The Journal: Getting Organized, Rights Grabs, and Learning

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Topic: Preparation Saves Time and Prevents Typos
* Topic: Another Rights Grab
* Today
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“Thomas’s poetry is so narrow — just a straight conduit between birth & death, I suppose—with not much space for living along the way.” Poet Elizabeth Bishop in a letter to a friend after hearing of Dylan Thomas’s death

Can you get a story or title idea from this quote?

As a side note, my own favorite Dylan Thomas poem is “The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower.” I’ve often wondered whether that poem was the catalyst for the explanation of The Force in the Star Wars franchise.

As another aside, when I was a recruiter stationed in Salt Lake City, a friend who was a rabbi confided in me that he was annoyed at George Lucas. Why? Because Lucas had described so well in a film what my rabbi friend had not been able to fully describe in 14 volumes on Jewish mysticism: the Force. (Disclaimer: I’m not Jewish.)

Topic: Preparation Saves Time and Prevents Typos

Note: My patrons received this topic 9 or 10 days ago. I thought I’d also share it here (it’s a slow day). That won’t always be the case. To consider becoming a patron for as little as $3 per month, see

In a recent edition of the Journal I took off on one of Dean’s posts and talked about creating an inventory spreadsheet. It’s no exaggeration to say that’s essential for a long-term writer. It’s a great way to get (and stay) organized for the long haul.

And as I think I mentioned in that topic, it’s a good idea to have one overall or “master” spreadsheet that contains everything you write (short and long fiction, nonfiction, poetry, whatever). Later, it’s also a good idea to break out the different literary genres (short stories, novels, etc.) into their own spreadsheets.

It really isn’t much work once you get it set up. It takes only a minute or two to add to the spreadsheet(s) when you finish a new work.

But what about the other side of organization? Do you currently reinvent the wheel each time you upload a new work to a different store or distributor?

I currently only upload to Draft2Digital, Amazon, Smashwords and BundleRabbit. So only four places. And that’s only for longer works (novellas, novels, collections). For individual short stories, I omit Smashwords.

But even uploading to only a few places, I find having a folder for each new title a huge time saver. Instead of retyping everything for each vendor or distributor, I simply copy-paste from my promo file.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s what I do for each title, often before it’s even finished.

Create a new file folder. The name of the folder is the same as the title of the work. (Not even a shortened version. This saves time later when you have a few hundred titles.)

In that folder, I put the original Word document. Again, the Word file is named the same as the title of the work. (The document also is already formatted and has front and back matter already included.)

As an aside, the front matter consists of the title followed by my name or pen name, then a space, then “a novel (short story, whatever) from StoneThread Publishing. After that comes this statement: “To give the reader more of a sample, the front matter appears at the end.” (This doesn’t always work but it lets the reader know you’re trying to circumvent the sampling process at different vendors.)

If I’m uploading the file to Smashwords, I have a second Word document in the folder too (this one in .doc format, not .docx) with “the Smashwords edition of” on one line just below the title and my name. This one is titled the same as the first one but with “smash” appended to the end.

So one filename is “Title of Book.docx” and the other is “Title of Book smash.doc”.

Also in the folder is the original photo I used for the cover. It’s titled Title of Book base.jpg. Then comes the finished cover itself in four sizes for longer works and three sizes for short stories. Those would be named Title of Book.jpg (the original huge file at 6250x,9375 pixels), Title of Book 2000.jpg (2000×3000, this is the one I upload to vendors and distributors), Title of Book 300.jpg (300×450, the one that will go on the individual book page on my site and my publisher site), and Title of Book 180.jpg (180×270, the “thumbnail” that will go on the genre page on my site and the publisher site).

Next comes the promo doc.

For me, the promo doc is a text document (I’m a PC guy so I use Notepad). It contains the title of the work, my publisher name, the book/story description (you need a long and short description if you upload to Smashwords).

Below that are seven Internet search terms (for my Blackwell Ops series, those are usually crime, mystery, murder, thriller, psychological suspense, assassin, and novel series).

To round out the promo doc, below the search terms I add the universal book link from Books2Read (through Draft2Digital), the Amazon buy link and the Smashwords buy link (if applicable).

I think it would also be useful to add the word count somewhere in the promo doc, but I haven’t gotten into that habit yet. (grin)

See what I mean about organizing on the pre-pub side of things?

Now when I’m ready to publish the work, all I have to do is open the promo doc and copy-paste everything from it to the appropriate spaces on the platform.

I upload to Draft2Digital first, and from there I download the .mobi and .epub files. Those go into the book’s individual folder too.

Then when it comes time to send a .mobi or .epub file to a reader for a direct sale, I simply open the folder, drag the appropriate file to an email, and hit Send.

And when you upload to BundleRabbit (I really recommend BR if you aren’t using it yet), you have to upload either an .epub file or a zipped Vellum file. I use .epub. Again, I can open the folder, upload the .epub I downloaded from D2D and I’m done.

My individual book folders are what make it possible for me to publish a new work to D2D and BundleRabbit in about 2 minutes each, to Amazon in about 3, and to Smashwords (for long works only) in about 10.

Not only do I not have the hassle of rewriting everything at each vendor or distributor platform, but I lessen the chance of typos in what I’m uploading.

Try it, you’ll like it. (grin)

I hope this helps. Any questions on any of this, just email me.

Topic: Another Rights Grab

Not really a full second topic, and I wouldn’t usually post two topics in one day, but I need (desperately) to be sure you’re aware of rights grabs.

First, see “Contest Caution: The Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award” at Please read it.

If you’re crunched for time, skip down and read the paragraph that begins with “To summarize this dense paragraph….”

Rights grabs are real, folks. ALWAYS read the terms and conditions, and if any thing doesn’t feel right, Don’t Enter That Contest or Submit To That Publisher!

For a great deal more on this topic, read my post, “Beware of Rights Grabbers” at

Today will mostly be a learning day. I’ll attend to a few chores, study some business lectures with my wife and partner, and maybe write a little fiction.

But I’ll begin the day by watching Dean’s presentation on Attitude at the 20Kto50Books conference in Vegas. If you can invest 45 minutes in your writing career (otherwise free) see “If You Want To Watch My Talk” at It’s short, and it includes instructions.

And another absolute must-read (and click the links in his article) is James Scott Bell’s “Delete Naiveté From Your Writing Life” at

Following those links (and learning) will round out my day. So why did I say I might write fiction? Because if a story idea comes, it will take precedence. (grin)

I’ll talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

Wow. See “The Story Behind Dylan Thomas’s ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” at

See “Historic Crime: Stepping Back in Time” at

See “Did Lizzie Borden Really Ax-Murder Her Parents?” at

See “Making a Good First Impression: Preserving Footprints In Snow and Mud” at

See “How to Start Your Book” at

Finally, see “Neutrinos Lead to Unexpected Discovery in Basic Math” at (More learning, and maybe a story idea.)

The Numbers

Fiction words today…………………… 0
Nonfiction words today…………… 1460 (Journal)

Total fiction words for the month……… 6481
Total fiction words for the year………… 391574
Total nonfiction words for the month… 11940
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 293020
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 684594

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 7
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 43
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 197
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31