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Old 12-09-2009, 03:43 PM   #61
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@Moejoe:

In my experience so far, I've had a look at some self-published works that looked interesting. I've tried reading them and none of them turned out to interest me. Of the books I've seen, the writing wasn't horrible, but it wasn't really great either, and not enough to want me read the book. I would certainly hope to find an Antonia Byatt, a Robertson Davies, a David Lodge, a Hallgrimur Helgason, a Christopher Isherwood, a Reginald Hill, a Rose Tremain, a Sarah Waters - or perhaps 'just' entertaining storytellers like Gerald Durrell, Judith Merkle Riley, Anne MacCaffrey, Laurie R. King, or Diana Gabaldon.

I feel sorry for you if you feel personally snubbed. Unfortunately the 20-30 self-published books I've had personal experience with so far have not showed themselves to be worth spending all that time over - for me. The time spent looking for them have not paid off compared to for example visiting the library or going to a book store to find new authors.

It has been quite difficult for me to find self-published books (except for fan fiction where it's not the literary quality that draws me) I'd like to read and after 20-30 'disappointments' I'm not especially inclined to spend a lot of time looking for new authors, if I could just take a turn at the library instead, where I would (from experience) easily be able to find a book or three that would interest me.

Perhaps I've been unlucky in my choices of books, but your manner of berating and scolding someone who doesn't agree with you, is beside the point. Would you do that to someone who perhaps had interest in your books? (BTW, I had no idea you wrote books). Show me self-published books as good as from those authors I mentioned instead. Show me a reason to adjust my opinion. If I should trust you, they should be out there.

I know there's lots of professionally published crap out there - but I rarely notice it. I guess I've learned to navigate that field and steer clear of what I don't like to read. Plus, I've grown up in a country with such a small potential book market where there simply isn't room for much 'professional crap' - it's what we call 'concession stand literature' here and it isn't usually available at the library.

Don't bother answering this. I've unsubscribed this thread and I won't be back. I don't get the impression that you are able to discuss this subject in a calm, sensible manner, without resorting to personal attacks, and I don't want to be dragged further into it.
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Old 12-09-2009, 03:50 PM   #62
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@Moejoe:

In my experience so far, I've had a look at some self-published works that looked interesting. I've tried reading them and none of them turned out to interest me. Of the books I've seen, the writing wasn't horrible, but it wasn't really great either, and not enough to want me read the book. I would certainly hope to find an Antonia Byatt, a Robertson Davies, a David Lodge, a Hallgrimur Helgason, a Christopher Isherwood, a Reginald Hill, a Rose Tremain, a Sarah Waters - or perhaps 'just' entertaining storytellers like Gerald Durrell, Judith Merkle Riley, Anne MacCaffrey, Laurie R. King, or Diana Gabaldon.

I feel sorry for you if you feel personally snubbed. Unfortunately the 20-30 self-published books I've had personal experience with so far have not showed themselves to be worth spending all that time over - for me. The time spent looking for them have not paid off compared to for example visiting the library or going to a book store to find new authors.

It has been quite difficult for me to find self-published books (except for fan fiction where it's not the literary quality that draws me) I'd like to read and after 20-30 'disappointments' I'm not especially inclined to spend a lot of time looking for new authors, if I could just take a turn at the library instead, where I would (from experience) easily be able to find a book or three that would interest me.

Perhaps I've been unlucky in my choices of books, but your manner of berating and scolding someone who doesn't agree with you, is beside the point. Would you do that to someone who perhaps had interest in your books? (BTW, I had no idea you wrote books). Show me self-published books as good as from those authors I mentioned instead. Show me a reason to adjust my opinion. If I should trust you, they should be out there.

I know there's lots of professionally published crap out there - but I rarely notice it. I guess I've learned to navigate that field and steer clear of what I don't like to read. Plus, I've grown up in a country with such a small potential book market where there simply isn't room for much 'professional crap' - it's what we call 'concession stand literature' here and it isn't usually available at the library.

Don't bother answering this. I've unsubscribed this thread and I won't be back. I don't get the impression that you are able to discuss this subject in a calm, sensible manner, without resorting to personal attacks, and I don't want to be dragged further into it.
Agreed!
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Old 12-09-2009, 05:54 PM   #63
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As I recall, in 1999 some group made a list of the twentieth century's best 100 novels, and nearly all of them were written before 1950.
Exactly, the issue lies more at the feet of authors creating for more mainstream and accessible work (generic lost symbol style fiction books), publishers only wanting those kinds of books and the general public only buying those kinds of throw away paperbacks.

If anything, e-books will allow someone who has written a great literary work out of passion to get their work in front of many more people. They can bypass the rejections from publishers who are just looking for the next harry potter or twilight series and get their more artistically interesting work in front of people as an e-book.

Many authors would prefer to be a Stephanie Meyer rather than a Tolstoy - make millions instead of creating something with artistic merit which might not sell well to the 2009 general public.
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Old 12-11-2009, 03:20 AM   #64
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How do you make up your mind what to read, then? You have to rely on someone's description of the book, surely, and at least a person who's actually read it is likely to have a more "informed" opinion of it than someone who hasn't.
Sorry to bring this up so far in the thread but:

Why would you need to do any such thing?
I have a general set of genres I like, actually anything but horror and romance, not too big on murder mysteries either.
I pretty much pick them at random. Same as I did with pBooks, I would wander the shelves of the local second hand book store, and always get a few extra books at random in addition to authors I knew I liked
. With all the free ebooks out there and the upload section here, that is made even easier.
I generally pick several at random without looking at cover or blurb, if I want to know what I'm going to be reading, any author I like and I'll get anything new I find by them, but otherwise, why limit yourself? with ebook readers it so easy to burn through a book or two a day.
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Old 03-31-2010, 03:30 PM   #65
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Smile Peak Writing

My apologies, in advance, for resurrecting this old thread and possibly repeating some earlier thoughts. If one types in the string, "100 greatest works of literature", into Google, you'll find many lists of the best 100 writings, including this one:

http://www.infoplease.com/ipea/A0934958.html

The list dates back to 2002, and one of the reasons that it may be more credible than others is that it includes the recommendation of famous writers, such as Salman Rushdie.

Peak oil refers to that period of time when the maximum rate of extraction is reached. Whether this is concomitant with a peak or near peak in proven reserves is arguable, since the former is dependent on the price of alternative forms of energy. Nevertheless, let me, for the sake of argument, define Peak Writing as that point in time where writing reaches its zenith. Some say this point was reached with Fyodor Dostoyevsky, others say it occurred earlier. A few years ago, I argued with some Gen-X and Y colleagues about when Peak Reading was reached. Naturally, this happened with the Baby Boomer generation, of which I am a part. Ahem. Later generations had lower SAT verbal scores, and were consumed by other forms of entertainment, including video games. But, this is a matter of prejudice. Are people really reading less? Good question:

http://www.boston.com/news/education...ng_a_lot_less/

Well, if they are, my solution is to buy young people an Ereader. Then download, or have them download, as many of the public domain versions of the books in the 100 greatest list, as are available. Fill your child's Amazon wish list with the greatest book titles. (Did you know that Amazon has a list of its own, and has a one click button to add all 100 books to your shopping cart?). Well, it doesn't matter what they fill their cart with, as long as they read. I will be doing my good deed for the day, and sneak a bunch of good books on my boy's Kindle, using Whispernet. Historically, the dawn of Ereaders will signal the rebirth of reading. By inference, these devices should improve writing, giving us new trailblazing authors. There shall always be new writers, in the league of Jack London, Herman Melville, and even Toni Morrison, who will do what previous writers had not done. That is the hope.

Yesterday, the Cern experiment made big news throughout the internet (Kenny posted a link elsewhere). There is a one-year old youtube video explaining the theory behind the Higgs boson and the purpose of the experiment:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFGpNMe5eEQ

Please slip this into your child's viewing queue. Heh, heh. I'll make sure my PhD thesis is pdf'ed and sideloaded to his device as well. Got any more bright ideas? (Please do not suggest that he google the Higgs bosom. That would be a real black hole).
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Old 03-31-2010, 04:51 PM   #66
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I think e-books will mean more opportunities for readers and writers, more people able to make a living writing, with fewer gatekeepers and entities in the distribution chain (like printers, shippers, warehouses, etc.) taking money along the way. Sure, there will be some crap along the way, but I think there will be more writing and more very very good writing (even if the "average" stays the same or goes down).

Books will be easier and less expensive to produce, easier and less expensive to purchase and read, and will hopefully reach more and more people. And I hope to see more quality but perhaps not "marketable" (read: regurgitated tripe meant for the lowest common denominator) writing see the light of day, once it doesn't require a business plan and huge publishing conglomerate in order to distribute a novel.
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Old 03-31-2010, 05:40 PM   #67
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I think e-books will mean more opportunities for readers and writers, more people able to make a living writing, with fewer gatekeepers and entities in the distribution chain (like printers, shippers, warehouses, etc.) taking money along the way. Sure, there will be some crap along the way, but I think there will be more writing and more very very good writing (even if the "average" stays the same or goes down).

Books will be easier and less expensive to produce, easier and less expensive to purchase and read, and will hopefully reach more and more people. And I hope to see more quality but perhaps not "marketable" (read: regurgitated tripe meant for the lowest common denominator) writing see the light of day, once it doesn't require a business plan and huge publishing conglomerate in order to distribute a novel.
I wish I could agree with this, but I don't think it's that simple.

Forget costs. The ultimate issue is that you are competing for the reader's discretionary time. Reading is by nature a foreground activity. You can do something like listen to music in the background and do something else you are concentrating on in the foreground. You can't do that with a book, paper or electronic.

So you have to ask "Why would the reader read book X, when they could be watching TV/going to a movie/attending a sports event/going out to dinner/doing whatever else gives them pleasure?" The cost of the book may well be less than the cost of an alternative recreation, so it's unlikely cost alone will be a factor.

Depending upon who makes them, ebooks aren't going to be significantly less expensive to produce. There are a number of costs involved when a regular publisher produces a book. There will be a cost to acquire the book, the cost of editing, copy editing, and proofreading, the cost of markup and typesetting, the cost of cover design and illustration, and an allocated share of the overhead of the house that issues it that can't be directly attributed to a particular title. These costs will be present regardless of the form in which the book is issued. There are costs involved in manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution, but they are a minority of the total costs. (One editor I know places them at about 10% of the total costs for a book.)

If you take the publisher out of the equation, things change dramatically. It's possible for a writer to create and self-publish ebooks (or paper books, for that matter), and many do. But how many make a significant amount of money out of it, let alone a living?

The ultimate problem for the self-published author is simply letting the audience that wants to read her books know she and her books exist. Ultimately, that's what publishers do for writers, if badly: get the books out where the readers can see them.

Very few people out of the total pool of writers make a living doing it, and most self-published authors will be lucky to cover their costs.

The biggest problem confronting publishing is too many books chasing too few readers. Adding more books isn't going to solve that problem.
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Old 03-31-2010, 06:11 PM   #68
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Well, you're probably right that reading as a whole is on the decline and that people are moving to the Internet and movies and music and TV and Twitter instead of books. But, I don't think that (as the OP asks) e-books will spell the end of great writing. Could all these alternative forms of entertainment hurt writing? Certainly, and they probably already have. But I think e-books will help, not hurt (I think it will better appeal to a younger generation that is used to consuming media electronically).

And I do know how badly the odds are stacked against writers even making a living, let alone for independent authors. But, I'm happy to say that I'm much closer to that goal now than a few years ago when e-books were just a blip on the radar. At least now I have some hope.
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Old 03-31-2010, 07:02 PM   #69
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Well, you're probably right that reading as a whole is on the decline and that people are moving to the Internet and movies and music and TV and Twitter instead of books. But, I don't think that (as the OP asks) e-books will spell the end of great writing. Could all these alternative forms of entertainment hurt writing? Certainly, and they probably already have. But I think e-books will help, not hurt (I think it will better appeal to a younger generation that is used to consuming media electronically).
I don't think it's quite a case of reading being on the decline.

A bigger problem is that many folks never learned to consider reading "fun". Reading is a chore they were forced to learn and do because they have to.

I think of the children of an old friend. Dad was a voracious reader, though Mom wasn't, but Dad came home from the office and plunked himself in front of the TV till dinner was ready. Guess what the kids did? (I watched the older one literally go into a trance when the TV was turned on.) Mom and Dad never set the example when the kids were little that reading was fun and something you did for recreation.

At dinner with a group of folks at an SF convention years back, the conversation turned to declining literacy. I asked "How many of you had parents who read to you when you were kids?" Every hand was raised. My mother read to me as a child, and told me later I had the idea well before I could do it myself. She'd try to fast forward through what she was reading to got me to sleep and get on to chores, and I'd say "No, Mommy! You skipped this part!", pointing unerringly at the section she'd skipped over. I don't really remember not knowing how to read, and always read anything that didn't read me first (and a fair bit that did.) I know where I got the habit.

Quote:
And I do know how badly the odds are stacked against writers even making a living, let alone for independent authors. But, I'm happy to say that I'm much closer to that goal now than a few years ago when e-books were just a blip on the radar. At least now I have some hope.
I think first, you must simply want to do it, whether or not you get recompensed. The act of writing must be its own reward. Whether or not you can get paid for it may determine how much time you can put into it, but not whether you do it at all.

(The late Isaac Asimov once recounted his first wife's displeasure when he took a typewriter along on vacation. She never seemed to understand that he had to write, and wasn't happy if he didn't do it every day.)

But yes, the growing awareness of ebooks, and the Internet as a distribution medium are making it at least possible to make money doing it, even if still unlikely.
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Old 03-31-2010, 08:17 PM   #70
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"I have one of two choices — stay in the post office and go crazy ... or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve." -- Charles Bukowski

I have two brothers-in-law. One is a writer/professor and the other is a painter. Neither has made much money from their artistic pursuits, but thank god they don't give up. It does not matter to them that the masses have not embraced their art. What matters is the occasional kind words from strangers, who have been moved by their thoughts or images. Internet publishing enables this on a somewhat larger scale, when a reader can post comments that can be viewed by the author. There is far too much elitism in the world, from over-educated intellects. Not one of them, other than a few T.S. Eliots, could write a Moby Dick. And surely, Harvard educated Eliot would have struggled with that! Those familiar with the writer know what I am talking about.

Thus, keep on trucking, all of you unknown writers. The genesis of a great plot may some day make you money. At least to the movie business, which may adopt your novel for a screenplay. Some of today's most esteemed writers, e.g., Nadine Gordimer, wouldn't know a plot from a plot in the ground. (Only kidding, Nadine). That is not the strength of her writing. Her brilliancy lies in other areas.
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:04 PM   #71
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I think we're mostly on the same page ... although I was a bit confused when you said:

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I don't think it's quite a case of reading being on the decline.
... and then explained why reading is on the decline, especially with the younger generations. For what it's worth, I agree with you, children are learning that reading is a chore you do for school while TV is fun and a reward if you do your homework.

I've always read for enjoyment, and I don't own a TV.

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I think first, you must simply want to do it, whether or not you get recompensed. The act of writing must be its own reward. Whether or not you can get paid for it may determine how much time you can put into it, but not whether you do it at all.

(The late Isaac Asimov once recounted his first wife's displeasure when he took a typewriter along on vacation. She never seemed to understand that he had to write, and wasn't happy if he didn't do it every day.)
Certainly this is true, and it's the advice I give to anyone who asks me about writing a novel. I definitely wrote my novels for myself, because I wanted to, had to get those words out. Once I did, I wanted to share them with people, and I did, with a relatively small circle of friends and random sales here and there. Recently, I've been incredibly excited to share my work with thousands of readers (and receive priceless comments and thanks from some of those readers), and that wouldn't be possible without e-books.

Now, I am daring to dream of perhaps, maybe, if I work really hard and write more novels and continue to hone my craft and promote like mad and maybe catch a break, maybe I can make a living (not get rich or even make 1/4 what I made at my old career, but maybe pay for rent and groceries) at it ... with the goal being to write MORE, instead of going back to a career that held no meaning for me.
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