As mentioned in my previous post, the second round of editing is done. That means the progress bar is now reset, and it looks depressingly empty. I suppose it’s time to do something about that.
Since this round is more subjective, and not something that I can quantify quite as easily as just listing the number of pages edited, I have decided to go with an approximation. My editor, Lynn O’Dell, left about seventy-five additional comments and a few pages of notes that I still need to go over to see if I’ve addressed them properly, and to do something about if I haven’t. I figure that between those two sources of editing notes, a simple zero to 100 progress meter should help keep me on track with how I’m doing. Obviously, some of those tasks will go easier and quicker than others, so the progress is likely to be sporadic, but please be patient with me (as I will have to be patient with myself) as I wind my way through new ground.
I’ve come to realize now that, while I’ve always been a writing enthusiast, it’s only within the last few months that I’ve truly decided to become a writing professional, and breaking into any new career is scary as hell. The “business” of writing is considerably more complex than simply following the old adage of “ass in chair, hands to keyboard”. It’s a lot of work… make that a LOT of work , but it’s also a LOT of fun. And while I know that just now I’m flailing around a bit because I don’t really know what all I need to get done at any given time (branding, networking, marketing, editing, writing, podcasting – which I suppose is part of branding and marketing but seems like a whole art unto itself) all of these things are tasks that I have set myself as part of being a modern “professional” writer.
Matthew Wayne Selznick posted a guest blog on The Dead Robots’ Society entitled “What Every Modern Writer Needs To Know”, and I was gratified to see that his views for the most part echo mine. I suppose it’s more apropos to say that my views echo his, but what the hell, this is my blog. Seriously though, Selznick posits that “writing” is no longer a viable term for what I am doing. The word no longer conveys what we now go through to get our stories to our audiences, and he proposes that we are no longer just writers, but are instead some kind of multi-media bards. He uses the old term “storyteller” but the multi-media bard is an analogy that I’ve had rattling around in my head since I began to see just how much the writing business has changed.
You see these days, getting a “book” out to an audience isn’t just a matter of typing away and sending off to an agent or publisher. First of all, just what is a book anymore? Gone are the days when the word automatically referred to a bound set of paper pages. Now a book can be in print, electronic, or audio format. It’s the same story, but the media changes to fit the needs of your audience. The old process of sitting and writing is just the first step now. After that, you have to work on what format you want to present. For those going the traditional route, the path is still pretty well established; send your manuscript off to an agent, and hope they can find a publisher to take you on. Unfortunately, that’s a tedious and time-consuming process that usually takes anywhere from several months to a year or more for a single manuscript. Now, I know that any writer worth his or her salt isn’t simply sitting around by the phone, hoping for the phone call that will announce their sudden rise to stardom. They’re busily working on the next manuscript so they can start that whole process all over again with another story.
But the game is changing. A tough economy and new technologies are changing it, and traditional publishing is struggling to keep up. What used to be a pretty monopolized industry, geared mostly at making the big six bigger, has busted wide open. Now, an author has a choice. He can either try for a small piece of the very large pies offered by traditional publishing, or he can go for larger pieces of the many smaller pies now available through self- and indie- publishing, small press publishing, e-book publishing, and audio publishing. And the thing is, the large pies of traditional publishers seem to be getting smaller as the big six cut back on their mid-list authors, instead concentrating their efforts and money on the established big-name authors in hopes of staying afloat. At the same time, entrepreneurs have recognized the advantages that new technologies such as e-book readers, print on demand, audiobooks, and social networking have made available, and they have embraced them. And in so doing, they have greatly increased the size of the various indie- and self-publishing pies. Not only that, but those pies are available to anyone willing to put forth the work necessary to get to them.
Getting your stories out to an audience used to be akin to winning the literary lottery. Now, it’s a more realistic goal attainable by those who are willing to put forth the hard work and sweat equity to get there. I guess for me it’s more attractive because it now seems that success or failure is more in the individual’s hands, rather than in the hands of agents and/or publishers who are so overworked, underpaid, and buried under so many manuscripts that there is absolutely no way they can ever read them all. The new model is more akin to free market enterprise, and anyone willing to invest the time and effort in creating a good product, and marketing it properly, has a decent shot at becoming a success.
So I’m trying to learn about this new business of writing. There is a thirty to forty-five minute commute to and from work each weekday that used to be wasted time. My choices used to be to either listen to the same songs on the radio over and over again (along with the inane babblings of DJs that seem to talk down to the least educated people in their demographic), or listen to the talking heads irritate the hell out of me over the sad state of affairs in government. Now I either listen to a “podiobook” from Podiobooks.com or (more likely these days) a podcast on writing from either the Dead Robots’ Society, Podcasting for Dummies, or Mur Lafferty’s “I Should be Writing”. Between those, I hope I’m learning what’s working and what isn’t. Even when I listen to a podiobook, I now listen to it with an ear to how the intros and outtros are put together, what the level of background production seems to be, and what the author and/or narrator did on the reading.
So for now, it’s back to work – back to editing – back to learning about this newly emerging reimaging of an old industry. And I’m finding that I love it. I’m invigorated, enjoying the fun new world that is a multi-media bard’s playground.
Yeah, it’s fun. So let the games begin.