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Old 01-02-2012, 03:38 PM   #1
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The Western Writer

What is a Western Writer?

By Jory Sherman

We are the long-stilled voices of your ancestors speaking from the past. We are echoes of those who were already here in the New World and those who came after and settled these now United States. We are the Native Americans who roamed the West, first on foot, and later on horseback. We are the explorers, the fur trappers and traders, the soldiers, the men and women who rode in wagons across the Great Plains and left our bones on silent prairies and in frozen mountain keeps.

We are the people with long memories who sat by lonesome campfires and listened to the stories told under the stars. We are the ones who first saw the greatness of the land and the mingling of peoples, who found the gold and the timber and the oil, who saw life and death and greed and avarice and theft and slaughter. We are those who remind you of who you are, where you came from and where you are going.

We are your conscience and your guilt. We are those who surveyed the unnamed places and put names and measurements to towns and cities and rivers and streams and mountains and valleys. We are those who followed the buffalo and the eagle, who first spoke to the Redman in sign language and died on trackless plains with dreams in our hearts and prayers on our lips.

We are the chroniclers of those times when our nation was raw and young and untamed and restless and without boundaries. We are the voices of all who came westward and we speak to those now living and to those who will come after and wonder what the land was like, and who the people were and what happened over the centuries of blood and violence and progress.

We are those who paint pictures with words, who relate the forgotten stories, who look into the dark caves and light a torch so that all may see what lies inside and beyond.

We are those who live part of our lives in the past and ride a horse called History and who bring life to everything and everyone who died on the westward trek.

We are who you really are if you will but look in your hearts and wonder. We come from everywhere and come in all sizes and shapes. We are people born of another time and place who inscribe our stories in your hearts. We are those who write down the names on tombstones and mark the olden trails so that you who read us might trace the steps of your fathers and mothers, your grandfathers and grandmothers, your great grandfathers and great grandmothers and see what they saw and wrote down in their diaries and told their children who told their children who then told us.

We are the observers of both fate and destiny; the alchemists who transform the lead of the past into the gold of the future. We are the bearers of tidings, both ill and good. We are the keepers of the flame who refuse to let the old campfires die out.

We are those who write down what we see and hear and feel, taste and touch so that all may know what the West really was and what it means to all future generations. We are those who never die, who live as long as words are spoken and ears will hear. We are those who see through the mists of time and walk through the valleys of shadows and wander the long prairies of memory so that you will know that we passed by all those places that are now paved over and gouged out and dammed up and slashed down and scarred and vacant of all former life, where the old footprints have been obliterated.

We are those now called Western writers and we are proud to carry the label. We still ride the West on a horse called History, singing our old songs and telling the grand stories of yesteryear.
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Old 01-12-2012, 12:25 PM   #2
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POD vs Tradition

Came across this article, any thoughts? I am torn with the same points he makes. I know one 6 time published (traditional) writer who has less ebook sales than I do for the last month, then I have a personal relationship with another that is successful. However, the latter writes self help, and the previous writes fiction. Thoughts?


Author Update
Wednesday January 11, 2012

Print-On-Demand vs Traditional Publishing
Barry Crowther
Going Down the POD Route

I keep considering whether itís a good idea to use POD or not? Thatís Print On Demand. A lot of people consider this to be giving in and not staying with the traditional method, but I have to say Iím really struggling with the downside here.

Consider the pain it takes to get down the traditional publishing method and the results donít appear to be that different. What? That canít be right. Letís look at my current scenario. I have a very publishable book. Not just me and the dog agree with this, itís been professionally edited and I have several ďprosĒ who have backed me into saying this is good enough for publication. Just need to get an agent or an intro to a small press. So far so good. The hard part (writing the thing) is over. Not so fast. I get a copy of the first three chapters and mail them to several agents as well as blast off five or six emails and wait for the response. Itís not quick. Mostly rejections and some requests for the rest. This took on average six weeks to get to this stage.

Okay, hit the pause button here.

Two friends discuss this with me. One is now selling POD, the other is published with a small press. The one selling POD is doing okay, not financially rewarding but he has sold a few hundred and is gaining traction. The published author is complaining that the small press keeps messing up and although there was some upfront cash, it was nothing that could be called a huge success.

One thing that was clear from the contrast in the discussion was support, or a better expression: marketing. The distribution and marketing that is being applied to debut authors or even long running smaller authors is abysmal. If you donít happen to become a big draw then there ainít no marketing dollars coming your way. Period.

In On Writing by Stephen King he talks about the process of vanity publishing and how itís a bad thing. I agree. You donít want a garage full of your novel after shoveling over heaps of cash to someone on the end of a phone line in another country. But I also think that Steve hasnít got as much perspective with his name being so well recognized. Also when On Writing was written POD didnít really exist. Maybe Iím just talking myself into this POD thing??

If there is no marketing to support new authors or any form of career development with an agent then I may as well control my own destiny. What do I need them for? They read your work give a professional (subjective) opinion then shuffle onto the next thing. If you donít work out, no problem, thereís a slush pile mountain out in the hallway. To me literary agents have become A&R men. The talent spotters of the music industry. These people donít appear to be qualified to do anything. I recently read a great expose of the music business Ė if an A&R man was lucky and he getís one band, maybe two to sell a few thousand copies of some tripe then he would be hailed as a genius. Itís American Idol all over again but without an audience voting bands off. Almost a coin toss on who gets to stay in and who gets thrown out.

Thatís one thing that is cool about POD. Itís a little edgy, a little counter culture. I like that. Iím not part of the Simon and Schuster empire or Random house. Donít get me wrong if they came knocking I would take the distribution Ö so long as there was some marketing back up, otherwise whatís the point.

Why not knock a book out, get it on Amazon and tell a load of friends on Facebook. Whatís the betting if it sells a few thousand Random house might come knocking anyway. Food for thought.

About the Author:
Barry Crowther has made his home in San Clemente Southern California. Originally from Manchester England. He has had short stories published, Missing is first novel on the eBook platform. He continues to work and write on the follow up novel in the San Clemente sun with his three daughters, wife and chocolate lab Coney.

Read more from Barry's blog here
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:52 PM   #3
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Print on Demand and services like BookieJar and Smashwords are better for the new author, if you figure you're not going to ever get signed by one of the Big Six (or however many there are now) publishers. You breeze past the gatekeepers and self- advertise your books. Wait a while, and hopefully the paychecks will start rolling in.

Now, if you plan on getting signed, then you won't be able to accept the publisher's no-compete clause if you've gone with the above. Cause the publisher doesn't want you competing with them selling your writing, especially if they're going like Penguin has with their vanity ebook press. But that seems to be the only gotcha I've been able to find.
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Old 01-13-2012, 01:37 PM   #4
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Quality thought. I took that into consideration when I chose smashwords. If the day comes that I land such an opportunity, the book on smashwords can be unpublished.
The double edged sword for me is, getting it in print on my own or POD I am looking at two grand investment. That is not gonna happen, so I do as you suggest, wait.
Also, I consider the royalties, now I receive 80%, publishers are getting up into giving us 40% on eBooks now, however the argument can be made (as in the article) I will work just has hard to promote and make less.
Thanks for your thoughts.
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:37 AM   #5
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My 1st thought was does the header refer to a western writer or a Western writer. The phrase can mean either one. Either someone who is from a western country who is a writer or someone who writes Westerns. Both meanings are valid. A western writer does his/her writing from a state of freedom in that they aren't in danger of being arrested for writing something the state objects to and Western writers write about people who created the modern world we live in and who lived in a time of greater self-determination than we live in today.
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:14 AM   #6
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I have to agree that I would not automatically associated the expression "western writer" with someone who writes "cowboys and indians" stories (yes, I know that's probably horribly "non-PC"). Perhaps it's a cultural thing.
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Old 01-14-2012, 06:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
I have to agree that I would not automatically associated the expression "western writer" with someone who writes "cowboys and indians" stories (yes, I know that's probably horribly "non-PC"). Perhaps it's a cultural thing.
Pretty much; in the U.S., that's exactly what the impression is used to mean.
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