Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Making of Symbol of the Dead

Howdy boils and ghouls and welcome to an article actually written by Scared Sheetless himself! Shocking, I know, but I've been very busy with getting off my butt and actually publishing a book. Something not many aspiring authors can say. It could be because of procrastination (something I'm VERY good at) or because of this strange ideology called life. But to actually say that I went out and actually got this book published is commendable. And it was so easy!


Sorry, I had to laugh hysterically for a moment there and then cry for a little bit too. Writing a book can be an easy task if you have everything organized and know exactly what you want. But there is another side to it that not many people look at and that is, you're not even half way there. Sure, you have a good lengthy book, but have you ever thought that you're not the grammar wiz you thought you were? Hell, I can admit that before I met my great editor (more on that later), my grammar was less than par. I knew it had to be professionally edited.

As with life, nothing magically appears for you. If you're a self-publishing author you need to go out and find these resources yourself. Which can be a difficult task if you're like me and have not a freaking clue of what you're doing. Thankfully, being in the newspaper business, doors were already opened and I could use those tools to my advantage. I emailed Gary Scruton, the owner of the Trendy Times, if he knew anyone who could help. He suggested one of the writers of Trendy Times, but for reasons unknown her phone number wasn't working for me. As much as I do respect this lady, I'm glad I couldn't get a hold of her and for good reason. His next suggestion was Nessa Flax.

When I first met Nessa, I didn't know what to expect. To me, a younger, less wise me, editing was *simply* just sending in your manuscript and bingo, they correct you, you pay a small fee, and then you can be published!

No, you idiot! Not you, you, but me you. It wasn't easy peasy, it wasn't simple, it took from February to November just to edit this damn manuscript! Not easy.

Alright, I'll admit, part of the problem was my own lack of knowledge on the program that Nessa uses to make corrections and to collaborate on the project with you. What she uses is track changes on an Office document. It looks like this ...

You will see all these tabs on the side, which is Nessa and I talking about changes to the manuscript. This isn't even the worse of Chapter 2, but for those who read the book now, you will notice that Chapter 2 is not where you meet Rigor Mortis, but is now "Opening the Portal," where Luke enters the Afterlife using the Symbol of the Dead. What we did was swap Chapter 3 and Chapter 2, in the end it made more sense. The frustrating old Chapter 2 has become legend in conversation between Nessa and I, as every time we bump into problems we'll always say, "Well, at least it isn't as bad as Chapter 2." For the record, the "NEW" Chapter 2 (now Chapter 3) doesn't even look like this anymore and is a shade of its former self. This was our hardest chapter, but this was just the beginning too. 

As with life, prolonged breaks from editing were unsuspectingly included in the package. Sickness, surgery, deaths, and all sorts of things can happen during this process. While working on this, Nessa became very ill and was out for a month and a few weeks. Most of my year had been halted due to deaths in the family. But it's life, an unfortunate part of life. But once we got back, we put this manuscript through war. 

Our original intention was to be done in time for October 22nd. I really wanted to release this book on the one year anniversary of my grandfather's death. But we were coming up to September and only three quarters of the way there. We simply couldn't. My family was asking me all the time, "Are you done with your book?," "Whens the book going to be done?," "Whys it taking so long?" A lot of those who asked probably had the same idea I had when first started, as said earlier, you just send it and that's it. Nope. Again, it's a lot more than that and I was going to get a good helping of frustration. 

ISBN and copyrights. Grr. Talk about these two with me about a month or so ago and I'd probably snap and bite your arm off! Okay, I wouldn't. I'm not a cannibal. But it was very demoralizing dealing with these two. ISBN's for one was easy once I did it, now it's going to be second nature. I got my ISBN from this site (click here) and now it's easy. The reason why it was hard was because I didn't even have the resources to Google it. Yes, every bit of my intellect comes from Google (just kidding ... kind of.) I had so many questions, like, "Do I need a separate ISBN for every tablet?" Quick answer: No. More elaborate answer: The reason for this is really only big publishing companies have separate ISBN's for different tablets. That's all I was told and that's what I'm sticking with. The less hassle, the happier I am. 

Copyrights: Technically you're covered as soon as your book is in print. The only reason why you want to copyright your book by law is due to damages cost. Say someone rips off your story and tries to pose it as their own, now you're covered. You're covered anyways if that happens, but this makes it more ... legit, I guess. Copyrights are still Chinese to me, but I'm pretty sure I will copyright my novels in the future. 

Daen Tyler was a big help during this whole process of getting to know your friendly ISBN's and copyrights. Though, she made a suggestion that it's good idea, for any author, to register their own domain name. Like me, go on to, you will see it brings you back here. What this does ... I still don't understand! But apparently it's good for you and you should do it. So there! 

Cover design is a big thing. At first I wasn't too crazy about having one, but the old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover," is a crock of crap apparently. Those who own tablets tend to buy an unknown author's book based on its cover. Okie-dokie, where to find a cover designer? You can actually find cover designers for cheap, or relatively at least depending on your budget. The one I chose was Elder Lemon Art. I discovered after a fellow author friend of mine, Chad Stambaugh, used them for previous books of his (The Paranormal Dictionary is on sale right now! Cheap plug, Chad!) 

And here's the cover design that is being used now. Looks great and hopefully it pulls in some potential readers. Nessa, myself, and just about all my friends on both my Facebook accounts (yes, I have two. One for myself, one for my paranormal ventures) were having a big debate on the blood spot in the middle. Some said it was too much, some said it wasn't enough, and other said it was just fine. The reason why the blood was such a big deal is because there isn't that much bloodshed in this book. Yes, a character does have to bleed onto to symbol to make the portal open, but it only needs a few drops. I decided to keep it in due to most people said they really liked it with it and thought it wouldn't look good without it. You got to keep your potential readers happy. Readers + happy = fans. Maybe, my math is off. But your fans are important, no matter what. There is no a thing in Hollywood or the world of authors that pisses me off more than those who disrespect their fans. They're not plebeians, they're the one who are paying for your nice mansion and your sports cars and your vacations. Not sure why I went there, but oh well. If you're a fan of Scared Sheetless, you should know I go in all directions at once sometimes. I am a walking oxymoron!

Anyways, they book was finally done editing in mid-November. After that came that hardcopy read where I had to print out two copies of the book. I had to give one to Nessa and the other I kept. Here's why she did a hardcopy: it's because it makes finding mistakes easier. Did we? Yeah, actually. That's not be discouraged, look at like putting another wax on your product before it goes to retail. We didn't find an extravagant amount, so that's also good. That means we did a great job. But even after, when your book is out in the market place, don't be disappointed if you or a reader finds more mistakes. It's always going to happen. It can happen to a 'little' guy like me or a big wig like Stephen King.


One of the most important things you have to do is market your book. Now, if you are like me, you don't have any clue on how to market or even the first aspect of marketing. Welcome to a whole new realization of being a self-publisher. Not only do you have to learn all the ins and outs of self-publishing, but you have to learn a whole new hobby that you probably never wanted to do in the first place!

I would say that marketing is easy, but that would only to be a nice guy. I'm not going to sugar coat it. Marketing yourself is a pain in the ass and it's even more so when you're a no name author. But there are some saving graces that I've found over the past year.

-Facebook can be annoying as hell, but it's also a great marketing tool. You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on their little ads, when you can search for book groups that allow free promotions. I'm a part of at least 20 and ever so often I drop a line about my book. Make sure to leave links to wherever it is located (for example: Amazon -leave a link to the page-, iTunes -same thing-, etc.), as well as either a review or a tiny excerpt from the book. It's not guaranteed to skyrocket your sales, but the idea is to get peoples attention.

The great thing about free advertising is people are curious critters. They love to find out anything that's going on. If you post something on your wall that says, "Hey, look at this!" More than likely you're getting to get quite a few people to look at it. They may not press that Like button or share it, but your main mission is not praise, but attention. Although, it wouldn't hurt for you to ask for shares or likes either.

-Cut down your price, even if it's already cheap. My book goes for $3.99 for the digital versions. That's cheap. You can buy two sodas with that (unless they jacked up the prices since the last time I went out. I don't get out that often). But here's the thing, since you're not Stephen King or any other big wig writer, or if you have no writing credentials before hand, you're automatically screwed. Next great American novel? Are you famous? No? F off then! That's how it works. But if you cheapen your digital book to even free, you'll get quite a few takers. As said on the Facebook paragraph, for right now sales don't matter. Attention does. The more attention you get, the more sales will go up.

But then again, there are those really cheap friends or people who say, "I can't wait to read this book, but I don't have the money. Yet, I spend money every freaking day on a coffee that I don't need and ... and ..." Sorry. We've all been there. We all have those friends who SAY they don't have the money, but they really do. In other words, free loaders. Sure. I may seem like I'm being a jerk, but it's the truth. I'm not saying they're bad people because of it, but yet, I'm not saying it don't annoy me either.

In Conclusion (I Really Want to Put this Article to Bed):

But now it's been almost nine months since I've released my first book and I got to say, it's been a coming to age ride. What I mean by that is if you think you're going to automatically going to be able to quit your job and this will be your income, you're wrong. Some authors? Sure. But most ... no.

As of right now I am working on getting the 2nd book of the series edited and hopefully published by the end of this year. After that, it's all up in the air.

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