The Art of Publishing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The latest round of NEW BIG NEWS in publishing is The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. Speculation is that Harbach got $650,000 for his first-time novel, and yes it will actually be printed in real book form. Gasp!

Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter proposed what this novel, and this deal, says about the direction, or lack thereof, of the publishing industry in this month’s editor’s letter in his magazine. What are your thoughts about the state of the industry? Agree with Carter or disagree? To the keyboards! 

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

TV, thou art my muse (for the moment)

Again, dear friends, we find ourselves knee-deep in another Mystery Monday. I sincerely hope everyone had a restful weekend and got to spend at least a few hours doing something for yourself. I took a two-hour long bike ride Sunday afternoon and I used that “me time” to unwind a few plot hiccups in a novel I’m currently working on. Exercise always seems to work out the mental kinks.

Speaking of kinks, we all know that most of the time, for writers, TV is our worst enemy. It pulls us away from what we should be doing, like writing, or working on the website, or doing research, or a myriad of other productive things.

But something strange happened on the way through the 400 channels of crap that clogs my cable system. I came across the 2nd installment of AMC’s The Killing last night, and it was fantastic. Why? Because unlike CSI or L&O (both of which I do like) the crime isn’t solved in an hour (actually, 40 minutes when you take into account the commercials) by people who look like they’re on a break from the Vanity Fair cover shoot using forensic tools of which Buck Rogers would be envious. On a more serious note, the fact that these shows race through their cases so fast, could, as David Martindale wrote in a recent Fort Worth Star Telegram article, “desensitize us to violent crime.” Why? I’ll quote Mireille Enos, who plays lead investigator Sarah Linden on The Killing for the answer: “I think the outcome of the accelerated pace is that the victim becomes this nameless, faceless persona that the audience really doesn’t care very much about.”

I tend to agree with Enos’s statement, especially when it comes to the deep anguish displayed every time the camera is on the parents of the murder victim in the show. I won’t ruin it for you, but there was this one scene in last night’s episode where the mother nearly does something unthinkable. As a parent, I was on the verge of tears as I watched, all the time thinking, “How in the world could I survive what those parents are going through?” Whenever I write a scene about the grief a parent must feel when they lose a child, I will recall that scene.

If there was ever a TV show that could be a muse and has the ability to touch the same depths that a novel can, probing every ripple caused by a singular event, The Killing, so far, is the top contender. By watching the show, it’s reminded me that:

1. It’s okay to have a lot going on. While having a lot of characters not doing very much is not a good idea, showing a few, central characters that have a lot going on makes them more realistic.

2. Along that vein, Detective Stephen Holder in The Killing wouldn’t win any ethical or moral awards for his police work. While I find him almost repulsive at times , he does what he feels is necessary to get the job done. The actor Joel Kinnaman, who plays Holder, does an excellent job giving us this “scruffy angel”, especially when that character is juxtaposed against the slick councilman played by Billy Campbell who might just be a devil in Armani. By showing the many sides to both characters, the actors make them all that more human, relatable and, most importantly, watchable. If the main facet of good storytelling is creating compelling characters, one not need to look any further than The Killing to study some very well-developed characters. Besides, when was the last time watching TV could be counted as research?

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author. Bestselling author Sandra Brown recently had this to say about Mark’s latest novel, The Brink: “[The Brink] is a hell of a read. The chemistry between [the main characters] Danny and Sydney is terrific. The action sequences were heart-pounding, and I was left feeling that you have a sequel in mind!” Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at www.markfadden.com.

The 4 writing commandments

So, at 12 days into the New Year, how are your new years resolutions? More specifically, how are your writing goals going? Writing 2,000 words a day? 20 pages a week? Or are you exhausted after work, sitting in a bean bag chair in the nude eating Cheetos by the bag full? I haven’t done that, mind you. I’d scare the bejesus out of my kids if I did.

Well, dear writers, fellow bros and sisters of the pen and keyboard, let’s re-commit to the 4 writing commandments, shall we? There’s only 4, it’s not like I’m telling you we need to have another 10 like that shaggy haired dude Moses said. BTW, I read a recent article by Christopher Hitchens in Vanity Fair where it stated that there were actually several different versions of the 10 commandments were mentioned throughout the Bible in different books (Exodus, Dueteronomy, and a couple others if memory serves), which proves the Good Book was a product of man, but that is a topic for another day. If you are a regular follower of this blog, you know that my mom recently passed, and I am certain that she’s smiling down on her little boy from Heaven.

But let’s get back to the topic at hand. The Four Writing Commandments are as follows:

1. Keep to a schedule. Don Phillips, a legendary film producer, and a dear friend, told me once, “write every f***ing day.” It keeps you loose, relaxed, and it helps you whittle away the crap. Because, let’s face it, most of everyday life these days, is crap. As writers, we need to clear that crap away. We need to, as King put it,kill our little darlings. Therefore, you need to put ass in chair and crank out the words EVERY DAY in order to throw most of it away.

2. Hire a professional editor. Not mom. Not Aunt Sue. You need a ballbreaker here. Someone that will take the fat red pen and wipe it across your beloved baby without passion or prejudice. If I may, I recommend my editor on my latest novel, The Brink, for the job. His name is Mark Graham at Markgrahamcommunications.com. He’s expensive, but he is worth every frickin’ penny. He helped me transform the way I write. Go, and do likewise.

3. Promote before you publish. Know your publishing date? Even have an inkling of when it will be published? Start the shameless self promotion tour 2011 right now. Who’s your audience? How do you reach them? Who are the area community relations managers at the area bookstores? Will you publish in traditonal or eBook format? Traditional or self-pub? Talk to area library directors and community groups. Make them your friends. Say you’ll be a speaker. Community groups are ALWAYS looking for speakers. Hone your presentation to these groups.

4. Set your publication date. Your new year’s resolution was probably, “I will get published this year.” Don’t let the big publishing houses determine your fate. Sure, it’d be great if you got a juicy book deal. If you don’t, give yourself one. Self-publishing is a viable alternative, a chance to prove to the houses what you’ve got, you can publish an eBook for free on up to paying several thousand for a “self supported” publishing experience. Whatever direction you go, know that you are the master of your own writing destiny. And we only had to go through 4 commandments to realize that.

Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

September 2, 2010

Day 79 of 365

Books sold so far (May and June 2010): 246

In this issue:

  • Writing topic – The Writing Life, better as fiction than as fact
  • Marketing Topic – Fewer clicks for more sales?

Writing topic – The Writing Life, better as fiction than as fact

The recent announcement from writer Christopher Hitchens that he’s battling cancer, a cancer that started in his esophagus, got me thinking about writers and what the Writing Life, or “the life” as many writers call it, does to one’s health.

While Hitchens states in the article “Topic of Cancer” in the Sept 2010 issue of Vanity Fair, that his father also had esophageal cancer, and died from it, I can’t help but think that Hitchens’s lifestyle upped the chances of getting a sickness he was already in line to get due to his genes.

Hitchens is a notorious drinker and a chain-smoker. Did these “hobbies” contribute to his cancer? Probably. But did they also make him the larger-than-life character that we see in our mind’s eye when we read his stuff? Definitely. And do we still need figures like these in our world? Absolutely!   

Hitchens is not a lonely man in the ‘hard living writers’ category. Many of the great geniuses had intimate relationships with the bottle and the pipe. Off the top of my head, Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson come to mind. Certainly these two men were great writers. But is being just a great writer enough to make a lasting impression on the world? Would Hemingway have been Papa if he drank tea at four o’clock everyday with scones and Devonshire pudding? Of course not. If I mention the name Hunter S. Thompson, does your head fill with passages from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? Or does it fill with visions of the author blowing things up on his Woody Creek ranch, or the author sitting in a wrecked hotel room surrounded by enough drugs to make a dealer’s entire fiscal year?

Sadly, the images these people portray is the “hook” that grabs us to read their stuff. Hitchens played the part of the intellectual Brit who unapologetically loves his drink like a master. Whether it is a part that was the real him, or just a part he was playing, we may never know. Either way, I think he knew it is a part that all of us who like him and enjoy his stuff would love to play. And that was, in part, our attraction to him. Hopefully, it won’t be a part that will end in tragedy, for if Hitch loses his battle with cancer, a wonderful character in the play of Life will have been lost. And the world, especially the literary one, needs as many characters as it can get.   

So, the question for discussion that comes out of this is, should we judge writers solely on their words and ideas? Or, like we expect of our modern day heroes i.e. sports figures, should we hold them, behavior included, to a higher standard because they are living in the public spotlight?  

To the keyboards!

Marketing Topic – Fewer clicks for more sales

I was reviewing my website analytics page the other day and noticed two troubling things: one, I get many visitors to my site (average about 300 a week), but they don’t stay very long (avg length of visit is 40 seconds). Two, 80% enter and exit from the homepage. While I’m in talks with a web designer to change up the look of the site to make it more attractive and flow better, I was thinking about what web marketing folks say is most important: content. While my home page has links to my blog, the book trailer, a couple video interview links, and a link to read a preview of my latest book, The Brink, it doesn’t have the one thing that could suck people into the book – the sample of the book.

My book preview is over on “the novels” page, but that’s like the appe-teaser lady at the grocery store giving you a map to the sample at her booth instead of the sample itself. People don’t like jumping through hoops. They don’t like clicking and then having to click again. They should get a sample of your stuff right away! So, I’m adding my book preview to the homepage so it’s one of the first things they see when they visit my site. I’ll review if this adjustment ups the numbers next week.

Until then have a fantastic holiday weekend.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…