Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Writer's Tools by Suz deMello (A Brief and Limited Look)

The size of our toolbox has increased in the last few years in a very pleasing manner.

It used to be that our tools were simple: pen, paper, and the words we put on said paper using said pen.

Maybe a hundred years ago, the typewriter started to replace paper and pen, though many were never convinced.

The next "Great Leap Forward" came about twenty years ago, when personal computers had become affordable. This time, most were won over, except that many us prefer to use paper and pen, Though I do most of my writing on my laptop, I needed focused effort to make this transition, but I'm happy I did. However, when I'm blocked, it's useful to take my journal and change scenery, perhaps to a Starbucks. That will often joggle loose whatever's got me stuck.

Still a fave!

Perhaps the most useful tool, and the most dramatic change in book publishing, came with the explosion of direct self-publishing that started in 2007 with Amazon's introduction of Kindle Direct Publishing, followed by the founding of Smashwords in 2008. While self-publishing existed before with services such as Lulu (2002), Amazon, with its massive customer base, quickly became the online favorite while Smashwords, with its easy publishing platform and user-friendly approach, is an author favorite (well, it's this author's fave. I like Mark Coker. He's very approachable.).

The stigma attached to self-publishing rapidly diminished as authors decided that we deserve the lion's share of our royalties rather than the measly 6-10% earned through traditional publishers. Even best-selling authors have suffered due to publishers' anti-author policies. I found traditional publishing to be a choice between incompetence or outright thievery, and vastly prefer to go my own way. Although promoting my books remains a mystery, I prefer to sink or swim on my own.


  1. Heh. I remember thinking I could never compose on a keyboard, until I realized that typing is faster than writing. Technology definitely changes culture.

  2. Not to mention how much paper writers went through, the hard work and precious space it took up in their little artist's garrets. Read a few writers' biographies and see what monumental bulk the sheer mass of paper made.

    One mistake-- tear up the sheet, write it again or use white-out, which fucks the paper. My last bottle of white-out desiccated years ago.

  3. Back in the 90's, I typed a letter on a word processor. When the guy got it, he marveled at what a great typist I was; no mistakes, no white-out. Heh! I almost didn't want to tell him. ;>)

  4. At one point I had a typewriter ribbon with a built-in white-out strip. Such luxury! These days one is hard-put to get a new typewriter ribbon of any kind. Not that I want one, but my 96-year-old father is a good typist who never got the hang of computers, and likes to write letters, etc. via typewriter (plus his handwriting has become very shaky.)

  5. I agree with you about Smashwords, Suz. I really like their platform--and their attitude.

    My first novel was submitted in hard copy (though it *was* written on a PC). It cost me about $10 to send the two inch thick manuscript overseas to the UK (Black Lace). Things have definitely gotten a lot easier!

  6. Nice summary, as usual! I still write by hand sometimes. As you say, it certainly can help a block.

  7. Thanks, all, for your kind comments.


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