Reading, Writing, and Never Enough Time

There was a thread going through the Kindle Boards this week about writers who don’t read. It linked back to an article on Salon about an author who, essentially bragged about not reading. While the discussion about the quality of journalism and of making assumptions based upon a single source was interesting, I don’t really care about that. If you’re a writer, you read. It’s that simple. A writer who doesn’t read is like a chef who doesn’t eat. So while the article (and resulting discussion) was amusing, I was left with was a realization (reminder?) that I’ve been spending so much time writing that I haven’t set aside much time to read lately. To be fair, writing is a lot of work which, especially for an indie, encapsulates a whole host of tasks, but that’s beside the point. I have a handful of authors who I follow and will read anything they write, and seeing as I’m behind in their catalogs, this is unacceptable. There used to be a time when I could get through a book a week. It didn’t happen all of the time, but a two-week maximum for reading was fairly common. I know there are going to be people out there who can and do get through things much faster (I remember a former coworker who could get through a book so fast it was almost laughable–we’re talking about an hour or two, and with full comprehension), but for a guy with a regular job and a family, and all of the responsibilities that come with that (have I mentioned the dog and cat...

Free Proofreading Technique: Listen to Your Manuscript

So this’ll be quick, and the good part is that everyone should be able to do this. (Caveat: if you’re running Linux, it becomes a little more difficult since you’ll need to do a little googling for appropriate software, but for Windows and Mac folks, you’re golden!) So you just finished the final revision on your novel and it’s time for proofreading. This technique won’t catch everything and isn’t a replacement for a professional proofreader, but you may be surprised to find just how much it does catch. What’s the technique? Text-to-speech. Seriously, text-to-speech. If you’ve heard of the technique of reading your manuscript aloud (I covered this in a previous blog post, Crossed the Finish Line), then the next logical step is to get someone to read it aloud to you. (Okay, maybe it’s not the next logical step, but it’s a good one.) While reading your text aloud is certainly a good technique, and one that I intend to continue to use (it’s especially good for dialogue because you really get the flow by speaking it aloud), your brain is still liable to do things you don’t want it to do. At this point in your revision process, you’ve likely read over your text several times, perhaps a dozen or more, and you know what you mean when it comes to damn near every last sentence. While reading it aloud forces a different part of your brain to engage, it’s still your brain and it can and will be influenced by your memory of the project, be it actual or envisioned. A computer, however, can only read...

The Finish Line Is the Starting Line

Omni is almost ready! (Yes, that’s the official title.) I can see the finish line, and I ought to cross it some time in the next couple of days, which puts me roughly on my planned timeline. Though I had originally hoped to publish it some time in the first part of August, and then revised it to September, I may still hit the end of August. How’s that for everything mostly working out? I’ve received the almost-finished piece for the cover and it’s awesome. I’m very pleased with the quality of work, and it’s going to stand out against other books in the genre, especially since it’s a bit of a genre blender. I’m still not entirely certain what to call it, but for lack of a better classification, it can be considered to be a thriller, only with some fantasy or sci-fi elements that really shakes things up and takes it out of the realm of the other thrillers. I’m actually finishing up last minute edits/changes following editor and beta reader feedback, so Omni ought to be available some time in the next few days. Omni is the story of Ryan Sutter, a regular guy thrown into an impossible situation. What should be a regular day at work becomes a struggle for survival as Ryan finds himself thrust into a dark government underworld where mystery and intrigue are the norm, and the rules of physics and reality don’t necessarily apply. So as soon as Omni goes up, that means it’s time to go back to work and begin revisions on my epic fantasy story. Being fantasy, it’s...

Higher Price Equals Higher Rating?

While Joe Konrath was busy poking the beehive with his post today, Be Deliberate, quite the discussion took place in the comments. One of the more interesting things to come of it was the suggestion that books priced higher have a higher average rating, to a limit, of course. Commenter S Alini said: There might be another reason people gave one star reviews to Serial, Joe. That is that people often assign value to something based on how much they’re asked to pay for it. So if you give it to them for free, some are likely to think it has zero value. I think there’s some merit to the idea, and so does Joe who later replied: Serial is free and has an average star rating of 3 stars. Serial Uncut (Serial plus some extra stuff) is $2.99 and has a 4 star average. Obviously it’s not an entirely fair comparison because the free version of his book, Serial, doesn’t have the same content as the paid version. However, Scott Nicholson, a little further into the conversation, agrees with the observation: My $2.99 books always have better star ratings than my 99 cent books. That tells me they are more likely to get to the people who want them, as opposed to people who just want a bargain. This is all empirical evidence and not based upon any sort of study, but it makes for an interesting dialogue, especially if you’re considering pricing your book at $.99. Pricing it higher isn’t going to guarantee you higher ratings come review time, but I think there’s a certain validity to...

Self-Publishing Is a Business: Treat It Like One

I originally typed out a fairly long blog post before I decided it was overly preachy and should be trashed. Instead, I’m going to limit this to something I learned. If you don’t want the background, then skip ahead a few paragraphs. I’ve been writing for years, well over fifteen, and though I’ve seen limited success in terms of publication, I have had a couple of things put onto paper. It’s been a gratifying experience, and one that has served as reinforcement that I’m doing what I should be doing. However, aside from those couple of lucky breaks, I’ve done a lot of procrastinating as I’ve watched the publishing industry slowly eat itself. I’m sure I’m not alone in having been part of a large group of spectators who were unsure if they wanted to dip a toe into those waters because they weren’t sure they’d get it back. Publishing has changed a lot in the last decade, and even more so in the last couple of years (or months). This isn’t news to anyone. The ramifications of the most recent changes means that self-publishing is now a viable option and, potentially, a viable career path. Whereas it used to take a lot of money, and an almost insurmountable amount of work, to self-publish and then market the crap out of something, one can do so relatively easily now, and with far less investment. Ebooks have changed everything, and at least right now, it looks to be for the better. So as someone who wanted the validation of the hardcover book (and still does, to be completely honest), I’m...