Friday, June 8, 2012

It’s a Brave New World




I find myself feeling lately as if I stand at the horizon of a new planet. I am filled with platitudes regarding the challenges ahead and struggle to keep my spirits up as I face the prospects before me.

As Terri spoke a few weeks ago, the publishing industry is in flux. It’s a ripe ground for missteps and full of landmines. It also holds vast promise, but it ain’t gonna be easy.

I’m not sure it ever was easy for writers. We can all wax nostalgically for the days of yesteryear, when all an author had to do was write, edit and cash the checks.

Right.

In reality, it was never like that. Everyone stacked up rejection letters, everyone was told no, everyone was informed that this would never sell. Margaret Mitchell, Harper Lee, Stephen King, Leon Uris, Danielle Steele, Nora Roberts…name an author and they all went through it. None of them is going to stand up, or communicate from the grave, and tell us how easy it was.

Nope.

If it were easy everyone would be doing it and everyone would be cashing those checks and… Be a rock star! A bestselling novelist! An award winning artist! Stack up the Oscars/Grammys/Tonys…you name it.

It is harder than it used to be? Maybe. But the novelists of the decades past sent off their books and waited months and months and sometimes years for that rejection to role in. Then they started over again. Years. I can remember querying an agent a few years ago from Starbucks, and by the time I got home the rejection had arrived via my in-box. Disappointing? Yes, but it also left me free to keep going.

We who write, need to be innovative and fight to command our ships. Yes, the NY Publishers have the distribution. But other opportunities are so numerous; it’s overwhelming for authors right now. Agents can be our allies, or they can be a locked door guarding the castle. Big e-publishers, little e-publishers, self-publishing, podcasting…the choices are incredible. Graphic novels, comics, YouTube videos, book trailers…

I sat with several authors at RT and a discussion began regarding how do authors make money on their written works when the reading pubic is growing more and more accustomed to paying little to nothing for the product? With the vast choices available for their entertainment hours, how do we get them to pay us for what we do? When they can watch movies for free on their iPhones? When they can catch up with television series on their laptops? When they can listen to music all day online?

How does Hollywood make money? How do the bands do it? How do songwriters survive? How do graphic artists? Painters? Dancers?

Innovation.

What can we provide that the rest don’t? Or how can we partner with them to make the experience of our book, our story, our worlds unique enough that the public will do that tappity-tap with their credit card number and help us pay our rent so we can keep them entertained?

Not that long ago, we had a guest who offers photographs of her story as the reader reads. That is one way. What about…a soundtrack? What about a video of interpretive dance? What about a virtual tour of the places/times/characters? T-shirts? Auction off a character name? How do we add value to our stories? Solicit funds for a future product, promising to name contributors in the ‘credits’?

Don’t be scared. I want to brainstorm today… Books aren’t dead, they are changing. What can we do to reap the benefits of this change? What is the wildest thing you can think of?

Open your heads, step into the future…what will books be able to offer in the next ten years? Twenty? Tomorrow?


47 comments:

TerriOsburn said...

I see everyone is either sleeping in or not willing to touch this subject. To be honest, I don't have any ideas to offer either. I mean, I don't pick up a book to be "interactive". Reading is a person, quiet experience. It's a way to create a movie in my head that I alone control. The words do all the work and my brain takes it from there.

I'm not resistant to change, but I want books to stay books. Digital or on paper doesn't matter to me, but it still needs to be a book. A gateway to another world or new people or just get me out of my boring reality.

I don't want or need it to do anything more than that.

Maureen said...

I get that. I really do, but what would be the added value that might tempt someone to invest in your book...

Wild assed, out of the world, idea. I sorta like the idea of a soundtrack. A list of questions about the book for a bookclub to chat about.

Your book could include links to Okracoke, maybe photographs of the actual island, a tourist map, directions on how to make the bracelet that looked like Joe's eyes...

MsHellion said...

I agree with Terri. I don't think you need a "gimmick" to sell a story; you just need a really good story that identifies with most people. About things we care about. Kristan Higgins and Jill Shalvis don't have gimmicks; they just write funny, sweet romances with hot guys. :) (I guess the hot guy can be a gimmick, but they're pretty much EVERYONE'S gimmick.)

Usually I'm reading a story that is like my life, but better--with my experiences or funnier. I want stories with family squabbles and sibling rivalry and the boy next door you never got over. And in historicals, I want the wallflower and the rake. I'm a standard reader--I don't apologize for it. I don't get bored (too much) by sticking within the same sandbox I'm familiar with.

MsHellion said...

I like the idea of a soundtrack, Mo, but can you reference a soundtrack of songs without legal problems? I guess Sherrilyn Kenyon does it for her readers. Her something extra is a website (a bit like Pottermore) that tells you all the extras about the characters that didn't make it into the book. We LOVE it. *LOL* It does kill time between books.

Maureen said...

Well, I'm thinking more about what really is added value. Nothing that would take away from the story or replace any aspect of the story.

But to be honest, it is a brave new world and it's hard to catch the attention of readers who are bombarded with stuff they can do, including read!

For example, the plethora of free reads means readers have e-readers full of books and though an author might give a book away hoping to entice a reader into buying others...it can take time and how do you get them to read yours?

The writing, the characters...all of those things are of paramount importance... But how do you get them to want to read your book first?

I love the idea of Kenyon and the extra character bits on her website, that is a wonderful added value!

quantum said...

Whether you self-pub or follow the traditional agent/publisher route, the basic problem is to get your work known and adored by a sufficiently large band of readers. I think that there is probably a critical mass for the reader audience, and once exceeded, you will rapidly evolve into a best selling author. At that stage you can start to increase your prices to balance supply and demand and become rich.

So assuming that you have the required talent, your problem boils down to becoming known to a large enough audience that really likes your work. All the obvious ways of publicising the work will be used by the huge mass of starting authors so something unique and special that distinguishes you is required.

Given that Amazon is the main outlet now, you must find a way to get into the top 100 lists as thats where most readers will browse for new authors. I would suggest making a short list of authors in those lists and trying to find out how they made it there. After that copy the best and innovate like mad.

You could also ask for divine intervention!

I'm a bit wooly headed today after winning that prize and all, so may not be my ussual inspirational force.

I will ponder further!

TerriOsburn said...

Hellie hit it on the nose. Books don't need "added value", they already have one intrinsic value if they're written well enough. They give the reader a beautiful story. Or a heart pounding story. Or a world bending story. Or a heart breaking story.

If you're talking about how to get readers to just pick up the book. To put their money down, then it's still the same way. Write a damn good book. This isn't the makeup counter at Dillard. "Get this tote with a free lipstick and nail polish with any $50 order."

Maybe that's how it looks. I do get where you're coming from. Readers can download ten free reads that will keep them entertained until the next ten go on sale for free. WHY would they pay actual money for a book?

I don't think adding toys and trinkets and pictures is the answer. But that's just me. I think you write the best book you can and then do your best to get people talking about it. We've seen first hand with this Fifty Shades hollabaloo that buzz and word of mouth will sell a book way faster than anything else.

Hellie - You can create a "playlist" with song titles and artists. I think you cross a line if you offer those songs for download. But suggesting readers check out the songs is actually really good for the artists and there's no copyright infringement so long as you don't give them song for free. (Or worse, sell it to them and keep the money.)

Maureen said...

Good advice, Q. Not fuzzy headed at all.

I was hoping to spark some mayhem and mad inspiration today...ala something people can play with...

And I so agree about hitting critical mass, or the tipping point... The trick is that is one of those things that if you aim for it, you miss it. Like the light from stars that you can see out of the corner of your eye, but you can't focus on it directly...

Maureen said...

Terri - I think there are a lot of wonderfully written books out there, lost in the seas of free and distraction.

Sometimes, it is about the toys, or the cover, or the tilted grin you can cause with the right 'fun' thing. Not the swag so much, but the added value to the story.

Like Kenyon's added character stuff... And in the future, what might be available for people to check out?

I know it seems like shameless promotion, but really...action figures, trading cards, costume jewelry... It is about separating oneself from the rest and being seen. It doesn't always translate into more readers, but if it's the right reader, the tipping point reader...

What do you think authors will eventually come up with? You know there is a new thing out there called the author ap... A reader can download this ap and I guess it's like a live newsletter, goes straight to their smart phone.

Things like that are coming!

TerriOsburn said...

I think it's the term "added value" that bothers me. As if the book isn't valuable enough on its own. And I don't know what will be the future.

Wait. I have one idea. I think it's the connection with the readers. The personal connection. Becoming part of their lives through social media. Forming communities in which they feel like they "know" you. Maybe even that they're a lot like you or vice versa.

I don't think it's adding to the book. It's adding to the reader. Not being this invisible force offering pictures and toys, but being real and there and accessible. That's where I see authors having success. You win a reader to the point that they feel like a friend, they'll put down their money to buy your book.

MsHellion said...

Again, agree with Terri. (The world is going to tip over, I'm sure of it.) But yes, I had a problem with the added value to the book mentality, but I do agree that if a reader thinks they know the author, they're more willing to shell out money for the book. It's why we love author blogs...and facebook connections. I love the Man Wars Higgins and Shalvis engage in. Hilarious! They're real but accessible. We definitely prefer to engage with the happy writer than the one who bitches and moans--so there's a certain persona there. It's still an edited form of yourself.

TerriOsburn said...

You agreed with me TWICE. Maybe the Mayans were right. LOL!

MsHellion said...

Well, there is no Dick Clark now...and you know we haven't had a NYE we can remember that didn't FEATURE him. Those Mayans are wily.

Maureen said...

Okay, not added value... How about the feather on the stick that entrances...

For example...imagine a historical (regency since that seems more particular about costume) with a paper doll and clothes. Maybe on the website that can be downloaded or worked on the computer. A contest where people dress up their 'rake' or 'duchess' and win a prize.

It's all about the buzz. And yeah, I love the manwar stuff... I know a few authors who do a movie review on their FB pages...both go to the same movie and then 'chat' about it at a specific time, to engage their readers.

I did well with the "Where's the Kraken" contest and still get people sending me kraken posts to my FB page. It's fun!

Some comic book artists are selling character names, or acknowledgements when the comic comes out. Having a paypal button on their site to encourage fans to 'help out'.

I know it sounds distasteful, but it's also about being part of the effort. A reader can be part of the creative process, even by a small amount. Similiar to what I understand Eloisa did with the original BonBons... But with cold, hard cash. (Some people only have cash to give to a creative effort and are pleased to do so.)

On the wild assed side of AV (added value) imagine... A personal holographic dance lesson from the hot Latin lover in how to do the tango...

Mysteries with chefs have been doing this for years, ladies... The recipes at the end of the book. Craft mysteries have instructions on how to create something. I've always felt that Nora could do something with her Irish series that featured the glass blower... Imagine a video tour of Ireland link on her website...

Maureen said...

And yeah, as if Nora needs to do anything...

No Dick Clark for New Years. Great, now I'm scared...

TerriOsburn said...

But the stuff you're talking about is the stuff you add to keep them coming back. They still have to read the book to even want all of these things. And authors often add the freebies at their website so you don't have to read the book to get he recipes or whatever.

You're talking about two different things. How to get them to read then how to keep them coming back.

I've seen artists starting street teams, which is kind of cool. They recruit readers to go out and recruit others. So the main recruit gets free swag and a t-shirt or whatever. They go to their local book stores and basically market in person for the writer. And anyone can do it.

It's a pretty cool idea that I think musicians have been using for years.

Maureen said...

Okay, but still...how do you get them to come back even after they've read a book? Yes, write a book they want to read more about...

But the thing is...the distractions are growing. I mean, the joke on FB about having ADD and being distracted by a rock makes me smile, but! It's also damned true!

I've read good books and thought, "Yeah, I want to read more of this person." Then never followed through and just plain forgotten their name. TV, Movies, Music, the smartphone, all of these things distract me away from reading.

As for getting the attention of first time readers? Ah, if only I knew that secret!

I love the idea of street teams and have been meaning to work something up for myself...

P. Kirby said...

When it comes to the book itself, I'm not interested in anything but text and possibly, illustrations. As a reader of graphic novels, comics and online webcomic, I really enjoy the fusion of visual storytelling with plain old fashioned words. My preference, however, is for illustration, NOT photos. Illustrations are the only "added value" that would interest me.

Music is very tricky, IMO. Most people hate websites that autoplay music (self included), so I suspect the same is true with books. It's intrusive and tastes vary too much.

Some authors offer a little extra--fan service as they say in webcomics--on their websites. If I really love a character or world, I might have fun reading extra (free) short stories, silly trivia about the characters, etc. Last I checked, H.P. Mallory, a self-pubbed success, did this on her website. Within that context, you could post links to iTunes playlists for each novel. (But, I really wouldn't want them in the novel, mucking up the reading experience.)


I've read good books and thought, "Yeah, I want to read more of this person." Then never followed through and just plain forgotten their name.

As a reader, Goodreads has been really useful as a means of keeping track of what I read and what I liked. I'm not entirely sure how that benefits me as an author, though.

Anyway, the key issue seems to be the multitude of options when it comes to entertainment. I'm not sure how you rise about the noise, but I'm inclined to think there's a bit of luck involved. At least.

Maureen said...

Virtual tango instruction? Anyone?

Maureen said...

Pat, the main problem I think is that today's casual reader wants more. Like the DVD extras. What can we offer as an extra?

Luck is so much part of the equation!

TerriOsburn said...

Where do you get this "Readers want more"? What readers want is more books. Which is why everyone is freaking about writing faster. But a good book doesn't happen overnight.

I'm just not going to become a circus clown and start throwing money after trinkets and whatnots to convince a reader I can write. I'm going to write.

Marnee Bailey said...

I'm late to the party. My eldest is done with Preschool for the summer and this summer before kindergarten starts is going to be LONG. I'm already getting, "Can we have a playdate?" and "Do you think there will be boys my age at the playground?"

I'm going to agree with the earlier discussion, that it's not about added value. I think "bonus features" are good but they're only useful if the public is clamoring for more. So the real issue then is getting the attention in a field of so much stuff.

But that was the argument with the internet a decade or more ago. How would people find anything useful in a sea of, well, everything? But yet we do. Word of mouth, well placed marketing, and good old fashioned "it worked the last time, I'll go there again."

If we take that same idea and apply it to book, the first thing is to write something that will appeal to the masses, with universal truth and themes that people want to read. But I guess that's assumed here.

I also think there is some luck involved and some unintentional timing. (Ie are you writing what people want in the time they want it and are you hitting either the right agent on the right day or the right editor in the right month, etc)

But we can't control that part. I think after that, the best thing we can do is try to be seen where your audience might be lurking. Aligning yourself with other authors they read. Having a website they will find appealing. Using social media to the best of your ability. These days, there's a lot of marketing that goes into writing. I'm not sure if that's right or fair but it is the reality in which we move right now.

None of this is reinventing the wheel though. So, I'm pretty much not useful, right? *sigh* My youngest is teething (read: I'm not sleeping well). Sorry if I make no sense or am just rambling.

Marnee Bailey said...

I also don't think I'm writing for the casual reader. I write historical romance. It's a pretty specialized subgenre.

And most casual readers, I think, are going to see what's on the bestseller list. If they're reading, they're reading something that everyone else is reading either because they want to be part of the conversation or because they don't want to take a chance with their money. (I personally think this is what's going on with 50 Shades. Everyone's talking about it so it must be good. So casual readers are picking it up to be part of the clique.)

So I'm not really writing for them. I'm writing for fans of historical romance. Then, if gods are willing, if I attain massive success, maybe the casual reader will pick up my book and go "hey, this is a bestseller and I've heard people talking about it. I should give it a shot."

MsHellion said...

Marn, I think most of us are in the same agreement. Mo is very much being the horse that's being led to the water but refusing to drink. *LOL* But we all have something we're like that on. We have to have that EUREKA moment for ourselves in our own time. :)

I think that's a good idea about hanging out at other writers like you blog--I do pick up some great writers that way.

OR you can be like me and get hooked by a great book cover, think you're buying someone else, and get pleasantly surprised you're reading someone new and really awesome. Luck and timing as you say!

Maureen said...

Okay. Deep breath. Everyone have a drink while I go change out of what I'm wearing. I obviously put on the wrong outfit for today.

Chance descends to her cabin below the bar and carefully puts away the bazillion dollar business suit she stole from the cruise ship the Revenge took out a few months ago.

Thinking the sparkly bustier underneath would signal her intent had not worked.

Reaching deep within her chest of costume goodies, she pulled out the jester's outfit. It was a bit obscene, having been ventilated to suit Sin's taste for exposure, but the colors still worked, she hoped, to lighten the mood on the ship.

Upon reflection, she pulled out the silly raygun she'd purchased at Disneyworld with the Bo'sun, which made goofy sounds ala Stitch, and strapped on the Steve Martin arrow through the head.

Maybe this would help.

Maureen said...

Okay, better!?

On one front, I want to totally rant and scream and defend the rational of my using the words added value and reiterate my belief that yes, readers do want more. If they don't right now, they will.

It's the nature of the beast.

But...I was looking to spark some Friday nonsense with this blog. To challenge the crew to consider the wildest thing they could come up and visualize what the future could hold. In 50 years, 100 years...10 years.

Virtual tango lessons don't appeal? How about having the book read to you by the celebrity voice of your choice, while eating chocolate covered strawberries on the holographic beach?

TerriOsburn said...

I remember that gun! Child. If you were going for silly, you totally missed the mark. Now I have to head out but I'll be back when I get home.

Maureen said...

Pat. I much prefer illustrations to pictures. It's one of the reasons I've been reluctant to put up a page dedicated to the world of The Kraken's Caribbean... If only I were an artist, even a basic sketch artist...

My website is being redesigned and I'm gonna put together a page where I'll totally share secrets of the Kraken's Caribbean. Down to how it works, who lives there... Include the map, etc.

I was thinking of calling it the playground, but I need something a bit more nautical.

Hels? You have any ideas?

Maureen said...

Marn - It is all of that. And writing the best book ever is the first step. Getting that book read is the next step...well, after getting it published.

It helps to have a built in audience like a historical period...

I could imagine costume tips... I know one thing I'd love to see with historical authors is a simple explanation of period terms. An idiot's guide to the regency...

MsHellion said...

Okay, now that I kinda get what you're wanting--yeah, I see your website as being more as an interactive "cartoony" or "cartography" drawn website. With a little fake Kraken than comes up looking like one of the puppets on a stick...and leading to the next page or something.

Like something designed before CGI, but with Steampunk elements to show how high-advanced this is. *LOL*

Since it seems you're shooting for something fun and goofy--maybe I'm wrong--remember that show: LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS? Do something like that--but it's SEASTYLES OF THE WET AND BARNACLY--and each page would have the little kraken puppet floating about and pointing out new stuff.

If you don't want it that Kraken specific, I'm not sure. I think I would have to see your content you're wanting to share to figure out the "theme" if it's not going to be the Kraken.

Maureen said...

Terri - No one caught the virtual tango reference? The holographic world tour?

Things just spun out so literal... It is a topic worthy of discussion, but some play was invited!

As for being a horse that won't drink...totally do not get the reference. I KNOW one needs to write the best book... Also, looking at trends and how to keep your reader interested in what you're doing, having more to offer, a place for them to play, to wander in their imagination is important.

Why do you think Star Trek is still so popular? Or Dr. Who? Or all those geek things? ComicCon? Because they invite people to play in these worlds! To be part of it... It's why fanfic is so popular!

On a semi-serious note, how do we, as authors, reap the benefit of a reader's longing to be part of...to play...to imagine...to frolic...?

Maureen said...

Hee, hee. I love the idea of a puppet kraken, but I bet it would take way more bells and whistles of investment in a website than it sounds like...

But something similiar could be done. I love the play on Lifestyles - god, I hated that show! Maybe I could figure out a Fantasy Island link...?

I'll see what I can come up and let you know...

MsHellion said...

I'm sorry, Mo, but your blog sounded like you were looking for a "get popular quick" trick so more people would read your book, when my first reaction was, "The book is most important." ALSO--you are writing in a world that invites world building and playing, like JK Rowling does with Pottermore, and there is long term popularity with Twilight and Hunger Games (all of which I'm referencing that has this kind of geek fandom are YA novels which you don't like.) Star Trek, I thought, was a TV show first as was Dr. Who--so I don't think they count as a sort of book to geekdom crossover, but LOTR can fit this (though I don't know if there were comicons type things before the movies came out for them, were there?)

Being I want to write mostly contemporary or historical novels, I don't see this dressing up and being a part of the world working for me. (I'm not writing Steampunk.) I don't even write Regency--though I suppose hosting a "ball" would be a cool plug to promote a book. Susan Mallery does have a more interactive website, but I've only looked at it once and I don't loiter there looking for new content. *LOL* It tells me when new books care coming, which is the thing I care most about.

But if my western went through--no idea how I'd promote it. I'd likely have pages of crap I cut out of the "banter" between them and would let people pick through it if they wanted. Who knows? But I'm not going to offer a free calf with purchase or hold a drawing for a week at a Dude Ranch. Those contests usually are for people who have no intention of really being won over. *LOL* I know. I've done it! Whereas I won't even enter half the contests of those authors I adore simply because I'd buy their books out of the back of their van...

MsHellion said...

Instead of "de plane! de plane!" someone can shout, "The Kraken! The Kraken!"

Maureen said...

Westerns... The fun stuff could be links to western reinactment encampments. Definitions. Design your own brand...

I just think people want to play!

ComicCon started as purely comic books. Like rows of tables with guys like you see on Big Bang Theory... And yeah, Star Trek conventions started out with Vulcan ears and green skinned maidens...

I think the regency writers have a lot of fun with the terminology, the historical accuracy (if that can be considered fun...), and the particulars of the costume...

If I could, I'd open an holographic tour of Tortuga, include Kraken rides, bartending lessons from Emily, waltzing lessons from the vampires... Things to invite the readers to feel part of the world...

Maureen said...

The Kraken! The Kraken!

Hee, hee! I love it!

A virtual dude ranch...hayride for readers, in the moonlight, with the cowdude of your choice... ;-)

P. Kirby said...

I'm just not going to become a circus clown and start throwing money after trinkets and whatnots to convince a reader I can write. I'm going to write.

This. I already spent a chunk of time today on a blog post when I'd rather be writing.

Lately, it's clear to me, given my glacial writing pace, social networking and other bells and whistles aren't really going to help much. I need to just write. Since I work outside the home, I really don't have a lot of time to devote to marketing, which utterly devours writing time.

Again, I think it's cool when authors or other producers of creative content offer more content on their sites. Unfortunately, I don't think that content, in itself, is what sells books/movies/TV shows. People write fan fics and explore the worlds of HP, Star Trek, et al., because they watch/read the shows. And they can't get enough of them. Because...uh, "storytelling." Yeah, I've watched cut scenes from Thor, uh, several times...because I'm Loki-obsessed. But I wouldn't be if I hadn't watched the movie and become Loki-obsessed. I guess what I'm saying is, extras on the primary product (DVD, books, music) don't bring me to the product. And, if I don't like the product, they don't keep me around.

So certainly, providing your existing readers with fan service on The Kraken's Carribean is a fab idea. Existing readers will help sell your books by word of mouth. But the trick remains: how to turn them into existing readers? First, write a damn fine yarn. And then--somehow: this may be the hardest part--get that story out to the right audience.

P. Kirby said...

Oh, and there are loads of great illustrators out there. Many, starving artist types who can be commissioned relatively cheaply. Sites like DeviantArt are full of talented artists. You might want to shop around and find an artist whose work you like. And commission them to draw your characters. You could then use the drawings to accompany little non-spoiler-y character bios.

TerriOsburn said...

I've found the disconnect. The readers you mention (or viewers as the case may be) are all Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans. You're talking to a bunch of straight Romance writers. I have no desire to "play" in the world of a book and never have.

Yes, I belong to Pottermore and I enjoy the site. But I've spent one day playing and never gone back. (Though I will when book 2 is finally up.)

You have to remember you come at this game from a completely different angle and approach. I honestly thought you were serious about all that stuff. The dance and holograms. I would NOT put any of that stuff past you.

But you want to create a culture around your stuff. That's different from "How do I get people to see my book over here behind all these others?" It's like being published has turned into a giant game of Where's Waldo and WE'RE Waldo!

P. Kirby said...

I've found the disconnect. The readers you mention (or viewers as the case may be) are all Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans. You're talking to a bunch of straight Romance writers. I have no desire to "play" in the world of a book and never have.

While I was out grooming the horse, I thought something similar. The question for Maureen is, "What do you think your fandom wants?" FWIW, I don't think the Star Trek or HP fandom is the same demographic as your fandom. In fact, I'd argue that your fandom is probably a lot more like romance fandom. And it may skew slightly older than the traditional con-attending, fan fic writing, cosplaying crowd. My feeling is that the folks who write the Loki/Darcy fan fics--of which I'm so fond-probably aren't your target audience. But my assessment is simply based on what I've read of your current work. May not hold true for all your work. Maybe a better question is, "What would you like to see, if you were a reader of Kraken's Mirror et. al? What would keep you coming back?" Because, after all, we're all basically writing the stories we want to read, no?

But you want to create a culture around your stuff.

I don't think that's possible. Fandoms, as their name implies, create themselves. They are a product of fans. OTOH, by providing additional content--usually on a website--the original creator may fan the flames of a nascent fandom. But folks either love your stuff enough to write FF, read more stories, cosplay, etc., or they don't.

Maureen said...

Well, Pat. I think what I'm shooting for, with all of us, is a chance to think outside the box. I can remember when romance started offering things...lockets, the book club membership...

I'm a bit disheartened by the whole idea that I can't appeal to regular scifi/fantasy readers and inspire that sort of fan world. But it's been a long day and I'm fighting too much of the remnants of this stupid cold...

Ter? Wasn't the BonBons a bit of something like this? The scene suggestions with Eloisa, the bits she shared with her fans before she got uber popular?

And "Where's Waldo?" is a good comparison to how I feel about it...

P. Kirby said...

I'm a bit disheartened by the whole idea that I can't appeal to regular scifi/fantasy readers and inspire that sort of fan world.

I don't think you should be. First, I don't think your stories preclude ALL SF/F fandom. Also, I've only read two of your works: one, a partial, WIP; and two, a full-length romance novel. The Kraken's Mirror maintains a tight focus on the hero and heroine and they get a happy ending. Most big fandoms--Harry Potter, Star Trek, Firefly, Buffy, even Hunger Games--tend to ensemble casts, with ongoing or looong overarching story arcs. This means a lot of viewer/readers aren't getting the resolution of a happy ending--hence fan fics with assorted pairings. Also, it means that even if the main story line doesn't interest them, they can glom onto secondary characters and their arcs. Television series and long book series are by nature more immersive in that way.

You can still have a fandom. It just may not be the same as Star Trek's. There are loads of mystery writers out there, for instance, with rabid fans. But the ecology of a mystery fan is somewhat different from that of a HP fan. It is what it is.

I totally don't want to discourage you. You're awesome!!! *Hugs* But you said you wanted to think outside the box. Well, that may mean outside traditional fandom, reaching people who interact differently with their favorite fictional characters. Again, "What would you like to see? What draws you in?"

Maureen said...

Ah, but I don't think I'm a typical reader. At least I hope not, because I read so little anymore...

And I get book recommendations from friends, wandering a brick&mortar and being attracted by bookcovers and, oddly enough, cover fonts and titles... I guess I'm visual...but not necessarily the hottie covers. They are more likely to turn me off than anything else.

Hmmmm!

But it's a good question... I know I enjoy being at cons, scifi/steampunk/fantasy/pirate/romance and seeing bits in a book I recognize. On buttons, on t-shirts, on a badge banners...

TerriOsburn said...

I thought the same thing, Pat. Mo is trying to create something that is spontaneous and can rarely be predicted. Would be great if we could do that, but I don't think it's possible.

Maureen said...

Well, I was hoping to make it easy for the buzz to happen...

TerriOsburn said...

That's like saying, "I thought I'd decide what day this week it will rain." LOL! Sorry, lady. This is one of those things you just can't control.

Maureen said...

Luck favors the prepared!