Seth took his podcasted-for-free novel "Jack Wakes Up" to #1 on Amazon's Mystery and Crime books rankings and #45 overall: How I Sold My Book By Giving It Away.
An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom
Helping the Web Literati Spread the Word by Helping One Another
DigitalNovelists.com: Web Services for WebLit
Well the obvious moral of this story is: podcast your work.
There seemed to be a bit of a missing gap in his account... how he got his podcasts out to thousands of listeners. I have no idea how to promote podcasts. Maybe we can discuss that?
But this approach also means writing so as to be read aloud, which is very different from writing to be read visually. (I learned that in journalism school, writing print stories versus broadcast stories.) For those who are unfamiliar with the difference: if you've never done this before, try reading your work aloud to see whether it works that way. (I know I'd have to edit the hell out of mine.)
His costs for podcast distribution to me suggest that he reads his own. That may or may not work for others. I know myself, though I am not a bad reader, since I'm writing first person from the point of view of a man, I would need to engage the services of a male voice actor. That costs $. (Though the small audiences to whom I have read seem to like me reading it anyway, so I might be wrong here.)
I am not sure I agree with him that no one reads off the screen, though. The success of Alexandra Erin and Internet journalism belie that. (Of course Internet journalism can offer much that its dead-tree cousin does not, including a greater variety of stories and viewpoints, quicker response times and video... which brings me back to the point that we have to play up what we can do that dead-tree publishing cannot.)
One more thought: not everyone is going to be able to replicate Seth's dead-tree publishing success, because not all of us have content acceptable to dead-tree publishers. Yes, part of what we can do that the mainstream dead-tree publishers can't is sex.
I used to think my writing was horribly perverse, and now I worry that it's not perverse enough for the Internet.
Yes, it's an old canard. But people read off the screen all the time. We're doing it right now, for pete's sake. Perhaps not for huge-ass long periods of time, but that's why it's a good idea to publish smaller chunks at a time and allow readers to come back later.
That can't be true! How do baby dead-tree publishers get born, then?
About Schuyler Falls - Don't be afraid of the dark! Celebrating 15+ years of dark drama and captivating characters in a twisted small town.
EpiGuide Web Entertainment Community - Webseries, online fiction, webcomics, it's all good.
@aboutSkyfalls | @epiguide | Falling Sky Designs | Facebook Author Page
Reading your own: Do it. I'm going to read mine, even though I'm not a 16-year-old boy, or a 41-year-old king, or a 19-year-old Embodiment of a God. Two of my favorite professional readers are Patrick Tull and Juliet Stevenson, and they each read the other sex with no difficulty. My favorite author reader is, of course, Mr Gaiman, and he reads his female characters well. If you've been told you read well, then read your own.
Writing to read vs writing to be read aloud: My own personal philosophy is that all good writing is written to be read aloud. My training, such as it is, is in broadcast writing, and that was the bulk of my professional pre-web career. It remains a basic measure for me--how does my work sound read aloud? If it sounds bad, it gets re-written.
Sex: Are you kidding? Have you *read* Laurell K. Hamilton? I bought one of her books at a freakin' grocery store, and it had more sex in the first three chapters than I had in History book one.
My take-away: Reach out to nontraditional audiences.
MeiLin: define "non-traditional audience"?
> That can't be true! How do baby dead-tree publishers get born, then?
Actually they get spat out of mainstream presses.
*Our* traditional audience is people who read online or in ebook form. The mainstream audience is people who buy dead tree books. Podcast/audiobook audience is distinct from both, though of course there is cross-over among all these audiences.
Heh. I assumed our traditional audience was the audience that had sent me to you, MeiLin, and to AE - bored (male) geeks with a lack of girlfriends & a high-speed internet connection.
Then again, I don't really write to that audience very well; I guess I hadn't given it enough thought.
Addergoole: Fairy Aliens in College!
There seemed to be a bit of a missing gap in his account... how he got his podcasts out to thousands of listeners.
Yeah, that's of interest.
One thing that got me, looking at his sites and works was the same thing that got me about J.A. Konrath site. This is not exceptional work. You listen to the audios and get rid of the music an all the ads and what have you got? Pretty much an ordinary, midlistique thriller. Konrath is a little better writer, but what's the big deal.
Yet both sites bristle with glowing endorsements from major writers. Konrath has kudos from like EVERYBODY.
I send two dozen of a book to similar writers and didn't even get acknowledgement that were recieved. Most writers I know have the same experience.
So what is it that makes this a darling? Is it the first time some of these critics saw a podcast novel online?
I'd love to get an answer for this one, because if has a lot more to do with promo than writing the best novel in the world.
LINTON ROBINSON .COM
It may well be that he bumped up against them at a convention or conference and they all got drunk together.
From my experience in the dead-tree publishing industry (DTPI), you cannot underestimate the importance of that sort of thing.
I suspect you're completely right about that. Konrath, I know, is an inveterate conference goer-to and if you do that long enough you meet a lot of people. Not just other writers, but their agents, etc.
One of the MAJOR advantages of ebooks and weblit over paper, by the way, is that you can show your work to a lot of people for little or no expense, compared to mailing books around.
I think there might be a factor, also, in which Stephen King or Tom Clancy or something gets a book in the mail, and it's one of dozens on his desk. Picking it up and opening it is a sort of committment, and he doesn't have to time to read all the wannabe stuff he gets.
But a link to a lit blog? Maybe worth taking a peek, and maybe he reads a chapter and says, "Sounds like a great concept, it might work if you have masterful characters."
Which, of course, hit's your blog screen as "A great concept...masterful characters" says Tom Wolfe
For the record, Stephen King has two nice ladies open all his mail for him (much like Neil Gaiman has a mail-reader, in fact check out her horror story on that here: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2004/10/sage-advice.asp ) so mailing a book to him with the expectation that he'll read it is probably going to be a failed attempt. If you ever want Stephen King to read anything of yours, it should be short, because the two nice ladies are much more willing to pass it along to him if so. Possibly for his magazine-published book reviews (Entertainment Weekly and such) he receives books directly from the publications (as book reviewers tend to). In any case, any author high up on the totem pole is likely to have someone who reads their mail for them. The Neil Gaiman article has some tips on how to send mail to him that will actually get to him. (Hint: don't send him any sand. I hear he has plenty.)
It's kind of rude to just expect someone to read your stuff out of the blue, anyway, especially if you're a total stranger. For a good (and entertaining) rundown of the problem, check out I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script: http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/archives/2009/09/i_will_not_r...
Though I think what that piece really teaches is that if someone DOES do you a favor and decides to read your stuff, don't be an ass to the person about it like the guy in the article was.
The Peacock King - Is a mere servant a match for the ruler of half the known world? Probably not.
I'll let you in on something that happened many years back, when Shirley and I were acquaintances -- I can't really say friends, at least in my view -- with a very prominent fantasy author who shall remain nameless. He had received a manuscript from an unknown writer requesting that he read and comment on it, and asked us if we'd like to do this for him. For myself I said no, as I don't enjoy reading the vast majority of fantasy works (and, as I recall, I read a page or two in and thus concluded that it was not in the infinitesimal minority), so that it would be work, not fun, for me. My feeling was, if his time was too precious to waste on it, so was mine. Perhaps that wasn't the case in terms of stature in the field, but I can be stubbornly egalitarian that way.
The relevant point, though, is that he didn't have time to read it, and you shouldn't expect any major author to, unless you can schmooze them well enough to get their sympathy, and that needs to be face-to-face. They got major by working hard, both on their writing and the business aspects, not by non-selective reading.
It's kind of rude to just expect someone to read your stuff out of the blue,
Certainly not rude to send somebody a book. It's a gift, after all. Only rude if you consider it worthless. And I don't think anybody "expects" a read from a major writer. But I don't think expecting a "got your book" email is particularly rude.
And you'd have to be pretty stupid to "cold mail" to people. If you're going to spend the money to send a book to somebody you want to know that they are willing to receive it.
The rude thing would be not to acknowlege receipt.
Lots of such mailing is done to publishers and agents.
BUT to try to salvage my original point: it's much easier and cost-effective to send electronic books or links to people than to send print books.
AND, a possible advantage might be that emailing a link to blog or download might be more likely to get a reply at least saying it got there.
When it comes to Stephen King and some others, you'd not likely get an email from him personally - they closely guard their real/personal email addresses. That's actually mentioned in an FAQ at stephenking.com. Pretty much everything else was covered in what I linked, which is there for your edification when it comes to "how Stephen King deals with a bunch of books on his desk". The answer is that he doesn't.
Also taking a quote like that and editing it to read out of context is basically creating praise for your book instead of earning it. I've seen publishers do it, yes, but why not wait for an in-context mention of "masterful characters"? There's no reason to trick a reader like that. If you need to trick a reader to read your stuff, something's wrong with what you're writing. It also undermines future credibility if the author turns back around and says "Wait, no, I didn't read that book far enough to see anything masterful about any character." This is the internet, word spreads fast about the strangest, tiniest things.
Besides, that passes up the opportunity to use "A great concept, it might work..."" as a testimonial quote. That's kinda risky, but the best ads I've done have involved some guts. People appreciate a good joke.
Still not as good as: "Miss Bercegeay, I received your book... just wanted to personally say please stop sending me so many letters, the mail-readers are getting tired." - Stephen King
Gee, ya think?
I haven't seen such relentless missing of points since my last Clippers game.
Forget the salvage.
Don't even THINK about it being an advantage to disseminate eMaterial instead of print books.
So, anybody got anything to say about Seth Harwood?
Pay attention. People did.
Oh hey, Seth uses Drupal!
Thought I recognized those node arrangements. That's somewhat encouraging, it means I can do similar things to our Drupal sites.
I like the accessibility of the instructions this page:
This reaches out to the less computer-adept populace, yet another step in bringing in new listeners and readers. It's important to remember that a broad audience will necessitate people interacting with your site who don't know tech stuff very well.
There's a bit more info from him on how he went about this madness in an interview right here:
A lot of his podcasting success, from his words, seems to be because of the podcasting community and how helpful it is.
Wow. My idea was to sell the audiobook but make the podcast episodes available as free individual chunks--you want the whole thing now, buy the audiobook. I may still do it that way.
I was considering making podcast eps available for subscribers/donors on a monthly basis (along with a whole slew of other goodies available for download). Wondering which way to go on that now. I'd have to have the whole thing done to hawk if I were gonna use the podcasts as free carrots to dangle from the stick.
Hmmm, since podcasts have a cost, using them as free leaders would be a problem. Unless they were segments of a cast done for sale later, or of a planned future whole.
I tend to shy away from spending money to promote free things. Of course, if it's part of a plan to have something for sale later...
Podcasts are essentially free if you produce them yourself.
True. If you can do something good enough to be considered of value. (Which I couldn't)
The big problem is voices, I'd say. And the current state of promo podcasts looks almost like radio broadcasts. Such as Harwood's, for one.
Anything you can give out is a good thing.
I'm lucky; I've had a VERY checkered career. I've been a programmer, a writer, a voice talent, and a producer. Not everyone is this lucky, but don't discount yourself. You can do more than you think, and in skills trades you may get very lucky indeed.
It's not Seth Harwood but here is an interesting interview with another popular podcast author J C Hutchins. One of the things they talk about is how he promoted his Podcast novel "Seventh Son". One of the key lines may be (paraphrase) 'you released it and then suddenly you were everywhere'.
Lesson: Self-promotion is intensive.
However at least some of his methods are not really applicable to text format. For example he got other podcast authors to do the 'previously on' sections. They of course then mention that they have done this and off go their fans to see the audiobook they felt was worthy of their time. How do you do that with a text based work? There probably is something similar could be done but it requires thought.
If we're talking about J C Hutchins, you should defintely check out the incentives thing he started for his book Release... Lot's of ideas to steal there in my opinion.
He's also crazy though. 1 fan sold 100 books, and now JC is flying there for a meet and great Probably not a feasable incentive for most of you, but you have to admit it's cool.
ErgoFiction Magazine for fans of web-fiction, online stories and other insane online adventures.
I think the guy is hiding critical information, myself. He made a podcast and suddenly he was everywhere? C'mon.
www.scintilliarium.com DMIC, Summer Ends in August, Lonely Planets (in utero)
No, it was the interviewer who described him as being everywhere.
The audiobook self-publishers who release for free tend to congregate around podiobooks (a free indie pod audiobooks archive). What he did was locate the already successful podiobook authors and enlist them into his self-promotion efforts.
The podiobook community is supportive that way.