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 November, 2007


Lighting Key Scenes in Fiction
 by: Bruce L. Cook

In photography, lighting has an important role. Better lighting produces highlights and shows depth and contrast, creating a successful mood or scene. With lighting, you can effectively model the scene.. (continued below...)


Have you Ever Bought a Self-Published Book?


By Patricia Fry


Seriously, this question was posed to a friend of mine who contemplated hiring a self-publishing company for his first book. The author who asked him this was trying to make the point that no one buys self-published books. While this author has had a few books produced—all of them by traditional royalty publishers.
But wow, what a question: “Have you ever bought a self-published book?” I can’t imagine very many people responding in the negative. Of course, we’ve all bought self-published books.
First, let’s identify a self-published book. It’s a book that was produced independent of a traditional royalty publisher. It’s a book published by an individual who becomes an independent publisher or through one of the many fee-based POD “self-publishing” companies. If you’ve ever bought a book at a book or harvest festival, a flea market or holiday boutique, for example, it was probably self-published. If you’ve purchased books in the back of the room after a conference, speech or other presentation, chances are, it was self-published. Do you buy books online? It may have been self-published.
When you bought the book, did you check to see who published it? Probably not. Did you care whether or not it was self-published? If you’re fascinated by astrology and you found a neat little pocket guide to astrology, you’re probably going to buy it no matter who published it. If you discover a quaint little book of poems about children, you may purchase it for your niece who’s expecting her first child whether it was produced by Simon and Schuster or the Mom and Pop Publishing Company of Kansas. If someone recommends a fantastic novel, you’re going to order it no matter where it came from.  
I probably buy more self-published books than traditionally published books. And I do so consciously. I like to support my fellow independent publishers and those who teamed with fee-based POD “self-publishing” companies to produce the book of their dreams.
I wonder if the author who asked that controversial question knows that Mark Twain self-published his work. And is he aware that James Redfield (Celestine Prophecy) and Richard Paul Evans (The Christmas Box), Beatrix Potter, Zane Grey, Edgar Allen Poe and Patricia Fry are/were all self-published authors? Most of us have had publishers pick up some of our works after we demonstrated their worth in the marketplace.
It’s too bad that the self-publishing stigma lives on in the minds of some people. How can we change that? Here’s how:
  • Produce the very best books that you can. This means, study the publishing industry so you know what it will bear and how you can participate in raising the bar.
  • Write a book proposal so that you ultimately produce a quality book that is wanted/needed by a large segment of the population.
  • Commit to promoting your book so it receives the recognition it deserves.
  • Support independent publishers who are producing quality products. Join with others to convince booksellers and major reviewers that they should consider books by merit rather than company name.
If you are new to the world of publishing or if you are struggling and have questions, you’re an excellent candidate for studying Patricia Fry’s self-published book, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book (revised, second printing) and the brand new, Author’s Workbook. http://www.matilijapress.com/rightway.html http://www.matilijapress.com/workbook.html. Patricia also offers Courses-on-Demand in 3 writing/publishing-related subjects: http://www.matilijapress.com/courses.htm.




So You Wrote a Book


By Bruce L. Cook

Things have changed for the wrote-a-book people.


True, many readers are still unaware of the change, so a skillful wrote-a-book person can still impress people with underlined titles on a resume, book samples left carelessly on coffee tables, and the like. But things are no longer the same.


Now, for better or worse, anyone who can create a Word file can publish a book, online, for free. (Of course, to have a copy they must spend upwards of $10 (plus shipping).)


In today’s parlance and yesterday’s reality, this is HUGE! It appears to unsuspecting readers that a publishing house has discovered us, purchased our writings, and invested “boku bucks” to print, distribute, and promote our new book.


But in today’s reality, this is just a beginning. Actually, all we have done is discover a web site, uploaded a file or two, and purchased a largely automated product, just like going to the corner print shop.


What is missing in this equation? Any marketing analyst can tell you. What is missing is marketing – a supply chain to put the book in stores, and a promotional campaign to let potential buyers know it’s available.


Ergo, the appeal of a website, or promotional page on Amazon or another book-promoting website. That, it seems, would solve the problem, but it does not. In fact, self-published books are dismal failures by anyone’s business plan.


Thank God that serious writers just want readers. In that case, realizing that the book may sell 8 copies for author and family, plus maybe 20 if the author does local promotions, it actually makes sense to publish the book online in addition to the book version. That way it’s possible to gain hundreds of readers who actually read the work.


In my book, I recommend posting online for readers, publishing for friends, and the test marketing stage is over. Now is a god time to assess the product in comparison to competing products, and it if it’s worth the risk, investing in its promotion. Study resources like those named on this page and chart your results. Was it worth the investment? If so, invest more.


If not, enjoy the readership and write another book for tomorrow.







Lighting Key Scenes in Fiction (continued)

In fiction, we can refer to highlights and depth, but we have another form of lighting – foreshadowing.  Here we use pictures from antecedent scenes to illuminate the most important scene (or scenes).

Using the lighting analogy, turn the lights off when you read a key scene you have written such as the resolution of a dramatic encounter. (“Lights off” means everything in the scene is a mild surprise to he reader.)

For example, you have written about a couple suffering domestic violence, and all scenes take place inside a suburban apartment in Chicago. Then, at the end, the woman successfully escapes from the man while he makes a drug deal downtown…

“Gina grasped the child into her sari and stepped to the iron stairs to the locomotive at the back of the commuter train. In this direction, the locomotive would be pushing the train from the back, and the engineer would be the front car using remote controls to operate the throttle and brakes. There would be no one in the locomotive.

“Trembling, she caught Anwar’s glance as he concluded his deal on the street. Quickly she entered the hatch, latched it, and entered the dark, pulsing diesel room, finding her way down the catwalk to the control area on the far side. There she could see out the back window of the train, watching Anwar as the train pulled away, watching him take careful aim and shoot, and proudly standing fast as she observed his bullet failing to conquer the reinforced windshield. Now Gina was free!”

With the lights out, this scene would be completely unpredictable. We would never see a train during the scenes where we showed how they lived in the apartment. We would have no idea why she wore a sari, and what it was. We would have no idea about drug deals or guns or Anwar’s shooting skills.

However, with the lights on, we would see light and shadow and feel depth in this scene, and therefore we would thrill and live the scene instead of being mere observers.

To turn the lights n, the author would bring the train into the apartment scene, perhaps using reflected light on the walls or the sounds from nearby tracks. We would see Gina press the child into her sari, and know what the sari was all about. She would refer to his gunmanship, or even be threatened in the apartment. She might reflect on her youth when she was permitted to roam through engine rooms in her father’s shipyard in Calcutta.

A skilled writer can turn the lights on in any story. Just insure that each important element in the key scene is familiar to the reader, usually because it has been seen earlier. This will remove all impediments to imagination. It will allow the reader to dive deeper into the meaning or excitement of the scene, and the scene will be triply effective


Workbook for Writers!

Get Your Publishing Project Off the Ground or Out of the Gutter
Finally, someone has developed a WORKBOOK to help you chart your course through the writing, publishing and marketing process. Read Patricia Fry's newly revised book "The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book" (366-pages) and then use her "Author's Workbook" to evaluate the potential for your project and guide you in achieving your publishing goals. Guaranteed to increase your potential for publishing success.

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Publishing New Writers,

November, 2007 (no. 811)


Publisher: Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.  Fax (847) 428-8974.

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