The Gut Check Guide to Publishing: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why to Do It Your Way

I always enjoy sharing publishing news, whether it’s mine or someone else’s, and especially when it’s my husband’s. You may have read in this space about Zachary‘s traditionally published books, Playing Saint and The Last Con. You may have read here about his Indie projects through his micro press, Gut Check Press. You might even be a regular listener to the always amusing Gut Check Podcast. (If you’re not, you probably should be.)

Over the years, Zach and his collaborator Ted Kluck have published between them, oh, I’d say thirty books or so. Which is why if you have any publishing aspirations, you’re going to want to get a hold of their latest Gut Check project:

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The Gut Check Guide to Publishing answers most of the questions young or aspiring writers have about which way of publishing is best for them, what to be wary of, how to talk with (and how not to talk to) publishing types, and more. Here’s the marketing copy (written by yours truly) to tell you more…

 

It’s easy to publish a book these days.
It’s also easy to do it really, really badly.

Sure you can go for broke and just learn from your mistakes. But wouldn’t you rather learn from someone else’s? Ted Kluck and Zach Bartels have seen it all. They’ve published with Traditional publishers large and small, started their own Indie micro press, had great success, and watched projects crash and burn. With the wisdom of grizzled old sages and the snark of jaded Gen Xers, they cut through the BS and show you how to

• navigate the world of publishing gatekeepers

• choose when to go Traditional or Indie

• work well with editors, cover designers, and PR wonks

• position your books for success

• learn from failure and rejection

• and much more

Witty, honest, and practical, The Gut Check Guide to Publishing isn’t your ticket to instant fame and fortune. It’s the reality check you have to have before you decide to take the trip at all. It’s what’s going to keep you from looking like an amateur out there. It’s your white knight.

Because if you think writing is hard work, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

 

So basically you get real, practical, been-there-done-that information that can help you make smart decisions about your publishing future, and at the same time it’s actually fun to read. Even the (very helpful) glossary is funny. But personally, my favorite part is the back cover itself:

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Yep, that’s what writing and trying to make a living out of it is really like. It’s not a vintage typewriter on a pristine desk overlooking an inspiring view. It’s a laptop on its last legs, it’s pizza crust, it’s messy — and sometimes, it’s a cinder block wall.

But it’s still worth it.

It’s a Banner Day in the Bartels House

My husband‘s first traditionally published novel releases today! You probably already read some of the great reviews that have been coming in. We couldn’t be happier. If you like suspense/thrillers, like edge-of-your seat action, like getting blindsided by plot twists, and like your humor on the sarcastic side, this is your read!

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Yesterday, Parker Saint’s only concern was his swiftly rising star power.

Today, he’s just trying to stay alive.

Parker Saint is living the dream. A cushy job at a thriving megachurch has him on the verge of becoming a bestselling author and broadcast celebrity—until life takes an abrupt turn that lands him on the wrong side of the law. To avoid a public scandal, he agrees to consult with the police on a series of brutal murders linked by strange religious symbols scrawled on each victim.

Parker tries to play the expert, but he is clearly in over his head. Drawn ever deeper into a web of intrigue involving a demanding detective, a trio of secretive Vatican operatives, and a centuries-old conspiracy to conceal a mysterious relic, he realizes for the first time that the battle between good and evil is all too real—and that the killer is coming back . . . this time for him.

Now Available in Paperback! The Intentional Writer

If you’ve been waiting for the paperback edition of The Intentional Writer, this is your lucky day. If you don’t even know what I’m talking about (and you’re an aspiring author) this is still your lucky day. If you’re neither of these, indulge me a moment while I explain.

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The Intentional Writer is some of my best advice for beginning writers who wish they had more time, space, and inspiration for their writing. It offers lots of tips and tricks for carving out time to write, courting the muse to keep your ideas flowing, and prioritizing writing so that you can stop making excuses and start finishing things.

Every piece of insight I have to offer comes from my own experience as a writer looking for a sustainable writing rhythm that would keep me creating regularly, but wouldn’t saddle me with a load of guilt if I didn’t meet a certain word count every day.

As I formatted the paperback edition, I’ve added new content and updated existing content to reflect further developments in my own writing journey. I plan to update the Kindle edition soon to reflect those changes.

It is my hope that the things I’ve learned can help many other aspiring authors. Click here to purchase!

I’ll also take this chance to let you know that I will be speaking again at the Breathe Christian Writers Conference this year. Last year I spoke on the topic of finding your writing rhythm. This year I’ll be giving out great revision tips and advice to bring your writing to the next level. I would love to see you there! Check out the schedule of speakers and register for the conference on October 10-11.

New Release! This Elegant Ruin…and other stories

I’m so thrilled to tell you that This Elegant Ruin…and other stories is now available at Amazon! Click here to order.

For the uninitiated, in 2013 I challenged myself to write one short story each month. The twelve stories that make up this collection are the result of that challenge. I’m so thrilled to see them in book form with the incredibly beautiful cover my friend and colleague Heather created.

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Now that the kids are back in school, do something for you! Short stories make great reading material for when you just want a little down time (or when you are waiting in the pick-up lanes after school). I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!

Here’s the back cover copy to give you a bit of the flavor of the writing:

 

Love and hate. Dreams and nightmares. Luck and misfortune.

In twelve engaging stories, the joys and sorrows of life glow against such varied backdrops as a snowy wood, a quaint country inn, a crumbling metropolis, the shore of Lake Superior, and a lonely country highway. A man in the twilight of his career falls in love with a young woman at the dawn of hers. A girl at the end of her rope finds an unexpected friend in an eccentric stranger. A young man haunted by memories finally gets a chance to forget his troubles. An artist takes stock of his life’s work and discovers an unwelcome truth.

With prose that evokes wonder and fear, regret and relief, Erin Bartels draws meaning from the small moments of life, challenging us to be still, to notice, to dream—and to hope.

The Intentional Writer: Finding the Time, Space, and Inspiration You Need To Write

I’ve mentioned it a few times on the blog and now here it is. Inspired by the presentation I gave at the Breathe Christian Writers Conference last October and bringing together some of my best blogging and writing about writing, I offer you The Intentional Writer.

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It’s available on Kindle now and I will soon be working on formatting the print edition. Here’s the description of what you’ll get inside:

You can make creative writing a regular part of your life—without making it a rigid daily requirement.

If you are trying to make creative writing a more intentional—and yet not tyrannical—part of your life, The Intentional Writer will help you to pursue your goals, hone your craft, and get your work out there into the hands of readers. This entertaining and informative book will help you analyze your motivations for writing, put yourself in the path of inspiration to keep your ideas flowing, deal with both internal and external distractions, reshape your surroundings and your schedule to aid your process, and take your work from first draft to final publishable product.

From encouragement and insight to the nuts and bolts of storytelling and editing, you’ll find something in the following pages that will change your writing rhythm for the better.

New Release: Memory Man

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In just under the wire as November comes to a close. Memory Man is a story about the memories we’d like to forget and a mysterious man rumored to help people do it.

Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite.

Detroit is a city with a long memory. Though most folks I know want to forget. Only they can’t. Can’t forget the past. Can’t forget the glory days. Can’t forget the rot and decay. I thought maybe we’d be better off if the whole world could forget what Detroit once was. Then maybe we wouldn’t feel so bad about what it is.

But that wasn’t what I had to forget exactly. And that did seem a tall order for just one man, even if he was miraculous.

Just one more story to go this year! Thanks for coming with me on this writing journey. I’ve had such a great time and have learned so much that I’m planning on sharing in an ebook early next year. If you’re a writer who wishes you were more intentional about your writing, I strongly encourage you to come up with a doable goal for 2014 that will have you writing consistently. Start thinking about it now. The new year will be here before you know it.

Good Christian Men Smoke

It is a warm and windy first day of November. The sky is gray and my burning bush has finally turned red, but my maple trees in the back yard are still green. Autumn has been slow this year so that I’m not sure any of us are really mentally prepared for November. Shouldn’t we be waking to cars needing to be scraped and frost on the windows? Instead, my marigolds still look incredible.

But it is the first of November, and therefore it is time for this:

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Tonight is a book launch party at Timothy’s Fine Cigars in Bay City, Michigan, for The Christian Gentleman’s Smoking Companion, a hybrid illustrated/reference/humor/cultural commentary written by my husband Zach Bartels and our friend and fellow writer Ted Kluck.

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Some of you may be thinking, “Christians smoking? Isn’t that a sin?” The short answer is, no, it is not. And I won’t go into the long answer here, but there is a chapter in the book that addresses this very question.

In fact, a large portion of this book is devoted to profiling famous and influential people of faith who smoke(d) cigars and/or pipes, such as Charles Spurgeon, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C. S. Lewis, Pope Pius X, J. R. R. Tolkien, Karl Barth, G. K. Chesterton, J. Gresham Machen, Johann Sebastian Bach, and more. The book not only includes original illustrations of all of these men, it also includes many quotes from them (and even a fairly lengthy poem from Bach!) on how one can smoke to the glory of God.

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There are interviews with a few smoking enthusiasts (including Tim Socier, owner and proprietor of Timothy’s Fine Cigars in Bay City, and Jody Davis of Newboys fame, who creates one-of-a-kind pipes as a side business), and chapters explaining cigar types and terminology, smoking lounge etiquette, what cigar brands say about the person smoking them, and more handy advice that keeps the smoker from looking like an amateur out there.

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And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg (or perhaps a more fitting metaphor would be just the ash at the end of the cigar). The bottom line is, if you smoke cigars or pipes, this book’s for you. If you think this whole enterprise sounds a little suspicious because you’ve been taught that smoking is sinful, this book’s for you. If you love satire and sarcasm, this book’s for you. If you can laugh at yourself (and others) this book’s for you. It’s just a fun, enjoyable experience (as long as you’re not too uptight).

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If you’re in the Bay City area tonight, join us at Tim’s on the corner of Center and Saginaw (across from the planetarium) from 6-8pm. There will be amazing gourmet snacks, including chipotle brownies, made by Ted’s wife and personal chef Kristin Kluck, a.k.a. The Saucy Broad. If you can’t come by but the book sounds like something you or someone you know would like (perhaps as a Christmas gift?) you can buy it here!

New Release: Drive

I pleased to announce the release of October’s short story, Drive. I got the initial idea for this story last year and this is one of the first covers I designed when I decided to write and self-publish a short story every month of 2013. However, it was not until last weekend when the last piece of the plot puzzle fell into place.

Writers, this is why you always want to capture those little ideas on paper. If I hadn’t written myself a note saying “guy goes to collect U-Haul-type trucks that aren’t returned” I might not have even remembered the premise when I came across a news story last weekend about a guy who was legally dead.

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So there you have it. Nearly a year in the making and here it finally is! Buy it here for Kindle. For those of you with other e-readers, I plan on releasing all of this year’s short stories on Smashwords in every conceivable format next spring. And for those of you who prefer traditional books, also coming in the spring will be a printed collection of all of this year’s stories. I’m so excited about it! So hang tight, stay tuned, and hold fast–your day is coming!

New Release: The Beginning and the End

My September story is now available for Kindle and Kindle apps! Click here to buy.

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I have to say this month has been an odd one as far as short story creation is concerned. I started this month’s story with this cover photo and title:

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But as I wrote the story, the title changed, and the photo had to change too. I had intended the story to be more about the house/inn but it became more about how relationships begin and end. To figure out the significance of the dandelion on the cover, you’ll have to read the story. Also got to have a little fun with the type this time around.

I’m really looking forward to writing my nonfiction book next year on how this year’s experiment worked and how you can make writing more intentional. September was a perfect example of initial inspiration having served its purpose and then needing to be discarded for the good of the story. Too fun.

Only three more short stories to go!

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10 Degrees Cooler in the Shade

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Hot off the virtual press (thanks to the near universality of wifi, even on Mackinac Island) is July’s short story, 10 Degrees Cooler in the Shade. This story started at simply pairing a title idea (with no thought of possible plot, characters, setting, content, etc.) and a photo I took at the Ingham County Fair a year or so ago. (Aside: The 2013 Ingham County Fair starts today and runs all week!) I asked my husband to suggest a name of a guy that sounded like he might be a carny (no offense to those of you out there who might share this name). And off my imagination went.

One of the fun things about writing a bunch of short stories this year is trying out different genres, and this is one I’ve never written–suspense. I hope you enjoy it!

Buy it here for 99 cents for your Kindle and Kindle apps.