kinda weird to me. If I can't get it to work and can't figure out how to fix it, why would they expect me to give them money on the hope that they'll help me fix it and I'll like the result?)

My new website is with Wix, which has their own newsletter thing, but what I've seen people say online doesn't seem to be very positive, and I don't think I've seen anyone here talk about their experiences with that service.

What I need in a newsletter service is:
1. Double-opt in ability
2. Ability to have groups and for people to sign up for only one or a few groups (I write multiple genres)
3. Easy website form embedding

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Writers' Cafe / How important is having your own website?
« on: March 18, 2018, 03:02:04 PM »
I'd always thought that having your own author website, with your own domain, was a really important part of being a professional indie author. But as I've discovered, it's also a huge hassle. I've had my website hacked (thanks to that Wordpress leak last year), and while I think I've got that fixed, I just got a message from Wordfence that my IP address (that is, the server's IP address, not my personal IP address) had been blacklisted a couple places. When I contacted Bluehost about this (because, I figured, it's their server and therefore they should fix it, or at minimum walk me through how to fix it), and they basically told me it was my job to fix it and it must have happened because I did something sketchy that violated Bluehost's TOS. I haven't done anything with my website at all for months. I made a blog post in January, but other than that, nothing for probably over a year. No newsletters, nothing. And yet here I'm told to interpret this wall of techie talk to fix a problem that I definitely caused and which doesn't reside on any piece of equipment I actually own or have access to.

Is this really how hosting works? Is this just Bluehost being weird, or is this sort of thing really standard?

Because if this is the way it's normally supposed to go, I'm this close to throwing my hands up and dumping my personal website altogether. Amazon has author pages, and now D2D is getting those in (haven't set mine up yet). There must be a way I can set up a newsletter without needing a proper, hosted website. I never had any problems with the free Wordpress site I used to have, so maybe I'll just get one of those again. Even if I decide to sell my own products, I think Selz (and similar sites) let you set up a storefront on their sites if you don't have your own.

I know that having your own "home on the web" is great and ideal, but when you don't have the tech skills to fix these complex problems and attacks that come up, and the company you're paying to host your site does nothing to fix them either, is it really worth all that trouble?

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Writers' Cafe / Short stories in KU?
« on: March 15, 2018, 01:15:12 PM »
I'm wide and am very sure I want to stay that way (as a general rule). All I've got out currently are some short works (not full novels yet). I just set one to permafree (via D2D, and I assume Amazon will price match at some point). I have another that I delisted from D2D because I just decided to unpublish it. Not because it's bad, but the cover's not my most professional (had to make it myself) and it isn't as much a standalone as my other shorts. (I'm planning to put it in a collection at some point, but not for a while.) Before I delist it from Amazon, I thought that maybe I'd toss it into KU and see what happens. Is this worth the experiment? Does anyone read short stories in KU? I know that KU is based on pages, so a 6k-ish-word short story won't pay out much, but literally anything is better than what I'm getting from it currently. I suppose it's unlikely to hurt anything to try (unless scammers get involved and my account gets banned or something), but ... I don't know. Is it worth the effort at all?

I've got a couple other shorts for sale that share characters with this one (actually, one for sale and the one I just set to permafree), so my thinking was that maybe it would be a way to try to introduce myself a little to the KU audience. I know a lot of people who have KU don't ever buy, but I'm assuming at least some people buy and use KU both. But even if they don't, some pages read would be making me more money than it's doing now.

PS the short is not erotica or even romance. It's contemporary fantasy, focused on character/relationship development and interpersonal conflict rather than action/crimefighting.

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Yes, I know that if you're reading an e-book, you can adjust font type and size, so this isn't really an issue there. But not everyone likes to read e-books. Some people still only read in paper. And some of those people probably want large print or a dyslexia-friendly font. It's a niche market, but it's out there. What I'm wondering is if anyone's offered any editions like this for their books, and if so, do they sell any of them?

I'm imagining this as a no-cost (other than your time) thing. If you're already doing a paperback, if you can do the formatting and cover adjustment yourself, and put it up on Lulu or somewhere where either you or the customer can order as needed. I know that multiple paperback editions would cause issues with listing on Amazon (and, I'd assume, other retailers), but maybe you only sell those special versions on your own website or eBay or etsy. Just to have them available in case anyone wants one.

I'm considering whether it might be worthwhile to do this, not as a money-making thing but more as a customer service thing, so that people who can't read regular fonts and don't read e-books could access your books. I know it's very niche, and I suppose I'd consider it worthwhile if even only a small number of people ever wanted them, because that's a couple people who maybe wouldn't have read your books otherwise. But if no one at all buys them, even after you've had them listed for years, then obviously it's not worth the effort.

Anyone have any thoughts on this idea?

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Writers' Cafe / what about horizontal text on paperback spines?
« on: November 16, 2017, 11:51:50 AM »
Just wondering what people think about putting the title/author text on the spines of paper books in a horizontal alignment rather than vertical (so you don't have to tilt your head to read it). Assuming, of course, short enough words and a thick enough book that the text isn't too small, what do you think about horizontal text? Is there some reason more books don't do it, or is it only that people want to do what's "normal" even when they have a thick book and short title, and horizontal text is abnormal?

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Writers' Cafe / Amazon and copyright registration
« on: November 16, 2017, 08:17:02 AM »
So some people have been talking about Amazon requiring them to prove their copyright to their works or face the consequences. Okay. If the work was never with a publisher, it sounds like the only way to do this is with proof of copyright registration. So, just send Amazon a copy of the registration. Sounds easy.

Except that the time between applying for registration and actually receiving it is (in the US, currently) like 8 or 9 months. Which means that if you publish to Amazon and immediately file for copyright, you've still got a big window of time when Amazon might decide to ask for proof of copyright and you're unable to provide it, potentially resulting in whatever negative consequences Amazon threatens.

So what do we do? Not worry about it and hope Amazon doesn't ask for proof of copyright? Publish everywhere else first and wait to put it on Amazon until you've received the copyright paperwork? Hold off on publishing altogether until you've received the copyright paperwork (which means sitting for most of a year on a completed book before putting it up for sale)?

I can understand why people mostly didn't worry about this in the past, but given that problems with Amazon seem to be increasing, it seems like something we should be thinking about.

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Writers' Cafe / compound word typos
« on: November 07, 2017, 04:58:21 PM »
When I run a spellcheck on my manuscript, I notice that the program flags a lot of words as misspelled that I've written as compound words but may in fact be two words. This happens a lot, so I don't have a lot of specific examples (because it's not just one list of words or anything either). But things like doorstep, backpack, footstool, stuff like that.

My problem is that I don't know whether this is a case of the program's dictionary not having real words and mis-flagging them, or if I have a tendency to use compounds when they should be two words.

So what I'm trying to figure out is: how do I solve this? Is there a good online dictionary that I can look up compound words in, to see if they're really compound words or two words? Is there some other resource? (I use Libre Office Writer to do my writing, but I've had this happen in Word too.)

Related, how big of a deal is it for readers if there are a bunch of compound words that should be two words? Will this annoy a lot of people if I'm unable to catch them? I mean, I'm usually pretty consistent about doing it one way or the other, since I spell them as compound words because that's how I understand them to be rather than as a one-off mistake.

I want to spell these things right, but it seems like a lot of dictionaries don't have a lot of real compound words, so I never know when the mistake is mine and when it's just an incomplete dictionary.

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I'm a ways off from setting up paperback distribution still, but watching how Amazon appears to be phasing out Createspace, I don't want to use Kindle Print (will keep an eye and revisit when I'm ready to hit publish on the print books), so I want to use Ingram Spark. (I'd actually want to use IS in conjunction with CS anyway.)

So here's my problem: I've got some e-book covers from a certain designer. This designer offers Createspace paperback covers that you can get as an add-on. I asked if they can do covers for IS, and the answer is basically no. They said the CS covers sometimes work for IS, but they can't help me if they don't work. But I don't want to pay for paperback covers and then be unable to use them.

I don't want to get new covers entirely (at this point, at least). So mainly I'm wondering how different the requirements are for IS than CS and how difficult it would be to adapt CS covers for IS. I've asked if I could at least get the PSD files to make the adjustments myself (haven't heard back yet). But if not, how hard would it be to change a flat, single layer CS cover for IS? Is making a paperback cover from an existing e-book cover (without the PSD) something that I could hire a different designer for?

Does anyone have any advice/tips?

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Writers' Cafe / How long does it take to get US copyright confirmation?
« on: October 29, 2017, 12:14:53 PM »
In mid-September, I submitted 6 works for copyright and immediately paid the associated fees. They're still showing as 'pending' status when I log in, and I haven't received anything in the mail.

How long does it usually take a copyright registration to go through and be finalized? It really seems like a month and a half is a long time for this.

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Writers' Cafe / So I got a terrible review today...
« on: October 19, 2017, 06:52:06 AM »
I got one of those really awful reviews. You know, the eviscerating, tear-it-to-shreds, "you're a horrible person for writing this" kind of reviews. I didn't actually read the whole thing. Once I saw words like "crap" and "despicable", I just skipped past. (An alert had come to my email inbox, so I didn't go looking for the review.) But I did glean enough to note one interesting thing.

This was a story that, when I was originally writing it, I'd been posting it online as I went. And while most people who left comments were enjoying it, I did get some very vocal complaints that the female main character was not reacting in a certain way that these readers thought she should have. (A way that, BTW, if she had reacted as they wanted, the story would have basically come to a screeching stop. Not that they ever acknowledged that.) So as I wrote, I tried to explain in the text why she was acting this way and not in the way these reviewers wanted. I tried, multiple times through the story, to work that in to help these readers to understand why she was acting the way she was.

And now, long after the story has been completed, I'm still getting awful reviews by people who thought she should have reacted in this totally other way.

It was an interesting reminder (in the way that slaps to the face are interesting) that I need to stop worrying about what anyone else thinks of my story and write it the way I want. Because people who are going to have fundamental disagreements with the way my characters are acting are often going to continue to have those problems no matter how clearly I try to explain why the characters are acting the way they are.

I'm leaning more and more toward writing basically in a vacuum of my own thoughts and then putting the story out into the world and letting it sink or swim. Because the vast majority of reviews I've gotten for that story have been good, and it's an exercise in frustration to try to mollify the furiously unhappy.

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I'm trying to figure out what's the best font to use for the paper version of my book (I'm planning on doing all interior formatting myself). I like Garamond, but I understand that's a very expensive font to use. So I'm wondering if anyone knows of any similar fonts that are either free for commercial use or cheap (say, under $50 for unlimited usage) that would be appropriate for printed book interiors. I'd want to be able to either get it totally free or for a single, one-time fee (this isn't something I want to have to do upkeep on).

I'm also interested if anyone has any other, general recommendations for free/cheap fonts that I could use in this way, which would be appropriate for a contemporary fantasy on the longer side (over 100k words, so not a font that's too wide/space-consuming).

And while we're at it, do people usually do single space or 1.5 spacing for print interiors?

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I'm considering attempting to write a to-market urban fantasy story, only I want to do one with a male lead. What I'm wondering is what people think about using my usual female pen name or if I should make a new, male or gender neutral name to use.

I'm wondering if readers will be more critical of a first person male narrator if they know the author is female. Or if there are any other concerns or things to consider regarding female-written first person stories with a male main character.

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This came up on another thread, and it really made me wonder. I'd been planning on trademarking my publishing company name and logo. But someone pointed out on this other thread that if you trademark something, you're legally required to defend it in order to keep it. And I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have the money to go through the legal proceedings to defend a trademark, at least not until I start making a lot more money than I am now.

So I was wondering what everyone thought on the subject. Should I trademark my publishing company name or not? Would it even do me any good if I don't have the funds to pursue defending it if necessary?

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Writers' Cafe / Looking for a weirdly specific analogy/simile
« on: September 26, 2017, 01:33:49 PM »
I need a fill-in-the-blank for some dialogue. It's one vampire talking about how this other, really powerful vampire won't tolerate any other vampires in his city. The line is basically, "He squats over [city] like his own personal [???]." I have this image of some mythological creature really basically squatting/hovering over a city, and something in my brain is telling me there's some "slouching towards Bethlehem" style mythology/poetry/classic literature reference I can use. I just can't think what it might be? Does anyone know of something like that? If not, does anyone have any other suggestions for metaphors/similes that I might use? (The tone is meant to be that the speaker is partly afraid of this vampire but also partly mocking him.)

Edit: I think I got it! "He looms over the city like Ozymandias." Thanks, everyone!

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