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CAN YOU NAME YOUR FAVORITE AUTHOR OR AUTHORS?

August 23, 2017

You might be surprised how this ends up being a trick question. I kid you not.

As an author now myself, as opposed to just being a writer, I’m always posing questions to people when we get to talking about books and writing. I like to keep a finger on the pulse of what people think, and ask everyone from kids to seniors and those in-between. The answers are as varied as the ages. My focus is, of course, the target audience for what I write. I also like to see what those that will never be my readers like to read (or not).

One of my common questions is, “Who are your favorite authors?”

FAVORITE AUTHORS

Notice I ask that in the plural. Why? I don’t recall many that have ever stated, unequivocally that they have only one favorite. On the other hand, you might be surprised how many people can’t name one.

That’s right. While people can name a type of book they like to read, genre or whatever, many of them, when asked, are stumped to name a specific author.

I asked that particular question the other night and got that exact reaction. While the person loved thrillers, he could not name a specific thriller author. Given, we were talking about a hundred different things, it’s no surprise the flood of information was overwhelming. On the other hand, he’s not alone even when I’ve chatted with people and the subject is the single subject of books.

People will often shop for books, see a cover, a back blurb, and then recognize the name. Aha! That’s the guy or gal!

When I’m writing the review of a book I just read, I sometimes have no trouble with the last name but can mix up the first names. I know generally, especially if it’s an author I don’t read that often. I recognize the last name but the first, well…

I’m usually pretty good with names once I get to know them. On the other hand, I’m terrible when I first meet people and it takes a good while for the names to sink in. That used to suck when I was teaching!

When it comes to my favorite authors, I can list quite a few. When I get asked the question, who’s my favorite author, I have to make that plural and list several. Even then, when I break it down by genre, each genre will have a list. Since I read multiple genres, I have many favorites, depending. No one is the author.

Because of the way I am with new names, I can well relate to people, especially casual readers who may not absorb the name of an author but love their work. The name just does not resonate, yet when they see the next book and then the name…

GENRE READERS

I read mostly thrillers and cop/detective stories out of necessity. I’d read a lot more icky bug (horror) except there aren’t many out there. The publishing world doesn’t see fit to put many of them out there. Even though I write fantasy, I rarely read it because I prefer to get from point A to B and fantasy rarely does that. The same, it seems for a lot of science fiction. I know, because I browse the fantasy sci-fi shelves at the bookstore, but shy away from there pretty fast, especially when I open books at random and see solid page paragraphs and hardly any empty space on the pages. Big red flags for me!

I’m not interested in any other genres.

This is how a lot of people describe their reading habits, versus authors. They can name what they read, or maybe even a series before ever popping off the specific name of an author.

As an author, does that make you feel insignificant?

FAVORITE AUTHORS

Okay, I have many favorite authors. To name a few, they include:

Carol Davis Luce

Elizabeth Forrest (Rhondi Vilott Salsitz)

James Rollins

Clive Cussler

David Baldacci

Lee Child

Doug Preston

Lincoln Child

John Sandford

Bentley Little

Hunter Shea

Michael Connelly

Dean Koontz

Folks, there are so many I’m skipping here. Some, I’ve named in previous articles as far back as 2012. I also don’t want to overload you.

The point is that I have lots of favorite authors. Sometimes, when asked that question, people can’t answer because they have so many, they don’t know where to start. On the other hand, name isn’t always so important to people. Yet when they browse the shelves, or on line, they see the cover, the blurb and then, the name clicks.

Maybe then, the cover is a lot more important than some of us think, but not always for the reasons you may think.

Happy writing!

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SEMANTICS

August 16, 2017

You’ve all heard the well-worn phrase, some would call it a cliché, “apples/oranges.” In other words, some would call it one thing, others would call it something else, while they both mean roughly the same thing.

In this world of political correctness, things can get a bit sticky in that regard, especially when it comes to racially charged, sexually charged, or culturally charged words. On the other hand, there are those that are obsessed with perfection and definition.

As writers, we use and play with words. We communicate to our readers. However, since we’re trying to reach as wide an audience as possible, our goal is usually to piss off as few of them as possible.

We can’t possibly get into the heads of every complete stranger that might pick up one of our books. They’ll read along and love it until they come to a screeching halt because they run across some obscure, semantical word or phrase, used in total ignorance to their experience and/or culture. It somehow offends them.

What to do?

More than likely, not a thing.

On the other hand, just being aware of semantics and having a reasonable knowledge may…and I mean may go a long way to avoiding the issue, if you even bother to worry about it.

IT TAKES ALL KINDS

Some people take offense to anything and everything.

Yup. Can’t be helped. Move on, keep on writing and forget about them. It’s inevitable. You’re going to say something to piss them off. They’re going to be looking for it, or to use a phrase that’s sure to bother someone: they’re gunning for it. Face it. You’re going to write something that’s technically wrong to them.

Don’t worry about it.

The majority of people know the rest of the world has no clue they’re getting it wrong when it comes to semantics, but don’t take offense. They can live with it, and do.

Now, I’ve been rather obscure and general up to this point. Time for an example. I’ll start with me, personally and apologize (yeah, sure) for the rather lengthy explanation.

EXAMPLE

I’ve been into telescopes and looking at deep sky objects, through the eyepiece of said telescopes, for 50+ years (not to give away my age, or anything)! Since 1966, when I got my first crappy Sears telescope, with which I could barely find the moon, I’ve been dedicated to looking up. Not content with that, I wanted more, but since I couldn’t afford more directly, I resulted to building more. I constructed an 8-inch reflector telescope, from the mirror up. Now, that in itself was a whole ‘nuther fun project. In the end, I was able to see more and it grew until today, I now use a 16-inch reflector. The first 16-inch, I also made, but I now use a commercial one for various reasons, mainly because it’s more portable.

Most would call me an “amateur astronomer.” Internally, I cringe at that generally accepted term. I look up, and have since my grandfather took me out one evening back in 1956 and showed me a light moving across the sky. He said, “that’s Sputnik.” To this day, I don’t consider myself an astronomer, amateur or otherwise. I like to look up, but what I do is far from “astronomy,” or as I often call it, “astrominny.” I don’t measure distances, sizes, the what’s and whys of what goes on up there. The one time I attempted some serious astronomy, I was lying on the lawn with my best friend from high school in Palmdale, California in 1968. We tried to visualize the number of miles there were in four (or however many light-years it was) to the nearest star to our Sun, got a headache and quit.

That folks, is the extent of my astronomy. I’ve checked out actual “astronomy” classes at high school and college. They were nothing but glorified math classes. I’m no fan of complicated math.

So, the conclusion to this rather long explanation, is that when someone calls me an “amateur astronomer,” I internally cringe because what I actually do has nothing to do with science or astronomy. I visually observe celestial objects like galaxies, star clusters and nebulae. If you were to ask me how far away they are, how big, or how they formed, I neither know nor care! I “collect” the objects in my database, take notes, draw them and keep this data for my own personal gratification and maybe my OCD need to fill out lists. I love to be out under the stars and to have those real photons hit my eyes, photons that sometimes took millions of years to reach earth.

Semantics-wise, I’m not an amateur astronomer, I’m a “celestial visual observer.” However, for a common term and something others can understand, I don’t take offense to others calling me an amateur astronomer, telescope nut, whatever. I don’t get all fired up and correct people and get offended.

On the other hand, there are people out there with similar stories that do get offended, especially in this world of political correctness and the world of setting the record straight.

SEMANTICS – RESEARCH

When you’re dealing with sensitive issues, it’s best to do the research. Keep in mind that when you’re writing about a particular group, use the terms most acceptable to the group at large. There may be controversy amongst members, but you can’t go too deep into that unless that’s part of the color of your story. Then it may be okay to use that controversy as part of the plot. On the other hand, if you use semantic terms and get them wrong for a certain majority group, you could offend a lot of people!

My example is a long explanation and very personal, but you have to think of others, especially large groups and insider knowledge along with their explanations when it comes to semantics. Of course, you can’t worry about it for everything. There are generally accepted terms we all use every day.

A word of caution. Some generally accepted terms may be more out of ignorance than fact. You should be aware of those, if possible. Once again, this is where research comes in. A very simple example might be how to pronounce Lompoc, California. It’s quite often pronounced as Lom-pock in movies and TV, which will make a native cringe. It’s actually pronounced Lom-poke. Or, often the case on TV, Nevada is often pronounced Ne-vah-da when it should be Ne-vă-da. These are just pronunciation semantics, but is no different than apples/oranges terms.

In the world of political correctness, semantics is becoming more and more prominent. I deliberately stayed away from those examples because any of those alone could stir a pot that’s not meant for this forum!

The gist of this is beware of what you’re writing. Do your research. You can’t be perfect, but the more you know, the better your story will be and the wider your appeal. Well, that is, unless you’re out to piss people off, or just don’t care. There are those authors.

Happy writing!

WRITERS HAVE FEELINGS TOO

August 9, 2017

Woe is me! We’re always getting picked on because we’re writers! Nobody likes us!

Waaaah!

Okay, things aren’t that bad…usually.

The inspiration for this article came from several celebrities who’ve sworn off Twitter in recent months, mainly because of trolls who like to throw cruel and senseless (at least to them) comments designed to drag them down. I won’t mention names, but…

When you throw yourself out there, into the world, display your art, your personality, your whatever, you’re leaving yourself subject to not only the adoration or attention you hope to get, but also the “other side” of the coin. The haters, or those that don’t quite see you as the cat’s meow (okay, a cliché, but it’s my article, so I’ll say what I want!).

This goes for actors, musicians, painters, and yup, us writers.

When we put our art out there, we’re exposing it and subjecting it to both side of the coin. The positive and the negative.

GOTTA DEVELOP A TOUGH SKIN RIGHT AWAY

I’ve said this plenty of times in the past. If you want to be a writer, you have to develop a tough skin.

Why?

Well, ahem…nobody writes perfect, especially starting out. Sure, one day, you could come close to that. Maybe get to the point where you could get by most people and be called a perfect writer, but those individuals are rare.

For most of us, we need a bevvy of editors, critiquers and others to help prop us up along the way. That means, there are people to tell us when we screw up! Yes folks, when we write, there are going to be people who need to be there to constantly tell us when we’re wrong and what to do to fix our mistakes.

That may be a bit tough on the ego, though it shouldn’t be. Are you such a person where you think you’re all that, and don’t need any help?

Are you perfect? Let’s not even go there. If so, you need psychological help.

For the rest of us, suck it up and get used to being told your wrong once in a while!

Your ego will survive just fine.

PEOPLE DON’T HAVE TO BE ASSHOLES

This folks, is the gist of this article.

There’s a way to tell someone something and there’s a way not to tell them.

I go back to the celebrities who get off Twitter. I think of the trolls who “sling shade” at said celebrities, to use the latest vernacular. This is cruel and unusual crap no individual needs to read or hear, whether deserved or not. These people are just plain assholes.

As writers, we get critiqued all the time. That’s no big deal. However, what bothers me, is the old “can’t help but be blunt” excuse for being cruel.

Blunt is one thing. Stupidly cruel and hurtful goes beyond blunt.

Luckily, that’s something we don’t allow in my writer’s group. We have that rule, “no blood on the floor” and will kick a member out of the group because of it.

I think back to the writer’s group from hell that I was in when I first arrived in Las Vegas. It was their job to intimidate you, make you feel like crap, to “toughen you up for the harsh world of publishing.” What bull!

Folks, I hear anecdotes all the time from others, especially when I attend writer’s conferences, or from the forums on line that I participate in. Some people are reluctant to join writer’s groups. That’s exactly what they ran across when they joined a writer’s group, sometime in the past, somewhere in this country.

People don’t have to be assholes, but often are.

For those of you that don’t know, yes, there are critique writer’s groups on line as well. Honest criticisms are one thing, but harsh and cruel derogatory comments are just plain unnecessary. The most worrisome thing about the on-line groups is that because the people are not face-to-face, comments can be a lot more harsh and cruel. If it’s a good group with good moderators, they’ll keep a handle on these assholes, but if not, it’s up to you to quit and find another one.

Writers have feelings too.

This is the same with reviews on line, but in this case, there’s nothing you can do about them but suck it up and roll with the punches. If you have enough fans, turn yourself into a glass is half full type person!

We’re not really here to talk about reviews, though. This is mainly about before the book ever gets to print.

I’VE BEEN PRETTY LUCKY SO FAR

It’s not that I haven’t been touched by this senseless crap before. I’ve received several harsh and nasty rejection letters. One was from a writing contest when I asked why my manuscript did not make the cut. As it turns out, it happened to be for Lusitania Gold, the book that’s currently being published.

I had a short story I once submitted that was rejected locally and received a very nasty and snarky rejection from a local publisher. She keeps trying to friend me on Facebook. I keep ignoring her request. I don’t need to deal with someone who supposedly works with writers but can’t consider feelings as well (not that I really cared, I got it published later, anyway).

I’ve had some very harsh and nasty comments at writer’s group meetings. Those individuals, who did the same to other writers were hence disinvited from the group. This is besides the writer’s group from hell.

SUMMARY

We need to look at this both ways. As writers, we need to have thick skins, but at the same time, not put up with cruel comments any more than we should dole them out ourselves.

Everyone has feelings and being blunt is no excuse for being cruel. Tempering our responses but saying (or writing them) in a constructive instead of destructive way is the only way to work.

Happy writing!

ITALICS – WHEN AND WHEN NOT TO USE

August 2, 2017

The other day, someone on one of my forums brought up a question about italics. “How much is too much?”

That’s a great question and I could’ve sworn I’ve covered it before. However, when I did a search of article titles and descriptions, I couldn’t find said article, so maybe my memory isn’t what it was, or I blended use of italics into some other subject.

Probably so.

IRRITATIING

Italics can and sometimes are way overdone. To me, as a reader, there’s nothing more irritating than reading page after page of italics. I mean, we’re talking possible “skip vital information” reading. I know I’m not alone because I’ve seen others voice their displeasure in reviews and on forums. There are books out there that have overdone italics and paid the price with plenty of negative comments, even though there were others who didn’t seem to mind.

Remember my mantra about not going out of your way to alienate your readers? Unless you either don’t care or are deliberately trying to do so, your goal should be to write something that has the widest appeal within and maybe even without your genre or subject.

Italics are just plain hard to read, or if not, a labor in long stretches. If I were to convert this entire article to italics, how many of you would read the whole thing?

PURPOSE OF ITALICS

The generally accepted purpose of italics is to emphasize something, not to be a font!

Just like bold, which is like shouting (as is all caps), italics is another way to emphasize.

What can you use italics for?

Internal thoughts.

Word emphasis (as opposed to shouting or screaming).

Make a particular paragraph or phrase stand out for demonstrative purposes.

Diary entries.

Flashbacks.

Proper titles, such as names of ships, song titles, etc.

LENGTHS

This is where authors get themselves into trouble, when they don’t know when to quit.

For effect, some authors write the good guy in one point of view, the bad guy in another point of view. Other authors write the good guy and bad guy in the same point of view, but with different voices or personalities.

Now, there are authors that’ll write the good and bad guys using the same point of view, but write the good guy in normal font and the bad guy in italics. This can add a lot of italic real-estate which can frustrate the reader.

If an author relies on flashbacks, which is another pet peeve of mine, they often put the flashbacks in italics. This results in entire chapters, like the good guy/bad guy scenario, with pages after pages in italics. I, for one, when browsing, will spot something like this and put the book right back down on the shelf and move on to something else.

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

Obviously, there’s no set rule. There are plenty of books published by the big six full of pages upon pages of italics. However, as readers, we have the choice of leafing through these books, if we can, and deciding whether to purchase them (at least as long as there are bookstores still around).

Many people find italics irritating and hard to read, especially in longer passages. It’s best to keep them to short bursts. It does no good to torture your readers.

How about the phrase, “too much of a good thing?”

SUMMARY

Remember, italics are an effect, not a font!

Use italics to emphasize, which means, if you use them too much, that emphasis becomes meaningless.

Happy writing!

CREATING ATMOSPHERE

July 25, 2017

The world your characters live in isn’t static, a flat black-and-white place where everyone just moves and talks. It’s a dynamic environment. There’s color and objects and smells and feelings to go along with whatever they’re saying and doing.

When we’re writing, we sometimes have the tendency to get too much in the action or dialogue and forget about the world itself. I’m sometimes guilty of that. On the other hand, if you’re of a literary bent, it can be just the opposite. You’ll get so much into describing the world, you forget about the characters actually doing something and endlessly drag on with descriptions of the world and the characters. They never go anywhere or do anything.

There has to be a balance.

Since I’m a get from point A to B with the minimum of fuss type writer, I’m all for word economy, so I’m likely to be more action and dialogue and skip out on the descriptions, or not add in enough. I’ve learned, especially through my writer’s group when I’m getting skimpy with atmosphere and how to add it in when I’m not doing it enough. When I read for pleasure, some writers drag on with description and I tend to skip over that if it gets too much. A little I like, so in those examples, I tend to pay attention. That’s what I model my own writing after because I figure, if I pay attention to it, more than likely, others will do the same.

All it takes is a few words or lines sprinkled here and there.

EXAMPLES

Mary walked down the path toward the cottage. She dreaded confronting Roger. It had to be done.

Oh…kay. Something is happening. A little drab though.

Mary walked down the path toward the cottage. The smell of the lavender brushing against her legs distracted her negative thoughts. A light breeze ruffled her hair. She whisked it away from her face. “I don’t want to confront Roger, but it has to be done,” she muttered under her breath.

Atmosphere.

Jorin stared across the gap at the freighter, rolling in the swells. It listed to port, the stern partially raised as the ship took on water. “We don’t have much time.”

            “I’ll get the Zodiac launched. I hope there’s someone alive over there.” Lars turned without another word and headed for the hatchway.

We get the idea, but it could use a bit of spark to go with the action and dialogue.

Jorin stared across the gap at the freighter, rolling in the swells. A stiff breeze ruffled his hair, salt droplets dribbled down his face and into his mouth. The thick air descending from the southwest hinted at ozone from the oncoming storm. The ship, a possible derelict, listed to port, the stern partially raised as it took on water. He gazed up at the sky. “We don’t have much time.”

            “I’ll get the Zodiac launched. I hope there’s someone alive over there.” Lars turned without another word and headed for the hatchway.

Atmosphere.

Now, the above two paragraphs could be further picked apart, of course, but that’s not the point. I’m not out to give you the perfect sentence, the ultimate grammatical phrase. If you can do better, knock yourself out. They’re merely examples to illustrate my point.

Which is…

YOU DON’T HAVE TO WRITE A BOOK…

What I mean is that you don’t have to write a book within a book to describe things. You don’t have to overdo it if you’re writing action-based fiction. Or, even non-fiction. When you’re adding atmosphere to your prose, you don’t have to throw the book at your reader.

You don’t have to beat your reader over the head with minutiae!

Just a few words here and there, a few sentences. Modify a sentence, add a phrase.

Word economy to enliven the action and dialogue.

I admit I’m just as guilty as the next for under-describing at times. I like to get to the point. At the same time, I sometimes will spend an entire paragraph describing something. It may be a relatively short paragraph, especially compared to many of my contemporaries, but considering the rhythm and flow of my own prose, those paragraphs tend to stand out. When I read to my group, they take notice.

“That paragraph’s too long.”

“It’s too listy.”

“It needs to be broken up.”

This “long” paragraph may only be four sentences, yet in contrast to the rest of the prose, it may appear way too large.

You have to keep that in mind with your own style.

I personally prefer short paragraphs when I read. I like to see space on the page. I think long and hard before I pick up a book in the bookstore when I see wall-to-wall words. That tells me the writer is wordy and likes to ramble. I certainly don’t want to do that myself!

SUMMARY

Whatever your ultimate style is going to be, you don’t need to throw the book at the reader to add atmosphere. All you need is a few carefully placed phrases here and there with description, to add in enough detail to set the frame of reference, the mood, the tone, the setting. It adds color and atmosphere.

Happy writing!

TURNING YOUR STORY INTO A MOVIE

July 18, 2017

Movie sign!

To quote Mystery Science Theater 3000, this is one of many dreams a writer gets along the way when they write and publish a book. That ole’ get the movie rights and bring their book to the big screen dream. It’s hard not to feel the urge, though there are some of us that never get it on our radar. Or, it just never occurs to us until much later in our passion, if at all.

THE CONTRACT

Unless you’re self-published, the time will come when buried in all that legal jargon will be the line about the different publishing rights. One of them will be movie rights. Huh? Yup, amongst audio, foreign and large print is movie rights.

If your book gets out there and is popular enough, or just by dumb luck or happenstance, someone from Hollywood or an independent studio runs across your tome and gets inspired, they may offer to purchase the movie or TV rights to your book.

They’re separate from publishing rights. Different media for one thing. Second, the story will have to be re-written as a screenplay, which brings up adaptation.

WHAT YOU PICTURE AND WHAT YOU GET

Let’s for a moment forget about the purchasing of the rights, the possibilities of it never going anywhere, the multiple purchasing of those rights, the languishing in the vaults, and such and just concentrate on what actually happens if said manuscript actually gets to the point of making it to the screen.

There are two possibilities.

One, you could be tasked with doing the initial screenplay.

Two, a professional screenplay adapter could be hired to adapt your novel into a workable story.

In either case, this is what’s going to happen. Say, you write the initial screenplay. It’s going to go to the studio, where it will be given over to script doctors who are going to at the least, tweak it, where it’ll go to the director who’ll probably ask for changes. Then it’ll go through more changes.

If it goes to a screenplay adapter right from the get go, well…

What this boils down to is that what you pictured, what your original novel started out to be, is likely just the starting off point for what will probably be something entirely different. It may be, at best, the basic story with the same names and title as your original novel, the same plot, but as for the details, not much of what you wrote. None of the cast that you pictured at all.

In other words, unless you just hit complete gold, don’t expect your novel to be too much like what you wrote. It may be similar, but unless you have a huge fan base that will be extremely pissed off if the movie veers way off course, just be glad to take in a paycheck and keep working on the next one. You’ll get a “based on the novel…” and just be happy about it.

Speaking of paycheck.

THOSE MOVIE RIGHTS PAYCHECKS

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. When a studio buys the movie rights, take the money and run. It may languish for the max time limit in limbo, but that’s good money you can spend on a mortgage or whatever. When the time limit is up, whatever is written in your contract, the studio may pay for it again, or you can shop it around to another studio. If it gets made, hey, more publicity for you. If it’s a box office bomb, oh well. If it sells, better for you.

The fact is, once you sell it to a studio, you have no control over it at all. It’s a gamble, but it’s also a paycheck. It’s a blurb on your resume. If nothing else, it’s a blurb on your resume and a check!

Happy writing!

VANITY PRESSES

July 12, 2017

Those of you that have been following me for a long time know I’m not personal fan of self-publishing. I have no beef with those of you that pursue it for yourselves, it’s just something I’d never do. That’s why it took me so long to get published. I’ve gone into the reasons a multitude of times, so I won’t go into that again.

For those of you that want to self-publish, this article is for you.

On a recent forum, the question came up about vanity presses.

Oh…kay. What’s the difference between a vanity press and self-publishing? I hope to clarify that for you today.

SELF-PUBLISHING

Self-publishing is an umbrella term that encompasses a method for authors and writers to get your work published without going through a traditional publisher.

What does that mean?

In a nutshell, it means that you foot the bill for everything.

In traditional publishing, the publisher pays for the editing, the cover, the ISBN number, the initial promotion and all the groundwork to get your book out there, exposed to the world. Since the traditional publisher foots the bill, they have incentive to sell books. Therefore, they’ll promote your work and put your best foot forward up to a point. After all, they’re a business and they’re out to make money. The larger the publisher, the more they can afford to push you. Does that mean they do everything, marketing-wise? Heh heh heh… not a chance. However, they do have mechanisms in place to make it a lot easier and cheaper for the author to get started. Once again, it depends on the size of the publisher.

In self-publishing, the publisher simply provides you with the means, but you pay for everything. I mean EVERYTHING. You opt to pay for what you get. The publisher provides no editing, no cover, no ISBN, no marketing, no distribution, no NOTHING unless you pay for it. Even then, they do NOT provide any marketing.

They don’t provide any marketing for several reasons.

Why? #1

Distributors usually look down on self-published books as the bastard children of the industry.

Why? #2

Self-publishers have no access to the book distribution network because they’re not part of the big five in the industry. Being independents, they rarely, if at all have any foot in the door to get books in the distribution system to bookstores (small publishers have the same problem).

Why? #3

Since the authors pay for everything, the quality of the product varies so much that self-publishers often can’t be trusted to put out a quality product. Distributors shy from that.

Why? #4

Returns. Since the author pays for everything, they have to pay for all the books that get distributed to stores. If they don’t sell, the stores want a return on their investment. Who’s going to have to buy back all of those books? The author. Do you have several thousand dollars lying around to buy back all of those returned books that didn’t sell?

There are a few more why’s I haven’t covered, but those four are a few of the biggies.

To say the system is biased, slanted to the big five, is moot. This is just the way it works. Now, there are many success stories with self-publishing and there are many self-published authors, some that used to be with the top five, that are doing quite well. After all, once you’ve paid the initial outlay to the publisher, and paid for your books, all the profits are yours and yours alone. This may amount to you going around the country and selling the books out of the back of your car, or selling them in e-book form on the net, but your cut is a lot more than taking a chunk with the rest going to publishers and agents. In this case, more than likely, it’s called your primary form of employment.

There’s good and bad with going the self-publishing route. The choice between that and traditional is tough or easy, depending on your outlook and patience.

THE VANITY PRESS

Now for the gist of this article.

There’s the self-publishing publisher and then there’s the vanity press. On first blush, they sound like the same thing. However, there’s a big difference if you look close.

Some self-publishing outfits should be called vanity presses because in essence, that’s what they really are. Why I say that’s best outlined in my definition of a vanity press.

A vanity press is a publisher that will publish whatever you give them.

Let me emphasize that.

A vanity press will publish whatever you give them.

In other words, if you give them the phone book, they’ll print it for you.

They don’t care. They’ll print any old crap. They’re a vanity press.

By definition, they’re there to stroke your ego. You may be the worst writer in the world, but they could care less. They want your money. Period. You could give them “See Tom run.”

Several thousand dollars later…

Ding.

You have your book.

Another thing. Don’t expect a quality product, independent of the words. The font, the print quality, the binding, the cover and a host of other things may be of such poor quality, it may look like a high school class project gone wrong.

Unfortunately, and I’ll leave the names unmentioned, there are several self-publishers out there that do the same.

Self-publishers with integrity will screen their submissions. They’ll raise the bullshit flag when they get something that’s just too awful to put in print. They’ll advise the author it needs major work, or if they get an author that’s too hard to work with, they’ll drop their contract if they have any integrity.

A vanity press doesn’t care. Give them the file, they run the presses!

No wonder distributors and even Amazon are wary of some self-published books!

Vanity presses are money pits. You can keep throwing money at them and still end up with crap. How about spending thousands on an edit or edits and still end up with “see Tom run” quality?

SUMMARY

There’s self-publishing and there’s vanity presses. It’s up to you to do your research and educate yourself to know the difference. One will work for and with you while the other is just out to collect your money.

Happy writing!