Posts tagged ‘publishing’

WHITE NOISE IN PUBLISHING

Continuing on my white noise theme in the publishing world, I feel self-publishing has, as most things do, some good and some not so good points.

Self-publishing gives a new slant to ‘freedom of speech’. Anyone and I mean anyone can publish what they want, the good the bad and the ugly, for perhaps little or no expense and sell it to the public. In future posts I will explore self-publishing options for my and my readers’ benefit. However, before I tackle that subject, I want to delve into the process of finding a publisher (I’ve already begun that task) and an agent.

Now, back to self-publishing and white noise.

I’m sure it’s my lack of confidence, or maybe my upbringing in the scientific world, but I need verification from someone knowledgeable in publishing that what I write is worthy of publication. That is the cross I bear, but I’m learning to throw-off this burden, at least to some extent.

You see, the problem I have with self-publishing is that there is no gatekeeper. With over 435,000 works self-published last year the white noise in publishing has become a deafening roar. I know, everyone has a book in them but let’s be honest, sometimes that’s where it should stay. Then again, who has the right to make that judgment? See the conundrum.

In the past, the only way to be published, other than by a recognized publisher, was by a vanity press. By using a vanity press, you could fill your garage or basement with copies of your work and come away from the experience hundreds or thousands of dollars poorer. For the most part, the vanity press is all but gone, but not totally. What it has done is morphed into companies advertising in writer’s magazines offering to publish your work for perhaps a few hundred dollars or so. They have traded the profits made by a few paying a great deal to a great number paying a lot less. In the future I want to explore how you can bypass them and publish on your own.

Now, here’s where I make some enemies, but isn’t that what life’s all about?

Of the 435,000 works published last year, how many would have found a home with a traditional publisher. I ask myself, when I look at my own work, is there anyone who would pay money to read this other than my family or friends. That should be your litmus test if you really want to become a writer. Publishing a book might stroke your ego, but will it contribute anything.

I met an author last year who told me she is now self-publishing. However, she first published with established publishers, built a reputation, and now publishes on her own. That path has merit, in my eyes.

Another interesting observation I saw in a writer’s magazine was how self-publishing may hurt those beginning a long-term career. A side note, I recently had a story accepted and after it was accepted I decided to read it one last time. I had written it sometime ago and, at times being a bonehead, failed to read it before sending it off. I found the writing ‘lacking’ and told the publisher they would receive an improve version. The point is, we improve with experience. That is the point made in the article. The reason the career-minded writer should be careful about self-publishing their early work is that if they take the next step and decide to seek out a traditional publisher and that publisher is interested in taking them on, they will consider the writer’s self-published an example of their skill. Do you get the point? Your name is attached to your work, your true name in most cases, and that work is how your writing will be judged.

Finally, if you do decide to self-publish, PLEASE! PLEASE! have someone other than your mother or closest friend read your work. Preferably someone who has read a great deal and will give you an honest opinion. This is where, if you are sincere about your craft, a good writers group comes into play. If there isn’t a group you can join, there are opportunities to get online critiques where you can exchange work with other writers. Another benefit of critiquing someone else’s work is the process tends to improve your own skills.

Hope I haven’t ruffled too many feathers, and that my comments will help turn the white noise in publishing into joyful music.

October 20, 2014 at 11:42 pm Leave a comment

STRUGGLING TO GET IT PUBLISHED: FINDING MARKETS, DUOTROPE

Back in the day when I was on the road to becoming a famous poet, a hint on where that road led – picture the final scene in the movie Thelma & Louise, I used books and magazines to fine markets where I could submit my work. Pounding out poems on my electric typewriter, going through gallons of white-out, off they would go along with the required SASE. This was long before the home computer came into existence, before the internet was even a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye.   How things have changed since my early writing years. The books and magazines still exist, but I can guarantee, at least for the books, by the time they are published much of the information is outdated, unless the book is accompanied by a website to maintain currency, save your money.

My go-to source for finding markets for my work nowadays is the website Duotrope, providing over 4000 markets for poetry, fiction and non-fiction and constantly updated. Up until a few years ago it was free, now it will cost you $5 a month or $50 a year. If you register, you can get a free trial. If you are serious about submitting your work, you can’t go wrong giving this website a try. I’ve included a link at the end of this piece.

The site offers searches by the publisher’s name, or if you want to search all markets for your specific piece, you can do that too. In the later type of search, you are given the options of genre, length, pay scale, and a more specific breakdown within your genre. You can also query to see if the publisher accepts reprints, simultaneous and multiple submissions. Also available for most publishers is their response time and percentage of acceptances.

Upon completion of your search you are provide with a list of primary and secondary markets that meet your criteria. On the Duotrope page listing the publisher’s specifications you will also find a link to the publisher’s website. This feature saves tons of time in your submission process. Your search and then be saved if for some reason you first offer of the piece is rejected. I’m trying to be both ironic and humorous.

Finally, you receive a weekly email listing current market updates. One look at this list of weekly market activity will clearly demonstrate how rapidly a book of markets becomes outdated.

If you want to stay on the cutting edge of where to submit your work, I highly suggest you look into Duotrope.

https://duotrope.com/index.aspx

August 26, 2014 at 12:32 am Leave a comment

STRUGGLING TO GET IT PUBLISHED: INTRODUCTION

While contemplating topics for my blog, I came to the realization that I needed a new category. In my much acclaimed (in my own mind) STRUGGLING TO GET IT WRITE category I found I was considering areas having more to do with publishing and less with writing. With that in mind, my discussion of self-publishing will move to this new area, STRUGGLING TO GET IT PUBLISHED.

Yes my friends, I find little connected to the art of writing that is not a struggle, at least for me.

The primary topics I plan to cover are finding a trustworthy publisher, finding an agent, again identifying the unworthy, query letters and organizations which may help you along that bumpy road to publication. And as mentioned above, I’ll continue to take a look at self-publishing under this heading.

That’s what I have planned for this new ‘struggle’. Hopefully this information will aid you on your journey to becoming a published writer.

August 17, 2014 at 7:11 pm Leave a comment

FREE BOOK ON PUBLISHING

I just received this offer for a free book on publishing from Savvy Authors and I thought I’d share it with my fellow writers.

 

http://blog.bookbaby.com/2014/07/last-chance-to-get-your-free-copy-of-ape-how-to-publish-a-book/ 

July 10, 2014 at 6:40 pm Leave a comment

STRUGGLING TO GET IT WRITE: SELF-PUBLISHING, AN INTRODUCTION

It is said that we all have a book within us. I don’t know who said it, and if no one has, I just did. However, it has never been said, to my knowledge, that we all have a GOOD book within us. What follows is my own take on self-publishing with more episodes to follow. As always, feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Writing is an ego driven endeavor. To put your words out there and know that someone will pay money to read them is quite a stretch. But many of us do just that and bruise our egos along the way. Who among us truly thinks their ability to put words together isn’t worth shit, but I’m going to do it and reveal my shit to the world. In the not too distant past the only available avenue a writer could take, other than the traditional route of, agent-editor-publisher was lovingly referred to as the vanity press.

The end result of association with a vanity press was usually hundreds of books moldering away in a basement or attic and the author thousands of dollars poorer. Now we have a much better, cheaper option – the wonderful world of self-publishing. For an excellent in-depth look at self-publishing I refer you to the May/June 2012 issue of Writer’s Digest providing an overview on the topic. In a later piece I will offer some of the information from that issue and update the information contained in this issue for, in this day and age, 2012 is distant history.

Self-publishing, in conjunction with print-on-demand allows the writer to bring his work directly to the reading public without encountering the messy world of agents and publishers. I know many out there have taken the agent and or publisher route and have shed blood, sweat and tears with no results. Been there, done that. That’s why the vast majority of my work remains unpublished. I’ll get to my personal experiences and the reason I still beat my head against a stone wall in a later piece. Many of those who have put the effort and see no other avenue to present their work to the public other than to self-publish. Here, the decision to self-publish has merit. You’ve paid your dues with nothing to show for it; give it a shot.

There is another form of exposure providing a means to present your work, your thoughts, poetry, and stories, to the world. If you’ve gotten this far you’re participating in that medium now – the blog. Of course you won’t make any money unless your ego permits you to go hat-in-hand to those wanting to read the beauty of your words. Enough of that.

I have met one author, in my opinion, who has a healthy approach to self-publishing. She established a reputation through the traditional route of agent and publisher. Only after her reputation was established did she begin to self-publish. For now the public knew the value of her work, work accepted by the industry, and she could approach that public directly.

With the above in mind, I’m sure you see that self-publishing is a complicated and convoluted topic. It is a medium offering a new publishing opportunity, and each year hundreds of thousands of people employ it. It can yield great success, but to those that it has you could probably count using your fingers and toes, and perhaps not even need to take off your shoes.

Yet with all the uncertainty and rejection and no matter how you bear that twisted cross we call the writing addiction, you know you have no choice but to endure and hope for the

June 2, 2014 at 7:36 pm 2 comments

THE NOVEL by JAMES A. MICHENER

 

Just finished reading The Novel by James A. Michener.  I’ve read many of his works, my favorite is The Source, a book dealing with the excavation of a well in the Middle East and detailing the life of the people surrounding the well from ancient times to the present.

Michener, who died in 1997 at the age of 90, published The Novel in 1991, but it was far from being his last book.  The work, divided into four parts The Writer, The Editor, The Critic and The Reader explores the publishing world of a different era.  The world of publishing has changed a great deal since Michener wrote this book and continues to rapidly change with self-publishing and social media becoming important tools for today’s authors.  In Michener’s story, the editor plays a significant role in the life of the author and the progression of his career.  Having never been published by a major house, yet, I don’t know if that portrayal holds true today.

The section of this novel which I found most interesting was that of the critic, Karl Streibert.  He finds the work of the main author in the book, Lucas Yoder, shallow and not worth reading.  The funny thing is that the work of Lucas Yoder reminds me of Michener’s.  The critic judges Yoder’s work as to accessible, fit only for the common reader, and is of the opinion that writers should write for the reading elite, intellectuals who demand the highest quality and deepest thought.

This lofty insight reminds me of a comment I once read in Poet & Writers where the poetry of Billie Collins was considered mediocre because it was too accessible.  I happen to find Collins’ poetry extremely enjoyable.  I wonder what that says about me.

A difference in values is what makes life interesting, and at times argumentative.  I strongly suggest reading James A. Michener’s The Novel.

May 26, 2014 at 6:06 pm Leave a comment

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