The Gross National Debt

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

So you wanna write a book...

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It has never been easier to be a published author. You can, quite literally, get a book into "print" at no cost to yourself.
pred-ed.com . A list I will soon be on no doubt.


The new ebook platforms, the Kindle and Nook, have taking book publishing even a step past Print on Demand (POD). I have several books in print, dead tree edition, and several others in the ebook only format. Got several more I'm working on which will be in both formats.

There's no reason you too cannot be a published author, just like me.

This is a good thing.

This is a bad thing.

It is a good thing because I think everyone who can speak can write. There's no trick to it. You just put the words down on paper. The person really doesn't even have to be literate. Just say the words to someone who can put the words on paper. Famed romance novelist Barbara Cartland dictated her novels. Someone else typed them up.

I also think everyone has something to say. What they have to say may not be interesting to you or me, but eventually it will interest someone. But that is not the reason to write. The only reason to write is because you can. What other people think is irrelevant. You are the only person actually qualified to judge your own work.
Cover sucks. Book is awesome.


Hopefully you never get to the point of people like me who have to write. Aside - You either get that or you don't. There's no in between.

Of the 60+ books I judged in a recent book contest, less than 10 were worthy of being put into print. I say that noting it's my opinion only and I am not qualified to judge the other authors' works. One book, An Inconvenient Amish Zombie Left Behind The Da Vinci Diet Code Truth, was absolutely a slam dunk in terms of writing. This one deserves to be on the best seller list.

A couple of others were very very good, just a step below the Amish Zombie. I can't say that a few tweaks would put the books into the same category because the genre simply didn't appeal to me. But the writing was solid quality.

I have read and heard stories of other authors who have gone on to huge success in the independent publishing work. No agents, no contracts and no shared royalty with publishing houses. I have friends who've achieved this kind of success. Marty Beckerman being one. This too is a good thing.

Now for the bad things.
Life is too short to read bad books.

A few other books definitely had potential. This is a bad thing with today's ease of publishing. Writers slam out enough words to fill a book, upload it and they are published author.

If someone had helped the author out with a red pen, the books would have made a substantial leap forward in quality. As Paul & Sabrina have pointed out, everyone needs an editor. We all need someone to eyeball our work critically. Most of the family and friends you have will not do this. They are not going to hurt your feelings or tell you the truth.

Add to this, most of your family and friends simply don't have the editing abilities necessary to help you pound a manuscript into shape.

As much as I detest, abhor and generally find the idea of hiring an editor to go over your manuscript, I am beginning to believe this is a reasonable step for many authors. The sheer number of books going into publication each year now has put a different reality to the idea of hiring an editor to go over manuscripts.
S. Georgia newspaper editor.

As a full time editor and writer myself, I could easily be buried in manuscripts to edit for other people, if I did it for free. I will not do it for free. I won't charge money, but I am going to extract payment. I have a standing agreement with several author buddies. We edit each other's work on a 1:1 basis. For each MS of theirs I edit, they have to edit one of mine.

This is not a friendly edit either. This is serious and we spare no feelings. The last MS I edited resulted in a pretty substantial revision of the book's main character.

Want me to edit your stuff? Are you tough enough? I have literally and personally driven two people out of journalism. And, I was being nice to them.

The great majority of the books I read for the contest were a waste of trees. As a tree farmer, I'd rather see my trees turned into termite chow than used as pages in some of those books. They were that bad.

In the old world of publishing, these books would have never see the light of day unless the author ponied up thousands of dollars for self-publishing on a traditional press. Now with Print on Demand, these books are available worldwide at no cost to the author.

The problem should be pretty easy to see. Of the 60 books in the contest I judged, less than 10 were worthy of reading (admittedly by my standards). I include the genres I don't care for in the less than 10 worthy of reading.

More than 500 books are hiding the less than 10 books that are worthwhile.

That is the biggest tragedy of book publishing today. The good books are buried until a landslide of compost-to-be. Only a few manage to sprout through the detritus and earn the acclaim they deserve.

One last tip - if you decide to self publish DO NOT PAY FOR ANYTHING EXCEPT THE BOOK. Some companies charge you setup fees, pre-press fees, etc. This is a rip off. Outskirts Press is one of the biggest rips in the business. Do Not Use Them.

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