Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Nicholas Sparks

Extending the Conversation about Traditional vs Self Publishing


Traditional vs Self Publishing Our current conversation, the longest one since I started the new format here, has covered this ground:

March 28th — Shifting to Self-Publishing

April 2nd — Readers as Gatekeepers

April 4th — Comparing Traditional Publishing & Self-Publishing

And, that last post has two comments that extend the discussion here…

From the U.S.A.:

“I enjoyed your comment: I realize Mr. Sparks has hit the Big-time with his books; however, I truly feel he should have used the phrase ‘make money’ rather than the phrase ‘become a success’…

“He actually did just that Alex, redefining success before he elaborated a very sad definition of success in my mind:

“’Success can be defined any number of ways. For the purposes of this section, let success be whatever “your” version of it is, with one caveat: you want to be able to write novels and earn enough to make a living.'”

From the U.K.:

“I write novels and I don’t ‘earn enough to make a living’ because I am retired. Published authors would consider me a hobbyist but that does not mean my writing is any less valuable than theirs.

“In fact, as long as I have readers I consider myself a success. I give paperbacks away free to the library and they are taken out until they wear out.

“There is nothing more satisfying than having a reader ask when the next volume is going to be published!”

The U.S.A comment is an extension of other comments we had about the traditionally published author, Nicholas Sparks, and brings out the notion many writers cling to: “If I’m gonna be a writer, I have to make money to be ‘successful’.”

And, Sparks’ clinging to money as “success” is really rammed home with his: “…let success be whatever ‘your’ version of it is, with one caveat: you want to be able to write novels and earn enough to make a living.”

And, interestingly enough, the U.K. comment describes a level of success with books that is free of money: “…as long as I have readers I consider myself a success.”

Admittedly, the two authors are not only on the opposite sides of the Big Pond, they’re also on the opposite edges of age; still, any writer can decide whether they want success yoked to traditional institutions that treat books as commodities and have shown vast disrespect to authors; or, hitch their hopes to their own gumption, whether or not they sell their books.

Thing is: innumerable traditionally published books fail to sell more than 500 copies; and, innumerable self-published books are bestsellers

Rather than me going on with my ideas about publishing, I’ll round out this conversation with some quotes from a writer who spent many years being traditionally published; then, found solid reasons to seed his fate with his own will and purpose…

Here is Joe Konrath from his article, You Should Self-Publish:

“For many years, I said DO NOT SELF-PUBLISH.

“I had many good reasons to support this belief.

1. Self-publishing was expensive
2. The final product was over priced and inferior
3. Self-pubbed were impossible to distribute
4. Most self-pubbed books weren’t returnable
5. Chances were, the reason you had to self pub was because your writing wasn’t good enough
6. Most POD houses were scams

“Yep, I was pretty confident that traditional publishing was the only game in town.

“Then, in 2009, I became aware of the Kindle.”

“So now it’s December 2010, and I’m selling 1000 ebooks a day, and I’m ready to change my mind on the matter.”

I’d highly recommend any writers reading this (even those who may already feel self-publishing is their path...) to read Joe’s full article

If you have a comment on anything you read in this post, it can be the reason this particular conversation continues

If you would rather, leave your opinion on what we “should” be discussing, in the realms of Reading, Writing, and Publishing
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Our Blog Conversation Continues ~ Comparing Traditional Publishing & Self-Publishing …


Traditional publishing vs self-publishing Monday’s post—Continuing the Conversation ~ Readers as Gatekeepers—compared the experiences of two writers (me and a friend) who both prefer self-publishing but have favorite authors who traditionally publish…

Before I share the comment on Monday’s post that kept this conversation going, I feel I need to mention that there are great writers who are published traditionally as well as great writers amongst the ranks of the self-published; and, contrary to some folk’s awareness, there are mediocre writers who self-publish and writers, just as mediocre, who are published by the traditional houses…

Now, the comment from Monday that continued the conversation and stopped me from starting a different one :-)

“I enjoyed your responses to Nicholas Sparks’ comments on traditional publishing and I have a few more excerpts from him I’ll share:

“’Publishing is a business. Writing may be art, but publishing, when all is said and done, comes down to dollars. Keep that in mind. I say this because of the volume of mail I receive from unpublished writers who believe that “having a good story”, is enough to guarantee success. It’s not. I hate to say it, I wish it wasn’t true, but it’s not. Some of the best novels I’ve ever read never hit the best-seller list, then faded away before sadly going out of print. There are also some poorly written novels that do become best-sellers. Writing a great novel is the most important thing you can do to become a success, but sometimes it’s not enough these days.’

“While he focuses on the need of a good story, at least, he warns that in the traditional realm one of three things must happen. I’ll share these but I don’t like that this particular writer, in his traditional world, works directly with agents and editors who require a certain flare in the art. He even tells his reader he has 3 unpublished books and Stephen King has 5 because they were rejected by the traditional folks for lacking that ‘flair’.

“’These days, it seems there are only three ways for an author to hit the best-seller list with a first novel:
(1) have the novel recommended by Oprah (most if not all of the books she’s chosen for Oprah’s Book Club have become best-sellers, first time author or not, like “Deep End of the Ocean” by Jacqueline Mitchard);
(2) have the novel receive wide and lavish critical acclaim, thereby triggering the interest of the major media, like “Cold Mountain” by Charles Frazier; or
(3) write a novel that has good word-of-mouth, i.e., a well-written book that people read and enjoy and feel compelled to recommend to others, like “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” by Rebecca Wells. This doesn’t mean you can’t become a success with a later novel. Over time, quality work will lead to an audience for your work. In the end, readers always choose.’

“I believe this third category is where many of us self published devotees can excel. It seems he only clearly mentions self-publishing once:

“’If you only want to get a book published simply for the sake of finding it in a store for a few months (it won’t stay in the store forever unless it sells), keep your day job and consider publishing the novel yourself.’”

I feels to me that our commenter has presented an understandable case for self-publishing; but, I need to reply to a few of Mr. Sparks statements:

“Writing may be art, but publishing, when all is said and done, comes down to dollars.”

Well… When All is said and done, why does publishing Have to come down to dollars? Is it never possible to imagine a writer self-publishing at low or no self-cost and then offering their work for free?

Are all writers Doomed to chase dollars?

“Writing a great novel is the most important thing you can do to become a success…”

I realize Mr. Sparks has hit the Big-time with his books; however, I truly feel he should have used the phrase “make money” rather than the phrase “become a success”…

In my universe, writing a great novel is success enough…

Why does writing, in and of itself, not qualify as “success”?

Here is the word history of “Success”:

“1530s, ‘result, outcome’, from Latin successus ‘an advance, a coming up; a good result, happy outcome’, noun use of past participle of succedere ‘come after, follow after; go near to; come under; take the place of’, also ‘go from under, mount up, ascend’, hence ‘get on well, prosper, be victorious…'”

All of that can happen for a writer without them earning a cent…

And, “be victorious” is a wonderful description of the feeling so many writers have when all they’ve done is to finally edit their drafts into a good story…

Over time, quality work will lead to an audience for your work. In the end, readers always choose.”

While Mr. Sparks is keeping that comment inside the realm of traditional publishing, it’s equally valid for self-published work; however, even in the traditional world, many “quality ” works have not found their readers fast enough to avoid being taken off the shelves…

Those same works, if self-published, would stay on the “shelves” as long as the author wanted them there…

And, finally, this remark by Mr. Sparks:

“If you only want to get a book published simply for the sake of finding it in a store for a few months (it won’t stay in the store forever unless it sells), keep your day job and consider publishing the novel yourself.”

Again, self-published works stay on the “shelves” as long as the author desires—digital shelves as long as there’s an Internet and physical shelves as long as the author “works” the bookstores and libraries…

And, it’s a shame I have to say this in relation to a comment by a wildly “successful” traditionally published author; but, there are an increasingly large number of self-published authors who have ditched the day job………

Feel moved to make a comment?

If not, you could certainly express a desire to have another topic discussed… :-)
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Continuing the Conversation ~ Readers as Gatekeepers . . .


Readers as Gatekeepers For new folks—we’re having a continuing conversation on Mondays and Wednesdays; and, in about 11 weeks, it will also be on Fridays (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday will remain re-blogs from a select group of writers...)….

I said “continuing” because, even if no one comments on a post, I’ll keep the conversation going by myself :-)

So, the post last Wednesday—Continuing the Conversation ~ Shifting to Self-Publishing—looked into certain myths of Traditional publishing and measured those against certain truths of Self-publishing.

And, there was a comment on that post, by a good friend of mine—author and prison librarian; but, before I began writing this post we had a rousing discussion about the comment he made and it helped me clarify what he was aiming at.

That discussion happened in a virtual world (Kitely) that we both visit regularly…

Here’s his comment on Wednesday’s Conversation post:

“I admit I enjoy Nicholas Sparks and his clichés, heartstring pulling predictable formulas. I need it sometimes. He offers advice to writers on his webpage and explains:

“‘Publishers are generally less willing to take big chances in “growing” an author. They want books that will sell, and usually sell right away. If they don’t think yours will sell, odds are, they won’t take a chance on it. Why? A major reason is because authors in general have become more prolific. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner have fewer published novels combined than any number of contemporary novelists—Roberts, King, Koontz, Steel, etc.

“‘Why does this matter? Suppose a person reads about eight books a year. Odds are, the person also has a list of contemporary authors in their mind who are already favorites. Then there are the backup authors who they sometimes read. Then there are those authors whom they’ve heard of over the years who they might be willing to try out if the circumstances are right (at a rack in the airport, for instance). For most people, that’s coming up on eight books already. So why would they take a chance on someone new?’

“His solution was to write those easy tear jerking formulas. My feeling is this is why you should consider self publishing. I don’t want my metaphors and scenery to be written because they are perfect for the beach vacationer. That being said I never miss a book or movie of his.”

So…

My friend likes a bestselling, traditionally-published author…

And, I made my friend’s Main Point go blue so it would stand out…

And, he’s given you many words from that author he likes…

I’ll comment on a few of the things Mr. Sparks said:

Publishers are generally less willing to take big chances in ‘growing’ an author. They want books that will sell, and usually sell right away.”

There are Self-publishing authors whose books sell big and right away—they work hard to make that happen; but, at least, they maintain control of the copyright and everything else that happens to their books…

“If they don’t think yours will sell, odds are, they won’t take a chance on it. Why? A major reason is because authors in general have become more prolific.”

While Sparks commenting on authors being more prolific is, in essence, true, I think a more important reason Traditional publishers won’t take a chance on a book they think won’t sell is they’re totally profit-oriented…

Plus, when you dig a bit, you’ll find that the big publishers are quite often wrong about what books will sell—and, there are plenty of self-published authors who sell well and their books aren’t what trad. publishers think will sell…

And, the paragraph about folks reading 8 books a year so why would they take a chance on something new?

Well, the Self-publishing World is in the process of changing the “gatekeepers” of traditional publishing into Readers as Gatekeepers.

All the forums and book blogs and social media and other sites where readers can give their opinions are a “leveling effect”…

I feel that, eventually, most publishing will be by the individual authors; and, who sells most will be the ones who engage readers enough so they’ll give the authors a shout-out…

I’m a Self-published author—my all-time favorite fiction author is C. J. Cherryh; and, her 60+ novels are all Traditionally published…

And, my librarian/author friend loves a Traditionally published author; yet he can say:

“My feeling is this is why you should consider self publishing. I don’t want my metaphors and scenery to be written because they are perfect for the beach vacationer.”

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So…

Did this part of our conversation make you feel like you want to say something in the Comments?

If not, are there other topics you wish we’d discuss here…?
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Bestsellers, Major Literacy Project, The World Hasn’t Completely Fallen Apart, and FREE BOOKS :-)


This is my first “Kitchen Sink” post of the New Year—I’ve secured my new apartment in my old city; I’m increasing my health tweaks; I’m a bit less “fractured”; and, I can “breathe” a bit better… 

Free Books

Image Courtesy of Judith P. Abrahamsen ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/jpmgrafika-36454

First topic—Meet the Writers Who Still Sell Millions of Books. Actually, Hundreds of Millions.

Commented on are the authors Paulo Coelho, Stephen King, Dan Brown, John Grisham, Ken Follett, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, Stephenie Meyer, Nicholas Sparks, Danielle Steele, Debbie Macomber, R.L. Stine, J.K. Rowling, Dean Koontz, Jeffrey Archer, David Baldacci and Mary Higgins Clark.

One of the more interesting statements is:

“How do you get to be a blockbuster author? Typing is not enough, though some of these novels certainly read that way. The writing quality and storytelling vary tremendously, but there are some similarities among hit writers.

“Chiefly, they’re extraordinarily productive. They publish with Swiss-clock regularity…”

And, for the starving authors out there who still have dreams of being just like those mega-selling writers, I must point you toward what I consider the most import post on this blog—What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies?

Here’s an excerpt from that post:

“If failures becomes invisible, then naturally you will pay more attention to successes. Not only do you fail to recognize that what is missing might have held important information, you fail to recognize that there is missing information at all.

“You must remind yourself that when you start to pick apart winners and losers, successes and failures, the living and dead, that by paying attention to one side of that equation you are always neglecting the other.”

“Are you catching the drift yet?

“Perhaps, no matter what an author does (or, a publishing company), most books will still sell not so many copies?”

Again, if you’re trying to sell your soul to become a bestselling author, read the Facts in that post

Now, onto the Top Books That Made People Readers In 2016.

That article is about the Major Literacy Organization, WorldReader; and, it lists the best-loved books of folks who (before WorldReader got to them) had very few books, if any at all

Perusing these lists would be enlightening for any reader:

 

Top Books among parents and caregivers in India (Read to Kids Program)

Title Author Publisher Category
1 The Talkative Tortoise / बातूनी कछुआ Jeeva Raghunath Tulika Publishers Storybooks
2 नन्ही उँगलियाँ/Little Fingers शीला धीर/Sheila Dhir Tulika Publishers Storybooks
3 The Musical Donkey / सुरीला गधा Namrata Rai Tulika Publishers Storybooks
4 रंगबिरंग/Rang Birang Madhav Chavan Pratham Books Storybooks
5 सोना बड़ी सयानी/Sona badi Sayani Vinita Krishna Pratham Books Storybooks
6 Hawa ped / हवा-पेड़ ज्योत्सना िमलन/Jyotsna Imln Katha Children’s poetry
7 बूडाबिम/Boodabim (it’s a name) अलंकृता जैन/Alnkrita Jair Tulika Publishers Storybooks
8 भीमा गधा/Bhima’s Donkey Kiran Kasturia Pratham Books Storybooks
9 My Best Friend / मेरी सहेली Anupa Lal Pratham Books Storybooks
10 Red Umbrella / लाल छतरी Nandini Nayar Tulika Publishers Children’s poetry

 

Top books in school and library projects in sub-Saharan Africa

Title Author Publisher Category
1 Magozwe Lesley Koyi African Storybook Project Beginning readers
2 A Tiny Seed: The Story of Wangari Maathai Nicola Rijsdijk African Storybook Project Beginning readers
3 The Girl With the Magic Hands Nnedi Okorafor Worldreader Young Adult Fantasy
4 Ready? Set. Raymond! (Step into Reading) Vaunda Nelson Random House Children’s Books (Penguin Random House) Beginning readers
5 Disability is Not Inability Wairimu Mwangi The Jomo Kenyatta Foundation Beginning readers
6 Old Mother West Wind Thornton Burgess Public Domain Children’s classics
7 I Am An African Wayne Visser Self Published Poetry
8 Boastful Sui and Grandmother Goes to the Pictures Marg Reynolds Self Beginning readers
9 The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Public Domain Children’s classics
10 The Adventures of Robin Hood Howard Pyle Public Domain Classics

 

Top Books among teens and adults reading on the Worldreader app

Title Author Publisher Category
1 Broken Promises Ros Haden Cover2Cover YA romance
2 The Holy Bible: King James Version Various Public Domain religion
3 First Love: Thinking of Him A.V. Frost Beaten Track Publishing romance
4 Sugar Daddy Ros Haden Cover2Cover YA romance
5 There’s Something about Him Lauri Kubuitsile Worldreader romance
6 Forever My Love Heather Graham Open Road Integrated Media romance
7 The Girl with the Magic Hands Nnedi Okorafor Worldreader fantasy
8 A Quest for Heroes (Arabic) Morgan Rice Lukeman Literary fantasy
9 Damaged Souls Stine Arnulf Self published Romance/Fanfiction
10 Le Roman de la momie Théophile Gautier ILIVRI romance

So, if you’re still with me but having a rough time feeling positive about this new year, this article should help:

It may have seemed like the world fell apart in 2016. Steven Pinker is here to tell you it didn’t.

And, for the imperturbable, constant readers: Free Books in your Inbox…

InstaFreebie

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Modern Literature, Genre Bestseller, and Classic Tale


I just finished with three books—completed two, couldn’t get through one

The first was by a friend of a friend—The Fine Colour of Rust by Paddy O’Reilly. fine color of rust

I’m calling this book “Modern Literature”.

Some may be able to force it into a genre but I feel it resists easy classification.

My ultra-short review is:

Consistently Humorous — Psychologically Rich

Other perceptions:

Portrays Devoted Persistence

Highlights Relationship Necessities

I completely enjoyed the read and learned some important truths

5 stars

The second book was selected at a drug store by cover image, then back blurb.

This is a self-professed genre book—a Love Story

At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks. at-first-sight

This book is just one of Sparks Bestsellers and it doesn’t take much Googling to find out that most “bestsellers” are books heavily manipulated by publishers and the media to sell many copies in a short time.

I really tried hard to stay with this book—60 pages—but had to abandon it

Just before I knew I’d write this post today, I got a link from a share on Google Plus:

The Most Abandoned Books List

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling topped that list, followed by Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.”

In Sparks’ book, the relationship was so shallow and “modern” it had no blood pulsing within it.

The motivations of the characters made them seem like puppets for some social strategist.

I hate putting books down but, for me, this was a loser

2 stars

The third book was bought during a shopping trip with my sister and got purchased jude the obscurebecause of the cover first, then the author’s name, then the low price

Jude The Obscure by Thomas Hardy.

Hard to describe this book

An obvious Tragedy.

A complex tale of Love.

A Social Commentary.

A reading challenge because of the late 1800s prose but, once the “translation” part of my mind kicked in, it was an enjoyable read.

Curious book

Received much scorn and vilification when published—a bishop even burned a copy.

Was the last novel Hardy wrote—he switched to poetry

4.5 stars

So…

Three books—three very different experiences.

Do you compare your reading experiences?

Have you ever abandoned a book?

Do you stay mostly with “Literature”? “Genre”? “Classics”?
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