Thursday, January 31, 2013

Editors: Needing, Wanting, Getting

Writers need editors, good ones, to make the work better. Too often in this day and age, editing is not giving the pre-eminence it deserves.

The big traditonal houses cut many of their long-term in-house editors (and thereby their own throats), which may one of the reasons so much coming out of the big houses is absolute crap.

BUT-- you say, those books are on the (voice of awe) New York Times Best Seller List.
Well, big whoop. Doesn't mean they're good, just that someone said they sold a certain amount in a brief period of time, in what may well be a rigged game.

I point out that fast-food places sell a lot of pink-slime burgers laced with ammonia, but few would claim they're haute cusiine.

It's getting to the point where if a book claims to be a best-seller, it's got a good chance of being a steaming pile of pony poop. I continually see stuff that wouldn't pass my local critique group, yet it's touted as "quality" from a curated system.

Where are the story editors, the line editors? Heck, some books even lack the basic copyediting.

Why is this so? Because editors, especially good ones, cost money, and the big houses are about profit. So they skimp now, and it shows. They'll squawk about the poor editing of self-publishing-- and they're right-- but they should clean up their own backyard as well.

So the question keeps getting asked- how do you hire a good editor, and what kind of one do you need?

The answer lies in the post of Kristine Kathryn Rusch in The Business Rusch: Hiring Editors.

Says it all. Go read, and learn. She is the wise one.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rising of the Trolls

To live is to war with trolls-- Ibsen

They have a cave troll-- Boromir, The Fellowship of the Ring

In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. The noun troll may also refer to the provocative message itself, as in: "That was an excellent troll you posted."
 -- Wikipedia

I don't understand the desperate need of some people to comb websites looking for places to take a dump on someone. But they're out there, waiting to pounce. I found some.

When I was starting out in getting published, just over a year and a half ago, questions were raised on a writer-help website, Absolute Write, about the new publishing company Briona Glen, the one I'd agreed to publish with to get their business started. Legitimate questions were raised about an unknown, but got added to with a lot of unfounded conjecture, and assumptions. So I signed on, to post my experience, provide information, and hopefully clear things up.

What I found was the Internet equivalent of the Fox channel, where you go on, and everyone on the show tells you you're wrong if you don't agree with them, none of your experience is deemed relevant, and they denigrate and deny any evidence you provide. You espouse a multitude of approaches, and are accused of partisanship, while they refute things you never said.

Since I have no problem with a healthy debate, I laid out my reasons for the path I'd taken, saying that here was another method. You'd have thought I told them their children were ugly.

I tried to be civil and informative, really I did. But the responses went from snarky superiority to downright rude, to outright falsehoods. My loving mallet of correction (thank you, John Scalzi) went unheeded, as the discussion went further afield. Every word I put up was pulled apart, twisted, and flung back at me, while laughably incorrect statements on their part went completely unremarked upon, sliding through like a greased weasel. The one-sidedness was soon apparent.

It was as thought they couldn't parse simple paragraphs, and I got tired of making corrections. I realized I was in an echo chamber, where the whole intent was to bash a viewpoint they didn't agree with (while accusing me of being intractable and dogmatic). So I signed off, wishing them all well, and bade them adieu.

So what prompted this screed, after all this time? The publisher has undergone changes and changed their name, and the bored, under-employed trolls emerged from their caves to bash the long-dead horse yet again.

And one particularly odious, over-self-promoting twerp couldn't help taking a few swipes at me, giggling in their glee that I hadn't stuck around to be their pinata.

Well here's the lowdown, Sparky-- I have better things to do. Like write and publish.
Here's my priority list-- family, day job, writing, promotion.
You and your ilk of eternal argumenters don't even make the scale.
Most of those spending an inordinate amount time to tell me I didn't know what I was doing had posted thousands of times, on that site alone. Thousands.
The time they spent in their self-congratulating circle-jerk could have been spent writing ten books or more-- but they'd rather tell real writers why they're on the wrong path.
Yeah, way to prove your point.

Suppose they're right-- say I didn't know what I was doing, took the wrong path, and have ruined my writing career.
Then look at my publicity page:
And this year: acceptance into prestigious anthologies, including a "Best of."
A regular radio guest spot talking about writing (and do any of these turkeys have the sand to call in and tell me on air I don't know what I'm doing? Oh, please do. Heh-heh.)
Multiple signings and talks and shows featuring my published works.
Interviews on television, radio, newspaper, and Internet.
Voted as "One of 50 Great Authors You Should Be Reading."
And my professional brochure that I hand to bookstores, libraries, readers, with my 8 published books, really shows at a glance what a failure I've been.

Maybe they're right-- maybe I should have foregone all the cool stuff and publication and positive reader feedback, so I could have gone their path, and instead waited for my publishing lottery ticket to win, where the magical pub fairy would have descended from the heavens with a gentle anointment of popularity and wealth.

Nah. I live in the real world. They sneer at my path, but I believe I already have more published works than any of them. As the water on thier sinking ship wets them ever higher, I row by in my homemade boat, laughing my ass off. Whatever floats your boat.

It's fine if you researched a path and made a choice that benefitted you. But to tell other people they don't know what they're doing if they take another path is wrong, and that's what they did.
And no, I don't have time to go back on and engage in endless, meaningless debate with people of a locked mindset who won't listen.

They can post another five thousand remarks, while I publish another 5-10 books in the time they took to say why that wouldn't work.

For those who want to be tortured, here's the link-- and really, if you read the whole thing and tell me I was a complete, unschooled dick, please back it up with evidence, and I'll listen.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Self Publishing Reasons

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

For your consideration-- here's a great article from Guy Kawasaki on the Top 10 Reasons to self-publish.

In other news, edits are still proceeding apace on the third Zack Taylor book, A Shadow on the Wall, with a release date in February.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Great Editing Advice

Hello again.

Since I'm editing the third Zack Taylor book, A Shadow on the Wall, I thought I'd share some advice from a book I'm currently studying: Stein on Writing, by Sol Stein.

Amazing editing tips on how to make your writing rise above the mediocre to the awesome. If you're a writer, get this book, learn it, and live by it.

Here's one note from E.L. Doctorow that I love:
"Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader, not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon."

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Shadow of Your Smile

I hear you say "Where have you been?" It's been a posting hiatus.

Because I was all hunkered down in writer-mode, banging out a completed draft of the third Zack Taylor mystery, "A Shadow on the Wall."

No showers, food hurled across the transom, shrieking fits at odd hours, all to finish the book.

Well, finish, in the sense of Stage 1...

Now we begin the heartbreaking fire-trial of editing. My team of editors has also been working feverishly to process the steaming chunks I've been throwing their way. Now we must turn dross into gold.

There are parts of it that are good. Some even damn good. But it doesn't get released until it's all good.

And that, my friends, takes time and effort.

It's one reason I don't have patience for those who put up unedited books online for sale. If it hasn't been beat up by someone who doesn't care if you cry or not, it ain't ready. Guaranteed.

Editing and critique is what separates the pros from the wannabes. It's why the traditional publishing world still clings to their vaunted, outdated positions, because at least their books went through an edit.
Sure, many of the books still reek, but at least they've been curated!

So my team and I work hard to make sure the end product isn't a big, smelly diaper. It will be a beautiful, powdered, sweet baby, and you won't be able to resist. You will have to read it!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Mystery Writers Unite!

I'm now a proud member of the national organization Sisters In Crime, who are dedicated to helping mystery writers. Sure, their primary interest is women mystery writers, but they're very welcoming to the menfolk.

Am looking forward to promoting even more good authors in the coming year.