Sunday, May 4, 2014



Cybernocturnalism VI: The Seeds of Horror
Conducted and Formatted by Anthony Servante





Welcome, dear readers, to our sixth look at Cybernocturnalism. What the hell is that, you ask? Well, “cyber” is for the internet and “nocturnal” is for the darkness; together they label the current trend of online self-publishing of Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Crime Noir, and Dark Romance by way of Young Adult. Basically, there is a tidal wave of ebooks out there and it is getting harder and harder to find “good” reads among the multitude of choices, especially since so many of these ebooks are way below par for editing, storytelling, and cohesion. One can only reduce his chances of buying a bad ebook by limiting his purchases, thus tossing the talented authors in the same barrel with the vanity writers who self-publish sub-par work. I try my best to find the crème of the crop that will rise to the top of the barrel and share this new talent with my readers, but this has become a Herculean task of late. So, what can we do about it? Well, I thought I’d talk to a number of yet-to-be-published writers and some published authors to hear their expectations about entering their ebooks into the gargantuan pile of reading selections currently available on Kindle, Smashwords, Mobi, etc. Basically, are you getting in the way of the talent, and if not, what are you doing to join the crème of the crop?

But I’ve taken this Cybernocks article one step further. This time out we have two seasoned authors who will comment on our authors’ expectations and plans for success in the bloated field of ebooks.

First, allow me to introduce our eight participants in the interview process: Rod Labbe, Tonia Brown, Steve Harris, Mark Parker, Kim Acrylic, Jonathan Winn, Cindy Hernandez, Chantal Noordeloos

Secondly, let me present you to our two commentators: Michael H. Hanson, creator of Sha’Daa, and contributor to the Heroes in Hell series; LAWYERS IN HELL was the first volume in the series (when it was resurrected in 2011) that Mike sold a short story for ("The Register"). Franklin E. Wales, a standout voice in the field of Horror storytelling. His current book Eaton Falls echoes Stephen King at his early best.


Michael H. Hanson








Franklin E. Wales






And now, let's get to those interviews:


Cybernock #1

ROD LABBE




1. Can you tell us about yourself in terms of publishing? Do you have books out or are you looking forward to publishing for the first time?

ROD: My first book, a ghost story entitled The Blue Classroom, will be released by Samhain Horror on May 6, 2014. I’m currently finishing up a second novel for them, also a ghost story (scheduled publication: February of 2015). While I originally started out in my early teen years writing short fiction, things changed considerably with college. That’s when I decided to explore the wild and wonderful world of non-fiction writing. My journey was launched with long stints as a “jack of all trades” reporter for two different campus newspapers (undergrad and grad), which led to editing the school’s literary magazines (again, on both campuses), followed by working for a locally-published magazine called Mainely Local, and then the ultimate: taking the chance and submitting a freelance article to a “real” national/international magazine. I was successful and sold that very first submission, and it started me off on a freelance writing career, one still thriving. My longest gig has been with Fangoria magazine, stretching from 1986 until the present day. While all this was happening, I decided to try my hand as a novelist, with a few short stories scattered here and there. After several aborted attempts at finding the “right” novel, I settled on The Blue Classroom. Took me years to write it!

2. If you’re a new author or published author, what are/were your expectations about being in print?

ROD: Hmm. Interesting question. The one real expectation I have is that people will like what I’ve put together. Let me qualify: it’s not an expectation, but a hope! Besides yours truly, the only people who’ve read The Blue Classroom in its entirety are my editor at Samhain, Don D’Auria, and his copy editors. Don and crew liked it, apparently--but I simply cannot be objective about my own work. I will say I’m a meticulous craftsperson, an “old school” writer who employs subtlety over shock and pays close attention to sentence structure, spelling, and dialogue! I also don’t go in for “steam of consciousness” writing or gratuitous gore and sex. In my world, vampires are soulless fiends without emotions, regrets and lost loves, zombies aren’t planning the apocalypse, and werewolves don’t become hunky, shirtless studs who furrow their brows and spout philosophy in human form. Will readers enjoy my trip back to the more “quiet, classical horrors” of yore? Keeping my fingers crossed!

3. Why do you write or why did you start writing?

ROD: At age 13, I was inspired to put pencil (so I could erase) to paper after I saw Christopher Lee do his thing in Hammer’s Dracula, Prince of Darkness. That was April, 1966. I can still vividly remember sitting at my desk and carefully composing The Invitation, a short story about battling werewolves and vampires. And no, I don’t mean a precursor to Twilight! Later, I brought the finished tale to school and let a few classmates read it. They were impressed…and so, I trundled off down the road to becoming an author. A rough and rocky road, at first! I lacked life experience, and everything I wrote was derivative of other authors and horror properties, especially Bram Stoker and Dark Shadows (I loved DS, still do!). I didn’t find my voice until college and a short story I wrote entitled, March 21, 1968. My motivation for writing is the same now as it was back in 1966: I dig the creative challenge!

4. If you won a billion dollars, would you write more or less?

ROD: Oh, sure, I’d still write if given a billion dollars. Money and the pursuit of Fame have nothing whatsoever to do with the “need” for writing in my life. The daily process of writing--be it working on an article, an interview, a short story or a novel--is what consistently interests and intrigues me. Let’s study the money scenario, shall we? Ok, I’m earning enough to remain comfortable, secure, and happy for the rest of my life. Ho-hum. Now, what? There are just so many times one can jet to Paris for a fashionable lunch! I’d prefer to fill my leisure moments with creativity. Being wealthy is great, but being a great writer? Well, that’s just priceless.

5. If you never earned a penny from your stories, would you keep writing? Elaborate.

ROD: Of course I would. The love of writing is what it’s all about. Let me tell you a true story: about 20 years back, I met a young high school student named Steve who’d heard that I’d written for Fangoria, his favorite magazine. He finagled an introduction and proceeded to “woo” me shamelessly as a friend--in which he was successful, by the way. As Steve became more comfortable around me, he oftentimes said how he wanted to be “the next Stephen King” (we both lived in Maine), drive a Jag and even appear on the Tonight Show to discuss his latest literary masterpiece. I took these comments with a grant of salt, but he honestly, truly believed that was his destiny. He didn’t bother with higher education after high school. Instead, he found a job working for an auto parts store (still there, 25 years later) and submitted some of his short stories to paying publications. They were all soundly rejected. The poor guy even tried his hand at writing porn and failed miserably. I saw one of his returned stories called Playground Fun. The post-it attached said, “no tension, not sexy, zero on the peter meter.”

At one point, I told him I was doing an article “for free” because I liked the subject matter and wanted to get it “out there.” Steve turned up his nose and snidely remarked, “I’d never write for free. The more money you make, the more famous you’ll be.” So, in his view, success was measured by the dollar. After realizing that he couldn’t sell any short stories, Steve started a novel. Interestingly, I’d begun mine a few months before! The one big difference? He never finished. When I finally was allowed a look at his manuscript, I gave him my honest critique: it was poorly written and structured and just not “scary.” I suggested he take an adult education writing class. Within a week, Steve dumped me as a friend. He no longer “needed” me. That was in 2002. I’ve heard he hasn’t written another word since, but get this: he has close to one thousand Facebook friends who are horror writers!

6. What is your opinion of self-published writers (Cybernocks) compared to paper authors who have a professional publisher? Be honest.

ROD: The danger in self-published works is obvious: whoever writes the book usually edits it, too. There’s no objectivity and no room for proper, constructive criticism. “Paper authors” work with an editor, someone who guides and tweaks and does all he/she can to breathe life into the manuscript. They know what sells, what should be left out and what should be emphasized.

In my opinion, writers utilize the self-publishing route because they realize their work isn’t up to snuff and probably wouldn’t be accepted by a “legit” publisher. Alas, we live in a time when people are constantly told, “you’ll go far! Follow your dreams, and you’ll be the next Stephen King!” Yet, they usually lack one very important factor: talent. When you self-produce anything, be it books, CDs, whatever, you don’t allow for criticism beforehand. That’s why Amazon is rife with self-published works that receive 2 and 1 stars…and that’s also why the author/artist and his/her friends feel compelled to answer and refute those poor reviews, which only serves to make them look like incredible narcissists.

So, to answer the question bluntly: I don’t think much of self-published works.

7. With the deluge of publishers today offering copies of the book in lieu of payment, do you think it’s worth being published even just for the publicity or do you only seek publishers who pay?

ROD: I’ve oftentimes been faced with this situation as a freelancer. There are several magazines that offer only copies and exposure for their articles--Scary Monsters and Films of the Golden Age among them--and yes, I’ve contributed “gratis,” grateful for the copies and the exposure. This is especially true whenever the subject matter interests me.

A book deal would be a different animal--just what is the profit margin for the publisher? And what happens if the book “hits?” More than likely a contract will have already been signed, stating the terms. Should the book take off and generate mucho bucks, where does that leave the writer? Speaking strictly for myself, I’d self-publish before I allowed anyone to pay me in copies for a book. Surely, the blood, sweat and tears put into the writing of a novel are worth more than a few copies. Sounds to me like some publishers might be appealing to the vanity of writers who are just dying to see their stuff in print. Hence, they offer rock-bottom deals. My recommendation is that you seek out a company that at least offers royalties.

8. With so many authors available on Facebook, do you feel like they’ll read your book if you read theirs? Or is it all an illusion and everyone is in it for themselves?

ROD: Wow. Is it all an illusion? Perhaps. I will say this: I don’t read short stories and books until bed, and only then for 15 or so minutes before zonking out. My daily time is spent writing, thinking about writing, or editing. I can’t promise any author I’ll read his/her work in a timely fashion. When I was younger, right out of college, I read a book a week. Like so many, I loved Stephen King (until he lost me with The Stand), Robert McCammon, Dean Koontz and John Saul. Those were the lazy days of sitting on the beach and reading Dead and Buried (summer of 81), or lounging in the bathtub as I read Pigeons From Hell in a Weird Tales paperback. As a child, I collected Alfred Hitchcock hardback and paperback books, and they thrilled and chilled me. Was there anything better than Haunted Houseful, Monster Museum, or Stories my Mother Never Told me? I don’t think so!

Nowadays, I’m preoccupied with my own writing assignments. I must discipline myself to write every day, otherwise the “dream” gets put off further and further into a nebulous future. Frankly, I’m amazed that so many writers--especially the ones I see on Facebook--have enough free time to read full-length novels. Are you listening, writers? Put down the reading and start writing!

As for my novel, I wrote that for the reading public, not for other writers. While I’d be pleased as punch that they actually read the thing, I don’t really expect them to…after all, they should be writing, not reading!

9. Do you think you should get a refund for a book that is poorly edited? Would you give a refund? Why or why not?

ROD: Well, once the book is read by a consumer, no, I don’t think a refund is in order. Like Judge Judy always says, “eat the steak, and you pay--even if you didn’t like it.” Should the poorly-edited book be one of mine, and a reader contacted me with a complaint, I’d offer my sympathies. That’s all. And I’d also learn from the situation and choose a publisher with a good reputation and a crack editing team. I’ve been very lucky with Samhain.

10. What safeguards are you taking to separate yourself from the avalanche of self-published authors online? Is it working or is it too early to tell?

ROD: What separates me from the pack is that I’m intimately connected to perhaps the planet’s most popular “horror magazine,” Fangoria (the editor provided a cover blurb for me). I’m also an experienced freelance writer with many, many credits under my belt--going all the way back to 1984. I’ve been nominated for a Rondo Award three times and have built a healthy career that can be “exploited” to push my fiction-writing work.

Without a doubt, my biggest selling point is Samhain Horror. They’re a popular publishing house with a sterling reputation, innovative authors, a great editor (Don D’Auria), and an incredibly well-oiled company mechanism. I know I’m in great hands with them. Not only will they push my books in advertisements, they’ll distribute it to reviewers and treat my baby with loving respect. All these elements combined will hopefully separate me from the tsunami of self-published authors on-line…but to be perfectly honest with you, I’m not really all that concerned.

11. If you found that you were one of those writers who were not contributing to your genre, and were in fact making your genre look bad, would you quit or keep writing?

ROD: That would mean (a) I’m a self-published writer with untested material; (b) totally untalented; (c) delusional; (d) unable to string two words together in a coherent fashion and (e) have a skewered perception of what constitutes “horror,” based on garbage like Freddy, Jason, and the Halloween films.

If this was indeed the case, I wonder just how I would undergo an epiphany and suddenly realize I’m a no-talent hack? Unfortunately, such a realization doesn’t happen often, from what I seen. Most horrible writers don’t realize it and just think the public is a bunch of unappreciative clods. Perfect example: watch the contestants during the audition process on American Idol. They go in oozing confidence and swagger. “I’m gonna be the next American Idol. Everybody tells me I sound just like Whitney Houston.” And then they open their mouths, and what comes out is truly heinous. When they’re rejected, what do they do? Rather than accept the constructive criticism and learn from it, they blame the judges. “My mother says I’m the next Mariah Carey,” they’ll say, between the crying jags. “Them judges don’t know shit. Simon, you can kiss my ass!” Nuff said.

12. How do you feel about writers who post their books on other people’s timelines or tag friends just to promote their own books? What if that were the only way to sell books to your friends? After all, you’re only here to sell books, right? Then why are you here? And don’t say to make friends. Be honest. And here you can wrap up your opinion on this matter. Is there a “too far” to sell your books? Or not? Nice guys finish last, right?

ROD: Ok, take a breath! My sole reason initially for signing onto Facebook was indeed to make new friendships, renew old ones and connect with school chums and relatives. My book wasn’t finished, so I saw no real need to “network” in that regard. I did, however, seek out other magazine writers, especially those whom I discovered wrote for Fango. In that, I was only slightly successful.

Eventually, as I grew with Facebook, I found myself solicited by writers/novelists. Their books would sometimes appear in my newsfeed, and I was always intrigued by this. Since I was in the final editing stage of my own novel, I wanted to see just what kind of material I was up against, competitively-speaking. What passes for horror fiction nowadays, I wondered? Well, I found out: sex, violence, torture porn, gore, violence and dull, uninteresting characters and situations. This empowered me, to a certain extent—I realized I was completely different than the “pack.” Then, I began digging a bit deeper, reading positive and negative reviews on Amazon, studying just what was self-published and what had a “legit” publisher (many of the publishers I’ve never heard of). I realized, with some dismay, that I, too, would have to network on FB if I wanted my novel to be seen. It was just part of the publicity plan.

I certainly don’t begrudge anyone who utilizes Facebook to promote their creative work, whatever it might be. We’re all writers, part of an exclusive kind of club, and we should be supportive of our fellow artisans. That doesn’t mean we must blindly praise what doesn’t deserve praise, simply because we don’t want to hurt feelings. I’ve found it’s sometimes best just to keep quiet and not offer an opinion. One time I did offer an opinion during a conversation on the Horror Writer’s Association message board. Literally—and I mean this—I was almost tarred and feathered and kicked to the curb. What was my offense? I said I didn’t like someone’s writing, a self-published work that was being lauded by everyone else. I did read the book and thought it was amateurish at best, with poor sentence structure, poor grammar, and atrocious spelling. Because of that one incident, I’ve learned that writers are a “touchy” bunch, and it’s best to keep negative opinions close to the vest.

********


Michael H. Hanson comments::

This is turning into quite the “thought experiment.” I feel like I am looking into the mirror when I read every single answer to every single question. Your replies reflect my own to a startling degree… I’m beginning to believe that common sense and logic are a lot more prevalent among struggling authors than not… but then my innate cynicism kicks in, and I suspect Anthony Servante just recognizes class when he sees it.

There is nothing more I like than a good fight, and goodness knows I love playing Devil’s advocate, but for the third time in this current list of authors who answered this Q&A, I find nothing to contradict, insult, or make fun of. I agree with each and every one of your observations and thoughts.

Best of luck with your continuing writing career!



Franklin E. Wales comments:

Rod Labbe:

It is an opinion piece and you certainly have them. You do not suffer from lack of self esteem as many up and comers do, I’ll give you that. In my opinion any author (especially in fiction) who does not study their craft daily by reading the works of others, does themselves a disfavor. It’s like sealing your craft in a Tupperware container, allowing no outside growth in. It will eventually stagnate, if not completely die. Again, it is an opinion piece and you are entitled to yours, but before you rant on all self published authors by saying, “writers utilize the self-publishing route because they realize their work isn’t up to snuff and probably wouldn’t be accepted by a “legit” publisher.” I would suggest you check into the early days of such authors as Irma Rombauer, John Grisham, Beatrix Potter and Amanda Hocking to name a few. Exceptions to the rule perhaps, but isn’t everyone in this business who makes it, no matter who publishes their work?




Cybernock #2

Tonia Brown 






1. Can you tell us about yourself in terms of publishing? Do you have books out or are you looking forward to publishing for the first time?

I am both self-published and have work with publishers. I am currently with Permuted Press, Books of the Dead and Kensington’s Lyrical Press. I self-publish my long running webserial Railroad! as well as the odd novella and novel. I have had several previously self-published titles re-released with well established smaller publishers.

2. If you’re a new author or published author, what are/were your expectations about being in print?

I began seriously pursuing writing as a craft during the first phases of the ebook. In fact, my first work was published the same year the Kindle was introduced, back in 2007. So I have been hand in hand with ebooks since the start of my career. I’ll admit, I began with the hopes of seeing my work in print, but I quickly grew comfortable with the idea of my stuff only seeing digital release. To this day, a lot of my stuff is only in digital format. My self-published work sell far more digital copies as opposed to print.

3. Why do you write or why did you start writing?

I write because I love to write. I love to tell stories and create worlds and share secrets. At the encouragement of my husband, I started writing because I had a specific story I wanted to get down, and it evolved from there.

4. If you won a billion dollars, would you write more or less? Elaborate.

More! I wouldn’t have to hold a night job, so that would free me up to write full time. I would probably self-publish a lot more of my work, because I could afford proper editing and covers and promotion. I could afford to hire a publicist! Promotion has always been my greatest downfall as an author. I have a lot of trunked novels and novellas I don’t have time or money to spend on prepping for publication much less the dedication it takes to promote them. I plan to eventually get them ready for submission to publishers, but if I had the money to do it myself I would.

5. If you never earned a penny from your stories, would you keep writing? Elaborate.

I would keep writing, but my output would slow down for sure. If I didn’t have deadlines to worry about or an audience to please, I would write at a more leisurely pace. I’d still produce work, just not nearly as much. Even if I won a billion dollars, I would slow up if no one was paying to read it. We can talk all day about the beauty of art and the value of a good story, but in the end writing is a business. The bottom line dictates your output. Folks don’t churn out four novels a year because they are interested in the integrity of the story, they do it because a paying audience is waiting to read it, and pay for it. If no one pays me, that means I have no one to answer to, and I am free to write at my own pace. Otherwise, you are on a chain of deadlines and expectations. Keep them waiting too long and they will move onto someone else.

6. What is your opinion of self-published writers (Cybernocks) compared to paper authors who have a professional publisher? Be honest.

First of all, anyone who has the wherewithal to write a book from beginning to end deserves a big thumbs up. It takes a lot of effort to write that dreaded first draft. The trouble begins just after that. An astounding amount of self-published authors consider that first draft the only draft. They go straight from typing “The End” to uploading it to Amazon. (Some don’t even wait to type “The End” first! ACK!) The thought of that makes me cringe. I have tried to help folks fight that urge many times, but they get excited and don’t think things through. In the end, the consumer will out such nonsense. Folks can be cruel in reviews, and they will skewer you for such antics.

On the other hand, legacy authors can be both humble and haughty. I have met both kinds on my publishing journey. I have seen big name authors who are so down to earth you wouldn’t know they have thousands of fans at their beck and call. And I have met authors who wouldn’t give me the time of day because I wasn’t “important” enough. Go figure.

7. With the deluge of publishers today offering copies of the book in lieu of payment, do you think it’s worth being published even just for the publicity or do you only seek publishers who pay?

Honestly? I love money, but I am more likely to submit to markets that appeal to me story wise. Many has been the time I was pointed toward a good paying market with a theme I just couldn’t produce work for. That said, I tend to avoid the ‘exposure only’ markets. If I like the idea of a submission call, and it pays at least a copy of the book, then I might work something up and try for it if I really like the anthology idea. I spend a lot of time writing novels these days, so I consider short stories a bit of a break from routine. I actively seek markets that pay, and pay well, but I am open to all kinds of markets. Again, if they will pay at least a copy I may consider submitting.

8. With so many authors available on Facebook, do you feel like they’ll read your book if you read theirs? Or is it all an illusion and everyone is in it for themselves?

I wouldn’t say that we are all in it for ourselves, but nothing frustrates me more than the idea that I “owe” someone a review. If you are upfront with me about it, and we exchange novels in exchange for reviews, then that’s one thing. But don’t assume I will read (or for that matter enjoy) your work just because you read mine. I read certain authors because I like their work, and yes some of those authors are my Facebook friends. In the end, I read what I want, not what I feel like I have to read. The last thing I want is someone to feel obligated to read my stuff. I want them to read it because they want to read it.

9. Do you think you should get a refund for a book that is poorly edited? Would you give a refund? Why or why not?

If the book is bad enough to ask yourself that question, then you can usually glean the answer from the sample pages available for most books on Amazon. Let’s say I have never read a new author, and there aren’t a few sample pages up for me to look at. I probably will not buy the book based on my experiences with badly edited novels with smaller publishing houses. But when you are able to sample the first few pages and you either don’t or ignore the obvious errors and buy it anyways, then you that is your own fault. It would be like going into an ice cream shop, asking for a sample of the poop flavored ice cream, tasting it, hating it, ordering it anyways, eating the entire cone, then expecting a refund because it tasted like crap. Of course it did! It’s poop flavored! You tested it!

In short, I’d never expect a refund for a poorly edited book, but if it’s bad enough I won’t read them again, and will mention it in a review.

10. What safeguards are you taking to separate yourself from the avalanche of self-published authors online? Is it working or is it too early to tell?

I didn’t. I fell into that pile and flopped around helplessly. Since then, I have turned over several of my self-published titles to publishers, hoping they can help me reach a larger audience. I realize I will still have to market myself, but riding the back of a larger publisher can make that a bit easier than doing it all by your onsies.

11. If you found that you were one of those writers who were not contributing to your genre, and were in fact making your genre look bad, would you quit or keep writing?

*rubs chin in thought* Who decided this? Was it another author or a reader or some omniscient being who has that kind of authority over all of fiction, for ever and ever, amen? I guess if it were a measurable fact and not a rude opinion, then I might consider quitting.

12. How do you feel about writers who post their books on other people’s timelines or tag friends just to promote their own books? What if that were the only way to sell books to your friends? After all, you’re only here to sell books, right? Then why are you here? And don’t say to make friends. Be honest. And here you can wrap up your opinion on this matter. Is there a “too far” to sell your books? Or not? Nice guys finish last, right?

As I said before, I am terrible as self-promotion. Every time I post even the slightest information about where folks can find my work, I immediately think about that episode of The Critic where the main character has a cardboard cutout of himself that waves his novel up and down while a recorded voice shouts, “Buy my book! Buy my book!” And the truth of the matter is that so many folks look and sound exactly like that because every other post, or in some cases every single post, is the same rant.

Buy my book! Buy my book! Ugh!

I think there is a line, but I am not sure where it is. Any promotion feels seedy to me, even though I know I need to do it. At the same time, when others promote for me, by reposting or even starting a thread about my work, I feel even more awkward. It’s a great compliment for someone to advertise for you without being prompted to do so. I have awesome readers and am constantly honored by their announcements of admirations and affections. While I admit I am on Facebook to network for my career, more often than not any reader that reached out to me becomes one of my friends. Many of my closest Facebook friends came to me as a reader first. I guess you could call them reands, or frieaders. Oh! Yeah! Frieaders. So, yes I am on Facebook to sell books, but I am also here to make frieaders.

As for rude people, I try to cut out folks who post on my timeline without asking, or tag me just to show off that their new work is up. I don’t mind helping other authors and often repost links to Amazon sales and blogs and such. But I don’t like the idea of someone using my pages without asking. It’s just rude.

********

Michael H. Hanson comments:

Gee Tonia, long time no talk! It is great to bump into you in this corner of the internet.

Well I am the last person in the world worthy to sit in any kind of judgment on the one and only, Tonia Brown!

You’ve written and published far more than me, Tonia, having taken the art of fiction writing seriously for a lot longer than I have.

View her answers well, folks, there is a TON of wisdom in her statements.

And I am OUTA here!

Zhoooooooooommmm!


Franklin E. Wales Comments:

Tonia Brown:

I’m still trying to figure out what you are doing on this end of the article. I have been a reader of yours for years, and have recommended you to several friends. Your take on the craft of writing is right where it should be. Your answer to # 9 was one of my favorites. Before Amazon, you picked up a book from the shelf and scanned the writing inside. If it looked good to you, then you bought it. Amazon has, in most cases, provided samples for readers to do much the same thing. If a reader is not happy with a book purchased they have the ability to say so in the review. You don’t demand a refund after you’ve eaten the entire value meal at McDonalds. I must admit you had me thinking you were going to bail on # 11, but you answered in the end. But Quitting? That’s too harsh. I believe you’d choose to reevaluate your work and dig deeper.



Cybernock #3

Steve Harris





1. I am currently unpublished. My background is in screenwriting. While I have not sold anything as yet, I have seen remarkably similar projects produced and released after I have pitched them. Take that as you may. I have worked with several small production companies in the past few years, writing original content of my own and helping to shape theirs. Both times, however, I ended up walking away from the projects as I did not like the lack of creative control.

So, while I have experience, I am not published in the truest sense.

2. Quite honestly, I expect dissatisfaction. I am hard to please and quite critical of my own work. For the first book or two I expect low sales. This is not because I think lowly of the projects. As an unknown writer in this world of online reviews I suspect readers might be hesitant to spend their money on somebody they have never heard of. Worry not, I have a few ideas on how to garner their interests.

3. I’ve been writing since I was too small to hold the pen properly. I come from an artistic background. Both my mother and my paternal grandmother were artists of various mediums. In addition, I was quite close with my paternal grandfather who filled my head with all sorts of stories and tales as a child. Ever since I have wanted to create my own tales.

The wonderful thing about being a writer is the control. You are a God in many ways. The writer is that invisible presence in the sky who the characters whisper their prayers to. Sadly for them, much like the Gods of old, I find great pleasure in the suffering of my creations.

4. I would undoubtedly write more often. In what format, well, that is another question. I would more than likely start a small production company for unknowns and independent artists looking for an outlet. Of course my own work would be the first priority. As time went on I would probably spend more time producing the work of others, with my own interspersed. But yeah. There’s my answer.

5. Why wouldn’t I? I’ve been writing for years and haven’t seen a cent. What would change after e-publishing, which is free or cheap? In many ways I think I write to amuse myself. It just so happens other people are often similarly entertained by the resulting work.

6. Any writer that says they would rather e-publish rather than through a traditional publisher is a liar. Traditional publishers have resources at their fingertips that a self-publishing writer generally has to pay for. Editing, proof reading, etc. Most importantly they have the reach. They will market for you, advertise if you are one of those fortunate few. Self-published writers generally do so in hopes that it is a stepping stone. I am no different.

7. I have said this countless times and I will say it again. If you are going into writing in hopes of making a career of it then you are a bloody fool. Even New York Times Bestselling authors are generally far from wealthy. If you want to reach the level where you are actively gaining money from your work then expect to give a lot away.

I know that over the course of this questionnaire I sound embittered and more that a bit pessimistic. I am far from either. I am simply a realist. This is not a money making industry. For instance, look at the amount of books for sale on the Kindle store. How many of those authors have you heard of previously? I would love to see the actual percentage of successful epublished authors who actually turn a significant profit in the first year. The first five. Ten.

The only way to get ahead in this field, like any entertainment industry, is to market yourself. Sell yourself to the potential readers. Get their attention and when you have it refuse to give it back.

8. It’s all bullshit. Let’s be honest here. There is a very small chance that most would bother to read the never ending stream of work that is bouncing around social media like a super ball thrown by a giant. Life is busy enough without taking the time to read every dime novel that is thrown up on my news feed. I do read some of what is sent my way, but that is generally is I know the author or if they come highly recommended by a reliable source.

That said, if I like what I read I will go out of my way to advertise it to others in my friend circle. I do this for small time authors and more so for well-known authors who I communicate with frequently.

Think of it like this; If you associate your name with a work without reading it, what kind of risk are you putting yourself in the path of? What if there is something offensive in said work and you just attached your name to it. People only remember your triumphs for a moment. Your offenses are eternal.

9. Refund? Are you joking? Over a decade ago I worked as a clerk in a bookshop. Patrons would come in and try to return books that they didn’t like. I, much to the dismay of my bosses, laughed them out of the store. You don’t get to return a book just because you didn’t like the editing. This is why we have the option to leave a review on any reputable ebook service such as the Amazon Kindle Store.

10. I will not go into too much detail here, but yes. Oh, yes. I have quite a few tricks up my sleeve. I am even pulling in several other new authors I know to help me with this. Like I said earlier, this is about marketing.

Have you ever been in a shopping mall on Black Friday? Or try having a conversation near a mosh pit at a concert. The e-book industry is no different. It’s chaos. Anybody and everybody with a few words to say are trying to sell theirs. Everybody keeps shouting louder than the guy next to them hoping to be heard and the volume level gets higher and higher.

The key is to find a way to stand out from those around you, to make them appear silent. Original thought is the key, not just giveaways and gimmicks. I like to think that I have a good strategy worked out for this.

11. Adaptation. If something is not working then you change so that it does. A writer should be in a constant state of change, anyway. This is all a learning process. Let’s say that I have a series of books that started fifteen years ago, and I haven’t changed my style one bit. The storyline might be different, but in many ways I am just writing the same book over and over again. And pretty soon the readers are going to notice this.

If I was harming the genre, then that is even more reason to change. If I changed and adapted and still found myself failing I would switch genres. So, no, I would not quit writing.

12. Posting books on a friend’s timeline without their permission is like walking into a stranger’s house and relieving yourself on their table in the middle of Christmas Dinner. Most people are not going to be pleased. Many will not say anything about it, but I guarantee you they will not be happy. This especially applies to established authors.

As for selling books to my friends, I should hope I shouldn’t have to make much of a sales pitch to a true friend. Then again, I am unlike most in that my friends list is 90% people I actually know. I am here, quite simply, to better gauge the market, my competition and to get my name known.

I disagree with the notion that nice guys finish last. In fact, this is quite wrong. Most of the industry contacts I have made have been because I was polite. There have been several occasions where I was at a signing or some other such event and I managed to make a connection. How was I able to do this? Because while the rest of the idiots were shoving pens in the faces of successful people asking for autographs or trying to get their script read, I was polite, professional and reserved. A handshake and a heartfelt kind word of respect and appreciation can go a long way in an industry built upon betrayal, false fronts and bullshit. I tend to shoot from the hip. That is my best advice to anybody. Be honest, polite and straight forward.

If you are posting your work on somebody else’s page/blog/twitter/whatever without permission then you’re being a cunt. Don’t be a cunt. Worse still, if the people in a thread are discussing something and you come in from out of the blue saying “Hey! Read my book! Read my book!” you look like an asshole. It’s a slap in the face. People don’t want to read books that are presented to them like that.

Don’t be an asshole.

-Steven Harris

********

Michael H. Hanson comments:

Two of my favorite authors of all time (Samuel Clemens and Kurt Vonnegut Jr.) evolved into a couple of the most cynical bastards of all time, and god bless them for it. Your cynicism is healthy, and obviously a product of experience, and thus, deserving of the more flattering title, “wisdom.” Anyone who would criticize you as cynical is young, naive, and inexperienced. Screw ‘em.

Always a pleasure to meet another script-warrior who has not yet conquered those turrets (though I actually gave up after 12 years at the age of 40, when I turned to writing poems and short stories exclusively).

Your comments on “original ideas” in the biz struck a chord. I once read an interesting anecdote by science fiction grandmaster Philip Jose Farmer, who claimed to have sent a treatment to Rod Serling back in the late 50’s/early 60’s, only to be rejected, and then to see a Twilight Zone episode air that bore a remarkable similarity to his original idea. He then went on to say he himself heard several more tales of such woe in the following montths from writer friends who also felt ripped off by Serling.

I also read a detailed anecdote, very recently, written by a very successful author (who is still alive and writing) that he felt his take on a super villain in a short story collection done several years ago, was much too close for comfort to a very successful movie’s recent take on said character… well, I read the short story, and I saw the movie, and quite frankly, this very successful author is deceiving himself.

While I’m willing to accept that plagiarism of copyrighted works is not unheard of, or perhaps is more common than not in the TV and Film Industry, I also believe that a lot of “Brilliant” ideas that many writers think they create from scratch are not so singular as they might believe. There’s an old saying… “on the path to an original idea, you are bound to bump into a Greek along the way.”

Well anyways, I think you have a very firm grasp on what you love and hate in this field, and what you want to do with your career and your life. Uncertainty is just one more language used by the devil, and it is great to see you do not speak it.

Keep the faith, brother!



Franklin E. Wales comments:

Steve Harris:

I’m with you on small production companies. Nothing quite like being told how great your story is, only to be told in the next breath be that it would be perfect “if” you’d only incorporate the director’s vision for your tale into the work. I completely agree with your take on most of your questions. You do not sound embittered, you sound like a realist. Some say the glass is half full while others say it’s half empty. You seem the type to look at it and realize either way, you have to pay for it before you leave. You have an honest approach to this thing that I admire. I think you may have given the best answer to # 11. If it’s what you were meant to do, then you don’t quit, you adapt. Perfect. If we ever wind up at the same book signing, I’ll buy the first round.



Cybernocks #4

Mark Parker



MARK PARKER (Author, Editor, Micro Publisher)

1. Can you tell us about yourself in terms of publishing? Do you have books out or are you looking forward to publishing for the first time?

Ans: Regarding my publishing history, I have had one story professionally published, and five others self-published.

THE SCARLET GALLEON (published in Wrapped in Red: Thirteen Tales of Vampiric Horror) from Sekhmet Press, LLC.

BIOLOGY OF BLOOD (SOUTHRIDGE VAMPIRES – PART I); self-published

LUCKY YOU (A Psychosexual Thriller Short Story); self-published

WAY OF THE WITCH (WITCH SAGA – BOOK I); self-published

HALLOWEEN NIGHT; self-published

BANSHEE’S CRY (A GHOST STORY); self-published

2. If you’re a new author or published author, what are/were your expectations about being in print?

Ans: I think my expectation around being in print was that it would somehow legitimize me as a ‘real’ writer. To some degree, if did feel that way having my first story professionally published. But it didn’t feel quite as immense as I expected it to. There were quite a few years of expectation behind it all, so the reality fell a tad bit short of the dream, but it was still thrilling.

3. Why do you write or why did you start writing?

Ans: I started writing after, at the age of 12, I came across a copy of CARRIE by Stephen King, and instantaneously fell in love with the idea that someone could create a world and contain it between two glossy covers.

4. If you won a billion dollars, would you write more or less? Elaborate.

Ans: I would write more because I could fully retire from my ‘day job.’

5. If you never earned a penny from your stories, would you keep writing? Elaborate.

Ans: With or without money, I would write for the sheer love of it. I can’t imagine writing not being part of my life. The joy it brings far outweighs the need for recompense. I admit that getting paid for my writing lends a kind of legitimacy to being a ‘professional’ writer, the act of writing is what keeps me going back to my desk each and every day. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t write ‘something.’

6. What is your opinion of self-published writers (Cybernocks) compared to paper authors who have a professional publisher? Be honest.

Ans: Honestly, the desire to be published in print form by a large New York City publisher, continues to be a dream of mine, and probably always will be, until it happens, ‘if’ it happens. With the advent of self-publishing—where anyone can write something and have it available for purchase online—for me, has diminished the ‘value’ of being published. While there are certainly self-published authors who enjoy a great financial remuneration for their work that has not been my experience thus far. I personally feel the onslaught of self-published authors has created a kind of disconnect between writer and reader—creating a swell of choice that leaves the consumer with almost too many choices from which to pick. I’m sure there are writers out there who will readily disagree with my assertion, but even as a consumer myself, I find myself at a loss to know which authors are ones I should pay money to read—especially when you hear of writers garnering reviews for a price, even if it’s only a gratis copy of their work. I’m a bit old-fashioned in saying this, but I long for the day when a review is left because the reader ‘enjoyed’ the work, not because they got something for free, or—worse yet—got paid for their review. I personally think traditional publishing still lends a writer’s work a kind of legitimacy no mere solicited review can. If and when I am ever published through a legacy publisher, I will know my work was published based on its merit, and ability to sell in the open marketplace.

7. With the deluge of publishers today offering copies of the book in lieu of payment, do you think it’s worth being published even just for the publicity or do you only seek publishers who pay?

Ans: Interesting you should ask that question. I have only recently been tested around this very question. Having just launched my own micro-publishing company, Scarlet Galleon Publications, I was questioned in a Facebook group of writers, as to why I wasn’t paying what a few authors in the group considered to be ‘professional rates’ for submissions. When I was first published, I was paid $25.00 and given a print edition of the published anthology, so that is what I offered through my first open call for submissions for the inaugural anthology I will publish under the SGP imprint in September 2014. I thought the rate was fair, but some have disagreed with that. Truthfully, being new to publishing myself, I was thrilled to have my first submission selected for publication in a ‘professional’ anthology. I do feel that sometimes money is less important than the potential publicity and exposure being in a professional anthology can bring. I believe in beginning somewhere. Had I refused the remuneration offered through the first open call I submitted to, I would have never been ‘professionally’ published, which in this industry, goes a long way to help a new writer create a professional portfolio or resume for himself. I feel if I persevere, the money will eventually come, which would be the hope. I was just overwhelmed to have my very first submission selected. I can, however, see how more seasoned writers, who have been published for years, might feel the amount I was offering was ‘beneath’ what they would expect from a ‘professional’ publisher. It’s difficult when you’re the guiding force behind a start-up publishing effort, and all the expenses are being paid out-of-pocket. It is my sincere home that the anthology will do well, and future payments can be more in-line with what more seasoned presses or small publishers pay.

8. With so many authors available on Facebook, do you feel like they’ll read your book if you read theirs? Or is it all an illusion and everyone is in it for themselves?

Ans: Having so many Facebook ‘friends’ who are authors themselves, I do my best to support them by purchasing their work, although it’s impossible to buy everyone’s work. It has been my experience that other writers don’t purchase my work solely based on the fact that I’ve purchased theirs. I’m sure some have, surely, but not all. Not by a longshot. If every writer friend I had on Facebook purchased my work, I’d have great sales, to be sure. I generally receive a great deal of support from fellow writers by way of an outpouring of excitement around a new publication, or even by having it featured on their website or Facebook page, in the form of a ‘share,’ which is appreciated.

9. Do you think you should get a refund for a book that is poorly edited? Would you give a refund? Why or why not?

Ans: Truthfully I have never requested a refund for a poorly edited book, nor have I even thought to, to be honest with you. I would expect works sold on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or iBooks or other online retailers, had gone through a thorough edit prior to being uploaded for sale. I have, however, encountered poorly edited works. In these instances, I would simply never purchase another title by that author. And I would most likely delete the poorly edited book or story from my eReader device. I don’t say that to suggest that others shouldn’t request a refund, but I’ve never thought to ask for one myself. Like any other item purchased in the marketplace, if it fails to meet the purchaser’s expectations, I suppose they’d have the right to request a refund. But, again, this is why legacy publishing is still important from my perspective, because works are given professional edits, are represented by professionally designed cover art, etc., which brings them up to a standard the buying public has come to expect. That being said, I know most self-published authors do pay for professional editing services and professionally designed covers.

10. What safeguards are you taking to separate yourself from the avalanche of self-published authors online? Is it working or is it too early to tell?

Ans: Personally, what I’ve done to try to set myself apart from the glut of other self-published authors, is to effectively ‘brand’ myself and my publications by having cover art that easily presents as a work by me as the author. Besides that, it is nearly impossible to stand apart from the sea of authors who have coming into being in a very short span of time. If anyone has a tried and true way of doing this, I would love to hear what they’ve managed to do to set their work apart and make it stand out in a way that really drives sales.

11. If you found that you were one of those writers who were not contributing to your genre, and were in fact making your genre look bad, would you quit or keep writing?

Ans: I would never want to believe I was poorly representing the genre I write in. However, if I did, I would pack up shop and try some other career. I have a pretty diverse interest when it comes to reading—and writing—so hopefully I would be able to find a genre that my writing style and abilities would fit best with. I simply hope this would never be the case.

12. How do you feel about writers who post their books on other people’s timelines or tag friends just to promote their own books? What if that was the only way to sell books to your friends? After all, you’re only here to sell books, right? Then why are you here? And don’t say to make friends. Be honest. And here you can wrap up your opinion on this matter. Is there a “too far” to sell your books? Or not? Nice guys finish last, right?

Ans: I am not a fan of writers who post their books on other folks’ timelines, especially without their permission, nor do I like when they ‘tag’ me so their book(s) will receive more exposure. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am very open to helping publicize the work of my fellow writers, but it shouldn’t be an expectation. Many folks will only offer page ‘likes’ for the return of a page like on Facebook. I try to escape that by not asking for likes for my own page. The only time I send out a page ‘like’ invitation, was when I launched the page for my publishing company, to publicize the page to writers who might be interested in knowing a new publishing venture was on the horizon. I have to admit self-promotion is what I find most difficult about being a self-published author.

********


Michael H. Hanson comments:

I enjoyed reading your answers, especially when you talked about your venture, Scarlet Galleon Publications. My sister and I started up our own small press this year, a limited liability corporation in Colorado, Copper Dog Publishing (whose imprints are Moondream Press, Racket River Press, and Pumpkin Hill Press).

I found your comments on producing quality cover art as part of your branding efforts, and working towards better remuneration for your authors, as insightful and commendable. I’m currently following the print-on-demand (POD) model with a free copy of the anthology, and future royalties (after initial book costs are paid off) offered to writers in their contracts.

Beware. There is an unacknowledged “hazing” that occurs at both Conventions and on certain online forums, where many obnoxious wannabee writers, and staff of mid-sized presses, love to rag on the small presses that use this model.

As for what everyone else is doing to promote themselves… anything and everything. And yes, it all comes down to time and money. I’m going to be attending at least four Conventions this year, a panelist with a sales table at three, and assisting another more well-known writer at his sales table at one other public event. I’m investing in movie theatre lobby style posters of the book covers to display at these events (which I’ve done for the last two years).

The Sha’Daa series was in the hands of two other publishers before I took over full control of it. Kicking off Moondream Press this year, I’ve dropped the sales price of each series book dramatically, deciding that naked profit is not as important as making the cost appealing to the average reader.

I’m also working hard to make promoting my Sha’Daa anthology series a positive venture for all the authors involved, offering them “author discounts” on all the copies they wish to purchase and then re-sell for positive profit (with the not having to share royalties with anyone else), giving them free book marks and press kits (and possibly pins and small posters in the future) to promote themselves and the Sha’Daa volume they are in, at their own public events. There is certainly an oppressive wealth of online services offering every manner of marketing tools and features for the small press and/or self-publisher. I’ve known other small presses that have spent a few thousand dollars a book because certain online entities promised all manner of “synergy” and “connecting to individuals and other websites” through their proprietary services. And no, I have no hard data on how effective such services are (not having a huge war chest, I have not yet availed myself of them).

Best of luck on all your future writing ventures!



Franklin E. Wales comments:

Mark Parker:

Overall I liked your answers, you seem honest and straightforward. Something all too lacking in this business of late. Especially on Facebook. I saw the FB post you mentioned in # 7, and honestly felt sorry for you. These are the people in our trade that make me cringe. I don’t understand writers who call out on a payment being offered they don’t think is fair. Did anyone demand they submit? Do they also go to their day job and demand top wages? If the payment, be it cash, copy or exposure only, is acceptable to an author, then it’s between them and the publisher. If they are not willing, there’s no need to pursue it. Nothing smacks as unprofessional as writers thinking they are going to school a prospective publisher. If I were a publisher, I would have taken their names down on a “never do business with” list. Good luck in your publishing venture.



Cybernock #5

Kim Acrylic





1. Can you tell us about yourself in terms of publishing? Do you have books out or are you looking forward to publishing for the first time?

I have poetry books out, and one is an anthology of all my books in one, for easy access, and far more affordable to buyers. I am in the process of publishing my first Novel. Not sure if I’m being taken by a traditional publisher, or if I will self-publish. Right now I’m focusing on the editing and design. But I’m very excited about it, and the whole process has taught me a lot!

2. If you’re a new author or published author, what are/were your expectations about being in print?

I try not to have expectation, because that only leads to disappointment in this field. Instead, I try to just go with the flow, and get happy if something I write is well received, and try not to let it ruin me if it’s not.

3. Why do you write or why did you start writing?

I write to turn my negative energy that my huge imagination causes, into something more positive, like a story or a poem. I write to feel like I’m putting something out into the world. I am not having children, so my words are my offspring

4. If you won a billion dollars, would you write more or less?

More. I would feel like I needed to work for my money. And I would use the money to further my education in English and such, given that I was self-taught, I have a lot to learn.

5. If you never earned a penny from your stories, would you keep writing?

Of course! I prefer to trade book for book, or review for review. I’ve never been about making money off of my writing. I write to feel whole, and as a way to give back to the world. To me it’s priceless.

6. What is your opinion of self-published writers (Cybernocks) compared to paper authors who have a professional publisher?

Two things are different. One being that you find errors and flaws in Self-Published books, and also, I find hundreds of stories I never would have been able to read if we only had traditional, big name publishers. I truly think it’s a blessing! And I like the errors. It reminds me how raw and real we all truly are.

7. With the deluge of publishers today offering copies of the book in lieu of payment, do you think it’s worth being published even just for the publicity or do you only seek publishers who pay?

It’s completely worth it. As I said before I’m not about the money. I would gladly take reviews, publicity, and free copies over regular payment any day. Those are the things that excite me, not a royalty check that gets taxed to hell anyway. I live for the Reviews and exchanging of books with other Authors.

8. With so many authors available on Facebook, do you feel like they’ll read your book if you read theirs? Or is it all an illusion and everyone is in it for themselves?

I think to an extent everyone is out for themselves. I’ve seen people lie and say “If you get my book, I’ll get yours”, and they never do. I think writers are so desperate these days for fame or fortune, that they forget the true reason they started to write. It saddens me. I get at least 10 free promo books a week and actually read and review them, whether they read mine or not. I love reading and I am not just about selling my books.

9. Do you think you should get a refund for a book that is poorly edited? Would you give a refund? Why or why not?

Absolutely not. As I stated above, the errors and rawness of self-publishing can be a great thing. I understand there are Grammar Nazis out there, but it’s really hard when you have the talent to tell a story, but for whatever reason, have trouble with punctuation or grammar. Spell check and Editors only do so much these days. I too struggle with this. Unless it’s completely jibberish, and not able to be understood, I think people should not be so hard on someone who tells a great story, but has some errors. When I read reviews of people putting authors down for their mess ups, it just makes me sad and think how snobby these people are.

10. What safeguards are you taking to separate yourself from the avalanche of self-published authors online? Is it working or is it too early to tell?

A catchy pen-name is essential for standing out I believe. It has made me easier to remember, however, it is very hard with so many amazing writers splashed all over the internet. But if you love the activity of writing, it shouldn’t matter when it comes to others and their successes Just do it for the love of it.

11. If you found that you were one of those writers who were not contributing to your genre, and were in fact making your genre look bad, would you quit or keep writing?

I would try to learn about what I was doing wrong. But I don’t stick to the same genre. I think we all get urges to quit writing, a bad review, or rejection letters, but making a genre look bad is very avoidable and not a reason to quit.

12. How do you feel about writers who post their books on other people’s timelines or tag friends just to promote their own books? What if that were the only way to sell books to your friends? After all, you’re only here to sell books, right? Then why are you here? And don’t say to make friends. Be honest. And here you can wrap up your opinion on this matter. Is there a “too far” to sell your books? Or not?

Nice guys finish last, right? I believe in self-promotion! Networking is the key to selling books, or getting reviews. I see nothing wrong with it. But more than twice a day can be spam depending on where you post it.



********


Michael H. Hanson comments:

I like your forthrightness, Kim. You’ve obviously found a comfortable niche within this brave new world of social marketing and self-publishing, and I don’t think it would prove a constructive exercise to debate you on what should be and what should not be appropriate internet and Facebook etiquette… so much of it is open to interpretation, not to mention, the inter-webs are an amorphous, constantly evolving entity. Any absolutes given this moment might be thrown out the window by this time next year… oh brave new world that has such creatures... and all that.

You seem to be at that “book-devouring” stage in your life, and I can’t think of a better time in human history than right now, when more people are writing and submitting their work for publication than, well, ever. For all the dreck that is out there, truly this is a golden age of writing… fiction, poetry, non-fiction, you name it.

Your answers show a sensible, adult viewpoint on what you want out of your craft, and I commend you for that.

I wish I had some grand and wise pieces of advice to give you, but it appears to me that you have a very firm grasp on what you want out of this “calling,” and how to get it.

Rock on, sister!



Franklin E. Wales comments:

Kim Acylic:

I enjoyed your answers. You truly have the soul of a poet. In fact you may be too nice in some of your beliefs, but that remains to be seen. I especially appreciated your answer to # 6. Going through authors in the underground is like going to a flea market: you never know when you’ll find something rare and priceless. However, just like a flea market, you sometimes have to pick through a lot of trash before you find a treasure.



Cybernock #6

Jonathan Winn 


(May or may not be Jonathan??).


1. Can you tell us about yourself in terms of publishing? Do you have books out or are you looking forward to publishing for the first time?

I've self-published one full length novel, Martuk ... the Holy, and three installments of The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of short fiction inspired by Martuk ... the Holy. When it comes to new work, Martuk ... the Holy: Proseuche, the full length sequel to the novel, will be released in the next month or so and I have scheduled the release of the next two installments of The Martuk Series, The Tall Priest and The Magi, over the next four to five months.

2. If you’re a new author or published author, what are/were your expectations about being in print?

For me, being in print was a nice surprise. Because of the rise of ebooks, driven, in part, by the relative ease of formatting and publishing one, I'd been led to believe that print books were no longer popular. But I found the opposite to be true. So having my books available as actual "books" has not only grown my readership, but it's also just a wonderful thing to have.

3. Why do you write or why did you start writing?

I started my career as a screenwriter -- and still write film and television -- and, naively, in hindsight, turned to writing fiction as a way to move beyond the very clear restraints of what scriptwriting demands. What I learned is that writing a book is much, much more difficult -- for me, at least -- than writing film or TV. But nothing brings me the greatest sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that finishing a book does. Furthermore, the sense of creative control I have as a writer, which is one of the reasons I'm still self-published, is something you just don't find in the film or TV business. Ever.

4. If you won a billion dollars, would you write more or less? Elaborate.

As I spend my days from sun-up to sundown writing, I don't see how I could possibly write any more. So having access to unlimited funds wouldn't change my work habits one bit, save for the necessary time it takes to assist in the managing of that much money. (hint: it's a LOT of work having that much money to manage) So, since my work ethic wouldn't change as a result of that kind of wealth, I'd want to find ways to help writers and the writing community as much as I could. With that in mind, what I would do is the following: enlist the help of the most talented, underused, under-payed editing and writing talent, give them great salaries and benefits, and start my own Press for up-and-coming writers still making a name and seeking readers as well as more established names looking to spread their wings and try something different. I would also, anonymously, offer writers I believe have a great deal of talent freedom from financial responsibility for one year -- no rent, utilities, cell phone bills, living expenses, etc -- so they could focus entirely on creating as much work as possible. I think I'd also, anonymously, work with various writing groups and organizations to see what could be done to appropriately beef up their hardship funds so even more writers could breathe a bit easier and focus more on writing than on just surviving.

5. If you never earned a penny from your stories, would you keep writing? Elaborate.

Absolutely. As it is now, I have good months and bad months, so whatever financial security other writers might be enjoying still eludes me, to a point. But that doesn't change the fact that I have stories to tell, readers to find, and a backlist to create. Because when readers do discover me, I want them to have as many books as possible to go and pick up. Writing is a long-term career. You can't let being temporarily strapped for cash interrupt what your career could be a year, two years, five years from now. So I just keep writing. Even when I have minimal sales, I just keep writing. It's never occurred to me not to.

6. What is your opinion of self-published writers (Cybernocks) compared to paper authors who have a professional publisher? Be honest.

At this point in time, I'm self-published and it works for me. I can certainly see why some may look down on self-pubbed writers because there's a lot of garbage out there that should've never seen the light of day. On the other hand, I've read some legacy published work that was shockingly bad. Cardboard characters, stilted dialogue, no story to speak of. And this stuff, because of the push from the publishing house, makes the frickin' NY Times Bestseller List! So, really, you're going to find bad writers doing ridiculous things whether their self-pubbed or legacy pubbed. I must say, though, that more often than not the most interesting stories, the stories that make you think and challenge your perceptions, are being found in self-pubbed work because we self-pubs are free from corporate worrywarts concerned about upsetting shareholders. I can write whatever I want. Plus, I'm finding that if the work is well-written, has a strong story arc, has been tightly edited, and has a professional cover, it's getting harder and harder to tell legacy from self-pubbed apart. As for comparing "cybernocks" who have a professional publisher and those who don't, I'm not sure what to say. A book has to be written by a phenomenally talented writer for me to endure sloppy editing. But boring work that's cleanly written and tightly edited is still going to be boring and lacking imagination no matter how professional they've made it look.

7. With the deluge of publishers today offering copies of the book in lieu of payment, do you think it’s worth being published even just for the publicity or do you only seek publishers who pay?

Publishers are actually doing that? I'm not in the market for a publisher right now, so I wasn't aware of this. Off the top of my head, I'd say give me a publisher who's going to pay an industry standard in a recognizable time frame and is willing to negotiate copies of the book for marketing purposes (conventions, book signings, etc). That seems fair to me.

8. With so many authors available on Facebook, do you feel like they’ll read your book if you read theirs? Or is it all an illusion and everyone is in it for themselves?

I never assume other writers will read my work just because they're my Friends on Facebook. If they do, great! If not, that's cool, too. I am leery of writers who hit me up via PM asking me to go buy their book and review it, though. That kind of kamikaze marketing never works. Or at least it doesn't for me. Honestly, what I've found is that if, as a writer, you engage other writers and potential readers as a person who's witty, sincere, caring, shows an interest in their lives and work, and isn't constantly selling, they're more likely to take a look at your work than if you point-blank ask them to read it. Show them who you are outside of what you do and you increase your chances of gaining new readers. Even ones who are fellow writers.

9. Do you think you should get a refund for a book that is poorly edited? Would you give a refund? Why or why not?

With most books you buy online, there are fairly generous samples available. I trust any reader would be able to tell whether or not a book is edited well within the first few pages. Therefore, I don't believe refunds should be made available. Already you're finding the refund policy -- especially on Amazon -- being abused by people who buy a book, read it, and then return it, all within the seven day period. No issues, no editing issues, nothing wrong with the book. They just wanted to treat Amazon like a library, read the book, return it, save that $2.99 or whatever, and screw the writer.

10. What safeguards are you taking to separate yourself from the avalanche of self-published authors online? Is it working or is it too early to tell?

By making my books better than what you'd find from legacy published books. I'm serious. I aim for strong characters, great pace, believable dialogue -- and that's where my screenwriting experience comes in really handy -- and stories that are not only imaginative and genre specific, but also emotionally resonant. On top of that, the work itself is well-written and tightly edited with a great back cover blurb and a professional cover. And then it's marketed intelligently. As a self-pubbed writer, I look at what I do as a business. A serious business. If I run my business smartly, do my homework, work my tail off to make it as good as can be, and get the word out via the appropriate channels -- read: not spamming on Facebook or Twitter --, I'll sell books. If I fail at that, not only do I NOT sell books, I also embarrass myself and completely screw up that very important first impression with potential new readers. When it comes to whether or not it's working, I'd say I have early signs that it is. I have a very nice number of strong reviews on Amazon and, with the upcoming Proseuche, the feedback from my beta-readers -- all fantastic writers and editors in their own right who are not known for blowing smoke up anybody's skirt -- is overwhelming positive. So I believe I'm on the right track.

11. If you found that you were one of those writers who were not contributing to your genre, and were in fact making your genre look bad, would you quit or keep writing?

I have no idea what to even think about this question. Seriously. As OCD as I am, it's difficult to imagine offering work that would hurt the genre overall. I mean, it'd have to be absolutely horrific, abysmal, embarrassingly bad, shockingly poor work for all the worst reasons to hurt a whole genre. Yikes!

12. How do you feel about writers who post their books on other people’s timelines or tag friends just to promote their own books? What if that were the only way to sell books to your friends? After all, you’re only here to sell books, right? Then why are you here? And don’t say to make friends. Be honest. And here you can wrap up your opinion on this matter. Is there a “too far” to sell your books? Or not? Nice guys finish last, right?

As I mentioned earlier, I'm rarely impressed by those who do nothing but post links to their work on other peoples' timelines or, in my opinion, over-promote themselves at the expense of becoming an integral part of the social media experience. Oftentimes I just ignore those people and, if that's all they do, quickly discontinue Following them. That way I don't have to see them on my timeline. As for being on Facebook only to sell books, I'm going to respectfully disagree. I'd guess that a solid 90% of my Friends are fellow writers. And, truth be told, fellow writers rarely buy books. They will applaud you, support you, encourage you, commiserate with you, even offer you advice and praise, but they rarely buy books. My time on FB is designed to learn more about the writing community, the horror community, more specifically, and perhaps, at some time, become involved in various Groups and maybe even attend some conventions. I rarely market and when I do, I do so almost apologetically. I've found the best way to sell books is to be myself. Be proud of what I do, of course, but don't hound people with links to my work. If they're curious, they'll take a look. If the blurb and reviews and sample intrigue them, they'll buy. End of story. And, yes, there is a line you can cross in pushing your work. Annoy potential readers by being too aggressive and, I promise you, they're difficult to get back. Annoy fellow writers and you lose whatever future support you could have gotten. Be smart, be patient, look at the long term picture, and remember there are real people with real feelings, real issues, real problems, their own hopes and dreams, their own lives, on the other side of your Post. Accept that your book may not be a priority for them, have that be okay, and then drop it and move on.


********


Michael H. Hanson comments:

Gee, I think I’ve found my alternate-dimension doppelganger. I’m a failed screenwriter (12 years spent writing and unsuccessfully marketing a stack of spec screenplays and teleplays without selling or optioning a single one) who dropped that dream at the age of 40 to embrace short story writing.

Comparing speculative statistics is always a dangerous (but fun) thing to do, so what the hell. From everything I’ve ever read (and heard from outspoken industry professionals like Joss Whedon and Ron Moore) getting into the film and tv industry as a writer is about as difficult as winning the lotto. Compared to that, breaking into short stories and novels must be more like winning a small town’s annual mini-marathon… difficult, but far from impossible… IMHO.

With that said, I humbly encourage you to just keep doing what you are doing. You have a very realistic and healthy take on what this industry is all about in the 21st century (I’m talking short story fiction and novels now).

As I’m sure is the case in the TV/Film writing industry, this is a “calling.” If you feel compelled to do this, regardless of immediate monetary and salutary gratification, then this is your true love and don’t ever give it up…. But I think it is obvious you already know this, and so, my avalanche of useless hyperbole must now come to an end.

Keep on rocking!



Franklin E. Wales comments:

Jonathan Winn:

I like your take on treating this as a business. Writing is a wonderful thing, but at the end of the day, selling units is what keeps food on the table. For all the beautiful flowery talk of art, it is still a business. In question # 5 you said, “Writing is a long-term career. You can't let being temporarily strapped for cash interrupt what your career could be a year, two years, five years from now. So I just keep writing. Even when I have minimal sales, I just keep writing. It's never occurred to me not to.” These words should be tacked above every writer’s monitor with your name listed as the source. I am looking forward to reading your work. PS you never really answered # 11.




Cybernock #7 

Cindy Hernandez




1. Can you tell us about yourself in terms of publishing?

Do you have books out or are you looking forward to publishing for the first time?

I recently self-published a small collection of horror stories just to test the self-publishing waters a bit. The collection is called Cobwebs, and I’ll be self-publishing another collection next month called A Half-Dozen Horrors. My main work, a novel called DeLuca’s Mask, is currently awaiting a decision from a small publisher.



2. If you’re a new author or published author, what are/were your expectations about being in print?

I expect that I’m going to have a lot of work to do in terms of getting my name and writing “out there.” I knew that right from the start. I don’t expect to do well right away, and I’m prepared for that, too.



3. Why do you write or why did you start writing?

I started writing when I was just a kid. I was one of those weird, nerdy kids that nobody likes, but when a teacher would read one of my stories to the class, everyone paid attention: it was the only time the other kids respected me. Writing just seemed to come naturally to me. I don’t write for attention anymore, but it’s still a great feeling when someone tells me they enjoyed one of my stories.



4. If you won a billion dollars, would you write more or less? Elaborate.

Initially, I wouldn’t write at all! I’d be too busy traveling the world, having new experiences, and enjoying my money. I would be taking notes, however, and committing my experiences to memory. After the excitement of being a billionaire settled down, I’d most likely write more than I do now. I’d have all those notes and experiences as inspiration for new stories, plus I’d be free from the distraction of financial worries, which can be such a creativity block.



5. If you never earned a penny from your stories, would you keep writing? Elaborate.

I’d keep writing, definitely. I wrote for over forty years with never a thought to making any money from it. Friends would occasionally tell me, ‘you should look into getting published, Cindy!’ but I never thought anyone would want to pay to read my stuff. I finally got serious about my writing last year, and as it turns out, there are people willing to pay to read my work, but even if they weren’t, I’d keep writing. I have to write. I’d probably go nuts if I didn’t. My mother used to tell me that I had “way too much imagination,” and it’s true. I have to let it out whether I get paid for it or not!



6. What is your opinion of self-published writers (Cybernocks) compared to paper authors who have a professional publisher? Be honest.

Hmm. This is a tricky question, and I hope I can answer it without offending anyone! I haven’t been exposed to the self-publishing world for very long, but this is what I’ve noticed so far: There are a lot of extremely talented self-published authors who produce some amazing work; however, there are just as many who will slap together a bunch of words, call it a novel, and self-publish it without the benefit of editing or proofreading. I’ve purchased a couple of these, and some were so poorly constructed, I couldn’t finish them. I’m also lead to believe that the enthusiastic reviews I’ve read about these so-called novels are simply favors done by the author’s friends/family.



7. With the deluge of publishers today offering copies of the book in lieu of payment, do you think it’s worth being published even just for the publicity or do you only seek publishers who pay?

I think it’s a good idea to be published just for the exposure right at first as a way to help build a fan/reader base. I have done both. I recently submitted a flash fiction and a short story to an “exposure only” anthology—both were accepted—and I’m waiting to hear from another one that offers payment.



8. With so many authors available on Facebook, do you feel like they’ll read your book if you read theirs? Or is it all an illusion and everyone is in it for themselves?

I think the majority of Facebook authors are in it for themselves. Nothing at all wrong with that. I have been fortunate enough to meet a few authors who purchased and read Cobwebs after I’d read their work, though. I’m very grateful for them, but if we all took the time to read one another’s books, there would be no time left for writing them.



9. Do you think you should get a refund for a book that is poorly edited? Would you give a refund? Why or why not?

I’ve never sought a refund for a poorly edited book; I just don’t buy anything else from that particular author. If someone were to request a refund from me because of an editing issue, I’d certainly grant it. Readers spend their hard earned money on our work, and they deserve quality. Just like getting your money back after purchasing a faulty item at the store: a quality issue is a quality issue.



10. What safeguards are you taking to separate yourself from the avalanche of self-published authors online? Is it working or is it too early to tell?

I’m not even sure what those safeguards might be this early in the game. I’m just trying to write unique, quality stories to the best of my ability. I’m also careful to mind my manners on Facebook. Even in the short amount of time I’ve been in the self-publishing rat race, I’ve seen a lot of rudeness and unprofessional behavior amongst self-published authors—right on the Facebook news feed for everyone to see! I don’t know if refusing to engage in that sort of behavior would be considered a safeguard or not, though.



11. If you found that you were one of those writers who were not contributing to your genre, and were in fact making your genre look bad, would you quit or keep writing?

I’d keep writing, definitely. I would ask questions as to what was making my genre look bad, but that would be just out of curiosity. As long as I still had readers, and the good comments and reviews continued to outweigh the bad, I wouldn’t even worry about it.


12. How do you feel about writers who post their books on other people’s timelines or tag friends just to promote their own books? What if that were the only way to sell books to your friends? After all, you’re only here to sell books, right? Then why are you here? And don’t say to make friends. Be honest. And here you can wrap up your opinion on this matter. Is there a “too far” to sell your books? Or not?

It’s annoying and rude to post books on other people’s timelines and author pages without asking. It’s happened to me quite a few times, and I hate it. I would never buy a book from someone who did this because first impressions are that important to me. If that was the only way to sell books to my friends, I would still ask them if they were interested first.

I am not only here to sell books, I am here to learn as much as I can about the writing, marketing, and selling of a book. I’ve learned quite a bit just by observing how other more experienced authors go about the process. I can’t sell books if I don’t know how to do it!

Yes, there is definitely a “too far” when it comes to selling books. I know of a person who went so far as to send friend requests to dozens of people at a time, then once they accepted, this person spammed their inboxes and timelines with links to website, and a description of the book, which hadn’t even been published yet. The author then followed up by sending the new “friend” an invitation to “like” the author’s page. All this without even saying hello first. I prefer the polite approach: ask first, then show them what you have to offer.

Twitter: @cindysays63

Link to my book, Cobwebs: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IK6BC1W

I am also featured on this website: http://www.indiebookauthors.com./

I will be building my own website in a few weeks.


********


Michael H. Hanson comments:

Gee, I thought this Q&A was going to be answered by naïve newbies with ridiculous Hollywood expectations.

Cynthia, I think you have a respectful, humble, and very realistic outlook on the world of writing. Keep on rocking!


Franklin E. Wales comments:

Cindy Hernandez:

You have the right attitude for this business. It’s a long haul, and you need to pack a big lunch for it. I particularly enjoyed your answer to # 4, believing it was the closest to real written here. I find it hard to believe that winning a billion dollars would keep anyone working business as usual: we’d probably all have a million dollars worth of fun before seriously setting down to the keyboard again. By your own admission you haven’t been around the self-pub world too long. I would encourage you not to generalize too much. It’s a giant slush pile, but there are gems to be found there. Few, perhaps, but worth the read when you find them.




Cybernock #8

Chantal Noordeloos



1. Can you tell us about yourself in terms of publishing? Do you have books out or are you looking forward to publishing for the first time?

I’ve been writing for publication since June 2012. After getting several short stories published in anthologies and magazines, I decided I wanted some work out there that was ‘just me’. In July 2013 I published a Steampunk novella called Coyote: The Outlander. We were a little experimental with Coyote, and it comes complete with a second screen website, that contains more parts of the story and some other extras. In November 2013 I decided to combine all my short (horror) stories in one collection called Deeply Twisted.


2. If you’re a new author or published author, what are/were your expectations about being in print?

Expectations is a tricky word, because I really didn’t know what to expect. I think my biggest expectation was that my work in print would lead me to readers. But other than that I was more focused on getting something out there that I could be proud of, than I was with ‘what it would bring me’. Though I think secretly in the deepest shadowy corner of our hearts we all expect fans to jump out at us to sprinkle us with confetti and stuff dollar bills in our literary g-strings.


3. Why do you write or why did you start writing?

I’ve been a storyteller from a very young age. I found that it was easier to appease my creativity if I wrote them down. The stories nag at me if I don’t. Writing fills up a missing part of me. Also, what can be cooler than spending your days in make-belief worlds? It’s a great way to escape reality once in a while.


4. If you won a billion dollars, would you write more or less? Elaborate.

I would probably write less. Not because I would want to stop writing, but I would just take more vacations *grin*. Right now I write all the time, and I find it difficult to take time off. Even when I’m not writing, I’m still thinking about it. Even if it’s just in a marketing sense.


5. If you never earned a penny from your stories, would you keep writing? Elaborate.

I would, but I would be a miserable git for it. I don’t think I could stop doing this, I love it too much. But not getting paid for hard work is a bitter pill.


6. What is your opinion of self-published writers (Cybernocks) compared to paper authors who have a professional publisher? Be honest.

I have no beef with self published or traditionally published authors. For me there is a whole range in between too. There are Indie publishers and small press publishers. I’ve read enough work to know that at least half the Indie / Small press publishers are of very low quality, and you might as well publish your own work if no one is going to give your work the love it deserves. Personally I don’t mind who you publish with, but HOW you publish. Get a good editor (and preferably a proofreader on top of that). There is no such thing as perfection, and it usually takes several prints to get all the mistakes out, I get that… but I’ve seen books that were published with so many amateur mistakes… it makes them illegible for me. That’s where my pet peeve lies. And in all fairness, a lot of self published authors don’t spend the time and money in the work they produce. If you are going to be your own publisher, you need to ACT like a publisher. Not everyone can do that. And those who can’t… shouldn’t. Sorry, my opinion is a bit brutal, I know. I don’t want to offend anyone… but you did ask.


7. With the deluge of publishers today offering copies of the book in lieu of payment, do you think it’s worth being published even just for the publicity or do you only seek publishers who pay?

I’ve had some of my stories published like that. This is a tricky question, because people could argue “what difference is the little money that you get for a story going to make”. I’ve sold stories for as cheap as 20 dollars. It’s not a lot of money if you consider the effort that goes in it. However, it’s a good way to start your journey too. In return I’ve met a lot of fellow authors, I’ve learned a bit more about the writing world. It boosted my confidence at the time, which is a good thing. Would I recommend it… I’m rather neutral about it. One thing I would say is, don’t publish with publishers that won’t give you money AND don’t give you a copy of the book. It’s not worth it. These publishers tend to not have very good editors or professional plans. I’ve met people trough anthologies, but I don’t think people can get famous from them, so if you want to walk this path, that’s something to consider.


8. With so many authors available on Facebook, do you feel like they’ll read your book if you read theirs? Or is it all an illusion and everyone is in it for themselves?

Liking someone as a facebook friend does not mean you have to like their books. I’ve bought books from author friends to support them. I’ve read a few too. But to be honest, if I don’t like someone’s work, I will probably not buy from them again, or at least not read it. Too many tastes. However I don’t think it’s everyone is in it for themselves. There are plenty of ways to support each other, even if you don’t like another person’s work. You can share their links, talk writing, be a beta-reader, recommend their work to people who might really like it. Word of mouth is a powerful thing for authors. The writing world on social media is very complex. You’ll find all different types of authors and some are very kind to their peers.


9. Do you think you should get a refund for a book that is poorly edited? Would you give a refund? Why or why not?

Yes. But only if it’s truly poorly edited. You can’t fault books of having a mistake or two. Even big 5 published books have those. But books that are filled with mistakes (grammar, spelling or even formatting) should not be out there. If that happens to me, I would take my book down and fix it.


10. What safeguards are you taking to separate yourself from the avalanche of self-published authors online? Is it working or is it too early to tell?

I try to work with good editors, proofreaders and artists. I don’t think the avalanche is just ‘self published’ authors either, I think there are a lot of Indie / Small press published authors in that snow slide. To be honest, I don’t feel as if it’s working at all. I am starting to get a sneaky suspicion quantity works in favor of quality. But that could just be me being snarky.


11. If you found that you were one of those writers who were not contributing to your genre, and were in fact making your genre look bad, would you quit or keep writing?

I would change my writing. And be very ashamed, maybe get me a fashionable Dunce cap. This is a bit of an odd question, because if you’re making a genre look bad… that’s pretty extreme.


12. How do you feel about writers who post their books on other people’s timelines or tag friends just to promote their own books? What if that were the only way to sell books to your friends? After all, you’re only here to sell books, right? Then why are you here? And don’t say to make friends. Be honest. And here you can wrap up your opinion on this matter. Is there a “too far” to sell your books? Or not? Nice guys finish last, right?

There is a special place in hell for those kind of people. No I’m just kidding, though I tend to unfriend people like that quite quickly.

Ehm… well, let’s see. Am I only here to make friends? No, I’m not. I do want to sell my books. However, I’m a lot less business orientated on my personal Facebook account than I am on my Author Page. So there is the separation of the two. I don’t tolerate any spam on my author page, and I will delete it. That page is about *me* and *my* writing. On my personal page I tend to be very supportive of my author friends. I might have a few spammers in the mix, but I don’t mind. We all spam from time to time. When my new book comes out, I’ll probably annoy a few people too for a while. Most people that I know are pretty respectful and only post their links in the seven billion marketing groups / pages, so you only see them when you are a part of the same groups (which of course, most of us are)

Do I think this works? Hmmm, only a little. Facebook is a nice little base, but let’s face it, it’s not the world. It’s the same people doing the same things all the time, and people get numb to advertisement. Telling the same people about the same book over and over and over and over (argl… you get my point) is just going to make them turn away from you. So you have to be smart about it. Don’t be too nice, but don’t be a total nob-end either. There is a balance.

********


Michael H. Hanson comments:

Once again, I read the replies of an author who is not blinded by unrealistic expectations promoted by mass media and so-called prevalent “common knowledge.” You have a very healthy attitude towards this crazy biz, and your suppositions and suspicions reflect what many writers who have not yet dropped their day-jobs for full-time writing feel… and that includes me. Rock on!




Franklin E. Wales comments:

Chantal Noordeloos:

It’s hard to believe you’ve only been writing for publication since 2012. Your answers for the most part echo the beliefs of so many walking this path a lot longer. Your answer to # 6 wasn’t brutal at all, it was stone cold fact. Self published authors can make or break their own work, depending on how much work they want to put into the project after they type THE END. One point you brought home was the fact that just because an author places their work a small publishing company, does not mean the final product will be professional. One thing I tend to do is look to reviews for several books published by the same company. Reviewers are quick to point out sloppy or unacceptable editing. Then again, the author probably never should have let the story go, if it wasn’t as close to perfect as they could make it. Either way, the ultimate blame falls on us.


********

And there you have it, readers: Eight sets of answers and comments. It is your turn now to join in the discussion. How honest do you think our authors and commentators were? How realistic were the expectations? How would you have answered? 

Keep in mind, this article was meant for unpublished writers who wanted to discuss their expectations on becoming published, whether online or on paper. As you can tell by the title of this series of interviews ("The Seeds of Horror"), though, the piece grew a bit to include published and established authors who wanted to add their two cents to the discussion. So, let's keep the discussion going till Cybernocturnalism VII comes out. Keep it civil but real. Look forward to your responses.

7 comments:

  1. Just got in and eagerly read through the entire thing. What I found most interesting about my section is that Franklin Wales only commented on my "having opinions" and then admonished me for not reading more and my attitude about self-published writers. No mention whatsoever of the interview itself, outside of his referring to my self-published comment as a "rant." Yet, he positively GUSHES over every other author here, posting glowing comments about their answers and then intimating that he knows some of them personally. My opinion of self-published authors is my own, and it was solicited in the group of questions--I see no reason to answer by sugar-coating how I feel. Perhaps I should have. Then Franklin might've gushed a bit over my interview instead of snidely taking me to task.

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  2. The fact that you didn't "sugar-coat" your answers attests to your integrity. I won't speak for anyone but myself, so I'll just say, you always have a place on my blog, as interviewee, author, and friend. Thanks for being the first to reply to our commentators.

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    1. So, where are the comments on this blog? Aren't we all supposed to contribute? Seems odd that everyone else is stony silent! I'll throw out something I've observed: why is it that women who write horror and/or fantasy usually run photographs of themselves that look like they're auditioning for Playboy? All these sexy poses, with a wink-wink to whoever's looking. Sheesh. If it isn't that, then the pictures are goofy or the women make themselves up like hags. I know sex sells, but, to me, that undermines what you're trying to put across as a writer and actually cheapens it. Just a thought. Now, discuss!

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  3. Hmm. It's been almost a month without any action on this page. I'd at least like to hear from the writers themselves--certainly, they must have comments about their fellow writers profiled here or the comments from the "published" authors. Derek Butler has a good point, and something I've always wondered about. Why is it that female horror writers pose for pix that look more like personal ads or tryouts for Playboy? Chantal's photo, for example, with that "come hither" look. Or Kim's, with its wild "I'm a punk" persona. Is that supposed to sell her writing to a potential buyer? I'm not interested in the writer's looks when I'm buying a book or reading a story.

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    1. I invited people who are very vocal on this subject online. I feel like some writers tricked me with their muscle-flexing when they asked to participate but wimped out for lack of hurting people's feelings. We don't have to be rude, but silence is even worse. So, thank you, Rod for bringing to the blog what you promised and what I expected from all participants.

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    2. You're welcome...but I thought that's what we're supposed to do! When you approached me about this project months ago, I was very enthusiastic and fully expected my fellow-authors would be, too. The subsequent interviews were interesting, thought-provoking, and intriguing. Then--for some odd reason--the page just died. No one commented, no one participated in lively debate. You'd think these writers would want to publicize themselves and their work, and this is a great forum for that...but noooo. Surely, the ladies should've remarked, what with their provocative photographs brought to task. Again, nothing. Even the two guest writers seem to have abandoned the forum. Why? I want to know what makes these people tick! With so much self-produced garbage in the marketplace, how the hell do they think their stuff is going to stand out? By publicizing it with sexy photographs? By making themselves look like "punks?" Come on. I throw the gauntlet down for all the participants. Tony's giving us this chance to expound on our craft and the boat we're all in--at least show him the respect he deserves by commenting!

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    3. Still nothing, huh? Tony, I'm afraid you picked the wrong people to participate in this project!

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