Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What Type of Reader Are You Trying To Appeal To?

The tricky thing about writing shorter works is there is much less time to make an overall good impression.  A novel's plot is an intricate weave of multiple plots, characters and themes.

In other words, lots of time to create a favorable impression.  It's not quite so vitally important for the reader to like every character.  So long as they like enough of what is going on, it's a satisfying reading experience.

What one person finds "satisfying"may be unsatisfying for another.  Therefore, a short story writer must be extremely clear about what type of reader the story is trying to appeal to.  If it's horror, the focus should be building that fear.  If it's science fiction, the focus should be on world-building.

Instant draw.  Instant connection.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Review of "Adrift," short story by Edward Lange

After narrowly escaping a deadly plane crash, David King now finds himself stranded in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. With no way to call for help, David's only hope is to brave the elements and somehow find land. But what David doesn't know is that he is at the mercy of the mysterious forces that lurk beneath the waves.

Everything about this story is simple.  Don't get me wrong, simple can be good.  I like a good action movie with a straightforward plot.  Or a romance with a predictable ending.  There's comfort in that.

This story was just a little too simple.  It's a classic man vs. nature tale.  However this type of motif is metaphorical for man vs. himself.  "Adrift" had none of that.  Our main character, David, lacks a discernible personality which makes the action feel stagnated.  I never felt connected to his plight and I didn't care one way or the other if he survived.

With some polish the concept could have been quite interesting.  I could see the dormant potential in the story but unfortunately much of it failed to deliver.

2.5/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this story on Amazon.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Business as Usual

I ordered business cards today.  For my pen names.

In the grand scheme of things, ordering business cards is not that big of a deal.  I'll be honest, I found some cute designs and I couldn't help myself (I dig office supplies).  But it occurred to me after I ordered them that I took yet another step to making this writing gig a business and not just a hobby.

I already took the big jump about two years ago when I started keeping track of my writing expenses and monitoring the income.  That made the writing real for me.  But it takes two to tango in the publishing world.  It's not just about what's real for me, it's about what's real for the readers.  If I continue to exist like some sort of sketchy black-market shadow business I am limiting my opportunities for finding potential new clients.

When people ask about violin teaching I whip those cards out so fast it almost results in near-fatal paper cuts for all involved parties.  But writing?  "Yeah... I write stuff... you can find me online but it's all under pen names so... never mind..."

Time to make some changes.  If this business is going to grow, I have to treat it as I would any other business and artistic insecurities be damned.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Readers Changing

Compared to some veterans, I haven't been in the publishing industry all that long.  Three years and change is nothing compared to those with battle scars from editors that have long since healed.  But compared to the vast majority of those testing the self-publishing waters, I've been around forever.  I've seen at least different generations of would-be writers come and go on the various writing forums I frequent.

Self-publishing is no walk in the park.  It's more than just the satisfaction of seeing your brain child for sale.  It takes determination and infinite amounts of patience.  It also takes a degree of humility to realize that maybe yours isn't the only story for sale nor the only story worth reading.

One really interesting aspect of self-publishing that I've watched change is readers.  E-books are literally changing the way readers read and by this I do not just mean the physical entity in their hands.  Digitalization has allowed the shopping experience to become far more efficient and it has also changed perceived market value.

I'm not going to go so far as to say that it's easier selling short stories.  But it is easier than it was.  Apps and subscription-based services are now a standard.  With simple iPad games costing $4.99 and hit songs $2.99, it is no longer in the realm of "ridiculous" to be paying for a 50 page short story.  In fact, I feel more and more people are starting to prefer this novelette length, especially if the story feels serialized like a TV show.

Who knows?  Maybe short stories really will make a full comeback.