Don’t #AskELJames, Don’t Tell

Before I begin my thoughts on #AskELJames, let me tell you a “secret”.

Back in 2010, the first agent who read the first early draft of “Vampire Syndrome” chucked my manuscript aside after reading just the first two sentences, and expressed an opinion similar to this:

AskELJames Read Tweet
/rant ˅

Even better, I had paid $50 for the ‘privilege’ of attending her workshop, in which I was promised she would read the first two pages of our manuscripts. My experience cost me $25 for each sentence she read. I myself am of the opinion that if you charge $50 per person admission, you had better damn well read the first two pages from all the attendees. Pay me $50 in cash, and I’ll read two pages of anything, and give you my opinion of it. Dinosaur porn, forklift service manuals, Justin Bieber fanzines; no problem, bring ’em to me. 😉

/rantover ˄

This agent’s workshop ended up being worth far more than $50, for me. Not for her unfinished critique of my work, but for the hard-won advice she gave us about the publishing industry. Specifically, the advice she gave us regarding advances for those authors who were prospects to sign on for Big Five (New York) publishing houses. When my ‘time’ came two years later, and my manuscript was in the hands of New York editors, I knew better than to take two of the deals that were offered to me, and that agent’s advice two years earlier was a contributing factor in my decisions.

Also, when someone thinks you’re “illiterate”, you have nowhere to go but up. Even E.L. James can’t say she ever paid $50 just to get that sort of opinion of her work, so I have her beat there. 😈

Some authors like Anne Rice see “jealousy over James’ success” as being the driving force behind the #AskELJames storm. As in, other authors are jealous of her, just because the Fifty Shades trilogy has made her wealthy.

Let me dispel a few of these notions. I turned down a significant advance from a New York house, and signed with PDMI Publishing (an independent traditional publisher) for no advance a few months later. I was in the position where I could have altered a fundamental precept of my work, for the purposes of financial gain. I chose not to, and instead went with a smaller publisher who respects the integrity of my original creative vision.

And, as much as we’d all love to have the money, would most of us really want to trade places with E.L. James, especially right now? I wouldn’t. Her success has come with a whole freighter ship full of baggage. James’ work, the ‘quality’ thereof, and its subject manner, have long been subject to an unprecedented barrage of harsh criticism in all forms of media, not just this latest frightfest on Twitter.

I didn’t join in the #AskELJames trashfest, because there are things I admire about her. James’ success came from fans connecting with her work in a genuine, non-hype-driven manner. She had sold over 100,000 books on her own as an indie author, which to me is much more impressive than her subsequent sales, which had the benefit of widespread Big Five distribution and an even wider-spread media hype machine.

And, whatever opinions one may hold about her writing and the quality thereof, she is a fellow author. We need to support other authors, not tear them down. The #AskELJames Tweet I posted above reminds me in the most personal fashion that any author is, or can be, subjected to this same merciless bullying.  Even the most beloved of authors can be sucked into the trolls’ quicksand trap.

J.K. Rowling vs. Westboro @Twitter

Rowling vs. Political Trolls @Twitter

The real driving issue here, which I haven’t seen anyone else discussing, is not a simple “jealousy” of James’ success. It’s the perception that a work of “inferior quality” has become successful, at the expense of unknown “better-quality” works. What no authors seem to be willing to admit is that they are upset that the public is buying James’ books instead of “better” works, and virtually all of the authors who Tweet-bashed her believe their own work to be “better” than James’. So what we really have here, when you dig down to the core of the matter, is that these authors are upset that the public is buying James’ work instead of “better” works, including, but not limited to, these authors’ own works.

One of the “old” rules of publishing is that authors have to put in years of their time refining the quality of their craft, subjecting their writing to the “sharpening tools” of critique groups, beta readers, etc. Then, after all that, an E.L. James comes along and knocks over their apple cart by directly connecting with her readers and bypassing all the old-school “dues” authors assume everyone has to pay, to be a “success”. The logic behind the mass of knee-jerk reactions thus becomes all too apparent.

Myself, I’m confident I made the right choice in refining my writing craft. I paid the old-school dues with the goal of improving my writing, not necessarily to be a “success”. I prioritize quality over the chase of the dollar. The successes of James, and Stephenie Meyer before her, prove that THE STORY is what connects with the public, not the perceived quality of writing. In today’s post-apple-cart publishing world, what many call “quality writing” may actually hamper your potential for success. Factors such as excess use of descriptions and fifty-cent phrases to “better” your work can act as barriers which will keep busy, time-deprived readers from enjoying your work. Let’s face it, many people are now reading books on their phones. Not to say you have to “dumb down” your work, but you can have quality, good pacing and reasonable brevity in your writing, when you make this your goal. The main point my Vampire Syndrome Saga makes is that wisdom can be expressed perfectly in simple terms, without falling into the common traps of over-analyzing, over-thinking and over-writing.

We can all benefit from following the Golden Rule. “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” The ‘simplest’ of wisdoms are often the most profound.

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I drove a thousand miles to catch my muse!

Joel Eisenberg Banner June 2015Catching Your Muse: How To Claim Your Artistic Spirit

Snead State Community College and Tyward Books, in conjunction with PDMI Publishing, LLC, are proud to present a very special workshop with producer/screenwriter/author Joel Eisenberg. Join us on June 15, 2015 at the Fielder Auditorium for “Catching Your Muse: How To Claim Your Artistic Spirit.”

In addition to numerous film and television projects, Eisenberg is the co-author of the eight-part epic fantasy series,”The Chronicles of Ara”. The first volume, “Creation,” launched March 15, 2015 at a standing-room-only event at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, California. Eisenberg and his co-author Stephen Hillard are presently developing a television project based on this series.

Joel and the Mayor of Boaz, AlabamaJoel and the Mayor of Boaz, Alabama

Joel with Andrea Zug (l) and Greta King (r)Joel with Andrea Zug (L) and Greta King (R)

Joel (r) with Chrystian McKinneyJoel (R) with Chrystian McKinney

Ben Trexel, guitarist and music producerBen Trexel, guitarist and music producer

Joel Eisenberg speakingJoel Eisenberg speaking

LaWayne Orlando Childrey, Author and JournalistLaWayne Orlando Childrey, Author and Journalist

Daven Anderson (l) with Joel (r)Daven Anderson (L) with Joel (R)

Tc McKinney (l) and Greta King (r)Tc McKinney (L) and Greta King (R)

Virginia Jennings (l) and Tc McKinney (r)Virginia Jennings (L) and Tc McKinney (R)

Tc McKinney, Founder/CEO of PDMI Publishing, LLCTc McKinney, Founder/CEO of PDMI Publishing, LLC

Stacey Brewer (l) and Tc McKinney (r)Stacey Brewer (L) and Tc McKinney (R)

Clay Gilbert (l) and Tc McKinney (r)Clay Gilbert (L) and Tc McKinney (R)

Joel (l) and Clay Gilbert (r)Joel (L) and Clay Gilbert (R)

 

Update Aug. 2017:
Clay Gilbert, LaWayne Orlando Childrey and myself have signed television development deals with Joel. It all started right here, on this fateful day.

Unleashing The Muse on June 16th

Kristen - Writer's Digest 101 Best Sites
Creation Novel (Large)

This June 16th, from 10am to 6pm, Tyward Books of Albertville, Alabama, in conjunction with PDMI Publishing, LLC, will host “Unleashing The Muse”, our spectacular multi-author book signing event. If you love reading, don’t miss your chance to attend one of the biggest multi-author events Alabama has ever seen. Admission is free to the public.

Our event features TV/film producer and author Joel Eisenberg, co-author of “The Chronicles Of Ara,” a heralded new eight-volume fantasy novel series, now being developed for television by Eisenberg and his co-author Steve Hillard. Joel will be signing copies of “Creation,” Volume One of The Chronicles Of Ara series. “Creation” debuted on March 15th in a standing-room-only event in Pasadena, California, and it has already received countless five-star reviews on Amazon and millions of hits on social media channels. Don’t miss this rare chance to meet Mr. Eisenberg in person and get your copy of “Chronicle” signed right here in Albertville, Alabama, instead of having to travel all the way to L.A.!

Other authors confirmed for our signing event include Kristen Lamb (renowned blogger and author of the #1 bestseller “Rise Of The Machines”), Lawayne Childrey (Nationally-renowned News Journalist, winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award, and author of “Peeling Back The Layers”), Jack Gannon and Cyndi Williams-Barnier (“Murder in Twos & Threes”, “Ancient Footsteps”, “Trail Of The Talon”), Clay Gilbert (“Dark Road To Paradise” and the “Annah: Children of Evohe” Series), Greta King (“Waiting For Santa”, “The Adventures of Fred and Ted”), Andrea Zug (the “Lancers Inc. Mysteries” Series), Virginia Jennings (“The Alien Mind” and “Visionary From The Stars”), Daven Anderson (the “Vampire Syndrome” Saga), James Christopher Hill (Renowned Artist), Clarence Bonner (“I Talk Slower Than I Think”), John T. Wayne (“Catfish John [the anatomy of a bottom dweller]”, “Ol’ Slantface”, “Blood Once Spilled” and “The Treasure Del Diablo”), T.K. Thorne (“Angels at the Gate”, “Last Chance for Justice”, “Noah’s Wife”), Debra Guyton (“Butterfly in the Breeze”), Delilah Fondren (“The House Warming”, “Be Still My Love”, “Michael [The Final Chapter]”, “Marriage, a Barrel of Laughs [Unless You’re the One in the Barrel]”, “I Fell in Love With a Witch”, “When the Storm Rolled In Lead [Surrendering My All]”, The “Forgetting” Series of 5 Novellas, Joy Ross Davis (“Countenance”, “Emalyn’s Treasure”), and Ginger Sanders (“Round Eyes”, “He Goes Before Us”).

Don’t miss this chance to meet all of these renowned authors in one mega-event, and get your books signed!
Tyward Books, 7032 Hwy 431, Albertville, AL 35950

Why Authors Should Pay Attention To Gravity

Well, okay, you should always pay attention to gravity (as in the earth’s natural force), but there is another, graver “Gravity” story you need to know.

Kristin Nelson Pub Rants Article: “Why Authors Should Pay Attention To Gravity”

Quick Summary: Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen brought the suit making a claim that the movie was based on her book that New Line Productions had optioned in 1999. Warner Bros. acquired New Line studios and what is in question is whether Warner Bros, after the acquisition, is required to honor the New Line option agreement.

One thing Nelson didn’t touch on is the possible ramifications for those who are (specifically) pursuing “indie” film adaptations of their novels. For example, it might be quite possible your “vampire novel” is more akin to the artistic spirit of successful recent indie vampire films such as Let The Right One In/Let Me In, Byzantium, Only Lovers Left Alive and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night than middling ‘major’ projects such as Vampire Academy and Dracula: Untold.

If a major studio buys out your indie film producer(s), a situation like Tess Gerritsen’s could easily happen. Authors pursuing indie projects will have to trust their “gut feelings” that the producers are committed to crafting the films that Hollywood won’t or can’t do. 😈

Yes, Officer, I’m An Author.

Here at PDMI Publishing, LLC, our Authors are a most diverse lot, covering a wide social spectrum within the diverse halls of our company. Our Authors create oil paintings, host Civil War re-enactments, work with film producers, roleplay at Science Fiction conventions, host educational events for children, caregive for the homebound, and cruise around in loud musclecars.

Wait a minute, did I just say “cruise around in loud musclecars?” Yes, I did. For, you see, I, PDMI Publishing, LLC Author Daven Anderson, am a lifelong “gearhead”, as devoted to the piston as I am to the keyboard.

Many outside our supercharged world of cruising machines view us “gearheads” as being barely above the status of motorcycle gangs, and cast many churlish presumptions our way. Least not of which is a predisposition that our social circle can barely read books, let alone write them.

Earlier today, I joined a few dozen of my “tribe” for a cruise. Two of the cruisers found themselves subject to some heated discussions and even group ridicule for their actions. One unfortunate petrol soul admitted to filling his vintage musclecar with regular-grade gasoline, and then asked for help with his car’s resultant degraded performance.

Another car owner had placed a most indefatigable brand of braggart lettering on his trunklid, advising cars behind him that they could not defeat his “unbeatable” street machine. His car did indeed look the part, with a fiberglass hood and racing tires usually found only on the very fastest of street cars. Alas, under the mighty hood rested a tired engine that would not be able to beat the average Joe’s V6 Honda Accord.

These two car owners were forced to endure some harsh critiques of their rolling stock. These most animated discussions soon reached the point where some “innocent bystanders” decided to summon the local gendarmes to ascertain the true nature of these dialogue exchanges.

One such official representative of the community offered an informed critique regarding the modifications of my car. I agreed with Mister Officer’s opinion that my car’s flat black hood and A-pillar gauge cluster did, in fact, contradict the “sleeper” customizations on the rest of the car. I further clarified that I was “a man of contradictions,” stating that I was not just a “gearhead”, but a published Author as well.

Mister Officer read the back cover of Vampire Syndrome, as I read its book blurb aloud, stating “Daven’s love of musclecars and the open road led to the Vampires’ high-octane adventures all across the beautiful state of Colorado.”

Much to my delight, I overheard Mister Officer explaining to some of the “innocent bystanders” that one of the ransacking Vandal Visigoths before them was, in fact, a published Author.

One of the main missions of my Vampire Syndrome saga is to combat prejudice. My protagonist Jack Wendell, a Vampire with Down Syndrome, helps others to overcome their prejudices against his kind. Jack would be proud that today, I did my part to vanquish some negative assumptions people make about my “tribe.”

vpe1200

There’s No Such Thing As A Famous Author Anymore

Sorry, Virginia, even Santa Claus agrees there’s no such thing as a “famous author” anymore.

And this may be a good thing.

We live in a culture which doles out celebrity to “tin dynasties” of families who are famous just for being famous. You know who they are, whether you want to or not.

No surprise that in such a culture, the authors, the dreamers, the creators are receding into the shadows of marginalization. Even if their creation enchants an entire nation.

Look no further than this magazine.

us-weekly-cf

“Photos”
“Interviews”
“Diaries”
“Stories”

With all of that content, what could possibly be missing?

The author.

The person who created this saga in the first place. The person without whom the movie (and the tie-in magazines) would not even exist.

There was only one mention of “Suzanne Collins” or “novel” in the entire magazine.

In a small piece on the bottom of the back page. And not a single picture of Suzanne.

A stunning decline from the Twilight saga tie-in magazines of only a few years ago, which peppered their pages with pictures of Stephenie Meyer signing books and attending the movie premieres. Of course, she was never the subject of the intense media scrutiny focused on Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, but Meyer was at least “in the picture” (literally “in the pictures” of the saga tie-in magazines) as something of a household name that Twilight saga fans might actually recognize if they encountered her in person.

Now, in this issue of Us Weekly, Suzanne Collins is nothing but a name in the “closing credits.”

Imagine an adolescent Hunger Games Saga fan flipping through a copy of the Us Weekly special issue in the supermarket. If this magazine was all they had to go by, Suzanne Collins could walk right past that fan and they would never notice.

Suzanne_Collins_David_Shankbone_2010

This is what Suzanne Collins looks like. You’re welcome 😈

To think I was lamenting that a “J.D. Salinger”-type author could not exist today in this social-media-driven world. This magazine proves me wrong, at least in the “big picture” sense. Sure, Suzanne attends to all her social media, like any good author nowadays. Those fans who seek to know everything about Suzanne Collins can find it all on the Internet. But in the pages of the tie-in magazine, Suzanne is just a name hiding in the margins, as is the existence of her novel. Hidden from the mass media and the “non-readers’ view”, to the same degree Salinger hid himself from the world.

Sure, I dream of the Vampire Syndrome Saga being optioned by Hollywood. But where will I be, if this happens?

I’ll be celebrated by my fellow authors, to be sure. My life will become interesting enough without the fishbowl of fame. Those who seek to know the mind behind the movies will not be disappointed. But in the mass media, “Vampire Syndrome” will be the movies. The actors. The “photos, interviews, diaries and stories.” And I will be a Salinger in the shadows, left to the company of those who still care about those who can bring their dreams to life.

Update Jan 4 2015:
US Magazine’s subsequent Mockingjay Part 1 special didn’t mention Suzanne Collins at all. The book was only mentioned when Julianne Moore (God bless her!) mentioned that President Coin’s hair is gray because “that’s how it is in the book.”

I am now looking forward to an US Magazine Mockingjay Part 2 special without any mention of its source novel…
😈

A Day That Will Live In Infamy

December 7th is a day that will live in infamy…

…so it’s the perfect day for me to go live as @DavenAnderson on Twitter. 😉