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Author Topic: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts  (Read 6840 times)  

Offline bhazelgrove

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Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« on: July 30, 2013, 02:53:09 PM »
In the age of Indie the modern author is able to publish instantly. But is this a good thing? Take the box of manuscripts I have in the basement. Bad novels. I know they are bad. They should not see the light of day. Or should they? I believe you have to write badly for a long time before you write well and I wrote badly for a long time. I have probably written ten novels and maybe half have made it into print. There was no choice. No one would publish you so you just had to work on your craft. Rewriting that would go on for years. So the question is: If authors can put out their writing instantly are they using the readers as first line editors? And is this a good thing? Or is it just inevitable in the age of the internet where anyone can cut a CD or write a book? I know these are irritating thoughts... but there they are. 
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Offline Darren Wearmouth

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2013, 02:58:08 PM »
In the age of Indie the modern author is able to publish instantly. But is this a good thing? Take the box of manuscripts I have in the basement. Bad novels. I know they are bad. They should not see the light of day. Or should they? I believe you have to write badly for a long time before you write well and I wrote badly for a long time. I have probably written ten novels and maybe half have made it into print. There was no choice. No one would publish you so you just had to work on your craft. Rewriting that would go on for years. So the question is: If authors can put out their writing instantly are they using the readers as first line editors? And is this a good thing? Or is it just inevitable in the age of the internet where anyone can cut a CD or write a book? I know these are irritating thoughts... but there they are.  

I would think most on here use an editor as a first line editor, not the public. I get your point though, I downloaded a short story from Amazon last week that looked like it had been immediately uploaded to KDP by a person using a spoon attached to their forehead to type without error checking/editing afterwards.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2013, 03:00:53 PM by DAWearmouth »

Offline mattposner

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2013, 03:02:22 PM »
I think the marketplace can sort this one out. Books that are inappropriately published don't get purchased, don't get reviewed, or get reviews that kill them off.

There is a lot of complaining out there about low-quality authors dumping their garbage onto amazon in the hopes of big bucks. Well, they don't get big bucks, because their lack of professionalism gets them in the end. Those people don't worry me.

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Offline bhazelgrove

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2013, 03:04:25 PM »
I think the marketplace can sort this one out. Books that are inappropriately published don't get purchased, don't get reviewed, or get reviews that kill them off.

There is a lot of complaining out there about low-quality authors dumping their garbage onto amazon in the hopes of big bucks. Well, they don't get big bucks, because their lack of professionalism gets them in the end. Those people don't worry me.

I think you are right. There is a cream rises to the top element in writing and publishing and certainly this is the function of reviews and people talking about books. The good books get passed on.
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Offline Edward M. Grant

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2013, 03:15:15 PM »
I've been going through all my old novels recently. I wouldn't even think of publishing any without a major rewrite, but some have good stories despite the bad writing... there's no reason not to give them that major rewrite and then publish them.

Offline KaryE

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2013, 03:15:50 PM »
I would think most on here use an editor as a first line editor, not the public. I get your point though, I downloaded a short story from Amazon last week that looked like it had been immediately uploaded to KDP by a person using a spoon attached to their forehead to type without error checking/editing afterwards.

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Offline MegHarris

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2013, 03:21:32 PM »
Quote
I believe you have to write badly for a long time before you write well and I wrote badly for a long time.

No doubt true for many of us, but one can't generalize too much. There are people who sit down to write their first book and write it very, very well. Some people have an instinctive grasp of language that allows them to write brilliantly the first time out. It can happen.

Quote
So the question is: If authors can put out their writing instantly are they using the readers as first line editors?

No doubt some people are doing this. Others realize their first effort isn't awesome and keep slogging away till they produce a book worth reading, either by revision or by writing new books. Part of publishing is learning that everything you write is not golden, and that it's wise to use an editor or a beta reader. Some people figure this out right away, and unfortunately some don't. But there's nothing you can do about the ones that publish crud... you have no control over anyone's work but your own.

Offline KerryT2012

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2013, 03:34:43 PM »
In the age of Indie the modern author is able to publish instantly. But is this a good thing? Take the box of manuscripts I have in the basement. Bad novels. I know they are bad. They should not see the light of day. Or should they? I believe you have to write badly for a long time before you write well and I wrote badly for a long time. I have probably written ten novels and maybe half have made it into print. There was no choice. No one would publish you so you just had to work on your craft. Rewriting that would go on for years. So the question is: If authors can put out their writing instantly are they using the readers as first line editors? And is this a good thing? Or is it just inevitable in the age of the internet where anyone can cut a CD or write a book? I know these are irritating thoughts... but there they are. 
This falls into the category, can a singer be fantastic if they are not attractive or  fully clothed in their videos? Or would a Princess be considered beautiful if she did not have the wealth to make her have the clothes/shape and makeup? I'm not convinced a 'bestseller' is free of typos, read books which aren't. BUT, I do believe it's all about referrals - if one person likes you and refers you then a whole bunch of other people will follow....interestingly someone told me the other day they do not buy books by searching but purely on recommendations, that could be emails from Amazon or friends..

Offline Vaalingrade

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2013, 03:45:02 PM »
I think that it's a good thing because sure, you 'know' they're bad because you personally don't like them. But maybe someone else does. Maybe someone else is going to read the novel you thought was bad and see beauty that will inspire them or make them think; that will change them for the better.

I often wonder how many great works have been lost because the author did not love it enough to let others read it.

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Offline cinisajoy

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2013, 03:50:24 PM »
In the age of Indie the modern author is able to publish instantly. But is this a good thing? Take the box of manuscripts I have in the basement. Bad novels. I know they are bad. They should not see the light of day. Or should they? I believe you have to write badly for a long time before you write well and I wrote badly for a long time. I have probably written ten novels and maybe half have made it into print. There was no choice. No one would publish you so you just had to work on your craft. Rewriting that would go on for years. So the question is: If authors can put out their writing instantly are they using the readers as first line editors? And is this a good thing? Or is it just inevitable in the age of the internet where anyone can cut a CD or write a book? I know these are irritating thoughts... but there they are. 

Can I turn this around on you just a bit?    I know you are a big name author or I am assuming you are.   I want to know one thing if when you first started writing the technology had been available to self publish would your "badly" written novels been published?  
I would say anyone being able to published is a good thing for all.
Not counting the books with too many typos to count or very bad grammar (but on that one I would see where the person was from because the language they are writing in may not be their first language) but what would you consider a good book?    Yes, I am asking for a reason.  I picked up a book today that had rave reviews and I just could not get past the first chapter purely due to the author's style of writing.    So would that be a good book, a bad book or just the type of book I could not get into and enjoy.   Personally the latter one gets my vote.
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Offline bhazelgrove

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2013, 03:58:55 PM »
Can I turn this around on you just a bit?    I know you are a big name author or I am assuming you are.   I want to know one thing if when you first started writing the technology had been available to self publish would your "badly" written novels been published?  
I would say anyone being able to published is a good thing for all.
Not counting the books with too many typos to count or very bad grammar (but on that one I would see where the person was from because the language they are writing in may not be their first language) but what would you consider a good book?    Yes, I am asking for a reason.  I picked up a book today that had rave reviews and I just could not get past the first chapter purely due to the author's style of writing.    So would that be a good book, a bad book or just the type of book I could not get into and enjoy.   Personally the latter one gets my vote.

I think you bring up a good question. I would have taken a chance on those bad novels and put them out there. No doubt. But I could not. Maybe one of them might have been worthy. Frankly the others I didn't know what I was doing. I like the change but I also see that someone like me the thousand reject letters made me a better writer that is my path not the right one persay
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Offline dalya

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2013, 06:14:54 PM »
I think the experience of self-publishing will do the job of weeding people out.

Offline Elizabeth Ann West

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2013, 06:29:24 PM »
How many readers does a book have to make smile in order to be considered a success?

My count is one. If a book available for sale is purchased and makes ONE reader think it's a 5-star book, then in my opinion, it needed to be out there, available. Our world is short on smiles.

Sure you could make a counter point about the people who frowned, but that's why you can return ebooks within 7 days. I know my personal feelings of where a book made me feel good were much, much more important than the slight inconvenience I had of reading an ebook sample I didn't like. It's as simple as pressing the cover, holding it down, and selecting Remove from Device.

I've watched too many times with our sampler promotions and now our ARC program the EXACT SAME book make one reader go "OMG, I loved it because I could totally relate...." and another reader go "UGH, I hated the grammar mistakes and poor editing and the characterization was whiny." The exact same book. You tell me, which reader is wrong? Which is right? I think they both are, and it's better in my opinion for the reader who didn't like the book to just avoid it and the author in the future so the reader who loved it can have a treasured tale in their collection.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2013, 06:31:10 PM by Elizabeth Ann West »


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Offline Joshua Dalzelle

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2013, 06:37:33 PM »
I think I understand and agree with what William is saying. I have more than a couple full length novels that will never see the light of day. They're each flawed in their own way and when I go back through them I must admit, they're just not good enough to be published. But the experience of writing them was invaluable as was the inevitable rejections they garnered from agents and publishers.

Most of the books that are like this do sink to the bottom pretty quickly, but it can muddy the waters. An acquaintance of mine who is trade published is horrified at the pace the indie world seems to operate at. He's dumbfounded someone thinks a book is as good as it can possibly be in the space of a couple months as he takes over a year sometimes to just write a project, not counting edits and rewrites.

Offline dianasg

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2013, 06:51:45 PM »
How many readers does a book have to make smile in order to be considered a success?

My count is one. If a book available for sale is purchased and makes ONE reader think it's a 5-star book, then in my opinion, it needed to be out there, available. Our world is short on smiles.

Sure you could make a counter point about the people who frowned, but that's why you can return ebooks within 7 days. I know my personal feelings of where a book made me feel good were much, much more important than the slight inconvenience I had of reading an ebook sample I didn't like. It's as simple as pressing the cover, holding it down, and selecting Remove from Device.

I've watched too many times with our sampler promotions and now our ARC program the EXACT SAME book make one reader go "OMG, I loved it because I could totally relate...." and another reader go "UGH, I hated the grammar mistakes and poor editing and the characterization was whiny." The exact same book. You tell me, which reader is wrong? Which is right? I think they both are, and it's better in my opinion for the reader who didn't like the book to just avoid it and the author in the future so the reader who loved it can have a treasured tale in their collection.

Beautifully said.

Sure, IMO, there are books published (both trad and indie) that shouldn't be published: but who am I to say?

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2013, 06:53:52 PM »
The OP assumes that only good manuscripts get accepted for traditional publication, and only bad manuscripts get rejected. Do we really believe this?

Offline jackz4000

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2013, 07:00:18 PM »
I think the marketplace can sort this one out. Books that are inappropriately published don't get purchased, don't get reviewed, or get reviews that kill them off.

There is a lot of complaining out there about low-quality authors dumping their garbage onto amazon in the hopes of big bucks. Well, they don't get big bucks, because their lack of professionalism gets them in the end. Those people don't worry me.

The readers sort it all out.

Offline Herc- The Reluctant Geek

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2013, 07:25:01 PM »
The question that must be asked is: What gives you the right to judge whether your earlier novels are good or not? What qualifies you to make that decision?

What you could do is start a secret secret pen name, straighten out the grammar etc etc, and publish them and let the audience decide. Only readers are qualified to judge your books and even then, only as a collective. An individual, even if that individual is the author, brings far too much subjectivity to the equation, as do small cliques or groups within the overall audience.

Online publishing has democratised written literature and, like in any true democracy, it is the voice of the collective that holds sway.

Offline Speaker-To-Animals

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2013, 07:38:25 PM »
Actually, writing manuscripts, having them rejected, and putting them in a drawer was one way of learning writing.

There was also writing stuff and sending it off to someplace less well paying, but desperate enough to publish it. I am not a great writer, but I think I can tell a passable dirty story, particularly if there's some fetishy stuff tossed in. Loads of writers learned to write while paying the bills, or at least some of them, by grinding out similar stuff and selling it in markets ranging from porno mags, to trashy true confessions, to pulp paperbacks. In fact, the genres favored in pulp paperbacks are the very same genres where indies flourish today.

If someone buys a "bad book," enjoys it, and you can go out to dinner or pay your cable bill on the royalties, I don't see this as anything but a win for everyone.

The worst book I've read in 20 years sold about a squillion copies last year. I devoured it. I could not put it down. I went on to buy the two others in the series and devoured them. Is EL James supposed to be ashamed because the book is bad from the standpoint of ze artiste or happy that millions of us loved it and she's wearing money hats?

Offline Hilary Thomson

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2013, 08:06:43 PM »
The first book I ever wrote was thrown out years ago, and I don't think anyone has a copy.  I thought about publishing my second novel, but after looking it over last year, I ended up deleting all traces of its existence because there was nothing in it worth salvaging and it wasn't worth the trouble of rewriting it.  Other old story ideas I keep just in case they decide to blossom into something one day.
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Offline Rykymus

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2013, 08:20:11 PM »
You are assuming that your previous work is bad based on your own judgments, and that of publishers/editors/agents that were not interested in them. Other than yourself, none of the others are accepting or rejecting your work based solely on it's quality, but rather than the hope that they could turn a profit on it. In the end, they were making nothing more than a (supposedly) educated guess at what the public would like two years in the future when the work would likely make it to market.

If an artist who uses paint and canvas as their medium creates something, they are free to put it up in their front yard with a "for sale" sign on it. If someone likes it and buys it, does that make it art? If someone who owns an art gallery sees it and asks to display it in their gallery, does that make it art? If an art critic sees it and raves about it in their column, does that make it art? I think the answer to all of these is 'no'. It was art the moment the artist created it.

Digital self-publishing, with all it's flaws, opens the reader up to a multitude of work, both good and bad. (Just like those paintings.) This explosion of available works can only be a good thing. The market will decide what they like, which is the very basis of capitalism, and should be the very basis in determining 'what' is art. It is supposed to be in the eye of the beholder, not the distributor.

Offline ellenoc

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2013, 08:28:33 PM »
We go round and round about this in thread after thread. Bloggers blog about the tsunami of crap; editors from traditional publishers write editorials of lament. Yet the fact is none of us can control anyone except our own self. We can bad mouth, look down on, moan about, and regret book after book we don't consider worthy for one reason or another. They're going to be published anyway, and some of them are undoubtedly going to do better than our own skillfully written, artfully crafted, exquisitely edited, and perfectly proofread gems.

No one should be allowed to publish without credentials certified by the Big Five - except of course for me and thee.

Offline Zoe York

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #22 on: July 30, 2013, 08:34:00 PM »
The worst book I've read in 20 years sold about a squillion copies last year. I devoured it. I could not put it down. I went on to buy the two others in the series and devoured them. Is EL James supposed to be ashamed because the book is bad from the standpoint of ze artiste or happy that millions of us loved it and she's wearing money hats?

Yeah, this.

Except the worst book I read last year was an over-written, over-edited trade published romance novel that I DNF at the 40% mark. It was awful in a far worse way than 50 Shades was - it wasn't entertaining, not even a little bit.

Offline Cherise

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #23 on: July 30, 2013, 08:45:21 PM »
....We can bad mouth, look down on, moan about, and regret book after book we don't consider worthy for one reason or another. They're going to be published anyway....


+1

Offline burke_KB

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Re: Craft Versus Publishing...some irritating thoughts
« Reply #24 on: July 30, 2013, 09:08:30 PM »
I'm all for readers deciding what gets read, but artists have to trust their instincts. It comes down to what you are passionate about and why you write. Chasing fads or throwing stuff at the wall hoping it gets some tractions is a turn off. I'd rather read the stuff that excites an author. That energy usually translates into a better story. Money grabs tend to look like money grabs.

If your instincts say the book isn't good, then you'd be a fool to ignore them. I have a few failed novels that I think I might rescue, and rereading them is like thinking about ex-girlfriends. I have to ask my younger self, "what the hell were you thinking?" When I was younger I filled pages with chatty dialogue, and I struggle to read it now because it's just filler. It doesn't advance the story at all. If I were honest, and tried to rescue them, I'd have to cut 80-90% and start over. The subplot lack structure, the ending is weak and takes too long to reach. There's a lot of reasons I found it easier to start a new project than fix the predictable boring character at the center of one of them.

Recently, I had to trust my gut about starting a new book. I've got a dozen book ideas in development. I had to make a choice, and the one I chose was ready to become a manuscript. They are all decent ideas, but my instincts were to continue a series rather than start a new one. Again, it comes to passion and why I write. It was the right book to start next.