Monday, April 28, 2014

I question questionable writing practices

A lot of us who write, including myself, would like to earn extra money writing for others in legitimate activities such as editing, proofreading, writing projects and similar things. Just for grins, I took a look on Craig's List to find out what writing services others were offering. What I saw turned my stomach.

In addition to the legitimate activities, I also saw some very questionable services offered such as:

·         "do online coursework (perfect for online college students who also have to work and do not have time for their studies)."

·          "Our expert and experienced writers will provide you with custom-made research papers and case studies. The content is creative and original and can pass all plagiarism tests easily."

·         "Now you can enjoy all the parties and mingle with your friends and we will write all your papers."

These are only examples. The questionable ads exceeded the more legitimate-sounding ones by a ratio of several times to one.

I'd like to think the writing field is composed of well-educated people who follow a strict ethical code. Everyone knows that is not always true. Personally, I don't see how some of these professional "writers" manage to sleep at night.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What my wife has taught me about self publishing.

Consumer of Self Publlishing

My wife recently downloaded a number of Romance novels to her kindle. So, how did she decide which ones do download?

She chooses free novels. Because of the number of writers who are trying to promote their works, there is no shortage of free works to download.  My wife knows full well that if she wants to continue in the series, she will have to pay for the next volumes, but doesn't care. Since the first volume is free, there's nothing to lose. If it's no good, she simply switches to another free novel.

I have heard an interesting comment from her considering self-published works she's read. She has said she found a series she likes, if she can ignore the errors. Many authors can't or won't put out the money for editors. However, when the author publishes without an editor, it's very noticeable in the final product.

So, what are the lessons of her experiences?  First, since writers are so anxious to get their works to the forefront, they are willing to offer a part of their portfolio for free. It may be heart wrenching to work for a year on a novel just to give it away for free, but that may be the price of getting people to sample your works. More important, you need to find a way to get your novel noticed. Since the first things a prospective reader will see of your novel are the cover picture and the blurb, they have to be eye-catching. Your novel could be another Twilight or Harry Potter, but if you don't have the attractive cover or blurb, no one will want to read it. Finally, in order to stand out (or at least keep in line with professionally-published novels), it should be well edited. If not, it needs to be awfully good or the reader will have a tendency to quit for another of the legions of novels out there in self-published land.

My wife is only one of millions of Romance readers, but I don't think her consumption habits are different from most readers.  There's no easy route to success in publishing. Then again, if there were, everybody would be a novelist.