Read Part One…
September 6, 2010
So the new era means I can publish everything, and I can do whatever I want without worrying about branding or platform or market or genre label or store category or all the other publishing considerations of Act I. All I have to worry about now is you.
It most definitely means you can publishing everything. This is fantastic news for the writers who can actually write; bad news for those who still need to learn. I’m all for self-publishing and have been touting it for years, but it also scares me that anyone can do it, especially these days. The reason is not fear of competition, but rather fear of readers being let down by works not yet ready for publication. You can only get burned so many times by trying out authors you don’t recognize before you default back onto those you do.
True, the cream rises to the top. This is always the fallback position. But as the waters get more and more swimmers wading into them, the athletes will have to perform even better to get ahead of the pack and stand out so readers will notice them.
You’re right in what you say: “All I have to worry about now is you.” It’s the “you,” the reader, that determines if your writing is a hobby or a living. It’s the reader that determines how much time we can invest in our craft without having to dilute that time with other things like a day job. Even more than one job, for some folks.
Let’s hope we succeed and stay ahead of the pack so we can pay it back to the reader by having more time to develop new stories for them. It’s the circle of the writing life. *cue Elton John*
September 8, 2010
The more I write, the more I realize I don’t know anything. I know what makes good reading, but I guess the best advice I have is “Write a lot, make a lifetime commitment to craft, and be honest.” In my own case, two out of three ain’t bad.
This is an extremely profound and true statement, if there ever was one. Speaking from my own experience, yes, it’s true, the more you write, the better you get. It’s also true that you will never master the craft. You may be deemed a “master” by your peers and fans, but in all truth, they just mean you’re very good at it. There will always be a better way to describe something, turn a phrase, use a metaphor, succinct a sentence, etc.
What I enjoy about keeping up with writing is some stuff that gets typed really rocks, and other stuff is just dry and stupid. That said, I love it when the dry and stupid stuff becomes more and more apparent the better you get at putting a story together. Back in the old days, it took an editor to point it out. Now, you can see it for yourself and, since you’ve already fixed it, your editor didn’t even know it happened. (They’ll just come along and point something else out.)
“Be honest.” Yup. Find your voice. Run with it. Be honest in your stories and tell it like it is. Use your style, not anyone else’s. (For those wondering, this means you can still do things your way while still adhering to the rules of good writing.)
Thanks for the reminder, Scott.
September 9, 2010
Blog: Debbie Mack: My Life on the Mid-list
4. Small publishers with identifiable markets will adapt better than large publishers who have no identifiable markets, because publisher brands are meaningless to the average reader. In fiction, authors are the brands instead of the publishers. In non-fiction, the subject matter is the brand. Authors who already know their audience will adapt better than both levels of publishers.
This is a lesson I learned the hard way, and in the interest of providing quality info for would-be self-publishers and/or small publishers, here I am being transparent: you hit the nail on the head with the “small publishers with identifiable markets will adapt better than large publishers who have no identifiable markets…” comment.
Speaking from experience, when I first started my company, I published in the broad genre of speculative fiction. That’s horror, sci-fi and fantasy to you. Getting writers in the door was easy. Getting readers . . . not so much. I made money, then I lost money, then I made money, then I lost money.
Upon further research I discovered that the secret to small press success is total niche marketing. Speculative fiction isn’t a niche. It’s three genres or more (depending who you talk to), the exact opposite of a niche. So what did I do? When I was contractually able to do so, I scaled down my company’s backlist and focused on two genres: superhero and monsters, which, of course, I’m a fanboy of both. Weird combo, sure, but like I usually mention in interviews, the superhero-monster thing is like bacon and eggs (Incredible Hulk, anyone? No? How about Madman?).
Readers now know that if they want quality superhero or monster fiction (zombies, werewolves, vampires), they come to Coscom Entertainment (http://www.coscomentertainment.com). Now, books are selling really well. We have reprint deals with New York, and just signed on for LA management for film and TV projects.
But to be clear, the successes we gained I attribute to Divine Blessing and to the readers. Without both, we’d be nowhere.
13. By 2013, 85 percent of the writers who published their rejected manuscripts in 2010 will give up for good, retiring with $200 in net profit and a good story for the grandchildren. Ten percent will still be doing it because they are artists first, sensible people second. Four percent will be able to quit the day job for a few years. And, just like in every recession or collapse, the top one percent will get even richer and more powerful.
I love that: artists first, sensible people second. So true for my life. We should get on the horn and swap “how we got here” stories, Scott. As an overview of my own, it meant living close to the breadline for several years, countless problems back when I lived with my folks, even being homeless for a time. (Try sleeping under a bridge with cars driving overheard; impossible.)
Yet throughout it all, I kept fighting. Throughout the insults and call-outs from my peers in this business for being a self-publisher, I kept fighting. Despite those in my personal life whom I would have counted on for support but didn’t get it, I kept fighting. Despite going without sleep, working three jobs while raising a family, I kept fighting. And here we are: fulltime writer/publisher, supporting his family with his craft.
Hmmm…me thinks there might be something to this “sensible people second” business.
September 10, 2010
Blog: Tina’s Book Reviews
Certainly an interesting question/premise: what is a book? Or, these days, ask: when does a book stop being a book?
Notice that we usually define the format before saying it’s a book, except for paper. I’ve yet had someone ask me, “Can you pass me my paper book, please?”
But say “book” and paper-bound comes to mind. This is because it was the first way a book was presented.
Now we have “enhanced eBooks” surfacing. Though I’ve never seen one, they seem to me not really enhanced but just a kind of hodge-podge of media.
Look at comics. There are print comics and eComics. There are motion comics, which I’ve seen. Look more like stilted cartoons using the original comic art as the visuals. They’re narrated, so you’re not reading them despite the speech bubbles and captions being present.
In general, right now my stance is a book is something very long that you read. It’s what a book was when books started. So print books and eBooks I consider “real” books. Audio books–you don’t read those no more than you read the fairy tales your mommy told you when tucking you in at night. Someone’s reading you a story, long or short.
If there’s no act of reading, it’s not a book. Instead, it’d be a different delivery system to give you the same story.
Do you consider faithful movie adaptations of a book a book? No. It’s the same story, sometimes abridged, just like audio books can be. We don’t call it a motion-book or movie-book. It’s a movie.
I think the ol’ “duck checklist” has to apply here: if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, talks like a duck, then it’s a duck. Otherwise you got something else, a platypus, maybe.
September 11, 2010
Blog: Rex Robot Reviews
Satanism is one area I don’t go as a horror author. I’ve done the devil as the bad guy (Devil’s Playground with Keith Gouveia), but not in the way you’re describing here. Being a Christian prohibits me from doing so (yeah, a fundy Christian horror author, go figure), but I know too many horror stories from real-life from people who messed around in the occult and Satanic rituals and the stuff that happened. It’s a place you don’t want to go–in this life or the life to come–and is extremely dangerous.
Which brings me to telling those reading this that when you write, stay in your comfort zone. I’m not saying don’t stretch yourself as an author and experiment, but rather if there is an area of writing (fiction or non-) that you’re not comfortable with, don’t jump into it because of a) peer pressure, b) it’s a successful genre. Those a shallow reasons, especially when dealing with a craft that’s supposed to be from the inmost parts.
I’ve been down that road and it just really sucks the fun out of writing, creates guilt and makes the work suffer because a reader can tell if a writer is really into what he/she is doing, or if they’re just banging the words out.
Read Part Three…