Did you read my novel?

I recently posted my Nanowrimo novel for any and all to read. I’m curious if anyone did. I know one friend did, and I know more people downloaded it. And it hasn’t been that long – if you had posted your Nanowrimo novel, I probably wouldn’t have read it yet, either. But I’m curious if anyone has read it, or at least started it, and has anything to say about it. Constructive criticism is preferred, although vitriolic rants on my incompetence as a writer are always welcome. The friend who read it asked if I had read it since November ended. I told him I hadn’t, and he said it would probably be a good idea if I did. It is a rough draft, after all. And as is my Nano usual, the story changed from my original plans as I wrote it, so some of the early stuff might not fit with the later stuff. I’m not sure if I want to keep working on it. I’d love to publish something one day, but I don’t really know if this is the one to try with or not.

Monuments to Nothing – My 2008 Nanowrimo novel

So here is my 2008 Nanowrimo novel, Monuments to Nothing. It is shared here under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. That means you can read it, share it with your friends, write a sequel to it, edit it, write fan fiction about my characters, or ignore it. If it is possible that you are my Christmas secret stocking person, you should not read it yet. You may not present it as your own, share it without giving me credit, share it or derivative works under a more restrictive license, or use it commercially. Unless you ask me and I say it’s okay. The story has a little bit of sex, violence, and profanity. Nothing really crazy, but I feel I should warn people. Enjoy.

Nanowrimo is over for me

Originally uploaded by thetejon

I hit 50,000 words this afternoon. I kind of like the story. It’s not my favorite, but after the last two years of utter garbage, this one is fantastic by comparison. I plan to post it here eventually, but I kind of want to take a break from it, at least until tomorrow, so you’ll have to wait if you want to read it. As you see in the picture, I didn’t get out of all my parent duties this month. The wife went above and beyond in helping me make time for writing, although she complained a bit. I am indebted to her for a while now. I couldn’t have come close to 50,000 if she hadn’t helped, and I am very grateful, even though she doesn’t believe me when I tell her. I wrote a lot today with the kid in either the Moby wrap pictured, or in her Lascal M1 Carrier after we went for a walk when she wouldn’t take a nap this afternoon. I like the M1 better for carrying her for a while because it distributes the weight better, but it’s harder to sit down wearing it, so if I hope to come home from the walk and have her stay asleep, the Moby is better. I should get back to posting regularly now that I don’t have a novel to write.

Real authors doing Novel Writing Month

One of my favorite authors, Charles Stross, is going to do Novel Writing Month this year. Stross’ Iron Sunrise is one of my favorite books, and those of you paying attention know that I’ve met him over delicious beers at the Brickskeller. I know Nanowrimo is not quite the same for someone who makes a living writing novels as it is for someone who just wishes he had the motivation and dedication to make a living writing novels (You’ll notice I don’t say I lack the skill – I have the skill until I prove otherwise). But it’s cool to be writing along with someone who writes really cool stuff, who is successful doing professionally something that I do now and then as an amateur. Now I just have to figure out how to get my daughter to sleep for a few hours in the evening so I can actually write my 50,000 words.

Nanowrimo is coming

It’s almost that time of year again. National Novel Writing Month is only a few weeks away. They’re celebrating their 10th year of Nano, while I’m celebrating my seventh. It’s hard to believe this is my seventh. It’s not hard to believe that I’ve never truly finished any of the “novels” I wrote during November. Maybe when the kid goes off to college. It will be very hard to hit 50,000 words this year. Having a 7-10 week old daughter in the house will no doubt cut into my novel writing time, and having a job that actually expects me to do something productive doesn’t help, either. Plus I’d kind of like to spend time with my wife now and then. I have two ideas I’m kicking around. One I’ve been thinking about for a couple years now, and one I just thought of recently. I’m leaning towards the more recent idea, because I’m afraid I won’t finish this year, and I don’t want to “waste” the more developed idea. But the newer idea still needs a second and third act, which makes things a little difficult. Just looking at the freshly updated Nano website and thinking about entering my first word count of 2008 gives me goosebumps. If you’ve never tried it, go read about what it is and how it works. In short, you will be writing a 50,000 word novel from November 1st to November 30th. Yes, this is hard. No, this is not impossible. Yes, it is incredibly rewarding (and addicting). Yes, most people you know will think you’re a little weird. But if I could only share with you the elation I felt when I first hit the word count button in my word processor back on November 27th, 2002, and it said, “50,000” for the first time, you would be totally sold. Feel free to leave me a comment or email me at jon at complaint hub dot com if you have questions about Nano, or contact me through the Nano site if you’re a participant.

Would this business model work for writers?

I’ve spoken before about alternative business models for authors – some way to get paid for writing while at the same time embracing digital distribution and the economics of infinite goods. Techdirt talks about music artists getting fans to help pay for the creation of a new album – fans give money and the artist uses that money to produce the album. Then, the artist has some options for what to do with the music after it’s created, like selling cds or giving it away for free or whatever they want to do. This might work for writers, too. Not all writers, maybe. But let’s say you’re a talented writer without a book deal. You set up a blog and connect with people who love the type of books you want to write. Give away free short stories or excerpts from your novel-in-progress. Then take money to produce the book. People who donate maybe get a discount on a paper copy, or a signed paper copy, or whatever other non-scare goods you might be interested in producing. If you’re really good with your non-scare goods, you can give away the resulting ebook when you’re done writing. This builds more fans, and helps you get more money to produce the next book. I think it’s harder for authors to do this than musicians, because it’s harder for the author to come up with compelling non-scarce goods to sell. They have no equivalent of the live show (At least for the vast majority of authors). But at the same time, producing a book, especially an ebook, is vastly cheaper. In fact, with a little computer knowledge, it’s almost free. So what your fans are really paying for is your time more than the production of the book.

Hey, look, this isn’t about baseball

Neil Gaiman – my life in green and purple

Because it seems to me that giving away an e-Book with a hardback is an excellent way to grow the e-book world, and something that a publisher could do at little or no cost.

The Orioles won last night, BTW. Anyway, this seems like a pretty awesome idea. A new guy at Harper Collins is considering giving away a free e-book and audiobook copy of a book which you have just purchased. As Neil says, “of course buying the book would give you the audio and the text, not just the object”. This is something of a radical idea compared to what most people are used to, but it could really grow the market for non-paper books. Growing the market for non-paper books is a good thing for authors and publishers (And the manufacturers of e-book readers and MP3 players and a whole mess of other industries who might be prescient enough to hop on the bandwagon) and, most certainly, book readers (or listeners). As I’ve mentioned (And as Techdirt has mentioned roughly 8 billion times), the marginal cost of producing another copy of an e-book or audiobook in digital format is nothing. Therefore, the cost of these goods should go to zero, as well. This makes them terrible things to try to sell, but wonderful things to use as promotional goods or just as “Hey, we (unlike you, recording industry) really do like our customers” rewards. I have some ulterior motives here – I’m hoping that the e-book market grows until someone puts out a cool e-book reader for a reasonable cost. I currently have 26 free and legal e-books saved on my computer. I’ve only read one of them, because reading a book on a computer screen really sucks. But I’d like to read the rest of them.

New science fiction site coming soon

Making Light | Phase one: collect underpants via Whatever Tor Books, a big (the biggest?) name in science fiction publishing, is opening a new website. It is supposed to be “a place and a context for the lively, ongoing, wide-ranging, and profoundly self-organizing discussions that have characterized the science fiction subculture since its earliest days”. That sounds pretty cool to me. I signed up for their advanced membership or whatever it is to get some free ebook downloads. I haven’t read any of them, because I don’t have an ebook reader (Please, won’t someone make a good, affordable ebook reader?). But I have them, and I plan to read some or all of them, and I suspect that I will end up buying something from some or all of the authors that I read. I hate announcements of far away website launches – I don’t really care until your site is live. Actually, I don’t really care until it’s live and finished being Dugg and Slashdotted, which I’m sure it will be. But I am looking forward to this. I was really disappointed with Gawker’s crappy science fiction blog, and I have high hopes for this one.

Giving stuff away

The nature of free

As I tried to explain in the Guardian interview, the problem isn’t that books are given away or that people read books they haven’t paid for. The problem is that the majority of people don’t read for pleasure.

Here is yet another author talking about how giving away books for free is a good thing, and tends to increase sales of other books. John Scalzi talks about this often. So does Charles Stross, and Cory Doctorow. And Techdirt talks about the value of giving away infinite goods to generate interest in scarce ones. I first read Scalzi’s Agent to the Stars shared free online, and then bought some of his other stuff. I first read Stross’ Accelerando shared free online, and now preorder his novels before they even come out. And I first read Gaiman when I got Anansi Boys from the library. My long-winded point here is that I have frequently purchased books because I read something the author had shared for free and I liked it. So I sought out more from that author. When someone finally makes a reasonably priced, non-DRMed ebook reader, I’ll do this even more. I have a bunch of free books saved on my hard drive that I haven’t read because I don’t want to sit at the computer to read a novel. Give me a good way to get that book over into the big fluffy chair in the sunroom, and I’ll be thrilled. However, I quoted Gaiman up above for a reason. It is interesting that he says that most people don’t read for pleasure. I don’t know how true that is in general, but I know many of my friends don’t read much or at all. I’ve gotten shocked reactions from people when I tell them that I get books out of the library (Although not so much lately now that I’m driving to work and don’t have an hour on the Metro to read every day). It’s too bad that people don’t read more. I have fond memories of reading while growing up. It was great to not even hear my mom calling me because I was so wrapped up in the book. See, kids, that’s a great excuse for ignoring your mom. Try it sometime. Edit: I should have checked Techdirt before I posted this. They have an article on this very subject up right now. And now Cory Doctorow mentions the very same Gaiman post up on Boing Boing. If I link to a post that links to a post that I already linked to, maybe we can create an infinite loop that creates an vortex in the internet which will spit out the Ghost of Christmas Past to visit the CEO’s of Sony, Time Warner, Random House, Apple, Adobe, and all the other DRM-mongers and show them the error of their ways. Then we’ll all wake up Christmas morning with open source ebook readers under the tree and thousands of free ebooks waiting at Amazon. Do you read for pleasure? Fiction? Non-fiction?