Books to Read Before You Die

While it may be something that most don’t like to think about, as it’s never a pleasant topic of conversation, death is a part of life. That means that the time we have on this earth are finite, and as such, it is so important to make the most of the things that you love. If you’re an avid reader, trying to get in as many books as you possibly can before you pass on is crucial. Even if you aren’t a so-called bookworm, reading is really something you should prioritize, as it offers a wealth of benefits. 

If you’re looking to increase your reading time or you always have your nose in a book and you’re looking for some great titles to add to the list, here’s a look at some books you should read before you die.

1984 by George Orwell

Published in 1949, 1984 by George Orwell provides a frightening glimpse at a dystopian global society where the government has put such totalitarian control in place and has completely removed citizens’ inalienable rights that even thinking thoughts that are in opposition of Big Brother (the supreme ruler of Oceania, the police state country that has replaced all of the governments of the Western Hemisphere, the UK, and most of the countries that are ruled by the British Empire) can end with being hauled off by the Thought Police. Given the state of the world since March of 2020,reading 1984 is a must. In fact, when you compare the book to the current climate, you may make you wonder if George Orwell was a seer. 

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Published in 1958, just two years before Nigeria declared their independence, Things Fall Apart was the first African book that garnered global attention. A short, easy read, this novel shares critical messages: the importance of familial traditions, the legacy of colonialism, as well as fate and will. More significantly, it highlights the ill effects that occur when societies and individuals fail to advance. 

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

A lighthearted tale about a highly spirited and courageous orphan girl who is adopted by an elderly brother and sister, Anne of Green Gables is a delightful read. While reading this coming-of-age tale, you’ll be brought along on a young girl’s journey as she tries to find her place in life. It’s a beloved classic and an absolute must-read. 

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Another classic, The Catcher in the Rye was published as a novel in 1951. While the author intended it for adults, it has become an iconic title for adolescents, due to the themes that appeal to this age group, such as angst, alienation, and the superficiality of society. In Holden Caulfield (the main character), many have said that Salinger created the original “cynical adolescent”. 

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

A quintessential adventure/revenge novel that was completed by Dumas, a French writer, in 1844, The Count of Monte Cristo is another title to add to your list of must-reads. The book is the tale of the young Frenchman Edmond Dantes, who is falsely accused and hailed without trial on an island off the coast of France. Dantes’ determination and will drove him to escape his wrongful imprisonment and attempt to avenge himself. Though written more than 170 years ago, it remains – and will continue to remain – a revenge tale that resonates throughout the ages. 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Set in the Jazz Age on Long Island, New York, The Great Gatsby has been dubbed by many the greatest novel of all time. The story is told by narrator Nick Carraway, who shares his relationship with Jay Gatsby, a “new money” millionaire, and his obsession with rekindling his romance with Daisy Buchanan, Gatsby’s former lover. 

Creating a Successful Freelance Writing Business

The Secret to Creating a Successful Freelance Writing Business

Everybody thinks about freelancing as a side hustle or a part-time job, but did you know that it is entirely possible to have a flourishing, full-time freelance career?

In order to show you how it’s done, I spilled the secrets of my own six-figure freelance writing business. Keep reading to learn how I got started as a freelancer, how to start your own freelance writing business, and what must-have tools I use daily.

Getting started as a freelance writer

Originally, freelance writing was more of a side hustle for me. I had just graduated college, and I needed a way to make extra money while applying for full-time jobs. I knew I could write fairly well, so I made a profile on Upwork. At first, I took all kinds of writing gigs (most of them for very little money) and, eventually, the grunt work paid off. I used the writing samples I had created to land a full-time job as the Women’s & Lifestyle Writer for a BuzzFeed-style startup.

I worked there for a little bit over a year until they ran out of funding, as sometimes happens with startups. Shortly after the company shut down, I realized that I never wanted to let someone else be in charge of my paycheck ever again. I didn’t want to a lump in my throat wondering how I was going to pay rent after I was laid off in the blink of an eye. That’s when I decided I was going to start my own writing business.

Even though I had decided to make a career out of freelancing, my success didn’t happen overnight. At first, I freelanced part-time while also working another job to help pay the bills. In my first year as a freelancer, I made a total of $35,000 from my writing clients. However, four years later, I consistently make over six figures as a Freelance Real Estate & Personal Finance Writer, and I am working to grow that amount even further.

How to build your own 6-figure content writing business

Now that you know more about me and how I got started in the industry, let’s get to the fun part. Below are the steps you need to follow to build your own freelance business from scratch. Read them over to have a better idea of what it takes to make it as a freelance content writer.

Study up on your chosen writing format

Like most other jobs, being successful as a freelance writer requires having some foundational knowledge of the subject. However, in this case, rather than going back to school and getting another degree, you can usually learn on your own or by taking some courses led by other successful freelancers.

It’s important to note that not all genres of freelance writing are created equal. For instance, on a day-to-day basis, bloggers tackle tasks much different from what I handle as a freelance content writer. Meanwhile, a copywriter will look for agency clients, as opposed to the websites and media companies that make up my client list.

With that in mind, you’re going to want to do some research into what it takes to succeed in each area of specialization before picking one that feels like it might be the right fit for you. Then, do more of a deep dive into creating the type of content you want to specialize in. For instance, I write blogs, but some other content writers specialize in writing email sequences or landing page copy.

Create work samples in your desired niche

Once you’re pretty clear on how your content creation process should work, the next step is to create your writing samples. Ideally, when you’re done, you should post them online so that a link can easily access them. If you’re starting out working on a platform like Upwork, you can post them there. However, you can also post on Medium or LinkedIn for free. 

That said, rather than just creating any writing samples, you’ll want to pick a niche first and choose topics that will play well in those industries. As I said above, I work in the real estate and personal finance niches, but many other writers have found success working in different industries such as healthcare or marketing. Ideally, you’ll want to choose a niche where you have some background knowledge or experience.

Whichever niche you ultimately choose, creating relevant samples will be key to landing your first writing job. It will show your potential clients that you have a foundational knowledge of the industry and how to create content that will appeal to their clients.

Make a portfolio website

After you’ve posted your writing samples online, it’s time to create a portfolio website. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need anything particularly fancy or expensive to get started. However, you do need a website that advertises your business. If you’re not very techy, you can use a drag-and-drop website building tool like Wix or Square to get started.

At base, your website should include the following elements:

  • A domain name that is catchy and easy to spell
  • Information about the specific services you offer
  • Information about you and your experience in your niche, as well as anything that sets you apart from other writers in the field
  • Your writing samples
  • A reliable contact method for you

Pitch your work everywhere

At this point, you should have everything you need in place to start going after potential clients. Again, if you’re just starting, it may be a good idea to use sites like Upwork for leads. Still, you don’t want to rely on content mills for too long. You can get much higher rates elsewhere and, once you have a little experience under your belt, it makes sense to move on.

Most beginner-to-intermediate freelance writers get new clients by writing cold emails. An excellent cold email pitch should be sent to someone on the editorial staff of a website or media company within your niche. It will briefly touch on all of the elements that I suggested you include in your website. 

Ultimately, the email is used to ask the editorial staff if they would like you to write content for them. It may take you a few emails to get a positive response, but persistence is vital. Once someone agrees to your pitch, you can start officially building your portfolio.

Continue to build your portfolio and raise your rates

After you have a few clients and multiple bylines under your belt, it’s essential to continually up your game. Every so often, when you book a big-name client, it’s a good idea to try and raise your rates accordingly. 

If you start taking low-paying writing jobs, it can be time to raise your rates to six-figure territory, but it can be done. When I started writing, I got paid $8 an article to create recipes for a lifestyle blog. Now, I consistently earn between $0.50 and $1 per word for my real estate and finance clients. 

Additionally, while the amount you can charge will largely depend on your experience level, in general, it’s a good idea to set a per-project fee rather than an hourly rate. In my experience, potential clients are much more receptive to a flat rate than doing the math on what I charge per hour.

Become an industry expert

At a certain point, you can leverage your experience to become an industry expert. In addition to having clients start to come to me after reading my work instead of pitching myself to various media outlets, I have also had the opportunity to appear on podcasts and television segments as a subject matter expert (SME).

Once that happens, you can start to think about adding different income streams to your freelance writing business. While I’m still figuring out how this will look for my business, some options that I have been considering include offering coaching to beginner freelance writers and writing an ebook about my experiences. 

The 6 tools you need to be successful as a freelancer

Now that you know what steps to take to launch a freelance writing career, it’s essential to look at the tools I regularly use to keep my business up and running. With that in mind, I’ve laid them out below. While you don’t have to use the same programs that I use, it’s a good idea to ensure that you have similar systems in place.

CRM system

The first and most important tool that you will use in your business is a CRM system. In industry, CRM stands for “client relationship management.” This system will be a place to keep track of your leads and your various writing assignments.

In particular, I use Dubsado. I like it because it’s pretty much an all-in-one system for freelancers. I use it to track my leads, handle my invoicing, keep track of my deadlines, do basic accounting tasks, and handle new client onboarding. 

Financial software

Since my CRM system only handles accounting basics, I need another plan to track how much income I have coming in monthly. In all honesty, I use a basic Google Sheets spreadsheet for this and update it regularly with my projected income and expenses. Other software like Credit Sesame helps a lot.

That said, eventually, I probably will be upgrading to accounting software that communicates with my CRM system, my business credit card, and my business bank account.

Portfolio website 

The other tool I utilize regularly is my portfolio website. I’m not very tech-oriented, so I chose Wix as my provider and created my website fairly quickly. At this point, I rank decently for keywords like “freelance real estate writer,” so my website has become a consistent source of lead generation for me.

It’s worth mentioning that as your portfolio and experience level grows, you should be sure to update your website to reflect your new bylines and any noteworthy clients. 

Google tools 

Other than my CRM, Google’s suite of apps is probably the tool I use almost daily. Though I recently upgraded to a paid version of Google Workspace, I used the free versions for years. Typically, whenever I create content for a client, I write it up in Google Docs. I also use Gmail as my business email.

I specifically like Google Docs because it allows me to change the sharing permissions on the document according to who needs to see the finished product. It also offers a word count feature, which helps me ensure that I keep each article to my clients’ desired length. 

Social media 

Lastly, I maintain active social media accounts to share my work, connect with potential sources, and grow my network. In particular, I update both Twitter and Linkedin regularly. While I am still learning the optimal social media strategy for each of these sites, I currently use them to share my articles with a broader audience and connect with others in the real estate and financial industries.

It is possible to earn a good living as a freelancer, especially as a freelance content writer. However, it doesn’t happen overnight. It can take a while to build up your portfolio and increase your rates to the point where earning six figures is a realistic income goal. That said, if you follow the steps listed above, it can be done. With a little hard work and due diligence, you, too, should be able to build your own six-figure freelance career. 

Tara Mastroeni is a freelance writer with JoyWallet.com.

How To Self Publish A Book

So, you just finished writing a book and you are ready to go to print, congratulations! If you have a literary agent to market your completed novel to publishers, you are well ahead of your peers. However, if you are lacking in the agent department and have yet to hear back from publishing enquires you may have sent out, there are other options available. Self-publishing on Amazon in particular is a great way to get your book out there without the hassle of waiting on a larger publishing house to pick up your manuscript. We are going to help you learn the ins and outs of self-publishing with our quick start guide so you get your book into the hands of eager readers more efficiently.

Complete Your Novel

Of course, the first thing you need to do is make sure your book is complete and ready to print. Writing your book is only the first step. Before you move forward you will need to check your story for proper character development, plot line conflicts, length and many other small, little details that will ensure the story has a smooth flow.

Have The Book Professionally Edited

Once your manuscript is complete, it will need to be reviewed by a book editor, proofread, and then formatted for whatever medium you plan to use for publishing. When it comes to editing, this is perhaps the most important step when self-publishing. You will need to make sure that you hire a professional who is comfortable with self-published manuscripts and can guide you on changes that may help your book perform better in the market. Since you will be paying your editor in advance out of your own pocket, it is a good idea to do as much of the work on your own before handing it over for a final polish.

Create An Attractive Cover

The cover is a reader’s first introduction to your book and your story. If you have a lackluster cover, chances are your book will stay on the shelf instead of going home to become a reader’s best friend. Have some ideas in mind that will help the reader visualize what your story is about without giving away any key plot points. Find a professional artist to give you a mockup and create a final cover to use when you self-publish your book.

Manage Your Internal Layout

The way your text looks in the book will also have an effect on how well it sells. Make sure that you choose an eye-friendly font and set the text to a size that is neither too small nor too large. Formatting is also important. Do you plan to have art or fancy intros at the start of every chapter? Perhaps you will have a couple of pages of maps or inserts? Whatever your plans may be, ensure that they are aesthetically pleasing and placed properly before you go to print.

Publish An E-Book & Print A Copy

In the past when you wanted to publish on your own, it meant spending a few thousand dollars upfront for thousands of copies. You would then need to ship these out to various retailers for distribution. Now, you can self-publish for far less by releasing online versions of your book with the option to print. Consider publishing with Amazon or any other service that offers electronic books. Print a paperback for yourself, and also make sure there is an option for readers to order a printed copy if they desire. This will save you money while also allowing you to get your books in the hands of people who want to read your stories.

Best Self-Publishing Resources

Are you an author looking to publish your first book? Going to the big publishing houses is a waste of time unless you have a celebrity or influencer brand behind you. As a dedicated writer, you’re going to have to resort to the self-publishing method if you want to get your work out there in the market.

Self-publishing revolutionized the world of publishing, marketing, and distribution for independent authors. Just a few decades ago, getting your work published yourself was a real hassle, and it cost a fortune.

However, as the digital age marches on, there’s plenty of innovative platforms popping up with self-publishing resources and tools for your career. Now, you can get your work into print or published online without ever leaving your laptop.

Here are our top resources for self-publishing authors.

Blogs and Websites – Alliance for Independent Authors

ALLi provides self-publishing authors with a membership community to connect and network with other self-publishing authors. It’s a great resource for finding out anything that’s going on in the self-publishing market.

ALLi offers several membership subscription tiers, starting at $75 per annum. You get access to an international author network, as well as forums and professional advisors. ALLi even offers members free online workshops, how-to guides, and a comprehensive self-publishing directory; it’s well worth the subscription cost.

ALLi places a huge emphasis on providing self-publishing authors with a comprehensive resource, focusing on support.

Distributing Your Self-Published Work

There are plenty of distribution networks available for self-published authors. Back in the day, authors didn’t have many options for finding avenues to distribute their work.

Today, the rise of platforms like Kindle, Amazon marketplace, eBay, Audible, and many others make it easy to connect to your market.

We also highly recommend E-Junkie for a distribution service that’s gaining popularity. E-Junkie gives self-published authors the chance to sell their work directly to their audience through a dedicated platform.

It’s easy to start; just set up your user account, upload your work to E-junkie, embed a shopping cart, and you’re ready to start selling. Authors pay E-Junkie a monthly fee based on the number of products they sell during the month. As a bonus, there are no transaction fees.

In Closing – Put It All Together and Create a Publishing Strategy

Being a self-publishing author doesn’t have to be as challenging as you expect to put these resources to use, and they’ll benefit you with getting the word out about your work.

What’s the Recommended Length for a Novel’s Chapters?

Have you ever pick up a book with a super compelling title and a description that you were so captivated by that you couldn’t wait to sit down and start reading? But, once you dove in, did you find that the chapters were just too darn long?

If so, you are not alone. A lot of readers complain that they don’t like to engage with books that have chapters that are super long and drawn out. Why? – Because they want to be able to finish a chapter in a single sitting, and for most readers, a single sitting is about 10 to 15 minutes. If the chapters in a novel are too long, chances are that they are going to struggle with finishing a chapter in one sitting.

So, with that said, the question: “How long should the chapters in my novel be?” is begged.

The answer to that can be really tricky. However, here’s a look at what famed authors, publishers, and literary agents have to say on the topic…

What’s the Perfect Word Count for a Novel’s Chapters? 

On average, most authors, agents, and publishers recommend keeping the chapters of a novel to about 2,000 words. That seems to be the perfect number because the average reader can get through that amount in a single sitting. It’s not too much that it seems to be long and drawn out, it’s easily digestible, and enough drama can be built or questions can be answered in a 2,000 word chapter.

Now, that is not to say that a chapter can’t be longer. It certainly can be. In fact, there are plenty of acclaimed novels that feature chapters that are significantly longer – up to 6,000 words! But, the key here is that they are usually books that are written for older audiences or are genres that are expected to have long-winded chapters, such as science fiction or fantasy.

You can also have chapters that are fewer than 2,000 words. Just like there are plenty of famed books that have longer chapters, there are dozens that feature chapters that are shorter than 2,000 word. Some chapters may not even reach the 1,000 word mark! But, if you’re going to do that, you really have to make sure that the chapter is truly thrilling and captivating. Additionally, you should consider following up with a longer chapter. Doing so will help to keep the reader’s momentum going and make them want to dive right into a longer chapter that can answer more questions.

The Bottom Line

In short, there isn’t a specific rule that applies when determining the appropriate length for a chapter. While 2,000 words is recommended, you certainly don’t have to stick to it. You can have a very successful book with chapters that are shorter or longer than 2,000 words; however, just make sure that you are filling them appropriately. Remember: your goal is to entertain your audience and keep their attention. In other words, write what you think works best for your story.

Getting the Confidence to Start a Story

There are way more aspiring authors out there than there are published ones. In fact, the ratio of aspiring authors to authors that actually finish a story or novel (even if they never publish it) is probably around 30:1. One of the reasons why aspiring writers never start their stories is due to a lack of confidence. So buckle up, prepare a nice meal, and prepare yourself for becoming the writer of your dreams. In this article, we’ll go over some ways that you can get the confidence to start the story you have always wanted to tell, and hopefully, begin your career in writing fiction.

Read Lots and Lots of Books

One of the things that can give you the confidence to start a story is to read lots and lots of books. There are two ways in which this can give you confidence. First of all, you get confidence because you have read books or stories that you know you can do better at. This is a common coming-of-age point for any writer. When you realize that you can write a story better than someone who actually got published, it inspires great confidence to begin your own story. The second part is reading good stories that you want to emulate can give you motivation as well.

Take a Writing Class

Taking a writing class can jumpstart your confidence because you are surrounded by people who want to write just as badly as you do; in addition, one of the things that you will probably be required to do in any writing classes is write.

Join a Writer’s Group

Being part of a writer’s group will mean that you are listening to other people read their stories and it will make you want to come up with something of your own. In addition, you’ll get extra confidence when you read something you’ve written and everyone loves it. There is a writers group in almost every town and city in the United States; look on Meetup or other group sites and try to find something that you feel comfortable joining.

Set Small Writing Goals

If you are having trouble starting because a 50,000-word manuscript just seems like too much of an effort, then set small writing goals. If you can write a chapter, then you only have to worry about 1000 to 3000 words instead of an entire manuscript. In addition, set daily writing goals so that you only think about the words that you’re going to write for that day.

Set Aside Time to Write

If you set aside a time every day that you are going to write no matter what – even if it is only fifteen minutes – then you are going to get something down on paper. Even if you sit there and do nothing for the first time or two, eventually if you force yourself to sit down at the computer or with your pen and paper ploys to write, something is going to come through. This will likely keep you going long enough to get over the writer’s block.

Standard Book Sizes: Hardcover Books

There are three different standards in book publishing: the hardcover, the trade paperback and the mass-market paperback. These three types of books represent sort of the stage of life of books. In traditional publishing, a publisher will make a deal with a new author to publish their book and hardcover. These books are relatively expensive to purchase compared to other formats, and they are only expected to sell limited number of copies.

These are the books that get purchased by libraries all over the country as well as by bookstores to stock on the shelves. However, once the hardcover run is over, the publisher may choose to publish a paperback version of the book instead. These are less expensive to purchase because there are less expensive to publish. The first type of paperback that new books generally get published to is called a trade paperback. However, with some books that entire stage is skipped to go directly to mass-market. In other cases, the hardcover is skipped in the trade paperback is the main book the gets published.

Understanding hardcover books is important. There are some standard industry sizes for hardcover books that you should be aware of, and some other nuances with hardcover. Let’s start with understanding the trim size.

Understanding Trim Size

The trim size of a book is simply an industry term for the size of the book. When a book is published, the pages are mechanically trimmed so that they all fit perfectly. That’s why you have a completely flat surface without any bumps or ridges along the page edges of any of the books that you pull off of yourself. To make it easy to understand though, just consider the trim size of a book the physical dimensions of it.

Why Are Standard Sizes Important?

You might be wondering why standard sizes are important in any books out there. No matter if you’re talking about hardcover, trade paperback or mass-market, as well as the different genres out there, there are established standard sizes that almost every book is published in. These standard sizes are specifically designed to fit on the shelf at bookstores and libraries. Publishing a book in a standard size is important, because industry catalogs will not carry books that are not standard, and publishing in one of the sizes that the major publishers use legitimizes a book; even if you are self-publishing.

The Hardcovers of 5.5 x 8.5

There are two industry standards when it comes to hardcover books. Without getting into things like cloth covers and dust jackets, just understand the one of the industry sizes is 5.5 x 8.5.

The Hardcovers of 6 x 9

The other industry size for hardcovers is slightly larger at 6 x 9. These are the two sizes that almost all of the hardcover books are published in. There may be others that do not conform to these standard sizes, but they are pretty rare. If you go into a bookstore or get a hardcover off-the-shelf at your local library, these are the sizes that you will almost always find.

Source for this article: Reedsy

Rookie Mistakes To Steer Clear of If You’re Thinking of Publishing an Ebook

By liberating the masses from the constraints of traditional publishing, ebooks have opened the possibility of publishing a book up to countless authors, businesses, and organizations. If you’re thinking of writing an ebook now, you also benefit from the fact that you are no longer a pioneer. Ebooks are, in today’s world, both ubiquitous and trusted. They have the potential to help you achieve your goals regardless of who you are. 

Before you jump on the ebook bandwagon, however, you have some serious home truths to consider. Yes, you’ll find guides on how to write an ebook in under a month, or even in less than 24 hours, all over the web, as well as courses and articles raving that anyone can make money and build credibility by writing an ebook. The fact that anyone can publish an ebook doesn’t mean that anyone can do so successfully, or that there are no risks. To make sure that your ebook works for you rather than biting you in the back, make sure to steer clear of these rookie mistakes. 

1. Not editing your ebook

Nobody wants to read a jumbled and incoherent mess, and the fact that publishing an ebook is cheap and easy shouldn’t make you think that editing and proofreading are optional, either. You might actually be able to write a short and effective ebook in under a day, yes, but remember that editing is at least half the work. If you’re not sure you can self-edit (and hint, most people really can’t), hiring a freelance editor is highly likely to turn out to be a solid investment for those who were hoping to make money from their ebook.

2. Not having a solid grasp of your subject matter

Publishing an ebook can be a profitable endeavor, whether you are planning to monetize the ebook or to give it away for free as a marketing strategy. If, however, your sole goal is to rake in the dollars, it’s still crucial to make sure that you content is credible, authoritative, helpful, or entertaining. Ebooks become popular because they fill a need, and that means understanding what you are talking about. 

3. Not marketing your ebook properly

The fact that it is cheap, easy, and quick to publish an ebook also has a downside — it means that you miss out on some of the benefits you’d get from traditional publishing. After your ebook is out there, it’s up to you to take the steps that ensure that people actually know about its existence, so they can read it. Learning how to market your ebook is an integral part of its success. In most cases, setting up a clear landing page for your ebook, sharing your ebook on social media, and making links to it prominently visible in any marketing content you send out to your audience will also be key parts of your strategy. Creating buzz around your ebook with the help of high-profile influencers won’t harm you, either, and depending on your budget, you will want to invest in advertising, too.

4. Not understanding your ebook distribution options

In partnering with Amazon and giving them exclusive distribution rights through their KDP Select program, ebook authors will gain a range of promotional advantages, as well as significantly higher royalties. This does, on the other hand, mean that you will not be able to publish your book anywhere else. Although there is no universally right choice, it’s important to understand the pros and cons, so do your research before you take the plunge!

5. Not taking the time to have a professional cover designed

For better or worse, your ebook cover is going to be one of the very first things to grab your audience’s attention — typically before they even download your ebook. Software makes formatting your ebook a breeze even if you’re not technically inclined, and you won’t even have to fork out extra money for that, but unless you are a graphic designer by profession, you will want to outsource the cover design to get the best results.

Now that you’re more familiar with the needless mistakes that can stand in the way of your future ebook’s success, your ebook already has a fair and square chance of standing out from the crowd and becoming a real winner!

Pros & Cons: Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

If you have been thinking about self-publishing, but you aren’t sure what the benefits actually are, then this is the perfect opportunity to weigh the pro and cons of each one. We’ll be looking at traditional publishing in details, including the advantages and disadvantages, and then face them off with the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing. So let’s talk about how to publish a book.

Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing simply means submitting your book to publishers via an agent or through the publisher’s submission process. Generally, publishers will sign a contract with you and pay you some sort of an advance. This will likely not be much for a first-time author, and how much you actually get will depend upon the size of the publisher and the genre that your book is in. Some publishers do not do advances at all. From there, the publisher will publish and distribute your book, typically six months to a year after you sign the contract, and then you will be sent royalties every quarter.

Pros of Traditional Publishing

  • You may get an advance up front before your book sells a single copy.
  • You will be automatically listed in industry catalogs and possibly available in bookstores.
  • Your publisher will be willing to give a higher advance next book if this one sells well.
  • You get the distinction of being a published author and respected within the industry.
  • You will have a much easier time getting an agent if you have a contract for a book deal.

Cons of Traditional Publishing

  • You have to sign rights to your book over to the publisher.
  • Your royalties are going to be somewhere between 10 percent and 15 percent most likely.
  • You do not have any creative control when it comes to book covers and blurbs,
  • You may have to change your book in many ways to meet the publisher’s guideline.

Self-Publishing

Self-publishing is simply the act of publishing the book yourself either by creating your own publishing company, using a paid vanity press or by using any of the free or nearly free platforms out there for self-publishing a book. The advantages and disadvantages that we will be covering refer mostly to the third option here.

Pros of Self-Publishing

  • You get a much higher royalty.
  • You own the rights to your book at all times.
  • You are able to pull the book from the shelves if you want, make corrections and republish is another edition.
  • You have creative control over everything to do with your book.

Cons of Self-Publishing

  • You will have a much harder time getting listed in the industry catalogs such as Ingram and Baker and Taylor.
  • You will not have the power of the major publishing company behind you.
  • You will have to pay for services like editing or book cover design yourself.
  • Any mistakes that are made, or any legal problems that arise over publication of your book will be yours to deal with alone.

Literature Without Complexes: The New Concept of A Web Serial

For many years fanfiction has been a topic of mockery outside the world but today there are many voices bent on defending the genre for either economic or artistic reasons. What is the current landscape of fan literature? How can money be made with characters protected by copyright? Is there a system that satisfies fan writers and original authors? Today, we explore the universe of fanfiction.

For professional authors, fanfic is still a word related to amateurish works. Low quality literature – full of spelling mistakes – that twists an alien world to get a story that sometimes becomes grotesque. Stories based on other stories; vulgar and lacking in originality, a dispensable product that the most respectful treatment leads us directly to ignore.

The culptrit of this perception, which is now more than ever erroneous, is due to the passage of the genre from the underground it occupied during the sixties, seventies and eighties to the quasi-mass pop culture during the following two decades. For twenty years, literature by and for fans has been ridiculed on many fronts, which preferred to keep the funny anecdote rather than investigate to find out why fanfiction websites grew so quickly alien to all kinds of criticism. Twitter accounts, such as fanfics_txt are a rather funny compilation of the surrealism prevailing in some sections of the fandom that, however, is not representative of the majority of works produced in the genre, as many insist on believing. Obviously, that account handpicks the most ridiculous and entertaining tidbits for the shock factor. A lot of fanfiction is actually not like that and believing that those pieces and snippets are reflective of fanfiction as an entire genre would be a mistake. In fact, many writers have placed an emphasis on utilizing writing resources and tools to help their writing improve.

Due to that dissonance between what the fanfic really is and what the majority of the public expects, in the last few years a vindictive attitude has built up, not only from the fanfiction, but from the fan phenomenon in general. Intrinsically linked to Tumblr, this movement has also reached several notable cultural websites where articles defending the genre were followed by “closet exits” from many editors who admitted to having written or continuing to write stories for fans.

It didn’t take long for the market to assimilate this slight change in perception of fanwork and to devise ways to make it profitable. Many websites in which fanfic is the majority genre offer the option of getting visibility on the cover in exchange for a payment per work that can range between 50 cents to a dollar. This system, which borders on illegality – authors do not charge but the website does profit from the exploitation of characters protected by copyright – seems to be too problematic to become widespread. With so many fandoms out there even for smaller ones from Cop Out to Fleabag, it really is difficult to police. Since 2013, it is the Amazon Kindle Worlds platform that insists on legitimizing fanfiction with a system that aims to please everyone.

Kindle Worlds: money for everyone

It is more than possible that when entering the See All Worlds section of the home page, many people will not be able to find their favorite fandom. There are shortcomings and they are striking: from series such as Supernatural (2005-) to literary sagas such as Harry Potter (1997-2007), there are quite a few fictional universes that do not have their place in the platform devised by Amazon. The truth is that the top rights are much harder to obtain and difficult to negotiate. And is that, unlike what happens on other websites like Commaful, which can be considered lawless territories, there are some very clear limits that are constantly monitored.

From Amazon they make sure first of all to sign an agreement with the owners of the rights of exploitation of the work, either authors or publishers, who will receive in exchange a small percentage of the profits that the stories can cause. In addition to this, the beneficiaries of the copyright will also acquire the rights over the use of the fanfic in question, that is, if the scriptwriters of, say, The 100 (2014-), find an interesting arc among the stories created by the fans, they will have all the right to use it without giving any credit to the original fan author.

In exchange for this, the fanfiction writers will not only get promotion but will be able to legally monetize their work, putting it on sale for a price ranging from 0.99 to 3.99 dollars, of which they will receive royalties of 35% maximum, provided that the work respects the guidelines of the platform.

Not all fanfic subgenres are allowed on Kindle Worlds. Crossovers, that is, the mixture of characters from different universes, are strictly forbidden, as well as the incursion of elements outside the copyright that is being exploited. Extreme violence, erotic scenes and pornography are other elements on which Amazon has the right to expel you from the platform.

This rigidity is what makes Kindle Worlds, in spite of its evident desire for innovation, not gain popularity with the majority of fanfiction writers, who prefer a more amateur environment, which does not put any kind of obstacle to their imagination.

As Kindle Words continues to evolve, it could really become an innovative force in self-publishing, but until then, we will have to wait!

The position of the original authors

Since its birth, fanfiction divided authors into three main groups: those who were enthusiastic and encouraged the creation of works around their universe, those who preferred not to position themselves and those who condemn all kinds of fanwork.

The first group includes historically outstanding writers such as C.S. Lewis, who many times in his letters encouraged young fans to fill the map of legends of Narnia with stories of his invention, or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who publicly admitted to enjoy reading stories by Sherlock Holmes as ingenious as his own.

Among fancfition-friendly contemporaries are Stephen King, who confesses in his book While I’m Writing (2000) that novelizing his favorite shows as a child helped him grow as a writer; Patrick Rothfuss, who claims to understand fan writing as a therapy for waiting for a new book; or director and screenwriter Josh Whedon, who has repeatedly referred to fanfictions of Buffy Slayer (1997-2003) in his ComicCon presentations.

Of course, there are several authors who confess to writing or reading fanfiction. Among the readers of fan literature we find Andy Weir (El Marciano -2011-), Meg Cabot (Saga de El diario de la princesa -2000-2009-) or Stephenie Meyer (Saga Crepúsculo -2005.2008-), authors who also do not cut themselves in sharing some of these stories in their personal web.

Fanfic writers include Neil Gaiman (American Gods -2001-), who lets us see on his website some Cthulhu Myths of his own invention, Cassandra Clare (Shadow Hunters -2007-2014-), E. (American Gods -2001-).L James, whose work Fifty Shadows of Grey was born as a fanfiction inspired by Twilight called Master of the Universe, or S.E. Hinton, the pioneer of the young Adult who has confessed on Twitter that, at 68 years old, enjoys writing stories based on Supernatural, which has been his favorite series for many years.

Although they don’t directly oppose fandom stories and certainly won’t pursue them with threats of imminent demand, some writers like J.K. Rowling have confessed to feeling violent in the face of certain subgenres that, on many occasions, often have a markedly sexual component. Rapefic is, without a doubt, the most controversial genre since, as can be deduced from its name, it has a plot centred on the rape of a character. Under the label Lemon (more explicit) or Lime (more erotic) also share stories where sex is usually the main protagonist. Some controversy is also generated by the subgenres Slash (focused on the amorous relationship between two men) or Femslash (focused on lesbian relationships) because, although they do not have to have an explicit component, it is quite common to find several sexual scenes in their plot.

Apart from sex, the Dark fic label is also often questioned. Created to share “more mature” stories with an adult audience, and focused on the darkness of the characters, some texts within Dark fic tend to abuse controversial topics such as suicide, terminal illness or mental disorders.