10 Obsolete Myths

Here is something I found from Anne R. Allen’s wonderful blog,  10 Obsolete Beliefs That Can Block Self Publishing Success.

I file this under stuff writers need to hear. In this case they need to hear again just to make the point come across. Of all these beliefs the only one I might have issue with is number 3. Personal Appearances are very important for the self published writer. I agree, as the post says, care must be taken to explore the cost of the appearance against what you can hope to recoup. Some would argue that presence is everything, but unfortunately you can’t run a business on presence alone. You can sell more books in a month by making appearances just be sure to not spend more than you can hope to sell. While that $500 table sounds like a good idea at an event like Comicon remember your’s is just one small voice in that dealers’ room. It is very easy to fade into the buzz and noise of the place and that just leads to disappointment.

We are in new territory, and the way things have always been done is no longer the way to get things done. One constant remains though. If you have any hope of selling your writing you still have it in your power and must, I repeat, must ensure that what you are selling is the best writing you are capable of delivering, then get an editor and make it even better.

Monkeys Need Not Apply

monkey selfieI noticed this story on The Register that made me scratch my head. US Copyright Office rules that monkeys CAN’T claim copyright over their selfies I don’t personally know many monkeys but I guess some have tried to copyright their selfies. The skeptic in me sent me looking for some corroboration and I did find several news sources reporting the story. Actually the regulation states that the rights to such photos only reside with humans. I know animal discrimination at its worst.

Said is Dead, Or Is It?

While strolling across the blogosphere I came on Heather Squires’s website that had an interesting graphic. Said is dead. The graphic is a handy tool for alternatives to using , “said.” While I agree in principle that no reader wants to stare down a whole page of, “he said, she said, he said.” Equally taxing would be a page of, “he stated, she replied, he mumbled, she questioned.” There is no need to raid the thesaurus every time you want to write some dialog. Like anything else in life a little bit will do you.

The goal of writing good dialog is keeping the reader on track as to who is saying what. Throw in some thoughts and this can become quite a challenge for even the best writers. I find it most effective to blend in actions. To break up the dialog and cue the reader in to who is speaking without relying on a said or any other word. For example…

“Do you know where the scissors are,” Dad asked.
“No,” Kim replied.
“Of course. Nothing is ever where it’s supposed to be,” Dad mumbled angrily.

Let’s try that same exchange but with a little bit of action.

“Do you know where the scissors are,” Dad asked.
Kim looked up from her book, “No.” Then went right back to reading.
“Of course. Nothing is ever where it’s supposed to be.” Dad mumbled as he stormed out of the room.

Now this is just a simple example and in a longer bit of dialog the writer would mix up actions and expressions along with said, asked and so on. The goal is to keep the reader aware of who is speaking but at that same time giving them something interesting to read. So remember, “said,” may or may not be dead, but to keep your writing off of life support explore the alternatives and mix things up.

Great Time Had By All

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The first Summer Author Event was a success. I met new readers and had some interesting discussions. It was quite an experience being in a room with so many people who have such a passion for reading. It did my heart good when asking people, “so, what do you read?” The most common response I recieved was, “a little of everything.” The good news for those people is this is the best time to be a reader as the choices are so numerous. The event featured authors from multiple genres so there truly was a little of everything there. The next event is in the planning stages and I plan to be there. Possibly with a new book.

Is Amazon a Monopoly?

Amazon-iconDepending on who you speak with Amazon is either already a monopoly or working real hard at becoming one. Truth be told, I do a lot of shopping at Amazon.com, not just books, but electronics, household items, even clothes. The selection is unparalleled, prices are affordable, and delivery is quick, when using Prime. Do I wish them continued success? Sure. Do I want them to become a monopoly? No.

Much continues to be written about the ongoing spat between Amazon and Hachett Publishing. I’m on the side who wants the market to dictate eBook prices. Right now that appears to be Amazon. You can read their position here. Though many traditionally published authors remain on both sides of the argument, what Hachette is demanding is higher eBook prices, plain and simple. They want to set eBook prices and pay Amazon a share like they do in the iTunes Store. A practice, I might add, employed by Apple to lure publishers away from Amazon. Amazon wants to continue working like any other wholesaler, buying the books at one price and selling them for what they decide is a fair amount. Is that evidence of creating a monopoly?

Granted if Amazon can afford to sell eBooks cheaper than anyone else can they will be on their way to becoming a monopoly by attrition. That is where the Kindle in all its forms comes in. The pricing on the Kindle, however, suggests the opposite. Those devices are offered at an inexpensive price to drive eBook and media sales. So all this talk about monopoly is at best a cautionary warning and at worst pure fear mongering. My opinion is that right now and in this particular case Amazon is doing what is best for Amazon. If that means eBook prices stay “reasonable” then it is a benefit for consumers. If it gets to the point where a monopoly is looking like a real possibility then my opinion may change. Let me know what you think in the comments.

It’s At the Library

Something that I think independent writers overlook is the possibility of getting their books in their local library. Whether or not this results in future sales is open for discussion but at this point it simply comes under the topic of affirmation. I have my books available in the Avondale Public Library and at the Estrella Foothills High School Library and get a warm feeling when I see them on the shelf. The link below is an interesting article with some tips on getting your books on the shelf at your local library.

http://valleybookblog.com/libraries/how-to-get-your-books-into-a-library/

Is There an Echo In Here?

One thing I struggled with and that I see pop up in new, and not so new, authors’ works is repeating themselves. It almost reads as though the author second guesses what they wrote and wants to make sure the reader gets the intended idea. For example look at this passage.

Meatloaf again? Why did it have to be meatloaf? Of all the culinary catastrophes Dammon’s wife unleashed on his gastrointestinal tract her meatloaf had to be the worst. Damon really hated meatloaf.

We get the point this character really hates meatloaf in general and his wife’s meatloaf in particular. For the reader, at least me, it slows things down. I get the sense that I really would prefer the author just getting to the point.  Couldn’t one of those sentences conveyed that message?

Of all the culinary catastrophes Dammon’s wife unleashed on his gastrointestinal tract, her version of his most hated dish, meatloaf, had to be the worst.

One sentence, message complete, and the writing is much leaner. Granted I am just using this example to show off a worse case but many times our writing can use a good trimming and this kind of repetition is a perfect target. In most cases it is just a matter of good editing. One of the surest ways I have found to spot these things is to read my writing aloud. Good copy editing is also the surest way to catch all these as well. In the heat of writing we will often over write and it is far easier to take away than add. Just remember to watch out for sentences that repeat the same idea just in a different way. Your readers will thank you, and you may save a little on your page or word count.