Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Is Self-Publishing Ruining Literature?

As you may have noticed from my prior blog post and other social media blurbs, I attended San Diego Comic-Con last week. One of the many writing-related panels I attended featured a publisher moderating a group of traditionally-published authors. The panel topic was Publishing Science Fiction/Fantasy in the Digital Age, which was promoted in the Comic-Con guide as a discussion of the impact of the digital age on writing, publishing, reading, bookselling, and the traditional book as we know it.

Like at many of the Comic-Con panels and seminars I attended last week, the subject of self-publishing came up, due to what I considered a potentially leading question. What surprised me was the insightful answer offered by one of the panelists.

The panel moderator, Timothy Travaglini of Open Road Integrated Media, asked the panel (I'm paraphrasing due to lack of photographic memory) what impact self-publishing had on today's literature. And I cringed. At other panels (and waiting lines outside panels), I'd heard the oft-repeated (and potentially justifiable) assertion that self-publishing has flooded the market with low-quality writing, burying the good stuff like a needle in a haystack.  Now I feared self-publishing was poised to take the blame for the erosion of modern literature.

I can only speculate on the rationale behind Mr. Travaglini's question, however, as an indie author, I feared an impending witch hunt. After all, the purpose of such a query is to garner opinion as to whether self-publishing is good or bad for literature. And as all of the panelists were traditionally-published authors responding to a traditional publisher, I don't think I was being paranoid in anticipating a less-than-favorable response.

While I sat there wearing my self-promoting, indie-author tee-shirt, formulating a (futile) mental rebuttal, one of the panel authors quickly responded with an answer that echoed my thoughts. The author Cory Doctorow responded to the moderator's question with insightful clarity.  Again, I will paraphrase/summarize, and try to do Mr. Doctorow's eloquent response justice. At the core of the author's answer was the idea that it is good for literature when more authors are able to reach more readers than ever before.

Wait, what? Yup, that's right, a published author not disparaging self-publishing, but actually promoting it as something good for humanity's literacy. More people writing and reading = good for literature.  Not surprisingly, that's how I look at it, too.

Obviously, there are valid concerns with the quality of many self-published works. People will continue to self-publish poorly-written, unedited work. Because they can. That bridge has been crossed--there's no turning back, and there's no stopping it (with the exception of the zombie apocalypse). The 'good old days' of publishing houses being the ultimate arbiters of mass market literature are gone.

However, the often-repeated lamentation that self-published work has flooded the market with so much crap that it's impossible to find the good stuff doesn't hold water. It's easy to avoid self-published works if you so wish. Just eschew Smashwords et al., and continue buying your favorite authors from your favorite publishers. Problem solved.  Just don't complain when you miss out on the next great indie author--you won't find a hidden gem while walking the well-traveled path.

And on a final note, I did enjoy the panel. Mr. Travaglini did an excellent job moderating an informative discussion. I don't want to leave anyone with the impression that there was any indie-bashing going on. That, and Mr. Doctorow's response, were a pleasant surprise.


July 2013 - Hello Reader of 4concpoesiaecsps, In the article you read this time with the title July 2013, We have prepared this article for you to read and retrieve information therein. Hopefully the contents of postings We write this you can understand. well, happy reading.

Title : Is Self-Publishing Ruining Literature?
link : Is Self-Publishing Ruining Literature?

Read Also


July 2013

As you may have noticed from my prior blog post and other social media blurbs, I attended San Diego Comic-Con last week. One of the many writing-related panels I attended featured a publisher moderating a group of traditionally-published authors. The panel topic was Publishing Science Fiction/Fantasy in the Digital Age, which was promoted in the Comic-Con guide as a discussion of the impact of the digital age on writing, publishing, reading, bookselling, and the traditional book as we know it.

Like at many of the Comic-Con panels and seminars I attended last week, the subject of self-publishing came up, due to what I considered a potentially leading question. What surprised me was the insightful answer offered by one of the panelists.

The panel moderator, Timothy Travaglini of Open Road Integrated Media, asked the panel (I'm paraphrasing due to lack of photographic memory) what impact self-publishing had on today's literature. And I cringed. At other panels (and waiting lines outside panels), I'd heard the oft-repeated (and potentially justifiable) assertion that self-publishing has flooded the market with low-quality writing, burying the good stuff like a needle in a haystack.  Now I feared self-publishing was poised to take the blame for the erosion of modern literature.

I can only speculate on the rationale behind Mr. Travaglini's question, however, as an indie author, I feared an impending witch hunt. After all, the purpose of such a query is to garner opinion as to whether self-publishing is good or bad for literature. And as all of the panelists were traditionally-published authors responding to a traditional publisher, I don't think I was being paranoid in anticipating a less-than-favorable response.

While I sat there wearing my self-promoting, indie-author tee-shirt, formulating a (futile) mental rebuttal, one of the panel authors quickly responded with an answer that echoed my thoughts. The author Cory Doctorow responded to the moderator's question with insightful clarity.  Again, I will paraphrase/summarize, and try to do Mr. Doctorow's eloquent response justice. At the core of the author's answer was the idea that it is good for literature when more authors are able to reach more readers than ever before.

Wait, what? Yup, that's right, a published author not disparaging self-publishing, but actually promoting it as something good for humanity's literacy. More people writing and reading = good for literature.  Not surprisingly, that's how I look at it, too.

Obviously, there are valid concerns with the quality of many self-published works. People will continue to self-publish poorly-written, unedited work. Because they can. That bridge has been crossed--there's no turning back, and there's no stopping it (with the exception of the zombie apocalypse). The 'good old days' of publishing houses being the ultimate arbiters of mass market literature are gone.

However, the often-repeated lamentation that self-published work has flooded the market with so much crap that it's impossible to find the good stuff doesn't hold water. It's easy to avoid self-published works if you so wish. Just eschew Smashwords et al., and continue buying your favorite authors from your favorite publishers. Problem solved.  Just don't complain when you miss out on the next great indie author--you won't find a hidden gem while walking the well-traveled path.

And on a final note, I did enjoy the panel. Mr. Travaglini did an excellent job moderating an informative discussion. I don't want to leave anyone with the impression that there was any indie-bashing going on. That, and Mr. Doctorow's response, were a pleasant surprise.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Comic-Con--It's for Writers, Too!

Here in San Diego, Comic-Con has been a big deal for decades.  I've been attending every year since 2007 and will be going again this year.  Although Comic-Con started as a comic book convention in 1970, it has grown into an all-encompassing entertainment expo, including writers and writing resources of all kinds (but especially speculative fiction).  Since this is a writing-themed blog, I'll focus on the writing-themed portions of Comic-Con, although it's but a fraction of the total spectacle.

Every year, best-selling authors attend the conference, meet with fans, speak at panels, and more.  A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a panel featuring the late Ray Bradbury, one of my all-time favorites.  Hearing Mr. Bradbury speak left a lasting impression on me.  This year I'm excited to see a panel featuring some of the great writers in epic fantasy, including another one of my all-time favorites, Robin Hobb (Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden) who will be speaking along with Raymond FeistBrandon SandersonDjango Wexler, Melissa de la Cruz, Christopher Paolini, and Daniel Abraham.  How cool is that?

One of the few downsides to Comic-Con (besides crowds and getting tickets) is deciding exactly what events you want to attend.  For example, during the Epic Fantasy Panel I plan to attend, another one of my favorite epic fantasy authors will presenting be in a different panel going on at the same time.  Needless to say, it was a gut-wrenching decision to skip George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones Panel, but since I saw GRRM & the HBO gang last year, I can't imagine passing up a panel with Hobb, Feist, Sanderson, et al.

Decisions, decisions . . .

In addition for the opportunity to get my fanboy on, Comic-Con also offers a plethora of writing-based classes.  Last year, I enjoyed two classes taught by fantasy author Maxwell Alexander Drake, who returns this year with additional classes I plan on attending.  About this time last year, I was preparing to self-publish my first novel Crimson & Cream as an e-book and attended a panel on self-publishing that was chock-full of helpful information.  I also met the nice folks at Compulsion Reads, who I ended up working with.  And this is really just skimming the surface of what's available at this massive show.

So if you happen to be attending 'The Con' this week, keep an eye out for me and say hi if you get the chance.  I'll be giving away free e-book coupons and wearing a tee-shirt with this Crimson & Cream word cloud on the front (and no, I don't cosplay--yet):


July 2013 - Hello Reader of 4concpoesiaecsps, In the article you read this time with the title July 2013, We have prepared this article for you to read and retrieve information therein. Hopefully the contents of postings We write this you can understand. well, happy reading.

Title : Comic-Con--It's for Writers, Too!
link : Comic-Con--It's for Writers, Too!

Read Also


July 2013

Here in San Diego, Comic-Con has been a big deal for decades.  I've been attending every year since 2007 and will be going again this year.  Although Comic-Con started as a comic book convention in 1970, it has grown into an all-encompassing entertainment expo, including writers and writing resources of all kinds (but especially speculative fiction).  Since this is a writing-themed blog, I'll focus on the writing-themed portions of Comic-Con, although it's but a fraction of the total spectacle.

Every year, best-selling authors attend the conference, meet with fans, speak at panels, and more.  A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a panel featuring the late Ray Bradbury, one of my all-time favorites.  Hearing Mr. Bradbury speak left a lasting impression on me.  This year I'm excited to see a panel featuring some of the great writers in epic fantasy, including another one of my all-time favorites, Robin Hobb (Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden) who will be speaking along with Raymond FeistBrandon SandersonDjango Wexler, Melissa de la Cruz, Christopher Paolini, and Daniel Abraham.  How cool is that?

One of the few downsides to Comic-Con (besides crowds and getting tickets) is deciding exactly what events you want to attend.  For example, during the Epic Fantasy Panel I plan to attend, another one of my favorite epic fantasy authors will presenting be in a different panel going on at the same time.  Needless to say, it was a gut-wrenching decision to skip George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones Panel, but since I saw GRRM & the HBO gang last year, I can't imagine passing up a panel with Hobb, Feist, Sanderson, et al.

Decisions, decisions . . .

In addition for the opportunity to get my fanboy on, Comic-Con also offers a plethora of writing-based classes.  Last year, I enjoyed two classes taught by fantasy author Maxwell Alexander Drake, who returns this year with additional classes I plan on attending.  About this time last year, I was preparing to self-publish my first novel Crimson & Cream as an e-book and attended a panel on self-publishing that was chock-full of helpful information.  I also met the nice folks at Compulsion Reads, who I ended up working with.  And this is really just skimming the surface of what's available at this massive show.

So if you happen to be attending 'The Con' this week, keep an eye out for me and say hi if you get the chance.  I'll be giving away free e-book coupons and wearing a tee-shirt with this Crimson & Cream word cloud on the front (and no, I don't cosplay--yet):


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Grammarly (A Review)

Hi everyone! This post is a week late, and my blog now has a different color scheme, but everything else should be the same. I'll still try to deliver a weekly article relating to the DIY self-publishing indie writer, and hopefully indirectly convince a few people to try my book (soon to be books, as in plural, hint, hint).

If you're wondering about the color scheme change, I received some feedback regarding the difficult-to-read white text on dark background and decided to do something about it. I also realized that with my book being titled Crimson & Cream, using those colors on my blog and web page may not be a bad idea. As in, Duh! Why didn't I think of that a year ago?

And if you're wondering what happened to last week's post, between the day job, updating my blog and website, the Independence Day holiday, and making some graphics for my Comic-Con tee-shirt (see image at bottom), I missed my self-imposed deadline (and I do feel a bit guilty about it).

So with all that out of the way, let's get started on the meat of today's post: Grammarly. A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to receive a free two-week test drive of Grammarly's premium account. Grammarly, if you don't recall, is an automated proofreader and personal grammar coach.

I'll start with the bad, because some of these 'turn-offs' may dissuade you from going further. First off, Grammarly is not a free service, and their website requires you to fill out the sign-up page (including your e-mail) before pricing options are revealed. You have the choice to pay for your subscription by the month ($29.95), the quarter ($59.59), or annually ($139.95 USD), although Grammarly does offer a 7-day free trial for you to try their service at no cost.

To use Grammarly, you paste text into their web page and click 'start review.' You are then offered the choice to select the type of writing style: general, business, academic, technical, creative, or casual. I checked the 'creative' option, since I was using a chapter from my upcoming novel Mirrors & Mist (Book Two of The Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy) for the test drive.

Grammarly provides the option to check for plagiarism (it took about a minute to scan my 3,300-word chapter). After confirming my text was original, I began the actual checking of my text (this also took roughly a minute to process 3,300 words on my two-year-old PC with cable internet). Grammarly inspects your text against the following categories, offering advice and solutions in either long or short form (depending on your preference):

  • Article usage,
  • Pronoun agreement,
  • Adjectives and adverbs,
  • Confusing modifiers,
  • Verb form use,
  • Punctuation within a sentence,
  • Spelling, and
  • Commonly confused words.
The best way I can describe Grammarly is to compare it to the Microsoft Word Spelling and Grammar Check tool. Similar to Word, Grammarly checks your document from start to finish, with a pop-up window offering you suggestions on detected problems. Obviously, Grammarly appeared more robust and in-depth than the Word editor.

Similar to Word, the pop-up window gives you the option of ignoring one or all of a certain type of problem. With potential spelling errors, you also have the option of adding words to your personal dictionary, so they are no longer flagged as misspelled. The add-to-dictionary option is a big help for fantasy writing, as more than half of my red flags were in this category, courtesy of my plethora of made-up names and places.

The pop-up windows also contain the following prompt: Have questions? Ask the community. If you choose, your question will be posted to Grammarly Answers — a community-driven quality-assurance website for English grammar and usage. I didn't test this option, but it is a potentially helpful component of Grammarly's portfolio.

In addition to the text checking and plagiarism tools, Grammarly also has a synonym function that suggests alternative word choices to enhance your vocabulary. This works similar to an auto-thesaurus, finding words suitable for potentially better alternatives.

Grammarly also provides members with a dashboard page that tracks your personal writing statistics over time and offers users a 'personal writing guidebook' tailored to your writing deficiencies.

Yet another option is the ability to upload your document to Grammarly and use the service as a cloud-based repository of your writing files. If you're not pressed for storage, it still provides a handy back-up option and organizational tool.

And finally, Grammarly also offers Grammarly for Desktop, which is a downloadable executable file that includes MS Office™ integration. Because I haven't yet signed up for a full subscription, I didn't test this portion of the service, although I suspect I would use it if I did become a paying customer.

In conclusion, my experience with Grammarly showed me a robust text editor with a variety of extra options and enhancements. It's an easy-to-use, customizable interface with perks for the frequent user. The cost, however, cannot be ignored, and is likely too steep for all but the serious (or affluent) writer. For now, I'm weighing my options before signing on with Grammarly. If you're a Grammarly user (former or current), please let us know what you think.

Author Update: The second draft of Mirrors & Mist has now morphed into the third draft and I'm working on the text daily. Book Two of the Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy is still on track for a late 2013 release.


July 2013 - Hello Reader of 4concpoesiaecsps, In the article you read this time with the title July 2013, We have prepared this article for you to read and retrieve information therein. Hopefully the contents of postings We write this you can understand. well, happy reading.

Title : Grammarly (A Review)
link : Grammarly (A Review)

Read Also


July 2013

Hi everyone! This post is a week late, and my blog now has a different color scheme, but everything else should be the same. I'll still try to deliver a weekly article relating to the DIY self-publishing indie writer, and hopefully indirectly convince a few people to try my book (soon to be books, as in plural, hint, hint).

If you're wondering about the color scheme change, I received some feedback regarding the difficult-to-read white text on dark background and decided to do something about it. I also realized that with my book being titled Crimson & Cream, using those colors on my blog and web page may not be a bad idea. As in, Duh! Why didn't I think of that a year ago?

And if you're wondering what happened to last week's post, between the day job, updating my blog and website, the Independence Day holiday, and making some graphics for my Comic-Con tee-shirt (see image at bottom), I missed my self-imposed deadline (and I do feel a bit guilty about it).

So with all that out of the way, let's get started on the meat of today's post: Grammarly. A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to receive a free two-week test drive of Grammarly's premium account. Grammarly, if you don't recall, is an automated proofreader and personal grammar coach.

I'll start with the bad, because some of these 'turn-offs' may dissuade you from going further. First off, Grammarly is not a free service, and their website requires you to fill out the sign-up page (including your e-mail) before pricing options are revealed. You have the choice to pay for your subscription by the month ($29.95), the quarter ($59.59), or annually ($139.95 USD), although Grammarly does offer a 7-day free trial for you to try their service at no cost.

To use Grammarly, you paste text into their web page and click 'start review.' You are then offered the choice to select the type of writing style: general, business, academic, technical, creative, or casual. I checked the 'creative' option, since I was using a chapter from my upcoming novel Mirrors & Mist (Book Two of The Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy) for the test drive.

Grammarly provides the option to check for plagiarism (it took about a minute to scan my 3,300-word chapter). After confirming my text was original, I began the actual checking of my text (this also took roughly a minute to process 3,300 words on my two-year-old PC with cable internet). Grammarly inspects your text against the following categories, offering advice and solutions in either long or short form (depending on your preference):

  • Article usage,
  • Pronoun agreement,
  • Adjectives and adverbs,
  • Confusing modifiers,
  • Verb form use,
  • Punctuation within a sentence,
  • Spelling, and
  • Commonly confused words.
The best way I can describe Grammarly is to compare it to the Microsoft Word Spelling and Grammar Check tool. Similar to Word, Grammarly checks your document from start to finish, with a pop-up window offering you suggestions on detected problems. Obviously, Grammarly appeared more robust and in-depth than the Word editor.

Similar to Word, the pop-up window gives you the option of ignoring one or all of a certain type of problem. With potential spelling errors, you also have the option of adding words to your personal dictionary, so they are no longer flagged as misspelled. The add-to-dictionary option is a big help for fantasy writing, as more than half of my red flags were in this category, courtesy of my plethora of made-up names and places.

The pop-up windows also contain the following prompt: Have questions? Ask the community. If you choose, your question will be posted to Grammarly Answers — a community-driven quality-assurance website for English grammar and usage. I didn't test this option, but it is a potentially helpful component of Grammarly's portfolio.

In addition to the text checking and plagiarism tools, Grammarly also has a synonym function that suggests alternative word choices to enhance your vocabulary. This works similar to an auto-thesaurus, finding words suitable for potentially better alternatives.

Grammarly also provides members with a dashboard page that tracks your personal writing statistics over time and offers users a 'personal writing guidebook' tailored to your writing deficiencies.

Yet another option is the ability to upload your document to Grammarly and use the service as a cloud-based repository of your writing files. If you're not pressed for storage, it still provides a handy back-up option and organizational tool.

And finally, Grammarly also offers Grammarly for Desktop, which is a downloadable executable file that includes MS Office™ integration. Because I haven't yet signed up for a full subscription, I didn't test this portion of the service, although I suspect I would use it if I did become a paying customer.

In conclusion, my experience with Grammarly showed me a robust text editor with a variety of extra options and enhancements. It's an easy-to-use, customizable interface with perks for the frequent user. The cost, however, cannot be ignored, and is likely too steep for all but the serious (or affluent) writer. For now, I'm weighing my options before signing on with Grammarly. If you're a Grammarly user (former or current), please let us know what you think.

Author Update: The second draft of Mirrors & Mist has now morphed into the third draft and I'm working on the text daily. Book Two of the Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy is still on track for a late 2013 release.