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Everything posted by robg213

  1. Before the internet, you could go through a publisher - a vanity press - who would package and publish your book for a fee. That is still there. You can go through a print on demand company. You can hire a printer. Or you can just publish an ebook. No paper books to store or pay for. Before the internet, you would have to get a distributor to carry your book and you still can, but here's the problem. Say you print 3,000 copies. Those books are returnable, usually 90 to 120 days later. A truck will show up at your door and drop them off. Those returns are usually in non-resellable condition. The average number of books returned is 50%. Or you can get a literary agent. If the book is sold to a publisher then they have to pay to get it out there. The problem for authors is the contract. Is the contract fair to the author? Without a good attorney to look it over, it may not be. I'm not trying to confuse anybody but you'll see unfamiliar terms and phrases like "North American rights, "foreign language rights" and others. You can try to find out what all of those terms mean or hire a copyright attorney who will explain them. Finally, where to promote the book? My reading of the trade press shows the problem is "discoverability." How will people discover your book? As you post on facebook and other social media, hundreds if not thousands of other authors are doing the same. Finally, with all due respect to all authors, the internet has created a false freedom. No more publishers or attorneys or anyone else to deal with. This results in bad books in most cases. I was reviewing manuscripts before the internet and now. Most manuscripts are not good enough. The same is true in Hollywood. A script editor friend of mine was rejecting the same number of manuscripts, on average, as I was. I have found that most college-level creative writing classes do not teach the basics. Some do. I know writers and artists that are mostly self-taught but there is no book or guide I'm aware of that states the time needed to learn the craft of writing with certainty. The same is true for artists. Or, How long does it take to get good enough? It depends on each individual.
  2. Covers sell books. There are people who specialize in cover design. Over the last year or so, I was given two self-published books to review. In one case, someone had taken part of a photo and superimposed it on an image in the background. The lighting was off, among other things. We have an in-house graphic designer who selects a typeface for the cover and an art director who places it, at the right size, on the cover. I won't go into art direction here but speaking generally, before we get a cover from an artist, he sends us four pencil drawings showing different possibilities based on information we provide. The art director selects the best one. Then a color rough based on that drawing is sent in. It is either approved as is or with changes. Then we get the final cover painting. Writers are usually not artists so I'll omit the fine details. Doing a cover correctly based on all of those fine details, does increase the chance that people will pick up the book. Speaking as a reader and an editor, if you don't grab me in the first six pages, I'll put the book back.
  3. The mythical "free plug." Common on the internet but not true. Companies have people who carefully decide where to place products for endorsement. Pepsi paid LucasFilms $1 billion dollars to put Star Wars images on their soda pop cans. Companies like Coke paid money to have carefully lit and then digitally inserted Coke cans in reruns of Frasier. And the placement in a scene had to look natural and appropriate. The can appeared on a desk or table as opposed to any other, less than believable place. What is true is people wanting free legal advice. I don't blame them. I know all about the ET story. I have contacts in Hollywood. And Disney, along with other media giants, hire companies that do nothing but key word searches on the internet regarding any comments made about them. That data is compiled and sent on to Disney for a fee. Anyway, from Writer's Digest: https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/questions-and-quandaries/legal-questions/are-you-using-trademarked-words-in-your-writing
  4. You can self publish an ebook, or on paper. Your choice. Mr. Moore has no argument. The current problem is the market is flooded with self published books. What he is not addressing is a simple fact: no one has been given more time to read. And what does "success" mean? A million dollars? 3,000 copies sold?
  5. Product placement in movies and on TV is paid for.
  6. I also find that hard to believe. His parents were Irish but that doesn't make him any less Scottish on Star Trek.
  7. Wales is spelled Cymru, but pronounced cymri. Can I get a phonetic version of that? Fo-net-ik ?
  8. Contact the Patent and Trademark Office. Fer cryin' out loud, don't assume anything. The maker of copiers, Xerox, went out of its way to keep people from saying or writing "I xeroxed something." as opposed to "I made a photocopy." That's why the company I work for has copyright attorneys, who also check on trademarks. That's why when we created a name for an alien race, we were contacted by a law firm representing another company who held a trademark on that name. Fortunately, nothing further happened because the name was changed in later printings. As far as Coke or Coca-Cola, when was the last time anyone saw that in a fiction book?
  9. Thank you. The person you quoted is offering a strong personal perception and uses the word we. I don't think this perception is universal and I don't think writing changes because society changes. That is up to each author. People can choose. They can react in a negative way to messages from the media or ignore them. They can participate in various things the media promotes or not. I think a sense of wonder is natural. Denying it denies the joy of childhood. That boy or girl saying "wow" to positive, good things. It's not just a type of aesthetic but something people can live with. I'm seeing too much media in too many categories that is identified as dark and dystopian. Or neo-formulaic based on those themes. It's time to turn the lights back on.
  10. "some genres are changing" Changing how? Why? I see no reason not to emulate Heinlein now. I'm working on a project with writers like Heinlein in mind right now. A sense of wonder needs to exist in SF now.
  11. I've read SF with most of the 'obligatory' conventions but not all SF stories have to include them. An old book called Waldo and Magic Inc. showed me that science fiction can tell small, personal stories with a few unusual things, as opposed to massive Space Opera like Star Wars. So, your story can be small, medium or Space Opera large. You get to choose.
  12. Starting in the '80s, Sci-Fi mutated into something I liked less and less. I'll stick with Heinlein and the others you mentioned. Laughing is good.
  13. That is the ongoing, likely eternal, problem with the internet -- no tone of voice. Assume insult first. Sorry, I was not trying to be rude. It is a crying shame no one knows your [real] name. Anyone's name.
  14. More than 70? In that case you should be the greatest writer ever, or a craft book addict...
  15. Well, not dead. Inventory made the engine of amazon, which started as books only, grow into the 'thing that is trying to eat the world.' Most people want physical books. But amazon kept actual sales numbers secret and it was not profitable for a while. Now that it has built a customer base, and is selling items in other categories, I see it continuing to grow.
  16. How big is your collection? Over 12?
  17. You don't understand serious SF, do you Crow T has nothing on Vin Diesel. But I have no plans to see the movie because the trailer shows graphic violence. Too bad.
  18. As an aside, I would add that science-fiction, especially 'hardware science-fiction,' requires a bit of research. For those who live close to a library, especially a University library, go there. Take a look at some of the real science magazines (referred to as 'serials') for inspiration. I remember picking up Engines of Creation by K. Eric Drexler in the late 1980s. He laid out an incredible description of how the emerging science of nanotechnology was going to change manufacturing and other things in the near future. Now a movie is coming out with Vin Diesel, a soldier who has nanomachines in his bloodstream.
  19. So, that was the short version. Writing fantasy contains a collection of primary and secondary elements. First, it's not quite simple and the hardest thing to write. Cool, interesting names is one problem. I see too many names in fantasy and SF that sound wrong. Putting the right sounds together to create a word takes time. George Lucas took the unconventional route with Obi-wan Kenobi. One, two and three syllables are best. Tolkien created compelling names that fit each character/creature. Next, what kind of world? Audiences tend to like the familiar. So, aside from quests into unknown lands, Tolkien used a Medieval Europe setting but renamed. So Midwestern America, but renamed and populated by the strange and the familiar. Mission or missions, and the problem. The world needs heroes and a bad guy or guys. He or it does something or is about to do something, and the heroes have to stop him/it. And who are the heroes? Between them, they need the skills to deal with the threat and contacts who can help along the way. As the characters are introduced, the reader learns about them by description and by the actions they perform. And if the story is action-adventure, start with action, or a scene that is directly before the action as all prepare, and as they prepare, the reader gets a glimpse of heroes that will grow in experience through trials.
  20. I was taking a drive and accidentally discovered a new amazon warehouse. You could park several 747 jets in there. Amazon also needs to prune poor sellers to make way for new books. Amazon has years of experience. I would not read anything further into this. Amazon has a $900 billion dollar valuation. They know how to move 'product.' Ebooks have not killed print. Finally, amazon told investors that this year's holiday season will have weak sales.
  21. Think of any ensemble cast on a TV show. How many main characters? I say no more than six, followed by a handful of incidental, supporting/linking characters. Pare it down to only those people who need to be there. Add others to link story elements together. I recall a party scene in a Batman movie. 95% percent of that scene focused on two people, with a bit part by a third. End of scene.
  22. Always ask. Just ask your family what they think. I work for a small publishing company and it is my only source of income. This is difficult to do for most writers for the following reasons. 1) Time. 2) Lack of business information, meaning "I'm a writer and that's what I know. I don't know how to start and run a business doing this." And that's fine but the point is: if that's the case, you need to find someone to work for or self-publish. 3) If you try really hard and get the required skills to turn your writing into a business, you can succeed. The company I work for started out of a house, followed by two more houses, and finally took off. Sales kept going up and enough money came in to hire some of the people who had been there from the beginning. Me included. Now, many years later, I've got stacks of editing, good storytelling skills and after seeing book after book come out, enough experience to help out creatively. It's hard and can be tedious, but yes, it is rewarding.
  23. What genre do you want to write in, is the first question. There are good books for science-fiction and other categories. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of bad ones. And some titles like "Save the Cat" are too clever to be found. Not easily anyway.
  24. I'll break it down a little more. 1) Some parents view writing as less practical than any other job. From their perspective, getting a good-paying job is what their son or daughter needs. In many cases, once they realize that writing is what you want, they can be practical. 2) In those cases where being a writer or wanting to be a writer is just viewed as a waste of time, for various reasons, perhaps a negotiated truce can be reached. Perhaps there is a desire to spend more time with them, or some other need. As far as the writing process, yes, ideas will pop into your head in the middle of the night. But not just for writers. Guitarist for the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards, kept a notebook by his bed. Sometimes he would wake up and hear a tune playing in his head, he would write down the music and go back to sleep. There were some days when he had forgotten it happened - perhaps confused with a dream - but the music was in his notebook. Our head writer describes the writing process as "aliens trying to send me a message." And "I write down the transmission as fast as possible." When I write, I work off a basic idea and role-play character interactions in my head. Any 'bumps in the road' are ironed out in the following day or two. I write down scenes I want and bits of dialogue that pop into my head. For part-time writers, all I can say is, can you take one or two hours out of a week to write? Maybe deduct a TV show or two from your schedule. Don't worry about not writing full-time. Creativity is like building a muscle that gets stronger the more exercise it gets. Lastly, I totally understand wanting a regular paycheck.
  25. Different families will approach the writing issue differently. If you're an adult and writing is for you, just point out that it's better than sitting on a barstool every weekend.
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