Serial Killer: How The Binging Culture Affects Serial Fiction And Its Authors

The blogging world seems to agree on one thing: Pay the writer.

And we should. Without fiction and its authors, what sort of “culture” would exist?

There are plenty who won’t pay the writer, but even those who pay the writer can cause problems.

I’m talking about the practice of waiting for a book series to be completed, before buying it.

The Netflix Binge-Watching Culture has begun to bleed into the book world, and authors and publishers are already feeling the effects of this change.

Would we be able to read the Harry Potter Series today if everyone had waited until J.K. Rowling had finished writing “Deathly Hallows” to buy the series?

No.

If “The Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone” had not sold as well as it did, Rowling’s publisher likely would have dropped her, and the rest of the series might have ended up in the endless lower reaches of Amazon KDP, waiting an eternity to be discovered.

Of late, a few people have even had the nerve to suggest that, in this binge-reading climate, that publishers should not acquire trilogies and the like, until the author has finished writing the entire series. I guess these people would have wanted Joanne to stay on the dole for years and years more than she had to. 😈

In these days of shrinking advances, almost all authors have to work a day job, which consumes a large amount of time that could otherwise be spent writing. The general readership, by and large, seems to be blissfully unaware of this situation, and expects authors to crank out a 100,000 word masterpiece of a sequel in a few weeks.

Holding off on buying the first volume of a series “until the author is finished”, therefore insures the author has to continue to work their day job, slowing down the writing of the sequels, and may even doom the series outright if the publisher sees this as simply “bad sales”. Publishers are becoming more risk-averse by the minute, and they want results. The Big Five New York publishers were once known for developing properties they believed in, and giving them time to grow. Nowadays, you’re lucky if any publisher will ‘invest’ in further series development if the first volume doesn’t take off immediately.

All this notwithstanding, there are some compelling arguments for authors not to shop a series around until they’ve completed writing it. Prospective publishers will know in advance 😉 exactly how the series ends, and they don’t have to ‘worry’ about the author going off on some unforeseen wild tangent. Which makes me wonder if The Twilight Saga would have ever been picked up if they had been able to read the completed “Breaking Dawn” manuscript, replete with its gory birth scene, Jacob’s questionable imprinting, et cetera. Even if publishers reject the author’s completed series, the author can upload the whole series at once to Amazon KDP and (if nothing else) satisfy the “binge-reader” contingent.

We live in an impatient, instant-gratification culture, where authors and publishers will have to adjust their perspectives to stay relevant. We do need to educate the reader body that creating a series under these constraints in never easy, and on how readers’ early sales support keeps the books flowing. Publishers also need to keep in mind how the “binge-reader” culture affects early volume sales of serial fiction.

We may be heading for “don’t quit your day job until after you’ve finished your series” territory, nonetheless….

Advertisements

Guest Post: Daven Anderson “I survived Colorado Gold, and you can, too!”

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Blog Guest Post:
Daven Anderson “I survived Colorado Gold, and you can, too!”

By Daven Anderson

As we find ourselves enjoying another lovely fall season in colorful Colorado, some of you reading this may be lamenting that the only “Colorado Gold” you won last month were the fallen leaves you raked from your backyard.

You didn’t win. You didn’t final. Agents aren’t camping out in your backyard, contracts in hand.

Fear not, my literary friends, for I am here to tell you that you have not reached the end of your story.

Quite the opposite, in fact. You have reached the beginning.

The true prize from the Colorado Gold is not to win or final, but to learn. To learn to listen objectively, instead of taking constructive criticism personally. To learn that professional writing is a journey of the soul, not just a process. And to learn that the true skill a professional writer must demonstrate, on a daily basis, is perseverance. The best writer in the world is equal to the worst writer in the world, when both are writing nothing.

I still apply the many lessons I learned from my three-year Colorado Gold odyssey. One of which is that the qualities which make your odyssey personal are the oddities no one else can ever gain insight from. The criticisms you received are unique to you, your work, and the judges’ mood the evening they read your entry.

Some of you may choose not to re-enter a particular work in future years if it did not win or final in Colorado Gold. But those who can persevere, and learn from the criticisms, can make their work much stronger than it was before.

I entered the same novel in Colorado Gold three years in a row, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The latter two entries incorporated many hard-won revisions, in line with the insightful criticisms I received for my previous entries.

Re-reading my 2010 entry filled me with the urge to put a bag over my head. I am frankly shocked it scored as well as it did. After the 2010 contest, I was filled with the motivation to hone my skills.

In 2011, I entered Colorado Gold flush with confidence, knowing that my entry’s prose had improved a seeming ten-fold, compared to the foppish tones of its predecessor. The comments were much more positive overall, yet my score was only four points higher than the year before. In gearhead terms, my “new Mustang GT” barely beat my “clapped-out Pinto” when the final scores were tallied.

Ah, what to do for 2012? Maybe the judges were confused about the juxtapostion between my prologue and Chapter One. And I had heard much talk of prologues being anathema to agents and editors. So, for my 2012 Colorado Gold entry, time to broom the prologue and start with Chapter One.

Of course, my hard work in 2012 was rewarded with my lowest score yet. Yes, even my rank amateur 2010 entry outscored its 2012 successor. Yet the comments and critiques I received for the 2012 entry were notably more positive than for either of my previous entries. Even within the small world of Colorado Gold entries, the scores alone don’t tell the whole story. And this was the most important lesson I learned from that year’s contest.

Yes, my novel “Vampire Syndrome” failed to win or even final in Colorado Gold, for three years in a row. The only thing “Vampire Syndrome” had won by the end of 2012 was a publishing contract. I am far from being a unique example here, as a fair number of my fellow RMFW members also have released traditionally-published novels that did not win or final in Colorado Gold.

So, in summation, lament not your “loss” in Colorado Gold. Those who learn and persevere have what it takes to win the writing game. You may lose the “battle” of Colorado Gold, but the lessons you learn can lead you to your true victory. The triumph of prose, and the self.

SF Signal: Special Needs in Strange Worlds

A big thank you to Angie Hodapp for this link! 😀
SF Signal: Special Needs in Strange Worlds

SARAH: Is there enough disability in SFF?

ROB: I think there should be more.

So do I, and I wrote it: Vampire Syndrome

Where do you get your ideas?

RMFW Your Ideas

My interview on Chris Devlin’s Blog

Guest Author Daven Anderson on Vampires, Classic Cars, and Forks

Devlin: Where’s the best place to eat in Forks?

Daven: Outside the city, in the dense forest, when the Twi-hards are out at night looking for vampires.
“Pardon me, young ladies. It appears you’re looking for vampires. Forgive my impertinence for asking this question, but what exactly were you planning to do if you found one?”
*(screams)*

😈

Chiseled in Rock: What’s New from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers?

Early version of Vampire Syndrome: Sept. 2010 snippet

Here’s a previously unreleased snippet, © September 2010,

from the original version of Vampire Syndrome:

Who’s knocking? I hope it’s not Lilly.
What’s she saying? “Turn on the juice?” C’mon, sweetheart, I’m still half-asleep.
Wait, that’s not Lilly’s voice. It’s Zetania.
She knocks again and yells, “Turn on the news, Damien.”
“Be there in a minute,” I reply
The news? Did the Normals find Jack? Holy shit.
I reach over Stella, grab the remote and turn on the TV. Stella wakes up and asks me in a groggy voice, “What about the news?”
“Next on Eyewitness News,” the anchorman says, “A rancher has reported a mysterious cattle mutilation, north of Fort Morgan.”
Stella whispers, “Uh-oh.” She’s awake now.
Great. A Pure’s out in the sticks. Hopefully just one.
I put on my pajama pants, and rush to the door. Stella’s slips on her pink silk négligée. I let Zetania in, and she places her black duffel bag on my antique wood dresser.
“Hi, you two,” Zetania says.
I glance at the TV. A used car commercial.
“Tell those damn Pures to stay in Romania,” Stella replies.
Zetania unzips her duffel bag, and reaches inside.
“I’ll tell them with my Uzi,” Zetania retorts.
Look at that. The mini-Uzi made for the Romanian Military Police. Zetania didn’t even bother to paint over the “Poliţia Militară” logo.
“Do you need that just to hunt Jack?” Stella asks.
A news reporter comes on. “Last night in north Morgan County, cattle rancher Martin Rodriguez discovered the carcass of one of his cows, Mizzy. Mizzy was last seen alive around 7PM. Martin’s daughter found Mizzy’s carcass the next morning. The eyes, tongue, udder and tail had all been removed with surgical precision. The carcass was entirely drained of blood.”
The cow’s body appears on the screen. Zetania studies the TV picture.
“See how there’s not a drop of blood on the ground?” Martin asks the camera as he points to the grass.
“The Pures may have found out I left home,” Zetania says,”and one of them might be here in Colorado to ‘welcome’ me.”
“Maybe,” I suggest, “that secret airstrip of yours isn’t secret to them anymore.”
“They’ve never attacked it.”
“They’d be smart not to. They can just watch it from a distance. I bet they saw Lilly’s Gulfstream pick you up.”
“We have Security agents all over the area,” Zetania replies. “None of them have reported contact with any Pures.”
You’re focusing on the obvious, Zetania. A Venator needs to be a detective, not just a hunter.
“In Cluj, you all expect Pures to attack you, not evade you. My worry is when they don’t attack. That means they’re up to something. And at least one of your pale white shark-toothed friends made it here.”
“Do they still hide in shipping crates?” asks Stella.
“Yeah,” Zetania and I reply in unison.
They have to. They can’t pass for Normals, and their skin blisters and pops in direct sunlight. One reason why we moved the World Headquarters to Colorado back in 1904. Three hundred days of sunshine a year, average. A Pure’s worst nightmare.
“I’m worried there might be a group of Pures here,” I state. “They might be planning to hit this compound again.”
“No way, Damien,” Zetania snaps, “When Gl’Ag’s raiding party came here in 1904, you and Lilith killed his wife and three other Pures with your Gatling guns. And now you’ve stockpiled enough weapons to arm everyone here. Over five hundred of us.”
“Gl’Ag’s not gonna try and sneak up the main road again,” I say. “He barely made it out back in ’04, and we put a few bullets in him. We chased him as he ran away, but we couldn’t catch him. I’m still amazed that he made it back to your country. Today we have two guards with Miniguns, 24-7, in those same turrets Lilly and I used.”
“Gl’Ag? Didn’t you wreck your STI chasing him last year?” Stella asks Zetania.
“He snuck up on a Roma wagon camp,” Zetania replies. “That’s why I still check up on my distant relatives. They would have been easy prey for him, if I hadn’t been there.”
“Guess what Zetania was doing when Gl’Ag came?” I ask Stella.
“What?” Stella leans head toward me.
“The Gypsies were gathered around the campfire,” I explain, “and Zetania was reading them Vampire Moonlight: Bewareness.”
Stella laughs.
“What’s so funny?” Zetania asks.
“If there was such a thing as an irony meter,” I say, “you would have broken it. A real Vampire, reading a fictional vampire book to Gypsies who tell tales about real Vampires.”
“Better yet,” interjects Stella, “By chasing Gl’Ag away, she accidentally created a new Vampire tale for Roma folklore.”
Lady Dhamphir in the Black Subaru,” Zetania replies, “I’ve overheard it twice.”
Zetania’s so proud of herself. For blowing her cover, no less.
“Lucky you,” I growl. “Gypsies don’t tell their stories to outsiders,”
Zetania smiles and extends her fangs.
“Must be nice to live around Normals who don’t run their mouths,” I continue. “That lady in Grand Junction who backed her TrailBlazer into the ditch probably called the media before she called the tow truck. ‘Oh, I was getting away from a Vampire!’ Good thing no one believed her.”
“Normals don’t know about the hideout in Colorado National Monument,” Stella says, “Damien and I went there the next day, and we had a little talk with the squatters.”
“I told them if I had to come back again,” I state, “I’d bring Lilly with me.”
That sure got those little brats’ attention.

Review ~ The Simple Truth: BP’s Macondo Blowout

“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.” ~ Monty Python

“Nobody expects a novel about the Deepwater Horizon explosion to be reviewed on a vampire-themed blog.” ~ Daven Anderson

Amazon ~ The Simple Truth: BP’s Macondo Blowout

April 15, 1912: The Titanic
April 20, 2010: The Deepwater Horizon.

Two infamous sea disasters that we must keep in our collective consciousness, and from which we must study the lessons, to insure the safety of future generations yet unborn.

When James Cameron set forth to make the R.M.S. Titanic’s tale come alive on the screen, he chose “faction”, a fact-based fiction approach. Cameron’s fictional characters Jack and Rose were always in the “right place at the right time” (more so than any real individual survivors of the Titanic) to tell the most complete story possible about the ill-fated vessel and the hundreds of souls aboard.

In this book, John Turley takes the same approach. Mr. Turley is a retired petroleum engineer with many years of oil-rig experience, so he knew how to create fictional characters who would be in the right place, at the right time, asking the right questions. Specifically, Jessica Pherma, the rig’s geologist. Jessica is the “Rose” asking Thomas Andrews about the lifeboat capacity, only more so. Jessica has access to the highest levels of the rig’s administration, yet she can logically ask the same questions you, the general reader, would ask. Jessica, and all of her experiences in the story, perfectly illustrate Turley’s masterful command of blending fact and fiction into “faction”.

One paragraph in this novel brilliantly illustrated all the reasons why Jessica chose a career in geology, only to find all of those reasons being negated by her presence on the Deepwater Horizon on that fateful evening. This paragraph was a stunning insight into the basic character of what shapes our humanity, never mind that it’s “fiction”.

Make no mistake, this story can get a bit technical at times. Fortunately, Mr. Turley went to great effort to insure that you can choose how far you wish to delve into the technology behind the story. Extensive footnotes and diagrams allow you to dive in as deep as you wish, or you can skip them and stay with the main story. Accessing the supplementary material is in fact easier on the Kindle than it is in the paper book.

Movie producers, take note. If anyone wishes to make a film about the Deepwater Horizon, you should use this book as the base. We all know how successful Cameron’s “right place at the right time” characters Jack and Rose were in making the story of the Titanic come alive for the audience. Turley’s composite characters Jessica, Barry, Tanker, and Daylight succeed as much (or more so) than Jack and Rose did in making the events of a large-scale marine disaster accessible, immediate and moving to the general audience.

John Turley has succeeded in telling the story of the Deepwater Horizon in a dramatic style that will appeal to readers of general fiction, while simultaneously giving you access to the essential, simple truths behind the oversights and general arrogance that led to this disaster. Imagine what a book about the Titanic would have been like if it had been written by the Captain of the Olympic. For the Deepwater Horizon, you don’t have to imagine such a novel. It’s right here, on this Amazon page.

The world needs more people like John Turley, to record for posterity the simple truths behind the large-scale disasters, and present them in a fashion people can enjoy reading while they learn those important lessons.

***

review by Daven Anderson, author of Vampire Syndrome

amusing spam comment (click to enlarge)