Publishing ain’t dead, either!

I saw this on my Facebook newsfeed this morning and thought it was very much on-point. I discovered a long time ago that Dee Snider, lead singer of the band Twisted Sister, is an extremely insightful and articulate man. In the commentary below, I think he’s spot-on, not just about the music industry, but about a lot of the creative industries in general. I think his observations could just as easily apply to the publishing world as well, and the rise of independent publishing in the last decade.

Back then, electronic publishers and independent publishing were on the cusp of the massive break-throughs both have enjoyed in recent years, but the former stigmas were still attached, and it was generally accepted that the “traditional” publishing model was still the way to go. Today, we know differently – while yes, many writers go on to publishing success through traditional means, many others enjoy that same degree of success through their own publishing endeavors, or through smaller electronic imprints and publishers. Rather than find this to be the “death” of publishing, I find it an exciting development that continues to help our industry evolve.

Anyway… Mr. Snider’s original comments (which are, of course, copyrighted to him):

POINT / COUNTER POINT: “ROCK ‘N’ ROLL AIN’T DEAD” by Dee Snider

“Recently, my esteemed colleague, Gene Simmons of Kiss declared that “Rock ‘n’ Roll is finally dead”. Really?

While I have nothing but respect for Gene, he couldn’t be further off the mark. Yes, the rock ‘n’ roll “business model” that helped Kiss (and my band for that matter) achieve fame and fortune is most certainly long dead and buried, but rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well and thriving on social media, in the streets, and in clubs and concert halls all over the world. And the bands playing it are more genuine and heartfelt than ever because they are in it for one reason: the love of rock ‘n’ roll.

Spend some time seeing and listening to these incredible young bands and their rabid fans and you will know that rock ‘n’ roll couldn’t be more alive. Yes, it’s not the same as it was for the first 50 years of rock’s existence, but the fire definitely still burns.

And it wasn’t some 15 year old kid in Saint Paul, Minnesota (to paraphrase Mr. Simmons) who killed the rock ‘n’ roll goose that laid the platinum egg…it was greedy, big city, record company moguls who made their own velvet noose to hang themselves with. It was they who took advantage of the consumer (and the artist for that matter) and drove them to use an alternative source of music presented to them.

For example, take the bill of goods the record industry sold the mainstream public when introducing the CD format. “We have to charge more for it, because it’s a new technology and there’s a cost to setting up the infrastructure to produce them.” The consumer believed them–it made sense–so they paid a $18.98 list price for a product they had been paying $7.99 list for previously. After all “you can’t break a CD with a hammer!” (Remember that?)

But when the infrastructure was in place and paid for in full, and the cost of producing a CD dropped to less than a dollar, did the record companies roll back the list price in kind? Not on your life. They weren’t about to do the right thing and cut their increased revenue stream. Those fat cats were enjoying their ill-gotten gains way too much.

So when the general public finally realized they were being had, and the opportunity arose for them to stick it to the man, what did they do? The same thing their Woodstock Nation, baby boomer parents had done when they had their chance…they stuck it and they stuck it good. Does anyone remember Abbey Hoffman’s “Steal this Book”, the massive selling, early 70’s hippy guide “focused on ways to fight the government, and against corporations in any way possible.”

Multiply that by a googolplex.

Is it hard to make it rock ‘n’ roll? You bet. Always was, always will be. Will rockers make as much money as they did “back in the day”? Probably not. But that won’t stop them, and they’ll be motivated by a much more genuine love of the art, and great rock will continue to be produced, played and embraced by rock fans.

So in conclusion: Record company executives killed the old rock ‘n’ roll business model…and Rock ‘n’ Roll Ain’t Dead!

Dee Snider/ September 10th, 2014

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The MUMN Files

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an author when I grew up. I can remember spending countless hours hunched over my little notebooks (at first) and then, eventually, over typewriters, putting out short stories and my first early attempts at novels. That was well over thirty years ago, and so much has changed since then. More than just the technology (because today, all of my writing is done on the computer), my way of both storytelling and crafting a story has changed. 

Back in those days, my writing style was very linear. This was more of a practical matter than a creative one. With handwritten manuscripts or those produced on a typewriter, it’s very much a one-shot deal. If you want to make changes, use White-out or a red pen. If you want to add, cut, or move scenes, it usually involved the physical act of cutting apart printed pages and taping them together as you wanted them, or worse — rewriting an entire page (or pages — shudder!) altogether.

Because of this, I didn’t do a lot of revision work as I went along, and once a plot point or idea was on paper, it was the same as being set in stone to me. I don’t remember that this ever bothered me too much, so I suspect at that point, that was simply the way my muse worked. Today, it’s a hell of a lot more complicated.

For every manuscript I write now, I keep what’s called a “Might-Us-Might-Not” (or “MUMN”) file. It’s a Word document full of deleted scenes, or scenes I’ve reworked in the actual manuscript. Sometimes I never use the passages found in my MUMN files, but other times, I’ve found it to be an extremely helpful practice. I juggle scenes a lot now; what seems like a good idea when I’m writing it may not feel like a good “fit” once I’ve finished it — but later on in the manuscript, I discover the perfect place where it could work. Sometimes the simple revising act of shuffling scenes around can change the whole direction of the plot, or add some needed conflict or tension, or even further enhance ongoing character development. Every once in a blue moon, I can even take a scene I’ve wound up cutting from one manuscript and finding a way to make it work in another. For example, the pivotal fight scene between Brandon Noble and his brother, Caine, in “Dark Thirst” was a recycled version of a deleted fight scene from another book I’d written in a completely different genre, the high fantasy “Book of Dragons.” 

I suppose it makes me a hoarder of sorts, this habit of keeping deleted scenes for potential recycling. But today, for example, while I was working on “In the Heart of Darkness,” I was able to resuscitate a scene from my MUMN file, plus do some strategic rearranging of some scenes in which I’d liked the writing, but not the original placement in the manuscript, and make it all come together seamlessly. Sometimes it doesn’t work out so well, but today it “clicked” for me when I was finished, and I’m pretty pleased with the result. I’m hoping readers will be, too — and I’m hoping to have the book ready and released by Halloween!

Every writer has his or her own habits and quirks. The MUMN file has, with time, become one of my most beneficial. So there’s my writing tip du jour, LOL.