Help me! > BookMarc by Peter Abresch

#1: Basics Before Getting Started

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Bob Mueller:
Date:         Saturday, November 14, 1998 02:22 PM

When writing about writing it's tricky to figure what order to introduce each subject. I chose to introduce subjects as they would normally arise for me in writing a story. Some subjects may seem elementary, but on this journey we have to consider even the newest tenderfoot. If you've been on this trail awhile, hang on and hopefully we'll get to something of interest before long. But we start first with the dangers lurking in fiction writing in the hope it may save us from slipping into a black-hole.

Warnings. I feel like I'm writing a disclaimer for a pack of cigarettes. Before I lead you down this thicket of words and images, I must issue two real warnings.

First, writing fiction is addictive. You laugh, but once I started building worlds on paper I found there was always a force calling me back. It didn't make any difference how many failures I had, how many rejection slips I collected--more than my share--or how many times I smashed typewriters to smithereens against the floor, I could never turn off that seductive siren-call that still wafts across trouble waters whispering of how BIG my next novel will be.

Notice the two cliches: smithereens and troubled waters? Those are some of the sharks lurking in those troubled waters we must liquidate if we want to polish our stories.

Second, there are many real live sharks waiting to prey on our fiction-writing addiction. It is way too early to talk of submitting for publication, but not too early to warn about those waiting to take advantage of our desperate desire to be published. These often skirt the edge of the law, and sometimes overstep it. There was a felony case against a New York company that charged big bucks for amateurish critiques with the promise it would lead to publication, and less than scrupulous agents recommended this company in return for kickbacks. It also includes an e-mail I got this week offering to electronically publish my novel. For 500 buck-ohs they would convert my novel to 'digital format.' Isn't that what Dos Text is? Can I not do that with a tap of my mouse? Beware of those who promise the moon least you end up with a firefly.

Mainly let it be said, a reputable publisher will NOT charge you for publication. A reputable agent will NOT charge you a reading fee, nor recommend a high priced company to edit your manuscript. And a reputable agent will NOT charge you hundreds of dollars for up front expenses. Reputable agents make their money through commissions on selling your writing. Reputable publishers make their money through book sales. Up front money is a scam. I don't care what they call it, handling fee, reading fee, cooperative publishing, you can bet you are putting your dollars on a one way ride to Indiana Jones' Lost Temple of Doom. Repeat after me, up front money, all up front money, is a scam.

But suppose I want to have my story published for my family and I'm willing to pay the cost? Then you want to self-publish. This way you control the cover art, the number of books to be published, and the cost of printing. I don't recommend it for fiction writers, in self-publishing everything depends on the writer, but I knew of a few--very few--who managed to make it work Most end up with lots of books in the basement.

With the warnings out of the way, and if you're still game, in BookMarc #2 next week we'll plunge into Brer Rabbit's thorn-thicket and weave our tortuous path through the briers and brambles of fiction writing. The good stuff. All comments, suggestions, rebuttals, and additions are always welcomed.

Peter Abresch
Author of BLOODY BONSAI,
the Jim Dandy ELDERHOSTEL Mysteries
Copyright Peter E. Abresch BookMarc February 13, 1998
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Date:    Thursday, February 04, 1999 04:29 PM

Are there any good statistics out there about what percentage of the market are mysteries? Is the number going up or down, etc?
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Date:    Thursday, February 04, 1999 05:37 PM

Dale,
The last I look the percentage of mysteries remained the same, but I canít remember the exact figure, somewhere around twenty five percent, I think. Iíll try to find it and pot it.
Peter Abresch
Author of BLOODY BONSAI,
the Jim Dandy ELDERHOSTEL Mysteries
& BookMarc

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Date:    Wednesday, September 08, 1999 06:08 AM

I keep reading in trade prublications, etc.
that the "midlist" is shrinking, but then
read contradictory statements that "we're
always looking to publish..." Is it better to
stand out by being VERY fresh and different
or copying the trends that exist today. A LOT
of copycats seem to be out there. I sat down
and wrote a book that I love and thought
others would and wonder if it'll be published
because it's NOT like everything else o

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Date:    Sunday, September 12, 1999 03:39 PM


Susan & Jane,

On 9/8/99 6:08:16 AM, Susan Israel wrote:

> I sat down
>and wrote a book that I love
>and thought
>others would and wonder if
>it'll be published
>because it's NOT like
>everything else o
>
Susan,

If I were you I would write what I want to write. Itís nice to catch onto a wave thatís cresting, but by the time you finish your book it might have already smashed against the shore and washed out to sea. At least by writing what you want to write youíll bring enthusiasm to the table and that counts for a lot. Besides, whoís to say you wonít be starting a new trend?

Peter Abresch
Author of BLOODY BONSAI, KILLING THYME
the Jim Dandy ELDERHOSTEL Mysteries
& BookMarc

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