Friday, June 30, 2006
Dave is a rarity is the world of self-publishing, in that he is his own publisher and is successful. Alas, I’ve known all too many writer/artists that attempted self-publishing and failed. Troy Little’s Chiarscuro, being one brilliant venture that simply did not build an audience quickly enough to sustain his printing expenses.
Self-published comics do not have the same stigma attached to them as novels do. However, self-publishing a graphic novel is still a very difficult venture. With comics you must distribute your work with Diamond Distributors, and they have a very strict set of criteria you must meet.
Novels and non fiction work, however...
I know one story of a gentleman who chose to self-publish a book afew years ago. Let’s call him ‘Mr White’. His first book was published through a vanity press, a company that demanded a minimum order of several thousand books. This cost Mr White tens of thousands of dollars to have printed. Now, ‘Mr White’ knew his work had only a limited local appeal of a few hundred copies, so suffice to say the expense left a bitter taste in his mouth. For the sequel he went POD with another company, which was considerably less costly, but no less troublesome. He still believes in self-publishing in small runs, but he’s taken more than a few lumps from the self-publishing experience.
Another story is that of ‘Mr Red’. ‘Mr. Red’ runs his own advertising business but no real background as a writer. He decided, one day, he wanted to write a novel. He wrote a novel, talk one friend into doing a decent cover, talked other few friends into proofing it, had it printed up and has sold 12,000 copies in two years.
He’s written a sequel, due out this October. On the surface, ‘Mr Red’s’ is an inspiring story … except that the novel is utterly appalling, filled with horrific syntax and grammatical errors and a story line that I can only generously describe as ‘weak’.
WHY should one approach agents and publishers??
One - It forces you to think about your writing seriously and behave as a PROFESSIONAL.
Two – It forces you to view your work not just for your own POV, but from your potential audience’s POV, and that can make you a much more effective writer.
Either you will learn from the experience, or you will won’t. Whether you eventually slap it up on your blog, or go POD, or burn it in the backyard is irrelevant. Submitting to agents, editors and publishers and taking their advice WILL make you a better writer if you are willing to learn.
True, that with the internet and modern technology, you can publish anything you like anytime you like if that’s what you decide. If you are reading my blog, then you are already well aware if this.
I’m not against self-publishing completely. One day, I hope to self-publish a graphic novel myself. But a novel? No. And when I go for the brass rings, I won’t be harboring any illusions about it.
The last word, I’ll leave to Mr. Melmoth…
aka Oscar Wilde
In response a criticism of The Picture of Dorian Gray by the Editor of the Scots Observer, July 9, 1890.
“The pleasure that one has in creating a work of art is purely personal pleasure, and it is for the sake of this pleasure that one creates. The artist works with his eye on the object. Nothing else interests him. What people are likely to say does not even occur to him. He is fascinated by what he has in hand. He is indifferent to others. I write because it gives me the greatest possible artistic pleasure to write. If my work pleases the few, I am gratified. If it does not, it causes me no pain. As for the mob, I have no desire to be a popular novelist. It is far too easy.”
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
With any luck, I'll be stuffing fivers down cartoonists underpants again this year.
A rather bad poetic explaination follows:
Ode to Chad Wm. Porter’s Underpants
By E. Ann Bardawill
T’was at TorTrek one eight
At the art auction one night
Call it destiny or fate,
We saw a stunning sight.
See, Chad, he made this bet
If his toon made a c-note
That he'd drop down his pants
On that we could him quote.
His “Porthos” toon came up,
And the bids came fast and hard.
"I was too busy squealing
Or I’d have bid too," claimed Bard)
As the bids went higher,
Well, the Chad Man turned quite pale.
The bids flew past one hundred!
Chad seemed appalled at the scale.
Fangirls started chanting.
And Lar got the camera set.
Heather provided a chair.
And Chad got up on it.
Chad sighed, undid his fly -
Slight pause, a gathering frown -
The auctioneer snuck up and -
Whipped Chad’s trousers down!
The side of Chad’s boxers
Got caught in the pant’s belt loop
A tawny flash of hip – OY!
The girlies let out a WHOOP!
Boxers a vibrant style,
Emblazened with Bugs Bunny
Oh, let’s not split hares here, folks,
The whole thing was damn funny.
E. Ann - money ready -
Stuck a bill in his shorts.
(Chad - a lovely shade of pink,
Kinda liked it, claim reports.)
There is a lesson here,
If you’re a cartooning lad.
Make no bets at an auction
"I regret nothing," says Chad.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
I’m mad now.
Various writer’s blogs are hitting a ‘why bother’ note.
M.G. observes during a book sale at the library that many of the works sold off at bargain basement prices are quality literature. Books that probably didn’t generate enough interest. I can relate to that, having recently seeing the book ‘Fugitive Pieces’ being sold off for a mere buck at the Almonte Public Library.
Elsewhere in the blogosphere Forest, Bernita and Brown Trout decide to forgo seeking out an agent/publisher and to just self-publish, or indeed, just ‘write for themselves’.
Well fuck that, guys. And I’ll tell you why…
At this moment I am actively reading three books.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
(both versions – the very naughty version and the less inflammatory version)
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Wait for it…
Love’s Tender Fury by Jennifer Wilde (Not related to Oscar)
Let’s start with the uber-trashy romance, shall we?
Some might remember Jennifer Wilde’s spritely Trollop/Heroine, Marietta Danvers. This spunky, red-headed vixen stuttered in mock outrage/modesty as she slept her way though copius ‘true love’s in at least 3 novels. Shamelessness coupled with unabashed sluttiness took Marietta from England to the colonies, back across Europe and Russia, and no doubt heavily lined the pockets of Jennifer Wilde, ‘her’ agent and ‘her’ publishers quite nicely.
Oscar Wilde wrote for money. He constantly lived a caviar lifestyle on a burger budget. This did not stop him from writing some of the finest work in the English language. At the time, Oscar was regarded as a fop and a joke, and sent on tour in the US and Canada as a publicity stunt to promote another’s work. Oscar turned the attention to his advantage, built a following and while on tour he wrote his only novel - which he heavily re-edited after the first edition shocked his Victorian audience. He removed some of the seamier bits and added a few chapters, but he did not add the obligatory moral at the end.
He had his limits.
Yes, but now rather dated, unlike some of his finer poems and plays.
Bear with me here, folks…
Now, I asked this question a while ago.
What sort of writer do you want to be?
Not one of you stated the obvious.
There are no limits to what you can write, except the ones you put upon yourself.
No one forces you to stay within a genre. There is no shadowy figure lurking, ready to leap upon you to revoke your artistic license if you write a short WESTERN NOIR, and then write a ROMANCE novel, and then submit an essay on the themes currently prevailing in FANTASY.
There are no rules.
Keep this in mind as I talk about ‘Watership Down’.
A tale about rabbits. Not adorable, fluffy, Thumper-esque Disney sort of rabbits, but a group of pragmatic rodents with a distinctive culture and moral code of their own.
Deceptively simple, brilliant, entertaining and literate, the resounding success for ‘Watership Down’ surprised everyone - especially the author.
Like William Goldman’s ‘Princess Bride’, ‘Watership Down’ initially was a story told by a father on a long drive to entertain his daughters. One night, while reading a dismal bedtime story to his daughters, Adams threw the book aside and declared (As so many of us have) “Good Lord, I could write better than that myself!”
And then Richard Adams did what some only talk about. He sat down and wrote the story he made up about the rabbits that his daughers loved so. He wrote it in bits, in the evenings, instead of watching TV (see Barry Eilser’s blog on how TV is a time-suck). Adam’s daughters read it, made suggestions and then Adams consulted an expert on rabbits and altered the story so that while Hazel and the other rabbits could talk and reason, they behaved like proper rabbits.
Despite the fact that Adams wrote Watership Down for his daughters, he knocked on a lot of agent’s and publisher’s doors. He refused to alter the draft to ‘suit’ much younger children or much older children. The rejection notices piled up. He noticed a small publisher had reprinted a book called ‘Wood Magic’ by Richard Jeffries and felt they might find his book worth a look.
They did. They published it.
Cue the rave reviews, fan letters from all ages, etc…
Watership Down hasn’t been out of print since. But if Richard Adams had given up, self-published and claimed he “wrote it for himself” and just left it at that, then his daughters would still have his book true… but the rest of us wouldn’t.
And that would be a sin.
Like killing mockingbirds.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Jessica Hahn (Attributed)
I have not uploaded an icon of myself for two reasons.
1. I didn't know how.
2. I didn't have anything suitable*.
But lo and behold... Chad Wm. Porter** has done me a great honour. He made me a pin up girl!!
Mind you he took a few liberties... like giving me a waistline, but who the hell am I to argue with artistic vision?
Thank you, Chad. From the bottom of my pre-menopausal heart. SQUUUUEEE!!!!!
* Something nice. Yanno... a pic that might induce Barry Eilser to write me goopy poetry or something.
** Former artist - Least I Could Do (Link on the side)
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Something’s wrong. Very wrong.
JA’s bar is more subdued than an awkward moment at the Chronically Introverted Convention. Only the sound of healing gashes fill the musty, gin-soaked atmosphere. The hardwood floor looks like someone ran an industrial lawn aerator over it.
A pit bull I don’t recognize piddles on the leather shoe of a regular. My eyes seek out MG and the crew. They sit at the table reserved for playing Poker for Pills, but the steady flip of shuffling cards is stifled.
E. Ann wears what appears to a lemon-slice proof brassiere. Not only does it clash with her shoes, it makes her look fat.
There’s an empty chair and I fill it, nod and smile at her. “Outfit suits you.”
The latest issue of Spinetingler lies on the table. In the corner, I spot Sandra chatting up JA. For some reason, he sports a sheer negligee and bunny slippers as he meticulously cleans a glock. I decide not to ask.
Mindy picks her teeth with a blue pencil then uses it to tap the magazine. I see her name mentioned. Ah. yet another notch on her .45 Smith and Corona. I buy a round and offer sincere congratulations. “Start submitting,” she growls at us. “Chop chop!”
A chorus meekly mumbles, “Yes ma’am.”
Dana exhibits fewer tubes in less orifices than usual. Her ‘saline drip’ has a worm in it, and her thoughtful brown peepers scan a recent copy of Variety. A few dozen needles protrude from her body. They appear to be on fire. Thin wisps of smoke intertwine above the group, like braided hair. Dana’s acupuncturist lies on the floor nearby, sweat pooled about his prostrate body. The pitbull wanders over and decides he’s fair game.
“I’m dull.” E. Ann snivels into an overlarge wad of kleenex. “Desperately dull.”
This from a woman who once started an internet cult religion devoted to an actor’s ass. I shove a Pap Smear across the table towards her and hope the conversation improves.
“The Bitchy Bovines -” Dana increases the saline flow with a practiced motion, “offered to edit some of her stuff.” A waiter appears with another round of frothy drinks and a very large pair of women’s underwear. The logo reads; ‘Big Girl Panties. Get Over It & Get Into Them’. E. Ann tugs them off the tray, pulls them onto her head and sobs like a girl.
“They have this good cop/bad cop act.” M.G. says as she deftly signs an autograph for a fan, spits out an olive pit and edits her manuscript simultaneously. If ADD ever proves to be contagious, I’m gonna lick her face. It bothers me that I can only do one thing at a time. MG snags a triple martini as she dtext messages on her cell and adds, “It’s kinda cute, actually.”
“Boring.” E. Ann intones, making the panties ruffle. Her Pap Smear stands untouched. “Tedious. Tiresome. Dreary.”
“Get over it.” M.G.’s meaty yet delicate hand solidly cuffs the back of Ann’s head and sends the panties onto the face of the acupuncturist. “Read this and tell me if it makes sense.” She shoves a hefty manuscript in Ann’s direction. Ann obediently takes a pull of her drink, readjusts her brassiere and starts to scan the pages.
Her lips move as she reads. God, I hate that.
The pitbull sniffs at my shoe. I spill a generous portion of my tequila on the floor and am rewarded by the sounds of happy lapping. I open my mouth to ask, “Whose dog?” but suddenly there is sound of gunfire. The timing between the shots seemed almost lazy, as if an unmotivated sniper mailed in his assassination attempt.
“It’s just Number Two.” Dana points over to the bar with a soiled tongue depressor.
When I get out from under the table I see the source of the cracking sounds. As Number Two saunters by, her metal stilettos attack and dent the hardwood floor sharply. My eyes roam up the calves to the leg’s owners. My stunned orbs relay this image to my brain, which immediately wires back that the information simply cannot be correct. Please retransmit.
A bright pink bullwhip, stained from use, hangs at her side along with a belt of fresh lemons. Her glossy, black leather ensemble is slashed strategically to divert attention from her mask, a custom platinum job in the shape of a razor. Her red nails are long, tough enough to puncture beer cans, the old-fashion sort, not the thin aluminum crap we have today.
“Number one is at the other end of the bar.” M.G. mumbles through the pencil in teeth. I note Number two’s partner, perched on a barstool wearing saucy Weekender togs accentuated with a purple feather boa. She holds a G&T in one hand and a well-thumbed Oxford College Thesaurus in the other.
“Talk about chalk and cheese.” E. Ann sniffs. Her pile of used Kleenex behind her is piling up and impeding the hallway to the bathrooms.
Dana hides a smirk. “Chalk and cheese? How cliché. Can’t you be more original, Ann?”
I bolt up and out of range. After things settle down I helped Dana remove the panties from her left nostril.
What can I say?
It’s a slow night.
Go away for a few days and Tarquini justs takes over the internet. She's got a new story at the Summer Issue of Spine Tingler and gets a shout out at Miss Snark.
(She's also probably got Johnny Depp giving her foot massages and fetching her Margaritas, but doesn't mentions that part out of deference for my feelings.)
On this end, Dana and I are proud to announce the birth and registration of our first screenplay. It's got Dana's syntax, but I think it has my "i"s.
Okay... that was lame.
Anyhoo, we are officially 'shopping it around' and hope to be poolside at Speilberg's but next year, although the odds are astronomical.
Still, the odds are a lot better than if we did nothing at all.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
And not just because it was my 17th wedding anniversary yesterday.
After weeks of beavering away on a satrical script with Dana, it suddenly morphied into a musical a few days ago and I've been writing rude musical lyrics ever since.
The really fun thing about being a writer?
Thinking up words that rhyme with 'stilletto'.