Hare or Tortoise–Which One Are You?

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I have a confession: I’m a tortoise. No, not a literal tortoise, a writer tortoise.  My writing speed is…well…it’s slow.

When I see advertisements about helping writers “write fast,” I often pause. Me? Write fast? Well, I have nothing against writing at hare speed so long as the writing is well done. However, I prefer to write slowly. For me, writing is akin to eating a half-gallon of ice cream during a four-hour Oscar-winning movie. Both take time to enjoy.

I love playing around with words and phrases, taking things out and putting things in till I’m comfortable with how my writing sounds. Sometimes I do catch myself envying those who can write both fast and well, but if I write too fast, I feel that it’s sloppy. This is just me, though.

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I’ve come to realize that every writer is different. Tolkien spent twelve years writing his trilogy, The Lord of the Rings (1937-1949). Other writers, such as Joyce Carol Oates, are super-prolific.

No, it’s not wrong to write hare-fast as a hare,  nor is it wrong to write tortoise-slow. Each writer must write at the pace that he or she is most comfortable with. And even though I’m a literary tortoise…Hey!  I’m enjoying the process!

Experimental Fiction

James Joyce (1882-1941)

Three Identifiers of Experimental Fiction

Experimental fiction breaks the rules of genre fiction. Often, it doesn’t have a beginning or an end, or it may go in circles and barely have a plot.  It can be long or it can be short. It goes however and wherever it wants to go, and ends wherever and whenever it wants to end.

Experimental fiction is hard to read. If you want a nice, quick read when you go to the park or the beach, I highly suggest you don’t take an experimental novel with you.

Experimental fiction experiments with language. Authors use various literary techniques, often in the same book. They may put a new definition on a word, make up a word and even use poetry.

Experimental Fiction Tips

  1. Know the rules of good writing: grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
  2. Know the principles of good storytelling in the traditional sense, such as when to show and when to tell, dialogue and characterization, etc.
  3. Don’t break the rules just for the sake of breaking them. Be able to justify your decisions in experimenting.

A Few Famous Experimental Novels

James Joyce, Ulysses

Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Henry James, The Other House

Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon

George Orwell, Animal Farm and 1984

If you want to write experimental fiction, know the rules before you break them and be able to explain why. Also, don’t forget to revise and produce the best work you can. Who buys literary fiction these days? Submitting your work to literary magazines is the best way to begin.

Publishers Who Prey, Part Three: How I Do It

The term, “self-publishing,” says how I do it. I am the publisher, which means I have total control of my work, which means I go through many of the same steps traditional publishers do.

My Nine Steps to Self-publishing

Step One       

I buy my International Standard Book Number (ISBN) from bowker.com. ISBNs are your book’s unique identifying number. They help buyers identify you as the author and enable places such as libraries to order your book. Bowker is the only legitimate company in the United States where these important numbers can be purchased.                        

Some self-publishers, such as Amazon KDP, will provide an ISBN for you for free. However, if Amazon provides the number, authors aren’t allowed to have their own imprint, but Amazon does give authors the option to use their own ISBN and imprint when they publish their books.   

Step Two

I write my book and revise and revise and revise till I’m happy with it. In other words, I strive to write the best book I can.

Step Three

I submit my work to beta readers, those readers who read objectively and offer sound advice. I’ve written a blog about beta readers that discusses how to find the right one. Visit it at: https://wordpress.com/post/theauthorscove.com/2050

Step Four

I hire a professional freelance editor to review my book and offer suggestions for improvement. Because each genre has its own rules, it’s important to find one who is knowledgeable about your genre and era. In historical fiction, for example, lots of narrative exposition is more acceptable than in other genres, such as thrillers.

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Step Five

Taking the editor’s advice into consideration and using what’s helpful, I make more changes. Since we’re all human, it’s easy to overlook things such as punctuation and spelling errors, so I proofread again.

Step Six

I hire a good cover designer. Some of the companies I mentioned in my previous post do cover designs, but I hire my own because covers are hugely important. They’re the reader’s first impression of your book. A good cover encourages readers to look inside your book and perhaps even buy it.

I also hire a professional to format my book. A short while back, I did something I’ve never done before. I took a book I’d purchased back to the bookstore for a refund. I bought it because it dealt with a subject I had an interest in. I returned it because the formatting was bad, which led me to believe the author was an amateur. The writing wasn’t that great either.

For any who may be interested, my cover designer and the one who formats my books can be found at this website: www.teddiblack.com. I have used Teddi and Megan for many years.

Step Seven

Once step six is done, I proofread again, make suggestions for changes to my formatter and when  I’m happy with the result, I upload my book on Amazon  KDP.

Step Eight

After the book is published, I record it in my Bowker account beside the ISBN number I’d purchased.      

Step Nine

I send two copies of my book to the Copyright Office. Why? Because it’s the law. The Copyright Office gives authors three months to do this.

Although it’s not required, I register my book with the Copyright Office. According to copyright law, once a work is in fixed form it’s automatically copyrighted. Registration just gives the work a little more legal protection and more money if the author sues someone who plagiarized him.

Well, folks, this is how I do it. Till next week, y’all.