Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

04/19/2011

Publishing Doomed? Nah, Just Growing…


Growing a New Publishing Tree

Throughout the history of publishing, every time something new (the printing press, paperbacks, chain bookstores, mergers, etc) had the audacity to trip upon the scene, the naysayers always blurted out ‘oh no, this will doom publishing!’

Turns out these things did not doom publishing…only transformed it…and mostly for the better!

Now, the new tech (eReaders, tablets, easy self-publishing software, social media advertising, free online e-book stores, etc) has turned the old crusty and rusty publishing business models on their heads.

Here is an interesting take on this subject by fantasy author Carrie Vaughn on GENREALITY:

Doomed! 

As long as I’ve been plugged into the publishing world and keeping track of the news — pretty much since 1995, when I started working in a bookstore — publishing has always been doomed.  I worked at the store when the massive round of consolidations happened — Penguin and Putnam merged, Avon and Harper Collins merged, and so on.  Everyone freaked out — imprints merged and vanished, lots of people lost jobs, and everyone worried that the diversity and range of books available, now controlled by very few companies, would suffer.  On the other hand, I’d argue that this gave a chance for small presses to really take off and fill in the gaps.

Talk to writers and publishing professionals who’ve been around even longer, and they’ll tell you about the huge crises that happened in the 80’s, the 60’s, and earlier.  The introduction of the mass market paperback, the collapse of certain genres, the price of paper. . .  Here, a former Random House editor talks about how the rise of the chain bookstores in the 80’s changed publishing forever by shifting the emphasis to bestsellers — death of the midlist, anyone?  There’s lots of doom to go around.

The last few months I’ve sensed a really huge amount of stress about publishing doom among many writers I know.  If you don’t get all your backlist into e-book form right now, you’re doomed!  If you don’t have a contract right this second, you’re doomed!  If you’re with a traditional publisher you’re doomed!  If you’re not, you’re doomed!  The noise out there has gotten intense.

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03/15/2010

Lights, Camera, Action!…Visualizing Your Writing


I just read an insightful post from GENREALITY Blog by Carrie Vaughn, a writer working on a series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty, among other things.

Her post deals with imagining scenes in your head in realistic detail before writing them down; and how watching the recent Academy Awards, with all it’s behind-the-scenes revelations RE how the many technicians converge to produce a work, enhanced her imaginative ability to apply to her writing.

I thought the whole post was neat and will present her learning enhancement here. Now you have a more professional reason for watching the Academy Awards:

Quick show of hands: how many of you talk about writing as “describing the movie playing in my mind?” Lots of us do it. I’m one of them. We see scenes playing out in our minds, we think they’re cool and amazing, and that’s the story we want to tell.

Watching the Oscars last weekend got me thinking. The broadcast did some little asides about how some of the behind-the-scenes technical bits work — art direction, cinematography, editing, and so forth. The show does similar things every year so that we’ll know what the heck they’re talking about, why sound design and sound mixing are two different awards, and so on. It occurred to me that we as writers need to pay attention to this. Because it’s not enough to describe the scenes playing in our minds. That would be like pointing a camera at a stage, clicking the “on” button when the play starts, and never moving, tracking, zooming in, making sure the sound is recording properly, and so on. I’m sure we’ve all seen enough homemade videos of school dance recitals and the like to know exactly how well that goes over.

We need to make a lot of the decisions that filmmakers have to make — about the angle and point of view we watch our scene from and whether to shoot wide or tight (cinematography); what the set and costumes look like, what the whole look and mood of the scene is (art direction, costuming, make-up); what else is going on in the scene (sound, visual effects); when scenes start and when they end (editing); and who’s actually playing the parts in the scene (acting, casting).

While I start with the movie in my brain, when I’m writing I try to think about the effect the scene has on the reader, and what effect I want the scene to have on the reader. Do I want them to feel joy? Grief? Do I want them to feel a cold creeping dread, or a sudden shock? This is where my technical analogy comes in. We can slow scenes down by adding more description, by making the sentences longer. We can speed them up by writing shorter sentences, by moving the action along quickly. Who is the viewpoint character? Why? Do I want to focus on that character’s thoughts and emotions (the tight shot), or do I want the larger sweep of action (wide angle)? Am I writing too much? Do I need to cut something? Add something different?

It’s all worth thinking about.

And now I can tell people I’m watching the Oscars because it’s research, and not for the celebrity gossip and mocking of gowns. (And am I the only one who thought Jennifer Lopez’s dress looked like it was made of bubble wrap?)…

John’s Note: I missed the Academy Awards this year…but, I sure wish I had seen Jennifer Lopez’s bubble wrap dress…cause she has some nice BUBBLES to display!

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