- Books, Literature, and Writing
The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Fourteen
How It Works and Blah, Blah, and More Blah
I was going to skip this section, because I really don’t like repeating the same thing, but then it dawned on me that there might be people who read this who know nothing about this series, and they don’t know how it works.
So I’ll tell them, and you, that you ask questions and the Writing Guru answers them.
I don’t know who this Writing Guru dude is; he just pops into my writing studio while I’m sleeping, and he leaves responses to questions. Lazy guy that he is, he expects me to type up his responses, and reliable guy that I am, I do it for him.
So here we go, the latest series of questions about writing, and responses about writing, from the Guru.
From Audrey: “ I am just starting to pull things together for a book of poetry though--and thinking about using Create a space--any opinions on pros and cons of self publishing platforms??? I am thinking that I want to make use I have a link to Amazon--and maybe have them print on demand--so that I can have both e-book and physical publishing????”
Audrey, thanks for the question. I’ve read your poetry, many times, and I think you are so talented. I wish you could find a traditional publisher to take on your work…but let’s talk about self-publishing for a second since you asked.
You asked about CreateSpace, and I happen to think they are the cat’s meow. Purrrrrrr! Seriously, what’s not to like about that site? They are free, they are easy to use, and writer’s get a discount when ordering copies of their book. I love that site and I highly recommend it.
As for ebooks, I’m torn. I understand their appeal, but I don’t like them, and that is a purely subjective opinion. I don’t like giving up my digital rights to Amazon, and I much prefer old-fashioned books that you can hold in your hand.
In Search of Views
From Melanie: “I love to write, but I feel like not many people see my writing. What are a few good ways to get my work out there for people to see? I write on HubPages and Bubblews, but only a handful of people see me. Also, thanks for mentioning me! (-“
I don’t even know where to start with this question. There are so many factors that enter into this picture when discussing increasing your readership.
Online views depend on a lot of factors. Are you using keywords to increase your search engine visibility? Are you interacting with other writers and forming a relationship with them? Heck, are you writing quality material?
Have you chosen a niche to write in, and are you maximizing your potential in that niche? Is your subject matter of interest to many readers?
It’s just not that easy. We all read about writers going viral with an article, but for every one that goes viral, there are tens of thousands who never sniff viral.
In Search of Bylines
From Iris: You mentioned bylines. I was hired by Textbrokers.com but haven't done any work for them yet. I'm on the fence because the pay is so low and the time invested will be great when compared to the time I have available. I am also concerned that these types of jobs will not provide me with the type of byline credits to which you referred. Can you speak to that or offer a definition of byline that includes what doesn't count as one?
Great question by Iris, so let’s dive into it with both feet and a prayer.
Textbrokers is a content mill. I don’t like content mills because most of them pay poorly, and I think a writer’s time is too valuable to be wasted on writing 500 words for ten bucks. I understand that people need money, but I think, with a little effort, better money can be made.
Those who are serious in this writing business, and I’m referring to agents, publishers, and editors, do not take bylines on sites like Textbrokers seriously, so from that standpoint don’t waste your time. Start small and work your way up the food chain. Write an article for your local alternative newspaper. Write an article for an online magazine. Those bylines count in the writing world, and you get paid better than on content mills.
Iris asks for a definition. I would say that bylines for articles written for newspapers and magazines are important; bylines written for content mills are worthless. That’s as close as I can come to an accurate truth regarding bylines.
Back to Ebooks
From Sha: Bill, what are your thoughts on eBooks? I don't have an e-reader but I do have Kindle for PCs on my computer. Also, many eBooks come in the form of PDFs. I know eBooks are all the rage these days, but I find I don't read what I download (often freebies from bloggers I follow). They end up sitting in my computer never seeing the light of my blue eyes.
I prefer to hold a book in my hands and place a bookmark in the spot where I leave off. There's just something cold and impersonal about reading a book online or on my computer. To me that's not a book. It's just an extremely long article I feel I have to read from start to finish otherwise I'll forget to come back to it. (Where do you place your bookmark?) If it's not sitting on my table or desk reminding me to finish it, chances are extremely likely I won't.
I've had people tell me I should create an eBook, but it really doesn't interest me because eBooks don't interest me.
What are your thoughts?
I’m going to make this one quick because I’ve touched on it before. I don’t like ebooks. I understand why people are drawn to them, and a part of me understands why many writers choose to use them…but I don’t like them. Like Sha, I prefer to hold a real book in my hands. There are many who will disagree with me, and that’s fine. There are many who have made big bucks publishing ebooks, and that’s fine. I just don’t like them.
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- William Holland | Helping Writers to Spread Their Wings and Fly
Tips and discussions about writing
From Rhonda: I have a somewhat general question most likely everyone knows but me. What are the best publishing houses to submit different types of works to, for instance fiction as opposed to how to crafting? Who does horror and who does social commentary? Where are the best places to search for information about the best potential publishers for specific types of genres and audiences?
This is an easy one to answer. Rhonda, get yourself a copy of The Writer’s Market. A revised edition is published every year, and I would suggest you get the latest. In it you will find a comprehensive list of publishing houses and the specific genres that they are interested in.
And Finally, Some Whimsy
And finally, from Manatita: Here's an interesting question? Do you still have this 'cool' looking dog?
The “cool-looking dog” is named Jazz, and she is getting along in years. Yes, she is still with us, but I suspect I won’t be saying that this time next year. Of course, the same could be said for this writer.
Thank You All
I’m having a blast with this series, and I hope you are finding it helpful. Same time, same station, I’ll see you next week with more questions and answers.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”