Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: writers

#Writers Need All the Help They Can Get . . . And, so Do #Readers . . .


At different times and for different reasons, all writers need help—

Writers and Readers need help

Image Courtesy of Mikhail Lavrenov ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/MikLav-51580

—with getting new ideas, with improving current ideas, with editing or revision, with the way to construct a book…

I’ve been extremely interested in a particular phenomenon that’s intended to help writers; however, it’s also intended to help “…readers, booksellers, publishers, editors, publicists, agents, and anyone who wants to participate in the literary conversation.”

It’s the Main Street Writers Movement {which will include this one at the top (and, others, I’m sure, in the future, since I tag my posts so they can be found in groups in the Top Tags widget, down a bit in the left side-bar…)}

In fact, the Founder of the Movement said this:

“The Main Street Writers Movement urges experienced writers to strengthen the national literary ecosystem through passionate engagement at the local level. Let’s honor and amplify our communities’ underrepresented voices. Let’s buy from local bookstores and small presses. Let’s leave our houses and dance in the streets to the sound of each other’s words.”

She also said:

“These are scary and uncertain times, but we must continue to use our voices and to listen to our neighbors’ words.”

And, concerning joining the Movement (for which there are No Fees…), which you can do Right Here, she said:

 [Becoming] “…an official member of the Main Street Writers Movement, [earns] you access to literary community building tools, industry insights, and connections with #mainstreetwriters who are creating new opportunities in their cities. We’ll send you a newsletter once a month with ways to get involved and ideas to make a difference.”

But, once again, even though it’s called a Writers Movement, it truly is also for “…readers, booksellers, publishers, editors, publicists, agents, and anyone who wants to participate in the literary conversation.”

O.K., so that, apart from my normal work as a writer and my duties as a member of Humanity, is one of my top “passions” now; yet, this help for writers thing was also a factor in my writing today’s post because of an article by Jane Friedman called, Author Marketing Collectives: An Increasingly Important Component of Book Promotion.

It makes mention of a group called Tall Poppies; and, my Best Friend (from Australia, where the phrase is used to indicate folks who could use a lecture on entitlement…) feels the group is doing themselves a disservice with that name; though, they are doing quite well, probably because folks in the U.S.A. haven’t run into that phrase…

Now, that was a tortured sentence :-)

So…

The idea behind the group—

I’ll quote from the article:

“…our goals are different from a publisher’s goals. Of course, we would like to sell books but our primary objective is to give our readers access and personal interactions with authors. To that end, a Tall Poppy Author is invested in relationships and not only the kind of relationships where money changes hands. We want our stories to resonate and getting to know our readers help us do that. If a publisher has like-minded, committed, generous authors who enjoy social media it’s possible they could mimic what we do.”

Not sure about you, but this sounds to me like a group of authors who, all by themselves are doing something extremely similar to what Main Street Writers Movement is working to implement.

The only difference I detect is that Tall Poppies is a two-way street between a group of writers and their readers; while Main Street Writers Movement is a multi-dimensional set of paths between:

“Writers, readers, booksellers, publishers, editors, publicists, agents, and anyone who wants to participate in the literary conversation.”

I’ve contacted my local library here in Akron, Ohio and a large writer’s group in Cleveland, Ohio and will soon start calling local bookstores, et al.

 Thing is, the library and the writer’s group liked the idea of Main Street Writers Movement but couldn’t see what they could do with it…

I certainly won’t push them and I did recommend they read my posts about it; but, bottom line, I feel they were being insular—wanting to stay on their island, not even attempt to launch boats to make friends with other islands—remain isolated from “…anyone who wants to participate in the literary conversation.”afraid of “diluting their efforts”…

Yet, it’s my firm belief that More can be done with More people from More diverse pools of learning and desire…

Sure, it can demand better planning, smoother logistics, more time, and a firmer commitment to the “larger community”…

But, in a world tearing itself apart into a multitude of sects and causes and parties and nations and walled-off clubs, why not make more room for the transcendent call of the Oneness of Humanity?

Actually, since the mid-1800s and more strongly since the early 1920s,  humanity has been learning to Unify…

There are more groups now, working toward unification, then at any time in the history of humanity—it’s an evolutionary phenomenon…

So… before I spin off into a cloud of aspiration, I ask you to consider (even if it isn’t through association with Tall Poppies or Main Street Writers Movement) hooking up with other folks, merging some of the goals of your group with other groups to strengthen both, volunteering with one of the many organizations working for Human Unity…

O.K., I’m signing off  ’cause I’ve arrived smack in the middle of that cloud of aspiration :-)

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#Crowdfunding for #Writers


I have two sources for my report today—I could call this a post or an article; but, because of the way I work here, I can’t help but feel like a reporter, out on my Beat, hunting down stories… 

Crowdfunding for Writers

Image Courtesy of Dominic Morel ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/cx_ed-46386

First, a definition:Crowdfunding (a form of crowdsourcing) is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, today often performed via Internet-mediated registries, but the concept can also be executed through mail-order subscriptions, benefit events, and other methods.”

For writers, crowdfunding can also be one of the first methods they use to establish a core group of supporters for their books

The first source for this Report is Crowdfund Insider and their article, Kickstarter Reports: $100M Has Been Pledged to Publishing Projects.

Kickstarter is a well-known facilitator of crowdfunding but there are others (as a link in a post I did in May reveals)

I think the information on Crowdfund Insider about Kickstarter is a great source of encouragement for writers who just can’t find any other way to fund the things they need to do—pay editors; cover designers; possibly, book designers; purchase copies of a book for personal distribution

Of course, the numbers for Kickstarter could be seen as somewhat “representative” of other crowdfunding services

Here are Kickstarter’s Stats for Publishing Projects from April 28, 2009, to August 10, 2016:

* Amount pledged: $100,000,000 
* Projects launched: 33,009 
* Projects successfully funded: 9,660 
* Creators who have launched more than one successfully funded Publishing project: 608 
* Successfully funded creators who have backed at least one other project: 6,414 
* Number of backers: 1,226,438 
* Number of countries those backers have come from: 211 
* Number of times they have pledged to a project: 1,673,631 
* Number of publishing projects supported by the backer who has pledged to more publishing projects than anyone else: 364

Here are the various categories of publishing represented in those numbers:

* Academic: 660 projects launched 
* Anthologies: 231 projects launched 
* Art Books: 2,103 projects launched 
* Calendars: 198 projects launched 
* Children’s Books: 5,349 projects launched 
* Fiction: 8,009 projects launched 
* Literary Journals: 195 projects launched 
* Nonfiction: 7,170 projects launched 
* Periodicals: 1,129 projects launched 
* Poetry: 1,189 projects launched 
* Publishing: 5,020 projects launched 
* Radio & Podcasts: 778 projects launched 
* Translations: 116 projects launched 
* Young Adult: 607 projects launched 
* Zines: 255 projects launched

O.K., now that you have some idea of the breadth and depth of crowdfunding for writers, let’s look at the perspectives in source two—author Ben Galley in his article, Top Tips on Crowdfunding for Authors.

And, as I usually do in my reportorial blogging, I encourage you (since you’ve actually read this far...) to go read Ben’s full article

Here are the bullet points for his top four tips:

Confirm: Is your project worth it?

Compel: Make it irresistible

Prepare: Don’t assume your project will fund itself

Reward: Make it worthwhile for your backers 

And, I must finish this post with a fascinating quote from Ben:

“Using the crowd isn’t a new concept – the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary was heavily ‘crowdsourced’…”

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Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century


I don’t really “review” books here—I tend to mention them, make somewhat desultory comments that I hope characterize them (somewhat), then let you decide… Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century

So, this book—Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century.

I’ll first share what their blurb says:

“Gutenberg’s invention of movable type in the fifteenth century introduced an era of mass communication that permanently altered the structure of society. While publishing has been buffeted by persistent upheaval and transformation ever since, the current combination of technological developments, market pressures, and changing reading habits has led to an unprecedented paradigm shift in the world of books. Bringing together a wide range of perspectives — industry veterans and provocateurs, writers, editors, and digital mavericks — this invaluable collection reflects on the current situation of literary publishing, and provides a road map for the shifting geography of its future…”

I, personally, don’t feel it provides a “road map”—more like a large group of “potential hints”

Here are a few excerpts that I found to be particularly potent:

Most people walk around with some kind of device or have access to some kind of device that allows them to choose how to use their time. . . . In a world with that much choice, books need to continue to evolve to compete for someone’s time and interest.”

“Evolve” toward something more than “content” to feed the ravenous masses, I hope………

Books travel through the world collecting strangers. They are public spaces. Readers meet in the margins, at the edge of a text they share in common.”

“The audience is as ready for change as we are; they’re ready to be addressed as readers sharing the common space of a book, strangers ready to recognize each other across difference.”

“A culture of reading makes an economy that is, like reading itself, slower than shopping. It’s conversational, open-ended, interested in detail, difference; it goes on and on, back and forth; it accepts what is available, rather than unilaterally demanding satisfaction.”

Now, a few that trouble me (from a variety of essays in the book):

“How the digital age might alter attention spans and perhaps even how we tell one another stories is a subject of considerable angst.”

“As Wired put it, when you buy the Kindle Fire, ‘you’re not buying a gadget—you’re filing citizen papers for the digital duchy of Amazonia.’”

“Some people still confuse the newspaper literary culture—a small subgroup, almost a fetish really—with literary culture as a whole.”

“Today, not many university presses are flourishing…”

Now, a particularly damning statement:

“Those of us who’ve worked in literary publishing for years know that some pigs are definitely more equal than others. You add class into it and you see that the literary world at the highest levels is a group of tastemakers comprised by a majority of male writers and editors who frequently hand publications, prizes, and other essential forms of recognition back and forth to one another.”

Here’s one from an extremely clear-headed person:

“The question industry professionals need to ask themselves is: ‘How can I use my position to help create a literary world that is diverse, equitable, and doesn’t just represent the same segment of society it always has since its inception? What concrete actions can I take to make actual change and move beyond the tired conversation we’ve been having for decades?’”

And, there are one or two very biased individuals in the book (the following quote omits to mention that traditional publishing is just as much “counting on a miracle”…):

“There’s a role for self-publishing, definitely. But just playing the odds, if you’re a new author, it’s almost always going to make sense to publish with a big or small professional publisher, if you can—a proper editor, some degree of marketing, some degree of professionalism and advice. Want to upload your book onto a self-publishing platform along with hundreds of thousands of others that month, and hope for the best? That’s fine, but you’re basically counting on a miracle.”

Also, that last quote makes the assumption that self-publishing authors don’t avail themselves of editors and never think about book promotion

Still, the variety of voices in this book, from a wide range of disciplines and businesses, is a valuable consideration for those of you who want some important issues to think about—issues that do and will continue to matter in the Book World

So, to bring this non-review to an end, one humble, pithy, utterly true quote:

“One may counterpose the book to many things, but technology shouldn’t be one of them. The book is not counter-technology, it is technology. It is the apotheosis of technology—just like the wheel or the chair.”

Table of Contents:

Reading the Tea Leaves: Notations on the Changing Look of the Literary SVEN BIRKERTS

The Ends of the Book: Reading, Economies & Publics MATTHEW STADLER

The Amazon Effect STEVE WASSERMAN

The Self-Hating Book Critic JESSA CRISPIN

The View from a University Press DONNA SHEAR

Poetry in Translation: Hemispheric Perspectives GABRIEL BERNAL GRANADOS, KRISTIN DYKSTRA & ROBERTO TEJADA

VIDA: An Interview with Erin Belieu ERIN BELIEU & KEVIN PRUFER

19 Things: More Thoughts on the Future of Fiction JOHN O’BRIEN

Hold the Damn Door Open: Idealism Is No Currency MEGAN M. GARR

Diversity Is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing DANIEL JOSÉ OLDER

Comics Publishing DOUGLAS WOLK

The Art of Agenting: An Interview with Chris Parris-Lamb CHRIS PARRIS-LAMB & JONATHAN LEE

The Open Refrigerator GERALD HOWARD

A Culture of Competition: Some Notes on Writing Contests & Literary Publishing KEVIN LARIMER

Coming to Milkweed Editions DANIEL SLAGER

The Overnight Success of Lookout Books EMILY LOUISE SMITH

The Southern Review at Eighty JESSICA FAUST & EMILY NEMENS

What Is the Business of Literature? RICHARD NASH

The Future Value of a Literary Publisher JANE FRIEDMAN

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7 Interesting Articles for #Readers & #Writers


In the last 5 years and 4 months, this blog has offered 1,463 articles (posts) to its readers (many of whom are writers).

7 Interesting Articles for #Readers & #Writers

Image Courtesy of Allyson Correia ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/Allyson-36254

Since last July, I’ve written a full article on each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; while offering re-blogs from a group of wonderful writers on the other days of the week.

Today (a Monday), due to vast and tumultuous internal goings-on, I can’t seem to get into the space where I write a full article

So, since I spend a significant part of every day locating articles on the web that I can report on here (once in awhile I actually write the full post from my own brain and heart; though, I like being a reporter and gathering info from all over for my readers… {if you want to read stuff totally written by me, try some of those freebies in the left side-bar}); and, since I have somewhere over 500 articles bookmarked for possible reportage, I’ll share a number of them with only brief snippets from me ( I’m fairly sure I’ll be back to my usual talking-about-one-other-article by Wednesday :-)

And, the first offering is from The Millions and is suitable for readers and writers ( and writers who read :-) :

The Private Library: What Books Reveal About Their Readers

Next, from The Economist, an article that I feel most writers will definitely read and some readers (those who know a writer) will like:

The Unsurprising Link Between Authorship and Espionage

Perhaps readers will like the next one more than writers? Though, I’d recommend writers do read it… It’s from Canadian NewsWire:

Libraries Call on Multinational Publishers for Fair Ebook Pricing

The next one, from Salon, has an incredibly long title:

Erased from history: Too many women writers — like Constance Fenimore Woolson — are left to languish in moldy archives. What will it take to bring them back?

Now, from the indefatigable blogger at Brain Pickings:

Umberto Eco on the Future of the Book

And, from Medium, a look at patterns—weirdly interesting:

Punctuation in novels

Finally, from The Paris Review:

How Repulsive ~ On the merits of disturbing literature

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#CreativeCourage & #BigMagic for Readers, Writers, & Publishers


I used just a bit of Creative Courage in the title of this post—jamming the words together and sticking a pound-sign in front of them—going for the Twitter-Look… Big Magic

Naturally, writing a novel or raising a child or working to prevent radical climate change take TrueCreativeCourage and a heaping soul-full of BigMagic

Have you heard of the book Eat, Pray, Love? It was written by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I’ve written two important posts about Elizabeth (both having very cool videos):

* Must Writers Suffer Melancholy, Anguish, and Depression?

* Are Failure and Success Actually “The Same Thing”?

It turns out that Maria Popova has written an article about a new book by Ms. Gilbert—Big Magic: Elizabeth Gilbert on Creative Courage and the Art of Living in a State of Uninterrupted Marvel.

Here come the excerpts:

“…the pursuit of possibility is very much at the heart of Gilbert’s mission to empower us to enter into creative endeavor the way one enters into a monastic order: ‘as a devotional practice, as an act of love, and as a lifelong commitment to the search for grace and transcendence.’”

“Surely something wonderful is sheltered inside you. I say this with all confidence, because I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure. I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

“The hunt to uncover those jewels — that’s creative living.

“The courage to go on that hunt in the first place — that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one.

“The often surprising results of that hunt — that’s what I call Big Magic.”

Later in the article:

“The only reason I can speak so authoritatively about fear is that I know it so intimately. I know every inch of fear, from head to toe. I’ve been a frightened person my entire life. I was born terrified. I’m not exaggerating; you can ask anyone in my family, and they’ll confirm that, yes, I was an exceptionally freaked-out child. My earliest memories are of fear, as are pretty much all the memories that come after my earliest memories….

“I also realized that my fear was boring because it was identical to everyone else’s fear. I figured out that everyone’s song of fear has exactly that same tedious lyric: “STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP!” True, the volume may vary from person to person, but the song itself never changes, because all of us humans were equipped with the same basic fear package when we were being knitted in our mothers’ wombs.”

“Creativity is a path for the brave, yes, but it is not a path for the fearless, and it’s important to recognize the distinction.

“If your goal in life is to become fearless, then I believe you’re already on the wrong path, because the only truly fearless people I’ve ever met were straight-up sociopaths and a few exceptionally reckless three-year-olds — and those aren’t good role models for anyone.”

If you want to be a more creative person or you’re already embroiled in a creative life, I suggest you go read the full article

Ms. Gilbert also has a nice discussion guide for Big Magic.

And, here’s a video with Elizabeth…

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