Archive for the ‘#amreading’ Tag

Fantasy & Philosophy   8 comments

What are the best two or three books you’ve read this year?

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Books to Enjoy & Enlighten

My fiction choice is fat fantasies, which take a long time to read. So it might not be too surprising that the best book I’ve read this year is –

Oathbringer: Book Three of the Stormlight Archive by [Sanderson, Brandon]

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

It’s Book 3 in the Stormlight Archives, focused on a land of humans faced by invasion from a group of non-humans. The series has a sweeping scope and a vast land that is very different from what we know on Earth and an ensemble cast of characters. Although the first two books were fascinating, the third book really starts to delve into an amazing series of philosophical questions. And for a political philosophy junkie like me, the fact that a couple of main characters are trying to create a new government is intriguing.

The second best book I’m reading is –

Conceived in Liberty by Murray Rothbard

It is the history of the America colonies from before the first colonists left Europe to the American Revolution. It’s a massive book – actually a series and I’ve been working my way through it for more than two years now. It’s amazing because it focuses not so much on events as on the philosophy (liberty) that motivated the events. Time and time again, Rothbard showed how one faction was striving for individual liberty and another was seeking to tyrannize individual choices.

I’m reading a couple of other non-fiction books, but mostly I’ve been reading libertarian essays by the great luminaries of the philosophy because in my book series Transformation Project, my people are about to create a new society for themselves and I’m trying to figure out how they’ll do that.

I know, some weighty topics there, but you have to research to write a good novel with a political-philosophical basis.

I reread Silent Spring by Rachel Carson and Bratt Farrar by Josephine Tey also.

I’m also rereading The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams because I felt I should brush up on the old Memory, Sorrow and Thorn (Osten Ard) series before I read the new series starting with Kingdom of Grass.

There are so many books I’d like to read, but I only have so much time and I’m writing a novel series. Maybe next year I’ll be able to read more for pleasure and less for intellectual stimulation. We’ll see.

Posted September 9, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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How Not to Lose a Reader   10 comments

Why would you, as an author/reader, abandon (stop reading) someone else’s book?

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Confessions of a Book Glutton

I was practically born with a book in my hand and my parents weren’t very sympathetic to complaints about “boring” books — unless they were math books. They even made me read deadly dull history books that were clearly written to induce coma.

Consequently, there’s not much that has made me stop reading a book by another author. That makes me a good beta reader. (I’m looking for volunteers on my latest book, by the way, email lelamarkham@gmail.com if you want to swap).

Mental Adultery Avoided

There have been books I haven’t finished. Fifty Shades of Grey is one. I got about 50 pages in and returned it to the coworker who had challenged me to read it. Why? I felt like I was mentally cheating on my husband and the BDSM didn’t look at all loving to me. And, then the writing SUCKED and it wasn’t a beta swap so I couldn’t correct it, but felt like I should. Bus man’s holiday, much?

Bad Writing & Implausible Plots

The Twilight series was also a bust, mainly because the writing SUCKED. (Seriously, the movies were better and that happens so rarely it’s a miracle event). I was reading the first book with my then-teenage daughter and one evening we met in the hallway between our rooms and she actually asked me what I thought. I didn’t want to be Nazi Mom – she was 15 1/2 and at some point they have to decide their own standards — so, I reversed the question. She said “I can’t get over the fact that she loves this guy and she can’t see that she is food to him. Yeah, he’s enjoying playing with his prey before he kills her and maybe he’d like to mate with her before he kills her, but she’s still his food.” Yeah, that was pretty much what I thought too and I was proud of myself for raising a smart kid. I stopped reading at that point. She read a couple more of the books (the whole series was loaned to her by a friend who thought they were great books), but she finally returned the series unfinished. We did have a few shared laughs reading a blog that mocked the series. It was really the first sense I had of the power of blogging. Up to that point, I thought they were fluff online diaries by people who were more than slightly narcissistic, but that helped me to see that some serious analysis could go on in this new medium of discourse.

The Left Behind series also has gone unfinished. I always found the writing technically good and a little manipulative and shallow, but I could put that aside until my willing suspension of disbelief couldn’t go any further when a nuclear bomb landed on the heroes and they lived. It’s not that I don’t believe God could deliver such a miracle. I absolutely believe that God can do whatever God wants to do so long as it doesn’t violate His character, but I just didn’t feel pleased that the characters survived and I kind of felt like their survival violated God’s character. I looked at the next book in the series on the bookstore shelf and I just couldn’t plunk down the money for it. And then the longtime collaborator left and I really lost all interest.

Get out of the Cul de Sac

I almost stopped reading The Wheel of Time series. The last book Robert Jordan wrote just felt like he’d written himself into a corner and he was milling about trying to find his way out (I didn’t know he had cancer, which might have been what was going on). I swore to myself that I wouldn’t buy the next book. I just couldn’t face another description of Aes Sedai clothing and Rand beating himself up AGAIN for his failures. And then I heard that Jordan died and I was actually a little sad that there would be no ending, while consoling myself with the sense that there didn’t seem to be an ending anyway. And, then Brandon Sanderson took over and I decided to give him a chance (I’d not read books by him before). He is now one of my favorite authors and my poor husband will have to put up with me binge-watching the Wheel of Time television series if it ever makes it to streaming.

Can I Improve It?

So, what would cause me to stop reading another author’s book? Well, if it’s a beta swap, I’ll probably go the whole nine. If it’s boring, manipulative or poorly written, you’ll know that from reading my comments. I don’t hate you. I want to make you a better writer. You’ll notice that I praise some things. Do THAT and change what I was negative about to something like THAT, and you’ll be a better writer when you’re done. I hope you will give me the same courtesy. Don’t be afraid of hurting my feelings. I’m asking for critique. Give me what I asked for.

It’s a Business! Show Me the Quality!

If it’s a traditionally published writer – I have a low tolerance for bad writing when I’m paying to read your book. Seriously – books are pretty danged expensive these days (mainly because I still love to curl up with the physical copy of them and I read a lot of fantasy which tend to be fat books). The least you can do is give me a high-quality product. I now sample the beginning, the middle and something toward the end of the paperback I’m thinking of buying before I purchase it. Thank you, Barnes & Noble, for the great comfy chairs by the fire pit so I can be comfortable while deciding if a book is worth an hour of take-home pay.

Watch for this by year’s end

I’ll stick through a little boredom from writers, if it’s in a good cause — like world-building. I’ll stick through an occasional eddy where the writer creatively works out a narrative cul de sac (after all, sometimes characters have to return to their own vomit a few times before they fight their way out of whatever’s got them trapped). I’ll skim over the occasional sex scene (that’s how I got through the otherwise excellent Song of Ice and Fire). I’ll even put up with the occasional description of fancy dress. So long as these negatives exist inside a compelling story – I’m okay with that UNLESS there’s too much of it, in which case, yeah, I’ll stop reading it at some point.

Hey, Historians, Employ a Ghost!

And, by the way, I still read deathly dull history books, but here’s some advice to the historians who write books – thank you for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us, but seriously, if you can’t write, hire someone who can. What is killing the study of history is not that IT is boring, but that your writing about it is BORING. A good writer would make all the difference. There’s reasons David McCollough and Amity Schael sell books in the millions to ordinary people instead of a few hundred to academics and history-buff novelists. It’s because their writing is entertaining and avoids the passive voice. While some of us are committed enough to history to study it even when it is written in passive voice and drags on and on without any compelling story lines, ordinary people won’t. And, that’s a shame because those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it.

Posted August 26, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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A Place Apart   1 comment

April 23, 2018 – Images of reading nooks or bookshelf designs.
Is there such a thing as a bookworm who doesn’t appreciate photos of cozy reading nooks or gorgeous bookshelves? We think not, and have found success rounding up these types of bookish images. Choosing a particular season or unifying theme helps to keep the content focused and repeatable, like outdoor reading nooks or DIY bookshelves. Pinterest and Instagram are great channels to repurpose this image-based content.

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1 Green and window

I have always wanted a reading nook, and when I was in high school, I actually did create a nook in a closet behind a knee wall in my bedroom. Of course, that house didn’t belong to me and the homes I’ve lived in subsequently have had them. Brad promises me that some day he’ll be finished with the restructuring of our house and the family room will end up with a window seat surrounded by bookshelves, with enough room to stretch and maybe a curtain across the front and, given that Brad is an electrician, adequate lighting.

For now, here are a couple of my dream nooks. I like the idea of books being close at hand, but I also like being able to look out a window. The one thing the first nook misses is a blanket. That’s an Alaskan thing, I think.

1 Wood beams and window

I’m not a fan of white – we see too much of it outside, but I like how this one is tucked back out of the room. It’s similar to one of Brad’s potential designs make us of a garreted-second story above our family room that really needs to be insulated better. His idea is that we could build out a nook under the garret. But mine would not be white.

3 Under stairs, blue, books

Before we moved to our current house 16 years ago, we lived for 18 years in 640 square feet, so I truly appreciate architecture that makes use of every inch, like this nook in a coworker’s basement that fits in under the stairs. My perfect noon has a window, but this is pretty cool and, not counting the books, cost him less than $1000 to build and furnish.

Image result for images of reading nooks

But there are so many nooks to choose from. Like this final one that I would quite happily curl up in with a good book. It’s got a window, lighting, a curtain to close out the world. I hope the books are right across the room. I can imagine being the heroine of a mystery, falling asleep behind the curtain and overhearing a critical conversation that leads her on a red herring goose chase that then leads her to the solution.

Whatever nook I might use, I can imagine sitting in any of these nooks not just with a book, but also with my laptop, my muse inspired by these awesome settings.

Posted April 23, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Anaerfell 3   3 comments

anaerfell-promo-coverExcerpt 2

His brother looked at his hands, now covered by great warm mittens. “Drast?”

“Mm?” Drast grunted, mimicking his brother.

“How are they going to remember us?”

“Who?”

Tyran shrugged his heavy shoulders. “The Stuhia. The Vucari. The world, I suppose.”

“By our apotheosis.”

“Does it always come down to glory?”

Drast snorted. “Yes. If we fail we will not be remembered. It must come to glory.”

Tyran shook his head. “But is what we are doing glorious?”

“We are off to kill a god. How could it not be?”

Tyran stopped and turned. “But if we are wrong. If killing Wolos is somehow an evil act. Or, if we fail and we are remembered because of our tyrant father—”

“Tyran the Tyrant,” Drast interrupted, chittering.

“I am serious. How do we know that we should even be doing what we are planning on doing? How do we know it is right? How do we know we can?”

“Tyran, you are overthinking this. Why do you even care how people will remember you to begin with? It will not matter. We will either succeed, in which case we are allowed to tell whatever tale of our victory we choose, or we fail and are dead and it doesn’t matter. Regardless, people will remember us for the height of our lives, when we faced a god.”

“I want to believe that I did something right for this world before I died.”

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#Free #Kindle #Book   Leave a comment

willow-branch-blue-white-recreation-coverToday only! First in #fantasy series. https://www.amazon.com/Willow-Branch-Book-Daermad-Cycle-ebook/dp/B00OL13YF2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1483136215&sr=1-1&keywords=the+willow+branch

Posted February 18, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in book promotion, Uncategorized

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Interview with David Ellis   7 comments

Today’s interview is with David Ellis. We are Twitter acquaintances. Welcome to the blog, David.

Thank you for having me here, Lela, very kind of you and a pleasure to be here.

 

Tell us something about yourself.

d-ellisI’m a poet and fiction writer who lives in a sleepy town in the South East of Kent in the United Kingdom. I used to work in Financial Services as a software salesman but now I am currently re-evaluating my whole career to focus more heavily on writing and exploring my true passions as a champion of both artists and the arts themselves.

I adore cats, dogs and other cute animals, sharing tons of pictures of them on my Facebook page. I also really enjoy foreign cuisine – Spanish, Greek, Italian, Chinese, Indian, it’s all delicious. I’m a very romantic and passionate man, who loves the creativity in people and inspiring others whenever I possibly can.

Passion is something that I believe directly comes across in my writing too.

 

At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

For quite some time now I have known that this is my calling. When I was in school, English Language and Literature were the only two subjects that held my attention. Nearly twenty years ago, I started writing song lyrics in my twenties (I’m nearly forty now but somehow it still seems like it was not all that long ago, almost like it was yesterday).

I became fascinated with the catchy, rhyming nature of popular songs and would often try to write alternate versions of them with different lyrics and then I would attempt to write songs myself. I even ended up making a couple of music albums full of rock, pop, rap and electro songs, which I built from samples (like a demented architect with music as my Lego blocks!)

When I was writing song lyrics, I had an abundance of words that were literally bursting at the seams when it came to trying to fit them into musical beats. This eventually led to me writing poetry. I look back fondly on those early formative years as a training ground for myself. I have never lost the urge to make music either.

I began writing short stories about four years ago when I first created my blog/website back in 2012. I enjoy the medium of short stories/flash fiction because you have to cram as much as you can into tight spaces and deliver clear, concise messages that pack a punch. I often find that this is an excellent vehicle for humour, which relies on heavily edited zinging dialogue and fast paced narrative.

Now that I do it regularly I cannot imagine a life without it!

 

What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

d-ellis-life_sex__death___cover_for_kindleMy favourite genre to read is Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Crime Thriller/Action Adventure. I enjoy books that put me emotionally in the story and that explore themes of humour, heroism and have relatable plots and situations regardless of where they are set.

As for my favourite genre to write, I am drawn to writing inspirational poetry in the first instance. There is nothing more satisfying than crafting lines that you know are going to have an emotional impact on the reader that will give them a positive and uplifting experience.

With regard to my fiction writing, I’m now working on Sci-Fi/Fantasy because I like to play with ideas and notions of what will happen in the future, based on our own research of current trends. I find it tremendous fun playing with interpretations of what could become a reality for us and the only sad thing is that I won’t be alive long enough to see if my own predictions will come true!

 

What is something you cannot live without?

Biscuits.

 

British biscuits being more like what Americans call cookies, right?

I’m deadly serious. I get anxious if I go a couple of days without something to dip in my English Breakfast tea! I get separation anxiety from them. Also, I find that the sugar rush gives my brain the conducive buzz that sparks ideas too, so you could say that they are for medicinal purposes when it comes to kick-starting writing 😉

Actually, I should say I cannot live without tea too, in addition to drinking English Breakfast, I also drink many cups of Earl Grey tea every day as well. Tea is my elixir of life, you take that away from me and there will be trouble with a capital T 😉

 

Do you find yourself returning to any recurring themes within your writing and, if so, are you any closer to finding an answer?

Revisiting my words as a reader, I’m stunned at what I find. When we write, we are searching for answers ourselves. It is all about asking the right questions to put ourselves in a position as writers to write our way to the answers. I have been told in the past that I have the demeanour of a frustrated musician, who is still trying to figure out how and why the world works in the way that it does. This doesn’t mean that I have given up on the world, I just tend to embrace aspects of love, creativity and inspiration to help solve problems that I come across.

I think that I constantly revisit themes of inspirational advice to encourage myself because in doing so, I am then inspiring countless others in the process and it is a beautiful cycle to be a part of when I am successful in being an inspiration to others.

 

Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer? Why?

d-ellis-a_blend_of_tea_break_cover_for_kindleI like to experiment with both forms (plotting and pantsing). Usually I write from a prompt or theme and try to infuse that with a particular style of writing that I am trying out. Half the time, I let my mind wander and I use a combination of research and freestyle phrases, then I will edit the piece for flow and rhythmic resonance.

I feel like I am a very much a musical poet, in that I am laying out words to beats in my head. What I find interesting about playing with rigid lyrical structures that I find in specific forms of poetry with syllable counts, repetition, rhyming schemes, etc is how the limitations can actually drive my creativity into new and exciting areas, while maintaining a clear focus for the piece.

Restrictions can lead to repetition but only if you do not embrace your creativity to find ways of making your piece more original. Endless variations on a theme is my ultimate goal to give you more of what you enjoy, whilst keeping everything as unique as possible.

 

I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

OK, so I have to approach this question logically. With no internet (or TV/mobile phone games/Netflix, I would imagine), I would look first to having a supply of reading books and would also spend the rest of the time writing. I’d probably divide the time between the two pastimes fifty/fifty. I would need to listen to instrumental music too to keep me inspired on the writing side. I’m heavily into electronic and rock instrumental music, particularly ones with exotic/unique beats like Secret Chiefs 3 or Beats Antique (eclectic choices I know but great to enhance the mood).

With regard to which books I would take with me, anything by Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett – I adore these authors very much and am still trying to get through all of their works, which I have found to be the most uplifting and enlightening experience of my life.

 

Good authorial choices! Talk about your books individually.

So far, I have published three books.

 

“Life, Sex & Death – A Poetry Collection” is my debut collection of poetry that I wrote over a period of three years. The book won an award in October 2016 in the Inspirational Category of the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. There are many philosophical and romantic poems in this collection too, it is pretty diverse. I have been told that I am very good at emotionally expressing themes, ideas and moods through poetry and that I have a knack for writing in ways that greatly move or inspire the reader.

 

“A Little Bit of What You Fancy” is a collection of short stories that I have personally authored. Most of them are humorous, with the odd horror story or sad tale thrown into the mix. About half of the material is flash fiction and the other half of the book are longer short stories that were previously printed in Kindle Anthologies and local newspapers. I enjoy the medium because you have to be focused with where the story is going, since the word count is limited. Every sentence has to be heavily edited and pared to the bone. It is another writing discipline that I enjoy very much, along with being one that keeps your writing both tight and focused.

 

“A Blend of Tea Break Tales” is also a collection of short stories from a band of authors that belong to my local Writers’ Circle. I donated one of my stories (which crops up in “A Little Bit of What You Fancy”) for the collection and I collated all of the stories from the authors. There is a lot of diversity in the tales of this particular book, they are mostly all contemporary modern day fables laced with humour, romance and poignancy, with a couple of historical pieces also thrown into the mix.

 

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

I would like readers to take a chance on my books. I’ve found that when people read them they end up surprising themselves and telling me that they enjoy reading my poetry, even if they are not specifically a fan of poetry, which in my mind is one of the highest compliments you can pay someone!

Personally, I would like people to feel inspired in some way, to continue to believe in themselves and to never give up on their dreams. If anything my words are all about making goals and being determined to reach them no matter how long it takes. Be they in love, relationships, creative endeavour or whatever you own personal missions are in life, I want to be the catalyst to help you to succeed.

 

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

I used Amazon Kindle and Createspace to help produce an electronic and paperback poetry collection for a friend in the past and I edited her poetry collection too. This in turn gave me the knowledge and skills to be able to self-publish my own works, some of which had been previously published on my own blog.

To be honest, I have always considered the option of approaching traditional publishers but had felt that this option was closed off to me at the time I self-published my books, particularly since I have focused on the genres of poetry and short story collections, which generally tend not to attract the big and medium sized publishing houses (most poetry is published by Small Press publishers now).

However, now that I am branching out into full length novels, I am more open to considering traditional publishing methods for more lengthier projects, particularly in light of the accolade that I have gained for my poetry. I will never stop self-publishing though, as I thoroughly enjoy seeing the entire process all the way through to fruition.

 

What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishing?

The greatest advantage in my opinion of self-publishing is not having to wait enormous amounts of time when submitting to a traditional publisher to see if they will take your manuscript. You are free to write whatever you want and can get it in the hands of the reader very quickly (providing that you pay to get it edited though, which I touch upon later). I think that it is also exciting to be able to handle all of the marketing, promotional and creative aspects yourself, which you would have to delegate if you used a traditional publisher. Self-publishing is not for everyone though, I think you have to be a passionate entrepreneur willing to work extremely hard to promote yourself, if you want to succeed with all of the aspects involved.

 

Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

Self-published authors miss out on some of the marketing clout provided by traditional publishers. Many reviewing publications tend to look more favourably on traditionally published works over self-published, which is why I would encourage people to submit their work into competitions and try to obtain awards to help their books stand out from the crowds and be more appreciated by the reading communities.

 

With the number of self-published books increasing by such a huge rate, it is really difficult for authors to make their books stand out. How do you go about this?

You have to participate in as many interviews as you can to get your name out there. I think that in every interview, you should try to bring new interpretations of your work to the table to make them interesting for people to read and discover different facets of your work.

I would in particular encourage poets to submit to literary magazines and competitions because if you win a prize or are included in a publication, this can be used as a hook to get people to review your work. I would strongly encourage doing research on every review outlet or blog that is suitable for your work and applying to get your book reviewed. Expect to receive many rejections but keep trying and try to get an electronic copy of your book reviewed in the first instance, as providing paperbacks will put you out of pocket, unless the review is guaranteed.

 

d-ellis-a_little_bit_of_what_cover_for_kindleWho designed your book cover/s? I really like the one to the right. The different typography is eye-catching.

I designed all three of my book covers out of necessity, as I had the books ready to publish but problems with the original covers that I had arranged for the projects. The process was fun and immensely satisfying to try out myself and I’m very pleased with the results. The trickiest part I found was finding royalty-free images of the highest quality and integrating them into the covers.

However, I am keen to incorporate the work of others for future publications (especially for fiction work), as I am not an artist myself and appreciate the collaborative nature of the process with designers and artists. I’ve noticed that since there are only a finite number of templates to play with, the only way to ensure that you get a beautiful, unique and original cover is to work with a designer and many of them out there offer stunning work for great prices. It is a worthwhile investment for your book babies in the long run.

 

Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

High quality is extremely important when it comes to pitting self-published books against traditionally published books. I would strongly advocate paying for professional editing without hesitation for novels and novellas (poetry and short story collections are much smaller beasts and far easier to edit yourself). You are going to be attacked mercilessly in the reviews of your novels for bad spelling and grammar, something that could easily be corrected by having another pair of independent eyes look over it. Reputable editors tend to charge very reasonable rates.

Another thing I would use is the computer program ‘Grammarly’ and work hard to brush up on grammar rules yourself, so that when you go to submit your work to an editor, it will be of reasonable quality to begin with and they can then weed out any inconsistencies or other problems with your writing. You want to polish your writing so bright that it can escape any of the stigma associated with self-publishing and sit on the shelf as a professional work to be proud of.

I’ve also seen many beautiful covers produced by talented people for reasonable prices and I think that this should also be a priority if you are not a professional designer yourself. This is a worthwhile investment for the future as a beautiful and engaging cover will attract many readers to your worlds and words.

Finally, if you are uncomfortable uploading your manuscripts into Amazon Kindle/Smashwords/Createspace or any other self-publishing platforms of choice and are making a mess of it then I would get someone to help you to do it (someone who knows what they are doing of course!) or pay to have it done professionally because a poorly formatted book is going to win you very few fans or sales in the long run!

Thank you for having me Lela and good luck with all of your future creative endeavours.

 

Where can readers find you and your books?

Amazon

Website www.toofulltowrite.com
Facebook:- https://www.facebook.com/TooFullToWrite
Goodreads:- http://www.goodreads.com/TooFullToWrite
LinkedIn:- https://uk.linkedin.com/in/davidellisauthorpoetwriter
Twitter:- https://twitter.com/TooFullToWrite

An Insult to the Written Word?   2 comments

Author Laurie Gough wrote an article titled Self-Publishing: An Insult to the Written Word in which she argued that self-publishing devalues to the art of writing, is disrespectful, and less desirable than sharing “a cabin on a Disney cruise with Donald Trump.” To rub salt in the wound, the word “published” is put in quotation marks whenever used to refer to a self-published author.

I wondered at first whether the article was satirical, but Gough seemed serious as she insisted that traditional publishing isn’t perfect, but it’s the best system that we have because it’s the only system that includes gatekeepers.

 

As a self-published author, I think her view is short-sighted.

 

Readers make the author. Whether published by the Big Five or their own imprint, an author is nothing without her readers. In other words, readers are the ultimate gatekeepers … and always have been. When I’m looking for my next book fix on Amazon — or at Barnes & Noble or Gulliver’s Book (local bookstore), I look at a book’s title, cover and synopsis first. If those pique my interest, I read the reviews before I click “buy”. Frankly, I don’t care if the book was released by HarperCollins or CreateSpace. It’s the reviews posted by readers that I care about.

Image result for image of independent publishingGough asserted that the traditional publishing model is the best system we have, so we shouldn’t mess with it. Just because some find the Big Five publishing near-monopoly works best for them doesn’t mean it should be the only system available. To have just a handful of major players dictating who gets a piece of the publishing pie is a recipe for disaster. It would mean a world of shrinking advances for authors, missed gems for readers, and a lack of sustainability for publishers.

With self-publishing, authors can create their own imprints and function as a small press, competing with traditional publishers. I love to cite the example of Meredith Wild, an author who self-published her series, built a brand around her imprint, and scored a multimillion dollar advance for five books. Over at Breakwater Harbor Books, a group of indie authors have banned together to create their own imprint. We’re writing books instead of endlessly submitting to agents and publishers.

Gough’s main concern with self-publishing seems to be the quality of the books produced by indie authors. Which is, of course, why editors exist. Authors can and do invest in thier books and realize that they need professional help to improve on their produce to make it more enjoyable for their readers and more marketable. Why put them down for that?

I know editors and designers who work at traditional houses who take on freelance work. I can’t afford most of them, but I don’t think their quality of work goes down when they edit for an indie author. Many writers have published with traditional presses and also chosen to self-publish. Successful self-published books sometimes get picked up by publishing houses. The overlapping of the two methods keeps the industry thriving through economic turbulence. Whether we prefer traditional publishing or self-publishing, this is good news for book lovers everywhere.

With the business aspect aside, self-publishing a book is, at its core, a way for writers to express their thoughts to a wider audience. Writing is an art, a method of communication with the world at large, and part of what makes us human.

Gough softened her post with a few half-hearted words of acquiescence.

“I have nothing against people who want to self-publish, especially if they’re elderly. Perhaps they want to write their life story and have no time to learn how to write well enough to be published traditionally.”

What I found interesting is that her arguments are the same one the Big Three auto manufacturers made against upstart car companies or that network television made against cable. Lack of competition had made these old moribund companies complacent and stale. The arrival of newcomers in the field improved the product for everyone.

Yes, good writing takes time to learn. You aren’t going to get any better at it by writing pitch letters to the Big Five and the handful of agents they listen to. You get better at writing by actually writing. Indie publishing allows us to do that and then pitch our work to the only agent that truly matters … the readers.

 

Jacquie Biggar-USA Today Best-selling author

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