Thursday, 24 September 2015

Is All Traditional Publishing Vanity Publishing?

The above question occurred to me in the context of examining the pros and cons of the main publishing options for Worm: Demon Attorney at Law. Ruling out actual 'vanity' publishing (because I have no money), the two main options are self publish right now, or take the longer route of traditional publishing and all that brings.

So which should I choose and why? It really boils down to what I want from my choice of publisher, and by extension my 'career' as a writer.

Money: neither option provides much of that at first, so it's not really a consideration.

Support: as a new writer, there probably won't be much in the way of support for advertisement and editing services. There are still some perks to having a trad publisher in terms of producing a run of physical books, and y'know, publishing them. Chalk up one for tradition.

Formats: with ebook and print on demand services, a self-publisher can have the same product available online as a traditionally published writer. It's a draw.

Timing: I can self-publish right now if I want to. Right this second. For a traditional deal I estimate that it might be up to two years before I could even hope to have a book out (if it happens at all with this work). That's a definite point in favour of self-publishing.

Contractual obligations: with self-publishing I don't have to answer to anyone (apart from the blogdog - see below). With a traditional deal there's bullshit like deadlines and responsibilities to blog, tweet, and Facebook about my damn book. Maybe I feel like blogging, maybe I don't. I don't want to be forced into taking my focus away from writing when I barely have enough time for that anyway. 2 points in the self-publishing corner.

So far I've got to say it's a very tough fight to call. In practical terms, a self-publisher can have everything a traditionally published author can have. And, since 50 Shades of Grey, there is precedent for a self-published author to become a massive success - although let's be clear, the success of that book was all in the shock value as opposed to artistic merit. I could go on, but 'shock value' as a marketing technique is beyond the scope of this post. Let's get back to the comparison of traditional publishing versus selfing it.

Vanity: now we're getting somewhere. I have self-published 9 works of various lengths, but I have a real difficulty calling myself a 'writer'. Maybe it's just me, but unless I have a traditional publishing deal, or something published in a magazine, I don't think I'm a real writer.

Should that matter? No. Does it though? Kinda.

Maybe it's this whole new self-publishing phenomenon which has made 'writer' a meaningless title. Previously one had no option but to grovel to the big publishing houses to attain the status of writer. Now, any idiot with an internet connection can throw some words onto a page, click publish, and call themselves a writer (and occasionally: become a massive success (see the erotica section of the Kindle bookstore)).

So what? If I'm happy with my work, I've put in the effort, and I'm putting out a professional product, should it matter that others don't? No. Does it though? Kinda.

And as I alluded to earlier, although I can have a physical product printed up, I can't hang around for hours in a bookstore next to my book, leaving a copy open to the 'picture of the author' page.

"Did I write this? Why yes, yes I did."

Without the negotiation clout of a publishing house, a selfer will probably never see their book in a book-store.

So, to sum up: before taking vanity into consideration, there's no clear winner in the war of tradition versus newfangled self-publishing. However, the latter comes without the coveted gloating rights of having been approved by someone 'in the biz', invested in, and put into print. And when there appears to be so little money to be made from this career/ calling/ hobby, maybe that's all we can get from it...

Hmm, that was a bit more melancholy than I had intended. I'm going to go play with the blogdog to cheer myself up.


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Blogdog

Dumped (Flash Fiction - minor Werechicken spoilers!)

The pair of golems guarding the door to the bank vault were momentarily, but totally, distracted by the presence of a small white chicken walking towards them across the darkened and empty banking hall. Both leaned forward to peer into the midnight blackness of the building. On closer inspection, it was indeed a chicken. From out of the darkness at either side of the giant stone creatures came two figures dressed completely in black. They snatched the keys from around the golems' necks and ran swiftly down a corridor leading into the maze of bank offices and mini-vaults deep within the building. The golems gave chase, very slowly. Their heavy footsteps left tiny cracks in the highly polished marble of the floor. The chicken could hear his black clothed colleagues goading the golems to follow them, punctuated by the slamming of the golems' feet against the floor.
  When the golems were out of sight, the chicken, without any prior warning, turned into a tall, young, skinny man with an unkempt beard and darkened eyes. His face was severe and he wore the same black clothes as the pair being chased by the golems. At the entrance to the corridor down which the men and golems had disappeared there was a large potted plant. The werechicken removed from the dirt the keys which had been stolen from the golems' necks, and expertly secreted by the journeymen thieves before they had disappeared down the corridor. 
  The werechicken inserted the keys into the lock, and the giant vault door swung open. He marched past gold bars and coins neatly stacked in piles as high as his chest. He paid no mind to display case after display case of shimmering diamonds, rubies and emeralds. Enchanted objects hovering inches above their shelves were of no interest to him. HIs gaze was fixed on one thing and one thing only. He approached the ivory pedestal, lifted the protective dome from atop it and discarded it carelessly to the side. The glass eye which sat on the pedestal looked around nervously. I bet you've seen some things, I wouldn't be standing here otherwise, he thought.
  "Frank!" Came a voice from behind him. The werechicken turned to find his black-clothed companions standing at the entrance to the vault. "You've found it. Good, now let's get some of this gold out of here before the golems get back."
  “No,” ordered Frank. He pocketed the glass eye and, on his way out of the vault, grabbed his companions and threw them stumbling out into the banking hall. “Our job here is done, let’s go.”
  "For gods' sakes Frank, lets get our bonus while we're here!"
  The bearded man flung the vault door shut, removed the keys, and tossed them into the darkness. He silently walked past his companions, and through the banking hall towards the air vent they'd entered through.
  "What in the fourteen known hells is his problem?"
  "His lady dumped him. Apparently she was an attractive one. Rich too. Very rich.”
The other nodded knowingly. “Once he’s gotten over it we should ask him if he still has a key to her place. Come on, let’s get out of here.”

Monday, 21 September 2015

Back in the Game

Alright god dammit, I'm once again back to blogging and back to this idea of being a serious writer.

For any of you (mum) who have been paying close enough attention to my blog to notice that bugger all has been happening here in the past 5 months, let me fill you in.

I've written a new novel with the catchy as fuck title "Worm: Demon Attorney at Law". Two existing Worm stories are available over here >>> and one of them is even free! I'm not gonna tell you which one though, and if you happen to click on the wrong one you still have to buy it (rules are rules, although it does seem kinda obvious from the captions...)

I've also been writing more short stories. The short storying is a means to an end. I'm trying to make myself more marketable. That doesn't mean I'm going completely teenage vampire on y'all, it just means that I'll be focusing on doing some short stories for a while as a way of creating some interest in myself and my writing. Some will be free, some will be submitted to magazines, and some might be paid.

So how long will I be doing that for? God knows. I reckon Worm: Demon Attorney at Law is pretty good and I want to give it the best chance of success. I've done all the writing and revising, and I'm saving my pennies to employ a professional editor to make sure the work is as polished as it can be. However, we all know that aint enough. Like millions of young job seekers entering the market and finding out that they can't get a job because they don't have experience, but can't get experience because they don't have a job, unpublished writers like me can't get a publishing deal because I haven't yet been published. 

Sucks, huh?

The traditional way around this problem for writers is to write short fiction, and use that as a platform from which to launch a novel. It's not the only way to do it, but it seems to be the most efficient way. After all, an agent or publisher is more likely to snap up Worm: Demon Attorney at Law, if they laughed their ass off reading a Worm short story in a well respected magazine.

In other, quite frankly earth-shattering, news: I've delved into the world of science fiction. Dammit fantasy fans, put down your Glamdring replicas! I'm still a fantasy man, but sci-fi has always been a love of mine. 

I will probably regret saying this, but I reckon that most of my work for the forseeable future is going to have a legal slant to it. It's what I do for a living, and I have thousands of stories that can be adapted into my fiction writing. That doesn't mean I'll be doing any John Grisham style thrillers anytime soon though. Whether it's sci-fi, fantasy (or god forbid, plain Jane fiction) my stories will always be filled with humour. Ever since I read Hitchhiker's Guide as a young man (finishing all five books in a week) I've loved comedy writing, and that's all I've ever wanted to write.

As always, if anyone has any nice comments to leave, there's plenty space below.