Reboot, Remake or Revival?

Spocks

Spock explains to Fake Spock why the universe sucks, now.

Recently, my sister told me that J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek films are reboots, not revivals. You know the ones: where Christopher Pine replaces William Shatner, the planet Vulcan blows up and Spock logically responds by making out with Uhura? Right. Those films. My sister, who was a Trek fan even before I was, says that she can enjoy them as completely separate stories from the originals. That would make them a reboot: a story with the same origins and premise, but without being tied to existing continuity.

But those films aren’t reboots. They’re the worst kind of continuation; the kind that erases the original continuity. Continue reading

Pick Your Comps

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Anyone who has ever written knows the value of story competitions. They are places to send your writing where we can test waters without too much risk of drowning; where we can read the winners to see what others, with dreams just like ours, are writing alongside us. They are places where someone is guaranteed to read what you’ve written.

But how does one choose the best competition among the hundreds screaming “look at me?” Some charge high entry fees for a chance of hefty prizes, while others offer the chance to be in a print magazine—which is still the Holy Grail, for authors like me. One factor that nobody ever seems to consider, though, is the feedback a competition offers… and it’s no wonder, since most offer, at best, the same form-lettered pat on the back that they send to everyone else who enters.

Not so over at Writer Advice. Before my flash story, The Cold and The Dutiful, recently won second place there, managing editor B. Lynn Goodwin did what she does so very well; she gave me insights into the strengths, weaknesses and points of confusion for later editing. If this was even before winning a prize, you might imagine how much more feedback I got when the competition was over… and your instincts would be right. Lynn’s judges also took the trouble to select insightful comments to help me continue working to my strengths, and to improve… you know… that other stuff.

This is what we should all seek in a competition: an experience that is thoroughly rewarding, without necessarily needing to “win.” The last two years have taught me a lot about which communities will take the trouble to support and encourage me as a writer—WOW and Writer Advice now among them—and hopefully, should I return to writing next year, I can wield that knowledge for more years to come. Writing competitions may be the best means available to promote our short fiction to the world…

…but make sure you pick your comp.

(Oh, and read The Cold and the Dutiful!)

 

Promote or Perish: 3 services publishers used to offer.

Publisher. Publication. Publicity.

traveling_salesman

Hit the bricks and sell those novels!

See the similarity in those words? It’s not a coincidence. Those who hang out the “Publisher” shingle on their little shack are promising, by their very title, to create publicity for the works they print.

And yet, authors, how many times have you been preparing to submit a manuscript, and been deflated by a statement like this?

Over the past ten years, the publishing industry has changed drastically. These changes now mean that authors carry the responsibilities of promotion, marketing, and publicity for their works. Many authors fail at this difficult task, meaning their contract is cancelled, and any future contracts are at risk. It’s a cold, hard fact that an author’s books must become popular for the industry to be able to keep publishing.

This is an excerpt from the submissions page of a small, independent press. I have changed (and, I must say, corrected) some of the vocabulary and sentence structure, in order to keep search engines from locating the exact source. I would credit this publisher, but it might seem I am picking on them. I am not. Such clauses, to some degree or another, are fixtures in most small publishers’ disclaimers these days. That “cold, hard fact” is one that has affected us all.

Here’s the thing, though, about facts: people with power are the ones who create them. I think most of us would agree that, even now, publishers hold much more power than authors.  Continue reading

You Can’t Wrap Fish in a Newsfeed

fishwrapping

Why do we want our writing to smell?

When considering which publishers I would prefer to harass, the first thing I do is check their sales figures for the genre I am writing. I know this is good practice, because my supporters at WOW tipped me off to do so, and there is nobody in the industry whom I trust more implicitly. Oddly, though, I always pass right by the Kindle statistics, which sometimes show much higher sales. The only thing that interests me, even today, is how many paperback copies of a title manage to sell.

This qualifies as Metacognitive Mystery #627, since most of the reading I do these days is using a reader. Yes, yes, I know the old arguments about physical books being more reliable, passive light being healthier for us, and the musty smell of water-damaged relics from our basements making us feel all blah, blah, blah… but I don’t think that’s where a writer’s connection to paper publishing really begins and ends. I think that the reason writers like me want to see our books in print, one day, is a matter of legacy.

Continue reading