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9. Jan, 2017

The length of a written article varies as much as the genre these days and there are times when even I’m puzzled when a challenge is put to me. The latest was writing drabbles. I’d never heard of them and had to do some research to find out what exactly these mysterious things were. It turned out that the name itself indicated the sum of words that made up the completed story; in this case 100 (or 101) words depending on who you’re talking to.

So … to put some of us out of our misery I have put together this short list of writing/book descriptions with word counts and what they mean.

DRABBLE – 100 (or 101) words. These little tit bits are marvellous. In fact, I love the challenge of them … to write an entire story, complete with beginning, middle and end with only a specific number of words is harder than you think. I know; I’ve tried! But it’s a great exercise.

FLASH FICTION – Around 1,000 words. These are the stories that magazines love – the five-minute reads for lunch-time perusal. The editors who accept them like these tales to have an unexpected twist or sting in the end.

SHORT STORIES – Between 1,000 and 7,500 words. There is a lot more room to manoeuvre in these writings. Several characters can be used, along with several twists and turns.

NOVELETTE – 7,500 to 15,000 words. This was another new one on me, mainly because the word is rarely used. It’s a bit like a mini-me novella. All the same rules apply, as they should with all writing but the scope is wider.

NOVELLA – 15,000 to 40,000 words. This length seems to be very popular these days, mainly because it is no mean feat to write this many words … even for a writer with experience.

NOVEL – 40,000 to 100,000 words. As far as I’m concerned this is like climbing a mountain. Unless you are one talented writer this can take considerable time to achieve.

EPIC – 200,000 words and upwards. There are not many authors these days who write epics. They were common in the days of Virgil, Lord Byron and Harold Robbins, but they take years to put together. And these guys didn’t have the internet.

There you have it. Don’t let this restrict you; just use it as a guide when you tally up those words you so lovingly put together.

(C) Margaret R Blake 09-01-2017

3. Jan, 2017

Just recently I joined two conversations on Facebook, which were about the same Huffington Post article. The author of the piece had put forward a rather scathing opinion of Indie (self-published) authors, that upset a lot of people. She later went on to apologise (after receiving some nasty emails and even some death threats, which I find a bit much) to one said group, saying that the Post had cut the article and with it had changed the original tone of it. Then she added that she would be buying -and reading - some Indie books as she was now convinced that the industry was not just a mere whim of someone who strung a few words together.

While this is all well and good, being both a ‘traditionally’ published and self-published author myself, I don’t think this is good enough. Sure … there is a lot of rubbish out there (my opinion) but many people tend to either forget, or are not aware that self-publishing is where it all started. The big houses have only made their entrance onto the scene in recent years. For example, Random House was founded in 1927, Allen and Unwin in 1914, and Penguin in 1935. Recorded samples of ‘published’ works go back to the year 808, so one must wonder why there is such a stigma on self-publishing when it has been around for hundreds of years.

All writers want to be up there with the big names, selling books and getting lots of dollars for their hard work, but there are downfalls to traditional publishing houses. Once signed up they have no control over their book until the contract has run its course. They don’t get many perks either unless they can bring in millions of sales like Dan Brown, Stephen King or James Patterson. They still have to do their own marketing and promos until they can make enough money to pay for someone to do it for them. Also, they have to pay for their own extras. And did you know they don’t get any royalties – which, by the way, is only 3% of book profits - until their advance is paid off.

There is also the additional thing of getting accepted by one of the big 5 in the first place. Have you ever read a sales catalogue recently and seen a new name? I know I haven’t.

In conclusion, I will say that Indie authors just want to get out there. Whether it’s for fame, fortune or recognition it doesn’t matter. What does matter is, they don’t deserve to be ridiculed. They don’t deserve to be made to feel bad about what they’re doing. And they sure as hell don’t need to read shitty stuff about their achievements, that is put out to the world for all and sundry to see.  They have succeeded in completing a long and sometimes tedious journey, and for that, they should feel proud.

(C) Margaret R Blake 03-01-2017