What are you Writing?

Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by MikeKardec, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

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    Not doing any writing of substance right now. Taking lots of notes and trying to figure things out so that I can finalize my research proposal.
     
  2. Just Jim

    Just Jim One of the Regulars

    That one brings back memories: I think I first ran across it in '82 or '83. I lied about my age and experience and hired on a tramp freighter. (Supposed to be a steward, wound up as cook--long story.) That was the first book I grabbed at random off the shelf in the lounge. Great book for what I was doing and where I was at the time--I'll have to watch for the re-issue.
     
  3. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    I always feel that I've pulled a rabbit out of a hat when it works. I didn't write this alone, however. It's a heavy revision of what the publisher supplied me. They set the format but it was a bit "corporate."
     
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  4. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    That's a long story I'd love to hear, I suspect there's lots of maritime writing in my future!

    Are you aware of a writer named Howard Pease? He wrote an series of stories set on merchant ships in the 1930s and '40s, sort of like the Hardy Boys but a good deal more sophisticated. The documentation of shipboard life and the technical aspects of many jobs is extraordinary.
     
  5. Benzadmiral

    Benzadmiral Call Me a Cab

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    Dreamed a new story idea last night. The essential idea, the germination of the events, was from the dream. When I woke, I lay there and muscled the idea around a little, and before long I had something. Need to clear some deck space, and I can work on it.
     
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  6. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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    Just want to briefly close the circle: As you might recall, I decided to self-publish my Vienna book, but with more than a little trepidation. I was afraid that self-publishing would be poorly received or even openly mocked. I am happy to report, first, that Amazon's Createspace self-publishing service was easy to work with and the final product really met my expectations. Secondly, the book itself has been well received, garnering good reviews (1 so far on Amazon; several from acquaintances who bought it and then troubled themselves to contact me after reading it.) Really, people are very kind. Most amazingly, the local English-language book shop owner liked it and wants me to do a reading/signing (!!!) although the date is not set yet. In five months I've probably sold less than 100 copies. That doesn't bother me. I'm somewhat surprised that it has been so well received. So: I just wanted to report a very positive experience with self-publishing. Following years of being completely ignored by literary agents, I now wonder why I didn't take this option earlier. If you are thinking about self-publishing, all I can say is that I have been pleasantly surprised!
     
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  7. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    Kindle (or other reader style) Originals are in EXACTLY the same industry position as Paperback Originals were in the 1950s. It is an area that is only going to grow and be taken more seriously. As of several years ago Amazon's entire sale of books from the big five publishers (I believe this was electronic and paper but I could be wrong) was matched or even surpasses by that of their proprietary Kindle authors. It is a serious business.

    Traditional publishers are doing less and less for their authors and they are making it harder and harder to make a living. One example is that many advances are split into four payments. One on signing, one on delivery of a draft, one on publication and one not more than a year later ... that means half the advance is paid after all the work has been done. I'm not an advocate of writers living on advance money but many have to. When you realize that your traditional publishing royalties will rarely be over 15% in hardcover and 25% in electronic and the publisher will control that book virtually forever, the Kindle deals look pretty good. Kindle needs competition to keep them honest but other than that it is a viable alternative.

    There is NOTHING second rate about self publishing these days!
     
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  8. Benzadmiral

    Benzadmiral Call Me a Cab

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    I've always pictured myself as a paperback author, Mike. After all, people like John D. MacDonald rose from that "ghetto" to become respected hardback and bestselling authors. My advantages are that I have several completed manuscripts with solid stories; I'm that rare bird who is good at self-editing, grammar, and punctuation, so my stuff is professional-looking; and I'm pretty solid at writing reader-grabbing blurbs for my own stuff. Good to hear that it's not merely a vanity publishing graveyard now -- and it appears I'd better leap in soon.
     
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  9. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    I work only in traditional publishing and I have to say that Kindle-style publishing looks great from a short distance away! Do your research , however. The typical story length is shorter; that's not a requirement but it probably tends to be true because productivity is very beneficial. Kindle readers, once you've got them, like to keep reading. Staying within a genre, even if it's your own made up one, seems to help people find you too. You'll need to be fairly social media savvy or know someone who is. There's lots of info on what to do out there, some pretty simplistic some not. Get an education on pricing your book, exclusive periods, etc. Good Luck!!!
     
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  10. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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    I agree. The "down side" of self-publishing is that you have to promote your book yourself. These days that means social media. For a couple of reasons, including my day job, I have almost no social media footprint. My Vienna book is mainly being made known by word of mouth. Nonetheless, the positive feedback has been very gratifying and I've been surprised more than once to find out that a very distant acquaintance has bought a copy and enjoyed it.

    In fact, my self-publishing experience has been so positive that I am now thinking about doing the same with my Hawaii book. Right now it is with a friend in Honolulu who is editing my Pidgin language dialogue. :) We shall see. The Hawaii book is fiction; so it is a whole different kettle of fish.

    Good luck, Benz!
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
  11. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

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    Well done!!! Congrats! I'm so glad you took this route!

    Unless things have changed dramatically in the last five years, the other hindrance with self-publishing is distribution. It's a lot harder to get your book in bookstores. BUT, as brick and mortar bookstores are dying, this isn't necessarily as big a hurdle as it used to be.

    I still ponder the idea of self-publishing. It's always been my dream to have my novel traditionally published, but maybe I should just let that dream die a quiet death...
     
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  12. Just Jim

    Just Jim One of the Regulars

    When it started I was just trying to find a freighter I could ride as a passenger. When that didn't work I was somehow transformed into my older brother--even found his ID in my duffel bag. Magic!

    The crew was a mix of ethnicities: Vietnamese, Mexican, Thai, a couple Hungarians, one Irishman, and a wayward midwesterner. Cleaning the kitchen was my introduction to industrial cleaners, keeping them all happy with the food was my start at fusion cuisine.

    There was a bit of panic when we ran out of garlic and peppers. The chandler had no garlic fit for human consumption, so the guys set up a distraction and I sneaked out of the port to go "shopping" with a thousand bucks American and a switchblade someone loaned me. I came back with a potato sack of good garlic, a couple more of peppers, and about $750. I was worried I'd get in trouble for hiring a fishing boat to get me back into the port. It turned out I was expected to hire a truck and bribe a couple people at the gate.

    Good fun, but all gone now. I caught the last days of small cargo and "flexible" rules on crews, everything is containerized now and they require actual passports--and check! One of the crew managed to track me down about 20 years later, he'd found a volume of poetry I'd published under a pen name and claimed he recognized my hand. He told me the ship was sent to the breakers a few years after I was there, just not economical to keep it in repair and sailing.

    Never heard of Pease, I'll have to watch for his work. Thanks for the tip!
     
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  13. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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    Great stuff, Jim!
    Please consider adding a post to the "Tramp Steamers" thread that can be found under "The Golden Era." We'd love to hear more.
     
  14. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    As a professional you'd want to transition away from your "personal/private" social media identity and into some sort of public on-line personna, like a FB "author" page. You don't want random people stalkerizing you. The publishers I have worked with are dismay-ingly inconsistent about promotion, you really can't count on them at all and to think that their help is a significant and consistent upside of the traditional route is to live in the past. These days it is nearly impossible to get any sort of press coverage and personalized social media takes too much time for most big publishers. I don't mean they do nothing, they just don't do much or they aren't terribly effective ... I'm in the midst of it and it's very hard to figure out what they are up to. I do as much of it as possible but I have a small organization (2 people) to help me. On the other hand I manage around 200 old titles in various formats so there's a budget that covers that ... barely. Successful self published authors these days are good writers but they are also good, and very scientific, marketers.

    Modern self publishing is only now slowly cracking the physical book barrier, it works great in electronic and ok for print on demand (or short run) in mail order (like through Amazon) but printing books for stores to stock is expensive and you get stuck with inventory. If you study the early days of the paperback business (and the following is true today too) you learn one lesson: excess inventory is death. It's an investment you made that you cannot make good on, a straight up loss. The book biz, with a few exceptions like in supermarkets, is 100% return, ie. the publisher reimburses everything the book store can't sell. If you print more than you can move doom awaits. The one remaining thing that traditional publishers do that is insurmountable to the independant is getting the right number of books into bookstores. Beyond that they are a tottering inefficient edifice that somehow must learn to evolve. Somehow I doubt it, though.

    Self publishing in e-format is a great venue. I know of a number of people making serious money through Kindle. But they have intelligently chosen a genre, write up a storm, and are excellent at promoting themselves. Within the correct lane it's probably a better way to succeed as a writer than print. Succeed enough and print will sniff you out and give you advance big enough to forget those 70% Kindle royalties.

    When my Dad was a seaman in the 1920s you could just wander ashore and stay there ... almost anywhere in the world. WWII ended that for the most part, it's cool that you got to grab the tail end of that world and it's amazing that it was so late. Beyond Pease you might like Max Hardberger (SP?) who has written several books on captaining coastal freighters, being a ship's officer and "freeing" (stealing!) impounded vessels for their owners. His work is non-fiction and takes place in the 1980s.
     
  15. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

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    Well. Yesterday I sent off my research proposal and application to the University of Exeter for my PhD in history. I'm trying for a scholarship. Do I think I'll get it? Not really, but I had to try. I feel like I took a crash course in the topic I wanted to research (comparing two POW camps - one in America, one in Scotland) because I didn't know anything about the British side. Now I feel like I could totally tackle it. Will I get the chance? Guess we'll have to wait and see...
     
  16. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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    Best of luck to you. You never know. Your idea might be exactly what they are looking for!
     
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  17. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Fingers crossed - if passion, talent (you're a published author with a book out on WWII) and research skills count, my money's on you.
     
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  18. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

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    Thank you!!! I don't know...competition is pretty fierce for this scholarship, and since I've technically not been in academia for a long time, I have my doubts - but we'll see!

    Thanks, FF!
     
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  19. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

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    I love reading about everyone's work here!
    My weekly column has been published in four regional newspapers for the past several years, along with several features each week. I know it's old hat to say, but very true: the more you write, the easier it becomes. I used to struggle with column topics (food related), and had to fight to reach the needed word count for articles. This morning, I woke up late and realized I had a column to do within two hours, without a single idea. I had it finished and submitted within an hour. The words just come to me now. And I can tug 700 words out of a nothing event pretty easily.
    I've also compiled brief biographies for tribute events and research and write sermons when invited to do one at my church.
    I'm three chapters into a book length story aimed at tweenagers. I'm finding that the writing goes pretty smoothly and I can hit my 1,000 words a day goal fairly easily. But constructing a tale that works is a pluperfect pain. I have nothing but respect for fiction writers who can weave a good story.
    Once that's finished, I have no idea what to do next to try and get it published. I'm hoping the body of published work I've done will give me some chops to be considered, but the process is a mystery.
     
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  20. David Conwill

    David Conwill Call Me a Cab

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    It's never the writing for me, it's the images. I wish I could sketch, then I could illustrate my own articles!
     
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