Tag Archives: entertainment weekly

Fewer Filters: Success in Self-Publishing

My cousin-in-law, Tricia Duryee, is a very successful journalist for mocoNews.net and writes eMoney at All Things Digital. She has been covering the cutting edge of  technology for over a decade. A month ago, when Tricia sent me a link to this article about 26-year old Amanda Hocking, a paranormal romance writer making millions self-publishing through Amazon’s Kindle, I paid attention.

I’m still pursuing publication of my memoir through traditional routes with an agent and a publishing house, but if that doesn’t pan out in a reasonable time, self-publishing is definitely something I will consider. Ms. Hocking’s success was encouraging to me because it seems that many writers are self-publishing these days, meaning the market is flooding with new, low-priced works, and I wondered if a real person could actually build a financially successful career in self-publishing. When I attended the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference last summer, the general word from agents was that self-publishing only helped you get a traditional book deal if you were very successful at it, and they made it sound like those odds were very steep.

When my copy of Entertainment Weekly (EW) arrived in the mail yesterday, I was surprised to find a mention of Ms. Hocking in the Book Review section. Tricia really is on the cutting edge of information. The EW article says that Ms. Hocking was recently offered a $2 million, four-book deal by St. Martin’s Press because she’s sold a million copies of her eBook in the past year! The EW article went on to list three other self-published fiction authors who are cleaning up.

What I realized is that I’ve been resisting the idea of self-publishing because its new, it’s change, and its future is uncertain. But I can also see that self-publishing might be allowing the public access to quality works they really love that have been held back by the slow filters of traditional publishing. The paper publishing business is slow and cumbersome compared to the new eBook phenomenon, sometimes taking two years to come to fruition. One agent once told me that she receives 15,000 queries a year and she only takes on perhaps two or three of those writers. We know there are plenty of great undiscovered writers out there, but perhaps e-publishing will help a few more of them be heard.

I have at least one writing friend with self-published books available. Please check out Phil Rink’s middle-grade Jimi & Isaac series, about a pair of science-loving middle school boys and their amazing adventures. His books are available in Kindle and paperback and I’ve read them aloud to my own aspiring twin scientists. I call Phil’s books Judy Blume for boys, although his books will appeal to girls as well.

Maybe Phil will be the next Amanda Hocking?

Inspiration in Entertainment

One of my personal vices has always been movies and television. Although some writers think that indulging this habit is nothing but distraction, I’d argue that it depends on how one approaches them. Because there are so many choices and so little time, I’ve been relying for a few years on the wisdom of Entertainment Weekly (EW). When I discover my copy in the mailbox each Friday afternoon, I get a little thrill thinking about when and how I’ll squeeze in the hour it takes me to devour it.

Last week’s issue was particularly inspiring for me as a writer. Or at least I was reading the magazine like a writer, where every page held some message that called out to me.

Instant Fame

You’ve probably heard of the now infamous Ted Williams, the formerly homeless man with a radio voice from heaven who was discovered on a street corner while holding his cardboard sign. EW noted that his now legendary You Tube video first appeared on-line on January 3 and by January 5, Williams was on The Early Show and had a job with the Cleveland Cavaliers. On January 6, Williams appeared on the Today Show and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and on January 7, he reunited with his estranged mother and his first commercial appeared on-line. That was one busy week. As a reader, I was blown away by the pace at which TV moves. As a writer, I focused on the ideas that the media are just dying to find a sensational story and that if you happen to be part of that story, your professional career could move fast, and perhaps faster than you’d like.

 I’ve heard similar stories about authors who have been fortunate enough to get into the Oprah loop. I, of course, have entertained several fantasies of appearing on her show, and soon her new network, OWN. But I never really believed it could happen to me until the day almost exactly three years ago when I received an e-mail from one of her show’s associate producers. Although I didn’t end up on her show (she aired a show on Feb. 8, 2008 about sperm donors that met their biological children), I did do a 1-hour phone interview with the producer and I was sure I heard elements of our conversation worked into the show. I haven’t given up hope of appearing on her show someday, and that hope is reinvigorated when I read about the kind of story-book success that happened to Ted Williams.

Assisted Reproduction in the Mainstream

I recently blogged about the first mainstream movie with assisted reproduction as a major theme to reach financial success, The Kids Are All Right. Now, I’m happy to report that the film’s stars Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo have all been nominated for acting awards, the highest of which includes the coveted Oscar.  The film has at least 4 Oscar nominations, and as of today, Annette Bening is a frontrunner in the best actress category. Its considered a long-shot for Best Picture but to me that’s less important than the fact that the films critical success has helped it find a wider audience and increased awareness about families built with the help of (egg and) sperm donors. It can only help with reception of my book with mainstream audiences, if I’m so lucky to be in that position some day.

The movie’s success also gives me permission to fantasize about the movie adaptation of my book. I’ve met one Bellingham children’s book author, Royce Buckingham, who successfully penned and sold the screenplay and movie rights to his children’s book. Although it has not yet been made into a movie, he’s still enjoying the annual payments that go with that sale. To me, success as a writer takes many forms, and Buckingham has definitely earned his.

New Directions

Good bye vampires, werewolves, and wizards. Hello… refugee teenage aliens. The movie, I am Number Four, is an adaptation of a young adult sci-fi, due out Feb. 18. Hmmm, I wonder what kind of books will be getting hot deals at this year’s writer’s conferences?

The Beauty of Brevity

To me, good writing is often not about what is said, but how it’s said; finding the most simple and perfect words, as if there could be no better or clearer way to accomplish an idea. With that in mind, I really admire how EW can say so much in so few words. Case in point, last week’s EW presented the movies expected to be released in 2011. I will continue to strive toward this kind of succinct perfection: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon, due out 7/1. Cars are robots.”

I’m wishing you all overnight success, mainstream audiences, and concise prose.

Lorraine Wilde