We write. We rant. We wrestle the magic.
The Demos City Series is “officially” one year old this month, November 2014, which got me thinking about the status of the series, genre fiction in general, and how independent publishers manage in the shadow of the Big Six. Curious as to where this is headed? So am I.
For those of you keeping score at home, I’ve actually written the first novel that would become CROSSROADS about three (and a half) times. The work began in the winter of 2009. The characters, Leon Gray excluded, went through several iterations, and occupations, before settling into their optimal roles. At one point, David Hastings was an attorney like his father, Shauna was a tad younger, and villain who never made it to the published version existed. No one liked him. Not one bit of dialogue attributed to that character slipped into the finished version. Poor bastard.
Creating good content is an iterative process. Our ideas hit the page all slapdash and crooked. The words ooze. Plot points seep into one another. Editors get hold of the thing and scalpel out the hanging bits. Characters find their voices, or at least the writers try to find some consistency in them. That’s just the first draft. There’s at least four more rounds to go, and even then the story may never see the bookshelves — digital or otherwise.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have the backing of a major (major) publishing house and a multimillion dollar marketing team, you’re wading into a crowded field with genre fiction, particularly fantasy of any kind. How hard is to break into the elite stratosphere of fantasy authors? Well, the third ranked author in that category on Amazon is a dead man — J.R.R. Tolkien. That’s your literary competition.
In the current market, the works deemed commercially successful — language adaptations, movie deals, TV rights — generally hail from a specific sub genre of the broader fantasy category: paranormal romance. Those big publishers have the narratives down to a science, churning out series after series based on the same basic principles. It’s a great example of content at scale. Find what works (Harry Potter), break it down into components, find your minimum effective dose (3 books=4 movies), and push repeat. I’m not knocking that formula — it works and is popular for a reason. There are other authors who buck the trend. Patrick Rothfuss is enormously successful and critically acclaimed, but making his Kingkiller Chronicle into any type of film is going to be damn near impossible.
If you’re writing genre fiction to get paid, you’re not just crafting fantasy, you’re living in one. I’ve made more money writing one 1,000 word article for a marketing client than the royalties from sales of both books currently out in the Demos City Series. That doesn’t mean the story isn’t good; it just means there’s more work to do in terms of getting the word out.
To that end, I’m working on the third book in the series, and if the good people at J Taylor Publishing take a shine to it, you’ll see the book out through them in the near future. Progress is slower than I would like, but that’s simply because there are bills to pay and other creative outlets have a better return on my time investment. If you believe in these characters, and consider the story worthwhile, tell a friend about the series. Lend them your physical copies. Trade Kindles or Nooks for a week. Or, if you’re feeling saucy, buy the books and give them as a gift. Wouldn’t hurt me one bit.
Photo Credit: Casey Fleser