Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year, Absurders

So it's here. Feel any different? Nah, didn't think so. Happy New Year to anyone who throws there eyes on this.
Given the debacle in Ireland toward the end of last year I felt the blog dealt more with the absurd happenings here in the Emerald Isle than perhaps what I set up the blog to be, a writing journey.
So in 2011, although the happenings in Ireland are important and will be addressed, perhaps it's time to throw the focus back on to the writing end of things.

The world of publishing has taken a shift, especially over the last year. Traditional publishing houses have tightened their belts, meaning more coverage for established celebrities like Jordan, who hire ghost writers to write their dribble. Let's be honest, it's a business and with most businesses the focus is on money and profit.
Where does the new writer fit in? If you ask most writers, the breakthrough into mainstream can takes many years and indeed it may never happen. We've all been there. Sending in submission after submission to the desired requirements, but receiving little back but a form letter, if you are lucky. So, what to do?
Ten, even five years ago, options were limited. Some writers took it upon themselves to use what were known as 'vanity' routes to realise their publishing goals. Some of these Vanity Presses required a lot of money upfront print books, with the writer footing all that bill. The chances of making money were virtually nil, breaking even a success.

Last year saw eBooks, digital versions of books, grasp a hold in the marketplace. eBooks for the first time ever outsold hardback books. CreateSpace, Lulu and Smashwords, among many others, finally started to grab the attention of not only writers, but also publishers and most importantly, readers. Writers were no longer slaving over their work to resign it to a drawer, there were viable options available, and from reading around writers forums and writing blogs, a sense that writers were taking it upon themselves and publishing their own work was more than evident.
New writers who decide to take what these self publishing outlets have to offer, take on a far bigger responsibility for their own work as opposed to what they might have to undertake if they had the assistance of a traditional publisher.
The new writer has far more to worry about than the writing of a first draft, which can then he passed on to an editor who advises all the way through re-writes until the book is placed on the publishing list. The new writer is responsible for making their own editing choices, a painful process when a writer has to virtually bin some of their prized work. Then there's the exhausting process of copyediting, proofreading and in between, all the constant re writes. Finally, after many months of work -my own first novel took a year- it's ready to be uploaded for publication.
Often this leads to more trials. Mostly formatting issues and of course the all important book cover, which is also a requirement to consider. CreateSpace and Lulu offer affordable services, and my own advice for anyone considering going it alone is if you can afford them, use them. They will save you much time and eat away less at the inspiration all writers need to endure.

At last, a work, out in the big bad world for the 6 billion people on the planet to read. You've made it! Well, at least you'd think that would be the case. It's important to remember that your work, no matter how good it is, will be floating out there in virtual space, vying for the attention of the reader with millions of other books to choose from. That's the reality.
The new writer is responsible for their own promotion and their own marketing. Let's be honest, writers want to write. They don't want to be promoting themselves. Unfortunately, unless you can afford the services of a publicity company, promoting yourself is a necessary evil. You will need reviews. Friends and family who's kind words splay your on-line pages won't be enough. You may need to get reviews from established writers and readers who's comments are respected. Most will wonder after reading this where do people get time to actually write. 2-3 hours a day is how. Time set aside for writing alone. When your first draft is completed, you up the anti. 4-5 hours a day perhaps. Life goes on between the words. Time is precious. Any writer going down this route finds ways to maximise the use of this most precious of commodity.

So, if 2011 is the year you have said, 'right, I'm doing this,' do not be put off by what's ahead. The first time anyone does anything is always the hardest time. Hit the ground running, set yourself a small goal each month. Stick to them and you'll be there in no-time. What have you got to lose? Who knows, you may even end up ghosting Jordan's next epic? What a joy that would be!!

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