Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

How to Cope With Getting Emotional After Writing the End of Your Story #writers

Today’s re-blog may seem like an overreaction from this writer; but, I can attest to similar feelings when I finished my novel :-)


Writing the End of Your Story

The idea for this blog post came to me after I finished writing the final epsiode of the Diary of Roxy Collins series(to be published on my blog in the next few weeks) and I was left an emotional wreck.

I was sobbing, reaching for the tissues, blowing my nose loudly and making whimpering noises as I wrote the final scene.

After wiping my eyes I quickly nipped onto a Writer’s Facebook group and posed the question – am I the only one who feels like an emotional wreck after writing the end of a story?  It seems I am not alone.

Here are some reasons why you might find yourself lying on the floor sobbing your heart out, after writing the final chapter of your story:

  1. As a writer you live through the eyes of your character so by the end of a good story you both will…

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Credit Where It’s Due ~ #TraditionalPublishing and #SelfPublishing

Regular visitors here know I’ve been covering the Traditional Publishing beat (this post will be in the collection at that last link…).

But, I’ve given space-preference to Self-Publishing.

You probably know that there’s been a Digital Book Revolution; but, if you haven’t been involved in deep study of the Book World, you may not have noticed how it can appear that traditional publishers are in the position of a critical need to adapt or die

And, it can certainly seem that those publishers are in as much denial as the folks who think there’s no climate change

Still, it was the old guard publishers who gave most of us the books we’ve treasured (unless you happen to be under the age of 20 and got into e-books very early).

So, I’ll work backwards into what got me writing today:

There was a man named Leonard Shatzkin who passed away in 2002.

He was one of those legendary figures who is said to have been “…responsible for innovations that became industry practice…”.

He seems to have been best known for a particular book he wrote, In Cold Type: Overcoming the Book Crisis.

Here’s one significant excerpt:

“For every copy of a hardcover book sold at its normal retail price, one book is sold as a remainder— a book that goes from the publisher to the remainder dealer for less than the cost of producing it and with zero income to the author. No other industry can make this claim.”

Continuing to back into what got me writing this post today, Leonard had a son, Mike, who’s referred to as, “…a widely-acknowledged thought leader about digital change in the book publishing industry.”

In an article about his father, Mike said:

“…the percentage of titles that don’t even recover their direct costs is rising. It is actually getting harder and harder to publish new titles successfully, even if the standard of success is lowered…”

O.K., now I’ve backed all the way up to what got me here today—Mike’s recent article, The Reality of Publishing Economics Has Changed for the Big Players.

I’ll share just a few excerpts:

“In the 1970s….With five thousand individuals making the decision about which books to take, even a small minority of the buyers could put a book into 500 or 1000 stores.”

“Now there are substantially fewer than 1000 decision-makers that matter. Amazon is half the sales.”

“The agent who was confirming my sense of these things agreed that the big houses used to be able to count on a sale of 1500 or 2000 copies for just about any title they published. Now it is not uncommon for books to sell in the very low triple digits, even on a big publisher’s list.”

And, for me, the most telling statement in that article:

“This is a fundamental change in big publisher economics from what it was two decades ago. While the potential wins have become exponentially bigger than they were in bygone days, the losses have become increasingly common. And while it is still an open question how well anybody can predict sales for a book that isn’t even written yet (which is the case for most books publishers acquire), there is a real cost to getting it wrong, even when the advance being paid is minimal.”

I find it interesting that Leonard, the father, was edging toward digital publishing when he died; and, it’s said about his son, Mike: “His insights about how the industry functions and how it accommodates digital change form the basis of all of the company’s consulting efforts.”

I, personally, feel that Traditional Publishing’s struggles with the Digital Revolution will tell the tale of whether they’re somehow reconciled with Self Publishing; or, they pass completely away

For those whose work demands a close and deep look into these territories, Mike Shatzkin’s Space on the ‘Net would be worth close inspection
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On Writing: Go for the Long Vision

Today’s re-blog holds a Wealth of clues about how to become a devoted writer………

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Patrice Gopo Patrice Gopo

In early March, I send a note to one of my writing teachers. “I’ve been frozen with my writing since I finished [that] essay… I have a low-grade thought in my mind that I’m done, I’m finished. I’m not going to be able to produce another essay I like that much.”

I think of the pages of nonsense mounting in my composition notebook. I focus on the feelings of dissatisfaction that ripple through me after a writing session. And I remember the excitement I woke to weeks before when I knew I had a viable project forming, taking shape, and moving toward completion.

What happens when something reaches the end and the next thing refuses to emerge? What happens when everything new I write embarrasses me and makes me wonder how I could be the same writer who wrote and submitted that finished piece? Have you ever been…

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#Publishing ~ Good and Bad

I’m going to report on three articles today—three views into the workings of today’s Publishing Industry… 

First, David Gaughran‘s piece, How The London Book Fair Helps Vanity Presses Exploit Newbie Authors.

An excerpt:

“The most prestigious event in the UK publishing calendar, the London Book Fair, welcomes predatory operators with open arms, deliberately positions them opposite author events for extra cash, and then helps to whitewash their reputation – even running misleading interviews and puff pieces on its own website to help them get more leads.”

David’s talking about what are called “Vanity Presses”.

They pretend to be regular trade publishers; but, they lure a writer in then attempt to trick them into paying exorbitant fees to publish their book.

This is extremely different from a writer who chooses to pay certain fees for services to help them Self-Publish.

It’s also very different from Traditional Publishing, where the writer (if providentially accepted) pays no fees; in fact, is given a cash advance

Two more excerpts:

“I’m sure many of you are angry about this – and you have every right to be. This is the leading event of the UK publishing industry, and one of the most prestigious in the world. And the London Book Fair is not just allowing these guys to appear, but it’s actively generating leads for exploitative services, and directly engaging in PR efforts on their behalf to make them seem like legitimate publishers.”

“The deeper I dig – five years of this, let me remind you – proves that these guys are central to the industry, and that whole swathes of the publishing establishment is geared towards separating inexperienced writers from their money in incredibly dishonest ways. And we never even talk about it, let alone take action.”

That’s the Dark Side

Now, for Jane Friedman and her article, The Publishing Industry in 2016: A Status Update.

“According to Nielsen Bookscan, for print book sales (primarily traditional publishing sales):

  • During the first quarter of 2016, frontlist adult fiction sales were down by 17% compared to 2015
  • During the second quarter, they were down by 4%
  • First quarter backlist sales were up by 4% compared to the prior year
  • Second quarter backlist sales were up by 9%”

Then, this:

“…the picture became more clear when the biggest New York publishers released their financial results for the first half of 2016—compared to the prior year:

  • Penguin Random House (PRH): sales down 10.7 percent
  • Hachette Book Group USA: sales down 6.6 percent
  • HarperCollins: sales down 2.5 percent
  • Simon & Schuster: sales down 3.5 percent”

One more excerpt:

“For Penguin Random House, the CEO said the shortfall was related to ‘the absence of newly published megasellers’, as well as the  poor performance of ebooks in the United States and UK. Helping make up for the losses: steady print book sales and audiobook sales.”

There’s a lot more in Jane’s article (especially about Amazon…); but, I’ll leave it to the folks who Need To Know to go read both Jane’s and David’s full articles

Finally, there’s an interview between Jane and Joanna PennPublishing Trends In 2016 With Jane Friedman—where Jane talks about “empowerment”; which, to me, clearly means Self-Publishing:

“There is a class of author who I think is more empowered. But I don’t think the emerging writer, the person without any credits to their name, are they more empowered? Not necessarily. But there are lots more options and paths for them if they educate themselves.

“But in that first book contract, if they choose traditional, it’s hard. It’s as hard as it’s ever been.”

So, three articles, lots of opinion, some facts—just like Life-in-General—Some Good, Some Bad, Educate Yourself………
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5 things I didn’t expect when I released my first novel

Because my short novel was published 5 years ago; and, even though I’ve already done a bonus post today about Banned Book Week, I give you Roz Morris in re-blog, about her 5-year-old novel—which I read and deeply appreciated…

Nail Your Novel

It’s five years since I released My Memories of a Future Life. I actually hadn’t realised it was that long ago, but Facebook has an algorithm that nudges you to repost old updates. And recently it gave me this:


Still, I wasn’t feeling especially retrospective until I happened upon this post by Caroline Leavitt at Jane Friedman’s blog, which talked about a few realities of author life.  And I thought: yes. Releasing that book marked a big change. A set of new and unforeseen challenges.

Model posed in ornate costumes: in black pressed pleats, with top hat; standing tip-toe on champagne bottle Pic from Wikimedia Commons

1 Lovely reactions – which will wildly delight you

My Memories of a Future Life wasn’t my first book. I’d ghosted lots of titles (more about that here), so I was used to seeing my work bound between covers. I’d also published the first Nail Your Novelbook, and knew how nice it was to get feedback. But…

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