9

When I first started out as a writer, there was no such thing as E-readers and E-books. I’m going to date myself horribly here, but there was no such thing as the internet, either. Well, it existed, and has, much longer than we realize, but it wasn’t in widespread use in homes and wouldn’t be until the late 90’s/early 2000’s. Likewise, though they existed, laptops were not a “thing.” I started out on a typewriter, then a word processor, then finally a computer.

When E-books first started increasing in popularity and availability, they were also met with a lot of horror and condemnation. Ray Bradbury famously insisted that E-books were not real books (so, sorry, if you’ve ever had a book published in E-format, Ray Bradbury says you’re not a real writer) and in his later years he had to be coerced by his publishers to allow his work to be offered in E-book format. Other people were utterly convinced E-books meant that paper books were going to go away forever. As we can see all these years later, print books are still around. Humorously, when the printing press was first invented people insisted the ability to reproduce and widely distribute text would destroy books. So take heed, writers. According to the old school, none of you are real writers unless you’ve published a hand-written, hand-bound book and personally sold it yourself on a street corner!

I watched E-books completely change the face of publishing, and I’m always in awe that I was part of that transition. When people start naysaying, I remind them that books survived the greatest and swiftest technological revolution the world has ever seen by adapting to it, and that means something about books, and reading in general.

I watched E-books completely change the face of publishing, and I’m always in awe that I was part of that transition.

Here’s how Ebooks have changed publishing, for the good and bad.

The pros of E-books:

  • For avid readers, they’re a blessing. They make books much cheaper and more widely available.They also make obscure subject matter more mainstream and abundant–so if you like to read about something off the beaten path, you’re able to find many more titles available to you.
  • They let you take reading anywhere. You can take a lot of books with you everywhere you go, and read them much more conveniently. Six paperback books in your suitcase take up a lot more room than six books on your E-reader.
  • They make it less embarrassing to read certain subject matter. Like to read racy romances with a passionate, sexy couple on the cover? Don’t want to sit on the bus reading your book while everyone stares at it and silently judges you? E-readers to the rescue!
  • They open up new royalty rates for authors. Go ahead and ask your editor for 60% royalties on every paperback sold. I hope you’re on the ground floor, because they’re going to throw you out the window.

The cons of E-books:

  • Self publishing. Don’t get me wrong, self publishing is great. It’s also terrible. E-books, along with Amazon, have made it so anyone can self publish easily and anyone does. That not only means there’s a lot of terrible self published stuff out there, but it means that you’re trying to get noticed in a sea of literally hundreds of thousands of self published books. Maybe millions. It can be really, really discouraging.
  • Technological glitches. Losing your entire E-library can suck, if something happens to your E-reader or you lose it. Thankfully there’s ways to back things up, but E-books are more ephemeral than print, in many ways.
  • The print purists. See above. Suck it, Ray Bradbury.

I’m a big fan of E-books. I’m a big fan of print books. I’m a big fan of books. And I’m so happy that we’re still taking books along for the ride, no matter our evolving technology.

Viva la E-books! #books #publishing @morgan_romance

8

I’ve had a lot of writing tools over the years. I started out in high school writing in notebooks. I got a manual Brother typewriter for Christmas when I was 12 or 13, but even by the standards of the day (goodness I’m dating myself, but 1989? 1990?) it was archaic, clunky, and hard to use, and the keys always stuck. The only way to correct typos was with white out paper (remember that stuff?), though you could buy ink cartridges with a correction ribbon as well. Nevertheless, I did type out a short story on it and sent it to a magazine. Hilariously, they sent it back unread because the typesetting was so bad as to be nearly unreadable. I was 14 and more optimistic than smart, what can I say?

My first ‘technological’ writing tool was a Brother word processor. MUCH better than a manual typewriter, but by today’s standards still a cumbersome, difficult piece of equipment. They keyboard part (which was also a typewriter) weighed about seven hundred pounds, and the cables to hook it up to the monitor were plentiful. Despite it being a huge advancement over a typewriter, its technological capabilities were limited. Printing anything took years, as it printed by literally typing out everything on the screen (and to print out an entire book took about six ink cartridges). It did take 3.5 disks though, which I saved tons and tons of stories on. I can no longer access those disks because the files on them can’t be read by newer technology. Nevertheless, I wrote many stories and books on it and submitted them to magazines and contests. I even got a short story published. I also had a ‘laptop’ word processor, but I didn’t have a printer to hook it up to so I mostly wrote fan fiction on it.

And then, in 2000, we got our first desktop computer. Oh, the ease of writing! The technology! The mountains of stories and books I wrote and submitted and had rejected! Truly astounding. The internet also enabled me to become a hugely popular fan fiction author, which is where I cut my writing teeth to full sharpness (I won’t tell you the fandom or my screen name, to spare my dignity, but there’s a few friends who read this whom I actually met through that writing).

And then on to laptops, eventually. With each new machine came better technology and a better version of Word. Just recently, I replaced my old laptop because I’d had it nearly four years and it was getting to the point it was usable, but not very efficient. Kind of like that one light switch in your house that’s wired backwards so you have to turn it off to turn it on, or the toilet handle you always have to jiggle. It’s comfortable and you know the workaround by heart, but why not fix the issue and do it without the unnecessary jumping through hoops and voodoo spells you have to cast to make it work right?

My new laptop types beautifully, has more memory, better graphics, more storage, and Word 2016 runs as smooth as butter, the words just flowing from my fingertips onto the screen like the technology is right inside my head. I’ve come all this way from pounding sticky keys and cramping my hand with a pen and notebook. Do I miss the old ways? No, not at all. But nostalgia isn’t always about wishing you could do something the hard way again.

How have your writing tools evolved?

14

On Wednesday, I talked about the reasons you should write a book. Even if the industry has too many books and not enough readers, that doesn’t mean we don’t need your book, or that you don’t need your book. If you’re looking for reasons to keep typing, go check it out.

Today, I’m going to tell you why you should start a blog.

I blog three days a week–usually Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, though sometimes it varies. So you may be surprised to hear that I, for the most part, freakin’ hate blogging. More often than not, I’m wracking my brain for the next blog topic and it’s aggravating. I never know what I’m going to write most weeks, unless I already have something lined up. I’m a tour host for Goddess Fish Promotions, because I want to promote other writers, but also because on average it gives me one ready-made post per week. I’m part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group because it’s an awesome, fun group, but it also gives me a blog topic once a month. I like when it’s easy.

So why do I blog, if I don’t really like it? Well, after you read the list below, maybe you’ll understand.

And here are some reasons why you should add another blog to the internet, because clearly what the internet needs is more blogs:

Five reasons you should start a blog:

  1. It’s cathartic to talk to yourself. When you start out, probably no one is going to be reading your blog, except maybe a few friends who are too nice to tell you no when you ask them to follow you. That’s okay. Blogging is kinda like a diary when you first start out, and it helps you sort your thoughts and learn how you feel about things. It also gives you time to practice before people actually start reading your blog. The more you do it, the better you get at it, and the more interesting things you have to say. It’s okay to fumble around when you first start. Somehow, miraculously, after two years of blogging I have over a thousand subscribers. That means I have to provide some content instead of just talking to myself–and hopefully, I’m managing that. Talk to yourself first, and you will learn to talk to the public.
  2. If you suck at social media, it will give you a platform. I really suck at Twitter and Facebook. I had a personal Twitter a long time ago, and loved using it, but eventually my Twitter fever went away. I have a personal Facebook I’m much more active on than my writing one, but it’s locked to friends and family. My writing Facebook, Twitter, G+, and everywhere else I’m expected to be are mostly full of promotion and regurgitating my blog posts. At least with a blog I’m still reaching an audience, and I can say more here anyway. I can be present without having to be good at everything.
  3. It’s great for procrastinating on your writing. I should be working on the book I’m writing right now, but I’m blogging instead. And I can still say I’m ‘working.’ Ha! Take THAT, productivity!
  4. You can reach people who don’t even read the kind of stuff you write. I know that most of my subscribers don’t even read romance and erotica, but we’ve made friends and enjoy talking to each other because we’ve found each other through places like the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. This is why I started a general writing blog instead of focusing on one genre of writing. I’m more interested in engaging other writers than specifically engaging other romance writers. This is up to you, though–but remember, if you make your blog very specific, you need to find a way to reach that specific audience. Sometimes broader is better. It also gives you a lot of freedom in topic matter, too.
  5. It provides site content. If your website is lacking content, if there’s not much to put on there, a blog puts some meat on the skeleton of your online presence. Also, it can be really good for driving traffic to your site. People come to read your posts and check out the rest of the site–that’s a big bonus!

Whether you have a blog already or you’re considering starting one, you should know this: the internet is infinite, and there’s room for you. If you want to blog, then blog! You have a right to express yourself just like everyone else. And even if you find it aggravating, there’s a lot of good reasons to keep at it

Have a great weekend!

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, and while that’s true, many people do. Have you ever bought a book because the cover caught your eye? How many times have you seen a well put together cover and felt the urge to read the book based on the cover artist’s prowess? Advertising has a strong influence on all of us, whether we want to believe it or not. And book covers are just that–advertising. A beautiful, compelling, dynamic cover attracts our attention, because that’s the point.

This is by no means a pronouncement that only books with amazing covers are worth reading. You can’t judge a book by its cover. A less-than-amazing cover may house an incredible, compelling story. All I’m saying is you can’t deny the power of advertising and artistry.

I’ve had covers I nearly wept over (in a good way), actually feeling my story was inferior to such an amazing cover. If you’re not an author, you should know: authors get very little say in what their covers look like. Some publishers allow input and ask for suggestions but the publisher has the last say in any disputes (this is often written into the contract).

I’ve been blessed so far, my covers have been created by some amazing artists (click on the covers to see them in their full size detailed glory):

MorganMegan_TheWickedCityThe Wicked City (and the sequels) are done by the amazing Fiona Jayde. I nearly did backflips when I found out she was my cover artist, as she’s one of the best in the business!

The cover for Her Darkest Secret was done by the equally amazing Celairen.

 

 

And the cover One Night In Chicago (and all the City Nights series covers) was done by the extremely talented Cora Graphics.

 

 

 

How about you readers out there–do you judge books by their covers? And if you’re an author, how do you deal with covers you hate and covers you love? Does it fill you with anxiety waiting for the cover art, or are you happy just to have a cover at all? Let’s hear your thoughts!

Certain online writer’s tools many of us already know and love: Google and Wikipedia for research, thesaurus.com, The Chicago Manual of Style onlineAmazon’s Author Central for keeping your details up to date, Yahoo! groups for keeping in the loop, Google Docs for storing and collaborating. All are valuable resources and places to research, store, promote, and enhance our writing.

Today, I’ll share with you a few other websites and apps I use to help my writing, as well as keep my social networking manageable:

Dropbox – The best online storage site. Even the free version has lots of space. I use it to back up my writing from my computer. I can access anything I have stored in it, anywhere. This makes transferring stuff between my laptop and netbook extra easy. When I’m working on something I like to save the updated versions of the manuscript to Dropbox as I go–just in case! You can download an app for your computer, tablet, and smartphone and connect everything.

Google Street View – Writing about someplace you’ve never been? Need to know what a street, building, or area looks like? This is the most incredible resource ever created for visiting far-off places and getting information you might not be able to glean from text. I use it quite often. Great for absorbing the sights and atmosphere of the places you’re writing about, too.

My Writing Spot – A place to write and store your work online, complete with a word count tracker. Very simple and easy to use. There’s probably a lot of other places online you can do the same thing, but I really like this one.

Grammar Girl – An invaluable source for looking up those pesky grammar questions that gnaw at your brain, explained in a way that makes them easy to absorb and remember! I visit this site a lot.

Spotify – If you’re like me, music enhances your writing experience. Personally, I love to have good mood music relevant to what I’m writing at the time. With Spotify, you can listen to very nearly any song ever made, whenever you want to. You can also create playlists and experience new artists without any monetary commitment. You might find the soundtrack to your next novel or the perfect song for one of your characters! The free version is just as awesome as the paid version, though it has ads. I have the paid version–super cheap, by the way–and it’s a worthwhile investment.

– Tweetdeck – Awesome app for keeping track of your social networking. You can make multiple columns for twitter lists and sync your Facebook with it as well. I’m sure a lot of you out there already use it, but if you don’t–try it out!

VistaPrint – Need swag? Need it to be cheap and highly customizable? Want a huge selection of products you can make for your fans? This is a great service!

PDF to Word Converter – Sometimes you need to switch your files up. This is 100% free and does it perfectly.

How about you? Do you have any sites or apps that help your writing, either directly or indirectly?