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  1. #91
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    It used to be that kids no longer read because they were playing Asteriods(tm) and Pac Man(tm).
    Go back further. It used to be that kids weren't reading books because of radio and TV and.....shudder....shudder....comic books. That's why a company began publishing Classics Illustrated comic books. Without that company, I doubt I would have ever read The Fall of the House of Usher or Pride and Prejudice or any of a hundred titles. I never did read the full version of The Three Musketeers; the comic was so much more interesting.
    So, what we need to do is found a company that makes interactive games of modern classics implemented on 50' plasma screens that can only be played in special rooms in the public library.

  2. #92

    So, what's it all mean?

    In the opinion of a novice, given the congruency of the above recent posts, I believe that, especially the youthful aspiring, would be wise to take a second look at instant vs. delayed gratification by scene in their works. I mentioned this before.

    People have been conditioned toward instant gratification by relatively recent technological advances and this trend, in my opinion, is likely to continue. The scene must be as much fun for the reader as getting to the next level on a video game (for kids) or watching Jerry Springer's next guest. Stories that require plots and characters to build before the consumer "gets off" (sorry, I'm an old hippie) will become increasingly less attractive to the mainstream audience. I believe that delayed gratification will hold diminishing value in all medium.

    Did I make enough sense and say enough to put the name of my novel in the sig line without being called spam? I didn't want to link to the publisher in my profile because the listing sounded like it was for my own web page, which I'm saving up some money to accomplish. I'll put it there if it's okay.

  3. #93
    Loveable Rogue Moderator juzzza's Avatar
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    Then how do you explain movie and game franchises?

    The most successful fantasy novels are still series... readers only get pissed off when you get to book 10 and the author is still talking rubbish and not resolving anything... or the quality wanes.

    Signatures are disabled. Call your next book 'how to make friends and influence people'.

  4. #94
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    (I'm really sorry for the length.)

    So publishers play it safe by ignoring what consumers will buy? Umm....

    The publishers who are accused of being safe-loving, money-obsessed idiots are the same publishers who are putting out, and wildly promoting, China Mieville, Matthew Stover, Jeff Vandermeer, Scott Bakker, Mr. Barclay, Robin Hobb and Scott Lynch. This is again the same argument put forth several years ago that still to me lacks basic logic – a thread we had on experimental, obscure, hard-to-find fantasy, in which 90% of the titles proposed as qualifying as such were actually published by major sff imprints, frequently internationally. The remainder were put out by smaller sff presses that were well respected, and extremely well connected to Amazon and the chain stores. In other words, not hard to find at all, and as mainstream as it gets. These smaller presses weren’t around fifteen, ten years ago, but now that they are, the bigger houses are happy to raid them for reprints – like Jeff Vandermeer, and the small presses are very happy that they are doing so.

    Yes, publishers want to make money, (including the small ones.) And all of them know that edgy, experimental and dark stuff can make them money. That’s why they publish it. And that’s why Mr. Mieville and Ms. Hobb are category bestsellers, with the others Juzz mentioned climbing up the rungs of the ladder right behind them. Yes, there are authors who have very large fan bases – ones that they have spent ten, twenty, thirty years building. When they first started, many of them were considered dark, experimental and edgy, and publishers published them not because they thought it was a safe choice guaranteed to make money, but because they liked the book, found it innovative and thought it would attract fans, just as they did many years later with Mr. Mieville.

    And unlike Mr. Mieville, those authors did not have an international publishing, mainstream bestselling, crossover franchises, Web publicizing platform from which to launch off of. They had a much smaller, largely ignored niche market with a core audience of oddballs. Which was probably a good thing, because it let sff publishers do things like publish novels with gay characters and themes instead of banishing them to the gay ghetto, and put out in the 1980’s what would become one of the biggest selling fantasy series in which the protagonist rapes a woman, and lead the way on publishing graphic novels when the rest of the world considered them useless bound comics.

    Yes, you can get more gynecological and graphic in your sex and torture scenes today than you could thirty years ago, but otherwise, today’s racy sff isn’t all that much more racy. (In fact, compared to some of the pulps of old, it might even be seen as tame.) It’s a progression of what has come before, not a revolution, in my view.

    Publishers certainly could and should be doing more on marketing of individual titles. The age-old habit of throwing a lot of authors into the lake and seeing if they can swim is in this time period probably becoming more and more of a disaster. But publishers are restrained by expertise and lack of money. The returns system helps keep them in that position. And it’s hard to hire tech expertise if all you have to give computer whizzes is what would be considered pocket change anywhere else.

    Then there’s the ever-present fact that fiction sells primarily by word-of-mouth and not by promotional tricks. In non-fiction, you can target your audience and they’ll respond to ads. In sff, there is the target fan audience, but which of those and which mainstream non-fans might come to the party is very hard to predict. And they mostly ignore ads.

    Fiction sales did actually grow last year. But the economics folks don’t consider it or future projections “significant” growth for fiction because A) the fiction market is much more unpredictable, and B) young people – the ideal demographic everywhere else – don’t read. They’re busy having sex and/or playing computer games, just like the generation before them was busy having sex and/or watching t.v. The fiction audience has always skewed older and more female than male – for both fiction and non-fiction. SFF has traditionally skewed younger, but now has a greater age range of younger and older fans, many of the latter not being on the Internet.

    So publishers do often take the safe route, in letting the authors and the sff fans – who are perhaps the most organized bunch in the fiction world – do the work for them. Let us sort out what pod casts and viral video sites are the best to hit. Let us create a buzz system. Like building SFFWorld, and Del Rey and Warner Orbit so appreciate it. Here’s some ARC’s. Do a review and tell everyone how edgy, gritty and grown-up the title is for us, there’s a good lad. That is, if the publisher’s publicity office remembers to send reviewers a copy. (It was easier to keep track when there weren’t several thousand of them doing reviews.)

    That publishers don’t like to spend money if they don’t have to, and can’t afford to operate like the music industry and flood the Web (and treat each monthly release like a rock star,) and have the technological savvy of a turnip, does not mean that they only publish “safe” stuff. It does mean that people tend not to notice what publisher’s name is on the spine of the books they like, though.

    As for clones, it takes awhile for a publisher to put out any title, so they aren't well-set up to clone. What is more likely to happen is that if a book is a hit, the publisher looks at what they have coming out that might be in the same ballpark -- and then they promote the hell out of it to try and ride on the hit's coattails while it's getting a bit of media attention. Sometimes it works for a title, sometimes it doesn't, but either way, when there's a hit of any kind, it tends to open up the market a little and snag larger audiences for all the titles.

    (Did I mention I was really sorry about the length of the post?)
    Last edited by KatG; August 24th, 2006 at 06:28 PM.

  5. #95

    Win Friends and Influence People?

    J,

    Your reply had nothing to do with the issue I presented: should aspiring authors construct scenes that provide for instant gratification of consumers because of the changing preferences caused by emergent technologies?

    I'm sure that your input would be appreciated. I feel that this is an important matter -- way more important than how to write the perfect query letter, where the next charge me the most writer's workshop is located, or how to buy the software a writer really needs, maybe.

    Maybe you don't like me because of my hard work on promoting my first novel, or because I'm sick of reading novels with swords, or because you're one of the many who has been trained by the authorities to reject spam (including announcements by any competition), but, regardless, you had no reason to insult me and an apology is in order.

    Thanks

  6. #96
    I AM too a mod! Moderator Rocket Sheep's Avatar
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    Just a little aside back to Misti on an earlier point. Carry on over top of us.

    Quote Originally Posted by Misti
    If I may also add, I've noticed that publishers tend to stick to what's familiar, which is understandable from the perspective that they're comfortable with it and "know" it sells.
    I think that is very true in some fantasy imprints which seem to have a tried and true formula. Harper Collins Australia Voyager imprint for example. Possibly it is true for chick lit as well, and definitely for romance and crime.

    I think it is... or should be... less true for other genres.

    [notices she probably isn't contributing much to this conversation] Sorry; I'm a chatterbox. I'll shut up, now.
    P.S. I seem to be having some trouble in posting replies... Do you think I would I be correct in guessing it's my web browser (Safari)?
    Chatter away, that's what the forum's here for. I don't know about Safari, but if you have Norton's Internet Security you might try turning that off for a few minutes to post.
    Last edited by Rocket Sheep; August 24th, 2006 at 06:55 PM.

  7. #97
    I AM too a mod! Moderator Rocket Sheep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roberteggleton
    but, regardless, you had no reason to insult me and an apology is in order.

    I'm sorry, roberteggleton, where is Juzzza's insult? Or has it already been edited out.

  8. #98
    Loveable Rogue Moderator juzzza's Avatar
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    Robert,

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert
    Maybe you don't like me because of my hard work on promoting my first novel, or because I'm sick of reading novels with swords, or because you're one of the many who has been trained by the authorities to reject spam (including announcements by any competition), but, regardless, you had no reason to insult me and an apology is in order.
    First off, I don't know you, so I don't like or dislike you per se. I don't like your methods and I don't need to be trained by anyone to reject spam... spam is insulting and ineffective... simple. If you want to believe that I see you as competition, thus explaining my opinion on spam... wow, our own little conspiracy theory.

    I also wouldn't dislike someone for their personal taste in swords or lack thereof.

    By saying the following:

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert
    Did I make enough sense and say enough to put the name of my novel in the sig line without being called spam?
    Do you not see how you totally undermine any valid points you make by ending your post with that? Why should anyone read your posts when you unashamedly, simply want to plug your book? You're aren't interacting, you're meeting a quota in order to fulfil your own agenda. That I dislike and I make no apologies for it. I will apologize however, for the way I presented my view... 'how to win friends and influence people' is the title of one of my favorite albums and a common expression in my neck of the woods when someone says something that makes you wince.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert
    Should aspiring authors construct scenes that provide for instant gratification of consumers because of the changing preferences caused by emergent technologies?
    I don't think authors should construct anything specifically because they think they are meeting a consumer demand, they should write the story the way it wants to be written... and I appreciate that sounds very arty farty. I do think however, that the kind of scenes you describe will occur naturally, simply because authors are still products of the current pop culture and current tastes and if we write what we want to read, we may be a victim of this instant gratification you describe.
    Last edited by juzzza; August 25th, 2006 at 03:02 AM.

  9. #99
    bmalone.blogspot.com BrianC's Avatar
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    I'm not so sure about that instant gratification thing anyway, not as a factor in what books sell, and especially not in the fantasy genre. If anything, reading is antithetical to instant gratification because it takes a good bit of commitment to get to the payoff of just about any book. Add to that the generally thick tomes that fantasy writers produce, many of the most popular now running into series of ten or more books, and I doubt that lack of instant gratification has anything to do with whether anyone buys this book or that book.

    The modern taste for "instant gratification" (to the extent that this is a real phenomenon) may have an impact on how many people buy and read books in the first place. But kids don't read because they have lots of energy to burn and just plainly are interested in doing things more active, even if that means that the only body part that moves is the thumb. As KatG said, reading skews older, and I suspect that has been true since the first neanderthal scratched on a cave wall. I believe that children were not generally encouraged to read much at all until the rise of the middle class in Europe in the Nineteenth Century. Young adults may read less now than before (though I have yet to see any truly convincing analyses that drawn this conclusion) but given the number of alternative pursuits available to them, it would hardly be surprising. As more and more options come onto the market, all forms of media, I would bet, are experiencing a flattening in the growth curve.

  10. #100
    I AM too a mod! Moderator Rocket Sheep's Avatar
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    I don't see the panic about the "entertain me" generation. Someone still has to write the screenplays, write the cartoons, come up with the comic strip stories... there's a writer as well as a team of artists behind every bit of "instant gratification"... unless cgi characters can start coming up with their own story plans and dialogue?

    At the base of it all is still the gripping story, and that's all we ever try to write, isn't it?

  11. #101
    Edited for submission Holbrook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket Sheep
    At the base of it all is still the gripping story, and that's all we ever try to write, isn't it?
    Quote Originally Posted by Juzzza
    they should write the story the way it wants to be written...
    After months, nay years of trying, I think the above is all we, as writers, should try to do. If you start going into all the what ifs, maybes, possible dos and don'ts of selling the stuff you end up too sickened to write. Write, and if you are lucky to get published, enjoy the ride where ever it takes you.

    I am also giving up a number of critique groups I post to for the same reason, it is stopping me writing, making me so unsure I am getting sick to my stomach. I think I know the rules of writing now, or so I have been told just need to create a jaw dropping story lol....
    Last edited by Holbrook; August 25th, 2006 at 11:07 AM.

  12. #102
    I AM too a mod! Moderator Rocket Sheep's Avatar
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    And you will, and it will sell to a real live publisher with a real live marketing budget and they might even pay for an advertising banner here so everyone you know can find it easily and you won't have to mention it in every post as if you're just posting so that you get to mention it again. Won't that be nice? And won't it be nice for the other posters who come here to chat about writing and sometimes to chat about real marketing ideas.

  13. #103
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    a real live publisher with a real live marketing budget
    Back to writing quirky scifi short stories, eh? Despite what you and Her Greatness maintain, I am constructing a really neat conspiracy theory that has Dag and Hobbit and Rob B and Juzzza playing major roles. Much resembles Orson Welles classic War of the Worlds production.

  14. #104
    Loveable Rogue Moderator juzzza's Avatar
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    "aaaaaaaaaaaCHEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWW"

    Gah, bloody discussion board germs...

  15. #105
    bmalone.blogspot.com BrianC's Avatar
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    And now for something completely different

    Unfortunately I'm going to pollute this thread with a post actually about marketing and self-promotion. I'm working on a theory, not exactly a grand theory . . . well it's just a modest theory really . . . actually it's just a bunch of half-thought-through, pick-pocketed ideas that I've thrown together but here it is:

    You gotta do a little bit of everything and you can't be an obvious whore most of the time, although sometimes you have to be a little easy. You gotta blog, but you can't blog exclusively about your book or your book-related appearances. You gotta post in forums, but you only discuss your own book in threads started by others about your book, i.e., you can't hijack threads or spam the board. You gotta go to cons, but only to socialize and to answer questions, not to plug your book at every opportunity. It ain't about you.

    Except when it is.

    When is it about you? Well, when making sure that your publisher sends out ARC's to the right reviewers, or--more likely--when you use up your own precious supply of author copies to send to reviewers. Aunt Patty and Aunt Selma can damn well buy their own copies. When making sure that all of the magazines and review sites and fan sites know that the newest, up-and-coming, fresh-faced author is available at any time for an interview. When contacting every assistant producer of every television and radio program that ever broadcasts a segment on literature, no matter how unlikely it is that they will book you. When setting up bookstore readings and signings for every weekend. And when doing all of these things yourself because your publisher's attitude is that you should be damned grateful that they printed your first novel and not expecting any marketing budget to boot.

    Mostly, a realistic and humble approach is key. If fiction sells by word of mouth, then a loyal and vocal fan base has to be the best marketing tool of them all. But that takes time and it ain't going to happen with your first book. Maybe the most you can hope for is a good experience, laying a foundation, getting your feet wet and getting your name out there, and to follow up relatively quickly.

    Those are my thoughts for now. Do you think I missed anything? Hopefully very soon I'll get the chance to try these ideas out.

    ETA: ooh, 199 posts! Quick somebody give me something to spout off about!
    Last edited by BrianC; August 25th, 2006 at 09:17 AM.

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