Monday, August 9, 2010

Mother of God--You call That Writring?

Now.  Before most of you come after me with a lynch-mob and a chain-gang and any other hyphenated nouns, hear me out.

With all of this self-promotion going on lately, it's afforded me the chance to read a lot of blogs, announcements, excerpts and simple posts to many, many, *sigh* many boards, and one of my predictions seems to be coming true:

While self-promotion has opened the door to many reputable writers now being able to publish backlists of titles that they couldn't sell for a song and a pizza coupon to most publishers, it's also created a backlash of schlock now available for human consumption on the market.  And two things jump out at me from this:

  1. Those who seek to publish with a DTB publisher for the prestige, will get, to borrow a phrase from a fellow writer, not shagged, but shanked.  You simply cannot dip your toe into the water of DTP while looking down your nose at it.  And if the only reason you're doing it is because you already have that prestige from a large publishing house,  It's not some accessory a serious writer can put on or remove on a whim.  It's a serious, hard way of life if you wish to be successful.  And here's what doesn't make sense to me:  why bother giving away your eBook royalties at 4-10% if you can skip the middleman and simply publish it yourself for 70%?  Why go through all that bother with a major publisher, if your intent is simply to garner a name for yourself?  Hey--ask JA Konrath about that.  I knew him before he was anybody from our online writing group, and every now and then when he had time to pop in, he'd gladly share his experiences as a freshly-minted author, and trust me--it wasn't all roses and bank accounts.  So what if he had book tours, advertising and press releases backed by Hyperion?  Guess what?  And he'll be the first to tell you--HE was the one that still had to write over 700 letters to libraries notifying them of his books and seeking reading day privileges.  HE was the one who had to constantly stay in touch with his agent and make sure his titles weren't sitting on shelves collecting dirt.  My point, is that while he may have seemed to be the golden child with the backing of a large publishing house with a lot of reach, still HE was the one responsible for a lot of what he accomplished, so don't think eBooks are just an afterthought for the writer who happened to kill another tree before they came along.  Because they're quickly accounting for a large part of North American book sales, and now with Amazon UK, sales in Europe.  Mr. Konrath may be making not only his mortgage and the rest of his bills now with his eBook sales, but he worked incredibly hard to make the system work for himself, which is another thing that's got publishers hopping mad at him.  I say go for it, Joe! 
  2. With the onslaught of schlock, comes the onslaught of schlock writers.  Hey--that crap has to come from somewhere.  Already today, just this afternoon, I've seen a horrible, horrible book description that ranted more on Kindle vs. NASA (??) than it ever did with what the book was actually about, and an excerpt from a novel series that looked as if it could've been written by a very crazy-smart fifth-grader.  I realise we need to keep books on a general reading level, but my point is that this sweet, well-meaning man could've taken his writing a little more seriously and hired either a professional editor--which most ego-driven writers will not shell out money for--or at least located either an online or real-face writing group where he could've work shopped this thing and gotten it in working order.  But, you could tell he edited the thing himself, and it made me sad.  This guy had probably ten other titles to his credit, mostly all fantasy, which I just don't read, but you know he and his sweet wife from the deep south had big dreams of him becoming a novelist.
In addition to that retina-singeing circus, I've endured posts from people wanting to be serious writers who have no clue how to spell, use a comma correctly, or even simple grammar, and this was just in their discussion posts!  Listen up:

If you waste your precious time in posting to boards and blog comments so as to get you noticed as a writer, then for cheeze's sake, take pride in yourself by learning how to spell-check (If you're so learning-disabled you can't spell.  Dictionaries are a marvelous invention.), use correct spelling and grammar (It's called online Strunk & White--never goes out of style), and stop, OH MY GOD stop, using texting in your messages.

Yep.  That's been my day.  An amalgam of bad spelling, lousy grammar, and writers interchanging "their with there with they're" and not knowing the difference!  And me, with a type-A personality and an activist spirit, well, it's been a hard day of decisions as to whether (Not weather) I should kindly approach them and correct them, or, be passive and lethargic, and simply bitch about the problem and not lift a finger to help make it better, all so I won't hurt their feelings.

So.  What do you think?


  1. Some fascinating posts, Carla. I've been wanting to take this writing thing more seriously since my book actually started making some money on Kindle (sadly, with almost zero promotion on my part), and your blogs have been informative and entertaining.

    Thanks for taking the time to put these up.


  2. Good advice. Do you have any books available on the Kindle?

    I'm also a stand - up comic, where are you based out of?

  3. Hello Chuckles (Is that your real name? :D),

    I really appreciate your comments, and am glad I'm finally getting some followers. Feels good.

    In response to Cmac's comment, which may be of interest to you as well, yes, I have 4 titles for download right now on Kindle, with new ones being added all the time--it's just taking me some time. I'm also trying to get titles up on Smashwords as well.

    I'm in Nashville, TN. Where are you?

    Thanks for commenting guys.

  4. Hi Carla,

    Yes, Chuckles is my real name. I had cruel parents. Could be worse, my brother is named Gas. No, it's Chuck, but since writing a comedy novel a buddy of mine started calling me Chuckles, and it kind of works for me. Takes me back to Mary Tyler Moore and makes me feel like comedy classic. Or an idiot. Either is good.

  5. Cool! How far along are you with the novel, and what is its theme? I'd be happy to offer some critique if you're in the market for that sort of thing.

  6. I'm always in the market, but it's already printed and on Kindle (since 2008). I had it professionally edited, and he gave me some notes and suggestions, but at the time I knew nothing of writer's groups, or the like. I'm struggling through the next 2 (struggling with time, not love or energy). I'd be happy to share those as I get them closer to completion.

    My first book (and only, so far) is Like Warm Sun on Nekkid Bottoms. It sells modestly well--about 200 copies a month with no promotion or work on my part so far (again, time and knowledge of what to do). It has 14 positive reviews, one moderate review, and one angry one-star review. On the whole, a big win for me.