Fireflies & Laserbeams

Throwback Thursday – How much is too much?

Thursday August 29, 2019 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging | Leave Comments

bag-end-door-cropped-307x324.jpgThis goes back to March 2011. I was pretty tough on my own skill. I have improved. I can write a nice scene, even a descriptive scene. They don't come naturally to me, but there is this thing called craft. I am working on trying to write descriptive snippets, in the style of William Gibson. Snippets are fine. They are good in my humble opinion, but there is a point when the description goes overboard. I have seen wonderful writers, whose work I admire, go off the rails. Well, you can read this for yourself.

You know, I have a lot of respect for authors that can write wonderful prose. I know I’m not one of them, but not for a lack of trying. I think they have a gift for using picturesque words and putting them together just the right way to evoke an image in your mind. The really good ones make it so it’s hardly like reading at all, more like experiencing the story. Then there are those that have a great gift for creating imaginative and off the wall ideas that mere mortals just shake their heads at in wonder and amazement. Some are actually gifted with both and they are the great ones we all admire. I just finished reading a book by one of my favorite new authors and he has a gift for dialogue. He has some amazing ideas for setting and his characters are layered, complex and interesting. His plots are full of twists and turns too, he is really very talented but I have a nit to pick. Way too much description! I mean WAY TOO MUCH. Paragraphs of detailed minutia. I actually skipped entire sections because I just didn’t care. I started in, but the things he was describing were so complex that I wasn’t able to see it clearly in my mind’s eye. After a while I just quit trying. If he started off on another wave of informative adjectives I just escaped to the next paragraph, and then the next one often times. They were superfluous to the story, but he apparently felt I needed to understand how many great ideas he had that he was compelled to share with me. I understand this desire. Authors fall in love with the worlds they create and the more different from normal they are, the more the desire to describe increases. This is a lesson many of us need to heed. We just spent an enormous amount of time building that world with all kinds of cool environments that nobody has ever thought of before and we are just dying to share them with you. But the only description we should be sharing with you is stuff that is germane to the story and the character that is carrying the perspective. Some description is of course necessary, but the trick is not going overboard with long paragraphs of stuff that will have no impact on the character or affect the flow of the story. If anything I tend to be too sparse with my descriptions, so it really bothers me when someone goes the opposite way and loads up on the description. Where do you fall on the description scale? I know I’m way on the side that has very little.   Clear Ether!

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Throwback Thursday: The Future of Publishing Revisited

Thursday July 25, 2019 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging | Leave Comments

These are from a series of posts I did back in the week of December 10, 2010. This was the week I discovered Dean Smith and Kristine Rusch. Other than updating a few of the links below,  and the price model that is referred to at the bottom is probably out of date. Otherwise, nothing much has changed in nearly ten years. booksThat amazes me. Back then a lot of people were saying it was going to be the end of traditional publishing. But Kris was right on the money, although the Big Five haven’t completely figured it out, even now. They are not going anywhere. If anything, it has only made it harder for unknown writers to break in to traditional publishing. This makes me scratch my head. We will see what the next ten years bring.

Part 1 I don’t know where everyone gets the idea that the costs of publishing eBooks are zero. I see that comment all the time. If you want someone to edit the book or prepare it for the zillion formats that eReaders use it comes with a price tag. That stuff doesn’t happen all by itself. If you expect the author to do that stuff you are going to see a lot fewer books coming out or coming out in limited formats. The biggest complaint most people have about eBooks is the poor quality of editing, so if you think you are going to self-publish without the proper number of rounds of the editing process you are setting yourself up for failure. Self-publishing is growing dramatically and so is the eBook market. It's leading to a problem of differentiating the good from the bad. Some new filtering mechanism is likely going to develop to separate the chaff from the wheat, but I haven't seen it yet. There is still a lot of crap making it out into the online market. There are a lot of well-known authors making an effort to take control of their publishing but it does take a toll. I think marketing is a huge issue, maybe the biggest. If you can't reach your audience you aren't going to sell any books. Having an actual marketing plan and following through on it will likely be the difference of success or failure of your book, and that holds true for eBooks and traditional paper books. Large publishing houses can market your book in a way that you will likely never be able to manage unless your name starts with J.K. Publishers have their place in the scheme and I don’t think most authors want to do those things that publishers can bring to the table. It takes away time from writing and a lot of it requires a skill set they may not have. It's all a matter of finding the right pricing structure that will make the publisher a viable entity and still provide the author with the appropriate level of compensation for their efforts. Some of the publishers are figuring it out and moving in the right direction now. Time will tell if the big publishing houses will figure it out. Part 2 Just after I finished my last post
Jane Fancher posted that she had run into Patty Briggs this weekend and mentioned that she was releasing a new book and posted a link to it. In that post Mike Briggs, Patty’s husband who runs her website, linked to another post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch about the very subject I had posted on earlier. Her blog is usually focused on the business end. She knows the publishing industry from the inside and from the writer’s perspective and she is in the middle of a series of articles trying to define where the industry is heading and what it means to writers. I am linking all the posts below that she has already published as of today. They are lengthy and very well researched and very informative. Here is just one snippet from her outstanding blog:
"Enter electronic publishing—which is, as the bloggers say, a game-changer. But it’s not a game-changer the way that the bloggers believe it is. Electronic publishing will enable Big Publishing to change its business model. In other words, electronic publishing won’t cause the demise of Big Publishing. Electronic publishing will save it."
Part 3 The publishing landscape has changed dramatically in the last two years and continues to change. Distribution was always tough for a small publishing house and forget it if you were trying to self-publish. But that's all changed now. Dean Wesley Smith has a section on his website devoted to debunking the myths of writing and publishing a book. Here is one gem I found in the comments section below his post about self-publishing:  
Put your novel up on Kindle. Cost: Free Put your novel up on Smashwords, which gets you to Sony, Nook, iBook, and other places. Cost: Free Put your novel through CreateSpace in trade paperback form in POD. That gets it to Amazon. Cost: Free (or $39.00 if you want better distribution into all stores.) Put your novel through LighteningSource in trade paperback form in POD. That gets it to Ingram. Cost: around $100.00 No reason for a self-published author these days to pretend to be a traditional publisher and go into the produce model. And besides, why do it until you’ve tried to sell it to a traditional fiction publisher first?   --Dean Wesley Smith
  Here is a link to his “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing” website. It’s chock full of great information and advice for someone trying to break in to the writing business: Dean Wesley Smith I highly recommend it! All this reading I've been doing has convinced me all the more that I just need to spend more time writing and worry about the other stuff after I finish the manuscripts. I'm back at it....

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Throwback Thursday – 5 Things That Will Make Me Drop Your Book Like a Hot Potato – Revisited

Thursday June 20, 2019 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging | Leave Comments

Part of my ongoing thing on Thursdays to revisit some of the older posts that are still valid. This one dates back to Nov 22, 2011.*

I read
Chuck Wendig’s 25 things that will make me keep reading your story and it made me think, I have WAAAAAYYY more things that will make me STOP reading your story (Okay, I might have overstated that, it's only 5 things).  And of course he posts about that very thing this morning.  ARRRRGGH!   Anyway, not to copy, but I had this idea in my head, so I’m going with it. If I see a blurb that I like or a nice cover or get a recommendation from one of my friends, I will pick up your book and give it a fair shake.  Unlike Chuck, I'm not standing in the doorway with a gun in your face waiting to not like it.  If I've gotten as far as cracking the cover and reading the first page I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt.   I want to like it.  But there are a few things that will make me drop your book like a hot rock, or hot potato or anything hot. You get the idea. Here we go: (more…)

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