Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ideas for Change?

This past year has been a tough one economically, mostly because of the sorry state of mainstream publishing. If the story ever gets resolved for the better (which it probably will) I'll tell it all here. Suffice to say that it fulfills every dire statement that Michael Blowhard ever made about the business. For now, all you need to know is that I am paying $3200 for getting a partial advance of $1800, and looking for another publisher.

I will not abandon the mainstream entirely-- the potential rewards are too great for an aging, well- reviewed writer with no pension plan But the examples of Mary and others have made me decide to do some more web stuff. Dr Hypercube and Matt have been particularly helpful, in both comments and the mail.

Here is Doc:

"Some random thoughts (more will come along if I ever get my post on it finished-- connection to the artist is important. Folks want to feel that link.

"Niche/uniqueness/customization is another key.You're in excellent shape on both counts - the magic trick is turning that into $$. I don't think hiding stuff behind a paywall is a good model - tip jars, subscription (in the old sense of prepaying for a project), limited run books all may work.... I would instantly paypal over $10 or $20 bucks for a copy of 'Bodio on X' - for those less trufannish, you could sweeten the deal w/ signatures or bookplates or whatever for pre-payers."


"Another idea (will comment on Q as well, to get Matt's take): your taste in books and your book reviews? Killer. Leverage it to reduce the amount of money you spend on books - assuming you aren't up to your neck in review copies now. [ Not for anything but birding and--!-- fishing SB] Set up an Amazon wish list of books you'd like to read and put a sidebar widget on Querencia with a bit of explanation. Readers of the blog can buy you books from the list (I think if you set it up correctly you'd get a tiny commission on the sale), you read, post review to Q with a thank-you link to the sponsor (and maybe allow your review to be cross posted on the sponsor's blog). Part of what seems to be successful on the web is trying quite a few different small things and seeing what develops..."

I like the idea of a link to my always- long wish list. Readers? I'd promise to review anything bought.

Matt now:

"I think you're right on with something Steve could and (as he knows I've told him) should do, self publish. But not necessarily for the larger market. Tailored reprints of his own work with some original material added to update---but more importantly, to make unique and add appeal.

"Steve could gather a heap of of his best writing on falconry into one pub. He could do the same with any of his many passions and areas of expertise, fracturing them into even smaller wedges that will fit little niches.

"Doc you'd pay 10-20 for Bodio on X. But how much would you pay for Bodio on X, in hardcover, with a personalized introduction to you?"

Doc again:

"Matt - can't resist repeating my theme. Short answer - heck of a lot more than $10 or $20. Long answer - couldn't agree with you more - the internet allows width (meme of the week occupies a million people for 1 minute each) and, more importantly here, wicked depth. The opportunities for personalization - intros, omakase chapter selection for those poor souls who don't want to read everything - you've clearly thought this through more than I have, but yes - what you said."

OK: all the above are possible-- and I think we'll link the wish list permanently as soon as Matt is able (and I'll make comments on books in there also.)

Two things more or less ready to go: a huge 1865 book on Siberian hunting by Cherkassov, a Russian classic, translated by dog scholar Vladimir Beregovoy and smoothed by me, with an attempt to retain its folkloric Siberian diction, full of esoteric knowledge. This needs some design and it's a go.

And: a novel I wrote over ten years ago about the reintroduction of big predators into the southwest. Events have overtaken it, and I am disinclined to rewrite it, but everybody but publishers loves it including such writers as Charles Bowden, and many separate parts have been published (the jaguar tale in Gray's Journal last year was taken from it.) It is sort of a literary thriller with ranchers and lions and tigers and bears. Anyone out there interested? (Artists who might like to do a few dramatic black- and- white illos encouraged as well.)

What else? I have the rights to Querencia- the- book plus ownership of all the copies-- need to have a place to sell them here.

Need to get the falcon and pigeon books on POD, the second with a better cover.

And: should I start a "send us to Kazakhstan" fund, to get another dog and finish the book, here? The publishing companies are in no hurry-- one offered $3000 [this is corrected-- I had said $300 which is too cheap even for them] last year for the whole book, less than we have spent and less than it now takes to get there.

What else might anyone want? IDEAS!


Matt Mullenix said...

Steve send me the wish list link and I'll get it on the site.

All: Tiger Country (title of thriller Steve mentioned) is wonderful, and hard to characterize (like the author).

For as many varied books as I've enjoyed, I'm surprised that so few scenes and characters have stuck with me. Tiger Country has a cast full of them.

Peculiar said...

As another who's read it, Tiger Country is definitely worth shelling out a little cash. Compelling characters, very unique setting, wonderful anarcho-biophilic plot. It's worth it, readers, let's skip the philistine middlemen and pay for what we actually want to read.

mdmnm said...

I hesitated a bit to comment because I really know nothing about how any of this stuff works. In hopes of sparking better suggestions:
I see that Querencia-the-book is going for $20.88 softcover on Amazon. A premium over that for a signed copy seems like it would sell well. Maybe Google Checkout or something PayPal enabled to sell through the site? Same thing with the novel, self published through Lulu or whomever. I'd definitely buy.

Two old tech suggestions: If you self-published and pre-printed, then added copies of Querencia, Rage, and Aloft, hit some of the local events (Festival of the Cranes, Fruits of the Earth in Tijeras). Sell books and pass out cards with Querencia-the-website's address to push more traffic this way. Come up to Bubonicon, before you do, review some NM skiffy on your home page or here on Q, then mention those reviews in comments on the NM authors' blogs (Walter Jon Williams has a new book out just now, for ex., and a blog). Given the wide range of interests of science fiction fans, I'd imagine you'd pick up some readers who'll then buy more books. Maybe contact to con committee and see if they'll put you on a panel or two.

On the reviews thing, I'd be interested in a collection of past reviews of books with trees in them. Not only good reading, but a resource for when I'm looking for something of a certain type to read.

Steve Bodio said...

Thanks Mike- GOOD ideas. We are working on the novel (Peculiar may do photos for a limited ed as well.) I will set up to do sales of inscribed Q's at a bit less. And I am investigating POD's for the "bird books".

I was already think of the Crane Festival. Hadn't thought about the Bubonicon. I'll check out Walter Williams blog-- I actually know him but haven't seen him in years. NM reviews an excellent idea.

So is a review book or at least booklet. I have a bound volume somewhere of a lot of my old Gray's reviews-- i could scan and add the rest!

R Francis said...

Have you looked at the business plan of woodworking magazine, a sort of combination fanzine and blog with good integration between them. Chris Schwarz adopts a role similar to yours and pursues interests in several media. Would subscribe toa falconry/dogs/hunting mag such as theirs.

annie fitt said...

"Artists who might like to do a few dramatic black- and- white illos encouraged as well"

Me! Me! I would love to take this on! Seems a natural for linocut. Check out some of mine on my etsy site I'd love to donate the illos as my contribution to keeping Steve writing...
Send me an email if you are interested.