Whew! It’s been a little while since our last link roundup and I have quite a few links to share.
But! First! I’m hoping to be on a rather fantastic social media panel at South By Southwest 2013 with such luminaries as Veronica Belmont, Brian Tong and Maya Grinberg but I need your help! Please vote for our panel, Social Media Shootout, at the SXSW Panel Picker site. Registering is easy, I promise.
Now then, on to the links.
So I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Internet happens to be rather awesome. One side effect of Internet awesomeness is that literary agent scams are on the wane, but, as Author Beware points out, they still exist so please be vigilant.
Stephen Parrish, who you may know from around these parts, is hosting an awesome flash fiction contest, check it out!
Remember the whole Google Book Search scanning settlement thing? Yeah. Well, newly uncovered documents suggest that the book scanning was originally aimed at combatting Amazon.
In case you missed it (or, as the kids now say, #ICYMI), NPR released a list of the 100 best ever teen novels of all time, quite a few of which were not exactly teen novels.
Want to be challenged? Check out this list of the most difficult books of all time.
Fifty Shades author E.L. James may top this list next year, but for now, James Patterson is still the world’s top earning earning authors, with a cool $94 million in the past year.
Signs are increasing that e-book sales are leveling off. Mike Shatzkin wonders if the revolution has moved to evolution.
An annual favorite, the winners of the Bulwer-Lytton bad writing fiction contest have been announced. The winner is definitely a doozy.
And there was quite a bru-ha-ha over a site called Lendink, which used a legal mechanism for lending e-books, which many authors freaked out about. Writer Beware used it as a cautionary about the need for Internet restraint.
This week in the Forums, writers who run, is a low-selling self-published book “baggage?”, should writers self-censor on social media, in memory of the great authors who have died this year, what’s your editing style, and most/least favorite characters.
Comment! Of! The! Week! A.C. Tidwell wrote a fantastically interesting response to the post about whether the publishing industry does or doesn’t care about good writing. It’s long, but I want to print it in full:
I think that the publishing industry has a rich history of setting the bar of what is considered posh and what is considered subpar. I also think there is something to be said for writing that qualifies as high quality (tight prose, language, requires something from readers, thought provoking, cerebral) and something that is low quality (uses tropes and not for satire, follows a paint-by-numbers structure, reuses character-types from pop culture or Mary Sue archetypes, poor prose, abundance of dead metaphors, plot heavy). One affects you long after you put it down. The other is easy. So, I actually think that the publishing industry is an excellent buffer against most subpar writing. With mass media, internet, and indie publishing, there is a large amount of mediocre to poor writers out there. The market is oversaturated. But this doesn’t reflect the industry, per se, it reflects our society. In America, in particular, we ask very little from our literature, television or film. Instead we want to be entertained in a non-thought provoking way. This is a symptom of our times and the stress of recession. Art generally falls by the wayside in terms making us thoughtful consumers. We want escapism and safety when we have to worry about unemployment and food. It’s why we’ll read the same type of romance or sci-fi story over and over, knowing exactly how it will end, the only difference being character names and slight alterations in plot. Our reading standards decrease, because, hey we’ve done this before…I know how it ends…and that is one less thing to worry about.
I haven’t read Shades of Gray but I do remember when Twilight came out. I couldn’t simply dismiss it so I had to do research. So after reading the series I asked my students what appealed to them. It turns out it was a romance they’d heard before, written in the same type of wish-fulfillment fantasy that Hollywood makes large profits on. They were never really concerned with the outcome. Instead, the story gathered all the filmmaking and gothic romance tropes together in one place. It was icing. The sweet part without the cake.
I think the publishing industry should keep their standards and perhaps make them even more rigorous. I know that is disappointing to hear but take it with a grain of salt because it’s all relative. Having said that, I think that indie publishing is the place for fanfiction to grow. Everyone wants to be a writer. I’ve seen an explosion in the amount of students queued for my classes. It’s good for the market as a whole as it brings in new readers. I also think that big publishing should be hesitant to jump into that pool completely. For one, it will delegitimize the industry, something that will only be realized in 20 years when they look back at the current trend and say, “Oh right. How could we have thought The Bachelor could win us an Emmy?” But don’t shun it either. Hold writing contests with submission fees and award small publishing prizes for amateur fan fiction writers. Recognize the group and make a profit too. But at the same time, publishers have to realize it’s a temporary niche market. Very few people will quote Shades of Gray in twenty years. Remember to leave room for the other writers who we will be talking about. When our society no longer just wants to sit down and let a low quality book just wash over them, I can only hope we don’t ignore the next Fitzgerald simply because he/she didn’t sell an extraordinary amount of books on Amazon. We just can’t let that dictate greatness. Sorry for the long post.
Have a great weekend!