Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gentleman Writer

Yes, retirement is the bomb. I worked for 40 years making other people rich and that bugged me, so I stopped doing that. I started writing after I retired in 2005 and fell in love with the feeling of being inside a story looking out. I've always had a rich imagination, so finding a topic wasn't an issue. If you are an English teacher, you would have been horrified by my first draft. My next door neighbor is a retire professor emeritus from Rutgers University and took an interest in my first story. He read and edited it. Every page, every paragraph bled like a major farm machinery accident. Red marks splattered everywhere. He made the statement, "It's an interesting story, but it's unreadable." It took two weeks to type in all the edits, but he did launch my "career" by pointing out I needed to reread everything pertaining to grammar and vocabulary.

I spent many years writing specifications for government projects, which amounts to destroying the English language. So it was hard to gain enough skills back to do novel writing justice. Still my writing depresses me to tears trying to iron out those pesky editorial errors.

One of the problems with being over-the-hill, sliding down the slippery slope of age into the abyss, compounded by lack of income is having the financial strength for luxuries like editors at my beckoned call. I have begged, borrowed, and feigned urgent need with close friends to read with the intent to earmark boo-boos. I self-published just to maintain control over the editing process, which in my case, amounts to new editions with crisp corrections a couple of times to get the gremlins to scurry back into the crevice between pages and hide in the binding . Only the earlier buyers would know the pain of the ill-gotten verb or misused noun landmine.

Writing is my solace, so in music. Trying to remain active in musical circles and running in circles trying to construct a novel keeps me saturated with duties. Someday when the writing skills improve and the playing skills turn into arthritis pain, I will settle into a steady stream of metaphoric rhetoric. The challenge is staying ahead of the Alzheimer demons.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ebooks Don't Scare Me.

I embrace technology. It paid the bills in my 30 year career in the workforce, so I don’t have a negative bias toward ebooks. In fact, I placed my five novels on Kindle the first week it was available. Where the rub came in was dealing with early attempts of Amazon to painlessly upload the book-copy. Their guidelines were directed at mainstream programmers rather than authors. But, to my surprise the ebooks started selling and have ever since, not in major numbers, but more than I can sell on my own of the paper version. The latest version of Kindle’s upload software is very easy to use and the book-copy goes in nicely. I recently lowered the price to see if the volume would increase. It’s all good. You, the author, can manipulate all the factors that provide your work to the public including discount coupons, pricing, and version corrections. I don’t know anyone that’s written a book that hasn’t been embarrassed by typos. Ebooks allow you to edit those errors out and republish a new version in minutes. No publisher will do that without a major brouhaha. No library will accept a revision of a novel. It just isn’t done - not until now. Lately, you can even increase your royalty amount from 35% to 70% of the sale price! When has that ever happened in your writing career or even received 35% in the first place from the middleman? The way I look at it, one should publish a paper version in the off chance the book will gain recognition on a grand scale. There will be those that will want to own a paper version. Reserve that privilege for those that will purchase an autographed copy directly from you. The scarcity and the mystic of the author’s signature just add to the allure. The fact that ebooks allow you to be read by every educated person on the planet, even at $5 a pop or less, is much more relevant than a book signing where five people show up. I say hurray for ebooks. They can only make authors more accessible and open many new ways to reach readers. After all that’s the point, reach readers, not by what medium.