To: Laurie Gogh, traditionally published author of several books, including Kite Strings of the Southern Cross: A Woman's Travel Odyssey
Fm: Artist/VR/AR producer Stephen Black, self-published author, including the bestseller i ate tiong bahru.(2000 paperback copies sold, with no media coverage nor advertising)
Dear Ms. Gogh,
Thank you for your submission to the Huffington Post. We at the Huffington Post are aware of, and truly appreciate, the time and effort it takes to write an outstanding essay. We sincerely hope the following notes from one of our editors will assist you on your journey towards becoming a professional writer.
All the best to you.
Submissions Desk at the Huffington Post (JUST KIDDING.)
Self-Publishing: An Insult to the Written Word Laurie, Fantastic title! Clickbait yet literary!
As a published author, people often ask me why I don’t self-publish. “Surely you’d make more money if you got to keep most of the profits rather than the publisher,” they say.
Laurie, wonderful opening paragraph. A few things:
a. add sales figures. Can't go wrong with sales figures.
b. your awards. Can you weave these in, in a punchy way?
c. how about "Surely you'd make much more money or...much, much more money..."😉
And hey, just between you and me... haven't you considered self-publishing? What do you make per book? Forty, fifty cents? Do publishers still line up promotional tours these days? How's your backlist moving?
I’d rather share a cabin on a Disney cruise with Donald Trump than self-publish.
Can I try to arrange that? Ha ha! Actually it is a great line. Can you open with it? However, you'd have to come up with a follow up paragraph that would outline why you cannot see yourself in the world of self-publishing.
To get a book published in the traditional way, and for people to
actually respect it and want to read it (Can we rethink this? must we associate the word "respect" with traditional publishing? +... want to read--or want to buy? 🙂 — you have to go through the gatekeepers of agents, publishers, editors, national and international reviewers. Laurie, let's make this really work for us: can you make it personal and mention your editors' names?..and OOPS! Your sentence begins with "to get a book published... you have to go through agents, blablabla national and international reviewers". Reviewers aren't necessary to to get a book published, are they? Don't reviewers add value AFTER a book is finished? Remember, Laurie, we have to be clear and exact...we're not self-publishers, are we? lol These gatekeepers are assess ing whether or not your work is any good. BLEH! to have passed through all the gates(repetitious), to be vetted by professionals. Just like Fifty Shades and Wool and all of those wonderful books by Joe Konrath, who has sold millions. This system doesn’t always work out perfectly, but it’s the best system we have. Laurie, let's rethink those last two lines. Readers don't expect those things, though the world would be a better place if more readers did. For now, we will feign ignorance of excellent services like Reedsy.
Good writers only become good because they’ve undertaken an apprenticeship. Yes! The craft of writing is a life’s work. Yes! It takes at least a decade to become a decent writer, tens of thousands of hours. Your favorite authors might have spent years writing works that were rejected. But if a writer is serious about her craft, she’ll keep working at it, year after year. Yes! At the end of her self-imposed (move this 'self-imposed' up so that it modifies the first 'apprenticeship') apprenticeship, she’ll be relieved that her first works were rejected because only now (rethink your use of tense here!) can she see how bad they were. Laurie, isn't it also possible for self-publishers to have their work rejected, in many ways? If an honest friend or a teacher told you that your book was unreadable, would that be better or worse than an unsigned rejection form letter from the office of an agent or publisher?
Did you ever hear what Margaret Atwood said at a party to a brain surgeon? Rewrite, does not sound literary. At. all. When the brain surgeon found out what she did for a living, he said, “Oh, you’re a writer! When I retire I’m going to write a book.” Margaret Atwood
said coolly replied, “Great! When I retire I’m going to be a brain surgeon!”An anecdote Laurie, well done!
The irony is that now that brain surgeon really could dash off a “book” in a of couple months, click “publish” on
a Amazon, and he’s off signing books at the bookstore. Laurie, can we link to where Amazon provides this service? lol Just like Margaret Atwood, he’s a “published” author. Who cares if his book is something that his grade nine teacher might have wanted to crumple into the trash? It’s a “published” book. Laurie, perhaps we can give this a little rethink? Most self-published books sell much less than a 100 copies. I doubt a bookstore would automatically share their valuable time and space with just anyone, self-published or traditional. So, let's give this paragraph a little thinkie, shall we? The appearance of being uninformed and writing with an ink made of sour grapes: no thank you!
And, when something is badly written, do we toss/throw/dump it into the trash or do we crumple it and then throw it into the trash? And, what do we do if the amateurish writing is digital, like an ebook or an online article?
The problem with self-publishing is that it requires zero gatekeepers. From what I’ve seen of it, self-publishing is an insult to the written word, the craft of writing, and the tradition of literature. As an editor, I’ve tackled trying to edit the very worst writing that people plan on self-publishing just because they can. Wow... that last line may not technically be a run on...but it ain't no dancer! And Laurie, dear, are all traditionally published books worthy of the tradition of literature? Dangerous waters here! And, what percentage of self-published books have you read? Aren't there also gatekeepers in self-publishing; that is curators? Or even Goodreads!? Only an idiot would pick up ANY book without doing any sort of checking, regardless of how it was published. And, historically, there have been some noteworthy self-published works. I certainly know what you mean about editing bad writing.
I’m a horrible singer. But I like singing so let’s say I decide to take some singing lessons. A month later I go to my neighbor’s basement because he has recording equipment. I screech into his microphone and he cuts me a CD. I hire a designer to make a stylish CD cover. Voilà. I have a CD and am now just like all the other musicians with CDs.
Except I’m not. Everyone knows I’m a tuneless clod but something about that CD validates me as a musician. (Does "something" about that object truly validate you? And, the example of you screeching/recording a CD feels like an unnecessary repetition of the doctor story above. Pick one.) It’s the same with writers who self-publish. Literally anyone can do it, including a seven-year-old I know who is a “published” author because her teacher got the entire class to write stories and publish them on Amazon. It’s cute, but when adults do it, maybe not so cute. With the firestorm of self-published books unleashed on the world, I fear that writing itself is becoming devalued. Gosh, Laurie, I agree with you. But so far, your piece isn't realizing its full potential and could come across as an unresearched rant. Can you spend some time going through some bestselling self-published books and then tear them apart? It'll be a breeze and make for a better, strong essay. Grrrr... you go girl! Devalued writing is not for us!
I have nothing against people who want to self-publish, especially if they’re elderly. Thank you for that! Me too! Perhaps they want to write their life story and have no time to learn how to write well enough to be published traditionally. Laurie, just say that they are going to die soon! Death adds drama! Make this piece come alive! It makes a great gift for their grandchildren. But self-publishing needs to be labelled as such.Memo to self: get Amazon to create a category for people who quickly write and self-publish books before they die but do not have the time to become great writers like Laurie. The only similarity between published and self-published books is they each have words on pages inside a cover. Rewrite. Clunky. Maybe something like: Self-published and published books share one thing: words on pages between covers. Or something like that. Laurie, you're the wordsmith:) Oh... we should say "traditionally" published. The similarities end there. And every
single self-published book I’ve tried to read has shown me exactly (not approximately? lol) why the person had to resort to self-publishing. These people haven’t taken the decade , or, in many cases, even six months(I believe the correct amount of time should be six months 18 days. lol), to learn the very basics of writing, such as ‘show, don’t tell,’ or how to create a scene, or that clichés not only kill writing but bludgeon it with a sledgehammer.cliché in a sentence that is 40+ words long. Intentional, right? Sometimes they don’t even know grammar.
Author Brad Thor (what has he written?) agrees: “The important role that publishers fill is to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you’re a good writer and have a great book you should be able to get a publishing contract.” Laurie, can we give that quote a rethink? Not only is it bland and kinda wrong, but the cliché police are outside. They want you to come out with your hands up...lol
Author Sue Grafton (she wrote...what?) said, “To me, it seems disrespectful...that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy and s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research. ... Self-publishing is a short cut (Hey Laurie, FWIW, my books usually take about three years to write and research, at least two months of that time winning and losing battles against the world champion editor Vikki Weston) and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts. I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall.” Laurie, if you want to criticize self-publishing, again I suggest a better strategy is for us to pick apart some of the self-published bestsellers that have sold, for whatever reason, tens or hundreds of thousands of copies, like your books have. These quotes you've chosen have nothing to do with your opening which is about economics and why you don't self-publish. And, please, do some research...with an open mind.
Writing is hard work, but the act of writing can also be thrilling, enriching your life beyond reason when you know you’re finally nailing a certain feeling with the perfect verb. 31 words, all "beyond reason" and smooth as buttahhh lol It might take a long time to find that perfect verb. (It might never happen and you end up making a clumsy sentence that is a weird present/future continuous perfect tense) But that’s how art works. Writing is an art deserving our esteem. (Writing is an artform that deserves our respect. Writing is an art form that should be held in high esteem. Ya wanna wrestle? lol) It shouldn’t be something that you can take up as a hobby one afternoon and a month later, key in your credit card number to CreateSpace or Kindle Direct Publishing before sitting back waiting for a stack of books to arrive at your door...before being taken down to the bookstore for a signing and massive sales by sheep/buyers who do not recognize works of literary merit. lol. That sentence is 40 words long, clumsy and repetitious. Laurie, we get it, we get it: the doctor can self-publish, the seven year old can self-publish it, anyone with a credit card can self-publish....EDIT
Let’s all give the written word the respect it deserves. Laurie, not a bad closing, but I am still left hanging by the question posed in your opening: why don't you self publish? Surely you could afford an editor and no longer need to fear gatekeepers? Please rethink this entire piece and give it the work it requires. Get rid of the repetition and, remember, facts speak volumes. Your opener suggests that self-publishers make more money than traditionally published authors--and you never touch this important aspect again. I'm afraid I can't run this piece as it is; feels too much like an "intelligent" rant by a wine-fortified semipro blogger. Good luck!
My HeadTalker i ate tiong bahru glassware campaign is here.
My understanding of how HeadTalker works is this: someone who supports a HeadTalker campaign is agreeing to let HeadTalker, for only one time, post on his or her social media site.
In my case, if someone supports my HeadTalker project, a post will appear on his or her social media site on October 28, 2016 12:00pm Eastern Time (US & Canada)
The message, and a screenshot of the glassware project on Zingohub, that will appear is this:
"drinkers, art collectors, T-shirt wearers and book readers:welcome!https://hdtk.co/3DI6A"
That link goes to my crowdfunding campaign. My crowdfunding campaign is for an edition of glasses, "normal" glasses, T-shirts, books, ebooks and more, all related to i ate tiong bahru. My crowdfunding campaign is here.
To say this another way, someone who supports my HeadTalker campaign will automatically, and for one time only, have a post that tells people about my glassware crowdfunding campaign.... for which I will be very, very thankful!
Any questions, please ask...this is a first time for me, and I have researched carefully and I think the above sums it up. But yes, last time..If you support my Headtalker, they will, for one time only, make a post on your social media site for my glassware project. T H A N K S
If you are a writer or considering using HeadTalker, or a similar service called Thunderclap, you should read this great post by Steve Vernon.
The free download is still happening; until 11:59 April 12, California time.Click here for the books.
Four books were given away during the five day giveaway. The books are here. Although the free offer expires about 20 hours from now, at 11:59 PM on April 12, I would be pleasantly surprised if there is a large increase in the number of downloads.
125 free downloads. The above graph from Amazon does not provide on which books were downloaded, but from the data provided by my WordPress blog, I would say that the downloads were probably something like 45 each for Bali Wave Ghost and I Ate Tiong Bahru. I'd say that Furikake was downloaded about 25 times and Fires about 10 times. I did OK. Any time a connection is made with a reader it is a good thing.
What should be made clear though, is that this is the first time that I have done this with a state of mental readiness. Although I'd done a few free promotions before, this was the first time I used a strategy, as opposed to before when I had only naive hopes and a vague understanding of how the free download ecosystem works.
Next time I will expand my strategy. For example, this time I did not use websites that are devoted to sharing info on free downloads, like those listed here. Hopefully I will have more reviews on Amazon. For example, at this time, no one has reviewed Bali Wave Ghost. Understandable because it just went online last week. (The cover does features two great blurbs and I have received other reviews, but they are not on Amazon.)
As I explained in this blog post, I did no marketing for the first ten years of Book Merah. So, yes, compared to some authors I am not even on the radar. But, compared to other self-published authors that never reach 100 copies sold, I am moving in the right direction. Another point to consider is that my books tend to be cross-genre. They are full of well-researched history, but not historical novels. Love and relationships--yes, but chick-lit? No. Bali and Singapore are my settings so far, but do I write travel books? No. Not being easily classifiable is not a problem for the artist side of me, but the businessman knows that committing to a genre maximizes returns on time invested.
So, the bottom line? I need to get to work on my next book, which will be a collection of essays and interviews on the relationship between VR, the eye and cinematography. So far confirmed interviewees and reviewers include Stelarc, Tracy Rowland, Eugene Soh, Alex Crampton and Sasha Staojevic.
These links may interest you if you are planning to market your ebook.
http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/11/ebook-publishing-gets-more-difficult.html (YOU MUST READ THIS)
http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/how-to-sell-ebooks-5-proven-tip/ (YOU MUST ALSO READ THIS)
Blogs hijacked from Mark Coker at Smashwords
- Digital Book World
- Jane Friedman
- Joe Wikert's Digital Content Strategies
- Mediabistro: Galleycat
- Publishing Perspectives
- Self Published Author by Bowker
- Self Publishing Review
- Shatzkin's Idea Logical Blog
- TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home
- The Book Designer
- The Creative Penn
- The Digital Reader
- Word Café by Anita Mumm
OK, I am doing a crowdfunding project with Publishizer and, with 10 days left in my campaign, my goal is very, very far away.
Am I disappointed? No, because I understand the main reason why.
Am I positive?
Do I have to work my tail off? Yes, yes, yes!
Before I start, I would like to say that I am writing this not only to publicize my campaign but to give insights and share experiences that will help others. Although I will work hard for the success of my Publishizer campaign, my book project, entitled I Ate Tiong Bahru 2, will get made one way or another. I believe in IATB2.
Background: Tiong Bahru is an estate in Singapore which was started by the British in 1929. Because of its architecture, food, history and small town atmosphere, it is now considered to be trendy in Singapore and beyond. I have lived in Singapore since 2002 and three of those years were spent living in, and researching, Tiong Bahru. I Ate Tiong Bahru was published in 2013. It was well received by both the Tiong Bahru community and critics. It is almost a bestseller in Singapore, where a bestseller is defined as 2000 copies sold.
So…2016! Publishizer specializes in crowdfunding books, and originated in Singapore. My campaign was approved.
My plan was to first approach those people to whom I had sent a free ebook of IATB. In a perfect scenario, a percentage of the people would have responded and I would have a sale or two already in place before I started to make big social media noise. I have given out almost 500 free ebooks and sent a crowdfunding-related email to all of them. Response: zero.
Fortunately, there were three people who did support the campaign at the very start. One a friend, and two who came in “cold”, probably from twitter.
Now, the rest of my plan was/is pretty straightforward: send out direct emails as well as post photos and excerpts.
Although the people of Tiong Bahru have been extremely supportive of IATB, I am not surprised at their response, or more accurately, their lack of response. To simplify, the population of the TB community is composed of three groups. The first are the ”indigenous people”, who have been residents of TB all of their life, some being second generation. The next group are Singaporean "hipsters" who can afford to live in the area. Some are genuinely interested in the TB community and its history. The third group are expats, perhaps on a housing package, or in an industry like banking or law. This last group has varying levels in the history and/or culture of Tiong Bahru, though many enjoy the culinary results of gentrification.
Though I have no data, my feeling is that the audience of IATB has been mainly the “indigenous people”. These people heard about IATB from their neighbors, friends or relatives. Or, from me, as I maintain a physical presence in the neighborhood as much as possible.
The TB residents/supporters of IATB, however, are not as big on social media as are the other groups. Some are elderly, some prefer to communicate online in Chinese, some do not understand how crowdfunding works.I do not know how to efficiently, and "nonspammily"reach those who are online and may support the campaign. Yes, I posted once on TB Facebook groups, but I don't want to do so again.
Because I am not in Singapore and cannot generate interest in person, the best I can do is an email campaign, first targeting the owners of businesses who would like to be written about. This reward, as well as others can be found on my Publishizer I Ate Tiong Bahru 2 campaign page.
Ok, gotta go make some Publishizer/IATB2 noise, lah...
End of Crowdfunding Blues Part 1
Facebook is a 500 pound shrinking party hat; Google+ is a custom-made, constantly updated digital Swiss army knife.
I'm not really a techie, but I try to learn about tech stuff. Why? Because the internet is what is happening. Do I want to be famous? No. Do I want to be #1 on the top of a search engine result? No.
Do I want my artworks and books to be in front of like-minded people who are searching for ideas related to mine? Yes, yes, yes!
I was nicely surprised today that when I searched for a Singapore-based crowdfunding organization, Avvio, that my name came up close to theirs. This happened simply because I think they are interesting and I shared that view on Google+.
So that's it.
I could go on about other Google+ advantages, but the above example is simple enough: you either get it or you don't.
If you give it some thought, the example above is seemingly positive and definitely profound. It is also the future, as long as there is Google and people who search.
Techies: Yes, I know there are a quite a few factors involved in the placement of search results. There is no guarantee that this sort of thing will happen every time. But we both know that my same post on Facebook went between a post of a cat and a promise of beautiful skin...and my post stayed there. Not only stayed there, but was seen by an unknown-but-probably-small fraction of the people I wanted to share that info with.
CONTACT: Anthony Waugh Koh firstname.lastname@example.org
Artist/writer Stephen Black, a Singapore-based American launches a campaign to create a free ebook with the internationally recognized Unglue it organization. The book, entitled Contact With Shadow, is a contemporary love story filled with references to Singapore’s history.
Additionally, Stephen Black, with Eugene Soh, is now working on Spoken, a dynamic mashup of virtual reality, curated artworks and short stories. Although the project originates in Singapore, the launch will take place in Brooklyn later this summer.
Who: Stephen Black
What: Press Conference and/or opportunity to schedule an interview before June
Where: Boutique, Dhoby Ghaut, Cathay Building, next to Starbucks
When: Monday June 2, 1-10 PM OR by appointment until June 8
Note: ebook copies of Contact With Shadow for press review available upon request
About Stephen Black
A multidisciplinarian who has lived in Paris, Tokyo, Bali, Hong Kong, NYC and Singapore, Stephen Black’s creative journey has been diverse. Besides authoring articles, art criticism and novels, he has an extensive record as an artist working with photography and video. In 2007 he created Book Merah to facilitate the production and distribution of books, ebooks, music and art. Titles include Fires by Cyril Wong,as well as Furikake, Obama Search Words, Bali Wave Ghost and I Ate Tiong Bahru.
About the Press Conference on Monday/other interview opportunities
From 1-10 PM on June 2 at Booktique, Stephen Black will be informally meeting fellow writers and members of the press.To request a fixed time, contact Anthony at email@example.com
To request an interview any time before June 8, email preferred day/time to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Contact With Shadow
“It's a double pleasure to read this wonderful scrapbook of historical facts and metafictions. First, there's the joy of gleaning nuggets of knowledge about Singapore and the printed word hitherto unknown; and second, there's the childlike wonder of never knowing what Stephen Black has in store for us on the next page.”
Ng Yi-Sheng, Singapore Literature Prizewinner
A Cambridge research student comes to Singapore to research the history of printing. His wife, however, dies unexpectedly and his attempts at writing become a mix of focused research and an impassioned sense of loss. A bureaucratic “assistant” and an alcoholic movie producer are further challenges to his sanity.
Unglue is dedicated to working with authors, libraries and a committed group of supporters to create free ebooks. Combining crowdfunding with a revolutionary approach to ebooks, Unglue has been featured on the TechCrunch and Wired websites, in addition to many others specializing in ebooks and technology.
These images and others are available on request:
........................END PRESS RELEASE...................................
Writers and lovers of good books have a new resource center in Singapore. Booktique opens tonight!
I will be in Booktique on Monday, June 2. There I will informally launch the Contact With Shadow ungluing campaign. I also hope to informally chat with anyone who wants to discuss writing, art and ebooks.
There may be a surprise or two. Also, I will be happy to explain SPOKEN, an upcoming project combing short stories, virtual reality and an exciting groupof artists. I am excited to be working with Eugene Soh, That Dude From Singapore. Eugene is the artist/visionary who created Singapore's first 3D virtual gallery. http://gallery.sg/
>>>>>>>>>>>>>the following is only for the MONDAY WRITERS PROJECT<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
OK..we are doing informal short interviews... The idea is that you answer one question at a time, with time in between questions to review your notes. Simple, right?
Here are some questions...we will likely add a few more, so please check this space on Sunday night or better, Monday before you come down. Please send a bio and a jpeg with your name to email@example.com ALSO... send links to anything you have online.
1. Please introduce yourself and say the names of the books you have written.
2. What is the book about? (To be repeated for each book.)
3. Please read a few paragraphs from your book. (Yes, you need to bring a copy of your book(s).
4. The advantages of being a writer in Singapore.
5. The challenges of being a writer in Singapore.
6. Your thoughts on paper books versus ebooks.
7. Where are your books available? Website? Blog?
8. Next book/writing project?
9. Please think of a question you want us to ask you.
AND... Doug Schwarz is an author who is helping other authors.
Take a look at these questions.
If you are interested in, get in touch with Doug.
SEE YOU MONDAY!