Monday, August 17, 2009


I've been a bit distracted lately. Not that it's difficult to derail my attention span (oh, that's quite shiny!)

Now where was I? Sorry, I was distracted.

A few weeks ago, lot of things happened all at once and each got me thinking in a different direction. It all came out well the end, but it's been a tangential month.

First, I started getting offers for advertising on my blogs, which made me realize that:
     1) you don't have to be good or popular for people to want you to prostitute yourself, you just have to have been around a while, and
     2) I'm not in this for the money.

That second conclusion took a lot of thought, because it wouldn't have been a much work to pimp out my site and watch the money (pennies, I suspect) roll in, but that's not what I'm about (unless, of course, the price is right—I have principles, but I'm not stupid).

But this led me to thinking about what I was in it for, and I looked around at all the writing I was doing and thought, "Bugger this!" So I consolidated and pulled back and took a breather, hoping the idle time would recharge my batteries and leave me itching to write.

While I was waiting, a few incidents drew my attention to the fact that, although my ramblings are posted to a number of places on the web, I really do not write for the web, or, more specifically, what I do is not “web writing.”

Due to my years of writing for newspapers, my web posts generally run about 800 words, have a beginning, a middle and an end that ties back to the beginning; they are, in short, essays. So I began looking into the art of writing for the web, which means:

     - Short sentences

     - Bullet points

     - Lot's of white space

It’s USA Today style, but leaner. For people with even shorter attention spans. The ultimate expression of this, so far, is Twitter. I don’t want to go down that road. Consequently, I decided writing in “web speak” wasn’t for me.

So I continued waiting for my muse to return from holiday and thought, if I couldn’t write actual web-style prose, maybe I shouldn’t be doing all this web writing in the first place—I got into it mainly to promote my book but it’s getting a little out of hand lately—so maybe it's time to think about getting back to my novel and writing the type of prose I’m actually good at but then my writing magazine arrived in the post and I found yet another distraction: Googling the publishers of those people listed as having "published" a book to see if they had, in fact, self-published it.

This is something I started doing by accident and kept up after it became apparent that fully half of the people receiving congratulations on "publishing their first novel" had paid for it themselves. Congratulating someone for self-publishing a book is like congratulating someone for purchasing a new laptop; you're merely giving yourself an expensive gift.

I was gratified to find that, in this issue at least, each “published” author was, in fact, published.

However, I also found out that a new publishing company, Red Phone Publishing, is holding a contest wherein the winner gets a publishing contract. How exciting! The entry fee is £10 and you send in a description of your book, along with the first 50 pages of the manuscript and they let you know if they can publish it or not. They deserve a huge amount of credit for discovering how to charge unsuspecting writers for sending in a query package. Let’s hope other publishers don’t jump on this bandwagon.

I shouldn’t think they’d have to, as there are many other ways to bilking writers out of their money. comes at the hopeful author with a barrage of “you’re getting a raw deal” hysteria, then tells them there is hope, then tells them how much they’ll have to pay them for it. Basically, they self-publish your book for you; you’re better off doing it yourself. It’s cheaper.

So did my examination of my writing magazine leave me depressed? No, not at all. It proved I could easily see through the machinations of people out to separate me from my money—these were not ads, they were articles about supposed “great deals” for writers—and the absence of self-published “new writers” meant there actually was hope.

But most of all, searching out these newly published authors accidentally provided me with a list of small to medium publishers, most of whom take unagented submissions and who, obviously, are willing to take a chance on an unpublished author.

Now that’s the sort of distraction I like.

Word Count: 800


  1. Hmm...Yes. Very good. I wonder if I ever get advertisers asking me to prostitute myself. But as they say in that old joke...
    now we know what I am, let's establish the price! Haha

  2. I've been told, "sell yourself cheap, but sell yourself often" ;) I'm holding out for a better offer, though.

  3. Hi
    I self published a book of short stories. Not clever enough to do it any other way. Lost me money and do you know what, I regret nothing. writing's a big ego trip, more for some than others. There 'aint too much humility when it comes to writing. Good luck.

  4. Ken: There's nothing wrong with self-publishing per se, I just have an issue with people promoting a self-published book as if it had been picked up by a actual publisher. I self-published Postcards, but I never promoted it as anything but self-published. Now, of course, it has been picked up by a real publisher.