Showing posts with label Margot Conor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Margot Conor. Show all posts

Confessions of a Dyslexic Writer

 

Contributed by Margot Conor

I’ve always had an active imagination. As a child the adults in my life were unstable, dealing with their own problems and it left me adrift. No one noticed I was having trouble at school. I escaped by creating worlds where life didn’t hurt.

From a young age, I loved creating stories and I even tried to write them, but they were a mess of misspellings and reversed letters. Because of this difficulty with writing letters and numbers, my teachers accused me of being inattentive and lazy. Rather than recognizing I had a learning disorder and offering to give me additional attention, they would showcase my problems in front of the other students to shame me. My issues went undiagnosed and the damage to my self-esteem stuck.

I always wanted to be an author. I continued to write stories and attempted longer projects at various times over the years. I have many unfinished manuscripts and unpublished short stories. However, I didn't attempt to be a professional writer until technology provided a path forward for people like me.

As a child, I was not aware that there were other people who suffered from the same issues. It wasn’t until high school that I was tested. By that point, I had gotten very good at hiding it. But a teacher at a new school finally noticed and helped. These tests informed me that I had dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia.

Dysgraphia: issues with spelling, grammar, numbers. Writing letters in reverse, struggling to form written sentences with correct grammar and punctuation. Using verbs and pronouns incorrectly.

Dyscalculia: is a learning disorder that affects a person's ability to understand number-based information and math. People who have dyscalculia struggle with numbers and math because their brains don't process math-related concepts like others do.

As a generalization, these all get put under the umbrella of dyslexia. It is important to understand that no person’s brain exhibits the same form of dyslexia, we are all unique. I have also experienced changes; it is not a fixed problem. For example, when very young I saw everything in a mirror image, and I wrote everything backward.

I can still easily write and read in this way, but somehow, I made it turn around. Words now change places or morph into words they shouldn’t be. Letters and numbers get mixed up. With words I can cope, but with numbers, there is no place they should be. No order or rule for placement.

While we can’t change how our brains work, we can learn how to better work with the brain we’ve got. I began by enrolling myself in a reading course for dyslexic people. It taught me to glance at groups of words at a time, rather than trying to puzzle out each word individually. I had trouble with both Anagrams and Anadromes.

Anagram is a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters to form another word. The original letters are used only once. (Fried - fired, bare - bear, reed - deer, calm - clam, listen - silent, secure - rescue).
Anadrome is a word or phrase with the same letters which form a different word when spelled backward. (Parts - strap, evil - live, stressed - desserts, deliver - reviled, drawer - reward, nametag - gateman).

People with dyslexia experience the wrong order of letters or words while reading. Glancing at a group of words I could determine what each word in a sentence was by context. It took practice but eventually, it sped my reading and comprehension significantly. I now read at a normal rate, and I read a lot!

Dyslexics have advantages over other many neurotypicals. We read patterns, body language, and facial expressions. Our verbal communication skills are strong. Because we have experience as outsiders we develop empathy for others. We have sensitive auditory processing, creative problem-solving, and increased 3-D spatial perception. We love to think outside the box and solve puzzles. We develop critical thinking and analysis skills, and the ability to problem-solve with creative concepts.

So, what happens when a person with this mix of limitations and gifts decides to take writing seriously and become an author? As a writer, I am what they call a Panster. This term came from the idiom “Fly by the seat of your pants.”

Many writers prefer to do outlines and have various ways to organize their story arcs by planning out each stage of their novel ensuring they hit every plot point. I have tried to do this; I would like to be a plotter! But it just doesn’t work for me. Nor can I write in a linear fashion, from the opening chapter to the end.

I begin with a rather cinematic view of a story; it comes to me visually. The characters form personalities and even live in my dreams. I write whatever they are doing, and whatever they tell me. The characters come alive in my imagination, I get involved in their dramas and troubles. I feel their needs and their desires. I start to see the possibilities and then I move with them on a journey that ultimately becomes a novel.

Finished for me begins with a folder full of chapters that are out of order. I only know in my mind that they will fit together to form a whole. Then I start to organize the chapters. It is like fitting together a puzzle. Sometimes I have to add a chapter here or there to tie the pieces together. Other times I must exclude chapters or whole subplots that don’t move the main story forward. I save those unused parts and they become novellas or short stories set in the same world as my novel.

It is only because of the modern age of access and the wonderful tools created for authors that I am now able to share my writing with the world. Previously I would have had to have someone retype my manuscripts to correct my misspellings, punctuation, and grammar. This sort of assistance was costly, and I didn’t have the income to support it. All my stories languished in boxes and later in computer files, waiting for me to get back to them.

Now, I first create a Word document. I like the Find-Replace feature. This allows me to type a word in the search box and every place it appears in the document will be highlighted. For example, if a misspelling is found in a character name or a made-up place, spellcheck might not catch it. I can type the various alternate spellings in the search box and find where I have reversed letters.

I use Grammarly and Autocrit to polish and edit my stories and manuscripts. Writing is a complex task, and several areas of our brains are involved in the process. There is no reason why someone with a brain like mine can’t be a successful author. There have been others before me. For example: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Agatha Christie, Richard Ford, George Bernard Shaw, Octavia Butler, WB Yeats, Gustave Flaubert, and Jules Verne to name a few.

I will follow in their esteemed footsteps and do the best I can with the way my mind sees the world. I hope you will enjoy my stories.

References:
NeuroHealth: https://neurohealthah.com/blog/types-of-dyslexia/
Thinking in 3-D
Visual-Spatial Abilities in Dyslexia: National Library of Medicine

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Margot Conor has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn't until the COVID lock-down that she had enough time to dedicate to the craft and bring something to completion. Having finished her first novel, she went through the grueling two-year process of editing. Now she has jumped into the author's world with both feet. She's preparing to debut her first novel, which means learning how to promote it. The last year has been spent attending many writing retreats, seminars, and writers' events. She also listened to presentations specifically on the topic of publishing and book marketing. She will be sharing what she learns with the reader.
Learn more about Margot at https://margotconor.com/



Audio Books – Make Your Own or Hire It Out

 

  Contributed by Margot Conor

The fast-growing industry of books on audio has become a compelling reason to go that extra distance as an author and take advantage of this burgeoning market. In 2022 1.82 billion was generated through audio book sales in the United States. This was almost a 4% increase from the previous year. Over five years, sales increased by 50%. In 2023 there were around sixty-five million sales in the United States alone.

It is encouraging to see that people who may not have time to sit down and read a book are still interested in the stories we write and happy to engage on a different platform.

So, if you have published a book and want to make an audio version, how do you get started?

First, you need to decide if you want to make it yourself or not. Let's explore the options…

Audiobook Production Company:

All technical aspects and quality control remains in the hands of industry professionals.  Check out platforms like Fiver and Upwork to find an audiobook producer. There you will find audio engineers, editors, and producers who can record, mix, and master your audiobook.

For a production company to do this for you, plan on spending $2,500 and $3,750 for a five-hour book. That breaks down to about $500 to $750 per finished hour of audiobook content.

If you are asking yourself now if you can recoup those costs? The answer is most likely you can do so with an audiobook better than with any other format.

How To Course: By Derek Doepker $497

I happened to watch a presentation by Derek Doepker during the Get Published Summit and it WOW’d me. In his Audiobooks Made Easy course, he gives detailed advice which convinced me he knew how to save us all a lot of money. His course is designed for people who are total technophobes.

For less than it would cost to hire a narrator, you can learn how to make all your own audiobooks. Derek will remove any worries or concerns you might have with this simple step-by-step guide, so you proceed with confidence.

If you’d like to learn more, his sales page is https://audiobooksmadeeasy.com (this is not an affiliate link)

Self-Made:

Making the product and narrating the story are two different things. Choosing to save money by setting up a space and getting equipment is only part of the process. You may choose to read it in your voice, or you might want to get someone to read it for you.

The person who reads should be enthusiastic and express the proper mood for your story. They should be able to read out loud in an engaging voice, switch between tones, use different accents, and represent unique character voices. They need to pause in the right places to give breadth to the story or to add dramatic effect.

Some authors hire several voices to represent different characters. But, if you can do all of that yourself, then you will save a lot of money.

A pro will cost you around $200 an hour. Some narrators are willing to split royalties with you in payment.

SOURCE MATERIAL YOU’LL NEED

This is an auditory experience. Do not include descriptions of visual illustrations. Remove any call-to-action sentences like Click Here in your front or back matter.

Recording and Editing Software: Audio recording software is a user interface that records sounds, manipulates what you record, and mixes the audio input. It will also generate audio files. It acts as a digital workstation.

Cost considerations: Equipment, hiring a narrator (if you choose to), and promotion.

Time: Recording an hour of your story will take up to three hours to record. Especially when you’re first getting comfortable with the process. Plan to record in stages, so you can start fresh and fully attentive during each session.

If you hire a professional, they will most often record it on their own, and send it to you.

Computer: You will need a computer that has enough RAM. At least 16 GB. The operating system needs to support your recording software and the plugins for editing and mastering your audio recordings.

Make sure it runs silent, no fan noise!

Microphone: You will need either a USB or XLR type.

USB is your plug-in and play option. It is better than a built-in Mic on your computer, but the sound quality is not as good as the XLR.

XLR mics are the professional recording standard. You will get a clearer sound and you can also use them for a podcast if you choose to do that at some point.

Headphones: You will need to use headphones when you edit and master your audiobook, it will cost you at least $100 for a good set. Get studio quality closed-back headphones.

PROGRAMS FOR RECORDING YOUR AUDIOBOOK

Audacity: https://www.audacityteam.org/  
This is a free, open-source program.

(Please copy and paste the rest of the links in this article.)

ProTools: https://www.avid.com/pro-tools/ 
This is subscription based.

Reaper: https://www.reaper.fm/  
This is licensed based and suitable for most Authors’ needs.

StudioOne: https://www.presonus.com/en-US/studio-one.html  
A basic version costs $99.95, the pro version is $399.95.

Twisted Wave: https://twistedwave.com/  
Licensed based.

AI VOICE GENERATION

Speachelo: https://speechelo.com/
The normal price is $97, but they often run sales as low as $37.

You buy the software at a one-time cost that you can use for all your projects. It will transform any text into a human-sounding voiceover.

These voices have gotten very sophisticated, but they still don’t always get the inflections right. They have multiple English-speaking voices both male and female and also many other languages.

Revoicer: https://revoicer.com/
One time cost of $135, sometimes reduced to $67.

It’s downloadable software and advertises to be the first AI generation voiceover to add emotion and it gives you eleven different options for the mood that you want the voices to display.

They also can clone your voice, so you can use it to narrate your books. That is pretty impressive.

To be honest I was shocked at the quality of this option when I listened to the sample voices on their website. With a 15-second sample of your voice, they can produce a clone in one minute and it is considered your intellectual property.

OTHER ELEMENTS TO CONSIDER

Cover Art:
The cover art for audiobooks needs to meet specific formatting requirements. These include a JPG file no larger than 5 MB, with a pixel resolution of 2400 x 2400.

It is very important to have your book covers professionally done. If you are on a tight budget, try using a company like 100 Covers. Or look on Fiver for a designer.

Copyright:
There is a misconception that is popular among authors that as soon as you write something you own undisputable rights to your intellectual property. That was once the case, but no longer. We live in a litigious country, and recent court cases made that claim invalid.

It doesn’t take that long, and it isn’t too costly to protect yourself by filing for a legal copyright.

Distribution:
Choosing the company that works best for you is a matter of deciding which platform will serve your interests best. See some of the options listed below.
You can also choose to sell your audiobook on your website and bypass a distribution company.

Monetization:
If you choose a large audiobook distributor, they will automatically monetize your work. In most cases, they will take their cut for that service and pay you a percentage of the royalties.
 
Some suggestions include: Offer memberships, sell adverts, or solicit sponsorships, sell merchandise, make a paid online course, use third-party platforms in addition to your website, and offer affiliate links. All of these options work best if you have a fan base established.

Promotion:
The same is true about self-promotion. It is a big topic with a lot of options. If you plan to self-publish your books, you need to spend at least 50% of your time marketing them. There are some great marketing summits available for authors. Take the time to educate yourself on the options, it will make a big difference in your success.

DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES

Always read the Terms of Service

Findaway: https://www.findawayvoices.com/
Findaway Voices by Spotify is one of the world's largest audiobook distributors. Open an account, upload your audiobook, and distribute it, all for free. You keep 100% of your royalties on Spotify and 80% everywhere else.

Authors Republic: https://www.authorsrepublic.com/
This is a global network for new and well-known authors that is not owned by a retailer, so you are not limited to select channels.

This independence, and their established global distribution network gives you the ability to earn more than would be possible under an exclusive agreement. There are no administration fees or sneaky percentage cuts.

You earn 70% of royalties earned by your audiobook across over 50 channels, including major distributors—such as Amazon, Audible, Apple, Audiobooks.com, Spotify, and Google—plus library channels, streaming services, and niche startups.

Corsix: https://corsix.com/
This is a site to start your own channel. They have a Drag and Drop editor, (coding knowledge is unnecessary). You can publish all content types, audiobooks, videos, blogs, and podcasts. You can also customize your brand domain by adding your logo, changing the colors and fonts.

You can create courses too. It has free and per month packages.

PublishDrive: https://publishdrive.com/
This is one of Apple Books' preferred providers. If you publish your ebooks with them, you can easily convert them into audiobooks using Apple Digital Narration.

They have the widest worldwide distribution network. One-Click distribution to all stores. Built-in analytics and sales reports. Royalty management. Marketing and promotional tools. Bulk import.

Audible: https://www.audible.com/
This Amazon owned audiobooks platform distributes audiobooks to North America, Europe, Asia & Pacific Countries.

The subscription model and à la carte purchases on Audible offer revenue streams that can complement traditional book sales.

ACX: https://www.acx.com/
ACX, is the acronym for Amazon’s Audiobooks Creation Exchange. This is the hub for the creation of audio books that will appear on Audible, the Amazon owned audiobooks platform. Audiobooks uploaded to ACX will be sold on Audible, Amazon and Apple iTunes.

SUMMING IT UP

If you’re thinking about turning your book into an audiobook, the information in this article should help on your journey.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Margot Conor has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn't until the COVID lock-down that she had enough time to dedicate to the craft and bring something to completion. Having finished her first novel, she went through the grueling two-year process of editing. Now she has jumped into the author's world with both feet. She's preparing to debut her first novel, which means learning how to promote it. The last year has been spent attending many writing retreats, seminars, and writers' events. She also listened to presentations specifically on the topic of publishing and book marketing. She will be sharing what she learns with the reader.
Learn more about Margot at https://margotconor.com/



Diversity in Your Writing Starts With Listening

 


 Contributed by Margot Conor

Everything you do in life is informed by the things you did before. That is why in some author's circles they tell you to write what you know. That has some truth in it. Even my sci-fi and fantasy stories weave in things that I learned or believe. I just put a twist on them so they happen in another setting.

Everything you do is also colored by the perspective you gained through those experiences, or from your family, community, or society at large.

There are attitudes planted in our little brains just as if we are a garden for our tribe, they nurture those seeds and cultivate a particular way of seeing the world. Now that view might be rosy or it might be dark. We only have a choice to test the limits of that perspective once we are grown, and then it is our privilege to do so.

Sadly, many do not. They are comfortable with how they’ve been molded, and these ingrained perspectives color your writing.
 
The paradigm we currently operate in is flawed, it is largely based on separation, exclusion, and intolerance. An “us” and “them” mentality. If we want to survive these times, we need to change.

Change requires that we investigate other points of view with an open mind and talk with people who are not like us, or more importantly, that we listen to them.

Listening helps add fresh perspectives to your writing.

I don’t know about you but it makes me feel bad when I am having a conversation with someone and I can tell they are not paying attention to what I say because they are either distracted with something else, or they are just waiting for me to finish, so they can share their opinion on the subject. Or they just interrupt because they feel what I’m saying isn’t valid or important.

When I have come across someone who is actually listening, patiently, looking me in the eye, and really hearing what I have to say, maybe even asking questions. Wow, it’s a powerful experience. Just to be heard. It makes me realize that it is a rare occurrence. To be given the courtesy of someone’s full attention, to be shown that kind of respect.

That is basically what this comes down to, if we show respect even to people we don’t agree with, they can feel that you care enough to try understanding their point of view.

I equate this with visiting a foreign country and trying to speak their language instead of expecting them to speak mine. They might laugh at me, (well they have, I wish I was better at languages) but they also like that I try. It shows them I’m making an effort to communicate.
You might try listening to those who have different cultures and ideas. Consider if there is anything there to inspire you. If their ideas seem radical, then investigate.

And yes, you should absolutely test those waters, use all the tools available to you in this modern age of access, and see if what they tell you is accurate. Then see how that stands up next to what you’ve been taught.  

Often that is how I get ideas for my characters. I talk to people who are raised to think differently than I was. It is important to go wide, take in new things, find the strange.

Enjoy the oddities you come across. Unravel the things that are mysterious to you. Gain a new understanding of something. You might surprise yourself and take a new perspective. Then put all of that into what you write. Or if you are not a writer, let all of that make your life richer.

Be brave, do something new or different.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 


Margot Conor has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn't until the COVID lock-down that she had enough time to dedicate to the craft and bring something to completion. Having finished her first novel, she went through the grueling two-year process of editing.

Now she has jumped into the author's world with both feet. She's preparing to debut her first novel, which means learning how to promote it. The last year has been spent attending many writing retreats, seminars, and writers' events. She also listened to presentations specifically on the topic of publishing and book marketing. She will be sharing what she learns with the reader.

You can learn more about Margot and her writing at her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/margotconor/ 

(@MargotConor (Facebook) 


 


Got Hacked

 


 Contributed by Margot Conor

I am not sure if this is true for every author, but when I created a pen name, she grew into a whole different personality.

She is far more confident and bold than me. She isn’t afraid to tell people she wrote something they would like and they should read it. She isn’t afraid to write about things I would hesitate to say. As I watch her spread out into the world on this writer's journey, I have grown to like her very much.

If it were me, I would have disclaimers and contingencies. I would make myself smaller, I would be apprehensive and wary of great things as if they couldn’t happen for me. I would hold myself back. But Margot believes in herself, she isn’t shy about making her mark. She’s willing to take risks, just for the hell of it, because why not?

In a way, I suppose it is like being an actress and stepping into a role. You’re able to suspend your hangups and leave your insecurities behind. You set your concerns aside too, especially those that whisper that you're not good enough… and let this other persona live larger than you ever dreamed of doing.

I created Margot to be the writer I wish I had the courage to be years ago. She is younger, more worldly, and more business savvy. She will market her books and have more success than I would have. Because I am an introvert. I am the woman who never lived up to her potential. The one who let time slip away and collected a stockpile of unfinished manuscripts and unpublished stories.

With a little luck, Margot will finish them. I created her so that I can stay hidden. I wear my anonymity like a comfortable coat. 

I like letting her take the lead. 

That is why when she got hacked and some stranger was trying to take over her social media, I felt extremely protective. I made myself sick over it, thinking that some malicious unknown force was trying to take away all that Margot had started to create.

It was a stressful few days, but with the help of someone near and dear, we got it sorted for her. Margot’s sites were recovered and we made her passwords much stronger. We also did that multi-factor authentication. Which seemed like such a hassle before, but it is far less difficult than getting hacked! Margot would like to encourage you all to do the same if you haven’t already.

Protect what you create and believe it is worthy because you have poured your heart into it, and it deserves all your hope and love.
 
~Anonymous
For Margot Conor

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Margot Conor has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn't until the COVID lock-down that she had enough time to dedicate to the craft and bring something to completion. Having finished her first novel, she went through the grueling two-year process of editing. Now she has jumped into the author's world with both feet. She's preparing to debut her first novel, which means learning how to promote it. The last year has been spent attending many writing retreats, seminars, and writers' events. She also listened to presentations specifically on the topic of publishing and book marketing. She will be sharing what she learns with the reader.

You can learn more about Margot and her writing at her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/margotconor/
@MargotConor (Facebook)



Authors: Why You Should Register Copyrights

 

Contributed by Margot Conner

Many writers are comfortable with the idea that copyrights are assigned to you as soon as you put your name to it. That is all fine as long as no one decides you are some little-known author, and they can copy your words into their own story. There are well-documented cases of this.

Unfortunately, you don’t own the legal right to use, possess, and give away the material you wrote unless it is registered with the copyright office. If you want undisputed ownership, in case of plagiarism, and the right to seek legal action in a court of law, you need to register a copyright with the Library of Congress.

This guarantees the return of your intellectual property if stolen. Or, in the case of its destruction, payment for it. It also gives you the possibility to prove you were the one who wrote it if someone else claims they are the author.

But here is the kicker… if an imposter goes to the U.S. Copyright Office before the true author and registers the work in their name, the true author will have to sue to invalidate the imposter's copyright. This is nearly impossible to win and would be very costly.

The "ownership" myth was destroyed in U.S. Supreme Court when the Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation went up against WallStreet dot com in 2019. The outcome: an author cannot sue for copyright infringement unless their work has first been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Unless the work is registered you can't even sue to make someone take down the material they have plagiarized.

It doesn’t matter if you can prove you wrote something. Infringement on your rights is allowed. This court case effectively did away with the "copyright when you write it" concept that most authors believe in. If you cannot stop someone from plagiarizing your intellectual property the unregistered copyright means nothing.

Under section 506, criminal copyright infringement must demonstrate a valid copyright was infringed upon willfully and for the purposes of commercial or private financial gain.

OK, filing for a copyright can get expensive. But it is less costly than losing what you wrote or fighting a court battle that is maybe impossible to win without having that legal copyright.

I found a few ways to save money. If your writing a series, and you have the ability to wait until you complete all the books, then there is one cost to copyright them as a group, all at once. Otherwise, it will cost you $65 each time. 

You can register for a copyright at the Library of Congress: https://www.copyright.gov/registration/

This is my best advice: You will have lower fees for copyright if you belong to either the writer’s or authors' guild. They will also help authors in many other ways. I believe that the fee is between $10 and $25 to copyright through the Guilds.

Authors Guild: $135 a year, or $12 a month to be a member

•    Legal services
•    Free access to seminars, workshops and events
•    Resources list
•    Media insurance
•    Many others, including web services

The Emerging Writer level membership gives you a lot of bang for your buck and it takes much less to qualify. This membership level is only $9 (but no legal advice).

Eligibility
•    Traditionally published authors and illustrators with at least 1 published book in the U.S.
•    Self-published authors who have made at least $5,000 in the past 18 months from their writing
•    Freelance writers who have published 3+ pieces or made $5,000 in the past 18 months

Writers Guild: (expensive)

The Writers Guild is a labor union for film, radio, and television writers, composed of The Writers Guild of America East and The Writers Guild of America West. Both sites have much more in-depth information available, including eligibility requirements and dues.

Examples of Why You Should Register for Copyright of Your Work

Just to bring home the need for copyrights, take the following examples to heart.

Many famous authors who have the money to pay a good legal team get away with theft. Or the Publishers do. And some who plagiarize still go on to be successful, because their misdeeds are simply forgotten.

These examples were copied from several places. Source credits are in brackets.

Dan Brown: “The Da Vinci Code”
In 2006, Brown was accused of plagiarism by Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent. Then in 2007 author Jack Dunn sued Brown. The author went on to sue Brown for plagiarism two more times.
(Source: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/dan-brown-faces-possible-new-plagiarism-lawsuit-over-the-da-vinci-code-2017-10-18)

Alex Haley: “Roots: The Saga of An American Family”
Alex Haley won the Pulitzer Prize in 1977 for his book. In 1978 Harold Courlander accused Haley of plagiarizing content from his book, “The African.” Haley ended up agreeing that he did use passages from Courlander’s book. The case was settled out of court.
(Source: https://medium.com/@hajiibrown/alex-haleys-roots-edf0be7bd0ac)

J.K. Rowling: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”
Rowling was accused of plagiarizing parts of Adrian Jacob’s book, “The Adventures of Willy the Wizard.” The case was dismissed.
Then, “US author Nancy Stouffer alleged Rowling had taken material from her book The Legend of Rah and the Muggles, but without success.”
(Source: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/jan/07/harry-potter-plagiarism-case-us-court)

Johnny Cash: “Folsom Prison Blues”
"Cash had lifted the melody from and much of the lyrics from a 1953 song “Crescent City Blues” by Gordon Jenkins." The case was settled for $75,000.
(Source: https://www.bcbe.org/cms/l“On February 19, 1981, ib/AL01901374/Centricity/Domain/739/Johnny%20Cash.pdf )

George Harrison: “My Sweet Lord”
In 1971, Harrison was sued for “subconsciously plagiarizing’: The Chiffons‘ 1963 hit single ‘He’s So Fine.’
After a court battle, “Harrison was found guilty and had to pay $1,599,987 of the earnings from ‘My Sweet Lord’ to Bright Tunes.”
(Source: https://performingsongwriter.com/george-harrison-my-sweet-lord/)

SUMMING IT UP

Of course, there are other cases where someone becomes very successful and false claims are made to gain a big undeserved sum in a bogus court case. But even the unjustly accused will lose if they must spend their time to prove they are the rightful owner.

This happened to Taylor Swift recently. The case was thrown out of court. That is the other side of the coin. The lawsuit can be costly and stall a project. Being on either side is a waste of your time and money, so try to avoid all that stress by protecting yourself.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Margot Conor has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn't until the COVID lock-down that she had enough time to dedicate to the craft and bring something to completion. Having finished her first novel, she went through the grueling two-year process of editing. Now she has jumped into the author's world with both feet. She's preparing to debut her first novel, which means learning how to promote it. The last year has been spent attending many writing retreats, seminars, and writers' events. She also listened to presentations specifically on the topic of publishing and book marketing. She will be sharing what she learns with the reader.
You can learn more about Margot and her writing at her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/margotconor/
@MargotConor (Facebook)


MAP Making for Authors

Contributed by Margot Conor

Maps are a great addition to your book and readers love them. It is a visual assist to the worldbuilding you create in your story. Especially if you’re writing a fantasy or science fiction novel.  If you just want a few maps for your books then the online programs are the way to go.

I decided to include a map in my book and so the research began. I have training as a visual artist, so I choose to do this myself. However, I don’t have time to hand draw it. If you are interested in having a map in your book, let me share with you the variety of opportunities I found to achieve this goal.

I see two basic options, doing it yourself, or hiring an outside artist to do it for you.

 If doing it yourself is something you want to try there are a host of choices. Some are browser-based options, and if you have a good Internet connection that is the way to go. But there are some software programs you can download if you want to have it on your hard drive. I also found a few artists who you can contact if that is what you prefer to do.

I have tried Inkarnate and found it to be extremely easy and quite a lot of fun. My first map was acceptable, but now that I understand how it all works, I am sure I can improve on the design. These are drawn in color, So I will most likely download my finished design and then render it into a black-and-white version in Photoshop.

But whatever you choose, there is one important thing you should know about map making for your book. Usually, a map in a book will cover a spread of two pages. Don’t put anything of importance in the center of your map where the fold will be – it would be lost in the fold of the pages.

The following programs can help you generate various kinds of maps…

Roll for Fantasy Map Creator (https://rollforfantasy.com/tools/map-creator.php)
This free program is very easy to use. With user-friendly tools. It would be a good starting point for anyone. I appreciate their simple instructions on the home page too. There are no Copyright restrictions.

Inkarnate (https://inkarnate.com/)
Free for a basic set of tools. $27.53 yearly for full access.
World maps, regional Maps city and village Maps, Battle Maps Interior Maps. Intuitive Interface and high-quality art, a variety of over 18,500 maps assets, Human, elven dwarven orcish. Used by authors, boardgame designers, fantasy world builders, RPG game masters, and players. They have a wide variety of HD stamps, textures, and fonts.

Dungeon Scrawl (https://www.dungeonscrawl.com/)
Their core features are available to everyone for free. You can create unlimited maps, save and load your files, Undo/redo anything you make, export as a .png image.
They have a pro level that is $7 a month.
They offer a variety of brushes and textural layers that allow you to make unique creations. They even have Isometric Edit Mode for those who want to create in a 3-D mode.

Donjon (https://donjon.bin.sh/)
This site has free Roll Playing Game tools for all different systems and settings. And it also has what they call Random Map Makers, this includes: world generator, town generator, treasure map generator, and dungeon generator. It also has Microlight, Pathfinder and other popular fantasy variations. The maps are functional but not the best art.

World Anvil Worldbuilding Tools (https://www.worldanvil.com/dashboard/)
This is a free program for creative types. If you have hand-drawn your basic map, World Anvil lets you upload it and add various elements. They have many customization options that are not as easy or as fast using pen and paper alone. You can also create your map in their program – it is generated by your descriptions.

DGN Fog (https://www.dungeonfog.com/)
You can sign up for free. For storytellers, authors, and role-playing games, they have something called Epic Locations, a guide or catalog of places with sensory descriptions, sample encounters, potential adventures, and a list of adjectives that capture the essence of the area.
You can draw maps or rooms with vector-based tools, populate your map with 3000+ different props and textures (even upload your own) or decorate rooms. Needs licensing.

Map Making Software:
It only makes sense to buy the software and install it on your computer if you are going to be making a lot of maps, or if you are creating games. Many of these were created for creators of roll-playing gamers, but they can be used by those who want to make maps for books just as well.

Below are internet-free programs.

Pro Fantasy Software (https://www.profantasy.com/default.asp)
This is a Campaign Cartographer program. Their prices are divided into bundles that range from $74 to $620. If you want everything they have to offer, it is definitely on the high end.

Nortantis (https://jeheydorn.github.io/nortantis/)
This is a free software download. A simple fantasy map generator that creates a hand-drawn style of map. You can customize the terrain, icons, and background color.

Wonderdraft (https://www.wonderdraft.net/)
One-time purchase of 29.99. Their maps look a lot like what is available on Inkarnate. They don’t seem to have as many choices, but the maps are richer in tone and quite beautiful. sometimes too many choices can be overwhelming. They do have a few additional art packs available: Pirates and Fantasy.

Fractal Mapper 8.0 (https://www.nbos.com/products/fractal-mapper)
$34.99. Map-Specific software, map-related stamps, and automation which allows you to create natural-looking land masses. There is a free program added in the purchase called Fractal World Explorer. This lets you create and edit 3d relief maps.

Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator (https://azgaar.github.io/Fantasy-Map-Generator/)
Free to install. This is the most popular site for many fantasy writers as well as Dungeon and Dragon Player. They have twelve rough templates to start your map. Then you fill in the details. They also have a tool to paint new terrain.

Watabou's Medieval Fantasy City Generator (https://watabou.itch.io/medieval-fantasy-city-generator)
This app generates random medieval city layouts of a requested size. The generation method is arbitrary, but it produces nice-looking maps. This is a free program.

FlowScape (https://pixelforest.itch.io/flowscape)
$10 software download. This is a 3D map generator. There are twenty presets you can edit and too many elements available to list, it is quite comprehensive. This is a great way to let your readers into the worlds you create. You can even create your characters there.

Hand Drawn by an artist…
If you go this route, no matter who you hire to draw your map, you need to make clear who will own the finished product. Ideally, you want to own the rights to your map.

Angelinetrevena: Angeline Trevena https://www.instagram.com/angelinetrevena/)
She is an author and artist who enjoys worldbuilding and making fantasy Maps. I don’t know what she charges. The advantage of having a hand-drawn map is that it is unique to your project and exactly what you want.

Stardust Book Services: Cartography (https://www.stardustbookservices.com/cartography)
The maps are detailed and interesting, each would be unique to your project. However, they are on the high end. Their Options: $199 to $899.

If you are set on getting an artist to draw your map, but you don’t have much of a budget you can try contacting someone on one of these sites:
Upwork: https://www.upwork.com/
Freelancer: https://www.freelancer.com/
Fiver: https://www.fiverr.com/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Margot Conor has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn't until the COVID lock-down that she had enough time to dedicate to the craft and bring something to completion. Having finished her first novel, she went through the grueling two-year process of editing. Now she has jumped into the author's world with both feet. She's preparing to debut her first novel, which means learning how to promote it. The last year has been spent attending many writing retreats, seminars, and writers' events. She also listened to presentations specifically on the topic of publishing and book marketing. She will be sharing what she learns with the reader.
 You can learn more about Margot and her writing at her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/margotconor/
 
 
 
 

A Search for the Best Writing App

 

 

Contributed by Margot Conor

I started looking for alternative platforms for my creative writing process. Moving all my projects is a daunting thought. I’ve written everything in MS Word since I first got a computer. I have many unfinished manuscripts and short stories. This also means they have been written in various renditions of Word.

I’ve recently realized that it is not easy to move Word documents into other programs. Word has hidden coding that gets messed up when transferring. Both personal data and field codes. Which is a pain in the neck to deal with if you want to format your book for publication in a different program.

If you use Word and want to share pages of your manuscript or short stories written in Microsoft Word with colleagues, agents, or publishers it's a good idea to review the document for this hidden data or personal information and remove it. Copying content from Word and pasting it into other programs often does not convert, and shows up as garbled text.
 
MS Word 365 is also expensive. It will cost you $159.99 to install (at the time of this article). No doubt that the price will increase. You can only install it on one machine. Files written in new versions don’t play well with older versions.

Microsoft Word files are considerably larger than text files. Some people have complained that the interface is too challenging to learn and there are too many options: Most people only use 50% of the offered tools because of the complexity of the system. I can attest to that.
Finally, a big downside for authors, that it’s not compatible with EPub or Mobi.

I was surprised to learn there are open-source alternatives to Word. For those of you who are familiar with all the ins and outs of Word but want something more affordable, I found two Open-Source options that are like MS Word. They are available in other languages too. Both are free and can basically do everything Word can do.

However, I don’t plan to use them because they are not compatible with EPub or Mobi. In some cases, there is a workaround by getting extensions. But I am not very tech-savvy to begin with and I’m not interested in complicating my process. 

These are two WordMS alternatives:

Apache Open Office: https://www.openoffice.org/
Has an extension: Writer2ePub: https://extensions.openoffice.org/en/project/writer2epub

Libre Office: https://www.libreoffice.org/

Here is the point of realization, MS Word and alternative programs like it, were created for office use, and they are not the best tools for an author. My goal is to find the most advantageous place to create stories and novels. So, then, I asked myself… if MSWord and its alternatives are not the best platform for an author, where should I be creating?

This led me to my writer's groups to ask what programs they use. I will share my discoveries and my research here. There are now some very sophisticated alternatives designed specifically for writers, which I found encouraging.

Scrivener App:

- Cost: Scrivener offers a 30-day free trial to let you explore the features and find out if it’s right for you. 

The full version for Windows or Mac OS costs $59.99. There’s an educational license for students and academics for $50.99.

- Helps you organize long writing projects such as novels, nonfiction books, academic papers, and even scripts.

- Simplifies Editing is an essential part of any writing project. Scrivener has many tools to help you edit more efficiently whether it’s correcting simple errors or restructuring entire sections and chapters.

- Helps you clarify your ideas and plan your manuscript. Scrivener’s folders and subfolders help you arrange and rearrange the various parts of your writing project.

- Formatting for screenwriters. You easily format your screenplay so you can focus on the essential elements of character, dialogue, and action.

- Features for academic and nonfiction writers. It has features such as footnotes, references, and a bibliography correctly formatted. Scrivener provides templates for writing in styles such as APA and MLA so you can focus on your writing.

- Tools for exporting and publishing. Scrivener integrates with many formats so you can export to Microsoft Word, Open Office, RTF Final Draft (for screenplays), PDF, and more.

- For Editing it lets you track word frequency. Allows you to color code to label characters, POV topics, or any other specific category you need.

- It does bookmarking, tracks your progress, has a compile tool so you can take sections from different documents into one document.

- Formatting lets you quickly change fonts, headings, block text, and titles.

- Has a metadata feature to add dates, lists, and other data to track important issues.

- I can do a split screen for an easy view of two sections of your book.

- Compatible with EPub.

AutoCrit:

The monthly subscription is $30 and the annual is $297. A lifetime subscription is only offered occasionally.

I’ve praised AutoCrit in previous articles, so I am not going to go into too much detail here about how it works. What I can tell you is that the 2.0 version went from a simple editing platform to a full-on writers' community. You can now write your entire novel on your Writer’s Desk in the app. They have a header that looks a lot like MS Word but is easier to use.

- In addition, there is a whole system built-in to edit and restructure whatever you write. There are digital notes and note boards if you are a plotter or just want to keep track of some details. 

I have a lifetime pro membership which gives me access to clubs and other special features. They also have courses and other perks if you are a paid member. And it is affordable. I went from a monthly payment plan to yearly, and then jumped on the chance for a lifetime membership when they switched to 2.0.
 
- With the new version, they have a voice reader with eleven voice options. This is handy for catching mistakes in your text which you might otherwise overlook.

- They offer Zoom courses on the craft of writing and give their members a lot of personal attention. They will do first-chapter critiques and feedback on your pitch to agents. (These are for an additional fee, but it is reasonable.)

I have to say, however, that the free version is very limited. A budget-limited young writer I suggested it to showed me how all the great things I told her about were not accessible to her in the free option.

While I haven't felt like writing there, I do use it for editing, and love it. Honestly, I should have transitioned fully to AutoCrit for writing, considering I’ve already paid for it. I can’t explain my reluctance.

Pro Writing Aid: 

 Cost is $20 a month, $120 per year, or you can get their lifetime subscription for $399.
 
- The free version offers many features, but the word count is limited to only 500 words at a time.

- You can select your document type. Fiction writers can choose from various genres, such as fantasy, historical, or contemporary. You can also analyze your writing against other famous authors.

- They check your grammar, give you feedback on your style issues, pacing, cliches, overused words, sensory details, and more.

- A big plus is that you can download it to your desktop so you’re not limited to on-line use.

- It offers writing reports, such as diction, which looks for vague words, transitions, and alliteration.

- There are no writing clubs or classes or other services.

Story Planner: https://www.storyplanner.com/

- This is an extensive writer’s app designed to help you organize what you write from the synopsis to the structure of your story. It outlines the scenes, locations, and characters.

- There are synchronization issues that some authors have complained about, and it can also be slow to render. This is an app best suited to plotters who like to outline everything.

I was not impressed with their website, mainly because there was no breakdown of what they offer in each type of account. It only says that the premium starts at $15 for three months. But nothing about what comes after that, and you must commit without knowing. I personally do not like the lack of transparency.

Campfire: https://www.campfirewriting.com/

A paid subscription is $14 a month or $140 yearly (with 2 free months).

The artist in me is attracted to this app. First of all, the design is just beautiful, and you can customize everything. 

- You can add photos or illustrations to your character bios, and make interactive maps. The layout is great, making it possible to reference your notes while you write. You can do collaborative projects too.

- With the free tier, you get access to all worldbuilding tools, collaboration, unlimited storage, and some tutorials. 

- You can export to EPub and other formats. 

- With a paid subscription you get unlimited elements and you can edit any element.

Hemingway Desktop App: https://hemingwayapp.com/

They took an interesting approach. They use different colored highlighting to point out where things need improving. Blue for adverbs, green for passive voice, pink highlights a phrase that could have a simpler alternative, yellow are sentences that are hard to read, and orange for very hard to read. There is a simple header with a few options.

This is a simple app that could be very useful to writers who are learning their craft.

It seems to only be available in a beta version, but there is a waitlist to use it.

OmmWriter: https://ommwriter.com/

Cost is only $6.11 to download to your desktop.

Their premise is simplicity. They provide the ideal setting for you to concentrate and just focus on your writing. They take the minimalist approach to design, with only basic functions required for writing. Simple upload and download buttons.

- Other selections include typeface, backgrounds, and sound elements. It opens into full-screen mode so nothing disrupts your creative flow.

- The environments are meant to transport you to a natural setting with the sounds of nature. There are various music options and audio tracks.

- One cute thing they do is add keyboard sounds when you type, one is like an old fashion typewriter. I love everything about this app. It is just a beautiful design with a fresh take on what a writer needs.

I hope this gives you some ideas of what's out there and what you'd like in your writing program.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Margot Conor has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn't until the COVID lock-down that she had enough time to dedicate to the craft and bring something to completion. Having finished her first novel, she went through the grueling two-year process of editing. Now she has jumped into the author's world with both feet. She's preparing to debut her first novel, which means learning how to promote it. The last year has been spent attending many writing retreats, seminars, and writers' events. She also listened to presentations specifically on the topic of publishing and book marketing. She will be sharing what she learns with the reader.

 You can learn more about Margot and her writing at her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/margotconor/



Getting Your Book on Newsletter Lists

 


Contributed by Margot Conor

Whichever way you publish, your sales will depend on your ability to market your book. Traditional publishers will do some promotions but how much they do will depend on who you are, and how much they believe in your product.

But let’s face it, no one else cares as much as you do about your book, so it will be largely up to you to market it. It's your marketing strategy that determines how much money you can expect to make from your book.

Statistically, 80 % of readers get their next read from written word media. It is the #1-way readers find their favorite books. If you don’t know what that specifically refers to… it’s newsletters.

These newsletters are directly from authors or newsletters from organizations that promote books. Most authors today know how important it is to grow their audience through a newsletter.

Getting your book titles seen by readers, outside of your personal contacts, will be a big boost for your sales.

Here are a few ways to take advantage of these phenomenal opportunities, gain exposure to thousands of subscribers who read company newsletters, and pick up new followers for your creative works:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/

Goodreads platform has over 125 million members, it is likely the biggest database of books on the planet. I did’nt find how many subscribers they have for their newsletter. But there are other ways to utilize their site to get more visibility by using their Lists.

Here are the methods for using Goodreads to promote your book:

-The “Similar To” algorithm: connects books on similar topics, and gives you a selection to choose from. Find user lists which have books similar to yours. Use genre, theme, and other specifics. Add your title to those lists. Spread this out over time. don’t do it all in one day. Also, join as a reader and compile your own lists, and of course, add your own books to them.

-The “Listopia” Feature: a more general genre search offers Featured Lists.
These include: Best books ever, Best books of the 21st century, Best books of the decade, Best books of a specific year, Best books of a specific month and year. Users choose and rank them.

-By Book Title: Chose a title that you use as a comp for your book, (something comparable by genre, mood, style, theme). Use this feature to “look for Lists with this book title.” It gives you access to how other readers listed the book you like (your comp), and what books they feel are similar.

Add your book to the lists of comparable book titles. If those readers liked your comp, they should like your book too. Books rise on the list to the top as readers vote for them.

Even if you are a fledgling author with no book published, I recommend joining GoodReads as a reader and starting your list of books you love. If you have a book or multiple books published, begin adding those titles to various featured lists, as outlined above, to gain more visibility.

The survey information below is gleaned from Written Word Media. I include it in this article because it corroborates my point that these companies have thousands of dedicated users that welcome the information shared in their newsletters. You can benefit from that as well.

Freebooksy: https://www.freebooksy.com/
You’ve probably been told if you can offer a free book, it will get you a lot of readers. Although it is a hard choice to make. After all the time and money you put into creating your book, offering it for free, seems counterproductive. Some authors use a Novella, while others who are perhaps more prolific, bite the bullet and use their first book, or the first in a series, for promotion.

Freebboksy’s site notes 519K readers. But a more recent poll by Written Word Media says they have nearly 700K newsletter readers. Which means they are growing fast!

Seventy-five percent of subscribers use the Freebooksy newsletter to find their next read.

Here is a step-by-step process of how to get your book promoted on this site: https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/best-way-to-promote-on-freebooksy/

Bargain Booksy: https://www.bargainbooksy.com/featured-books/

If you can’t make yourself give your book away, this might work for you. It is a site that sells discounted books.

Bargain Booksy Review is a promotional book-deal site that will share your book to several mailing lists they maintain. You pay a fee to have your book reviewed and promoted to one of their niche-specific mailing lists. They have 400K newsletter readers.
 
More than 70% of their subscribers use the Bargain Booksy newsletter to find their next book.

To help bring even more attention to your Booksy Profile, you can use their Boost option to increase your exposure.

The basic options are very affordable, Bargain Booksy Features range in price from $25-$240. Prices vary depending on your book's genre and promotion type. For more detailed information go to this link:
https://www.bargainbooksy.com/sell-more-books-with-bargain-booksy/

Red Feather Romance: https://www.redfeatherromance.com/
This service has 176K newsletter readers and they read more than10 books per month. More than 80 % of their subscribers use the Red Feather newsletter to find their books.

It will cost you a little to promote your book on this site, but it’s pretty reasonable.

NewInBooks: https://www.newinbooks.com/
They have 130K readers and on average their readers spend $25 per month on books. Seventy-five percent say they love the NewInBooks newsletter.

There’s a fee to get mentioned in their newsletter, it’s part of their Book Launch promo stack. Cost to the author: $299 to $499. But they have a lot of engaged subscribers, so this is not a bad way to advertise.  

According to surveys, a little less than half of modern readers are Kindle Unlimited subscribers. This means having an e-book option is important.

Wishing you all success on your writing journey!

Please copy and paste URLs for the sites you'd like to check out that aren't hyperlinked.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Margot Conor has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn't until the COVID lock-down that she had enough time to dedicate to the craft and bring something to completion. Having finished her first novel, she went through the grueling two-year process of editing. Now she has jumped into the author's world with both feet. She's preparing to debut her first novel, which means learning how to promote it. The last year has been spent attending many writing retreats, seminars, and writers' events. She also listened to presentations specifically on the topic of publishing and book marketing. She will be sharing what she learns with the reader.
 You can learn more about Margot and her writing at her Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/margotconor/




A Call for Writers to Find Balance

By Terry Whalin  @terrywhalin Within the publishing world, I’ve often heard it is harder to sign with a literary agent than to locate a publ...