Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

Indie Inspiration

Posted: February 11, 2011 in General
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For those who hang around the indie writing scene, the name Amanda Hocking is one you’ll come across sooner or later – more than likely sooner.

A year ago she was an unknown – today she is one of the biggest names on the indie scene, with over half a million copies of her books sold, and is attracting attention even from the mainstream. She recently did a TV interview, which shows how far her star has risen.

She also was interviewed by USAToday;

It is an unbelievable story – and one that is inspiring to those just starting out on the indie road.

Can we replicate her success? That is doubtful, but at the least it shows us that there are opportunities out there, if we work hard – and have a little luck.

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I’m not going to look back at my resolutions for last year – I know that most of them never got done, which is why I normally don’t bother.

It is a good time, however, to look back over 2010 and to look forward to 2011.

2010 was a year of missed opportunities, both writing and otherwise.  While I did actually complete my first proper, full length novel, my writing output was way down on what it should have been and that single novel should have been more.  Moreover, it is still sitting there gathering dust and hasn’t been used yet, something that needs to be rectified.

2011 needs to see an improvement.  I’m not going to make any resolutions – because they will just be broken – but I want to see a lot more writing done, both novels and short stories.  I’ve got all these ideas floating around not being used.

I’m going to go over the Pure Escapism page and stories and clean it up, make it look more professional.  That includes new and improved covers.  I have a few that I’ve worked on and that I need to upgrade the rest to that level.

I’d like to try and add at least one new short story to the collection a month – more of the time permits – and of course to try and exchange the reader base. Cleaning up and polishing the pages here and at Smashwords, plus starting to join up on various forums should help with that a bit.

The big one is of course the novels. I’ve got one complete and two half complete. They need to get completed, polished and made ready as soon as I can. And then I have to make a big decision.

Do I try for an agent and publisher, a long and laborious process that has no guarantees of any success?

Or do I try and go independent? There is no success guaranteed there either but there will at least be something to show for it, which is more than would happen if I ended up with no agent. It would require a whole new skillset – that of self marketting – but there have been a number of successes to show it is not impossible.

I’ve got a few stories up on Smashwords – nothing major, just my collection of short stories. It is a valuable tool that one day I need to make more of. And now I have the inspiration to do so.

On the Smashwords blog there is a post about one of their authors, Brian S Pratt, whose books have taken off. He is on track to make $100,000 next year from sales. That is the kind of success I dreamed of making when starting out. Actually, I’d be happy with just a quarter of that.

The difference between him and me is output. He has 17 books out there, mostly large epic fantasy, the genre I in part dabble in. I currently have a bunch of short stories.

What I really need to do is sit down and write, write some more and then continue writing and get some novels and novellas finished and put up. Only then could I possibly consider success anywhere near that scale.

The full interview can be read here.

Just came across a very interesting article, titled 1000 True Fans. A very interesting read.

The short version of it goes thus; You don’t need to produce a mega-blockbuster to be successful and make a living. It would be nice, but they are in the tiny minority.

If you can just garner 1000 True Fans, then you can make a living. By True Fans, they mean the type who will travel long distances to hear your next song, buy all your books, all the caps and mugs and calenders that are merchandise. Seek out autographed copies of your work. The type of people who will spend a day’s wage per year on you.

Of course, if you do the maths, you can see 1000 is more than you would need – and that doesn’t count lesser fans who buy the occasional item.

This is certainly something I’d like to aim for, though I’m currently about, oh, 1000 True Fans short. I’d be quite happy with a couple of hundred in reality

I visit a few communities where the 1000 True Fans effect is a reality – webcomics for the most part – and though I didn’t have a name to give the phenomenon, they certainly gave me the inspiration to give it a go myself.

Of course, my art skills are rather on the mediocre side, so I had to fall back on the written word. My hope is, eventually, to make more and more stories available, to expand on the website, maybe get some forums going – to hopefully be a good enough writer to attract a small community of True Fans to interact with. In this day and age, with the ‘net and all the resources now available, it is much easier to do.

It may just be a pipe dream in the end, but a nice one, and one that I think is at least worth pursuing. But there is a lot of work ahead before that day…

Time Article on Publishing

Posted: January 23, 2009 in General
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Time magazine has an interesting article on publishing that can be viewed here at their website.  It looks at some of the challenges facing modern publishing, such as bad and out dated business models, and the new wave of self-publishing and other sources of stories that can be found.

While we would all dream to emulate their first example, of an author who in twelve months went from selling her book from the boot of her car to having a half-million dollar contract, I think most of us are more destined for what is mentioned later in the article, to be part of the great content that is available on the ‘net.

The following part I did find interesting;

And what will that fiction look like? Like fan fiction, it will be ravenously referential and intertextual in ways that will strain copyright law to the breaking point. Novels will get longer–electronic books aren’t bound by physical constraints–and they’ll be patchable and updatable, like software. We’ll see more novels doled out episodically, on the model of TV series or, for that matter, the serial novels of the 19th century. We can expect a literary culture of pleasure and immediate gratification. Reading on a screen speeds you up: you don’t linger on the language; you just click through. We’ll see less modernist-style difficulty and more romance-novel-style sentiment and high-speed-narrative throughput. Novels will compete to hook you in the first paragraph and then hang on for dear life.

Given Cara’s Choice is written in a serial format, it is good to see that my idea for it has been, hopefully, agreed with.

The other thoughts that were going through my mind during the long drive to my parents place (as referred to in a previous post) were on the current publishing climate and the pulps.

By all reports the current publishing industry is in trouble, like most other industries at the moment. It hasn’t been helped by poor decision making – such as giving ridiculous six and seven figure advanced to ‘famous’ people for stories that normally wouldn’t see light of day or trying to squeeze too much profit out per book, far higher than historically normal – as well as a host of other issues.

The upshot is that they aren’t really taking chances on new, unknown authors, are cutting staff and other options that are making it increasing hard for new authors to break into the market, no matter how good they may be.

They want you to be established to take you on, yet how do you get to be established if they won’t take you on? Its all a bit catch-22.

This all got me thinking back to older times, to the days of the pulp magazines.

The age of the pulp magazines was from the 20’s to the 50’s, when they all but died out. Their height was in the 20’s and especially the 30’s – during the Great Depression.

This was no coincidence. The pulp magazines were exceedingly cheap, printed on cheap wood pulp paper, using cheap printing and cheap authors. They were also pure escapism – in a period of such depression it gave people a cheap outlet to escape the woes of the world.

While the storied contained within were not always of the greatest quality, they served as a launching pad for many notable authors and characters – Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan/Barsoon), Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian), Robert A Heinlein, Frank Herbert (Dune), H. P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber & Isaac Asimov all contributed to the Pulps.

The pulp magazines declined when WWII came along, due to paper shortages, resulting in a rise of costs amongst other things, and by the 50s they had almost disappeared. With them went the largest outlet for sales of short stories, and authors had to turn novels for the msot part.

They never completely died – there are a few examples around, though not to the extent or the recognition of the glory days of the pulps.

It would seem to me now that there is a chance that we could see a resurgence of the pulp magazines, or at least a facsimile thereof.

While we aren’t heading to a repeat of the Great Depression (or at least we hope we aren’t), we are heading into hard times. People will want cheap forms of pure escapism, as they did in the 30s. Upcoming authors, and even established ones, are eager to be read, to become known And the internet provides a means of distribution and recognition. Could this mark the return of the pulps, and a return of the short story, not the mammoth door stoppers we have come to have foisted upon us?

I would like to think so – I may even have a shot at setting one up myself if I knew a bit more about the process.

Anyone else have any thoughts on it?