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Don't Publish That Book!

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Steerpike, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. "I'm a Hyena" is also appropriate. :)
  2. The implication being "go through the formal publishing process." It's really no different from the advice another writer gave that the period of time when a big publisher DOESN'T accept you is the time you need to spend "getting better."

    And then she quotes JOHN MEYER to support this. But here's the thing--that time of a musician's life that he's talking about, when the musician is struggling and unknown? The musician is STILL PLAYING LIVE SHOWS. It's not like the band says "we're not coming out of our garage/basement until we get signed by a label!" No, they're throwing themselves into the world, into the crowd, against the derison of drunk fratboys and bikers and scenesters and whoever else happens to be hanging out at whatever crappy little dive they're playing at. They're actually DOING IT and getting better as a result. And from this the author's advice is "never show anyone how bad you are!"

    The first live show I ever played was a disaster. The sound guy didn't mic our electronic equipment correctly, so while he heard everything through his mixer monitors all the audience heard was one guitar and the microphones. It was a disaster and after the show all anyone could ever talk about was how badly we sucked. Life is like that. It won't kill you.
    Ankari likes this.
  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    That's going back a little further. Good tune :)

    I would also have accepted anything by the Clash, early stuff by the Ramones, the first Offspring album, and anything off of David Bowie's Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, whether it has a punk sound or not!
  4. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    Everyone goes through a learning process. However, I'm not going to charge someone for watching me practice. Isn't that why you spend time learning how to play your instrument? I can't play the guitar, and my voice is awful. Should I get up in front of a crowd, start wailing and making random hand movements on the strings, and expect the audience to pay me.

    If I'm asking someone to pay me, isn't there a reasonable expectation on their part that I provide something approaching professional quality?
  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    Writers aren't muscicians. Reading takes a much bigger investment from your audience than listening does, and many times the audience isn't choosing what band is playing live. One crappy book holds a lot more power than a bad show. Don't show them how bad you are is definitely good advice for a writer.
  6. Brian, your philosophy can best be summed up as "don't do anything until it's perfect." Because you have a lot of talent, you can probably get away with that. Most of us can't. For most of us it's going to be try, fail, try, fail less, iteratively, until we hit the mark.

    Devor, actually enjoying music takes just as much investment as reading a book. It's just different investment. People can go to a show and ignore what's going on, treating it as nothing more than background noise, but guess what? The bands and musicians that succeed are the ones that make you stop doing that and actually pay attention.
  7. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

    Wouldn't it be wiser for an aspiring author to mimic that of an aspiring musician? Start small and grow bigger? Start with a short story or scene and allow your writing group to review it and give feedback. Do this a few times until you're getting more positive feedback then negative. Take the next step and shop around for an online publisher (for the hypothetical short story). Get the appropriate feedback and write another. Keep doing this until you're finding a consistent audience for your work. Go the next step and write a novel. Get an alpha reading group together for feedback. Make any appropriate revisions until you think it's ready for larger beta audience. Make the appropriate revisions until you're ready to self publish. Put your work out there and get feedback. Take what you've learned for any following books.

    If you have a few bucks, you can publish your own short stories on your own website before you submit them to online magazines. If you have a few more bucks you can send your novel to a freelance editor before you self publish.
  8. An aspiring musician takes whatever gig he or she can get. Why wouldn't an author do the same? Other than, you know, being embarassed. But being embarassed is pretty much part and parcel with exposing yourself to the world.[1]

    [1]Or getting arrested, depending on how you define "exposing yourself."
  9. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    Hold it. Hold it! HOLD IT! When did Ankari become "staff"?
  10. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    Okay, the most important thing I got out of this is a huge ego boost. Thanks!

    I think you have summed up my philosophy pretty well. I'd refine it a bit to say that you need to provide the best quality that you can based on your ability and that you shouldn't try to provide anything unless you meet a certain minimum quality. However, I'll grant that your version was more succinct :)

    To me, the asking for payment part of the equation is a pretty big deal. If you're giving away stuff and not claiming to be a "writer," sure put your stuff out there. If you're asking for payment, you're implying that your work is worth the money. It's dishonest, from my view, to make that claim if you haven't made the effort.
  11. Well I didn't say it to pander, I said it because I think it's true. You might be my arch nemesis on the board, but you're a worthy one. :D

    But the payment thing you're just going to have get over. You're going to spend the rest of your professional life watching people who don't deserve to get paid, getting paid. There's no getting around that. There isn't nearly as much correlation between who gets paid and who deserves to get paid as you might think, and this was true even before people started self publishing. Save yourself the trouble of an ulcer and make some sort of peace with that.
  12. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    BWFoster78 likes this.
  13. OK, that would be hilarious.
  14. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    Though I agree with your point, I tend to deal with the world as I think it should be rather than the way that it is.
    Kit likes this.
  15. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    Looks like this is becoming a battle of idealism vs. cynicism as well.
  16. A cynic is an idealist who figured out the fix was in but remained an idealist anyway. That's why the cynic always seems so bitter.
  17. robertbevan

    robertbevan Troubadour

    the only thing that bothered me about this article is that it's just one more whack at a long dead horse. have any of you seriously not read an article before saying that you should edit your work before you publish it?
  18. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

    It had to be said. There is so much crap out there on Kindle. Poor writing, poor stories, errors ... the list continues.

    Unfortunately, a lot of rubbish gets published in print form and becomes popular, too. Need I name any? But they're rich and I am not, so ...
  19. The Dark One

    The Dark One Auror

    I think what makes this argument a tad pointless is that you have to use your own judgment to decide when your stuff is ready to go live. It's really hard to judge your own material - partly because you know what you intended so can't tell easily how well you conveyed that to readers. They may not get at all what you think is obvious and/or tasteful.

    I thought my first book was a work of unutterable genius when it was finished. These days I can't read two sentences without cringing in embarrassment. It takes time to acquire judgment (and skill) but you don't know if you don't have it - so you might as well publish and hope for the best.

    I honestly don't think it would matter much if you put something out which people hate. Not too many will read it, but if they do it's probably a good problem to have.
  20. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

    I would like to circle back to the part where the blogger said don't engage with social media until you have a product.

    To me thats both wrong and right. I agree in the sense that when you don't have anything to prove yourselves with, you are more or less bringing yourself down in people opinions ("who's this guy? why should we listen? doesn't even have a story out there?"). To be honest though, when you consider that the author themselves is the brand, with the books being analogous to the products under that brand (duh...), the bloggers thought breaks down. I'm strongly of the opinion that authors have more to give. What you want is a brand staying power, not the ability to sell one moderately successful book and then fade into the background. In this day and age the best and perhaps only way for your brand to reach your audience is social media (backed up of course by AT LEAST something free).

    That being said, I'm well aware the blogger is some kind of social media guru. I'm sure she knows this already.

    Regardless of whats right (is anything?), at the moment I'm going to continue on with my blog how I am. It's the internet, it's not like I can't pull things down when they become unimportant. It's the same with self-publishing, no gatekeepers means--if you wanted--you could simply stop selling that awful first novel. No one (without the skill to dig deeper and find the remnants) would be any wiser to it.

    That's the beauty of the market at the moment. You have a lot more freedom in both writing and music to do whatever you need to do. On the music side of things, an amazing service is Bandcamp. No musician need ever worry about being trapped by any contacts they may already be in. If they want to make music, if they want to put their art out there, up it goes and people can buy it direct. It think that's a morally good thing (same with self-publishing) regardless of the complete rubbish you could find.

    I kind of expect people to act professionally. Clearly that isn't something universal. I can just as easily not read any of the self-published rubbish. I judge books by the book. If an author came out with something and everyone was saying how much better it was... I'd probably go read it. People improve over time and I'm cool with that.

    I'll be honest with you guys, I'm not sure what point I'm making anymore. I just wanted to say a few words :p
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012

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