Self versus Traditional Publishers

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Self versus Traditional Publishers

Post by longknife » December 7th, 2014, 3:13 pm

I've had books and short stories on for a least 8 years – both Kindle and CreateSpace paperbacks. Until recently, I've had almost no sales. Then, four days ago. I checked my bank statement to discover a modest, but nice, deposit from Amazon. The problem is, I don't know where the money came from.

I can only guess that it came from signing up for KDP Select.

On the other hand, I've had a “traditional” publosher – a small house – for about 3.5 years and what I got from Amazon is far more than I've earned from them – ever!

So, what do I do with my next novel? It's going to be a historical fiction saga and I think it has the possibility of doing very well if I can direct it to the right audience.

So, keep with my present publisher – who really does nothing for me – or release it self-published? What would you do?
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Re: Self versus Traditional Publishers

Post by polymath » December 10th, 2014, 11:08 am

Publishing culture generally withholds payment until a sales threshold is met; roughly $50.00 or so is the current trend.

Whether to self-publish the next novel or publish through an established publisher is a personal choice. Maybe the choice is not a matter of where the most revenue comes from, which signals audience interest, but interpreting what limited sales means. If a body of work underperforms in the marketplace, the results are below expectations, the work doesn't grab readers' attention.

Why? Only one marketing principle succeeds for publishing and it is as ephemeral and fickle as a lifestyle event news cycle; that is, word of mouth buzz. Scandal and controversy sell, attract audiences, generate buzz.

No matter how meaningful, timely, or relevant a narrative is, if the novel does not deeply express commentary about a moral human condition that matters to people's everyday lives, if the novel generates no buzz, the novel goes nowhere.

I've sampled your writing, longknife. I've yet to be interested more than to see where your writing skills are at the present time. A macro evaluation of what doesn't work for me, and I assume readers generally, is the dramatic action meanders slowly and unemotionally, not clearly and strongly.

The self-publishing and off-mainstreet publishing marketplaces are jammed with writing just strung together at haphazard with little to no appreciation for audience appeal essentials. This is known as vanity publication, or was, still is in my estimation. A plain, frank, and blunt assessment of such writing is identified by Damon Knight's Creating Short Fiction as "Daydream writing." Mainstreet publishers screen out daydream writing, which comprises more than nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred ninety-nine out of a million manuscripts in circulation.

Daydream writing is characterized by noble agonists with little to no moral crisis struggles, who can do no wrong, satisfy external complications after an enormous word count without fail, "resolve external conflicts" without a doubt they will, no internal complication moral crisis to be seen, and, consequently, limited, if any, emotional appeals. Idea or theme, event, setting, and character development are also lackluster. The dramatic action, what action can be inferred or accessed, is generally generic and superficial. Superficial to mean meaningless physical, external action that is bland and direct -- lacks intellectual and emotional engagement, as if a boring auditorium lecture "told" about a family vacation slideshow.

For increased sales and audience appeal and buzz generation, don't write like that. Easier said than done, I know. How? From what I've sampled of your writing, longknife, I'd advise first and foremost to identify and define a target audience of one and then appeal to that one reader's intellect and emotions. This is done by posing a moral crisis with which that one reader struggles. If one reader is targeted, a narrative aims at others, probably many others.

"Conflict" is a meaningless and useless literature and writing term, much bandied about in literary circles, places high brow and low brow. The principle of substance is dramatic complication: internal and external. External complication is the packaging of an internal complication, which is the meat and potatoes of a narrative: what a narrative expresses about a moral human condition crisis. From the first word of a narrative's title until the bittersweet end, every smallest part should develop that internal complication. Dramatic complication, plainly put, is an agonist's personal wants and problems wanting satisfaction. Personal wants are inherent problems; personal problems are inherent wants; they are inseparable; they are moral crises

Moral crises develop out of the "Seven Deadly Sins," or seven fatal vices, and the Seven Noble Virtues as diametric opposites in crisis struggles: wrath-patience, greed-charity, gluttony-temperance, pride-humility, sloth-diligence, envy-kindness, lust-chastity.

Consider defining a personal moral crisis for each and every agonist: noble hero, nemesis, or villain. Give each agonist (contestant) a personal want (internal) that is complicated, if not nigh impossible to satisfy, by problems. Relate the internal complication to the external complication. An agonist on the way home from work may encounter any number of external wants and problems, the journey to home itself a want to return home habit. Traffic delays, detours, physical barriers complicate that want. Internal complications can be parallel and diametrically opposite at the same time. The agonist wants to go home because that's what he or she does every work day. The agonist is also bored by the rat race routine.

The agonist is tempted to stray from the routine into spontaneous, self-involved territory: wrath, sloth, lust, envy, gluttony, greed, or pride? Lust? Goes to a stripper bar in a seedy part of town. Wrath? Road rage at the knuckleheads who cause wrecks and breakdowns on the interstate. Sloth? A detour to a lazy pastime, say a layover at a bar. Envy? Coveting of a luxury sports car seen on the road. Gluttony? Frequent stops at fast food emporiums. Pride? Zooming in and out of traffic to rush ahead of other drivers due to self-important priorities. Pose virtues against the vices. Sloth, for example, may be opposed by diligence, though also patience, charity, temperance, humilty, kindness, or chastity. The drive home is the package for the internal moral crisis struggle: the internal complication wanting satisfaction. For example, going home is itself problematic; the agonist really doesn't want to go home.

Define and design the internal complication as a vice-virtue struggle the target audience of one suffers. Keep on topic.
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