Thursday, September 27, 2012

On Selling Your Soul Dirt Cheap

I feel like some kind of ancient old whore. My tits are starting to sag, lines are appear- ing on my face. My thin, rosy lips have lost all of their color, my hair has lost its deep sheen. My figure is still good, but there were days when it is hot, and I had the face to prove it. Men see me in my tight dress from behind and run around to see my face and are appalled. They shriek back in fright. My feminine mannerisms are so that I exude sex, but it's the sex that nobody wants.

I've done it all in trying to whore myself. I've given back alley blow jobs for seven dollars and no repeats. Needless to say, it was a conquest but it did not last long. I was left barren, dressed in clothing that were old and dusty, ratty and torn. I tried to keep them up, work hard on them, but even if they were the queen's garments nothing would rectify my face. Nothing would give me a chance to do what I do best.

That's right, on paper, I suck as a whore, but if you get me in your hotel room and close your eyes I'll tear your dick right off. I'll shred your mind with pleasure the likes you have never known. You'd be thrown all about the room, with all manner of objects stuck up your anus and leather straps holding down your manliness, stroked from head to toe with my tongue, and as your erection neared its climax, I would toy with it, tease it, frustrate it until you screamed in agony and like a task master, I'll turn onto it harshly, beating your testicles with a paddle, jerking off your member with a soft leather glove until you came like five men, shrieking like five pre-school girls. I would leave you a mess of a man, whimpering in the corner, asking me when can I come back and do it to you again.

I file this under: Don't judge a book by it's cover.

And that's exactly what this business model of publishing does. It wants answers too fast. It has the herd mentality where you pack in the heard of cows and with a bang stick, you blow out their brains, one by one, arbitrarily and send them to the dog food section because you just don't have the time to examine the sheer number of steer that is being walked through the barn.

Publishers and Agents are like Johns. They are looking for the pretty young writers, young writers that reminds them of themselves. The old dinosaur brain that reads: “Like me, good.. Not like me, bad.” They claim to be on a big search for writers, but the big search is in the slush pile where the real work is. “Well, we do conferences too.” Well that's just another way to allowing more of your senses to make your judgement than the simple manuscript of the author. An author approaches an agent who he just doesn't like. Maybe the writer is Asian, Black, Latino, ugly, tall, male shabilly dressed...these can all work to his disadvantage long before he hands over a pitch. This agent just doesn't have the time to speak to them right now. But what in the next second an Ivy-leaguer pops up, maybe from the same agent's alma-mater. They talk about the things that they have in common, the people and stores in their quaint neighborhood. The school teachers of the classes, the friends during semesters, suddenly the Agent finds that this writer has a manuscript. Miraculously he has tons of time to read his work.

What am I saying? The old model of publishing MUST DIE. It's not what talent dictates any longer. It's also weakening the readers who are under the impression that agents and publishers have placed a great deal of risk and money to get their book on the bookshelf and that is a form of seal of approval that its a good book. Sadly, this is far from the truth. Have you ever picked up a book that was simply no fucking good? It meandered, its characters were dull, the story predictable and lame, and an editor/publishing house backed this book all the way to the book stands.

To give a book to the traditional publisher you have to endure months of trial. Months of waiting while they pour over a one to two page query letter that basically tells little of your book. It's already started a cobbled together business of people who swear that they can write for you an award winning query letter so as to get published. I guess they've forgotten that you have already spent YEARS writing a manuscript that should be all that's needed to help you get published. A query was supposed to be a notice to publishers that your book was breathed into life and to get their attention. It would be the book itself that will merit being published or not. Now, the query is like the proverbial tail wagging the dog. Something that took a week to write will now hold in the balance a work that might have taken years. Fair to you?

Publishers are lazy fat cats, no longer interested in putting out good or decent literature, they are more interested in their bottom line. As the economy gets tighter they'll take fewer and fewer risks. They'll keep squeezing their best selling authors for swill that they no longer have. There is no more competition for them. Where is the plethora of writers that they will drown in if they down get up and produce sterling work to overcome them and stand out again. They live in these bubbles and have grown weak and tired in being creative because they will get the large contracts from book publishers too fearful to spread the wealth and take risks.

This model of publishing is on its way out in the worst way possible. Platforms are being developed to usurp the Agent/publisher model and in doing so, it just may spell the end of a monopoly as strong as as the music business once was. When the writer can circumnavigate the entire snail pace process and get their book right out there before the million of people who want to read them, their fans, without the big companies, they will therefore be cutting out the useless middleman.

And they read the writing on the wall, they are quick to use the time worn stigma that self-published books are simply vanity press books who's quality is too poor to be really published. I say choke on it as the other side of the coin falls. Your days are numbered and there isn't much you can do but look for new jobs.

Tough break. Give e-publishing ten years. Just ten years, and there will be new names and new ways of bringing data to the masses and a new day will emerge far unlike the old days when a writer wrote his work, printed up copies at the nearest printer and then went off on his own to peddle it to the towns about. Later, unscrupulous types arrived with their guilds and organizations to print and distribute the books. This was a boon for those writers who could use the expanded coverage of their works being shipped overseas. Soon, for a writer to print and distribute his work was looked down on.

Well, just as that dawn came and did away with the independence of writers, it appears that the new dawn is bringing that independence back, empowering writers to control their own destinies.

I know it's scary now, and it is equally costly, but the trick is that you have it to do. You can wait until the masses cross the bridge, and then you'll have to wait your turn, or you can be a pioneer and cross it when there are only a few of us doing it. You are not alone. Turn your back on the old business model because it hasn't done shit for you for years, some of us for decades, others for scores of years, and even more a half a century. Do you have more time to waste for them? Do you really?

I turn my back now. I'm walking on the uncertain and lonely path towards e-publication. I know when and If I become a success, traditional publishers will arrive with their checks offering me a book contract deal.

And I'll take every cent that they offer in my filthy hands, and do you know why? I was a streetwalker writer for fifty years, doing unspeakable things to get my book even looked at. I'm a whore, and no amount of whitewashing now will straighten that up. But this whore is proud of itself because if that day ever comes, and they bow at my feet, ME, a common whore....what does that make them?

Gregory Delaurentis

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On Gems and Lumps of Coal

JP is working on my story now. She is all ahead full, and I'm grateful. I am myself rolling on with the third part of my trilogy. No more writer's block for me. I mean I have the occasional tie ups and ins in regards to story and pacing, but that goes with the territory. I don't know how other writers do it, but the pacing of a story is important. It is the scene cuts and how you cut them that matter the most in a story. It can't hop around, it can't cut in the wrong place, but then again, to build some suspense you can't have it continue on and on without pausing it at places. But when you do, where to do go from there? To what character and to what predicament? Do you go back in time or do you go forward, or stay in the same time continuum?

Do you hop about in the same time just appearing at differing locations? Do you slip into some private matter or some public spectacle? What do you do? Well as an author, its all your call. Where and when you cut to is your business, but do so wisely. And this sometimes is the cause of a block. A writer pauses to question if this next cut through his novel's reality is the correct cut, an accurate cut that is answering or questioning the readers senses. It is what it is. That's what makes the difference between a good writer and a mediocre one.

Am I a good writer? Hell if I know. I haven't really sold a novel although I have published a short story that was gripping enough. I didn't luck onto the story, I had it fully formed in my head and I brought it to life much like a woman would a baby. I jumped about from scene to scene confidently, cutting my way through the narrative until I got to the end. I liked it, and it sold right out of the gate to a Canadian publisher. This was years ago though, but every time I think of it, I take it apart to examine its inner workings. I tinker with its gears and pulleys to see what made it stand out as a story and then I use it as a form of template for the stories that I am presently writing.

Does this work? I'm not so certain. The fact is that I worry that it might give an appearance of a cookie cutter story when compared to others of mine. Also, stories differ in logic, content and pacing. Since this is the case when making logic leaps in your story scenes you can't really copy success. You can only build an instinct for scene juggling.

You are actually the fly on the wall, the eye of God, as you peer in upon the innerworkings of your creations, but what do you do? Do you chronicle EVERY SINGLE INTERACTION? Of course not. Just like you don't follow your characters into the bathroom to take a dump might be the same reason why you don't listen in on a conversation between two characters in a room. Because it's either boring or irrelevant. You want to appear in either an exciting scene or informative one and as few of them as possible. You want your story to move fast, stay lean, muscular, anything less will never be a page turner. Long winded explanations, tiresome dialogue, listless action, these are murder to a story. You jump from scene to scene, appearing and disappearing, giving your reader insights, or excitement.

But where to jump and when is up to you. Some writers are under the impression that you have to cover everything. The character's drinking habits, drug habits, social habits until tears fall from the eyes. Every single conversation, every single movement, every single event as if fearful of missing something. But that makes a good writer. Missing that which can be missed, and gleaning the few glittering gems from human interaction. The more lumps of coal you collect, the more tiresome your story will be, and the more tiresome you make your story, the less of a chance of getting published, or being well read. Whereas the more gems you search out and sparingly collect in your scenes, the better and tighter your stories, and the more of a chance you will have to catch an agent's or editor's eye, get published, or be well read.

I'm stuck now, wondering where to appear next in my narrative. I'll cook up a new scene, I'll appear somewhere enticing, somewhere informative, somewhere that my reader wants to be, and move the story along. I'm patient. It'll come when it comes.

The same for's your call.


Monday, September 3, 2012

On Finding A Reputable Editor

I'm still waiting on JP to finish editing my first novel in a trilogy and she has not yet started. It's September 3rd and I was hoping that she would start by August, but no. So here I am still waiting, churning ahead with the third installment of my trilogy, forging ahead, so to speak. And waiting. Waiting on my editor to start to work. It's been a long wait. Since July 16th. A mighty long time. But I have to admit, I did do my homework in finding JP so I am not concerned by the delay. We also did agree that I would wait until she started working on it when time allowed her to. So that is another point that needs to be taken into consideration.

How did I find JP and should you go about it the same way?

Well, whose to say my way is the right way, but I will tell you that I have done my due diligence and with that being said, I might be able to lead you in the right direction. I might not be able to lead you into a good negotiation with your editor though, or you might find yourself in the same boat that I'm in. 

Firstly it began on a sunny summer day with me going through my email and finding a mail from BOOKBABY.COM. Bookbaby is an online book distributor. Now lets not get these terms confused. There is a very accurate terminology for things in the e-publishing world. There are publishers, which are your brick and mortar counterparts. These guys produce hardbound and softcover books (and sometimes e-books) and since they front all of the money, you get a small royalty check for the books that you sell. They take the lion's share of the income. This is a book publisher.

Bookbaby and other companies like it are book DISTRIBUTORS. They are not publishers, they do not front any monies to your book and therefore do not take any of the royalties. They take nothing off the top and leave all of the profits to you since you are the one who has taken all of the risks. They'll convert your document and deliver it electronically to several electronic retailers of e-books so that you can sell your work to the masses. They even do some of the collateral work, such as book cover design, format conversion, and the procurement of ISBN numbers for your book.

I was interested in this process, being tired of the Agent/Publisher stranglehold on publishing. There is really no need for all of these middle men and gate keepers in the world of publishing any longer. An author need only reach his/her fans with their latest work. That's how things were done in the past. An author would go to a printer, have copies of their book made and distribute it themselves. Only later did Publishers appear on the scene, using their influence, their guilds and their connections to give respectability to their middleman status and therefore made it appear that the author that continued to resort to vanity printing was not a real author. Shortly after this, agents appeared, creating a further separation between the writer and the reader, and adding a new level of middlemen to sap a writer's royalties and talents. But that's another sad story. With the advent of e-publishing power is being returned to the writer and the useless and unnecessary chain of middlemen can finally be phased out. The only thing really needed is the distributor.

While reading through Bookbaby's site, I found several free publications of theirs that explain the e-publishing process through them. I downloaded their free copy of E-BOOK PUBLISHING: THE HOW TO GUIDE FOR WRITERS. I jumped into it with both hands and feet, gobbling it up on no time, and what I came across was a stern admonition. Get an editor to go over your book carefully to remove mistakes and errors that crop up in your drafts. It is true that you are too close to the work to give it the careful scrutiny it deserves, and fresh eyes can do a better job than you in finding and correcting mistakes. These mistakes are said to be the bane of e-published books, because authors don't follow this advice and turn out books with horrible errors that make the reader feel that the quality of e-books in general is diminished and far from that of the brick and mortar publishers. They warn that once you show a reader that you are lax in this process, you can be hurting your sales later when they see your book again and are turned off by your poor skills.

It's not that your skills are poor. You can be an excellent writer, and your training may be impeccable, but you are also human and humans make mistakes, that's why we don't pull the delete and backspace keys off our keyboards. With a new set of eyes, you cut human error down considerably and the few errors that do slip by, hopefully your readers will forgive you for them. Remember, the book publishers are no better than you. They are just smarter. When they get your work, it'll go to an editor for vigorous massaging, then to the printers who will return with a proof, and this document will go to a proofreader who will search again for errors made by the printers and you and your editor. After such intense scrutiny they will then mass produce your book...and why do they do this? Because it is their image that they are concerned with. They want to send out the best to their readers. Your thinking should not be far from this.

So I decided to use an editor. And in this book from Bookbaby they direct you to The Editorial Freelancers Association. This is something like the Bar Association for lawyers. Here you will find a search-able listing of freelance editors to suit your needs just as you would find lawyers from the Bar Association. With this information, I did a search of editors in my genre and printed out the top ten editors to my liking. Then I went through their individual webpages in search of their qualifications. Some had their resumes on their sites and these are the ones that I centered on. With their resumes I could make a more informed choice than just how much they charge for their services.

This boiled the list down to five and I contacted each of them to feel them out, and that's how I reached JP. She told me clearly that she was busy and that I'd have to wait on her timetable, but with this said, I chose her anyway because of her sterling qualifications.

Later, I thought of Googling her after I paid her the money for her to start her services, which was $40.00 an hour. I sent her a check for $400.00, the first ten hours of her work. Then I Googled her, which frankly I should have done long before sending her the check, but this is my admonition to you to perform first. Learn from my mistakes here. Although, I was pleasantly surprised to find that JP was an editor for several major publications and magazines, and she also contributes to a writer's website giving her advice to the masses. Google your editor BEFORE you send them your money, just as an added precaution. You may get bad news, and the truth is, being forewarned is forearmed.

I am quite pleased with JP and hope that she will be willing to edit my entire trilogy. This will be good for me because she will have the continuity of story to work with and not be lost in the breadth of the tale as what would happen if I had to get another editor to start at the second book in the trilogy.

So, like I said, I did my homework and I am confident in my choice of editor.

I keep saying this to myself as the days roll by.