Archive for December 21, 2012
It can be argued that self-publishing authors need editors more than those using traditional publishing. With the weight of a publishing house and their marketing team behind you, a few spelling errors can be overlooked. Lack of substance and writing style can be overwhelmed by a well tuned hype machine. Fifty Shades of Grey being a prime example. It’s not the subject matter that bothers me, I have plenty of sex, sometimes graphic sex, in my stories. What bothers me is that E.L. James simply can’t write. And that’s after the editors at Knopf worked the manuscript over.
Good editing can be expensive, and I know few wannabe self-published authors with wads of cash to spare. But that’s no excuse for not having as many eyes as possible look over your manuscript before you publish. You can start with friends and family. Every person that looks reads your story is another chance to spot spelling errors, formatting problems, and basic grammar fuck-ups. If possible, however, you need to go beyond that. The most economical way is to find a writing group.
I’ve been a member of a writing group for over five years now. Nothing has compared as far as a source of ideas, advice, and not so gentle prodding to keep on writing. I get some of my best story ideas from my writer’s group telling me how they would like to see the plot develop.
Now there are writing groups and there are writing groups. You may want to stay away from groups that focus on poetry (unless you’re publishing poetry), endless writing prompts, and their feelings. You need people unafraid to give you honest feedback. Be careful of writing groups larger than a dozen or so. An organization that size can easily devolve into a popularity contest more focused on being a venue for certain people’s work rather than critique. Also, I recommend a writing group that meets face-to-face, not just online. Online groups can be too honest, leaving you open to meaningless knee-jerk comments that won’t help you grow. It’s much better to have a place where you can ask a critique partner exactly what they mean by their comments.
The best thing about a writers’ group is that all the advice is take it or leave it. You have the option of following what they say or sticking to your guns. Just don’t argue with the people critiquing your work. It’s their opinion, and they’re entitled to it. You ASKED for it. You should always take their feedback seriously, and weigh heavily the reasons why you would choose to ignore it.
To find a critique group, try meetup.com, or your local library.
Every week I’ll be adding five websites with excellent resources and interesting news for writers.
The Chicago Manual of Style: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org The de-facto style guide for fiction writers.
LitReactor: http://litreactor.com/ “LitReactor is a destination for writers to improve their craft; a haven for readers to geek out about books; and a platform to kickstart your writing goals.”
Proper Manuscript Format for a Novel: http://firstmanuscript.com/proper-manuscript-format/ By my good friend Dax MacGregor
Book Country: http://bookcountry.com/ I prefer face-to-face critique, but this is one of the better online crit sites if all else fails.
Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com The best place for writer’s to network with core audience. This is where people who are serious about reading go.
There, I got that out of the way. That’s the other thing I’m doing here, I’m trying to sell you some books. I hate doing this. I know my initial reaction to anyone trying to sell me something is fuck you. But I’m in the same boat most of you are. We’ll maybe in the same waters.
I’m a hippy anarchist commie-pinko liberal taker. I dream of a Star Trek world without money. But that’s not today, and until then, the only thing a person can do is try to make a living doing something they like to do, love to do, need to do.
I’ve spent a sizeable portion of my time on this mudball telling stories and learning to write. I have these things running around in my brain that want to get out and need to infect like a meme. The demon monkeys in my head must have their message heard.
Problem is most people are not ready to hear what my demon monkeys have to say. I know this. What I write does not fit into the nice categories that mainstream publishing sells. I have turned to self-publishing not only out of a loathing for the companies that control our culture, but armed well in the knowledge I’m not commercial.
Take sex for example. My upcoming series, My Babylon, contains graphic depictions of abnormal sexual behavior. I believe it needs to be there. I believe it adds to an understanding of the characters and the story, and I put in only the sex that meets the criteria.
But if you look at what the publishing houses have to offer you come to the conclusion there are only porn and not porn. Either your book is about stringing sex scenes together with a pretext of plot, or when the characters get nekkid you turn off the lights. Yeah, I know there are exceptions, but when you’re the new guy, you don’t get to be the exception. Mix that with all the other weirdness in my stories and you have a recipe for rejection.
So I hope by being honest we can talk to each other like human beings and not participants in a commercial transaction.
I’ve got some really weird shit. If you’re weird, if you feel like the big guys are not speaking to you, give me a chance when my books hit the virtual shelves.
Until then, keep your eyes peeled on this blog, follow me on twitter, or join my mailing list. If you found any of this entertaining I guarantee more of the same.
If you’re into totally fucked-up shit, check out my other blog, Scroll of Thoth.