RSS

Tag Archives: 50 Shades of Grey

Sell YOUR Book By Convincing Some Sod To Write Their Book Starring You!

A friend of mine recently blogged about a trend in fiction: using real authors as characters in books. Mostly mysteries.

They’re always long dead authors, like Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, E. L. James.

It’s a cool idea, but a shame the real-life authors are dead.

Perhaps it’s a way to avoid liability?

But I think this is a missed opportunity, especially for the indie writers out there.

Imagine yourself, for a moment, as an indie author. Eschewed by the established publishing industry, you find yourself responsible for a lot more than just writing your novel.

Editing.

Re-writing.

Re-editing.

The book cover.

The marketing.

The distribution.

Personally dealing with the piles of glowing fan mail that comes in.

OK, maybe not that last one so much. Not that you’d mind that particular chore.

The point is, you’re pretty much on your own and it is a lot of work.

Especially if you have a day job.

And young kids.

And a spouse who, insanely, expects you to connect with her and actually participate in the marriage.

This is where using living, breathing indie authors as characters in novels comes in.

Sure, you could write yourself into your own novel. But that comes off as really arrogant, so you’d better be a damned fine writer, and I better read and love that book before I find out you made yourself the main character.

I’m talking to you, Mary Sue.

Madman in a hard hat, I know, I know, it's serious

Mild mannered author by day, the fictional Ian M. Dudley moonlights as the lead singer in a Village People cover band. This gives the fan fiction writers no end of material to work with.

Instead, you should invite other indie authors to use you as one of their main characters.

It’s the ultimate form of marketing! You’re the star of an awesome indie book, and readers will go, “Ian M. Dudley is this amazing character, AND HE’S REAL? I MUST BUY HIS BOOK! Here is my credit card number, charge me as much as you want!”

Or not.

But this brilliant plan doesn’t just benefit me the indie author. Because here’s the rub:

It doesn’t work if the indie author who uses you as a main character is a crap writer. They are out there. You know the ones. They upload their NaNo novels to Kindle Direct Publishing at 12:01am on December 1st, in all its typographically inept, unedited glory.

It also doesn’t work if you aren’t familiar with the genre that author writes in. If you want to establish your reputation for hard sci-fi by being a fictional character, you probably don’t want that novel written by someone who specializes in Brony snuff stories.

Because either you end up a bright pink pony with wings and a short life span, or said author stretches to write something more firm and sci-fiish, only to overextend themselves and injure your rep.

So in order to ensure you’re painted as the knight in shimmering armor that you wish to be portrayed as (literally or figuratively), you need to start buying and reading indie books to find that rare gem of an author who has the gravitas and the flare for words that can do your ego justice.

It’s a win-win for the indie community.

Unless you have a huge ego, like mine. Then you have a very long, potentially very expensive search ahead of you.

This is the burden of the huge ego. Alienates people and it’s surprisingly heavy.

There is, of course, a potential drawback to this approach to establishing a fan base.

I speak, of course, of publishing success.

Not your success. If you were successful, you wouldn’t be attempting this harebrained scheme.

I speak of your doppelgänger’s author’s success.

The fictional version of you might appear in an amazingly crafted novel.

A book full of prose and plot twists that make your own writing look like the scribbles of a monkey in the throes of a bad acid trip dipping its finger in its own feces to write.

In this scenario, the book starring your fictional alter-ego takes off, becomes a series, spawns several successful spinoffs starring your alter-ego’s friends, enemies, and pets, and eventually wins the Nobel prize for Literature and Peace.

Two years in a row.

This leads to fame and the showering of untold riches upon your chosen author, while your literary accomplishments languish in relative obscurity, a mere footnote in the Wikipedia entry trumpeting your alter-ego’s creator.

But wait, it gets worse.

Movie deals. A TV series. A gone-to-seed, overweight Charlie Sheen is pulled out of retirement-exile and cast as you, his portrayal making everyone in the television-viewing world think you are an insufferable ass.

But wait, it gets worser.

Despite your character being universally hated, the other characters in the series are popular, and with the inevitable stream of fanfic slash stories that follow, humiliations galore are dumped upon your once good, but now forever sullied name.

If you aren’t into some freaky weird stuff already, you might as well get into it, because once the slashers are done with you, everyone will think you’re a sick bastard with a kink for being tied up and violated with Mentos and Diet Coke.

But wait, it gets worstener.

Someone writes a fanfic story based on the characters in the book about the fictional you, and then changes all the names (but not by much, Ivan M. Dugley), gets a publishing deal, and despite the sheer, mind-numbing craptitude of the writing, it’s a best seller.

On second thought, never mind. Doing this on my own doesn’t seem so bad after all.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!
 
My books are available!

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 8 August 2012 in Fanfic, NaNoWriMo, Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reruns, Or Why Society Is Doomed If We Don’t Stop Them At The Source

The following is an encore presentation of a previously published blog post.

When your friends can only be found in syndication, you really need help

Funny, they don’t look like the sort of people to be undermining Civilization as we know it.

I hate reruns.

Can’t stand them.

With most television programs, it’s hard enough to sit through them the first time, let alone endure them again, usually in no particular order, for several months before finding out how that cliffhanger ending is resolved.

To add insult to injury, the commercials aren’t reruns at this point – they’re all new. And yet still just as annoying as their predecessors.

Screw you, television.

I find it strange, though, that this disdain for seeing the same material is largely limited to television.

Books, for the most part, are exempt from this phenomena.

I have books I love to re-read. I’ve even gone out of my way to buy rare editions of some books, which I tuck away in a safe location, along with ‘throw away’ copies that I use for actual reading purposes.

So clearly I am not suffering from some inherent inability to enjoy being immersed in the same material multiple times.

This suggests the problem lies elsewhere.

So what is it about TV that makes me hate reruns?

Or is that the right question? Maybe I should be asking a different question.

What is it about books that make me love them enough to read them again?

And again? And again? And again?

I suspect the two questions together provide the answer. The explanation lies in the mediums themselves.

The short answer is that TV is crap and books aren’t.

But that’s not the complete answer. Oh, to be sure, there is a lot of crap television out there. Mostly reality TV, but not limited solely to that genre.

And there are definitely horrible books out there, books that should never have been published, books that, by their very existence on shelves at the bookstore (or on Amazon), and by the number of people who have read them and recommended them, make me wonder what I’m doing wrong with my own books, which by any empirical examination are just as good as, if not better, than these popular abominations.

I offer, as examples, anything written by Stephenie Meyer and that fanfic Frankenstein of a book, 50 Shades of Grey.

And therein lies the true answer.

People.

People are why I don’t like reruns.

More specifically, idiots. The lazy people who glom onto a popular trend and crank something out to mesh with it so quickly they don’t have time to give the concept depth or heart. People who use the shortcuts of previously established characters, stereotypes, or a glamorized version of themselves to build a plot around.

Television seems more prone to this for some reason. Perhaps because of the commercial interests that fund the programs, forces that, in the interests of making as much money as possible in as short a time as possible, quash the writer’s creative control.

Because what writer, for television or books, who truly loves his or her characters, wants to have short, interchangeable story arcs for those characters? But to do otherwise is anathema to the network execs who want one-off episodes that can be run in any order once they reach syndication.

The profit-centric nature of television dooms most programs to be nothing more than flash-in-the-pan, wham-bam-thank-you-viewing-public short-term investments.

This is not to say that books don’t have commercial interests influencing them as well. The ‘gatekeepers,’ as they are sometimes called, who review potential books for both quality and salability.

That’s right, quality and salability. Some quality books don’t get picked up, or have a hard time finding an agent or publisher, because they aren’t considered commercially viable.

So yes, money does have influence when it comes to books.

But writing a book is an intensely personally endeavor, and in general, is done before the author seeks the approval of an agent or publisher. If the writer is good, the quality is there before the bean counters can step in and pervert the author’s vision in order to maximize profits.

Yes, editors will make suggestions and point out problems to fix. Yes, authors need editors to see the issues the writer is too close to perceive. But once your work has made it to the attention of a publishing house’s editor, it has already run the gauntlet, has pretty much passed the point of heavy interference by corporate accountants, and been found worthy enough in its current state to move forward.

Television writing can be like that, but rarely is. Because while books certainly aren’t cheap to make, television shows are profoundly expensive to produce in comparison. So all the stakeholders, including the bankrollers, insist on having a seat at the table.

This is an important distinction, in case you didn’t catch it:

Books are written.

Television shows are produced.

Which is a shame, because I think that leads to a lot of bland television programming designed not to offend or make viewers think too hard so they’ll have more mass appeal.

That’s not something you can say about books. At least, not yet.

The day all books are ‘produced’ is the day civilization as we know it, a culture striving to expand our wisdom and better ourselves, is over.

But perhaps that’s the direction we’re headed?

Up until now, if someone bought a book, they bought it for the intellectual exercise of reading it. They bought it to be challenged, enthralled, exposed to something new, to think about what they’ve just been exposed to.

That’s the noble nature of books.

Except erotica; most of that is written to get the reader off. While I won’t pass judgment on that final goal, I will say it is definitely, if the direction and flow of blood is taken into account, not intended to make the reader think.

But if people stop buying books for these noble reasons, if they just want the trendy titles on their coffee table so they fit in, or they’re hoping the visible spine of some profound novel on their bookshelf will seal the deal with that intellectual Liberal Arts major they brought home, then we’re already well down the path of produced books.

In which case, people are better off watching television.

Or reading erotica. At least erotica, if well-written, offers the promise of a happy ending.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!
 
My books are now available!
 
Marlowe and the Spacewoman:
 

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 6 June 2012 in Fanfic, Other Blogs, Reading

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: