Monthly Archives: September 2013
I’ve been struggling with my words over the past few months. More specifically, the spelling of my words. As my manuscript approaches that scary, ever-looming publication date, I’ve had to take a long, hard look at the “brand” of English I use.
I’m a native Australian, and use language based on British (UK) spelling; however, as a peer pointed out to me, my book is being marketed on an American ebook site, and made the argument that American readers would jar a little with reading UK spellings and slang. Admittedly, some of the slang, which was mostly Australian-based, was probably a little vague for most, so I changed some of those terms. How many of you know what a demountable is? Or perhaps the definition of skerrick?
So, for the crunch-time decisions: Do I take out my precious u’s? Cut out my double-l’s? Drop the ‘a’ from anaesthetic? Do I add punctuation to my Mr, Mrs and Dr? Shall I have my character say Woah or Whoa? And really, how can the word pants have so many different meanings across so many English-speaking countries? The mind boggles and I have listed but a fraction of things I had to consider.
My fellow writer had a great argument: the majority of her sales have been in the US, thus if I change to US spelling, I’m catering to the larger market. It’s a fair and valid point. My argument back was that my characters are from the UK and that the story was based for the majority of time in Cambodia (of course). I haven’t yet decided if my retort was lame or not. I think the reaction was the equivalent of a raised eyebrow.
In the end, I went with US spelling. It was a heart-wrenching experience. So ingrained is my love for British-influenced English usage, that I felt physical pain (I kid you not). It was much like taking off an entire unshaven leg encased in sports tape. You know, the kind of strapping tape that sticks to every single hair and rips off the first layer of skin regardless of how slowly you go?
I’m thinking my geek-rating skyrocketed as I struggled to transfer from UK to US. The deed is done now (but I’m open to change it back).
My next story is based in Canada, which is largely UK-influenced, but also has strong US ties in the way English is written. Thus, my dilemma continues into my next novel. Something to look forward to, no doubt. Might need to buy more strapping tape to re-live the analogy.
One day, I’m going to write an Australian-based romantic saga and go as true blue as I can! Bring on the fair dinkum, the crikey and the g’day! Of course, this may also be to my detriment. Perhaps I should survey my readers first and make sure they at least know what thongs means when said by an Australian (and no, it’s not underwear).
Last, but not least, I need to thank Pam Peters, the writer of The Cambridge Guide to English Usage. What an outstanding reference! It has a significant amount of detail on English usage around the globe and all the alternate spellings you’ll ever need.
Here’s a sample of a few things I looked at (aka went through in a traumatic fashion)
Writing a book? Awesome! Plan to sell the book? Even better!
Becoming an author sounds straight forward in my head: write, sell, get rich and famous, sell your book to a major movie producer and roll around in the royalties as big-name stars turn your story into art. Easy, right? Hmm … perhaps not.
As it happens, I don’t want to be famous or rich, but I’d like to make some hobby money, or even a living, out of writing novels. I’m setting my sights low enough to avoid disappointment, but high enough to motivate myself. My first book is nearly finished and ready to let loose on the world, but before it goes online, I need to wrap it in something pretty … a book cover.
Which leads me to my rough guide on how to get poor(er) before you even start selling your book.
- Open your wallet and watch the moths fly out.
- Find your over-used credit card.
- Buy a cover design / stock photography (alternatively, skip this and do it yourself or find a willing friend to do it for you)
Because I’m a poor writer and have an over-inflated sense of talent in graphic design, I went with the do-it-yourself plan, and it was only through luck that I found the cover images I wanted free of charge. (I suspect this may be a one-off anomaly.) This was all thanks to a generous and talented photography friend and an equally kind Romanian photographer named Catalin.
Had they not been so forthcoming with their talent, I was prepared to buy the rights to whatever images I needed. After that, I planned to cross my fingers that ‘d sell enough books to cover the expense and then have enough money left over to buy a block of chocolate. (Yes, I’m chocolate-obsessed and am considering therapy to address it … maybe.)
Before getting the images I’m using, I discovered there’s plenty of free-to-use stock images out there, but was limited by choice and was unable to get that exact image I had in my head onto my cover.
Because we all need professional-looking covers to help sell our ebook product, self-publishers can often decide to hire someone to do it for them. I recommend doing so if graphic design isn’t your forte. If you’re talented enough, you can avoid the cost of hiring someone to design a cover, but you still may have to buy stock photography. It’s a cruel, cruel, expensive world.
Which brings me to my next point: typography. You need one to match in with your cover images and story and general all-round image. I like the aesthetic-factor too. If it looks good, I’m happy.
So what happens if you find the perfect font? Well, you need to make sure you can use it commercially. Some font authors require some sort of payment or acknowledgement or a mixture of the two. There’s a whole world of free to use fonts out there, but not all can be freely used commercially. I sourced my fonts from www.fontsquirrel.com and while one had an open license to use it on my cover, another was an uncertainty so I sought permission and got it with surprising speed. My advice, if in doubt, contact the designer and make sure you’re allowed to use the font to embed on ebook covers.
I’ve been mucking about with my cover design for a few months now, and I think I finally hit on a winner. Here’s a sneak peak at the draft cover of my upcoming book. What do you think?
I welcomed myself to the world of twittering…tweeting…twitter, today! I’ve had very little to do with the world of hashtags and word-limited micro-blogging before now, so I’m hoping my little blue tweets will slowly evolve from clueless-twit to tweeting-expert … eventually. I’ve added a little blue “t” link in the top left of my new-look blog. (I had to change my blog theme to accommodate the twitter button, which was fine by me, the other wasn’t proving to be my friend!)
I have a website and facebook page planned to go live in the next month, so watch this blog!