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Archive for the ‘Publishing’ Category

Inkpop.com is a website run by Harper Collins Publishers for those interested in writing for young adults. It offers a blog, author interviews, a forum, live chats on publishing-related topics, and book reviews. Members have the opportunity to post their own novels, short stories, and poetry for critique by fellow writers. They can give input on the works posted via a ranking system, and the top 5 in each category are reviewed by Harper Collins editors at the end of each month. This doesn’t guarantee any of the projects will be accepted for publication, but it is a possibility.

Though I haven’t joined the site, I like many of its features.

  • It’s easy to navigate, colorful, and looks as though it’s designed by professionals.
  • The forums are active, and the threads I read show members interacting and trying to help each other.
  • The blog provides helpful information, including writing tips, interviews, and book reviews.
  • Live chats with authors, marketers, and other publishing professionals give members a chance to ask questions and receive answers from people with more expertise than themselves.
  • The instructions for uploading writing projects were clear and simple.

The site’s primary target is writers of young adult fiction, and many of the members appear to be young writers. Though I don’t fit into either category, I thought the site looked interesting and ended up reading several of the projects that were posted, as well as a few of the book reviews. Over all, I would feel comfortable using this site if I wanted to get feedback from other writers on a young adult project, or wanted to learn more about that genre.

Have you used Inkpop or a similar site? If so, was it a good experience? What advantages or disadvantages do you see to posting work on a site like that for feedback?

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One of my blogging friends, Kathleen Wall, shared some info regarding free online workshops being held in May, and I’m passing it on to all of you.

Coyote Con is setting up chat rooms hosted by “authors, editors, publishers and other industry professionals” for one-hour sessions on writing and publishing. All of them are free, and most of the sessions will be on a first come, first served basis. A few special sessions require separate registration to keep the number of attendees reasonable. I have “tickets” for 4 of those, and plan to attend several others that are open to as many people as they can fit in their online chat room.  

My tickets are for Ghosts, Steampunk Romance, Writing the Mentally Ill Without Getting It Wrong, and The Speculative Christian. The Steampunk Romance session is full, but the others are open as of right now. There are still several other special sessions available, too.

I have no idea how helpful these will be as I’ve never attended anything like this, but I’m excited about the chance to get together with others interested in the same things I like. Take a look at the schedule and let me know if you will be attending. Classes start this Saturday, so if you’re interested, sign up quick!

Will you be at the Coyote Con chats? If so, which ones? Do you know of other free online workshops related to writing, publishing, or books?

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I don’t think of myself as an author as I haven’t published a book, but I do think of myself as a writer. According to the dictionary, however, I am both.

writer [ˈraɪtə] n

1. (Communication Arts / Journalism & Publishing) a person who writes books, articles, etc., esp as an occupation

2. (Communication Arts / Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) the person who has written something specified

3. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) a person who is able to write or write well

au·thor (ô th r) n.

1. a. The writer of a book, article, or other text.

    b. One who practices writing as a profession.

2. One who writes or constructs an electronic document or system, such as a website.

definitions from: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/

Most people I know think of an author as someone who has written books and had them published. It seems somewhat pretentious for me to tell them I’m an author when all I’ve had published are a few articles and short stories. Yet, I do write articles and have a blog, so I meet the literal definition of an author.

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What do you think is the proper term for someone who writes but hasn’t published a book? How do you describe yourself when people ask—as a writer, or author? Is there a difference in the two?

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Agents and editors have distinct preferences as to the type of stories they are willing to accept, so determining what category your story fits into will help you figure out where to submit it.

Commercial Fiction

This type of story appeals to a wide audience, has a distinct plot, and its characters actively pursue a goal or overcome a challenge. These stories are primarily read for entertainment. There are many categories of commercial fiction, classified by genre and sub-genres. Each genre has basic elements that readers expect to see in the stories. Some commercial fiction may appeal to more than one type of audience, and can be considered mainstream.

Literary Fiction

These stories focus more on internal conflict than external events, the plot is less obvious, and there is an emphasis on artistic prose rather than the more straightforward storytelling seen in commercial fiction. There is usually extensive development of the characters, with a slower pace, and less emphasis on what happens and more on the character’s reaction to what happens.

Here’s an interesting explanation by Agent Nathan Bransford on the difference between commercial fiction and literary fiction:  http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2007/02/what-makes-literary-fiction-literary.html

Robert J. Sawyer, a science fiction author, also gives a clear explanation of these categories: http://www.sfwriter.com/2008/02/literary-vs-commercial-fiction.html

Edit December 11, 2009:  

Some books cross the line between commercial and literary fiction.  See my post on upmarket fiction for more information.

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Do you have a preference for reading one type of story? Do stories you write tend to fit more in the literary or commercial category?

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Print on demand (POD) technology allows books to be printed and bound in just a few minutes using a computer. This lets publishers print small runs, or one book, as the need arises. The quality of this type of printing has improved over the years, but varies with the quality of the printer. According to one source I read, professional digital imaging equipment can cost anywhere from several thousand dollars to more than three million dollars.

Many publishers use this technology to print advance reading copies (ARC) to send out for reviews before a book is released. It’s also used to supply books that are on a publisher’s backlist, and where a large run isn’t warranted. It saves publishers money since they don’t have to stock the books in a warehouse, but it generally costs more to produce each book.

Traditional offset printing is a more complicated process, involving pre-production of printing plates, printing a large number of books, and then binding the printed pages. The initial costs involved in offset printing are higher than digital printing but, since it is used for large runs, each book may actually cost less than one produced with POD technology.

Print on demand is becoming popular with traditional and small, trade presses as well as self-publishers and vanity presses, but the term has sometimes been used interchangeably with vanity publishing. Actually it just refers to the technology used to do the printing. I’ll go over the different types of publishing in a future post.

Has anyone noticed a difference between books printed with digital, POD technology and those done with the offset press?

Edit April 27, 2009: Here’s a link to an excellent article on POD, which includes more details than I’ve provided. One important point this author made is that having a POD book available for bookstores to order does not mean the store will stock them. They can not be returned if they don’t sell, so stores will only order copies when they have an actual order for them.

http://www.spacejock.com.au/PrintOnDemand.html

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