Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Is This Wrong?

Hi Guys,

Well yes - this absolutely is! But it amused me and I'm told popes are quite forgiving people and maybe a few Hail Mary's could keep my toes out of the lakes of burning fire!
But more to the point I was thinking about questions that keep being asked on some of the writing fora about the do's and don'ts of writing these days. Can I do this? Or not? And it occurred to me once more, how drastically the writing scene has changed these past ten years. And how the rules have changed.
Six or seven days ago I published a new book - The Session - a short story about the devil going into therapy (I sense more Hail Mary's in my future!) and it struck me that what I was doing in publishing that story was a radical departure of what I could have done a decade ago. And it's not just because of the advent of self publishing. It's because of the rise of the e-book as well. I published a short story on its own - not as part of a collection or a magazine. Ten years ago that would have been impossible. It would also have been wrong. Because printers could not have been set up to produce 6k novels. The option of e-books makes this possible.
And as those of you who have read my books - especially the print editions - will know, my paragraph formating is not traditional either. I use either block formating - a clear line between one paragraph and the next, or sometimes block formating with a small indent as well. I also generally use a twelve point font. My reasoning is that it looks damned good (oh no - more Hail Mary's coming) on a page and it's clear. Maybe my eyes aren't quite as sharp as they once were - I don't know - but I value being able to read a book easily over saving a little bit of paper by producing a wall of indented text.
In one of my fora perhaps a month or so ago a poster asked if she could use vertical lettering in places and swapping fonts occasionally and so forth. And my answer to her was that if it adds to the book then yes. I can't imagine many traditional publishers going for this option, but we're no longer in the era of traditional publishing. We're in the era of self publishing and e-books.
So the thrust of my post is this:
If you're self publishing it's time to stop asking the questions - can I do something? Is it right? Because the answers are yes you can and right and wrong don't work the same way any more. There are no hard and fast rules about writing.
So instead of asking these questions the indie author should instead ask another question entirely: Does this work?
Remember as an indie you are the artist in charge. You write the book. You edit and format it. You decide on cover design and what have you. The power is in your hands. And the only people who can judge you are your readers. And that's how things should be in a free market.
Cheers, Greg.
(Off now to find out just what exactly is involved in saying a Hail Mary!)


  1. I don't think I ever asked if I could do something with regards to writing, but then I've never been one to limit myself. The only time I asked if something is right is in relation to factual data. I guess that means I'm ahead of the game, right? Or maybe just disobedient from the start. :)

  2. You're definitely ahead of the game. But still some people will try to tell you you're wrong.