Social Justice Editing!

From HeatStreet:

Book publishers fearing the backlash from social justice activists are hiring special readers to check the books and flag up racist, sexist and other so-called offensive content before they go to print.

“Sensitivity reader” is a person who, for a small fee, will provide feedback about the book based on self-ascribed areas of expertise like “dealing with terminal illness,” “racial dynamics in Muslim communities” or “transgender issues”, according to The Chicago Tribune.


… Suddenly self-publishing is looking better and better, isn’t it? Seriously who is actually pushing for this?

On the surface, this may seem like a good thing. There’s certainly nothing wrong with making sure that characters are portrayed in a culturally correct manner. However what happens when that reading goes at odds with the writer’s message or experience?

Look, I’ve said it time and time again and the cardinal sin in writing is writing about something you don’t know anything about. If you want to write about another culture, experience that other culture first. Research it and maybe go spend some time in it.

You want to write about a place? Either visit it or talk to people who have been there and carefully study pictures of it.

Do you want to write about a person? TALK TO THAT PERSON and if they’re not still alive, either talk to people who knew them and/or research everything you can find on them; their personalities, decisions they’ve made, their impacts on history, etc.

“Publishers are encouraged to hire such “experts” out of fear of potential backlash for publishing books that have perceived bias and troublesome portrayals of oppressed groups, especially when the author isn’t part of the group.”

You know… awful though it sounds, I actually do not care about perceived bias and troublesome portrayals. So now we’re  getting to the point where we not only have to worry about what we say but also what someone believes we MIGHT be thinking?

If you want to write a reaction or call out someone because they said in a serious light, “Adolf Hitler did nothing wrong.” or “Kamau Kambon was right!” or “Death to all infidels!” Like if there is abject bigotry. Go for it, you’ll get no argument from me, but when you get into the whole thing where ‘you may not have directly said it, but its clear that this is what you were thinking when you wrote this’ or ‘it’s pretty obvious what you’re thinking, despite the fact that you may not actually be thinking it.’ That is extremely dangerous on an Orwellian level, which is very scary.

 

The only time anyone should be called out on their writing is when their portrayal is way off the mark either intentionally (As is the case with Pewdiepie) where it is clear what was going on, or due to a lack of research… AKA Titanic’s portrayal of Ismay. But no writer should be worried about writing a character a certain way when that’s been his/her experience with people who are ‘like that character’ or from the same area as that character, etc.

Everyone has different experiences and that doesn’t make them bigoted or anything like that. The whole idea of hiring sensitivity readers is just  such a foreign notion to me for three reasons;

1.It’s thought censoring. You’re basically paying someone else to tell you, ‘Well you might not have thought this in what you said, but here’s what some people might think you meant and that could cause a backlash.

2. Writing is not supposed to be safe. It’s not always supposed to be comfortable, heck it’s not even supposed to be flattering. Writing is here to make you think, to expose you to other ideas, worlds, thoughts, and opinions. To put a filter like this on said opinions is so offensive to me, this blog piece doesn’t even do it justice.

3. People into identity politics and social justice are always on the lookout for something they can be offended by. If this isn’t plainly obvious by the crap we see spewed by the regressive leftist media… and even certain elements of the left calling themselves out for having ‘cried wolf too many times to be heard,’ then it never will be. These people are not going to be able to stop that.

Unfortunately more and more publishers appear to be going this route, making themselves akin to the mainstream media, and indie publishing more like the alternative media that is on the rise.

In short, don’t give into this. If your publisher tries to push this on you, drop them. Go it alone. You’ll be better off. Thought policing is going way too far.

In short, publish whatever you want. If your readers know you and know your work, they will buy it. If people complain, who cares? Let them complain. People complained and called Pewdiepie a racist, it didn’t cost him any followers. In fact, the whole of the internet rose up in support of him. The same might not happen, but the people who have read your book will know the truth and they will stick by you, leaving the complainers to yell at a brick wall.

If not, if you let them bother you, you’re no better than the people that wanted to censor and/or edit the writings of Mark Twain.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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Scripting??

Hi Jim,

So I noticed that you’ve given quite a bit of advice on publishing books, but what about scripts? I have a screenplay that I would like to get someone to look at, any thoughts?

Thanks,
Jere


Hi Jere,

Oh man, well I admit that you’re having me step way outside of my knowledge area, but as I’ve never turned away anyone up until now, I’ll share what knowledge I do have…

So you have a script, its done, polished, and ready to go? If not, I’d find someone to edit it for you, same as with a book. It needs to look professional before anyone will even glance at it. This should be a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of agents and publishers throwing manuscripts in the garbage because of how poorly they are written.

All right, now that you have your script as professionally written as humanly possible, it’s time to make some hard decisions. Honestly my friend, everyone has a screenplay to sell. EVERYONE! I’ve been to Hollywood and I’ll tell you that what you seen on TV about everyone down to the bus boys having screenplays to sell is 100% true! So you’re going to have a hard time.

Personally my friend, the task ahead of you is an impossible one. Hollywood current considers original scripts and screenplays to be box office poison, that’s why almost every movie you see come out is based off of a book or some other medium. Now, does that mean that there aren’t original stories that come out? No. Many do, but they’re usually not well advertised, don’t do as well at the box office, and are usually left to the indie circuit.

The best advice I can offer you is to rewrite your screenplay as a novel. Turn it into a book and then publish that book. Get a decent readership, then look for an agent and see about the screenplay. Will it be hard work? Yes. Will you most likely flop and never see your creation on screen? You have to be prepared for that reality. You stand a better chance of getting drafted into the NBA, honestly, but I really think that this is the route you want to take.

If you decide not to or that it’s not really your thing, the other recommendation I might offer is to get in good with an indie director/studio and go from there. You stand a lot better chance getting your film made.

Hope this helps, take it for what it’s worth.

-Jim

I’ll also open this one up to the floor, hopefully one of my readers has a touch more experience navigating these waters.


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The Short Story Submission

Hey Jim,

Just read your post on WordPress titles ‘When to Start?’
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head and your advice is especially useful for novices like me.

I started writing on WordPress about a month and a half back and I write whenever I can steal 15-30 minutes, mostly from my lunch breaks. I see that my posts are evolving into short stories, and are not necessarily ‘blog length’.

Are there other sites out there where I could publish short stories, as opposed to one-page length blogs? Or is that not a good idea at all and should I continue my work on WordPress for a year or more till I am clearer where I could go?

Kind regards

Supratik

Hi Supratik,

In an earlier blog I mentioned that if you’re good at something… NEVER DO IT FOR FREE! This is just my personal opinion, but I’ve always felt that if you’re going to put in work on something, you should be compensated for your time. There’s nothing wrong with charity, but just giving away your work for no reason isn’t necessarily the way I’d go about it.

I would personally stop posting these ‘story blogs’ until you have some sort of coherent story. My advice to you is to get on MS word (or whatever Mac’s equivalent word processor is) and write out a few of these blog posts without posting them. If they evolve into short stories, then I might consider actually getting them published.

Consider it, put all these short stories together behind one cover, title it, get them edited and put them out there either on Nook, KDP, or through traditional publish sources.

So I know that this really doesn’t answer your question, but it’s personally the best advice I can give. Sporadically posting parts of raw stories can hurt your writing in the long run. There are online and print magazines out there that are always looking to publish new short stories. A quick google search will bring up a few selections

(Example)
http://americanshortfiction.org/submityourwork/

So hopefully this helps.

Readers, what do you think? Should Supratik continue posting on WordPress, find another site, or get her writing together and then consider getting her stories published?


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Damnation Update!!!

Status: On Schedule
Editions: Hardcover, Trade Paperback, Kindle

Damnation’s legal documents are all set. The editing is complete and just need to be added to the final document.

Cover is proceeding on schedule though not yet complete.

With any luck we should meet our deadline!

Synopsis:

A soldier facing insurmountable odds, a dark angel presented with an impossible choice, and the fate of a nation hanging in the balance…

As if revolutionaries rampaging through the streets and a looming war with the Empire of Charles V weren’t enough, Ensign Piero Lorenzi, a loyal soldier in the army of Florence discovers a mysterious woman in a burning building who has no idea who she is or where she came from. He takes her in and cares for her, only to discover that she is not at all who she seems to be.

This woman, whom he has cared for and fallen in love with, is none other than the angel Xaphan, Lucifer’s right hand and the general of his armies.

Piero hesitantly puts his duty to Florence aside to discover the truth behind Xaphan’s presence in his homeland and foil whatever plot Lucifer has in the making.

Thank you to all my readers for your patience and support!


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Damnation Update!!!

1,000 followers! Tickle me absolutely humble! Thank you all so much for your support!

I just thought you all would like to know that the work on Divinity’s sequel is progressing on schedule. The cover is closer to completion and the edits are complete.

In other words, the mid-August release date is far more a reality!

Again, thank you all!!!


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Self Publishing, good or bad?

“Good day,

I have already finished a novel and decided to post my second novel on a blog and give people something to read while I decide on publishing.
My question for you is do I self publish my book or try and find a literary agent. I have sent my work out to a few but I am slightly impatient and want to know if they like it or not. I know it will take time but I wanted to get your thoughts on self publishing.
Mignon.”
The publishing aspect of writing seems to be a recurrent theme for me. Well the easy answer would be to refer you to my post: Getting Published, the Basics…
Fortunately for you, I’m a notorious work-a-holic when it comes to writing (just ask my wife). Well in my previous post about getting published I went over the pros and cons. Though it sounds like you’ve already tried taking steps towards traditional publishing. You say you’ve sent your work out to them, I sincerely hope by that you mean that you sent out a literary query. If not, I suggest you start writing one.
For help writing literary queries, I’d suggest this link. They have some wonderful examples of successful queries.
If I seem blunt, It’s just because I’m saying this for your own good… LEARN TO BE MORE PATIENT! Getting published is an exacting task and it takes a long time and a lot of work not matter which route you take. Literary agents literally get bombarded with queries, and they can take 4-8 months to respond. If you email them queries, they may not respond at all. Also, just because they don’t like your work, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not publish-worthy, it simply means that it’s not the type of thing they’re looking for, so be sure to research whom you’re sending them to.
Honestly if you’re hoping that self publishing is a quicker and easier path, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Self publishing is a great way to get yourself out there if you have the time, money, and know-how to navigate the waters. The problem is that you are responsible for EVERYTHING, and when I say everything, I mean it.
You can’t simply type something up, publish it, and then sit back and watch the $$ and praise come rolling in. It doesn’t work that way. A few big things you need to remember…
1. You have to come up with a cover. I don’t care if it’s digital or hard copy, in my experience, without an attractive cover, a book rarely does well in this market. The absence of a cover or a poorly done one is indicative of a lack of pride in your workmanship, something someone who is shopping around for a new book to read will pick up on. Remember, people are looking for something to immerse themselves in. Time is money and people these days are pick on how it’s used. A good cover done by a professional artist can run from $200-500. The latter if you don’t have a working relationship with your artist.
2. Copyrighting… Now I’m not just talking about a copyright or an ISBN#. EVERYTHING is copyrighted right down to the type of font you use. Using images in your book? Make sure you have the rights to them. Fonts? Buy a copyright or make sure they’re public domain. Also, make sure NOTHING in your book is copyrighted elsewhere, including song lyrics, direct quotes, etc. Even things that are considered public domain may have their versions copyrighted, so be careful.
3. Editing. There is nothing more damaging to a writer’s reputation than a book that’s chock-full of errors (grammar, spelling, and plot holes). You’ll want to have someone do your editing for you… and your mom or a close friend who doesn’t want to offend you isn’t the right person for the job… and professional editors charge by the word they’re never cheap, especially for lengthy novels.
4. Advertising. You are responsible for your own advertising. This is insanely difficult because everyone is trying to advertise theirs as well. Personally, I do mine by blogging, and social media. Twitter, Facebook, etc. There are also several pay services, but given how little authors usually get for their books, I recommend against it.
So hopefully I haven’t scared you off of self publishing, it’s a fine way to get your work out there to people. Just be warned, you’re trading wait time for footwork. There are obvious advantages to self publishing, including have complete creative control over your work, just remember, it is by no means easier than the traditional route if you factor in the amount of effort you need to put in.
Be mindful of which route you take and research everything BEFORE agreeing to anything or you could wind up signing your hard work away.
Readers, what are your thoughts on self publishing?

Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Getting Published… the basics…

So in the questions I’ve had asked, a few of the same came up:

“I have the desire to become a writer, a published writer. I just have no idea where to to start.”

plasticfacesofdorothy

——————————————————-

Hey Jim,

I’ve come to the point where I’m revising a draft of a novel for mainly grammar and wording, no more major changes to the plot. My question is, when’s the time to start looking into publishing? And where to begin on that front? I’ve never had a work published before, so this is all very new to me. Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Stephen Roddewig


plasticfacesofdorothy, I’ll start with you…
Well the first question is, have you written anything? Sorry, I know that sounds extremely condescending, but believe me that’s not my intention. I know a lot of people who have said that they’d like to be published, but don’t have their ideas down on paper yet.

So I’m going to say for your own good that if you don’t have a completed work, stop reading and go finish it before proceeding further.

Stephen, (and plasticfacesofdorothy if you’re continuing)
Well that’s the big thing every writer hopes for. Fortunately, you have several options at your disposal which we’ll get to in a few moments. The first thing I would say to do is work on getting your writers resume built. Write some essays and get them published in the local newspaper, or submit short stories to a small-time magazine. Keep any publications you may already have close, including old school newspapers (they count, believe me).

The next step is dependent on which way you want to go for publishing. There are two routes and each have their positives and negatives:

Traditional Publishing; Getting your book released through an established company.
PROS:
-Less work, expense, and risk.
-More exposure, distribution comes from the publishers relationships with retailers and book signings are handled by your agent or the publisher.
-Publisher is responsible for copyrighted material.
-Editing is done by publisher

CONS:
-Significantly harder field to break into.
-Depending on fiction or non-fiction, may require an agent (this puts an extra step).
-You pretty much surrender the rights to your story. The publisher may ask you to change things.
-Lower % of book profit.

Self-publishing; Getting your book written, printed, and distributed all by yourself.
PROS:
-Higher % of income
-You own the rights to everything.
-How your book is released, advertised, and it’s cover are completely under your control.
-You can still get picked up by a publishing company down the line.
-No agent
CONS:
-No filter… ANYONE can get self-published… and believe me, there is a lot of garbage out there that makes it hard to break out.
-More personal costs.
-You are responsible for copyrights, edits, and everything else that comes up.
-Far more work.

Decided which route to go?
For traditional publishing, I’d first write up a literary query, which is essentially an advertisement for your book. Establish your hook, your resume (like I told you earlier), and your knowledge of the literary agency and/or publisher you’re peddling your work to (that’s right, take the time to research your desired publishers and potential agents.)
So now we need to decide if you need a literary agent. Well for non-fiction, I’d say mostly no. Go ahead and submit your manuscript directly to the publisher. If it’s fiction, start looking at agencies.

One piece of advice on submission, SUBMIT A PAPER COPY! Emails take longer and are more prone to get lost and you’ll wind up waiting months for an agency to reply for no reason. (they tend to take a while).

Be prepared, you are GOING to get rejected. I’m not kidding. Your first 50 letters or so will be rejections. Make sure your skin is thick enough to handle it, because it only takes one YES in a massive sea of NO!

So now you have your agent, they want to sign a contract… get a lawyer and have them look it over before signing anything. Once you sign the contract, remember THE AGENT WORKS FOR YOU! If you don’t get paid, they don’t get paid. Be sure to avoid any agencies that ask for $$ up front. 9 times out of 10, they are scams.

At this point, sit back and wait to hear from the agent while they contact their connections in the publishing world. They’ll sell your book. Just be ready to make whatever edits the publisher asks for and be ready to pretty much sell your soul to the devil, because your writing is now going to be theirs. They will buy the rights and ask you to make any changes they feel are necessary to get the work on the market.

Okay… so that’s traditional publishing. Let’s move on to self publishing…
First thing I would say here is to find your biggest critic, someone who doesn’t hold punches and tells it like it is. Got a person in mind? Print out your book and drop it in their lap. Ask them to read it and give you their opinion. If they think it sucks, rewrite it. If not, you’re good to go. Now find someone competent in the written word and have them edit the book. English teachers are usually a good source for this if you know any.

So now your book is proofed. Next thing I would recommend is looking into where you can get it published. Kindle Direct and Nook are okay for ebooks, but if you want hard copies, I’d recommend looking into Lulu or Createspace. Don’t get me wrong, YOU DO WANT ELECTRONIC COPIES as that’s where most of your money will come from in this day and age. Either of these sites should be able to guide you through the next steps for getting an ISBN# and/or copyright, as well as the correct formatting.

Finally, the cover… the whole thing about not judging a book by its cover is true, but remember someone could be intrigued enough by an attractive cover and choose to read the book from that alone. (I’ve done it.)

DO NOT USE A GENERIC COVER! I’m serious. Find yourself a decent cover artist, someone with animation experience is preferable. They are worth every penny you’ll pay them.

So once you have everything squared away and now your book is ready to go, it’s time to market it. Fortunately, I’ve already covered marketing in a previous post. Please refer to it here. 

That’s pretty much it. Is your head rolling yet? I’d be surprised if it wasn’t. Mine was when I started. The best piece of advice I can give you is a piece that was given to me. Some may tell you that you’re going against the world as everyone and their mother wants to get something published. However, more than half of those people are incapable of writing full-length books, short stories, essays, or poetry. So eliminate them right off. That’s the majority of your competition. Next not everyone has a thick enough skin to persevere through all the hard work, determination, and tolerance it takes to get a book published. So there goes even more. In the end, your competition is one person and only one person; yourself. If you keep at it and keep pushing yourself, you can become a great writer. That is the best advice I can offer.

If you have any further questions or would like me to elaborate on anything a little more, don’t hesitate to send me an email.


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim