Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Category: Meets Girl (page 2 of 2)

A few years ago, back when I published my collection, I used to argue that doing the same thing with a novel didn’t make sense. The market for a novel is different from the market for a short story collection, I argued–and still maintain, as they’re very different forms. I’ve always preferred writing novels, but never realized just how much I preferred it until I practiced more at short stories and screenplays in grad school.

Grad school was good for me, as a writer. I’d spent years querying agents, moving beyond form rejections to requests for partials, but finally recognized a painful truth: I wasn’t yet as good a writer as I could be. So I sucked it up and decided I was going to learn how to be a better writer, and I applied to USC and got in. I took workshops with great teachers who read like a who’s who of contemporary American writing, and I remember how formative my first ever fiction workshop was. I learned a lot about the marketplace, and publishing, and did so on top of experience actually publishing, albeit in a trade versus commercial publication.

Toward the end of my first year, I realized that the market for short fiction sucked. Honestly, not much has changed since then. There are a handful of publications–like Esquire or The Atlantic or Playboy–that reach a lot of readers, but they’re nigh impossible to break into unless your last name is Moody or McEwan or Franco, and then there are the smaller literary journals, mostly affiliated with university-level writing programs. Easier, at times, but filled with often homogeneous writing that all pretty much sounds the same and is often about middle-class ennui or the dissatisfaction of getting drunk at parties. They don’t pay much, and usually in complimentary copies when they do, but writers who get stories published in them get publication credits, which look good on a query letter.

For me, frustrating. I don’t write for publication credits. I write to get to readers. And chances are most of the readers of those small literary journals are either the volunteer university staff who published them or the writers who hope to submit to them.

Maybe I should have. Maybe I should have played the game harder, written more stories with blank characters nobody cares about who live lives in which nothing much happened. Freedom seems to be doing pretty well, after all.

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(Note: this post is stickied. Newer posts, I think, will appear below it. At least, that’s how it should work in theory. That’s how I’m meaning it to work. We’ll see how it ends up working.)

I’m really pleased people are already wanting to buy Meets Girl. In formatting the text for Kindle, I noticed a few details that needed cleaning up, so I’ll be making the necessary changes. I just want it to be perfect. Which I realize is probably impossible, but I can still do everything I can to get it as close as I can, anyway.

So I’m going to.

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Because that’s the way you’ll get it.

I’ve spent the past week coding Meets Girl for Kindle.

(I think more writers should be able to say stuff like that, but that’s probably another discussion entirely.)

I’d originally considered making it a Kindle exclusive. Given that publishing for Kindle doesn’t actually restrict one to the device because Amazon’s app is available on pretty much every platform (PC, Mac, Android, iOS, etc.), I thought just going with Kindle was easiest for everyone.

But I’m rethinking that. Because I started thinking, wait. What if I were a reader who’d bought a nook because I liked Barnes & Noble?

In terms of digital distribution, exclusivity doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense.

Plus, Barnes & Noble’s Pubit platform went live last week. And you know the first thing I did when I got that particular email was sign up for a publisher account.

I’m not going to promise ubiquity to start with, but I am going to make as much available as I can as soon as I can. Meets Girl will go live on Lulu and Kindle on November 29th. I will begin serializing it four weeks before, on November 1st. I haven’t yet decided how much I’m going to ultimately post. I think the first nine or ten chapters, which will basically carry through into 2011.

More to come in the next few weeks.

Like, oh, I don’t know, maybe a contest?

Meets Girl: Sometimes the Greatest Love of All Is Unrequited.

I think I forgot to mention, here, I posted a new essay over at The Nervous Breakdown. In which I fawn hyperbolically over the new Kindle. In an era of totally undeserved hype (I’m looking at you, Jonathan Franzen), the Kindle is a magical device. I’ve been using it for about two weeks now.

First book: Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, which was a little like Harry Potter Goes to College, and started crazily strong, but then flopped in the final act, sadly. Disappointing, ultimately.

I like reading on it, and after a couple of weeks, I’m very glad I chose it over the iPad. It wasn’t merely a financial consideration. I just already have a laptop and a phone, and I wasn’t sure what I’d be using the iPad for. I need a keyboard to write (and I know I can get a bluetooth attachment, but that’s beside the point). Still, I understand why the iPad is overtaking the netbook category, mostly.

In terms of a dedicated digital reader, however, so far, the Kindle has been excellent. I like that it’s dedicated, too, like a book or a novel; when I’m reading a book, I’m reading the story. Not clicking around, not opening apps, not tweeting and Facebooking.

In the spirit of making Meets Girl available on it, I’ve been doing the necessary formatting and lay-out. It’s not difficult; Kindle mainly uses html. I’ll explain more about it at some point, when I’m done experimenting and learning it.

I think you’ll agree it looks fairly good already, though:

I should note that first image is not actually the Kindle file; it’s a PDF. Which the Kindle can display, natively. In terms of lay-out, though, the pagination and formatting both leave much to be desired.

Today, I woke up to an email from Barnes & Noble. Pubit, a program they had announced several months ago with the intention of going live over the summer, was finally implemented today. I’ve already signed up for an account and can start uploading files.

I’d originally planned to make Meets Girl a Kindle exclusive (given that Kindle is cross-platform and available, as an app, on pretty much anything), but then I started wondering why I wanted to limit choices. The whole point is to make the story available to anyone and everyone who wants it, including all the people who are getting a nook anytime soon.

So it will be. It may be a little while longer getting to the nook, but I’ll have it there, too.

“Once upon a time, I fell in love with a girl who didn’t love me in return.”

New York City, circa 2006. A young man lucking into any temp job he can while following his dream to be a writer. A dream girl and a bad case of unrequited love (is there any other kind?).

If the story ended there, it wouldn’t be extraordinary. It would be just another tale from the big, bad, glorious city; just another romance that never was; just another friendship that never got the chance to be anything more.

But the story doesn’t end there.

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Good writers know that revising is best accomplished when they have achieved some distance from the work they are revising, and I’m inclined to agree with them. There’s also something about reading something concretely and tangibly that changes the reading experience. I’ve found that reading something on a page completely changes the nature of anything I’ve already written on a screen, and I’ve tried to use that distinction to my advantage. Whenever I’ve finished something new, when appropriate, I’ve formatted, designed, and laid out the work; uploaded it to Lulu; and had printed and shipped a copy I’ve taken a pen to.

I haven’t held back when I’ve done it. I’ve attempted to make whatever I’ve ordered as close to a fully realized product as it might be. Which is to say, it’s not just about having it printed and in my hands. It’s about doing my best to make it what I’d hope everyone would hold when they had it in their hands. Having what is basically a fully designed prototype–for lack of a better word–helps me.

When I finished Meets Girl, as a manuscript, I let it sit for several weeks while working on other projects (namely, Certainty, a new curriculum, and a new job). I knew I wanted to revise it, one last time. I knew I’d hit it, for real, but I also knew that hitting it, for real, didn’t mean it was perfect. There was more to polish. Some spots, I knew, were going to be rough. Heck, a couple I’d written to hold a place because I knew telling the story for real was going to be my highest priority.

Still, I knew I’d nailed the execution, for the most part, and all that was left was the polish. In the meantime, I continued to query The Prodigal Hour. I thought about querying Meets Girl, but I held off, as I wasn’t sure it fit either corporate or independent publishers.

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I posted that picture of edited pages on the day I got the book back from my editor. This week, in between training clients and completing MBA coursework, I’ve revised.

Like crazy. The novel now clocks in around 77,000 words, which means my editor and I hacked off 7,000. Which is not bad, considering Stephen King’s once-maxim that the final draft = first draft minus 10%.

My editrix? Awesome. She gets it and, more importantly, doesn’t let me get away with anything (and Lord knows I’m always trying). I think a good editor makes sure you’ve got nothing up your sleeve when you go out onstage, which just makes the magic even better when the writer carries it off.

I’m excited. I won’t say I nailed it, or it’s great–that’ll be left for you to decide–but I am proud of it. I’d want a copy on my bookshelves.

The plan is Meets Girl will be available for reading in November 2010 and for purchase over the holidays.

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Totally thrilled to spend my holiday weekend revising.

I love having an editor who will mark a paragraph as “Too long. Didn’t read.” Ah, our Internet generation and reading habits.

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First, a big thanks to anyone who filled out a survey. It helped me out a great deal, both in terms of my class and in terms of my plans.

Second, if you haven’t by now watched the teaser video for Meets Girl in the previous post, go ahead and do so now.

I tweeted a picture of the cover, and then posted this video. A lot of questions came up, most of which boiled down to “All right, it’s pretty, and I’m excited, now how do I get the damned thing, Will? You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”

The answer is simple:

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YouTube – Teaser for Meets Girl, by Will Entrekin.

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