Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Changing Gears

I decided 2012 is the year I quit acting like a noob. This doesn't change the fact that I will always feel like one; but there's no reason to reveal to the world at large at any given time that I am indeed nervous as hell.

Wait, I just did it again, didn't I?

With three books under my belt, along with a few published short stories, I decided it was time to do something different with the blog. You might have noticed the title is different; if not, go ahead and look. I'll wait.

See that? No more noobish business. This blog was originally designed as a way to, well... adverstise. I thought if I published a book and had a blog, then I could just market myself that way. And my plan was to document some of the tribulations that I might experience as an indie author. Share my pains and joys, losses and successes.

You know, share all the writerly things that only other writers care about.

There are three problems with that assumption. The first is that nobody likes spam. I wouldn't want some stranger tossing spam all over my site, so why should I be comfortable doing it myself? That's not marketing. It's just annoying.

Secondly, I realized over the course of five or six months that the whole "chronicle your journey as a writer" blog has been done.

To death.

There's not much more I can contribute to the discussion about indie publishing. It's tough, you have to work your ass off to get results, Amanda Hocking's contract with St. Martin's Press is "controversial," and JA Konrath is pretty much the indie publishing version of Yoda - only with more beer.

The third problem with my initial idea of what this blog should be is that a blog about writers and written for writers may definitely attract other writers. That's fine. I've met some awesome people by networking through the blog.

But a writer survives on one thing and one thing only: READERS. Yes, there are writers who also read. However, most indie authors are in the business of promoting themselves. It's not that we are insincere; it's just that have books to sell.

Quick experiment: fill a hotel conference room with dozens of sales people and see how meaningful the conversations become. Watch for the verbal tug of war, the pointless upstaging and outdoing of one another.

This is essentially the same thing that happens when you only surround yourself with other writers. Please don't misread this and think I dislike being amongst other writers. That's definitely not the case. You learn things, you develop ideas, and you get inspired. It's just counter-productive after a certain amount of time; you lose sight of what the goal is supposed to be.

An author's number one goal should be to find and RETAIN readers.

What does this mean for my blog?


I started a feature late last year (before a day job kind of broke my schedule like a battering ram destroys a door) and it was called "This Is Me..." The idea was originally developed as a children's book (and it may still be turned into a book this year). I'll be launching that feature again next week.

And beyond that, I'll just be talking about the stuff that interests me. Fantasy, science fiction, horror, popular culture... I'm a big nerd and it's going to be pretty obvious that I'm a card-carrying Freak. You have been warned.

On a final side note, go check out Chris Hardwick's book The Nerdist Way. I know, I know. He's not an indie and for the price of his ebook, you could buy twelve copies of my novel. I get it. But he has some pretty awesome tips for getting the best out of life. That is, if you're a nerd.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Divine Intermission now available on Amazon!

For the two or three people who may have been anticipating its arrival, the wait is over: book one of Divine Intermission is officially live and available as an ebook exclusively on Amazon's Kindle Store. That means if you are an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow the book at no cost. If you're not a Prime member, you can still get the book for a mere 99 cents.

In other news, I ran across this article (via Io9)about Amanda Hocking and how she is "still the exception" in the publishing biz. Anyone who reads about indie publishing should know that she is an indie author who, after selling over a million copies of her work, signed a $2 million book deal with St. Martin's Press. The author of the article goes on to describe "hybrid authors," or those who are at once published by legacy houses while continuing to self publish their own work.

What we have to remember is that Amanda Hocking's experience couldn't have happened five or six years ago. Sure, JA Konrath was blazing a trail along with a few others.

But when we look at Amanda Hocking or John Hartness or Kerry Schafer, we can't get jaded and say, "Oh, they're exceptions to the rules. Indie authors getting signed to publishing houses? That's not how it should be."

We have to stop thinking in terms of, "This is not how it's supposed to happen." Instead, we need to frame our experiences and the experiences of others in the indie publishing industry in terms of What Is Possible.

Is it possible to write and publish my own book? Yes.

Is it possible to reach a global audience with my fiction? Yes.

Is it possible that a publisher might want to relaunch my work one day? Yes.

Is it possible that I might be more successful without that publisher's help?...

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Novella That Wasn't There...

According to my last blog post, today was supposed to mark the debut of my novella "Divine Intermission."

Well, plans changed.

I'm still shooting for a January release, but it probably won't happen this week. I could spend a few minutes coming up with reasons why it didn't go live when it should have... instead, I'm just going to talk about some other things that have been on my mind the past few weeks.

If you've been paying attention to my blog since the beginning, and have been able to withstand all the times I've dropped off the grid, you may have noticed my growing fascination for serial fiction and short novels. Since I'm still less than a year into the indie publishing gig, I'm still experimenting with ways to get my work into the hands of readers.

My first experiment of the year is this series of novellas collectively called "Divine Intermission." The plan is to publish the first four books of this series throughout the year.

My gut instinct has been that ebook consumers are going to be more interested in shorter novels. It's like the weight loss advice that says eating several small meals is better than eating a few large feasts. Some of my fiction will be available in bite-sized morsels.

And I think this is where we're headed as indie authors.

Some would say that shorter fiction indicates more simplistic writing, which could also suggest that an author is writing to the lowest common denominator. This criticism is, of course, ridiculous.

Anyone who's tried to pack the power of a novel into the body of a short story knows that brief fiction does not equal easier fiction.

For a clear example of the shorter being more complex, take a look at the following two pieces of fiction:
578 printed pages

110 printed pages
If indie authors begin focusing on novellas or novelettes or just shorter novels, we may see a surge in author innovation and a rejuvenation of the craft itself. In fact, I would argue that the rise of ereaders may also give rise to a new golden age of fiction... that is, fiction of the shorter persuasion.

What do you think? Are readers hungry for tiny morsels or enormous feasts?