by L. Rochell
In this hurry-up world we’re creating, even in the writing and publishing industries, it’s becoming second nature to blend, mix, and otherwise smash together not only words, but their meanings and defined actions.
Prior to the mid-20th century there technically, were no “reviewers.” Those who fancied themselves literate enough to offer a performance or literary critique usually possessed the background credentials to be taken seriously. They were a “critic.” Now, not so much.
Today, we’re still mixing and mashing, trying to create a “criviewer”—my fabricated word for one who fancies him or herself qualified—whether true or not—to comment on someone else’s work.
However, we’re not quite there yet—purists still believe that a reviewer presents an opinion whether that person has a solid or informed basis to speak from or not; a critique is offered by a critic who reviews a work using their particular expertise and a knowledge of the genre history in order to provide an informed opinion.
That said … there is nothing in the “Book Readers’ Handbook” about how to criticize an author’s “baby.” I use the term baby because it’s a running joke in the independent publishing industry that it can take about nine months to birth a book—and when it comes to the long-awaited happy event, your newborn may not be the best lookin’ babe in the mommy ward, but don’t anyone dare criticize her!
A vast majority of readers simply enjoy their chosen tome and relegate it to a shelf, or recycle it through eco-friendly channels. A limited number read it and share their thoughts in a book club or other social organization.
A growing group of readers, however, are taking to the Internet and loudly voiceing their opinions in review after review, leaving their often anonymous, pithy observations to help or hurt, as they see fit.
Some readers blog about books, and some with an imagined or real objection or empathy, may even contact the author. For the most part however, we don’t even know what’s being said behind our backs. If you have not yet created a Google Alert for your book’s title, you’ll never know. (Learn more and set it up: www.google.com/alerts.)
Authors, just as all creative artists, both crave and dread readers’ comments. Constructive critcism helps us learn and grow. But what of the malicious harangues that cut to the quick and leave us wondering how we could write such drivel?
Although constructive criticism is obviously preferred when it comes to our books, many who offer their insights are unfortunately, not helpful—there is an art to constructive criticism, just as there is to writing itself. Too many self-imposed experts weigh in with arrogant words of misdirected wisdom with no clue of how to make disparaging remarks in a supportive way: tinged with helpful advice or edged with words of enjoyable discovery in your baby’s pages.
Let’s face it—some reviews of our books are just plain mean. In school when mean girls used to criticize me, mom would say, “Oh honey, consider the source, and let it go.” There is a lot of wisdom in those words. Of course, I didn’t necessarily understand it then, but it has particular meaning now.
Not all reviews will of course, be glowing adulation for your story, poetry, or nonfiction prose. You will likely receive at least a few not-so-kind words that unfortunately, often weigh heavier on our hearts and hurt more than the rave reviews can make you smile. Try to consider the source.
With blogs abounding and “Write a Review” on every retail item’s page online, anyone with a computer can sling a few words of jubilant joy at having read your book, or with quick keystrokes crankily criticize without mercy. That does NOT make them a credible critic. Consider the source.
If you tried valiantly to score a traditional publisher’s contract, you might well know the throes of rejection. But when you believe in your book, just like with rejections, criticism without substance should be summarily dismissed.
Granted, it’s frustrating that nowadays a negative comment can remain visible to the world for eternity—one of the many vile pitfalls of the Internet—but with this new technology, we must also realign our approach to human behavior. If called for, you may want to contact the author to thank or discuss their comments. But in most cases, it’s often best to consider the source, and move on.
“Accept the things you cannot change; courage to change the things you can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” Criticism of your book is to be expected. Constructive criticism should be welcomed. Know the difference and react (or not) accordingly.
Just like each and every word, each and every one of us is unique and serves a purpose in the grand scheme of things.
By Carol Roberts, owner of Roberts Indexing Services.
It took a long time to write your book - will readers be able to find anything in it?
Although your book will have a table of contents, which gives readers an overview of what’s in the book and how it’s arranged, what if someone wants to find something specific? More important, what if they won’t even buy the book unless they find that information? Did you know that many libraries won’t acquire a nonfiction book unless it has an index? This is where a good index can boost sales of your book.
Who’s going to write the index? Some authors enjoy indexing their own books and have a knack for indexing, which is a specialized form of textual analysis and writing. Others don’t. Deciding whether to hire a professional indexer is a lot like deciding whether to hire a plumber. Your decision will be based on many factors: whether you know anything about plumbing, whether you have the time, whether you enjoy that sort of work, and so on.
A professional indexer can lift many of your burdens, because she or he will
- know what your publisher requires,
- meet the publisher’s tight deadline,
- free up your valuable time, and
- tend to produce a more objective index.
If you think you’d like to take a crack at it, be sure to ask your editor for indexing guidelines (or read the indexing chapter of The Chicago Manual of Style) and the names of a few indexers, as a fallback. While your manuscript is being copyedited and then typeset, pick a book from your bookshelf and try indexing it. If indexing overwhelms you, it’s better to find that out as early as possible, so you’ll have time to line up a professional. Then you can devote your time to your next book!
V.P. Spoken Books Publishing, Dave Giorgio, January 21, 2011:
We spend a lot of time talking and writing about making a book great. Personally, I believe heavily in the concept of writing, rewriting, rewriting, and rewriting, until the author feels the book is as good as anything that has been published, or at least truly as good as the book can be.
I will be honest in that I have spoken to thousands of authors, and many of them are in such a rush to publish, that they go about doing so without a single look back with a self-critical eye.
I believe it's important to have a really good idea of where your book stands in the big picture, and to be able to publish the book knowing that the book has really been given the scrutiny it deserves, and then perhaps even a little more.
The answer is: HARRY POTTER.
Yes, that is my answer to this question and I'll tell you why. I've read and reread those Potter books numerous times. They are just so engaging and beautifully written. Part 1 of the 7th movie came out recently and I saw it. I decided to reread book 7 in anticipation of part 2 of the 7th movie coming out in July. And as I near the end of the book, I realize just how excellent the book is, as well as the fact that I don't want it to end.
Have you ever enjoyed a book so thoroughly that you reread it? It stands to reason that only a really well-done book is going to be experienced this way, multiple times.
Now, think about the intense scrutiny that this author must have put into the writing of those books. The process of the editor reading, marking, noting, highlighting, requesting changes, making suggestions, etc. Picture in your mind the labor that went into the creation of such a book.
If you really give it strong consideration, I think you'll have to conclude that such a book was not written and then published without such scrutiny and attention. In fact, it was that scrutiny and critical attention that created what the book is today: a book so excellent that it can be read over and over again. Timeless.
And so, if you think about your book this way, as a book that will be adored in such a manner, my sense is that you'll have even more of what you need to make your book the best it can be. Perhaps, even timeless.
Authors- check out these books for great book marketing and promotion ideas!
Talk Radio for Authors: Getting Interviews Across the U.S. and Canada, by Francine Silverman is your guide to connecting with the producers of talk radio shows through North America. Fran’s book covers both Internet and live talk radio shows, organizing 230 shows into 40 categories that highlight each show’s primary focus and the demographics of their listening audience. There is also information about show hosts, the radio stations, themes, and guest criteria. Fran’s personal opinions add a unique insight into the book promotion aspect of broadcasting today.
Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers, by Shel Horowitz. “Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers, by book marketing expert Shel Horowitz, presents a marvelous array of real world marketing efforts based on his decades of professional experience. This book will benefit every author and publisher by helping them to understand the dynamics of effective marketing to sell more books. After all, successfully selling more books is what book marketing is all about, and that’s what Shel’s book is clearly all about!!!”
Director, Author Services, LinDee Rochelle, January 19, 2011
Perception: authors love to talk about their books and will chew your ear off to do so—ergo, they’re great public speakers.
Reality: That statement is only half-true. It is true, most authors are passionate about their books and in a one-on-one encounter are completely comfortable to regale you with its best attributes (until your eyes roll). But put most of us behind the podium in a roomful of people with eyes front waiting for eloquent words of epiphany, and the world stands still.
I’m no psychologist, but my conjecture is many writers write—especially fiction storytellers—because it’s a solitary pursuit and takes them away from the daily human bombardment. So public speaking is often public enemy #1.
But speaking of ones, Book Marketing 101 tells us we must become comfortable holding court in public arenas in order to promote our books and engage potential new readers.
As an author you can learn, lament, and laugh over many a comrade’s tales of public panic and embarrassment, and the personal elation of successes; but the wad of fear in your throat is no laughing matter, when you rise for the first time (or tenth) to speak on behalf of your book.
“On behalf” you ask? Tip: When you’re invited to speak or land a public appearance, you have a better chance of a successful event if you do not simply talk about your book and how great it is. The real topic of your presentation should be either the expertise or insight you have acquired in the writing of your book which is worth sharing to a broad audience, or the book’s compelling topic that relates to today’s news. Never about the book itself.
Oh, all right … but how do we get rid of the lump in our throats?
There are tons of blogs, articles, organizations, and websites devoted to public speaking. I was introduced to the power of author public speaking when I booked presenters for my writers’ conferences sponsored by the creative organization I founded while in Phoenix for a while.
For one conference in early 2000s, I booked a comic. No, he wasn’t a “relief comic,” to lighten our moods following intense learning. Tim Davis was my keynote speaker. And I for one, learned more from him than any presenter on this topic before or since.
A stand-up comic, Tim was just beginning to build his business as a corporate coach for public speaking, and he volunteered, guaranteeing I wouldn’t be sorry. I never turn down free. And I certainly wasn’t sorry. We never had so much fun at a conference. Of course he made us laugh, but he also taught us to laugh at ourselves, and through comedic techniques, how to minimize the number of presentations where we’re laughed at—not with.
“When a comedian and the audience are in sync, it’s like cheek to cheek dancing,” says Tim’s website, defining rhythm. “Not only is every joke working, but even the set-ups are making everyone scream.”
Though he speaks of comedy, it’s true for anyone attempting to connect with an audience. Tip: It’s imperative that you develop the skill to read the emotion in the room as you step up to face their scrutiny. Every appearance and interview will be different, and though you have prepared what you hope is a dynamic presentation, be ready to make adjustments based on that first vibe.
Once you’ve published your book it’s time to step out of your author’s cave and mingle. Let the sparkle you possess on the inside shine through to the outside …
Speak up authors, and wow the crowd! … LinDee
Where to learn more about public speaking:
National Speakers Assoc. – local chapters help you learn and obtain speaking engagements http://www.nsaspeaker.org/
Toastmasters International – local chapters offer tips & techniques, and speaking opportunities
Advanced Public Speaking Institute – newsletter and list of free articles and pre-presentation checklist
Author Insider-Tips for Successful Speaking Engagements
Where to find public speaking opportunities:
Author Insider-Sources for Author Speaking Engagements
Writing and Publishing News by Patricia Fry – tips and opportunity ideas
Entrepreneur – though based on corporate needs, some good speaking opportunity thoughts, in general
Public Speaking Information – good information about speaking on the college circuit level
If you are subscribed to our daily blog, you already know how quickly blogging has become essential to social networking. We believe all of our authors should have blogs in order to market and promote their books to the world.
There are numerous reasons why you should be writing a blog. However, one of the key factors is that many people don’t know how to write a blog.
Therefore, this week I decided to give you all a brief and simple blog writing tutorial.
Ready? Let’s start with the two key questions that come up when starting a blog.
-WHO are you writing for?
-WHAT are you writing about?
It is important to focus on the WHO. Who do we want to attract to blog? Obviously, you want to attract your audience and potential readers/buyers of your book. Reaching your fan-base is your main goal. What you are writing about can vary from your book specifically, your genre, what other authors in your genre are doing, etc.
Here are some important things to remember when writing a blog:
- Articles don’t have to be extremely long- most are a few hundred words. Shorter is better—it’s all about putting in the maximum amount of information in the least amount of words. Average blog posts are between 500-750 words.
- Don’t be too sales-focused or talk all about the company and services.
- Make sure the info is interesting and relevant. Readers don’t like boring information. Sometimes adding a personal touch can help so put some of your own POV in.
- Use links. Support your post with links to sites that are contextual to your post.
- Use lists. (Top 10 lists, 10 things you don’t know about the industry etc.)
- Make sure to remember WHO you are writing for and to write like you are speaking to them.
- Make up a catchy headline and use KEY WORDS. (Key words are words that appear often and are the main focus of your blog. These help make Search Engine Optimization easier.)
- Spell check and edit!!
So now that you have finished your quick and easy blog writing tutorial- get out there and start blogging!
Photo by: openDemocracy
Not all daring ideas are winners. Many authors who have done local radio shows were approached by employees of the station with an offer for the “guest author” to have an hour long radio interview for a mere $350.
The authors were encouraged by the radio station representatives to find commercial sponsors or to pay for the hour themselves. If you do the math, you’ll discover just how many books you’d have to sell as a direct result from the radio program.
Another downer is that usually these “special sponsorship deals” aren’t aired in prime time. Prime time is considered to be during the rush hour, morning and evening drive times, when the greatest number of commuting listeners are tuned in on their car radios. Now just because they’re listening, that doesn’t mean they’ll be ordering your book.
Other costly “deals” to avoid are the ones offered by companies offering marketing services. These marketing services tend to be overpriced and their ability to deliver publicity and beneficial contacts with interested traditional publishers as promised is questionable.
Some of these services offer an introductory price of $799 for national radio advertising that they claim will air an author’s two-minute interview/commercial on over 270 radio stations throughout the United States. Then their price goes up to $950.
Once again you need to do the math to arrive at the breakeven point of how many books need to sell to earn enough in royalties to cover the cost of their services. They have also been sending out tons of spam. This is why it is extremely important for authors to be careful about the marketing services they utilize to promote their book.
V.P. Spoken Books Publishing, Dave Giorgio, January 10, 2011:
Have you ever thought about self publishing your book? With the difficulty in finding an agent and a traditional publishing deal, it's become a more relevant question over time.
Book publishing has long been an industry controlled primarily by book publishers. These publishers have mostly taken books from agents they trust, evaluated them, and made a decision whether or not to go forward with that book.
That particular system was not flawless, but it had merits based on a degree of selectiveness applied to each book. After all, in that model, the publisher would be putting a lot of money behind the book and expect no less than a fair degree of sales in order to recoup its investment.
But things changed a decade or so ago. The Internet, digital publishing, and a bevy of new publishers came onto the scene allowing an author to publish a book without any of the traditional process.
Whether this is good or bad depends on your perspective. If you believe that there should be a gate-keeping process in place for books and authors, then you might find this to be a negative. If you value the freedom the new technology offers, then you'll see it as a positive.
But one thing remains clear: If you self publish your book, no one else will stop you from being either great or terrible. It is truly on the author to be as demanding of his or herself as necessary to create the best possible book. No one else is going to step in and tell you that your plot needs work, or the editing is flawed, or that your book is too long. These are all things you must decide for yourself.
It is for this reason that publishers in the "self publishing" industry have begun to offer editing services to authors. In fact, the company that I work for, Infinity Publishing, now has editing offerings that cover grammar and punctuation, as well as advanced editing processes that dig deep into the writing on a conceptual and structural level.
It's a wonderful time to be a writer, as the door has been opened for any author with a book in hand. In the movie “Spider Man”, the lead character, Peter Parker, is told by his dying uncle that ‘with great power comes great responsibility.” I think that's also marvelous advice for any of us pursing writing on a commercial level.
Director, Author Services, LinDee Rochelle, January 13, 2011:
Are you in a state of cerebral suspended animation? Hovering between the mind-numbing activity of the Holidays and any real motivation to begin work on your new book? Want a kick in the astral imagination to jump-start your New Year?
The news that isn’t news broke Tuesday—Earth’s shifting axis over the years should have caused reorganization of our astrological signs to accommodate. However, we humans simply plow our starry-eyed heads back into the sand and continue to believe—or not—in our 12-symbol Zodiac system, as is.
Before extremists ruin our fun and destroy thousands of years of predictions based on our Sun Signs, below are my purely pleasurable 2011 parlor-game predictions. Though tailored for each cosmic sign, feel free to wander through someone else’s horoscope and use what feels good!
L’s Annual Horoscopes for Authors
2011, Year of the Rabbit ~ in a word: Endurance
Capricorn (Dec. 22/Jan.19)–Shake off the leftover champagne bubbles, oh stubborn one! Though you have a reportedly dozen more years for your butterfly to emerge, rock that cocoon with new writing ideas: January is National Clean Up Your Computer Month; I’ll bet you have snippets of ideas floating around in there, ready for your muse to pounce on.
Aquarius (Jan. 20/Feb. 18)–This is an unusually clear year for you—use it wisely! Make your new-found clarity work for you and apply it to those seemingly crazy ideas you had last year. This year, they just might work! By July—Freedom from Fear of Speaking Month—you’ll be ready to tell the world about your new book.
Pisces (Feb. 19/Mar. 20)–Ah, the fish are restless, leaping in and out of the water. Settle down, dear Pisces, keep a steady hand on the wave and your writing will surpass anything you’ve previously published. April 10-16 is National Library Week; head over and nostalgically research the old fashioned way, and network with the librarians. Is there a speaking opportunity?
Aries (Mar. 21/Apr. 19)–The answer is blowin’ in the wind—the winds of change that is. Be prepared Girl & Boy Scouts! Remember, you create your future, and this is a good year for you to publish your musings and epiphanies of 2010. Start now and you could be prepared for November’s National Novel Writing Month—or even the Holiday buying season!
Taurus (Apr. 20/May 20)–Ah, 2011 is a powerful year for a powerful sign. Go forth dear Taurus and create! You haven’t had a truly new astrological adventure since 2000—it’s time. Stretch your writing imagination—February is Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month—open your mind to possibilities and publish with confidence that your story needs to be told.
Gemini (May 21/Jun. 20)–Hello double-trouble! Wonder what’s in store for your writing muse this double-one year? 2011 shall prove to be your most creative year in decades! It will be nose-to-the-grindstone, but you will be rewarded for your efforts. Think creatively with new ways to publish—June is Audio Book Appreciation Month—if you have one, market it—if you don’t, maybe it’s time!
Cancer (Jun. 21/Jul. 22)–My dear Crabby Cancer (just kidding!), your shell overflows with change. You’re at a turning point and it’s time to solidify your writing path. Weigh your options carefully with Libran concentration. Envision your future and make it happen, through your writing. If you haven’t considered converting your book to an e-Book, do it this year—and march it around the media pot o’ gold for March’s Read an E-Book Week (03/06-03/12)!
Leo (Jul. 23/Aug. 22)–Leo, Leo, Leo—can’t you think about anyone but yourself?! (Kidding!) Seriously, 2011 will find the kingly (or queenly) beast discontented and moody until your creative juices urge you to lead the way through the Emerald City’s field of flowers—somewhere around mid-May. A great time to take advantage of the May 8-14 Reading is Fun Week!
Virgo (Aug. 23/Sep. 22)–You’ve had a tough couple of years, Virgos, but put to use what you’ve learned since 2007. 2011 offers more stability (in your writing and life). Though you may share dreamy days with Pisces, this year is best served honing your marketing skills—new release or old, find a hook for your book and get it out there during September’s Shameless Promotion Month.
Libra (Sep. 23/Oct. 22 –Patience is prominent for you in 2011, pensive Librans. Reduce the clutter and bring your writing back into balance with inspired, but cautious and consistent steps. For others, the dog days of summer may be too hot to handle, but smart author Librans could make the most of Bad Poetry Day, August 18th and Weird Contest Week, August 16-19, and consider sponsoring a writing contest for your community. (Good PR.)
Scorpio (Oct. 23/Nov. 21)–Aha, we Scorpios are due to be impatient (what else is new) but inspired, as this year marks significant changes in life, based on our writing. The only Zodiac shapeshifter, we’ve been reinventing ourselves (again) since 2008—from the stinging Scorpion to the majestic Eagle (on our way to the peaceful Dove). Known for its magic, October is a great month to spread our wings and soar like a ghostly spirit into National Book Month. Boo!
Sagittarius (Nov. 22/Dec. 21)–We’re full circle with the Archer aiming an arrow for the stars in 2011. It’s all in your mind, Sag. You have the power to free yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally—which makes for great writing! Use the year to explore where you’ve never gone before and author success will be yours by December 16’s National Chocolate-covered Anything Day. (An extra reward!)
In case you didn’t notice, each horoscope includes a national holiday of some sort—I’ll bet you could market your book for at least three of those holidays—if you start now.
Endurance is our key word for the year. Through all of the Sun Signs is a strong need to persevere, which if you have a passion for your writing, is an innate trait. Come December 31st, it will have all been worth it.
Have a great year, authors! … LinDee
[Disclaimer: We’re just having fun, here! Neither I nor Infinity Publishing lay claim to visions of the future or supernatural powers. Although I wouldn’t mind a day as Samantha from Bewitched so I could finish my own book! Heehee. Holidays gleaned from Brownielocks; Chart clipart; Scorpio clipart.]
Vice President Author Services, John F. Harnish, January 12, 2011
There were lines and longer lines of descriptive words, wonderful words, going on and on describing and diligently depicting in seemingly endless details each and every detailed word, explained nuances portraying the sensation stage where the lead characters in the novel are exchanging dialogue. Now those few essential words of dynamic dialogue are necessary to carrying the plot onward, but the eyewash of words overwhelm the mind with lingering images that usurp who is saying what about whom to who. The above is an example of an author grossly overwriting. The artistic passion for setting the scene messes with the spoken words at a critical part in the chapter.
It’s like watching a movie and the loud volume of the background music drowns out what’s being said by the leading stars—or the sound effects creating realism blasted out in surround-sound for the Hollywood magic on the screen is pumped up to such a high volume that causes the carefully scripted voices to be unheard by the audience. What did she say to him???
With a movie or a TV series the poorly done audio mixing could be blamed for the vast imbalance of the sound track, with many viewers left wondering what had been said that couldn’t be clearly heard. In the plot of the novel the artistic overwriting provides a clear and present risk of mangling the message of what’s being said.
Indeed it’s vital to keep a balance whenever you’re painting a word picture of the surroundings—but actually the creative challenge is to make a masterful frame that’s supportive of dialogue driving the plotline. You know the expression, the devil is in the details—too much detail devils the reader’s mind by providing the electrons of the brain with an overload. Fuses are blown, causing the twists and turns of the plot to be blown away. However, there’s a need for details to establish the creditability of surroundings and character development while massaging the plot along the way.
One way details are overdone is when the writer states the obvious, The murder happened on a dark stormy wet night that left the deceased victim dead. Most nights are dark, and stormy wet is an either or—both are a bit much, likewise the gloom of night. The murdered character is the victim, is deceased, and thusly is dead—using all three is overkill. With regards to, The murder happened, get real, parties happen, parades happen, weddings happen, bar fights happen, but murders are committed—in cold blood and in the heat of passion. Wordsmithing skills bang out the words to best fit the writing, and storytelling talents curtails the bedeviled details.
Once upon a time, Marshall McLuhan, a famous media guru of sorts, popularized the expression decades ago in the ‘60s, "the medium is the message"; and now, the media massaged message is medium-rare—done in by the ways of art, ah, artistic expression, the message is getting messed with and manipulated away. Sliced and diced into message cubes of political correction, wrapped in social awareness, and spoken in the silent language of the global village sameness—giving passing lip service to thinking outside the box. But the boxy device held in hand has become the focus point of a string of starkly abbreviated alphanumeric communications fleetingly exchanged in passing—r u cing it 2???
Text becomes symbolic words, the messengers are the medium, and messages have become the media—blogs are the quagmire of lost details, out of balance in favor of a quick and easy read. It’s only a matter of time before a complete novel is written in the cryptic alphanumeric code of word-speak that’s devoid of details. Balance is omnipotent!!!
Author Advocate, Brittany Lavin, January 7, 2011:
As I said in my very first blog, I grew up with dreams of becoming a published author. This wasn’t something I took lightly. I knew the odds were against me- but I didn’t want to give up. I’ve done my fair share of research of what it takes to get published. During my quest, I would see ads for author-originated publishing but I would only glance at them. At the time, they were just an after-thought. I suppose it was my own naiveté- my dream of getting picked up by a big publisher and being a huge success. I didn’t think of how limited I was being, or of the limitations I would come across.
Now that I work in the publishing industry I have a better understanding of the differences. So here is my understanding:
1. Rejection. I’ve said this before, but it’s one of the biggest differences out there. When you send your manuscript into a publishers or literary agent, they can reject you in an instant without any reason or feedback. This can be discouraging for many aspiring authors. In the self-publishing industry, however, aspiring authors can finally get their voice heard and their work is accepted.
2. In traditional publishing, you usually have to send your work to a literary agent before even getting to the publishing houses. You need the agent to talk your book up to the “big boys” and convince them to buy it. When self-publishing, there’s no politics or convincing needed.
3. Rights. This country is all about the rights of the people. In the publishing industry, they buy the rights to your book whereas in self-publishing, you keep the rights.
4. Content is King. When you give your life’s work over to a publisher, they can edit it how they see fit. They can take out that one part you love and worked so hard on. In self-publishing, you have final say over the content.
5. The main difference here is control. I’m not saying that traditional publishing takes away all of the author’s rights. I’m just saying that by publishing your work independently, you have more say in the overall process and more freedom to express your vision the way you want it.
In the end, what really matters is what you want and how you want your work to be presented to the public. The publishing industry is always changing and I know my understanding will change with it.
Director, Author Services, LinDee Rochelle, January 5, 2011:
Well, well, it’s 2011 and we finally made it to 1984. Have you seen the recent headlines? The Missourian broke the news late yesterday—“New Edition of Two Mark Twain Books Removes N-word” (Phillip Rawls/The Associated Press)—now before we get started, I want you to understand, this blog is not a cultural/political statement. My comments speak only to the literary ramifications of this controversial issue.
Having extensively read his works and biographies, I can feel Twain’s rage through the cosmos. But again, there are apparently enough opinions across the Internet about how Mr. Twain would react to this news, according to Rawls’ article, regarding Alan Gribben, a Twain scholar, for his decision to publish altered copies of Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.
My concern here is the moral, ethical, and perhaps legal, aspects of this project, as it applies to authors and publishing both then and now. Putting ourselves in Mark Twain’s heavenly shoes a century after our deaths, how would we feel about someone revising one word of our books for the sake of “modern” propriety? I know what I would say—don’t you *&%$#in’ dare!
We may not be able to separate the politics from the literary, but I’d like to give it a try. As the Missourian article said, “… Twain was particular about his words. His letter in 1888 about the right word and the almost right one was ‘the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.’” The politically charged underlying issue is the word itself, while I am speaking only to the act of removing or revising the word.
The questions then, are do we have the right to revise one man’s words, who can no longer defend his right to write them? Have we lost our capacity (or tolerance) to read a work in the context of its historical era? Does this open the squirmy can of worms threatening Freedom of Speech, past AND present?
Beyond that, are we tampering with ethics? And what about the pure history of it—we may not always be proud of our history, personally or as a society, but our shrinks have always told us we must look forward, because we cannot change the past. Or can we?
In recent decades when writing, reviewing or commenting on the nature of life, especially politics, I have often referred to George Orwell’s “futuristic” novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. It appears this sardonic statement was a few decades early, but we’re in danger of falling into its depths of authorship despair, much like the “memory hole” he created. As Orwell wrote, his job of literary destruction included newspapers, books, periodicals, pamphlets, films, sound tracks …
“The messages he had received referred to articles or news items which for one reason or another it was thought necessary to alter, or, as the official phrase had it, to rectify. … As soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number of the Times had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in its stead.” Slam-dunk. History altered. Um, rectified.
By the pure virtue of being human, it is extremely difficult for me to offer a strictly literary opinion—however, I will say we’ve worked hard as a nation to enjoy where we are today, which includes altered attitudes, and respect towards each other—not always accomplished, but obviously much better than a hundred or two hundred years ago. Unfortunately, we can’t simply scrub our history clean with a rubber eraser, or drop its atrocities into a memory hole.
Even before the First Amendment was added in 1925, the very nature of publishing sanctified Freedom of Speech. As Evelyn Beatrice Hall (under the pseudonym S. G. Tallentyre) said in her 1906 biographical book The Friends of Voltaire, “I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Write on, my friends … LinDee
Clip Art Credit: FCIT http://etc.usf.edu/clipart
VP of Author Services, John F. Harnish, January 4, 2011:
One of the original limitations of eBooks was after the purchaser finished reading the book on their eReader, the electronic version couldn’t be passed on and shared with a friend. I’ve always considered the ability to pass a book on to someone I know would enjoy reading it, to be an intrinsic value of the book I bought and paid for. On gift-giving holidays, my son would frequently give me a hardcover edition of the latest Clive Cussler or Tom Clancy novel knowing that when I finished reading it I’d share the book with him so he could enjoy the adventure story too. Throughout the years we’ve shared books with each other—and then my son bought an early iPhone several years ago!!!
Ugh, this ended our sharing of good novels, because once he downloaded an eBook to his iPhone it was trapped in there forever. Bummer. But I still received his gifts of just-released novels by my favorite authors.
In October 2010—thanks to some found money, I gave myself the gift of a new Apple iPad. I wanted to experience first-hand what this eBook revolution was all about. The first novel I downloaded was John Sandford’s Storm Prey. Wow, reading his novel on the iPad was very pleasant and sooo easy on the eyes—I bumped the text up to 12 point type with a tap of my finger on the screen. It did seem a bit strange to turn on the iPad to read the book, and of course remembering to plug the eReader in to recharge.
My next download in early December was Tom Clancy’s new release, Dead or Alive. Indeed, a very good read, but my thoughts while reading this highly entertaining novel was I hope my son doesn’t give me the hardcover edition as a Christmas gift; and wishing I could share the eBook edition with him.
Then on December 30, 2010—as if sometimes wishes do come true, I received an email from Amazon announcing their Kindle eBook Lending Program—and as part of my research to write this article I discovered Barnes & Noble had previously launched their LendMe program in June of 2010, along with the release of their new and improved NOOK Book eReader. Suddenly eBooks downloaded from B&N and Amazon were shareable!!!
They had successfully overcome one of the major shortcomings of eBooks—the inability to pass the book you’ve just finished reading on to a friend who you know would also enjoy the book. The lending programs are rather similar—they allow the purchaser of the eBook to email a free copy to a friend. The friend will have complete access to the eBook for 14-days—plenty of time to read a novel. However, during the 14-day period the purchaser will not have access to the book, but the friend receiving the shared book will have the entire book on their personal eBook reading device. At the conclusion of the 14-days, the lent eBook is back on the purchaser’s bookshelf and fully accessible again. This also solves the problem of shared books that are never returned by the borrower!!!
There’s a more expanded report on the ramifications of these eBook lending programs in the January issue of Infinity’s Author’s Advocate—if you aren’t a subscriber, you may sign up for a free subscription by visiting www.infinitypublishing.com.
It’s a new year! Why not start it off right in terms of your manuscript? If you’re like me, your resolution was to complete your manuscript and finally turn it in to a publisher or agent.
This is no easy task, as writers tend to be perfectionists. It can take years for a manuscript to be complete and even then, we never think it’s perfect.
Why not make another resolution in regards to your manuscript? Keep it simple! Don’t over-think.
Writer’s Digest has 9 must-follow manuscript rules. Some of these rules include revision, avoiding explanations, and making sure your details matter.
These are small, simple things you can do to enhance your manuscript.
Click here for more of Writer’s Digest manuscript rules!