Friday, August 31, 2012

The New Publishing Paradigm for Fiction Writers

Not too long ago, I was interviewed by Stephanie Gunning on a special webinar, "The New Publishing Paradigm." I've received many requests for the audio or transcripts. The entire program content is too long for a newsletter, but here are a few of the Q&A exchanges we covered.
How does the new publishing paradigm affect fiction authors specifically?  The types of fiction being written are dramatically different today....absolutely an outgrowth of the social society.  Years ago literary fiction reigned supreme and theme of "what is the purpose of life" was pretty much present in every novel. Think back to your high school classes (or maybe freshman English in college). The major authors were Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald and the existentialists such as Sartre, Camus, Beckett and so on. Also popular were themes of the absurd... plays such as No Exit, Waiting for Godot, and books by fiction authors such as Saul Bellows and Joseph Heller. Even the classic "coming of age" stories...Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, I know why the Caged Bird Sings ...were full of metaphors and deeper meanings to uncover in the plot. 
Flash forward to the year 2000 until now.... Harry Potter, Twilight, 50 Shades of Gray, The Hunger Games, DaVinci Code, and any number of the crime/mystery/adventure/scifi/fantasy fiction series that are so popular. These are all plot-driven stories, and many have good characterization, but there's little substance once the stories are over. You'd be hard pressed to find serious statements about human nature underlying the plot. Not to say that's true for everything coming out today, because there still is good literary fiction. But popular fiction is the big seller in today's market, and I think that's a reflection of our high-tech society with extreme attention deficit disorder. I don't mean that in a bad way, just an observation.
This big change came at the same time, and is partly due to the technology roll out. So, not only was it easier to an author to get a book out in print or as an ebook, it was easier to communicate with the readers due to the social networks, and the combination of availability of access to readers and the indie author's ability to publish directly to that reader changed the face of publishing. 
Which is better to self-publish first: a print book or ebook?  No right or wrong or better, really. Depends on the author's goals and budget. It's easier, faster, and cheaper to do a digital edition first, no doubt about it. Many authors do both, one first, then the other...but some put their books out simultaneously in print and ebook form. I think for a newbie, doing an ebook is better, in the sense that it's easier, faster and cheaper. Thus mistakes are more easily corrected. But, both formats require certain things to be successful: a good story, good editing and good book cover and interior design.
I'll be posting more questions and answers from the interview in future blog posts. Follow this blog by email (use the subscription box in righthand column) so you don't miss any!

Labor (of Love) Day Special Offer

Don't let your heart be heavy that summer is ending. Breathe in and let the cooler air fill you with inspiration to return to the page. (Let's be honest...many of you took the summer "off" from writing.)

Always your muse, I want to nudge you along to start now, so I created a special "Back to School" BOGO Consulting Package. Just purchase 1 to 4 consulting sessions and get one session free. What's the catch? You must purchase your session(s) by Labor Day, September 3, and schedule them before October 31.

Let's get that book done and up on Kindle and Amazon. Please don't let another season fly by with your book still in your head or on your computer.

Make the commitment to get the book done! Purchase your consulting session now, because when Labor Day Weekend is gone, so is this offer. Get all the details here>>

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Source of Inspiration

Photo ©Joe Gemignani
Today I had a phone call from a former member of the women's writing group I founded in Fort Lauderdale back in 2006. At age 76, Valerie is a performance poet with a PhD in Philosophy who teaches at Broward College, lectures at Nova University, speaks for nonprofit groups, and creates and gives workshops and seminars on spirituality. She wanted to know if I was still leading the writer's group and if I had room for her in my classes. She said she recently had surgery for thyroid cancer and finally had time while recovering to put together her book, which she envisions as a collection of her poems, essays, cartoons, articles, and academic papers. She was terribly disappointed to learn that I'm no longer located in South Florida or leading writing groups.

I remember Valerie quite vividly. Almost six feet tall, with long black hair, she is a woman not easily forgotten or even ignored. When it was her turn to share her work with the writers group, she stood up and performed her poetry from memory...sometimes entertaining us for 10 or 15 minutes a time. I don't remember that she ever slipped up even once or forgot the next line. She was amazing...she was doing her version of poetry slams long before most of the contemporary poets' parents were born.

In between telling me about all the things she's been up to since we last saw one another, she offered up a poem she had written yesterday after seeing her reflection looking out the window. I wish I had a copy to print here or, better, an audio recording of her spoken word because my own words can't begin to describe the power of hers.

Valerie was a bit overwhelmed with the voluminous amount of material that she's created over the years. Where should she begin, she wanted to know? That's pretty much the first opportunity I had to get a word in. I told her, "Normally, when people ask me that question, I tell them to begin with the area of their writing is closest to their hearts and that gives them the most pleasure. I already know what that is for you. Start with your poetry collection, and record it as well." "Really?" she asked. "You don't think I should include everything in one book?" "Valerie, you have an encyclopedia's worth of writing. Begin with your poetry. Then move on to each collection of work separately. When it's all complete, you can combine all the collections in a gift set."

She's not tech-savvy, so I also suggested she get a student to help her with the technical and administrative end of the project. She liked my ideas very much and thanked me many times. "You are such an inspiration!" she said, more than once. "Valerie, you are the inspiration. You don't know it, but this has been a wake up call for me. Thank you for getting back in touch."

When we hung up, I took a few moments to savor our conversation and remembered with pleasure her eloquent and captivating delivery. I realized how much I miss being in the company of other writers and what a wellspring of creativity I found there. I also felt more than a bit guilty about my pathetic delays getting my novel complete. But, I didn't want to wallow in self-pity or guilt. I truly felt uplifted by Valerie's fervor. And so I begin again, picking up where I left off in the second draft of THE PRINCE CHARMING chapter 19, which as chapter 18 in the first draft was a stumbling block as well.

So, tomorrow (since today if virtually over as far as time for writing), I begin back at the page with my novel. In the meantime, you can read Chapter One here. On the blog with the novel is a short story I wrote for a friend's book from a visual prompt. It's called "Girls Night Out," and you can read it here.

I will continue to post chapters of the novel, so if you're interested in following along, subscribe to the email updates at the Elyse Grant blog, where the hot and spicy stuff is taking place.

We never know where we'll get our inspiration. Perhaps my writing can spark something for you...or if your muse needs a more personal nudge, the aMUSEment consulting package is available through the end of August.

Please let me hear from you via the blog comments. Tell me what you're working on and what inspires you.

To your writing success,