Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: self-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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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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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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Visit The Story Bazaar
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Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
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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…
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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

The Conversation Continues ~ More on Publishing . . .


We’ve been talking about publishing quite a bit recently—here, here, and, most recently, with, The Conversation Continues ~ the Issues with Traditional Publishing . . .Traditional publishers

If you took those links, you might have noticed they’re all on Mondays or Wednesdays…

For now, those are the days devoted to Conversations; but, in 13 weeks (when I’ve finished all 95 Tales of my Story Bazaar), the Conversations will also be on Fridays…

So, back to the Conversation about publishing…

The last post did explore a number of issues with Traditional Publishing and future posts may come back to discussing Self-Publishing…

However, the last reader comment in our Conversation (from a traditionally published author) was:

“‘Life of Copyright’ is an iniquitous contract term that, I believe, seeks to disadvantage the writer completely and gives the Traditional Publisher an unpaid advantage they should not have for the next generation or so. Some writers I know in Australia have taken a stand against this and refused to offer the publisher more than a ‘Licence to Publish’ for a fixed period of time, after which the book’s rights revert to them. This makes more sense to me. At the bottom of all this is FEAR. Many writers who are not wealthy or famous are just frightened that if they push back they will be dropped by the publisher. If EVERY writer in the world refused to sign contracts that were unfair they would have more power than the publishers. So PUSH back.”

There are many places in that comment that inspire me to begin my own comments; but, I’ll start with, “Many writers who are not wealthy or famous are just frightened that if they push back they will be dropped by the publisher.”

What first comes to my mind is, if a writer is afraid of what a traditional publisher can do, they might consider Self-Publishing; unless, they can afford a lawyer to fight the Trad. publisher into a rational submission…

However, the way most of the Big Trad. publishers operate, a writer could spend lots of money on a lawyer and have the result be a nonchalant door-slam from the publisher…

Another part of that author’s comment that draws me toward a comment of my own is, “If EVERY writer in the world refused to sign contracts that were unfair they would have more power than the publishers.”

This is something that may well materialize, though my best guess is that it could well take many decades…

Unless…

The economic bubble for Trad. publishers bursts and all their corporate might is broken down into many independent, smaller publishing houses—all of them more than willing to deal with writers as equals…

Although, there are a swiftly growing number of Self-publishing writers; and, if that trend continues, it might be what pops the Trad. publishers economic bubble…

If you need to refresh your knowledge of economic bubbles, try this NY Times article—Bernanke, Blower of Bubbles?

Here’s a definitional excerpt:

“What is a bubble, anyway? Surprisingly, there’s no standard definition. But I’d define it as a situation in which asset prices appear to be based on implausible or inconsistent views about the future.”

I’ll leave it to you to decide whether “asset” in that excerpt means “book”; and, whether “implausible or inconsistent views about the future” can mean Trad. publishers’ lousy methods of deciding what readers really want to read…

Plus, from an article on Investopedia, which definitely indicates that economic bubbles can occur in various interesting places, here are five of the largest bubbles in history:

The Dutch Tulip Bubble in the 1600s

The South Sea Bubble in the 1700s

Japan’s Real Estate and Stock Market Bubble in the late 1900s and early 2000s

The Dot-Com Bubble in the late 1900s and early 2000s

The US Housing Bubble in the early 2000s

So, whether it’s a bubble-pop from shortsighted investment evaluations of unwanted books; or, the massive growth of profitable self-publishing; ( or, both ); it seems Traditional publishing might be a dinosaur that doesn’t know it’s going extinct…

~~~

Anything in today’s post that moves you to a response?

If not, are there topics you’d rather see discussed here?

I think I just gave you two reasons to leave 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