Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Future of Publishing

When a new book appears in the bookstores, what happens if audiences ignore it?
It vanishes quickly and ignominiously. A few weeks on the shelves (max), then down it comes. Traditionally, the covers were torn off and the book was sent back to the publisher. That's it. No second chances, no mercy, no pardons. And what are the chances that the publishers would carry on and publish your second book?
Diminished is a good word. If you were lucky, your chances were diminished. If the reception was exceptionally silent, you were screwed. The chances after that of any other publisher putting out another book by the same author?  Pay attention. I said "screwed."
So what I'm saying is that in the old days, writers and publishers had one shot - one chance to get it right.
The world of e-books is somewhat kinder.
Granted, big advances for unknown writers may be a thing of  the past. And you still may never sell any books. Nothing like getting a royalty cheque that won't cover a McDonalds Happy Meal. But your book will remain available pretty much indefinitely. Your publisher probably still won't publish your second book, but there are other options available to everyone - like going to a tiny boutique press or even self-publishing.
Which is why I'm so excited about the potential of Wattpad. Last week I mentioned how I made the opening chapter of my novel available on Wattpad and how I plan to serialize it. Those plans are still on despite the fact that the first chapters have not exactly set the world on fire. In fact, nobody has read it. If I was an old-time writer, I'd already be an ex-writer.
But what I now have a chance to do is analyze why no-one has read it. Bad cover art? A crappy teaser blurb? A bad choice of "book jacket photo"?  Yes!  All those things and more.  And I get to try again. And again. Until I get it right. New cover?  Check!  New profile? Check!  New blurb? Done. And I'm prepared to keep trying, polishing, honing, making friends and allies. By t he time I get the book on the market. Hundreds of people will have heard of it. The cover will be professional and will have proven its ability to capture people's attention. And the writing itself will have received all sorts of valuable input from the people who are most likely to buy it in the marketplace.
The other really exciting thing is that even after it's out there - being offered on Kobo and Amazon, it can still be tweaked or even changed.
An author who is willing the learn has an exponentially better chance of success now than writers from even just 20 years ago.  Contrary to what you may hear or fear, now may actually be a very good time to be a writer.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Is Serialization the Key?

Short fiction has been out of fashion for quite some time. Sure, there have been a few amazing practitioners who have been quite successful writing short stories; the list that comes to mind includes Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway, Harlan Ellison, Donald Barthelme, Flannery O'Connor, John Updike, Jorge Luis Borges, Alice Munro and...uhm...probably half a dozen other people. Only a few of those people wrote short stories exclusively.
This is something I need to keep in mind while assembling my story collection. If I can get a few readers, it would be good. A few dozen would be better. A few hundred would be phenomenal. More than that is just a silly pipedream.
So I should be surprised that nobody has been reading my stories on Wattpad? Not! Most assuredly freaking not.
When I browsed through the what's hot section on Wattpad I discovered that serialized novels are the thing. So I put up the beginning of my big fantasy novel, Out of the Nether. I'm planning to put up a section a week for the next 10 or 12 weeks. There are no readers now.  Not surprising really. I am "untested". After all, I've been writing seriously for about 40 years and have produced...wellllll...okay I haven't actually completed any novels in that time.BUT - I do have a few books worth of published/publishable short stories and not one, not two but three novels that are almost ready for prime time - and a great deal of determination get get all three of them finished over the next two years.
So, skepticism, I understand. But by the time I've finished publishing Book One of the novel and have serialized 35,000 words (most of which are already written and will receive no more than a cursory revision before posting), I expect my audience to have grown.
However unlikely it may seem, based on my admitted cheesy sounding teaser on Wattpad - this is a great fantasy novel opening. Once people start reading, I predict that they will come back. Everyone who has read Book One tells me it seriously pulls them in. I even have most of Book 2 written and should easily be able to post 75,000 words by Christmas. Which leaves me with just another 35-40K words to write and six months to do it in.
Piece of cake. Lol. And there's no better incentive than a bunch of people wanting to read more. So please, go to Wattpad and read the section of the prologue I just posted. If you like it, please bookmark it and come back once a week for more. If you don't like it, that's fine too. I won't be sore if you check it out and don't go back. No single piece of writing can possibly sink its hooks into everybody. And unless your name is Stephen King or George RR Martin, managing to addict more than 4 out of 10 people is quite an accomplishment. I'm setting my sights high - aiming for 5 out of 10. If I achieve that, then yay me. And thank you for giving it a chance. If I don't make it - thank you anyway.
So in the immortal words of ZZTop... "I ain't askin' for much..." 15 minutes of your time will tell you whether you want to give me a few more hours.
The opening of the novel is at: http://www.wattpad.com/story/6810138-out-of-the-nether
The second half of the prologue will be published next week and subsequent chapters will appear regularly until Mid or Late September. At which point Book One will be available in its entirety. Then it's on to Book Two.
This is a NO LOSE proposition, because even if you don't get hooked on the novel you'll discover a brilliant FREE app in Wattpad.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Picked the most obscure website I have to post what is possibly the most heartfelt message. I have spent a lifetime becoming an exceptional writer. And I am discovering, quite painfully that it doesn't mean nearly as much as I might have hoped. Talent and skill are shit compared to authenticity. People need to make sense of their lives and the only way to do that is through understanding that all that really matters is conviction - belief in yourself and  believing in those you love. There's no secret to anything. Except faith.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Just joined Wattpad. What a wonderful interface between writers and readers.

Probably made a mistake with the selection of stories I chose to upload, though. One is the most adult (and scariest) story I've ever written. And Wattpad immediately slapped a restricted rating on it. Well deserved I might add, since this is the story that made the husband of one of my co-workers demand that she quit her job because he didn't want her working with such a pervert. What can I say? It's just a story! Is Stephen King a serial killer or Satan? I think not. And nor am I a twisted psychopath, despite the assumption that this one man leaped to...?

The story is called "The Onion Test" and it was first published in Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine Volume One in a limited edition of 200 copies. Although it was deemed worthy of appearing in the same volume as stories by Harlan Ellison, Kate Wilhelm and Charles de Lint, although it got excellent reviews at the time and although a number of editors thereafter expressed an interest in republishing it (none of them had the nerve to actually follow through) it has never again seen the light of day. You may read it and decide that's a good thing. So be warned. It is extreme.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Psychedelia Gothique

My plans for self-publishing my short story collection, Psychedelia Gothique are moving ahead at a pretty good clip. There are still a few things to be determined. Two of the stories I plan to include have been submitted to some top markets. If they are accepted there, I won't be able to include them in this publication - but that will be fine because they will make money and provide some excellent publicity for the book right when I can use it most. If they are not accepted at those markets, which is likely since I aimed very high, then they will appear as "original stories" in the collection.
The really troublesome stories are the ones I'm rewriting. One was well-published back in 1997, but I have always been dissatisfied with one aspect of it (as were the critics at the time). But in eliminating that flaw, I fear I may have introduced others. I have posted "At Fort Assumption" on Wattpad. If anyone would like to read the new version and give me your feedback before publication - please go there to read and comment. I like the new ending. And it now actually has an inkling of political correctness.  There's one other story that needs to either be rewritten or pulled from the collection and another where I'm reverting to a novella length version after shortening it to within an inch of it's little life.