Tag Archives: reading

Barnes & Noble vs Amazon – Who loses?

Publisher’s Weekly is carrying an interesting article about the decision by Barnes & Noble not to carry what it calls, “Amazon published books.”  Books A Million  has apparently joined the B&N boycott, saying it won’t sell Amazon-published books either.

The article’s author also reports (anecdotally) that independent booksellers are joining the list of bookstores that won’t carry books published by Amazon.

Not a new battle but once again, a battle in which authors and readers lose while the behemoths of the book world do battle in the center ring of the publishing circus.

PW Tip Sheet: This Has All Happened Before.

The comments below the article are interesting and enlightening.  I would love to know what you think, too.

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Write A Novel in One Year

Up before dawn and a lot to do this morning but none of it involves writing — except writing this post!

It’s 5:45 AM and I have already done yoga but I still have to muck stalls, exercise my horse and clean my chicken coop and water the five fruit trees waiting in my garage, in buckets, for Spring.    I should be finished long about noon!  And I mean finished.

There are some days, like this one, when it doesn’t seem possible.  So, on days like this, sometimes I think I will just read a book or do some research online instead of writing.   Then the inner voice that nags me starts to whisper things like “Real writers don’t take breaks.”  “You can’t really write anyway so why not read?”  Or my favorite, “No one will ever read your novel so maybe you should quit.”

While I don’t really believe that voice in my head, it is tempting to contemplate not writing sometimes.  What?  A writer who thinks about not writing?  What kind of writer does that?

An honest writer. 

When you have been writing for close to 2 decades, and I mean writing stories, articles, brochures, business plans and essays, you might also think about life without a keyboard attached to your wrists or a pen stuck to your fingers.  You might long for the days when you can lay in bed with a novel, a cup of coffee and no desire to put words on paper.

Writing is hard work.  It takes discipline.  It requires loving attention and long hours alone, just you and your thoughts and your writing tools.  It is the proverbial labor of love.  No magazine is ever going to pay you for the 5 hours you spend researching or the 2 hours of interviews you do to learn about and explore the topic.  Transcribing notes — 4 hours and not billable.  Contemplating how to start the story?  Not going to earn you a dime.

From assignment to finished article, it can take up to 20 hours of hard labor.  The most I have ever been paid for a cover story of more than 2200 words was $400.  When you do the math — that’s $20 an hour or 18 cents a word — you can see that this is not a job for those who want to make easy money.   Most magazine publishers pay about 10 cents a word.

Making a living as a freelance writer is hard.  I don’t know a lot of people who are successful at it.  Most of us have full time jobs so we can support our full time passion.  Working 45 hours a week, commuting about 2 ½ hours every day and trying to get a little time in for exercise, eating, cooking, cleaning, laundry and sleep leaves me about 10 hours a week when I might, actually be able to sit down at the keyboard and write!

So, how do I make time and save energy for writing?

I get up at 4:30AM every morning.  I write before I eat, before I go to work, before I head out to the stable or put in a load of laundry.  I write for an hour every morning.  Whether it is journaling or banging out two new pages in my novel or putting the finishing touches on an article, I write.

As early as that is in the morning, as hard as it sounds to put EVERYTHING ELSE on hold and just sit here and write, I do it because writing lives at the very core of me.  When I don’t do it, I find myself resenting all those other things that are necessary to living and all those other people who make my life so rich and full.

So, advice from one writer to another – write!

Find a time of day, early, middle or late, when you will take just one hour for yourself and write.  Then stick to it.  If you only write 2 pages a day, you will have more than 700 pages of your novel written in just one year.  And if you aren’t writing a Russian novel, you could have two full novels done by this time next year!

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Reading And Writing

Writers usually read a lot.  

Favorite genres for me are murder mysteries and, oddly enough, biographies.  Recent books range from Dorothea Tanning’s autobiography – Between Lives: An Artist and Her World — to the downright humorous look at death and dying recently written by Jonathan Barnes entitled Nothing To Be Frightened Of.  

When I’m not nose down in a book, you can usually find me browsing through a favorite magazine like The Equine Journal, Practical Horseman, Mother Earth News, Advance Magazine for Nurses, Mother Jones News or Countryside.  I have books and magazines in every room in my house, have a supply in the car for emergencies and keep a couple of each in my briefcase.

When I read, I sometimes feel guilty because I am not writing!  I find it hard to rationalize sitting around enjoying someone else’s words while mine remain bottled up in my head.  But a funny thought occurred to me over this long holiday weekend.  Reading is really good for the writer’s mind!

When I read, I am learning about new topics and maybe even new words and ideas but I am also doing a whole lot of subconscious and symbiotic learning.  Learning is occurring at a level below articulation.  This is how children learn spelling and punctuation.  Why should it be any different for adults who write?  Why can’t we learn about characters and dialogue and plot this way?

The trick to getting the most out of those hours I spend away from my keyboard with, as my Mom used to say, “My nose buried in a book.” is to read consciously.  If I find a chapter, paragraph or sentence I like I stop and try to work out why I like it.  Is it the order of the chapter?  Are the sentences growing and building and moving me to a new or different place?  Am I learning more about the characters?  Are the words that the author chose ringing true to the story and the characters?  Why did I like it?

If I can pause long enough to figure that out, I might also figure out how what I learned could work for me in my writing.  What’s good about learning to read for more than the story is that you can use this technique and learn, even from a bad book. 

Give it a try.  See what you can learn about writing from your favorite author.  It’s also a great excuse for grabbing a book and a cup of tea and spending an afternoon just reading.

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