Publishing Learning Curves

As with anything else entrepreneurial, indie publishing seems to involve a very interesting learning curve. In fact, the world of publishing, indie or traditional seems to involve a learning curve far beyond the initial trade of writing. That is just the first step.

Since I have been writing seriously, starting about two Novembers ago, I learned that many more skills would be needed, besides barfing my ideas and daydreams out on paper.

First, oh yeah, I’d have to become a self-discerning and brutal editor. And many eyes are better than one. In this regard, the writing group I go to has been invaluable, the Denver Fiction Writers. They are polite and tactful, and utterly don’t take any crap. If it sucks, they tell me what pieces of the turd are useful and how to fix the rest of it. They strip away the unconditional love most writers initially feel when they finish something, and force us to look at the piece analytically. I cannot express how much I appreciate this. Writing a story is in some ways like having a baby. That baby is the most awesome thing ever, and no matter how humble and well-intentioned you are as a parent, it is literally psychologically impossible to look at your own creative ‘kid’ completely objectively and see the flaws.

Another thing I’ve been learning, albeit painfully is the synopsis. Wow. I’ve worked in my job with public information officers and been trained somewhat in the principles of public information,  that people remember the first three things they hear, and not much beyond that. That people remember the first thing they hear: primacy, and the last thing they hear: regency. And the simpler you can state something the more likely it is to be remembered. People remember mostly the first 120 words. Even knowing all these things, Holy Moly, darned if squishing everything down into a tiny digestible paragraph isn’t one of the hardest things ever. Maybe it takes a person versed in economy of word, maybe poets would be the best at summarizing an idea or plot, or maybe it will just take some more practice. But I have a new respect for the principles of efficiency in writing.

Another one of the most painful, but useful lessons, one which is often the quickest to fail in emergency situations, but often is difficult in regular calm settings such as solicitation, is communications. I am a painfully introverted person, though I have learned over years to become more social. It is not something at which I will ever be savvy. I don’t have Aspergers Syndrome, but I can see it from where I stand. And my dad has a classic case. So, you might be able to imagine my initial attempts at marketing my writing, whether to agents, or about online indie publications were…comical, and frequently remain so. But learning to do this for my publications of any type has also translated into better social skill in my day job and other interactions outside writing as well.

Finally, another big hurdle, which is evolving at the speed of tech, is proficiency at tech. Before I started writing, I’d heard of Twitter, but it sounded like something that made Onion articles funny. Now, often a doy doesn’t go by when I can look on my phone, like a super-dooper James Bond wannabe, and learn what is going on anywhere in the world…ON MY PHONE! That part still amazes me. In addition, I finally learned how to manipulate tools that might as well have been magic spells to me last year, just as the tech vocabulary was as incomprehensible to me as ancient Sumerian. So here I am, a year later, and much less ignorant in a number of skills, if not quite proficient yet. But it has been an exciting adventure.

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One Response to “Publishing Learning Curves”

  1. Jim Boyd Says:

    A friend of mine teaches journalism and does an exercise with her class for every assignment.
    Write the piece.
    Restate it in one paragraph.
    Restate it in one sentence.

    Seems to me a great editorial exercise.

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