Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Review for TWMD

A beautifully written and insightful review of The War Master's Daughter has just been posted over at The Action Prose, a great in-your-face writing and life blog by @RanceDenton.
"To suggest that Elly Zupko’s The War Master’s Daughter is merely a historical fiction novel would be to ignore a great number of its evident strengths.  Simultaneously, pigeonholing the novel into any specific genre would be to discredit its willingness to step outside its comfort zones. The greater part of The War Master’s Daughter is confused about what genre it may actually be, but that doesn’t draw away from the novel’s overall quality.  Zupko’s book is a fantastic independent offering the intense strengths of which outweigh the few moments where its footing occasionally wavers.
..."[read more]

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's the End of the World As Wayne Knows It

Since I've done almost nothing but rant and argue and complain for the past eight posts, here's something on the lighter side.

My friends and I--team Liquid Squid--participated in the 48-Hour Film Project last year. I encourage you to check out the organization and read about the details of the contest. It basically boils down to:

  • Friday = beer and pizza fueled screenplay writing, constrained by contest-wide parameters including a specific character, prop, line of dialogue, and genre
  • Saturday = coffee and doughnut fueled acting and filming, constrained by location, available equipment, and daylight
  • Sunday = adrenaline fueled editing, constrained by flagging energy and a looming deadline
The result is a short film that may or may not be coherent. But damn did we have fun--and we won "Best Use of Prop"! This was our entry, It's the End of the World As Wayne Knows It

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reasons Not to Not Self Publish: A Rebuttal (8 of 8)

In November, Edan Lepucki posted an article on The Millions called "Reasons Not to Self Publish in 2011-2012: A List." I disagree and would like to offer my own point-by-point rebuttal. This is the final post in that series.

Edan: “I’m Busy. Writing.”
Elly: “A Successful Writer Does More Than Write.”

Lepucki’s final argument falls so flat that it completely exposes her as a writer who herself has found little success. Here she laments how busy she is, and how she only has six hours a day to devote to her “new” novel (apparently she gave up on the “old” novel). Therefore, she is—I think she’s saying—too busy to self-publish. Well, I can’t argue that if you don’t have a novel to publish, you can’t publish a novel. You have to get busy writing before you can get busy with everything else that publishing entails. But that just can’t be what she’s saying. She wouldn’t have written an article anti self-publishing if she wasn’t considering publishing something, right? It’s more like, “I’m not publishing this first novel I wrote, because I want to write another one first.”

Wait, that can’t be right either. I mean, we all like to write. We all prefer crafting characters or metaphors or nuanced arguments to hammering out (ugh) query letters. But I’m pretty darn sure that nearly all of us write with the ultimate goal of having other people read our writing, and not to stick that writing in a drawer. I don’t think she’s planning to write tome after tome just to lock them away, unread, Salinger-style.

So if her argument is that she’s too busy writing to independently publish her drawered work, then she is simultaneously making the argument that she is too busy to get someone else to publish that work. Any writer who has at least attempted traditional publication knows there is serious legwork involved in the process. If you’re “too busy writing,” you’re too busy to: send out query letters, secure an agent, work with agent to edit your work, work with agent-found editor to further edit your work, write jacket copy (a lot of writers have to do that now, even at trad pubbing houses), schedule your book tour, do your book tour, write marketing pieces, start a blog, do blog posts, do guest blog posts, and on and on.

The traditional publishing does not mean your job as an author is only to write. Everyone knows that the better you get at a job you love the less you actually get to do of the stuff you love. If you write well enough to be published, you transcend being “busy writing.” You are no longer only writer. You are promoter, marketer, public speaker, blogger, internet personality, etc. etc. Unless, again, your goal is not to have anyone read your work, you’d better find the time to write and the time to do everything associated with being a published author.

We may all dream of the day when our lives consist solely of channeling the muses and allowing our perfect and aesthetically transcendental words flow from our fingertips like the tears of a small child hugging his puppy goodbye. But the reality is that being a writer is a job, like any other job, and with all jobs comes the crap we don’t like to do. If you’re too busy to do the crap, you’ll soon find yourself little reason to bother with the good stuff. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Reasons Not to Not Self Publish: A Rebuttal (7 of 8)

In November, Edan Lepucki posted an article on The Millions called "Reasons Not to Self Publish in 2011-2012: A List." I disagree and would like, over the next several blog postings, to offer my own point-by-point rebuttal.

Edan: “Is it Best for Readers?”
Elly: “Let the Readers Decide.”

The essence of Lepucki’s argument here is that the self-publishing revolution is creating a “slush pile” that is publicly available. To parse it out, what I think she’s trying to say is that there is a lot of crap being self-published, and she doesn’t want to be lumped in with said crap. I think. She uses the example of her brother-in-law learning that she hadn’t sold her book, and warning her against self-publishing because it could only lead to the book being ignored in favor of something someone’s friend posted about on Facebook. I think.

I’m not sure I get the point here. Given a book of the exact same quality—i.e., the same exact book—the b-i-l wouldn’t buy it if it were self-published. But he would if he read about it on The Millions or heard about it on NPR. Huh? Sounds like a man who can’t make his own decisions about what he likes. Is this a person you really take advice from? Is this a person whose advice you really pass on to your reading public?

I’m beginning to feel like a bit of a broken record here, but seriously: I’m all about letting readers make their own decisions rather than letting their world be curated by a small, elite group of media who have other interests at stake than creating a culture of superb, enduring literature. To repeat myself, this is why I offer the first 15% of my book, The War Master’s Daughter, for free. If people are captivated by the story, they can purchase the rest. If they don’t like it, they become one of the statistics on my dashboard that shows me how many people have downloaded the sample but chosen to spend their money and time elsewhere.

Let the readers decide what they consider to be crap. I think Stephenie Meyer is crap. I think most of the books sold in grocery stores are probably crap. But that doesn’t mean my view of the entire publishing industry is colored to believe it’s all crap. Perhaps the degree of crappiness in self-publishing is higher, but I think the concomitant intellectual offensiveness tied to said crappiness is higher in traditional publishing. Lepucki trusts the curation of the same folks who put out The Time Traveler’s Wife, which sold millions of copies. Millions. That book seriously stunk it up, and I am offended that people even recommended it to me. But it's not going to stop me from buying another traditionally published book. That would be a comically poor foundation on which to base my choices. 

Encourage your readers to judge a book on its merits, not on its company. And don’t tell your readers what is “best” for them.