Now It’s Available

PowerElementsOfStoryStructure1000I’ve been having a lot of fun seeing the beautiful cover Rachel Marks designed for Power Elements Of Story Structure floating around on the Internet. Now at last I can tell you it is available for purchase. It’s an 89-page ebook for Kindle priced at $2.99. Here’s the descriptive blurb on Amazon:

Power Elements Of Story Structure, first in the series Power Elements Of Fiction, provides practical help for beginning writers as well as reminders for seasoned novelists. This informative writing manual addresses important elements such as where to start a novel, openings that hook readers, backstory, creating tension, foreshadowing, and much more. Together with intermittent writing exercises, the instruction serves as a concise guide for writing a novel.

“Anyone dreaming of writing a novel needs this book as a guide.” – Sally E. Stuart, founder of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide

“In Power Elements of Story Structure, Rebecca LuElla Miller has distilled the wide variety of instruction and opinions about plot and structure into one pithy and focused volume.” – Carrie Padgett, freelance editor and author of Short, Sweet & Sassy

Power Elements of Story Structure by Rebecca LuElla Miller is a reassuring overview of the main techniques necessary to write a strong and page-turning novel. With clear examples, exercise prompts and focused chapters, Miller provides a fine resource for both the beginning writer and the experienced author.” – Michelle Ule, NYTimes best selling author of three historic novellas and one contemporary novel.

“In Power Elements of Story Structure, Rebecca LuElla Miller has written an excellent resource for writers. Beginning writers will learn basics, from planning a novel to story structure to strong, satisfying endings—all tools to help hone their skills. Veteran authors will receive a refresher course that will help maintain excellence in the writing craft. I look forward to the next installments in this Power Elements of Fiction series.” – Sharon K. Souza, author of Unraveled

“I love books for writers, and I’ve just discovered another valuable resource in Rebecca LuElla Miller’s new book Power Elements of Story Structure. Add it to your library!” – Nick Harrison, senior editor, Harvest House Publishers and author of Power in the Promises and Magnificent Prayer

Now I’m looking forward to receiving some reviews on Amazon. At least I think I am. 😉

The State Of Publishing

When I was in school, I read about the Industrial Revolution, and all the changes it brought, some good but some pretty harsh. I realized the other day that we’re in another one of those revolutions. I don’t know what they’ll end up naming it — the Communications Revolution, maybe, or the Technology Revolution, perhaps. Whatever, books are right there in the middle of the fray, it would seem.

Interestingly, five years ago, on this blog, an acquisitions editor for a reputable Christian publisher said, “As for Amazon sales, those are NOT indicative of true sales.” I doubt if anyone is saying that today. There’s been a revolution. In fact, I just read in The Writer magazine that projections say Amazon will have 50% of book sales by the end of this year. Fifty percent!

Of course this revolution isn’t happening without those who want to fight back. Amazon’s being accused of turning into a monopoly with plans, not just to become THE book seller but THE publisher, what with their print-publishing venture.

How you feel about this revolution probably depends on how you’re connected to the book industry. One thing most people in the know seem to agree upon: Amazon is ignoring the way things have been and has created a new model based on what’s best for the consumer ( i. e, the reader).

In an industry where publishers, distributors, agents, and occasionally authors bicker with one another about issues great and small, Amazon has simply turned its back and addressed the issues from the perspective of the customer. (“Consider The Elephant” by David Malki, The Writer, Nov/Dec 2011.)

Hence, readers can buy books at a lower price, with greater ease, and perhaps with more knowledge about the product, than ever before.

Authors have mixed feelings about the encroachment of Amazon on the publishing scene. They are changing the landscape, without a doubt. As traditional publishers hunker down, they have fewer and fewer slots available, so only The Big Name authors seem likely to be happy with traditional publishing. Those being squeezed out, not so much. Are they happy with Amazon? Not necessarily because they are competing with an ever-growing field of writers who have discovered the ease with which they can get their work in print or on e-reader screens. Make that, Kindle screens.

Publishers, acquisition editors, even possibly agents are in the opposition to this revolutionary take-over threat. After all, they’re losing their gate-keeper role. If they don’t come down on the side of opposing the greater Communication Revolution — that is, if they approach the changes in the business with vision, embracing the technology and the opportunities afforded by social media — they have a chance to maintain a small piece of the pie they so recently hoarded.

For an unpublished writer like me, this is an interesting time for certain. There are many more options available than ever before, but will they be paying ones? In other words, can a writer ever again make a living as a writer? Not that many did before the start of the revolution. But an accompanying question is this: will writing suffer if it becomes littered with hobbyists rather than professionals?

I suppose newspaper people thought the same thing when blogs first came out with all kinds of divergent opinion, but in the case of news and politics, I think consumers care more about facts and opinions than they do the prose with which those are expressed. Blogging suddenly made it possible for the guy who used to chaffed because his letter to the editor had once again been ignored, to suddenly have his own column and his own loyal readers and the chance to write those letters to the editor in the form of comments on other blogs. Suddenly his opinion was getting out there and getting read.

Fiction is a different animal. There’s a bit of art to entertainment, and passionate people who haven’t learned the craft may be disappointed that their books won’t find a way out of the growing morass of similar stories.

The new question — but really, it’s old — is, how does a writer separate from the pack and become noticed? Writers who find an answer will most likely be the ones who navigate the newest crossover — from digital/self-publishing, to traditional. Or will that be, from traditional publishing to digital/self-pubbed?

One closing thought. Thank God He knows what’s going on! 😀

Published in: on February 8, 2012 at 6:52 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,

“Reviews” That Aren’t Reviews

I admit, it’s a pet peeve of mine—blog posts that purport to be reviews but actually do little besides regurgitate press releases or back cover copy.

I can go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or to find the snippet the publisher has provided about a book. I can visit the author’s web site if I want to read his canned bio. When I read a blog post, I want to learn something MORE—something I couldn’t get in the usual places.

That’s why interviews are cool. But today I specifically want to rant abo discuss reviews. 😉

When I’m talking to a friend who has read a book I haven’t yet picked up—or if she’s seen a movie or watched a TV program I’ve only heard about—there are usually two questions I ask: what’s it about and did you like it?

If we have time, I may also ask why did you or didn’t you like it?

From my perspective, those are the essentials of a book review. If I’m talking to a friend, I don’t want her to whip out the LA Times and read their review of the movie. I want to know what my friend thought. After all, I know a little about her tastes and her worldview. She also doesn’t have a vested interest in whether or not I decide to buy a book or ticket because of what she tells me. Therefore, I trust her

Sadly, I’ve seen some blog “reviews” that miss the opportunity to build trust. Honest opinions do that. Some reviewers, instead, “love” everything. I mean, every book is a 5-star story. The writing is great—perfect, even. The author is brilliant, the characters are capable of walking off the page and into your living room. Every … single … book … review.

I don’t know about you, but that stretches my credibility. Especially if I happen to have read the book and found the characters flat and uninteresting or the writing trite and predictable.

How much better to take a step back and think about books objectively. I know it’s sometimes hard. Often when I close a book I love, I can only think of those things that drew me into the story. And that’s OK, but might there be something that could have strengthened the book even more?

Simply by noticing those things, a reviewer becomes more credible. Readers will not build inflated expectations based on a review that says a book is flawless. In reality, the reader may not care about whatever weakness the reviewer noticed, but that’s OK, too. It means the reader will actually like the book more than they expected.

The flip side of the “perfect book” review is the “PR shill” review. Little in the post is original content. The blogger has only cut and pasted material that could be found elsewhere, with perhaps a single line of personal opinion.

How is this helpful? That’s not even as informative as reading from the Times. It’s actually more like reading a paid advertisement.

When I visit a blog, I don’t want to know what the publisher says the book is about, I want to know what the blogger I’m visiting has to say it’s about. I want to know what he thought it’s winning points were. I want to know whether he’d recommend it to people like me.

At Amazon they have a way for visitors to vote whether or not they found a review helpful. Too bad all blog reviews don’t have that capacity, too. I think bloggers might see their posts in a new light if people could say with a click whether or not they found the review—or the “review”—helpful.

Of course, I’m setting myself up for failure, since I’ll be doing a review next week for the CSFF Blog Tour. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll write about a related topic and avoid the review altogether. 🙄

%d bloggers like this: