Tag Archives: authors

Steven Spielberg. We’re Not So Different

Like millions of other viewers, I watched the Academy Awards. Admittedly, my interest focused more on the celebrities strolling the red carpet than who won the gold statue but that’s irrelevant. I watched. I listened to acceptance speeches. I scanned the crowd for expressions of delight and/or disappointment. For one night, I became an unrepentant voyeur.

Until an award recipient uttered a few sentences that resonated so loudly within me, I’m still thinking about them a week later. My apologies to the person responsible for this blog topic. I do not remember your name or even what category you won. I do remember you were male and responsible for the “guts” of the film. A director, perhaps?

What you said mirrored perfectly with what I was feeling that night about my writing. I’ll have to paraphrase, and blend a bit of my own experiences with the emotions you evoked.  You said most people go to the movies to be entertained. They have no idea of the struggles behind the scene, putting the film together, the endless nights of angst before the release date where you wonder if you hit the mark or failed miserably. They can’t possibly know how the project consumed your life, interrupted your relationships and riddled your self-confidence with doubt.

Movie goers, the fans, only know if they like it or not. And what you endured to produce the film is secondary. So an achievement of recognition is even sweeter when one considers the sacrifices made to get it there.

Authors are like that. We emote, we wail, we pace the room – mentally revising each chapter, each sentence until the finished manuscript is published. We then begin the nervous process of watching the numbers and rankings, awaiting judgment by the readers. Our fans. Our detractors. Our judge and jury.

They don’t care about our emotional investment, the hours of writing and re-writing, the sleepless nights plotting a scene because our brains simply would not shut off. They want entertainment. And we either pass or fail. It’s that simple.

Films and novels are blood sucking leeches. They drain their creators of every ounce of strength, pride and sanity. They test our endurance. They scoff at our tears. Ridicule our efforts and force us to try harder. Again and again, until we get it right. Or in some cases, wrong. Films and novels are cruel, unforgiving taskmasters. Sometimes fans are, too.

And then sometimes, they lift us up and carry us off the field like a hero, chanting our name, allowing us a moment of glory to soak up like a sponge. A memory that will live on and on long after the sales deteriorate.

Steven Spielberg:  As a jockey of words and a creative soul, I feel the same pain. And I embrace the same joy. We’re both held accountable by the masses for our projects.  I guess deep inside, we’re not so different.

Butting Heads With Detractors

As writers, we must stand behind our manuscript even when others think it’s crap. If we don’t believe in our story, then why should our readers? And sometimes that means standing up for our product when no one else will.

Writers may submit their story to hundreds of agents and editors before they find one who shares their belief in its marketablity. More often than not, they never do. But most writers are thick skinned. If not, we become that way along the journey to publication. We can’t give up at the first sign of rejection or because of a scathing review from a contest judge. It would signal a lack of confidence in our abilities. Perhaps that’s why many indie  authors have created  their own “breaks” when the industry provided none.

 I understand it’s a tough time for publishers. It’s also a tough time for writers. There’s a battle being waged. Both sides are struggling to find compromise in an ever changing industry. It’s the best of times and the worst of times.

 When debut or mid-list authors could no longer find a place to market their work, it only stands to reason they would search for other outlets. A venue which embraces creativity –  like Kindle Direct Publishing, PubIt or small digital presses who still offer the values associated with publishers from decades ago. Talk to any author who’s worked with a small publisher and 99% will tell you their experience was positive. They may not earn as much in royalties as with a large publisher but at least they’re gaining readership and  the communication, advice and ethics are stellar. Which is why many authors  stay with a small press in some capacity even when new opportunities arise.

 KDP is wooing authors with both their KDP Select program and exclusive imprints. And they’re getting them. Granted, your work must stand on its own. A decision to indie publish does not guarantee readership. You must still produce a well written, well edited product with decent cover art. In fact, a good indie author will be the first to encourage a newbie to find a copy editor/beta reader to look over their work before it’s published.

Digital format, however, still provides a great platform to present stories that might not fit into the strict genre specifications of a publisher.  Take Darcie Chan for instance. Her novel, The Mill River Recluse, has sold over 400,000 copies and landed on several best seller lists. This is the same book that was rejected by 12 publishers and over 100 literary agents because they said it wasn’t a good fit.

 Several years ago, indie published authors got a bad rap. We were the ones who allegedly couldn’t make it in the “real” world so we had to self-publish. Then the market started changing. Print published authors began self publishing their back list, enjoying the control and higher royalty percentages that accompany indie authors. Many mid-list authors, squeezed out as publishers began to downsize and cut back on their production, turned to digital publishing as a means to maintain market presence and connect with new readers. With this influx of “authentic” authors and the explosion of eReaders into Main Street America homes, indie publishing gained a great deal of ground in a short amount of time. Much of it because the quality of ebooks has dramatically increased.

I’m an indie writer. I choose to be. I work hard to ensure my novels tell a solid story while weaving in a few plot twists to catch the reader by surprise. My experience with other indie authors is that they’re career focused individuals who spend time, money and effort to ensure their books are the best they can be. I’ve read print published books that failed miserably to achieve what many indie authors produce . . . well-written, well-edited stories.

 Are there still books out there not ready for public consumption? Of course. Both in digital format and print. But the old argument from publishers and their lobbyists who claim ebooks are not the same caliber as print is just that . . . old.

I’m proud to be part of a growing trend that is proving them wrong.

New Kids on the Writers Block

New Kids on the Writers Block. Read my Wednesday blog on pitching. There’s a link to Pitch University which is a fabulous resource for all writers. Check it out!