Do you have adblock enabled?
If you can read this, either the style sheet didn't load or you have an older browser that doesn't support style sheets. Try clearing your browser cache and refreshing the page.

(Slate)   Any idiot can write a book, says online magazine writer   (slate.com) divider line 89
    More: Ironic, George Packer, Amazon, Thomas Piketty, Jeff Bezos  
•       •       •

4184 clicks; posted to Main » on 10 Feb 2014 at 6:23 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



89 Comments   (+0 »)
   
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2014-02-10 06:28:51 PM  
FTFA: " But gatekeepers are also barriers against the complete commercialization of ideas, allowing new talent the time to develop and learn to tell difficult truths. When the last gatekeeper but one is gone, will Amazon care whether a book is any good?"

The gatekeepers(publishers) have been the driving force behind commercializing ideas and wringing any life or creativity or originality out of a work, pretending that traditional publishers are some kind of noble defenders of true literature and art is insultingly dishonest.

It's too bad that Amazon doesn't give people a way to tell if the content of a book is any good, some sort of rating or public review process maybe?
 
2014-02-10 06:31:05 PM  
Amazon's self-publishing will do to books what the easy availability of news and political blogs will do to journalism.

/ wait a minute...
 
2014-02-10 06:33:29 PM  
To be fair, he's right. The question is, will anyone buy your piece of shiat book?
 
2014-02-10 06:34:25 PM  
Failing to see your point, subby. The article is talking about how we should not accept the decline of quality in our books, not sure why that's a problem.
 
2014-02-10 06:34:39 PM  
i57.tinypic.com
 
2014-02-10 06:36:09 PM  
i58.tinypic.com
 
2014-02-10 06:36:45 PM  
Some idiots can hit the New York Times Bestsellers list.
 
2014-02-10 06:39:17 PM  
i62.tinypic.com
 
2014-02-10 06:40:28 PM  
i61.tinypic.com
 
2014-02-10 06:40:57 PM  

mephox: To be fair, he's right.


It's true. Really, until you've seen the slushpile of what is submitted to publishers, you can't believe it. 140 page long books that are a single run-on sentence. Books that are written in all caps. Hundreds of pages of racist screeds and books that people will swear up and down were written through them by Jesus or God or King Arthur.
 
2014-02-10 06:42:37 PM  

Voiceofreason01: FTFA: " But gatekeepers are also barriers against the complete commercialization of ideas, allowing new talent the time to develop and learn to tell difficult truths. When the last gatekeeper but one is gone, will Amazon care whether a book is any good?"

The gatekeepers(publishers) have been the driving force behind commercializing ideas and wringing any life or creativity or originality out of a work, pretending that traditional publishers are some kind of noble defenders of true literature and art is insultingly dishonest.

It's too bad that Amazon doesn't give people a way to tell if the content of a book is any good, some sort of rating or public review process maybe?


done in one
 
2014-02-10 06:42:48 PM  
But these days it takes a real pervert to sell one.
 
2014-02-10 06:43:15 PM  

Voiceofreason01: FTFA: " But gatekeepers are also barriers against the complete commercialization of ideas, allowing new talent the time to develop and learn to tell difficult truths. When the last gatekeeper but one is gone, will Amazon care whether a book is any good?"

The gatekeepers(publishers) have been the driving force behind commercializing ideas and wringing any life or creativity or originality out of a work, pretending that traditional publishers are some kind of noble defenders of true literature and art is insultingly dishonest.

It's too bad that Amazon doesn't give people a way to tell if the content of a book is any good, some sort of rating or public review process maybe?


Indeed.

/horray books.
 
2014-02-10 06:46:51 PM  
That's not news.
 
2014-02-10 06:50:29 PM  

Sudo_Make_Me_A_Sandwich: mephox: To be fair, he's right.

It's true. Really, until you've seen the slushpile of what is submitted to publishers, you can't believe it. 140 page long books that are a single run-on sentence. Books that are written in all caps. Hundreds of pages of racist screeds and books that people will swear up and down were written through them by Jesus or God or King Arthur.


As someone who once had the glamorous "job" of  shifting through story submissions for fanfiction to EquestriaDaily for around a year, I can tell you that this is so true. People, if you can call them that, don't do even the most basic of proofing before hitting send. Having *any* kid of gatekeeper, even self-important grammar nazis and opinionated jackasses who passed HS English, really helps take a pool of "literature" from "absolute shiat" to "maybe I can get the smell out of I scrub hard enough."

When there is a very low barrier to entry, you get the full force of Sturgeon's law compounded. Take a look at fanfiction.net or, god forbid, FimFiction and you can easily see that 99.9% of what people think is good enough to share with others is absolutely not worth the bits it took to upload. And it's not unique to fanfiction. You just almost never see original stuff that never makes the cut at the publisher.

As someone who's managed to sell  hardback prints (and make enough to have to fill out a schedule C this year) of his poor excuse for a story, I'm getting a kick out this.
 
2014-02-10 06:51:52 PM  
a book
 
2014-02-10 06:52:12 PM  
It's more like "anyone can write a book and get it PUBLISHED", but an author that can write a book WELL is an entirely different segment. Vanity presses make the first part easy, but you still have to you know, write well if you expect anyone to actually read the thing.
 
2014-02-10 06:56:21 PM  
this is true

/has written several
 
2014-02-10 06:59:49 PM  

kitsuneymg: Sudo_Make_Me_A_Sandwich: mephox: To be fair, he's right.

It's true. Really, until you've seen the slushpile of what is submitted to publishers, you can't believe it. 140 page long books that are a single run-on sentence. Books that are written in all caps. Hundreds of pages of racist screeds and books that people will swear up and down were written through them by Jesus or God or King Arthur.

As someone who once had the glamorous "job" of  shifting through story submissions for fanfiction to EquestriaDaily for around a year, I can tell you that this is so true. People, if you can call them that, don't do even the most basic of proofing before hitting send. Having *any* kid of gatekeeper, even self-important grammar nazis and opinionated jackasses who passed HS English, really helps take a pool of "literature" from "absolute shiat" to "maybe I can get the smell out of I scrub hard enough."

When there is a very low barrier to entry, you get the full force of Sturgeon's law compounded. Take a look at fanfiction.net or, god forbid, FimFiction and you can easily see that 99.9% of what people think is good enough to share with others is absolutely not worth the bits it took to upload. And it's not unique to fanfiction. You just almost never see original stuff that never makes the cut at the publisher.

As someone who's managed to sell  hardback prints (and make enough to have to fill out a schedule C this year) of his poor excuse for a story, I'm getting a kick out this.

 
2014-02-10 07:03:39 PM  
To play Devil's Advocate...
Posting fiction and poetry on places like DeviantArt is guaranteed to take a great deal of the wind out of any wannabe writer's sails.

Especially when you find out that in the culture of instant-gratification, no one gives two runny sheeyits about writing, when there's visual art to look at, and music to listen to. Trying to be a writer can set you up for the saddest and loneliest experiences of your life. :P
 
2014-02-10 07:05:07 PM  

Voiceofreason01: FTFA: " But gatekeepers are also barriers against the complete commercialization of ideas, allowing new talent the time to develop and learn to tell difficult truths. When the last gatekeeper but one is gone, will Amazon care whether a book is any good?"

The gatekeepers(publishers) have been the driving force behind commercializing ideas and wringing any life or creativity or originality out of a work, pretending that traditional publishers are some kind of noble defenders of true literature and art is insultingly dishonest.

It's too bad that Amazon doesn't give people a way to tell if the content of a book is any good, some sort of rating or public review process maybe?


Yep, this.
 
2014-02-10 07:13:48 PM  

Kriggerel: To play Devil's Advocate...
Posting fiction and poetry on places like DeviantArt is guaranteed to take a great deal of the wind out of any wannabe writer's sails.

Especially when you find out that in the culture of instant-gratification, no one gives two runny sheeyits about writing, when there's visual art to look at, and music to listen to. Trying to be a writer can set you up for the saddest and loneliest experiences of your life. :P


If you're already sad and lonely, it's just like coming home.
 
2014-02-10 07:15:30 PM  
wish it, want it, do it?
 
2014-02-10 07:16:43 PM  
I've read a lot of the classics and enjoyed them, and tried some modern high-brow literature and most of it is self-indulgent writer wankery, which apparently Matthew Yglesias enjoys. More power to him.

I like reading for entertainment now, and there's some remarkably good stuff being epub'd now that would never have put out in paper before.

Of course, I read too damn fast, cocaine would be a cheaper habit.
 
2014-02-10 07:38:35 PM  
This conversation, though important, takes place in the shallows and misses the deeper currents that, in the digital age, are pushing American culture under the control of ever fewer and more powerful corporations.

I don't understand this at all.

There are now far more publishers than there were in the age of bookshops, because anyone can publish. The sister of a friend of mine writes novels about the English countryside (that don't seem to be any worse than Joanna Trollope's books) and the publisher's name is her. She spent a small amount of money to buy some artwork to use on covers and that's it.
 
2014-02-10 07:40:32 PM  

Boojum2k: I've read a lot of the classics and enjoyed them, and tried some modern high-brow literature and most of it is self-indulgent writer wankery, which apparently Matthew Yglesias enjoys. More power to him.



Not all of it. I just finished Cold Mountain- not precisely new any more, but a pretty modern book that holds up to the same standards as the classics, and will probably be considered one a few decades down the line.

The thing with classics, in any genre or medium, is that the garbage gets filtered out. Only the most stellar works really get remembered. There was plenty of self-indulgent wankery in the past too, but people stopped reading those books.

To me, that's a great argument for sticking to classics and waiting a few years on the modern stuff. You might miss a good discovery, but your odds of getting a stinker are far lower. Of course, every now and then you get something like Ulysses, which is considered a classic despite being a steaming pile of self indulgent crap.
 
2014-02-10 07:42:06 PM  

Boojum2k: I've read a lot of the classics and enjoyed them, and tried some modern high-brow literature and most of it is self-indulgent writer wankery,


My experience as well.  Apparently, once you sell a single book, no one dares edit you again.
 
2014-02-10 07:43:27 PM  

cptjeff: I just finished Cold Mountain- not precisely new any more, but a pretty modern book that holds up to the same standards as the classics, and will probably be considered one a few decades down the line.


Adding to list. I'll point out that my standard for good modern literature would be Joyce Carol Oates.

cptjeff: The thing with classics, in any genre or medium, is that the garbage gets filtered out. Only the most stellar works really get remembered. There was plenty of self-indulgent wankery in the past too, but people stopped reading those books.


*cough* The Scarlet Letter *cough*
 
2014-02-10 07:44:34 PM  

Samsquantch: Boojum2k: I've read a lot of the classics and enjoyed them, and tried some modern high-brow literature and most of it is self-indulgent writer wankery,

My experience as well.  Apparently, once you sell a single book, no one dares edit you again.


I read The Satanic Verses years ago and considered putting a hit out on Salman Rushdie myself.
 
2014-02-10 07:51:11 PM  

Boojum2k: cptjeff: The thing with classics, in any genre or medium, is that the garbage gets filtered out. Only the most stellar works really get remembered. There was plenty of self-indulgent wankery in the past too, but people stopped reading those books.

*cough* The Scarlet Letter *cough*



Despite being awful to read, it was a pretty influential social critique. It's a fair point, but for every Scarlet Letter there's a Hunchback of Notre Dame.
 
2014-02-10 07:56:18 PM  
I wrote a book about a boy who grew up in heaven, but was unhappy and decided to eacape. No publisher or agent gave a shiat. So now i just write and drink for myself
 
2014-02-10 07:56:34 PM  

cptjeff: Boojum2k: cptjeff: The thing with classics, in any genre or medium, is that the garbage gets filtered out. Only the most stellar works really get remembered. There was plenty of self-indulgent wankery in the past too, but people stopped reading those books.

*cough* The Scarlet Letter *cough*


Despite being awful to read, it was a pretty influential social critique. It's a fair point, but for every Scarlet Letter there's a Hunchback of Notre Dame.


Which is a 50/50 ratio of wankery to quality in known classics. I still grab one once in a while.
As for modern epub work, I've found that reading the reviews and looking for key statements about the book usually gives me a good heads-up on the quality. I read at about 2500 words per minute, so while there's not a lot of time wasted on a poor read, it can get expensive. Classics do help fill in since those can be found for free.
 
2014-02-10 07:56:58 PM  
And as a used book dealer I've sampled just how bad it gets. The Self Financed tend to be the worst, but real publishers make piles of turkeys every year. Sure, what the public will pick up and make a real hit, with years of sales, is hard to guess. But editing goes a long way. I need a refresher on quailty gramar before I try to write anything more hoity than a Fark post.
 
2014-02-10 08:02:19 PM  

Boojum2k: I read at about 2500 words per minute


Damn. I probably read 250 words a minute.  Maybe.  You realize it's not a race, right?
 
2014-02-10 08:02:47 PM  

Delta1212: kitsuneymg: Sudo_Make_Me_A_Sandwich: mephox: To be fair, he's right.

It's true. Really, until you've seen the slushpile of what is submitted to publishers, you can't believe it. 140 page long books that are a single run-on sentence. Books that are written in all caps. Hundreds of pages of racist screeds and books that people will swear up and down were written through them by Jesus or God or King Arthur.

As someone who once had the glamorous "job" of  shifting through story submissions for fanfiction to EquestriaDaily for around a year, I can tell you that this is so true. People, if you can call them that, don't do even the most basic of proofing before hitting send. Having *any* kid of gatekeeper, even self-important grammar nazis and opinionated jackasses who passed HS English, really helps take a pool of "literature" from "absolute shiat" to "maybe I can get the smell out of I scrub hard enough."

When there is a very low barrier to entry, you get the full force of Sturgeon's law compounded. Take a look at fanfiction.net or, god forbid, FimFiction and you can easily see that 99.9% of what people think is good enough to share with others is absolutely not worth the bits it took to upload. And it's not unique to fanfiction. You just almost never see original stuff that never makes the cut at the publisher.

As someone who's managed to sell  hardback prints (and make enough to have to fill out a schedule C this year) of his poor excuse for a story, I'm getting a kick out this.


LOL my kind of nitpicker
 
2014-02-10 08:04:56 PM  

AliceBToklasLives: Boojum2k: I read at about 2500 words per minute

Damn. I probably read 250 words a minute.  Maybe.  You realize it's not a race, right?


LOL I know, as I said it gets expensive. I can polish off an average novel in a couple of hours. And while I'm reading, you could set a bomb off next to me and I wouldn't notice.
 
2014-02-10 08:06:40 PM  

Boojum2k: cptjeff: Boojum2k: cptjeff: The thing with classics, in any genre or medium, is that the garbage gets filtered out. Only the most stellar works really get remembered. There was plenty of self-indulgent wankery in the past too, but people stopped reading those books.

*cough* The Scarlet Letter *cough*


Despite being awful to read, it was a pretty influential social critique. It's a fair point, but for every Scarlet Letter there's a Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Which is a 50/50 ratio of wankery to quality in known classics. I still grab one once in a while.
As for modern epub work, I've found that reading the reviews and looking for key statements about the book usually gives me a good heads-up on the quality. I read at about 2500 words per minute, so while there's not a lot of time wasted on a poor read, it can get expensive. Classics do help fill in since those can be found for free.


As a fast reader myself (though not that fast), used bookstores and large tomes (easy to find when you like politics and history) are your friends. Tad hard to stick in a briefcase though, I do get the attraction of e-readers for many.
 
2014-02-10 08:07:27 PM  

AliceBToklasLives: Boojum2k: I read at about 2500 words per minute

Damn. I probably read 250 words a minute.  Maybe.  You realize it's not a race, right?


That's way slow, dude. Stop subvocalizing.
 
2014-02-10 08:07:36 PM  
I don't read as fast as some people do, so I don't run into the problem of running out of new books.  When I finally do, though, I can go back to some of the classics I missed.  I'll be nice and old before I have absolutely nothing to read, and by then, I can probably reread one of my favorites.


That said, I'm not particularly fond of either crowd reviews of books, which favor lowest common denominator schlock, or professional reviews, which tend to push too far in the other direction.

A book's Amazon score is pretty much useless unless you're comparing several books by the same author, since trash with a following will get lots of perfect reviews pushing the score up, and people tend to grade on a curve.  A five-star children's book shouldn't be thought of in the same way as a five-star young adult book (which I don't like, since kids in the target audience could be reading classics, but instead they're being trained to think of books about zombies and vampires and wizards as literature), and a five-star sci-fi novel can't be compared directly to a five-star piece of literature.  Neal Stephenson is brilliant in a lot of ways, but his writing isn't even close to as good as Pynchon's or Nabokov's.

Professional reviewers, on the other hand, seem to be predictable.  They always want to be the first to give a bad review to an established author, just to look cool, and that, in my mind, destroys their credibility.  If you know you're looking at a work of real literature, then you can probably trust the Amazon consensus (adjusted for genre) over what the professionals say, modulo scandals about people paying for positive reviews.

It's all a big mess, yet we still get some really good literature.  It's just difficult to find new authors, since there is no sure way to tell who is good and who isn't until time has done some of the sorting for us.  Sometimes we're lucky and a good author keeps writing for a long time, like Pynchon, so the author's history can give us confidence that his or her new book is going to be good..
 
2014-02-10 08:08:19 PM  

cptjeff: AliceBToklasLives: Boojum2k: I read at about 2500 words per minute

Damn. I probably read 250 words a minute.  Maybe.  You realize it's not a race, right?

That's way slow, dude. Stop subvocalizing.


And I just read your handle. Dudette. My apologies.
 
2014-02-10 08:12:20 PM  

cptjeff: As a fast reader myself (though not that fast), used bookstores and large tomes (easy to find when you like politics and history) are your friends. Tad hard to stick in a briefcase though, I do get the attraction of e-readers for many.


I hated the idea at first, then got a Nook as a Christmas present a few years ago. Liked it okay, but the slow page load got on my nerves, then got a Kindle Fire figuring if the lit screen didn't work for me for books at least it would be a portable browser. No, love it even more, and it flips pages so much better.

I still work my way through many paperbacks and hardbacks. I retain most of a book for a while, up to about a year later for a decent one I can tell you where a phrase was in the book (left or right page, third of the way through, second paragraph down for example) so unless I really love the book I have to wait a while to reread it.
 
2014-02-10 08:12:22 PM  

NetOwl: Professional reviewers, on the other hand, seem to be predictable. They always want to be the first to give a bad review to an established author, just to look cool,


On the other side of that, they also like to praise anything experimental and different, regardless of how crappy, because it makes them look like the people trashing those works just don't get it, while they alone are transcendent or whatever else. It's the modern art effect.
 
2014-02-10 08:12:57 PM  

cptjeff: AliceBToklasLives: Boojum2k: I read at about 2500 words per minute

Damn. I probably read 250 words a minute.  Maybe.  You realize it's not a race, right?

That's way slow, dude. Stop subvocalizing.


250 wpm is average reading speed.
 
2014-02-10 08:13:41 PM  
As a self-published author in both comics and prose, I'm getting a big kick out of...

/I mean 'pass the bourbon, daddy needs his medicine.'
//living the life
///audience of one
 
2014-02-10 08:13:57 PM  

NetOwl: Neal Stephenson is brilliant in a lot of ways, but his writing isn't even close to as good as Pynchon's or Nabokov's.


Okay, granted, but can you define why in objective terms?
 
2014-02-10 08:17:28 PM  

kitsuneymg: Sudo_Make_Me_A_Sandwich: mephox: To be fair, he's right.

It's true. Really, until you've seen the slushpile of what is submitted to publishers, you can't believe it. 140 page long books that are a single run-on sentence. Books that are written in all caps. Hundreds of pages of racist screeds and books that people will swear up and down were written through them by Jesus or God or King Arthur.

As someone who once had the glamorous "job" of  shifting through story submissions for fanfiction to EquestriaDaily for around a year, I can tell you that this is so true. People, if you can call them that, don't do even the most basic of proofing before hitting send. Having *any* kid of gatekeeper, even self-important grammar nazis and opinionated jackasses who passed HS English, really helps take a pool of "literature" from "absolute shiat" to "maybe I can get the smell out of I scrub hard enough."

When there is a very low barrier to entry, you get the full force of Sturgeon's law compounded. Take a look at fanfiction.net or, god forbid, FimFiction and you can easily see that 99.9% of what people think is good enough to share with others is absolutely not worth the bits it took to upload. And it's not unique to fanfiction. You just almost never see original stuff that never makes the cut at the publisher.

As someone who's managed to sell  hardback prints (and make enough to have to fill out a schedule C this year) of his poor excuse for a story, I'm getting a kick out this.


I've had good luck with authors who were published once and then, dropped by their publisher. I can find their other work because they self-publish them through Amazon.  It's usually not up to snuff for traditional publishers, but it's not as bad as fan-fiction.  Since the price is usually 99 cents to $3 it's not a bad deal.
 
2014-02-10 08:18:39 PM  

cptjeff: And I just read your handle. Dudette. My apologies.


No apologies, dude is fine - the handle is a claim rather than a number.

I really don't know how fast I read, but I do take my time.

That's way slow, dude. Stop subvocalizing.

Reminds me of St. Augustine being amazed at St. Ambrose's silent reading.  Augustine was like "damn that dude is reading and he's not even moving his lips.  Is he like a wizard or what?" [that's a loose translation]
 
2014-02-10 08:19:08 PM  

Boojum2k: I still work my way through many paperbacks and hardbacks. I retain most of a book for a while, up to about a year later for a decent one I can tell you where a phrase was in the book (left or right page, third of the way through, second paragraph down for example) so unless I really love the book I have to wait a while to reread it.


Yeah, the tangible aspect of a book is wonderful. When I go back to a book to refresh myself on a piece of information, I usually know where physically to find that bit of information. It reinforces my learning it, in a way. With an e-book (though I've really never used a dedicated reader for an extended period, just mobile devices- I read Moby Dick and the Last of the Mohicans on a PDA back in high school, and have read a few shorter things on my smartphone more recently), I just feel disoriented. I can't page a few pages back to glance at something somebody said that relates to what's going on in the plot now. I can't intuitively keep track of my progress in the story. It's all just kind of there until you're done. You don't know when you're getting close. Sure, you can look up the page numbers, but it's not the same.
 
2014-02-10 08:21:20 PM  

cptjeff: I can't page a few pages back to glance at something somebody said that relates to what's going on in the plot now. I can't intuitively keep track of my progress in the story. It's all just kind of there until you're done. You don't know when you're getting close. Sure, you can look up the page numbers, but it's not the same.


I can, not as easily as with paper, but not too much more difficult. Of course, by focusing on doing that, I probably don't know half of the rest of the capabilities of my Kindle. Much like my phone.
 
2014-02-10 08:30:58 PM  

Boojum2k: cptjeff: As a fast reader myself (though not that fast), used bookstores and large tomes (easy to find when you like politics and history) are your friends. Tad hard to stick in a briefcase though, I do get the attraction of e-readers for many.

I hated the idea at first, then got a Nook as a Christmas present a few years ago. Liked it okay, but the slow page load got on my nerves, then got a Kindle Fire figuring if the lit screen didn't work for me for books at least it would be a portable browser. No, love it even more, and it flips pages so much better.

I still work my way through many paperbacks and hardbacks. I retain most of a book for a while, up to about a year later for a decent one I can tell you where a phrase was in the book (left or right page, third of the way through, second paragraph down for example) so unless I really love the book I have to wait a while to reread it.


I was absolutely wedded to my Kindle, Kindle II and then my Kindle Paperwhite. They all broke after the warranty was out (the Kindle and Kindle II were my fault) but I bought so many ebooks when I called Amazon to ask about repair service they just sent me a replacement for free.  When the wifi went out on the Paperwhite, I called them as usual to ask about getting it repaired because I fully expected to get a replacement for free, and this time around they offered me $100 off a Kindle Fire HDX or a replacement Paperwhite.

I took the HDX discount and it's been great.  The battery life sucks compared to the Paperwhite, but the page turning performance is so much better and the screen is so much clearer it's worth making the compromise.  I can also watch HBO to Go on it, which distresses me a little because it competes for reading time, but I really like it so far.  I had an old iPad 2 and it was great, but it was always a touch too big to be comfortable to read in bed if I had to hold it up.  That said, if you want games, the iOS selection is a lot better, but I'm not using tablets for that.
 
2014-02-10 08:32:37 PM  

Boojum2k: cptjeff: I can't page a few pages back to glance at something somebody said that relates to what's going on in the plot now. I can't intuitively keep track of my progress in the story. It's all just kind of there until you're done. You don't know when you're getting close. Sure, you can look up the page numbers, but it's not the same.

I can, not as easily as with paper, but not too much more difficult. Of course, by focusing on doing that, I probably don't know half of the rest of the capabilities of my Kindle. Much like my phone.


Maybe I'll give e-readers another try one day, but for now, I'll remain in the paper books camp. Preferably hardcover, and cloth or leather-bound.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to take a chunk out of "Grand Inquests: The Historic Impeachments of Justice Samuel Chase and President Andrew Johnson", by William Rehnquist. 1992, cardboard binding with cloth spine. Reads like his judicial opinions, which is to say that it's pretty clearly and concisely written.
 
2014-02-10 08:37:57 PM  
This is not new news. It's always been true.

Any idiot can write a book, and any solvent idiot can get one published.

But nobody can make other idiots READ their book, and that's where the money is.
 
2014-02-10 08:38:07 PM  

cptjeff: Boojum2k: cptjeff: The thing with classics, in any genre or medium, is that the garbage gets filtered out. Only the most stellar works really get remembered. There was plenty of self-indulgent wankery in the past too, but people stopped reading those books.

*cough* The Scarlet Letter *cough*


Despite being awful to read, it was a pretty influential social critique. It's a fair point, but for every Scarlet Letter there's a Hunchback of Notre Dame.


I cannot stand "A Tale of Two Cities."  I realize that's heresy, but I had such a visceral, negative reaction to that book in high school I've read it every five years since trying to appreciate it more and I just can't.  It is something about Dicken's style of writing that just rubs me the wrong way. It's not the plot, it's not the length, it's not even the characters. I'm due to read it again soon, maybe I'll take notes to figure out why I hate it so much.  It's not like I hate the classics, I just hate that one.
 
2014-02-10 08:39:27 PM  

cptjeff: Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to take a chunk out of "Grand Inquests: The Historic Impeachments of Justice Samuel Chase and President Andrew Johnson", by William Rehnquist. 1992, cardboard binding with cloth spine. Reads like his judicial opinions, which is to say that it's pretty clearly and concisely written.


Or weighty and hard to set aside.
 
2014-02-10 08:48:58 PM  

Gyrfalcon: This is not new news. It's always been true.

Any idiot can write a book, and any solvent idiot can get one published.

But nobody can make other idiots READ their book, and that's where the money is.


http://www.amazon.com/How-Sold-Million-eBooks-Months-ebook

He left out the part where he bought positive reviews early on, but he did include the part where he posted on his blog "Michael J. Fox" and "Parkinson's" after Mr. Fox was in the news in the hope of showing up in Google results.

He also has fairly sound advice for schlocky authors:  don't publish your first book until you have three in a series done, set your web presence up before you publish, and tease, tease, tease about the next book.  To my knowledge, he doesn't have a single book that hasn't spun into a series.  To rope in female readers who were put off by a male writer, he created a female pseudonym and started publishing under that.

He writes crap, which he freely acknowledges.  He's also laughing all the way to the bank.
 
2014-02-10 08:53:41 PM  

Boojum2k: Okay, granted, but can you define why in objective terms?


Not to try to try to make this too mechanical, and there's still subjectivity in this, I could count the frequency of paragraphs that make me think, "Wow, that was a beautiful bit of writing, there!"  Pynchon is special in that he evokes that more than any other writer I have ever come across while still doing all that intertextual stuff that makes his writing deep.  Those better versed in poetics could say more about imagery and the rhythm of the paragraphs and other things that make his writing almost musical.  Pynchon also manages to do this without coming across as some English major who doesn't know anything about any other subjects.

Stephenson's books are fantastic, but I'm not certain I could tell the difference if he dictated the content of a book to someone else and then had the other person write the actual sentences, provided the other person isn't a hack.  Stephenson's prose is competent, but I don't read his books just for the writing.  It's important that his writing is good enough not to turn me away, though.

I like these two examples because they avoid the problems I associate with their peers.  Pynchon's writing is  fun.  His books aren't boring slogfests full of indulgent navel-gazing, even when they're difficult.  Writing quality aside, I can stomach his books a lot better than most wannabe serious literature.  Stephenson's books avoid falling into the trap of being cheap.  He may not have a particularly distinctive voice, but at least I can read his books without constantly thinking, "That paragraph needs to be fixed!  So ugly."
 
2014-02-10 09:00:18 PM  

Mjeck: I wrote a book about a boy who grew up in heaven, but was unhappy and decided to eacape. No publisher or agent gave a shiat. So now i just write and drink for myself


I'd read that. All the books I can find are about serial killers and vampire boys. There are just so many of them. They just publish what they think will sell ... so interesting / different ideas are too scary. I don't know. That's just what it seems like sometimes.
 
2014-02-10 09:03:56 PM  

NetOwl: I like these two examples because they avoid the problems I associate with their peers. Pynchon's writing is fun. His books aren't boring slogfests full of indulgent navel-gazing, even when they're difficult. Writing quality aside, I can stomach his books a lot better than most wannabe serious literature. Stephenson's books avoid falling into the trap of being cheap. He may not have a particularly distinctive voice, but at least I can read his books without constantly thinking, "That paragraph needs to be fixed! So ugly."


Fair enough. As you said, it's going to be a little subjective. I like an author who can make his work feel like it is actually lived in, whether it's the life of a lonely and bitter businessman or an alien planet being colonized for the first time.
 
2014-02-10 09:13:26 PM  
As somebody writing a book now, I...got nothing.

/Science fiction.
//up to 26,000 words now.
 
2014-02-10 09:14:46 PM  

ThatGuyFromTheInternet: /Science fiction.//up to 26,000 words now.


I could give you a review on it in less than 15 minutes.
 
2014-02-10 09:29:35 PM  
Weeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllll, you know who else wrote a book, right?

media.nj.com

Oh, and Hitler too. But we're talking about someone even more evil who wrote a book. The most evilest person since Skeletor!!!
 
2014-02-10 09:36:30 PM  
The thing is, traditional publishers stopped being worthy gatekeepers. They don't give a rat's ass about the quality of the writing, only that it will sell. As long as its readable, any manuscript will be bought as long as it is similar enough to the last best seller. And on the other hand, they regularly turn away new, unique, creative works precisely because it is NOT at all like the last best seller.
So what's an author with fresh ideas and the ability to tell them well to do? Two options: self-publish on Amazon or seek out a small press publisher. Either way, there's no advance, no guarantee of making any money at all, and the perception that it's not a "real" book.

/Small press author.
//Still getting real checks for a 5 year old not real book.
 
2014-02-10 09:47:46 PM  
It's just like with video games.  Removing a lot of the barriers to entry completely ruined PC gaming!
lh6.ggpht.com
/sarc
 
2014-02-10 10:19:43 PM  
If I listened to everybody's opinion on what to like and what not to like I would have Chariots of Fire and The English Patient in my DVD collection. Fark Siskel & Ebert for luring me into those hell canyons and wasting money and time on such shiat. I'd rather watch Steven Seagal in Hard to Kill just for the laughs.
 
2014-02-10 10:25:56 PM  

Boojum2k: ThatGuyFromTheInternet: /Science fiction.//up to 26,000 words now.

I could give you a review on it in less than 15 minutes.


I could give you a review in about 2 1/2 hours.
 
2014-02-10 10:49:39 PM  

Sudo_Make_Me_A_Sandwich: mephox: To be fair, he's right.

It's true. Really, until you've seen the slushpile of what is submitted to publishers, you can't believe it. 140 page long books that are a single run-on sentence. Books that are written in all caps. Hundreds of pages of racist screeds and books that people will swear up and down were written through them by Jesus or God or King Arthur.


I'm writing a book about how I suck at writing books.
 
2014-02-10 11:13:02 PM  

CourtroomWolf: It's just like with video games.  Removing a lot of the barriers to entry completely ruined PC gaming!


The major difference is that the time and skill required to code a game provide a very effective barrier to entry already.
 
2014-02-10 11:18:20 PM  
That's the whole idea behind reviews. Or has the author never checked out a new restaurant on yelp because of its score?

I wrote five books and put them on Amazon. They may not be Shakespeare, but I certainly don't think they're trash.  The whole problem with gatekeepers is that they believe themselves infallible. Unfortunately for them, Amazon is teaching them that they are falling behind. \

But, why bother adopting a new business model? It's so much easier to decry Amazon and say it's the death of literature as we know it. Congrats article writer for writing the same thing every pretentious know-it-all has written every year since the Gutenberg press
 
2014-02-10 11:26:25 PM  
So is this the proper place to shill my own fantasy novel?

Link

d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net
 
2014-02-10 11:32:38 PM  

TheZorker: So is this the proper place to shill my own fantasy novel?

Link

[d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net image 312x475]


Added to list to pick up when funds are again available. So yes, this was the proper place.
 
2014-02-10 11:52:37 PM  
Last year, Amazon published spouse's book.
Every owner that ever purchased a book on their Kindle in the same genre got an ad on the front of their Kindles with "Buy Now" link.
Many bought spouse's book.
We joke that we could have taken out an ad on the front page of the New York Times and it wouldn't have done as much good for sales as the ad on Kindles owned by people inclined to buy that book.
Truly targeted marketing. Amazon can be very generous.
 
2014-02-11 12:24:58 AM  

Lsherm: Gyrfalcon: This is not new news. It's always been true.

Any idiot can write a book, and any solvent idiot can get one published.

But nobody can make other idiots READ their book, and that's where the money is.

http://www.amazon.com/How-Sold-Million-eBooks-Months-ebook

He left out the part where he bought positive reviews early on, but he did include the part where he posted on his blog "Michael J. Fox" and "Parkinson's" after Mr. Fox was in the news in the hope of showing up in Google results.

He also has fairly sound advice for schlocky authors:  don't publish your first book until you have three in a series done, set your web presence up before you publish, and tease, tease, tease about the next book.  To my knowledge, he doesn't have a single book that hasn't spun into a series.  To rope in female readers who were put off by a male writer, he created a female pseudonym and started publishing under that.

He writes crap, which he freely acknowledges.  He's also laughing all the way to the bank.


The next question all authors need to ask: Do they want to be rich or remembered?

Because anyone can do what this douche is doing: write crap and make money. And if that's the only reason you're writing, then fine. Most authors like to at least imagine their stuff will be around after they are dead, which is the other reason one writes. This guy will be forgotten in another year. And that's okay--if all he wants is a quick buck.

Pick your poison, I guess. If money is all you love, then that's what you'll receive.
 
2014-02-11 12:36:28 AM  

Gyrfalcon: Because anyone can do what this douche is doing: write crap and make money. And if that's the only reason you're writing, then fine. Most authors like to at least imagine their stuff will be around after they are dead, which is the other reason one writes. This guy will be forgotten in another year. And that's okay--if all he wants is a quick buck.


He's made it pretty clear he's in it to make money.  And he's made money.  I think he was hoping to help authors who wanted to do both.

I'm not sure that's possible anymore.  Literature in 50 years is going to be "The Lovely Bones" and some Stephen King novels.
 
2014-02-11 12:37:32 AM  

Gyrfalcon: If money is all you love, then that's what you'll receive.


Broke authors tend to die young and hungry, or become something else. I get your meaning, but making money with writing isn't a bad thing at all.
 
2014-02-11 01:58:40 AM  

Gyrfalcon: The next question all authors need to ask: Do they want to be rich or remembered?


With Amazon, there's another calculation to make WRT to your point.
Real Life Example. Read what I posted above. We've profited from Amazon.
Author Friend of spouse was multi published, but stuck in mid-list (these are all pulp writers I'm speaking of here, nobody has delusions of anything past that)
and her next book had interest from multiple publishers (hooray for her! bidding wars are fun and profitable)
Alas, the bidding war in this case was only a moderate one.
One of the publishers was Amazon.  Spouse and I told Author Friend to ignore Big Five publishing houses' offers, go with Amazon.
Problem: Amazon's publishing means no other sales besides Amazon. No Barnes&Noble, etc.
And that means, no matter how big your sales are at Amazon, you will NOT get on New York Times Bestseller List. Ditto for USAToday's List
Author Friend understood this, chose to reject Amazon and go with Big Five publishing house with a higher advance, promise of some promo, and hope for NYT Bestseller status.
With Amazon and an ad on the front of Kindles everywhere, the lower proposed Amazon advance would have likely paid out in less than five days, and equating the publishing house's higher advance just a few days after that.
It's the potential glory of the New York Times Bestseller List that is still the lure for some, and definitely our Author Friend.
In our case, we know the raw sales numbers, and have guessed how high up on the NYT List spouse's book would have gone.
It doesn't matter, because we chose the money.
 
2014-02-11 02:33:01 AM  
A chicken and a frog go into a library. The chicken goes 'buk, buk, buk'. The frog goes 'redit, redit, redit'
 
2014-02-11 02:46:00 AM  

SVenus: Gyrfalcon: The next question all authors need to ask: Do they want to be rich or remembered?

With Amazon, there's another calculation to make WRT to your point.
Real Life Example. Read what I posted above. We've profited from Amazon.
Author Friend of spouse was multi published, but stuck in mid-list (these are all pulp writers I'm speaking of here, nobody has delusions of anything past that)
and her next book had interest from multiple publishers (hooray for her! bidding wars are fun and profitable)
Alas, the bidding war in this case was only a moderate one.
One of the publishers was Amazon.  Spouse and I told Author Friend to ignore Big Five publishing houses' offers, go with Amazon.
Problem: Amazon's publishing means no other sales besides Amazon. No Barnes&Noble, etc.
And that means, no matter how big your sales are at Amazon, you will NOT get on New York Times Bestseller List. Ditto for USAToday's List
Author Friend understood this, chose to reject Amazon and go with Big Five publishing house with a higher advance, promise of some promo, and hope for NYT Bestseller status.
With Amazon and an ad on the front of Kindles everywhere, the lower proposed Amazon advance would have likely paid out in less than five days, and equating the publishing house's higher advance just a few days after that.
It's the potential glory of the New York Times Bestseller List that is still the lure for some, and definitely our Author Friend.
In our case, we know the raw sales numbers, and have guessed how high up on the NYT List spouse's book would have gone.
It doesn't matter, because we chose the money.


Unless I misunderstand something somewhere, Amazon isn't a publisher, just a distributor. You put your book on there, on B&N, on Sony, on fictionwise.com, etc. etc. etc.
 
2014-02-11 02:58:24 AM  

The hopeless imp: Unless I misunderstand something somewhere, Amazon isn't a publisher, just a distributor.


Amazon does have both print and ebook publishing services.
 
2014-02-11 03:33:53 AM  

Boojum2k: The hopeless imp: Unless I misunderstand something somewhere, Amazon isn't a publisher, just a distributor.

Amazon does have both print and ebook publishing services.


Er, what I'm seeing is they have an exclusive deal (which is for suckers) to get a higher royalty, but you can get that just by pricing.
The thing about the NYT list is that it can increase sales even further, not to mention the potential slush pile avoidance when the editor sees your name on your second manuscript. So when the Big Five is a viable option, I'm inclined to take it. You just can't assume that Amazon sales are going to match traditional sales.
Times sure have changed though. I remember when a best selling ebook wasn't even in the same league as what the Big Six (it was still six then) called a best seller.
 
2014-02-11 03:44:57 AM  
Has anyone else who occasionally picks up a trashy novel noticed that Dean Koontz has once and for all gone full-on derp? Read two of of 'em last year and

SPOILER ALERT...

One was an anti-evolution screed fixed around God creating a new magical species out of thin air to prove creationism to the world and the government trying to violently cover it up, and the other was about an apparent alien invasion that turned out to be God temporarily opening the portals to hell to cleanse the world by killing pretty much everyone, complete with cartoon scientists on a liberal cable channel explaining that it was all caused by global warming.
 
2014-02-11 06:09:56 AM  
2.bp.blogspot.com
 
2014-02-11 07:09:44 AM  
Being able to mash a keyboard doesn't make you a writer.
If you are "writing a book" right now, and you have ever thought about "word count", you're not a writer.  You've missed the point, and you have no talent or skill.  Sorry, move on.

Making it easy for any idiot to do it means that any idiot is going to do it.
 
2014-02-11 07:20:14 AM  
If it weren't for Amazon opening the Pandora's box of self-publishing, we'd never have found out how many people are into Bigfoot porn.
 
2014-02-11 08:34:47 AM  

AliceBToklasLives: Boojum2k: ThatGuyFromTheInternet: /Science fiction.//up to 26,000 words now.

I could give you a review on it in less than 15 minutes.

I could give you a review in about 2 1/2 hours.


This reminds me of Woody Allen: "I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia."
 
2014-02-11 09:10:55 AM  

The hopeless imp: Unless I misunderstand something somewhere, Amazon isn't a publisher, just a distributor. You put your book on there, on B&N, on Sony, on fictionwise.com, etc. etc. etc.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Publishing
For example, 47 North is the SciFi imprint, Montlake is the Romance imprint, and Thomas & Mercer publish mysteries.
100% Amazon owned and operated.
Day One is a literary journal that Amazon purchased last year. ("Day One" as a name for an imprint is important to Bezos, BTW)

Authors are jumping over themselves in an effort to get published by Amazon.
 
2014-02-11 01:06:52 PM  
My former boss has written a few books, both self published. They are both his philospohy on life. One looks like it is a self help book how to be a man or something the other is for the ladies. It's a book how how a woman can find, attract and keep a R.E.A.L man (I dont know what R.E.A.L stands for). It is some mysoginistic tripe from what I have seen. He gives examples of REAL men, but a majority are fictional characters.
 
2014-02-11 01:15:04 PM  
The headline had absolutely nothing to do with the article linked to, or to the New Yorker article the article linked to, but they were both interesting, so thanks, subby, I guess.

SVenus: The hopeless imp: Unless I misunderstand something somewhere, Amazon isn't a publisher, just a distributor. You put your book on there, on B&N, on Sony, on fictionwise.com, etc. etc. etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Publishing
For example, 47 North is the SciFi imprint, Montlake is the Romance imprint, and Thomas & Mercer publish mysteries.
100% Amazon owned and operated.
Day One is a literary journal that Amazon purchased last year. ("Day One" as a name for an imprint is important to Bezos, BTW)

Authors are jumping over themselves in an effort to get published by Amazon.


Yes, this.  Apple was able to get all the major publishers to sign price-fixing agreements even though it meant less profit for them, because they were so desperate to build up an online competitor to Amazon that wouldn't impose low prices.  They fear "disintermediation" -- authors deciding that they don't really need a publisher anymore.

/The government intervened.
 
2014-02-11 02:35:39 PM  

ds615: Being able to mash a keyboard doesn't make you a writer.
If you are "writing a book" right now, and you have ever thought about "word count", you're not a writer.  You've missed the point, and you have no talent or skill.  Sorry, move on.

Making it easy for any idiot to do it means that any idiot is going to do it.


I have no idea where you came up with that. The only person "writing a book" I know that doesn't think about word count hasn't written a single word. All the writers I know - real writers with real books and short stories in real magazines - think about word count. Writing classes, clinics, workshops, etc. all talk about word count. It is impossible to NOT think about word count unless you either aren't writing or aren't intending on ever finishing.
When someone tells me they are writing a book, but can't express in any concrete terms or even estimate how far along they are, I know they probably aren't writing a book at all. In fact, I've never met a writer that didn't have some idea of their progress. It might be expressed in number of pages or in terms of hours spent on it, but they know where they are.
As for missing the point, I'm not sure you know what the point is.
But you're right in that not every idiot is going to do it just because it's easy to get published. Many idiots say they are writing a book, but they supposedly don't know how many words they wrote only just yesterday.
 
2014-02-11 08:27:03 PM  
Man, the trick isn't hitting the maximum word count, but staying the hell under it.

"I don't have enough time to write short" is a thing I've said many times.

/word count is a double-edged sword
//at least
 
Displayed 89 of 89 comments

View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest


This thread is closed to new comments.

Continue Farking
Submit a Link »
Advertisement
On Twitter





In Other Media


  1. Links are submitted by members of the Fark community.

  2. When community members submit a link, they also write a custom headline for the story.

  3. Other Farkers comment on the links. This is the number of comments. Click here to read them.

  4. Click here to submit a link.

Report