Saturday, 15 October 2016

New Writers for Ebooks

For the longest while I have been reading Ebooks on my computer and quite frankly hating ever minute. I suppose seated at my 'main frame' computer whilst writing simply compounded the problem. To be honest the only book I actually enjoyed during this exercise was by Seumas Gallagher - a thriller - Killer City. I worked out later on why I enjoyed it so much because the writing was tight, it was the perfect length and the terse style suited the electronic format.

So with the idea of conducting research into the problem I decided to buy myself a Kindle. I confess the difference was notable and reading became instantly easier, as my Kindle has a case which gives the impression of being a book, and I could read it anywhere in the house.

However, I discovered the problem remained. Cutting my teeth on children's books where the action is story driven, I presume my natural inclination is for books which are story driven and where the story is very tight.

So much of what I am reading at the moment is fantastic prose (totally drool worthy), far in advance of anything I could produce. But the story mainly consists of scenes. I sometimes get the impression that the scene is only there because the author liked the writing. And then the action moves to another scene later on with little or no connection between the two.

My other gripes are that for me ... and I stress the words, for me, because many avid Kindle-ists will disagree ... the action is too big and too loose, and the books are too wordy. And reading it on a Kindle without the delightful experience of flicking back and forth through pages, searching for the end of a chapter, the book seems endless. I am a great believer is 'less is more.' My first children's book (A Dangerous Game of Football) I was asked to cut 10,000 words.

I don't write like I used to, my aged mind no longer skips over fences and I now plod. But if I had to pass on words of wisdom to new writers:

Think our your story before putting pen to paper - don't write scenes and then look for somewhere to put them.
Cut out every word and scene that does not add value to the story.
If you are writing for Kindle, don't go on and on and on for 50 chapters, unless the story is so story/action driven, it simply cannot end earlier. Do not think you have to write a long book. Better 70,000 good words than 100,000+ that flounder
If you are writing for the Ebook market, look where the greatest number of sales originate. Apart from well-established writers whose books are avidly read in whatever format they appearl, there is a huge appetite for novellas, because they are the perfect length for a reader on Kindle. Short romances also have a vast audience.For me writing ebooks is more designing the book for the vehicle it sits on ... which is why I still love paperbacks.

Visit my website Barbara Spencer.

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Monday, 10 October 2016

To review or not to review ... a very difficult question

A sort of blog!
I am not doing any reviews at the moment because I am confused as to the on-line criteria for judging a book and would love some guidelines.

My background is mainstream/traditional. My children's books have followed this route, the criteria for success being paperback sales and acceptance by the establishment. Not reviews because it's rare for young children to write reviews. So my attitudes and judgements tend to be mainstream and unfortunately somewhat old-fashioned.

The rules I apply to all books, whether traditionally published or not, are broken into 4 categories: presentation, linguistic ability, (grammar and style), a credible and cohesive story line, and general enjoyment.

Should I continue in this way? Should I judge an ebook at the same level as a paperback traditionally published?
I honestly don't know.
For instance, if the typesetting is poor, do I ignore and still give 4* because the story is okay? If sentences and grammar leave a lot to be desired, what then? If the story meanders ...?

What are the main aims of our writing to self publish? Are we just writing for fun and want to be judged on the enjoyment factor? Or are we seeking to be judged on the same platform as books from a traditional publisher?

There remains a vast level of snobbery in the book world. However, what is becoming apparent is that there are two book worlds which don't meet except occasionally. Traditional or mainstream with paperback as the main focus or self-published ebooks on line. Which one are we wanting to belong?

If we want to be accepted mainstream by the public at large, society of author, teachers, booksellers, etc. we have to comply with the four criteria I stated above.
If we only seek an on-line presence and readers en mass, are these criteria still relevant?

And this is my problem ... when reading a book, I don't know what the author is seeking to achieve with his/her writing and therefore I don't know how to judge it. 

Visit my website Barbara Spencer.

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