Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Notes From the War- Writing, Publishing Advice

Now that writers have a number of options in ways to publish, some of them espouse one particular way above all others. They're adamant that their way is the best. If pressed, they'll provide ancedotes about why their method is superior. Some wag called this "Anecdata," a term I like.

If someone points to successful people who triumphed using a particular method, they may be using "survivor bias," which is when you pick only the successful examples to show how succesful something is. Here's a great article on it, also called "Why 90% of the advice about writing is bullshit."

There is no one way, but some people treat the differences like a holy war. Some traditionally published people won't even talk to people who didn't travel the same path to publication, no matter the reason. They see all self-published works as worthless. And a lot of selfers rant about the evils of big publishing, as if it was signing a deal with the devil. Hey, I've done a fair share of Big Pub bashing here on this blog, calling out the wrongs when I see them. Doesn't mean I'm totally against it-- it's right for some people-- I'm even counseling a writer I know to go that path with her manuscript.

This post has a great chart to understand the differences in publishing.

So let's all agree that choice is good, and everyone gets to pick their own path.

To lighten the mood, here's a funny piece: 10 Reason Not to be a Writer.

And I love this short piece by Walter Mosely on The Magic Of Pulp Fiction.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night

Well, better than that, I got to see him in person today. The writer of Heart-Shaped Box, Horns, and NOS4A2 was signing books at the local Barnes & Noble.

He read from NOS4A2, his latest. Good reading, with lots of vocal engagement and facial gestures. From the sample he read, it's a good, scary book.

Turns out he's wicked funny, too, as he took questions from the audience. He spoke of his family life, of growing up in a literary family and how that helped shape him.

While signings books, he was incredibly gracious and outgoing, posing for pictures and giving each person a moment of connection. He signed mine with a positive encouragement to keep up with my writing. So I gave him a copy of Halls of Horror. Maybe he'll find a story or two he likes. And I think he really liked the cover.

Here he is with my buds, writer Vlad Vaslyn and his lovely wife Jordanna.

Others in his family write as well. I got to see his dad talk back in December, another good event.

And I met a few other cool people as well. Great day!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Good Writing vs. Talented Writing and the Changing Pub World

Here's an interesting take- Good Writing vs. Talented Writing.

This article from Maria Popova is on the Brainpickings site, and The Passive Guy linked it and put it up.

There is "good" writing that is technically correct, but has no flavor, no zip, and no interest for the reader. Since I read a great deal, I find a lot of this.

I love to find a book that sucks me right in, and makes me want more like a junkie. That's the talented side.

What are your favorite books showcasing talented writing?

And what have you read recently that's "good" but left you cold as a reader?


In other news, here's an awesome article (also linked by The Passive Guy) on the Independent Book Publishers Association Publishing University in Chicago.

This is a must-read for all writers. A real eye-opener.

Quick bullet points:

The flaws in the traditional publishing model are everywhere. It is not a viable model.
(Holy crap, someone is saying this to publishers and not getting attacked!)

The future is global virtual distribution.

It is no longer all about distribution (that part is easy), it is now about discoverability.

This is the Era of Artisanal Publishing

The Myth of Big 5 Marketing Support
(Data point- my friend has a great book out from a publisher-- Chasing Alaska-- and he's having a devil of a time getting it into bookstores, despite rave reviews from prestigious industry sites.)

Yapping too much can kill sales.
(All you people relentlessly screaming "Buy my book" via social media take note.)


Monday, May 13, 2013

Help on Selling Books- and Recommended Book

Here's a bit of help for struggling authors.
How To Sell Loads of Books - My Approach by Russell Blake

This 27-point piece gives much good advice on just what it says. While Your Mileage May Vary, it still has something for most writers looking to sell their books online. Some of it is good, hard-nosed business advice that will cause some folks consternation (you mean we have to work? And think?). There are points of argument, but overall a great list that should be studied.

While waiting for copies of my latest Zack Taylor mystery A Shadow on the Wall to arrive, I'm currently listed on the Sisters in Crime website, with a cover of the previous Zack Taylor mystery, A Fall From Grace as part of their display. Very cool to get this up.

A friend of mine, Chris Bernard, has his new non-fiction book out: Chasing Alaska: A Portrait of the Last Frontier Then and Now. It's received a lot of critical praise already, and my copy just arrived today. Chris went to Alaska and discovered some long-forgotten roots in the guise of an ancestor who went Alaska exploring years before. So you get a feel for our largest state in the past and in the present.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Another Appearance

Had another great "do" today, with an author appearance at the Used Book Superstore in Burlington, MA.

Lots of interested folks stopping by, including the writer support crew- many thanks to those who took time out of a busy and beautiful day to come by to see how it was going: Ann, Ursula, Pete, Vlad, Jordanna. And my loving wife and daughter.

And thanks to the nice staff of the store, who had the setup all ready, and my brochures right by the front register! And to Elizabeth, for making this all possible, and seeing to it that their website had the notice up for all to see. Am hoping that success will bring more writers and readers to connect there.

Thanks also to Joe Ross of Rosstrum Publishing, publisher of my upcoming third Zack Taylor mystery, A Shadow on the Wall, who showed up to help out with promo and talking to prospective writers and book buyers.

Next appearance- talk and signing with author Vlad Vaslyn on Saturday, June 8th at the Haverhill MA library from 2-4.