Monday, 28 November 2011


Posted by RLL for REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE. © RLL, 2011.

And the word is NEXT. Though it could also be written using the alternative spelling, GOOD. As I move into electronic publishing, I have to deal with many things. The rejection slip is not one of those things. I wonder what the young persons are thinking.
   Well, young persons, this is what I’m thinking when I’m thinking of you as potential writers. These young persons may never face a rejection slip. EVER. Already, I suspect that many of the young persons, interested in writing, will never use a manual typewriter.
   Harsh truth. These days, you no longer need the arms of a Viking to be able to type stories about a Viking’s arms. I don’t regret ditching the typewriter. But I do still carry all the harsh lessons I absorbed in learning how to use the damned machine.
   That is true of the rejection slip. Every rejection slip I received made me better as a writer. Made me think NEXT. Fell over, stood up, dusted myself down, moved on. Is it good to be rejected? It concentrates the mind, shall we say. That is a good thing. If there’s an awkward damnation-bound element of I’ll-show-the-bastards to the receipt of a rejection, make it work for you. NEXT. GOOD.
   Electronic publishing. What does it mean? It means writing electronically. There are still ways to write using a manual typewriter that could lead to electronic publishing. Optical character recognition of a typed page, scanned and stored on a computer, might be the first in a long line of steps from manuscript to Kindle.
   Maybe someone out there does it that way. (A thought that is boggling my mind as I struggle to wade through the idea. It may be worth writing a story about…) Electronic publishing means writing electronically. Unless voice recognition software takes the writing out of the process. Let’s leave the technology of electronic publishing out of this. (Call that a Lenny Bruce moment, and wonder at my mosaic mind in action.)
   Beyond all that, electronic publishing, via Amazon’s Kindle process, means there’s no rejection slip. It’s gone. Rejection, often impersonal on a slip, shifts to the point of sale. The audience vote decides. Suddenly, it’s personal. Because suddenly, it’s financial in an immediately apparent sense.
   So will the young persons lose out, for failing to acquire a wall papered in rejection slips? I think the battle has simply raged across to the far side of this field. Feedback, from disgruntled customers in disgruntled reviews, could serve the same purpose as the rejection slip.
   Few sales? Rancid reviews? Has your mind suddenly developed that awkward damnation-bound attitude? I’ll show them, next time. How personal will electronic point of sale rejection be? Personal enough to inspire you, never personal enough to flatten you.
   Occasionally, rejection was personal. I’d have a nice rejection. Positive feedback. Even negative feedback can be turned to your advantage, becoming positive feedback. Remember that positive rejection is still rejection.
   No more letters, saying no. Just reviews. Good reviews. Bad reviews. No reviews. What is a good review? Someone thinks your story is cool. That tells you more about the reader than it does about your book. What is a bad review? Someone thinks your story is very far from cool. That tells you more about the reader than it does about your book. No reviews. That tells you nothing. Or something you don’t want to tell yourself.
   A review outlines your plot. I’d like to think you know that bit yourself. So the review tells you nothing. Except…a product review on Amazon is written by a purchaser. Therefore, it carries literal currency. In that sense, the review is important. Only in that sense. You made coin.
   I like to check product reviews. Get a feel for the item under consideration. Read the most helpful positive review, with its inevitable five stars, and read the most helpful review of a critical nature. Down there with two stars. Purchasers have thought it worthwhile to spend time writing reviews.
   An Amazon review means a sale. With the proviso that a customer could return an Amazon e-book within seven days. This bit, about worth, is worth repeating. A review tied to the Amazon purchase site means a purchase. Don’t knock that, good or bad. Opinions are opinions.
   A good review will automatically boost your confidence, unless it’s packed with backhanded compliments. The good review may aid sales. A bad review might leave you in the dumps. It may hinder sales. Caustically, it could eat at you. As though some flesh-destroying disease. If you let that disease in. And that’s your choice. However, no review at all may be the worst review of all.
   A bad review could help you sell books. In the sense that you are spurred to make your work more worthy of purchase. There’s the other thing. As a customer, I’ve sometimes read a bad Amazon review and realised that the reviewer was talking out of the old backside. (If a reviewer can’t get facts right, why trust to opinions cut from the same cloth?) So a supposedly bad review won’t automatically put me off something. The customer sifts opinions in reviews. Then decides. It’s a grown-up world.
   Obviously, a torrent of bad reviews saying avoid like the plague…that torrent might indicate something. Even then, for a Kindle publication, there’s a free sample…so customers can STILL make up their own minds beyond reviews.
   Just checking to see if you are awake by prompting a thought. Remember this. I’m no publishing guru. There is a vested interest in selling to you, but I’m selling fiction. Not flogging How to Succeed in Publishing Electronic Doorstoppers.
   You too can have a body of work like mine!
   For every statement I throw into this blog there must be a dozen questions milling around in my mind. Some even happen to be relevant to the business of publishing electronic books. Do I have a plan? Kiddies, I ALWAYS have a plan.
   It may not be a great plan, or a complex one. Time to empty my bladder. I’ll go to the shops in that order today. Now I’ll work out a series of six blogs, leading up to publication of my e-book. To avoid caring what my blogging audience thinks, affecting what I plan to say next, I’ll plan what to say next in six chunks that are finished before the first one goes out.
   Always know how it ends. That’s just the way I work. You may not care about that, for several reasons. One. Maybe you have no intention of writing fiction. Two. You do write fiction, but not that way. Three. The manner in which a story is constructed won’t show up under ultraviolet light. (Quote me far and wide on that one, if you are to quote me at all.)
   Four. You really genuinely believe that the elves come out of the attic at midnight and leave the story, fully-formed, for the gracious author come sun-up. It’s all magical to you, as a reader, and you’ve never given the construction of tales a single thought.
   More than that. You are so caught up in the magic that you can have the magic pointed out to you as I’m pointing out now…and you won’t feel any different after walking away from these sentences. Bless your heart. We need people like you. Not as neurosurgeons, obviously. I’m just saying.
   There are two married neurosurgeons reading this, laughing away. One is agreeing with my statement. The guy doesn’t want elf-believers in his line of work. His wife is chortling and saying that’s him all over. She declares that he believes in the elves. His retort takes on a technical gloss as he talks about delusions. I think we’ll leave them to it.
   So now you know that I wrote these six pre-publication blogs before I put the first one out there. The clue was in my first blog, on starting a blog. I’m here to talk about my writing. That’s what this blog is about. My own mini-advertising campaign, serving two purposes.
   Though I only covered one of those purposes. Advertising. All writing is time travel. Look at this blog. Before you tackled this blog, I wrote it. (No elves required.) Some of you reading this blog will be reading this blog in the build-up to publication of Neon Gods Brought Down by Swords. Let’s hope that generates a sense of anticipation. Doesn’t matter, though…
   For there are readers of this blog who will be able to read these words after the book is published. They can go through a few clicks and buy the book, with no sense of having to wait. Beyond that, there are readers who are going over these words in a book. They’ve never encountered the blog. For completeness, I’ve placed the six blogs in my INCOMPLETE UNCOLLECTED SHORT WORKS.
   All writing is time travel. The initial readers of the blog won’t be able to purchase Neon Gods, INCOMPLETE UNCOLLECTED, LYGHTNYNG STRYKES, or slim*thriller. Not immediately. The blog serves two purposes. One is advertising. How things are coming along. The other purpose comes later. A sense of how things went along. Or didn’t go, if life intruded on my plans.
   Many things made me the writer I am today. Wayward fingers on the computer keyboard, for starters. I typed many thongs at the start of this paragraph. Occupational hazard. One of those things was the rejection slip. And now, it’s gone. Will I miss it? Yes. Like toothache.



  1. "All writing is time travel."
    Yes, and telepathy. At least if you believe Stephen King (I should double check that before I post this, but I don't have access to the book and I'm feeling reckless). I'm thinking of his rabbit in a box on a table. That'll make sense if you've read the book. :p

    Just wanted to poke my head in and say hi. So, hi :)

  2. Hmmm. If writing really is telepathy, his rabbit in a box on a table should make sense to me even though I haven't read that book. I’m sensing an image…of…a rabbit…on a couch. No, a table. It’s a table. There’s a cage. Or possibly a box. Wooden, or cardboard…thank you, ladies and gentlemen. And now, for my next trick…

    I may return to telepathy one day, with an old story from the Dark Ages of writing. Wednesday's Mind. Other fictional fish to fry right now. Thanks for putting a link on your blog to this site. I’m going to set up author links as reports from other fugitives. All writers should be writers on the run…


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