Monday, December 11, 2006

E-Books and PODs

Rejecter,

Perhaps I merely missed it, but what is your stance on a fully-realized PDF of a work as opposed to a manuscript.

Initially, I queried and sent out manuscripts as it has always been done. Now I am finding it hard to justify this antiquated process when I can format it as I wish and send a finished E-book PDF.

If the work is rejected, then I can go right to POD or something similar. Is this flawed logic? I have two novellas in the final stages and have to prepare myself.

I'm not sure the question that's being asked here, so I'll just ramble for a while and see where it takes us and how much trouble it gets me into.

From what I can gather, you submitted a normal manuscript and it was rejected, so now you are considering publishing it independently as an E-Book. (Whether it's in .pdf or .cbr or any other format is irrelevant, except when it comes to reading the book on iPods and whatnot)

I don't know a lot about publishers who work exclusively on E-Books, for two reasons. One, most major publishing houses now have their own ways of putting out E-Books if they think it's commercially viable for a product they already own and they normally include something about that in their contract, about rights and royalties and stuff. Two, I've never in my life purchased an E-Book. I've downloaded books in .txt format, but that's mainly been for research purposes (quote searches and the like). I've never actually sat down and read a novel on a computer screen, except when I had to at work, or when it's fanfic. I prefer things that I can hold in my hand and don't hurt my eyes after hours and hours. Stan Lee put it best when he said, "Computers will never replace the experience of holding a comic book in your hand and reading it." Of course, he was talking about comic books. And he was not anticipating Comic Book Reader, which really does make them readable on a screen.

There's not a lot of money or publicity in E-Books, though it is a growing market. Major publishers generally don't put out their regular books as E-Books unless there's a reason because the material can be so readily distributed illegally.

If you're looking at it like E-Book is a step below normal publishing and a step above POD publishing, I would say you are wrong. E-Books are really their own market, a market that's so rapidly changing that I don't really keep track of it and it usually doesn't show up on my radar. (By the way, it's a bad sign when a type of book doesn't show up on my radar)

Now getting into the larger question of whether you should go ahead with your manuscript in other publishing forms - the publishing industry answer is, "Uh, if you want to, but if we rejected it across the board, it probably sucked. Go write a better book instead." If you come and tell me that every single agent you queried didn't request a partial, I would say something was wrong with your query letter. If you say you got some hits but nobody took you on as a client, you've got something wrong with your manuscript.

There are reasons to publish POD. If you want to just have your book in print for friends and maybe some people who'll find it online and be interested, and you don't want to deal with the publishing industry or the hassle of receiving profits from your work, go ahead. If you've written poetry and it hasn't won a Pulitzer, go ahead, because we won't publish it anyway. But if you've written a novel that you actually want massive amounts of peope to read - say, more than 100 - then you should stick with traditional publishing.

Of course, this is coming from the assistant to an agent who wouldn't dream of sending her clients to a POD publisher. This is also coming from a grad student who sat in line during registration today and listened to people go on and on about how they were just going straight to POD and then build a huge following via the internet because the INTERNET can do ANYTHING and you should definitely not listen to the person behind you in line who actually works in publishing and is telling you that the chances of you actually having a successful POD book is almost nil. Yeah, yeah, Amazon.com is great. We all love it. You know what I don't like? Buying paperbacks of shitty quality with bad covers, no editing, poor formatting, and cost me $20.00. Thanks, iUniverse.

If you are being rejected across the board by traditional publishing when you've written a traditional manuscript - not the two novellas you discuss later in your letter - then yes, you can consider POD or E-Book. Or you could maybe question how good your manuscript was in the first place to be rejected by everyone across the board.

93 comments:

Writerious said...

I think what the person is asking is: "Is it okay to submit my manuscript to an agent or a traditional publisher in the form of an e-book ? 'Cause then if it's rejected I'll save time when I send it off to a POD?"

Though I don't see how that would save any time. It still takes just as much time to format it as an ebook before sending it to a traditional publisher as after.

The Rejecter said...

The answer to that question would be, "No."

p_frogez said...

Yeah, after reading that letter (twice), I decided that the question was, "Why can't I submit my manuscript in the way that's most convenient for meeeeeee? I should be able to veto the editor's preferences, shouldn't I?"

Yeah; the rules don't apply to you, buddy.

meika said...

we're in transition, we're astride two horses, an old nag and a frisky colt,

let the old editors die I say, send them nothing, and agents less

I think my POD title will look quite hot, maybe the layout will be the best thing about it, you can download a PDF review copy here
http://meika.loofs-samorzewski.com/pdf/beforecountry-meika.pdf

and it will be launched next Feb 2007

its all goign to be about filtering which editors used to do, once upon a time, and then agents, or their assistants, but now there's going to be no pre-press filters, only post-publishing, so get used to it, even if it takes quite a while for the colt to bear our weight

The Rejecter said...

Man, I'm gonna get in so much trouble for saying this, but okay. Meika. Your opening line: "In the second of three warm rooms, the naked child body of a child lies covered in fine hand sewn clothing."

Punctuation errors aside, how is the kid naked if he's wearing clothing?

The Rejecter said...

Oh, and you have to capitalize "I" every time you use it. Not just some of the time. You know, I could go on, but I think it would just be endless.

Don said...

I think that the person is under the impression that setting the margins to something book-like, making it single spaced, perhaps turning on auto-ligatures and the like makes something look like a book design.

It doesn't.

I looked at Meika's PDF, just for the design. I stopped before my eyes started bleeding. Meika clearly has never really thought about book design. Of course that just means I'm part of the old order, caring about things like traditional page balance, having a place to put my fingers so that I can read the book, etc. All those years spent learning about typography were a waste because it's all going to be destroyed by the interweb (oh wait, that part actually IS happening).

We've been hearing that the role of gatekeepers is going to go away for over a decade. I've not seen the slightest evidence that it's true.

Anonymous said...

*click*

MY EYES

THE GOGGLES

THEY DO NOTHING

meika said...

Rejecter, I suggest you read it a bit more closely and not scan it so quickly. It's a set of seven tells, short stories, a prose poem and some code poems, and we are all naked beneath our clothes but you seem to be quite prosaic in your reading of the word lies as oppose to lay. But I could go on.

I? i? which 'I' are you refering to? It is actually consistent.

Everything is in the filtering, T S Eliot educated his own audience, why can't I do that here.

You could go on but you stopped before you noticed the deliberation, but if it was filtered for you, by genre label at least, you might not sound so much like my maiden aunt on a dope free day.

But then I asked for it and everyone is time poor these days.

http://meika.loofs-samorzewski.com

meika said...

Don, the margins and balance are an issue, I agree.

They will be changed in the final which I am working on at the moemnt so thank you very much for you comments, they are a great help.

The Rejecter said...

What? Maiden on a dope-free day? What?

Yeah, run a check for typos. Oh, and there is that whole story where you decide not to use periods or capitalization.

The Rejecter said...

Okay, my bad, you used periods, just not in the right places.

meika said...

(withdrawal for the aunt)

Hey Don can I qute you?

.before Country

"I stopped before my eyes started bleeding." Don of la-stories.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

now there's going to be no pre-press filters, only post-publishing

Great. So the final customer gets to be the slush pile reader now? I assume that's the "post-publishing" filter you speak of - the customer. Me.

Pre-press filters keep me from having to wade through a bunch of unpolished, unprofessional and probably unreadable crap to find a good book. As a customer, I don't see how removing those filters benefits me. I like pre-press filters. I pay good money for good books, and some of that money I'm quite happily paying to reward the people who successfully fish good books (or good authors) out of the slush pile.

You want me to be a post-publishing filter? Fine. Here's me being a filter. Based on the typos and punctuation errors in your comments, there's no way I'm going to bother looking at your novel. You've been filtered. I hope you're happy with how the new system is working.

Learn your craft. You are the first filter, and there's a lot of errors you aren't catching. Maybe you'd be able to pass some of the publishing industry's filters if you were.

meika said...

"Great. So the final customer gets to be the slush pile reader now? I assume that's the "post-publishing" filter you speak of - the customer. Me."

And the product will be the advert, and the advert will be the product.

Typos? what they?

Go read
Thought styles : critical essays on good taste (1996) - London : Sage
by
Mary Douglas
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Douglas

It has no typos at all so you'll LOVE it!

http://www.amazon.com/Thought-Styles-Critical-Essays-Taste/dp/0803976569/sr=8-1/qid=1165918679/ref=sr_1_1/102-3185963-0827313?ie=UTF8&s=books

meika said...

Don, from
http://home.swipnet.se/~w-20547/stylework/typograph1-en.html#Ch21
I've worked out that my new column size will be 10.88cm (maybe finger room, though I never put my fingers on the page if I can help it) which is greater than 20 cicero so I should lead at 15pt for 12pt, but I'll tweak it till I get it right. I am no passive consumer, or producer for that matter.

thanks again!!

meika said...

another mistake (shouldn't be feeding the kids at the same time!)

Set 12 point text at 16 point line height (12/16) for greater than 24 cicero columns!

(I'll go now)

December Quinn said...

Not to push my blog here, but I did a post on ebook sales last week. It's here.

To paraphrase it, for anyone who doesn't want to click:

Depending on your genre (erotic romance ebooks are much, much larger sellers than other types of ebooks, to the point where they perhaps should also be considered a seperate industry), and depending on your publisher--Ellora's Cave, for example, reports average per-title sales somewhere in the 5-9k range. That's well, well, WELL above average ebook sales.

You can make some decent money writing ebooks. The royalty rate is so much higher that you really only need to sell half as many copies (roughly) to make the same amount.

But no, in general ebooks don't make as much, and the internet is not a Magical Publicity Maker. There are thousands upon thousands of POD and self-published and ebook authors out there, not to mention NY published authors, trying to use the internet to Generate Big Buzz. And frankly, if your blog is poorly written and your book is self-published, you can entice me to your site however you want--I'm still not buying your book.

As an ebook author, I certainly can't say that ebooks aren't as well written as NY-pub books. I can say, though, that quality is not always consistent. I've read some excellent ebooks, but I've read some real clunkers as well--not just books I didn't like, but badly written and edited books with plot holes you could drive a Hummer through.

I've heard the average ebook sells about 200 copies. I think this is average for all ebook publishers, because as I said, I know the bigger and more well-known ones do generate much better sales figures.

The idea of converting your book into PDF for submission is just bad. PDF is harder to scroll and you can't make notes on it. Not that an agent giving your first three chapters a read will be inclined to do so, but what if they want the full, and then offer representation? How is converting to PDF even easier than just sending the .rtf or .doc? I don't get it, but then, I don't get that stuff anyway.

Bottom line--don't get cute. Send what they ask for.

Craig Steffen said...

By the way, for those for whom Meika's link goes off the right side of the column, here's a working link to the aforementioned pre-formatted pdf.

Anyone wondering about this person or their query letter, just read the first few pages and all will be explained.

Fortunately, this poor soul came to the Rejecter and not to Miss Snark. That would have been rather messy.

BuffySquirrel said...

Thanks, craig. I was just wondering how far I'd have to shrink my font in order to grab that url. Learn some basic html, folks!

I agree with anonymous--I want someone else to weed out the crap for me. Preferably a lot of someone else's. But apparently I'm "not an innovator". Nor do I believe in breaking the "no more than two fonts" rule.

As for the writing...er, that's a very nice photo of Shag Bay.

Darryl Sloan said...

Meika,

You are doing youself no favours when you get defensive in here.

The points that everyone made are true (even if they could have been said more politely).

After reading just two paragraphs of your first story, I realised that you badly need to work on your grammar and punctuation.

You should be rejoicing that you now have an opportunity to revise your work and make it shine, instead living in denial about the problems with it.

Regards
Darryl (self-published author)
http://www.darrylsloan.com

Anonymous said...

The good thing about POD novels is that there is so much choice and diversity. There IS well written, highly original stuff hiding out there. If you look, you will find... or more properly you will DISCOVER something that you will be glad and proud to have been among the first to read.

You can't get that from the Times top 100.

The Rejecter said...

December, thank you for the valuable information about eBooks, a topic of which I need to know more.

As for the rest of you, I would say it's even money that anyone who's said a good thing about POD authors IS a frustrated POD author.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I wanted to write a post, but I don't think it will fit on the page for all the ego somebody's been scattering around....

kis said...

...but now there's going to be no pre-press filters, only post-publishing...

That's just freaking lovely. Yanno, there are enough bad books out there, even with people filtering the slush. Not just books I wouldn't read or stories that don't appeal to me, but books with plot holes, inconsistent character development, and MCs who are dumb enough to walk off the edge of a cliff just to take the plot where it needs to go.

Truth is, if an author can't even bother to proof-read his comments, I'm not interested in taking a chance on his book. I'm so deep in critique-mode from editing my own work, I've found I have zero tolerance for typos, poor grammar and poor grasp of language in a book. Bad prose, weak plotting, and authors--some of them with huge followings, don't ask me why--who just can't be bothered to pick up a goddamn thesaurus...GAAAHHH! It's just too much already, and now this guy says he's gonna bring about a new world order.

Dude, you make me afraid to walk into a bookstore.

That said--who knows? Maybe your stories are the bees freaking knees. If they are, can the idea of pdf formatting, and just get your work to an editor--someone who does spelling, grammar, and can help you with content as well. Maybe what you need is to have your manuscript come back covered in red Xs. It would be quite the revelation, let me tell you.

The Rejecter said...

I'm actually pretty easygoing on typos in posts and comments, having made any number of them myself. These are things we write and then just hit "post" fairly quickly.

However, your WRITTEN work - as in what you're intending to present to the world as good - should not have typos galore.

Anonymous said...

Every time I see an author promoting their POD or self-published book, I go take a look. Always hopeful to find a gem. Somehow I'm always disappointed.

kis said...

Hey, I'm not as picky about comments as I am about so-called polished work. Hence my slip of "bees knees" sans-apostrophe. And obvious ones, where someone hits C and V at the same time, aren't quite so irritating.

It's when every sentence has to be taken apart and decoded to find the meaning that it irks me. Those of us aspiring to be authors should at least care about how we come across, even in comments. Agents and editors do lurk on the internet, and I'd rather give them a good impression than a headache. If they're focusing on how awful I am, I want it to be for my bad taste in men or the fact that I drink too much, not my writing.

December Quinn said...

You're welcome, Rejecter! Glad to be of service.

(BTW...I have no idea why, but my link seems to be sending you elsewhere. It's actually here...I have no idea what happened, I thought it worked earlier.)

'Steene said...

I stand alone in the museum gallery. The Imaginary Museum Curator stands beside me.
"Gee," I say, "this sucks."
"Nonsense!" cries the Museum Curator. "This is Art!"
"No," I say, "it's not art. It's a highly polished urinal with a signature on it."
"Philistine."
"Also, you shouldn't capitalize art. It's not a proper noun."
"And Lo, for i am the Imaginary Museum Curator, and i shall capitalize as i choose!" He begins to twitch spasmodically (and imaginarily).
"...Right."
"Once a child lay here, they say, but it is not true. I know it to be false for I laid her there myself. Now I must lay something new in her place. She lies here still, but only in our minds, from which all True Art springs."
I study the Curator for a moment more. "Have you considered changing your medication?"
"No! You understand not! She lies still, she tells not the truth!"
"Aren't puns beneath you, with your great art and all? Or are you just trying to justify a typo by hiding behind the cloak of artistic merit? Dude, I'll let you in on a little secret. You aren't e e cummings, and you aren't James Joyce. Don't quit your day job."

meika said...

Okay,

I've just spent 3 hours re-jigging the layout to be more balanced and properly ciceroed and I am defensive?

The layout was crap.

What am I denying Daryl?

I mean, whose the one turning typos into an anti-tech cultural jihad? What are they defending? Browsing in bookstores?

And I thought Writing was hidebound compared to the other Arts (in particular music) because of the industry tarts when in fact its the passive snap-dragon consumer.

bookstore? what they?

and here's my amazon
wishlist (just to check html tag < a > is actually working on blogger these days)(last time it refused me, sorry about that)

I am not looking for favours but a critical and engaged conversation in order to take stuff on board. That's what web 2.0 can be, don't like it? Go back to your TVs.

Reducing the web to a public arena which one only enters when the work conforms perfectly to the accepted wisdoms of yesterday just isn't me. That's stultifying. I am not going to market that. I'll let the undead old-tech companies do that as they fade away slowly into obscurity.

Its a many to many relationship now, all levels are on the field at once, the behemoths of one to many mass-market style economics will fade (except for commodities). The strictures that they have brought in will fade in time, and the real ones will remain. Maintaining the guild-like closed market system because it has produced good works in the past (when editors actually edited with an author) is regressive. It is to worship the idol, the mummies faded mask.

And remember the work .before Country is a trial run of POD, it contains works I've written over twenty years, and is more of a 'concept album' than any thing else, and publishing via conversation on the net, this conversation on this blog has directly informed the work in my new book, like any conversation in a pub, or cafe, or at the watercooler, my thank yous are not defensive (which bit's defensive?).

Others will read this thread and go on to learn about proportioning their leading according the the column width (in ciceros even). And I'll certainly be sharing all I've learnt with any aspiring POD authors who come along after me in the gift economy.

It helps everyone get better and better.

And you may become a better gatekeeper filter as well. You already recommend books, some of you have already voiced your rejection of me, you are doing that work already. Just try and avoid it. Go on, keep mum about the last good book you read.

Publishing editors for the big house have outsourced their real work to agents, they have lost creative control, they don't create, they only have time to fill in spreadsheets, and the agents want book ready (but not press ready) publishable finished products in their particular niche, they have no time to do any collab creative work, that's foisted entirely onto the writer now, but publishing a book actually requires the work of many people, just like a movie.

I recognise that and seek to address it. That's what my review PDF is all about. The deficits of POD and self-publishing reflect the true loneliness of the POD Author, the internet is one way to get around it. It will get better, believe me.

In effect because the publishing industry markets AUTHORS (despite the House of people require to publish a book) it has help create in the minds of consumers with the urge to write the idea that they too can be an AUTHOR standing like Rousseau on a mountaintop. POD is the result of a successful marketing campaign/culture that has eschewed covering the real work in publishing a book (work that the rejecter and Miss Snark explicate to dilletantes like myself), its a positive feedback loop however. And so people think they can do it all themselves because publishing houses market AUTHORS as lone individuals. But we can't.

So thank you all again for all your comments. You are the publishing house. The market is the factory. The factory is the market.

So again I ask, What am I denying exactly?

Anonymous said...

meika, I don't think blogs are the place for you to be hanging out. They're really geared towards lovers of all things easily parsed like fairies, detectives, dragons, career girls, spies and all things that fit nicely into B&N. Wait a few days, head over to Miss Snark, and you will see what I mean. I think your work is rough, but not because of the choice to not capitalize “I”. Work on clarification without dumbing down. I think publishing your own e-book or pod is the only way you'll go.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, what was that? I wasn't listening...

Ray said...

Meika,

I have to agree with Daryl's comments, and I would recommend a read of the information he has on his site at www.darrylsloan.com. Anyway, once you put your work out for all to see, you have to be willing to accept the criticism—negative or positive. It’s easy to become defensive, especially if you’ve worked for so many years on it. Hey, it’s your baby!

A teacher of writing and reading in a middle school, I, too, just recently went the POD route and published a book. While initial reviews have been good, getting major media outlets to review the book has been a challenge. Even more challenging, in addition to my full day as a teacher, I have to be my own marketing director and press agent. Publishing the book is only the beginning, and if your manuscript is full of errors, isn't formatted according to publishing standards, and has a cover that doesn't look professionally designed, it's going to be a very frustrating experience.

Just as you did, I spent many years on my manuscript. The original one was actually completed in 1996, and let me tell you, I was appalled at what I noticed when reworking it years later. It was rife with misused homophones and careless errors. And while many of those errors have been fixed, and several people helped in the proofing of the revised manuscript, I still can’t guarantee that it's totally free of errors. To be honest, it's a tremendous undertaking... perhaps even more difficult than writing the book itself.

For what it's worth, here’s my two-cents worth of advice:

1)Accept with dignity and humility all the comments you receive. The way I look at it, we self-published authors have been rejected for a reason, and we weren’t sought out by any major publishers. Yes, there are some gems, and ours may be among them, but at this stage, I’d welcome as many comments as possible. If you can, I’d even ask your readers to specify what they liked or what they didn’t like. Whether you agree or not, regard the information as constructive criticism, and process it for use in your other writings.

2)Set realistic expectations. I didn’t set out to write the next book of Shakespeare or to become the next Stephen King, but I did set out to accomplish a lifelong ambition. Furthermore, since I am a teacher of English, should I not be practicing what I have dedicated my life to experiencing every day? Once I published, my goal was to at least recoup my investment, which I have. To sell more, I now have to go above and beyond what I've done thus far. However, it’s the learning experience that will lead you to the next level. Of course, that’s only my opinion. Your goals, ambitions, and expectations may be much different.

3)Proofread. Spell check. Proofread. Have others check. Proofread some more, and then proof again. Just reading your blogs, man, there were misspellings. That doesn’t bode well for your argument even before someone gets to read the manuscript. Impressions are everything…

4)In order to realize your dream, enter contests, post everywhere you can, share your work, and engage in non-confrontational dialogue. Writing is a craft that is fluid and ever changing… it’s always in flux. Well, always in flux, that is, until it’s published!

5)Be careful when designing your cover. Get as many people who will honestly comment on your cover to view it. POD covers can be spotted a mile away… no lie! Though I designed my own cover, I was more in love with my original cover design. The problem with the original was I didn’t get the “WOW!” response from people that I was looking for. As much as you love your manuscript or cover, you need to be willing to look at your work through a different lense to find what works best not just for your story, but for marketing.

Best of luck!

--Ray LeCara, Jr.
www.theforgottenprophecy.com
www.myspace.com/prophecyauthor

GC said...

Thanks for posting my letter, Rejecter.

You just reminded me not to keep asking the Bronx Zoo Gorillas what String Theory is.

Ta,

Greg

myspace.com/unhot

Anonymous said...

Meika,

As far as I'm concerned, your thought process is right on. You have vision and an understanding of where the publishing world is headed.

BTW, I'm with a small press publisher. In my analysis, it's the small press that's going to come more into prominence. The huge conglomerates are too big to be nimble whereas small presses are small enough to ride this rising tide. We're established enough to do the filtering, we're radical enough to take chances, and with POD, a failed title isn't going to sink us.

I like the way you think. I'm sending you an email through your blog. We'll take a look at what you have. Formatting, editing- those things can be fixed. All we ask is please, please, have a frigging point in your writing. If you send us 15 hrs of headache inducing material, there better be a payoff.

LadyBronco said...

Boy, Ms. Rejecter ~ you sure get some live ones in here!
Meika ~
A lot of the comments in here are right on...sorry. POD is more than likely your only option at this point unless you take everyone's comments - positive or otherwise - to heart.
POD can't overcome lazy writing, no matter how much you want it to.

kis said...

And hey, meika, I don't necessarily think you're being defensive of your own writing, so much as a process that is riddled with inconsistency, ego, and just plain dunderheadedness.

Okay, I'll can the hyperbole and just say that (IMO) about 1/3 to 1/2 of the books out there published by actual, real, honest to gosh houses are not fit for print. That's in an industry where rejection lurks around every corner. If you want numbers as to how many POD books are worth the paper they're printed on, check out poddy-mouth. Add a few zeroes to the denominators on the above fractions, and you've got a ballpark figure.

The way to greatness is not to remove all constraints on the creative process and just go hog-wild. Unless you are truly exceptional, publishers aren't going to reject you for no reason. And unless their only excuse is that your work is too elevated, or too experimental, or too highbrow for an unprepared public, POD is just an excercise in half-assedness.

If you really want the world to see your stuff and marvel, don't keep insisting that the "industry just doesn't understand me, man!" Do something to improve the level of your craft.

meika said...

my trackback


Publishing closes the circle and improves the craft.

Its part of the egology.

BuffySquirrel said...

Oh dear dog.

It wouldn't be so bad if readers were demanding to take on the combined roles of slush readers, agents, editors and reviewers. But they're not. They just want something decent to read, and recommend to others. Preferably something with conventional spelling and grammar so they can immerse themselves in the story.

Publishing isn't perfect. The decline in the quality of editing is disheartening. But the solution to poor editing isn't no editing.

The Rejecter said...

Meika, if you think it's great to get a lot of hits because any publicity is good publicity, you have forgotten you are not a celebrity. You are just a terrible writer.

As for the whole "the publishing industry is going to be decimated by indepedent PODers and the interweb!" business that I've heard any number of times - all by terrible, terrible writers whose stuff was just awful - let me tell you a little something about publishing.

At the turn of the 20th century, ALL publishing was indepedent. The reason most famous writers because published at all was because they owned a printing press or had access to one. (Virgina Woolf's husband had a printing press in his basement) The process was extremely expensive, but it meant everyone could publish anything. It also meant that a lot of crap was published that never went into reprint. We only remember the classics because they were good and became classics, and became profitable for the writer, who then reissued the book on demand.

At some point along the way, various business people got together to form little business around the presses they owned, providing the writer not only with access to their printer, but also to editorial assistance and thinks like copyediting so that novels weren't ridden with errors and falling apart at the seams (literally). These companies did a good job, and grew and grew. Eventually they did their job so well that they could afford to start PAYING the AUTHOR instead of the AUTHOR paying THEM for their services. And in the end of the 20th century, the invisible hand of the free market meant that a bunch of big companies could gobble up the small ones and turn them into imprints, because that's the way capitalism works.

Does it make the industry of writing more pubic and profit oriented? Yes. Does it mean that you can walk into a bookstore and expect to find every book in there relatively free of spelling errors and mistakes? Yes. Does it mean that the books are neatly categorized into genres so that you can immediately find the type of book you would like to read, no matter how classy or trashy it may be? Yes. Does it mean your book is protected by insanely tight copyright laws, even overseas, to make sure no one can steal your material? Yes. Does it mean the editorial department will make sure, for free, that you don't make an ass of yourself by making a ton of mistakes, plot and grammer-wise, and that you'll have a pretty layout and cover done by professionals, also for free? Yes.

So, you know. There are trade-offs to our current system, but I much prefer it to the old system. If you look in the introduction or similar section of any older novel (like, something by Jane Austen or Charles Dickens, both self-published), you'll find a little line about how the edition was edited from "the original" or even pieced together from various "originals" for the sake of continuity. This is because the original versions were probably rife with spelling errors, or printing errors, or not checked for consistency.

What can traditional publishing do for you? A hell of a lot. I don't want to hear any more of this bullshit that publishers are just a bunch of money-grubbing old people. I work too hard for that, I don't make enough money to grub anything, and I'm not old. This is a low-paying industry. We're in it, largely, because we care about books and kind of want them not to suck.

Zag said...

I always find trying to have a constructive talk with people like Meika incredibly frustating-no matter what you say, his opinions won't be swayed, even with the facts staring him in the face. He'll always believe what he does about his book and self publishing, no matter what anyone says.

That said, I'd like to bring up a few things.

1. I think it was in rather poor taste and also rather presumptuous for Meika to plug his book the way he did. I've seen people offer advice, etc. from their web pages or blogs in the comments area, but the info. is usually useful and normally they ask for permission or apologize if they find out it wasn't ok. I'm sure others will have differing opinions on this, but that's just me.

2. Just want to make some things that I've read in the comments a little clearer, if I can. Quote from Daryl:

"After reading just two paragraphs of your first story, I realized that you badly need to work on your grammar and punctuation.

You should be rejoicing that you now have an opportunity to revise your work and make it shine, instead living in denial about the problems with it."

Quote from Meika's response:
"What am I denying Daryl?"

Now, to answer that question, Meika, a quote from Rejecter:

"Oh, and you have to capitalize "I" every time you use it. Not just some of the time."

And your response, Meika:
"I? i? which 'I' are you referring to? It is actually consistent."

And this is where the denial comes in, Meika.

Now, from your actual manuscript, first page, second paragraph:

"I know how these little everythings became me. When i only thought i knew every little thing. Now if something is unknown, i make it up. How i came to be this way is the story i tell. I will tell. I will tell one day, everyday."

Now, this is just the SECOND page of the manuscript and already I found, just by skimming, you going from "I know" to "When i,", and using lowercase for a few more I's, then going back with "I will tell."

Just looking at the rest of the paragraphs in this story alone, I find instances of this happening in nearly EVERY SINGLE paragraph. Looking at the rest of the manuscript, I see this error is actually made throughout every one of your stories. I mean I know we've made a big deal out of this one error, but really, it's just so obvious and unprofessional, and yes, you DID deny doing it, just to set the record straight.

The rest of your stories are rife with basic grammar and punctuation errors, so many that I couldn't possibly go through them all...

3. Now that I got that tirade out of my system, I have a little constructive criticism (though a bit harsh I'm sure, as I'm in a bad mood-can you tell?)

First, on the "cover" of your book, I really think you should actually capitalize the first letters of your name-seems really unprofessional the way it is, but perhaps that's just me.

Also with the cover, what exactly IS the title of your book? Is it .before COUNTRY, with the period? Or is it Before COUNTRY, without the period, or what? Have you thought where in the world this would be shelved in a book store or what place in the alphabet it will be listed on the web, if the title is actually "period" before COUNTRY?? I mean, should be filed under P for period, or B for Before? If you meant the "b" to be the first letter of the title, then why isn't it capitalized? For that matter, why is the "b" the only letter in the title that is NOT capitalized? Just all smacks as unprofessional, but again, maybe it's just me. I tried to read your entire book; I really did. But stories like your "child rajer" (the first words "c" and "r" should be in caps as well, but whatever) are downright unreadable the way you stick those periods everywhere. The periods make the reader pause, and it's supposed to be a natural pause-I felt like I was having an asthma attack, trying to read this.

Also, what's with the question marks at the beginning of the sentences. As far as I know, only Spanish uses this as a convention, and then the question mark is upside down before the sentence, and right side up after.

Well, that's all for now-don't want to be "deliberate," after all.

I guess what I'm getting at is that if you have to gall, the guts, to post up your novel without asking permission on a public blog and talk about how great you think your Cover and layout is (which you subsequently say is crap after someone mentions the fact), and how great POD is, you'd better damn well make sure it's as good as you can make it-but you didn't, and people are calling you on it, and you're frustrated because people didn't tell you how brilliant they thought it was.

Yes, rejecter is right-you must think even bad publicity is good publicity-if 1,500 read your manuscript, it doesn't mean 1,500 people thought it was the good. This much should be obvious just from the comments here.

But, you go on and believe whatever you want to believe about your writing. You will anyway.

Anonymous said...

Zag,

From looking at the paragraph you referenced ("I know how these little everythings became me. When i only thought i knew every little thing. Now if something is unknown, i make it up. How i came to be this way is the story i tell. I will tell. I will tell one day, everyday.") it's obvious that Meika doesn't know that "I" is ALWAYS capitalized. Note how he capitalized "I" when he started a new sentence with it.

Obviously Meika is an ESL student. If English is his native language, I feel really sorry for him.

Zag said...

Anon, perhaps you're right-though if that is the case and he's just learning English, I would think he'd take the earlier criticism to heart and admit he's not a native English speaker, so we'd mabye take it a little easy on him. Of course, if I were an ESL student, I certainly wouldn't put my book out in public for review, but that's just me.

At any rate, I'm off to more important things, like sleep. :)

Anonymous said...

Ray,

Furthermore, since I am a teacher of English, should I not be practicing what I have dedicated my life to experiencing every day?

Yes, you should. Which means working on your book until it's good enough to be legitimately published, instead of encouraging your students to believe vanity publishing is just as good.

I'm sorry to put it this way, because you seem like a nice man and you should be proud of yourself for finishing a book. But you haven't actually done anything except finish a book.

I really hope my children don't end up with a middle school teacher who misuses homophones (it may have been in '96, but how many students were you teaching then?) and encourages my child to believe paying to be published is just as legit as being paid to be published.

I do sincerely wish you luck. But vanity publishing is NOT real publishing, and I'd hate to think my children might have a teacher who tries to convince them it is.

Ray said...

Ouch, Anonymous! LOL! While I don't necessarily disagree with you on some of your points, there seemed to be a few erroneous assumptions made.

Yes, you should. Which means working on your book until it's good enough to be legitimately published, instead of encouraging your students to believe vanity publishing is just as good.

I haven’t encouraged my students to believe that vanity publishing is just as good, but I do believe in teaching students to follow through with things they are passionate about. I am also honest about the scrutiny one can face if any written work full of errors is made public.

I'm sorry to put it this way, because you seem like a nice man and you should be proud of yourself for finishing a book. But you haven't actually done anything except finish a book.

Here I don’t disagree with you, and I am quite honest about the fact that I self-published. Believe me, I do understand that it’s not the same. Still, there are some writers who have done quite well going this route.

I really hope my children don't end up with a middle school teacher who misuses homophones (it may have been in '96, but how many students were you teaching then?) and encourages my child to believe paying to be published is just as legit as being paid to be published.

LOL! Touché! The mention of my earlier manuscript, though, was an attempt to demonstrate how we don’t always see our own errors. Pouring through thousands of words is a tedious and painstaking undertaking. I also can’t begin to tell you how many traditionally published novels we've read in class have contained errors. Again, though, the assumption is made that I am encouraging students to believe what you stated. Perhaps I was not articulate enough in the comments I made in the previous posting, but it comes down to expectation. I met my expectations, and there are no disillusions here to the pros and cons of vanity/POD publishing versus traditional. I saw this as a learning experience. For myself, personally, had I not gone through the process, I would still be wondering what it would truly take to get “paid” to be published.

Anonymous said...

Well, Ray, I take back my assumptions (and objections)then, and still wish you the best of luck. You not only seem like a very nice man, but a professional one.

Having looked at your site, though, I wonder if you really exhausted all publishing options before self-pubbing? There are a lot of small (and some larger) religious presses out there. Since your story seems to be religiously based (although I didn't see any chapters available or samples-you should have some up) those would be good places to try. And as a bonus, not only would someone be paying you, they'd be another pair of editing eyes as well.

Consider it. Don't sell yourself short.

jb said...

In defense of Meika:

But isn't the stuff that Meika is writing exactly the kind of stuff that self-publishing is designed for? He's not writing a mainstream novel; he's writing prose poetry, the kind of stuff that poets try to sell for 5 bucks after the poetry slam. Poets have been hawking home-made chapbooks for fifty years (thanks a lot beatniks) and as unprofessional as Meika's manuscript looks, it is a world apart from the bad old days of photocopied 'books.'

I personally couldn't get through two pages of it, but I think it's unfair (too strong of a word) that he's getting slammed (no pun intended) for not capitalizing the word "i" as though that had been a typo, because if he's using word processing software from the last ten years, that would have gotten caught and so it is clearly an artistic decision(not one that I think is improving the work, but there it is.) I think it's a good example of why it's not publishable, but not necessarily proof that he doesn't know basic grammar.

That being said, in my younger days, I wrote plenty of crap that was 5th rate TS Eliot and 4th rate Kafka (my Kafka was better than my Eliot)and I thank Dog every day that the internet wasn't around to show that crap to the world. Meika may someday wish these pieces weren't floating around, too.

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time there was a bloke who liked to tell stories, but his stories weren't very good, and people tended to walk off while he was telling them. 'No, wait, come back! Drats, it's happening again. One day I'll get to the end of a story before everybody disappears,' he would say, and someone would turn around to tut, and another would wave a hand dismissively, and someone else would say something no doubt derogatory and everyone would laugh.

So one day, he decided to spice up his stories with sex, but he was quite a bashful person, and he didn't want to make his stories unnecessarily lewd, so he came up with an ingenious device to imply what was meant but in a way that no one could mistake. And he thought, given past performance, he better get to the sex pretty quick if he didn't want to lose his audience.

So he plunged in and when he came to the sex, everybody fell about laughing, which wasn't the reaction he had imagined. He hardly dared hope for rapt interest. If they had only listened until the end of the story, he would have been delighted, but this rolling around on the floor in convulsions mystified him.

But since they hadn't walked off yet, he carried on with the story, and when he got to his second big sex scene, people laughed so hard that some seemed unable to catch breath, and others begged for him to stop with tears streaming from their eyes.

Anyway the story was a great success, and when he reached the end, there was even a small cheer from a few of the listeners. A couple of fellows strolled up to him and slapped him on the back and asked him to join them in a few beers at a nearby bar.

But he was too excited and said no and rushed home to tell his wife all about it. And as he told his wife about the amazing experience of the crowd's reaction to his story, he noticed his wife was carefully listening to him. Usually she appeared to ignore most things he said and responded by giving him chores to do.

'So what was this sex that everybody found so hilarious?' she asked him at last, and so he told her. And as he told her, her eyes began to narrow, and her mouth began to pinch, and when he had finished, she said, 'You didn't really tell them that, did you?' Yes, he nodded eagerly, wondering what was the matter. At which point, his wife picked up a frying pan in a manner that made him withdraw, and as she flew, so did he. And she didn't let up chasing him up and down the street and around the houses until she had clopped him one about the head.

Standing over him, she said, 'Don't ever tell another story like that to all and sundry!'

He rubbed his head, still sitting where he had fallen - it was quite a blow. Finally he replied, 'What story?' which seemed to satisfy his wife. But as he sat there, he really couldn't remember what the story had been about, and he really wanted to because despite his wife's reaction, he fully intended to tell it again, to another audience.

He still hadn't remembered when he told me about it, which was a bit annoying because he had got me interested by then, and I would have liked to know. He started to tell me another story, at which point I made some excuses and was able to get away... thankfully. It didn't sound very good.

Kim said...

Meika,

While I do agree that's it's kind of poor taste to plug your book here, I think it's even worse how you've gone on the defensive regarding some of the criticisms. Yes, the i's drove me so crazy that I stopped reading after about a page. And I'll admit, I'm not a big poetry person. But the basics are just that. If someone buys your book at $20 (or whatever) and then has to spend half the time doing a "what was that?", they aren't going to be too quick to buy another book.

And what will you do if you recieve outside criticism (i.e. a reviewer), that is less than glowing? Are you going to fire off an angry, defensive letter or e mail? Post it on your blog?

People here offered up some good points - and you might want to keep your mind open enough to at least consider them. I'm pretty sure that if this thread had shown up on Miss Snark's blog - you'd have had the same, only some would have really let fly and blasted the hell out it.

I think what really bugged me was that I got the sense of if the reader finds fault, it's because he or she is too dumb, too slow, too simple, or too "brainwashed by traditional publishing" to realize they are actually reading a literary masterpiece. It couldn't possibly be because the spelling needs improvement, or basic rules of grammar weren't followed (yes, the I again.), but it had to be through some fault of your reader. If you truly feel that your work is simply so deep that no one will get it, who, exactly, are you targeting then?

And my personal experience has been that anyone who has to point out how smart they are, or how talented, or how "deep" they are is in fact the opposite. If you are these things, they show through. If you have to point it out... you have to wonder why.

Of course, I write romance, so I'm sure that's anathema. One doesn't need to have deep thoughts or whatever to enjoy my stories. Which is fine with me. If my book has entertained and maybe taken my reader out of their day-to-day life for a brief period, I'm happy. I've done what I set out to do.

Anonymous said...

Well, now I'll be reading The Rejector in addition to Miss Snark and PODDY Mouth.

As for Meika, when I got to the part about T.S. Eliot educating his own audience, so why can't I--well, I threw up in my mouth a little.

T.S. Eliot did *not* educate his own audience. Read Eliot's magnificent essay, "Tradition and the Individual Talent."

As a critic (yes, an old-fashioned book reviewer at a traditional, printed-on-paper alternative weekly), crap like this makes me cringe. It comes over the transom (either as self-published POD "books" or unsolicited submissions) like a rush of gutter drainage through a basement window after a rainstorm.

If you're doing this for fun, go for it. If you expect anyone to actually *read* it, learn the craft.

/rant off

Kel Munger

jb said...

I didn't really have anything else to add, but the word verification was "ipnpuns." that's frikken awesome!

Anonymous said...

I participated in the first Project Greenlight. We had to peer review submissions. I ended up reading about 50 screenplays. It took me MONTHS to get back to reading screenplays after that, I was so sick of the bad, bad, I mean BAAAAAAAD crap that was being pushed. I imagine this is _exactly_ the same level of crap being shoveled at agents and publishers. I feel sorry for all the trees that had to perish so all us Hemingways and Ferlinghettis could excrete our little regurgitated thoughts and feeeeeeeelings into the ether.

You know, with Greenlight, it was getting so bad, when I finally found a script that was properly formatted it was like... a FIND...., and I'm not even talking story points, language, spelling. Just formatting the damned things was a challenge to 80% of the folks. Page 2, people could NOT get through page 2 of their screenplays without botching the simplest things. It was u-n-b-e-l-ie-v-a-b-l-e. What a nightmare that was.

I helped out in HR once sorting through resumes for a lucrative chef's position with a major restaurant. Position was nationally advertised. They received like, 800 applications for this one job. So I went through the pile to sort out the serious submissions from the what-were-they-thinkings...... the resumes I saw. I mean, forget about the basic criteria for the chef's position. There were resumes that violated every basic standard. There were people who sent in a half-a-paragraph snort, "hey, i'm available, gimme a call," to these Tolstoys who faxed 30-page novellas listing every omellete they ever baked. It was incredible.

Can you imagine if every single one of us posted our rambling little half-baked PDF projects here with bi-daily updates on all the commas and exclamation marks we edited last night? Oh the joy of it all. And then just not get-it, and come out swinging and arguing and debating, and posting URLs every other second. Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet MERCY............

I mean, we're not even talking USMC or IRS 1040 here on the Follow The Rules aspect. We're talking about people who want to help artists bring their work to a larger audience and profit from the experience, and it just doesn't work. People just do NOT want to listen. It's unbelievable to me. The self-indulgent petulance you have to put up with. I couldn't do it. Honestly. Did it once with Project Greenlight, neeeeeeeeeeeever again. Never.

Rejecter, salute to you. Thx for a very informative blog! I could NOT do what you are doing.

Dave Robinson said...

I'm an aspiring writer. I think I'm pretty good, and as there are at least three publishers who have shown interest in my work (though none have bought anything yet) I feel pretty confident in that assertion.

Please note, I said "pretty good," not great or wonderful or deep.

I've worked at a conventional bookstore, and briefly at a POD publishing service.

Every time someone comments on my work I listen. I pay attention. I can't control how someone else perceives my work, but if they tell me I can compare their reaction to my intentions. I have learned an awful lot from first readers. They see the things I don't. It gives me a chance to see what's working and what isn't. I may not make the changes they ask for; but I pay attention to their issues.

It helps a lot.

meika said...

Okay, the eye-bleeding layout is fixed.

Now I just have to deal with all the other comments, which a writer must listen to, and not listen to at the same time. Generally the reader raises the correct problems but do not always have the right solution. It's a question of writerly intent, if there is such a thing anymore.

And now a few replies and I'll call it a day.

Rejector, I agree and I did say it took a whole bunch of people to get a book made, you described the history of this so far, but history has not stopped. Linus Torvald said of coding that all bugs are shallow given enough eyes, that's what the web is.... LOTS OF EYES

RE: Zag's I find instances of this happening in nearly EVERY SINGLE paragraph
Then it is consistent and its not denial...

"I" locates the speech act, a use of "i" may indicate a different location, a different psychological space. But that's not what happening in Originary, here instead the use of the small 'i' prefigures this question as asked in the later prose poems.

So, then, what is actually happening in the story Originary? The speech act location is 'i', however to be consistent with the rest of the sentences 'i' is capitalized at the beginning of a sentence. If you find any of them that is 'i' then that is a typo.

: )

Maybe for some problems more eyes make us all blind?

RE: Zag's title?
it before Country now finalized, its varieties are the result of dithering on my part, now over

but it's still a beta release, about version 0.8 I reckon

RE: Not James Joyce
No one else is allowed to experiment then. Its all been done before? And I don't think he did his own layout.

I've enjoyed all of this.

meika said...

.before Country

dammit!! I previewed like 12 times!!

BuffySquirrel said...

"I" locates the speech act, a use of "i" may indicate a different location, a different psychological space. But that's not what happening in Originary, here instead the use of the small 'i' prefigures this question as asked in the later prose poems.

So, then, what is actually happening in the story Originary? The speech act location is 'i', however to be consistent with the rest of the sentences 'i' is capitalized at the beginning of a sentence. If you find any of them that is 'i' then that is a typo.


I'm sorry, but could you please explain that in terms I can understand?

Kim said...

Buffy - Thank you! :) I was wondering the same thing, and then wondering if my blond-itis was coming into play.

Oy.

meika said...

If we adopt illocutionary point as the basic notion on which to classify uses of language, then there are a rather limited number of basic things we do with language; we tell people how things are, we try to get them to do things, we commit ourselves to doing things, we express our feelings and attitudes, and we bring about changes through our utterances. Often we do more than one of these at once in the same utterance. (Searle 1975a:369)

But then, why google when one can pout?

Craig Steffen said...

But then, why google when one can pout?

Ok, let's take it from the top.

In your work, it has been observed that you often type the single-letter word "I" with a small letter, like so: "i".

It's done consistently enough that everyone that has read it assumes that that's done deliberately.

What some of us are wondering, is, "why do you do it that way?". Some of us, myself included, were confused by your explanation:


"I" locates the speech act, a use of "i" may indicate a different location, a different psychological space. But that's not what happening in Originary, here instead the use of the small 'i' prefigures this question as asked in the later prose poems.

So, then, what is actually happening in the story Originary? The speech act location is 'i', however to be consistent with the rest of the sentences 'i' is capitalized at the beginning of a sentence. If you find any of them that is 'i' then that is a typo.


I think the second paragraph means that the reason that you use "I" at the beginning of sentences but "i" in the middle is just the general capitalization rule of words at the beginning of sentences. However, why us "i" at all? I don't understand your first paragraph at all.

BuffySquirrel said...

Ask a civil question...

Okay, here's another question for you. No, two questions.

How does the use of I "locate" the speech act? Tenses locate the speech act, not pronouns.

What is the question that's being prefigured?

meika said...

Number 2 first, The "prefigured question" is part of the problem I address creatively (write about) in the prose poems (and code poems) in the middle of .before Country. However the answers are not coherent (as one might expect), or at least not conventional. The short stories in .before Country then return by degree to more conventional forms but are still informed by that creative excursion. The reason for which lie deep in the wombwell. (Reject nothing??)

And like blogland the wombwell is probably a weird egology.

(Art differs from Science in that one makes up the questions as well as seeks answers to them. Now one can simply inherit a default tradition and use that (the Petrachian Sonnet form for example). As part of my questioning I sometimes like to query the forms we used.

Now to number 1,
"I" and the other pronouns locate who said it, it's a relative thing. Out of whose mouth? Where does their body stand? The tenses locate when something spoken/written about happened (compared to now). Together they referecee everything to the here and now.

Now I better check out that TS Eliot link above in the comments somewhere, and hope I don't have my anglo-catholics confused with my anglophiles.

I had hoped my large use of quotes from pre-Raphaelite writers would help framed my tells for anyone who happened by.

meika said...

I use i because sometimes it feels like I is not i, it might still be me, but I am too anxious, insecure, nervous to use I. But like all the shy they still draw attention to themselves for being so.

Note also: In some European languages the convention is to capitalise the polite form of the second person (Sie in German for you) and to not capitalize the first person (ich for I).

And that must be enough now.

Anonymous said...

What I just CAN'T get around is.... the Rejecter clearly states in her blog, do NOT come dragging your sad sack queries and pitches and novel-ideas in here, and of course someone HAS to do it, just HAS to, because HIS precious idea is the E=MC2 of literature if only the rest of us cave-dwelling chimps would "see" it..... and then SHOVE it down our throats in a torrent of blathering runny cow pies...

And still NOT GET IT...

Anonymous said...

Oh btw, Meika, you might not want to put that on any queries you're sending out... "my compositional art piece deep minds poetry project was downloaded 1500 times" thinking it'll be decisive in getting a read.

On second thought... go ahead and put that in all your queries. No, make that, 1500 and ONE... I just downloaded a copy too! Read the first few pages... wow, the lights went out at the apartment. Powerful stuff babe. You can add that to the query. "Caution, may affect the artificial lighting in the dwellings of lower species..."

Anonymous said...

Unless your reader can figure out what the hell you're talking about in your writings and form some kind of connection with it, it's just masturbation.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous who likened this guy's writing to masturbation. He's just jacking off, and we're sitting around watching.

Heatheness said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BuffySquirrel said...

Yes, but WHAT IS THE QUESTION?

Heatheness said...

(Previous post deleted because I have no idea how to self-edit after posting...)

The cover image, with its two fonts and its punctuation that is neither a comma, a semi-colon or a colon, is simply not professional or attractive.

And what is a code poem here? Isn't it just verse written in computer language? Apparently, not in this case. So, if the reader can't possibly know what you mean, don't include it (in all its glorious explanationlessness) on the first page.

Oh, dear. I wonder, how exactly would a book search for its own discipline? A book does not make itself. Ideally (for the reader, anyway) the author learns his discipline and then writes the book. The book is not the story of you inventing a new discipline. And a good thing, too, because you have not invented a new discipline here. What you have done is presented yourself as a classic bi-polar narcissist.

It makes poets sad and novelists cringe, whenever a writer cries that their run-on sentences and dangling participles are examples of poetic license - meaningful, intentional, acts of genius.

Even your first page, with its single "sentence," screams that you do not grasp basic grammar. I do not get the impression you are artistic or brave, and I'm not enscorcelled in vapors of literary fear and envy either. Oh that I were.

For example, I quote: These seven stories and code poems tell of how .before Country came to be, of its search for discipline, and *in* those arbitrary arts and crafts way to live well, despite the spike.

See, you don't need that first "of" at all. It's how Madonna would word her speech when using her posuer British accent. If you insist on using "of" in your list of things the seven stories tells, then you should consider using it where it is actually applicable. You need to replace the starred *in* with "of," and you need to make "in those" (which is plural), agree with "way". In other words - those + ways, or that + way.

As for the "I and i" conflict...if I understand you correctly, your self-esteem during your own thought processes, while writing the narrative and within the narrative, PLUS whether or not the word "I" starts a sentence, dictate your reasons for either capitalizing or not. Yeah. The problem is that wishing your self-esteem were pertinent to the reader does not make it so, and also, you use "i" as short-hand for "I'm not sure about myself," and yet STILL have to explain and defend it. This is your clue. The idea, as executed, makes you come across as either ignorant or affected - it does not even come close to serving the function you want it to. And to reiterate, I question the validity of the intended function in the first place.

Also, I had to page forward to page 17 before getting to any narrative, and even the quotes read confusingly because of your punctuation. Not good. And calling your stories "tells" is simply wrong. A tell is either a present tense verb in the first and second person (both singular and plural) and in third person (plural only), or it is an archeological site of many layers.

Anyway, in this first real page of the book's text, you confuse subjects, change POV, write in the present, the past, the passive, the past-perfect, the future and the future-perfect tenses. And, "I will tell one day, everyday," ??? Do you mean, "one a day, every day," as in one-per-day? Or do you tell days? You TELL days? You tell DAYS? I'm sorry, but no. You don't. And neither does anyone else, at least not without using the other necessary parts of speech. For example: I will tell the story of one day, every day. Or, I will tell about one day, every day. And, yes, every day is two words, not a compound one.

Some books that push the experimental envelope beautifully are: House of Leaves (Mark Danielewski), Ella Minnow Pea (Mark Dunn), A Void (George Perek).

"And so about words I know everything. Do you believe me?"

No, Meika, a million times, no. What you offered to the Rejecter Class for criticism is a journal of you wondering what it would be like to be a writer. You obviously love language, but now you need to get to work learning the one in which you've chosen to write. You're not there yet.

kis said...

Yanno, I don't really mind experimental stuff at times. One of my favorite books is Merlin: Darkling Child of Virgin and Devil by Robert Nye (I'm not sure of the author's name, cause I lent it to someone six years ago and they freaking haven't given it back yet, ARRGH!). It's a semi-pornographic novella/poem (or something) and doesn't easily fit into any standard category of either form or genre. Absolutely brilliant.

One thing I can say about it, though, which I can't say about the little of Meika's work I've read(or his comments, for that matter) is that I could decipher the basic meaning of his sentences--in essence, decode his words--without giving myself a migraine. Writing is supposed to be about an author communicating something to a reader. Communicating.

All I get with Meika's stuff is this profound sense of befuddlement. I read his words and wonder if perhaps I sustained a head injury without knowing it, and have developed some bizarre form of dyslexia. Not being the type who craves literary self-flagellation (I'll stick with the usual kind--having kids), I think I'll give Meika's stuff a pass. Now where's my Advil?

Tyrone McCloskey said...

Sticking with traditional publishing in order to sell 100 copies while losing the copyright and likely getting the book buried in order for the publisher to write his "losses" off at tax time seem like good enough reasons to remain in the land of the dinosaurs and await extinction.

BuffySquirrel said...

If you do work-for-hire you give up the copyright, plus your moral rights, otherwise you generally get to keep those. And we can see how effective copyright is when Google Books decides They Want Your Book.

Termagant 2 said...

"Generally the reader raises the correct problems but do not always have the right solution."

Meika, do yourself the favor of assuming, prima facie, that your reader is right and you are wrong. After 16.5 books, I can affirm that it's far more likely I have made a mistake in communicating, than a reader "failed to get my voice."

Writing happens in order to communicate. If you fail to communicate to your reader, it's your fault, not theirs.

As a reader, I will not waste any time trying to understand obfuscation and coy use of language. I'll move on to something better written, that I can understand and identify with some aspect of the human condition.

Suck it up, try a different experiment, and see what works FOR YOUR READERS. Then re-open your head.

T2

Ellen said...

Meika, if you want to write for an audience, you have to take into account what they will read. Do yourself a favour and don't go around assuming that you're T.S. Eliot, e.e. cummings, or any other 'name'. You're not. You can't get away with what they did.

Your readers have certain requirements, one of which is to be able to read your work without having to decipher it. They won't make the effort.

If you aren't writing for an audience, why push it in front of the rejecter's readership?

Finally, just a note on the use of words to mean something other than their accepted definitions (what you're doing with your 'I', 'i' distinction): read Lewis Carroll. Here's an extract (not quite the one I was after, but a good one nonetheless):

'And only ONE for birthday presents, you know. There's glory
for you!'

'I don't know what you mean by "glory,"' Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't--
till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for
you!"'

'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,"' Alice
objected.

'When _I_ use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful
tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor
less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you CAN make words mean
so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master--
that's all.'

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute
Humpty Dumpty began again. 'They've a temper, some of them--
particularly verbs, they're the proudest--adjectives you can do
anything with, but not verbs--however, _I_ can manage the whole
lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what _I_ say!'

'Would you tell me, please,' said Alice 'what that means?'

'Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Dumpty,
looking very much pleased. 'I meant by "impenetrability" that
we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well
if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't
mean to stop here all the rest of your life.'

'That's a great deal to make one word mean,' Alice said in a
thoughtful tone.

Termagant 2 said...

"I reject your reality, and substitute my own!"

-- Adam, "MythBusters"

It only works for him. Nobody else.

T2

Anonymous said...

Reducing the web to a public arena which one only enters when the work conforms perfectly to the accepted wisdoms of yesterday just isn't me. That's stultifying. I am not going to market that. I'll let the undead old-tech companies do that as they fade away slowly into obscurity.

Hahahahahahaha!

Oh dear, oh dear. That's not writing. That's preciousness. That's, "I am an ARTEEST! I am sooo much better and more pure and spiritual than any of you boorish philistines who actually INSIST on EDITED and POLISHED writing by TALENTED writers! For shame!"

It's also old, old, OLD hat. It's the Romantic movement of the late 18th/early 19th century. It's Gustav Corbet.

It's tiresome.

Imelda said...

I know a lot has been said already, but I can't resist.

Meika, I am a smart girl, with a degree in English, who has read widely in poetry and prose.

More than half the time, in both your comments and your work, I have no idea what you are talking about.

Whatever your forum, if you fail to communicate with your readers, your work has failed. (IMHO)

No doubt you will disagree. Perhaps if just one person 'gets' you, you will be happy. If so, good luck to you. But don't bother trying to explain yourself to those of us who don't. It just makes you look like more of a w***ker.

Cheers, Imelda

PS: BTW, I am sure that, in the long run, e-publishing will be an established part of the new world order. But whether you like it or not, the only thing that will make that happen is lots of people buying e-pubbed books. That will only happen when THEY LIKE THEM. I doubt the day will ever come when LOTS of people like collections of prose poems and stories - even when they are good. So you and your work are not the beginning of a brave new world. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

One wonders why Robert Townsend is considered a visionary for funding "Hollywood Shuffle," maxing out a series of credit cards; Ani DiFranco is considered a genius for making her own albums and not signing with a major; but people who publish their own books are merely schmucks. In Meika's case, he probably is a schmuck. His book doesn't seem to work on a whole variety of levels. But should the midlist author whose book goes out of print bring it back through a firm like Author House, is he then a schmuck, too? It was published once by a so-called "real" publisher. Should the author who is told over and over that their book isn't right for the market simply agree with those rejecters and not pursue some other avenue of publication? Afterall, agents and editors are looking for what they think might sell, not necessarily what might be great literature or art.

How many units has NBA winner Richard Powers moved of his latest tome? I heard that just before the award, bookscan had him at 4,000. The marketeers would not call that a success, not even a modest one. I suspect if Richard Powers were starting out right now, he'd have a tough time of it. Are his works then not worth seeing the light of day and publication?

Rejecter, I appreciate the time you take to offer your view of the world from an agency. But I always keep in mind that you are always keeping in mind the "market," that abstract concept of what has historically sold once but may not sell twice. The irony is, that none of us know what will sell. It's all guesses. Why any of us cede power to the marketeers is beyond me. They're usually not the bright ones at school.

Heatheness said...

Anonymous 8:45, I can't speak to the Townsend or Powers comparisons, but I can tell you, Ani DiFranco TURNED DOWN labels, not the other way around.

While I'm not sure Ani is a genius, if she were, would it really be because she went indie? It wouldn't be, I don't know, because she was exceptionally good? I wonder how many scammed or vanity published authors turned down deals BEFORE they went to PA or the equivalent. I'll bet zero.

I thought you touched on an almost valid argument though (for a respectable use of self-publishing), when you described the authors whose work fell off the midlist and out of print. No doubt some are great writers with loads of talent. They're bumming hard, feeling paralyzed and betrayed, and it IS tragic. But I don't think the cure is to sell a few hundred more copies, tops, via POD, do you? I'd think the best cure of all would be to write a better, more desirable book.

Of course, there is the one, always effective and instant cure. It's called quitting.

writtenwyrdd said...

I just tried the link, and IT'S GONE! Maybe he finally heard your advice, rejecter!?

meika said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
meika said...
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Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Rejecter said...

Now it's getting mean. Further posts will be deleted.

n.l. said...

Even though this post ended in rejected entries (could tell that was coming from a mile away), this was a great read.

In starting an Indie Press, I learned that perhaps offering eBooks can be good, though it might serve better to accept only certain genres that have selling potential that's different from print selling potential...

Crystal said...

I thought you touched on an almost valid argument though (for a respectable use of self-publishing), when you described the authors whose work fell off the midlist and out of print. No doubt some are great writers with loads of talent. They're bumming hard, feeling paralyzed and betrayed, and it IS tragic. But I don't think the cure is to sell a few hundred more copies, tops, via POD, do you? I'd think the best cure of all would be to write a better, more desirable book.

Speaking as a reader, I was delighted to find some of Piers Anthony's books that had fallen out-of-print available as POD. These were books I read as a child and wanted to find again. In this instance, POD worked for both author and reader and I'm sure that even while selling a few copies of his OOP works, the author is still busy writing new books. In that case, it seems like a win-win but I'm also not an expert in this arena.

meika said...

Okay, my latest and last comments are here

And now it is Christmas.

meika said...

There is now a .before Country FAQ in response to some comments here and on other blogs.

Issendai deleted my posts linked in the above comment of mine, too web 2.0 for Issendia maybe? Anyway I'll be putting together a writer's statement as a result of that dialogue despite the deletion.

The writer's statement will be much like an artist's statement used in commission application, less like a gallery or exhibition statment and so a bit more general.

meika said...

I really suggest possible readers look at Marie-Laure Ryan's paper entitled Narrative and the Split Condition of Digital Textuality, and even though it focusses on computer games its first sections are quite enlightening and frame .before Country really well. I find on reading it, that I am an Antarctic explorer returning to the temperate zones.

Anonymous said...

So, meika, you're saying that we as readers are too ignorant to understand your work on its own merits? I must say, that's perhaps not the way -I- would go about building an audience.

Closer to the original topic, I'd like to add that e-publishing as PDFs or other formats became very important to me when I moved overseas. In my current location, not only has my choice of book become limited, the price of those available has, on average, doubled. Electronic editions are therefore valuable to me, as they are generally cheap and available from a wider selection than otherwise available.

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Jermaine said...

Meika I noticed that you seem to have forgotten that it was YOU who posted a link to a pdf which is, ostensibly, some kind of new age allegory for the faulty publishing industry and your method of fixing it. It should not come as a surprise that when it is as rough as it is, you will generate some ill-will from the more literary people who read it. I don't claim to be very literary but the following makes sense to me, simply based on what I learned in high-school English classes.

I will not go on to attack whatever content is there (Sean Lindsay has already done that, viciously). Objectively if you expect people to read your work, you must write in a manner that shows respect for your audience. More specifically, no one will take you seriously as a writer if you can't achieve a certain level of literacy. If I picked up a book with that many typos, misused words, vagueness, punctuation, and capitalization inconsistencies in it, I would assume one of two things:

1 the author is either an engineer, mathematician or a mediocre translator and the book is probably a technical manual for a piece of industrial machinery. In this case I could excuse the problems, because those types of authors are often admittedly inept and write only because they have to

or,

2 that the author is trying to create a false sense of "avant-guarde" on a bit of personal agenda that is most likely the child of their disestablishmentarianism and rejection by someone who doesn't have time to deal with fad or style when objectivity is called for.

Even the most "edgy" and bohemian college student I know would misinterpret your allegory from what you stated it was, because the subject isn't always clear. Are you talking about the coldness of an industry, or an internal struggle to find your talent? If you have to specify beforehand what your allegory is about, it's poorly done, or .

That being said, I don't understand why you continue to write large comments in this forum.

Shouldn't you be working on either improving that bit of material, or else saying what you have to say in an objective, business-like manner. The kind of manner that entrepreneurs who have the inclination to make a living by distributing reading material would appreciate. If you did that, they may consider working with you.

Lesson one: know your audience. You are writing for THEM, aren't you?