Kill Barnes & Noble?


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I must admit that I am conflicted about reports of the impending inevitable death of Barnes & Noble and whether it can be saved… or should be.
As an aspiring novelist, I can think of few things that would be more satisfying than seeing my novel on a bookshelf at Barnes & Noble. Okay, seeing someone buying it would be nice… and selling thousands or millions of copies would be pretty sweet, too. But, let’s face it, indie publishing seems to be the wave of the future.

Indie sci-fi writer Jon Del Arroz says “good riddance” to Barnes & Noble.

So what is there to save? It’s providing books more expensively than amazon, with a worse selection. In fact, it’s the only thing keeping traditional publishing from completely caving. The book buying/selling system that is outdated and hasn’t changed since the 1930s is all B&N is promoting. You must get an agent who takes a percentage, who goes to a publisher who then takes a majority of a percentage, who marks up to a distributor who takes a percentage, who then is at the whim of a book buyer who only buys select books and cuts out most of the midlist without some arm twisting.

Let’s face it, if I published my novel through a small publisher and they got it in bookstores, online sales are crushing brick and mortar bookstore sales… so, no matter what, the satisfaction of seeing your book in a bookstore is trivial compared to the potential volume of your online sales. So, fine I accept that… In fact, I embrace it. It would be great if bookstores like Barnes & Noble gave us reasons to go into their store that can’t be replicated online, but they’re not trying… or at least, not hard enough. Case in point, it’s been a long time since I’ve even been in a bookstore. And I usually only go to browse, then look up the book online for the Kindle version. I know, sounds awful right? But, that’s the way it is.

Truth be told, I’ve not even considered any traditional publishing route for my forthcoming novel. What for? Successful indie authors make good money… I might be able to as well. I know success in indie publishing is still difficult to achieve, but hey, you’ll never succeed if you don’t try.

Being shelved in Barnes & Noble used to be a dream of mine. But, in the end, as an aspiring novelist, if the point is to sell books, Barnes & Noble just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Seven Years Later… My First Draft is Finished.

Earlier this year I resolved to finish my oft-neglected novel, Not Famous. Today, after seven long years,I finally finished the first draft. In mid-March I estimated that I’d finish by the end of April… and I was right on target, finishing the first draft on the very last day of the month.

For those who are wondering, the final word count at the end of the first draft is 107,706.

It’s been so long since I started working on this novel, I’d actually forgotten when I had started working on it. After digging back through old archives on a backup drive, I found an early draft from July 2011. Back then it had a different title (Coffee Shop Girl) and much of the story structure was different. Back then, I mostly had a rough idea of the story, and had started writing specific scenes in no particular order. There have been countless rewrites, reorganization of scenes, and many, many, periods of not working on it at all. Despite all that time and all those changes, there’s still a lot of dialogue that has survived from those early days.

I admit, the idea of finishing the first draft was frightening. This story has been percolating in my head for so long, I’ve spent many nights working out scenes in my head, pondering character backstories, or even coming up with the perfect name for a character while trying to go sleep at night. Spending so much time on these characters and this story has resulted in my getting pretty darn attached to them, and effectively putting an end to that story is, in many ways, kinda sad. I know there will be revisions to come, but the story itself is now all there. I have conquered fear of completion, lack of time, and writer’s block.

Completing the first draft is scary for another reason too. This entire time… these past seven years… this story has belonged to me alone. No one else has read a word, or heard anything substantive regarding the plot. Soon, I will take a step back, and allow some trusted beta readers to read it over to give me their thoughts, catch plot holes and other mistakes that are certain to be there considering all the years of rewrites, and give any other kind of input they are willing to provide.

My only published work at this point, is a short story I wrote a few years ago called The Last Stop, a paranormal thriller which was based off a dream I had. This novel is not a paranormal thriller, or science fiction. It’s hard to describe describe the genre except as contemporary fiction. I’d like to think of it as lad-lit, since the authors that mostly influenced my writing (Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper, and Matthew Norman) are lad-lit authors and the story features a young-ish male narrator and the plot is centered on his relationship with a girl he meets early in the story.

Anyway, with this late lifted, I will step back and enjoy this feeling of accomplishment.

Cheers!

Writing. Productively… For a Change

Yes. Believe it or not… after five… no wait, six years of working on and off (mostly off) on this novel, I’ve finally been making solid progress, dedicating a couple hours most days to reading through it, start to finish, and revising and filling in parts left for another day.

Yes, I am going through this sucker, from point A to point Z. I’m not skipping ahead, or letting myself go back to an unresolved scene to address later.  I am getting this done. I will finish my first draft. If all goes well, I suspect I can be done by the end of April.

It’s a strange feeling. I’ve never done this before, and part of me wonders if fear more than anything has kept me from seeing this through. Fear of what? Perhaps the fear of failure, the fear that I won’t be able resolve key aspects of this story, and it will just die unfinished.

I’ve grown attached to this story over the years, and sure, I’ve probably spent more time over the years not working on it than working on it, but in all this time it has accumulated approximately 100,000 words… I am sure I will have to edit it down after the first draft, but, when I’m feeling the story, I’m really feeling it. And it feels good to be back at it again… The characters still speak to me, and there’s still stuff to explore.

So yeah, I’m feeling confident for the first time this will actually get done. So, I’m going to get back to it.

So, Yeah… Back Here…

I’ve neglected this blog, I know that.  But, I didn’t realize how badly I’d neglected it when I realized that my host, ThirdScribe, was apparently no longer working, so I’m back on WordPress.com… Not sure what happened to ThirdScribe, but I’m not gonna fret about it…

Any blog posts I made while at ThirdScribe are lost, but considering I barely blogged, the little content I produced there won’t be missed.

Anyway, there is some new stuff to report, which I will inform you all about in the next day or two.

Does Lad Lit Have to be Comedy?

My recent progress towards the completion of my novel has me wondering about what genre it is. As someone who reads, and is largely inspired by, what is known as “lad-lit”, naturally, it seems to make sense that my novel would fit in that category. I’ve previously pondered what makes lad-lit “lad-lit” but the definition I found back then, in retrospect, wasn’t very good. A recent search (and by recent, I mean a few minutes ago, I found the following definition of lad-lit.

Lad Lit is a fictional genre of male-authored novels about young men and their emotional and personal lives, often characterized by a confessional and humorous writing style.

Everything about this definition fits… except the part about the humorous writing style. There is some comic relief in my novel, but it’s generally more serious in tone. Thinking about it, humor seems to be the most common characteristic of lad-lit these days. In an interview on Steven Scaffardi’s Lad Lit blog, author Matthew Norman (another author I enjoy) said “…my books are comedies. It’s taken me a while to fully admit that to myself. There are serious things in them, of course—even downright depressing things. But humor is always there. I like comedy because it makes the difficult stuff more palatable.” When I think about the novel I’m writing, his books are definitely feel as though they ale in the same “genre” that I am writing… but I feel my “formula” is the opposite. My novel-in-progress has some comedy in it, but it’s not meant to be a laugh-out-loud comedy. So, I’m again at a loss.

I can say for sure that my novel does not fall under the literary fiction genre:

Literary fiction comprises fictional works that hold literary merit; that is to say, they are works that offer deliberate social commentary or political criticism, or focus on the individual to explore some part of the human condition.

My novel may be more serious than comedic, but I’m certainly not trying for a Pulitzer Prize with it. I’m not trying any political or social commentary with the story or any deliberate symbolism. It’s a story meant to entertain. So, scratch literary fiction off the list.

So, what else is there? Well, there’s contemporary fiction:

Contemporary fiction can be defined as literature written by authors who refuse to reside within literary boundaries, choosing to reflect the realities, insanities, absurdities, ironies, comedies and contradictions present in post-globalization human cultures.

This is pretty close, but I wouldn’t say I’m trying to push any boundaries either. This definition suggests contemporary fiction is a more complex genre than my novel is.

So really, we go back to lad-lit. But there’s that whole issue with the “humorous writing style.” I like humorous books. There’s nothing wrong with humor. But I just don’t see my story as ever being classified as humor. So I’m once again left wondering, what the hell genre will I classify my novel as? Do I focus more on answering the question of who my target audience is rather than what the style is?

UPDATE: So, I asked Steven Scaffardi for his input on Twitter. Here’s what he said:

Productive Writing

Hey, it’s actually been a productive few weeks of writing!

For the past few years I’ve been struggling to find both inspiration and time to finish a novel I actually started five years ago. The first two years probably produced the bulk of the book, but, life got in the way (as it tends to do) and I just haven’t done much more than subtle tweaks and minor rewrites since.

Seriously, at the rate I was going, it would never get done.

Part of the problem is, having been a work in progress for five years, a lot has change. My head was in a much different place when I started than where it is now. Things that I thought worked back in 2011 and 2012 aren’t cutting it in 2016. Characters have evolved… Scenes have changed… stuff that great in general, but caused undeniable issues with continuity that had to be addressed. I think subconsciously I was afraid to tackle the book because fixing everything and completing the novel was going to be a big deal.

But, I’m getting it done.

Since my last blog entry, I’ve done a significant amount of writing, in addition to something I should have done from the beginning: outlining. While I’ve always known the basic plot points that will get the book from it’s beginning to its conclusion, getting the different story arcs to flow right needed some structured process to get them right. I’m also not just outlining, but I’m also “timelining.” The story has always been set in the “present” but as the present is now five years ahead of when I started the novel, I’ve decided to set the story in 2015 (mostly to avoid having the presidential election be a concurrent story that I couldn’t ignore), and using Microsoft Excel, linked all the events of the book to a specific day of the year. This has not only made it easier to keep track of the action of the book, it has helped me tighten the story, making it, in my opinion, stronger. In my story, it is actually helpful to know what day of the week certain action takes place on, and keeping track of milestones helps me feel that the events of the book are rooted in reality.

This also forced me to think of things that I hadn’t before. Such as character birthdays. When were they born, who’s older and who’s younger? Whose birthdays will take place during the action of the book, whose won’t. What holidays occur during the action of the book, and do I need to tweak my story accordingly? Perhaps I’m overthinking things, but this being my first novel, I’m trying to keep things as solid as possible.

It’s been a good few weeks. I’m actually believing a first draft can be completed this year.

Work-In-Progress Update

The novel I started back in July 2011… it is still unfinished.

It’s contemporary fiction, probably best fitting in the lad lit genre, and is clocking in at over 90,000 words, but it still has quite a ways to go. Lot’s of holes to fill in. God only knows how much editing it will need. Four years of writing has come with plenty of major and minor plot changes that may not have been completely accounted for throughout the manuscript.

 

Work-In-Progress Update

The novel I started back in July 2011… it is still unfinished.
It’s contemporary fiction, probably best fitting in the lad lit genre, and is clocking in at over 90,000 words, but it still has quite a ways to go. Lot’s of holes to fill in. God only knows how much editing it will need. Four years of writing has come with plenty of major and minor plot changes that may not have been completely accounted for throughout the manuscript.

 

New Cover and Paperback Edition

Okay, it has definitely been too long since I’ve posted. But I will try to make up for that. Anyway… A lot has happened since my last blog entry. First of all, The Last Stop has since undergone some editing, a new cover design, and a paperback edition! Here is the new cover design:

The Last Stop

In other news, I’ve recently started a new horror novella… that’s in addition to the novel I’ve been working on for a few years now… I know it’s probably not the greatest idea to start something new when I haven’t finished something I’ve been desperately trying to finish, but have been unable to due to lack of time, but hey… it’s hard to let a good idea go unstarted…

So, that’s the latest… more updates to come in the future and more frequently!

Download THE LAST STOP for Free This Weekend

In honor of Friday The Thirteenth, my short story THE LAST STOP is available for free this weekend!

Six strangers find themselves on a subway train that seems to have no destination. Defying logic and reason, this train has no beginning and no end. These six strangers will find themselves pushed to the limits, overcoming fear and suspicion of their fellow passengers as they attempt to explain the unexplainable circumstances of being trapped on an endless train while trying to find a way off before it’s too late. It’s a train ride they’ll never forget, if they survive.

Readers have likened THE LAST STOP to an episode of The Twilight Zone. A paranormal thriller that will make you think twice before taking a late night ride on the subway.