by Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam BarryOctober 2011
On self-publishing and fan fiction
With more than 25 years of experience, Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry have the inside scoop on writing and publishing. Together, they are the authors of Write That Book Already!: The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now. Email them your questions (along with your name and hometown) about writing and publishing, and don’t miss their column on BookPage.com.
BRAVING THE DIGITAL WORLD
Dear Author Enablers,
What is your opinion on writing eBooks? How does one go about it, and where is a good website for such?
Sue Mathes Lassiter
There are many reliable sources for eBook publishing, which is rapidly increasing in popularity. The question always boils down to this: Who is going to buy and read your book, and how are you going to get the word out to potential readers? (These are pretty much the same questions we ask anyone who plans to self-publish in print.) Without the editorial, design, marketing and sales support of a publishing team, you need to have a great strategy for handling all these tasks yourself—tasks that have nothing to do with writing your book.
The eBook market is changing fast. Lulu, Smashwords, FastPencil, CreateSpace, iUniverse, Xlibris, AuthorHouse, Scribd, Publish Green, Barnes & Noble and Amazon all offer eBook production as part of their self-publishing packages. This list is not comprehensive, and we are not endorsing any of these companies, just offering places to start.
Whatever choice you make, remember that the writing has to be terrific in order for your book to succeed. Make sure that you produce a quality book and price it competitively—meaning, price your eBook to sell.
Dear Author Enablers,
I am writing to ask you your opinion about the new trend of fan fiction. My daughter is 13 years old and loves to write. I allowed her to open an account on fanfiction.net and she has been writing and posting stories there. Is this helpful for creative writing, or should she focus on developing her own characters? It’s a very popular website, and she gets lots of reviews. I am worried about the time she is spending on this. If you have any suggestions on other avenues to express her love of writing, please inform us. Any help is greatly appreciated.
Wikipedia defines fan fiction (alternately referred to as fanfiction, fanfic, FF, or fic) as “stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator.” As parents, we understand being concerned, but we can think of many worse ways for your daughter to use her time and energy, such as being an intern for the United States Congress.
It seems to us that fan fiction is a great way for your daughter to practice her writing, with the added bonus that she is getting encouragement and feedback from her peers. As long as she is doing her homework and meeting her other obligations, we can’t see any downside to this mild obsession.
CRAFT OF WRITING SPOTLIGHT
We asked David A. Clary, author of George Washington’s First War: His Early Military Adventures, to share his favorite writing tips for aspiring authors:
“There are several: If you think you want to write, then write, write, write; practice is more than the way to Carnegie Hall, it works in all areas. Also, good writing grows out of good reading. And of course there’s that old favorite, write what you know. So first you have to learn your subject, and to the extent possible keep yourself out of your narrative so the facts can drive it. If all you know is your own life, it is not enough; the world is not waiting breathlessly for another novel about a 20-something assistant professor at a liberal arts college who’s having trouble with his wife and an affair with a student—it has been done.
“Look at how Tom Wolfe wrote The Right Stuff if you want current inspiration; the more he learned during research, the more he realized that there were stories here quite apart from what he set out to tell.”