Friday, November 27, 2009

First Commercial Publishing Company gets into the Self-Publishing Game

Until the end of the year, you can buy Ghost Notes, Songs from Memory or Stuck Outside of Phoenix at my website for only $5!

Recently, the publishing blogosphere has been up-in-arms about Harlequin's decision to offer self-publishing services to the authors of manuscripts they reject. This is considered a big deal because Harlequin is a commercial publishing company, and the consensus is that this decision opens the barn door for a lot more commercial companies to get into the self-publishing racket.

Think about it: You have a novel manuscript, and you submit it to, say, Random House. Random House gets back to you with a rejection letter saying "No, thanks. But for a fee we'll publish that novel for you at our sister self-publishing affiliate."

Why would many publishing professionals--agents, especially--be so against this practice? There are lots of reasons. One is that it blurs the broad, thick line between what is commercially published and what is self-published. It's a question of quality, they say, and many in the industry prefer a nice, clear delineation between the more "legit" publishing world and the rest.

Other industry folks have weighed in saying that self-publishing in general will ruin publishing by one day making it the terrain only for those who can afford to publish, as opposed to those whose work is good enough to publish.

What do you think?

You need only know that my novels are self-published to know generally where I stand on self-publishing. Left entirely to the hands of the commercial publishing industry, my work wouldn't be in print, so you can guess how I feel about it.

But more specifically, I'm for writers having success, whatever success means to them, i.e., getting their work into print, finding a readership, receiving accolades and good reviews, and if possible making their livings as writers. I support just about anything that makes that success more possible, and I'm against just about anything that makes that less possible.

The commercial publishing industry does a great job of vetting what might sell well enough to help keep a commercial publishing industry profitable, that is, books that might sell in the thousands of copies. Moreover, they don't do a great job of publishing works that might not sell thousands of units. Books for a very specific audience, one either already formed or yet to form, have a place in the market, and just because corporate publishing can't publish these works for a profit doesn't mean these works don't deserve to see the light of day.

So, that's one reason why self-publishing has a place in today's market.

But what about a commercial publishing company, like Harlequin, offering self-publishing services along with their traditional products?

Again, I'm for writers having success, however they define it for themselves. And the more successful the commercial publishing industry, the more successful its writers. If adding a self-publishing arm to its commercial publishing company helps a commercial company stay afloat, then I'm for it. If it means they can help more writers succeed in the future, I'm happy.

Having said that, if you're an author who wants to self-publish, please consider Lightning Source, which is a printing company, or one of the cheaper subsidy presses like lulu, before you fork over big bucks to Harlequin, or to some other subsidy press. You can self-publish for a lot less than they will charge you, and while it might be tempting to have "Harlequin" printed on the spine of your book, I doubt it will help much.

I mean, come on. How vain is that?

Yours in laying down the law,

Art

Buy Ghost Notes, the novel or brand new audio book.



Buy Songs from Memory, the album


Buy Stuck Outside of Phoenix, the novel

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Five Bucks Sale 2009!

Last year, just before I moved to Portland, I announced the Lighten my Load Sale. This sale allowed you to purchase Ghost Notes, or Songs from Memory, or Stuck Outside of Phoenix at my website for $10, and allowed you to buy all three in a bundle for $25 with free shipping.

This sale was popular, this sale was fun, this sale lightened my load.

I liked it so much I kept it going throughout the whole of 2009. Give me $10, and take your pick of anything, I said.

Well, this sale is no longer good enough. Amazon, Target, Walmart and Sears are in a huge book price war. If I want to stay relevant, I have to adapt, and quickly.

But where does one go after marking everything down to $10?

Why, $5, of course!

That's right. As of now, you can buy any of the products mentioned above at my website for $5!

You want a copy of Ghost Notes?

$5

You want a copy of Songs from Memory?

$5

You want a copy of Stuck Outside of Phoenix?

$50, err, $5!

If you're reading this, you've probably been paying attention to me for a while. Maybe you've bought a book or CD or two. Maybe you haven't. If you haven't, and are at all curious, now is the time to jump in.

$5

If you're reading this, you probably have people to buy Christmas presents for. Why not buy them Ghost, or Stuck, or Memory, or all three?

$5

If you're reading this, you can read. So why not read my novels?

$5

So, come to my website, find yourself a copy of something you're interested in, and get it now for the best deal you're going to find anywhere.

$5

While supplies last.

Yours in laying down the law,

Art

Buy Ghost Notes, the novel or brand new audio book.



Buy Songs from Memory, the album


Buy Stuck Outside of Phoenix, the novel

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ghost Notes Audio Now at iTunes/New Novel Draft Finished

You can now buy the digital download of Ghost Notes the Audio Book at iTunes! There doesn't seem to be a way to link to the iTunes page, so go to your iTunes browser and search "ghost notes art edwards," and it will pop up!

And please listen to "Incident," download it for free, and pass it on to friends and family.

Yesterday, I finished a draft of my current novel-in-progress, which is called Good Night to the Rock 'n' Roll Era. The ending of this draft is both a good thing and kind of a bummer thing.

It's a good thing because I've spent the better part of the last eleven months working hard to make this novel as good as it can be, harder than I've ever worked on any novel. The novel is longer than anything I've written--420 pages, 92, 000 words--and I stand by my earlier claim that it's leaps and bounds better than anything I've written.

The bummer part is that it's not done yet.

I'm not going to lie and tell you that I'm overjoyed about this. A few of you may remember me earlier in the year proclaiming that I would be done with it in 2009. Sometimes I think I say these things just to make sure they don't happen.

So, why is the draft done but the novel not? What happened between the beginning of the year and now to make me doubt its perfection?

Since June, I've been blessed/cursed with a handful of beta readers who are doing a wonderful job finding flaws in the novel. They've brought up so many questions about it that I can't justify letting it out the door without a serious rewrite, rounding out characters, correcting few things, clarifying some others, and generally making it stronger than it is at this point.

I've come to realize that this is part of my process. One draft I stretch and expand the novel, adding elements, which I'll call my put-'er-in-'er draft. Then in the next draft I hone the prose, take out unnecessary elements, make the language as clear and as vibrant as it can be. This is the take-'er-out-'er draft. The lines blur all the time between these two disciplines, but I always know which draft I'm on. Yesterday, I finished a take-'er-out-'er draft, which is also when I allow myself to think, "Is it done?" With what I've gathered from the people who have read it, the answer is definitely no.

So I can foresee two more drafts, one where I put things in and another where I take things out, before I can (God willing) call it complete.

So, when will it be complete?

I'll guess and say this time next year, Thanksgiving-ish 2010.

I know, I know. Take it for what it's worth.

Back to the ol' grindstone.

Yours in laying down the law,

Art

Buy Ghost Notes, the novel or brand new audio book.



Buy Songs from Memory, the album


Buy Stuck Outside of Phoenix, the novel

Friday, November 6, 2009

In Defense of "Literary"

You can now buy the digital download of Ghost Notes the Audio Book at CDBaby.

And please listen to "Incident," download it for free, and pass it on to friends and family.

I've been hearing a lot lately about the decline in readers of literary fiction. The new philosophy in publishing seems to be, if you're going to write a novel, you're better off writing in some genre (sci-fi, romance, young adult, paranormal, etc) other than literary, which was more useful back when there was more of a general readership. This general readership has largely disappeared in the last ten years, with readers finding plenty of material, in book form and online, catering to their specific tastes. Hence, the general interest reader became the specific interest reader. If you don't write within a reader's specific interest, you don't exist.

As a writer, this is not terrible news for me--I don't really care what I'm supposed to write; I'd rather sell car insurance than write what I'm supposed to write--but it is weird to think of literary fiction as a thing soon to be of the past.

The first real book I ever read was Huckleberry Finn, in high school. I also read A Tale of Two Cities around the same time, and I seem to recall The Red Bad of Courage being in there somewhere, too. While I didn't dislike any of these novels, neither did they make me a great lover of literature. I was sixteen and deep in the throes of rock 'n' roll.



It was a lot to compete with.

At the time, I preferred the rock bios I read on my own. I loved Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga, and 'Scuse me While I kiss the Sky, about, yep, Jimi Hendrix. I liked finding out minute details about my favorites bands, and feeling like I knew them better.

It wasn't until I was eighteen and I took a course called "Introduction to Mode" in junior college that I began to see literature as more than just another subject. I was blown away by tour de forces like 1984 and A Clockwork Orange. I loved the characters in Tess of the d'Urbervilles and One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. We read eight novels in that class, and I loved all eight. It's safe to say I've been reading some novel or other--and almost always a literary novel--ever since. That was 22 years ago.

You'll notice, as you look at my formative years, that I had absolutely no experience with anything that might be called genre work. I've never had an interest in sci-fi (I liked Star Wars as a kid, didn't love it) or horror (I saw Jaws when I was seven...let's just say that was all I needed to know about the horror genre). I did struggle through two Stephen King books in another junior college course, but they seemed derivative to me. I didn't understand why people wouldn't just watch the movie. Nope, genre and I never mixed.

So now that fiction has splintered away from "literary" altogether, where does that leave me? I suspect literary fiction isn't really going anywhere, and is really just in need of a writing titan or two to reignite interest. I love Jonathan Franzen and will buy his next work of fiction when it comes out. I'm not sure if he has the ability to lead a resurgence in all things literary, but he certainly has the ego for the job. Besides him, what other current writer could be the new Faulkner, or Updike, or Morrison? That is the kind of presence we need if literary fiction isn't to become the new poetry in influence and market share.

Yours in laying down the law,

Art

Buy Ghost Notes, the novel or brand new audio book.



Buy Songs from Memory, the album


Buy Stuck Outside of Phoenix, the novel