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Erik Hare

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Member Since: Mar, 2007

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Blogs by Erik Hare

A Novel Solution
10/17/2007 7:05:34 AM

The amount of effort that goes into writing a book is enormous. Itís hard work, and to me a kind of method acting where I do my best to be the characters for a short while. I let the characters figure out what they are doing and let the story flow like water. If youíve ever written a novel, youíll know how draining that is.
http://www.authorsden.com/categories/book_top.asp?catid=59&id=18735

And after youíve finished all that hard work? Ah, thereís the problem.

The difficulty is that a lot of people want to be authors. I hate to sound elitist, but not everyone is ready to slog through all of this work right now and make a really good story out of it. Some might be ready with some time and coaching, but what do they need to do to make it happen?

They may never know. Iíve written about the problems in the publishing industry many times here on this blog, and I stand by everything Iíve said.
http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewblog.asp?authorid=55121&m=8&y=2007&blogid=23480
http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewblog.asp?authorid=55121&m=9&y=2007&blogid=24337

Now that Iíve carped at length about whatís wrong, itís only reasonable to propose a solution. Before I do that, I want to get to the heart of the matter, which is that there are simply too many manuscripts and Print-On-Demand books out there and absolutely no system to tell which ones are any good. The result is that there is little which falls between a publisher or an agent saying, ďNo, thanks, weíre not interestedĒ and a POD publisher saying, ďYou can be an author for just $499!Ē One takes everything, the other takes almost nothing. Itís not about novel writing, itís about pitch writing Ė or putting your money down.

Granted, booklocker and iUniverse pre-screen their submissions and donít publish everything. They are trying to build brands that rise above the POD world. But what they need is the same access to marketing and distribution channels that big publishers have, and it will take years to build the cred to have it. While POD publishers give authors access to the press and to amazon.com, they donít give us access to mainstream news outlets and bookstores. We all have to build cred to gain access. That access is the domain of the big boyz, the ones who almost always say ďnoĒ.

In order to sell your book to a big publisher, you have to prove that you can write but that you know how to sell books as well. You have to show that you have all the skills necessary. So why do you need a big publisher to sell books? The only thing they have is the access. Thatís why you have to impress them.

In all honesty, I have to say that Iíve tried to get to know publishing house reps and agents here on the web. I just donít understand them. Hanging around at their websites I feel as though Iím at a cocktail party where everyone is smartly dressed and laughingly twirling martini glasses, while Iím all alone in a corner terrified that I am about to unleash a long, loud and odiferous fart. They just arenít my people, and itís clear that theyíre never going to like me. But I can defend them all the same, since it goes without saying that getting dozens of queries a day that pitch an entire novel in a few paragraphs creates an impossible task. They simple canít evaluate them, period. So they just reject everything, save the one that hits their personality and mood just right.

Thatís not much of a system, but itís what we have right now. I would like to propose an alternative.

I believe that a comprehensive and systematic review site can generate a numerical system that allows for easy comparison of a workís quality regardless of genre or style. This would be done by scoring novels according to a rubric that includes all of the elements of good writing. For example, with a maximum of 20 points for technical issues such as grammar and sentence structure, a novel that has a few mistakes might score an 18 and one that needs a lot of editing a 10. Other elements such as plot, characterizations, conclusion, and so on would be similarly scored. By taking this across 5 reviewers, a reasonably objective evaluation with an averaged final score can be found.

In addition, comments on each section should be provided to the author to show where improvement can be made. The idea is not simply judgment, but the identification and development of talent. A score in the 90s would identify a book that would generally be considered a good book, and a score in the 80s one that might need a little help. By identifying quality works, there will finally be an adequate filter between ďnoĒ and ďpay me!Ē

These results should be published on a searchable website for the world to see. The biggest problem, however, is the cost of maintaining the operation and who should pay for it. The only identifiable revenue stream I can come up with is to charge authors for the privilege of having their work reviewed. I donít like this idea, but if the cost is a nominal $300 or so it may be considered worth it to authors who have spent or are considering spending money to go with POD.

By identifying quality clearly and concisely, such a site should raise the profile of POD books and identify clearly and distinctly which are a good read. It may even create something of a ďMinor LeagueĒ for authors who can then be picked up by big publishers, or it may make big publishers largely unnecessary. But over time, a successful site like this will make it possible for POD authors to have access to the normal channels of advertising and distribution, as the competitive world of books will want to have a good read. That is the goal. The writers, who are the primary means of production, will have control over their own destiny for once Ė assuming they are any good.

I would like to hear from everyone who has considered this idea. Please tell me what you think about:
* The idea of a rubric based ďscoringĒ system
* An authoritative review system in general
* Whether POD authors can or should pay for it
* Other ways of gaining access to the channels which sell books
* Whatever else is on your mind

Please send any comments, no matter how much you hate what I say or feel snarky about it, to wabbitoid47(at)yahoo.com


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More Blogs by Erik Hare
• Let the Real Games Begin - Sunday, August 24, 2008
• Soul Mate - Friday, August 22, 2008
• Breaking the Code - Tuesday, August 19, 2008
• The Investment Express - Sunday, August 17, 2008
• The Verse of a Song - Friday, August 15, 2008
• Generic Politics - Tuesday, August 12, 2008
• Reductio ad Extremis - Sunday, August 10, 2008
• I'll Have it Bronzed - Thursday, August 07, 2008
• Lotsa Vacation - Tuesday, August 05, 2008
• Generations: Re-Invention - Sunday, August 03, 2008
• Happy as a Pig. Just a Pig. - Friday, August 01, 2008
• The D Word - Tuesday, July 29, 2008
• Writing Bubble - Monday, July 28, 2008
• Munchie - Friday, July 25, 2008
• Ode an die Freude - Wednesday, July 23, 2008
• Citizen Journalism - Monday, July 21, 2008
• Truth of the Cottonwoods - Monday, July 21, 2008
• Barking at the 'Net - Saturday, July 19, 2008
• Brasilian Way - Thursday, July 17, 2008
• Leadership - Tuesday, July 15, 2008
• No Safe Harbor - Sunday, July 13, 2008
• Open Yer Mouth - Thursday, July 10, 2008
• 15 Second Politics - Tuesday, July 08, 2008
• Nice Work if You Can Get It - Sunday, July 06, 2008
• Fly the Flag - Thursday, July 03, 2008
• Housing Bubble, Toil and Trouble - Tuesday, July 01, 2008
• Depressing Events - Monday, June 30, 2008
• Ein Kunstlerleben - Friday, June 27, 2008
• IRV - Wednesday, June 25, 2008
• Convention Wisdom - Monday, June 23, 2008
• 500 Year Floodplain - Thursday, June 19, 2008
• Desaparecidos - Tuesday, June 17, 2008
• Write on! - Monday, June 16, 2008
• Techno High School - Friday, June 13, 2008
• Urban Return - Wednesday, June 11, 2008
• Strategic Planning - Monday, June 09, 2008
• The Team - Thursday, June 05, 2008
• The Obvious - Tuesday, June 03, 2008
• Hung T-Bar Ceiling - Monday, June 02, 2008
• Brightest Bulbs - Thursday, May 29, 2008
• Regional - Wednesday, May 28, 2008
• Vaca - Accion - Monday, May 26, 2008
• Narrowing - Thursday, May 22, 2008
• Scale - Tuesday, May 20, 2008
• Invisible Hand on the Pump - Monday, May 19, 2008
• Ancient Music - Friday, May 16, 2008
• Electric Motion - Wednesday, May 14, 2008
• Comments? - Monday, May 12, 2008
• In the Translation - Monday, May 12, 2008
• Still Over - Very Over - Friday, May 09, 2008
• Hear the Quiet - Tuesday, May 06, 2008
• Enlightenment and Excess Sugar - Tuesday, May 06, 2008
• Cola Warriors - Monday, May 05, 2008
• Urban Core: Life - Friday, May 02, 2008
• Fantasy and Perspective - Tuesday, April 29, 2008
• Net-Work'd - Tuesday, April 29, 2008
• Urban Core: New Urbanism - Monday, April 28, 2008
• Urban Core: Lessons - Friday, April 25, 2008
• Urban Core - Wednesday, April 23, 2008
• But Fear Itself - Tuesday, April 22, 2008
• You've Got a Friend in Pennsylvania - Monday, April 21, 2008
• Cultural Catholic - Friday, April 18, 2008
• Taxing - Wednesday, April 16, 2008
• Light & Fluffy - Tuesday, April 15, 2008
• Work - Monday, April 14, 2008
• Human Barometer - Thursday, April 10, 2008
• Bad Girls - Tuesday, April 08, 2008
• A Good Meal on a Dreary Day - Tuesday, April 08, 2008
• One Year On - Sunday, April 06, 2008
• Not at Any Price - Friday, April 04, 2008
• Winning Through Acting Crazy - Wednesday, April 02, 2008
• More Press(ure) - Tuesday, April 01, 2008
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• Anything is Possible - Thursday, March 27, 2008
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• Feast or Famine II: The Wrath of John (Zogby) - Monday, January 14, 2008
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• Darkness and Light - Friday, December 21, 2007
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• Eyes of a Child - Tuesday, December 18, 2007
• Solstice - Monday, December 17, 2007
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• Desperate Cry for Attention - Wednesday, December 12, 2007
• Compound Interests - Monday, December 10, 2007
• The Game - Monday, December 10, 2007
• Got" Nuthin - Friday, December 07, 2007
• Snow Day - Tuesday, December 04, 2007
• Real Way, Way Real - Tuesday, December 04, 2007
• Snowstorm - Sunday, December 02, 2007
• Progress - Friday, November 30, 2007
• Tao Te Ching - Tuesday, November 27, 2007
• As You Like It - Monday, November 26, 2007
• Saint Paul - Sunday, November 25, 2007
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• Awareness - Wednesday, November 21, 2007
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• Thanksgiving - Monday, November 19, 2007
• Mechanical PR - Friday, November 16, 2007
• Heavy and Light - Wednesday, November 14, 2007
• Rollin' and Scratchin' - Monday, November 12, 2007
• Lay Yer Dollar Down - Sunday, November 11, 2007
• Smarts - Friday, November 09, 2007
• Local - Wednesday, November 07, 2007
• Elections - Tuesday, November 06, 2007
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• Gutenburgistas - Thursday, November 01, 2007
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• Tea - Monday, October 29, 2007
• Crispin, be Remembered - Thursday, October 25, 2007
• Faking It - Wednesday, October 24, 2007
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• Community - Thursday, June 14, 2007
• Minor Leagues - Tuesday, June 12, 2007
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• Car Free - Thursday, May 17, 2007
• Cold Front - Tuesday, May 15, 2007
• Fortune Telling - Sunday, May 13, 2007
• Distant Voices - Friday, May 11, 2007
• Value - Wednesday, May 09, 2007
• Disposable Buildings - Monday, May 07, 2007
• Energy Alternatives - Friday, May 04, 2007
• Statuary - Thursday, May 03, 2007
• Voice - Tuesday, May 01, 2007
• McNews - Monday, April 30, 2007
• The Jebediah Effect - Thursday, April 26, 2007
• Public Realm - Wednesday, April 25, 2007
• Four Leaves - Tuesday, April 24, 2007
• Media Outlets - Monday, April 23, 2007
• A New Line of Thought - Saturday, April 21, 2007
• Pattern Taxonomy - Friday, April 20, 2007
• Politics, Interest, and Democracy - Thursday, April 19, 2007
• Making Sense - Tuesday, April 17, 2007
• Naked Emperor - Monday, April 16, 2007
• Barking in the Night - Saturday, April 14, 2007
• Kurt Vonnegut - Thursday, April 12, 2007
• All the News That Fits, Prints - Wednesday, April 11, 2007
• It was a dark and stormy night ... - Tuesday, April 10, 2007


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