Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Writing Thoughts From "The Gambler"

A movie called "The Gambler" isn't the first place you'd look for serious writing discussion, but it does feature that.  Marky Mark Wahlberg's character Jim in the film is a self-destructive gambler who also happens to be a published novelist and teacher of "modern novels."

The first time they show Jim in the classroom, he gets into a discussion of Shakespeare and genius.  One student challenges him about Shakespeare being a fake and he claims all those accusations about Shakespeare's "real" identity are just jealousy because genius is a rare, fluke thing.

The idea is that no one can create greatness; it just happens.  You could have Stephen King and JK Rowling make a baby and it might turn out to be a plumber instead of a writer.  Conversely you might have a plumber and a housewife produce the greatest writer of all time.

I have to agree that you can't really produce greatness through genetics.  Even if you pulled a Dr. Mindbender from the old GI JOE show and took DNA from history's greatest writers, you still probably wouldn't get the greatest writer of all time.

Besides an elemental spark of genius that is required, a lot of a writer's real DNA comes through experience.  There aren't many plumbers who could go knock out something the caliber of Shakespeare without some training first.  One needs to hone one's craft.  But with some guidance, maybe a plumber could take his life experiences and make one hell of a fine book.

Another issue Jim brings up is about the writing world in general.  A student asks if he would write another book and he says he wouldn't because he doesn't want to be a midlist author writing books for other midlist authors whose work he has reviewed. 

For the most part this seems like defeatist talk.  My first book didn't sell all that great so I'm just going to take my ball and go home.  Of course the $17,000 he made from the book is more than a schlub like me would make in my lifetime.  At the same time, some big-time authors probably make that much in five minutes.

But this is also part of the reason I haven't written literary fiction in almost six years.  If I ever thought about it, a voice in my head said, "Why bother?  Hardly anyone will read it.  It won't make hardly any money."  So I get what he's saying, that if you don't have a niche audience, it's not really worth it.

The way he puts it is, "If you don't have the genius--don't bother."  I would disagree with that.  A lot of successful writers aren't geniuses.  I mean do you think Danielle Steele or James Patterson or Nicholas Sparks is a genius?  I don't, but then people like crap.  And many geniuses are unappreciated in their day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Draft2Digital: So Far, So Good

On my blog recently, Cindy Borgne mentioned a site called Draft2Digital that is like Smashwords in allowing you to publish to multiple platforms.  I didn't look into it at first, but then necessity forced my hand.

To put it simply (and crudely) Smashwords was being a bunch of dickholes.  I mentioned on my blog I had put my entire Transformed gender swap series into one collection so I could publish it on non-Amazon platforms for extra money.  I even sold like 6 copies on the Smashwords site, which was pretty awesome.

This was while the book was "in review" for their precious "Premium Catalog," ie platforms beyond Smashwords.  Once they were done reviewing it, the trouble began.  Basically they gave me a list of demands, which were kind of stupid.
  •  Put everything in "Normal" format because something was "corrupted."
  • The title it was listed as was "Transformed Collection (Gender Swap Erotica)" so the parenthetical part should be on the cover
  • There can't be any kids, period, or they can't sell the book.
Putting everything in normal made all the titles left justified and I was too lazy to go through and change them all.  But I guess it solved whatever stupid problem their "Meatgrinder" had with it.  The other two were what drove me away.

Look, I get that you don't want kids having sex with adults or anything, but really you can't have any kids AT ALL in the book?  That's just ridiculous.  Parents do still have sex.  I'm sure this is just a paranoid overreaction because someone was publishing pedophilia or something.  But let's face it, the fucking book is 500,000 words; I'm not going back through the whole thing to take out any kids just because of your paranoia.

And the other one was just patently stupid.  The reason people put stuff in the title in parentheses is to let people know what kind of book it is or what series it is to make that more visible.  But I'm not going to put it on the fucking cover.  How stupid would that look?  Sure I could just delete it, but why should I?  Only a total moron would think that stuff was part of the actual title.

So that was when I checked out Draft2Digital.  The whole experience (so far) has been about a thousand times better than Smashwords.  First off, the site is a lot quicker.  Publishing to Smashwords took like half an hour, but this went a lot faster.  I didn't have to wait in a "queue" for fifteen minutes.  And the interface was much more streamlined so I didn't have a bunch of scrolling.

Then of course I didn't have to wait days for them to "review" it, followed by rejecting it for stupid shit.  It was whiz-bang, pretty much the next day it was on the other sites like Apple's bookstore, Kobo, and even B&N!  Though for some reason the cover didn't import to B&N.  Which is weird since I used the same image as when I published it through B&N's Nook Press.

I downloaded a sample of the Mobi file (Kindle format) and it looked just as good as the Smashwords version.  The only strange thing is that after a scene break (which I designate with a ***) they don't indent the paragraph.  I guess that's a stylistic choice on their part.  I haven't looked at the ePub file since I don't have a Nook, but I hope it's not too bad.

Obviously it was nice that they didn't want me to put parenthetical stuff on the cover or delete all the kids in the book.  The only drawback is they don't give you quite as much money as Smashwords, like 60% instead of about 70%, but then Smashwords was wanting to give me 0% for the book, so take what I can get, right?

It is pretty early, but so far it has been smooth sailing.  Smashwords has lost themselves a customer.