Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Odds and Ends

I couldn’t decide on just one topic this week, so I’m throwing up some randoms:

Follow the Crowd
I had a baffling exchange with someone last week.  They were condemning anyone who leaves one-star book reviews on Amazon, saying they should just stop reading the book instead if they don’t like it.  They went on to say that anyone who didn’t like popular/critically acclaimed fiction probably couldn’t grasp anything more literary than a comic book.

There was one esteemed book in particular that she felt everyone in world should love, because…everyone in the world did love it (or so it would seem – it has a healthy amount of one-star reviews on Amazon).  I mentioned a member of my family with multiple advanced degrees who read said book and thought it was terrible.  The retort was something along the lines of “well, she’s wrong, because everyone loved that book.”

Huh?

While I had several issues with these statements (mostly the flawed logic), my biggest beefs were the assertion that 1) if you don’t like what everyone else likes, there’s something wrong with you and 2) in particular, if you don’t like so-called “highbrow,” critically acclaimed literature, you must be an idiot.

There are numerous critically acclaimed, award-winning everyone’s-reading-this-so-you-must-read it-too books that I’ve read in my lifetime that I just don’t care for.  And on the flip side, there are an equal amount of award-winning, critically acclaimed books that I have read and loved. 

And the great thing is, either way, I’m entitled. 

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The Next Big Thing?
Last week’s big buzz was all about the Kindle Fire HD.  There was also the introduction of Kindle Serials, which allows users to subscribe to a serial novel.  Instead of buying the individual segments, you buy the book up front and the installments are delivered to your Kindle automatically.  No line, no waiting.

This is a pretty brilliant idea. 

No judgment, but in a nod to my youth, this summer, I scooped up “The Sweet Life” (the new series based on the old “Sweet Valley High” books) like candy out of a busted piñata.  The new series provides an update on what the Wakefield twins and their pals are up to today.  The six-part e-series was released in weekly installments and silly plots aside, I was hooked. 

Amazon says with the Kindle Serials, it wants to put a modern spin on serialized stories of the past and will allow readers to provide feedback, helping to guide future story.  Kindle Series means a built-in audience, audience buy-in and the ability to expand the audience as the word-of-mouth grows.

I’ll be very curious to see how this progresses, but on the surface, brilliant.

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It’s Not As Easy As You Think
New York Times bestselling author, Sue Grafton, caught some heat over the summer for disparaging remarks about self-publishing, saying the self-published are, “too lazy to do the hard work,” and “that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy…without bothering to read, study or do the research…learning to construct a narrative and create character, learning to balance pace, description and dialogue takes a long time.”

She has since apologized, calling self-publishing “a whole new thrust for publication that apparently everyone has been aware of except yours truly.”

I agree with her that you’ve got to do the work and learn the craft.  Where she’s dead wrong is the assertion that it’s easy.  You take on ten times as much work as Traditional Authors of Publishing’s Past; you’ve got to write the book, find an editor or edit it yourself (risky), find an artist to do your cover, format it, market it, build a platform and lather, rinse, repeat with the next books. 

Self-published authors don’t have the muscle of a traditional publishing house behind them to do the heavy lifting.  There was a time when all you had to was write (which, as we know is often easier said than done).  Today’s evolving marketplace means a lot of the old rules just don’t apply anymore. 

It’s a new day…carpe diem!

 

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