What is a potboiler? #writing

The term ‘potboiler’ is an old-timey writing term for a writing project which is short or easy to do, and will result in some writing income that the writer can use for basic survival. Picture a writer in a garret, working on a project so he can buy some dried beans or lentils so he can make a pot of soup so he can keep eating even when he is between project and his REAL writing work is far from finished.

In the days when pulp magazines in every genre were on the newsstands, and they paid enough to make a difference, many writers wrote short stories for income while they were waiting for their REAL writing career to take off.

In more recent times, the common potboilers have been when a literary author writes in a popular genre, usually using a pseudonym. Stephen King’s novel The Dark Half tells about such an event. Being a Stephen King novel, of course the pseudonym who got the credit for the literary author’s violent crime novels comes to life and starts killing people, but I understand that rarely happens in real life.

Another example is when a lady author of science fiction and/or fantasy dashes off some quick romance novels to get the income flowing. I’ve known of a couple of well-known authoresses who have gone this route.

Of course, for many authors it may feel that selling a potboiler crime novel or romance is just as hard as selling other work. It’s a pretty risky source of income. Especially when you don’t have an agent yet, or a novel in your REAL genre on the market.

One trick that many modern author-bloggers do is to monetize their blog readers by selling a self-published ebook to that audience. If the author normally blogs about the process of writing, he might write some how-to-write ebook, perhaps a short one, for a little income. If the author-blogger has other non-fiction topics covered on the blog, those topics might also earn some income.

Non-fiction is often an easier sell than fiction by an unfamiliar author. Especially when you have a blog on that covers that topic. You may even be able to re-write and expand a few blog posts into something that will sell.

Perhaps you are thinking that a potboiler is all too crass and commercial. But the Bible says ‘Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn.’ (I Cor. 9:9, KJV.) A writer needs to be paid for writing, or it feels like just a hobby. An unjustifiably expensive hobby, when you buy how-to-write books or pay to attend writers’ conferences. Many writers feel that their early potboiler-writing years improved their writing skills, and made them feel like a real writer.

What kind of writing could you do, right now, that would probably make you a little money to keep the wolf away from the door?


Superversive Press: What’s a Superversive Anyway?

It’s like popcorn. I got one book from Superversive Press, I looked at the ads for other Superversive Press books in the back, and I just had to buy another one….. I’m still jonesing for 2 more Superversive books but can’t probably buy them this month as I’ve had unexpected expenses.
What does ‘superversive’ mean anyway? It’s obviously related to the word ’subversive’ somehow. I looked at the Superversive web page and found several essays on the ’superversive’ movement. But it wasn’t until I asked around for a short definition that L. Jagi Lampwright Wright told me: “Subversive is change by undermining from below. Superversive is change though inspiration from above.”
One of the projects of Superversive Press is Astounding Frontiers, a science fiction periodical. I have issue #1 which was published in July. My author friend Declan Finn has a story in the issue, and I thought it was epic. There were also stories by Patrick S. Baker, Lou Antonelli, Erin Lale, Sarah Salviander, John C. Wright, Ben Wheeler, Nick Cole and Jason Anspach.
I also have the anthology Forbidden Thoughts, which has this on the back cover: “You are not allowed to read this book. Don’t even think about reading this book. In fact, just forget about thinking all together.” So of course I had to read it.
And then there is “For Steam and Country” by Jon del Arroz, which is a steampunk novel about a girl who inherits her dad’s military airship in a time of war…. I haven’t finished it as I keep getting distracted, but I really liked the first third of the book.
It seems that most of my friends in the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance are involved in Superversive Press. I hope the effort succeeds because so far I love Superversive Press’s books. I hope readers will give some of these books a chance.

Superversive Links:
Superversive SF: Science Fiction for a more civilized age
What is Superversive Press?

MAGA 2020 & Beyond

Superversive SF Facebook Page

Would you please do me a big favor? My Facebook author page is Nissa Annakindt, poet, Aspie & cat person . I’m frustrated because I haven’t had new ‘likes’ in a while and my posts don’t have much ‘reach.’ So if you and a couple other people could ‘like’ my page and ‘like’ three posts on the page— at least I can see if that will help. Thank you so much!

Red State fiction, Blue State fiction

When I was younger and far more naive, I had this idea about the publishing world: Since the nation is increasingly divided between red and blue, publishers would seek a solution.

They would discover a budding Stephen King, a progressive. They would publish his work under one pen name in book with a blue spine. They would have a conservative ghost writer (using a Ouija board?) do a rewrite, pulling out all the progressive stuff and putting in sound conservative stuff. That would be published under a different pen name, in a book with a red spine.

People would read the authors that spoke to their worldview the most. And in time they would figure out the red/blue coding on the book covers. Writers would no longer have to cover up their worldview to get published, since every writer would be coming out in 2 editions with different viewpoints and names.

Readers in the know would collect both the red and blue versions of authors and they would guess which version was the original and which altered by ghost writers.

But, as I said, this was a naive idea. The scary idea is that progressive publishers, like other progressive businessmen, do not want our business. They think we are racist (even mixed race people like me) sexist deplorables. Haters because we love Jesus Christ and don’t want other people to face a Christless eternity in hell. Rather than seeking our dollars they seek to have our businesses go out of business or our employers fire us for being ‘haters.’

But conservative and/or Christian writers and readers have options. There is indie fiction, and there are small presses where our world view is the norm. By the same token, if you are so progressive that progressive publishers seem conservative, there are publishers that are more ‘out there.’ I know of several lesbian publishing houses and a feminist one. I’m sure there are general far-out progressive ones as well. And if you are too far out for them, there is the indie route.

Still, I think it was better when writers and fiction producers (in television and movies) wanted a broad audience. When Gene Roddenberry had to tone down his ideas of futuristic temporary marriages and an Enterprise chapel without chaplains, because he and the network wanted to INCLUDE conservatives and Christians in their audience base.

Commenters: your thoughts on the red/blue divide, publishing today, and indie fiction are welcome. Trekkies who want to go on a rant on how much better the Original Trek was than the new thing are also welcome.