01.25.11

Self-publishing: A ramble

Posted in Writing at 11:17 am by kyrias

I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Probably for too long considering that I haven’t even managed to finish Estyria (temporary title) yet, but hey, that’s how procrastination works, right?

The thing is, if I ever do finish Estyria, I’m probably going to try and sell it to NY first, and then if that doesn’t happen, I just might try self-publishing.

There’s a couple of reasons for that:

I don’t like how little money most authors make. What I’m hearing from the authors I read and like is that it’s really hard to make a good living off of writing.

The consensus is to not give up your day job. Keep it even if you could scrape by, in case piracy drives you back to it!

The way I see it?

Unless you’re one of those writers who will simply die, die, if they do not write — you not writing sucks a hella lot more for the reader than for you.

Well, also unless you hate your current day job a hella lot more than you hate scraping by and relying on the vagaries of humanity to keep you and yours fed.

Me?

I hate relying on the vagaries of humanity to keep me fed just a little more than I hate my current day job. Considering I have a boyfriend to help put through college, a family to feed, retirement to think of, children to save for, and my own love for disposable income to think of — no thanks.

The idea of busting my tail off to write the book, then shop it around, probably get a paltry 5~6k for my efforts, and then have to start praying that I make back that advance while working furiously to pump out the next book and to just continue on that merry-go-round is somehow oddly disincentivising.

Then there’s more facts to dissuade!

The fact that authors only get about four dimes for every paperback novel they sell and 2.50 for each hard cover is just a tad disheartening. Add to that the fact that you need to make back your advance first and thereafter the money often comes in bi-annually…

It’s almost incidental to comment that bookstores often don’t keep books on the shelf for all that long and that bookstores will order less with each subsequent order based on how they perceive your books will do, driving some authors to publish under other names.

The little quibble I have with losing control over cover art, book title, and ebook rights pales by comparison to all of the above.

Mostly, I’d put up with a good deal with regards to cover at and book title, but in this day and age it almost seems like financial suicide to give up ebook rights.

…right.

Uh-huh.

How about a big, fat, resounding no?

I’ll publish on my own terms, or self-publish, or not at all.

The way I see it, there’s some pros and cons of self-publishing for me personally, cheerleading and hide-bound dinosaurs aside:

Pros:

  • Making significantly more for each book I sell. Smashwords, just as an example, offers 85% of net sales proceeds.
  • More control over the book, period.
  • I’ll be able to reach more readers if I go with a non-DRM system that is user-friendly and doesn’t rely on ebook readers. Think instant demographic boom.

Cons:

  • Lack of platform. It’s going to take a lot of PR tail-busting to get it out there and to get past the stigma of self-publishing. Problem? I’m desperately shy.
  • Need to hustle to find/pay people to do the editing, proof-reading, and cover design.  ~3k for an editor? Hah. When I win the lottery, perhaps.
  • Trying to shout above the masses to get attention is going to suck.

The thing is, I don’t believe that the majority of publishers and authors are looking in the right direction when it comes to ebooks. Completely asides even from the self-pubbing bit.

E-books means that you can offer up to half or more of your book as a tease.

It means that ex-pats in other countries can easily find and read your book, thus fulfilling their burning desire for something in their own language.

It means that, not even ex-pats, English speakers the world round suddenly have the ability to become your readers. If I could just sell my book to 1% of the Chinese population, I’d have it made. Which, with their push on English learning, I might very well be able to sell to the Chinese eventually given enough pushing.

So there’s no way I’m giving up my e-book rights. Which is probably a deal breaker. Oh well.

I’m lucky in that C can probably do enough editing to make it pass muster for the majority of the population, which is all we’re really aiming for anyways. If I pass the book around my friends, I’m sure between us monkeys we can get enough plot-nits out. Deviantart can probably supply me with amazing cover art.

I’m not saying it’ll be professional grade editing or cover art, but honestly, reading through horror stories of how new authors can get screwed over with regards to editing and cover art — I’ll take my chances if it comes to that. By the way, I’m speaking of barely getting edited and proof-read because of the time crunch and white-washing of characters, not the lack of choices.

Now, to finish the damn book so I can test out how badly I can fail at this. :D

01.06.11

The thing about series…

Posted in Writing tagged at 11:53 am by kyrias

I read a post by Ilona a day or so ago about series and their whyfores and therefores of ending or not ending them:

Personally, it strikes me a little odd when people come out guns blazing to tell us that they’re huge fans of the series, but no, don’t write any more books in it. It’s like walking up to a concert pianist and telling him, “Your rendition of Bach was lovely, now please get off the piano, we’re done listening.” You might think it, but you would not necessarily tell that to the pianist’s face.

The thing is, as a reader, I remember predicting that Robert Jordan was going to die before he ever finished the series — when I was 12. He died when I was in college. I swear I laughed myself silly. C told me at that point that Jordan had said something to the effect of him writing the series until he was stuffed in his coffin — but hey, I’d called it, many years before he came out and admitted it.

Then there’s the Laurell K. Hamilton series where really, I don’t give a flying fuck. I was interested in the first two books and then it just went weird from there and then went crappy after wierd.

Then there’s the Twilight series…not even gonna go into that. Y’all know my stance on that particular series.

Then…and then….and then…

One series that is handled pretty brilliantly is Mima’s Truxet books. As I said to her when she commented on wondering if her series was getting away from her:

I just wanted to say that your series is definitely not dragging on. The problem with long series is when it seems interminable, when it seems like the author is milking the series for all he/she can get out of it and the story line isn’t really so much progressing as standing in place. Your series is pretty much stand-alone so far as I can see; there’s an overall story arc, but it doesn’t get in the way of reading each book as it comes. Each book builds upon the one before and reveals another facet of Truxet life — definitely not boring at all.

Lynn Kurland’s fantasy series is pretty damn amazing too. There’s world-building, there’s character development and there’s closure and she doesn’t take a million zillion years to get around to it. I do want to read more about Morghain and her newly kinged husband — but really, to a certain extent, I’m ok with exploring new characters.

The real problem, is as I see it, is that people get invested in characters and then the new characters just aren’t as shiny for some reason. Perhaps they have the wrong personality type. I like Mercy more than I like whoever the heroine is of the alpha and omega series. See how I can’t even remember her name. Perhaps we don’t like the way the storyline is going. Maybe the conflict just isn’t our cup of tea.

It’s not that I always don’t want a series to end, it’s just that sometimes the known is so much better than the known.

Sometimes, like with Morghain and Miach, it’s not that the story is left undone, it’s just that I’d actually like to see how they deal with being proper royalty and the hilarity that has to ensue from seeing Morghain being a queen.

But why would a reader come right out and tell the author that they’d like it to end quickly?

Well, sometimes I just want it to end because really, we’re done with this arc and we’re done with waiting and can you please just tell us what the ending is already? I don’t want you to get sidetracked by any more side-arcs. Or sex. Please don’t try to distract me with sex.

I want to know if Meredith Gentry or whatever her name is finally does get crowned queen or whatever. Which I do want to know, but I assure you that the question is almost purely academic. That Fae Fever series by Karen Moning is also on my list of “you dragged it out too long and seemed to be going in circles and fuck me if I’ll buy another one of your hardcovers only to see that the plot went forward in inches” series that I’ll just buy the last book or borrow the last book to see how it all goes down. See,  I bought the first book in hardcover. Then I bought the second in hardcover and put my foot down in frustration.

PSA: The plot needs to move forward sufficiently so I don’t feel cheated as a reader. ‘k?

And by move forward sufficiently, I mean that it’s great to have a really long series, but Briggs and Ilona Andrews did the correct thing in resolving at least one main plotline before continuing. Mercy finally got together with Adam, rejoice! Samuel got a lady-love! Kate and Curran kind of sort of have figured out their relationship, yay!

And now for our regularly scheduled ass-kicking….

Honestly, if they had dragged it out for longer, I might have said “fuck it” as well. I just can’t keep up the level of anticipation if I’m not thrown a bone once in a while.

Then there’s the “we’re going to write about every. single. possibly. interesting. side character before getting to THE ONE that everyone is looking forward to”.

Nalini Singh, I’m looking at you.

I loved her series to start off with, but towards the later bits, I felt like it was getting a wee bit formulaic. Alpha-ish female having to work out issues with power and so forth with another alpha male. Yeah, we got that. Or, cold Psy needs to defrost with hot-blooded changeling male. Check.

Can we get to Hawk and Sienna’s story already? I’m not at the point where I don’t like them anymore, but it’s getting a little too fluffy for me and it feels a bit like doing time.

The worst of it is when there’s this huge buildup to THE ONE that everyone is interested in, and then the last book just doesn’t live up to the hype. Acheron, yeah, that one. By Sherrilyn Kenyon? The one that’s been building up for what, years and years now? Bought it in hardcover, couldn’t even make it through.

Series building is srs bzness, peeps.

06.14.10

More wanking about fanfiction

Posted in Writing tagged at 11:54 pm by kyrias

I heard about the Clan Mitchell fandom_wank from Thene and just had to go wade around in the glorious, beautiful dramaz.

Couple of things that I thought:

What is wrong with a family that pushes each and every single one of their members to be the best they can possibly be?

Well, I didn’t find that triggering until someone pointed it out because that idea is so ingrained into us, but once I realized what that entailed, I immediately felt as if someone had lit a match under me. Most of the worst mental issues I’ve ever had have come from that concept of “being your best possible self”. In fact, I still routinely get my parents sighing over me and lamenting that “you’re such an intelligent person”!

Yes, well, maybe I can be a rocket scientist if I wanted to be — but isn’t part of the point of it being my life that I get to decide what is fulfilling for me? That maybe I should be allowed the decision to not push myself to the outer limits of my ability because I personally don’t find that necessary for my gratification? That I get to decide if my mind is wasted on what I choose to use it on?

So to answer that question: Yes, there is everything wrong with such a family. In fact, I’m surprised that someone hasn’t stepped up before this and asked for a prompt with someone  not being able to take that particular family with its particular set of problems in stride.

Then there’s Synecdochic’s reaction to the “Mitchell-bashing”.

She claims to be gutted by people’s interpretations of her work, that apparently she either hasn’t been writing the story she thought she was or people haven’t been reading the story she was writing, and if so many people agree with that viewpoint, clearly she has failed in communicating the core essential nature of her story and she both doesn’t see any point in trying to correct it and doesn’t know how to.

I’ve read the filling for the prompt. So can you, it’s the first post on this page of screen caps. Personally, I don’t see a problem with that filling. I thought that the writing wasn’t anti-Mitchell, per se, but it brought up issues that probably should have been raised earlier, and that it was a bit of a criticism, but it never went into “bashing” territory. I suppose I can see how she’d be hurt by that interpretation of what she saw as a big happy family, but I can’t see the intense amounts of drama that resulted from it.

After all, I see how my friends relate to my relationship with my parents. I see how I personally relate to their relationships with their parents. It’s pretty clear that what is an optimal parent-child relationship for someone wouldn’t work for someone else, and on the darker side of the scale, what one person can tolerate might just drive someone else running for the hills. Especially when that other person doesn’t have love as a tempering force for the madness.

Fun times all around, I guess.

I’d have to say though, it should probably be taken as a compliment when someone spends enough time in the heads of the people in your universe to be able to write something that well-considered for it.

12.24.09

To cut or not to cut

Posted in Writing tagged , at 2:25 am by kyrias

I was reading a blog post about writing. It stated that the problem with a lot of writing is simply that the writers don’t know when to stop. 

Right. I started thinking about that sentence when I was writing today and started second guessing myself. So I have a character in a fantasy setting. Often, one of my pet peeves regarding time travel, fantasy settings, and such is that I so rarely see authors address the question of bathrooms/kitchens/food. It seems to be implied that all worlds regardless of technological progress and background must needs have toilets/chicken/beef/etc. 

But then I wondered: am I falling into the trap of writing too much? Perhaps my idiosyncracy for knowing what’s different in a world is simply that and most people prefer to ignore the nitty-grittiness of world-building in favor of moving the plot along. 

Ergh. Caesura is in favor of not putting in descriptors of bathrooms fixtures. I am torn. 

Thoughts?

11.24.09

The trainwreck of Hua Mulan

Posted in Writing tagged at 9:28 pm by kyrias

I was browsing through Amazon’s suggestions for me and I saw that an author I liked did a re-telling of Hua Mulan

My first reaction was to wince: After all, the disaster that was the Disney reinterpretation is still fresh in my mind despite the years. 

But then I thought that perhaps Cameron Dokey, being a better writer than some, might have done something worth reading.  

A quick perusal of the reviews persuades me otherwise:

  • A prince makes an appearance
  • Romance! Love!
  • Family dynamic where she didn’t grow up with her father around and he re-marries
  • Mulan is once again portrayed as not very feminine
  • Making a huge splash in the army

I realise that this is a re-telling and so there has to be artistic license taken with the original story. For some background reading, here’s a translation of the original ballad that inspired numerous re-tellings of Mulan‘s story. Here‘s another person’s compilation of the various versions of Mulan. 

What bothers me is the insistence of writers that a woman who can fight cannot be feminine. In the original ballad, she’s weaving when at the begining. Later on, when she returns home, she turns back to her old clothing and puts on makeup. 

I have my own issues with the kick-ass heroines who do it in *gasp* high heels. Or the internal monologue of a certain main character which never quite leaves fashion behind.  However, I don’t think it’s particularly hard to imagine that a woman supposedly as intelligent and talented as Mulan is portrayed to be would also be just as good at the more feminine skills. I also don’t find it hard to imagine a woman, weary from war and of acting the part of a man with all the machismo that entails, finding some measure of comfort and joy in returning to her old clothing and feeling pretty again. What I don’t understand is why so many people have a hard time with that idea. 

Then there’s the whole concept of Mulan drawing attention to herself. Really, just think about it. You’re a girl trying to fit in with all the guys in the army. The last thing that you want to do is to draw scrutiny to yourself: ergo no showing off and no hobnobbing with all the glamorous sort. So far as I think is reasonable is that she did a good job, enough to be awarded merits, but not enough that she would have particularly stood out. The fact that she was allowed back home is somewhat indicative of that. If she really was a superstar in the army, there would have been no way the emperor would have allowed her to leave. They just didn’t operate that way back then. 

Then there’s the romance. *sigh* Alright, I can understand the desire for romance in everything. After all, who doesn’t like a good love story? However, first off, I can’t see her being great buddies with the boys. Secondly, I can’t really see how you can get a love story when the other men see her as a man. Thirdly, they’re in the middle of a war that goes on for at least 12 years according to the ballad. Really — I think survival trumps soft fuzzy feelings at that point. I’ll bet the men would have had more love for a bed and warm meal than their comrade in arms. On top of all that, I just don’t see the men of that era falling for another man. Just saying. But I can put all that aside because you never know.

What really gets my goat is the prince. Why does she have to fall in love with the prince? Who, by the way, never showed up during the original ballad. Right. Artistic license. Where did that prince come from? The princes of old didn’t lead armies themselves that frequently and when they did it’s unlikely that all three of them would have been in the same clump of men. More likely they would have each been a general and wouldn’t have been gadding about together. I think it would have made much more sense for Mulan to have fallen in love with a fellow soldier, if she absolutely had to. The possibility of getting in major trouble for lying to royalty back then probably would have held any warm fuzzy feelings at bay. You know, the type of trouble where everyone you know gets beheaded? It’s called lying to your emperor. Who usually takes a really dim view of such things. 

Last but not least: Why have her father be estranged from her for that long? Why was that necessary? Yes. Artistic license again. I just thought that it would have been more true to the spirit of the story for her to have been on good terms with her parents. Personal preference. Right.  I’ll shut up about that part then. 

I might still pick this book up just to see how Dokey does. She is one of the authors I like, so I’m really willing to give her a sporting try. Maybe she’ll surprise me. I don’t want to buy it though — so we’ll see if the local library can get it. Then I’ll probably post a real review rather than just a rant. :P

07.15.09

Protected: Character sketch

Posted in Writing at 10:50 pm by kyrias

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Caesura

Posted in Writing tagged at 10:33 pm by kyrias

Caesura

Sex: Male
Sexual orientation: Straight
Vice: Gluttony
Virtue:

Weapons of choice:
Elements of choice:

Appearance: 3
Average height, average build. Dark blond/brown hair with green eyes.

Charisma: 3. Apparently has a good effect on people with authority though.

Presence: 3

Manipulation: 3

Composure: 3

Intelligence: 4

Wits: 4. Clever and funny in conversation with incisive comments. Frequently entertaining. Sometimes crosses over into coming across as a troll though.

Perception: 3, but variable. Can pick up on social and emotional cues if paying attention, but either cannot with regards to people he doesn’t care about, or doesn’t care to. Often comes across as a troll as a result.

Resolve: 2 and somewhat variable. Often neglects duties, although usually has above-par performance at work. One assumes that he uses all willpower on completing his duties and thus fails at other areas.

Leadership: 3

Confidence: A low 3. Has improved since doing well at his job, but still doesn’t appear to be fully past his previous failures.

Self-perception:  2. Subject is not wont to examining his emotions to determine their true cause. Neither is he clear on his strengths.

Common sense: 3

Strength/athleticism: 4

Mr. P

Posted in Writing tagged at 10:20 pm by kyrias

Mr. P

Sex: Male
Sexual orientation: Straight
Vice: Sloth
Virtue:

Weapons of choice:
Elements of choice:

Appearance: 3
Dark blond, almost brown, slightly curly hair. Slightly less than average height, although may appear so because subject is slightly overweight. Fuzzy, straggly facial hair.

Charisma: 3. Apparently has a good effect on professors though.

Presence: 3

Manipulation: A low 3 if not outright 2. Subject’s attempts at manipulation often fail and sometimes backfires spectacularly.

Composure: 3

Intelligence: 4

Wits: 3

Perception: 2. Does not always realize when people are mad at him or when he is being obnoxious, although subject has improved on this front massively since first meeting.

Resolve: 2

Leadership: 2. Has low chance of having others follow his lead, although this may be because subject is often oblivious to outside factors that would serve as obstacles to his plans. In short, doesn’t know his constituency as well as he should.

Confidence: 3

Self-perception: 3. Subject does do a good amount of navel-gazing, which actually might have raised this attribute.

Common sense: 3

Strength/athleticism: 3

Xyfania

Posted in Writing tagged at 9:14 pm by kyrias

Xyfania

Sex: Female
Sexual orientation: Straight
Vice: Wrath
Virtue: Justice

Weapons of choice: Bow and throwing knives
Elements of choice: Wind and water

Appearance: 3
Of Asian descent and petite. Long black hair, dark brown eyes, and slightly on the plump side.

Charisma: 4. Seems to be a either love or hate effect.

Presence: 3, arguably 4 when Wrath is in effect.

Manipulation: 4.

Composure: 2, although this may be a by-product of low confidence rather than purely low by itself. Composure seems to be something that can be raised once problems with confidence has been solved.

Intelligence: 3, perhaps 4, but might have atrophied from lack of use.

Wits: 3

Perception: 4

Resolve: 3

Leadership: 3, perhaps 2. Lack of confidence and composure results in inability or unwillingness to take charge.

Confidence: 2 – lack of self-esteem brings this stat down. Possibly also affected by lack of composure.

Self-perception: 3, perhaps 4, although one could argue that excessive navel-gazing doesn’t necessarily raise this particular attribute.

Common sense: 4 – although this number is based on the idea that common sense isn’t common.

Strength/athleticism: 2

Note: Using 1 – 6 rating system with 3 being average.

Dochola

Posted in Writing tagged at 8:52 pm by kyrias

Dochola

Sex: Male
Sexual orientation: Straight

Weapon of choice: Information
Element of choice:

Appearance: 3
Brown hair, light blue eyes, bit on the skinny side. Of average height.

Charisma: 4.

Presence: 3 perhaps 2. Tends to fade into background, whether through intent or natural inclination is unknown.

Manipulation: 4. Tends to get his way, but perhaps a by-product of charisma rather than intent. Observer wonders if subject deliberately cultivates air of detachment and occasionally acts infantile to boost his charisma?

Composure: 5

Intelligence: 4

Wits: 4

Perception: 4

Resolve: 3 Have not actually had reason to shift this attribute from normal. Needs further observation.

Leadership: 3 Observations indicate that perhaps 4 may be in order in situation where subject excels, but have currently decided that World of Warcraft is not the most convincing medium.

Confidence: 3 Might have problems with self-esteem – but nothing seems to point to anything too major. This may, however, simply be a result of subject’s high composure, which would limit outside observations. Past choice of girlfriends, however, hint at interesting ideas.

Self-perception: 3

Common sense: 4 – although this number is based on the idea that common sense isn’t common.

Strength/athleticism: 3

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