To Edit or Not to Edit

Last week, Steve Evans responded to my post about fair eBook prices. It got me thinking about the writing and publishing process, and the reason why I expect to be paid for my work. I realize, it wasn’t the writing itself, but rather the stuff that comes after writing which turns the whole thing into work.

I Enjoy Creating

I enjoy the entire creation process. This includes developing plots, creating characters, writing, and even developing book covers. Oh… what fun I have! I have 4 novels which are 75-95% finished with the first draft, a few more that are in the 50% range, and a host of other ideas floating around. However, when I think about going back and polishing those books, my motivation falls flat. In fact, I don’t even want to finish them when I think about having to prepare the for publication. So, I have some choices when it comes to getting my books out there.

Outsource

I can outsource the stuff I don’t like. One of the things business owners should realize is they don’t have to do everything. What they’re unable to do or just plain don’t want to do, they can outsource it to others. For instance, I can pay someone to critique my works, pay for a proofreader, editor, and marketing person. However, the key word is pay. 🙂

One thing everyone realizes is that resources are limited. There’s a cost benefit to pretty much every choice we make. If I pay someone to do all the things I don’t want to do or am unable to do, there are other things I won’t be able to afford to do. And I’ll be honest here. I don’t have a few thousand dollars to blow per book with little chance of recovering the costs.

To Hell with It All!

What Steve really got me thinking about was why I continued to do things I didn’t enjoy. It’s not like I have to prepare my books for publishing. In fact, I can write my first drafts and shove them in a virtual drawer, if I wanted.

On the other hand, I’ve been feeling rather guilty… especially when it comes to the sequels to Shadow Cat. I really feel as if I should finish what I started, and get those other two books out. In fact, book two is pretty much written. While polishing it, I thought about feedback I received from Shadow Cat, and wanted to make sure I didn’t make the same mistakes. So, I went back and rewrote a section. Now the whole thing needs to be reviewed for consistencies. The final book is at that 75% stage… so I’m pretty close with being done with them all… but then I’m in the to hell with it all stage. I just don’t feel like going back and reviewing and polishing them. So why should I continue doing things which make me unhappy? 🙂 There’s enough unhappiness in the world. I don’t need to add an optional unhappiness to my list.

To Hell with My Reputation?

Then again, I can take that attitude and do something different with it. I’ve read quite a few literary agents say they see books on the market which aren’t ready for publishing. I wholeheartedly agree with them. Dare I take my not quite ready drafts and put them on the market? Just the idea feels me with anxiety.

I talked to my husband about the pros and cons of doing that. The reality is I have works I’m sure someone would like to read. However, they’re unlikely to make it into readers’ hands if I’m stuck on preparing them for publication… at least if I continue to work on them to the extend they satisfy me.

However, I can write my first draft, then do a pass or two before sending it off into the world. I can stop obsessing over getting each phrase to sound just right.

What Do You Think, Readers?

Literary agents have their own viewpoints. However, they aren’t my market, readers are. From the reader’s standpoint, would you rather see an early draft of a story or bypass the story all together? I ask because I’m in the to hell with it stage. The works I’m just on the edge of completing will either be filed in the virtual folder or I’ll likely finish them and do some rudimentary passes before sending into the world.

Is it better to get the work out or to slave over the work with the chance it’s just not going to get the attention it needs to be “ready for publication?”

What are your thoughts?

Guest Post: Anthony Izzo Examines Indie V. Traditional

Traditional or Indie?

By

Anthony Izzo

 

With the increasing popularity of Amazon Kindle and similar e book readers, it’s easier than ever to become a published author. But is it better to get into print first? Or should you go independent and publish your own work? There are advantages and disadvantages to both routes.

I sold three horror novels to Kensington’s Pinnacle imprint. Kensington treated me fairly, and validated my writing. Once I sold to Kensington, I knew I could sell to a professional market.  Writing for them also taught me a great deal about editing my own work, an invaluable skill.

A traditional publishing contract gives you credibility. Your writing is deemed to be of professional quality. With a traditional publisher, the writer gets a fair amount of exposure and distribution to the big chains. However, unless the publisher is giving you a big push, most of the marketing and publicity falls on the writer.  Being under contract with a publisher also means giving up a good portion of your rights to the book, possibly for years.

Control of your work is also an issue. The publisher has the right to change your title and request revisions as they see fit. The writer may also be bound to writing a certain type of book. Once a writer is labeled with a certain genre, that’s what the publisher is going to want.

Publishers also don’t like parting with their money very often. Contracts are structured so the writer gets paid every six months. This is assuming your book has earned out its advance at all.

Enter e-books. The biggest drawback to publishing independently is lack of editing, but this can be learned. There are hundreds of how-to books on writing fiction, but it’s tough to replace a professional editor.

The freedom of independent publishing is the biggest draw for most writers. Want to write that epic fantasy you’ve had in your head and follow it up with a historical romance? You can do it. It’s all on the table.  The writer can have control over cover art (something you have no say in with a traditional publisher), distribution, and marketing of the work.

E-books are also flexible. Cover art can be changed, errors can be fixed, and the book can be re-published.  With traditional publishing, once the book is in galley form (the way it will look when published), it’s pretty much carved in stone.  And unlike print books, e-books have no shelf life and never go out of print.

If you want creative control of your work and are willing to handle editing, formatting, cover art, and marketing, e-books are for you. Make sure your work is polished and ready to go. Learn the craft and the basics, such as spelling and grammar. No one will buy a shoddy book, no matter how good your premise sounds.

Electronic publishing has changed the game. Publishers and agents will always have a role, but the balance of power has shifted to the writer.  Writers are in control of their own work, and the royalty structure of e-book platforms allows the author to claim a larger percentage of the profits than ever before.  If you’re willing to learn the craft and present a professional-looking product, there’s no reason not to give it a shot.

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Anthony Izzo’s latest book is NO ESCAPE, a supernatural thriller. It’s available through Amazon.com and Smashwords.com. Find him horrifying people on the web at www.anthonyizzo.com.  You can also follow Tony on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/AIzzo

Guest Post: Terrance Foxxe ~ The Budding Writer (Part 4)

You’ve reached the final part of Terrance Foxxe‘s series, the Budding Writer. If you missed the first two posts, have a look see (Part I , Part II, and Part IIII).

Lessons from a Twenty Year, Almost Career (Part IV)

by

Terrance Foxxe

“It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”

Bullshit!

It is what you say, and how you say it!

Writing well is the key. Creating an exciting story that’s exciting to read is the key. The lock that key goes into is writing well. Keys are shaped to fit locks. Locks are mechanisms. You can learn to understand the mechanism, but if you study the lock, can you tell what shape the key must take? Try saying all that three times real fast.

Technique. Form. Dedication. All of this can be learned by those wishing to learn it. Don’t sweat it. Not yet. Don’t ignore it, either.

As I said, my first novel had some great ideas in it. The plot was simple. Good vs. evil. What my characters did and said moved my plot along. How they acted, reacted, how they reacted to other’s actions and reactions, all brought me, and them, to the end of the book.

I added to it where I thought it lacked, thinking all the time how I could get more excitement into the story. I took away all I thought didn’t belong, hoping what I was removing was the boredom. It still lacked something. It was tenderly tucked into my file drawer with one or two regrets I quickly swallowed. There was a moment of depression I immediately gulped down, too. I’m a writer, and there is no time for mental masochism.

I dumped whatever I felt about it out of my mind and wrote my second novel. Again, horror. Good against evil. This time something was different. This time I ignored the much touted writing advice from all of my books, and let everything I was vomit out my fingertips, and had a lot of fun doing it. I wrote what I wanted to read, how I wanted to read it. This time I did something right. I wrote a good book.

My novel was full of gritty real-life drama. It didn’t pull punches. I hit below the belt when it came to my character’s reality. I had made my horror, real. Some passages bordered just this side of being pornographic, but reality, the reality I built for my characters, was art. Any fellow writer who I could convince to read the story gushed over its brilliance. They weren’t yanking my chain. They would have told me, diplomatically, if it had sucked.

Writers dedicated to the craft are like that, by the way. They love good reads just as much as you do. They love pointing out your mistakes, even when they misunderstand your intentions, and you must forgive them, because they are trying to help you. Most want to tell you things without hurting your feelings, because they don’t like getting their feelings hurt when they, in turn, show you something of theirs that bites.

Nope, my second novel did what I set out for it to do. In 1995 Leisure Books looked at it for eight months, then turned it down. A very agreeable, handwritten rejection letter. Everybody else sent the form rejection letter within the specified time limit. But, that letter from Leisure Books told me something, even if I had to read between the lines to figure out what it was.

I had a book with potential, it caught someone’s attention, but they eventually turned it down. I set it to the side for a while because I had to. I figured I was too close to the problem. When I did pick up the manuscript again, six months later, the answer hit me upside the head, hard.

I screwed myself to the wall by not producing a highly polished manuscript, and I mean that high-gloss foot-deep shine. I was an unpublished nobody from Iowa, of all places, with a less than perfect manuscript. I cut my own throat.

The manuscript was as rough as sandpaper, and needed a lot of top-coat polishing. It was up to me to have a mistake-free manuscript, and I failed. I failed myself. The problems I ran into were many. I was relying too much on my word processing program. Bare, bear. I can’t bear a bear with a bare butt. Get it? I now bracket words I’m not sure of as I edit, and run my manuscripts through three independent word programs. I double-check everything again with a freakishly big dictionary, that human factor, relying on me to catch what the machinery or software didn’t.

Indie Authors, take note. I had a great story, but I had a badly written book. An author with a badly written but great story isn’t going anywhere. Your readers will judge you, and your sales are their verdict.

Where was I? Yes. I applied this same simple principle of writing heart and soul to all of my short stories. I wrote what I wanted to read. I had fun. I cleaned up my punctuation, my grammar, the gaps in my logic, and I did that for every short story and novel I wrote. I added to them where I thought they lacked, and took away all I thought didn’t belong. I fixed all I could fix, and made sure my stories were as perfect and exciting as possible. More rejection slips arrived, but I also received a few acceptance slips. I made some money, too.

Talent.

Some people have natural talent. Most can learn.

I love to read, but made the mistake of not reading anything when I was writing. I didn’t want what I was reading to influence my writing. Well, the flaw in that logic is published words from talented writers will influence your own words. You want that to happen. You need to learn from those who came before. It’s a good thing. That’s how you can build up your own talent.

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Terrance Foxxe is crazy enough to share everything he knows about catering to readers, because readers matter most to the Indie Author of today, and tomorrow. He had two books published under his real name, only to discover publishers really suck. After being drawn and quartered, royally ripped off and then some, plus more, he is the Indie author of A Post-apocalyptic Story of Love, $2.99 USD for the Kindle. Link provided. He’s now a happy man. Buy his book. Read it. Write a review.

A Post-apocalyptic Story of Love is available at Amazon.

He blogs at http://terrancefoxxe.blogspot.com/

Guest Post: Terrance Foxxe ~ The Budding Writer (Part 3)

Welcome to part 3 of Terrance Foxxe‘s series, the Budding Writer. If you missed the first two posts, have a look see (Part I and Part II). And don’t forget to return tomorrow for the wrap-up post.

Lessons from a Twenty Year, Almost Career (Part III)

by

Terrance Foxxe

Anyway, I jammed through my first novel, and was so happy to get it done, I sent it off to all the big publishing houses all at the same time. It cost me a small fortune in postage. Never again.

I did it! I wrote my first novel . . . and the overall story wasn’t that bad. It had a lot of promise, but what did I know about polished words? I just knew I did it, used almost a ream of paper to do it with, and it all made sense in the end. I even waited until the last two pages to reveal the true face of my monster. I thought it kicked shit all the way to Shinola. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Between my first novel and a dozen short stories that year, I had fifty or more rejection slips. That’s when I took everything I had to date and put it in a drawer. I knew I was doing something wrong, but I didn’t know what it was. Like most of you out there today, there was nobody around I could ask for help.

My collection of How To books grew. Literary dandelions. My How To medley now stands at 35 books. It took all that for me to figure out what I was doing wrong, and what I was doing right. I read good How To books, and bad How To books. I’ll list the good How To books in a coming post, if you want to know them or buy them. I have no deals with any of their publishers. I’m giving you this information freely, as an opinion. My learned-da-hard-way opinion.

Every single one of my “How To” books can tell you what is, in their words, the right thing to do. Some dry reading, to be sure. Many include writing exercises you can use to improve your skills. They all give examples of what not to do, but they don’t go in-depth. Everybody learns from their mistakes. It’s human nature. God knows I certainly learned from mine.

I’m going to expose myself like an unashamed flasher. You get to read about and learn from my mistakes. Chances are, these are the same mistakes you’re bashing your head into the wall about, and drywall is a pain to replace.

Writing is a craft. It’s an art form. It’s not what you say, but how you say it. Writing well is the key. Technique. Form. Talent. Dedication. Blah, blah, blah.

I believed this nonsense. And it is nonsense. Others will argue this statement to the death, but for me this declaration rings true. It’s nonsense, up to a point. Where does it stop being nonsense, you ask? Read on and figure it out on your own. You see, the answers are different for us all. My conclusions will not necessarily be yours.

“Getting published is easy. Writing well is hard.” – Gary Provost.

My ass. Getting published by the big boys is hell-on-wheels in this day and age, and writing well is much easier than you think.

There is a Catch 22 when it comes to getting published by the big boys. I bumped heads with it for years. It is: You have to be published, in order to get published. Or, to put it another way; you don’t have any credits until you get published, and publishers want to see your credits before they risk publishing you. And on and on and on.

A nasty, endless circle of twisted logic that really doesn’t make any sense. You see, me and several of my writing friends have great credits. Published many times at the semi-pro and pro level, and we got nowhere. When it became truly possible to bypass the clearinghouse, fee-charging self-publishers, I decided to take the Indie Author path. I’m much happier these days, despite doubling my workload.

The fact is, within monolithic publishing, crap sells. I don’t know why, but it does. Agents and publishers know this. Think Snookie, Paris’s dog, and so many others.

Great books, wonderful stories, they get turned down every freaking day. The gatekeepers think only in dollars. If they think they can make money off of you, lots of money, you’re in. But, they don’t know what will sell oodles of books. They simply follow trends, and then they beat those same trends to death.

With us, thinking publishing as a business, and you’re one of those people who think your finished first novel is gold, good to go; do yourself a favor and put it in a drawer for six months. Don’t touch it, don’t even think about it. Six months. Write another novel. At the end of that six months pull it out and read it again. If you still think you have gold, and be truthful, without having to rework almost every page for some reason or another, do whatever it takes. But, like I said, be truthful to yourself, first and foremost.

Twenty years of reading everything I could get my grubby hands on about writing and publishing has taught me a lot. It taught me even the best storytellers out there today may never, ever, get a contract. Future Pulitzer Prize winners may never see print by monolithic publishing, until after they win a Pulitzer. Indie Authors, some of us are magnificent storytellers. We care about our readers. We care enough to try to be the best there is out there today, in content and quality. Not getting published by monolithic publishing means nothing in terms of the quality of our stories. Nothing!

Return tomorrow for Part 4.

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Terrance Foxxe is crazy enough to share everything he knows about catering to readers, because readers matter most to the Indie Author of today, and tomorrow. He had two books published under his real name, only to discover publishers really suck. After being drawn and quartered, royally ripped off and then some, plus more, he is the Indie author of A Post-apocalyptic Story of Love, $2.99 USD for the Kindle. Link provided. He’s now a happy man. Buy his book. Read it. Write a review.

A Post-apocalyptic Story of Love is available at Amazon.

He blogs at http://terrancefoxxe.blogspot.com/