Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thoughts: Self-Publishing and Social Media

Okay, I'm gonna step out from the big spangly curtain, like the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz, and speak directly to you, dear reader. 

Incidentally, I'm sitting on a beanbag chair as I write this. Drinking a cup of coffee. Seriously, it's just me, no pretensions. In fact, I'm still wearing my Batman - The Dark Knight, pyjamas. That's how real we're being here. No writer, just an average mug. Oh yeah, and the windows open so my cape is fluttering, ever, so, slightly. 

Anyway, I have realized, recently, that despite having a computer and being on it - or my ipad - much of the time I am still pretty 'out of it' when it comes to social media! I know it can be used somehow to develop and promote How To Lose Your Voice Without Screaming - THE GREATEST NOVEL OF ALL TIME!, and can make all of us incredibly famous. (That's what the articles seem to suggest.) However, I look at all the 'buttons' on the pages of Twitter, Facebook etc get dizzy and start hearing the fridge calling me, in that sexy voice,

"Hey, Low Blood Sugar Guy!"

So, the thought is this. Recently, as I've been getting closer to completing How To Lose Your Voice Without Screaming I've been considering the idea of self-publishing, not just excerpts from the novel, but the whole thing as an ebook via Amazon etc. In the past, I've thought that that might be risky, that in the rush to get the novel out I could miss a couple of crucial steps - like working with experienced editors who understand the writing and can really get behind it - and as a result I could publish something that really wasn't ready to be out there. Consequently, I've been thinking of ways of getting  readers to contribute brilliant constructive criticism to help should I take this route. Over the past months I have received excellent comments sent to me personally - comments or ideas ranging from punctuation issues to thoughts on Kingsley, Zeak the Sheik and Doctor Flees. These comments have been very, very helpful, and welcome! Until I began to receive them I really wasn't sure if anyone was reading the work. Then I realized I actually do have a readership, however small, when I discovered the page on blogger that shows how many hits I've been receiving... (In the last few months I've had over fifteen hundred views of many pages. Thank you, seriously...crazy ex-girlfriend?) But, how do I get you who are reading this to share your brilliant ideas on the blog? And to not pull any punches. Your comments might inspire others to share their thoughts, which in turn might get more people to enter the conversation. This would help me become aware of what is or is not working in the novel - i.e. That the BIG SECRET that holds the story together, creates all that magical tension, and gets revealed at the end in a super mind-blowing way, is, actually, painfully obvious to everyone who reads it right from page one - and also remind me of how terrible a speller I am. (Thanks daad!)

So, it occurred to me that I could release the finished first draft, chapter by chapter, and use reader comments to create a much stronger second draft. Instead of relying on the two-person story department of a small publishing house - that works out of the back office of a pet shop - who might help form the novel with some fictional reader in mind, I could get comments from actual readers. And so, the changes I might make would be scientifically tailored by/for the very people that would actually read How To Lose Your Voice Without Screaming... (And, also, would all seven of you mind each purchasing 200, 000 copies?) Is this crazy? It seems to make sense. But, again, how do I use social media to get these readers to share their thoughts?  Please comment...

We would like to gratefully acknowledge the assistance provided by 
The Ivan Von Noshrilgram FoundationThiruvananthapuram, India.


WCN said...

Dear Ivan and lesser side-kick, Al:

Congratulations on your 1012 inaugural blog post. It is much gratifying to hear the sound of your voice, textualized as it may be.

Regarding your request for feedback of sorts on the qualities of the juices exuding from your creative flow, I can only say the notion brings me back to childhood memories of a Wrigley's Doublemint gum TV commercial and the clear connection this has to a present-day story I read this afternoon about a woman with two vaginas: "Double your pleasure, double your fun..."

Yes, getting outside amateur feedback on expressions of your most private inner thoughts as creative works of words might be rewarding and useful. However, like Hazel Jones, you might initially find that those who have little or nothing invested in your special features, yet care to comment on your most uniquely expressed creativity have little to offer in the way of useful advice and much that may simply confuse and annoy you. Eventually, like Hazel, you may discover that the fullness of your great gift can only be appreciated within the intimacy formed in a committed relationship, such as with a publisher, or even a focused online writers' collective. You might find that, doubling your fun, will most likely happen in such relationships, as the people involved have long-term commitment and experience in your shared passion.

In any case, write away, write away, and I will be happy to critique your punctuation, your prose, your shoes, the necktie you got from your aunt last Christmas, or anything else you wish to expose for public scrutiny. I'll start now, with a slight grammatical slip; you wrote:

"...like working with experienced editors who understands the writing..."

You will note that the verb does not agree with the noun in number.

Are you annoyed yet?

Ah! I still have your attention, I see. Good. Then you win today's Patience Prize from the Society for Struggling Writers, 3 volumes on publishing, as follows (click URLs to download):

Bob Mayer - A guide to writing novels and getting published.pdf

Publish your book The Easy Way.pdf

Self-Publishing For Dummies.pdf

At your service, William XXI

WCN said...

Um, blogger did not render those URLs properly, so you will have to copy and paste them individually into a new browser window to download. -- W. XXI

WCN said...

LOL! Alistair! I'm in a time warp! I live in the year 1012 now. Maybe I should congratulate Suleiman II on his being restored as Umayyad caliph of Cordoba. Or, better, I could join my kin, Brian Boru, in Ireland in his battle against the rebel, Mael Morda. Hey! You could warn the Jews and Christians that Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim is going to order the destruction of all their places of worship. Jeez… We could make a fortune betting on outcomes. ;-)

Alistair Vogan said...

Lord William XXI Brilliant! Your suggestion has made the writing that much better! Or, at least better. I couldn't have done it with out you. You are indispensable! You are now an official Editor with the Von Noshrilgram Foundation Story Department. (Your business cards are in the mail.) Truly. I will accept any constructive criticism from any time period, or dimension. I particularly like comments from the previous millennium. You're all such a plucky group. ...That's how open I am with it.

Indeed, while I do agree that there might be benefits from receiving comments from someone, or a group of people, that have a vested interest in developing the work, i.e. professional editors from a major publishing house, I do believe that readers out in Internetland can also contribute meaningfully, for in the end who will read the work but readers. Okay. Yes, yes, publishers read. But not all, sometimes that job is performed by their executive assistants. After all, reading can be taxing. Of course, I'm sure I've made suggestions to other writers plenty of times that didn't resonate with them - I may be speaking hypothetically here - and so I know all suggestions need to be weight over before you jump and change anything. On the other hand, if I hear the same comment over and over, clearly I'll need to look at that aspect of the work closely.

Perchance, have you taken the opportunity to read Chapter One The Ghost in the Machine? I've heard that it's amazing! (Actually, that might have been me talking. Does that still count?) If not, please do and share your feedback, making an effort to scatter your 'constructive criticism' with words like brilliant and Pulitzer, if at all possible. If that's not possible, not too worry, I'll pretend that that's what you meant, and read between the lines. But, to cut to the chase, obviously I want to make sure that in chapter one I set the tone properly and get into the story as naturally as possible. Have I done that? Please let me know. Also, I too don't want any disagreements with my verbs or nouns. Everyone must get along. We're trying to create art here people!


Lord William XXI

P.S. Hoping your empire is thriving.

akisdad said...

Well, you got my message, but the blog doesn't like my post. Technology that doesn't like SF writers? Some kind of irony running there. Many thanks for linking to my blog. Hope this one comes through.