C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Please don’t bet on one book

Your stock of books are doors to your literary house. The more doors you have, the more points of entry you give to potential readers. More is better. More

An electric ceiling fan.

An electric ceiling fan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

multiplies opportunities for readers to discover you. Please don’t ask us all to squeeze in one door. Some authors bet they are Harper Lee and one book will take them on a To Kill a Mockingbird rocket ride to the top. It doesn’t work.

For example, I know a nice guy. You probably know one, too. The nice guy I’m thinking of published a novel more than a decade ago. He pushed that one book hard to little success. Recently, I noticed that he’s still pushing it. It’s not that you should give up on a novel’s eventual success in the market. With ebooks, the market is forever, or at least until the sun explodes or the zombies rise. But this good dude has nothing else to sell so he’s presenting a tiny target. That’s good on the battlefield and tragic in the marketplace.

And suppose a bunch of people did like that one book? Then what? They say, “I bought your book! Loved it. What else have you written that I could buy and read and love and spread the word about?”

Silence. Lost opportunity. Lost income. Despair. A rope knotted in a noose tied to a ceiling fan. A tipped chair in a dark room.

This author is a smart and talented guy, so he must have more to say. Somehow, he hasn’t managed to write another book and he’s still hoping readers will line up for that one special book. Unfortunately, the book’s not that special. He’s special. I’m not giving up on him, but he has to write and publish more books.

Being nice and smart and talented isn’t enough.

Write. Publish. Ship. Deliver. Deliver braingasms.

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , ,

Writers: Your mistakes taunt you

The original Ruby slippers used in The Wizard ...

Image via Wikipedia

I saw the movie Limitless over the weekend. I loved it (and it helped the loser/hero starts out as a scrambled slacker writer who is hopelessly blocked . It’s a great time, but as I hit the parking lot I thought, (MINI-SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER!) how come they left the dangling thread of the unsolved murder? Was it lost on the editing room floor?

There are plenty of precedents for such mistakes. For instance, a truly great classic, Casablanca is brutally flawed if you think about the ending for a moment. The engine of the plot turns on there being only two travel passes so only two people can leave. Will Ilsa go with Rick or Victor? The resistance needs Victor so Rick must sacrifice his desires for Ilsa for the greater good. But there are no Nazis checking passports at the airport!

In fact, in the background at the end of Casablanca just a few little people (they were “dwarves” when the same extras were in The Wizard of Oz) pretend to fuel a cardboard cut-out plane. Rick could have escaped, as well. Instead he stays with Louie and they begin a beautiful friendship that, years later, would inspire the raw, hot homo-eroticism of Bert and Ernie of Sesame Street fame. (Okay, I made up that last bit.)

Sometimes people underestimate the importance of editing. When stuff is left out, it sticks out. Even if you enjoy a story, as you put it down, you think about that niggling deficit. I guess it’s just the way our brains are wired. You forget praise, but point out a screw up, that you remember forever.

I recently went through a writing sample for an author. I might have seemed harsh though I took great pains to be kind. The truth is, I found a lot to fix. The author wanted to send it off for traditional publication. Without those fixes, there was no way it was going to get past the first gatekeeper.

Publishing has changed. There are fewer editors doing more work and if they accept a new author at all, they do not want to have to do much editing at all.
With To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee‘s acquisition editor took a year off to perfect the book. There is no way in hell that would happen today.

You want your text to be excellent. If you publish it yourself, good might do. Even “good enough” might pass. But is that really what you want? Mistakes in books stand out and stick, burning you at the thought of readers stumbling over a glaring error and questioning your ability, craft or intelligence.

Errata are in all books. They shouldn’t be dancing around in neon taunting you.

 

 

 

 

Filed under: authors, Books, Editing, Editors, movies, publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

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"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

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