On the Presentation of Alternative Literary Forms

Last year, I wrote a novel. It was a resounding success, by the standards of self-publishing. (ZOMG, I’ve sold four copies! To strangers!) In more objective terms, it has met with disappointingly limited commercial success. Happily, I didn’t do it for the money.

Now that I’m unemployed, I have a strange and compelling urge to write another one. (No, not a sequel.) Now that I’m unemployed, alas, while I’m still not doing it for the money, I really shouldn’t sink another couple hundred bucks into the whole thing.

This has caused me to revisit some ideas I had last year, while working on Mendacities

Originally, I’d considered presenting Mendacities as a serial of sorts, online. Every n days I’d post a chunk, et cetera. I gave up on that idea because there didn’t seem to be a really good way to present it, and because I wanted to produce a physical dead-tree paperback book, and didn’t want to be one of those people who basically recycles a website into a book and expects people to pay for it.

Yeah, and that worked out so well… Ugh.

Anyway, I think it’s time to revisit the idea of presenting a work of fiction online, in a format that’s convenient to both the author (me) and the reader (hopefully you).

I really do want your input on this. Yes, you.

Even if you have no interest whatsoever in my first novel, and are unlikely to have any interest whatsoever in the next, if you have thoughts/ideas/suggestions about what follows, please share!

First, the e-Book

I could be a crazy radical maverick and… just produce e-book files. This seems suboptimal for a number of reasons:

1. Having to either use a third-party website, or create a gajillion different files in various formats to suit everyone’s needs, obviously.
2. The moderately labor-intensive (for the end-user) process of downloading new parts.
3. The lack of an effective way to “monetize” the undertaking, i.e. recoup hosting/bandwidth costs.
4. Too huge a divide between the end-user/reader and the actual content, i.e. the crap I write.
5. Smashwords doesn’t like serials.

We’ll call that… Plan B.


Second, Some Evil Social Networking Site

I could be slightly less maverick, and post stuff on, say… DeviantArt. Or wherever. While this has some advantages:

1. Free.
2. Large captive audience of illiterate teenagers with ADHD.

…it also has some disadvantages:

1. Large captive audience of illiterate teenagers with ADHD.
2. Zero opportunity for monetization.
3. I mostly despite DeviantArt.
4. Forcing people to read stuff in a browser seems like a sucky thing to do.

We’ll call that Plan C.


Third, a… Blog?

My original idea was to use a blog CMS, like WordPress. While this has some disadvantages:

1. Oh look, another blog
2. Lack of any sort of captive audience means I have to fall back on my nonexistant marketing and self-promotion skills.
3. My mediocre hopes of monetization probably rest on useless and annoying RSS-feed ads.

…I like to think these are countered, at least a little bit, by the benefits:

1. Working RSS syndication.
2. Mediocre (but existant!) monetization prospects.
3. Comments I can easily moderate for literacy and cluefulness. 🙂
4. There are plugins and things, if I can get them working, to automagically produce PDFs, and probably other e-book files, be they ever so ugly.
5. Per-category RSS feeds allow a lot of flexibility both for me and the end reader.
6. Having my own domain might provide much-needed help for marketing/promotion.

…so I’m calling that Plan A.

However, I could be totally wrong about the palatability of reading what would essentially be a serial novel via RSS. Would you try it? Would you be likely to enjoy it? Would it drive you rabidly insane? Would you do it anyway?

Do you have any better ideas? 🙂

(The idea is to post 1500-2500 words at a time, somewhere between two and four times a week. Assuming it runs around the length of my first novel – 70,000 words – the whole experiment would last… something like three months. If I start around the beginning of February, it’d (probably) end some time in April. Hey, I don’t have anything else to do for the rest of the winter…)

Published in: Geekiness, General | on January 4th, 2011| 3 Comments »

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  1. On 1/4/2011 at 8:11 pm Clayton Hughes Said:

    I’d give it a read; but I’m a pretty heavy RSS junkie.

    Were you thinking of writing the entire thing up-front, and then posting large chunks of it as it was edited into a mostly-final state, or is this more of a Dickensian-style endeavor to write something each week and then at the end we’ll call it a story?

  2. On 1/4/2011 at 8:24 pm Nemo Said:

    No, it’d be a case of having if not the whole thing written up front, at least a sizable chunk, and then basicaly scheduling pieces to hit the world at regular intervals, somewhat the way that, say, reasonably regular webcomics do. (The whole thing is plotted out in fairly decent detail now, and a small chunk of it is already written.)

    I very much want to avoid the whole “Monday: Wherein I Demonstrate my Ability to Write Myself Into a Corner” thing…

  3. On 1/5/2011 at 4:27 am Sandy Said:

    Blog, definitely. A couple of my friends are doing the same and it works pretty well. Good luck! 🙂