Showing posts with label editing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label editing. Show all posts

Jul 22, 2021

Choosing Your Next Book

 

Happy Cute Kid Girl Choosing Two Book Stock Vector - Illustration of  doodle, cartoon: 167740868 

Whether you open a website or walk into a bookstore, there's nothing like the feeling of choosing what you're going to read next. Sadly, I've been disappointed more often than thrilled this year, and at lunch with a friend the other day, she said the same. "Maybe we read too much," she told me. "We've heard it all and seen it all as far as stories go." While that might be true, I can still get pulled into a book if it's done well, as I have been with my current read, WE BEGIN AT THE END by Chris Whitaker. It's not an easy book, but when I find myself thinking, even worrying, about the characters when I'm not reading, I know it's because of good writing. Of course, reading is as individual as writing. I can't tell you the book will affect you the same way. I can only give you my reaction.

Choosing a new book is both easy and hard in our time. There are tons of books and tons of places to find them. Still, I've noticed that the traditional publishing world is very much centered on safe choices these days, and they often don't appeal to me. One safe choice is the trending topic. When a book is a success, you can expect a couple dozen similar ones will follow. The covers will be similar in mood and style. The titles will suggest the bombshell best-seller. I got sick of books with "GIRL" in the title some time back. And the time/setting/focus will be the same. Right now it's WWII stories. After some excellent ones (and there still are some out there), we have a host of pale copies, like the one I'm currently reading, which tells me how the protagonist feels as if describing what she had for breakfast and boils down to French people=good, Nazis=bad. Quelle surprise!

The other safe choice for traditional publishers is authors who already have a name. While there are authors whose work I always buy, smart readers know some of them don't write their own stuff anymore. Look for the "with ___" on the cover, which means in most cases that some unknown author wrote it and the "big" author agreed to put his/her name on it, equaling a nice paycheck for everyone. Then there's "franchising," a way of benefiting from an author's name when he's too old to write or even after he's died. It all comes down to money, but for discerning readers, that results in disappointment.

I also note with sadness that editing has suffered--not so much in grammatical things but with allowing big-name writers to do whatever they like. Length is stressed over concise storytelling, and I sometimes find myself paging through to find the plot. I skipped about twenty pages of a legal thriller the other night, and when I jumped back in, the SAME WITNESS was still testifying. Big authors are allowed more leeway to stretch credulity as well. In a book by a well-known author, a fifty-year-old male murder victim was mistaken for a young woman because the killer covered the corpse with flowers. ("Oh, right, guv, we can't move all those flowers. We'll assume it's a young girl because she's done up like Ophelia in Hamlet.")

On the other side of traditional is independent publishing. (In case you're wondering, I started out with a traditional publisher and am now independent.) The problem here is uncertainty as to the quality of the work. Anyone--and I mean anyone--can publish on a dozen sites without investing a single penny, and that means there's a lot of bad work out there. Conscientious writers (like me!) hire editors and test their books with beta readers many times in the process, so they are fairly confident they've got a story worth reading. For a reader, however, it's hard to tell the difference when book shopping.

The other problem with independent authors' work is finding it. Type in a keyword like "mystery" and you'll get a list of the big names. But what if you've already read everything your favorites have written? There's no way to find an independent author with a similar style. We depend on social media to publicize our work, and the results are spotty at best. Often people say things like, "I really liked KIDNAP(.)org. Have you written any more books like that?"  or "I read all your historical mysteries. Do you ever publish anything else?"

"Um, yeah."

So how can you find authors new to you who write good stories? It's not impossible.

Read the recommendations of bloggers/influences who like the kinds of books you like. Here's one: https://radio-joyonpaper.com/?s=Peg+Herring

NOTE: The cover was different back then. Here's what it looks like now: 



Check out the samples on Amazon or other bookselling sites or read a few pages in your local bookstore (They don't mind). I can usually tell with that much if it's my kind of book or not.

Talk to people, online or in person, to find out what they like. I met a woman in a bookstore the other day who recommended a book to me (WWII era) and I bought it. I also often take booksellers' recommendations. They read a LOT of books, so they know if a particular story rises above the ordinary. I have found that young booksellers aren't as helpful as those closer to my age, though. Kids think J.K. Rowling was the first writer to ever explore the idea of a kid learning he wasn't just an ordinary guy--sheesh!

Nov 9, 2015

What It's Like in a Writer's Head--Especially on Mondays

Okay, today I have to finish the chapter I started yesterday--

But there's that blogger who wants a guest post by Wednesday--

Oh, and the editor sent a chapter for me to okay. I should get on that soon.

But that contest I'm judging has a deadline for me to return my ratings. When was that?

I wish I had time to write the book I keep imagining. Seems like fun but can't handle it right now.

Christmas is coming. I should do some sort of promotion.

And I've got Career Day this Friday at that high school. Need to think about that a little.

Setting for DD#4: Interview more people about life in the '50s or do I have enough in there already?

Rewrite my will to assign rights to my "intellectual property"? Yeah, when I get time.

Two dates in TC coming up. Should I get a room or drive home late at night? December...

Beta reader needs a copy of the fourth Dead Detective. Print, since she doesn't Kindle.
Um, when was I going to finish that chapter????

Oct 19, 2015

Plain Talk for Writers: It's Work

Some things you need to accept:

1. You're not as good as you think you are.
Other people have ideas as good as yours. In fact, it's hard to be truly creative with all the stories that are out there. Others write as well as you do too. Admit it, and you'll be easier to be around.
2. You're going to work harder than you expect to be successful.
There is no Book Fairy who sprinkles shiny stuff on your work and gets everyone to notice it. There's no way to get readers to pay attention if they don't want to. There are things you can do that actually turn readers off, like constantly telling what a great book you've written.
3. Nobody knows what works. If there were a formula--well, there isn't. Badly written books get to be Best Sellers and really good books get rejected by publishers or lie languishing if they do get published.
4. Writing well isn't easy. Note the qualifier. A monkey can sit down at a computer and produce something. An author knows it takes time: time to write a coherent first draft, time to make it better with multiple edits, time to get constructive criticism from others, time to rewrite and rework until it's the best story she is capable of telling.

AND ONE MORE THING

If you're a real writer, none of those things will deter you.

Sep 4, 2014

Help! I'm Buried Under Edits

I've been slogging through edits of the second Maggie Pill Sleuth Sisters book, which for me means listening to one computer read the book aloud while I make corrections on a second computer. (It's complicated.)
I was doing pretty well (halfway) when I opened my e-mail and found the copy-edited MS for the fourth Simon & Elizabeth book, Her Majesty's Mischief, with a deadline for its return. Deadlines make me nervous, and I'm tempted to drop my current task and work on the new one.
I can do this.
Hanging over my head somewhere is the third Dead Detective book, Dead for the Show. The publisher told me they'd like to get it out before the end of 2014 or at the very latest, early 2015. That means the copy-edits for that book should be showing up soon, too.
I really can do this.
Copy-edits aren't that bad. The big changes have already been made, so I just have to look at little mistakes they found and okay changes. For example, I had a character placing his knife in his "bolt". The main editor missed that, so it's great that there's another round of edits done by a copy-editor, who caught it. Still, to do it well, I should dedicate myself to it and concentrate until it's done.
The hard part for me is shifting gears from one book to another, one type of editing to another. I have trouble deciding whether I should drop the deep edit on one book to do the easier job on the other one or stick with what I was doing until it's done. Despite the fact that it gives me fits to delay work on a half-day job I know someone is waiting for, I'm going to finish the Sleuth Sisters edit first (hopefully no more than two days), then tackle the historical.
I really can do this. And I'm going to do it right now.


At the Point Where I Can Tell You

 I sent my next book to the copy editor a few days ago, which for me is a major turning point. It's a commitment of sorts; the book that...