Wednesday, March 25, 2015

This Is Not A Writing Manual by Kerri Majors

Due to NaNoWriMo, the NLB's eBooks program was recommending me a bunch of writing books. It took me some time after Nano, but I decided to take a look at their selection. I've heard of this book before (I think), so I decided to give it a go. After all, I'm still on my NaNoWriMo high.

This is Not a Writing Manual is catered towards young writers (for some reason, I think young female writers instead of people like my brother. I don't know why, it's just a feeling I got), and it's divided into three parts:

Part 1: The writing process. This was pretty interesting, and since it covers things like drafting, feedback (how to take feedback), revision, what you can learn from soap operas, and much more. I really like the advice of leaving your ego at the door. This was probably the most useful section to me.

Part 2: The Writing Life. Here, she talks about workshops, writing groups, and classes. She strongly strongly recommends writing classes. Sadly, I don't think there is a writing class in my uni. I do agree with the writing circles thing though, she praises Figment, and I'd like to add in WriteOn as a way to get good feedback (My review of Figment vs WriteOn vs Wattpad here).

Part 3: Looking ahead - Supporting yourself, Getting Published and not Getting Published. This part... I didn't like so much. Perhaps it's because we got off on the wrong foot, when she started by debating whether writing was a hobby or a job. I agree it can be a job (there are plenty of self-publishing authors who make a full-time living at this). But she calls her writing "work" but her friend Phils attempts at triatholons and photography a "hobby". But wait, Julia Child's writing is a job. And her conclusion is "writing is not a hobby because it's too much work." Uh well, yes, it is work, but it's also fun. Every hobby is going to involve work (except perhaps doing TV drama marathons. Although I suppose the work needed to get back to normal will be tremendous). So yes, I disagree with her here - I think writing can be a hobby or a job, depending on what you want.

The second thing is about self-publishing. She talks about it briefly, basically saying that it's a lot more work than traditional publishing, but you know, it's gaining respectability. So far so good, but then she says "You will also have to swallow Amazon's (or Barnes and Noble's, or Apple's) standard profit-sharing rate for e-publishing." Because my latest reading-up topic is self-publishing (one of the not-so-weird topics, I used to google the weirdest stuff), I really wish she actually gave figures. For Amazon, it's 35% or 70%. That's still more than traditional publishing, where it's between 8%-15% based on type of paper book and volume, and 25% of ebooks. (And don't forget, agents get 15% of your cut) So even the highest tradpub royalty rate is lower than Amazon's lowest rate. When you think about it this way, paying Amazon 30% to sell your books is really cheap.

Woah, that deviated quickly. Ok, back to topic - The craft section of this book will be inspiring to a young author. Part 2 may or may not be helpful depending on where you live, but Part 3 is meh. I would say this is for the author-to-be's, those that need a dose of encouragement.

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