More Profane, Wonderful Advice from Mr. Chuck Wendig

I’m back from vacation, sporting a charming ‘tan’ in my classic shade, which I like to call ‘subtle lobster’. While catching up on what I’d missed from my usual writing and publishing blogs, I came across this gem from Chuck Wendig, ‘50 RANTYPANTS SNIDBITS OF RANDOM WRITING & STORYTELLING ADVICE‘.

1. SNAP YOUR TRAP AND WRITE SOME SHIT

Stop talking about writing. Stop reading about writing. Stop dreaming about writing. Stop doing things that don’t qualify as writing. The thing that defines a writer is that the writer writes.

14. YOU’RE YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY

If you’re not writing, that’s your fault. It’s not anybody else’s. It’s not your wife’s fault. Not your Mom’s fault. Not your kid’s fault. It isn’t because of a job, or Big Six publishing, or Amazon, or a Muse, or Writer’s Block. You might as well blame a Yeti (who acted in collusion with a cabal of randy leprechauns). It’s all on you. Accept responsibility. Stop complaining. Fix your shit.

29. SLOW YOUR ROLL, SPEEDY MCGEE

Embody patience. The worst thing you can do for your story is pull it out of the oven before it’s done cooking. Don’t quit early. Don’t publish thirty seconds after you typed the last word. Don’t query a stinker. Stories — like wine, brisket, romance and bondage games — need time.

Writer types: Go read the other forty-seven.

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Dear Reader…

Have you read Ascension Point? You have!? That’s great! I wrote you this letter…

——————————————————–

Dear Reader:

Thank you so much for buying a copy of my debut novel, Ascension Point. I hope you enjoyed it. If you were here, I’d high-five you, and then we’d have a beer. Maybe a snack. I’ve got some nice cheese in the fridge.

I’m writing to you today to ask for your help in addressing a shocking issue that’s afflicting one in every one science fiction authors in my immediate area: Ascension Point‘s chronic shortage of Amazon.com customer reviews.

As you may or may not be aware, Amazon.com reviews have comparable value to these items:

  • Uncut diamonds
  • Gold dust
  • Enriched plutonium

While Ascension Point has sold well, and received a small number of (very positive) reviews, my in-depth calculations regarding its sale-to-customer-review ratio have determined that this many readers go on to leave a review:

11 / 500 = HARDLY ANY

This debilitating shortage of customer reviews is the leading cause of at least one of the following conditions:

  • Global warming
  • The rise of militant fundamentalism
  • Teen obesity
  • Me not being able to run a BookBub promotion

But it’s not too late. With your help, we can address at least one of these issues. (Probably the last one.) It only takes a minute, and costs you ZERO DOLLARS.

That’s right.

ZERO DOLLARS.

(Although while you’re there, if you decided to buy a copy of Venus Rising as well, that’d be cool.)

Here are some examples of the reviews that could go a long way to addressing this terrible problem.

‘Ascension Point was a super-fun read. Dan Harris is clearly the new Joe Haldeman, except with less scientific rigour or Vietnam War allegory.’ *****

Or:

‘Even though I bought Ascension Point in ebook format, I made the effort to find a way to print it out in its entirety, just so I could shred it and use it as bedding for my seventeen diarrhea-afflicted guinea pigs. That’s how bad it is. But then the author asked me to leave a review, so here I am.’ *

Or even:

‘Meh.’ ***

You see how easy it is? Even one word, and a pseudo-random selection of a value from one to five counts as a review!

That’s all I ask. Help me help you help me, and together we can guarantee that I’ll write another post exactly like this next year. You can leave a review here.

Thank you.

Dan Harris

You Cured the Patient but the Patient Died

“Look at Amazon’s costs in taking a manuscript from an indie author (or a publisher) and putting it up for sale. Amazon receives an ebook file together with metadata (book description, author, key words, etc.), has someone in India look at the result for 10 minutes, then lists the book for sale. Amazon’s customers decide whether the book sells well or not. Computer algorithms watch sales, generate sales ranks and promote books that look promising via emails and more prominent placement on the website..

Compare the costs of Amazon’s model with the costs involved for a traditional publisher with acquisition editors, internal meetings to decide whether to take the book and how much to pay, contract negotiation (minimal, but still a time cost), internal editing, cover design, meetings with sales and marketing, printing costs, sales pitches to bookstore buyers, shipping costs for physical books, etc., etc. For major publishers, all the people are receiving Manhattan salaries and sitting in offices rented at Manhattan prices.”

From You Cured the Patient but the Patient Died at The Passive Voice. Truer words, etc.

Kris Rusch on ‘The Stages of an Indie Writer’

This one’s for writers, and anyone interested in the publishing industry.

Over at The Business Rush Kris has written a great essay on the different stages she’s seen traditionally published authors go through on their journey from ‘how it used to be’ to the brave new world of indie publishing. It’s fascinating stuff, though I can’t personally comment on the accuracy: I jumped straight in at stage twelve!

“The emotions are actually predictable, although we all go through these stages at our own speed, and in our own ways. Some people get stuck in one of the stages and might never emerge from it. Others blow through a few of the stages and wonder why friends can’t do the same. We all find something that stops us for a while, though, and we all have to find our own way through them….

8. Fear (Indie Publishing Version 1)

They don’t know how to indie publish anything. Designing a book is hard, finding a cover is hard, uploading to e-book services is hard. Or, at least, it all looks hard.

Then the writer tries a few things. Yeah, there’s a learning curve, but she has had learning curves in the past. That’s what she did with her writing. She learned. She’s done this before. She can do it again.

She decides to try.”

Iain Banks: The Final Interview

Over at The Guardian today. Includes what I’m sure will go down as one of his most famous quotes:

“I can understand that people want to feel special and important and so on, but that self-obsession seems a bit pathetic somehow. Not being able to accept that you’re just this collection of cells, intelligent to whatever degree, capable of feeling emotion to whatever degree, for a limited amount of time and so on, on this tiny little rock orbiting this not particularly important sun in one of just 400m galaxies, and whatever other levels of reality there might be via something like brane-theory [of multiple dimensions] … really, it’s not about you. It’s what religion does with this drive for acknowledgement of self-importance that really gets up my nose. ‘Yeah, yeah, your individual consciousness is so important to the universe that it must be preserved at all costs’ – oh, please. Do try to get a grip of something other than your self-obsession. How Californian. The idea that at all costs, no matter what, it always has to be all about you. Well, I think not.”

Perfect. ‘How Californian’ indeed. There’s also a great quote that’ll get the more militant indie author/publishers’ backs up:

“I think my poetry’s great but then I would, wouldn’t I? But whether any respectable publisher will think so, that’s another matter. I’ll self-publish if I have to; sometimes I have no shame.”

Ha ha. And finally:

“…it wasn’t that Iain was still Iain, despite an illness that was as unexpected as it was tragic. It’s that in his last days he was more witty, more impassioned, more imaginative, more kindly, more caustic and even cleverer, as if concentrating and distilling the best of himself into the small time he had left. It was humbling to have been there.”

(Thanks to Steve Hall for the link.)

’11 Rules of Good Writing That Iain M. Banks Left as His Legacy’ at io9

I expect to see many wonderful tributes to Banks over the coming days, and it makes me happy that one of the first focuses on how truly innovative he was as a writer of SF.

1. There are no good guys

In Iain M. Banks‘ science fiction series about the Culture, there are no heroes who aren’t tarnished by morally ambiguous deeds. Even the good-intentioned people of Special Circumstances, whose goal is to export social democracy everywhere, are basically assassins… Having heroes whose intentions are mixed, rather than motivated by pure good, makes them more realistic as people. It also reminds the reader that one person’s “good” is another person’s “end of the world.”

Full list here.