The first Dear Poetry Editor of 2018 introduces readers to Aditi Machado, poetry editor for Asymptote, an international journal of translation. This ongoing series offers readers insight on poetry and publishing from editors who shape the content in literary magazines and institutions around the world.
Machado is the author of Some Beheadings (Nightboat, 2017) and the translator of Farid Tali’s hybrid novella Prosopopoeia (Action, 2016). She is from Bangalore, India and currently lives in Denver, Colorado.
On Perspectives of Poetry
Poetry is untranslatable. It’s a notion that persists despite a long-desired increase in the visibility of translators, much astonishing advocacy work, and the multitude of journals and presses today that invest in translation. There’s always someone, inside or out, who thinks that a translated work isn’t “as good” as the original. Plenty of scholars who translate still struggle to convince tenure committees that their published translations are valuable. But translation…
Today we are going to look at the surprising facts behind younger readers and the book publishing industry. According to some recent studies, millennials are more likely than any other age group to visit libraries. I’m not talking about university or college libraries—I’m talking about public libraries for the purpose of borrowing reading materials. And… [Read More]
Today we are going to look at the surprising facts behind younger readers and the book publishing industry. According to some recent studies, millennials are more likely than any other age group to visit libraries. I’m not talking about university or college libraries—I’m talking about public libraries for the purpose of borrowing reading materials.
And now, Hooked, an app aimed at the 14 to 24-year-old market, has become the top grossing book app for Apple and Android. New research shows that millennials lead other generations in reading. Hooked and other software for reading have become more integrated with our smartphones. This huge shift points to a modernization of publishing practices and the need to focus on digitization more than ever.
Millennials Are Avid Readers
According to the latest Pew Research Center on book reading, 18 to 29-year-olds are the age group most likely to read a book in any format over the last year. Over 80% have done so compared to 73% of 30 to 49-year-olds, and only 70% of 50 to 65-year-olds have read a book in the last year. When asked why they read books, millennials are far more likely than older adults to say it’s for a specific purpose such as work or school; but they are equally likely to read for pleasure or to keep up with current events. These studies echo a recent report from the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) showing that 18 to 35-year-olds widely outmatch other age groups in the number of books purchased and read.
So what to take away from all of this? The American Library Association comes out with a materials survey every year. The survey for 2016 shows that between 12-15% of their materials budget is now spent on audiobooks and another 10-15% is spent on eBooks, with between 40-60% being spent on print books. (The remainder spent on non-book reading material)
Millennials Sample All Book Formats
It is vital in this day and age that we offer our published books in every format available. Audio, eBook, and Print; but also in subscription settings and downloadable formats offered through companies such as ProQuest and even apps like Hooked.
The preferences of younger readers are the lifeblood in the future of our sales and of our books successes in the oncoming years. We need to pay attention to what young people are reading but also how they are reading. Our publishing practices need to reflect their desires not just our own preferences.
After years of weakening and dropping hardcover sales, children and young adult (YA) books have started to show a recent climb in hardcover sales. More and more children’s and YA books are coming out in hardcover to support the desire of the marketplace.
It’s not enough to pay just attention to what we think we know about formats and reading. It is vital that we stay connected to the facts and the actual reading habits of the avid readers we are trying to attract.
Millennials Embrace Digital Formats & Mobile Devices
According to this Forbes article young people are still consuming plenty of electronic text even as traditional publishing reports eBooks sales are soft. The same Pew Foundation analysis shows that millennials who follow the news are more likely than any other generation of readers to prefer reading. Though the vast majority of news-reading young adults prefer to read online, millennials are not giving up traditional books, but they are trending more towards phones and tablets.
With this focus on young people and millennials, I am not recommending that we turn our back on the other generations of readers. I am simply suggesting that when setting our plans and budgets for publishing we keep all formats in mind. Let’s scan the horizon for the next platform for our books and content. Subscription services, SMS subscriptions, apps like Hooked—these are just the beginning. Stay alert and stay awake my friends. It’s going to be a fantastic year!
If you haven’t seen the new version of BookWorks, please check us out for more great content like this and join our community of indie authors, editors, coaches, designers, marketers, bloggers and other self-publishing pros.
Book Retail & Libraries Expert
Amy Collins is the President of New Shelves Books and a contributing writer for TheBookDesigner.com and Bookworks as well as a highly respected expert and author on the topic of self-publishing. With over 20 years experience as a Sales Director for companies (such as F+W and WRITER’S MARKET), Amy now guides indie authors and publishers through the maze of book sales and distribution. She does regular programs with National Speakers Association, IBPA, Nonfiction Author Association, Bublish, AuthorU/Judith Briles, Joel Friedlander, Publicity Hound, and many other regional and national author and publishing educational organizations in the US and the UK.
When not in the office, she works in her community to eliminate poverty, is a singer in a Celtic blues band on the weekends and is saving up for a faster motorcycle.
During the month of January I will be exploring the many aspects of the craft of writing short, salable works. I periodically discuss the importance writing to build stock for submissions to magazines, anthologies, or contests. However, many authors have difficulty keeping a story short, and there is an art to it.
Some authors are naturally skilled at this, so if you are one of those lucky people, this may be of no interest to you, but thank you for stopping by!
So, now we get down to business. First up is the short story, works that are 2,000 to around 7,000 words in length.
First, decide what length you want to write to—if you have no specific contest in mind, 2000 to 4000 is a good all purpose length that will fit into most submission guidelines. For those of you who have trouble writing short works for contests and anthologies…
I haven’t done this in a long time so for the New Year I am having a free Kindle download of my book Erasing: Shadows from January 20- January 24. This will be simultaneously advertised on The Fussy Librarian. So tell your friends. I have put the synopsis and cover below. Any questions, let me know. The Amazon Link to it is: https://www.amazon.com/Erasing-Shadows-K-D-Rose/dp/1512211796.
What if to save the ones you love, you had to unlock the key to a different reality? Generations of mystery smash together when a seemingly traditional family must shatter their illusions of normality to confront themselves and their friends, leaving no possibility unexplored in order to rescue- well, who exactly? Watch the Ross family, the High Five Gang, and multiple generations dig into an innovative explosion of imagination where they must confront numerous realities, real-world danger, and worst of all—their own teenage hormones! In a place where nothing is as it seems and shocks are around every corner, even the people you thought you knew may find themselves strangers in this moving and provocative reality-bender. With breathless pacing and psychological intrigue, Erasing: Shadows and the High Five Gang will keep you guessing until the very end.
“The author created an engaging, intriguing and clever storyline.” – Oldvictorianquill.com
“I recommend this to anyone that likes adventure, some mystery, I guess you can call it a bit of paranormal also, and a really good story. A little romance too for flavor.” -Goodreads Reader
Permission. This might seem an odd word to discuss when it comes to success, but we need to hash out some dos and don’ts before January 1st. New Year’s resolutions are often more about taking freedoms away instead of permitting new ones. In my opinion, this is why a lot of well-intended changes fail to stick, but that’s for another post 😉 .
I’m a HUGE fan of discipline, though admittedly, I’m definitely a work in progress. I confess that, in my drive to be disciplined, I can become rigid, legalistic, and ridiculously hard on myself if I’m not careful.
The trick (as in most endeavors) is finding balance. Balance is and can only be achieved with granting ourselves the right kinds of permission. These permissions are especially vital if we hope to achieve success as authors.
Permission to Be New
Last post we discussed the writers’ journey from newbie to mastery. This ‘permission to be new’ might seem like an easy one. Do NOT be fooled. This permission might very well be the toughest of all. Why? Because our world has a perception problem.
From a novel, to a movie to an HBO series, the audience is ALWAYS witnessing the final product. They’re enjoying the cumulation of countless hours (or years) of work and the efforts of more than one person.
Even with a novel, audiences don’t stop to think that 99% of authors are not, in fact, publishing their first draft. They also don’t realize that FINAL draft came to fruition with outside assistance (editors & proofreaders).
Yes, there are novelists who claim they publish their first drafts, but (aside perhaps from some anomalous savant) they don’t. Not really. Often this I-only-publish-first-draft-novelist writes an excruciatingly detailed outline which they slash, correct, rearrange, etc. THEN they write the novel. Thus, technically, the outline was draft 1-50.
Also there are writers like Dean Koontz. He writes X amount of pages a day and never revises. But, Koontz wrote a gazillion books using many methods until he was so well-trained he could do this ‘magic.’ Remember, though, that even the great Dean Koontz was once new.
Thus expect the world won’t understand why you’re not richer than J.K. Rowling a month after you finish the first draft of your first novel. They’re outsiders who don’t ‘get’ our craft, that it IS a craft with an actual learning curve like um…learning to play an instrument.
This permission goes hand-in-hand with being new, but permission to ‘suck’ is one we’re wise to keep our entire career. Getting words on the page is the most important part of the job. No ‘great idea’ for a book ever became a New York Times best-seller. I cannot recall any half-finished ‘perfect’ manuscript ever becoming a runaway success, but plenty ‘meh’ finished ones have.
And no, I can’t explain it either. There are more than fifty shades of why audience tastes are vastly unpredictable. Suffice to say, the world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards finishers.
Also, be aware that sometimes we’re not the best judge of our own work. We could be tired, have a hormone out of place, woke up too early to the cat puking on the carpet SIX INCHES FROM TILE and we’re hypercritical. Everything word is dreadful, tedious, and pure tripe. Our characters are one-dimensional tropes and a hamster with a traumatic head injury could’ve concocted a better plot.
Face it. We’re loathsome poseur hacks who don’t deserve access to Word…or even to live.
Even if the WIP does need to be ‘fixed’ you’re more likely to fix it, not SMITE it. You’ll actually edit and revise instead of going all Old Testament burning to ash, poisoning wells, then salting the earth….after characters wiped out by Backspace Death.
Permission to Write
First of all, it is perfectly acceptable to write as a hobby and for fun and not to be paid. I crochet. Additionally, I kind of suck at crocheting, but I enjoy it and it relaxes me. My scarves are pretty enough *shrugs*. I’ve ‘mastered’ ONE stitch in four years. Be assured, you will never see my creations for sale for big bucks or any bucks on Etsy because it’s a hobby.
I don’t desire to crochet products consumers would pay money to wear. This means I can put it off until I feel like crocheting. I also can be more laissez-faire with what the final product looks like, because crocheting is NOT my profession.
If, however, we desire to make a living as an author, then this ‘writing thing’ is our job/profession.
Being an author might be a second or even third job, but it IS a job—a ‘real’ one. Writing isn’t our hobby or our ‘little thing’ and it merits serious priority. Laundry, toilets, and figuring out how to get gummy worms out of the XBox can wait or be delegated.
Show me a person who’s never failed and I’ll show you someone who’s never done anything interesting. Afraid to fail? Good, welcome to being human. In my vast experience, only talentless hacks steeped in self-delusion believe all they write is gold.
There’s a balance. Simpering, spineless slackers are as useless as narcissistic, unteachable, know-it-alls. Our goal is to find a happy place in the middle of this bell curve. We should be open to criticism, suggestions and growth while simultaneously being confident and knowledgable enough to know when to stand our ground (lest we end up with a book-by committee).
Humans are wired to learn by failing. Our brains are literally designed to learn by trial and error, which is why I’m adamantly opposed to chastising kids for failing.
I firmly believe our culture’s over fascination with the ‘born genius’ and ‘naturally gifted/talented’ is TOXIC. Kids mistakenly believe if they don’t do whatever ‘perfectly’ the first time or at least super quickly, then there’s something wrong with them. This then carries into adulthood.
Failure shaming, in my POV, generates underachievement (afraid to even try, low self-image) or neurotic perfectionism (hiding oopses, overworking, septic overachievement, terror regarding asking for help). I know because I was reared to be terrified of failing.
This is why as an adult and a MOM, I make sure that failure is embraced and celebrated in our home. Failure is an event, not an identity. I want my son to understand mistakes are stepping stones on the road of progress.
To succeed, strangely we must give ourselves permission to win. Bizarre, right? Mmmmmm, not so much.
Fear of failure and fear of success are frequently linked and this paradox could be a blog (or book) on its own. It seems stupid for people to fear success. Yet, many do and for a multitude of reasons. First, humans generally dislike change. Success means massive change. We might feel we are ill-prepared to traverse such unknown territory. We fear what we don’t know and places we’ve never been.
We could also worry that, if we succeed, we might not be able to duplicate whatever it was that brought us ‘success’ in the first place. That we’re a fake, a fraud and never actually ‘earned’ the win.
Perhaps now it’s a tad clearer why fear of success and failure are linked.
There’s another reason many of us fear success, one I haven’t seen discussed much. This manifestation is most common for those brought up in a dysfunctional home/background. We are afraid to be happy and our fear of success is linked to a version of PTSD. Always waiting for the ‘other shoe to drop’ so to speak.
It takes some retraining of the old gray matter, but it’s worth it. Yes, give permission to succeed. I know I’m not the only one out there who’s self-sabotaged, procrastinated, or up and quit because I was wracked with fear I couldn’t explain. Trust me, I was as mystified as everyone around me until I understood what was causing this behavior.
It’s okay. Being messed up generally makes for better writers 😛 .
What Are Your Thoughts?
As long as I’ve been at this, I still struggle to some degree with all five of these. Permission to write and to succeed are still the biggies. I struggle with guilt that I’m writing when there is so much laundry to do and drawers to sort and on and on. Additionally, I still procrastinate when I might just succeed because I already admitted I’m messed up and that writing is cheaper than therapy 😛
What about you guys? Gonna ‘fess up and be brave? Are you too hard on yourself? Self-sabotage? Petrified of failing? Ashamed of being new? It’s okay, we are all in the same boat here 😀 .
Hey, there are goodies involved for being bold…
I love hearing from you and am not above bribery!
What do you WIN? For the month of DECEMBER, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $45 USD (Only $36 with discount)
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: January 4th, 2018 7:00 P.M. EST—9:00 P.M. EST
No matter what genre we write, the key to writing unforgettable stories always rests with character. How do we create intriguing characters who hook readers and never let them go? What makes a character unforgettable? How do we write stories that endure?
It is easy to fall into tropes and caricatures if we lack a fundamental understanding of human nature and how this plays out in the dramatic narrative. This class will delve into how to add depth to our characters which will, in turn add, resonance with our plot.
For those who wanted to read my writing (I’ve had some requests) here is an essay published by Chicago Litarati. It is in my authentic writing voice (not all my essays are). They compared me to Milan Kundera which made me proud. So have a go if you will.
Note: I can’t put any of my work on my blog because then it’s considered published and I can’t submit it anywhere- which is the main reason I write- to submit and be published, hopefully in good literary journals. That’s just one of the onerous do-nots in publishing. But I can do so after the fact.
I love caustic writers. They write how I think except usually with more wit.
Just as important, and sometimes forgotten in bouts of unabashed sarcastic glee, behind the blunt force acerbic trauma, many of these writers actually give a damn about other people. Underneath seeming asshattery much gold is to be found.
I just don’t have that cred yet. Or maybe it’s balls. Okay, I literally don’t have balls, but what I mean is I don’t have anything to back up my opinions, and you know what they say about opinions…
I’m not sure how this devolved into genitalia.
The title to the post you’re reading of course is a play on words from the great Harlan Ellison, still one of the best in-your-face writers I can think of. Why did I write that last sentence? Because someone might not get the title. Is this really writing? Or do I just write and forget people who don’t get it; they can just take the writing at face value.
Delving deeply into anything requires codes no matter how one chooses to write about them. “Nous sommes tous américains — Le Monde.” Each system has its own language, often meant to describe the very same principles or experiences as another system, though you’ll get a swat on the hand with a ruler if you say that out loud.
Codes are war.
War is prevalent.
Metaphors are codes.
Writers use metaphors. Live with it.
I contemplate my world in a non-linear way. Putting it all together to make sense to someone else is tough. It’s not even like puzzle pieces; it’s like an invisible puzzle that changes shape depending on the connections you make and the analytical lines you can draw among them, and then you have to draw it for others… And then finally you
have to: SPELL OUT THE CONNECTIONS.
Was that a sentence?
(Doesn’t that tornado look friendly albeit slightly confused as to how it’s going to make sense of all the convoluted ideas it pulls in? Actually it looks pretty damn stressed out.) Freudian much?
When I can’t articulate the streams of what amounts to analytical dots (I was an analyst for the government), writing is scattered. If I do a great job a piece will arise so tightly connected that no one understands it.
I guess I really am a Jackess of all trades. Ah, you gotta love homonyms.
If you like that last bit, you’d like my mind. You also might have visual acuity of the large picture in which we all play invisible soldier.
I wanted to write a blog post once titled: “When Sex Doesn’t Sell.” When you don’t use the words people have come to expect, when you don’t write to titillate but to translate, sex on the page can seem as obscure as Peter Higgs before March 2013. Insert supercollider sexual innuendo here. One day I’ll have to count and find out just how many poems I’ve written that are actually about orgasms.
Revel in the succinct. Not just succinct but dense. By dense I mean packing mountains of information or wisdom into forceful passages that stand like mountains in slim volumes of work. Why? Back to the difference in thinking habits. Long and drawn out is the linear norm. A takes us to Z through a series of stops along the way that build upon one another to the conclusion. Slim volumes on the other hand—poetry is a key example— build vertically, with ever expanding circles, tangents, and some linear thrown in. Dense.
Have you heard of Steganography? Steganography is derived from the Greek words “steganos” and “graphein,” meaning covered writing. Overlay and overlay of information. I liken dense works to steganography and other forms of covert communication, such as the ability to reduce a large amount of writing to a simple point like a dot. Dense works are not covert by intent; their innate structure simply reveals layers underneath. Rimbaud’s entire life’s work could probably be displayed in 50 pages. The Upanishads, a sacred Sanskrit instruction on the entirety of the universe is about 100 pages. The point is sometimes the most efficacious way to communicate complexity and remain effable is to ingrain mountains on each individual word. Terse. Succinct. Vigorous. Forceful.
There is a very slim book called Flatland. It contains and explains dimensional concepts beyond the satire. The book created a cult following. Check out the brilliance sometime.
How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? The answer is all of them.
I have anger now and good reason for it, but I don’t want to release the Kraken so it’s interesting to think of how others might experience that energy, tension, and release. There’s a lot of passion in anger. Or just jump underwater and experience the silence. Anger doesn’t exist underwater.
There are sharks though. They will eat you through and through without the slightest bit of rage.
I write generic articles in my “happy writer” voice. Somewhere along the way it became “the voice” everyone online uses. Non-offensive and perky, it makes me want to slit my wrists. On the advice of the rest of the world, we offer vocal seppuku. Enter happy writer voice; superficial blogger voice, and Prozac delirium advertising voice.
Writing like that makes me feel like a talk show host. I need to shower.
I can write kind of normal in a way that doesn’t suck my soul into an abyss of lost credibility. Yet, it’s not really me.
I have an authentic voice. I’m not an exclamation point type of gal. Nor am I a smiley face emoticon breach from Stepford psyche. My most recent book was a collection of three years of Tweets. If you drop twenty believing it’s not the authentic me you’d lose that bet. Communication, even deep understanding, can be conveyed within 140 character bits. Sonnet anyone?
I wrote a manuscript once that is the collection and curation of thirty years of work. Maybe one day I’ll break it down and sell pieces to Reader’s Digest.
Today I learned something worth remembering. I relate everything to quantum physics and watch over science like a hawk. Insert your own joke there to make it Hawk-ing. You’re welcome.
Anyway, they finally found the answer to a question that had been posed since the 1600’s: when two pendulums are hung next to each other, why do they end up swinging in opposing directions within 30 minutes? The answer is sound waves. If you think this meaningless or unrelated to other physics or even, say, Focault’s Pendulum, scrounge up that term on Wikipedia and watch how fast the science moves from Focault’s original pendulum theory in the 1800’s to Minkowski space-time. There’s a moment. Of immensity. Did you miss it? I hope not.
I made a Minkowski joke once.
Too much of that can get one labeled a screwball. In the meantime, I’ll let physics explain why there is a slight possibility that the chair you’re sitting in could turn into a mushroom at any given moment. Then, as a non-screwball type, you can explain to me why, as I’m writing this, Trump went from a liberal lambast to a presidential contender.
Hey, don’t get political, right?
I imagine it’s expected that I should be writing a pointed essay about dead people, war torn countries, or injustice.
You must excuse me now. I have to go change to an MFA voice. It’s all the rage.
The trip we can’t afford is everyday life. It eats at our dead skin cells.
Guest post by Richard Held from Held Editing Services!
Hiring an editor has its benefits. An editor can make typo and grammar corrections, eliminate passive voice, alert authors about plot holes and patchy character development, and can offer advice on character and plot development, as well as assist with fact-checking and other tasks.
Some authors, however, do not know how to approach an editor. When these clueless scribes contact an editor, the latter often finds his/her time is wasted—and time is money for an editor, especially a full-time one.
Here is what to do—and not do—when approaching an editor.
Do: Communicate clearly.
Do you think your manuscript needs a detailed proofread to eliminate lingering typos, or do you think your document needs a light copy edit to eliminate some rough grammar? Knowing what kind of help you need before you query will help smooth the process. If you feel your project needs help but you don’t know what type, let the editor know that and send him/her a sample for an evaluation. (Most editors do free evaluations/sample edits for potential clients.)
Don’t: Assume your project needs a quick final polish before publication.
Earlier this year I had a would-be Ian Fleming approach me with a gargantuan manuscript (over 400,000 words) on the assumption I could give it a quick edit and make it ready for publication. What I found was an editor’s nightmare. There were typos all over the place, plus multiple grammar rule violations. And don’t get me started on his hopelessly slow and slack plot pacing, or his characters who acted more like high school seniors than mature spies. I was game, however, and decided to take on the project—only to admit defeat and refund this Fleming wannabe after a month of struggling with his mammoth manuscript.
Moral of the story: never assume an editor will work fast on your project because it is virtually complete. Editing is a time consuming process, so be prepared to potentially wait at least a couple weeks unless the editor is so skilled he/she can get projects done within short time spans.
Do: Research editors first.
You would not run out and buy a car, boat, home, etc. without doing research first, right? The same logic applies to hiring an editor. If you study a list of editors, you will know what types of editors are out there (copy, line, developmental, etc.), what they do, what they charge, and what their clients have to say. (Places like Kboards Yellow Pages or GalleyCat’s Freelance Editor Directory are fine places to begin your research.)
Don’t: Be prone to “sticker shock”.
In 2014 an author contacted me about my editing/proofreading services. One of the offers I had available at the time was a special $1 per page rate. He was specifically interested in this rate, and had a short two-part novel he was thinking about hiring me to edit.
I sent him a sample edit, submitted my bids based on the $1 rate ($90 for part one, $101 for part two) and stood by for his response. All I got was crickets until I contacted him again to see if he got my sample. He said he had, thanked me—and said he was no longer interested.
He had suffered “sticker shock” over my bids even though they were “bargain basement” prices (a practice I have since discarded).
How do you avoid this?
Do: Pay attention to editor’s prices.
All editors have their prices listed on their websites. Study up on them to see which would fit your price range.
Don’t: Assume an editor will work for free.
You would not ask for free gas at a gas station, would you? Of course not—the station attendant would either laugh in your face or they would narrow their eyes and give you a look that says Are you nuts?
Sadly, some authors assume editors do their work as a hobby, not as a job. While this may be true for a few, the majority of editors expect to be paid—and in many cases, paid well—for their time and effort. We have taxes and bills to pay, just like those who work nine-to-five. Asking an editor who charges a fee to work for free is both arrogant and rude.
An editor asks that his/her time be worth what you hire them to do. By doing your homework beforehand and approaching an editor without having unrealistic expectations about what he/she can do, you have laid the groundwork for a successful author-editor relationship.
Richard “Tony” Held is the proprietor of Held Editing Services. He would rather hunt for typos and other grammar errors for a living than collect shopping carts on bitterly cold or blistering hot days.
My essay draft is done. Now an editor is looking at it. I ended up naming it from a line in Walden by Thoreau which is present in the essay as important. The title is ” I am the Monarch of all I Survey.”
I might shorten it later to just “Monarch of all I Survey.”