Storytelling Forms: For or Against?

Bibliobibuli
(n) Those who read too much
Coined by H.L. Menken in 1957: There are people who read too much, bibliobibuli. I know some who are constantly drunk on books, as other men are drunk on whiskey or religion. They wander through this most diverting and stimulating of worlds in a haze, seeing nothing and hearing nothing.

As readers we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to genres, and now with the revolution of eBooks, we’re privy to all sorts of forms at the push of a button. Whether it’s the short story, novella, full-length novel, or even series and serials. There’s an ideal book to match the mood and time you have.

The beauty of writing is that there’s no limitation on imagination. So why should storytelling be subjected to something as constrictive as word count?

As a writer, I let my characters dictate how much they have to say, it’s their journey not mine. Because of this, I’ve written a series of full-length novels, a 3-part serial and even a bunch of short stories that come together with the same theme. I’ve recently been polishing a novella I’m submitting for my Master’s degree, and come next week, I’m going to be starting on the longest novel I’ll have written to date.

It’s all incredibly exciting because there’s so much room for creativity. If I bound myself with the ties of a mundane routine, sticking to the same style, form, genre, even the type of hero/heroine, there’d be no joy and life in what I write. The characters would be as dead as I’d feel. And you, the reader, would be throwing the trash back at me for wasting your time.

I know that there’s a lot of controversy when it comes to the length of a book. Some people love the episodic serials, they’re great for commuters with limited spare time, or for those that like to consume its entirety before bed. Others complain they’re not getting their money’s worth, but in this age of eBooks the pricing has no limit. And it’s all relative. How do you base the amount you’re willing to pay for an eBook? Is it on length? Quality? The author? Would you consider the daily cup of coffee you buy from the local chain-store is worth more than the story you pondered purchasing?

I love to read. And like my characters, I don’t confine myself to just the one genre, form, and size. Having the choice is what makes it enjoyable. Do you agree? Or would you rather we took a step back and stuck to more traditional rules?

You can make anything by writing.
– C.S. Lewis

 

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Self-Publishing; Why?

It’s  been  a  while  since  I’ve  posted  anything  of  worth  lately,  but  a  topic  came  to  mind  today  that  I  couldn’t  stop  thinking  about,  and  the  question,  simply  put,  is  why?

Why  did  I  choose  to  self-publish?

My  honest  answer  is  this;  I  didn’t  even  think  of  publishing  any  other  way.

Let  me  explain  a  little,  it  wasn’t  that  I  didn’t  know  about  other  opportunities  but  it  was  more  to  do  with  the  fact  that  I  knew  self-publishing  was  the  way  for  me.  It  was  only  a  year  ago  when  I  read  my  very  first  indie-published  book.  I’d  fallen  prejudice  to  the  stigma  that  self-publishing  imposed,  but  I’d  used  the  funds  I’d  set  aside  for  my  reading  addiction  that  month on  brand  new,  traditionally  published  novels.  It  was  gone,  but  my  cravings  for  a  new  fix  wasn’t.  I  had  to  ‘buy’  a  free  book  in  order  to  sedate  my  obsession,  and  what  better  way  was  there  than  searching  the  kindle  database  on  Amazon.  I was  fixated  by  the  plethora  of  books  I  could  read  for  minimum  cost.  Once  I  started,  I  couldn’t  stop.  The  very  first  book  I  read  squashed  every  perception  I’d  encountered.  It  was  good,  brilliant  even,  and  I  dare  say  a  darn  sight  better  than  some  traditionally  published  titles  I’d  read.

Shockingly  so,  I’ve  read  more  books  in  the  past  year  thanks  to  many  talented  indie  authors,  than  I  have  my  entire  life  with  traditionally  published  books.  I  will  admit  this  has  mostly  been  due  to  the  cost;  it’s  quite  expensive  to  keep  a  hunger  for  reading  well-fed.

Self-published  books  opened  a  window  I  didn’t  know  I was  seeking.

Here’s  the  blatant  truth;  I  didn’t  even  query  my  debut  novel,  Nature’s  Destiny,  to  any  publishing  houses  or  agents.  It  wasn’t  because  I  didn’t  think  I  was  good  enough,  or  that  I  was  too  scared,  but  because  it  wasn’t  what  I  wanted.  Some  might  say  I  was  foolish  for  not  even  considering  it,  to  not  seek  some  professional  feedback  from  the  people  in  the  know.  Others  might  think  I’ve  shot  myself  in  the  foot  by  not  thinking  of  the  exposure  I  could  have  had  if  by  some  crazy  reasoning  a  publisher  had  chosen  me.  Besides  the many  ifs,  I  still  stand  by  my  decision.

Why?  Because  I  like  the  freedom.

I  like  to  write  whatever  I  fancy  at  the  time  and  not  have  to  worry  if  it  conforms  with  a  publishing  house’s  guidelines.  I  like  to  work  hard  on  what  I  love  most  and  see  the  rewards  afterwards  knowing  I  did  it  by  myself.  More  importantly,  I  like  to  be  challenged,  and  self-publishing  has  been  just  that.  I’m  a  sucker  for  control.  I  love  finding  my  own  cover  designer  to  work  with,  and  having  the  final  decision  on  everything.  It’s  my  book  after  all.  Mostly,  I  like  knowing  that  if  anything  did  go  wrong,  I’m  the  only  one  to  blame.  It’s  down  to  me  to  create  as  much  exposure  as  I  can,  and  that’s  a  risk  I’m  willing  to  take.

There’s  a  certain  phrase  that’s  been  on  my mind  a  lot  lately,  and  I  heard  it  from  one  of  the  many  talented  indie  authors  I’m  always  aspiring  towards.  She  wisely  says,  ‘Be  a  Collaborator,  and  not a  Competitor.’  For  me,  that  explains  the  community  of  indie  authors.  We’re  always  striving  to  help  each  other  out,  to  Pay  It  Forward.  Why  wouldn’t  I  want  to  be  a  part  of  that  too?

There’s  nothing  easy  about  self-publishing,  and  it  really  isn’t  the  easy  way  out  or  the  last  resort.  It   was  my  first  resort,  and  I’m  so  happy  it  was.

It  wasn’t  until  I  clicked  ‘publish’  that  I  truly  began  to  feel  scared.  I’d  left  myself  open  for  criticism  on a  public  platform,  and  there  was  no  going  back  now.  When  I   wrote,  I  didn’t  have  the  time  to  think  of  that,  I  didn’t  make  time  for   it.  I  had  to  be  brave,  I  had  to  think  positively  that  it  wouldn’t  go  any  other  way  than  forward.  I  was  optimistic,  because  positive  thinking  had  a  greater  chance  at  a  positive  outcome.

There  are  days  I  question  whether  I  should’ve  taken  longer  on  my  novel,  comparing  myself  with  other  authors.  I  even  stop  in  the  middle  of  writing  and  think,  ‘Oh  God,  what  have  I  gotten  myself  into!’  And,  I  wonder  if  choosing  to  go  it  alone  was  really  smart.

The  reality  is  this;  I’m  an  individual,  I’m  different.  This  is  what  works  for  me,  whether  you  think  it’s  right  or  wrong.  My  magic  ingredient  will  be  different  to  yours,  but  the  spell  remains  the  same;  exposure,  readers,  connections,  relationships.

It’s  a  fabulous  journey.

Courage  is  resistance  to  fear,  mastery  of  fear  – not  absence  of  fear
–  Mark  Twain


 

Disclaimer:  This  post  is  about  my  journey  through  self-publishing,  I  have  absolutely  no  issue  against  traditional  publishing  or  any  other   form  for  that  matter.

Howling All Beta Readers

As  I  continue  to  edit  Nature’s  Destiny,  I  can’t  switch  my  mind  off  from  the  many  self-publishing  tasks  ahead.  Today’s  thought  of  choice  is  Beta  Readers,  and  the  irony  of  this  title  isn’t  lost  on  me.

I  have  researched and pondered  many  times  over  this  topic,  and  inevitably  questioned  whether  anyone  would  even  want  to  Beta  Read  my  novel.  It  is  such  a  trusting  nature,  to  send  off  your  pride  and  joy  to  someone  unknown,  in  the  hopes  that  they  won’t  tear  it  apart  completely.  I  know  as  a  general  rule,  that  I  won’t  please  everyone,  but  the  majority?  Yes  please!

That  means  feedback  is  the  only  way  forward.

I  have  an  awesome,  talented,  writer  buddy  whose  promised  to  read  my  novel  –  providing  I  haven’t  scared  her  off  already.  I  value  her  opinion, and  I’m  really  excited  to  hear  what  she  has  to  say  about  it.

 I’m  getting  ahead  of  myself,  because  as  I  say,  I’m  only  at  the  editing  stage  now,  but  I  like  to  be  prepared.  It’s  good  to  have  a  schedule,  right?

So  I’m  wondering,  are   there  any  other  Beta  Readers  out  there  who’d  like  to  read  my  novel  when  it’s  ready?