Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

O.K., If You *Really* Have to, Go Ahead; Write a Book and Publish It . . .


Six years ago, when I’d finished my novel and went through what I’d resolved as the best way to publish (for me…), I was pretty freely telling everyone to write and publish—immediately, if not sooner…

Those six years have seen me do a massive amount of research into the reading, writing, and publishing Scenes—all so I could write this blog…

Before I share four articles that should make most writers think in some new ways, I’ll share just a bit of what I said back in May of 2013 from what I consider the Most Important Post on This Blog:

“An extremely small percentage of writers sell more than 500 copies of a book…”

“Yet, writers can find tons of posts and articles and web sites that are based on the mistaken conception that Any book can sell like hotcakes if the author will do X, Y, Z, and, if possible, D, U, and P…”

And, a quote from someone I quoted in that post, bearing on why I call it the most important post here:

“…in business school there’s this point made that if you interview rich people who have won the lottery, you might come to believe that playing the lottery is the only way to become rich. I thought that was interesting. One of the things I’m constantly trying to point out is that we’re not doing nearly enough to highlight both median and failure modes, because that’s where the real lessons lie. As for myself, I find message boards where new writers struggle to sell more than a few copies interesting, and where I harvest data about the low end.”

There’s much more of critical interest to all writers in that post; but, while I hope you’ll go there now and read it and take notes, I’ll finishing writing this post so you have more to consider when you return :-)

So, from the running-around-shouting attitude I had about the book world six years ago , I’m a bit more mature; mostly from having so many assumptions shattered on the rocks of the Truth about writing and publishing and promoting books…

I suppose I could say these next four articles are what I wish I’d read six years and one month ago :-)

First, I’ll share an article called, The Art of Receiving Criticism.

After relating her Before and After experiences of criticism (and, how she now Carefully selects who should give their opinions on her work), the author says:

“Oscar Wilde once commented that to critique a work of art means creating a new work of one’s own. Critique, in itself, is a form of artwork. We wouldn’t demean another person’s writing like we do their critique of our own work. Why should we receive it with any less openness than we would a Van Gogh painting?”

The next article I’ll share is called, Warning: Discoverability Dependency is Hazardous to Your Fiction Marketing.

Discoverability is the buzz-word for doing things to help folks find your book; and, some “experts” will hit you over the head with the idea—I can only suppose they want to scare you so you’ll believe it’s the Only thing you need to do…

A core idea from the article:

“…don’t use discoverability as an excuse to avoid human interaction or to be passive in your marketing. Seek out the right people, don’t just wait.”

The next article could cause quite a bit of resistance from some writers…

It’s called, The Myth Of Reviews, and details some compelling ideas about reviews Not being a magic pill for sales.

Here are two excerpts:

Here’s the thing: If you want more reviews, sell more books. Only people who read the book will review it. If you’re seeing more reviews, it means more people are buying your book.”

“My opinion is that reviews only matter in the edge cases – those situations where the potential reader is either on the fence or is looking for confirmation for the decision they’ve already made. If you haven’t hooked them with both the cover and blurb, the reviews aren’t likely to convince somebody to overlook that pair of sins and take a sample.”

The next recommended article is from a site called, Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity.

No excerpts for, Mega-List of Free Promotional Sites for Self-Published Books, since that title says it all…

And, if you want to give yourself some Bonus Credit, check out this post about what Jane Friedman has to say about Publishing (plus a few other important things…)…
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Did you know the image up there is an “ancient” printing press?
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
Visit The Story Bazaar

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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Writing as If There Were No Tomorrow


Today’s re-blog is about a writing task every single person should do…

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

marciabilykBy Marcia Krause Bilyk

After officiating at over two hundred-fifty funeral, memorial, and graveside services, I’ve asked the local funeral director to remove my name from his Rolodex. It’s time to let go of one of my favorite pastoral privileges: meeting with families of the deceased and writing eulogies based on the information and memories they’ve shared. I now intend to reflect on and write about my own life experiences.

You can’t conduct end-of-life services without being exquisitely aware of your own mortality. When I was newly married, I regularly updated my husband Ed on how I wished to be buried. I wasn’t concerned about homicide, suicide, or accidental death. As pastor of two small, rural churches, I was noticing how people were laid to rest, and I wanted to make my final wishes clear.

I’d tell him, “Honey, don’t let anyone put anything inside my casket.” I grew up…

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7 things you need to know about proofreading


Good re-blog today…

Share it with your writer friends :-)

Scarborough Mysteries

Today I welcome fellow author, David Powning, who is also an experienced copy-editor & proofreader, to guide us through what we need to know as writers about proofreading. Learn more at: www.inkwrapped.com and find out more about his novel The Ground Will Catch You go to: https://goo.gl/wtkdod (10% of the proceeds goes towards the struggle against breast cancer).

David1. Copy-editing and proofreading are not the same thing.
This foxes a lot of people, and understandably so, mainly because there is a certain overlap between the two disciplines. The aim of a copy-edit is to not only find errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation, but also to address issues around style, usage, consistency and repetition, among other things. In other words, it involves editing the text. 

A proofread, on the other hand, is the final read-through before publication. Its purpose is to look for errors and inconsistencies in spelling, grammar…

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Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Fifty-Three


For the Children

by
Alexander M Zoltai

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We’d travelled to the mountains—found the hidden valley—discovered the training camp…

The sun hadn’t risen yet, but would soon light the valley…

Our film crew was there to do a documentary…

The team had been carefully selected—no one with a record of government involvement…

The documentary was to be about the most fearsome terrorist organization in the world.

They, of course, did their own horrific promotion videos for the Internet; but, my reputation as an independent film-maker apparently gave me the highly questionable “privilege” of showing the world the inner workings of their main training facility.

We’d been cautioned to not film on the way in; but, now that we’d arrived, we scrambled out of the two four-wheel vehicles and immediately began creating the establishing-footage; during which, I couldn’t help but notice all the children—some teens; but, many younger—all carrying guns and ammo belts…

I told the team to focus on the kids—the swelling sunlight made some wonderful dark/light compositions…

We spent all day filming—wildly ripping through digital storage capacity—knowing this was a set of one-takes that would need very careful editing. We were assured by the camp leader that one of their outside agents would contact us in three months to view our finished product…

I kept urging my team to include as much of the kids as possible, even if we’d been instructed to interview various adults—angle the shots to include the children.

Near the end of our time, I was introduced to two of the children, not yet teens, and the translator began to relate their tale as the cameras rolled…

The slightly older one, a boy, began:

“We are fighting for God’s Cause—we have special training to infiltrate a tourist area in a major European city and become glorious martyrs for the Prophet.”

The younger one, a girl, continued:

“We have no fear. God is Great and we will receive wonderful rewards in the Next Life.”

Much more was said, all of it seeming to be desperate justification for what these young humans would commit…

We finished our work in the mountain valley…

We returned to our civilization and realized it would do no good to alert the authorities—we didn’t know which city was targeted; still, we passed the word to our military contacts…

But, there were exploding martyrs all over the world—it seemed there was no way to stop them…

Our one thin hope was that we would be guided in our editing to show a powerful sub-plot with the children as the center of the action—praying our finished documentary would meet with the terrorists’ agent’s approval—praying the exposure of the kids would spark international action…

We certainly knew how to get it aired all over the place…

We certainly didn’t know how to protect those children…

All we could do was help them become the tragic stars of their own treacherous tale………

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Read More Story Bazaar Tales

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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
Visit The Story Bazaar

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Got a personal story to tell… should you make it into a novel?


Not much I can say about today’s Re-blog…

It’s from Roz Morris…

It will be unfailingly Good :-)

Nail Your Novel

mona-1This week I’ve been advising a writer who wants to gather his professional experiences into a daring expose of … well, I’m not allowed to reveal that. But there is malpractice, corruption and a lot of harm being done to innocent people. Publishers have told him they’re wary because he doesn’t have a platform as an investigative reporter. Others have suggested that he could make his experiences into a novel. And that was one of the questions he asked me. Should he?

Obviously, if you’re going to embark on fiction, there are certain mechanics to learn – storytelling, character invention, show not tell, arcs, dialogue.

But this kind of book comes with an extra challenge. If your material is a true-life account, or a memoir, or an expose, you also have to change your attitude to the content. You have to be willing to change everything – anything – in…

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