Photo Credit: Ben Stansall/Getty Images
From 2014 onward, the Man Booker Prize will be awarded to any book written in English. This year was the first in which authors from the United States were included. The prize is one of the most prestigious in the world.
This year’s prize was awarded to Richard Flanagan for his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never read anything he’s ever written. I haven’t. This post is about something else. It’s about literary awards.
Flanagan’s book was one of those well-received works that struggled to find an audience. In fact, his previous books have also struggled to gain traction in the ultra competitive publishing industry here in the US. It was because of the poor sales of his titles that he was considering going to work in the Australian mines. Yes. An author who I can’t seem to find a bad word about online was going to work in mines because he was broke. He wasn’t a middle of the pack author with decent sales, he was broke. Until October 14.
October 14 was the day he won one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world. The cash prize is about $80,000, which isn’t bad in itself, but there was more on the way. Last week, Flanagan earned about $220, 000. That total is more than his previous ten years of BookScan sales. You’re talking about $300,000 to a man who had next to nothing.
I know plenty of you are thinking that writing isn’t all about making money. Okay. You probably say that as you have your “real” job that pays all your bills. Writing is a hobby to you. No matter what you say, but it isn’t for Flanagan. This is his job. His career. So don’t sit there and say literary awards don’t matter, because they do. Because there’s one writer out there who almost had to give up on writing because he was no longer able to support himself. He’s no longer facing that decision.
“In essence, this means I can continue to write.” -Richard Flanagan at the awards ceremony.
Photo Credit: Pinterest
We’re all writers here, right? I know most of you have several manuscripts complete at the moment. Some of you probably have dozens. Well then that means you have some experience bringing your stories to a close.
Before I begin, I first want to say that I have no issue with happy endings. Fiction is not supposed to be 100% believable, otherwise how could you have all the crime series that never seem to end? Now let’s talk about ending your story. Personally, I’m a big fan of the ending that fits. So if the main character must lose someone close to him/her, then I’m okay with that. If the main character gets seriously injured in heroic fashion, then I’m okay with that. Or even if the story leaves you with a cliffhanger. I have no issue with any of these as long as it fits.
I think writers can be guilty of writing a happy ending just for the sake of doing so, at times. I’d say that’s the only issue I’ve had with story endings. The ones that leave you scratching your head like “whaa?”and thinking how in the heck did the author come up with that. I’ve never once had an issue with a story ending in a manner that forces you to read the next book in the series. Or ending badly for a main character in the book. I honestly think it’s more difficult to write these kinds of endings. Because readers have almost come to expect a positive resolution to the events throughout the book.
When it comes to my own writing, well I have just the one story that certainly had a happy ending. But I have every intention of continuing the series and absolutely throwing in some curve balls when it comes to the endings. Am I going to have Andrew killed in a shootout with a bad guy during his last case? Eh, probably not because I don’t want him to go out like that. But you never know, right?
What about you? In your writing do you have any preference when it comes to endings? Or perhaps in your reading.
PS: I apologize for not replying to comments at all recently. I have a giant orange number staring me in the face right now of pending comments. I’m going to do something about this. Finally. But I always read what you guys say. Always.
Photo Credit: GoodEReader
This question ultimately asks if you read self-published books, but not all self-published books are free at some point. In my experience I’ve found that people are typically “I read a lot of free books” or “I will not ever read a book if it’s free.” I’ve rarely found someone who sometimes reads free books and sometimes doesn’t. I’ll never sit here and say that one person’s reasoning for their decision is wrong while another person’s is right, so this is just me repeating what has been said about why people do or don’t download books that are free.
“If it’s free it must be bad”
This goes along with the stigma that still exists for self-publishing. Maybe self-published authors are making strides when it comes to their literary merit, but talk to someone who knows nothing about the publishing industry about your book. One of their first questions is sure to be who published your book. I mean, there are MANY great books out their that have been self-published, but some readers will never find them because they don’t give them a chance. Like when they’re free.
“I have too many books I actually WANT to read”
There’s no doubt in my mind that when said in this context this statement is an excuse not to read a particular book or perhaps a book that is free. I understand that most avid readers have dozens and dozens of books they want to read, maybe hundreds cause some people are crazy, but the notion that reading one book that’s not necessarily on your never ending TBR list is going to mess with the alignment of the universe is simply absurd. After all, you have to keep adding new books to your TBR list if you intend to keep reading, right? Just say you don’t want to read the damn book and be done with it.
“I have too many books on my Kindle”
This is probably more valid than you might think. There are plenty of readers out there who navigate the Kindle free store on a daily basis just downloading books. This isn’t bad and I’m not going to knock anyone for it, but this really does create the dilemma of having too many books. I’m talking hundreds of unread books just collecting figurative dust in the depths of your Kindle. From what I’ve been told and understand, many of these readers just pick titles almost at random once downloaded because there’s no easy way to pick which book to read when you have hundreds at your fingertips.
I’m quite certain that I could continue the list here because the likelihood is that you’ve had some experience with this question. Maybe you’re a reader who never downloads free books. Or maybe you’re an author who has offered your book for free through KDP Select. Me? I’ve never actually downloaded a free book. And I have offered my book for free a couple of times. I think my best free promo garnered 6571 downloads in a couple of days, but obviously I don’t have a gazillion reviews of my book.
Do you download free books?
Photo Credit: Care and Cost
Okay guys, I’d say that more than 95% of all the writers I’ve come across on WordPress are either unpublished, self-published, or published via vanity press that accepts “submissions.” I have come across very few writers, if any, who are traditionally published. So all these writers I’m talking about likely face the same problem…getting people to review their books. Let’s discuss.
So you wrote this fantastic book that you’ve been working on for the past two years. You have your little blog set up so that you can tell the world about your release day. You wake up bright and early just to check to see if the Amazon page has updated to show your book as available rather than for pre-order. You write an excited blog post for all of your 82 followers to hopefully see and perhaps even read. You get some congratulatory comments from people you’ve never met who say that they’ll check it out. You become even more excited than you already were. Then you turn to your other social media platforms and tweet or post a status update about your book telling all of your friends and family to buy and review it for you. More congratulatory remarks. But then you check your KDP account and see one sale. You’re thinking of all the people who may have read your blog post or tweets or status update and can’t believe that a few more people didn’t just buy the damn thing for two bucks. So you figure people are just waiting a little while. You check each day for the next week and see a couple of new sales that you attribute to your parents and your siblings. Then a week has passed since your release day and still no reviews.
This is when the reality sets in. This is hard. You try your best not to spam every person you know, but you can’t help it. You NEED to know what people are thinking about your work. And then out of nowhere, a review! You read it all the way through and see that most of the points raised in the review are valid. But it’s only three stars. You figure it’s better than one or two, right? Then another review comes in raising the exact same points as the first, but this time it’s only two stars. Now you’re worrying that everyone hates your work. The first dozen reviews all say the same thing. You did this, left this question unanswered, didn’t let a character develop, blah blah blah. It doesn’t matter. If everyone is seeing the same thing, then it must be true. This is when you stop checking for new reviews altogether. They all say the same thing anyway.
That’s my little hypothetical about what I think some writers experience when it comes to reviews of their book. I’ll be honest, I think I’ve read every review of my book on Amazon. I know I have. Some were nice and others were brutal, but I wasn’t sitting on my bed crying myself to sleep because I got a one star review. Nope. I can’t really tell you why I read them, but I did. I almost feel foolish admitting that because imagine if JK Rowling or Suzanne Collins or John Green read the reviews of their books. Ha.
Tell me about your experience with the reviews of your book. Have you read them? Ignored them? Maybe a mix of the two?
Last week I think this was one of those daily prompts on here because I saw a number of posts about this particular question that got me thinking. Do I prefer reading fiction over non-fiction or is it the other way around?
Some of the posts I read through took hundreds of words to tell the reader why they liked one or the other or both. I won’t be doing that because it is a very easy question for me to answer. I prefer fiction. And I always will. Why? Because there’s a certain mystery to all fictional stories. A good book will always have you wondering what happens next, right? That quality is absent once you get to reading non-fiction. I own a handful of non-fiction books, literally five, and I know the basic story before I ever start reading. Anne Frank. BTK. Lone Survivor. These are all great books. They’re well written and informative, but reading them just isn’t the same as reading a fictional story. At least not for me.
So tell me, fact or fiction?
First off, do you have any idea who BTK is? I would say most people wouldn’t. But I do. And I have for a long time. He’s a serial killer from Kansas who killed ten people between 1974 and 1991. I wrote about him during my time as an undergrad. His real name is Dennis Rader and he was apprehended by police in 2005 only after he began exchanging letters with them. Many around Wichita, Kansas had believed him to be dead or gone after more than a decade of silence.
Anyway, now Rader is helping Katherine Ramsland write a book about his crimes. And I have an issue with this. I get that high profile criminals always get books written about them. It happens. I’m sure if I do a quick Amazon search of all the serial killers I know that there will be several books about each and every one. BUT my issue is that this author is basically co-writing it with Rader. I just don’t see the point. When he was arrested he plead guilty to all ten charges and recounted in detail every murder he committed. He was subsequently sentenced to ten consecutive life sentences. There are several other books about him already published that may or may not have been written with his assistance, but they too tell the story of his crimes. In great detail. I don’t know the relationship the author maintains with anyone in Wichita, but there are plenty of individuals who know every aspect of the killings who didn’t actually commit them. I just think she could write a book about the crimes by using police interviews, court testimony, and by using the books that have already been written as reference material. But that’s just me.
Do you have any thoughts? About a serial killer who already has notoriety and several books written about him having another one in which he gets to actively contribute?
One of the reasons I have an issue with him helping with the project is the complete lack of remorse he’s displayed. If you just YouTube search his name you can find video of him in court recounting his crimes. It’s disturbing how he does so almost conversationally.
This is sort of an update post to my first post about this topic. Back then I mentioned that I could only come up with one or two books that have stayed with me rather than the usual ten people list out. But recently Facebook released data from another six countries and there’s a clear take away from their data: The stories of Harry, Ron, and Hermione are universal. And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking to yourself the billions of dollars that the movies brought in at the box office. True. But when this meme got started I definitely figured JK Rowling would lead the way in the US and UK. But also in France, India, Italy, the Philippines, Brazil, and Mexico too? (Facebook only surveyed English status updates in India and the Philippines)
This just tells me that Potter is one of those characters that’ll be remembered and related to for decades to come. Not because the books are the greatest books ever written, but more likely because the books appear to have readers all over the world who appreciate their message.
The Harry Potter series ranked number one in France, India, Italy, the Philippines, Brazil, and number three in Mexico. What do you think about that?
You can see the full lists for each country here.