Advice for Authors

Discussion, background, reviews, and critical analysis of works by Feldgrau.net members who are published authors.
John P. Moore
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Re: Advice for Authors

Post by John P. Moore » Tue Aug 19, 2008 8:28 am

Good points. What is the name of your book?

Stephan H.
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Re: Advice for Authors

Post by Stephan H. » Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:07 pm

I lost the battle with my publisher for a comprehensive index for Bloody Streets but I want to attempt to create a place name, person name, and unit name based index for my own edification and in case I plan on sharing it as an addendum.

Can anyone who has gone through this process before provide me some suggestions on a good approach before I start down this path? Is MS Word a good way of doing this? Is there some other software package?

Any ideas/help from you author veterans out there is greatly appreciated!

Cheers,
Stephan

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Tom Houlihan
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Re: Advice for Authors

Post by Tom Houlihan » Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:45 pm

Stephan, if it's going to be an "index," I'll recommend you gather the material in a regular data base. I can only wish

I had done that with this glossary. It would have made organizing and alphabetizing it O! so much easier!!!

Use a program like Access, or an Excel spreadsheet until you have it all together. You can convert it into Word or similar later.
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Richard Hargreaves
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Re: Advice for Authors

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:00 pm

Any advice for authors who've had sh*t reviews? :(

I can just about live with a 'poor man's Cornelius Ryan' jibe, but I'm fuming about being branded a 'copy typist' :shock: :shock:. All in all, a truly scheisse week. I guess if we ask people to spend their dosh on our wares, they should be allowed to have their say. Doesn't stop it cutting to the bone though...
Still, cheer up, it'll soon be Christmas... :D
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Frederick L Clemens
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Re: Advice for Authors

Post by Frederick L Clemens » Mon Dec 15, 2008 6:26 pm

Richard, don't be down on the basis of a few reviews. If you think you have a good book, put up your own website with samples. Sell your book to the people who like that style of writing. There's a sucker born every minute. After you sell it to enough suckers, you'll forget about the negative reviews. :D

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Tom Houlihan
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Re: Advice for Authors

Post by Tom Houlihan » Mon Dec 15, 2008 10:11 pm

Hmmm....
Frederick L Clemens wrote:Richard, don't be down on the basis of a few reviews.
Yeah, why worry about paid hacks, when we'll do it here for free!
Frederick L Clemens wrote:There's a sucker born every minute. After you sell it to enough suckers, you'll forget about the negative reviews.
I know you didn't mean it like that, Fred, but when I first read through it, all I could think was, "Damn, Buddy- is only half a word!!" :shock: :wink:
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Richard Hargreaves
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Re: Advice for Authors

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Tue Dec 16, 2008 2:49 am

Well, I would never suggest that Feldgrauers write nice reviews on Amazon (if they like it of course...)

I'm happy to take flak for mistakes, typos, poor maps, etc - factual things. And I can take hits for the Normandy book. It's my first. It's flawed. It went through a lot of re-writes and cuts and suffered accordingly, such that I want to do a second edition some day.

It's the subjective criticism that really cuts to the bone, e.g.
'Told in the words of those who conquered Poland'. Always the kind of phrase to make the heart sink, and this is indeed the weakness of this book. It is perilously close to John Keegan's critical phrase 'the historian as copy typist'.
I expected a serious history book, while obviously this work has more of the journalist approach, 'a la Cornelius Ryan' but without that author's flair.
I think what really bugs is that there are a lot of pulp historians out there, who churn out books by the dozen (and by the numbers), who just use secondary sources. And there are people who just copy and paste personal reminiscences and make no attempt to weave a narrative together. I don't. I spend weeks at the IWM, PRO, BA-MA rooting out obscure material, digging out Feldpostbriefe, diaries and the like. So when someone writes "I can't see anything new or refreshing in this book" it really does hurt - not least because it's not true, and it's there for all to see and it basically says "second-rate author". There's a lot of material in the Normandy book never seen in English before. And probably 80 per cent of the material in the Poland book has not been used before. Not least it's a very complicated narrative. It took months to write some of the chapters such were the various pieces of the jigsaw. It was anything but the work of a copy typist...

There is a place for deeply analytical military history, the Zetterlings, d'Estes and I take my hat off to their diligence and indefatigable research. But I also think that studying a battle statistically fundamentally misses the point. I don't often agree with Beevor, but he was spot on in his introduction to Stalingrad about Hitler coldly looking at the situation maps with no 'feel' for the reality.

For me, it's the der Krieg des kleines Mannes which is key. The ordinary soldier. The junior officer. People make history so people should be at the heart of any work of history. :[]
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Frederick L Clemens
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Re: Advice for Authors

Post by Frederick L Clemens » Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:10 am

Richard Hargreaves wrote: I think what really bugs is that there are a lot of pulp historians out there, who churn out books by the dozen (and by the numbers), who just use secondary sources. And there are people who just copy and paste personal reminiscences and make no attempt to weave a narrative together. I don't. I spend weeks at the IWM, PRO, BA-MA rooting out obscure material, digging out Feldpostbriefe, diaries and the like. So when someone writes "I can't see anything new or refreshing in this book" it really does hurt - not least because it's not true, and it's there for all to see and it basically says "second-rate author". There's a lot of material in the Normandy book never seen in English before. And probably 80 per cent of the material in the Poland book has not been used before. Not least it's a very complicated narrative. It took months to write some of the chapters such were the various pieces of the jigsaw. It was anything but the work of a copy typist...
That's exactly the kind of selling of your book you should do on your own website. Is there some reason you are not doing it? I have had one page up about my Lauchert project and have had a number of people contact me through the years, including the granddaughter of Lauchert's Panther driver from PR15! I have visited him twice and would never have heard of him without that webpage.
Richard Hargreaves wrote: There is a place for deeply analytical military history, the Zetterlings, d'Estes and I take my hat off to their diligence and indefatigable research. But I also think that studying a battle statistically fundamentally misses the point. I don't often agree with Beevor, but he was spot on in his introduction to Stalingrad about Hitler coldly looking at the situation maps with no 'feel' for the reality.
Not really fair to say that the statisticians miss the point. They are the ones who have demonstrated that the Soviet story about Kursk is a propaganda lie that even Paul Carrell fell for. And Hitler did have a feel for battlefield reality based on his own experiences, he just didn't care. Anyway, I'm sure 90% of people on this forum appreciate your focus - the question is how well it was executed in the face of competition from other books.

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Richard Hargreaves
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Re: Advice for Authors

Post by Richard Hargreaves » Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:42 am

Thanks for the feedback Frederick.

I really, really, really must get around to designing my own site. It's on my "to do" list but something always gets in the way.

I'm always a little sceptical of statistics, bearing in mind the old adage that statistics can prove (or disprove) anything - see the vast debate surrounding Rudi Overmans' book on Wehrmacht losses. That said, if I tackle Normandy again I'll do so taking more note of Zetterling - I didn't use it in extenso and I should have done. In fact, I'm amazed how much material I've gathered since I finished writing it in 2005. I never expected it to be the last word, but I never realised how much material is still out there. It's definitely worth a re-write in a decade or so; the key is to get a publisher to go for it. :[]

But for the time being, to Breslau. Tons of material never seen before in English, some really, really heart-tugging stuff (e.g. the fate of the zoo and a few final letters). Should make a very good read, although the analysts probably won't like it... :D
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Alex Dekker
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Re: Advice for Authors

Post by Alex Dekker » Wed Dec 17, 2008 2:10 pm

I won't say I took the easy way, but for the first print I turned to lulu.com. It was a kind of selfpublishing. The second print of my book about Dutchmen in the NSKK took another road. I set up a publishing company. A company won't survive, if it got only one title, so I started to write a new book about the TeNo. Here comes the funny part: all of the books were sold through internet or to friends and to their friends. My advice, try to do it yourself and look around.

I know, I've 'just' started, but the first book is sold to a bigger publisher. I won't quit writing, nor will I quit my own company. There is only a small problem: I have to write for the publisher a book about Dutchmen in the HJ. 8) .

By the way, I never started my own publishing company for the money, just to keep control over the books in the first place. There wasn't any need for selling my book to another publisher, but I liked the idea.
Always in need for info about: Dutchmen in the NSKK, HJ and TeNo.

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dblmed1
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Re: Advice for Authors

Post by dblmed1 » Mon Dec 22, 2008 12:09 am

Dear lexiebabe,

Glad that you are writing about the Dutch TeNo!!! the Technische Noodhulp!
I have information, a Dutch TN Armband and a T Noodhulp Ausweis, and would be pleased to share these with you
for the purposes of you book!

Dave / dblmed1
EMail..... [email protected]

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Tom Houlihan
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Re: Advice for Authors

Post by Tom Houlihan » Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:32 pm

lexiebabe wrote:I won't say I took the easy way, but for the first print I turned to lulu.com. It was a kind of selfpublishing.
lexie and Prit Buttar have now been joined by 'yours truly' in the self-publishing field, since I went to Lulu with my book. Admittedly, it doesn't carry the same 'oomph' as one of the more well-known publishing houses, but at least they won't turn you down!

Since I first looked into using them for my book, it has gotten a little easier. Initially, they wanted manuscripts uploaded as .pdf files. Now, they'll take Word, too! The only problem I had was with the cover.

Originally, I was going to make a "one-piece" cover. I did all the art for the front and back covers, and the spine. The one thing I didn't like about the "one-piece" option was the requirement for a bar-code. For whatever reason, if you do the "one-piece," Lulu will not put the bar-code on your cover.

So, you have to wait for the ISBN to get assigned. Then, you follow a link they have to a spot where you can convert your number into a bar-code. Then you have to copy that image, and put it into your artwork. It has to be in a specific spot, and the dimensions of the image have to be exact. Or so they say. Well, someone who uses Lulu a lot caught me just before I went through all that, and recommended I not do it that way. So, I went with the other cover option they had.

Basically, you upload your artwork into a template for the front and back covers, and the spine. Well, with their new building system, the author's name is automatically place about a third of the way down the front cover, aligned to the right. To me, that's pretty bloody stupid if you have gone through all the trouble to create your own cover art! Since I couldn't move it or delete it, I opted for their 'old' cover building template.

That one was a little easier. However, as of this writing, I'm not entirely sure that the spine is going to be the textured Feldgrau coloring of the tunic I scanned, or white! I won't know for sure until a copy arrives probably next week. If it's white, rest assured I'm going to be contacting Lulu! White probably isn't bad, but dammit, I put a lot of effort into that cover, and I don't want to be hamstrung by obnoxious programming!

There are a couple of ways your book (calendar, CD, whatever) is available to the world. I opted to be my own publisher, but you can have Lulu own those rights if you wish. I also paid the extra $100 for a distribution package. With this package, my book will ultimately be available through Amazon, both US and International. It will be eligible for distribution by Barnes & Noble. I doubt they'd stock it, you might have to order it special! There is another on-line distributor list it will be on, I guess so other companies can sell it.

Looking into the fine print last night, I discovered the pros and cons of using that distribution package. On the one hand, Amazon will make my work available to a lot more people. With the key words I used, anyone who searches for Landser, Heer, Luftwaffe, etc. on Amazon will be made aware of my book. The downside is that I get a much better return if the book is ordered directly from my Lulu storefront! In my own personal estimation, which probably means damn-all in reality, I have the gut feeling that the inclusion of the ISBN will somehow give the work more credibility. Nothing scientific to base that feeling on, just a gut twinge.

Bottom line? If you have a book, and you feel it's worth selling to the masses, and nobody established will publish it for you, I can recommend Lulu. The process isn't completely painless, but it's not nearly as daunting as it first appears! You can also use them if you simply want to get your diary, personal writings, poems, or anything like that in book format. A friend of mine collected all the poetry and short stories he had written over the years, and had 1 copy printed, just for himself. Keep that in mind.
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Tom Houlihan
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Re: Advice for Authors

Post by Tom Houlihan » Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:03 am

I forgot to mention that this can be done with no money up front at all! You can spend money to get the distribution packages through Amazon, et al., but it isn't necessary. You can opt to sell your book only from your Lulu storefront, and it doesn't cost you a pfennig!
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Alex Dekker
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Re: Advice for Authors

Post by Alex Dekker » Sat Apr 04, 2009 1:56 am

I can add the following. My book was published by my own publishing company. So I got all the rights and income from my book. But a Dutch publisher wants to publish my book. In the end, I have to wait till they publish it. Normally, it can take up to three years (!), instead of the few months between printing and selling my book. On the other hand, all I have to do is wait. The nice thing is, the company asked me to write a second book. So I'm busy (or I should be) writing on Dutchmen in the HJ. In the end, I don't have to bother about risks (since that is the problem of the publisher) or sells (which should be sky high, so I will get the royalties :evil: ).

Also, my experience with sites like amazon and others, my book is only one of the thousands books wjhich are published monthly. The next book from my own company will be plugged, since only a few books sell themselfs in the end. So I have to send it to reviewsites, journalists, drop a mial to newspapers, etcetera. Not so many people buy books of someone they don't know or if they never heard of the subject. Get in the spotlight!
Always in need for info about: Dutchmen in the NSKK, HJ and TeNo.

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