Answers to Alphabeter’s Questions

Q. If you listen to music while writing do you find yourself writing the scene(s) to fit the music or is it just pleasant background noise?

A. The only time I’ve used music to affect my writing was when I was writing tie-in novels. I found that playing a tape or CD of the Star Trek theme, or the Star Wars music, or Alien was a good way to get my mind “into” that universe so I could write in it.

When I write in my own universe, I don’t put on any music, or I just listen to whatever my husband is playing in the next room. (He has very eclectic tastes.) Mostly, when I’m writing, I prefer silence so I can concentrate. I must be weird.

Q. Would you rather self-publishing only or vanity publishing only exist (but not both like now)? Why?

A Actually, these days, vanity publishers play semantic games and CALL what they’re selling “self-publishing” – when it’s really just plain old vanity publishing. In true self-publishing, no POD or e-publishing or vanity publishing company is involved. Instead, the author is responsible for every aspect of his/her book – the cover design, the layout, the editing, etc., and then the author takes the print-ready book to a PRINTER to produce the actual bound volume. The author doesn’t have to buy books from another company. Instead, the author sets the print run, and takes possession of all copies produced.

I think that true self-publishing is actually a better thing for authors who are serious about starting a career. The author knows from the get-go that he/she is responsible for all costs, and it’s obvious that the author must handle all avenues of distribution. There’s much less chance of writers being disappointed after being drawn in with promises of bestsellerdom and booksignings.

Of course, POD/vanity publishing does have its valid uses. Some writers don’t want to bother with things like designing covers, or laying out a book’s text. They want to hire a company to do it for them. Valid uses for this kind of publishing include non-commercial volumes of, say, church recipes, family histories, personal memoirs to leave to descendents, poetry collections, etc.

So I would say that both types of publishing have their uses.

Q. If you could name full names of the naughty, would you or is it more amusing to refer to them as ‘Publisher’ AE/PA, Agent F, etc…?

A. Writer Beware bows to the wishes of our attorney in such matters. Basically, what “Jaws” says, goes. Sometimes he doesn’t object to us spelling out the identity of a scam publisher or agent. Sometimes he prefers that we obfuscate a bit. We’d be foolish to ignore his advice, so what he says pretty much goes.

Q. Would you rather have to write three books a year to make ends meet or be contractually obligated to just one a year–but all the previous ones have been best-sellers with huge followings?

A. I’m not a fast enough writer to write three books in one year. I think I may have done it once during the past 20-odd years, and during that busy year, I collaborated on a Witch World novel with Andre Norton, plus I wrote two media tie-in novels.

My original novels take me much longer to write than the media tie-in books, because I have to create the world(s) and all the characters. I actually like writing them better, though they are more work.

I’ve had a number of bestsellers, but when I write these days I try not to let myself be pressured by that. I can’t think of a faster way for a writer to “choke” than to feel that kind of pressure. The best thing a writer can do is to write the very best book she can – the VERY BEST – and then hope that sales will be commensurate with the amount of effort she put into the book. Sadly, this isn’t always the case. It should be, but it isn’t. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying.

Q. How much pulp would a scammer publish if a scammer could truly publish slush?

A. A lot of books published by scam publishers ARE slushpile rejects. Scammers publish as much as the author will pay them to publish. Quality is of no importance whatsoever. That’s what sets them apart from real, commercial publishers.

(I realize that last may have been a joke. If it was just meant to elicit a smile, sorry.)

-Ann C. Crispin
Writer Beware

1 Comment

  1. First,

    THANK YOU for answering all of my questions.

    Second, I actually read it and linked to it (with a belated note) on my wee little blog so hopefully your traffic will increase by one less victim.

    Third, the last was a real question but after I sent it I reread it again and it seemed like a take on “how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood”. Alas, I could not edit the comment. I am glad you answered it though.

    Keep up the great work!

    PS I would be afraid of Jaws even if I didn’t know who he was, but as I do (via the AW boards), I am even more terrified.

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MARCH 27, 2006

More Egg on the Face of PublishAmerica

APRIL 1, 2006