Planning for 2012

I’ve been making a list of things I hope to do next year, including the writing that I want to complete and publish. I also includes trying out different social networking sites, and paying more attention to Dark Boundaries, my other WordPress blog. If Smashwords doesn’t come through on its some-day-in-the-future deal with Amazon, I’ll have to dig down and start learning about formatting for the Kindle.

And then there’s Gimp. My first efforts at creating my own book covers haven’t been that great, but I can see what’s wrong with them. It’s frustrating that it’s only after I’ve been looking at a cover for a good while that I can see its weaknesses, but I figure that’s what practice is for. Part of my reluctance to do the covers over is that they were done with a combination of several small graphics programs. I don’t have Photoshop, and don’t want to pay for it or any other program at this stage of the game. My sales earnings aren’t anything to get excited about yet, and paying Smashwords for ISBNs cuts into that. (Yes, I know SW will give me free ISBNs.) So I really need to learn Gimp, which is the cheap skate’s version of Photoshop.

All of that has to do with my own books. I’ve also been thinking, very tentatively for the time being, about offering a service to other novelists. Not editing or proofreading. There’s no way I could squeeze that in and still do justice to my own work. What I’m considering is more of an in-depth evaluation. Diagnostics. What’s wrong and what needs to be done. Grammar, vocabulary, writing style, plot, character, POV, continuity, etc. A lot of beginning novelists don’t even seem to be aware that these problems exist and can tank their books. Once they know what the problems are, it’s up to them to decide to ignore them or learn how to improve their work.

The fee would be commensurate with the time that went into it, and much less than what an editor would charge. The idea is based on the belief that most people are intelligent enough to do their own work if someone would just tell them what’s wrong. It would be enough to be worthwhile for me, and cheap enough that someone wouldn’t have wasted a ton of money if they just toss the report and say the hell with it.

If anyone wants to give me some input on the idea, even if it’s to say that it’s crazy and no one would want that kind of report, I’d be glad to have it.

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4 thoughts on “Planning for 2012

  1. Sounds to me like you’re talking about being a paid reader, reviewer or critic. This venture, if successful, might be too much for one person. I’ll admit it is sorely needed on sites like SW. Honest reviews would be excellent guideposts for the reader, but it would probably be most unwelcome by the writers. So, who would pay for it?

    Years ago there was an online magazine called Alienskins. When you subbed a story, you could volunteer for the Zap Squad, who flamed your work in a heartless but humorous way. (They never zapped me. Only the worst of the worst.) Personally, I loved the Zap Squad and couldn’t wait to read it, but the mag went under and the Zap Squad struck fear in every slush writer I knew.

    I have given thought to such a thing, but often what is needed is not wanted.

    1. Not reviews, and nothing to do with books that have already been published. Diagnostics that would help the writer work on the things that are pulling the story down. Writers would hire me to do this for books that they’re working on. Just like hiring an editor, except that it would be an overall view of the problems that it would be up to them to fix. I wouldn’t do the editing.

      Obviously, I didn’t describe it very well, so thanks for helping me to clarify the idea. Early thinking stages right now.

      1. You are correct that this service is needed. I have tried to help other writers–while learning, myself, even if it’s only by default–but I don’t have the tact for it, I guess. I am very interested in what happens with this.

        1. Tact is important, of course, but I’d hope that someone who knows they need help and is willing to pay for it isn’t going to get bent out of shape by an honest evaluation. The idea is to make it clear what they need to learn and improve, not to criticize or even judge the value of the plot. The truth is that you don’t have to read an entire novel to see what the problems are. If they persist through the first chapter or two, then they’ll be there throughout the novel, so I may do it that way. Easier for me, and easier for the writer to deal with. Once a couple of chapters are worked through, they’ll have a better idea how to improve the rest. I’m not sure that’s the way I’d do it, but this is very early days thinking about it.

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