Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Rachelle Gardner

Is Something “Good” Just Because It Has A “Tradition” Behind It?

good vs traditional Whether you’re a Reader, Writer, or Publisher (or, all three), this post should make you think.

Think about how damned hard it is to define something that’s undergoing massive change.

The words “good” and “tradition” have quotes around them because, in my experience, different people have vastly different meanings for those words.

Good can mean anything from “what God says” to “whatever I decide to do”.

Tradition can be “something to rely on” or “an impediment to progress”.

I’ll leave that slippery word “good” for a possible future post

And, I’ll do what I usually do when I’m writing a post and want you to “think afresh”

Here are the major root-meanings for “tradition”: delivery, surrender, a handing down.

“Handing down” is the most “neutral” root meaning to me—yet, what’s handed down can be very good or simply horrid—it can be a transfer of an honorable heritage or a bad legacy.

“Delivery” as a root for tradition is a “defining” meaning—if it ain’t delivered, it ain’t gonna be a tradition.

“Surrender” is the one that gives me pause

If we surrender a way of doing things when we hand down a tradition, does that mean we expect it to be changed or that we’re praying it won’t be changed?

When I type the word “traditional” into the search widget on this blog I get the posts I’m linking to right now—all spotlighting traditional publishing [ feeling a bit spunky today and wanted a touch of self-reference there :-) ].

I can do the same thing for self-publishing

If you’re a reader and not a concerned writer, you might ignore all the posts those last two links pull up.

However, if you’re a reader who doesn’t write, I’d love to hear your opinions of this post on the publishing “war”—readers should care about what’s going on in the effort to supply them with books

For the writers reading this, especially the ones who don’t have time to or merely refuse to click on links in blog posts, I’ll pull excerpts from a book designer and a literary agent to round out this article.

In my previous post, Where’s The Gate? ~ More Thoughts On Publishing…, I quoted Joel Friedlander, the book designer, saying:

“…publishing is a business, and publishers businesspeople. Books that find a home with profit-oriented publishers can be defined this way: books that might sell enough to make the publisher a profit.

“That’s the reality of gatekeeping, no matter how romantic it may sound. Publishers who make no profit are no longer in business. The business of business is profit, pure and simple.”

Rachelle Gardner is a literary agent, one of the traditional “gatekeepers” Joel mentioned. In her recent post, Publishing in the Brave New World, she says:

“Part of the value publishers bring is a sense of history, a sense of tradition and permanence. Many authors still want to be a part of that. It’s about great stories and important thoughts. It’s about legacy. It’s about a dream. People in publishing still see this dream as worth it. They’re willing to swim against the tide because publishing isn’t just a business, it’s a life, it’s a calling, it’s a passion.”

Personally, I have no problem with “traditional” publishers since I have many good reasons to be a self-published author

Can traditional publishing “surrender” to the new tools and methods of our digital age?

Will they “hand down” the best they have from their vast experience without attempting to demonize those who travel a different path?

Is their system of “delivery” of books to readers a guarantee of “quality”?

Can the traditional folks and the people self-publishing work together to create a hybrid method of placing an author’s work into the reader’s hands (whether those hands hold paper and ink or technology)?

What are your thoughts and feelings??
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How A Maverick Maintains Their Sanity

I blog about Reading, Writing, and Publishing. And, I’m a maverick when I read, write, and publish.

There’s way too much “advice”, on just about any topic, on the Internet.

I made a big mistake and read too much of it

Back in August, I wrote the post, Too Much Advice Can Be Dangerous, that included a link to literary agent Rachelle Gardner’s post listing 33 other people’s posts about marketing and promoting books. In my post, I said:

“I’ve already spent over a year reading and digesting advice from more sources than I can remember; but, I will read through all those posts. Even though I know enough from my previous studies that I won’t find much new. Even though most of the advice will be things I can’t or won’t do. Even though much of that advice will contradict itself. Still, I will read them.”

Well, after all, I won’t be reading them because, like the title of the post that quote is from, Too Much Advice Can Be Dangerous.

As I was scanning various other blogs for a clue to what to write about today, I was reminded of Joe Konrath.

He’s one of very few people whose advice I never pass-up checking out.

Another is Joel Friedlander, who I’ve mentioned often in this blog.

And then, there’s Cory Doctorow; also mentioned much in this blog.

So, what about this Konrath guy. Why do I like his advice?

Back to the post that made me decide what to write about today, by Konrath: The Tsunami of Crap.

I want to put a few excerpts here from that post because it will help you see the kind of advice this struggling, maverick author loves—it helps me maintain my sanity in today’s BiblioFrenzy.

Take it away, Joe:

“Some people believe the ease of self-publishing means that millions of wannabe writers will flood the market with their crummy ebooks, and the good authors will get lost in the morass, and then family values will go unprotected and the economy will collapse and the world will crash into the sun and puppies and kittens by the truckload will die horrible, screaming deaths.”

“So readers aren’t the ones perpetuating this stupid myth that the crap will destroy the world. It’s the writers—specifically the legacy writers—who keep trotting this one out.”

“These authors fear loss of income, and are envious of the ease in which indies can self-publish and the money they can earn. But saying that out loud would make them look petty. So instead, they cloak their fear and envy in a poorly constructed argument that says their real intent is protecting readers from crap.”

“Newsflash: there has always been crap, and always will be crap. Get over it.”

That’s Joe :-)
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Too Much Advice Can Be Dangerous

Back in June I wrote the post, Taking Advice ~ Who’s Experience Do You Trust?  I featured advice from Joel Friedlander about publishing success.

I also shared some of my experience in learning how to take advice–basically, weigh it against the giver’s experience.

Regular readers of this blog know I’ve left Facebook and Twitter behind and am utilizing Google Plus as my social media platform. [EDIT: I’ve since dumped Google Plus, too…]

I got a share from Sue Van Fleet yesterday that led to a post from the literary agent Rachelle Gardner, How To Market Your Book.

Lo and Behold, it contains links to 33 blogs posts by writers about marketing and promotion. Whew!!

I’ve already spent over a year reading and digesting advice from more sources than I can remember; but, I will read through all those posts. Even though I know enough from my previous studies that I won’t find much new. Even though most of the advice will be things I can’t or won’t do. Even though much of that advice will contradict itself. Still, I will read them.


Because, my experience of marketing and promoting my writing is only a little over a year old and I may just find something brilliant that actually fits my situation and temperament :-)
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The Author’s Platform ~ Community of Interest

Every day, over 2,000 books are published.

There’s no way around it. Authors need a platform—a place to stand above the crowd and get peoples’ attention.

If you self-publish and don’t already have a congregation of admirers, there is no other way to sell books than to build a platform.

Well, I suppose, if you had the money and the time, you could have a boat-load of books printed, pack ’em in a van, and drive all over the place meeting people and convincing them they need to buy your book. Technically, that’s still building a platform, even if it means erecting it in one place, preaching to the masses, packing it up, and moving it to another place :-)

Even respected agents like Rachelle Gardner can make a case for traditionally published authors needing to build their own platform. Here’s a quote from her post, The Dreaded Author Platform :

“…I almost wanted to announce that I’d no longer accept queries from anyone who doesn’t already have a good solid head start on a platform. (I won’t draw such a clear line in the sand, but consider yourself informed.)”

The consensus opinion about when to start building a platform is well before the book is written.

Obviously, if you don’t have books already published, all you’ve got for building materials is yourself.

So, assume for a moment you have a great idea for a book, you think you can write it, and you want to build a platform.

The most rational opinion I’ve found for how to do it is to start a blog. Write about yourself. Write your opinions about writing, itself. Offer to interview published authors on the blog. Offer to interview authors who have yet to be published. You may want to guest post on others’ blogs and have them guest post on yours.

Study how to increase traffic to a blog.

After that, you may want to (many people say you must) begin linking to your blog on Facebook and Twitter. Many folks point out that being genuinely helpful in these social media spaces is critical—you can’t just go running around and constantly shouting about how great your book is. I definitely agree; but it takes time to find the people who really matter to you.

Facebook and Twitter are, to me, two varieties of wild parties. You arrive and start talking to people. Most of them want to promote their own project. Sometimes you find people you can establish a mutually beneficial relationship with. Still, there are a huge number of people; and, again, it takes time to find the right ones.

There are other ways to build an author platform. Personally, I have no time for anything but what I’ve just indicated, as a well-respected way to build a platform.

Well, no time except for my giving away as many copies of the manuscript of my book as I can. If this sounds completely ridiculous, check out this link to Cory Doctorow’s ideas about giving it away

If you’re a budding author and decide to blog a platform for yourself, I can’t recommend a better site for learning how to shape a blog for maximum effect than ProBlogger!

So, what’s with that phrase in the title of this post: Community of Interest?

Well, one of the principles I try to follow in my life is: to achieve anything of lasting value, a person needs to work with a community of like-minded people. Whether they’re called friends, followers, fans, or associates, they are the key to establishing a project on solid ground.

To me, building an author platform and building a community of interest are the same thing.

I would love to hear your opinions/experiences/questions on this topic in our comments section :-)
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