Tag Archive | writing process

Babelcube beware: what authors need to know before signing a Babelcube contract

Boudicca German web

The German edition of Boudicca was beautifully translated by Christina Loew. Thanks to frequent communication and Ms. Loew’s professionalism, the translation process was smooth and easy — exactly what most authors are looking for when joining Babelcube.

If you subscribe to this blog you know that in 2016 I took my books deeper into the global market.  After an exasperating fore into the Chinese market via Fiberead, I had high hopes for Babelcube, a platform for translation that mirrors many of the features familiar to authors who use Amazon’s ACX.com site for audio production.  But as with ACX, successful production and publication requires understanding the system and knowing how — and when — to walk away from something that is not working.

The ability to walk away is important for independent authors because a poorly translated book is damaging to the author’s brand; it reflects on the author as much if not more so than the original editions written by the author in her or his native language.  Therefore an author’s career is at stake each time the author signs a translation contract.  Don’t mess with this, my friends.  As much as you want to be sweet and nice when it comes to dealing with potential translators your life depends on you being picky and walking away when you can from any deal or possible deal that doesn’t uphold your author brand.

The first place you can walk away is when a translator first sends you an offer to translate.  This is the best time to fully vet the candidate.  Don’t skimp on this and do not feel obligated to accept any particular offer. We all want to be nice and we want to give people their break into a new career.  The problem with doing that is you may end up with poor quality work because the person has never been tested in the professional world as a translator.  Before signing anything TALK TO THE TRANSLATOR — don’t just look at the profile and give the person the benefit of the doubt because s/he seems likable.  Remember that this is a form of job interview and treat it as seriously as any job interview you’ve been on.  If anything does not smell right or you aren’t sure of anything at all politely decline.

But let’s say you’ve accepted the contract.  The next place and final place you can walk away is when the translator submits the first ten pages. In evaluating these, don’t just look at the words on the page but the FORMATTING because, as with your own books you self-publish, the formatting and editorial can make or break the book.  If anything seems like you would not submit those ten pages as a stand alone, polished work DECLINE THEM — this is your last and ONLY chance to get out of the contract.  Despite what you may see in the system, this is the actual point of no return for you.  Once those ten pages are accepted you are committed to publishing the book — no matter the quality of the final product you are given.

And this is the part that no one ever mentions to you:  you cannot decline to publish a completed book on Babelcube — even though there is a button in the review process that says “decline this translation.”

What happens if you do hit the “decline” button?  Firstly you are asked to confirm and warned that confirming the decline will open a dispute with Babelcube.  What this means is that they will investigate and make a ruling.  If they rule for you, the translator has to fix the errors.  If they rule against you then you owe the translator an undisclosed amount of money.  But the system doesn’t tell you that.  I found out by asking via email after I reviewed the final document on one of my books and deemed it of such poor quality that I was not comfortable with continuing.

In essence you have to approve the final book.  You can ask for some changes (hit “return” and then send a message to the translator to do so), but you actually DO have to hit “accept translation” and then publish the book. “Reject translation” means you are willing to pay for the translator’s time for a book that you will not publish.

For most people it’s far cheaper to enlist the help of someone outside of Babelcube’s system to help you fix the document so you can publish — which is exactly what I am doing right now.

This is why it is critically important that you wait until each translation is complete before signing another contract with a translator. Even after publishing one or two books all the way through the process (meaning the book is live Amazon, iBooks, Scribd, etc.) with a translator, my experience shows that it is best to only contract one book at a time with a specific translator.  Life happens and schedules change.  Limiting yourself to one contract at a time per translator helps everyone balance time and priorities to the satisfaction of all parties and empower everyone to create the best work possible.

In summary, Babelcube can be an excellent platform for translating books into multiple languages.  But success with it requires the author always beware of its inner workings and courageous enough to walk away from any project that does not meet expectations either before the contract is signed or when receiving the first ten pages.

This is your brand.  Protect it.

Reblog: Should Authors Stop Their Characters At First Base?

Today’s reblog is a post by J. Boyce Gleason entitled “Should Authors Stop Their Characters at First Base.”

 

Here is Mr. Gleason’s post in full.  What do you think?  Let’s talk about sex in books!

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Why Not “Fade to Black?”

Authors make lots of choices. How much of the plot do we reveal? How soon do we reveal it? Should we follow one narrative point of view or many?

And then there is sex. How far do we let the characters go? Do we stop them at first base and fade to black? Second? Third? Is it necessary for the reader to watch them go all the way? How much detail is too much detail?

The choice I made was to be “all in.”

One of the reasons we read fiction is that it gives us the unique opportunity to delve inside a character’s persona. We see their thoughts and emotions. We know what drives them to make the choices they make. Like Toto in the Wizard of Oz, fiction allows us to pull aside the curtain to see what levers are being manipulated.

Sex (or the abstinence of sex) is an integral part of who we are. It shapes our personalities, our choices, our self-esteem. We may choose to keep the details private, but it shapes us nonetheless. Why should literature be any different?

The trick is to make sure you are writing it for the right purpose.

“If you are writing to titillate the reader – or yourself – you are writing for the wrong reason,” author Barbara Dimmick (In the Presence of Horses, Heart-Side Up) warns. “There are no generic sex scenes. Sex is so intimate that it changes with each partner. Couples create their own language for sex; they have their own signals for intimacy, their own rituals for foreplay. To be credible, a sex scene must reflect that level intimacy. It should give your readers insights into your characters, not into you.”

My first novel, Anvil of God, is a sweeping tale that chronicles the struggles that the family of Charles the Hammer (Charlemagne’s grandfather) face in the wake of his death. Based on a true story, it is a whirlwind of love, honor, sacrifice, and betrayal. It offers readers far more than a sex. But the sex scenes in it, hit that high standard. They present a unique window into each character’s identity. For Trudi, sex is an act of independence; for Carloman it is a counterpoint to the rigidity of his religious beliefs, for Pippin an expression of joy and respite from the violence of his life. The scenes advance the story in a way no other scene could.

About the Author:
J. Boyce Gleason With an AB in history from Dartmouth College, J. Boyce Gleason brings a strong understanding of what events shaped history. He says he writes historical-fiction to discover why. Gleason lives in Virginia with his wife Mary Margaret. They have three sons.

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Do you agree with Mr. Gleason?  Post your remarks below!

Reblog: Five Ways to Write Characters People Care About

The following is re-blogged from http://writersrelief.com/blog/2014/05/write-characters-people-care-about/

 

Princess Anyu from Laurel A. Rockefeller's  Peers of Beinan series

Princess Anyu from Laurel A. Rockefeller’s Peers of Beinan series

“In a previous article, we explored five ways to make your characters more three-dimensional. Once your characters are believable as living, breathing individuals, the next step is to make readers care about them. When readers are invested in the characters’ struggles and personal stories, they are much more likely to keep reading.

Here are five ways to make readers care about your characters:

Make Your Characters Need Something. One of the easiest ways to make your character more empathetic is to expose a vulnerability and establish a need to: save a dying mother, fall in love, crack the code, etc. The need can be as simple as “get to work on time” or as complicated as “save the world.” But it will encourage readers to empathize with the character and root for his or her success.

Example: Joe struggles through failed relationship after failed relationship in an attempt to find his soul mate.

Make Your Characters Take A Stand On Important Issues. A character with strong convictions and a cause to be passionate about will intrigue readers and earn their respect. If your audience is interested in your character’s goals and respects your character’s convictions, they’ll be more inclined to follow the story line to its conclusion.

Example: Leslie stands up for women’s equality in the workplace at a local public forum.

Make Your Character The Underdog. Nothing piques the interest of the reader more than the inspirational story of a hero battling against seemingly impossible odds, struggling to find success under the bleakest of circumstances. Who wouldn’t cheer for the little guy? Think David vs. Goliath.

Example: Despite being an amateur boxer, Andrew is nervous but optimistic before his match against the world champion.

Give Your Characters Idealistic Qualities. Readers love characters that embody qualities and ideals they also aspire to. Even if your character is a scoundrel, make him or her a soft-hearted scoundrel. Characters that exemplify the best of humanity entice the reader to stay engaged and keep reading.

Example: Dan may be a pirate, but he will use his ship to run the blockade and bring food to the starving orphans.

Give Your Characters Formidable Foes. Heroes are only as good as the villains who oppose them. Giving your main character adversaries who present challenging obstacles will bring out the best (and sometimes the worst) in your characters. As daunting as that sounds, the journey to overcome these obstacles will further endear your characters to the reader.

Example: Iago has created a web of lies designed to test Othello’s resolve.

Empathetic Characters Don’t Always Have To Be Good Guys

Creating characters that evoke empathy in the reader can be challenging, but these five methods will ensure that your efforts are successful. And keep in mind that empathetic characters don’t always have to be likable. Try your hand at writing an unlikable (or even villainous) character that exudes empathetic qualities. Think Patrick Bateman in American Psycho or Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series.”

Reblog: Why I’m “Lost”

Cover art for Laurel A. Rockefeller's "The Lost Tales" from the Anlei's Legacy Trilogy.

Cover art for Laurel A. Rockefeller’s “The Lost Tales” from the Anlei’s Legacy Trilogy.

Good afternoon everyone.  Today UK-based Back Cover Promotions launched their new magazine, “Creative Dreams.”  I am pleased to write the very first feature post for Creative Dreams entitled, “Why I’m Lost.” http://ow.ly/u43yl.

The article discusses why I chose to put out a “Lost Tales” anthology, tips for successful world-building, and the writing process. If you aspire to a career in writing, I hope you will please read this inaugural post and through it, improve your own writing craft.

Have a lovely day and a great upcoming weekend!

The Great Succession Crisis one year later

Cover art for The Great Succession Crisis, 1st edition paperback as published in September, 2012.  Thanks to constructive criticism from reviewers, this cover art changed for the revised edition.

Cover art for The Great Succession Crisis, 1st edition paperback as published in September, 2012. Thanks to constructive criticism from reviewers, this cover art changed for the revised edition.

Great Succession Crisis paperbackThis week I celebrate a big milestone as an author:  the first anniversary of the launch of my first book.

The week of my initial publication on SmashWords, I wrote a commemorative article for Yahoo Voices.  Here is what I wrote:  http://voices.yahoo.com/first-person-today-published-first-novel-11639434.html?cat=38

What I could not anticipate at the time is the way that “The Great Succession Crisis” would become my personal Montecello.  After the first reviews in 2012 showed me the almost inevitable flaws that come from self-publishing one’s first book, I found myself in a process of editing, revising, and yes, re-writing.  In January, 2013 I re-wrote about 25% of “The Great Succession Crisis,” creating the current “revised editions.”  But it went more than that.  Seeing that some readers did not pick up on the larger story, I added two more chapters, brought back data files I previously deleted after listening to other people regarding supplementary content, and finally added in non-fiction material — all of this becoming “The Great Succession Crisis Extended Edition” which, for me, is much more definitive.  GSC Ex is my “director’s cut” of that book.

Great Succession Crisis Extended paperback

Given my education is in film/stage writing, psychology (pre-counseling), and medieval history, it is pretty much inevitable that I look at stories from a more or less film and stage point of view with the sensibilities of someone who loves to write in script format.

This also means I’ve made some technical errors; novels are not the same as screenplays.  The direction to actors that script writers must insert into the text cannot be conveyed the same way in novels.  So yes, I admit to my share of errors as my brain works to convert internally to novel conventions.

All through this, my sensibilities as a low vision person persist.  I possess the almost inevitable sensitivity to the needs of different physical abilities when it comes to reading.  This is one reason why I do not use a sterile white background on my website, even though the default background from Intuit.com is actually white.  In the summer of 2013, I located new options for my website, allowing me to stand apart from generic book sites with the organic, soothing green leaf background that makes reading the content (all geared towards YOU, the reader) both easier and more pleasant.  Cool colors soothe and invite people to stay.  Our brains and our minds really love blues, greens, and purples, finding these cool colors restful.

With large print editions in hand, I hope to eventually record audio versions of Peers of Beinan books.  But first, I continue to work on a brand new innovation:  QR indexing for paperback and hypertext link indexing for digital copies.

These new innovations make reading The Great Succession Crisis and other Peers of Beinan series books easier and more interactive than ever.  Rather than me playing God, sending out my story to you from on high as if from an ivory tower, my books are a conversation with you. Together, we listen and learn from one another as you read, beginning with your decision on which format you want to read each book in.

Readers can choose between the revised and extended editions of The Great Succession Crisis in digital, paperback, QR Interactive paperback, or large print paperback.  That is EIGHT editions for the SAME NOVEL.

Ghosts of the Past paperback photoIn March, 2013 I was able to release book two, The Ghosts of the Past.  This too I offer in all four formats.

You matter to me.  I’m not some literary goddess — just a storyteller who loves to research and share my research with you in the form of great adventures.

It is my hope you will join me as I explore social issues, history, science, and so much more on planet Beinan.

To the adventure!

Analysis: Top Ten Storytelling Cliches that Need to Disappear Forever

This hospitaler, a stand in for both Lord Knight Corann and for Lord Knight Elendir, stands as the perfect medieval knight.

This hospitaler, a stand in for both Lord Knight Corann and for Lord Knight Elendir, stands as the perfect medieval knight.

This afternoon I gave across one of the most poignant columns on writing and the writing process I’ve seen in a rather long time.  The subject:  literary cliches.

http://litreactor.com/columns/top-10-storytelling-cliches-that-need-to-disappear-forever

It is very hard to disagree with Mr. Hart here; he hit a lot of the bigger cliches right on the head — and shown us why knocking someone unconscious is a REALLY BAD IDEA to put in a story.

Avoiding cliches is difficult.  Write in an archetypal character — like Lord Knight Corann from The Great Succession Crisis — and you run the risk of such a character being called cliche.

One matter I do have a bit of disagreement on was his talk about bad parenting.  True, people do over use that device, but his description here really comes off to me, as someone who endured a violent childhood, as rather — dismissive.

In my humble opinion, Mr. Hart does not appear to really understand the psychology of abuse nor how it provides a genuine obstacle to success — not insurmountable — I am living proof of that — but an obstacle nonetheless, something people must work at to overcome.

Domestic violence is not something to talk about lightly, as if it is no big deal.  Rather, it is a serious matter that must be addressed by our society through prevention (as Sir Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame talks about) first and foremost.

Now should a challenging childhood really be the main motivator for villainy?  Absolutely not — yes, that is overdone.  But it should also never be described as if it is no big deal.

We as writers possess a social and moral responsibility.  Ours is the greatest power for social change.

The cliche about the pen and the sword is genuinely true.  As strong as physical might may appear, it is the power of ideas and words, filtered through the talents of writers, journalists, and authors, that changes our world most.

Endeavor always to make the world as better place through your pen and your works — published and otherwise.