On Wednesday, the question came up about how does one manage to balance out the life of a writer and everything else that we need to do. I’m probably better suited to be the horrible warning than the good example, because I am the one who once locked herself in her apartment for six weeks to study for exams, emerging three times a week to 1) get food, 2) have lunch with German speakers, and 3) attend worship services. And I was quite happy to do this. Most people would start having serious problems with the lack of social contact.
But how do you keep your family from dragging you out of the office, your employer from providing you with far more writing time than your budget wanted, and your health from deteriorating? Read more
Every once in a while, someone will tout the benefits of going with a small or really small press, rather than either scaling the Big 5 wall or going purely indie. So, what is it like from the small press’ end?
From Richard Charkin at Mensch Publishing:
Lesson 1. Finding the right book is by far the most important thing, but getting the small things right is vital and unbelievably hard work. . .
Lesson 3. Treat your suppliers with respect. I’ve taken a policy decision to pay cash owed into a freelancer’s account the same day I receive the invoice. My cash flow is important but respecting other people’s cash flow generates goodwill, and better relationships are vital for a small enterprise—perhaps for big enterprises too.
In unintended contrast, is the following…
Author photo of a Deutschmark from during the Great Inflation of the 1920s.
Sometimes, authors start the story knowing who the main character or characters are, and build the story around them. Other times, an idea leads to noodling around with world building and then characters sort of wander in. And a few times, world building comes first, and the author looks at her wonderful world, sighs a little, and starts auditioning characters so she can explore her world (and sell it to readers).
I tend to alternate between idea and character. In the case of the Powers books, the “what if” idea came first, followed by lots and lots of research. Specifically, since the world Joschka and Rada inhabit in the Cat Among Dragons series is slightly off-kilter from our history, I started working backwards to see what would have to happen to make it that way. And then hit WWI and really had to dig into the material, which took me back to the Austro-Prussian War, which led to… You get the idea. But I needed a protagonist. And not Joschka. Read more
So, a bit like Merlin in The Sword in the Stone, my characters are living life backwards. Sort of. I had to do something unusual-for-me with Shikhari #5, that being write the first chunk, then jump to the end, then work backwards. The reason is Chekhov’s Gun*. Read more
I recently finished slogging through a non-fiction book for Day Job. The book is very well written, but has a cast of hundreds, covers at least six states, and provides no background. The authors are telling the story of a small group of people involved in the Civil Rights movement, so their focus is appropriate. But I kept falling out of the book thinking, “Sheesh, I know why this happened, and I know what that term means, but I bet other folks are really going to be confused.” Unless you already know a great deal of history, the adventures take place in a vacuum. Read more
Howdy! I was browsing the news and thought this article from Publishers Weekly might be of interest:
“The publishing industry does not look like it is headed for a big finish to 2018. In the week ended Dec. 15, 2018, unit sales of print books fell 6.5% compared to the similar week in 2017 at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. Read more
No, not “indie vs. trad-pub” or “Kindle Select vs. going wide.” I was thinking more about the decisions we make as we write and when we publish.
One question that I used to see popping up fairly often was “How do you know when you’re done?” The question seems to have faded in importance, in part because the GRRM-sized tome is not as in demand as it was 5 years ago, but it’s still a good question. How long the book should be depends on what you are writing and for whom. I write until the story is done. That can be 100K words, or 60K, or in-between. 110K words for me is a long book, really long. But I’m not writing to a market with a set length, be it short story or novel, so I can stop when the story does. If you are writing to a contract length or to a magazine or anthology market, you have a minimum and maximum that may require padding a little or trimming a little. Read more