Tag: self-publication

Self-Publishing Self-Critique

Simmering on the back burner is something I’ve been working on for over a year. It’s relatively complete. It’s got a beginning, a middle, and (in my opinion) a pretty cracking end. I’ve gotten people to look it over and agree it’s at least decent. And yet it sits there. It simmers. It waits.

Because it isn’t ready yet.

Cold Streets is going to be my second self-published novella. And as veteran self-publisher Chuck Wendig will tell you, there’s nothing second tier or ‘minor leagues’ about it. While you don’t have to go through the rigors and the wait and the hoops of the traditional publishing model, part of the trade-off is that the onus of the actual publication process is on you, the writer. You have to be your own PR. You have to be your own editor. And you have to be your own critic.

Despite the good words from my test readers, regardless of what polish and improvements I plan on making, the fact of the matter is, I am the sole arbiter of quality when it comes to what I write. And if something I’ve written isn’t good enough, it won’t see the light of day. That’s why I shut down Godslayer, and it’s why Cold Streets continues to simmer. I want to publish it, sure – it’s decent enough to warrant that – but I don’t feel it’s quite good enough yet.

They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. With Cold Iron, I held back on lining up the cover and arranging publication until I felt it was ready. And even as I fired it off, I felt there were things I could change about it. But it was prepared, and worked over, and good enough for other eyes. It may not be perfect – most of my work may never be perfect – but it worked well enough to earn some decent sales and good reviews. Cold Streets needs to be better. It will be, but it isn’t yet.

That’s the price we pay for publishing ourselves.

Well, that, and paying for talented folks to help us with our covers and whatnot.

Book Review: Revenge of the Penmonkey

Courtesy terribleminds

You know those books about writing out there? Novels and Groupies for Dummies? The Idiot’s Guide To Being The Next Stephen King? How I Did It by Stephenie Meyer? That’s amateur hour. Kiddie stuff. On the battlefield of serious writing, where the freelancers struggle every day to make something happen, to feed themselves through words, to put bloody words on the page, they’re the armchair generals.

Chuck Wendig, on the other hand, is down in the trenches, right next to you, asking why in the hell you weren’t issued booze and an iPad along with the spades to dig your foxholes.

Revenge of the Penmonkey is the third book of writing advice he’s put on Kindles, and the veteran status of his work shows. This is a guy who’s been through the wringer. He’s struggled, hand over hand, one word at a time, to carve out his own place as a storyteller and an iconoclast. He doesn’t just show you how to make it as a novelist, short story writer, freelance penmonkey and menace to society – he shows you why.

He gives you a “day in the life” entry that puts any office experience to shame. He explains in exhausting, knuckle-popping detail why your action scenes need to jump up, crane-kick and actually mean something. He shows you why self-publishing that limp piece of purple prose in your hand is a really, really bad idea. And he explains why he can say as much as he does with as much authority as he does. He’s been there, man. He’s seen the enemy. Looked it in the eyeballs. And it’s us.

Read between the lines of Revenge of the Penmonkey, moreso than his first two advice books, and you’ll see what Chuck is really trying to tell us, what he wants to scream at us while shaking us by the lapels: Snap out of it. The words won’t write themselves. Nobody can tell your stories but you. Forget the fact that the market’s flush with the kind of thing you want to do. You can do it better. You can. But you have to take the first step. Write the words. Make the magic happen. Get off your ass. DO SOMETHING.

The fact that he laces his heartfelt plea with anecdotes, the praises of gin and bucketloads of profanity is, really, just icing on the cake.

Kindle-ing

Courtesy The Next Web

The story of how I acquired a Kindle is best told in person, so it will not be reiterated here. Having spent about a week with the device, I can safely draw two conclusions about it:

Yes, it’s a great way to get books & stories to people on the cheap with convenience and a bit of flair.

No, it will not replace printed books.

In a bit more detail, e-readers like the Kindle have made it easier than ever for people to both produce and acquire new stories to enjoy. The readers (the people, not the devices) can access libraries of books, reams of text, from just about anywhere, even on the 3G-less WiFi versions. Catering to a wide variety of tastes and interests just like your local bookstore does, without the hassle of actually travelling to and from said store while balanced with a lack of things I’ll get to later.

As for the writer, those interested in making a foray into self-publishing have never had it more easy. You can finish a final draft (or what you think is a final draft), set a price point, hit Upload and BAM, instant readership. Only that’s a lie. You need to promote the work yourself, without the help of others from a publishing firm or an agency. And speaking of agencies, unless you hire an editor (other than your mother) it’s unlikely you’ll get many favorable reviews to help drive your sales. This is also a problem for those authors that do edit their work, because for every well-polished gems there’s at least a couple dozen unrefined turds sitting in the e-store. Which leads us back to promotion and marketing of one’s own work. Self-publishing’s been discussed more extensively elsewhere, so point your eyeballs in this direction for more on that.

As to why the Kindle will never replace the actual printed word, as much as I appreciate the convenience of firing up the device to pick up Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake exactly where I left off, I do find myself missing the heft, the reality, of a real book in my hands, especially when it’s a book on the Song of Ice and Fire scale. Sure, it’s more convenient for flights and busses and whatnot, and this might be yet another indication that I’m quite the old fart, but the weight of an actual text is something of a comfort. I’ve been interested in the written word for as long as I can remember, and as much as I’m glad to see technology like the Kindle around, I’m not going to give up buying actual books any time soon.

After all, when December rolls around and the cataclysm takes place that rends modern society asunder, we won’t have much power for Kindles and we’ll need to rely on old-fashioned dead trees, won’t we? And not just for reading.

I say we burn the books of Stephanie Meyer, Richard Knaak and Glenn Beck first. Gotta cook our post-apocalyptic mutant rat steaks somehow, right?

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