Monday, November 18, 2013

Online help for writers

As a writer, I believe I am not alone in feeling that while "in the zone" of writing there is nothing I would rather be doing. But it is a lonely process. Some writers welcome this, even develop character traits that ensure their being left alone. They develop eccentricities, curmudgeonly-ness, even plainly anti-social behavior. But there are authors and some aspects of writing that improve with fellowship. That is why many authors thrive in academia or in writers' retreats. That is also why writers have gravitated towards communities of which "The Village" and Montmatre are the most cliched examples of creativity fueled by shared consumption of caffeine or absinthe or whatever.

In the brave new world we now inhabit, the "Matrix" can provide some substitutes. I wrote in
an earlier post about the gathering of reviews. This is something that a writer lives for; it is the equivalent of applause for actors, musicians, street entertainers, and others who perform. Even a negative review is better than being ignored. Well, the website Goodreads.com contains many Groups that feed this authorial need. These Groups provide the key to this sprawling web-site; search the groups for genre (Cozy Mysteries) or purpose (Indie Writers/Review Group) and you will find groups that provide reviews and other support for Romance, Science Fiction,  Inspirational or Spiritual works, novellas for children or New Adults, Mysteries and Thrillers, Post-Apocalyptic Zombie adventures, Travel, Health, and so on. Or you can look up an author, for example yours truly, and see what books he/she has written and the reviews and comments that any of them have attracted. Link to Goodreads

Prior to publication, authors often seek the opinions of others. There are those, no
doubt, from whose heads the novels have sprung fully formed, like Athena from Zeus' head, but lesser mortals need the comfort of the opinions of their fellows. Publishing sites like Createspace usually have a section devoted to "Previews" of works in progress, but these pale in comparison to Authonomy.com. Like Goodreads, this site works on the principle of reciprocity. Authors who wish to benefit from them must show a willingness to contribute to them. Is that too much to ask for? Read and comment on the work of others as you would have others read and comment on your work in progress. With a blush, I offer a look at a new writing project I have undertaken--Agamemnon Must Die. As you can see, I have uploaded a portion of this work in progress (minimum of 10,000 words) and comments follow led perhaps by one's comments on the work of others but also by who else has commented, the web equivalent of "word of mouth."

Authors who are born to write in solitude need not apply, but for the rest of us, I hope these leads are helpful.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Getting Help

A confession is in order: The publication of The Chinese Spymaster required professional help.


I had lost count of the number of times I read, re-read and edited The Battle of Chibi,
published in 2010. There are several proofs still on my shelves and I see one or two with edits in different colored pencil marks to indicate attempts on separate occasions to correct errors or improve the flow of the narrative. It was a process that took months and left me exhausted, and as I considered the publication of the Spymaster, I shuddered.


Hence I decided to treat myself to professional copy-editing and proofreading as well as to a real graphic artist for the cover. This saved my sanity and I am pleased with the results, even though I did not behave well as a patient and did not take all the medicine prescribed. Those involved with me in this process were, fortunately for me, professionals and took my recalcitrance in stride.


This is undoubtedly an issue for all who self-publish; we like to call ourselves Indie authors. The services that the publishing houses provide are worth their weight in gold, without a doubt. The doors are accordingly well-guarded. Hence for those not so privileged, I highly recommend looking around for professional help.

If money is no object, then one should not think twice. Consider how off-putting typos, grammatical errors and wrong words are. Consider too the pride of authorship. Fortunately, there are many highly qualified graphics artists, editors and proofreaders who do not charge what they are worth. I would not want to publish anything without a professional proofreading and for anything over a hundred pages I would want both copy-editing and proofreading by professionals. Naturally, one should also get a professional cover, even though I think that for The Battle of Chibi looks reasonably good for having been created using a online publisher's template.