Publishing

Kickstarter for Books

September 19th, 2011  |  Published in Publishing

I just watched the video for Tobias Buckell’s new Kickstarter project, which has the goal of funding the next book in his Xenowealth series, and it looks really cool. This sort of thing really has the potential to revolutionize how books are made. After all, if publishers aren’t really doing much for authors for Buckell (and really, when was the last time that you saw an advertisement for books that didn’t have a name like Rowling, Patterson, or Martin attached to it), then there is no reason for authors to not do it for themselves.

Coffee Shop

May 19th, 2008  |  Published in Fiction, News, Publishing, SciFi, Society, Stories, writing

Just posted a new segment over at Uprising, Coffee Shop.  Sorry that it has taken me so long to write, but the first few attempts were . . . boring.  One of the things that I’m trying to do with this story is to simply cut out the parts that people can easily figure out on their own.  If a character needs to get from point A to point B, and one scene ends with him leaving point A and the next starts up with him at point B, then why write about the middle part?  The trouble, then, is getting something interesting into every scene, even when the scene could be extremely short.

In other news, I introduce an eye color body modification, which I call iris doping, basically injecting a colored polymer or something into the iris.  It would be really cool looking, but also be quite difficult to reverse.  If it worked well enough, I’d probably do it.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Now I Need to Read His Books

May 18th, 2008  |  Published in News, Publishing, SciFi, Society, writing

CNN has an interesting interview with Iain M. Banks, author of the Culture series of books.  I have personally wondered about a post-scarcity world for some time (I am a socialist, after all), and someone who associates himself with Ken MacLeod sounds like a good place to start.  In any case, go read it, its short and good, I will get back to writing.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Animosity

May 15th, 2008  |  Published in Fantasy, Fiction, Publishing, SciFi, Society

I was just browsing the scifi reddit, and I came across a comment thread titled Does it REALLY bug anyone else when they go to a library or book store and the sci-fi and fantasy sections are combined? I thought “this might be interesting” and so checked it out.  Damn.  The comments consist almost entirely of how much fantasy sucks, and how the only genre worth reading is scifi  I don’t recall ever seeing the fantasy crowd attacking the scifi crowd like this.

My theory is that the scifi crowd was simply trying to gain some legitimacy at the expense of fantasy, and unfortunately this sort of thing just reaffirms it.  Depressing.

Tags: , , , ,

Publicity

May 11th, 2008  |  Published in Fiction, Misc, Publishing, Society, writing

Recently I have gotten a job with a bookstore, one of the big chains.  So far, it has been great to be just surrounded by books.  On the other hand, I have been able to see first-hand how many books get sent back.  I had heard about the numbers (only 5% of published books being profitable and whatnot), but seeing the sheer volume of books that are returned is something else entirely.  Although I feel some of this could be avoided by actions on the publishers part (advertising books other than Harry Potter, for example), part of it also has to do with the shift towards digital fiction, a shift which has been suppressed by the publishers.

With digital fiction, the means of publication is very simple, just about anyone can create a text file, a PDF, or an e-book (although that takes slightly more work).  The means of distribution is also very simple, once its on the net, anyone can access it.  The problem now is the means of publicity.  It matters not how good your fiction is if no one can find it.  Personally, I envision a dedicated Reddit style site that people submit fiction to, but right now there isn’t one (the best that I have been able to find is the scifi subreddit for genre works).  The other side of this is that authors need to start making an effort to read fiction online, to help bootstrap things.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Changing Face of Short Fiction

May 9th, 2008  |  Published in Fiction, Publishing, Stories, writing

So how long, really, is a short story? Common definitions define the top end of the length spectrum at anywhere between 7,500 to 20,000 words. Those numbers are for the most part, arbitrary. I mean if you define a short story as having a maximum of 10,000 words, then what is it about that 10,001th word that puts it over the edge? Silly, right? A much better definition is the functional definition famously espoused by Edgar Allen Poe in “The Philosophy of Composition”, which defines a short story as a story that is able to be read in one sitting. This may seem vague, as how much can be read in one sitting will vary from person to person, and indeed for one person from one situation to the next (reading at home vs. on a train, for example). On the other hand, it is much more reasonable than arbitrary word counts.

So what happens when we bring technology into the mix? Reading on a computer is a much different experience than reading a physical book, and the comparison is not necessarily negative. I won’t go into the details of how the two mediums differ, but I will say that electronic text lends itself to shorter reading times. On the computer, for example, there are a million other things going on which conspire to prevent the reader from sinking large amounts of time into something like reading, and this trend will only continue as we get more multi-purpose mobile devices that also act as e-book readers. Second, dedicated readers will also have a tendency towards shorter works, albeit to a lesser degree and for different reasons. The reason I say this is that they are more convenient than paper books (or at least this is where they are heading, currently the point is debatable), and so they lend themselves to the reading in the short periods of time between other things.

As a result, the average time a person spends reading without interruption (a sitting) will shorten. This means that stories broken into smaller and smaller chunks (flash fiction) will become the normal medium of fiction. This is not to say that long-form fiction will go away, because it won’t, just that more of it will be distributed serially. Personally, I think that this is a good thing. As a writer, it forces me to look at scenes as individual stories that contribute as a whole.

I would like to give one example of how this could work (beyond my own project, Uprising, of course). I have just finished reading Word War Z, by Max Brooks, which was fantastic, and for those of you who are not familiar with it, it consists of nothing but fictional interviews with survivors of a global zombie war. Part of the appeal of the book was that most of the interviews were short, and so it was easy to pick up and put down. On the other hand it was written in such a way that it was nearly impossible to put down (partially as a result of knowing that I could at just about any time, I’m sure).

If they were available, I would gladly read other stories that were written in this format, but there aren’t. Instead, its something that we’re going to have to do for ourselves. Which is a topic for another day (a day that will probably be sometime next week, in case you were wondering)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

New Uprising Segment

May 7th, 2008  |  Published in announcement, Fiction, News, Publishing, SciFi, Stories, writing

I just posted a new segment over at Uprising.  Having introduced Linden as a POV character, we start to learn about some of the fundamental differences between her and Ethan.  Enjoy, and don’t forget to tell me what you think.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

More New Media

May 6th, 2008  |  Published in Fiction, News, Publishing, Reviews

I should also mention that Cory Doctorow released his new novel, Little Brother, recently.  I had the good fortune to read an early draft, and it was simply fantastic.  I won’t go into too much detail, but basically the plot revolves around a hacker kid who is treated poorly (read: realistically) by Homeland Security after a terrorist attack on San Francisco.  Everything is based on current tech (like a nearer-future Doktor Sleepless), lending it a feel of future history.  If that isn’t enough, its available under a Creative Commons license, which means that you can download it in its entirety (the site also has instructions on how to do a bunch of the stuff in the book).  So go on and give it a read, you won’t regret it.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Catching Up With the Present

April 30th, 2008  |  Published in Fiction, Publishing, SciFi, technology, writing

I posted a new segment over at Uprising yesterday, and one of the things that I mention is the concept of a homeDrive, which basically the natural progression of flash drives and wireless networking.  Right now you can have an entire Linux distribution on a flash drive.  Although this is cool, the idea would probably make more sense if you just had a home directory and your applications on a wireless flash drive that any computer could use it.  A device like this would probably be first adopted by the security conscious, as it would be easy to encrypt the entire thing.  In short, ultimate, secure portability.  Of course, this morning I find out that we’re almost there.  I realize that, as I’m writing a near-future story, I will run the risk of this sort of thing, I guess that I was just planning on being oblivious to it.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tofu: The Best Document Reader Ever Devised

April 25th, 2008  |  Published in Misc, Publishing, Reviews, Software

TofuLast week I stumbled upon a program for OS X called Tofu. Like it’s namesake, its simple, flexible, and awesome. So what does it do? Basically, it allows you to take any text or RTF file and presents it in columns. I won’t go into depth on the subject, suffice to say that there is a good reason why almost all commercial print is done with narrow columns (there’s more about it on the Tofu site). Even if none of this has convinced you, it’s totally free, so there’s no reason not to try it.

So what could you use it for? Well, reading that transcript by Charlie Stross would have sucked if I hadn’t done it in Tofu. More importantly, it makes reading digital fiction much more enjoyable, I currently use it to proof anything over one page in length that I write. In any case, you read a lot on your computer (or else you wouldn’t be reading this, would you?), why not make it enjoyable?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,