Thanks to everyone who has served as a beta reader, or to those of you who have signed up for more. As always, I hope the process will not be too painful. (Side note: at the first deposition I ever took, the first thing out of my mouth was a reassurance to the witness that I hoped that the process “would not be painless” for him. I have higher hopes for my beta readers!)
I’m always looking for fresh pairs of eyes. If you would like to take a look at works in progress and have some input into a manuscript before it turns into a book, please contact me at
After thirty years of living like this, it’s really hard to understand that the first three weeks of an indie-published book mean nothing more than three weeks five years after the book’s initial publication. Every week is the same. I still struggle with that mindset. It’s hard to undo years and years of training.
There are some great business-savvy authors out there, including those who transitioned from successful traditional careers to indie publishing or have found a blend to be the best option. But there’s no getting around it: most of them have come from non-fiction writing or genre fiction. Casting oneself as an entrepreneur of literary fiction has its own set of challenges, which I’ll be writing about later. In the meantime, let me say that I’m thankful for good advice no matter where it comes from.
A side note: I tried to find a picture of Kristine to add to this post. Not sure if this is actually her (the Internet says it is, but who knows if that’s right?), but if it is, am I the only one who think she looks like Betsy Brandt from Breaking Bad?
How does someone so seemingly intelligent get things so wrong all the time? Here’s Franzen’s latest:
“In my own little corner of the world, which is to say American fiction, Jeff Bezos of Amazon may not be the antichrist, but he surely looks like one of the four horsemen. Amazon wants a world in which books are either self-published or published by Amazon itself, with readers dependent on Amazon reviews in choosing books, and with authors responsible for their own promotion. The work of yakkers and tweeters and braggers, and of people with the money to pay somebody to churn out hundreds of five-star reviews for them, will flourish in that world?”
This is so inane I don’t know where to begin. There’s a very easy solution to the idea of Amazon being the new slush pile: don’t read those books. Read only books by authors you already know. Or wait for a recommendation from a source you trust. (They exist!) Read a sample paragraph and move on. Figure out how to find what you need.
Here’s what worries Franzen: not that he won’t be able to find what he needs, but that others won’t be forced to read his books. It’s easier to be the Book of the Season – and to have your publisher pay to have a big table full of your books in the front of the bookstore – than it is to slug it out among the masses. He’s the equivalent of the bloviating newspaper columnist who can’t believe there are bloggers who can beat him at what he does. That’s not to say that all bloggers are better than the columnist, any more than to say that the slush pile is full of manuscripts better than Franzen’s new novel. What it does say is that readers have more choices, and might choose to read things they like better than what’s been chosen for them by New York publishers.
That’s what bothers Franzen. The system has changed, and readers don’t have to be led by the nose any more. They’re free to find what they want. And if that means that Franzen’s eighth novel, or Philip Roth’s gazillionth, has to compete with new voices and emerging writers, so be it. The system has changed. This or that author, or this or that book, may or may not win. The process – and the readers – will.