Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Old School; New Tricks

I'm old school. I always believed that a true writer slaved over a lengthy--say 100,000 word-- manuscripts for at least a year then handed it over to a gray-haired, bespectacled editor with a flask hidden in his top drawer who then whipped it into bestselling shape. And of course, said editor worked for a big New York City publishing house which had already validated said writer's talent by forking over a six-figure advance.
Times have changed. And so have I.
Having jumped into the ePublishing world as an Indie author/publisher, I'm noticing a trend that I believe will eventually be an industry standard--even for the big boys. This trend became apparent to me last night as without hesitation I kept spending $1.99 to get to the end of Stephen King's Odd Thomas intermission mini-series "Odd Interlude." There are four installations, probably not more than 90 pages each. I might have thought twice before one-clicking (damn/bless Amazon for making it soooooo easy) a purchase totaling about $8, but $1.99? I could probably scrape that up from the bottom of my laundry basket.
When it was all read and done, I felt the satisfaction of having read a full-length novel, which, in fact, I had if you multiply 90 x 4. I did have the benefit of having access to all four installations, something that would not have been possible several months ago as the episodes were published a few months apart, but either way I'm pretty sure I would have stayed with the story.
While King is a mega-author and can probably sell his stories by the letter, I've noticed a few Indie authors who are doing well selling shorter fiction, but in volume. Chick lit author D.D. Scott is one of them. She chronicles her book sales and offers great insight to self-published authors on her website The Writer's Guide to ePublishing. Since 2010, Scott has ePublished about 30 books and made over $1k last year. Her books aren't more than 200 pages and she sells them for .99 cents, but she boasts a 300K readership and did I mention her profits?
Short fiction sells and for the Indie author, volume is where the profits start adding up.
I revisited my business plan/production schedule today and noticed I'd made a note on June 29th (also my mom's birthday--RIP) to consider publishing "Flicker" in three installments (mainly because I was behind schedule and panicky that my readership will lose interest by the time I publish book II of The Whirlwomen Trilogy). Now I see that's not such a bad idea and am gearing up to get the first 100 pages to my editor and the cover designed.  I may be old school, but I do know how to learn from others and I'm always up for new tricks. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

iTunes U: Learning Management and Inspiration

I recently updated my iPad and was immediately intrigued by the iTunes U app that was installed during the process. The app is a doorway into a world of learning, inspiriting and research that speaks directly to my obsession with knowing a little bit about everything. And for those on a more organized learning curve, like college students, the app is an extension of the classroom that can be utilized on-demand.
iTunes U gives instant access to free, educational media including lectures, white papers, how-to's and curriculums. Learn best practices and trending theories from business leaders and educators; chill out with 3-minute meditations designed to increase mindful awareness (right on!); or listen to Ian Frazier expound on The Art of Literary Humor. Students can search for the most recent lectures and papers by college professors and the more tech savvy k-12 schools are providing content for parents, teachers and students that significantly expand the educational experience. I think it's a pretty cool way to get in the know about stuff you didn't even know you cared about.
I have to admit, however, I already struggle with limiting the time I spend online drilling down on topics that catch my interest, or are necessary to move my writing along. But with iTunes U, the difference for me is that it offers organized extemporaneous information loading. I know that reads like an overwritten contradiction, but this is where that comes from: When I first opened the app and figured out what it offered, I was relieving myself from writing that wasn't going well. I needed some inspiration and motivation to chew on that would get me back to work sooner rather than later. I needed some fundamental reminders that would shoosh the editor and quell the critic.
So, the first course on my iTunes U bookshelf ends up being "Creative Writing: A Master Class." The suggested duration of the course is 8 weeks, but I get what I need in about 8 minutes when I plug into a video of award-winning playwright/screenwriter Suzan-Lori Parks and her first rule of thumb is "entertain all your far out ideas." Those words (golden to a writer in the midst of an urban fantasy trilogy) and the anecdote she offers with them have me nodding and smiling and eager to get back to writing.