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Kindle ruins English literature with crazy new plan to publish the slush heap

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In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2013 18:45:32 GMT
Sorry, Will. In my grasp of the English Language, your statement means having a third party check the manuscript before publication.

'Editor' seems be the writers term for a number of third parties concerned with the text. I agree, having your work proofed is a benefit . . . but edited? I'm not convinced that professional independent editing is a worthwhile or financially viable process. A content editor is required to read and understand the entire work before addressing it - you're looking at four figures.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2013 18:46:43 GMT
Shelagh, quit it!

Let's not be petty.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2013 19:39:52 GMT
Obelix says:
"I'm always puzzled why it should it matter what most electronic offerings are like"

The higher probability that they are going to suck would be one reason.

"Readers aren't required to waste their time with any that don't meet their own personal standards"


"No one is required to examine everything on the shelves."

Thanks for telling us all something we couldn't have possibly known already.

"It's undeniable that there are built-in quality control mechanisms"

They're called 'editors'. Indy presses struggle to attract them, because they can't pay what the major presses will. I rather doubt the likes of Gary Fisketjon are going to up sticks and work for Salt publications. That is the crux of the matter, I'm afraid.

"There's increasing focus on products adjudged to have the widest potential market appeal"

Is there a book that doesn't want to get precisely that?

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2013 20:37:55 GMT
Dan Holloway says:
" I don't care about the excuses I hear: no author should feel justified in publishing anything unless they have had it independantly edited first. Where is their pride in their work?"
Lol at the typo to prove the point, but surely the exception is where not editing is integral to the work artistically. I think I have problems with people creating parameters within which people "have" to operate artistically in order for their work to be valid as art. Irrelevant in 99% of cases I'm sure, but we can't be prescriptive of art in that way.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2013 21:08:01 GMT
Perhaps I'm lucky then, in that my private editor - that's the one I now use to proof all my copy before submission - picks out plot issues for me as well as the myriad of typos.

And it doesn't cost me four figures

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2013 21:41:45 GMT
greymouse says:
"There's increasing focus on products adjudged to have the widest potential market appeal"

Is there a book that doesn't want to get precisely that?
What I was suggesting is that in seeking the widest potential market, any industry that's primarily motivated by profit can end up seeking the lowest common denominator. Writers generally want to reach the widest possible audience. That doesn't mean books should be written with the lowest common denominator in mind.

Posted on 2 Jan 2013 22:50:21 GMT
Last edited by the author on 2 Jan 2013 22:51:47 GMT
Greymouse Exactly, pile em high and sell em cheap is fair enough but if it's all you do, quality suffers. OK so I didn't work in publishing but what happens in that situation in the industry I worked in is... people cut corners, quality drops.

I have an editor. He doesn't charge 4 figures. He picks up stuff that I haven't noticed, continuity errors, mistakes in the science, that kind of thing. He also knows more about grammar than me.

Dan: I think if I was working on a project where the spellos and typos were part of it then a) the market I was aiming at would be different people and it wouldn't be so relevant and b) I'm guessing that you'll be making it pretty obvious what kind of project it is, c) people know who you are and what you do and expect it to be cutting edge.

I am with Will on [(edited to add) the editing thing]. Then again, I'm a bog-standard author, writing every day literature. I know what my market expects and it's the correct spelling at least for my nation and punctuation which they can understand - that doesn't mean it has to conform although unfortunately, while Irving Welsh and Roddy Doyle can flout convention, in the current climate, as M T McGuire, self published nobody, too much flouting of convention in my writing will simply be interpreted as 'wrong'. Anyway, as I'm writing a fairly mainstream book, convention isn't so much of a problem for me. I'd rather nobody noticed my grammar so they can concentrate on my ideas.

Or, to put it another way, maybe sometimes, you have to do your apprenticeship the conventional way and break out later. Unless you're really out there, and I'm not, or unless you're really messing with the rules, and I'm not, there are just some things, in the current climate which, as a self published author, I cannot do. I remember once seeing a picture by... I think it was Georges Braque or someone, somebody who was an abstract artist, anyway. It was the most perfect drawing, a landscape, done when he was eight. The point is, there's a difference between painting abstract art because your processes of thought have brought you there and painting pictures which are abstract because you lack the basic ability to paint a likeness of anything. I'm not sure this debate is about projects like the one Dan mentioned, I think it's more about stuff that's obviously piss-poor. Stuff that's so bad it's hardly legible. Stuff that even I couldn't read - and trust me I read anything.

Here's hoping some of my wittering makes sense. I know I'm not always the most articulate person.



In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2013 22:51:56 GMT
Now, believe it or not, I'm the one who's going to sound like a literary snob. When I first started writing I had a clear a goal. I wanted to write for people who were not avid fans of fiction. It was my intent to write of adult themes in a simple way.

I imagined that writing a full length novel would be a task that only talented people of extreme dedication could achieve. I freely admit that on reading the work of aspiring authors I was most disappointed. The writers generally fell into two categories. (a) Those who write simple stories using highly-tried plots and themes who believe if they get the spelling and grammar correct the result is a worthy novel, and (b) Those who believe that the more semi-colons and uncommon words they use - the better their work is.

I've only found a few writers with the same targets as me. We are trying to write something 'the same, but different' containing a certain 'je ne c'est quoi'. Funnily enough, during every 'real' conversation I've had with an agent or publisher they've agreed, admitting 'We don't know what we're looking for but we'll know it when I see it'.

In summary; the spelling and the grammar seem to be the least of the problems.

Posted on 2 Jan 2013 23:23:52 GMT
Last edited by the author on 2 Jan 2013 23:24:29 GMT
"We are trying to write something 'the same, but different' containing a certain 'je ne c'est quoi'."

Michael, I couldn't agree more, I write books that I'd like to read. I read Pratchett, Bryson, Wodehouse, Adams, Grant Naylor... you get the picture here, there's a definite style going on. So I write books for me and if anyone else likes them, that's gravy. Maybe I try harder to get the spelling and grammar right than some but I have a form of dyslexia, so I guess that, after years of school, I'm aware of how badly stuffing that up can interfere with the flow. That's just me though. I think you and I are basically on the same wavelength on this although it doesn't always sound like it because I probably come across as a grammar nazi (phnark) which I'm not. But I know my limitations and I know any novel of mine that isn't proof read by somebody else is going to be full of the kind of schoolboy errors that pull people out of the story. I need to hit a certain level if I, or anyone else, is going to get lost in my books and that's what I want.

I do get what you're saying in that all this jumping up and down about grammar is annoying in the face of some of the other things that the grammar nazis seem to let go. Let's face it, if an author is a bit of a plodder then no amount of correctness is going to make their work shine. Or to put it another way, we all know you can't polish a Richard the Third. Phnark.



In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2013 23:24:26 GMT
Frank Mundo says:
I agree with everyone that editing is important, but for "...stuff that's obviously piss-poor. Stuff that's so bad it's hardly legible. Stuff that even I couldn't read..." no amount of editing is going to help these books. If a writer can't do most of the heavy lifting herself, and her beta readers/writer's group/proofer budddies can't do most of the rest, I just think that she is probably in the wrong business. I don't hire an editor, and I don't plan to for future works, but I do try my very best -- with a lot of help from my friends -- to put out only my best work.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2013 23:25:58 GMT
I reckon it's horses for courses. I couldn't begin to edit my own work, but I'm prepared to believe there are people who can. We crossed posts and I probably shouldn't say it again but yeh, there's no polishing a Richard.



In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2013 23:30:58 GMT
Frank Mundo says:
Ha, you can say it. It's still true :)

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2013 23:33:33 GMT
Michael, I've already quit. When authors can't make the effort to read the words they write or anyone else's words, I don't want to be part of whatever it is they are trying to achieve.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jan 2013 00:06:56 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Jan 2013 11:03:33 GMT
MTM, let me put it another way. There're a couple of writers on this forum (you are one of them), I've read a sample of their work and feel that their forum (natural) text voice is more engaging than their literary voice. To me, this indicates than when working they are trying far too hard and taking it way too seriously.

I suppose writing is like dancing. Those on the dance floor, bobbing away, impervious to all but the music invariably look better to those conscious of their form, how they look, trying to maintain time and rhythm. To me, they always look a little stiff - uncomfortable, even.

Posted on 3 Jan 2013 00:21:50 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 3 Jan 2013 00:23:51 GMT]

Posted on 3 Jan 2013 00:24:02 GMT
Wow, Michael, thanks for the down vote! Your last post is sooo reassuring. If my hastily added words on a customer discussion forum are more entertaining than my books, I surely made the right decision to quit -- whether you meant me or not!

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jan 2013 00:32:13 GMT
Shelagh, I've never read any of your work. I don't recall you writing a forum post of a length whereas I could establish a voice, and I've certainly never gave you a down vote.

You seem to be a forthright opinionated person (join the club). We are not welcomed by those people who wish purely to agree with the OP before reverting to the standard topics of ailments and grandchildren.

We will always be down voted.

Posted on 3 Jan 2013 00:43:31 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Jan 2013 00:47:24 GMT
"You seem to be a forthright opinionated person ..."

I have a reputation to protect. I'm even on Pinterest to prove it!

ETA I just noticed that MTM is pinned as well!

Posted on 3 Jan 2013 04:08:07 GMT
I love the self-published stuff, and can't agree with the OP. I have found so many books I've enjoyed and passed on to my friends. I think it's complete snobbery to say that a book is rubbish just because it doesn't fit some arbitrary and subjective standard of "good writing". Having said that, if any book has too many (and more than one is too many for me) serious errors, it puts me off. I will probably finish the book - I can read the backs of cereal packets if nothing else is available - but it will annoy me. The misuse of words is the worst crime for me - the amount of (seemingly) American authors who don't know the difference between "reign" and "rein" is amazing. Another thing which annoys is American authors pretending to write as if an English character, then saying "gotten" or "cellphone".

I've read thousands upon thousands of books, and the dross fades from my memory pretty quickly - the cream rises to the top:)
When I had a go at self-publishing (and it was only because I read some of the more trashy stuff and thought, "that seems like fun, I think I'll have a go"), I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and enjoyed seeing it for sale. I have NO illusions it's great writing, but I enjoyed it and the very few people who have bought it didn't slate it!! However, I would have been way too embarrassed to ask anyone I knew to read it and give an opinion!
I do find it difficult to trawl through the incredible amount of books available, and would welcome some sort of better cataloguing system - don't know what would work though.
I think the publishing houses are just scared, and lots of writers who aspire to "great works" are just jealous of others' succcesses!
Please forgive any errors, this post hasn't been proof-read or professsionally edited and was written at 0400 during a night shift!

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jan 2013 10:40:05 GMT
That's a really interesting view and I'm delighted if anyone thinks any of my 'voices' is engaging at all. To be honest, all I do in my books is try to make my style a bit clearer and more succinct... and cut out the swear words (mwah ha hahargh). But I love the feel of words and the way they go together. It's not really a literary thing, I just like the rhythm. So when I'm wandering about, cooking, doing the housework or whatever, the monologue that goes on on in my head is done in the style of my books rather than my forum posts. Maybe that's the way I think and this is the way I speak.

That said, you may well be onto something there because to me, the way I write is slightly different in my the second book (I prefer the first one though Mwah hahhahargh!).

Maybe one day, the two will meld.



In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jan 2013 12:54:27 GMT
>>Mwah hahhahargh<<

Sounds as if your diabolical laughter is developing a bit of a cough at the end, MTM ... :-)

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jan 2013 15:08:54 GMT
Marion Stein says:
Sou'Wester -- I agree with you that editing is essential. However, "editors" may or may not be. See Stephen King on Raymond Carver and his editor Gordon Lish. King went as far as to suggest that Lish was downright evil and had changed the essential character of Carver's work.
I don't want to speak for Michael, although I think he believes that readers don't care much about anachronisms or inconsistencies. He may be right about that, at least when the writing itself is so good that the reader is caught up in it.
The problem with most self-published books on Kindle isn't whether or not a "professional" editor was used. The problem is they are mostly very badly done and while a competent editor may have helped make them a little more coherent or readable, maybe would have pushed the author a little bit harder, they still wouldn't be good books.
If the "prose doesn't flow well" or "engage the reader" an editor wouldn't be helpful. Those are reasons that a traditional publisher wouldn't take the book to begin with and a literary agent wouldn't have looked at it twice. I would also hold an author, not an editor, responsible for letting anachronisms slip through.
It's not that the better self-published books had editors. Maybe a few of them did, most probably didn't. Competent authors can find other ways of getting the tasks of editing and proofreading done. What the better self-published books do have in common is good storytelling that engages readers, and an obvious respect for the writing process that includes revision, editing and proofreading.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jan 2013 15:17:58 GMT
Marion Stein says:
It behooves any writer who decides to self-publish and who takes him or herself fairly seriously to learn as much about the publishing process as possible. (Even if he or she will only be publishing e-books). This includes learning to write blurbs, create book covers, etc. It also includes mastering skills such as proofreading. It's always helpful to have someone else look over a manuscript, but even someone who writes faster than they think can use the digital tools available to find most, if not all, the errors.
It's very helpful to convert a manuscript to mobi form and load it onto a Kindle. This will allow the author to "see" the manuscript in a different format making proofreading easier. The author can also use the text-to-speech feature to "hear" the text. The combination is extremely helpful with final edits and proofreading.
If you are going to publish on Kindle, you should own one.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jan 2013 15:48:18 GMT
And that is where it really gets difficult. I have rejected to edit manuscripts when I thought the book's either not up to scratch or I can't see it improving. Sometimes it's the author sticking to her/his guns, sometimes it's the lack of talent (I know it's a bit bold, but you know what I mean).

I don't edit for a large house, so I don't have their 'rules' to obey, but I edit for logic and believability. Content editing is so much harder and holds so much more responsibilities than copy-editing, because I may suggest major changes. Not the story line. Never, but characters, maybe deleting/adding scenes, etc., but when an author doesn't agree, there's nothing I can do. I'm not prepared to pick up a few inconsistencies here and there when I think the whole story doesn't make any sense. My pride forbids me to take such a book on.

In my opinion, most books being self-published could do with an edit. In many cases the muddled up or weak story lines are the reason for being rejected in the first place.

Posted on 3 Jan 2013 16:28:16 GMT
All this talk about editors and proofreading and how important it is to write well is meant to do what? Produce betters writers, better stories, better fiction? Like the Twilight series and Fifty Shades series?

I don't want to write about vampires or werewolves or zombies or write soft porn. According to literary agents and publishers, what I do want to write doesn't sell. I haven't succeeded in proving them wrong. My first children's book had 3,950 free downloads in 2011 on Amazon UK. It became free again earlier last year. The number of free downloads had dropped to 2-3/day so, on December 31st, Amazon UK reverted it to its original price ... because I can't even give it away in the UK (it's still free in the US and has had 41 downloads in the last two days). From what I've read among different writing groups, this is happening to many UK authors.
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
Participants:  62
Total posts:  483
Initial post:  27 Dec 2012
Latest post:  16 Jan 2013

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