Tags:
  1. Nonious

    Nonious New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2017
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    2

    Utterly overwhelmed over here

    Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Nonious, Apr 26, 2017.

    Hello peeps, I'm new to this forum stuff as I'm not good with these computer thingies. Is it just me or is there anyone else on here who's been taken aback by all the publishing (self or traditional) and technical jargon that needs to be learned by we newbies? For starters learning the different ways to get your scribblings 'out there' (e.g. on paper and/or e-readers) and then there's all the different distributers to take in (Barnes & Noble or Ingram spring to mind) not to mention all this 'formatting' business.

    All I wanted was to find a way to get my manuscript published and being on a very limited income I don't have the funds for what used to be called 'vanity publishing'.

    I'm starting to wish I'd never started looking because there's so much to learn and do I don't know where to begin so I probably won't.

    Good luck to all of you, I really hope you find a way to navigate your way through it all.
     
  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    7,547
    Likes Received:
    10,211
    Location:
    London, UK
    Welcome!

    Yes, it's very overwhelming. We have a guide to publishing written by one of our members who's both traditionally and self published: https://www.writingforums.org/threads/so-you-wrote-a-novel-and-want-to-get-it-published.148510/ It won't tell you everything you need to know, but it gives you the basics and suggests where you can find more detail.

    And of course, we're here to answer specific questions anytime. :)
     
    Imaginarily and KaTrian like this.
  3. ajaye

    ajaye Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Messages:
    283
    Likes Received:
    225
    Location:
    Australia
    Welcome to the forum @Nonious .

    If you're not good with computers I can see it would be very daunting for you. There are lots of helpful, friendly people here. Give yourself time to absorb information. Ask questions. It may take a while to get where you want to be but you can get there. Baby steps :) .
     
  4. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6,772
    Likes Received:
    5,385
    Location:
    Funland
    Welcome to the forum! I hope we'll be able to help you out. :) There are quite a lot of published authors here, and those with experience in self-publishing will surely be happy to offer their advise. :)

    Please also have a look at our New Member Quick Start as that should help you get started on the forum. See you around!
    -Kat
     
  5. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2017
    Messages:
    608
    Likes Received:
    428
    Location:
    Conspiring in my Spaceship
    It does seem like a lot to take in, but it can be narrowed down a bit more. There's self publishing, and "traditional publishing" by going through an agent and then they help you find a publisher. Either way, the number one priority is to make sure your manuscript is polished to perfection, have close friends read it and have some go over it with a fine-toothed comb. Then it's best to make sure it's formatted in an industry standard font and size, and there's no paragraph spacing issues, etc.

    After you've gone over it thoroughly and spent a ridiculous amount of time making sure every I is crossed and all the T's dotted, then I first recommend trying to find a publishing agent. This will take time, and requires patients, and no matter how much of either you put in there is still the chance it will be rejected or even just looked over for one reason or another (too long, not formatted properly, or some other odd reason). If it is accepted, you're pretty much golden, and the agent will eventually find a publisher that will accept it. Make sure the agents you submitted to aren't frauds, however, as either they'll act like they can get it published but can't, or they'll ask you for money when that is not something they need if they're a serious agent. There's still a chance that it will take a few years for the agent to find a publisher, so be patient.

    If you want to self publish, this gets trickier IMO. A lot of folkd think "oh, I'll self publish, that will be easier and I can get my book out there"... then they find out no one buys it or can even find it for many reasons. Most of those have to do with marketing, the author's name and whether it's a common one or not, and then it's sometimes the genre of the book. Also just the way that it was published in general can be a detriment. It's not impossible, but it's also not necessarily "easier" than the traditional way. There's plenty of successful, self published authors out there...but the odds are about the same as finding a good agent and a publishing company and getting it put in bookstores. If you want your book on a shelf, then it really needs to be traditionally published. I'm not even sure how one gets into a bookstore otherwise. Barnes&Noble won't waste their time looking at self published unless it crazy popular already and they just have to have it in their store (or I imagine it would go something like that at least).

    My dad is self published, but he has religious material and a congregation surrounding the work itself...so that's not really a good example. Some small bookstores do carry his stuff, but they're typically religious ones and there's not many if but a few.

    Main thing here is to not give up, you've done the hard part which is completing it, and I'm sure you've looked over the book itself and edited it somewhat. Next you just need to buckle down and start forcing your way through the red tape...it won't cut itself, and I recommend bringing some very large scissors...
     
  6. Nonious

    Nonious New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2017
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    2
    Thanks to all of you who've already replied,

    Tenderiser - I appreciate the address/link, I'll definitely give it a look.
    Ajaye - I stopped taking baby-steps before I was 12 months old but I feel like I'm crawling through treacle now :) My problem's a brain that's always been used to pen and paper so techno-stuff just doesn't 'go in' and "The Idiot's Guide" type books don't make sense either as they ALL assume some knowledge or they don't actually answer the questions I'm asking! At least that's how it feels to me!

    I'll be taking a peep at the Quick Start advice bit - when I get the chance.

    Dr. Meow, what can I say? So much good advice so quickly! However, your answer contains a few of the typical issues I have:- 'formatting'? 'industry standard font and size'? 'paragraph spacing issues'? These are precisely the sorts of things that have me banjaxed!
    A friend very kindly collated my manuscript and produced a PDF version (onto a USB) as that was what I'd been lead to believe was wanted and then I come across all the terms you mentioned and more so I've got to the stage of throwing my hands up in the air in abject surrender.

    Perhaps I need to make a list of all the things I don't understand and ask for SIMPLE non-technical explanations in PLAIN English for this techno-numpty.

    Again my thanks for all your advice and for taking the time to post it.

    N~
     
  7. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    7,547
    Likes Received:
    10,211
    Location:
    London, UK
    That sounds like a really great idea. :) The first decision you'll need to make is whether you want to try for traditional publishing or go straight to self-publishing. Once you've self-published it's nearly impossible to have the same manuscript traditionally published, so it's a decision that needs to be made up front. That decision will also affect answers about formatting, word length, marketing, etc.

    So I would ignore everything else and focus on that question first of all.
     
    Soapbox likes this.
  8. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2017
    Messages:
    608
    Likes Received:
    428
    Location:
    Conspiring in my Spaceship
    Ah, well industry standard font and size does come down to some choices, I believe. As I have not yet completed my own manuscript I have not looked into this thoroughly. I will say though that PDF and USB to some agents might equal TRASH, as in it's not what I've heard is the best form to send it. This is more for getting the book actually published, and that's what the publisher will want and they will advise you on the proper ways to do it. For finding an agent, I have heard from different sources that it's best to send them a printed out copy of your book on regular 8.5 by 11 paper. I will say they will treat it better if it's also formatted correctly, but it may not be a huge deal so long as it's legible and there's some margin around the page. If the book is too long for your genre, then they might throw it out anyway.

    A book, depending on genre, needs to be presented at a certain size, meaning the word count. If it's too long, they won't read it. For fantasy books there's more room, but it's expected that the book be over 90,000 words or under 130,000 for new authors. Crime novels and thrillers are somewhere between 50,000 and 80,000 words. Again, this is for new authors. Once you have an agent and publisher and a following for your books, then you can pretty much write it as long as you'd like, still within reason of course, but 200,000 words won't be a deal breaker for an established author.

    I wish I could help with the font and stuff, but I do know that size 12 is industry standard for most books. The size also depends slightly on font as well, but I'm sure someone on here can tell you what to use as far as that's concerned.
     
  9. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    17,287
    Likes Received:
    19,021
    Location:
    Scotland
    Have you actually written your book on a computer, or did somebody else transfer written text for you into a computer-readable format? It would be helpful to know how computer-savvy you are.

    What kinds of things are you comfortable doing on computer? You're obviously okay being online, and you managed to find us! But what else do you feel comfortable doing? That's a start.

    What kind of a computer do you have? Do you use a wordprocessing programme (like Microsoft Word, Pages for Mac, LibreOffice, etc?)

    It's so easy to get swamped, if you're just starting out.
     
  10. Nonious

    Nonious New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2017
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    2
     
  11. Nonious

    Nonious New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2017
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    2
    Ahh then I'm TOTALLY banjaxed, my short-story-that-became-a-book is 230,000+ words!!! And no there's no plot-breaks where it could be split into 2 or 3 volumes. Research tells me that up to 150,000 words is an average for a book while under 75,000 words would usually be considered to be a novella. As far as I'm aware the '50 Shades' tripe was originally self-published (through an Australia based site) not bad for something that began as 'Twilight' fanfiction.
     
  12. Nonious

    Nonious New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2017
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    2
     
  13. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    7,547
    Likes Received:
    10,211
    Location:
    London, UK
    There was a bit of misinformation in the post you responded to but yes, 230,000 is far too long for a debut novel.

    150,000 isn't average - 80,000 is more like it, with 75,000 being a perfectly acceptable novel length in all genres except children's books. Novellas top out at around 40,000 words.

    50 Shades was never self-published. It was put up as fan fiction, then repackaged by a publisher who specialised in fanfiction, then bought by RandomHouse when sales got too big for the little Australian publisher. There are some self-published books that took off, but they're as rare as hen's teeth.
     
  14. Nonious

    Nonious New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2017
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    2
    The book was written longhand (on 7 A4 notepads) someone did start to transfer it to Word but her son became ill so yours truly picked up where she left off then a friend who is the computer nerds nerd collated it into one complete document (and also created the PDF for me).
    I use a laptop which runs Microsoft stuff including Word. Here's some of the stuff I hear about but have no idea of how to do:- cut/copy/paste, create and/or capture images to add to files/documents, how to choose spacing (I take whatever Word gives me!).

    The on-line searching is something I can do BUT it frustrates the bejaysus out of me.

    Like I said techno-numpty over here :-D Oh and I'm among the world's worst typists, I'm slow and make loads of mistakes and no matter how often I type I get no better so I very quickly become bored.
     
  15. ajaye

    ajaye Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Messages:
    283
    Likes Received:
    225
    Location:
    Australia
    Do you have a library nearby? Or some sort of community resource that might offer computer tutoring? Sounds like a basic computer course would help a lot.

    Learning Word via an online tutorial probably won't be as easy (initially) as having a real person there beside you to help out.

    But if you want to learn touch typing an online tutorial such as this one could get you going: https://www.typingclub.com/

    Good luck and keep at it :) .
     
    BayView likes this.
  16. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    17,287
    Likes Received:
    19,021
    Location:
    Scotland
    @Nonious Have you got a close friend who uses Microsoft Word? Best thing to do is get this friend to come over some day (or a couple of different days) and show you what you need to know. I'm not much help because, although I'm very computer savvy (have owned one since 1994) I don't have Microsoft Word or a PC. I've always owned a Mac and used Mac software. Macs and PCs are very similar in what they can do, but they use different words to describe the actions, and the computer screens and commands are different.

    I've put my suggestions in red here, so they stand out. These are suggestions for how to learn about the computer, and suggestions for things you will want to know about, as a writer who is starting to write on a computer.

    Make up a list of questions before your friend comes around. What do you want to be able to do with your computer? Be specific, if you can. Ask these questions of your friend, and write the answers down, step by step—so you can do them again when you are on your own.

    Also, don't be afraid to experiment on your own. Create a couple of pages of writing that doesn't matter, then play around with it. Good chance to use that copy and paste! Just copy and paste a couple of pages of the stuff you've already written into a new blank document, title it something like "Tester" or "Experiment," and you can play around with it till you're sure of what you're doing. You won't hurt anything this way, and you'll figure out a lot.

    Things like cut/copy/paste are EXTREMELY easy to learn, once somebody shows you how. So is choosing spacing, fonts, font sizes. I think capturing images is also easy, depending on what you mean. (Ask your friend how to do a screen shot.)

    As for your typing, it will improve as you use it. Even if you're just a two-finger typist, you can become quick at it, if you keep using it. I was a trained, 10-finger typist when I started out on computers, BUT I was as slow as molasses in January, because I was used to a typewriter and HATED correcting mistakes. I'm talking slow, like 10 words a minute, on a good day. Wheeee! Correcting mistakes on a computer is SO easy, so I was able to speed up without fear. Now I'm really fast. My former typing teacher would be astounded at my progress!

    If you do your actual creative writing on your laptop (instead of longhand) you won't get bored because you'll actually be writing—not just copying something you've already written. Of course you'll need to ask your friend how to save what you've written, and how to store it someplace on the computer where you can easily find it again. Learn to make and date folders, and you can put your work in there. Also buy yourself a few inexpensive little thumb/flash drives so you can back up (make copies of) your work. THIS IS VERY VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT. Don't EVER write without doing a couple of backups. Otherwise, if something happens to your computer—if it gets stolen or breaks down—you'll have lost all your work. Just don't.

    Good luck. I have a sister who is also just learning to use a computer. She was dragged into it by the nature of her job. She also finds it overwhelming, but what I've told her is that she's just starting late. She feels 'stupid' but I said 'You're only making the same mistakes and learning the same things we all did, when WE got started. Just forget what other people think, and get on with it. You'll catch up."
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2017
  17. Nonious

    Nonious New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2017
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    2
    Hi Jannert,

    thanks for all the good advice, just to clarify things a little, the reason I often write using good old pen & paper is because I've been doing it that way since I was three!! (That's over 5 decades ago so it's a long-held habit) The other thing is a laptop's a bit cumbersome to lug everywhere but pen and paper aren't - and besides you can't get a virus in those.

    I do use USBs and discs to back-up stuff, thankfully I have a couple of friends who've forgotten more about 'confusers' than most of us will ever know and who can still, thankfully, talk to me in ENGLISH as opposed to computer-ese.

    As for the typing until my partner bought me my first laptop 6 years ago I was using a word-processor (it was becoming near impossible to get the inks for it hence him buying the laptop) so I'm not exactly a new-comer to typing but no matter how much I do (and I do at times 'write' straight to the keyboard) I get no better - I think taking five months to type up a 230,000+ word manuscript it took five months to write from scratch proves that.

    I always write down in words that make sense to me things my friends teach me - the process is they ask what I want I tell them they show me I ask things as they do it I do one with them watching me (in case I've missed something in my written instructions) then I do one on my own and show them the results. So I've written instructions on things like attaching things to emails (a fairly recently acquired skill!).

    As you can see I'm not totally useless but mostly so, I find the whole 'techno-world' utterly boring if I'm truthful - I prefer talking to real people I can see (so no 30 stone gorilla is ever going to con me into thinking he's and Adonis!) I also think it's elitist - if you don't 'do' computers you're seen as a second-class citizen and/or an idiot.

    As for libraries I couldn't tell you where or even if there's one near me as I know the one that was has been closed for some time.

    I think I'm going to have to learn as go - and hopefully my capacity to learn (what's left of it at my age!) allows me to keep in front of what I need, and that I won't need to know much more).

    Wishing you a great weekend,

    N~
     
    jannert likes this.
  18. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,854
    Likes Received:
    11,670
    I think your first step needs to be either dedicating yourself to getting that MS under control (230K words is really long) or else dedicating yourself to self-publishing.

    I'd suggest finding a good beta reader (someone who functions as a sort of pre-editor, reading your MS with a critical eye and making suggestions for improvements), but that will be difficult for a 230K manuscript. Possibly it would work better if you tried to find someone to read your first chapter for you and took it from there?

    If the beta reader has good suggestions for what to cut and if you're willing to do that, you could try to tighten up your MS and get it to a more publishable length.

    If you're not willing to do that, you're going to be looking at self-publishing, which will mean you need to get considerably more proactive on the learning-about-computers front.

    And, while this is early days, I'd suggest possibly an attitude shift. You seem to be jumping back and forth between a kind of arrogance (insulting another author's work, telling an online forum that the online world is boring) and a defeatist attitude (you can't tell us where a library is and apparently haven't looked, you don't know where to begin so you probably won't, etc.)

    There's really no way to get published that isn't an awful lot of hard work. There are people here who are willing to help, but most of the work is going to have to come from you. Are you committed to putting in that effort?
     
  19. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    17,287
    Likes Received:
    19,021
    Location:
    Scotland
    Am I detecting the faint odor of burning rubber here? The kind that results from locked wheels being dragged unwillingly along the road? :)

    I can certainly understand the reluctance to hop onto every bandwagon that trundles past. I'm the same with smartphones—I don't need them or want them. I have a Nokia StupidPhone, a landline phone, a desktop computer, shared use of a new laptop AND an iPad. I use the landline for phone calls, the desktop computer for most of my work, and the StupidPhone to phone taxis when I'm out and about. The other things, not so much. However, if I had a pressing need for a Smartphone, or spent most of my life traveling around, I'd definitely pick one up. None of this technology is actually difficult to master, once you put your mind to it.

    Age isn't really the thing, although those of us who were born and raised before the days of computers can probably claim a foot in both worlds, and see benefits to the 'old ways' as well as the new ones. I'm going to be 68 years old in two months' time ...to get a perspective on it.

    I think you'll find, if you truly engage in the process of learning wordprocessing with a positive will-do attitude, that you'll pick up the computer usage reasonably quickly, and your typing skills will also improve a lot.

    A word processor truly is a huge boon to writing. The main one is that you can make changes and edit very easily without having to recopy everything or risk losing your old versions. Just duplicate the chapter you want to change, date one of them, store it, and make changes on the other version. Date and store THAT one, rinse and repeat. You can always return to your old version, if you change your mind. This gives you writing freedom to make all sorts of changes—large and small— that pen and paper just doesn't give you. Unless, of course, you're the kind of extremely rare writer who never makes a mistake, and only produces one version of anything you write.

    If you still prefer to do your initial writing on paper, that's fine. There are some threads on this forum that focus on that issue, and many forum members who still do that, for the reasons you've cited. However, they ALL know that at some point the work needs to go on computer if it's going to go any further than just a private notebook entry.

    The thing is, if you want to submit your work anywhere at all these days—either to agents for consideration, or to publish the story yourself—you'll need to have it ready on computer, edited to perfection and proofread and formatted as well. There isn't any way to get around it. So dig in and master the basics. If you're still at the stage where you don't know how to copy and paste, I think you've still got much to learn. However, the good news is, you can learn it in a very short time. I'm talking a couple of days.

    Take a tip. Don't spend time grumbling about why you don't want to learn wordprocessing. Just get in there and learn it. It's easy, and who knows? You might even end up loving it. Stranger things have happened. Good luck and have fun!
     
    BayView likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice