Y – You

YI seem to be missing one last critical component of writing – You! The reader! Without an audience, a book is not a very interesting thing, and a writer is not going to be a paid author for long. So on the one hand, the goal is to get published – but on the other hand, the goal is to get read.

I think that’s a lot of the appeal to self-publishing. Yes, money, a career, all that. But really, if the goal is to be read – if the goal is to get the book to You – then by any means necessary!

It’s the reader who must meet your words with their understanding, it is the reader who tries to figure you out. Who tries – and wants to try! – to know what you scrawled out on the page, what you typed hastily into a computer. It is the reader who makes this worth it.

I missed the opportunity to write about Audience, when I wrote about Author instead, for this A to Z Challenge. So instead, I’ll let you read a post better than I would have written anyway, from the Writing Catalog. I say that in part because I like Gene’O’s writing, but also in part because I don’t think enough about the audience when I write. In a lot of ways, I write for an audience of one: myself.

And maybe that’s why I have a hard time starting to write. Because while I could write, if my main audience is myself, well, I already have the story here in my head. I know what happens. Would anyone else care what I write? Would anyone else like it?

So that means for me the most important question right now goes back to audience. And actually, I think that it may also answer a question I asked before: why write a blog? The answer may well be that you write a blog to have an audience. To experience that, to want that. To interact with them and find out what they like and don’t like. To get praise, or constructive criticism, or to get shared – all to give you that little bit of confidence you need, to know that you might just have an audience outside of yourself (or maybe your family, hopefully they’d read it too…), and that it might be worth it to drag those ideas out of your head and let them see the light of day.

Thus, concluding my posts on the essentials of writing, I dedicate this post to you: my reader, my audience. That’s right, you. Right there. I’m thinking about you when I write this. And I am thanking you for being there. Whether you’re there just as a blogger, wandering by from the Challenge – great! I know I don’t read nearly as many blog posts as I should. I am a bad audience member. Or whether you’re a follower – thank you so much! You remind me time and again that maybe I really can be a writer.

And this seems like an excellent time for self-promotion. If you like my writing here, like being my audience here, check out my geeky blog I write with my wife: Comparative Geeks. It overall has much more content and posts than here. However, since my audience has grown quite a bit during the challenge, I’m going to have to keep going strong here too, I think!

Thank You!

W – Writer’s Block

WAh, Writer’s Block. That scourge of writers the world over. I suppose. Is it though? What are some of the elements of Writer’s Block?

For me, the very first and major hurdle of Writer’s Block is how to start. I, like many writers I imagine, have a number of stories mapped out in my head, notes hidden around in margins, on smart phones, tablets, writing programs. When do you know enough? About your characters, your setting? Do you understand it all? Have you read enough to know that no one else has already written your story? And how do you hook your readers?

This is a hard wall to get past, for sure. As best I understand, at some point you just have to start. For me, that’s still a work in progress.

Once you’re going, maybe you started too soon! Oh no, how do you resolve this part? Describe this scene? How do you convey to your readers exactly what you feel when you think about it? Or maybe you know time needs to pass, but don’t know what might happen between where you’re coming from and where you’re going. Maybe you need to give another character some time in the sun, but aren’t sure what to have happen.

Or maybe Writer’s Block is just your excuse – your excuse for having a life, for letting time get away from you, for not being as diligent in writing as you feel like you ought to be. Because while the largest category is likely the books never written, there is still very likely a very large selection of books started but unfinished. It’s an easy trap to fall into. It’s life.

And then there’s towards the end, you have a written story! But you’re editing. Thinking it through, revising. Have you developed your voice enough? Have you used good language to convey your points and story? And is it something unique, something that hasn’t been written before? Is it something new under the sun?

At some point you have to let it go, have to decide it’s good enough. Not everyone can be J.K. Rowling or George Lucas and edit their works after they’re already published. But before you reach that point, you can likely hit the hardest road blocks, the most doubt: is it good enough? Will anyone, in their right mind – or at least the mind they bring to the table on the day they’re making the decision – publish it? Would you even self-publish it yourself? As you might be your hardest critic, after all.

I can see a lot of things we might mean by Writer’s Block. Once I get going, in a single session, I tend not to stop when writing – I tend to flow. For me, the trouble is getting started, is having the time, is taking the time. How about you? Any Writer’s Block stories or tips to share? Venture forth to the comments below! Can’t think of what to comment about? Writer’s Block strikes again!

P – Publisher

PAfter a fun diversion yesterday, I guess I am back at it with a more serious topic! Today I wanted to consider publishers, an industry we have had around probably since the printing press, and which is full of big publishers and independent. I am even helping finalize and edit a book right now which will probably at first just be locally published, at the printer’s, and distributed from there. Hmmm… should make sure we end up with a copy at the library…

As someone who is not published, and not yet at the point to try or be turned down, I am still new and bright-eyed and optimistic about the world of publishing and publishers. Well, other than all of the stories around being turned down by publishers. Those leave one feeling a bit nervous.

Listing myself as a “writer” on Twitter has led to an additionally interesting connection, though, as I see so many authors there, who are talking about their publishing, or else I am seeing the independent (and big) publishers there. Probably a good starting place for figuring out how/where to try to get published, and trying to make a direct connection.

So what advantages do there seem to be with the big publishers? Well, there’s the marketing they have behind them, and their ability to let people know about your book. Whether that’s in publishing catalogs or through all sorts of advertising channels, they can help make these sorts of things happen. I wonder how this relates to getting books at libraries, since there is the added layer of the vendors generally, and of the librarians making decisions.

But increasingly, you have people turning to e-publishing options, which seems to be increasingly dominated by Amazon. Amazon will help promote these books, or at least the ones that get popular, and then they are readily available on the Kindle. And if your goal is “to be published,” this seems like a fantastic route.

By this point in the challenge, however, I have writers and bloggers aplenty reading this site (say thankya), and I would welcome any and all of your thoughts on publishers or the publishing decision process. Self-Publish? Big publishing houses? Independent? Weigh in with your thoughts!

E – e-Book

ESo part of the goal in the A to Z Challenge is to keep the posts short, so I’m not 100% sure why I decided to tackle e-books in a short format! What sorts of topics could I discuss on e-Books?

I think really, the point of this post, to keep it short, really just needs to be, aren’t e-Books neat? The ability to have a whole bunch of books, on a single device. Being able to carry a virtual library with you wherever you go. Great for travel, which is when I get a lot of my reading done. Which might be bad, since I don’t travel enough…

But are e-Books neat enough? The answer is probably, not yet. What do you do when you’re done with it? Keep it forever. Okay… that’s a long time. So no donating it to the local library, no loaning it to a friend, no giving it to someone as a gift. No downsizing your collection – since, after all, it’s portable, so who would want to ever reduce the size of the collection? (Librarian Sarcasm)

Okay, there’s elements of some of those things you can do. And, better yet, there is a growing capacity for checking out e-Books from libraries. However, there is by no means an industry standard to this yet, as some publishers want to charge a ton for electronic access – something that’s done with print journals in databases, as well – because more people can access the book then. Or, they’re limiting access to how many people can have the book at a time. Or they’re adding a limit to the number of times a book can be checked out before it must be bought again. So it isn’t perfect yet.

So while I like my convenient books, I like my free access to books too – maybe especially books I’m not sure about, or books I know I won’t be reading again.

Where are you at? Completely adopted e-Books? Waiting to see? Half and half? And have you checked your local library for e-books? Let me know in the comments below!

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