Jason, Rina, George and I have been talking about what’s next for people who write text. And one of the things I’ve been saying is that the dearth of markets for genre fiction (especially the longer stuff that windy sods like me keep writing) makes it pretty damn tough for new people to break in. This is not a complaint about knowing the secret handshake of the Cabal of Published Authors; text on paper is having a hell of a time competing with games and the internet, especially when both of them offer interaction with other people. The power of the imagination is mighty, but it’s gonna have a hell of a time going up against arguing over politics or fragging newbs.

It’s also a matter of entertainment hour per dollar. You spend forty bucks on a game you’re going to play for eighty hours, I think you’ll be hesitant to buy an eBook for six, especially when you can go slurp down free text anywhere else online. We writers have to think like publishers: we’re selling eyeballs to advertisers.

Which is why I’m doing this insane thing: I’m putting my fiction online, and I’m doing it for free. There will be ads at the beginning and end of each chapter/section/story, but they should be unobtrusive (and, ad servers willing, relevant). I’ll still have to promote the bejeezus out of this site, but with Worldcon coming up, there’s plenty of opportunity to spread the word and bring in new readers.

This could be a huge mistake. I might be shooting myself in the foot with magazines and websites and publishers. I’m still going to submit fiction like every other writer, but I’m not going to keep flogging stuff around. Genre fiction can have a pretty short shelf life, especially now with the future rising up and slapping us in the face every day. There are waves to catch, and I want to be as far in front as possible.

4 thoughts on “Money, Mouth, Putting

  1. Rah rah, go Reagan High!

    It’s somewhat embarrassing that you’re putting your money where your mouth is, where I’ve just been shooting mine off. My mouth, not my foot. Nevermind.

    A couple of things:

    First, kudos. Someone needs to do it, and if I’m too lazy, it should be you. I wish you every bit of success in this venture.

    Second, free ideas. Have you considered doing a free audiobook download, with either you reading, or some awful automated thing? Also, your success on the ad side will be largely determined by having a variety of ads to choose from. You may want to consider a sidebar. (Yes, I know, barf, but hey, I am what I am.)

    Third, use the social networks. There are a whole lot of scifi-loving people on SomethingAwful, Fark, let alone MySpace (yes, I know, double barf, but when there are MySpace groups on Science Fiction with memberships approaching The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s subscription rates, well, there you go.) Lead them in with an excerpt on the site. Offer that free audiobook.

    Fourth, here’s the vision: let’s get someone (you, me, whatever) on the Hugo ballot without ever having the story published professionally. No, seriously. Use the social nets to build a fan base, give them an incentive to register and vote at Worldcon (we’re only talking a couple of hundred votes here), and go for it. Or how about getting your site accredited as a SFWA-approved market because you’ve made enough ad and affiliate revenue to go over their .05/word (and you’ll have reader stats, too!)

    Fifth, and finally, if you need help, I’ll do what I can. Providing you help me with my site a little . . .

  2. I’ve been working on the podcast reading off and on for the past few months, but you’re right: I need to kick in the spurs and get that sucker finished.

    As for the SFWA thing…you truly are an evil genius.

    By the way, one of the last PR things I scribbled down before I went to sleep was this: make new student packets for Reagan High and send ’em to newspapers, alt-weeklies and (oh, this would so rock if it worked) The Daily Show. Because what’s presidential politics but a high school election writ ridiculously large?

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