Tag Archives: Writing

2.7 Million Indie Books Published in 2010 – Holy Bejeezes!

During a recent twitter chat, someone pointed me towards an interesting fact. According to an article published by the Association of Independent Authors,  over 2.7 million, yes that really is millions, new independent book titles were published in 2010.

What the…that many? Holy bejeezes Batman!

If you’re like me, you may find this number alarmingly high. But after you settle down and realize it’s just the way things are at the moment,contemplation sets in. You then wonder, what on earth is driving all this?

Clearly, there’s a lot to discount. One should assume that a good portion of these millions are spammers (public domain works dumped on Amazon to nab buyers who think, what the heck, it’s only 99 cents) plus a deluge of quite horrible slush pile fire starter.

However, there’s probably a good portion worth reading too. And that number, which I can only speculate, is growing at a huge rate. I like to think there are some good reasons for this phenomenon.

The analogy I’m trying to make is like torrential rain and flood water, and it goes like this. Traditional publishers have been rejecting so much work over the decades, by either system inefficiencies or anticompetitive activity, that a flood of books now inundate the market. The dam is broken, and the waters come down. There are many new and established authors who have simply given up the “rejection marry-go-round”. And established authors have even a greater reason to self/indie publish if they have a large backlog of edited  work ready-to-go.

Important for anyone stepping into these murky water will be to figure out how to survive over time. I believe that even though many barriers-to-entry have been removed, rising above the dark waters of schlock and mud will prove difficult. The solution? Patience, and the unending tenacity to demonstrate quality. This is key.

The other question I have is, how long will this flood last? I don’t believe every new author will keep pumping out books. Many will have pipe dreams, and give up when they realize there is no pot of gold for them. Also, backlogs from established authors will eventually run dry. What then?

Like many people say, we live during very interesting times in the publishing industry. I’m enjoying myself. Getting my feet wet, and splashing around in the water. So far it’s been loads of fun. I just hope I don’t lose my bathing suit, get washed away…or drown!

Conflux7 – Small convention with a big heart

Some of you may not have heard about Conflux, a speculative fiction

convention that just took place in Canberra, Australia. Unlike last year’s Worldcon (aka Aussicon4), Conflux is small. Only a few hundred people attended. But what Conflux lacks in size, it more than makes up for in passion

and soul. The sense of community is everywhere, from the shared joy of a book launch to the palpable loss of fantasy author Sara Douglass, who died shortly before the conference began. Overall, Conflux was a cozy get-together, where likeminded fans and writers mingle and enjoy their love of SF and Fantasy.

Of course, lots of stuff happened over the 4 day event. I’m not going to post
everything here at this time, but a full report will appear soon on the Adventures in SciFi Publishing website. Keep your eye out for it.

In the meantime, special congratulations go out to Patty Jansen, a major figure in the Australian writer’s scene.  She was kind enough to spend time talking with me during the entire event. Having won the second quarter of the Writers of the Future contest, the fruits of all her hard work have now gained her global attention. It’s well deserved in my opinion.

Freedom Club – Launched!

Freedom Club - KindleWell, my first Kindle novel Freedom Club has finally been launched as of early October. Many thanks to the entire staff of Hotspur Publishing. Everyone worked very hard to get this first release ready.

Also, notice the final cover design. Isn’t it great? I am thankful to everyone who voted on the two versions that were posted last month. Clearly, the one named simply, transistor man, was a clear favorite by a margin of 3 to 1.

In any event, I’m looking forward to feedback from all my readers. All comments are welcome. Well…at least the nice ones 🙂

Freedom Club – Promo Video

Not on sale until October, but thought I would share this anyway. My publisher, Hotspur Publishing, made this cool promo video. Enjoy!

Show, don’t tell? Proof that you can break the rules!

When learning to write fiction, a dilemma soon encountered is: the rules. As in, one must follow them. What are they you ask? They’re more like guidelines, but everyone seems to espouse their importance, often with a bit of finger wagging for added effect. Don’t overuse adverbs, avoid sayisms, don’t change the point of view within scenes, and so on and so forth.

As much as I believe such guidelines are beneficial, I think it’s also very important to highlight the fact that one can break the rules at times. In fact, I believe one takes the craft to a higher level when one can: a) understand when doing so is in good taste. And b) one is familiar with examples of similar transgressions by other authors.

Given the above, I would like to mention the dreaded, “show, don’t tell”, rule. At its core, this rule emphasizes the practice of avoiding narrative exposition.  The idea being that a writer is well served to tell his story via action and or rich dramatic dialog. True, this technique is a good rule of thumb. However, one should not feel this is always the case. A very credible writer who emphatically proves this point is China Mieville.

The fantastic thing about China is his incredible power of poetic exposition, which not only breaks the “show, don’t tell” rule, but utterly obliterates it out of existence. If you don’t believe me, then pick up any of his books. I’m currently reading THE SCAR, which is full of good examples.

But please, read carefully. I suggest getting up on a chair and reading his prose out loud to an imaginary audience. His expositions, you see, are truly works of art, and deserve to be heard in the proper accents, rhythms, and registers.

Of course China breaks more than just one rule, but for the purpose of this blog post, “show, don’t tell” will do nicely.

Freedom Club Book Cover Designs – Vote

I have two nice cover designs that could be used for my upcoming book. I’d appreciate if you would vote and let me know which you like better. Many thanks for your opinion.

Freedom Club – To Be Published by Hotspur

My first novel, Freedom Club, is coming closer to public release, so I suppose its time to inform everyone about its progress. I began writing this novel in 2007, when I was still living in India. However, in the summer of 2009, I began working with David Bischoff, a published author and accomplished editor, who coached me for about two years as we brought the book to fruition. A few months ago, Dave gave the manuscript his final okay , and now it’s in the hands of Chris Lampton for a final round of proofing. Chris is also an writer and editor with decades of experience, and will fine tune the book prior to first publication.

However, it is the publication of the book that has taken on a new life and needs some explaining. You see, way back in 2007 I set out to write a book good enough to be publishable by the large NY publishing houses. With Dave’s help I believe we have achieved that goal.

But the world has changed drastically in the last few years.  Publishers are (IMHO) not open to first time authors. They want to bet on established writers who can provide guaranteed revenue. It’s a move that may prove true in some cases, but not all.  They (the big publishers) don’t know where things are really going. If they could I, suspect they’d stop all the upheavals . They’re simply digging in as the market reforms. Amazon, e-books, and POD have opened new channels for everyone to dive in, and with all the new players around, it’s hard to tell who has the firmest grip on things . Maybe, it’s the authors for once. Wouldn’t that be nice?

So given all the turmoil and change, I lost my appetite to publish Freedom Club  using the traditional model. That is, submit like crazy to finding an agent, who then will convince a publisher to go with a first time author like myself, then pray nothing goes wrong. Well, I believe that old process is broken. And even if it were to work, it can only take place with with high risk, while offering  me the author less returns.

So instead, I have decided to publish with Hotspur Publishing, a new publishing house created by my editor, Dave. Neither one of us planned this, but I think this period of time is special. New publishing houses like Hotspur could not exist just a few years ago. As long as the talent is there, it’s amazing to see how easy it is to bring a book into the marketplace these days. In fact, I don’t think Hotspur’s methods will be any worse than the large publishing houses. 95% of the writing and editing has been done. And everyone uses e-book and POD technology as large print runs become a thing of the past. The only real meaningful difference is that the established publishers have enormous overhead to cover. Elaborate layers of managers, accountants, marketing experts, lawyers, editors, interns, and illustrators. Am I forgetting someone? Oh yes: writers.

The problem seems to be that not enough people add value in the old model. Of course some editors are doing a good job. And yes, some mass marketing may have a positive impact on sales. It just that, well I don’t think the old gang will make Freedom Club any better or successful than Dave and Chris will. We’re a small group of talented people, putting all our efforts into one, and only one thing:

The book.

So, in the next month or so I look forward to setting Freedom Club loose. It may not be a big hit, but who cares. Failure happens all the time. Even for established authors. I just like writing science fiction, and I’ll keep doing that with Hotspur for no reason other than, it’s a lot of fun.

Isn’t that what writing should be about?

Fractured Sub-Genres: Good or Bad?

There are many debates raging about the number of sub-genres within Science Fiction. Decades ago we had simply hard and soft. Now? There are more than you can shake a stick at, and new ones being coined every day.

But is this good or bad for the market? It seems the fracture taking place was actually started decades ago by marketers in the publishing industry, in  an attempt to differentiate new books. Fans have picked up on this and extended the concept way beyond its original intent. I suppose one could say they’re simply handles, from which we can describe and categorize a story.

However, I don’t see any problem here. An author might like being just a plain old Science Fiction writer, assuming this description covers a broader market. But this I feel is superficial and not the smart move. That’s because readers don’t read “any old” science fiction. Making niches seems the best solution for both sides, and simplifies the overall search process.

And if you haven’t noticed, simplifying the search process is becoming more important as we head into the new world of self publishing. We not only will have traditional publishers, but established authors throwing up their entire backlog. Toss in hordes of new writers and the number of books to select from will be more than anyone can imagine.

In the new world of publishing, sub-genre niches could very well be the only way to make sense of things.

Deathworld – by Harry Harrison

 Beyond all the: shooting, car chases, rocket escapes, and vicious alien creature attacks; this book offered more than just a thrill ride. It’s a story about the environment, and reminds the reader that making mistakes with mother nature can have negative repercussions. Namely, she’ll eat you alive.

Now in addition to its philosophical points, this book will be a great learning tool for budding writers because it employs an interesting narrative technique. The entire book starting from page one is written from only the protagonist’s (Jason dinAlt ) point of view. It never changes, and is so skillfully done I actually thought it was first person at times. But Harrison keeps the narration in Limited 3rd, and seamlessly keeps the reader absorbed the whole time without effort. I think few books pull this off better.

The plot also maintains high level drama and mystery the whole way through. So much so, it’s a wonder this book (and its two sequels) were never made into movies: it’s a CGI guy’s fantasy come true. So for now, you’re going to have to just read it and use your imagination.

Don’t worry though. Even without CGI, it’s worth it.

Eco Science Fiction – The Trendy Sub-Genre

Even though Wikipedia has pages outlining many of Science Fiction’s sub-genres, it seems that Eco Science Fiction (Eco SF) is missing. It’s no crime, but Eco SF  is in my mind legitimate, though not always in the public eye.

Perhaps this is speculation on my part, but I believe the main reason Eco SF lacks transparency is because it falls into a pattern of social trends. Sometimes being popular, other times not. There seems to be a few others listed in Wiki: Christian; Feminist; Gay/Lesbian; Libertarian. So why not Eco SF? Its existence is noted in Eco-Fiction (Stadler 1971) and Science Fiction and Organization (Higgens, 2001).

Convinced? Okay, no one wants to read lengthy non-fictions about SF these days. I would then simply point out some the great Eco SF classics that come to mind. How about Pohl and Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants (1953)? Or J.G. Ballard: The Drowned World (1962) ;The Burning World (1964). And let’s not forget Dune by Herbert (see my previous blog).

In conclusion, I would like to mention that with the advent of global warming and attention to carbon footprints, it seems we’re seeing a resurgence of this trendy sub-genre. I think it’s a sign of a healthy readership, and I welcome its coming.

Let’s just hope the trend doesn’t run out of fuel, so to speak.