Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, November 29 & 30, 2012

Today marks the end of this year’s NaNoWriMo. If you were NaNo-ing, I hope you made your target. Now the fun begins: editing that (bleep)y first draft. 😉 Maybe the posts below will help you do that and get the final result published.

CRAFT

When Jeanne Kisacky writes about deep and shallow plots, she isn’t necessarily referring to graves, although for someone writing a murder mystery, that certainly could apply. Instead, what she’s referring to in Building a Plot of Variable Depth on Writer Unboxed is how plot relates to pace and character. When the plot is shallow, the story’s pace is quick. When the plot is deep, that’s a time of exploring character and change. A well-written story moves back and forth between the two.

Two posts on characters to check out. How Do You Create Characters? on The Kill Zone asks TKZ readers for their techniques. Mine’s there and you can check out other writers’ as well. Jennifer R. Hubbard (@JenRHubbard) has a concise discussion of The supporting cast on her blog, writerjenn, with good examples of how writers have used them badly and well. Thanks to Nathan Bransford for pointing out this piece.

There are also two posts on tension/suspense. Ollin Morales’ (@OllinMorales) How to Create Suspense on Write to Done uses an example of a Hitchcock movie to make the point of telling the reader just enough—and no more—to keep them wondering what will happen next. Victoria Mixon’s (@VictoriaMixon) longer Making Tension Tense on Writer Unboxed says much the same thing, but with three examples.

BUSINESS

Victoria Strauss (@VictoriaStrauss) of Writer Beware joins the chorus of negative reviews today in Archway Publishing: Simon & Schuster Adds a Self-Publishing Division. In case you hadn’t heard, Archway is S&S’s link to Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI), which I mentioned last time. Unlike Dean Wesley Smith’s previous post on the topic, however, Strauss goes into much more detail on why sensible writers should stay far far away from anything having to do with ASI. Read and heed.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s latest Business Rusch (@kriswrites; again, as always, very long) column, Getting Rid of the Middle Man, is really about Kickstarter, one of the “crowdsourcing” web sites (along with FaithFunder and IndieGoGo), writers and others can use to fund projects. Unfortunately, getting to the real meat of the piece—what to do and not do in order to have a reasonable chance at getting your Kickstarter project funded—requires skipping screen after screen of other material. If you’re thinking of using Kickstarter or one of the others, the piece is probably worth a look, but plan on hitting the Page Down key several times before you get to the good stuff.

Joel Friedlander (@jfbookman) introduces something I think is very cool: A New (Free) Way to Sell Books from Your Sidebar. Agent Claire Ryan (@rayntweets) has created a WordPress plugin called Buy This Book (available through the WordPress Plugin Directory) that lets blog visitors to click on an image of the book’s cover and get a slide-out menu of links to websites where the book can be purchased. While the plugin is available only for blogs/web sites using WordPress.org software, Ryan also provides the HTML code that can be copied into a WordPress.com blog and modified as necessary—plus the instructions on how to install it properly as a widget.

THE WRITER’S LIFE

Gabriela Pereira’s (@DIYMFA) Write It! Wednesday piece, Your Writing Superheroes talks about hers, which may or may not be interesting. But one of her four stood out to me: the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. (a.k.a 826NYC). These folks are part of an organization called 826 National, a nonprofit that supports eight writing and tutoring centers around the country for kids 6-18—in New York, DC, Ann Arbor, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco. (Darn shame it’s just eight.) Anyway, if you live in one of these cities, have a thing for kids and writing, and want to do some volunteer work, you might want to check them out.

JUST FOR FUN

Did you know that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s epigraph to The Great Gatsby is a fake—that he quoted a character from one of his previous books? Check out Robert Bruce’s (@robertbruce76) latest 101 Books post, The “High Bouncing Lover”?

And one more thing, from Dan Blank’s (@DanBlank) e-newsletter today. You may have seen images like the ones in this video by @kottke as chalk drawings on city streets… but you probably haven’t seen anything quite like them, either. What’s the relation to writing? They’re both illusions: some are optical, some are mental. Enjoy.

Come across something great? Don’t delay: share it in the Comments below!

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Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, November 27 & 28, 2012

WOWSERS, is the season of giving ever upon us—and I’m not talking about shopping, unless you mean shopping for great information on writing and publishing out there on the blogosphere. Check out today’s jam-packed line-up of articles, starting right now with

CRAFT

Today’s three pieces form an interesting contrast between themselves and between the cultures and to some extent between the demands of “literary” and “genre” fiction. We’ll start with Barbara O’Neal’s (@barbaraoneal) Cornerstones of Excellence: the Art of Detail on Writer Unboxed. While I certainly don’t disagree with her point that the right details in the right places can create depth and insight that a story without them would lack, I guess it’s my bias that there’s such a thing as too much, too. I’m just not a fan of spending so much time querying a character, for example—especially within the piece—that the story ends up getting lost. The “right” amount of detail for a particular story depends in part on the genre it’s a part of.

So it’s no surprise, then, that freelance thriller editor Jodie Renner (@JodieRennerEd) would have a different take on details in Writing Tense Action Scenes on The Kill Zone. Her dozen techniques for writing these scenes, plus before-and-after-editing examples, are excellent for any writer whose work includes action scenes, irrespective of genre. Even “literary!”

And then we get Writing Advice from Somerset Maugham on Michael Swanwick’s Flogging Babel blog. The advice is a couple of quotes from his introduction to a collection of his own work. Swanwick sums it up thusly: “Gonnabe writers should keep this in mind:  Advice from writers on how to write the sort of thing they themselves write is usually very good.  Their advice on what not to write, however, is always suspect.” Bloggers (and their readers) beware! J

SOCIAL MEDIA

Lori Lynn Smith (@lorilynnsmith) provides a very long but very thorough resource in The First 7 Steps to a Successful Social Media Plan for Writers on Write to Done. Not just bullet points but hows and whys for each step. This post happens to be particularly timely for me and my writers’ group as it’s something we’re starting to pay more attention to. I’ll be spending more time with this post, that’s for sure.

Jane Friedman’s (@JaneFriedman) 10 Ways to Build Long-Lasting Traffic to Your Author Website or Blog is a terrific complement to Smith’s piece. Also long but full of links to other resources, this one is definitely another one to linger with.

And then there’s Porter Anderson’s (@Porter_Anderson) ‘Social’ Media: ‘Sharing’ Our Narcissism, also on Writer Unboxed, which isn’t really a counterpoint as much as a sanity check: does everything we “share” on our social media platforms really have value to all our followers, friends, connections, circles, etc., or some of them, or, if we’re not a foodie writing for foodies, does anyone really care what we had for lunch? Not just a rant, Anderson provides three tips for better SM posts.

BUSINESS

Jordyn Redwood’s (@JordynRedwood) One Hundred Thirty-Eight Points and Bestseller Lists on WordServe Water Cooler ponders numbers and what they mean, whether in a college basketball game or on somebody’s bestseller list. You probably won’t be surprised to learn her take is that it depends on whether and how the points were earned. Kinda hearkens back to the kerfuffle of a month or so ago about the purchased and ghost-written reviews, doesn’t it? The desperation to get ahead can be a sad thing.

Speaking of which, maybe you haven’t heard that Simon & Schuster is the latest publishing house to sign on with Author Solutions, Inc., a company that’s made it (bad) reputation by selling packages of “services,” that could be done for little or no cost, to naïve authors for substantial amounts of money—in some cases in the tens of thousands of dollars. I’m not kidding. Dean Wesley Smith (@deanwesleysmith) basically says, “didn’t I tell you this was coming?” in his New Way For Uninformed Writers to Spend Money. Check out the Publisher’s Weekly article Smith links to.

THE WRITER’S LIFE

Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) asks Do You Have Impostor Syndrome? What in the world is that? It’s that feeling that you really don’t know what you’re doing, that you’re just an impostor writer (or agent, in her case), or whatever. We’ve all had that, haven’t we—those days when the words won’t come, when our characters go on strike, when our plot drifts off into the wrong morass—definitely NOT the one we wanted the characters to get into! Oh, yeah. When that happens, Gardner writes, that’s the time to remember those days when things DO go right, when the words sing, when the plot flows, when you’re confident in saying, “This is what I do.”

KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) says much the same thing in Tempted to Give Up on Your Story? Don’t! In her last in the series on what she learned from writing her latest book, she talks about how she had those give-up days but didn’t give in to them, and as a result, she’s now able to promote that book.

WHEW! Told you there was a lot of Great Stuff out there today! But surely that wasn’t everything. What did you find?

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, November 23-26, 2012

Well, the Thanksgiving tryptophan hangover is certainly over! After a quiet weekend, bloggers are back in force today. LOTS to get to, so here we go.

CRAFT

KM Weiland’s (@KMWeiland) latest post in her series on lessons learned while writing her latest book has to do with 6 Types of Courageous Characters. This is something I haven’t seen discussed elsewhere. (The Bookshelf Muse’s Character Trait Thesaurus has an entry for courage but takes a different approach.) Katie qualifies courage, or “bravery,” as heroic, steadfast, quiet, personal, devil-may-care, or frightened, and describes and gives literary examples of each. This post and the thesaurus entry complement each other. Both are well worth the look.

I’d heard of “beat sheets” before but never really seen a summary of how they work. Lydia Sharp (@lydia_sharp) provides that in her guest post, Adapting Story Structure for Any Project, on The Bookshelf Muse. In this long post, Lydia lays out her beat sheet for her most recent YA book, so you can see how it works, then makes an important point: “It [the story] should flow naturally from point to point, never feel forced.” In other words, don’t feel you absolutely MUST hit certain events at exactly certain points (especially by chapter or word count).

Chuck Sambuchino (@ChuckSambuchino) offers some suggestions on how to start a novel based on What The Movie TRUE LIES Taught Me. OK, spoiler alert: what it taught him was to start fast. But to find out why and how it taught that lesson, check out the post.

Finally for this section, we haven’t had much information here on memoir but Gillian Marchenko (@GillianMarchenk) provides 5 Starter Tips on Writing A Memoir on WordServe Water Cooler. They’re all “don’ts” and some seem contradictory (don’t rush/don’t wait) but the piece is easy, useful, and fun. Don’t skip it!

THE WRITER’S LIFE

Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) revisits a topic she’s written about before, “interval training for writers,” in Success in 90-Minute Increments. The basic idea, which she picked up from a Tony Schwartz post on, of all places, the Huffington Post, is that we work best if we work in concentrated 90-minute chunks (3 maximum per day), each followed by a bit of down time to refresh and recharge. Haven’t tried this myself, don’t know if it works, but give it a look. Let us know what your experience was in the comments below, if you’d like.

BUSINESS

I’ve been doing a fairly intensive study of platform-building lately, and blogging is an important part of that, says every source I’ve come across. So Joel Friedlander’s (@jfbookman) Top 10 Tasks to Get Your Blog Ready for Prime Time is timely, even though this blog has been around for a bit over half a year now, particularly because I’m planning some changes (you heard it here first!). Whether you’re just thinking about starting a blog or have one running already, this post provides a good checklist to make sure you’re covering key bases.

Most of you don’t live in southeast Arizona, so you can’t take advantage of Harvey Stanbrough’s (@h_stanbrough) in-person seminars, so his Everything About Epublishing (or Where to Find it) provides a good starting point for what you need to know if you’re considering e-publishing your work (with, of course, the obligatory plug for his own publishing effort, StoneThread Publishing).

On The Kill Zone, James Scott Bell (@jamesscottbell) discusses a new but not really surprising development in e-publishing from Apple’s iBooks Author program, the “immersive” book. Bell’s take on this in Will Immersive Reading Save Publishing and Kill the Traditional Novel? frankly reminds me of other conversations inside and outside of publishing (Will e-books kill the printed book? Will recorded music kill the live performance?) for many years—over a century in the case of music. His concerns about the cost to produce such books are legitimate to a degree now but history shows these costs will come down over time as the tools get cheaper (many eventually free) and better. Anyway, the discussion in response is lively. Take a look. What do you think?

And last but not least, Joanna Penn (@thecreativepenn) posts key points from an interview podcast (plus a link to the YouTube video of the 40 minute interview) on Ebook Publishing on Kobo with Mark Lefebvre. Mark is the Director of Self-Publishing & Author Relations for Kobo and also a published author, so he should know whereof he speaks. Kobo is actively looking to compete with Amazon and has a better international reach, so they shouldn’t be off your list if you’re looking to e-publish.

WHEW! I wasn’t kidding about LOTS of stuff, was I? Happy reading!

Critique Technique, Part 35—The Critiquer’s Mind

I thought I’d take a break from the regular material of the series to talk about something that is central to your success as a reviewer: your mind. To an extent, this means your memory, but it also has to do with your attitude about and approach to critiquing, and your level of commitment to the task.

MEMORY

It’s important that you have a good but specialized memory. You can’t let the words just flow in one eye and out the other. They have to stop and make your acquaintance, or to put the focus in the right place, you have to make theirs.

You need to be able to recall specific kinds of details—about what a character did or said before, for example, or how the author described something—even if it’s been weeks or months since you last read a part of a work.

That’s not a skill that everyone has. Some (most?) who don’t can develop it, but it takes conscious attention to the requirement on your part, a determination to learn the skill.

If you’re a member of a critique group, you’re potentially in an ideal location to learn how to do this. I say potentially because not all groups are created equal. For your group to be the right kind of learning environment, there needs to be at least one person who already has the working memory to track the kinds of details this whole series is about and has the ability to communicate clearly and effectively what they find, so you can learn from them.

This is an active process on your part! First you have to read a work as closely as you can, actively trying to spot the good and bad in it yourself, then actively listen to the other reviewer, and then actively review or reread the piece, looking for what they found.

This really isn’t any different from learning to read a text for its symbolism, theme, or deeper meaning—those things your high school English teacher tried to get you to write about in your term papers.

OK, maybe that’s a bad memory. Sorry! 😉 (But you remembered it! That’s a start.)

The more you practice this skill, the better your powers of observation and your memory for these kinds of details will become, but trust me, you’re not going to get it by osmosis. If it’s not already a part of your skill set or you don’t have that turn of mind, it’s going to take effort on your part to achieve.

ATTITUDE

“Attitude” means a lot of things in this context. One meaning is having the willingness to learn new skills, like the ability to remember details within and across chapters. Another is how you treat the other writers in your group: how respectful you are of their efforts no matter their current level of skill, how you present your critique to them, especially regarding the parts that need improving, etc.

Those are important but I want to address different aspects of attitude. The first is your view about how much critique you provide when. In my own group, I have a member who will not thoroughly review a writer’s early drafts. Her rationale is that the writer will be making changes anyway, so a detailed critique isn’t necessary.

This view assumes the author already knows how to edit their own work, something I have seen proven wrong time after time.

In a situation like this, the critiquer’s role is especially important because they are—or should be—providing insights and suggestions to the author that he or she would not have had otherwise. The reviewer is teaching the writer how to write and edit.

The second attitude is giving first in order to receive later. In a moment I’ll discuss how critiquing others’ work will improve your own but here I want to emphasize how much you have to give. No matter how experienced you are—or aren’t—by doing the best you can to honestly and fairly critique a work, to try to help your fellow writer do better, you establish a relationship of trust and respect that will encourage them to do the same for you. That’s the payback you’ll get from paying critique forward.

COMMITMENT

The last thing I want to discuss is the critiquer’s level of commitment. Being an effective, helpful reviewer means reading a piece much more carefully than an ordinary reader does. The fact that this series already has over 30 posts on specific things to look for—and almost 30 more to come!—illustrates how much there is to do.

Reading a piece once and then telling the author, “Well, I liked it…,” isn’t effective or useful critique. Neither is reading the piece once and telling the author, “Well, it sucks.” Both fail because they neither tell the author why you liked or hated the piece nor how it could be made better.

When I critique a piece, I read it twice. The first time I try to simply read it through without writing anything in the manuscript, to just get a sense of the story and its flow. After I’m done, I write about my overall impressions.

The second time is when I get down to the nitty-gritty: everything from spelling and punctuation errors to problems with plot, characterization, flow, pace, dialog, and so on.

Make no mistake: this takes time. Sometimes it takes a lot of time. But I treat this work as part of my job of continuing to learn my craft. Whenever I suggest a way to improve someone else’s work, I’m teaching myself how to find and fix the same kind of problem in my own. To me, this is time invested, not time wasted or lost. It’s part of my commitment to my craft.

In conclusion, then, a carefully tuned and focused memory, specific attitudes about critiquing, and a commitment to the task are key elements of the mind of an effective and valuable critiquer. A well and thoroughly done critique benefits both the author and the person giving the critique. Do it well and you’ll be a better writer for it.

What qualities do you think a person needs to be an effective critiquer?

 

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, November 22 & 23, 2012

The Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S. made for a quiet couple of days on the blogosphere (are the other bloggers out there in the Black Friday crowds, or still digesting yesterday’s meal?) but those who have contributed are, in some cases, really making some noise. Take a look.

CRAFT

Characters are the order of the day in the Craft section. The Kill Zone’s authors ask their readers to name their Favorite Minor Characters. Over on the WORDplay blog, KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) continues her week of promoting her new book by “letting” us Meet Dreamlander’s Cast of Characters. OK, so this is a bit of marketing (more on that topic below), maybe more than a bit, but it’s clearly part of a strategy on Katie’s part to engage potential readers (that’s not a bad thing) and at the same time, illustrate a clever technique she used to bring her characters to life in her own mind: imagining who would play them in the movie version of the book. Adding snippets of scenes in which each of the four major characters figure, along with their relations to secondary characters or to each other, is another marketing tactic—and a good one. Take note.

BUSINESS

Marketing is mostly the topic du jour over here on the business side but I’m going to start with Ed Cyzewski’s (@edcyzewski) Grinchly post on Rachelle Gardner’s blog, Are You Ready for the Pain of Publishing? I suppose the best way to look at this post is as a case of tough love. Cyzewski pulls no punches on the pitfalls, land mines, and roadblocks that lie in the traditional-publishing (and, to some degree, self-publishing) path between “finished manuscript” and not just “published” but “successful book.” This post is one of those things that weeds out those who think they want to be published and successful from those who are determined to be. Do you have the right stuff to read it?

Over on Writer Unboxed, Dan Blank (@DanBlank) asks, Do You Cringe When Authors Market Their Books? I’ll bet you do, at least sometimes. A lot depends, of course, on how that marketing is done. Dan discusses how to make marketing less painful for those of us who aren’t naturals at it (make it about communication and trust, not selling selling selling, for one thing) and, citing Tad Hargrave, four reasons why marketing is valuable, even if you’re not trying to make a gazillion dollars. This is a fairly long post but if marketing is something you dread, or just don’t know how to do, it’s definitely worth a look.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION

Today’s final item is one that I honestly haven’t made up my mind about yet but am willing to call it to your attention so you can decide for yourself on whether or how to respond to it. Former publisher Michael Hyatt (@MichaelHyatt) is making A Black Friday Special Offer for Get Published 21 audio presentation set (plus four “bonus” downloads) for $147 (claimed retail value for all of it $548) today, or $197 through midnight at the end of November 26th. Note that the offer is not for the CD set nor for the bonus item CDs or hard-copy books: the presentations are online access only and the bonuses are downloads only. A summary of the contents of each of the audio sessions plus the bonuses is available here, after the sales pitch. Is this worth you money (or mine)? As I said at the beginning, I haven’t decided. Check it out and decide for yourself.

Like what you’re reading here? Please share it with your friends. If you’ve come across something worthwhile elsewhere, Great Stuff’s other readers would like to know about it. Share it in the comments below.

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, November 20 & 21, 2012

Something happened yesterday (Tuesday) that has never happened since I started doing this blog back in May: nothing jumped out at me and made me say, “Wow!” Or, “That’s great!” Or even, “That’s good enough to share.” Well, it had to happen eventually.

BUT! Today we’re back on track, and there’s some pretty terrific stuff to share, for which, on the eve of Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., I’m thankful. Off we go, then.

CRAFT

Let’s start once again with KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) the value of preparation. And that would be: Preparation is Worth a Pound of Proofreading. This is a lesson I’ve learned for sure, having removed, oh, probably 500 pages from a 380 page manuscript. Yikes! And it’s why I’m doing LOTS of prep work as I start on WIP #2. Anyway, Katie makes the case for outlining, even though (gasp!) she admits didn’t for her about-to-release novel.

So, you’ve done your preparation work and now the writing’s underway. Or maybe it’s done. And you or one of your readers says, “It’s slow here.” What’s happened? Editor Laura Carlson says it’s lost momentum. So what can you do to go about Increasing Your Book’s Momentum? Carlson suggests the following on The Bookshelf Muse: especially at the beginning, limit the long-winded interior or exterior monologues, trim the descriptions, and can the boring scenes. Replace them with exciting scenes and snappy dialogue. Easier said than done, maybe, but read on.

John Vorhaus (@TrueFactBarFact) reveals one of his secrets (well, several, actually) to successful writing on Writer Unboxed: Procrastinate Later! That’s right, put off putting things off! You can do that later. That’s a great twist on an old problem. John’s other secrets—don’t worry about writing the best story, give your characters a clear call to action then never have things go as planned, see what happens next, and, outside of the story itself, share what you’ve learned with others—are all excellent, too. (By the way, I haven’t listed all of them. Even if I had, you’d want to read the post for yourself, anyway.)

BUSINESS

Just one business post: Janalyn Voigt’s (@JanalynVoigt) What Is Branding Anyway? (7 Reasons Why You Care) on WordServe Water Cooler. “Branding” isn’t something nasty—or doesn’t have to be. It’s about connecting with your readers. Janalyn’s 7 reasons should make the whole idea less painful, if not painless.

FUN

And finally, Robert Bruce (@robertbruce76) is Giving Literary Thanks on 101 Books. Some of his thanks actually are serious, some are fun, and there’s one I’ll echo here: thanks for all of you who read this blog, whether you comment or Like it or not. I know you’re out there, I know you’re reading, and I’m grateful.

If you’re in the U.S., have a great Thanksgiving. If you’re not, feel free to give thanks for the good things and great people in your life anyway. There doesn’t have to be a dedicated day for that. I’ll “see” you again on Friday.

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, November 17-19, 2012

Ran out of minutes yesterday to get my usual Monday post out, so here it is, just a little late. Lots of business stuff in this edition, but first…

CRAFT

KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) has been doing a series of posts on what she learned while writing her latest book, Dreamlander. Why Non-Writers Give the Best Critiques is worth passing along. Her point is that while other writers can give good critiques (although they don’t always), they (we) tend to get caught up in the technicalities and techniques of writing, while non-writer beta readers can, if they have the right turn of mind, tell you what’s working and what isn’t. Even better, Katie provides tips for how to choose non-writer beta readers, something I haven’t seen discussed elsewhere.

THE WRITING LIFE

Jan O’Hara (@janohara) continues her Stop Feeling Like an Author Wishbone series on Writer Unboxed by drawing on her medical background to advise you to First Do No Harm. What she’s describing in the long post is the process of deciding what you’re going to do in the way of marketing your book. “Harm” in this case isn’t necessarily physical but it is very personal: it happens when what you’re trying to do is out of sync with your personal goals, values, perhaps finances, etc. So, doing no harm means listening selectively to the “experts” and only doing those things that make sense for you. Wise advice, I think.

BUSINESS

And that provides the nice transition into the business-related posts. We’ll start with Gabriela Pereira’s (@DIYMFA) Four Steps to a Winning Query. This material comes from a series of query letter “bootcamps” Gabriela attended at the Backspace Agent-Author Seminar recently. After a few dos and don’ts, Gabriela gets down to the details of the four components, as propounded by Jason Allen Ashlock, the President of the Movable Type Management agency: “the hook, the book, the look, and the cook.” “The hook” should be obvious; “the book” is the one-paragraph pitch. “The look” is the title, genre, length, and the comparable books, if any. “The cook” is you.

Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) discusses a too-often-asked question, Can I Make More Money via Traditional or Self-Pub? Rachelle’s too nice to just come out and say this is a dumb question. Instead she politely says it’s too hard to estimate with any confidence what might happen. There are a lot of factors to consider, many of which are out of the writer’s control. (Note: this post is also a plug for Rachelle’s upcoming e-book on how to decide which path to follow, self- or traditional publishing.)

Why do people ask such questions? Well, because of authors like CJ Lyons, who has sold over a million self-published copies. Mark McGuinness (@markmcguinness) tells the story on CopyBlogger of How an Enterprising Author Sold a Million Self-Published Books. McGuinness discusses the seven things Lyons did (he calls her an “entreproducer” and “author-entrepreneur”) to reach this level of success. The thumbnail summary is that she wrote lots of books and did a lot of work (smart work) to market them. (But see the “do no harm” post above—does this amount of work make sense for you? Can you do that much work for that much work and retain your core self? You need to ask and honestly answer those questions.)

Since we’re on the topic of money, Nathan Bransford (@NathanBransford) offers a quick and clear summary of Separate vs. Joint Accounting when it comes to royalties. This has to do with multi-book deals and whether one or more books have to “earn out” (cover their advance(s)) before the publisher starts paying additional royalties.

I know this section has kind of bounced around, so let’s close with Some Perspective on 2012 from Dean Wesley Smith (@DeanWesleySmith). There’s been an awful lot of heavy breathing this year over the changes the publishing industry has been going through so it’s natural to think this year has been one of extraordinary turmoil and upheaval. Not so, Smith says. In fact, he calls this year’s changes “pretty minor and predictable and normal.” Surprised? Check out his explanations. Smith also discusses what he calls “impact events” that might happen in the near future and what might happen if they do. Or not. This is a long post, but a sane and rational one and worth your time.

Have you found anything interesting, stimulating, or exciting about the world of writing and publishing? Tell us about it in the comments below.