I’ve noted several times how much I dislike the phrase “self-publishing,” even going so far as to note there’s no such thing. I’ve spoken often enough (arguably too often?) against corporations and conglomerations and the oft-neglected complexity that has come to color storytelling and writing. I’ve noted that people who call the late-twentieth century business model of publishing and distribution “traditional” are badly misusing the word. I realize, however, I’ve never really talked about what independence means to me, or how I’ve come to it, or why. I thought I would.corporate publishing, editors, independent film, independent music, independent publishing, literary agents, publishing, self-publishing, traditional publishing
Posts Tagged “editors”
Feb 02 2012
Nov 18 2011
All the “versus” debates floating around recently have made me think about debates in the first place. Binary thinking.
Conceptual versus linear thinking. Which, of course, one could argue is just as binary.editing, editors, independent publishing, jk rowling, left brain, literary agents, publishing, reading, right brain, self-publishing, writing
Nov 04 2011
Yesterday, I caught Chuck Wending’s post over at his Terrible Minds site, “Writers Are the 99%.” Interesting post about the marginalization of writers in industry and culture.
It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately, and especially with regard to the Occupy Wall Street movement.Chuck Wendig, corporations, editors, literary agents, occupy publishing, occupy wall street, publishing, reading, submissions, Terrible Minds, writing
Oct 27 2011
The other day, amusingly obscene penmonkey Chuck Wendig posted a prompt about Terrible Minds nicknames to Google+. His note at the time was that one’s first name was the object immediately to one’s right, while one’s surname was one’s greatest fear.
Which is where the title of this post comes from, as mine was Remote Control Mediocrity.
Because it got me thinking about success and how we define it. Years ago, I thought six-figure (or any-figure) book contracts were required for validation, because I thought for sure that if one wrote a “good enough” book–meaning a book that is technically competent in all ways–one could get an agent and attract a corporate publisher like Random House.agents, Chuck Wendig, editors, mediocrity, publishing, success, Terrible Minds, USC, writing
There are lots of ways to share a book and, in doing so, improve as a writer. Not all those ways are created equal, and some work better than others.
I’m pretty sure there are various websites that basically serve as online writing workshops, and I’m nearly certain that part of Richard Nash’s Red Lemonade has some of that functionality, wherein writers post chapters and stories and the best rise to the top. I’ve participated in both writing groups and online writing workshops in the past, and they all share one thing in common: all are best with a smaller amount of material, and honestly most effective for short stories.agents, craft, criticism, editors, Edward Cullen, feedback, publishing, Red Lemonade, Richard Nash, screenwriting, syd field, Twilight, writing
Mar 30 2011
Recently, a friend of mine, Nina Perez, who maintains Blog It Out B, decided to bite the bullet and publish her new novel without the backing of a major corporation or the “advocacy” of a literary agent. This coming Friday, her novel, The Twin Prophecies: Rebirth will launch, and I for one am looking forward to it. She’s been working with a guy named Steven Novak on design and illustration, as well as concentrating on formatting and lay-out.
Launching a novel, especially independently, is an anxiety-filled endeavor. Every author faces the stomach-churn that comes with the launch of a novel, but I’d stake a claim that anxiety is doubled for an independent author, who not only faces the daunting challenge of both reaching new readers and hoping those readers don’t respond negatively, but also faces the general negativity of the publishing industry–including literary agents and editors associated with corporate publishers–as a whole.
As Nina has been prepping her novel for publication, we–we being myself and several of her other friends–have been discussing writing and publishing. We’re a diverse group of writers still emerging, still building, still working, still aspiring. We don’t have contracts with big corporations. A couple of us don’t have books out. But we write, and that’s what counts.
And given that we write, and given that we’ve been discussing writing and publishing, lately, we’ve been discussing Amanda Hocking. How can an aspiring writer not, nevermind to what said writer aspires to. Regardless of whether a writer wants millions of dollars or millions of readers, Hocking seems exemplary of a case study of success.
(There’s always an “except,” isn’t there?)
Now, I’m going to break from discussion, because I’ll not put words in other writers’ mouths. But I’ve noticed Hocking, and her work, and her story, and I’ve gotten a couple samples of her work, and I’ve got to be honest: I don’t get it.
Then again, I didn’t get Twilight, either.
Still, a million teenage girls (and their moms) and the millions of dollars they spent can’t be wrong.
Or can they?'Salem's Lot, agents, amanda hocking, barry eisler, Brian Keene, Dead Sea, editors, Hollowland, Leisure Books, Nina Perez, publishers, Saint Martin's Press, stephenie meyer, Twilight, Twin Prophecies: Rebirth, writing
Sep 08 2008
Late at night, I wonder if she ever really had feelings for me. That’s what’s been most difficult: not her leaving, but rather wondering if she was honest.
What’s most difficult is . . . did she really look at me, try to get to know me? Was she open to it? Does she really not have time, or did she look at me and realize, nah, not this one (and then there’s the nagging, well, if I’d handled my feelings better, would it have changed anything, but no, that way lay madness)?
That’s what counts, mostly.
I’d say that she was the first girl in a while I felt anything for, that she was the first girl since my ex- that I really wanted, but that’d be a lie. There were three years between my ex- and her, and those years weren’t filled with girls, no, but they were filled with misplaced emotions.
Misplaced emotions. Not like I lost anything. Just kinda stopped thinkin’ about where I was puttin’ shit.
I fell for her. Girls will only play the games you let them, will only hurt you as hard as you let them, and she crushed me and hollowed me out because I let her. I let her get inside me, and why?
Because one day I saw her smile, and one day she kissed me back, and one day I let her in.9/11, agents, casual sex, dating, dear author, editors, love, rejection, relationships, romance, September 11th, sex, slush pile, submissions, united way, writing
I finished my novel, The Prodigal Hour, earlier. At final count, I had trimmed nearly 15,000 words from the previous draft–the final clocks in at a brisk, crisp 90,000 words.
All of which, I probably don’t need to tell you, are awesome.
(well. That’s the hope, anyway. Ultimately, it’s for you to decide. And heck, you even show up in the book. Because you’re just that rad)
Given that, I’ve begun to submit it for representation. Just a couple of queries so far to a couple of agents I think would be a really good fit for it.
Actually, really, to a couple of agents I think would fall in love with it.
And can I just ask: in this day and age, what’s with any agent who doesn’t accept e-queries (or any editor/publisher, for that matter)?
Come on: it’s 2008.
(wow. 2008. Yaysh)
Anyway, a few queries out. First round.
Wish me luck!Tags: agents, editors, novel, publishers, queries, revision
May 28 2008
In light of the discussion on what editors actually do, and why they may or may not be necessary, I thought I’d point to a piece I found over at the New Yorker (though I’m not sure whom I found it by. Someone in my blogroll, probably). The article concerns Raymond Carver and his editor, one Gordon Lish.
I’ve not read much Carver. My sister is a big fan of his, and even won a bet concerning plot and structure by showing her professor a copy of one of Carver’s collections, but I’ve not really yet explored much of his stuff. I don’t know much about Carver at all, really. He just ain’t my cup of tea, to be honest. I make jokes all the time about blowing shit up, but Carver’s stories, while minimalist, also seem a careful study in the “not much happens” school of short story telling. Which always makes me say, “Wait, nothing happened? Then why the fuck are you telling me the story? Is there a point?”
Personal predilections aside, his voice is distinctive. Nothing may happen, but somehow, you still sort of feel the nothing happening. His stories are weird that way.
Anyway, Gordon Lish was editor of Esquire for several years. Judging by his Wikipedia entry, he was involved with the “Merry Pranksters,” including Kerouac, Casaday, and Ginsberg in SF before he and his second wife moved to NYC. He earned some renown through his career: DeLillo, Kundera, Nabokov . . . the list goes on.
From the Wikipedia entry on Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”:
Now I’m going to speak about this from some personal experience, and admit something; I was, for other writers, not a very good editor. I always tried to make the writing better, the story better, but often to the detriment of the original material, the original voice, and the original content. A good editor maintains that original content; I really wasn’t one. I wasn’t bad, exactly; I just wasn’t good.
I think it’s worth reading if only for the glance into the sometimes esoteric realm of what occurs behind the scenes in writing and publishing. Considering Lish’s edits, is the story really any better, or is it, in fact, worse for the wear? I’ll admit I found Carver’s original final several paragraphs rather poignant, especially the horses bit, and especially the end; does their loss negatively affect the story? Or was Lish correct that they were stronger without them?
Or is Lish just some editor who was never good enough to be a writer and so had to butcher other author’s works? Sure, he “introduced” major writers of the 20th century, but what did he do to their stories? Considering the finalized state of Carver’s story compared to its original, I cringe to think what he did to Nabokov and Kundera, personally. And I don’t even really like either of them.
At what point do you, as Carver say, “You know what? Sorry, but that’s not the story I wrote. You can publish that, if you like, but you’ll have to write it yourself.”
It’s almost like Lish was the P. Diddy of his time, sampling a classic song, laying a bit of new vocal on it, calling it his own, and cashing in.
Or maybe it’s almost like Lish helped those writers transcend their otherwise mediocre writing?
I’ll admit, I haven’t a clue.
Which is, largely, the reason I chose to self-publish my collection. Not because I didn’t want editorial input; I’d already gotten it, several times over. Rather, just because I just don’t know how important editorial input is to short stories anymore.
Finally, also, some thoughts on how to become an editor, over at et cetera.Tags: allen ginsberg, beginners, editing, editors, esquire, fiction, gordon lish, jack kerouac, milan kundera, neal casady, publishing, raymond carver, short stories, the new yorker, vladimir nabokov, what we talk about when we talk about love
Yesterday’s post caused more of a stir than I’d have expected, and brought some comment:
Cat Rambo mentions it here. (I made some comments in the discussion, but they haven’t yet shown up)
In both that first link and the final, Nick Mamatas shows up to offer some thoughts of his own.
Finally, John Fox, one of the editors in question (and again: a terrific writer, and my former classmate), discusses it here, with Howard Junker, editor of Zyzzyva showing up in the comments.
I’d like to note a few things, the first of which is that I respect and admire both Mamatas and Fox. I mentioned both Mamatas’ Stoker nominations (and win!) and Fox’s status as my classmate to demonstrate such. Their offenses, as such (reprinting query letters), are more dubious than egregious. Mamatas, in Nicoll’s LJ, notes the long history of “Tales from a Slushpile,” including from editors as renowned as Ellen Datlow.
While I’m surprised Wolff still has a job at Fence, I continue to expect great things from both Fox and Mamatas (I’m betting their respective theses are awesome, judging from what work of theirs I’ve seen).
My main point yesterday was one of courtesy and confidentiality. Perhaps my reaction comes from my own time as an editor, which occurred in a somewhat different industry than Fox and Mamatas function in; I edited a clinical psychiatric nursing journal, which was a trade publication, as opposed to a commercial publication. Commercial publishing, which includes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and pretty much everything consumers buy, is actually a small percentage of the publishing industry, which includes textbooks, manuals, and the sorts of publications that are published by specialty presses for particular audiences. I worked for SLACK Incorporated, which is one of the largest publishers of medical literature in the world; unless you’re involved, somehow, in the medical industry, however, you’ve probably never seen the journal.
Perhaps that context is important; it’s obviously not an endeavour that lends itself to a side-blog, nor one in which publishing the letters of people with bipolar disorder would really amuse its audience in any way.
Fox makes the interesting note that writers who are good at their jobs won’t show up in such correspondence; the vast majority of slush is merely mediocre, and not horrific enough to “amuse.”
And perhaps again, I’m just not really the audience for this. I’ve said before I think the literary marketplace for short-form writing is basically broken, at this point, especially with blogs and Lulu. I’ve always wondered how many people who aren’t trying to break into print actually read these magazines; Mamatas has disparaged MFA programs as the barely published teaching the barely literate, and the short-form literary marketplace has always struck me as catered specifically to a readership that hopes to get published in it.
One final note: Mamatas has quickly picked up (and on) the fact that I am, in his words, a “lulu.com author.” I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that; while technically accurate, I’d much rather clarify that to just being a guy who made some stories available to anyone who’d like to read them. In Shetterly’s blog, Mamatas seems to indicate he feels that distribution is the clear reason writers need editors; without the latter, the former can’t get onto bookstore shelves, etc, and asks how many lulu.com I’ve seen in a bookstore. As I mentioned yesterday, I haven’t a clue, because that’s just not something I, as a reader, pay attention to–I pay attention to the writing and the stories, not who published them. No, you can’t find my collection in libraries (and I’m not sure you ever will), but you can download it free, and I think that’s kinda cool.
Also, I’d like to point out that my debut is a collection of short writing–poetry, essays, and fiction (most of you regular readers know this. Those who don’t: it’s free! What’re you waiting for?! Give it a try! Nothing to lose besides ten minutes [you'll know by then whether you'll like it, and why continue if you don't?]!). I used Lulu to publish it because I had several stories and essays I’d workshopped in my writing program (and indeed, a couple that got me into it in the first place), but nowhere to go with them, nowhere they seemed to fit. So rather than wait months for possible acceptances and probably meager paychecks, I just put them together.
I’d not do the same thing with my novel. The marketplace for long fiction seems, to me, more diverse, decidedly better, and less marketed to those who just want to get published in it in the first place (well. When it’s marketed at all, but that’s another post entirely). In addition, it seems more a business than the short-form market, which seems a bit more akin, to these eyes, to a network.
Then again, as Shetterly noted in his blog, I’m still very much learning my craft and the marketplace, so obviously all this must be taken with a handful of salt.Tags: cat rambo, commercial publishing, editors, james nicoll, john fox, literary marketplace, lulu, nick mamatas, publishing, response, trade publishing, will shetterly
I wrote, last night, of a couple of rejections I received yesterday, and also that I wanted to describe the submission process in a little more detail than I’ve ever read a new writer describe it.
Truth is, what occurred last week (and last night) is atypical; the submission process is supposed to be slow, mostly–you write that good book, and then you find an agent to submit it to. There are lots of ways to do this–my favorite has always been to Google my favorite authors and submit accordingly. Also: reading their guidelines–I don’t submit to anyone who represents only, say, romance and crime, because though there may be romance and crime in my novel, that’s not what it’s about. Generally, if agents say they won’t take on science fiction, I avoid them, as well, because I worry that most of those won’t be able to wrap their heads around the time machine in the story.
Once you find a prospective agent, you write a query (which includes a brief synopsis and a bio), and then you send it, along with a sample chapter and a self-addressed, stamped envelope, off. Many don’t require sample chapters, and some don’t want them at all, but my first chapter is four pages long, and so I try to get away with it. I wouldn’t if it were twenty.
So, package sent.
And then you wait. The waiting is the hardest and the longest part. The waiting is why it takes so long. Some are fast. Others not so much.
Yesterday’s responses came within a week of sending the submission. These were extraordinarily exceptional circumstances, mind–in both cases, I had known the agents in question for years, and they had already asked to see the manuscript, either in whole or in part. Truth is, I had thought I’d wait at least another week or two to hear. I hadn’t expected either to read the material over the weekend and respond so quickly.
That both did, and that one even included some comments, was simply awesome.
I mentioned I’d been uncertain of either, in terms of their fit for the project, and I think that’s the feeling/question I keep returning to. The one I feel I should listen to, right now. I think I should take a couple of weeks away from the project, completely, and write something else. I think I should try not to think about any agents or editors or anything and simply focus on my tasks at hand, of which there are certainly enough to keep me busy.
I’m going to be moving to Denver in a little more than a month. Another fresh start, another clean slate–I think that’ll be a good time to return to the project, and submitting it, in earnest.
That’s my plan, anyway.
So we’ll see what life sends my way, instead.Tags: agents, crime, editors, guidelines, queries, query, romance, sample chapter, science fiction, submission, time machine