Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: publishing

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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If you don’t see a way to comment, try at the upper right of the post :-)
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Great Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
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OR >>> Send Me a short Voice Message :-)
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Our Blog Conversation Takes a Delightful Turn . . .


pop-up book

Image courtesy of Thuwirawat @ Wikimedia Commons

Since most of the visitors to this blog come from Google searches, I ask my regular readers to bear with me while I explain, briefly, to new readers that Mondays and Wednesdays are Conversation days (in about 10 weeks, Fridays will also be for the Conversations…).

And, on the other days of the week, I do informative re-blogs; or, sometimes, special-topic posts…

So…

On Monday we wrapped up our dialogue with the post, Extending the Conversation about Traditional vs Self Publishing, which has the links to the three previous posts in that discussion…

And, the way these conversations work is that folks can leave comments on a post and those comments are the bridge to the next post where I respond by extending the conversation…

Unless…

…the comments take us in a different direction :-)

So…

Here’s the image from that last post: traditional-vs-self-publishing

And, here’s the conversation that happened in the comments:

HA: I like your picture. I miss pop-up books. <3

AMZ: Well, now that you mention it, I do, too :-)

HA: It’s nice to have something lift off the page a bit. Pop-up books are so rare now with machines doing all the printing for books. Every August or September, I learn how to make pop-ups and make them for Christmas cards. I’m not too good at it yet but if you want, I can make one for you someday. :)

AMZ: Lovely offer — are you able to make a video of you making one?

HA: I’m a bit shy because I’m not very good at making pop-ups. If you want, I’ll try. :)

AMZ: Go ahead and try; then, we can decide if you want me to do a post about it :-)

HA: A Christmas card? I’ll keep this in mind. Will do it when I have the time and I’ll let you know then. :)

AMZ: Doesn’t have to be Christmas—actually, sooner is better—maybe a pop-up of an author at work; or, a pen and paper; or, a pop-up of a pop-up book… Something like that? :-)

HA: I’ll figure something out and let you know soon. :)

AMZ: Very Cool ! When you have it, send it to my email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com …

HA: I do have to let you know that this couple of weeks are going to be pretty busy ones but I’ll let you know as soon a I have it. :)

AMZ: Wonderful ! :-)

So…

Instead of:  Post > Comments > Post > Comments

We had:  Post >>> Conversation :-)

And, here’s a request for your comments about experiences with pop-up books—or, any type of books that are rarely created these days…

Plus, we can all look forward to HA’s video of the making of a pop-up………
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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…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Visit The Story Bazaar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~ My Bio
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Continuing the Conversation ~ Shifting to Self-Publishing


Our Conversation post this past Monday has no comments so I’m continuing the focus on publishing but jumping over to Self-Publishing. Self-Publishing

Since, for now, our Conversation posts are on Mondays and Wednesdays (though, there are short stories on Fridays and re-blogs on the other days…), I’ll mention that there are quite a few days after this post for folks to, possibly, comment about what I’m about to say; or, possibly, ask for the Conversation to shift to a different topic (if you’re new here and want to suggest a topic, stay in the areas of Reading, Writing, and Publishing…).

So…

If you know anything from Nothing to Just-a-Bit about Self-Publishing, I really don’t think you could read a better 101 article than Jane Friedman‘s, Start Here: How to Self-Publish Your Book.

And, to try to jump-start a Conversation here, I’ll share some Myths about Traditional Publishing and my responses to those Myths. (this is from my past postStill Hoping to Get a Book Published by the “Big 5”?)

I’m using a contrast between Traditional Publishing’s problems and Self-Publishing’s solutions to help all the folks who want to see their book actually published without suffering the stings and arrows of outrageous dealings with Traditional Publishers…

The Myths are originally from Ken Lizotte, and his article (Very Worth Reading), The 4 Great Myths of Book 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

Mr. Lizotte also says:

“One obvious remedy of course to all of these myths is to self-publish your book, which has in the past 20 years or so become a painless, even more satisfying process, especially in that the cost of self-publishing has plummeted dramatically [my note: it can cost next to nothing…]. (thanks chiefly to print-on-demand technology). Also, self-publishing allows you to be fully in control so that no frustrating publishing ‘partner’ can sway you from your original plans, including text, cover design and title. It’s all up to you!”

So…

Is there anything in this post that might be something you could comment about…?

Or, is there another topic within the Worlds of Reading, Writing, and Publishing that you’d like to mention in a comment…?
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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…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Visit The Story Bazaar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~ My Bio
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Getting Back into the Stream . . .


I find it crazily refreshing that I began my blogging today with the re-blog just before this post… Getting Back into the Stream

I’ve been spending the past month regaining my blogging bearings, as well as deeper levels of stability.

Back on January 7th, I wrote:

“Something has happened that has shattered my emotional life…

“I cannot write…

“I don’t know how long this time away will last—perhaps forever…”

Time, as it inexorably will, moved on and by January 21st I was able to do a “real” post that shared some of what I was doing to heal from my fractured psychological state. In that post, where I talk about the reading I was doing to help me heal, I wrote:

“I’m sitting here writing a blog post where, before the books, I could barely get a re-blog out.”

So, it only took a month of mostly re-blogs to have me start today with a re-blog rather than this post, which is my wobbly re-entry into my recommitment to this blog…

I’ll still do re-blogs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with my own original posts on Mondays and Wednesdays, and a Tale in the Story Bazaar on Fridays.

However, there are only 18 more Tales to write before I do “Something” else on Fridays—perhaps you have an idea or two about what I can do here on Fridays…?

I haven’t decided what Saturdays and Sundays will be yet; and, for now, I’m happy to wait and do what the Spirit moves me to do…

Big However:

I want to enlist my readers, you and you and you, in a long-term project…

I’m hoping my regular readers at first, then, perhaps, folks who happen in, will begin commenting on the Monday and Wednesday posts, in a way that creates “bridging ideas” that I can carry into my next original post—either your thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, experiences, lack of experiences—you name it—perhaps, call it “creative writing prompt invention”—something to help me “thread together” a series of posts…

Sometimes, I may have only one comment that inspires what I write in my next post—sometimes, hopefully, there’ll be a whole bouquet of comments…

Maybe Fridays (after the final 18 Tales in the Story Bazaar) can extend this threaded post concept—maybe Saturdays and Sundays can join in the process………

Small However:

I do want to keep at least Tuesdays and Thursdays for re-blogs—there are just too many good ones out there to not share them with you.

So…

I had a whole different idea about what this Getting Back into the Stream post would be; but, when I write fiction, I depend heavily on spur of the moment inspiration; so, serendipitously, this is the post I’m writing…

~~~

I know I have a few regular readers.

I’m not quite sure how to encourage you to join me in this “threaded posts” endeavor…

Maybe it can start by your responding to the very idea of threaded posts—exploring the “nature” of blogging at bit…

Perhaps your responses will lead to a challenge for me—something I never considered blogging about; though, I really do have to keep things within the parameters of Writing, Reading and Publishing…

Yeah, I’m going out on that Limb of Faith—jumping out that Window of Trust…

Wanna join me………?
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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…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Visit The Story Bazaar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FREE On-line Course in Self-Publishing & Book Promotion
Even though it may say “Fee”, it Really is FREE :-)

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

A Personal Anniversary and a New Year’s Hopes . . .


I started this blog exactly 7 years ago—I’ve published a little over 2,000 posts… A Personal Anniversary and a New Year's Hopes

I feel the words of the very first post bear repeating:

Read > Write > Publish > Repeat = A Wonderfully Strange Life

I’ll start explaining the formula in this post’s title with the word “strange”. Its history shows it meaning, “from elsewhere, foreign, unknown, unfamiliar”.

A Strange Life…

So does reading then writing then publishing then repeating the process create a life that’s unfamiliar, unknown, foreign, and from elsewhere?

Ask any serious writer :-)

The reason I started this little explanatory formula with “reading” is because I’m in agreement with the folks who say the best training for writing (besides writing itself) is lots of reading. Of course, reading might also be the research that writers often do—even the kind of “reading” they do in their own minds when they invent characters and worlds.

This reading of one’s own mind isn’t all that hard. It is strange, though, because it usually doesn’t involve words. It’s the heart reading what the mind is saying from its depths.

So, then comes the writing. If you aspire to create a wonderfully strange life, I suggest you not read a bunch of books about writing before you actually do a whole bunch of writing. In fact, the formula should have a little feedback loop between reading and writing: read>write>read>write, etc.

Then, publish. This doesn’t have to be normal publishing. Since the word means, “to make public” and public means, “open to the community”, the community you publish to could be as small as a group of friends.

Then comes repeat. If you want a truly wonderful life that constantly surprises you with the unfamiliar, that leads you to the unknown, that introduces the foreign, and entertains experience from elsewhere, you have to get a cycle of read/write/publish going.

Think of a coffee house. Imagine the person who reads books, then shares their experience in their own words. Every time you visit, they have a new story. Pretty soon, they’re painting their own stories. By the way, one of the original meanings for the word “write” was “paint”.

So, there they sit reading their own minds with their hearts and painting verbal pictures that inspire the little coffee house community.

The first people who led a wonderfully strange life may not have had coffee, but they had their community. They spoke heart-felt words that captivated their friends.

They were our human family’s first authors…

So, that satisfies my feelings about celebrating my blog’s anniversary

Now, for some of my concerns and hopes for this New Year…

They come from an article in OpenCanada.Org, called, How to Build a Better, Bolder and Braver World in 2018.

The words in these excerpts are from Payam Akhavan:

“…we are out of touch with the despair and rage and alienation in our midst, and that we need to have a conversation about empathy and engagement.”

In speaking about a book of his that became a bestseller:

“…the fact that the book became a bestseller wasn’t so much a triumph of my ego but more a kind of vindication of my understanding of what moves the public to think and reflect more deeply on the human condition — what it is that provokes people, instead of falling into despair and anger, to actually be motivated, to become engaged, to build a better world.”

And, something that more folks should ponder (as it relates to their individual lives) and discuss:

“…imposing individual accountability for crimes against humanity, isn’t just about some lofty moral dream, but it’s also about sustainable global governance, because there is a price that you pay for impunity for mass violence.”

And, a comment by Mr. Akhavan that I consider a Writing Prompt:

“We need to create movements within different nations that demand of their leaders a more global vision and meaningful engagement in creating institutions of global governance. But by the same token we need visionary leadership among global elites that realizes the status quo is not tenable.”

And, finally, something that could also be a Writing Prompt, about the Millennials:

“I would actually think that I have great hope in the millennials. I see, as an educator who deals with young people all the time, and as someone who is a father of two teenage children, that degree of consciousness, whether it’s about gender, the environment, poverty, culture, identity, racism — I think that my children are way ahead of where I was.

“I think that we need to admit to the millennials the grave mistakes that [older generations] made in [their] culture, which celebrated greed and narcissism, and which has brought us to this point — this incredible despair and thirst for doing something meaningful.”

There is much more to ponder in the full article…

Happy New Year !
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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…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Visit The Story Bazaar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FREE On-line Course in Self-Publishing & Book Promotion
Even though it may say “Fee”, it Really is FREE :-)

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