Archive for March, 2010

30
Mar

Passion for Writing: March 30th, 2010

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in Passion for Writing

Tom Clancy: “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” (Quote borrowed from Plot to Punctuation blog)
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“Writing well means never having to say, ‘I guess you had to be there.’” — Jef Mallett (ditto)

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[On fantasy writing:] “It’s not enough to create magic. You have to create a price for magic, too. You have to create rules.” — Eric A. Burns (ditto)

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N.K. Jemisin wrote a liberating blog post about how writing exactly what she wanted to write propelled her to success: “I think The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms became my “breakout” novel (i.e., the one that actually got published, as opposed to the ones still sitting in my harddrive) because I stopped caring about what the market wanted … [conclusion] The lesson here is obvious: trying to write what the market wanted didn’t work for me. Writing what I wanted, did. Now, this is not to say that every writer should throw convention to the winds and expect success …”
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RT WritersDigest Pronoun Problems: “He/She,” “He or She,” or Just Plain “He”? http://ow.ly/16VLU4

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The AgencyGatekeeper blog has a nice couple of posts on the problem of overusing your protagonist’s name and/or pronouns for your protag. The problem. The solution given. My opinion? Moderation.

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Steven Erikson describes some of his approach to writing on A Dribble of Ink blog. The quotes were pulled from a series of blogs Erikson is writing at Life as a Human.

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Quick Book Learning blog on: New vs Mid-Career vs Senior Literary Agents: Which is right for you?

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Patricia Stoltey on the GLA Blog: 3. Networking is the most important reason to attend writers’ conferences. Volunteer to help with registration, moderate a panel, conduct a workshop in your area of expertise, or stuff goodie bags. Make friends. Also hang out with the authors, editors, and agents during cocktail hour. Don’t be afraid to talk to them. They (at least most of them) won’t bite.

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Moses: Tell me, who should I be following?

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Another stick of dynamite just went “boom” in the brave new world of ebooks (actually, this link is more detailed than the previous one).

Self-publishing authors will be able to offer their titles on Apple’s iBookstore for the iPad at almost no cost, potentially breaking down the barriers for independent writers who want to sell their work across the globe.

According to DigitalBeat, the self-publishing service Smashwords has signed a distribution deal with Apple to put books on the iBookstore, which will be a part of the iBooks application, available as a free download on the iPad through the App Store …

The e-mail from Coker also revealed Apple’s pricing rules for the iBookstore. Each title’s price must end in 99 cents (i.e. $12.99), and books can be priced as low as 99 cents. The price of the book must also be less than its print counterpart.

Author Dean Takahashi said users can submit their work to Smashwords through a simple process that involves uploading a Microsoft Word file, setting the price and deciding where the book is to be published …

Through the service [Smashwords], authors receive 85 percent of net sale proceeds from titles, or 70.5 percent of affiliate sales. The report said the cost to distribute a book on the iPad is free …

Apple’s iBooks application is compatible with the ePub format. Apple will also sell content from some of the largest publishers in the world, including HarperCollins, Hachette, Penguin, Macmillan, and Simon & Shuster.

Independent writers–that’s anyone who can type on a computer and upload a Word file–will be able to sell their books through the iBookstore and iBooks app via Smashwords, which will offer an overall 60% royalty rate to authors (normally Smashwords offers 85%, but that’s only directly through their own site). I’m not suggesting that everyone should start publishing junk and trying to make money that way, I’m only saying that at this time, it is very easy to get your works onto the Kindle store, iBookstore, etc.

Amazon made waves by offering a 70% royalty rate to indie authors starting on June 30th, 2010. As long as indie authors price their ebooks between $2.99 and $9.99, that’s the swell deal Amazon is offering. And without a doubt, the deal is really swell, considering that there are indie authors already selling thousands of books a month via the Kindle store. For more on that, follow JA Konrath’s blog.

Joe Konrath is doing quite well with his ebooks in the Kindle store (he expects to be making $10K/month come July), but there are also unheard-of new authors selling thousands of ebooks a month there, too. Look for stories like John Rector’s and Boyd Morrison’s, who parlayed Kindle success into traditional publishing contracts. Rector and Morrison are somewhat unusual stories, but those stories are also becoming more common. Konrath’s blog has featured others as well (especially in the comments).

Now Apple and its new homeboy Smashwords is luring authors, not with a higher royalty rate (60% vs 70% with Amazon), but by allowing authors to price their books at $0.99 or $1.99, which many authors have done on Kindle in order to generate more downloads and find more readers.

Oh, by the way: Authors don’t have to choose one or the other. They can easily be on Smashwords/iBookstore, as well as Amazon/Kindle.

The conventional wisdom remains that aspiring authors are best served by trying to publish traditionally, but the independent alternative to the conventional approach keeps getting more and more interesting, and without a doubt that trend is rapidly strengthening. Owning the e-rights to your books forever, while more and more people are buying ereaders like Kindle, Sony, and iPad (and Kindle books can be read on any computer, anyway), does have its allure.

It’s also worth noting that Joe Konrath has discouraged aspiring authors from going indie right off the bat [EDIT: See April 7 Update, below] and encouraged new writers to seek a literary agent first, but at the same time Joe has mentioned that he’s unsure of whether or not he wants to give up the erights to his future books because he knows from experience how valuable they are, and how valuable they will be.

If you want to hear from someone who argues well for the future of indie publishing and walks her talk, check out Zoe Winters.

So tell me, what do you make of all of this?
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UPDATE (April 7th, 2010): Joe Konrath has, to some degree, changed his point of view on self-publishing ebooks. On his blog today, he makes a strong case for authors retaining their e-rights. In practical terms, this likely means holding onto all rights, since publishers are (to put it mildly) reluctant to give up those rights. Yes, this would mean that dreaded thing which shall not be spoken of in serious writing circles: “self-publishing.” You may want to wash your hands now.

I asked him the following in the comments area on his blog:

What kind of advice should an unpublished author draw from your recent posts, Joe? Get an agent, publish traditionally, get your name out there, and then (based on today’s post) go indie with ebooks and POD once you think you can sell enough books that way?

Joe Konrath’s response:

I’m hesitant to give advice on this. A month ago I’d say get an agent and traditionally publish. But I was just on the phone today with a friend who has been traditionally published, and I warily cautioned him to look at the numbers before accepting any new offers, because he could potentially make more money on his own.

This blows my mind, BTW. I did NOT expect to ever be a cheerleader for self-publishing.

But numbers are numbers, and my predictions for the future of ebooks have 1 full year of data to support them.

So, hell, I don’t know what to tell you, Moses. I do know this for sure:

Everyone needs to make up their own mind. You need to follow your own path, based on your experience and experiments.

Experts are fine to listen to, but no expert (me included) should be considered Gospel.

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UPDATE April 9th, 2010. Sounds like Joe Konrath is probably going all-in with self-publishing his future novels as ebooks. Check out his post.

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29
Mar

Passion for Writing: March 29th, 2010

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in Passion for Writing

Neil Gaiman, from The Guardian: “The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like.”
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RT AdvicetoWriters “Carefully examined, a good–an interesting–style will be found to consist in a constant succession of tiny, unobservable surprises.” -FORD MADDOX FORD
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RT @agentgame Okay, I’m just going to say it: I find romances between teenage girls and men who are hundreds of years old to be creepy
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RT @agentrobert Writers. Do you know how many of your published titles libraries buy? Great customers, those libraries. We need to fight to keep them sound.
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5 Commonly Misunderstood Things on Twitter (I learned a couple of things from this)
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From Kirsten Hubbard: A nice blog post on the art of just enough character description–also the art of doing so in first person)
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A while back, Nathan Bransford posted a nice top ten list called “Ten Commandments for the Happy Writer” (as a Moses, I am rather fond top ten lists, even moreso in this case for obvious reasons):

4. Don’t neglect your friends and family. No book is worth losing a friend, losing a spouse, losing crucial time with your children. Hear me? NO book is worth it. Not one. Not a bestseller, not a passion project, nothing. Friends and family first. THEN writing. Writing is not an excuse to neglect your friends and family. Unless you don’t like them very much.
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Because of increasingly common self-publishing success stories, Nathan Bransford has one of the best assessments I’ve read about whether or not to self-publish. Should You Self-Publish? Ten Questions to Ask Yourself. His take is quite fair overall, but here’s my favorite line from him, taken out of context: “Much like pimpin’: self-publishing ain’t easy.”
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Stolen from Nathan Bransford: “Take it away, Coach Taylor!!!”

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28
Mar

Passion for Writing: March 28th, 2010

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in Passion for Writing

Larry Brooks: “Make sure your story comes from a place of passion, that it deals with something important to you, that you have something meaningful to say about it through your characters, and that isn’t remotely a storytelling-by-the-numbers proposition that allows you to meet a critique group deadline.

Ask yourself if you could write only one more story before the plug is pulled, what would it be? Why is this important to you? If you can’t answer that question, go into search mode for that answer.

A clever story idea isn’t enough. Even when well executed. The weight of your story, on multiple fronts, is what will elevate it toward greatness. ”
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RT @agentgame If you really don’t care which agent you get, you’re doing it wrong.
_____________________________________________________________________________ Elana Johnson writes about where to spend her social networking time as an aspiring writer, and which types of blogs make the most productive use of her time.
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Victoria Strauss on the Writer Beware Blog (“First Novel Sales: The Data”): “Writers dreaming of overnight success should get set for a long haul. The time it took respondents to sell their first novels ranged from 0 to 41 (!) years, but the average was just over 11 years. (It took me 8).”
_____________________________________________________________________________RT @agentrobert Trend seems to be male leads in some paranormal romance and romantic suspense novels. New writers should stay trad. however
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RT @RonHogan “Great thing about having an acclaimed 1st book is the quality of your rejection letters gets so much better.” http://is.gd/b4kyx
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RT AdviceToWriters You can’t make a living being a poet, but you can make something of a living traveling around the country talking about poetry. -MAXINE KUMIN
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Another from Victoria Strauss on the Writer Beware Blog:

Three things publishers don’t know about the digital future (which platform will win? How many people will actually read ebooks? What impact will piracy have?)

Four things publishers do know about the digital future
(yes, people will read from screens. Yes, change will happen; the race is on, even if we can’t know how it will turn out. Yes, other content industries have been “knocked sideways” by the Internet, so there’s no reason to assume publishing will manage better. Yes, digital is the future of book marketing.)
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Moses: Tell me folks, who should I be following on Twitter? Which blogs should I be reading?

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27
Mar

Passion for Writing: March 27th, 2010

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in Passion for Writing

RT AdviceToWriters “Find out what your hero or heroine wants, and when he or she wakes up in the morning, just follow him or her all day.” -RAY BRADBURY

Moses: Have you read Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing? It’s the most inspirational book I’ve read on writing, with the possible exception of … On Writing, by Stephen King. My heart goes all mushy when I start thinking about Ray Bradbury. Zen in the Art of Writing isn’t the kind of book that makes you want to write to be a success story, it’s the kind of book that just makes you want to write because you LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the creative process of storytelling.
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Laura Resnick wrote a guest blog post on some of the things  authors can control, and some of the things they can’t: “Few aspiring writers realize it, but talent is surprisingly common. What separates professional writers from the pack isn’t talent, but instead qualities that are more unusual: perseverance, skill, and brains.

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Agent Anne Hawkins says: “ If I could give unpublished authors one piece of advice, it would be this: Learn as much as you can about the publishing industry, how it works, and who the players are before beginning the query process. Publishing is a quirky business, and things often happen in a nonlinear fashion. The author who adopts a learn-as-you-go philosophy runs the risk of making costly, even disastrous mistakes.”
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RT GrammarGirl is thinking that most fiction sounds pretty silly or formulaic when you describe it in just one or two sentences.

RT BrandonSandrson @GrammarGirl That’s especially true with fantasy. Try describing Lord of the Rings in one sentence and not make it sound silly!
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Moses: Tell me folks, who should I be following on Twitter? Which blogs should I be reading?

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25
Mar

Moses’ YouTube Channel: SciFiFantasyBooks

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in YouTube Videos

My new YouTube Channel (SciFiFantasyBooks) now features interviews with authors Brandon Sanderson, Eric Flint, and David Farland, as well as video of the Mosecian himself reading the first chapter of the work in progress. You can subscribe to the channel to get updates for future broadcasts.

Here’s my Facebook Note about my recent trip to L.A. where I recorded the interviews.

This blog is brand new, as of March 25th, so I’ll be changing it quite a bit in the coming months.

Moses Reads from his Work in Progress, an Epic Fantasy Novel

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