Diana Mylek

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Backup Backup Backup

Posted by Diana Mylek on February 5, 2011 at 12:53 AM Comments comments (0)

Being self-published, I have to be very vigilant when it comes to changing my books to the right file to upload to web stores. I have already learned one hard lesson by being impulsive--my files were locked and I could  only get to them by paying this company. I fortunately I had backed them up and was able to recover them at no cost. 


You think I would learn. 


Last night I was converting .doc files to epub and couldn't remember how to do it. I Googled for it and read a couple site's information. Looked simple and I did it okay at a college site. But you can only do one a day there and I wanted to get a few books ready for Ingram Distributors who are going to list my books with them. (there is another story of how iUniverse has lost my data and my royalties...but later.) So I found another site, studied it, checked to see if it was legit, looked at a few more sites and then downloaded a converter. Lo and behold. Or better yet, buyer beware. Not only were the three books coverted to epub, they were encoded and locked me out! I can't open them but I *can* if I send $39.95. Then I discovered that every file I moved to my digital folder had been encoded too. And then the file went blank. AND THEN the program disappeared from my computer. Right off my start menu.  HIJACKED! 


I immediately sent a what the heck to the company and of course have not heard back. I've been told by a friend who is a computer wiz (and smart and kind) that it was  probably an overseas company who stole my files and most likely I'd pay and then they would either extort more or take my info and who knows what.  But I cannot get them back. 


So I tell everyone! BACK UP BACK UP BACK UP. You cannot save your files enough or in enough media. Jump drive, external hard drive, cloud...whatever it takes. I have all my files backed up so I still have them but once again I was taken, and I think myself fairly computer literate. 


I'm just thankful that I can still function, but furious at the thieves. 


Also I'm on the fence about ebook mall. They want 19.95 to list my book and want 50% of my cover price. That seems excessive. More research to come....

Publishing pt. 5

Posted by Diana Mylek on January 31, 2011 at 9:54 PM Comments comments (0)

Catch 22

 

In order to be published you must be published. Yep. What you have to do is get your name out there, get publishing credits behind your name. Do this by submitting to magazines, trade publications, your local newspaper, anything! Every time your name is in print or on the web its’ a publishing credit. Agents and publishers are looking for proven sales and this helps to make you look like you know the business. *Self published books are not considered a real book credit. Yep, stinks, I know. If you sell a lot of self-published books it will look much better for you, because it’s all about money and sales. So go ahead, write about anything and everything and get your name out there. Then you will be more likely to be picked up by a publisher or agent.


 

Two words that strike the fear in the heart of every author but are also your best friends:

Query and Synopsis


 Query. This is a short, one page or less pitch for your book. Study these online, look at others’ examples and especially pay attention to the publisher’s web site instructions as to HOW to write these. Many—MOST publishers will only allow you to send them a query. This is your first impression and your big chance to catch the publisher’s eye about your book. I have a sample for you to see and general instructions about how to write these, see attachment.


 Synopsis. This is the reader’s digest version of your book. It should be the story from beginning to end, no cliff hangers! But not more than two or three pages—again check with the individual publishers’ web site to see HOW they want it printed and sent. BE professional and act as if you have done this a million times even though you never have! They don’t know! NEVER EVER SAY OR WRITE ANYTHING CUTSEY ON YOUR QUERY OR SYNOPSIS. THIS IS ONLY A PROFESSIONAL DOCUMENT. DON’T USE CUTE FONTS OR SAY THINGS LIKE I REALLY WANT TO BE PUBLISHED TO SHOW MY FAMILY THAT I CAN DO IT, ETC. Both the synopsis and the query are a showcase for your writing and should reflect the tone of your novel or manuscript. Again, see attached samples.


 Manuscripts. Never, ever send a complete manuscript unless the publisher or agent specifically requests it. It makes you look like an amateur and gets tossed in the garbage. So you’ve spent all that money for nothing. I learned this the hard way. Save all your receipts though—any money spent trying to get published is tax-deductible. If you are fortunate enough to have your manuscript requested, be sure to write boldly on the envelope, “REQUESTED MATERIAL”. They will be looking for it. Again, make sure your material is professional looking according to that publisher’s standards. Research this on the website. Most of them want your manuscript double spaced, Times-Roman 12 pt font.


 

You can get published. There are so many ways. This is just a quick summary. Be vigilant, research, and most of all, keep writing.

 


Publishing pt. 4

Posted by Diana Mylek on January 30, 2011 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (0)

 E-Books


This is a win-win for you and e-publishers in that you design the book, do the inside in a format that you prefer and sell it on the web through Lulu.com or kindle.com. However it may be difficult to get a publisher to take this book after it has been exposed on the web. So you will need to think about this. If this is all you want with your book, and mild profits are okay, then this is for you. If you want to sell a block buster, you will need to go through an agent or traditional publisher. For name recognition, which is crucial in the industry, putting out a few of these and selling a bunch will open doors for you.


*Great news!* Sales of Kindle books have surpassed sales of printed books! This is great news for all us e-book publishers and authors. This is an exciting time for electronic devices; e-books can be read on Kindle, Sony Reader, Nook, I-pads, I-pods and even on computers! And the cool part of all this is that it's world-wide. No door to door selling, just a book on the web, formatted correctly, a great cover, a great story...and doors will open for you. 


It's also a great time for those who can offer services to authors. We need book covers, we need editing and we need help with the web. Then there is our author websites, social networking sites, blogs...it's endless, the way we need help to make our books best sellers. So much is happening in the e-world and it's wonderful to be part of it. 

publishing pt. 3

Posted by Diana Mylek on January 28, 2011 at 1:27 PM Comments comments (0)

 Self publishing


   It's not the black sheep of the publishing world anymore! Many authors are finding that, since it's up to them to market and sell their books even with a publisher, why pay them for what you can do yourself? Especially if your book is non-fiction and you are able to give speeches on your subject. People looking for advice will want your book, or you can sell books at appearances and speeches. It’s good to have a stack of books on hand when you go anywhere and you see your book in print which is very satisfying. Printing your own book gives you complete control over the content—a double edged sword—you submit a book that is edited by you or a professional and if you have a typo IT STAYS THERE which can be embarrassing. However, you design the book jacket, the way it’s printed, all of that. Or the publishing houses help you. I had them design my cover and it’s “Okay”. Also, once your book is printed, that’s it for better or worse. To fix or change things can get expensive.


 There are two kinds of self-publishers, on demand and vanity. If you just want to publish your family’s history and it’s for your own enjoyment, vanity publishing is for you. If you intend to sell books and make a profit you can go with on demand publishers but you will need to research them carefully to make sure you’re not getting something you don’t need. Again you can turn to the Writer’s Market to see what is there but be very careful! There are many companies willing to take your money, print out a jankety book and call it a day. I have used I-Universe which was very cheap ($500 and 20 free books—you pay for your books along with the printing fee.) They offer packages that include artists for book jackets, marketing services, editing and advice but then again, you are expected to do most of the work yourself. This is your book, your future. They are merely a printer. *some do more, but that is for a fee*, I-Universe is owned by Barnes and Noble and you have access to a book distributor who will place your book in a store, if you are accepted and if you buy the books to do it. So that is good and bad. Xulon press is a self-publisher in the Christian industry and can get books into all the major Christian bookstores. For a fee.


 Like I said, research these carefully. There are warning sites on the web like “preditorsandeditors.com” but they are biased slightly too. Best if to Google the book publishers and see what other authors have experienced.

d. If you are approached by a publisher who says new authors encouraged, don’t take the bait. They are ONLY out for money and will add on must have services that are a crock and will not send your book to publishers, or if they do, they will never follow up and are scammers.

 


Publishing, pt. 2

Posted by Diana Mylek on January 27, 2011 at 9:50 PM Comments comments (0)

 Agents

 Agents also have a slush pile but the way out of this is to send not a manuscript but a query. This can be done electronically through the web or by snail mail. An agent chooses what books they want to represent and then goes to the publisher with them. This is beneficial because they do all the footwork, for a fee and you reap the benefits. However, it is not easy to get an agent.


Agents can be found in The Writer’s Market. Follow their submission directions carefully too, and don’t be afraid to send your query to a major agent! You never know! Also smaller agencies who are “hungry” to be known will want a great book.

Agents have a specific way that they require your query or manuscript to be printed when they read it. Study up! Follow the formula that they ask for and do  not change anything. Every mistake or omission is an opportunity missed. 


Do you need an agent? In some cases, yes. Many times no. But don't let the lack of an agent stop you because there is one more way to be published and I'll write about this tomorrow. 

Your choices for book publishing

Posted by Diana Mylek on January 25, 2011 at 11:47 PM Comments comments (0)

 

There are three ways to get a book published on paper. I say paper because there is also an electric option—an e-book, but more on that later.
  • Through a publishing house. This is where you submit a manuscript for the publisher to decide if they want to sell it as a book. 
  •  Through an agent. This is where you send a manuscript to an agent and ask them to sell it for you.
  •  Self-publishing. This is where you do all the work, send it to a printing house and pay for the books that are delivered directly to you.
Each of these options has its pros and cons.

Publishing House.

Because they wish to sell books and make a profit, the publishing houses are very choosy about who they sell. They will always choose proven, house authors over aspiring writers but if you have something that really strikes them as sellable they will bite. HOWEVER—and this is a big however, there is this thing called the slush pile, which is literally a big pile of manuscripts sent to them by hopeful authors. Your job as someone who wants to be published and see your book make money is to somehow, someway get that book out of the slush pile and into the hands of an editor.
 So the most important tool you will need is a big thick book called The Writer’s Market. You can get this at the library or buy it at any bookstore (or Amazon.com, much cheaper.) It is a worthwhile investment that you will need to purchase once a year to keep current. All of the publishers are listed in this book and more importantly, all the instructions for submitting a book for publication. There are soooo many options for an author, not just regular publishing houses, there are smaller houses, magazines and contests. More about these later. Each publisher has specific instructions about submitting a manuscript and YOU MUST FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS TO THE LETTER. If not your manuscript will be simply tossed out, they don’t bother with unprofessional looking ms’s or those that have not bothered to read or follow directions. They don’t want to work with authors who don’t listen at the start!
There are two things you must note also—if your book is fiction, it stands a MUCH lower chance of publication with a standard publisher, especially without an agent’s intervention. Even if you have the story of the century, the publishers are skittish about investing in an unproved author. It’s all about profit and book sales. That’s why we see so many sub-standard fiction on the shelves—these are authors who have already made money for the publisher and are riding on past successes. Names sell, that’s the hard truth. And very frustrating for those of us who have bled, sweated and cried over our perfect books. If your book is non-fiction there is a slightly better chance of publication. Publishers LOVE new and inspiring how to’s, coffee table books, something different. They are looking for authors who can go on television, speak and present their books and advice. This brings in a lot of revenue for them. So for non-fiction an agent is okay and good, but you can submit a well-printed, well-queried book and cut out the middle man. There is again a very specific way to present this to a publisher and you MUST follow directions of the editors.
In order to get the book to the right publisher you must also check with the publisher to make sure the editor listed in the Writer’s Market is still working with the publishing house. Check the website for the publisher for more in-depth instructions, usually by clicking on “Submissions”. Always, always rely on the website over the Writer’s Market. You can find the publishers in the Writer’s Market but you must visit their website to follow up.
 Do NOT call them about your book! Don’t bug them to print! There is protocol about this and you can read about that in Writer’s Market or on the websites. You can sink your book by being a pain.
For the children’s market, some publishers will allow you to send pictures to go along with it, some not. You must check with them. Also there is a formula for sending your manuscript, more about this later but you will most likely send your story and artwork separate—they want to see the manuscript, not how it’s laid out on the page.

 

Christmas

Posted by Diana Mylek on December 25, 2010 at 9:26 PM Comments comments (0)

In this time of transition in our family, it's nice that some things never change. Zoey is now with her mother legally and I miss her beautiful little face. I did get to see her for less than five minutes and it was of course not enough, and confusing to Zoey. Tomorrow we will have her overnight but I'm still on my Christmas job so time with her is limited. I hope to change that soon.


Mel has moved to her dorm house in Vermillion and I miss her presence in my house! I never realized how much I depend on her to do things that I couldn't, and my house has suffered because of it. She was home for Christmas and we watched the end of Survivor, a a sappy Christmas movie and played a silly game of Uno. Which Mel won. 


Caleb spent the day with Emily's family, and I'll get used to that. It's all about Emily now, and I'm okay with that! The wedding is going to be January 1 2011. Chirstmas will be all about the wedding next year but I am going to spend it with Brandon and Kristen anyway. Just them and the kids. I owe it to them. 


And so we transition, from parents/foster parents to an empty nest, if our boarder also moves out. I'm so ready for it; I love my kids totally but I'm ready for ME time. Because of our beloved Zoey it's been put off for two years, but now it's go time. And I'm going!

Let the Wedding Planning Begin!

Posted by Diana Mylek on December 8, 2010 at 1:49 AM Comments comments (0)

She said yes!  (Technically) My son Caleb asked his girlfriend Emily to marry him! Actually he knelt down on one knee and  told her that life is a waltz and asked her if he could have this dance. She said he could have all the dances. Cool, huh? Mel helped him to set up candles on a bench by the river, and he brought Emily there at midnight (pretending he had a bad tire) and proceeded to ask her to marry him! So we are gaining a daughter and another bedroom! haha. Mark and I are ready to "downsize" and find a place for just us and the DOG (who my kids BEGGED me for fourteen years ago). Funny how they are moving out and we are left with the dog. So this is the score: Zoey, back to her mother. Melody, going to college and moving to Vermillion in a few weeks. Caleb, getting married in June (tentatively). We still have Eric, our boarder too. Wow. A lot of changes in a few months' time!

Why I write/transitions

Posted by Diana Mylek on December 3, 2010 at 3:18 PM Comments comments (0)

Seeing myself on television reminded me of why I write. My characters are thin, young and beautiful, or even pudgy and plain but never do they mess up words, say stupid things or make fools of themselves! They always say the right thing, unlike little, squat me who will never win a beauty pageant and who rattles on like a mental patient when I'm on camera. *sigh*


Today is a busy day. Yesterday I put up all the Christmas stuff and today I'm cleaning up from that. Plus I put plastic up on the windows, which was not as bad as I thought it would be. While I was doing this, Mel was packing to move to her dorm house and I need to put all Zoey's stuff in boxes for Amy. Two years...two years I raised her as my own and now I'm saying goodbye to my little one. It's really happening...And Melody is moving an hour and a half away, which I can handle since she was originally seven hours away. But I realize she'll probably never move home again. She's my best friend, my confidante, my whole life! Where does time go? Soon, Caleb will be out of the house, probably nine months or less. It's all happening so fast!  Two years ago I was devastated when Zoey came and I lost my much wanted independence. Now I'm excited but also sad. 


 

I'm gonna regret this...

Posted by Diana Mylek on December 2, 2010 at 11:18 PM Comments comments (0)

I did something so stupid and crazy today I can't believe it. I'm still laughing but oh man. It's going to come back to haunt me...


My mom is one of those people who see something on T.V. and get all excited. She has to call everyone she knows and say, "Did  you see (insert show here)? There was a Marine on there!" Or, "I had to call you. There was a dog on this show and..." She calls me and says, "Did you see Good Morning America?" though she knows I haven't been up that early since my kids were in elementary school. Anyway, today our local television station, Channel 11 came to Waterville and I KNEW my mom would be calling me telling me to "QUICK TURN ON THE TELEVISION!". So I decided to one up her. I stood right behind Chrys Peterson, the anchor. Just stood there. Then I waved and mouthed, "HI mom!" Well, Chrys grabbed me and made me talk to her on air. I said something so stupid I can' t believe it, I quoted Major Payne, the movie. I don't even want to REMEMBER it. What I should have said was, "Buy my books on Kindle  and have the best Christmas ever." But that would be too dignified. I am a humor writer, after all...


So my mom was thrilled and I'm sure most of the city of Toledo now knows that Mary Lou's daughter was on TV. Happy now, Mom? Merry Christmas.




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