Friday, October 12, 2018

Create Alone, but Write In Partnership

Very few writers are great at absolutely everything from the outset. How did you respond to the opening hand you were dealt? Do you play to your strengths and avoid the rest. If you try to improve, how?

Readers get a bad rap. We consider them jerks when they don't dig our stuff and let us know about it, but tell me this: how happy would you be if the book you've been dying to read for so long arrives with difficulties in the experience, and it could be two years in the publishing pipeline before they get another book from you? Another two years to wait for a book from you. Anxiously. They're surrounded by walls, waiting for us to reach through them with our words.

You wouldn't stand in McDonald's that long. Amazon gotta get that book to your reader in two days. Your publisher has to go from ARCS in 4mos to warehoused books in regional shipping locations. Someone from a pack/ship supplier is fulfilling an order with a book riddled in errors, but off it goes to its destination and your bond with the reader is set, poor copy editing 'n all.

Damn, I really wish I learned that literary point of view is NOT like a shot list in a Scorsese movie before my books were in Ingram warehouses in four different regions.

This is my frame of reference as I enter into my new career as an author and brand manager for Bronzeville Books, a bespoke publisher of ethnically, culturally, and socially relevant works based in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Frankfurt, Germany. I heard from fellow authors, agents, publishers, managers, and television producers about all the strengths of my first novel, so dense and packed with extraneous narrative one could only term it as a singularity that created a universe.

Wait…Capriceverse? Elliotverse? Hm...its set in Chicago. Windyverse?? Accepting suggestions, I'm saying. I may have a verse (if Alverne Ball has anything to do with it, we will.) I have to name this -verse.

Anyhow, everyone loves me and what I'm doing, apparently enough to forgive huge flaws in the reading experience. Thankfully, readers were less kind, and alas, far more genuine.

I know that books are more than something to read, and there is a standard of quality that must be matched from edition to edition. Some of y'all see books. We see products. Sometimes you read them. Sometimes you wear them. Sometimes you share them. And sometimes readers will tell you what they want. I wouldn't suggest to our publishing leadership we should write what readers want over the artist's desire to manifest their art.

But a typo is a typo. And a dialogue tag is supposed to look like a dialogue tag and not stage direction. And point of view orients the reader and I maybe don't need to write my tracking shots and explosions like a report from set.

In Bronzeville, that little stretch of the publishing ghetto we're scrubbing up so we can sell you authenticity at 15% less than the standard cover price, our readers guide us on what they want in their reading experience. If what's on the page is tip-top, perhaps you'll forgive the radical attitude and revolutionary content.

And if not, you can't say I didn't fix my wretched issues with POV.


For those interested in the works to which I frequently refer, check out these titles at your local bookseller, your local library, or online where you enjoy purchasing your print and e-books. As always, thanks for your support and encouragement.



Cathy Ace said...

Danny, you're right about the reading experience from the reader's point of view....a great deal more than the author's intent impacts it. And good luck with the new responsibilities :-)

Terry said...

New responsibility! Hope it goes well.

I was struck by this: "Anyhow, everyone loves me and what I'm doing, apparently enough to forgive huge flaws in the reading experience. Thankfully, readers were less kind, and alas, far more genuine." Why do you think the less kind readers were more genuine than the ones who loved your first book? I loved your first book, flaws and all--and that's a genuine response. It was fresh and free-wheeling, it dug deep, and the characters were well-drawn and suitably flawed. What's not to like? It isn't necessary for something to be perfect to be admirable.