Review: Josh Lanyon – Man, Oh Man: Writing M/M Fiction for Kinks & Cash

manAuthor: Josh Lanyon
Reviewer: Danny
Publisher: Just Joshin
Genre: M/M Nonfiction

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

It can be more than just a dream… To write the kind of stories that you love to read – that’s what you really want. If only you knew how to get started. *Help from someone who knows…* What you need is professional advice, help from someone who’s been there, who can support you through the creative process, with the goal of writing for publication. What you need is Man, Oh Man. So, why this book… Why not one of the other “How to Write…” titles? Because everything in Man, Oh Man is geared to the M/M market and the M/M writer, to you and the genre that you love, whether you’re an aspiring writer or you’re already published. Lambda Award finalist Josh Lanyon takes you step-by-step through the writing process: from how to find fresh ideas and strong hooks, to how to submit your carefully edited manuscript. With help from the genre’s top publishers, editors, reviewers, and writers – experts in the field of M/M and gay romantic fiction – Lanyon offers insight and experience in everything from creating believable masculine characters to writing erotic and emotionally gratifying M/M sex scenes. Indulge yourself and your dreams… It’s within your grasp to be a published author in a growing market. Man, Oh Man shows you exactly how to do it.

First of all, the author says: “And dialogue is one of the key ways to keep sex scenes distinct and significant.”

He also says: “Each scene must move your story forward.” And “Dialogue is useful for propelling the plot forward and for making quick, seamless transitions.” Apparently, speaking during sex is a good way to do it.

Dialogue? In bed while having sex? O.K. Maybe it’s fine for you but for me… If you want me to never be aroused, just speak during sex.

Below is a piece of advice given by a publisher:
“An ideal submission for anything would be a well written/edited story, characters the reader can identify with, a story that keeps the reader glued to the pages, and an author willing to participate with us as a publisher.”

Except for the last part, anybody knows that’s what publishers want. No need to read this book to learn it, isn’t it?

About trends:
“Once customers grow tired of a trend, they will certainly look for something else, but unfortunately, no one possesses a crystal ball to predict what it will be.”

After telling us in hundreds pages what are the trends (publishers’ very enlightening opinion like the one above) and what the market dictates, we are told:

“Write the story that you want to write—not what the market dictates. With so many choices, it’s true that readers tend to look for something new but trends, much like bell-bottoms and mullets, will pass so be true to yourself and your characters.”

Some publishers say that the writer must be ready to advertise their books, others say:

“Writers should write—marketers should market.”

“But no amount of promotion or marketing can make a poor book into a best-seller.”

After being told that a writer’s time is precious, that he/she must use it to write, we are said that we should have a blog and visit it regularly and we also should:

“[…] take active part in a number of online communities and discussion groups.”
“In addition to a website you need a mailing list […].”
“Join groups that you really want to take part in—and take part.”
“[…] communicate with other writers. Spend time with writers. Take a class. Join a local or provincial or national writers group. Meet people who see the world the way you do (or maybe not), who can dispense personal “how to” advice.”
“Stay involved and stay engaged in the world around you.”
“—Hold contests, scavenger hunts and website giveaways (including everything from free books to gift baskets, candles, etc.).
—Purchase professionally made bookmarks to hand out at signings, mail to bookstores, give out at conferences.
—Post excerpts from new releases on mailing and discussion lists.
—Buy Google adwords.
—Exchange banners and links with other authors; set up or take part up author webrings.
—Buy banners and online ads at review and other GLBT sites.
—Buy print ads in GLBT or genre-specific venues.
—Maintain a MySpace presence.
—Do podcasts.
—Join an advertising co-op with other authors.
—Enter your work for awards like the Eppies or the Lambda Literary Awards.
—Buy or make video trailers on websites and YouTube.
—Network on sites like GoodReads, FaceBook, etc.
—Get your stories accepted by the larger and more prestigious e-publishers.
—Attend conferences and workshops—taking part in panels.
—Conduct online writing workshops and seminars.
—Do booksignings and live appearances.
—Hire a publicist or promotional company.
—Write reviews or nonfiction articles in your area of expertise or on the writing life.
—Take part in online chats.
—And—in my opinion the single most important thing you can do—brand yourself through your writing.”

Okay, but if we do it all, when do we find time to write? I thought that a writer’s job was writing.

“You can lose entire days to loops and chats and blogging and interviews and before you know it, you’ve got a deadline crashing down on you.”

“By the way, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the opinions of reviewers and editors and publishers often contradict each other—not to mention me.”

Yes, sure I noticed.

This is not a bad book if you’re more looking for authors’, publishers’, editors’ and marketers’ feelings about the book market than for true information on writing M/M novels. Not that there isn’t any, but I can estimate that 10% of the book truly concerns the writing process itself.

Maybe, it’d be a great book to read for a beginning writer. You know, the youth who thinks that’s a great idea to write a M/M version of Fifty Shades of Grey or of Millennium, and who gets easily offended if a publisher tells him/her to go make her/his homework before sending another novel. But I didn’t find much to help me to improve my writing. Maybe this is partly because I don’t like romances. The best piece of advice for me in this book is: “Write the story that you want to write”. Even if the title says: “Writing M/M Fiction”, this is more about romance. And trying to write romance stories when you usually find them boring is not a great idea. Not that all my characters don’t love each other by the way, but I can’t consider a lot of my books to be romances.

So I give this book three hearts.



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