A few years back a good friend patiently explained something to me. “There are two parts to becoming a published author. One is the craft of writing and the other is the business of writing. They are two entirely different skillsets.” He was quite right.

These days, the business of self publishing not only includes reading the fine print, but also preparing your book so that it can be easily read on multiple devices. The problem is that authors are the unwilling pawns in a war between the media distribution giants. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and other companies require totally different formats for their books. The reasoning is simple. They want to be your only source for new reading matter on their proprietary devices.

If you are going to self publish, then you will need to convert your original document into four or five totally different formats. While this can seem intimidating, it’s really not that difficult.

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Multiplarity

The famous science fiction author, Vernor Vinge’ has been credited with originating the term singularity.

From Wikipedia, we have this, “…his 1993 essay “The Coming Technological Singularity”, in which he argues that the creation of superhuman artificial intelligence will mark the point at which “the human era will be ended,” such that no current models of reality are sufficient to predict beyond it.”

Both the term and related concepts have been further advanced with a series of books and lectures by Ray Kurzweil.

Although I believe this rapture of the nerds will occur, I don’t think it will be the all-encompassing revolution that these futurists predict. As my friends and fans know, I’m a history buff, and this allows one to take a wider view of things.

Just as today, there are those of you, reading this on some sort of screen that is driven with micro-electronics, at this same instant, at other places around the world, there are semi-literate people who’s very existence depends on herding animals. A deeper search can still reveal naked humans, armed with blowguns and arrows, living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle that would have been familiar to a Neanderthal.
Just as we have very intelligent and well-read people in the United States that are totally aware of the benefits of high-technology and yet choose a simpler lifestyle, I believe the future will not be a singularity, but rather, a multiplarity.

That is the universe I have depicted in the Multiplarity Trilogy. The first book sets the stage when humans finally break the tyranny of disease and death itself. As one would imagine, this sudden change in the way we view ourselves isn’t painless. But it does show a way around some of our current issues. Unfortunately, every solution comes with a brand-new set of problems.

The second book, Selenaphiles, deals with some of the basic problems of establishing an off-Earth colony. This became much more of a world-building exercise than I had originally planned. I’m a bit picky about the technological items in my stories. They all have to have some basis in current scientific research and prototypes. The inflatable structures of Bigelow Aerospace that I’ve described in both Omniphage and Selenaphiles, are in fact quite real and are undergoing orbital testing at this time.

Next week, we’ll take a look at some of the space travel hardware described in the Multiplarity Trilogy.

Click this to read An Author’s Journey: Part Three

Last week, I posted a brief tutorial on how to use Audacity to create your own audiobooks. Now, I’ve decided to share some of my experiences during the creation of my latest project.

First, a little background… I’ve recorded some short tales and a friend’s poem in order to test and hone my skills. This process has taught me a few things.

#1 Use a decent microphone. I have been using the same $20 headset and boom mic combination that I’ve used for Skype. It works. But the sound quality is just not that good. A couple of week’s ago, I broke down and purchased a Blue Yeti.

#2 However long it takes you to read a chapter slowly and distinctly, translates to four to five times that long to create the final MP3. Yes. The post-edit process is time-consuming. Plan on it.

#3 I’ve started recording Shifter Born, the first book in my Shifter Series. I’m on chapter ten of thirteen. As I finish reading each chapter, I’m doing the basic noise-reduction and editing out the screwups. That’s it for now. I’m going to leave the rest of the post-production, such as adding spacing, music, titles, copyright, and overall level balancing… until all the chapters are in the can.

It’s just the start. Feel free to ask questions along the way.

Autograph vs Signature

April 30, 2012

The majority of people assume an autograph is the same as a signature. There are some very important differences.

A legal signature can be anything at all and does not have to be legible. As long as you sign all your legal documents in the same general manner, it is binding in a court of law.

An autograph on the other hand, must be legible enough to satisfy your fans and it should not be confused with your signature.

As a case in point, a fan may hand you a pretty document and in your rush to get to an appointment, you might just scribble your name. If you autograph it as if it were a book jacket, that shows you were there in your celebrity persona. If that document happens to be an agent agreement or power-of-attorney contract, it can easily be argued that you did not legally sign it.

On the other hand, if you use the same signature for both legal documents and fan collectibles, you may one day find yourself in a tight spot.

Consider as well, that an autograph should be fairly quick and easy to create. That is why an aspiring author should practice it regularly. After all, once you’re famous, you’ll find yourself facing a horde of adoring fans at the next convention and won’t have time to think about it.

Good luck and be sure to pace yourself to avoid writer’s cramp.

The Nuclear Method

July 8, 2011

The Nuclear Method might sound like an odd title for a how-to book, but once read, you will appreciate it.

The Nuclear Method by Emma Wayne Porter is only ninety nine cents at Smashwords, but if you are preparing a document to sell as an eBook, it will save a ton of time.

It’s written in a lighthearted style that is easy to follow and yet manages to cram a lot of useful information into a step-by-step guide for the eBook publisher. I had known a couple of things from earlier experience, but there were a lot of new tips and everything is laid out in an easy-to-read, logical, step-by-step process.

It doesn’t matter if you’re using an antique Windows XP, Windows7, a Mac or the latest Linux desktop, the tools, methods and reasoning are immediately understandable.

Go ahead! Spend less than a buck and learn from a pro.

Thank you, Emma!

If you have any interest at all in creating independent video productions, then you need to check out this new group. By independent productions, I mean anything from a simple book trailer to a full-length movie.

The Creative Commons Film Group is dedicated to using Free and Open Source tools to help visual artists achieve their dreams.  From the webpage:

“We want to bring together all the people that make movies so that they can help each other in a very helpful and friendly way.”

The Backstory

January 20, 2010

I read some interesting comments on “The Other Side” blog and a couple of friends asked me related questions in the last few days. This looks like a good time to share some more of my creation process.

The Other Side link takes you to the blog of a Young Adult paranormal author by the name of Janice Hardy. In that particular entry, she discusses the backstory problems that arise when the author has to work on sequels. It can get very confusing, quickly.

A similar and related problem is how to keep track of a lot of characters and multiple plots and sub-plots in larger novels. I’ve run into this on several occasions.

I’ve found a system that seems to work for me and perhaps it will prove useful for others as well.

I usually know ahead of time if the idea that’s bubbling out of my head is worthy of a novel or a shorter treatment. If it’s just a short story or essay, then I get right to work and burn out the full, first draft as quickly as possible. This usually takes just one or two sittings. Where things get interesting, is when I realize it is going to evolve into a longer tale.

As soon as I realize that the story is going to have more than four characters and be more than a few thousand words, I create two documents and put them in a new folder. The new folder will have a name like, “MyNewStory”. From then on, all graphics, documents, audio files, trailers, reviews, etc. are saved in this folder. That way, a year later, I can find anything related to “MyNewStory”.

The two documents will get names like “AnthonyStevesn_MyNewStory_draft.doc” and “AnthonyStevens_MyNewStory_notes.doc”. Most of the publishers I deal with want the author’s name in the file as part of the submission process.

I start with the notes file and write a synopsis of the story I want to tell. It will have the major plot as well as sub-plots. Don’t worry. This is a dynamic document and will probably change as the full story is written.

Under the synopsis, I create a list of characters. Each name is followed by a physical description and general personality comments. Minor characters will get something like “Angel – buxom blonde with an attitude.” While major characters may have a dozen lines going into great detail.

Now, we all know that once an author sits down to actually write the story, the characters will take over and re-direct the tale in places we hadn’t planned. That is fine. When you finish writing a new chapter or section that surprises you, enjoy it and then make a one or two line addition to the synopsis in your note file.

The author will also find that as the tale progresses, they’ll need to add a character or two. Once more, go ahead and drop them in the tale, but be sure to add them to the character list in the note file as well.

Another thing to consider is that the character list need not be restricted to people. Objects can have major roles in your story. A sailing ship, an airship, a special building or a particular tree may play a pivotal role in the tale.  If you have pictures of similar items or people that you find inspirational in the tale, then add them to the note file. Keep in mind that the note file will not be for publication. It is only for you and maybe your editor.

When the time comes to send the first draft to my editor, I usually send both files. The understanding is that the notes file may help answer some of their questions and they can point out where I need to fill plot gaps or correct logic errors in the plotline.

If the novel is going to be part of a series, I use the same note file and just add the new characters and another synopsis, below the first one. Over time, this will be the repository that helps me align my waterfowl.

This system may or may not work for others, but it works for me. The well-respected author, Charles Stross uses a totally different system and he goes into great detail on this blog entry on Writing Tools.

As usual, comments, kudos or thrown tomatoes are welcomed. How about sharing something about how you create larger tales?

Disseminate

So far, we’ve gathered a handful of separate files consisting of audio, video and/or still images. Then, we edited each of them using the appropriate programs. Finally, we assembled them into our grand production and exported the collection as a single video clip. Congratulations!

Now what?

The final step is to get your magnum opus out to the world. There are several ways of doing this.

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Assemble and Edit

In the first two parts of this tutorial, I’ve tried to show you some of the basic tools and steps to making the raw material for your video. In big-screen movie parlance, the entire process is broken down into Pre-production, Production, Post-production and Distribution. This is the part where we’re going to put it all together. This  is called Post-production. Let me start with showing you where I am right now.

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Each book trailer I’ve seen so far has three components. There is the visual content, the audio content and some text.

The visual components can be either short video clips or still images. The audio can be the spoken word, music or a combination of both. We shall gather all three in this next segment. This is where we’re going to start using the tools described in the Part One.

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