Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Independent Publishers

More Conversation About “Genre” . . .


Genre My new “mode” of blogging isn’t all that old, so I’m very grateful the last post had as many comments as it did—when taking baby steps, a few more than none are to be treasured…

Plus, I recommend reading that first post in this particular conversation—Blog Conversation About “Genre” Writing . . .

What I’ll do this time is bring each comment into this post and follow it with my own ideas and feelings…

First one:

“I think ‘genre’ is a term fostered in modern times by publishers who found it easier to market their books to readers by putting them into recognisable categories. This way the publishers can develop a marketing approach for a wide number of folks who are placed in one huge niche. But if an author has their own individual niche and if there are too many of these individual niches the publisher will have to promote each one of these separately in a more individual way…the publishers often imagine that readers want to be told which blanket ’niche’ a book fits into – not that the book is unique and different and exciting in a new and indescribable way, that sounds unmarketable, because they don’t know how to present it. But which book, as a reader, would you go for?”

This comment is most interesting to me since it comes from an author who’s been traditionally published. The idea of “genre” is so ingrained in the book world’s culture it seems like a “given”—perhaps like thinking cappuccino is a “given” in the order of nature…

One reason I recommended reading that first post in this conversation is because I’d shared the etymology of “genre”, which included this: “Used especially in French for ‘independent style.'”

If it’s truly independent, it could hardly be something that mobs of other people slavishly copy…

One important note: When you self-publish, you can afford to avoid cramming a unique work into predetermined “genres”.

Next, a long but engaging comment:

“Genre is definitely a funny thing.
I myself find that I prefer stories that, at first glance, feel very different from the world I live in.
Whether it’s fantasy, sci-fi, suspense/horror, or comedy/romance, I prefer stories that take me to far away places.
And yet, underneath those cosmetic differences, the characters struggle with the same issues, and often come to the same conclusions.
I think there’s a way in which genre is often what initially draws us to and keeps us reading or watching a story, but whether we are satisfied afterwards speaks to the underlying patterns that are common to all stories.
I’m of the opinion that any strong story could be adapted to any genre, if you understand that underlying pattern of character identities, primary conflicts, and universal meaning(s).
The classic, to me, is how many of Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted to countless frames; ranging from high school to outer space.

“I think a lot of it is in response to how many stories are out there, and audience’s need to quickly and easily narrow down the range of possibilities.
My unconscious wants to see two characters clash in a brilliant display of swordsmanship, while my conscious mind wants to find complex meaning in that simple sword fight.

“I’ve definitely heard some authors discuss how they have to choose whether they want to thoroughly play to the horror genre or the “slice of life” “everyday relationship” genre. There’s that way in which artists first have to win the trust of the fans with conventional storytelling, and then, once they have a name, they can, if they feel comfortable taking a risk, step out of their prior patterns and try something new.”

I’m glad they said genre is funny…

To consider that the “story” of a work isn’t part of its “genre” is brave thinking…

As far as the reason for genre existing so folks can “quickly and easily narrow down” what they intend to read… Perhaps this is a result of genre being instituted by traditional publishers, then readers becoming used to it, with it then changing the way they choose books—culture shaping people instead of people shaping culture…

Next:

“I always have to put ‘General’ for my novels as they contain romance, crime, elements of a thriller, humour, and read like mini-sagas. The nearest explanation I have had from reviewers is that they read like ‘soaps.’ What genre would you call that?”

I told that reader that I’d call it “YOU:-)

Finally:

“Best expression I’ve found for my first novel is mythopoetic. The adventurous story unfolds as an odyssey, containing universal conflicts every reader can relate to, but mythopoetic is not a recognized genre. I had to use ‘fantasy’ as the nearest fitting genre, though the story evolved from deep roots of the imagination. Fantasy and imagination are not the same thing. Ib’n Arabi pointed this out centuries ago.”

I told this author that they could consider using “N/A” for the genre; but, then, I’m sure they chose an existing “category” because of “marketing” considerations…

I believe that self-publishing will more than likely supplant traditional publishing as the most common way to deliver a book to readers; and, readers are way more intelligent and adept than traditional publishers seem to believe—way more able to think outside any boxes the Big 5 impose…

Sure, there are plenty of folks who obediently read whatever the Big Brother publishers tell them they should read; but, addictions can be cured; and, self-publishing is re-educating readers so that they can be their own gatekeepers—choose they own particular brand of reading, satisfy their unique needs, take charge of what they use to fire their imaginations…

Also, Independent publishers would be more nimble and able to adapt to self-publishing’s tendencies toward infinite genres…

If each person expresses their own unique “kind” of personality, why can’t each book do the same?

My favorite fiction author is successful in a genre-world; but, to me, her books are all brilliant independent works of literature…

And then, there’s my best friend’s first novel, shoved into “Detective and mystery stories” by her home country’s National Library; when, in my review of it, I found it to be, “…a quilt of meanings that evoke many levels of feeling—moving in space and time to mine yet more meaning… pulling one’s heart into the events, attracting the mind to fresh thoughts about sadly well-worn topics…”.

Perhaps a book can be “categorized” by what it does to the reader rather than what the publishers use as a “hook” to lure profit for their stuffy conglomerates…

Care to comment and move the conversation forward…?
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Still Hoping to Get a Book Published by the “Big 5”?


If you’re not sure what the title of this post means and you’re a writer, you just might be safe from a maelstrom of difficulties. Myths of Traditional Publishing

Regular readers of this blog know I lean toward self-publishing; and, to edge toward full transparency, I would only let a traditional publisher near my book if I could hire a lawyer to write the contract—a contract that most of those publishers would immediately laugh at and throw in the waste can…

So, Traditional publishers, the Big 5…

Different folks will define those terms differently…

But, one recognized aid is, The Big Five US Trade Book Publishers.

The first thing I must tell those who are not well-informed about traditional publishing is that you should run away from anyone who tells you, “You must get used to having your manuscript rejected.”; usually, supported by the wobbly evidence that so many of the great authors had to be rejected 8 or 25 or 132 times…

There may be certain reasons to get published by a traditional publisher; but, every day that passes shows another reason to go the self-published route. (for proof, scroll down the left side-bar  and click on “traditional publishing” and “self-publishing” to read many articles on each…)

So, I found an article link in one of my emails about a half-hour ago, and knew I had to immediately blog about it rather than just add it to my very long bookmark list of possible posts…

It’s on the HuffPost site, was written by Ken Lizotte, and is called, The 4 Great Myths of Book Publishing.

I’ll list the bullet points from the article; but, leave it to you to go there and read what Mr. Lizotte says; and, for those who want to dip a toe into the lake of 2,300 posts on this blog, I’ll link to a bit of what I’ve said about each of Mr. Lizotte’s bullet points

Here come the 4 Great Myths (by the way, Mr. Lizotte does have “remedies” after each Myth… {for those intent on Big 5 publishing…}):

Myth #1: My book publisher will aggressively promote my book to the widest possible readership

My article: #BookMarketing ~ Making Sense of #AuthorPromotion

Myth #2: A publisher will ensure my book gets on the shelves of all the nation’s bookstores

My article: Self-Published Books & Bookstores

Myth #3: My publisher will print my book’s text in exactly the way I conceive and arrange it

My article: The Publishing (And Editorial) History of Some Extremely Famous Fiction

Myth #4: My publisher will provide me with a sizable monetary advance, allowing me to take time off from my regular work so that I can focus exclusively on my book

My article: Another Good Reason to Avoid Traditional Publishing

I welcome Comments from writers who are still considering the chore of getting published by one of the Big 5

And, for those who can’t deal with what the Big 5 stand for but aren’t quite ready to jump into Self-Publishing, here’s an article on the Independent Book Publishers Association
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One Huge Gold Mine for Writers


Many blogs have a set day of the week when they share links form other blogs and web sites.

My tendency is to reference other folks Monday through Thursday and share my own writing on Fridays.

However, there’s a particularly interesting blog I use as one of my sources of information for things worthy to blog about.

Here are three links to articles I gleaned from this remarkable Internet resource for writers:

100% of Independent Publishers Who Do This Will Sell More of Their Work

To Blog Or Not To Blog: Is It Really Necessary?

Getting Maximum “Bang” for Your Book Description Buck: an SEO/ Author’s Perspective

And, I bookmarked those three in one visit to this blog, which I featured here last year in the post, Joel Friedlander ~ The Book Designer.

Actually, I didn’t visit the blog for those links, it visited me—in my email.

If you visit Mr. Friedlander’s blog, The Book Designer, you’ll find much more than just links to others’ stuff—he has a Gold Mine of information for writers.

And, if you let his blog find you, by subscribing,

subscribe

you’ll get his This Week In The Blogs (where I find many of the posts

and articles I blog about here).

Look for this ——————————————————————————>

in the upper left of Joel’s blog

to receive his Gifts for Writers :-)
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The War of The Book Worlds ~ E-books & Common Sense


What happens when an online retailer (like Amazon) slashes the price of an e-book from another publisher?

* Legacy publishers act like they’re at war even though the retailer still pays them full price.

* The readers get a break.

* The authors get their full royalty.

Yet, the screaming and threats and lies in the media make it seem like something bad is happening

Suw Charman-Anderson, former Executive Director of the Open Rights Group and one of the UK’s best known bloggers, in her Forbes article, Ebook Price War Obscures Larger Problem, says:

“Price wars aren’t new to publishing, yet, predictably, various people are up in arms about what’s really just a publicity stunt.”

The war-mongers try to say that this price slashing will make readers expect the new low cost to become the norm and it might even hurt the independent bookstores.

Charman-Anderson says:

“Bookstores of all stripes do promotions and giveaways all the time, and frequently publishers are fighting to be a part of those promotions. And whilst tight-fisted readers can already find more books than they can read in their entire lifetime, your average reader recognises a deal when they see one, knows that deals don’t last, and knows that once the deal is over that prices are going to go back up. This is not a new concept… The idea that this is going to result in the death of the indie bookshop seems like a nice slippery slope fallacy which reads well but makes no real sense.”

She goes on to detail other false perspectives in this war that should be seen as quite normal marketing activity yet is being stoked into a chimerical fire

She continues her argument by bringing up an issue that self-publishers are quite clearly aware of—the Reader is a critical actor in this Drama and must be dealt with on their own terms—treated like the important people they are.

Certainly, the Author is the central character in this drama—can’t have a book world with out them.

I would say the Reader is the co-protagonist—forget their needs and the book world begins to wobble.

The Publisher?

Unless the publisher is the author (who will decisively keep the reader in mind) they’re one of those characters writers know well—changing their nature as the story progresses—morphing to support the protagonists or being thrown completely out of the story

Charman-Anderson argues that one thing the publishers need to do is create their own retail divisions:

“The main argument against publishers expanding into retail, over and above set-up costs, is that people now expect to be able to get everything in one spot.”

She goes on to detail a few of those expectations and deals the reader wants then closes with:

“But these are all deals that publishers can’t offer, because they don’t own the point of sale. And there’s only one answer to that.”

I recommend you go read the full article—this lady knows her stuff.
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