Category Archives: Writing

James Patterson Don’t Care

As someone who may or may not be getting ready to release a book to the hounds, I mean the Internet, I’ve been thinking about the way I talk about books.  And I feel somewhat guilty.

Generally, I am a sensitive person, so I tend to be sensitive to other people’s feelings.  I try not to be judgmental about other people’s choices.  But when it comes to books, I can be pretty vicious.

True, I don’t judge other people’s reading tastes.  If someone comes up to me wanting James Patterson’s latest book, I am not going to say, “I can’t believe you’re reading that garbage!”  Everyone is entitled to his or her own reading choices, and everyone likes different things.  We say this over and over at the library and on the podcast.  When you ask me what I think, though, I’m going to tear him to shreds.  I think his writing is juvenile, his chapters are too short, and if there is character development in the books, I missed it.  (Of course, I do not give this spiel to library customers.  I say he’s not my cup of tea.  But you know what I mean.)

James Patterson seems like he’s not even a real person.  He’s more like an entity.  I imagine his books springing fully formed from his head.  All he has to do is say, “Lo, I bestoweth upon you… Private: #1 Suspect!“  And there it is, on the library shelves to be scooped up by waiting customers.  So it’s easy to imagine that he has no feelings about what readers think.

But how can I assume that James Patterson really don’t care?  Maybe he’s at home reading his reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, crying for an hour every night before he goes and burns his money or whatever else he does with it.  Maybe he is contributing to reading initiatives for students because he secretly wants the world to love him.  Maybe all the money in the world isn’t enough to make James Patterson feel like a good person who has made a difference.

At the same time, as a reviewer, I do have an obligation to the reader.  If I spent time reading a book that I didn’t really love, I have to let the world know that.  But maybe I can be nicer about it.  More diplomatic.  Maybe, instead of saying that “the ending was horrible and didn’t make sense” I could say “the ending was disappointing.”

I’m not going to pretend every book I read is sunshine and roses, but I should probably stop assuming James Patterson don’t care.  Even he is a person (I think.  He may be a computer, or a group of twenty monkeys randomly typing 24/7 until something comes out).  I know that when my book comes out, it will get some vicious reviews.  I can only hope that some reviewers will be nice enough to leave me some constructive feedback without being mean.

I do not own the image in this post, and it is not used for profit.  I made it using diylol.com and a Google Image.

DIY Books

  So, where have I been lately?  I really have no excuses for not blogging, although I can tell you a lot of exciting things have been going on.  I found out my baby is a boy, my third mystery night play at the library was a success, and I’ve been finishing my Grapemo obligations.  Only a few more weeks and the novel I have worked on for the last two years will be done – the first draft, anyway.  I finally dug in my heels, pushed away other writing projects, and fearlessly drafted until now, the home stretch.

I know what I need to do next: create a product that shines, and I have a plan for revision and beta reading to follow.  (My readers know who they are!)  So my publishing decision is still far away, and will probably come after the delivery of my human project in July.  But I can’t help thinking about it, often when I’m at work and talking to patrons about the future of reading, especially with e-readers and tablets so prevalent now as a delivery device.  What’s the best way to get my book out there to readers?

At our last Sisters in Crime meeting, we watched this YouTube video from author Libby Fischer Hellmann, titled “To E or Not to E.”  A lively discussion ensued.  It is worth a watch if you want the basics, the pros and cons of why authors choose self-publishing or traditional publishing.  I left the meeting feeling conflicted.  There were enough reasons to pursue self-publishing as not to, and I was afraid that either way, I was going to compromise some of my beliefs regarding the current state of publishing in the world.

My most important problems remain:

I don’t want to be published with a publisher that doesn’t support libraries.  How could I query a traditional agent, go through all the blood, sweat, and tears involved in finding someone who wants to sell me and my work, and then say to him or her, “I only want to be published through an institution that sells e-books to libraries?”  This would eliminate five out of the Big Six, and I really don’t think an agent would go for that.

I’m not sure I want to support Amazon, either.  Amazon, with their DRM, exclusivity agreements, and privacy issues with libraries, is not my favorite company right now.  But if I do self-publish, I would never be able to sell anything if I didn’t make my book available on the Kindle.  True, with control over my work, I could make it available in as many avenues as possible, including B&N, Smashwords, and Apple.  I can potentially work with OverDrive to make it available to libraries, too.  But Amazon as a distributor would be getting a lot of my profits.

There’s still a huge stigma regarding self-publishing.  Despite all the “Kindle millionaires” out there, and the sales many self-published authors report, both the library world and the writing world still turn their nose up at self-published authors.  And with good reason – many of those books are poorly edited and low-quality.  I get plenty of solicitations in my e-mail and in my physical mailbox at the library, and even though I usually give those books a chance, it’s rare that I can read past the first page.  Even writers who have traditionally published works occasionally put out unfortunate products.  I know my book won’t be low-quality.  I understand that not everyone will love it, and there will be bad reviews.  But if it were self-published, I’d be hard-pressed to convince my peers that it’s worth a read.

I’m still thinking about these issues, but what do you think?  Have you contemplated self-publishing or done it – why or why not?  Is traditional publishing going to hold up in the future?

Photo from iamPatrick on Flickr via Creative Commons.

Grapemo!

   I think I am certifiably insane.

My calendar is packed.  Over the next three months, I’m presenting at Ohio Library Council chapter conferences, going to the Public Library Association conference, attending Library Careers Night at Kent State, presenting at Hiram College, and potentially creating a new webinar for the aforementioned OLC.  I’ve got a band concert in April, the annual mystery night play that I write going on at the end of February, and my sister-in-law’s going to have a baby sometime in there.  And the whole time, my own baby will be riding along.

And I still signed up for Grapemo.  This is a writing challenge that author Jeannine Garsee runs on her blog every year.  Even though I know my sister will yell at me for taking on one more thing, I had to do it for several reasons.

1.  I really like Jeannine.

2.  She is trying to get me an advanced reader of her new book, THE UNQUIET (coming out this summer).

3.  My YA novel is almost done, and I need something to get me moving to finish it.  Especially with all this other stuff going on.

4.  How could you NOT sign up for a challenge called Grapemo?

So there’s still time to sign up if you want – Grapemo starts February 1st.  You set a personal goal and check in every week, and if you feel so inclined, you can submit teasers of your work in progress.  My goal is to finish my novel by April, so I’ve got to do three chapters during Grapemo and three during March.  I think it’s a reasonable goal.  Maybe I’ll even finish early.  (Insert laughter here.)

Got any personal writing goals you want to tell me about?  Will you join Grapemo or another writing challenge this year?

Edit: whoops, forgot to credit Anders Ljungberg on Flickr for the photo!  Via Creative Commons.