I’m seeing something that I hope isn’t a trend on Good Reads. Two authors, both of whom have large following in the podcast community, are rating their own works. Now, I’m all for “shameless self promotion”. I learn what to do and what not to do by watching those who have gone before me, and I try to come up with my own spins. Along the way I’m bound to make mistakes and want folks to call me on it.
As a writer I know you have to believe in your work. You need to be your own drum beater, horn blower, and cheer leader. You need to work on your stuff until you think it’s good enough to send out and should talk about it to anyone who wants to listen once it’s out there. This is different though. This crosses the line into something truly shameless (shameful)?
Here’s what I know to be true. You should avoid signing up on your own message board under a pseudonym to defend yourself. You should avoid responding to your critics in a negative fashion if they rake you over the coals. And, I’d think this goes without saying, you should avoid rating and reviewing your own work.
You don’t need to “prime the pump”. If folks enjoy what you’re doing, you could certainly share with them where you’d like a review (though this probably isn’t necessary). Doing that is fine. Rating yourself, in my mind and in the mind of many I follow on twitter, is only going to make you look like a douchenozzle. That will likely lose you more fans than it will gain you.
Personally I’m on the fence at this point as to whether or not I’ll ever listen to their podcasts or buy any of their books down the road. I’m not naming names and I don’t want anyone here to either. I sent a message to one of these guys, hoping for an explanation. None has been forthcoming. I am interested in what you think, primarily if you think I’m missing some good point to this.
I was talking to a friend last night about free lance fiction writing and he asked me which genre(s) I considered to be my strongest. I replied that I didn’t know for sure and that I intended to make this a year of stretching my wings. He said that was a pretty savvy idea and was similar to the concept of what journalists did. They developed a clipbook of works so that they could display their wares.
To that end I’m gonna make a list of what I’ve done to date and the genre(s) that I consider them to fall into and some key words.
The Battle of Wildspitze – 10k word Manapunk story (fantasy/alt history)
The Behemoth – 8k word Steampunk story (sci fi/alt history)
Power in the Blood – Horror (body horror/possession/vampirism)
Fetch – Supernatural thriller (demons, Christian themed)
Vicious Cycle – Sci fi short story (bleak future, dystopian)
Piercing the Veil – Sci fi flash fiction (bright future)
Old Friends – Urban fantasy short story (werewolves, vampires, light hearted)
X Marks the Spot – Sci fi short story (YA/Middle grades)
Music Box – Fantasy short story (ghosts, eerie, light, positive)
Bitter Release – Fantasy short story (ghosts, dark, moody)
Archangel – Supernatural thriller novels (adventure, action, suspense, urban fantasy?, demons)
Ginnie Dare: Crimson Sands – Sci fi novel (space opera?, adventure, whodunit/mystery, YA/Middle Grades) Coming Soon!
The Good Doctor – Fantasy/Horror short story (Werewolves, Western, Modern fantasy?)
Changes – Horror short story (Coming of age, Werewolves, Western, Modern fantasy?)
A Good Samaritan – Horror short sotry (zombie, dark, strong female lead, action)
The Grim Reader – Horror short/flash fiction (Dark horror/fantasy, black humor)
Operation Banshee – Manapunk 8k word story (fantasy, faeire, romance, action) WIP
Bobby and His Dragon – Fantasy short story (magical realism, Middle Grades fiction)
Truth is No Stranger to Fiction – Horror/sci fi short story (dark humor) Currently Unavailable
The Last Poker Game – Fantasy short story (modern fantasy, Gaiman-ish) Currently Unavailable
Lucky is a Lady – Sci fi novel (Adventure, space opera) WIP
A Liquid Diet – Urban fantasy (action, mystery, “vampires”) WIP
I think that’s about it. So I need to decide where to aim next. Suggestions? Things you’d like to see me do?
Today I’m reviewing Fables of the Flying City by Jared Axelrod.
Synopsis: Ashe, a young woman from the streets of the flying city of Amperstam learns what it takes to be a member of the Aerial Guard, and finds herself at war with an invading empire and the rulers of the city she has sworn to protect!
Production: The audio here is very solid. Jared is a podcast pro. There’s no added production overhead.
Cast: This is a straight read. Jared does most of it. There are a few episodes where he has a guest voice. All three voice actors do wonderful jobs with their segments. My favorite are the Hanner Gatling segments.
Story: This is a wonderful story. It’s a prequel for a graphic novel that will be coming out soon. He’s done a good job of setting up the world and characters. It has a very pulp, steampunk feel, but this isn’t just our world with gears tacked on. There’s some definite mystery here and this world is a different place than our own. Ashe, the protagonist is a wonderful character that we see grow and change, but as can happen from time to time, there’s an ancillary character that steals the show when she’s on stage: the afore mentioned Hanner Gatling. I’d kill for a Hanner-centric story.
Verdict: This is a podcast to not be missed. I had the pleasure of being at the launch party at Balticon last year and I can say that it lived up to my own internal hype. Fair warning for those who don’t like short episodes, I think most of these clock in at about ten minutes each. Still, it’s done now so you can mainline it!
I’ve been thinking a lot about editing lately. I’m an editor for Flying Island Press and I’ve been doing some self-publishing (though not everyone agrees that that’s what I’m doing) which, best case scenario, involves no small amount of red-lining. The critics of self-publishing point out that there’s a lot of sub-par product out there. They assume, and in large part are probably right, that that’s because they aren’t professionally edited, as they would be if they were published “professionally”. It’s certainly not because authors are unaware of the need to have good eyes and skills applied to their work. One of the things that I hear again and again from my fellow creators is, “I know I need an editor, but those don’t come cheap.” So, we do the best we can and put our stuff out there.
I’m curious about a couple of things from my writer peeps. Have you used an editor for your fiction? If so, who and how much did they charge? Were they “pros”? Setting aside the raw definition of that word, I’ll define it to mean “someone who does it for a living”. Were they “semi-pros”, defined by me as “someone who charges a below market rate”? And if you did, how long did it take you to make back your investment?
If you decided not to use an editor and it was because of the perceived cost, how much would you be willing to spend? What is it “worth” to have someone look at your work if it will, to a degree, ensure a better product? I ask, in part, because I know there are people out there, in our community that are semi-pro/pro editors and I’m sure they’d like to know. I know two personally, Jenny Melzer and Allison Duncan. (Semi-pro is not an indication of quality or rate, but is based on the notion that I don’t think this is their primary source of income. No judgment on them.) I have no idea what their client base looks like, so I don’t know if the semi-pro, self-publishing authors out there are using them.
I do know that at present Allison’s rates are beyond my budget. Jenny’s are closer to the mark, but I haven’t sent her anything, yet. I’m just not sure I can justify paying her either. I’m actually kicking around the idea of forming a group to give us another, inexpensive option. But would someone, who charges less, be perceived by you as lacking in the necessary skills to justify any outlay? Is a semi-pro someone I can trust my manuscript to? What do you think?
I know my buddy advised me not to talk about numbers and that may be sound advice, so moving forward I won’t worry about them so much.
Okay, I’ll worry, but I just won’t say anything.
What I will say is, I didn’t make the numbers I wanted to. Yes, that’s a little frustrating. I set a reasonable goal, but people buying what I have to sell is out of my hands. So, I can’t let that frustrate me. As one person told me, I might see an uptick in sales there once Ginnie Dare is out. We’ll see.
Moving forward, I plan on creating recordings of some of my stories. I’ll likely put those here and on Podiobooks so that those of you who enjoy podcast fiction can enjoy them. Keep tuned to this station.
I also wanted to put a link here for “Battle of Wildspitze”, an awesome ten-thousand word short story that Zach Ricks and I wrote.
We’re writing more in that universe and plan on putting more of these stories out, maybe a print anthology of them too. We also plan on podcasting it down the road, cause we’re cool like that. I’ve also included a bit of sample text after the jump for you to have a look at.
For those that support me both in spreading the word and in buying my fiction (both are important), I thank you.