Tuesday, June 28, 2011

There’s more than one way to publish words

(Or how to get a bunch of authors hot and bothered)

You know, I didn’t really want to get dragged into this whole debate because, you know what, opinions are like assholes, and everyone’s got one. But yeah, I’m going to let mine hang out now.

What sparked this off was a passing comment by an unpublished author, that small/indie publishers are somehow not real.

Now that I’ve managed to unglue myself from the ceiling and I’m not spitting fire anymore, I want to ask you what makes one form of publishing any less valid than another. Granted, we may not *like* a particular form of publishing but the point remains is that words are still disseminated to readers. Hence, a story is published.

As we say in South Africa: finish en klaar, hey?

Well, yes and no.

What is clear is that the entire publishing industry is in a massive state of flux. When you have big names heading into self-publishing or starting their own publishing companies, then something’s up. Let’s not look at the analogy of rats abandoning a ship but yeah…

Plainly put, the old model of publishing is not sustainable. I’m not saying it’s going to fail. Hell no. It’s just that the big traditional publishers are going to have to seriously relook at the way they’re doing business.

What we’ve also seen is a massive influx of small and indie presses that have grabbed an opportunity with all the new technology coming online. Authors have never had such a wide variety of publishing options available to them and, with the growth in reading gadgets, avid book fanatics are spoilt for choice.

The problem comes in when one discerns quality. With so many authors now getting heard, it’s not always easy telling the difference between the good, the bad and the ugly. That’s not to say that the indie-published fantasy adventure that could have used a bit more spit and polish is somehow worth less than the polished traditionally published fantasy novel that may not have such an unusual storyline.

And even that’s a broad generalization. I kinda like my reading rough around the edges where authors have cut loose and experimented a little.

At the end of the day, the reader is the final arbiter, and some books certainly have more appeal to some readers than others. Does it really matter at the end of the day who published the book or how?

With regard to quality, the onus is on the author to ensure that his or her words are as good as they can be. An editor can only make so many suggestions. Obviously traditional publishers carry more clout with their editorial suggestions but it’s still up to the author to decide whether he or she will comply. It’s also up to the author to make sure that their writing evolves and that they don’t repeat the same mistakes over, and over again.

So, how do we wade through the glut of published novels to find the author we like? My answer to this is to follow authors’ and reviewers’ blogs. Follow your favourite publishers and authors on Twitter. Goodreads is also a fantastic place to find new authors to read or to discover which ones aren’t so hot. It’s kinda like an Easter egg hunt, or at least that’s the way I’m looking at it. And I can tell you this much, I’ve discovered some fresh voices that would have been lost to the world had it not been for the shift in the industry.

You may not like the books I read but you know what? That’s okay. Really. I probably won’t like yours either. Just be glad that we now have a greater selection that is almost instantly available in a variety of formats.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Just My Blood Type

While there's a lot going on behind the scenes, I'd love to share a bit of news. A few weeks ago, I teamed up with author Carrie Clevenger to collaborate on a bit of a short fiction entitled Just My Blood Type. At time of writing we're finalising the final proof before we upload, but we can share the cover art.

To give credit where it's due, the photography and retouching is by none other than my lovely husband, Thomas Dorman. You can see more of his artwork here.

The typographical treatment for this was done by the very talented Danielle Eriksen, who is available for layout work. She can be contacted at Danielle@dislocate.co.za

Of course the real star of the show is Xan Marcelles, a drop-dead gorgeous vampire who plays bass in the band Crooked Fang. Therese von Willegen, erotica author, swung by the town of Pinecliffe, Colorado, to interview him, and got a little more than she bargained for.

Follow Xan Marcelles on Facebook, or look out for him @crookedfang on Twitter, and keep up to date with developments. We'll announce the short story's release soon.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Nichole discusses research

I really enjoy research.

Don't laugh. I do. It doesn't matter what I'm searching for, I love the thrill of it. Whether it's hunting for treasures in the Black Hills National Forest (a hobby called geocaching) or searching for a long-lost relative as I trace the family tree (I love ancestry.com), the idea of researching energizes me.

There's a lot of research involved in my writing, as well. I spend a lot of time looking for the right murder method: poison, gun shot, stabbing. I visit the locations where my books are set. Of course, it helps that I live in the area.

I even research the paranormal aspects. For Sleeping Bears, the second Cerri Baker novel, I've read everything I could get my hands on about fairies. For my second series featuring Allison Webber (at least I think that's going to be her name) I've been studying up on auras.

Researching the paranormal is harder than researching genealogy. Finding a document from the 1860s usually leads you to another document. Finding a website or book about auras doesn't normally lead you anywhere else. And often the next book or site you find will give you different information.

That's where the fiction writer takes over for the researcher. It's the fiction writer in me that determines which information to incorporate and which to ignore. And which to totally change for the world I've created. It's not always easy.

Sometimes I find that what I want to happen flies in the face of all the research I've done. But this is fiction, and that's okay. It just means I have to make sure that the rules in my world are consistent, even if there's no one else who believes what I need.

Maybe that's what makes fiction so enjoyable for me to write: it's an opportunity to learn something but still make up my own rules.