Speaking of New Models for Self-Published Authors . . .

24

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  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher Publisher
    edited March 10
    Kevin, old boy, no one said there were not vikings in past films and books. What I said was that when I wrote KVS you could count on one hand (maybe two) the number of novels available focused on the Norse world. There most certainly had been many in the past and maybe even over in your neck of the woods (the UK) there were more than we had here. But when I undertook to write mine here are the ones then in print and so readily available:

    Hrolf Kraki's Saga by Poul Anderson
    The Golden Warrior by Hope Muntz (though not strictly about vikings)
    Eric Brighteyes by H. Rider Haggard
    Styrbiorn the Strong by E. R. Eddison
    Two Ravens by Cecelia Holland
    The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley (not a saga pastiche but with strong resonances with the old sagas)
    Gunnar's Daughter by Sigrid Undset

    Most had fantasy elements but were predominantly realistic adventure tales told with a Norse "voice." I read the first four before writing mine, especially The Golden Warrior which was a brilliant tale of the events leading up to the Norman Conquest and which really inspired me to try my hand at the Norse thing.

    Around the time or shortly after I wrote and published mine, others began to appear, some quite good, like Saga: A Tale of Medieval iceland by Jeff Janoda. (He joined us for our first literary arts festival by the way.)

    Others came along by Holland including a whole series and then there came the Oathsworn series by Robert Low beginning with The Whale Road and Giles Kristian's series and many, many more.

    Mine came before these and was not pitched to be a knock down, bang 'em up adventure but a saga pastiche similar to, but not the same as, the first four novels I mentioned above. I think the viking thing (as in pillage and rapine, band of brothers stuff) began to capture the audience and interest in the sagas themselves, which also include a great deal about day to day life among the Icelanders of that era and are the source of much of the lore we now have of the Norse life of old, faded away.

    My novel, though it had lots of action was pitched to be the saga about the Norse explorations of North America that was never written (or at least if it were, has been lost to us).

    Now I know Kevin that you must be itching to inform me that there are, in fact, two such sagas written.

    Be assured, I know that. Actually they are very brief, perfunctory reports of the Greenland excursions to North America and look to have had a common source because of many similarities though they also report very different events concerning the same people.

    When I write here that I aimed to write the saga that might have been, but never was, about the Norse explorations to the New World I am referring to a substantive saga, in the tradition of the great Njal's Saga which is kind of a medieval Icelandic Iliad, not to offer another perfunctory sketch of those events.

    So, in sum, Kevin, I know that vikings have been around in the literature and in film for a long time. What I meant, when I wrote that there weren't a lot of novels about the Norse available here at the time, is that the older stuff had mostly gone out of print and the newer was yet to be. Here's what it looks like now (so no, I don't have any plans to write about vikings anymore -- the field is quite well represented):

     https://www.amazon.com/s?k=the+vikings&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss_1 
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor
    swmirsky said:
    If you recall, I first started posting here with an idea that some authors here band together to try to create a curated (I like THAT word) imprint which would stand out from the run-of-the-mill self-published books.
    In a way, the author's forums here at Lulu are an attempt to do that very thing. For instance, MSS are often submitted here for review and comment by experienced writers and self-publishers. And the advice they get is often heeded, hopefully to the betterment of the books. Sadly, and all too often, we run up against an unwillingness to listen to advice, especially when it is not what the author would like to hear. And part of that, I think, comes from some of the reasons that an author will turn to self-publishing in the first place: a desire to do things their way and without interference or input from anyone else. (For instance, I've mentioned that many authors self-publish because of a---unfounded---fear that their books will be tampered with or rewritten by a traditional publisher.) While certainly not shared by every author looking to self-publish (thank goodness!), it is kind of independence clung to by too many that can be self-defeating.

    Books from traditional publishers are "curated" in the sense that they have to run a gauntlet of editors and copy editors, all of whom are dedicated to seeing that a book be polished to a high gloss. This is one of the reasons that traditionally published books are trusted: they are like a known brand. And, of course, this trust is something that has taken many years---often decades---to acquire.

    If self-published authors would be willing to submit their books to the same sort of "curatorial" process that would allow an imprint to be attached that would be a cachet of quality to the potential reader, that would indeed be a good thing. But these authors would have to be just as thick-skinned and pragmatic as the professional authors who publish traditionally. Fortunately, many self-published authors are realists.

    Of course, the cachet could be attached only to books that are so well-done that they need no other improvement. That would be all well and good, and save a lot of grief and work, but it might mean omitting many excellent works that would pass with just a little refinement. And it might also be a deterrent to hopeful authors---whose books may only fall a little short---who see only these ideal books passing the bar.

    For my part, I would like to see this curating process act at least in part like an editorial board, where books that fall just a little short of perfection can be critiqued, with suggestions to the author for improvements or revisions that might be made. I think this would be a more valuable direction to take than simply saying "This book is in and that book is out." I think this would also add meaningful value to the imprint you are suggesting...which, I think, is more like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval or an Underwriter's Laboratory seal than an imprint in the usual sense.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher Publisher
    edited March 8
    Books from traditional publishers are "curated" in the sense that they have to run a gauntlet of editors and copy editors, all of whom are dedicated to seeing that a book be polished to a high gloss. This is one of the reasons that traditionally published books are trusted: they are like a known brand. And, of course, this trust is something that has taken many years---often decades---to acquire.

    If self-published authors would be willing to submit their books to the same sort of "curatorial" process that would allow an imprint to be attached that would be a cachet of quality to the potential reader, that would indeed be a good thing. But these authors would have to be just as thick-skinned and pragmatic as the professional authors who publish traditionally. Fortunately, many self-published authors are realists.

    Of course, the cachet could be attached only to books that are so well-done that they need no other improvement. That would be all well and good, and save a lot of grief and work, but it might mean omitting many excellent works that would pass with just a little refinement. And it might also be a deterrent to hopeful authors---whose books may only fall a little short---who see only these ideal books passing the bar.

    For my part, I would like to see this curating process act at least in part like an editorial board, where books that fall just a little short of perfection can be critiqued, with suggestions to the author for improvements or revisions that might be made. I think this would be a more valuable direction to take than simply saying "This book is in and that book is out." I think this would also add meaningful value to the imprint you are suggesting...which, I think, is more like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval or an Underwriter's Laboratory seal than an imprint in the usual sense.
    Yes, precisely, a seal of approval. That was the idea! And you have expressed my own sentiments in your analysis above, as well.

    Perhaps where we differ lies only in whether we come down on the side of demanding a perfect approach or only one that is better in general than what we have. The perfect, as they say, should not be the enemy of the good. So a group of cooperating authors acting to help others and "curate" books which would then be recognizable by an added imprint on the cover (and so tell prospective readers that a certain level of quality has been reached) would be a good thing on my view, too.

    But as you note our egos are always involved. Authors are generally convinced THEY know what's right better than anyone else -- and I don't except myself since I passed up two chances that may have led to KVS being published traditionally when I declined to re-cast the narrative with a more modern sounding "voice". My ego? Perhaps. But it was also that I had a certain vision for the book and, unfortunately, there wasn't then any interest I could discern in a saga pastiche cum modern novel! Where do we draw the line between stubborn egoism and artistic vision? I don't think there's a hard and fast demarcating point, do you?

    So I don't think a group of us, teamed up to create a premium imprint, would get it right every time. Artistic visions are personal. Judgments of marketability vs. quality depend on the standards we bring with us. Any given author may have a better or more discerning sensibility for his or her story than all the rest, no matter how smart, accomplished, etc., everyone else is. In the publishing industry, as you say, there's a bottom line: find books that have the potential to sell and hone them to a fine edge so they will do the best that can be done in the reading marketplace and beyond. Our only motivation, since we won't be in it for the money, would be to produce a quality imprimatur that will send the right message to prospective readers. Would that, could that be enough? I don't know.

    But I'd still be up for giving it a try. In the meantime Reedsy seems to be moving towards that end though they would be getting involved not as pre-publication editors/curators (unless one buys those added services you've alluded to) but as after the fact curators for the reading public. That's better than nothing, or so it seems to me.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor
    The only real drawback is more or less what Kevin and I expressed at the beginning, which comes down to finding authors willing to take a substantial portion of their time in working on other people’s books when the same time could be spent writing, improving and promoting their own. As you probably know as well as I do, properly editing and copy editing a book is an involved and time-consuming process. This is something I would find it hard to imagine many authors being willing to do, aside from the fact that editing is a specialty not all authors are equipped for.

    The “lite” version of this plan would be to just put a stamp of approval on a book that as author on this committee or board (or whatever it is going to be) has read and enjoyed...with this stamp requiring some given number of other members to also have approved of the same book.

    In this respect, the “curated imprint” you suggest really resembles something like the Book-of-the-Month Club, in which selected titles are given the marque of having passed a stringent board of review. Being a “Book-of-The-Month Club Feature Selection” has always been of high value in the promotion of a book. Your curated imprint might achieve the same status.


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher Publisher
    That lite version could certainly be a start. I would add that at the least the cooperating group should have minimal standards as to copy editing, layout, cover design and so forth. Substantive editing is a different matter but if it's not done right then the book under review wouldn't pass muster in any event.

    I'd be up for trying something like that if there were enough folks here interested in doing it. I'd set aside time to read others' work (which would hopefully not detract too much from my own work).

    It would mean exchanging books and then the group discussing the books being considered, maybe off line or in a specially designated forum, and then voting on the imprimatur which could then be added to the book's cover.

    Once organized and underway the group would also need to do some publicity around the effort so the imprimatur would start to gain some recognition. Initial efforts especially should be very stringently judged to establish bona fides though a little more looseness (not too much) could kick in later, once the imprimatur has some cachet of its own.

    One drawback I see is what happens if the group decides a book doesn't qualify? How does the author take it? Get peeved and take his or her marbles and go home? Demand a replay? Become embittered here? Maybe the group should designate a smaller team of reviewers (if there are enough of us) to make the recommendation without attaching their names to the result so that this would not be personal. But I do think the idea of developing (and I stress "developing") this kind of thing could have a positive impact on our books overall. We might even reach a point of public visibility where we get an article in Forbes or some similar media mouthpiece about the effort!

    If Lulu were participating, though they wouldn't have to, they could also benefit from such a profile piece. Or, of course, we could eventually decide to take the effort to a separate platform and, who knows, even try to develop the next big thing in self-publishing!  
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius
    Gosh, is that from the 1940s?
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor
    edited March 9
    swmirsky said:
    That lite version could certainly be a start. I would add that at the least the cooperating group should have minimal standards as to copy editing, layout, cover design and so forth. Substantive editing is a different matter but if it's not done right then the book under review wouldn't pass muster in any event.

    I don’t know if there are any subjective standards for these things that could be applied across the board.

    I'd be up for trying something like that if there were enough folks here interested in doing it. I'd set aside time to read others' work (which would hopefully not detract too much from my own work).

    It would mean exchanging books and then the group discussing the books being considered, maybe off line or in a specially designated forum, and then voting on the imprimatur which could then be added to the book's cover.

    Once organized and underway the group would also need to do some publicity around the effort so the imprimatur would start to gain some recognition. Initial efforts especially should be very stringently judged to establish bona fides though a little more looseness (not too much) could kick in later, once the imprimatur has some cachet of its own.

    Once a established a reputation for quality is established it should never be compromised.

    One drawback I see is what happens if the group decides a book doesn't qualify? How does the author take it? Get peeved and take his or her marbles and go home? Demand a replay? Become embittered here?

    I would suggest that books not be submitted, but instead be chosen by the reviewer(s) from the titles currently in print. With 1,000,000 titles available, no one should be surprised if their book is overlooked.

    I have had several books chosen by book clubs...one was even chosen as a feature selection twice...but more have not been chosen. Neither I nor the publishers took this personally. If someone complains, too bad.

     Maybe the group should designate a smaller team of reviewers (if there are enough of us) to make the recommendation without attaching their names to the result so that this would not be personal. But I do think the idea of developing (and I stress "developing") this kind of thing could have a positive impact on our books overall. We might even reach a point of public visibility where we get an article in Forbes or some similar media mouthpiece about the effort!

    I think that the only way in which this would have any credibility would be if the judges or selection committee itself had credibility. Anonymous authors choosing other authors won’t carry much weight...and the fact the authors are self-published is a negative perception already in place that has to be overcome. Established book clubs don’t have to publicize their editorial boards for the simple reason that they are so well-established. They can rest on their reputations. Way back when the first book clubs began, however, they did make a point to mention some of the more prestigious names attached.

    If Lulu were participating, though they wouldn't have to, they could also benefit from such a profile piece. Or, of course, we could eventually decide to take the effort to a separate platform and, who knows, even try to develop the next big thing in self-publishing!  

    Well, again only if this pays off directly for the authors involved in the panel. I don’t think anyone is going to be be willing to volunteer to the extent of taking substantial amounts of time from their own work. I know that I am not that altruistic. You mention this very problem yourself in your second paragraph.

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher Publisher
    edited March 9
    I don't see it as altruistic but mutually beneficial in a general way. If we can develop a credible vetting process it will help improve many POD offerings and thus raise the standard which is good for all POD authors. And it can help in the promotion and sales departments.

    You're right that attaining credibility is a hurdle that needs to be overcome. But that's how it is with any effort. It's like a race across a field with obstacles. We can run the race or walk away. But getting in a race gives you a chance to finish among the winners. If there are hurdles you jump them.

    Anyway I would be willing to collaborate with others here to put something together and see if we can get it across the finish line. The first thing to do is to see if any of our colleagues are interested enough to run with us. If a few are, then we can talk process and take the first steps out of the gate.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor
    swmirsky said:
    I don't see it as altruistic but mutually beneficial in a general way. If we can develop a credible vetting process it will help improve many POD offerings and thus raise the standard which is good for all POD authors. And it can help in the promotion and sales departments.

    I think it would depend a good deal on how much time and effort need be invested. As both Kevin and I have pointed out, every minute spent on a project like this is time that could be devoted to writing and promoting one’s own work...and often promoting books in established, proven ways, Another way to think of this is to balance the immediate benefits of focusing on one’s own projects against the speculative returns that might come from time invested in the “book club.”

    (What I think you should abandon, however, is the idea of a kind of mutual editing society.)

    You're right that attaining credibility is a hurdle that needs to be overcome. But that's how it is with any effort. It's like a race across a field with obstacles in the way. We can run the race or walk away. But sometimes getting in a race gives you a chance to finish among the winners. If there are hurdles you jump them.

    As I suggested, initial credibility is going to come from the value of the names attached to the vetting process. This is how institutions such as the Book-of-the-Month Club or many of the more respected literary awards started off. Their credibility was founded on the recognizability and trust that came with the names of the writers, editors and publishers who chose the materials.

    Once the value of the books being recommended is established, the “club” could—like today’s book clubs—cruise on its reputation.

    So I think the first thing you would need to do is contact as many well-known POD writers as you can, to see who might be willing to attach their names as well as invest some time.


    Anyway I would be willing to collaborate with others here to put something together and see if we can get it across the finish line. The first thing to do is to see if any of our colleagues are interested enough to run with us. If a few are, then we can talk process and take the first steps out of the gate.

    Go for it!


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher Publisher
    edited March 9
    Got a list of well known POD authors you'd suggest I or we should contact? By the way, my experience of book clubs, which today seem very much a thing of the past in terms of book marketing, had nothing to do with selection by "name" readers or authors. Maybe it's just me but I  used "book club" recommendations only based on the books' titles and synopses presented and the deals offered. But maybe that's just me. But sure, I'd be glad to look into some form of outreach to "name" players in the field.

    The next really important question is whether or not I'd be doing this alone with no prospect of others here joining me should I find interested players of the sort you're referring to, Ron, or is there a small cadre of folks here who think the idea interesting enough to throw in with me should I start to get positive responses from the kinds of folks you specify?

    So here's the question put simply and directly: Are you, Ron, or any others here game to try this? If so let me know either in this thread or via independent message. Here's my email address if anyone would prefer to speak about this concept in a more private way: [email protected] 
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor
    edited March 9
    swmirsky said:
    Got a list of well known POD authors you'd suggest I or we should contact? By the way, my experience of book clubs, which today seem very much a thing of the past in terms of book marketing, had nothing to do with selection by "name" readers or authors.

    The Book of the Month Club was founded in 1929, so you may have come in a little late.

    Today, a reinvented BOMC operates entirely as an online enterprise.

    (There are numerous other book clubs that work in a similar way to the BOMC, but are independent of it, such as the Science Fiction Book Club, History Book Club or the Library of Science Book Club. Almost all of them, however, are today owned by Bookspan.)

    By the way, I discovered that today "Approximately 75% of the club's titles are by up-and-coming authors" and that "The club has a tradition of focusing on debut and emerging writers, and is known for having helped launch the careers of some of the most acclaimed authors in American literary history."

    Something to aspire to!

    Today's Book of the Month Club still works pretty much as it did originally. It is a three-step process...

    First, an "editorial team r
    eviews hundreds of upcoming titles from more than 50 different imprints from all major publishing houses and many indies [emphasis mine] to scope out which upcoming books we think our members will love. We read, debate, repeat. We then send our favorites to our readers committee."

    The current readers committee consists of writers, publishers and  "...die-hard BOTM members...who read through potential selections and give us their feedback."

    Finally, there are the judges. These consist of "book bloggers...journalists...authors...and from time to time, celebrities... [who] are in frequent communication with our editorial team, letting us know what books they're most excited about, and what books they are not so keen on."

    Here is the current list of judges: https://www.bookofthemonth.com/judges

    Ultimately, the Book of the Month Club's "editorial team makes the call on the final five selections, using their editorial sense, readers committee feedback, and judges' opinions."

    Of course, the biggest difference between what a book club does and what you have in mind is that you will not be selling the books you recommend. All you are doing is permitting an author to attach a seal of approval.

    Maybe it's just me but I  used "book club" recommendations only based on the books' titles and synopses presented and the deals offered. But maybe that's just me. But sure, I'd be glad to look into some form of outreach to "name" players in the field.

    Sure...but remember that even though you may be unaware of who has chosen the books on the list, you are still showing some respect for the list itself by considering its recommendations. Part of this is due, I suspect, to the established, 90-year-old reputation of the club itself.

    The next really important question is whether or not I'd be doing this alone with no prospect of others here joining me should I find interested players of the sort you're referring to, Ron, or is there a small cadre of folks here who think the idea interesting enough to throw in with me should I start to get positive responses from the kinds of folks you specify?

    Why not broadcast a call and see who responds?


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher Publisher
    Okay, I'll do what you once urged and start a separate dedicated discussion and we'll see if ANYONE responds. No emails yet though.

    Yes this wouldn't be another book of the month club and it won't be the kind of cumbersome process you describe above. To work it would have to be a lot more streamlined. I'll compose and post something maybe by tomorrow.

    Not encouraging so far though since aside from you no one else has even waded in here with a comment reflecting any interest at all.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius
    I don't see it as altruistic but mutually beneficial in a general way. If we can develop a credible vetting process it will help improve many POD offerings and thus raise the standard which is good for all POD authors. And it can help in the promotion and sales departments.

    A lot of people used to ask for advice in the forums about their works. Some only really wanted praise and became somewhat annoyed when honesty was shown. It was also possible to leave comments in the Promotions section. That was stopped because even one or two regulars to the forums said it's none of our business how people write, and put their books together.

    You're right that attaining credibility is a hurdle that needs to be overcome. But that's how it is with any effort. It's like a race across a field with obstacles. We can run the race or walk away. But getting in a race gives you a chance to finish among the winners. If there are hurdles you jump them.

    That makes no sense.

    Anyway I would be willing to collaborate with others here to put something together and see if we can get it across the finish line.

    * You have said that many times, and what have the replies been?

     The first thing to do is to see if any of our colleagues are interested enough to run with us. If a few are, then we can talk process and take the first steps out of the gate.

    See the above *
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius
    swmirsky said:
    Kevin, old boy, no one said there were not vikings in past films and books. 

    You did. You more or less said you started a trend.

    What I said was that when I wrote KVS you could count on one hand (maybe two) the number of novels available focused on the Norse world.

    Well, I wont bother looking them up, but that's hardly true.

     There most certainly had been many in the past and maybe even over in your neck of the woods (the UK) there were more than we had here.

    Gosh, Viking fiction in not only the UK but also in Europe? You forget where the stories come from. Look up some UK and European history about them.

     But when I undertook to write mine here are the ones then in print and so readily available:

    I keep trying to remind you that the USA is not the world.

    Hrolf Kraki's Saga by Poul Anderson
    The Golden Warrior by Hope Muntz (though not strictly about vikings)
    Eric Brighteyes by H. Rider Haggard
    Styrbiorn the Strong by E. R. Eddison
    Two Ravens by Cecelia Holland
    The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley (not a saga pastiche but with strong resonances with the old sagas)
    Gunnar's Daughter by Sigrid Lavransdatter

    Most had fantasy elements but were predominantly realistic adventure tales told with a Norse "voice."

    That's because in reality little is known about them, apart from their decedents.

     I read the first four before writing mine, especially The Golden Warrior which was a brilliant tale of the events leading up to the Norman Conquest and which really inspired me to try my hand at the Norse thing.

    And did you know that the Normans descended from Vikings? North-man.

    Around the time or shortly after I wrote and published mine, others began to appear, some quite good, like Saga: A Tale of Medieval iceland by Jeff Janoda. (He joined us for our first literary arts festival by the way.)

    Inspiration is very rarely unique.

    Others came along by Holland including a whole series and then there came the Oathsworn series by Robert Low beginning with The Whale Road and Giles Kristian's series and many, many more.

    Mine came before these and was not pitched to be a knock down, bang 'em up adventure but a saga pastiche similar to, but not the same as, the first four novels I mentioned above. I think the viking thing (as in pillage and rapine, band of brothers stuff) began to capture the audience and interest in the sagas themselves, which also include a great deal about day to day life among the Icelanders of that era and are the source of much of the lore we now have of the Norse life of old, faded away.

    My novel, though it had lots of action was pitched to be the saga about the Norse explorations of North America that was never written (or at least if it were, has been lost to us).

    The Vikings were not renowned for writing stuff down. But did you know they actually lived there for 100 years?

    Now I know Kevin that you must be itching to inform me that there are, in fact, two such sagas written.

    Nope, I don't read historical fiction. I prefer historical facts.

    Be assured, I know that. Actually they are very brief, perfunctory reports of the Greenland excursions to North America and look to have had a common source because of many similarities though they also report very different events concerning the same people.

    I think it was Leif Ericson who did a bit of marketing for the place, giving the impression it was a nice warm area.

    When I write here that I aimed to write the saga that might have been, but never was, about the Norse explorations to the New World

    It was only a New World to Columbus, who mostly 'found' Central and South America anyhow.

     I am referring to a substantive saga, in the tradition of the great Njal's Saga which is kind of a medieval Icelandic Iliad, not to offer another perfunctory sketch of those events.

    So, in sum, Kevin, I know that vikings have been around in the literature and in film for a long time. What I meant, when I wrote that there weren't a lot of novels about the Norse available here at the time, is that the older stuff had mostly gone out of print and the newer was yet to be. Here's what it looks like now (so no, I don't have any plans to write about vikings anymore -- the field is quite well represented):


     https://www.amazon.com/s?k=the+vikings&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss_1 


    It looks pretty much like this >>   https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/18356.Viking_Historical_Fiction

    It's Viking with a capital V BTW.  :)

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher Publisher
    edited March 10
    Actually spelling "vikings" with a capital V, though it has become increasingly fashionable, is a mistake. Going a-viking was an activity and being a viking was a kind of job description: a coastal raider and pirate. It was not and never was an ethnicity, nationality or name of a people. THAT's a misunderstanding in our contemporary usages. There were Norsemen, Swedes, Danes, Icelanders, Hebridians, Faroe Islanders and even Dubliners. But there were no Vikings, only vikings.
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher Publisher
    edited March 10
    Kevin writes:
    The Vikings were not renowned for writing stuff down. But did you know they actually lived there for 100 years?
    and
    Nope, I don't read historical fiction. I prefer historical facts.

    First there's a whole body of Norse literature from the late 1100s to the 1300s in Iceland where the sagas of earlier centuries, that had been passed on by skalds orally, were written down. Here are a few of the great ones:

    Njal's Saga

    Laxdaela Saga

    Grettir's Saga

    Egil's Saga

    Gisli's Saga

    The Saga of the Sworn Brothers

    Jomsvikinga Saga

    Heimskringla (also known as the Norse Book of Kings)

    Hrolf Kraki's Saga

    to name a few.

    There are other literary sources including the Gesta Danorum (Deeds of the Danes) by Saxo Grammaticus, The King's Mirror (anonymous) and Islandingabok (which records the people and events surrounding the settlement of Iceland). There are also sagas that tell older stories (Hrolf's is among them) which include Volsungasaga which retells events in the Germanic Rhineland in the waning days of the Roman era though placing the participants farther north, presumably in Scandinavia. And then there's the medieval German epic, Nibelungenlied which tells roughly the same story but with a different gloss.

    Sorry you don't read historical fiction, Kevin, but it's generally based on historical fact you know.

    Kevin adds

    I think it was Leif Ericson who did a bit of marketing for the place, giving the impression it was a nice warm area.

    You're confusing him with his father, Eirik the Red, who discovered Greenland and named it that to attract settlers willing to join him there and set up a new community (since he'd been exiled from Iceland over a killing).

    Kevin again:

    It was only a New World to Columbus, who mostly 'found' Central and South America anyhow.

    Columbus only "found" a few Caribbean Islands including Hispaniola which became today's Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Americas were just as new to the Norse of Greenland as to the later Spaniards, since the Greenland Norse had no idea there was land there until Bjarni Herjolfson and then Leif Eiriksson stumbled on the North American coast.

    Oh and there's zero evidence the Norse (note I did not call them vikings!) actually lived in North America proper for more than three years. As to Greenland, they were there a good deal longer than "a hundred years". Eirik settled the southern coast of Greenland toward the end of the tenth century, Leif stumbled on "Vinland" some time between 1000 and 1006, and the Norse survived in Greenland well into the 15th century.



  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher Publisher
    edited March 10
    One more thing. Kevin said:
    You more or less said you started a trend.
    Er, I said when I wrote mine there were only a few historical novels in print here in the USA set in the Norse world. Had nothing to do with "starting a trend" though I do seem to have been early in the fad for Norse-based novels that kicked in around 2000 and after (2000 was generally treated as the thousand year anniversary of the arrival of Leif Eiriksson on North American shores though the dating's a little fuzzy).

    Aside from loving the saga literature and Norse history generally, I guessed that some time around 2000 "vikings" would be hot and so I worked like a demon to get kvs done and out there before the turn of the millenium. I finished kvs in 1996 but couldn't find an agent or publisher for it and in 1998 decided to self-publish it through another POD company. It sold well until around 2001 and by then lots of viking tales began appearing until there was a veritable deluge of them (as that link you posted above demonstrates).

    So I'd say I was ahead of my time and had gauged the market for such a story pretty well though that hardly equals a claim that I "started a trend." Where do you get these wild interpretations from, Kevin?
  • HULSEYHULSEY Publisher UK Publisher
     A book club might be something that interests me. I suppose it depends on the time we are expected to commit to the project. I will follow the posts and see if there is any interest from others.  
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor
    I don't see it as altruistic but mutually beneficial in a general way. If we can develop a credible vetting process it will help improve many POD offerings and thus raise the standard which is good for all POD authors. And it can help in the promotion and sales departments.

    A lot of people used to ask for advice in the forums about their works. Some only really wanted praise and became somewhat annoyed when honesty was shown. It was also possible to leave comments in the Promotions section. That was stopped because even one or two regulars to the forums said it's none of our business how people write, and put their books together.

    Kevin has raised an excellent point, which is probably why the plan to offer editing services would be an uphill battle...even if, as Kevin and I have pointed out, authors would be willing to take weeks off their own writing and promotion to work on someone else's book.

    The book club idea is a little more practical, since it would depend largely on already-published books read and recommended by contributors to the club.

    You're right that attaining credibility is a hurdle that needs to be overcome. But that's how it is with any effort. It's like a race across a field with obstacles. We can run the race or walk away. But getting in a race gives you a chance to finish among the winners. If there are hurdles you jump them.

    That makes no sense.

    Anyway I would be willing to collaborate with others here to put something together and see if we can get it across the finish line.

    * You have said that many times, and what have the replies been?

     The first thing to do is to see if any of our colleagues are interested enough to run with us. If a few are, then we can talk process and take the first steps out of the gate.

    See the above *

    I am afraid that I would probably be out of the loop since I don't think I have read more than one self-published book in the past half dozen years.

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor
    edited March 10
    swmirsky said:
    One more thing. Kevin said:
    You more or less said you started a trend.
    I finished kvs in 1996 but couldn't find an agent or publisher for it and in 1998 decided to self-publish it through another POD company.

    I remember your recounting of these efforts and, to be honest, I think you may not have gone about it all in the best way.

    It sold well until around 2001 and by then lots of viking tales began appearing until there was a veritable deluge of them (as that link you posted above demonstrates).

    You should reissue the book with a better cover. It might have a whole new life.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher Publisher
    edited March 10
    As I think I've already mentioned, its a long book, 637 pages in the Xlibris edition, and I lost the file in the flood that inundated my area in 2012. To reissue now would mean retyping that manuscript to create a new file (since Xlibris when I contacted them, declined to return a copy of the original file to me, if they even could -- though I'm sure, for the right payment they'd be glad to do the reissue). I also know myself well enough to say that if I began retyping the manuscript myself (writing it took me 108 days originally) I wouldn't be able to restrain myself from rewriting as I went so a new version would no longer be the same as the old, perhaps differing in dramatic ways. I am no longer the person I was when I wrote it and no longer steeped in the saga literature which infused the voice and motif of the novel as I was writing it.

    That's why my interest in it now is mainly to rekindle the interest of film makers in it and hand it off to someone in that field for a new incarnation. (As I've also mentioned in the past, after it was published and being read, it generated a few queries about film rights though nothing ever came of those. With the recent rise of cable and streaming series like History Channel's Vikings or BBC's and now Netflix's Last Kingdom and even HBO's Game of Thrones, I saw some possibility though, as yet, nothing.)

    Because I'm now on another, quite different project (nothing to do with vikings -- or Vikings), I  don't see doing a reissue of the original novel as a viable option.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor
    edited March 10
    swmirsky said:
    As I think I've already mentioned, its a long book, 637 pages in the Xlibris edition, and I lost the file in the flood that inundated my area in 2012. To reissue now would mean retyping that manuscript to create a new file (since Xlibris when I contacted them, declined to return a copy of the original file to me, if they even could -- though I'm sure, for the right payment they'd be glad to do the reissue). I also know myself well enough to say that if I began retyping the manuscript myself (writing it took me 108 days originally) I wouldn't be able to restrain myself from rewriting as I went so a new version would no longer be the same as the old, perhaps differing in dramatic ways. I am no longer the person I was when I wrote it and no longer steeped in the saga literature which infused the voice and motif of the novel as I was writing it.

    That's why my interest in it now is mainly to rekindle the interest of film makers in it and hand it off to someone in that field for a new incarnation. (As I've also mentioned in the past, after it was published and being read, it generated a few queries about film rights though nothing ever came of those. With the recent rise of cable and streaming series like History Channel's Vikings or BBC's and now Netflix's Last Kingdom and even HBO's Game of Thrones, I saw some possibility though, as yet, nothing.)

    Because I'm now on another, quite different project (nothing to do with vikings -- or Vikings), I  don't see doing a reissue of the original novel as a viable option.
    Wish you luck with Hollywood! One never knows what might happen!

    A book I wrote has been the basis for a new feature-length documentary. It officially premiered at the Newport Beach Film Festival last year and had its theatrical premiere in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. It’s managed to win three awards so far, which is pretty cool. An upcoming screening will be at the IMAX theater at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington.


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor
    edited March 10
    It might be worth the effort to scan the book and run it through an OCR program in order to recreate an editable copy. That way there is no need to have the entire book retyped---all that would be necessary would be to go over it to fix any typos that the OCR process might have created. You could probably find someone to do all of this for you. Having the book in a clean, editable MS form this way will stand you in good stead when dealing with agents, producers, etc.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher Publisher
    edited March 10
    Hmmm, an interesting idea that. OCR programs can make a scanned in document editable? I didn't realize that. Do you know any good sources for such services?

    THAT would certainly give me some options again with kvs. 

    (I wonder if Paul, who may or may not be reading along, knows anything about this via Lulu?) 
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher Publisher
    Ron wrote:
    I remember your recounting of these efforts and, to be honest, I think you may not have gone about it all in the best way.
    Out of curiosity, what do you think I did wrong? Always interested in learning and maybe amending my approach going forward! 
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor
    edited March 10
    swmirsky said:
    Hmmm, an interesting idea that. OCR programs can make a scanned in document editable? I didn't realize that. Do you know any good sources for such services?

    THAT would certainly give me some options again with kvs. 

    (I wonder if Paul, who may or may not be reading along, knows anything about this via Lulu?) 
    You don't even need a service. You can download OCR software for your computer. There are some good free ones but even the commercial ones are very inexpensive.

    https://beebom.com/best-ocr-software/

    ABBYY is the one I use.

    They are all very simple. You scan a page using the OCR software, push a button and it converts the image into editable text.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor
    swmirsky said:
    Ron wrote:
    I remember your recounting of these efforts and, to be honest, I think you may not have gone about it all in the best way.
    Out of curiosity, what do you think I did wrong? Always interested in learning and maybe amending my approach going forward! 
    Let me go back over the old discussion from way back when so I can make sure I'm not misremembering anything.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher Publisher
    Okay, let me know. After all, I  will have a new one (hopefully) ready to go before too long (though I'm now at least three or four years behind schedule)!
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius
    swmirsky said:
    Kevin writes:
    The Vikings were not renowned for writing stuff down. But did you know they actually lived there for 100 years?
    and

    And what? I was just giving you some information you many not have known.
    Nope, I don't read historical fiction. I prefer historical facts.

    First there's a whole body of Norse literature from the late 1100s to the 1300s in Iceland where the sagas of earlier centuries, that had been passed on by skalds orally, were written down. Here are a few of the great ones:

    Njal's Saga

    Laxdaela Saga

    Grettir's Saga

    Egil's Saga

    Gisli's Saga

    The Saga of the Sworn Brothers

    Jomsvikinga Saga

    Heimskringla (also known as the Norse Book of Kings)

    Hrolf Kraki's Saga

    to name a few.

    Stories told around fires well before they were written down, that are not necessarily 100% true. It was their way of passing the time. No TV ...

    There are other literary sources including the Gesta Danorum (Deeds of the Danes) by Saxo Grammaticus,

    The Vikings were well-known for writing in 13th century Latin ...

     The King's Mirror (anonymous) and Islandingabok (which records the people and events surrounding the settlement of Iceland). There are also sagas that tell older stories (Hrolf's is among them) which include Volsungasaga which retells events in the Germanic Rhineland in the waning days of the Roman era though placing the participants farther north, presumably in Scandinavia. And then there's the medieval German epic, Nibelungenlied which tells roughly the same story but with a different gloss.

    Sorry you don't read historical fiction, Kevin, but it's generally based on historical fact you know.

    Sorry, but it's not. What is generally known is derived from legends and myths written down much much later by schoolers who were often not even from that region, than when the term Viking was first used. Viking is an Old English word meaning pirate that was used after they invaded the island of Lindisfarne in 793, recorded by the English, not by Norwegians.

    Read more: http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ab86#ixzz5hpUnArBC

    There are documentaries on Brit TV about them almost every day. A large number of people here have Viking DNA. Look up Danelaw why that is so.

    Kevin adds

    I think it was Leif Ericson who did a bit of marketing for the place, giving the impression it was a nice warm area.

    You're confusing him with his father, Eirik the Red, who discovered Greenland and named it that to attract settlers willing to join him there and set up a new community (since he'd been exiled from Iceland over a killing).

    The same was said about what is now Newfoundland by Leif, when they wanted people to move there. It's said to be where they actually called Vineland. Apparently grapes grew there. So there's no confusion.

    Kevin again:

    It was only a New World to Columbus, who mostly 'found' Central and South America anyhow.

    Columbus only "found" a few Caribbean Islands including Hispaniola which became today's Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Americas were just as new to the Norse of Greenland as to the later Spaniards, since the Greenland Norse had no idea there was land there until Bjarni Herjolfson and then Leif Eiriksson stumbled on the North American coast.

    But the point is, Mr Erikson did not land in the New World.

    Oh and there's zero evidence the Norse (note I did not call them vikings!) actually lived in North America proper for more than three years.

    Well there is. There are ruins there, and evidence of ship repairing, and the layout of the foundations show types of shapes that evolved in Denmark over a 100 years. 

     As to Greenland, they were there a good deal longer than "a hundred years".

    I never mentioned Greenland. Their decendents are no doubt still there. Denmark still owns it.

    Eirik settled the southern coast of Greenland toward the end of the tenth century, Leif stumbled on "Vinland" some time between 1000 and 1006, and the Norse survived in Greenland well into the 15th century.

    Stumbling does not give them credit for being great seafarers and explorers.




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