Saturday, October 23, 2010

Open Thread

Today, we're throwing the blog open. This is your chance to tell us what's on your mind, to ask any questions or to continue discussions begun in other entries this week. So, what's on your mind?

While you're here, check out this post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Any thoughts?

The floor is now yours!

31 comments:

Jim McCoy said...

Anybody got a suggestion for a good online crit group? Or that might be willing to help me start one?

If I don't find something pretty soon I'll have to start standing on a street sign with a "Will work for Crits." sign. So help me out here!

MataPam said...

So, I'm staring at my soon-to-be-finished unsold stack of novels.

In theory, I could publish a novel a month for a year and a half. On Kindel or some other e-platform. But would that be a good idea?

What is the "right" spacing for releases? What produces the right amount of anticipation in the reader? Ordinarily the books come out as the writer completes them. But what about us unpublished types? When we finally break out, just how fast should we go?

And, if the answer is "slowly" should we use several pennames so as to _appear_ to publish more slowly?

C Kelsey said...

I'm just about 800 words into my latest short story. The goal is to finish the draft this weekend. I was a little worried about taking Sarah's challenge up because essentially since July my muse has been dead. No whispers of any creativity at all. Well, I needn't have worried. Ye Ol' muse woke me up at 4 AM on Thursday with something I had to start writing immediately. So... yay.

Synova said...

Honestly, MataPam, my feeling is that more is better. Space them out, sure, but not too much. If someone finds you and thinks you're great and wants to read more books from you it's important not to exceed their attention span.

Waiting for a year for the next book from an author, IME, more often than not means forgetting that I was excited about them. That's why finding an author with a back list is so wonderful. But once you finish the back list you're out of luck as a reader.

My gut feeling (which is worth what you're paying for it) is to spread them out but not more than 3 months between them.

Daniel Casey said...

Jim,

You could try finding what you need over at www.writing.com, although in my experience they tend to shy away from works of over 2000 words.

Aside from that, if you find a good crit group, let me know, if not and you end up starting one can I come play?

Daniel.o.casey@gmail.com

Brendan said...

Matapam,

For me I suppose it depends what sort of following(if any) you have already. I would try to have two to four books available immediately for someone who finds your work for the first time and needs an extra 'taste' before becoming hooked. After that three to six months would be about right. Of course if you let slip that you have more books essentially done, just not released, your fans will let you know in short order that they want them all NOW!

Brendan said...

One of the things that concerns me is the lack of permanence of e-everything. What I would like to have is a place where I can register ownership of e-properties. Then if I lose it and can't replace it from the distributor I got it from, I can go there and find perhaps a link to an archived copy that I can download.

Chris L said...

Jim,

Rowena put me onto a crit e-list. In her own words:

'Why not join the Vision e-list Chris and put your stories into the files for feedback. It’s not as much fun as going to the meeting, but you will get feedback.'

And although I was initially skeptical about being able to take up Sarah's challenge, I'm going to try for a short every fortnight and a novel in six months.

Gahhhhh!

twittertales said...

Jim and Daniel, I have two crit groups at the moment. http://www.critiquecircle.com/default.asp and http://forums.nathanbransford.com/ I think the first is better for longer works. In both cases, you have to critique about twice as much as you want to receive. Or you could swap novels with each other, maybe.

Matapam, you have *18* finished novels? WOW. Normally releasing a book a year is the standard - or maybe two. it's a rhythm people are used to. Ebooks account for an extremely small slice of the market (and different rhythms, if your aim is just to be out there), so it might be worth trying a print publisher first - not just to get money, but to get readers (because readers know print books have gone through a lot to get published).

I recently wrote stuff about publishers at https://twittertales.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/advice-for-beginning-novelists/ and https://twittertales.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/what-publishers-do-with-your-book/

With inflation, that's my $2.

Louise Curtis

MataPam said...

I've got four novels with an agent, doing the rounds of the print publishers. The rest need at least polish and typo hunts, some aren't quite finished. But with a four novel head start, eighteen in eighteen months would be doable.

Of course, some serious critiquing as to problems with the ones already done might be, umm, enlightening.

Stephen Simmons said...

Pam -- as a Reader who has yet to be published in anything other than flash:

Once I find an Author I enjoy, I want to buy their stuff as fast as my budget can support. the more, the merrier. So ... are you talking about multiples in a single series, multiple individual stand-alones, several accumulated installments each in multiple series, or some convoluted permutation of "all of the above"?

If you're talking multiple series, I'd say, get the Volume Ones out here as quickly as possible. I wouldn't worry much -- if at all -- about interval between releases for them. Ditto for unrelated stand-alones. In fact, there's a LOT to be said in favor of getting multiple titles "on the shelf" as quickly as possible. This gives you a much bigger "cross-section" for the Brownian motion of browse-shopping. And seeing an Author with six or eight books on the shelf (even if that shelf is a list for Kindle download), as opposed to someone with only a single title, has a psychological impact as well.

Mike said...

There is a fledgling writing group at http://groups.google.com/group/sarahs-gauntlet which I set up in response to some people wanting a place to post (and critique) their work. Be happy to have other people join in, just email me or bang on the virtual door.

Stephen Simmons said...

Discontinuing dead-tree editions of the OED ... no more foot-thick tomes enshrined on their own pedestals in the center of libraries, the Oracles of the modern vernacular ... it's sad, in a way. It feels like something important is passing away. Like the point in "Harsh Mistress" when Professor de la Paz gives up playing the ponies ...

Amanda Green said...

Jim, there are any number of online groups -- Critters, OWW, etc -- you just need to find the one that best suits you. Some have membership fees, some don't. Almost all require you to critique at least a minimal amount before you are allowed to submit anything for critique.

The one caveat I will give you about online critique groups is to make sure that it is a members-only group. In other words, your work is available for review only by those who are members of the group and not to the world at large. The reason I say this is because some publishers look at online postings of your work as "publishing' it. So always keep that in mind.

Amanda Green said...

MataPam, that's a great question and one to which there is no absolutely correct answer. You don't want to put your work out too close together because that will mean you aren't giving the first work enough time to build an audience of its own before you have something else out there taking its thunder. But then you don't want to wait so long that the thunder has lessened to below a rumble.

I absolutely believe that, for an author who doesn't have an established audience, putting out a novel a month is a very bad thing, especially in e-format. But that's me. I know how much time goes into promoting. I also know how hard kindlers and other e-book readers are on poorly edited or formatted e-books.

As for pen names, again, that can be a two-edged sword. It might allow you to publish more often but it also takes away from your core audience unless you are open about what that pen name is. My recommendation is to first see if there is a publisher -- dead tree or electronic -- who will put your book(s) out. If that fails, or if it takes too long, then choose you strongest novel, polish it within an inch of its life and then send it to several beta readers you trust. While they are working on it, you figure out exactly what path you want to take to publication -- POD, electronic, etc -- and then determine your outlets and what they require.

Amanda Green said...

Chris K, good to hear your muse is attacking you. Is this in the same "world" as what you've written before or something completely different?

C Kelsey said...

Amanda,

As far as the muse is concerned it's an entirely new world. It could fit into the other world if I wanted it to. Right now it's so unique that I don't want it to.

Amanda Green said...

Synova, you may be right about the 3 month thing, but I'm not sure. Again, to me it comes down to being able to promote and let each book have time to build its own following. This is especially true if you aren't writing series. Not saying I'm right, just that this is how it seems to me.

Amanda Green said...

Brendan, that works IF the books are well edited, have completely different covers, and Pam -- or any author for that matter -- has the time and in too many cases the money to promote the books. The problem with self-publishing through Amazon or any other venue is that you bear the brunt of doing it all. And, frankly, it is easier to promote a single title and start building an audience than to try to promote a number of different books all at the same time. This is especially true because a number of the boards that allow ebooks to be discussed don't allow for self-promotion, or require to you to promote only once a week or so.

Maybe I'm jaded, but I've read too many posts from e-book readers dissing books and authors where the 'quality' of the book doesn't meet their standard. Frankly, a lot of them require more from e-books than they do from hard copies.

Amanda Green said...

Brendan, I agree with you about the lack of permanence. Unfortunately, that may take a while to shake out. There is still the attitude with a number of publishers -- and authors -- that when you buy an ebook, you only buy a license for it. Don't ask, I don't understand their reasoning. Until things change, the best I can say is to make multiple backups.

Amanda Green said...

For everyone re: how soon to release novels. There is another factor to consider. If you start releasing novels every month or two, or releasing multiple novels that often, you set up expectations that you'll be able to keep that pace up. Most readers don't think about the fact you may have a dozen books sitting on your hard drive just waiting for a home. My recommendation is, if you are doing a series, release new titles every six months. You can consider more frequently but look at how you are building your readership and how you are promoting before making that decision. Just because it is easy to do something -- in this case, self-publish an e-book quickly -- that doesn't mean you should necessarily do it.

Amanda Green said...

Louise, welcome to MGC. Thanks for including the links. They made for some interesting reading and you made some really good points. I recommend everyone take a look.

Amanda Green said...

Stephen, the problem is that e-book readers don't browse in the normal sense of the word. Most rely upon author recognition -- and by this I mean established authors -- promotions through blogs and fora they follow or special download offers where the book is deeply discounted or made free for a limited period of time. This latter is especially true for new authors. So for those who don't already have a following, simply throwing out a number of books either at one time or close in time won't necessarily work. I think the best tactic would be to choose the top novel and put it out and then spend time giving it the promotion it needs. That builds followers and, in three or four month -- or six, whichever works best -- bring out another novel. Once the following is there, then you can start bringing out more often.

Synova said...

Amanda, you may well be right. I'm working with a data set of one; my own behavior as a consumer. I'm most certainly atypical.

Amanda Green said...

Mike, it's great that you've opened the group. I hope that you guys do have some general guidelines of what's expected, etc. That's the best way to have a productive group,especially an online one.

Amanda Green said...

Synova, so am I. I'd love to see more work more often from my favorite authors. But I also want that work to be at least as good as their previous work.

Don't get me wrong though. The Kindle community and others are very receptive to the self-published. But they do tend to look sideways when someone who isn't an established author suddenly starts putting up a number of books without any real time between them.

MataPam said...

Very good points, Amanda.

I shall have to hope The Lawyers of Mars pulls in some interest at Naked Reader, and then maybe get more Martian stories, or the first book of a different series out there.

And wait and see what happens, while going gradually insane.

I just twisted my own arm and stopped over-polishing a stand alone novel that I have great hopes for. I'd love to get a book out in actual paper.

twittertales said...

Thanks Amanda.

Louise Curtis.

Dave Freer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
voradams said...

I was thinking about a creative commons idea database.

Like sharing source code, there is a lot of great ideas, quotes and strange historical facts that could inspire good (and bad) stories.

One thing got me thinking about this was that people want to copyright ideas, however there is only 37 plots in fiction. Given that the Foundation series was based on the Fall of Roman Empire, Avatar was taken from every bad cowboy and indian story, where do people go to get the spark for their next story without trampling on someones propriety idea?

MataPam said...

A generalized plot idea can't be copyright protected.

The specific story written around it can be.

Which is just as well, otherwise no one would bother writing to the quality expected in books people pay for.