Help me spread the word!
Here's the link:
To narrow that down a bit, does the posting of stories, novels, and art for free downloading, reading, viewing, and even sharing, make any difference in print book sales, in attracting more traffic to an author's or illustrator's blog, in doing anything to help that artist's career?
I give away a lot. I have a whole blog dedicated to some of my Creative Commons licensed content. I post my art regularly here on theophrast.us, on Flickr, deviantArt, and other art forums and presentation sites. I posted an SF novel Nanowhere almost four years ago under Creative Commons license. I post 3 to 5 panels for my web comic Saltwater Witch every week.
Free, all of it. Free to download, to read, to share, some of it out there for years.
Does it work, giving all of this away if you're just starting out? (I know it works if you're an established author, celeb, marketing guru, so I don't need the Doctorow, Scalzi, Anderson, Godin, etc. cases).
I'm curious to hear what other writers, illustrators, and readers think. Maybe you can guess what I think by what's on my blog or the Saltwater Witch site. I'm considering posting my entire novel Seaborn, which came out last July. And I'm wondering about the effectiveness of free. I completely get Tim O'Reilly's aphorism that the problem isn't piracy, it's obscurity. Maybe my real question is does giving things away solve that problem?
Had a great time at Boskone--my first Boskone on some panels, doing a reading and a signing. I had my reading Friday night at 10:30--I read chapter 1 from Sea Throne to an audience of five. Before that I took in the Graphic Novel (& comic) panel with Christopher Golden, John Langan, Stefan Petrucha, Alisa Kwitney Sheckley, Rene Walling. Also caught the YA panel with Chris Golden, who just seems like a cool guy who's done a lot of cool stuff--comics, ya, mainstream fantasy, horror, you name it.
Then it was off to the Uncanny Valley panel on the acceptence of human-like robots with Muriel Hykes, Robert Katz, Jim Kelly, Paul Melko, Allen Steele, and Charles Stross. Stross I think beat everyone else at good barbed make-you-think comments. Paul Melko (I started Walls of the Universe last Thursday) added humor--among other things--to an already fading Friday evening (Friday night seemed a bit subdued to me, as if everyone was tired from traveling, long day, etc. I know I'd been working all day, and left right for the con, didn't get home until after midnight).
Saturday started early. I had a 10 AM panel on Men Writing Women--it was me, Paul Melko, Joshua B. Palmatier, Alisa Kwitney Sheckley, and Joel Shepherd, with Paul Melko moderating. (I'm considering this my first real con panel appearance. I've been on a panel at UMass Lowell, done a couple readings and signings--Pandemonium Books and Water Street Books, but this Boskone is my first con as a full panelist. Really fun, BTW, even for us Introverts). Good questions on gender behavior, how to write as a female character--and whether the writer even thinks explicitly in those terms while writing. Skott and I spent the next hour talking to Alisa Kwitney Sheckley and Joel Shepherd (cool SF and fantasy writer from Australia in the US on an educational project with our Congress). Alisa (of Vertigo where she worked on Sandman--how cool is that!--and a bunch of other stuff) has a novel coming out next month: The Better to Hold You.
I was on the New Marketing Technologies panel at 12:00 talking about ebooks, podcasting web comics, creative commons licensing, and all the ways authors can sell their work and themselves using all the new tech out there, with Darlene Marshall, me, James Patrick Kelly, Dani Kollin, Eytan Kollin, Shane Tourtellotte. I'll take this moment to say that Darlene Marshall is one of the best moderators around--that and all the insight and experience she brought to this particular panel. Jim Kelly had a lot to say on this one--obviously--from ebooks to podcasting. Eytan and Dani Kollin, brothers and collaborative authors of the forthcoming The Unincorporated Man, had us laughing, and jumped in with a wealth of web marketing and book launch experience. (I'm really sorry I missed their Literary Beer, although I got a card from Dani just before that). Looking forward to reading their first novel.
I did get to Jeff Carver's literary beer, crowded but a lot of good talk around the table, on marketing and publishing. Jeff also came to my reading, Friday night, which was very cool--thanks, Jeff!
At 3:00 PM I took in the Sketch to Finish panel with Dave Seeley, Dan Dos Santos, Donato Giancola, and Stephen Martiniere. This was an AMAZING panel, each artist running through and explaining progressive steps in their work. I've seen some of these presentations and videos online (probably linked from Irene Gallo's blog), but it was extra cool to have the artists there and filling in the details. I picked up a lot in this panel and the art panel I was on Sunday--things like using many more layers in Photoshop than I do now--Stephen Martiniere said he regularly used 50 and sometimes as many as a 100! I don't think I've ever done any digital work with more than twenty layers--and I thought that was excessive. I also loved Stephen's use of highlighting and methods for building a scene.
Sunday morning, bright an early, I was on the Clothing in SF and Fantasy Art panel with Alan F. Beck, Elaine Isaak, Margaret Organ-Kean, Ruth Sanderson. I think what made this one especially cool were the differences we brought to the panel. A couple of us were mainstream F&SF authors (me and Elaine Isaak), with three pro artists. I did some research and note taking before the panel. I thought this was going to be a tough one--turned out to be fun and enlightening. Not sure what the others throught of me advocating for natural origins in clothing. (With my own characters in Seaborn, I drew from marine life, fish scales, crab carapace armor, etc).
At noon, I was on another art panel, this time with the incomparable Stephen Martiniere, Dave Seeley and Alan Beck. This one had the unfortunate title, Drawing with a Mouse, but ended up as an overview of digital art, with advantages and disadvantages of the medium. Good questions in this one as well, even if it did occasionally plummet into strange technology and storage solutions discussions. For me, what was really weird was being on the panel with Irene Gallo in the audience. Yeah, I'm still stunned--yes, shocked and stunned.
Ended Boskone with a book signing at 2:00 PM with Ann Tonsor Zeddies. I signed a couple copies of Seaborn, and spent the rest of the time talking about web comics, art, and Japan.
Great con, missed a lot of authors this year. Hoping Boskone draws them all back next. (I know several people were sick for this one, so hoping we've cured all disease for Boskone 47!)
I'm not entirely happy with these, but here they are, audio versions of the first three chapters of Seaborn. I'll probably keep going, and come back to these as I work out a couple recording issues.
Chapter 1 (this is my original reading from June)
Just picked up a Snowball, a low cost USB mic from Blue Microphones. You can see why it gets the name. I've heard nothing but good things about it. I have some decent equipment, but it runs through a mixer, cables all over the place. I was really hoping to be able to cut down on line noise, external noise, noise, noise, noise (you have to say that like the Grinch).
So, I busted the white spherical thing out tonight and plugged it in. I have other machines, Windows, Linux, but I'm using my Macbook running Audacity for this out of the box, default settings test. I just want to hear how it sounds.
Before I get to that, I'll say the mic looks good, very cool white painted steel. It's got a nice weight, comes with a little tripod. Everything feels good about the hardware here.
So, I jacked in, opened Audacity, told it to listen to the Snowball, hit the record button and started talking. Literally, that's all I've done so far. Up and recording in seconds.
And I think it sounds damn fine, very low background noise, and I even sound halfway decent with my cold. I give it a five stars, looking forward to recording more and podcasting.
Here's my short Seaborn chapter 2 test reading. What do you think?
Reviews & blurbs | Interviews: FantasyLit - Fangs, Fur, & Fey - Lori Devoti - Juno - Fantasy Magazine | Video trailers: 1 - 2 - 3 | Giant Squid sticker | Seaborn wallpaper for your computer and iPhone | Mermaidicon | Seabats font | T-shirt design
Story & characters
Character list | Kassandra's family tree | Nine-cities map | Map of the Nine-cities and environs (1833 edition) | essay posts: How do mermaids hear? - Notes on Seaborn Physiology - sketch of the inside of the Wreath | What do they look like? (Kassandra and her sisters) | Scene sketches and paintings for Seaborn and Sea Throne.
Sylvia Kelso (Amberlight) asked me if I was doing a reading at WisCon, and...no…I hadn't actually signed up for anything. My first time at the con, and Seaborn's still a little ways out--3 months and closing...awfully fast. I really should have, but I missed the deadline back in January--back when July seemed so far off.
Nothing to prevent me from getting into practice, though. I sat down at the mic and read the first chapter--and I'd like to hear what you think.
I've converted it into a few formats. If you're inclined--say you really want an ogg version--use the 30MB 128kbps MP3. Let me know, and I'll link to it, or you can send it to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Click on one of the formats below or download it. (The m4a opens in Quicktime on my machine, the wma is Windows Media Audio format). To download in Windows: right-click, select Save Target As... from the popup menu | Mac: Ctrl+click and then "Download File"
Larger, better quality version:
SEABORN-Chapter1-256kbps1.mp3 (MP3, 30MB)
Still me and my blog with a couple a podcasts...
To start, let me direct your attention to this lovely piece of visualization:
(Click to see the full version)
The image isn't to scale because if it were, my blog wouldn't appear on the page. I could have placed a callout with a line pointing to one colored pixel, representing my blog in the universe, but even that would be a horrible twist of the facts.
My place in the blogosphere in relation to podcasting is sort of like those pictures of our solar system with the scale corrected. There's Jupiter, gigantic in the center, Saturn, the other planets. That little tiny blue spec is earth. Where's the center of it all, the sun? Then you notice the glowing orange edge of the page with a very slight curve, a fiery bleed of light that you didn't at first register. Ah, there it is, good old Helios. Couldn't fit it on the page and maintain the scale.
Here, is this a little better?
(Click to see the full version)
Let's forget about scale and concentrate on two aspects of this diagram: the lines going from podcast listeners to my blog and The Harrow, and the fact that the two universes do not overlap.
The lines represent the channels, podcast listeners who found my mp3 file and either came to my blog and followed the link to the story, or went directly to The Harrow to read it.
Some interesting facts:
The Harrow published my story, "Diminsher of Peace" in the September 2005 issue. I recorded myself reading it in August, posted the MP3 and XML right after the story appeared online, and then submitted the feed to iTunes, Podcast.net, and a few others.
There used to be a link to The Harrow's statistics page, which listed the top-most accessed stories, reviews and articles in the zine, and after a year or so online, my stories, "Diminisher of Peace" and "Always Becoming" were first and second ranked on the site. Sure, I think they're damn fine stories, but...ranked first and second? Where are all these readers coming from?
Let's move on to the overlap.
First: There isn't any. No overlap. I didn't really cover this well in the diagram, but by no overlap, I mean that I don't think anyone in the podcast universe even knew who I was before finding some guy named Chris Howard who read his story and submitted it to iTunes. I'm willing to bet that not one of the people who found my blog by way of the podcast had ever set there eyes on it before.
By joining the podcast universe with my blog--even with it was a thin link to a small percentage of people looking for fiction podcasts, it's a new connection, new visitors, possibly return visitors. Podcasting seems to be a way to get traffic from an audience that was completely unaware of me.
There are millions of people out there downloading and listening to podcasts. An article on podcasting at MSNBC in April 2005, stated that according to a Pew Research poll, "more than 6 million people" have listened to a podcast. This was a couple years ago:
Twenty-nine percent of U.S. adults who own MP3 players like Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod say they have downloaded podcast programs from the Internet, the Pew Internet and American Life Project found.
My point in posting this is to share my opinion that recording your writing may bring traffic to your site (or the publisher's), and to ask anyone who reads this if they have similar experiences with podcasting, or if they've read or know of someone who has.
There are a lot of things I haven't tried yet or looked into, such as how many fiction podcasts are there in iTunes and the others? What's the demand? Is there a continual listenership? Will they come back to my podcast for more?
Here's some more info:
Audible's Podcast Tool Tallies Listeners
Audible Inc. is introducing a tool to help advertisers measure how many people are listening to podcasts, the Internet-based audio shows that are downloaded to listeners' computers.
Media Bistro article on podcasting:
Why Podcast? And Also, Why Not.