My Thoughts on Alan Moore’s Advice About Publishing

You don’t have to spend much time on social media sites frequented by authors, most notably Twitter, before you discover a rift between traditional publishing and self-publishing. A few months ago, I wrote a post called, “Can Self-Publishing Authors Destroy Literature?” It came in response to a blog post I read where the author tried to claim just that. His argument had some serious loopholes, but what really upset me was his accusation that everyone using social media to promote their book has written a piece of garbage (I’m generalizing here). In my retort, I tried not to minimalize the role of self-publishing while still stating that my personal goal, as an author, was to have a publishing company accept my work. Basically, anyone can self-publish a book, but I needed someone else to say my work was good enough they would publish it to achieve my goal of becoming a published book author (I had already published several short stories and articles).

This was the right decision for me, and I’ll never question the route I took. But the other day I came across a video of Alan Moore, an author I hold in the highest regard, addressing unpublished authors. His advice is to self-publish, and he lists sound reasons. He states that being published doesn’t mean anything. To prove his point, he lists some authors who have sold millions of copies of their books, but who, according to Mr. Moore, aren’t talented writers. I could put together my own list of talentless bestselling authors–but I lack the confidence in my own work to make my opinions public.

Knowing what I do about Alan Moore, I would say he has an aversion to most things mainstream. It’s an aversion I don’t share. Although I mentioned my list of bestselling authors lacking in the talent department, one of my favorite authors is about as mainstream as you can get: Stephen King. And he’s certainly no stranger to voicing his opinion of pop-culture he thinks fails to pop. But something Stephen King frequently does, and this practice I have tried to mimic in my young career, is praise his editors for their hard work in making his writing better.

I’m sure this four-minute video of Alan Moore is incomplete, and maybe he goes on to stress the importance of editors. He does tell writers to go over their work and make it better, then go over it again and make it better (I’ve seen some self-published work I suspect is a first draft). I think part of the reason (possibly even the main reason) self-publishing is receiving such a bad reputation is the frequent lack of editors. I’ll read this post three times before I hit the publish button, and I’m certain I will still miss errors. You cannot undervalue the worth of another set of eyes on something you wrote. So this is my public service announcement: If you’re going to self-publish your work, please hire an editor. And I’m not talking about your mom or your favorite uncle, I don’t care if they are high-school grammar teachers. I mean a professional editor, trained in writing styles and grammar, and willing to give you constructive criticism. And then take that criticism. Remember, the editor’s always right.

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Some Amazing Graphic Novels and a GIVEAWAY

As a followup to Wednesday’s guest post by Scott Harpstrite on comic book movies (if you missed it, read it here), I have decided to compile a list of my favorite graphic novels. As Scott mentioned in his post, I too won’t squabble over the difference between graphic novel and comic book. My main criteria for classifying something as a graphic novel: can I get it in a collected edition instead of buying individual issues–I know, this opens up almost every popular title ever printed. I’ll be selective. This is not a Top 10 list, nor are they listed in any particular order. Many great graphic novels remain unread by me–largely due to the fact that I try to get them from the library so I don’t have to buy them. I believe collecting is the biggest vice of a comic book addict. So please use the comment section to let me, and other readers, know some of your favorites. And don’t overlook the giveaway of the Collector’s Set of Wolverine/Gambit: Victims which started on Wednesday.

File:FrankMillerSanDiego crop.jpgI’m going to start, not with a title, but with a writer/artist: Frank Miller. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read everything he’s done. Of what I have read, here are my favorites:

Sin City: Gripping writing filled with obscure metaphors and similes gives these stories a “pulp” feel. Yet, the artwork drew me in even before I read the books. Almost entirely drawn in black and white, color is only rarely used to draw attention to certain characters.

Batman: Year One: Growing up watching Adam West as Batman (in syndication–I’m not that old), this was my first look at a very dark Batman. Okay, I didn’t read this when it was new, and although the Tim Burton film (which came out two years after Batman: Year One), seemed very dark, it couldn’t hold a candle (get it?) to the darkness of Batman: Year One.

300: A fictionalized retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae. With every page illustrated as a double-page spread, it had more the feel of watching a widescreen movie than reading a graphic novel.

Watchmen: Alan Moore’s alternate timeline where superheros emerged to help the United States win the war in Vietnam. Written in the late 1980s, Watchmen takes the cold-war fears and exaggerates them to the point of the United States being on the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. This is another book I read years after publication, and growing up with the Comic Code, I had no idea how real a comic could seem if made without “PG-13” restrictions.

File:WalkingDead1.jpgThe Walking Dead: I know this is a periodical series, but it has been grouped into six volume collections, and it’s awesome, so I’m counting it. I know, everyone loves the T.V. show, but if you watch the show and haven’t read the comic books by Robert Kirkman, you’re shorting yourself. I’ve only seen the first season (I can write more now that I don’t have cable), but the books go so much farther than anything T.V. will allow. Especially with the character of Carl Grimes, a child. As I said, I haven’t watched all of the show, but in the books, Carl does some things, and has some things done to him, I’m sure would never make it to T.V.

Locke & Key: Joe Hill, son of one of my favorite authors, Stephen King, and Gabriel Rodriguez have created a strange and gripping comic where the Locke family moves to Keyhouse (see where the name comes from) and they find mysterious keys which can unlock a person’s mind, strange doors with mysteries of their own, and the elusive Omega Key which opens a portal to allow demons to enter our world. The series will conclude within the next few months. I’m excited to see how it ends, and sad to see it go.

Age of Apocalypse

Age of Apocalypse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

X-Men: The Age of Apocalypse: I know I’m going out on a limb with this last one, but all the issues are available in a four volume set; plus, I blame this, more than anything else, on my comic addiction. Before the Age of Apocalypse, I had a casual interest in comics. But when Legion went back in time intending kill Magneto, he accidentally killed his father, Charles Xavier, and he simultaneously spun the X-Universe into an alternate timeline dystopia where Apocalypse conquered North America , and me into a several year addiction. Every X-title got involved. Magneto led the X-Men, Cable never acquired the techno-organic virus (neither did he get raised in the future nor go by the name Cable), and Wolverine only had one hand (but he still had six claws).

There are some of my favorite graphic novels. I know I’ve missed a lot. Let me know what you like. And don’t forget to enter the contest!

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