Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Perfect Novel?

There is no such thing as a perfect book and the more you work to make a book perfect, the more you turn it into a polished stone with no character or voice. Leave your book rough, leave your voice alone, mail the book to an editor or indie publish the book and do another.
There is no perfect book. Never has been, never will be. And you certainly won’t write the first one. Sorry.

The immortal words of Dean Wesley Smith.  I hear from so many corners that one needs to spend an inordinate amount of time on editing, re-editing, checking for continuity, grammar, grammar, grammar, spelling, etc. before your book is ready for publishing.  The interesting (or perhaps funny) thing is:  I can find any "normally" published book that has errors of one sort or another in it.  By normal, I mean traditionally published by a print publisher, not having the author self-publish.

Why is this the case?  Why do people feel the need to harp so much on the supposed need to spend all this time reviewing and editing your novel?  I'm really not sure, but I'm getting more than a little peeved about it.  Look, I'm going to do the best that I can, and that's all I can do.  That's all that you can do.  That's all that anyone can do.  There is no perfect book, but there sure are a lot of popular books.

I've heard plenty of people bemoaning the fact the Stephanie Meyers books are so popular.  Why are they making a big stink about it?  Well, supposedly it's "bad writing".  Perhaps it is, perhaps it isn't (I haven't read them, so I have no opinion).  But if people are happy with it, and are choosing to spend the money to purchase the books, why should anyone care?  From what I can tell, it's because they think that she's somehow "dumbing down" the profession of author.  I get the impression that they somehow try to outdo each other in lifting their noses higher than the next person; a sort of snooty contest, in other words.

People are also picking on John Locke and his success.  I've actually read a chapter or two of one of his more recent titles, and I've got to say, while it might not be my most favorite series, I can easily see where people love it.  It's a great escape, full of larger-than-life characters and situations.  I should be so fortunate to be just a quarter as successful as he is.

Every published writer has to go through the stage of the "first novel".  It won't be perfect, the characters might be a tad two dimensional, the story line might be a little thin or contrived.  But the fact is, they've accomplished something that the vast, vast majority of people in this world will never do:  they've written a full novel.  These first-time novelists will continue to learn and hone the craft, but that doesn't mean that they will never have an error here or there.  Many people find James Patterson (among many others) and his writing pretty bland, but that doesn't stop him from selling tons of copies.  From what I can see, those people who are finding fault with all of these bad novels and stories that are out there probably are jealous.  They are jealous of the fact that someone finished a novel, they are jealous of the fact that someone else thought it was entertaining, they are jealous that they are enjoying some modicum of success, both personally and professionally.

Get over it!  You can't control what others do, so why are you complaining about it?  Are you hoping that someone will do something, that they will stop all of these "non-authors" from putting out their works?  I actually saw someone propose (jokingly, I'm sure, but I bet there's a bit of hope from them that it happens) that there should be a law against people putting out crap.  REALLY?!  Wow...just, wow.

To those that wish the crap would just stop, I say - shut up and work on your own shit!  To those that feel that they need to keep editing and re-editing, I say - do what you can (take pride in what you are doing, and do it right), and then put it out there, imperfections and all, and get working on the next story or novel.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In The Not Too Distant Future...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Books Still Rule!

The vaunted ereader device....subdued!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why Don't People Get It?

I've been hanging out in various writer/author/publisher/etc. groups on LinkedIn for a while, and there's one persistent issue that still gets me going: why don't more people see what's happening with publishing?

Yes, there are thousands and thousands of authors, agents, and publishers that DO get it.  They are embracing the changes that are happening right now, on nearly a daily basis it seems.  They are adapting to the new world, and doing well because of it.  What I mean is:  they understand the power of the ebook.

Ebooks, regardless of your love or hate for them, are here to stay and are a growing portion of the publishing industry.  The group that has embraced this new technology, with the various ereaders that are out there (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, and many others), are indie publishers.  These people are running like mad to take advantage of what this sea-change in publishing means.

What does it mean?  It means that no longer will an author have to wait months and months (like 12, 18, 20 or more months) to see their work available to the public.  It means that no longer are agents and publishers the ones that will decide what the public will be able to see; now, readers themselves will vet the books, and the ones that are good will be read by many, while those that are poor will be read by few.  It means that authors will finally be able to make some real money, and there will be more authors that will be able to make a living off of their writing.  It means that books can be discovered over the course of years, if not decades, rather than having to make all of their sales in just a few weeks and then disappear.

You know what also fits the above mold?  POD, or print-on-demand, books.  Yes, if you really like a book, you can still get it in paperback.  Even years after it was first published.  And a bookstore doesn't have to physically stock the book, and will only produce one when its sold.  Have you ever heard of the Espresso Book Machine?  It will produce, from blank paper and card stock, a completed book, printed, bound and ready to read, in 10 minutes.  Think about that:  10 MINUTES!  This is a proven concept, and will become more prevalent in time.

The old guard of publishing is going away, sometimes with a fight.  As an author, now is the best time to be an author in at least the last 40 years, and probably more.  As a publisher, think about all of the great books that you couldn't publish because you didn't have the capacity or you weren't sure if they would sell.  Now, you can see what readers want, and you've got a track record from the indie publishers who are selling hundreds, if not thousands of copies of their novel each MONTH.

Wow, what a time we live in!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 235th Anniversary, America

Congratulations, America!  235 years being the home of freedom for the world.  If you haven't read the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, do yourself a favor and take some time to read them.  They are short, but powerful, and will give you a greater appreciation for what was passed down to us from past generations.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Snowflake Method - Step 5

First off, my apologies for having this latest entry on the Snowflake Method be so long in coming.  Life gets in the way, etc., etc.  Anyway, on with the show!

So, we are now to Step 5 of The Snowflake Method.  This is, technically speaking, the half-way point in the 10-Step process.  However, realistically, you are more like a quarter of the way through your efforts to write your great novel.  I don't say this to be a downer or otherwise dissuade you from continuing.  I just want you to realize that there is still a lot of work left for you to do, and each step will get progressively longer to complete than the previous step.  But, like before, each step will help you expand on your story idea, and get you to the finish line - a completed first draft of your novel.

Step 5 builds off of your work from Steps 3 and 4.  Step 5 has you writing a (roughly) one-page story synopsis from the point of view of your main characters.  For you minor characters, you would do just a half-page.  This will be a really fun step to go through, because you will end up learning so much not only about your story, but about your characters as well.  Things will really start to come alive now that you are putting your characters into the story, plus you get to see things from their perspective.

This step will take a while, especially if you have a number of characters already.  But, don't think that these only have purpose to your story.  They can also be used to help weave a highly intriguing story summary that you can use as promotional materials for your book, on the back cover of your print version, in descriptions for your ebooks, and more.  I know that going through this step with my main characters helped them to become more personal to me, more real.  I understood them better, and could really see how they would interact with each other and their surroundings.

As with previous steps, I'll give you a little bit of an example from my current novel-in-progress.  This is a paragraph of the character POV synopsis for one of my characters, John:

The set of coordinates with the key ring bring them to a small, old, run-down church. John tries to convince Sammy that they should stop, but he eagerly unlocks the padlock on the front door and goes in. The inside of the church is no better than the outside, and birds and other animals have started making it their home. The only thing that stands out is the untouched Bible on the rotten pulpit at the front of the church. Sammy starts to look around the pulpit and the Bible, wondering how it got there and why, when a trap door opens where he is standing behind the pulpit and he falls in.

Labels, labels, labels....

I had always planned on gathering my growing list of posts together in various groupings, but I wanted to wait until I actually had a small selection from which to review and assign labels/tags.  Well, today is that day.  So, you can easily find my opinions on writing, some humorous postings, my entries for the Snowflake Method, and others.  Enjoy!