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Archive for the ‘Publishing and Publication’ Category

Show, Don’t Tell: The Difference between Life and Text

Posted by CW64 on August 24, 2012

Another major issue I encounter while editing manuscripts is the excess of descriptive and explanatory narratives that produce flatness in character and the world in which that character lives (and quite often involves redundancies in many forms). This annoys me more than impresses me, but I am always understanding and patient with beginning writers.

For one thing, ongoing explanations of text offend intelligent readers; such continuous tirades deprive readers the opportunity to use their own minds during the reading process. A story means nothing without the reader’s cognitive input, which includes interpretation and query-making among other things. As I state in an earlier post, writers are never to underestimate the intelligence of the readers; doing so drives away an audience that sums up the experience as nothing more than an aggravating slap-in-the-face.

The point: quality writers get on with the story and let the readers figure things out for themselves. The rule is to stick with the action, dialogue and minimal description, sharing casually the essential information necessary to facilitate the flow and flesh out character development to the point of promoting a sense of realism. This practice refers to the ever-mentioned notion of “showing,” and it isn’t always easy to do. With experience and reasoning, though, writers develop the skill quite naturally.

Let’s start with the two sentences below:

Frank moves slowly
Frank drags along like a slug in the mud

Which of these two describes the concept of moving slowly? If you don’t know the answer, chances are you haven’t done enough reading and writing.

The concept of “showing” is both a fuzzy and distinct one, and an understanding of said concept will help readers and writers discern why. This might sound like a contradiction, but it is not; “showing” in literature—any kind of literature, whether it be fiction or non-fiction—is extremely complex.

Firstly, the assertion of “fuzzy” refers to the idea that each person has her or his own idea what “showing” means and what it entails to be executed appropriately. A nice example lies in the above illustration. One person might say that the first line is simple and clear and therefore more appropriate than the second. Another would likely say that the second is longer, but it “fleshes out” out the concept in question and conveys more information about the character and what he is doing than what is merely stated. Finally, a third might concur that both, in fact, are showing the reader what is meant by “moving slowly” but in two different acceptable ways. In the end, however, the particular perspective to which one wants to adhere is dependent on that person’s ideals and style preferences.

Conversely, the idea that “showing” as distinct follows through the obvious: to convey imagery so that it “jumps” from the page and appeals to the reader’s senses. In this light, the imagery comes to life in vivid color, sound and motion so that it appears and feels real to the reader. Not everything written can do that. Do the two illustrations above satisfy the requirement necessary to consider them “showing”?

Let’s take a closer look…

Frank moves slowly

According to the first person mentioned above, this one is sweet and simple and therefore most adequate to convey the idea, which shouldn’t take extensive passages and countless adjectives and modifiers to express. This, indeed, makes perfect sense. The sentences contains three common words—a noun, a verb and an adverb. The noun tells who is performing the action, the verb clarifies what that action is and the adverb—the keyword necessary to establish the overall idea—describes how the action is carried out. What more is required? Nothing is, apparently; the entire idea is complete.

Still, the second person can jump in and say that this sentence, though simple and direct, is cliche and therefore not fresh or unique at all; the character and the action are both flat and contain no life beyond the three words used to write the sentence. From an artistic perspective, this point is extremely valid. The better writer stands out by not expressing ideas the same as any other; she/he captivates the reader’s attention and has a greater potential for achieving a larger and wider audience than the writer who employs the use of the first line. Creativity demands individuality and non-conformity, and that quite often means breaking away from conventions, no matter how common.

Frank drags along like a slug in the mud

This line, according to the second voice, consists of four extra words than the first line, so it isn’t really excessive in length. The action word “drags” and the simile “like a slug in the mud” together paint a vivid picture that appeals to the reader’s senses and emotions by allowing said reader to feel Frank’s slow movements. In addition, this line implies something regarding Frank’s personality, that he is, perhaps, a sloth by nature. Simply put: the sentence shows the reader who Frank is, at least in part, and therefore does more than just tell. The reader is much more likely to be drawn into characters that seem real than those whom the writer merely dictates in sprawling descriptions and explanation.

Another point to be made here is that although the first sentence is terse and direct, the fact that it expresses nothing more than the three words suggests that the writer will require longer passages to express the same amount of information that the second one does, so it isn’t really shorter in the end. By using a greater number of words in a single sentence, as in the second line, the writer conveys more about the character and her or his situation by using fewer words overall.

An example: a sunshiny day encapsulates the same information, impressions and characteristics as a day full of bright sunshine and warmth filled with smiles and laughter; everything mentioned in the longer version is implicit in the shorter one.

Then, of course, there is the third speaker, who takes a neutral stance and insists that both perspectives are equal yet different. In this view, individuality is still promoted, as both lines offer a unique form of expression compared to the other. As long as all of the points and/or premise are clear and the information discernible, the words shouldn’t matter.

This attitude makes sense as well and is worthy of consideration. After all, intelligibility and clarity are two major cornerstones of good, quality writing. Both lines are intelligible and clear in their delivery, so one form should not necessarily be superior to the other.

In the end, however, the writer needs to know her or his characters and their lives well in order to “show” them effectively. This fact is quite often associated with the context…

Showing in Context

Context makes a substantial difference when it comes to how, where and if a writer “shows” something. By this, a writer uses the means, if necessary, the appropriate elements to effectively bring something to life.

The case of a story on a World War II aviator requires imagery relevant to that particular scenario, such as the use of metaphors like “dust” and “shattered metal” and fireball” as opposed to, say, “rag doll” or “lollipop,” for instance. The words employed should hold some type of relevance to the subject matter at hand if the description is to be applicable and effective.

Take the following passage for instance:

Young James Claybourne heard the hellish squealing bursting through the crackling and the grinding of twisting metal. His heart slammed against his ribcage as he scanned the smoking windows. Vile fumes of cinders burned his nostrils.

“Where is it coming from?” he muttered, spitting ash to the cracked sidewalk. The grime on his skin felt sticky under his coat, but he pushed that out of his mind. “Wh-where?…”

Then she appeared suddenly, jutting her reddened face from the top floor. The building shook violently. The girl’s eyes flamed white in terror.

“Help me!”

James sprang forth amidst the crumbling walls and smothering heat from the eruptions around him. He held his helmet tightly with a glove while gripping an axe with the other. Water swelled in his eyes and his head spun and swayed like a loose light fixture, but he forced himself onward stair after stair after stair after stair. . .

Here, no explanations are given and descriptions are minimized and limited to relevant references. No mention of the particular situation is stated because it isn’t necessary for the reader to realize that the scene is about a burning building and that James is a fireman. The narrative stays on the action and keeps pace all the way through. The words and phrases used belong in this scenario and paint a vivid picture that appeals to all of the senses: “hellish squealing,” “bursting,” “crackling” and “grinding of twisting metal” (audio); “vile fumes burning his nostrils” (olfactory); “swelling water” and “spinning and swaying” (visual); “spitting ash” (taste) and “grime” and “sticky” (textural). The reader can sense what he is experiencing, and so he seems real as a result. Other words, like “redden face” and “flaming eyes of terror” not only describe how the girl feels, but also enhance the overall tone of the scene and contribute to the description of the fire and the sense of urgency prevailing. The “swaying like a loose light fixture” simile isn’t really necessary here (“spinning and swaying” would be enough), but its inclusion demonstrates the use of an appropriate reference that serves two purposes: (1) to illustrate James’ mental state, and (2) to offer a suggestive detail that sharpens the overall descriptive image of the shaking building that plays in the reader’s mind while reading.

Also: James’ actions say something about him: pushing discomfort out of his mind and springing onward into the firetrap to save the girl and forcing himself onward despite his dizziness all attest to the man’s persistence and dedication to helping others in need. This message comes through the actions, NOT any drawn out and tiresome explanation.

In Conclusion. . .

Whatever means of “showing” a writer employs, the objective is to bring the characters and their situation to life so they can interact with the reader. As said, a story’s value is nothing without the reader’s reception and interpretation of said story’s contents. Publishers know this all too well, which is why their evaluations revolve around how riveting a story is. If readers are drawn into a story/book/novel, it will surely sell. The “show” aspect, or the degree of vividness and/or realism a story projects, often makes a difference between high-quality and substandard quality writing, and it ultimately determines failure or success.

Posted in Editing, Fiction, General Commentaries, Novels, Publishing and Publication, Reality and Realism, Short Stories, Writing Development Issues, Writing Topics | 2 Comments »

Lexical Redundancies: A Need for a Cleaner, Easy-to-Read Text

Posted by CW64 on July 16, 2012

As an editor, I have come across a variety of redundancies. Beginning writers especially tend to harbor these ongoing no-nos when laying out their drafts.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against beginners—I was one once as well—but my experience as both a writer and an editor have honed my skill of observation. I am patient and extremely open to those who are just starting out in their careers. This is exciting for me, just as it is for them. For that reason, I always look forward to sharing my insights, as I am doing now through my blog.

One of the most common forms of repetition I find is, what I call, the lexical redundancy. This phenomenon denotes the overuse of words, especially in close proximity, as in the same sentence, passage or paragraph.

Take, for instance, the following example:

“Mary went to the convenience store and then from there went to the grocery store to buy groceries. The only store in town that sold the kind of groceries she wanted was Maverick’s Groceries.”

Okay, this passage includes more than one type of redundancy, but the one in question—the lexical redundancy—is quite clear. The reuse of the same words flattens the text and makes the writing uninteresting. Therein lies why this phenomenon is deemed a writing weakness.

Some writers (i.e. beginners) are likely to read this and say “Well, the passage is clear and makes sense, right? That’s all that should matter, so what’s the problem?”

On the level of intelligibility and coherency, that’s exactly right. However, when one is writing fiction, creativity is crucial, and that deals with language, among other things. The characters and worlds we conceive are dependent on how we write them, on the language we use to express descriptions, actions and dialogue within a story. In light of this, the words we use are extremely important.

A “policeman in uniform” is not as descriptive or as dynamic as “the blue knight,” the latter of which offers more than the merely description provided by the former. For that reason, variation brings forth color and depth that not only allow the characters and their worlds to stand out, but also makes for interesting reading.

So how do we improve the above example? Well, first off, determine which words are overused and why. Here, we have a few: “store” (3 times), “went” (2 times) and “grocery” (4 times). Their purpose is, evidently, to clarify, or ‘spell out,” the character’s actions. That’s noble enough, but that can be done through text-condensing and word change. The first technique alone might solve the redundancy problem by simply eliminating unnecessary words.

Okay, let’s take a look at that passage again. I will repost it here so you don’t have to scroll back up to read it:

“Mary went to the convenience store and then from there went to the grocery store to buy groceries. The only store in town that sold the kind of groceries she wanted was Maverick’s Groceries.”

Now, we can work on it. The first sentence has two “stores” and a reiteration of the action verb “went”. How can we cut that down? Well, the first “store” fits because it is part of reference (to say only “convenience” is an incomplete thought), so it stays, as does the initial verb “went” because it let’s us know right away about Mary’s action.

The second half if the sentence (i.e. the subordinate clause), however, can drop those words because they aren’t necessary. First, the second “went” is not required, and the two “grocery” references can be omitted altogether. “Market” replaces “grocery store,” which hits two birds with one stone by eliminating one “grocery” and one “store”. The phrase “to buy groceries” is a content redundancy because we already know what Mary is going to buy at the second stop.

So here we have a revised first sentence:

“Mary went to the convenience store and then to the market.”

As you see, not only do the word repetitions fall away, but the entire passage is economized with regard to word count. The sentence gets right to the point and reads better in a clear and simple form of expression.

How about the second part of that example?

Here it is:

“The only store in town that sold the kind of groceries she wanted was Maverick’s Groceries.”

What can be done here? Let’s see …

Well, the first form of “grocery” can be thrown out because we already know that this is a given with Mary. The instance in the market title can go, too. Although it is part of the business name, the first word can stand alone clearly. As for the “store” at the beginning of the sentence, what other word can we substitute to cancel out the redundancy and ensure that the sentence remains coherent and intelligible? How about the simple and everyday “place”? This will work. Take a look at the revised version of the sentence:

“The only place in town that sold what Mary wanted was Maverick’s.”

Yet, again, we have a simple statement that is right to the point. Now, let’s put the two sentences together and see how the new passage reads:

“Mary went to the convenience store and then to the market. The only place in town that sold what Mary wanted was Maverick’s.”

Does this example contain any further lexical redundancies? Is the passage clear and understood? Does it make sense?

With a bit of deductive reasoning and some careful and objective editing, a piece of writing can read easy and clean, and this will always impress editors and publishers.

The Reality of Public Perception

The closing statement in the previous section touches on an issue that continues in many debates between writers and editors. That issue serves as a universal contention for many reasons.

Public perception can either make or break a writer’s chance for success. This is an obvious reality. The ideal that a writer’s opinion of her/his own work being all that matters is a logical fallacy. Even though that notion does make sense (to a degree), it is not consistent with the way the writing and publishing industries really are.

Lexical redundancies can directly affect a writer’s level of vocabulary. A short range of terminology, as seen by the ongoing reuse of words, leaves writers appearing limited at best. That does not attract the confidence of either publishers or readers, both of whom seek wit and sophistication to stimulate their minds. Readers won’t buy materials exhibiting overwrought terms and expressions, and publishers won’t take a chance on them because they know such works appear dull and unprofessional and will likely not sell.

Does this sting?

If it does, that’s good.

This is why editing is so important and why a broad cache of words and expressions is necessary for writers to improve their work. As demonstrated above, the removal of all lexical redundancies rendered the example passage easy-to-read while maintaining proper grammar and syntax. Loquaciousness (a state of being long and wordy) quite often renders writing drawn out and confusing, and that turns off even the worst readers.

To come: Show, don’t Tell – Another common issue in writing.

Posted in Editing, Fiction, General Commentaries, Personal Experiences, Publishing and Publication, Writing Development Issues, Writing Topics | Leave a Comment »

Getting Published Is ALWAYS Possible!

Posted by CW64 on September 15, 2011

Hey there! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, but I have been busy dealing with some other demanding obligations (i.e. life), but I haven’t forgotten in the least.

I just received notice that a writer-friend of mine from graduate school is on the verge of publication with regards to a draft he had been working on back in 2007. Here is the link to his blog: Fuzzy Ergo Sum Review. He is excited about it and so am I.

And so should YOU be.

This goes to show that getting published is not impossible for ANY writer who keeps working at her or his craft. Knowing the market is essential as well. The point is: Don’t give up, even when you are discourage–especially when you’re discouraged. Writing is a challenging and competitive field, but there is room for everybody with talent and persistence.

In the end, getting published is all up to you. Be prepared, be in the know, and keep writing at ALL costs.

I will be posting some new articles soon (“soon,” meaning within the remainder of the year), so please keep watch.

Posted in Advice, General Commentaries, Publishing and Publication, Reality and Realism, Uncategorized, Writing Development Issues, Writing Topics | 21 Comments »

The Essential Space: Creating Distance between Writer and Work

Posted by CW64 on November 3, 2010

If editing is the responsibility of the writer, does that mean each writer needs to invest money into paying a professional editor? While it is a good practice to develop, you can certainly avoid the expense if you have a friend who can objectively review your manuscript. Having a second pair of eyes review your writing is always a good idea. Remember, you are too close to the writing and will have a tendency to read what you meant to type rather than what you actually typed. Another way to avoid hiring an editor is to put the piece down for a month or so and then reread it with fresh eyes. Certainly this will not work when you have a specific deadline, but if you are working on a book or short story, it will definitely work and is a good idea. In fact putting your story down for a while will also help you see any flaws in your storyline

A friend and colleague of mine, Brenda Coxe, has recently been writing a series of articles on the importance of the editor and editing in the processes of writing and submitting a manuscript for publication. The conclusion to this would seem like a no-brainer, but, believe it or not, the subject has taken on a debate. Some people actually believe that neither hiring an editor nor performing one’s own edits during the writing and submission processes is important.

Please read here and here.

The one point she made that really struck home for me, however, is the above paragraph: specifically the question as to the importance of setting one’s work aside before revisions and editing begin. Now, I am not going to restate her points (except where and how they relate to mine), but I will elaborate on them with insight derived from my own experiences writing.

First, the question that comes to mind is whether or not a writer should suspend some space between writing and the ensuing revisions and edits. This all depends on the writer and, equally as important, the piece being developed (not every piece is or should be done exactly the same way, although certain general steps are advisable to follow at all times). For me, the answer is a resounding yes, and I am pretty certain that most if not all writers put their work aside before they administer the necessary revisions and edits, as nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every one thousand manuscripts will need them.

Brenda was right when she said that writers are too close to their work. This is natural for every writer due to the time, interest and hard work invested into the writing. Writers know the content better than anyone else (or at least are more in tune with the ideas expressed and how those ideas are developed), so they trust what they write. Is this a good thing? Well, yes, to some extent, because self-confidence is important. However, after time, said writer loses a sense of objectivity necessary to assess the piece in order to review it honestly and with assurance. Objectivity is a good thing as well, and necessary if one is planning on submitting a manuscript for publication. Writers’ perspectives are essential, but so are the readers’, otherwise publishing a work would have no purpose.

Another question that comes to mind is: How much time should a writer wait before returning to the work? That depends as well. I was advised by my graduate professor once that the time span should be approximately or at least six months, Sensible, as writers need some distance from their work. This is especially true if the writer has had problems leading to migraines.

Diverting one’s attention away from a particular piece of writing will not only provide distance, but also allow new insights to emerge through other projects and activities. When I was writing on the draft to Hallowed Halls, I found myself conflicted by the ongoing direction regarding the protagonist’s mission in relation to the spirits who were calling to him. Which way should I go from here, and to which extent and why? What significance(s) would any particular solution have regarding character development and/or plot? In any case, I had a basic outline, but I found myself getting lost in the details and I became aggravated. I knew I had to get away from the story and the text, so I put it away for about a year and focused on other stories. One was Urban Legend, another ghost story about skepticism versus open-mindedness. When I constructed that plot-line, which was easier due to the story’s simpler structure, I gained a great sense of clarity that allowed me to progress with Hallowed Halls. I even changed some of what I had already written. The story flowed naturally and realistically, and all of the details bore significance to the characters and/or the plot.

Other forms of writing, such as articles, would sometimes only require a few days before revisions or editing takes place. These are relatively short, but they quite often need rewrites or even re-conceptualization. Magazine features and diminutive items of research fall into this category. My recent post on Lambertville High School, with its background and how it has served as a literary influence for both Hallowed Halls and Urban Legend, was one such article. That article was really involved and included various sources for which several links had to be provided and integrated into the text. Which angle should I have taken? Which information was relevant and to what extent? Which sources or links are most important and should thence be used? These questions and others were asked. The draft was redone several times, and I reviewed and edited it more than once—and each time I had to put it off for two or three days to gain a fresh perspective. Within a two-week period, I finished it and even appended a series of additional resource links for readers to explore. This post serves as the basis for an extended piece on the subject which will contain more information and elaboration on various points regarding the history and paranormal aspects of the site and how it has influenced my work.

Upon their submission, after they have been properly and thoroughly revised and edited, manuscripts have a better chance of being accepted for publication. Editors will be able to review them much more swiftly and easily, and with very few, if any, complications involved, which is ultimately what they prefer.

Posted in Editing, Fiction, General Commentaries, Personal Experiences, Publishing and Publication, Research, Writing Development Issues | 3 Comments »

The Many Adventures of Creative Writing

Posted by CW64 on March 3, 2010

The process of creative writing from start to finish is just as endlessly adventurous as it is intellectually draining—from the conception of a basic idea to delineating the draft to revising that draft to the point of having developed a completed manuscript.

No one said any of it would be easy, but, then again, the uncertainty and challenge of hard work make the entire process exciting and irresistible.

The basic idea, which is the seed to any writing project, is both easy or difficult, depending on several factors, including the purpose of the writing to be produced. Sometimes a great idea comes in a flash and other times it requires a bit of mulling, especially when one is attempting to take a twist on a subject (the”twist” itself is a legitimate idea in its own right because it prompts readers to think differently about a given subject AND because a “twist” can offer new information on said subject). In the case of the latter, a thorough understanding of subject is prerequisite to writing so that the twist, or unique angle, is fully realized and makes sense in light of the subject (i.e. is consistent with all known facts associated with said subject). This is where research is sometimes necessary to form the basic idea of a work, such as the case with dissertations, where the central point quite often emerges through the accumulation and evaluation of data.

See how complicated, or difficult, devising a basic idea can sometimes be?

The short story Urban Legend, which deals with a young skeptic who explores an urban legend and encounters a few surprises, the basic idea came to me in a dream. When I woke up from that dream, the images and premise of the story were still fresh in my mind, and I dictated the story, word-for-word, mentally as I recounted the dream. That motivated me to write, so I could get down the idea and start on the draft from beginning to end, which, in this case, came and went quick and smooth.

The draft isn’t always that easy to do, but when the basic idea is there, and is fully realized, it can be. In the case when it is not, however, sometimes the basic idea emerges through the writing process in establishing the principle characters and the plot. That was the case with the novel The Monkey Cage, which also served as my graduate thesis (the first three chapters). I started with a simple scene that I originally intended as the beginning of a short story, but as I developed the characters and expanded the story beyond the scene in question, I found a whole new world opening wide around the characters. But what are they doing here? What should they be doing? As I disregarded the need to set down a predetermined premise, I threw caution in the wind and just started writing. The plot and conflicts of the characters came on their own, and one stage led to another from beginning to the end of the first draft.

Yes, I said the first draft!

Sometimes stories require more than one draft, especially when details of the original draft do not work in the overall story, such as inconsistencies in character behavior or farfetched scenarios that sound good at first but, upon reflection, work poorly in bringing the story out in its most serious and respectable light. That happens. When it does, a writer has no other recourse but to start over. The fact that characters have been realized, however, makes story development easier due to a writer’s familiarity with said characters—a sense of familiarity increases a writer’s confidence, and confidence means everything in story development.

An important note should be made here: If a writer does not feel comfortable enough to write about her or his characters, s/he should spend time getting to know those characters first, either by ruminating over them, composing character profiles or sketches, drawing illustrations of their character, or a combination of any or all of these suggestions. When a writer knows her or his characters intimately and feels comfortable with and confidence in them, the story begins.

Once that story is down (i.e. the draft), revising starts. This is where it really gets fun!

Although a draft is down and a basic plot-line established, the creative process is far from over. Revisions not only correct misspellings and grammatical errors or provide condensation where necessary, but also serve as a means for writers to introduce new and essential information into the plot-line where necessary in order to “flesh out” the characters and/or story. This is important for two reasons: (1) the narrative will flow more smoothly, and (2) gaps are filled so the story will be clear and make sense. This is where one pays particular attention to detail, which had been foregone when scaling the draft (the basic idea) in the previous stage.

Revisions are quite often require various stages; creativity goes on and on. That is why revising is synonymous with the actual writing, because it is here that the characters emerge and the story is fully realized. The stage of revising is a long and tedious process spanning hours, days, sometimes even weeks on a particular work. But a writer shouldn’t be discouraged; s/he should have fun exploring the creative possibilities.

I can certainly elaborate more on revisions here, as insight on that subject abounds, but I thought I would reserve further discussion for a separate post designated specifically to that particular phenomenon, as that seems apropos.

More on revisions and writing development to come . . . .

Posted in Advice, Editing, Fiction, General Commentaries, Marketing and Advertising, Novels, Personal Experiences, Publishing and Publication, Research, Short Stories, Writing Development Issues | Leave a Comment »

Self-Publishing–the ‘DIY’ Approach

Posted by CW64 on October 18, 2009

Believe it or not, self-publication is an older concept in a much-involved industry, but it has been gaining momentum in recent years.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

When one thinks about it, it’s actually both.

Huh?? you might think.

First, self-publication is, simply, the notion of an author publishing her or his own material, which is an ideal and tantalizing concept, indeed. Several sites exist on the promotion and support of this idea, because it has currently become necessary and—dare I say it—a popular one (For those who are interested in seeking more information on this, go here and here ). This not only involves writing and editing one’s work, but also marketing it, and that includes layout, promotion, advertising, typesetting, printing, cover creations (art design or photography, or a combination of both), and, of course, the vending process, all of which collectively can be tedious, time-consuming and quite expensive.

But is it worth it?

When one weighs the prospect of spending money that one doesn’t have (and, believe me, for writers, that’s a common status) or remaining unpublished, that is a tough call, especially when one is desperately seeking an audience—one thing writers really need and want for their respective voices to be effective.

So, is self-publication the answer?

Well, it depends . . .

Each work, like each person, is different, so the solution falls on what is necessary for the particular piece and is convenient and feels right for the particular author. For example, a book requiring a limited circulation wouldn’t appeal to a major publishing house, yet might be within the price range for a low-income writer. Of course, other cases involve works that garner constant rejections (‘wallpapering’ has become a common pastime among struggling writers) but whose author feels strongly about her or his work’s potential. Sometimes self-publishing might be the only answer.

Also consider that many now-famous writers once self-published at the beginning of their careers, among them Mark Twain and Stephen King. With company such as this, any writer would find it hard to deny the validity of getting a work and a career off the ground through self-publication.

Some people in the writing and publishing industries, however, do find self-publication objectionable, or at least questionable. A few hold the attitude that if works are constantly being rejected, there must be a reason, right? The claim that many self-published books are, in a word, ‘garbage’, is not entirely without its merits, even though this is not an absolute by any means. Some critics even insist that writers are not truly and respectably published unless done so through another registered publication. Still, many writers who would have remained unknown have gained success through the ‘DIY’ process, and have sold themselves impressively well.

Self-publication, however, can quite possibly serve as a stepping stone toward publication by other publishers who otherwise would not have been able to see a writer’s name or work.

Whether or not the pros and cons for self-publication create an even balance remains to be seen; what is seen is that self-publishing is growing and becoming a thriving industry all its own.

Several sites, such as Lulu and Triond , have dedicated themselves to assist writers interested in self-publishing online. These offer a platform for writers to get started, while other sites, like, provide a wide selection of books and supplies, ongoing news, and advice from experts and established writers.

All of these and countless other resources can prepare writers for publication in any number of ways.

In the end, deciding to self-publish requires forethought. Writers who act rash and/or who aren’t yet developed enough in their skill can cause damage to themselves and their careers, not to mention lose money in the process. Care and caution must be employed at all times; self-publication, just as publishing in the traditional sense, is a serious step to take.

Posted in Books, General Commentaries, Marketing and Advertising, Publishing and Publication, Writing Development Issues | 5 Comments »

A ‘Ghost’ of a Chance

Posted by CW64 on October 17, 2009

Ghostwriting can actually turn into a prosperous career even with bylines (For those you who don’t know what ghostwriting is, go:  here and here.

Of course, ghostwriting need not be anonymous in nature. Quite often, when self-promotion brings about personal accounts for a freelancer,  bylines are sometimes awarded in the fashion of  "in collaboration with . . ." or a shared byline with the recipient or subject of the work. An example of this would be a politician or celebrity (the main idea and direction were that of the latter, so why shouldn’t s/he get recognition?), even though the ghostwriter does all of the physical work. Sometimes the ghostwriter is listed at the end in the "acknowledgements" section without being mentioned as a writer.

As said, this form of work can be very lucrative for many writers, even though such success, if at all, rarely comes overnight. Such financial gain can allow writers to live comfortably, even affluently, especially when said writers work through major publishing houses. This is a worthwhile means, not only because it is a well-paying gig, but also because skills are acknowledged (albeit privately) and respected by other parties involved.

How does one get there? Simple answer: a lot of time and hard work. Starting as a freelancer and networking over a period of time to build up a desirable reputation both serve a career well in the long run. This is why, as I clarified in the last post, writers should be careful in their endeavors, because a bad reputation can make or break a writer.

As for me, I have ghostwritten, and it is a satisfying venture. Still, I have my own ambitions; I wish to publish my own works (not necessarily through self-publication, but I will get into that soon). For those of you who have bothered to read "about me" above, you should be familiar with what those projects entail. I will continue building up my byline.

"Ambitious!" you might say.

Well, yes, but these projects (and there are plenty)  will take me a long time to complete. That’s all right, though; I only have the rest of my life.

Next:  self-publication, the pros and cons . . .

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