Should You Self-Publish Or E-Publish?

If your book or novel doesn’t fit into a well-defined mass market box that the large publishing houses cater to, you may find yourself researching smaller publishers. In today’s world, that seems to mean e-publishers.

So, now that you’ve been offered a contract from an e-publisher you’re ecstatic. It feels great to say, “A publisher wants to publish my book.” But once you come off that high by reading the small print, your euphoria is replaced with questions. Reality sets in. What, exactly, does signing with an e-publisher do for you that self-publishing does not? Or is there an advantage to self-publishing over signing with an e-publisher?

Now that self-publishing without upfront fees, through Lulu, for example, is available and many e-publishers are either dispensing with an automatic print run, charging you for print, or making print dependent upon number of sales, it’s time to examine what exactly an e-publisher does for you versus self-publishing. So, let’s take a closer look at each scenario.

E-publish

You now have a publisher’s name to announce. You can tell everybody, “I’m published by “so-and-so.” In return, the e-publisher may:

  • Provide a web site
  • Format the book during production
  • May or may not edit the book and you may or may not agree with the edits
  • Provide a cover
  • If print, they will provide the ISBN and get your book into Amazon and Barnes and Noble, although some e-publishers charge a fee for print
  • Determine the release schedule
  • Bond with other writers with the same publisher
  • Draw traffic to your book by readers of that publisher if similar in genre
  • May or may not provide your book in print
  • Insist you spend time promoting, including participating in author chats

Self-publish

You have to go it alone. Sometimes you will be dismissed as being “self-published” and reviews will be harder to obtain. In return, you can:

  • Create your own web site presence
  • Control the schedule
  • Design your own cover, including the ability to use the cover in promotion
  • Format your book design during production
  • Edit as you wish or hire your own editor
  • Set your own price above POD fees, although ISBN packages may set price too high
  • Determine availability in electronic and/or print
  • Retain the rights to sell to one of the big publishers
  • Control promotion of your book and not have it listed in areas you deem inappropriate

You may have noticed that it really comes down to how much you’re capable of or have the desire to do yourself. Especially if you have your own web site, and the professional editing, graphic, and production skills. With self-publishing you will have to get your book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, which will require the purchase of an ISBN or the ISBN package that Lulu provides. But the additional distribution fees may raise the price of your book to a point that will not sell. Or you could self-publish with Lulu, without purchasing the ISBN package, thereby, setting your own price.

But self-publishing may be worth it if you have your heart set on seeing your book in print and the e-publisher has set a certain number of sales before they will put it in print. Note: some types of books do not sell as well in e-format and will never get enough sales to then move into print. The e-publisher will retain the print rights for a set amount of time and you’ll have to wait for them to expire before you either sell them to another publisher or self-publish it yourself anyway.

Only you can determine which publishing method is best for you and your book. But, whatever method you choose, promotion is really going to be up to you.

 

Deleted Scene from Real Women Wear Red

REAL WOMEN WEAR RED


Deleted Scene

CYN

(Also published on More.com)

“Dignity and self-respect, dignity and self-respect.”

When I left my ex-husband, Alec, my two favorite words were “dignity” and “self-respect.” From that moment on, I was going to run as fast as I could from anything that even ever so slightly put either one of those two at risk. It became my mantra of sorts. I would mutter to myself, “dignity and self-respect, dignity and self-respect” whenever I felt slightly threatened or insecure.

So there I was two days before the flight to Miami lying on the doctor’s table with my legs spread as far apart as they physically could. Actually, farther I was sure. With my feet in stirrups and almost every part of my voluptuous body exposed because the two pink paper napkins they gave me, one for my large breasts and the other for my ample bottom, had ripped apart and were flying through the air.

I asked myself whatever happened to dignity and self-respect? Should I throw on my clothes and drive away as quickly as I could or did I endure it, escape to some place pleasant in my mind and get it over with? Because it took all of my courage to even show up for this appointment without cancelling at the last minute. I dreaded this appointment more than ever since my divorce.

Maybe it was the part where they asked about my nonexistent sex life.

But back to the indignity of lying here on the GYN table. After all, the doctor, female I might add, had appeared. I wasn’t sure I was happy with another female poking around my body so intimately. But I also wasn’t sure a male doctor would make me feel any better. Not unless he offered a better dressing gown. But why take a chance? Next time, I’d bring my own.

I closed my eyes and held my breath as she poked around commenting on my privates, “You’re a bit red and dry.”

I quickly offered, “Must be my bath soap. I showered right before I came in.

“No, no. It happens at your age, you know.”

I was thinking “Dry? No way. That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about, even at my age.” Then she asked, for the second time, “Do you do regular monthly breast exams?”

Then I did say, “Are you kidding me? With these giant globes, my breasts get more action than a Vegas casino on a Saturday night.” And I winked. Didn’t know where that came from. Guess my usual way of using humor in uncomfortable or overly sterile situations. The good doctor didn’t even crack a smile. Just looked at me underneath her glasses riding halfway down her nose.

The truth was, my body hadn’t had much action since, and I hated to admit it, I discovered my divorce attorney ex-husband having an affair with one of his clients–a woman going through a divorce. How original.

And as quickly as the doctor appeared, she disappeared. I was told to get dressed. And as I clasped my bra, she knocked again, fully expecting me to be finished. It took a little more time than that to put us all back together.

I didn’t answer the knock, trying desperately to get my top back on but she entered anyway. “Oh, I thought you’d be done.” I smiled knowingly to myself. Guess she really didn’t know what my life was all about. Because, believe me, there was no chance I wasn’t going to know what was going on with my breasts and my body was well lubricated, thank you very much. Even at my age. Maybe, especially at my age. Maybe I hadn’t had much action here lately but my years of living had given me the experience to get to know my body quite well.

She looked over my chart and told me my blood pressure and cholesterol levels were all quite good. She gazed at me, through her reading glasses, looking rather surprised and said, “Guess you’ve got good genes.”

At my weight and age (who made up those weight charts anyway?), I think she expected something else. Something her medical books told her:

1. If a patient is over 20 pounds “overweight,” check for health risks A, B, and C.

2. If a patient is over 40, check for health risks, X, Y, and Z.

3. If a patient does not fit our diagnostics, shake your head.

Having heard that piece of good news, I sucked up enough courage to ask the question I really wanted to know and why I had kept this appointment right before the cruise. If I was going to execute “operation boy toy.”

“Uh, doctor,” I began as I cleared my throat, “am I still young enough to get pregnant?”

She looked at me below the rims of her glasses again and said, “Only if you have sex.” Ha! So the doctor did have a sense of humor.

I walked out of the doctor’s office with a spring in my step, happy to be exactly where I was, where I had come from, and where I was going. And I was meeting Maggie for drinks. My reward for following through on the appointment most dreaded by women everywhere.

I mean, I walked in there feeling confident, and came out of there feeling confident but in-between going in and coming out was another story. But all of that was behind me. It was time to enjoy the anticipation of embarking on a new adventure.

3 Important Parts to Writing A Good Blog

In our busy lives today, nobody has time or energy or interest in reading every word you write on your blog. But there are some things you can do to improve the chances of readers paying attention to your blog. But writing is writing and whether you’re a technical writer, marketing writer, article writer, or blog writer, there are three areas of your writing that you need to pay attention to.

Writers in the past often had the luxury of just focusing on their writing, but today’s writer needs to be concerned about all three of these areas:

  1. Writing (Create)
  2. Editing (Rewrite)
  3. Production Editing (Design)

The best blogs pay attention to all three points, although many bloggers out there only focus on point #1 or point #2. They may have some great content, but they throw it down there and don’t edit it. One or two typos doesn’t mean it wasn’t edited; sometimes you have to edit several times to remove all errors. Or they have some good content, they edit it, but they don’t focus on the design or format. By this I mean, they’ll write one long paragraph or have several paragraphs but don’t include a space above and below, blurring the paragraph breaks.

But the presentation is a very important piece of it all. It makes the difference between drawing your reader in and allowing them to receive the great information you have or turning the reader off in confusion as to what you were trying to say. Just as people make judgments based on first impressions when it comes to style and dress, so do they when it comes to your blog.

As an example, in my “Writing Reports” class, I received an “A” not just on the writing and editing, but also, I believe, on the presentation. When I presented my report to the class, everybody oohed and aahed when they saw it. Why? Because it had a pleasing design and I had used a color printer. Design is a crucial piece to conveying information to readers (search on “designing content for the web” for resource material).

“But it’s just a blog,” you might say. “I don’t have time to scrutinize my writing and edit it for hours.” True. How much time you spend on your blog may also depend on what your focus is and what kind of outcome you’re trying to achieve. If it’s a business blog, you’ll want to pay attention to the details. A personal blog? Well, that’s up to you.

But if you’re short on time, the biggest impact you can have on making it reader-friendly is to run a spell check and to:

  1. Use short paragraphs (shorter for blogs than for other types of writing)
  2. Add white space between paragraphs
  3. Add subheads if you have a long post or are covering several topics

 

Tips for Father/Daughter Reunions

Many have written to me asking for advice for meeting your father or daughter for the first time. I’ve taken my previous articles and combined them into one article, Tips for a Father/Daughter Reunion.

Tip One: Use a third party to locate the missing family member

It’s not always easy to locate a missing father or daughter by yourself. If all else fails you can hire a private detective, but then you may want to do the actual contact yourself. A private detective may be off-putting for a father or a daughter. However, one option is to locate another family member who may make that initial contact for you by forwarding an email or letter. Be sure to include your contact information in it.

Tip Two: Write a letter as your first means of contact

While there is the possibility of making first contact by using the telephone, expressing your feelings in writing allows you to make sure you’ve said everything you meant to say in the way you meant to say it. Receiving a letter from you also allows the other person time to think over what you’ve said and to process it before responding.

Tip Three: Fathers: Show interest and ask questions

A phone call can get everything off to a wrong start if, out of nervousness, you find yourself rambling on about yourself or your other kids. Not asking about her and listening to you talk about your other kids is the last thing the daughter wants the first time she hears from you—or even the second or third—especially not at the first meeting. In a child’s mind, she may think of you as “my dad.” While some part of her realizes you could have other children, she needs some time to bond with you on a one-on-one basis. Be her dad for awhile—there’s time to introduce the rest of the family later.

Tip Four: Daughters: Be prepared for his side of the story

They say that there is her side of the story, his side of the story, and somewhere in the middle is the truth. Expect that there will be another side of the story and be willing to listen to it. React calmly and try to understand the situation.

Tip Five: Show patience and understanding

The biggest reason that fathers aren’t more open to contacting their adult children is spelled F-e-a-r. Fathers are afraid that they will be blamed for not being there, they will be accused of abandoning the child and they are afraid of being attacked. Fathers also worry about the people in their present life: their wife, their kids, their grandkids, their neighbors, the people at church.

But like any new relationship, with love, understanding, and patience, this relationship can grow into something more. It takes time, the right circumstances and the willingness on everyone’s part. It doesn’t always turn into the father/daughter relationship you’ve always hoped for but sometimes it helps to be grateful for what you do get. And what you do get may surprise you, and make taking that risk of rejection well worth it.

 

Meeting Your Father for the First Time

Nothing prepares you for meeting your father for the first time when you’re an adult. Because meeting this way is not normal. Your father is supposed to be there at your birth and be somebody you have always known. So what can you expect when your search has finally resulted in receiving your father’s contact information either directly or through another person?

First of all, please realize that you will need patience, understanding, and an open mind that there may be circumstances you know nothing about. You will need to put your own emotions aside and put yourself in his shoes. Because the first thing that usually happens is silence. That’s when your emotions go on a roller coaster ride: from ecstasy over finding him to complete rejection when he doesn’t immediately pick up the phone and declare his undying love for you. And then all of those emotions in-between: impatience, anger, loss, sadness, regret, and fear.

Step One: Be Patient

It took my father 2 months to contact me after my uncle gave him my contact information. I cried and prayed on the couch every day. Then we went away for a 1-week cruise to Alaska and when we returned home, I turned on the computer, checked my email and there it was: his email titled, “Knowledge.”

Why knowledge? Well, to him, contacting me was all about responding to my request for information about him. After mulling it over for 2 months, he was still reluctant to take it further, to talk, to connect, to meet, let me into his heart, all the time wondering what the gain was. After all, he had put me behind him years ago. He had moved on, remarried and had another family. And his other children knew nothing of me.

Step Two: Understanding Your Father’s Reluctance

Want to know the biggest reason that fathers aren’t more open to contacting their adult children first? F-e-a-r. Fathers are afraid that they will be blamed for not being there, they will be accused of abandoning the child and they are afraid of being attacked. Sometimes rightly so. Most often than not, it’s complicated. It’s not clear-cut who’s to blame. In many cases, there’s something that’s being covered up. Quite often the mother blames the father, convincing the child to be on her side. And the child does become angry at the father or certainly convinced their mother was right and their father was wrong.

Fathers also worry about the people in their present life: their wife, their kids, their grandkids, their neighbors, the people at church. What are they all going to think about him having this child who suddenly appears on the scene?

Knowing all of this and accepting your father for who he is, then you’ll be more open to understanding he has his own point of view and reasons for his behavior. And that, under the circumstances, he is doing the best he can.

Step Three: Be Prepared for his Side of the Story

Knowing what I know now, I realized I should have expected that there would be another side to the story. But because I was so sure my mother was right, I went into complete shock and anger and experienced deep feelings of betrayal when I discovered the truth. This alienated me from my family. If I had gone in there expecting that she had told me her side and my father had another side, maybe I would have reacted more calmly and understood better what was going on

But like any new relationship, with love, understanding, and patience, this relationship can grow into something more. It takes time, the right circumstances and the willingness on everyone’s part. It doesn’t always turn into the father/daughter relationship we’ve always hoped for but sometimes it helps to be grateful for what you do get.

Read more in Myths of the Fatherless.

 

Relationships with Fathers Influence Relationships with God

You may have read my article, “Relationships with Fathers Influence Relationships with Men.” Or perhaps you have read my book Myths of the Fatherless where I dispel the myths about being fatherless that society often accepts as fact. But since I wrote this article and book, I’ve heard from several men and women about how being fatherless is impacting their marriage, their sexuality, and their ability to trust God.

Because the experience you’ve had with a father figure or lack of father figure sets the stage for your experiences with all male figures, including your Heavenly Father. Often people will tell you that your Heavenly Father is the “father to the fatherless,” hoping to bring you comfort. And that is true. But, first, you may have to work through some issues in order to feel the comfort that a relationship with our Heavenly Father can bring.

How do you do that? Whether you’re a committed Christian or not, the first thing to do is to pray to our Heavenly Father. Perhaps you don’t know how to pray. I’ve learned that simple can be the most powerful. Sometimes just saying or writing the word “Help” or “Help me God” will create a powerful connection to our Heavenly Father. After that, just speak from your heart, tell your story, and share your hurts with God. It’ll probably be an immense relief, getting it out of yourself and onto someone else. Telling our stories is very powerful and who better to tell our story to than a loving, all-powerful Father?

As humans, we were created to tell our stories. Generation after generation of telling our stories led to the creation of books. We live in a powerful era of being able to tell our stories and connecting with other people through the internet-either by joining a group or creating a personal blog.

Author, spiritual leader, and life coach Iyanla Vanzant from the television show, “Starting Over,” says to “Tell your story and heal yourself. Tell your story and heal somebody else.” If anybody knows, she does. She’s lived through it all.

I followed that advice and told my story. It’s been enormously powerful in leading me to healing myself, to healing others, and to healing my relationship with my earthly father and my Heavenly Father. I hope to help others tell their story, too. The method I choose to use is through my writing: articles, blogs, books and especially through fiction. I hope that you will find it helpful on your own journey to healing.

 

Relationships with Fathers Influence Women’s Relationships with Men

It’s less important for a daughter to know her father than it is for a son. That is not true.

Research suggests that fathers are enormously important to a young woman’s development and when the father is missing, for whatever the reason, women suffer in their relationships with men.

All too often women are not even aware that not having a loving relationship with their own father is affecting them in any way. You’re smart, you get good grades in school, you’re an achiever, you’re well-behaved, you’re a nice girl. You have a nice family—a stepdad whom you call “dad.” Nobody sees this as a problem—you don’t see it’s a problem.

Or maybe you’re adopted and the only family you’ve known is your loving, Christian adopted family. Only there’s a slightly nagging feeling, in spite of loving people trying to reassure you otherwise, that “you’re not good enough—you were a mistake.”

There was a storyline on the first season of the daytime television show, Starting Over, where a woman in her 30s was searching for the father she had never met. During the second season, another woman, barely 20, arrived in a state of denial that her biological father was anybody she needed to know. Both women ended up meeting their father and starting some sort of relationship with him. It was interesting that the one who had denied the most had also gained the most. In addition to these 2 women, most of the women in the house were having problems because they didn’t know their father or had other father issues.

Since I had just met my father in 2002, their stories and other stories of adopted children seeking their birth mother or father really hit home and I realized I was not alone. Because once I met my biological father, I knew then just how important it was to know him. And it changed my life. Because the biggest loss of not knowing my father was not knowing myself and only when I finally met my father was I able to put some of the pieces together. And that was key to starting me on the path to following my childhood dream of pursuing a fiction writing career.

The wide range of emotions I felt prompted me to write Sherry Boyd’s story in Lies! Camera! Action! [note: this was my second manuscript and will never be published.] 🙂

In this story, Sherry doesn’t realize why she is having so many problems in her life, not only professionally but most importantly personally, with men. Only when she confronts her repressed feelings to look for her father, is she able to turn her life around.

In my next novel, Real Women Wear Red, Sandy Brown is forced to confront her feelings over being adopted and how not knowing either her birth mother or birth father affected her life. And then she has to make a choice: to accept or reject her birth mother. And what that feels like from the birth mother’s point of view.

In my work in progress, the story showcases 3 women and how not knowing their father affects them in 3 different ways: the serial monogamist, the commitment-phobe (3 broken engagements), and the one who avoids men altogether and finds comfort in women instead.

While I can’t prevent one more child from being separated from their birth mother or father, I can raise the awareness of what it means to a woman to not know her father, and, hopefully, encourage her to take a step towards finding and meeting him, if possible. It took me over 40 years to do it and my only regret is that I waited so long.