Monday, January 1, 2007

New Year -- New Tactic and Movie Review

I've got a couple of things on my mind. I haven't received any manuscripts beyond the initial four and perhaps that is because people are reluctant to send a whole manuscript to an anonymous reviewer. Therefore, I will try switching tactics (or is that strategies?). Instead of sending me a manuscript, send me a query, hook or first page. If I like what you provide, I'll request more. More like the proverbial "slush-pile" only I end up reviewing instead of selling.

Second, my kid and I went to see the new Eragon movie since we both enjoyed Eragon and Eldest. If you haven't seen it, don't bother. It stunk. The kid said it was lame and he is usually very generous with movies. The acting was pedestrian; the lead was like lead, Malcovich over acted and the actress played Arya like a mannequin. The dialog was hackneyed and reminded me of the pain inflicted on me by the new Star Wars movies. The script was hacked from the book. If you hadn't read the book, you'd be totally lost. Aren't dwarves supposed to be short? The only redeeming qualities were Saphira and Jeremy Irons who portrayed a decent Brom (even though the lines stank). I seriously doubt there will be a sequel. Mainly because the first one stinks so much but also they ripped out a major plot line that is necessary for the second book.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

True Print-On-Demand

The current state of POD is a site like or You go to the site, find the book you like, have them print it and mail it to you. If you are willing to pay top dollar for the shipping, you can possibly have your book the next day. 24 hour turn around for a small extra fee.

How about 7 minutes? The "low cost" machine described here
can print, mill, glue and bind two books at a time in less than seven minutes. The Expresso is available next year from a company called On Demand Books. The New York Public Library is scheduled to get a machine in February. It is currently set up to print books no longer under copyright protection.

As these machines proliferate and the costs come down for both the machiens and the books it prints, could this spell the doom for POD sites? Seems to me in order to get that "browsing" feeling that they will need to add some sort of preview ability otherwise people will have to know what they want before they use the machine. Perhaps the web sites will end up more like photo printing web sites or an ATM where you upload your book and can have them print it and send it or go to the local bookstore to print it.

Don't forget to check out the videos at the second site.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

First Sentence

Does the first sentence of your novel, short story, novella, matter? You bet it does! "You can't judge a book by it's cover," but that is the first thing people see of your book. Make it a good cover and they might be intrigued enough to open the book. What is the first thing they see of your writing? Sentence number one. Is it a good one? Does it pull the reader in? Perhaps some people might then say, you can't judge a book by the first sentence. They would be wrong and probably aren't very good writers. The first sentence is where the reader gets their first real impression of your writing. Check out First Lines: A Sort of Literary Test to read the first sentence of many famous books. Do you remember them? Do they make you want to read more? I'll bet that a lot of them do. Read them and learn!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Don't Yawn

The first three manuscripts I received all started with someone waking up. If that isn't enough to tell you that it is cliched, I can't help you. Don't start a novel with sleeping or waking up. It is almost as bad as "It was a dark and stormy night." It doesn't pull a reader in. Everyone knows what it's like to wake up. Yes, it is a logical starting place, but it is not going to catch the reader's eye. What happens after the protagonist wakes up? Something exciting? Begin with that! Nothing exciting, interesting or mysterious after that? Fast forward until you get there. If you got to the end of your novel, you've got some work to do.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Now What?

So, what does a reviewer (who hasn't posted any reviews yet, so how can he really call himself one) do when they have a piece that is borderline. It is no precious gem. It has too many problems. The writing swings from good to ok. The plot, from what I have read so far, is pretty typical but there are some interesting characters and I could see that with a lot of polishing, it could be a semi-precious gem. Maybe a nice amethyst or citrine. A fun one time read.

Since, for now, I was planning on only writing up good reviews for submitted items, I'm going to have to pass on it. I will write up poor reviews for something I've purchased or been given as a gift but something requested by the author, I'll let those lie in the "reviewers slush pile."

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Amazon and POD

Amazon has contracted with HP to use their Indigo presses. It will be interesting to see how they use their size along with their ubiquitous site to promote POD.

There are some interesting notes in the article that give us some hints of what is to come. The article says, "In addition to installing HP Indigo presses, Amazon's facilities will be among the first in the United States to install the new HP Indigo Production Manager digital front-end controller, which combines HP IT and graphic arts technologies for rapid file processing in complex digital publishing scenarios." and "The books-on-demand market is expected to grow from approximately 20 billion book pages in 2006 to approximately 38 billion book pages by 2009.(1) This is due chiefly to the increasing demand for small-volume, rare and self-published books."

If the "average" book is 300 pages we have about 125 million POD books published. In 2003 2,492 million books were published. It looks like POD will start to become a significant part of the publishing business. No wonder Amazon is aggressively moving into the business.

So Amazon will have high quality liquid ink presses that include built in graphic art technologies. They are planning on growth (almost doubling over the next three years) and looking at quality. Last year they purchased BookSurge a POD publisher. I can see many small publishers might want to partner with Amazon to eliminate the need for their own presses or printing runs.

What does this have to do with Fantasy? Not a whole lot except that I expect that we will see even more Fantasy POD titles appearing in the foreseeable future. Perhaps this might even encourage more non-traditional small publishers to come out of the woodwork. They will find titles (Fantasy and otherwise) they deem fit to publish and partner with Amazon to print and market them. In the end, this will give authors even more outlets for their work besides traditional publishing and self-publishing.

POD is changing the face of publishing.

Monday, December 4, 2006

First Submission

I got my first submission today for review. That's good! I've also hooked up Google Analytics to the blog so I can see if people are actually visiting or if I am merely talking (writing) out loud to no one in particular. I can see now that in one sense, most blogs are only talking into the ether, but if they gather enough people who are interested then they can become a niche blog. One person conversing with a small group of others.

It is much like self-publishing. Merely publishing your own book is like an unannounced blog. No one will know what you are doing until you advertise yourself. As a self-published author you have to get out and sell yourself and your book. Take a look at JA Konrath's blog. He has many helpful tips on how to get out in front of the public. That is what most authors want in the end. A bit of immortality.