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Traditional or Self-publishing?

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I was at a panel discussion last weekend on publishing and the writing industry and there were two experts there.  One was from Harper Collins and the other was from a small, self-publishing company.  At one point they had a brief interchange about their respective industries and it seemed as though it was about to get heated.  The self-publishing expert was talking about how self-publishing is the future and the internet was changing everything.  From what I gathered he believed that giants of the industry like Harper Collins were failing because they couldn’t acclimatize themselves to the new pace of the internet.  The Harper Collins guy, on the other hand, seemed to think they could change with the times as well as maintaining the old standards of publishing.

I wanted to hear more about the burgeoning debate.  It was interesting because it seems to be the carbon copy of the debate that is raging currently in the advertising industry.

The internet has changed everything, that much people can agree on.  Gone are the days of Mad Men (or whatever the publishing company equivalent is), now we are connected, fast and hip (is hip even a cool word anymore?).  The ad industry debate seems to centre around whether TV commercials are the ‘thing’ anymore, just like the publishing industry is asking if paper books are going to stick around or if e-books and self-publishing are the absolute future.  The Harper Collins dude seemed to think paper books and big publishing is here to stay.  Apparently he found a fact stating that people have better retention when reading on paper than on a screen, but he also admitted our brains were changing to match the pace of our technology and therefore our tastes and desires were changing.

So which is it?  Will the Goliaths of the industry be crushed under the weight of the internet?  Will paper books evaporate from our society to be replaced by their more convenient electronic counterparts?  Will the structure of the publishing industry crumble leaving nothing but literary chaos?

I don’t know.

Things change, it’s inevitable.  The giants of the industry will change or die.  So the only question is, what’s my preference?

Fact:  I don’t really read indie books (that I know of).

Not because I don’t want to, mostly because I just haven’t and frankly, I kind of like the idea of someone vetting the piece before it comes into my hands.  Sure people in big publishing miss out on great works all the time because a lot of it’s about what will sell, but on the other hand you have a lot of people in big publishing who are very passionate about good writing.  I like to know that a piece has been through a couple of sets of discerning eyes before I read it.  That maybe a bit snobby I guess and perhaps it means I’m missing out on some awesome stuff, but there it is.

From what I can understand about self-publishing, it seems like it’s just as much of a crapshoot as big publishing.  It’s all about self-promotion and, although you may have an absolutely fantastic book on your hands, if you can’t promote yourself on the internet as a self-publisher, you are likely to languish in obscurity while some sub-par book in the hands of a promo-guru rockets to the top sales on Amazon.  So it’s basically the same shit, different pile (to be vulgar).  Either you’re going through the laborious process of finding an agent and getting published, or you’re coughing up a bunch of dough and going through the laborious process of trying to self promote via twitter, FB & blogging.

So for my own journey, I’m going to try traditional.  I like it.  I like getting feedback from people who read thousands of manuscripts a year and reject most of them.  I don’t like the idea of trying to layout my own book in some self publishing program and design cover art (I really really suck at drawing).  I like the idea of having an agent with good connections trying to get me published (if I can actually get an agent in the first place).  I don’t like the idea of shelling out my hard earned pennies to pay for printing and all the other costs associated with self publishing.  I like tweeting and blogging, but I don’t want to have to do it like a maniac because that’s my only plan to get my book out there into people’s hands.

I don’t know the future, but I do know what path I want to take and for now, in this one small way, I guess I am a bit traditional after all.

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!

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The Business of Counting Words

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When I first started out doing the writing thing I never thought I would care about word count.  I thought it was mundane and technical and overall irrelevant to the art of writing.

Now I know better.

It’s not so much it’s relevance to the art that matters, but more to the business, and being a writer is indeed a business.  I find the process of trying to become a published writer not so different from my job as a producer for our video company, Happy Creations.  Although you have to have an undeniable passion for the art, you must also be a freelancer at heart.
The first thing I did when I decided I would be a writer officially was, of course, write.  I wrote a whole novel (around 150,000 words) and then a series of short stories (from 2000-5000 words each).  Then I did the research.  I have a spreadsheet full of lists of magazines, publishers, agents, contests and opportunities and what I began to learn from looking at the business side of things (that part where they pay you to write stuff) is that word count matters.

Some magazines have word count limits, contests too.  Some agents don’t want to read query letters beyond a certain length and even more to the point, a book can be classified as a novel or a novella based on word count alone.

I am currently working on a piece that started out as a short story and then turned into a novella.  Now at 15,000 words and counting, I’m wondering if it won’t go ahead and turn itself into a novel.

So I started out with a reluctance to count words, thinking the process of keeping track and trying to fit more (or less) words into a story would separate me from the art, but I realized that there is more to being a writer than simply art.  It is a business and in business, numbers matter.  So now I count with panache and excitement.  How many words can I write in an hour?  How many words can I get out in a day?

How does counting words effect you?

Do you view your writing as an art, a business or both?

Also, just so you know, this article is 383 words.

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Lesson 1: Publishing Rights

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As I have just started down the path of trying to pursue creative writing I am bound to get tripped up here and there.  This happened yesterday for the first time and I thought I would share my lesson here.

I have been excitedly posting my stories on this blog for the past couple of days and at the same time I have been investigating magazines and contests to send my stories off to.  In the process of seeking out these various avenues for potential publication I have discovered that most (although not all) magazines want ‘first electronic publishing rights’.  This means that publishing stories on my blog is a no-no if I want to send them out for potential publication.

At first this made me a bit sad.  I enjoy the idea of publishing my stories as I go for people to enjoy on my blog.  However, the more I thought about it the more I realized that I would be just as happy blogging about writing in general, posting older pieces (and new pieces that I don’t intend to publish) as well as writing about my thoughts and feelings, so this blog can have a chance to really live up to it’s title ‘Happy Musings’.

I will continue to write stories based on daily prompts received from sarahselecky.com and if I ever get any of them published, I can assure you, this is the first place I will announce it.  In the meantime, I will continue to post about lessons learned on the road to (hopefully) becoming a published writer!