indie publishing

NaNoWriMo: Are You a Writing Architect or a Writing Gardener? (2 of 3)

BY BECKY SWANBERG, AUTHOR AND EMOON TEAM MEMBER


If you were preparing to host a dinner, maybe you’d research recipes, carefully curate the menu, and then make a detailed shopping list. You’d head to the store with the list in hand and buy exactly what was needed. Then, with all these specific ingredients, you’d come home, follow directions, measure carefully, and execute. Nicely done!

Or perhaps you prefer to go the store and see what strikes your fancy. I mean, you have a leaning towards beef, but if you get to the meat section and the pork tenderloin is calling your name- you go with it. Toss in some veggies, a carb or two, and a surprising dessert. Then you head home, excited for the mystery of how this will all turn out.

Whether you cook more with your head or your heart, there’s an ease to it that makes sense with who you are and how you’re wired. The same goes for writing your novel.

I first stumbled across the idea of the two writing personalities while watching a writing class on YouTube. The professor was talking about a writer’s natural bent toward the craft, referring to the two ends of the spectrum as gardeners and architects (often called pantsers and plotters).  

Like most of my experiences with personality types, I found myself surprised how well a simple descriptor could make me aware of things I could only vaguely sense about myself. I was in the midst of writing my first novel, and my husband kept asking me questions about the villain and the ending and the fate of the characters.

“I don’t know!” I would answer, frustrated that he was trying to pin me down.

“Of course, you know,” my husband would reply. “You have to know. You’re the author!”

But what I couldn’t quite explain was this subtle feeling that though I was typing the words of this novel, I wasn’t really steering the ship. The story felt to me like it wanted to tell itself. I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized that this was a common feeling among writers. I wasn’t a psycho; I was a gardener.

Like all personality types, there certainly is room for people to have a bit of both or fall right in the middle, but as I read about the craft and talk to other writers, most people have a strong sense of being one or the other.

Architect vs. Gardener

Writers who see themselves as “architects” tend to write best with a plan. They outline. They timeline. They pre-write with gusto. These writers find that the outline frees them, the work done ahead makes the words come more clearly, and the work done long before they start chapter 1 helps them write most efficiently. Self-proclaimed architects include J.K Rowling, Brandon Sanderson, and John Grisham.

In contrast, “gardeners” are writers who see the process as more of a winding road than a step-by-step process. These writers are more likely to start with an idea, water it (add words and chapters), and then watch it grow. Gardeners do not generally plan a story as much as they discover the story along the way. This doesn’t mean that gardeners don’t think about it ahead of time or do some character development before starting chapter 1--they may. However, the storyline itself is generally more fluid and open to possibility. Famous gardeners include Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, and George R.R. Martin.

And what does this have to do with NaNoWriMo?

As you set out to tackle a novel, understanding your writing temperament can help you prepare and execute more effectively.

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If you’re an architect, you’ll want to spend some time considering your characters, the major scenes, and overall plot progression of your book. You might find it helpful to make some decisions right away: genre, setting, main characters, central conflict, and the point of view that will serve your story best. How will the story open? What do your characters want? What challenges will they face? How will those challenges be resolved?

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Gardeners are more inclined to think about the feel and growth of their story. Are you drawn to a certain voice or setting? Why? What could you add to those elements to create more pieces of this story? Write a short descriptive paragraph about your main character waking up for the day. Did you write in first or third person? Did it help establish voice? Most gardeners who write efficiently say they will try to nail down a general story outline- not a road map but at least a destination for their story. A list of scenes or possible challenges for your main character may help you focus when you come to a wall, when that story seems like it stops growing for awhile.

With National Novel Writing Month just two weeks away, the time for prepping those novels is right now. Hopefully, these tips will help you prepare in a way that is helpful as you sit down each day and tackle that wordcount goal.

Wait- what if you don’t know if you’re a gardener or an architect? I don’t know any magic secrets to figuring that out, but here’s a surefire way: try to write a novel, and I think you will quickly know.

Up for the challenge? Two weeks and counting until NaNoWriMo kicks off. This could be the year of discovering not only your novel ambitions but also what kind of writer you are.

Publisher Q&A - April, 2017

By Laree Lindburg, owner of Emoon


In life, one thing we rarely lack are questions. What time is it? When is dinner? How long until we get there? When will my show come onto Netflix?

Book publishing tends to add to the mishmash. One inquiry, in particular, pops up more often than most: 

  • What is the difference between the various types of publishing?

Solid question. How do traditional publishing, self-publishing, indie publishing, and hybrid publishing differ? Which is best for you? Are some just like others only with varied names? My explanation may be slightly different than most given that the world of publishing has evolved more in the last decade+ than other industries. Definitions are constantly being redefined. Mediums are weekly being invented. 

All that said, here goes!

 

Traditional

The most common of the lot of publishing is traditional. These are your long-standing, old school publishing houses like the "Big Five:" Simon & Schuster, Macmillian, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, and Hachette Book Group. These dinosaurs are the Mt. Everest; many wish to summit. Some attempt. Fewer succeed. Traditional pubs offer contracts where the author's work is 'owned' by the house. Royalties go through the house and a hefty cut is taken before a quarterly/yearly check is sent to the author. Occasionally, though rarely anymore, authors are offered an advance against royalties. A typical traditional house will take 1-2 years to release a book. They market and promote their titles although reports from less famous authors tell me these publishing houses are putting most of their marketing dollars in their "A" list author baskets, leaving those with smaller, less Hollywood platforms to fend for themselves.

Due to the rampant changes in the publishing industry today, traditional publishers are beginning to offer alternative models, such as self-publishing . . .

 

Self-Publishing

Self-publishers traditionally require authors to purchase X number of copies in order to print their book. They care little or none for quality and content. They are not evil but serve their own purpose for larger quantity orders on titles that have already been proven or edited, or the occasional person who simply wants to see their book in print. The author pays for production.

 

Independent Publishing

Independent publishers work with indie authors (those who have decided to take the destiny of their book into their own hands) and help them from start to finish produce their book for the reading population. No quantity requirements. This can often be a cold interaction as many indie publishers do not work closely with authors but require them to do much online--independently. The author pays for production. This option is great for those who know their marketing strategy and already have a platform in place. Individuals who have a following, a going business or ministry and simply need a place to print paperbacks to sell at merch tables during speaking events can find this option financially beneficial.

 

Hybrid Publishing

Hybrid is a newer publishing model, which also has the most fluid definition. Hybrid publishing can be one of a very personal experience between author and publisher. Each are invested and want to see success for the title. Sometimes the publisher charges a fee per project (and retains no rights or royalties) and other times the publisher and author discuss options for payment such as a smaller fee with agreement to share royalties of book sales. This model of publishing is suited well for those who tend toward indie publishing, but who also would like a little more guidance. Indie publishing can be more involved and time consuming for the author, whereas a hybrid publisher shoulders the burden with the author.

 

Which model is Emoon?

Emoon's publishing model is hybrid and a bit independent. If you have had a chance to check out our website, you will notice we offer many services. Anyone can come and ask us for just one of those services, say, a cover design or an edit, and we will happily do so. No obligation to publish through us. We also work one-on-one with authors who desire to tackle the entire publishing package, i.e. cover, interior layout, editing, e-book pub, paperback publishing, distribution, and marketing. This does cost a fee (we do not offer a royalties sharing option), yet the author retains all of the rights and royalties to their work.

And Emoon sticks around to help them succeed. We are like a personal assistant to the indie author. Emoon markets books that we help along the publishing road by posting notices on our social media outlets and offering giveaways and marketing exchanges. We can also create a sales sheet to promote the author's work and will design custom banners for book signings. These amenities are included in full packages contracts, and can also be contracted a la carte.

All that said, Emoon does not accept just any author's manuscript like a self-publisher. The authors we work with us must prove their title of a high enough quality and meet other publishing requirements before we will agree to go into contract as their publishing partner. 

 

Conclusion

I hope this helped you navigate the murky waters of publishing a bit better. If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to contact us through our website or at info@emoonpublishing.com.

Happy weekend to you!