Monday, June 03, 2013

Why authors self-publish

From the Digital Book World. According to a new report based on a survey of nearly 5,000 authors of all kind, What Authors Want: Understanding Authors in the Era of Self-Publishing, nearly two-thirds of hybrid authors said one of their reasons was that self-publishing helped them exert more creative control on the final product. Some 40% said one of their reasons was because of the ease of the self-publishing process, and nearly 40% said it was because they could make more money self-publishing.

This caught me by surprise at first, then on second reading I spotted the term 'hybrid authors' -- authors who have previously published the traditional way, but now self-publish -- then it made sense. Many authors feel that publishers mutilate their story. Yes, many publishers, particularly the big ones, are too market driven to retain any form of integrity. They publish what sells. Period. (We have all read books and sometimes wondered about the purpose of some scenes with gratuitous sex, rape, incest, bondage, pederasty, homosexuality and violence in an otherwise good book. Many books have nothing but that, which is another industry altogether called pornography.) It is important to note though that this is the feeling of hybrid authors only (that is, those who have moved to self-publishing), not all authors.

Many smaller publishers, especially the independents, however, love their work too much and are very careful about preserving the authors' voice and intent, although they also have to keep their ledgers black. Integrity is all that counts, as does every book. There was an interesting story in the Guardian online on September 27, 2009, that asked, "Raymond Carver was one of America's greatest writers. But was his razor-sharp style created by his editor?" His editor was Gordon Lish. The story is long, complicated and dramatic as it sounds, but the important question is this: would Carver have been read at all if not for Lish's editing? Would have Carver been Carver? (A customer, who has read both, said he thought the edited version was much better. Maybe, the original didn't read like 'Carver'!) The extent of editing that was done to one of Carver's stories can be seen here in the New Yorker.

To be sure many world famous authors have benefited from astute editing for as long as publishing has been around. But, many have suffered too.

Now, how many feel that KS Maniam's 2003 novel, Between Lives should have been vigorously edited, although you are too polite to say it?

Would you have bought these books?

This is from BookRiot. It is one thing to judge a book by its cover, but how about buying books by judging its title? Although, many are now considered classics, how many of the following would you have passed up in the bookshop?

  • TRIMALCHIO IN WEST EGG (The Great Gatsby -- Scott Fitzgerald)
  • MULES IN HORSE HARNESS (Gone with the wind -- Margaret Mitchell)
  • THE EYE AND THE EAR (A Movable Feast -- Ernest Hemingway)
  • THE SENTIMENTAL EDUCATION OF FREDERICK HENRY(A Farewell to Arms -- Ernest Hemingway)
  • TWILIGHT (The Sound and the Fury -- William Faulkner)
Conversely, how many book have bombed because the publishers chose a wrong 'title'? We'll never know, will we?

Silverfish Writing Programme: 13 July, 2013 intake

Silverfish Writing Programme: 13 July, 2013 intake now open for registration

The next intake for the Silverfish Writing Programme will be on Saturday, July 13, 2013, and run for 10 consecutive weeks (except for holidays) from 10.30am to 12.30pm, and will be opened for registration on June 3, 2013. The past few programmes have been extremely popular and we have had to turn away many late inquiries, because the maximum number of participants we can accommodate is 10 (ten). We have to date received 30 inquiries already. So we encourage those who are interested to register early, and avoid a last minute rush. (Please, tell your friends who are interested, too.) The registration fee will be RM1000.00 per participant for the full ten week programme, but an early bird discount of 10% will apply until (and including) July 1, 2013.

The world is full of stories. Humans are the only story telling animals on the planet. We may miss meals (ask your teenager buried in a book or your aunt or mum hooked on a television soap) but not our stories. Even in famine stricken zones, while people wait for the food trucks to arrive, they tell one another stories to keep alive. In war zones, where life is in danger every single minute, people cannot resist telling stories. All religions have tons of stories that are constantly repeated. Stories are part of our very being, our claim to be human.

We are surrounded by stories every waking minute of the day. When we turn on our radio or television to listen to the news, or to watch a drama or sitcom or even a cooking show, when we open our newspapers or surf the net for news, when we go to the movies, to a dance, listen to a song, or look at a painting, when we go to the office, pitch a proposal to our boss, our clients, meet our co-workers when we relax over tea and gossip, or tell them about our day, or listen to their stories. When we read books, we read stories. And stories will make us laugh or cry or be angry, and dozens of other things. We will love characters or we hate them. Good stories never leave us indifferent. We have a desperate need to tell stories in whatever form. That’s why some of us want to become writers: to tell our stories. But what do publishers want?

That's what the Silverfish Writing Programme is all about: what publishers are looking for.