53,100

I did it 🙂

In fact, not only did I pass 50,000 words, I got to the end of the story. (And then realized I’d forgotten to put in the last bit which I’d been thinking of for months if not years, but hey, that’s what rewrites are for, right?)

So, do I get a cake with 53,100 candles?


Maybe better not. I’m still open to suggestions of celebrations, if anyone has any ideas. (I do have access to a headless effigy and a rotten egg, if that helps.)

In other exciting news, my first ever guest post! Jami Gold’s site is a mine of useful information for writers – and not only for romance writers, though that’s her own focus as an author.

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Plan D Success!

Now some of you may be wondering, what’s Aunt Eller got to do with it?

Karl Emanuel Jansson - Old Woman in a White Bonnet - Google Art Project
Well let me tell you, if you want to be self-published – in fact, if you want to do anything in this world different from the way the world’s used to doing it – you gotta be hardy. Allow me to illustrate…

Plan A for Restoration Day ebook distribution was to go with the same people who are distributing the paperback. The author’s share wasn’t great, considering the low overheads associated with ebooks, but for width of distribution it would be hard to beat. And then I read the terms and conditions, and discovered… DRM – Digital Rights Management, also known as Digital Restrictions Management; or as Chuck Wendig calls it, the Devil’s Restrictive Manacles. If you’re looking for a less colourful explanation of why it’s bad, check out Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran.


Moving on! Plan B looked very promising. Indeed, Plan B went from pretty good to almost perfect overnight, when they added one of the biggest marketplaces in the world to their distribution network. I was all ready to go… until I found that they don’t accept Creative Commons works.

Why? Because the retailers allegedly won’t take them, apparently because some people have complained after finding that they paid money for something they could have downloaded for free. I tried to reason with them, but to no avail. Plan B was dead in the water, so I laid out my options with their pros and cons and dealbreakers.

Plan C… Ah, Plan C. Sell on our own website, with a couple of natty plugins. It could have been the best yet, but tragically it turned into a sort of pass-the-Tardis-parcel of paperwork, where as you remove a layer, you discover an even larger layer inside. The straw that broke the camel’s back was not the requirement of setting up a new bank account, or even setting up a formal partnership between myself and my husband, with all the paperwork that entailed.

David - Portrait of Monsieur Lavoisier and His Wife
Both prematurely greyed by paperwork.
It wasn’t their insistence that we publish our home address and phone number online; nor even that they have access to our workplace (i.e. home) at any time during working hours. No, the final straw was the terms and conditions you have to read and accept before you are allowed to read the standard of website compliance to which you will be held.

Now, let’s be clear: I’m not against web safety, not at all. I’m all for people not having their financial information stolen and used to benefit a bunch of crooks (because who else steals financial information?). I just don’t see why you need dozens of policies and procedures to protect the credit card information which isn’t being processed on your site.

That’s right: all that to protect the information which we wouldn’t even have. Enough is enough – and who is to say that that was the last layer? Apparently the first rule of the financial world is Don’t Talk About the Next Layer – in fact, don’t even suggest there are layers. It’s super simple! You’re nearly there…

Information Security Wordle: PCI DSS v1.2 (try #2)
You gotta be hardy. You just gotta be.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends and supporters of all shapes and sizes, I am both happy and relieved to announce that the Restoration Day ebook is finally available to the world.

Yes, if you visit this Givealittle page you can make a donation towards my ongoing existence as a writer and Person Who Eats, and receive in return a download link for the ebook. Yay!

And while you’re there, check out some of the other pages – there are many deserving causes up for support on Givealittle. Because some people have got it much worse than Plan D.

Thirteen Lessons Learned

It’s been a long road to this point of being a published author, and I have learned a lot. Some things I have learned from others, and some things I have learned the hard way. Here are a selection, in roughly the order I learned them.

I Some writers can produce remarkable work in odd bits and bobs of time. I am not one of those writers. It takes me a good half hour to submerge. Find out how you work best and don’t listen to those who say that there is only one right way to go to work.

Day 220: What the heck am I writing
II Making it up as you go along is not the only way to write – nor is is necessarily the best or most authentic way to write. It certainly works better for me if I take some time to brood and hatch out a skellington ahead of time. Again, find out how you work best and don’t listen to those who say that there is only one right way to go to work.

III LyX is great. I type into a nice clear large-print text file, and when I click a button, it shows me how it will look on the page – all properly formatted like a Real Book. How much of this was set up by the Caped Gooseberry and how much comes straight out of the virtual box, I know not, but any way you slice it, I recommend LyX.

IV However good your word-processing/typesetting program is, you will still have to make a million decisions. Really. You have no idea how many decisions go into a book until you try it, and all the decisions will need to be made regardless of how little you care about them. (Rather like organizing a wedding in that respect.)
Latex layout
Font, margins, running heads and/or feet (with placement & content thereof), leadings, headings, et cetera ad nauseam. Don’t even get me started on the typographical complexities induced by the inclusion of another language (real or imaginary). On the plus side, all this decision-making means your book comes out looking just how you want it.

V On which point, details are not my forte, particularly typographical details. The Caped Gooseberry, on the other hand, is an excellent proof-reader. “This says leaned, but eighty pages ago you said leant – which is it to be?” (Yes, he is a man of myriad usefulnesses. No, you can’t have him. He is mine, all mine, muahahahaha.)

VI Nothing is ever simple. On average, you can expect one moderately major detour or road-bump for every decision you make. And sometimes there will be dead ends when you least expect them. The one thing which went much more smoothly than I expected turned out to lead to a brick wall.

Spaghetti-Junction-Crop
VII Graphic designers design. Mac Operators carry out others’ designs. While a graphic designer may choose to take on mac operator work, mac operators don’t do graphic design work.

VIII Some ebook distributors won’t accept Creative Commons-licensed works, citing the vendors’ non-acceptance of Creative Commons & Public Domain works. However, a quick search of Amazon.com (the biggest fish in the pond), reveals that not only do they still list public domain works by Austen, Brontës, Dickens etc, but that they also list Creative Commons-licensed books by Cory Doctorow and Lawrence Lessig.

IX Other ebook distributors insist on putting on DRM, regardless of the author/publisher’s wishes. (Some of them also insist on taking a large part of the profits, despite incurring almost no cost whatsoever.)

X The wholesale discount includes 15% for the distributor, so a wholesale discount of 55% means 40% of the list price for the bookseller (generally the minimum brick-and-mortar booksellers will accept in order to stock a book). This leaves 45% for the publisher (in the case of self-published books, also the author) from which the printing and shipping costs are deducted.
Content writer
Depending on the cost of printing and the list price, there may be very little left – and that’s before you take into account that the bookseller will expect to be refunded for any copies they don’t sell (and will either destroy them or charge you for shipping them back).

XI When the National Library of New Zealand CiP form says “What is the book about? (Describe the main topics, themes, and/or places covered. Please be as specific as possible.)” what it means is “please provide a brief description to be published verbatim.” (Embarrassing.)

XII You can’t use a Young Adult Fiction BISAC code unless the book is primarily classified as Young Adult Fiction – which ensures it will be shelved in places where adults fear to tread. Young adult readers, on the other hand, are not afraid of venturing into the adult section. (Yay for young readers!)

XIII A matte finish dims the colours of a cover more than you might expect. On the other hand, they feel lovely. Choose wisely.

Glossy on the left; matte on the right.

Yes, some of these are definitely more serious than others (VI and X are pretty major), but if anything I’ve written here lets another writer learn something the easy way, I shall be delighted.
And if there are any other self-publishing Creative-Commons-using New Zealand-based writers out there, whether further along the road than me or not – drop me a line. I’d love to know that it’s Not Just Me.