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Writing and Publishing

Is Following a Writing Model a Good Idea?

Though using a pattern to inform our books’ structure has merit, it may lead us to a troublesome end

Is Following a Writing Model a Good Idea?

There are multiple guides we can follow to properly structure the books we write. Perhaps the most common is the three-act structure, but there are many others as well.

There’s enough to make me dizzy, so I won’t start to list them. Besides, this post isn’t to promote these various models as much as to share my concern about them.

For example, I know that when watching a movie, I should expect a plot twist about three-fourths of the way into the show. The incident may be trivial, could have been telegraphed too much earlier in the movie, or come as an unexpected shock, but one thing is certain: I know that something is about to happen, so I brace for it.

Because I expect this plot twist to pop up, it seldom delights me. I know that this annoyance is just one more hurdle for the protagonist to jump over before I can enjoy the ending—and I better enjoy the ending.

This happens in books too, but because I’ve watched more movies than reading books, I’m more tuned in to it with movies.

While I think it’s important we know about these writing devices and be able to apply them when needed, I worry about slavishly following them.

Why is that?

Computers.

Computers and artificial intelligence.

[bctt tweet=”It won’t be long before computers will write passible stories and even books.” username=”Peter_DeHaan”]

Even now computers can write. And it won’t be long before computers will write passible stories and even books. Just enter a couple of characters, a story arc, a conflict, and a few other key parameters. Press enter, and a finished story emerges, following an established writing model.

This technology will one day make most writers obsolete. And I think it will happen much sooner than most people expect.

What computers and AI software will have trouble emulating, however, is the truly creative writers who don’t follow the writing models that the computer programs follow. These writers—and I plan to be one of them—will still be in demand, because computers will struggle to produce a truly creative book that transcends its writing-model programming.

Categories
News

Good News: Reading Is Here To Stay

As long as there are readers, writers will have work to do

Good News: Reading Is Here To Stay

“Reading is here to stay,” wrote Robert M. Sacks in the November/December 2012 issue of Publishing Executive magazine. His astute observation caught my attention, captivating my thoughts, both then and even more so today.

Discussions and speculation about the rapid evolution in the book publishing industry threaten to overwhelm us; considerations abound:

  • Options such as traditional publishing, self-publishing, and assisted publishing
  • More options in the form of indie presses, outsourcing, and support services
  • Help from consultants, coaches, and editors
  • Requirements for the platform, promotion, and marketing
  • Social media to blog, tweet, and message
  • Communication through e-newsletters, RSS feeds, and subscriptions
  • Technologies of e-books, e-readers, and e-publishing
  • Changes via consolidation, closures, and layoffs
  • Audiobooks, foreign rights, translations, screenplays, and movie deals

My brain’s about to explode with all these developments, options, and choices. Readers will always need authors to write things for them to read. Click To Tweet

Yet one thing remains: reading is here to stay. And with the future of reading secure, the future of authors and publishers is promising – for all of us willing to change, adapt, and dream.

Tomorrow will be interesting, exciting, and exhilarating, because reading is here to stay, and those readers will need authors to write content for them to read.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Are You a Linear Thinker or 3D?

Effective communication should address both linear and 3D thinkers

Linear thinking people process thoughts and ideas in succession, logically moving from one point to the next

3D thinking people jump from one thought or idea to another, which often seems to have little connection with each other.

Printed material, such as magazines and books, lend themselves to linear thinking. Digital content, such as websites and social media, lend themselves to 3D thinking.

We must learn to communicate with both linear thinkers and 3D thinkers.

To make books accessible to people who process in 3D, we should put content in short, self-contained sections, provide sidebars and ancillary information, offer links, and make content easy for readers to scan.

To make websites and social media accessible to people who process linearly, we should put content in a format allowing sequential access, offer structure to those who seek it and provide indexes or directories.

Our world contains both linear and 3D thinkers. If we only address one group, we ignore half the market.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Categories
Writing and Publishing

Generation Y Leads in Book Buying

Young people are more apt to read books than older folks

Generation Y Leads in Book Buying

To listen to mainstream media about the state of book publishing leaves most people with an incorrect understanding of the industry. The press gives the impression that fewer people are reading and those who do are mostly older. The industry is dying, so why bother to write and publish books?

Yes, things are changing, but not how most people think—and that’s exciting. The truth is young people are buying more books, not less.

A 2012 news item from Bowker, based on extensive research by Bowker Market Research and Publisher’s Weekly, proclaimed that Gen-Y is now leading all demographics in book consumption. More recent reports confirm this reality. That’s great news! There is a demand for books and a future for books.

The report also confirmed a shift to online purchases and an increase in e-book sales. Other reports suggest it is older readers who embrace digital reading, with younger readers preferring print. Go figure.

Times are changing, so writers and publishers must adapt, but the most important thing is people still want to read and young people are leading the way.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Categories
Writing and Publishing

What Will Book Publishing Look Like in 2015?

I’m bullish about publishing books. Yes, the industry is changing rapidly, but change means opportunity. Though I don’t feel qualified to predict what book publishing will look like in the future, or even next year, I do know one place to look.

The December 2014 issue of Book Business tapped industry experts to contemplate the future of book publishing. While some items discussed were broad, philosophical strategic visions, others were more practical.

The cover story, “The Big Ideas Shaping Book Publishing,” featured ten experts who weighed in on various topics. I most appreciated Caleb Mason’s submission, “Bringing Instincts Back to Acquisitions,” which should be welcome news to every frustrated writer.

Equally insightful is the interview with Rick Joyce, titled “Battling the Homogenization of Books.” Among other topics, he discussed digital media, data collection, pursuing niche audiences (a personal favorite), selecting the right social media platform, and book discovery.

If you want to get a glimpse of what the future may look like or want to help shape your own book publishing strategies, check out the December 2014 issue of Book Business.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

E-Books Gain Traction

Yesterday I listened to a nationwide radio program, where the host interviewed an author with a soon-to-be-released e-book. This wasn’t a print book and an e-book; it was just an e-book.

Usually, the media only considers traditionally published, printed works, while dismissing e-books as irrelevant. Though I’m sure it’s happened before, this is the first time I’d witnessed a deviation from this old-school mindset. How encouraging to see an e-book and its author receive attention and respect from the national media.

This acknowledges just how far e-books have advanced. With their status among readers firmly established, now the mainstream media is following the public’s lead.

Except for a couple of noteworthy exceptions, another facet of publishing long ignored by the media is self-published works. With e-books breaking through media barriers and biases, could self-published books be far behind?

This is such an exciting time for both authors and publishers, regardless of the form their books take.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
(archives)

How Fast Should You Move To HTML5?

If you have a website, and who doesn’t nowadays, you fit in one of three categories:

      1) You use a hosted service that does all the behind-the-scenes technical stuff for you.
      2) You pay someone else to take care of it.
      3) You or an in-house team handles it.

You may also know that HTML5 is the new thing for websites. If you’re in the first two categories, that’s really all you need to know. If you’re in the third category you should track this carefully.

Web browsers handle HTML5 with varying degrees of effectiveness. Therefore, just because a new feature is part of HTML5, it’s unwise to use it before the browsers can actually handle it.

To find what each browser offers, check out html5test.com. It tells which HTML5 features work for your browser and provides a compliance score, based on a 500-point scale. The results are eye opening:

      Chrome 22 leads the pack with 437 points
      Safari 6: 376 points
      Firefox 15: 346 points
      Internet Explorer v9: 138 points

Older versions have lower scores and therefore lower levels of HTML5 compatibility.

The key point is, don’t implement a new HTML5 feature until all the major browsers support it and most users have switched to that version.

Why is an HTML5 post on a blog about publishing? Quite simply because “publishers are becoming developers.” And that’s another thing for us to contemplate.

Categories
(archives)

AIM is Dead: Considerations of a Product Life Cycle

The headline on Gizmodo reads, “AIM Is (Unofficially) Dead.”

This doesn’t surprise me. I’ve not heard anyone talking about AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) for years, and it’s been even longer since I used it. (Which isn’t surprising given that I never liked AIM in the first place.)

The technology of publishing used to be simple: a printing press. Now we have a plethora of publishing technologies, first to aid in the production of the printed page, but more recently — and importantly — to facilitate digital publishing, in all manner of manifestations online as well as mobile.

Just as AIM had its life cycle — birth, growing up, peaking, maturing, and now fading — so too will each of publishing’s technologies do the same. What is important today will someday become a non-issue. And if we blink or are not willing to change, we could easily miss the transition from one technology to the next — and we would do so at our own peril.

I assume that it was Twitter that caused AIM’s demise. That raises the question of how much life does Twitter have left — and what will be its cause of death?