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Commentary: Tips on getting published

“Van Hill Millvele is a writer of clean romantic space fantasy novels with anthropomorphic elements.” 

Allauthor.com

I have been published since 1992 in small, indie, and traditional education presses under a couple of different names. I was first published in ebooks form around 1996 under another name. Guess what. E-books are not a new thing.

I have done this despite having a subtle disability that disrupts my fine motor and grammar. If an oddball like me can get published then you can as well. I wanted to dispel common myths about writing and help new and seasoned writers. The biggest myth is only amateurs make mistakes. Guess what. I still make huge mistakes. I’m always learning something new.

I have been a ghostwriter, fiction writer, blogger, children’s book editor, and an abstract artist. Right now, I’m a reviewer of children’s picture books and contemporary poetry. I also write adult Science Fiction romantic comedy under the name Van Hill Millvele. These books also have anthropomorphic aliens and a lot of quirky weirdness. My books would have a PG to PG 13 rating if shown on screen.

The tips

#1: Start by using anything available to you.

You can write even if you don’t have a lot of money. If you don’t have a computer and only have a cell phone, you can publish via Wattpad. Yes, you can even sell your stories if you have a large enough audience.

There are grammar checkers for cell phones as well. If you don’t have the money for Microsoft Word then you can write in Google Docs which is free. I love writing in Google Docs and doing final edits in Word. 

#2: Don’t fear rejections.

Most agents don’t make a living as being an agent. All good agents only make money when they sell your book and do not charge fees. Every agent I have had a second job. This is why most agents reject manuscripts even if they like them. They just might not know how to sell that book.

Do not take rejections personally. I used to get four to six rejections for every acceptance letter. Rejections can be brutal. Great writers get rejected. Two publications rejected my manuscript, one told me the story was not Gothic enough. The other said it was too Gothic.

#3: Do your homework for agents and publishers.

Always read over agents’ and publishers’ guidelines on their website. Submitting the book at a time when they are closed can get your manuscript thrown out or in worse cases, you banned by that publisher. 

A traditional publisher is one that gives an advance on the book. If you do not earn out your advance, you get no royalties. Some traditional publishers will also pay a flat fee to rent your work.

An indie publisher pays no advance, but you get royalties right away. Any indie publisher who says they won’t give royalties until they made their money back, you need to run away from.

Self-publishing and Vanity Presses/Subsidy Presses are completely different, but I find that most writers and even some publishers don’t know the main difference. Vanity Presses/Subsidy will charge a fee to publish you or make you buy your product, but the writer has no control over the product.

#4: Managing your story product and identity

A self-published writer owns their product and brand. A self-published author has control. While they assume all the risk, they also get more of the profits. Self-publishing an e-book is often cheaper than Vanity publishing. There are also self-publishing services like https://draft2digital.com/book/, that only take a percentage of your e-book if it costs money.

Right now, I am self-publishing because I wanted to make the books free. I also wanted to control the editing. I’ve had reviewers tell me of the problem with my novel that was easily fixable. With my publishers often things that needed to be fixed didn’t.

Traditional publishing is not bad, its cheaper for the author, but if you want control than traditional publishing is not for you. Self-publishing can be super cheap if you know how to draw and have good editing software.

For self-published writers. You can take photos for your cover art or hire people from Deviant Art if you have the money. If you are doing an Amazon exclusive book you can use their stock photos for free. Never use clip art to create book covers. Many times clip art is not in the public domain. You can also hire cover artists from Reedsy. Working with the artist to the stars will cost a lot more than doing it yourself.  

#5: Finances

Most writers, even traditionally published writers can’t make a living as a writer. I personally give my ebook away for free. I have everything I need and cannot justify charging in these times with the financial and medical disasters that are going on in the world today. It is not because I don’t value myself.

If you want to write for money, one technique would be to publish as many quality e-books in your favorite niches as possible. People like name recognition. Bestselling writers have told me that a self-published writer needs about fifteen e-books published before they start seeing money from it.

Another best-selling writer told me not to overspend my PR budget, some PR sites claim readers they don’t actual have. It is better to ask writers who have used those services and pick the ones that would work for you.

#6: Editing your script

Avoid paying for a full editor if you are submitting to a traditional or indie publisher. Traditional publishers like to use their editors. That doesn’t mean that I don’t edit. I have had publishers who loved my work so much they didn’t edit. Let me tell you that is not a good thing.

Use grammar programs like Grammarly, Sapling and text to speech software. Listening to your book while you read it can catch mistakes. Using text to speech is also recommended if you cannot hire an editor. If you plan to self-publish a bunch of e-books for money, then hire an editor that you trust. I have hired a bad editor before who lied to me that there were no mistakes.

Developmental editors do not edit for grammar. They are more intense beta readers who will tell you which part of your books stink, but for a price.

#7: Getting reviews for your story

Never pay for book reviews. Paying for book reviews can get you banned by publishers, stores and agents. The only exceptions are using sites like Booksprout Netgalley or Storyoriginapp, which is free for now and Booksprout has a free version.

With these types of services, you are not paying for reviews but to have your book available to reviewers. Your book can still get bad reviews. Some review sites are charging over $400 for a review. There are better ways to spend $400.

#8: Advices on writing?

Good writing advice is specific, such as, you use the word “suddenly” or get way too much when other words would fit better. Your descriptions are bland. Your hero’s acting like a jerk, but everyone says how nice he is. A jerky hero can work, but lying about his actions usually backfires. 

Figure out what your weak words are. I sometimes, ‘put’ the word ‘put’ too many times. Everyone has their own weak words.

The worst writing advice is “Show, Don’t Tell” because it is not specific enough. It is also cliché. Many writers use it to mean different things. Some writers think it means your action isn’t descriptive, sometimes they mean the dialogue is too simplistic. Sometimes they mean you are dwelling on your hero’s thoughts and not his actions.

“Show, Don’t Tell” is not helpful. Sometimes showing too much is a bad idea. Writers can show a thirty-page chapter that only needed five pages. Showing too much can be very boring and long-winded, especially if you are showing the mundane. No one needs to see your hero brushing his teeth.

Some of her books

“Furry Galaxy 75: Pandora’s Box”

“Furry Galaxy 75: Book Two: Dragonfly Probes”

For all titles, the Apple Books store:
https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1524312469


Content submitted by Van Hill Millvele
Main editing by Ahmar Wolf, further editing by Pawsry HTCN.

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