Opening Image & the changing face of publishing

DebE —  March 12, 2012 — 6 Comments

“Knives, or weapons of any sort, did not usually feature in Llewella’s repertoire of collectibles, but the ornate handle had caught her eye. The finely carved ivory or bone beckoned to her – begged her not to let it leave the market without her – although, she was flip-flopping over whether it had been the knife handle or the way the trousers fit the arse over which the knife belt was slung that had drawn her attention first. It was giving her pause, albeit minor.”

Story opening Image - Jonas' hip with knife attached

It was the damned knife ...

I was reading an article today about self-promotion, written by a recently published author. Apparently, they were given a marketing sheet by their publisher – an indication that marketing was still squarely in the author’s court. It does make one wonder: if you still have to do all the work when you are traditionally published, but you have to share the profits, why would you? Oh, don’t get me wrong, I see the value in going through a traditional publishing house – the editors, and that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that you made it through the slush pile – but, otherwise, where is the value? Why not go it alone and self-publish? There are certainly editors out there who will look at your work for a fee. Or, there is libboo.com where you can team up with other authors and arrange to share royalties as you deem fit. Or writing.com with its plethora of writers willing to help – yes, there are people who will help you review your work for free (you just have to offer your time to do the same for others – an educational experience, not a loss). And what about this? The Mongoliad – by Neal Stephenson! I mean, Neal Stephenson … doing what? An online novel with extremely high levels of fan interaction! Fan stories. Fan art. Fan suggestions. This, to me, is the future of writing. No longer will we sit in a dark room typing away in isolation. We can reach out to other people and share our visions, and then find out how they interpret them. I still harbour a dream of doing a bit of an online “graphic novel”. And The Mongoliad is going to be my model. No, I couldn’t hope to reach it’s level of awesomeness, but I can keep it in focus …

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You can read the first few chapters here, but if you wish to read further, I would encourage you to sign up for a free writing.com account which will allow you to read, and give feedback on, many great (and less than great – but how are we gonna learn if you don’t tell us?) written works.

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DebE

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Deb E was born in New Zealand’s North Island, but her parents corrected that within months, moving south to Dunedin and staying there. Childhood nights were spent falling asleep to cover versions of Cliff Richard and the Shadows and other Rock ’n Roll classics played by her father’s band, and days were spent dancing to 45 LPs. Many of her first writing experiences were copying down song lyrics. She graduated to scientific reports when she studied a nematophagus fungus in the Zoology department of the University of Otago, trading all traces of popularity for usefulness… then traded both for fiction. Mum of one human & four fur-babies.

6 responses to Opening Image & the changing face of publishing

  1. 

    Yes, I just finished a self-published book by an acquaintance. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great, but it was better than some actual published tripe I have read. Fantasy is just not my genre.

    I agree, YouTube-style sites for literature are a good idea, but with so few people actually able to read anymore, they’d probably just rather wait for the video.

    • 

      I’d like to think literacy levels will improve again, since so much of our communication these days is in written form. The quality of that written form might be below par. But it’s there.

      Just go ahead & write a screenplay rather than a novel, aye?

  2. 

    Another small advantage that you get by publishing through traditional venues is the contacts, the infrastructure (printing the books, getting them to stores/libraries, etc), and the legitimacy that you get.

    On the last but, I do tend to take a bit more notice when I see Tor or Ace than when I do Luna, say, on the book description page. In some genres, (particularly in genre fiction), getting picked up by a publisher will make a difference in terms of building an audience.

    • 

      Oh yes. I totally admit to harbouring the dream of being validated by being accepted by a publishing house. Validation = legitimacy to me. I have yet to read an awesome self-published novel, but that isn’t to say I haven’t read some below par (IMHO) traditionally published books (I’m looking at you, “Among Thieves”, whose little “Read this book” promo from Brent Weeks nearly put me off reading his wonderful stuff … nearly).

      Anyway, back to the point … That dream is what will keep me plugging away until I feel I truly have a product to market to them. And, if by then they still don’t want it, I’d totally fling it up online. If I wrote not to be read, I wouldn’t give a crap about my final product. But, I *do* want my stuff to be read so, if at the end of it all the only way to achieve that is to have it sitting online somewhere (or multiple places), I’m down with that.

      • 

        There was a time a while back when it was trendy to write “for yourself” rather than to be published/read. I’m completely with you when you say that books are written to be read. Hell, writing itself is communication!

        And trad publishing is still a concrete path to just that. I think the other main issue with indie publishing is that the author is completely at sea when it comes to structuring their career trajectory (ha, “writing career”. We should be so lucky). Unlike being an engineer, professor, or doctor, there is no proscribed road to being a successful writer–except for that idea of getting published by a house.

  3. 

    I think what I like most about the traditional publishing route is the idea of having an experienced editor help me shape my story into a masterpiece (that is assuming I can get it past the slush pile …). I know I don’t have the skills and knowledge to create something amazing, but I do hope that I am pulling together an interesting and fun tale. With a good dollop of guidance, it just might turn into something that a few people would like to read … maybe even more than once. Wouldn’t that be magic?

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