Tag Archives: publishing

Top Ten Writing Mistakes Editors See Every Day


Since I am in the final editing stages of “Mark of Shamash” as well as “The Gathering: Bk 1 of The Remnant: A Dystopian Paranormal Story”, I thought this post rather apropos. Enjoy

Confessions of a Creative Writing Teacher

Goya -The sleep of reason produces monsters (c1799) recut

In addition to writing and teaching, one of the things I do for a living is to evaluate manuscripts for their suitability for publication. I read fiction (and non-fiction) across several genres, and write comprehensive reports on the books. I try always to guide the author towards knocking his or her project into a shape that could be credibly presented to literary agents, publishers and general readers. You know how Newman and Mittelmark introduce How Not to Write a Novel by saying, ‘We are merely telling you the things that editors are too busy rejecting your novel to tell you themselves, pointing out the mistakes they recognize instantly because they see them again and again in novels they do not buy,’ well they’re right; I am one of those editors.

However good the idea behind a novel, when the author is still learning the craft of writing – like any…

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Changing Landscapes: Transmedial Immersedition


Transmedial Immersedition:

3 of 3 Part Article

“There is an increasing amount of interest and attention around the idea of ‘transmedia storytelling’ these days because of our increased awareness of converging and permeable media technology boundaries, but humans have always been transmedia storytellers.” Dr. Pamela Rutledge, PhD, MBA 

According to writer>digital transmedia strategist Jenka Gurfinkel, our lives are actually a series of Transmedial Experiences, and Transmedial Storytelling is just one of the ways we partner with other to share in the ‘tellin’.

From scratching in the dirt with a stick to shielding our e-book screens against the distorting rays of an afternoon sun, humans have been searching for ways with which to record and share the thoughts, events and imaginations in their lives through a media that would draw the listener and reader into the experience with them.

In the beginning our media was limited to cave walls, large rocks and tree bark. But as the wheel of time rolled forward and our imaginations and experience’s changed, we found ourselves chiseling on stone, scribbling on papyrus and pressing ink soaked blocks of wood on to sheets of paper.  Often in an effort to engage as many of the five senses of the reader as possible, these recordings were augmented by beautifully etched pictures, pressed flowers and wax – sealed impressions.

Like oil and chalk, words were used to paint images, recall childhood memories or draw forth the secret longing within the reader’s heart to be that hero, slay that villain or save that damsel in distress.

Through the use of layered media, a reader was invited to go beyond the written word and join the author in a partnership of the mind and senses. For a moment following the last word spoken or the final page turned, the audience was able to feel as though the possibility of living another life was but a word or thought away. The power of storytelling (be it verbal or written) offered even the lowest peasant a chance to be someone other than who they were for however long they could hold onto the imagined experience.

Then suddenly mankind is thrust into the twentieth century where we find ourselves viewing yet another tale or event from a variety of angles, textures and stimuli. What began on the pages of a book moved to the fabric of a theater screen, and from there we were handed tools which allowed us to delve even deeper into the characters we’d just watched through ARG’s like Warcraft,  RPG’s  such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and in some cases,  like Neal Stephenson’s multimedia metaver  novel  “The Mongoliad”,  made a partner  in creating alternate story>plot line and endings.

Now instead of voyeuristically imagining ourselves as part of the story from a flat, one dimensional plane of readership, we have been given the opportunity to become engaged in a partnership whereby the tellin’ is a collaboration of transmedial immersion which will bring you and I into a 360˚ storytelling experience.  An alternate reality where it is no long one person’s imagination controlling our own.

Even as recent as eight months ago,  these experiences were still ( in this literary purist’s mind,) gaudy attempts to try and get people like me to leave our celestial peaks of antiquity and come down amongst the rabble rousers of technology. And without an object shiny enough to rouse my curiosity, I remained immune to their best marketing persuasions.

That is until I came across an article in Wired.com about a young first time novelist named Amanda Havard and her visionary concept Immersedition.  The flight out of my mountainous domain was rather faster than I was prepared for and even now I am still applying dressing to my skinned ego and cold compresses to my bruised imagination.

Ms. Havard’s  bio reads like most YA author’s who have grown up living with one foot in flat land and the other in the multi dimensional world of their own imaginations. Writing and telling stories from the time she was a little girl growing up in Dallas Texas, Amanda, like so many who have gone before, followed the natural literary progression from budding elementary school author to Vanderbilt University,  where she received her MA in childhood education.

In an interview with Sally Schoss (freelance writer for  Nashville Arts Magazine), Ms. Havard said that it was while she was on her way to attend a wedding in Tupelo, Mississippi that the idea for her The Survivor’s (a first novel in a five part series) and its immersive transmedial storytelling potential was first conceived.

But in 2008, while pitching to agents  her vision of publishing The Survivor’s in a transmedial format that would retain all the appearance of a book, while still allowing Ms. Havard and other collaborator’s  to produce a story that would offer the reader an immersive 360˚ experience, she told  reporter Angela Watercut  that what those agents basically said was,  ‘That’s a really cool story you have here and it sounds like a really marketable product, if you could just stop talking about all that other stuff, let it go and realize that you’re not going to have that, sit down, shut up and listen to what they tell you, then you’re going to be fine.’

But according to Ana Maria Allessi, vice president and publisher of Harper Media, due to the speed at which Ebook technology is changing, what Amanda Havard encountered was not a surprise. “That kind of reluctance to adapt and adopt new ideas in e-books is unfortunate, but it’s somewhat understandable. Tablet devices evolve at the speed of light compared to the book industry, in which a single title can take well over a year to produce. Heretofore publishers have been dependent on device makers to support any new ideas they want to execute…. One of the biggest hurdles…is creating something that will work across all devices and platforms. Currently, each enhanced e-book her company wants to put out must be altered to adhere to the specs of the Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet and the iPad. (Nearly all tablets, however, support the stripped-down “.epub” files used in basic e-books.)

Undaunted in her vision, Ms. Havard, along with her father L.C. Havard (a former executive in the health insurance industry) created Chafie Press, a publishing company whose mission is ‘to reinvent storytelling’ by bringing several collaborators under the same roof. By bringing together a full media studio, Chafie Press book publishing, FPR music recording label, Point of Origin Music Publishing as well as a score of other in house videographers and designers, she was able to bring her dream to fruition.

Add Demibooks (who designed the Immersedition app for iPad, iPhone application) and you now have a revolutionary concept for storytelling that combines an undesecrated screen with immerseive watermarks, that when touched,  take the reader to more than 300 pages of history, backstory, character profile as well as ‘written>produced for music>video, fashion, iGoogle maps  and interative real time Twitter and Facebook accounts.

In this transmedial evolving reader’s mind, Amanda Havard and Chafie Creative have given a whole new meaning  to what it is to ‘do the tellin’ and pass on to yet another generation the ability to give greater depth and dimension to the world around us, and the ones we’ve yet to encounter.

If by the simple touch of a finger, the flick of a wrist and the push of imagination we can now extend ourselves beyond the confines of our known world, how much longer will it be before movies like Total Recall, Twilight Zone, Star Trek and Star Wars have become our past and no longer our future?

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer,

SSpjut

If you’re an emerging author, established one or just like to read interesting content, feel free to share your thoughts on what you think transmedial storytelling is and how you see it affecting you and the future of ‘Doin the Tellin’

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Changing Landscapes: A Multiverse of Transmedial Storytelling


 2 of 3 Part Article

In Transmedial Readership, (the first of a three-part series on Changing Landscapes in the world of publishing), I took a look at the evolutionary progress of the modern-day eBook from its 1940’s humble (HES) electronic beginnings as a means to record the work of Catholic philosopher>theologian Thomas Aquinas, to its use as a way of sharing large amounts of text within the educational community.

In wasn’t until the late 90’s, early 2000’s that we saw this PC monolith of data transfer evolving into an embryonic hand-held device which would eventually morph into a AI that responds to voice recognition and allows its user to down load @4GSpeeds books, magazines, games and movies, access the internet, read PDF files as well as import>export those last minute>out the door>I forgot to send the statistics the boss needed 30 seconds ago.

Then I took a look at the predictions of the early 2000’s in regards to the viability of these handheld book readers, and concluded that the greatest giants to be slain at this present time weren’t the consumers, but rather the twin peaks of Author and Publisher on the Mt. Olympus of Literature, where change for the sake of change doesn’t come easy. From there I concluded that with an ever-increasing readership demand for “newer>better>faster” ways in which to partner with the writer’s, producer’s and designer’s of today’s storytelling, there is now a natural impetus for author’s to relook at how they will develop story content, as well as explore what other forms of media are available in order to bring the purveyors of  sensory interaction into the best experience possible.

So What is Transmedia?  

In an interview with Neela Sakaria, SVP @Latitude magazine, transmedia creator Andrea Phillips said that a true transmedia project is one that involves audience participation, which in turn means they will have to seek out and find multiple layers or pieces of information in order to understand the entire story. 

The Producer’s Guild list its Credit Guidelines for  “transmedia” as a project which “…must consist of three or more narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any given platform: film, television, short film, broadband, publishing, comics, animation, mobile, special venue, DVD>Blu-ray>CD-ROM, narrative commercial, marketing rollouts and other technologies”.

In other words, there has to be a collaborative effort of three or more forms of media being used to tell the same story within the same platform. An early example of this would be L. Frank Baum‘s 1900 novel,  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Mary Shelley’s 1818 classic Frankenstein,  both of which were presented to the public on multiple platforms or layers of media (book > play > movie).

So What is Storytelling? 

Wikipedia  tells us that storytelling is a means by which mankind has of conveying events through words, images and sounds, which in turn are a part of every cultures means of entertainment, education and cultural preservation, endued with the power to instill moral values.  In his interview with fastcocreat.com, Gottschall said that he believed that fiction was more effective at changing the way a person believes about something than any writing that was specifically designed for that purpose.

 WhenRobert Pratten of Transmedia Storytelling was asked why people tell stories he said, “We tell stories to entertain, to persuade and to explain. Our minds do not like random facts or objects….we naturally and often subconsciously connect the dots…in a… stimulating way we call stories. Great stories win hearts and minds.”

Jonathan Gottschall, author of “The Storytelling Animal” states, “….story is the most powerful means of communicating a message…..People are moved by emotion. And Peter Guber, Studio Chief at Columbia Pictures and author of Tell to Win, says, “The best way to emotionally connect other people to our agenda begins with “Once upon a time…”

So Why Use Transmedia in Storytelling?

In a gathering of creative individuals hosted by Electronic Arts in 2003, Henry Jenkins, a Provost Professor of  Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Art at the   USC Annenberg School for Communication and the USC School of Cinematic Arts noted in an article he wrote for Technology Review ,  that transmedia>multi- platform or enhanced storytelling as they knew it,  was on the cusp of undergoing significant changes and that those changes would mean an entirely new way of ‘doin the tellin’.

Those present stated that they saw a future where the masses would no longer be satisfied being told stories on a one-dimensional plane such as watching a movie or reading a book, leaving the theater or turning the last page, and be satisfied that what they have just experienced was all there is and there is nothing more.

People today have evolved from hunter>gathers on open grass lands   to hunter>gather’s on the internet, and they take “great pleasure…uncovering character backgrounds… plot points…and… making connections between different texts…”  It’s no longer enough just to read or watch a story from a one-dimensional aspect. Audiences now want to have an opportunity to enter into the story and participate in both its development as well as being able to decide alternate endings.  It becomes a case of where the whole is now greater than the parts.

By combing multiple layers of media in the development and publication of EBooks, authors can now take a story which began as an arrow through time and folded it back upon itself in complex layers impregnated with texture, depth, emotion and visualization. No longer do our characters move from point A to point B solely dependent upon their creator’s narrative abilities as the primary means by which the reader enters into and experiences the story.  By apply multiple sensory applications the story now becomes a collaborative partnership between the author, the characters, the reader and everyone else who has contributed in creating an experience that moves everyone beyond the land of cardboard cutouts and into the realm of interactive>inter-dimensional> transmedial adventures.

In the third and final part of this three-part series I want to zoom in on what transmedia storytelling is doing for EBooks and how Amanda Havard, first time author of the Urban fiction “Survivors“ and entrepreneurial genius behind Chafie Creations and the development of Immersedition, is taking the world of literary experiencialism to a whole new level.

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer

SSpjut

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Changing Landscapes:Transmedial Readership


Transmedial Readership

Part 1 of 3 Part Article   

What began as a technological search for better and faster ways to record and share information in an educational format that would be equitable for as many users as possible, has now become a multi-billion dollar, multi-media frenzy of looking for newer>better>faster ways in which to engage and entertain a readership that is evolving almost, if not faster, than the technology that spawned it.

The basic DNA of e-books began as an electronic index and concordance to record the works of the Catholic philosopher>theologian Thomas Aquinas. But as with all things technical (or otherwise) the early progenitor of digital formatting began its natural evolution by growing legs, developing gills and eventually finding its way onto the landscape of the late 1990’s – early 2000’s,  where it emerged as the first recognizable sub-species of our current day Ebook.

And as with all things which evolve by way of ‘survival of the fittest’, the emerging technology for knowledge and entertainment is being viewed, culled and gone over much like the livestock my father choose to purchase for the farm I grew up on. Only those devises which hold the best possible traits for future economic advancement will be kept. All others will either be passed on to less competitive merchandisers or left in the 50% off reader’s bins to be recycled in whatever way the seller sees fit.

Within a matter of just under seventy years, the progression from pre-historic HES (Hypertext Electronic System) to Apple’s iPad>Amazon’s Kindle Fire has meant not only a significant change in the way reader’s have begun to pursue their intellectual entertainment, but how that entertainment is going to be presented as well.

On January 01, 2001 Wired magazine published an article by Kendra Mayfield on the future of e-books in which she interviewed Roland Laplant, chief marketing officer for Xlibris (a self-publishing>print on demand company). His prophetic comment about the then approaching future of e-books was, “Ultimately e-books will eclipse paper books. It’s just not convenient now…. There needs to be a lot of change in actual consumer behavior for that shift to occur.”

In that same article senior analyst E. Yegin Chen, of Eduventures.com was quoted as having this to say about the consumer’s of the gradual evolving technology of digital reading, “The retail consumer market is not quite ready for e-books yet…E-book vendors need to improve the reading experience to obtain significant adoption rates.”

While O’Brien from Forrester Research had this to say; “….With limited content, inadequate reading screen resolution and differing formats, e-book devices will fail to find a mass audience.”

As predictive as all three of these gentlemen were about the need for change, what they failed to either foresee or comment on, was that ultimately it wouldn’t be consumer’s who would need to change their behavior, but rather, the battle for change would come from the Mt. Olympus of literature its self; the peaks of Author and Publisher. Two of  the biggest giants in the land who (in my opinion) are not only those most affected by this juggernaut of technological driven consumerism, but who are also the two most resistant to change for the sake of change.

All change, be it literary, social or political requires an ability to let go of the familiar and embrace, by faith, a new way of thinking and doing that is neither predictable nor safe. It means embracing ideas and concepts, that for many us who grew up during the Baby Boomer era, threaten our belief in the traditions of our ancestors that held onto: “if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it”. And I’m afraid there are still many authors and publishers that don’t want to fix, what in their point of view, isn’t yet broken.

Every since people like Martin Luther stood up and challenged the way in which the written  word was produced and made available, mankind has been forging a pathway towards creative expression that will in inevitably rise up and confront that which tries to hold onto and control the reins of the printed (and now digital) word. There will always be those individuals who will want to challenge the status quo, engage the Goliaths  of the land and topple them with the stones of; creativity, individualism, expressionism, consumerism and just plain chutzpa.

In an article for the Washington Post in December of 2009, staff writer Marion Maneker wrote a piece entitled “E-books spark battle inside the publishing industry” in which she made this observation; “Publishers can no longer be vast containers of intellectual property distributed in paper form to bookstores, supermarkets and warehouse clubs. But they don’t have to be: They can become highly selective distributors to bookstores, supermarkets and price clubs. That’s the lesson of the television, music and movie businesses.”

I think the same argument can be used for authors as well; the time for viewing the written word as a sacred shrine of literary prose that will strike down all those who try and approach its oracles with anything other than our four hundred and fifty years of printing tradition, is over.

Not only is the e-book technology biting at the heels of the publishing world, but in many ways it has taken hold of the pant seat of authors too. In today’s ever emerging readership, it is no longer enough just to spin a good yarn or weave an ‘edge of your seat’ thriller that allows the reader to engage their imagination as part of the journey. Today’s technology is fast becoming the impetus for the way in which a writer develops their story content as well as the media  they want to use in order to bring their reader’s into the best possible experience of that story.

In the future (if not already), authors will need to decide whether to stay with text>alone storytelling or to step off the map of their literary forefather’s and begin sculpting complex ideas that require a more transmedia approach. Will the story they want to tell be interactive or will it require nothing more from the reader than a rapid eye and finger movement as they go from one textual page to the next? Or will it be created in such a way that the journey from page one to page two hundred and seventy five be given multiple scenarios and alternate endings? Or will it lend itself to embedded sound tracks, multi-verse formatting and off world overlays?

In my recent blog The Flux Capacitor I talked about the possible dangers of moving away from the written word and embracing a lifestyle where what we read and see can be neither touched nor put on a bookshelf to admire, and as a result we flirt with the possibilities of one day losing the resources and abilities to pass on to future generations the history of who we are. Interesting that in the process of writing that blog I discovered an idea that made me go back and rethink my previous viewpoint.

Next blog: Who’s ‘Doin the Tellin’ Now? > Part 2 of 3 Changing Landscapes

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer

SSpjut

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Changing Landscapes: A Multiverse of Transmedial Storytelling


Changing Landscapes: A Multiverse of Transmedial Storytelling.

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Soup Cans | Hamster Wheels | And a Writer Called Rex


What One Writer Did To Get Off the Hamster Wheel of Publishing

In the world of emerging authors (as well as  those who have already emerged),  the pressure to meet the deadlines of magazines, editors, publisher’s, and ultimately the reader, can often be as brutal as child birth without drugs. Until the work is finished, all our thoughts and energy are channeled into the demands of someone else and there is no way out until it’s delivered.

And like that painfully fought for child, the challenges of authorship will not end once the prose is delivered and the promotional tour is done.  Just the opposite. Our hard won reprieve will only last a short while before we discover that it’s time to begin the whole process all over again.

Whether it is a five-hundred word article or a full length novel, the rewards for such emotional, physical and intellectual taxing demands are short lived, and mandates that we take up the fight over and over again if we are to succeed.

 Much like the hamster “Rex” in Janet Evanovich’s  “Stephanie Plum’s”  kitchen, we are either in the soup can, butts to the air, plotting and typing away,  or we are running on an endless wheel of performance,  getting off only long enough to crank out the next required piece of work.

Or so we’re told.

In an article for indiereader.com,  seven time author Jessica Parks, shares how she finally decided to get off the hamster wheel of traditional authorship,  and begin re-defining her own rules for writing, publishing and selling novels.

After being turned down for her YA book, Relatively Famous, (a manuscript editors had given her lots of positive feedback on) and novel, Flat Out Love, Jessica began to question whether staying on her current path was right for her. “I was at a loss for what to do. I couldn’t keep writing books without selling them. What if the next thing I wrote flopped? I took a risk, in many ways, and wrote Flat-Out Love. It was the first book that completely came from my heart, and it was a book that ignored all the industry rules. I knew in the back of my head that I could self-publish it, but at the time it seemed like that would have been an admission of defeat.

I spent months thinking that I needed a big publisher in order to be a writer, to legitimately carry that “author” title. To validate me, and to validate Flat-Out Love. I needed a publisher to print my books and stick a silly publishing house emblem on the side of a hard copy. They were the only way to give my books mass distribution, and having them back me would mean that readers would know my book was good…It turns out that I was entirely wrong. I was missing what I really wanted. “

It was after having Flat-Out-Love turned down by the very editors who claimed is was a strong piece of work, that she finally decided she’d had enough, and took her writing career back into her own hands.

“One of the major reasons that I write is to connect with readers, not publishers. The truth is that I couldn’t care less whether New York editors and publishers like me. I don’t want to write for them. I want to write for you. The other undeniable truth is that readers could care less that my books aren’t put out by a big publisher.”

So what about feeling pressured to go back into the hamster cage of tradition?

“Indie authors are writing for our readers, not for publishers and what they think will sell… I can assure you that freedom fuels creativity, risk-taking, and passion. We get to bring you our stories in the way we want to tell them, without the dilution and sculpting from publishing houses. And the fans? Oh, the fans are simply unbelievable. We are so directly connected to them, and the ease of communication and feedback is unparalleled. I’m learning what readers want, and I can incorporate that into my work without worrying that an editor will nix all the good stuff. Their support and enthusiasm breathes life into days when I feel particularly challenged.”

So, am I advocating that emerging authors abandon the Twin Peaks of Author and Publisher in pursuit of a ‘hamster free’ writing zone?

Maybe! Or maybe what I’m really advocating is that one size publishing does not fit all, and if you’re feeling discouraged about getting your work published, then you might want to join writers like Jessica Park and get on board the freedom train of indie publishing too.

Just sayin’…!

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer,

SSpjut

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Personal Branding @2.0| Here’s Johnny…!


The Power Behind Author Recognition 

In 1957 a man named Dick Clark became the branded ‘America’s Oldest Teenager‘, when millions of other teenager’s across the Western world sat before their black and white televisions and dreamed of becoming the next lucky boy or girl picked to appear on a newly televised program called American Bandstand.

In 1962 the world branded a radio talk show host named Johnny Carson , King of Late Night Television when they heard Ed McMahon say, Heeeere’s Johnny!

In 1963 a black Baptist Minister named Martin Luther King Jr, stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, gave a speech entitled “I Have A Dream“, and forever branded the battle against racial bigotry by the profile of his face.

Time has been bookmarked by individual’s whose names have become the brand by which we recognize and interpret mankind’s cultural evolution.

Individuals such as Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Constantine, Martin Luther, Joan of Arc, Albert Einstein, Vladimir Lenin, Harriet Tubman, Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, Amelia Earhart, Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela, Madeleine Albright, Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline,  Neil Armstrong, Princes Diana, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are just a handful of people whose names have become the branding for government, religion, quantum physics, social revolution, genocide, war, peace, music, pulp-fiction reality, PC’s and metadata @4GSpeed technology.

Culture is being redefined by people who are willing to step out of line, leave the familiarity of the common and brand themselves by the nations they ruled, the social injustice they challenged or the dreams they dreamed. The result is, when you and I talk about democracy, religious persecution, social injustice and the what if possibilities, these are the branded names at the forefront of our thoughts.

In my post Personal Branding @1.0 | The Power of a Name, I talked about growing up in the 60′ and 70’s and recognizing early on how much power there was, both in fact and fiction, within a name.

Names have the power to draw our attention to individuals who have become synonymous with social irresponsibility, fashion, automobiles and photography. By drawing us to themselves, they have the power to influence how we perceive the institution, product or social media they claim to represent.

In today’s audio-visual-techno world, ideals, objects and futures are bought and sold within the moment by moment context of a branded face or name.

With literally tens of thousands of new books being written by bushy-tailed, hopeful new authors per year, the competition for recognition is fierce. You might even say it verges on the nearly impossible.

According to C. Hope Clark, author, freelance writer and manager of Funds for Writer’s (a weekly newsletter service for writers), becoming an established author is not for the faint of heart. It takes tons of sweat equity to perfect your craft, persistence to see it published, and tenacity to get it in front of reader’s and kept it there.

So why is Personal Branding so important to emerging authors?

In her article, The Basics of Author Branding, Theresa Meyer says, Strong brands bring in dollars. A strong brand will influence buyers to consider purchasing you first when they have only limited money to buy their books. It will create a loyal readership that will bring you bigger contracts from publishers. It will help you win awards because you stand out clearly against other brands in the same market space. It will make what your story is about nearly meaningless.

Did you catch that last line? Let me post it again, Strong brands…will make what your story is about nearly meaningless.

According to Meyer, once an author has developed a strong, recognizable name or brand, their staying power within the literary world is no longer about the books they write, but about the author themselves.

Whoa there! What does she mean it’s no longer about the books? How can any sane, rational person even remotely imply that an established authors staying power is about the brand and not the book?

Is she nuts?

Made my head tilt sideways too.

Until I gave it some thought, which eventually led me to agree.

How many of us can hardly wait for our favorite authors to finish the next promised book? I don’t know about you, but as soon as I get wind of the next Terry Brooks novel or Janet Evanovitch’s, Stephanie Plum escapade, my psych immediately shifts into countdown mode.

And when I finally do get my hands on it, I don’t even bother to look at the inside jacket or read the back cover. All I know is that it’s written by my favorite author and that’s good enough for me.

Sold! Do you take Visa or AMEX?

So what is it that makes these authors so outstanding that reader’s like you and I will forgo Starbucks for the next two weeks just so we can afford to claim their newest book as our own? How have they managed to create such a sense of anticipation in us that we find ourselves practically holding our breath?

Meyer’s calls it, ’emotional Velcro’; that certain something that causes an author to be able to tap into the emotions of their reader’s and makes them stick to the author like glue; a subliminal tractor beam of imagination which promises to deliver untold hours of endorphin to our thirsty souls.

But how? How did they manage to ‘tag’ our souls and win our loyalty without so much as a handshake or gift card to Starbucks?

Via the hundreds of hours they have spent building and developing their Personal Brand. An intentional strategy to develop connections within the writing world by participating in forums, contributing in the comment portion of their favorite blogger/writer and developing relational interaction with the guru’s of the craft.

These Branded faces of mystery, suspense, murder, horror, fantasy, romance and mayhem built their own Personal Brand by investing time within the social framework of sites like Twitter, Face Book and Google +,  in order to meet new people and update those they already know.

They built their Personal Branding the same way they built the framework for their book or novel; by deciding the path they wanted to take, imagining the image they wanted to portray, and investing the time and energy it takes to project that face to the world.

Yet the strategy for branding themselves didn’t actually wait until after they had written their first article, first book or set up their first blog or website. No, the real starting point had its origins at a much more grass-roots level than mere articles, books or blogs.

 Personal Branding actually begins at that point of chaos where the newly emerging us is a lot like creation itself; an idea is being dreamed, a millennia is spent thinking about it, a plan is finally made and then we start gathering the materials for our own personal  assembly.

Next time we’ll look at the grass-roots of how to develop an intentional strategy for Branding You!

In the mean time, start the conversation by sharing what you are doing to build your own Personal Brand? Tell us about some of the successes, as well as pitfalls you’ve experienced?

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer

SSpjut

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The Flux Capacitor


The Flux Capacitor of the Printed Word

DeLorean model kit says: “Because the car’s stainless steel body improves the flux dispersal generated by the flux capacitor, and this in turn allows the vehicle smooth passage through the space-time continuum.”

As an aspiring author the recent media swirl surrounding the rapid transitions taking place in the book publishing industry feels a bit like watching the 1985 American science-fiction film  classic “Back To the Future”.  In this movie our hero’s find themselves in a pre-EBook era where the movies mad scientist  Dr.  Emmett  “Doc”  Brown  has  retro-fitted  a   1981 DMC-12 DeLorean with the “flux capacitor”; a time travel machine which allows he and his side kick Marty McFly to attain speeds of more than 88 mph – thus breaking the time barrier and allowing them to travel through time.

Since the first Amazon.com Kindle was sold in 2007 the juggernaut of change has also been gaining speed exponentially, promising to overthrow and change the world of literary publishing as we know it forever. In the swipe of a card, the flick of a wrist and the blink of an eye the process of an author’s getting their books from agent to publisher to sales forum has, like ‘Doc Brown’s” flux capacitor, reached speeds of over 88 mph and are now about to launch us into a hither to unexplored future of how history will be not only recorded, but viewed.

Since the early discovery of the codex around or before the first century, mankind has been looking for ways with which to record and preserve information in a form that would allow him to pass the baton of history onto the next generation. As the future became the past, the tools available for performing this sacred rite started out as simple juice from a berry  etched onto papyrus, to ink and quill, to printing blocks and by the 1960’ and 70’s mankind was using PC’s to record both their thoughts and the events of the day.

As with all good things there is a thread of caution that cannot be over looked and therefore begs the questions to be asked; if all future information is recorded and viewed electronically, what will happen to history if that technology is ever lost? Before ink, printing presses or PC’s were in existence,  our ancestors kept a verbal record of history that was meticulously passed down from one generation to the next, each  adding the events of their generation to the telling of the whole. What if doomsday prophets are right and we one day find us much like an apocalyptic Mad Max in Beyond Thunderdome – without technology? Or even worse, without those who do the ‘tellin’?

The movie “The Book of Eli” is one example of such a story; one in which the world has been destroyed by apocalyptic anarchy and the single item Gary Oldman’s character believes will give him ultimate power to rule what’s left  is not a Kindle or the latest 4G iPhone – iPod,  but a printed book, The Book.  And in the end we find Eli at a place of sanctuary doing the ‘tellin’ from memory the printed book he gave his life for so that in the end it could be re-printed for future generations so that they would not lose their history.

So in this high-speed, flux capacitor age of electronic books and 4G capabilities, let us pray that we don’t become so bedazzled by the shiny objects before us that we neglect the value of the printed word and the ‘tellin’ it will do for future generations to come.

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer

SSpjut

 

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The Odds Are Better Than You Think


The Odds Are Better Than You Think

            In my efforts to familiarize myself with the world of writing, blogging, editing, agents and the overall journey of becoming a published author, I have discovered an often times overwhelming amount of negative feedback from other would be authors blogging that we have little or no chance of ever getting our work looked at by an agent, let alone published. They talk about the difficulty of finding a credible editor, or the disappointment of never receiving even one response from the hundreds of query letters sent in search of an agent.  Often they’ve quote an article or blog by another overlooked, aspiring author and they leave me with the idea that the Mountain of Recognition is just too steep for the average climber and the odds of ever making it to the top too great to even try.           

But being the type-A persistent individual that I am I decided to dig deeper until I had exhausted all avenues of information before making any sort of conclusive decision on whether to press on in my pursuit to perfect my writing skills or pack it in and go back to the seemingly more realistic, yet personally un-fulfilling nine to five grind. The results were far more encouraging than I originally read to believe. 

It is estimated that a single publisher can receive up to 8,000 manuscripts in one year and of those only 1,500 will actually be read. Out of that 1,500 another 1,300 will go into the ‘mercy delete’ pile, which leaves 200 novels or literary works that are actually considered and of that number  only 1 or 2 will actually make it to the printing press. Over all it is estimated that the odds of being published are 1% – 2%. Yet as disappointing as that may sound, in reality the truth is that of the thousands of manuscripts being submitted on a yearly basis, very few are actually good enough to view, let alone spend the money on to print. 

As I read through article after article of writing advice, ranging anywhere from published authors to agents to publishers, I discovered a continuity of truth that ran through almost every blog, article or book; eventually good writer’s get published, bad ones don’t. Not exactly rocket science is it? And besides debunking some of the cosmic myths surrounding why new writer’s might find it so difficult to make it past second base (query pitches to potential agents) they were kind enough to tell the truth and list some of the reasons why we, as new authors, might not get the attention we think we deserve. 

Some of the reasons mentioned that might be why we continually find ourselves  out of the running were; poorly written openings, wavering point of view, boring or underdeveloped character’s or  inconsistency in the flow of the story. Maybe we didn’t give enough diligence to the re-writing process and our work needs tightening up or the grammar is bad and it’s going to take more than just spell check to fix it. Or it might be that we failed to appreciate the need to make sure our manuscript was in the best possible condition and it was simply not ready to send off to an agent or publisher yet. And speaking of manuscripts, were we careful to follow the required formatting specified by whatever agent or publisher we’ve asked to take the time to read it?

 My conclusion from this little foray into my periodic need to reaffirm why I choose to get up every morning and go through the often difficult process of learning how to take the story in my mind and  present it to an audience I have yet to establish in a way that is both intelligent as well as entertaining, is this; it’s going to take a lot of persistence, diminishing ego, Starbucks, good editing  and tenacious friendships if I really want to become an established author.

 Eventually the bad stuff I’m writing turns into better stuff. Other times, I’ve just walked away from what I was working on, and figured I’d have a better perspective when I came back to it.  Margaret Haddix 

From the laptop of an uncensored writer, 

SSpjut

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Filed under Publishing @4GSpeeds, Uncategorized, Writer's Journal