Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Fresh Stop

2011 has been a great year for me.  I have a good, solid novel manuscript in the hands of a terrific agent, I have recently finished the manuscript for Postcards From Ireland and, In June, I self-published More Postcards From Across the Pond, just to see if I could do it.  To accomplish this latter feat, I read Catherine Ryan Howard’s fine book, Self Printed and followed the model therein.
The results were most pleasing; it is a great looking book and has received great reviews, most of which called it better than the original, which was professionally published.  That was gratifying, but overall it is an experience I hope never to repeat.
I have talked before about my method for becoming successful at something; namely, find someone who is successfully doing what you want to do and do what they are doing.  I have done this over the years with good results, and I thought I was on to something when I began following Catherine’s blueprint.  But when it was over, I realized I was following the path for being a successful entrepreneur when I actually wanted to be a successful writer.
Now, being a successful entrepreneur is all well and good, and to be a successful writer, you have to have a little of that entrepreneurial spirit in you, but if your goal is to be a published writer, which is what mine is, then you need to follow the examples of other published writers.  Whether they have the entrepreneurial spirit or not, I expect Stephen King and Janet Evanovich enter “Writer” in the “What is your occupation” box, not “Entrepreneur.”
So I have singled out one or two writers (not Stephen or Janet) who I would like to emulate and have, as a sort of 2012 New Year’s Resolution, proposed to follow their methodology.
Here are some commonalities I have found among the professional, published writers I have chosen as templates for success:
  1. They don’t tend to blog about writing.  Instead, they write.  Their blog, if they have one, is to keep their fans up to speed on their latest work/appearances/successes, not to talk (or obsess) about how/why/when they write.
  2. They don’t write for free.  A guest post on a blog, sure, but a steady gig in an on-line (for profit) magazine that pays you in “exposure,” no.
  3. They write, they ask for peer review, they rewrite, they revise, they edit, they submit, and start again.
  4. They don’t self-publish; that would make them self-published writers, not published writers, and that is what I am aiming for.
I am not saying I’ll never self-publish again—I expect I will—but I’m just saying I don’t want to, not at this point.  I wish all the self-publishers the best of luck, but I’m going to follow the points listed above, and go on searching for a publisher.
Wishing you a happy, prosperous and published 2012.

Happy 2012

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reality Check: The Rise of Vanities

Just a quick post to clear up a bit of confusion that seems to be distracting some writer/publishers lately:
VANITY PRESS:Money from Author
If money goes FROM the author TO the publisher IN ANY WAY, that publisher is a VANITY PRESS.
I say this because a lot of agents and small presses and – with the Penguin Group leading the way – even mainstream publishers are scrambling for a piece of the self-publishing pie by offering “services” to would-be authors in exchange for publishing their books.  That makes them VANITY PRESSES.
Full Stop.
No Argument.
“But we offer services that will benefit the entrepreneur author in ways…”
“Ah ah ah.  Do you take money from the author in exchange for publishing their books?
“We charge for services, just like any business…”
“And an independent author can buy them, or not, from anyone and then publish their book as they see fit; but do YOU charge for these services as part of a publication package.”
“Our pricing policy is one that…”
“Ah ah ah!  Do you take money from the author in exchange for publishing their books?”
“Well, it’s not as simple as that…”
“Yes, it is.  Do you, or do you not take money from authors?”
“Okay, yes, we do.  Bu it’s…”
“No buts.  You are a VANITY PRESS.  Live with it.”
Just wanted to clear that up.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Writing at the Speed of Thought

I mentioned this blog post (How I Went From Writing 2000 Words a Day to 10,00 Words a Day) by Rachel Aaron in my last entry, but I wanted to explore the idea of writing fast a little further.
I write slow.  And like writers who outline versus those who fly by the seat of their pants, I think speed is something specific to individual writers: you are either fast, or not.  That said, I think we all have the ability to write faster, to a point, but no matter how good I get at slinging words on a page, I doubt I will ever attain 10,000 words a day that Rachel has.  I am just not made that way.
Writing fast is a relatively new concept to me.  Up until a few years ago I thought all writers took a year or so—or at least a few months—to write a novel, but then Joe Konrath noted that he wrote his books rather quickly.  This surprised me, and I took it be an anomaly.  But then Dean Wesley Smith startled me with the admonition that there was no excuse for not writing three novels a year.  His math was infallible: 1,000 words a day equals a 90,000 word novel every three months, leaving a month to revise and edit each one.  This model should give anyone ample time to write three novels a year, especially when he insists that the 1,000 words should only take you an hour, leaving the rest of the day to plot, plan and procrastinate as you see fit.
Dean’s wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, in her book The Freelancer’s Survival Guide, also recommends the 1,000 words an hour rate, but—and here is where it falls apart for me—she advocates doing this for hour after hour.  The basis of the blog post by Rachel, “How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day,” centers around that same idea: write fast, then write faster, and do it consistently.
I can, and do, write at the rate of 1,000 words an hour.  Much of my writing is done on the bus commuting to and from work, a trip of, coincidentally, one hour each way.  And in each of those hours, I generally produce about 1,000 words.  So that’s 6,000 words in three days, if I’m feeling inspired and I manage to get a seat.  I do not write that fast during my “writing at home” days, however, for two reasons:
Mainly, I don’t feel the pressure.  When my stop is coming up and I am in the middle of a thought, the words flow fast and free, but when I can wander into the kitchen and make myself a cup of coffee, or enjoy the sunshine out on the balcony with a beverage and a cigar, my daily quota tends to slip.
Dilly-dallying, however, can be overcome with a bit of discipline or a hard deadline, unlike the other reason I don’t write 1,000 words an hour on a continual basis: I lack the stamina.
Banging out between 5 and 6,000 characters on a keyboard every hour amounts to one and a half keystrokes every second, second after second after second for 21,600 seconds in a modest, 6-hour day.  Granted, at the end of that time, you’d have 6,000 words but, in my case (and in many people’s, I suspect) after the first 90 minutes the words wulod lok smoetinhg like tish and, if not totally unintelligible, would read like total shite.
Add to that the fact that I would probably have had a nervous breakdown after hour three and you’ll understand why I am not now, nor ever expect to try, shooting for 10,000 words a day.