Wednesday (oops) on Writing
Today’s subject is deadlines, and the breaking thereof.
Not really, although I do mean to post on Wednesdays, and this week got away from me. Writer’s Wednesdays (or in this case, Thursday) here on Mutterings are my musings on various aspects of the writer’s trade and life. This week: a venture into e-publication.
Last week I was in New York for Edgars week, which included a day-long writing symposium. In addition to my own panel (billed as a “no-holds barred look at a writer’s life,” although it didn’t turn out quite so wild-and-wooly as one might have anticipated) and a great interview of this year’s Grand Master, Sara Paretsky, one of the discussion points was modern trends in publishing. No surprise, really: all any group of writers seems to talk about these days is to e-book or not to e-book, and this particular panel included an editor from St Martin’s Press, that house that simultaneously lost Barry Eisler, who decided to go for self-publishing in e-format, and gained Amanda Hocking, who decided she was sick of all the peripheral work of being self-published (and thus self-edited, self-designed, self-promoted, self-hunting-down-the-pirated-torrents, self-formatting, self-everything.) There’s an in-depth discussion between the two writers here, and all I can say is, I’ll be most interested in hearing from them both a couple years down the line.
Me, personally? If I had any OUP books, I’d put them up. I do have one or two short stories that haven’t seen print in a while, and I might do those, but I was also thinking of using them for a collection. I’ll probably hang onto them for a while longer before I decide.
However, as I’ve mentioned, a while ago Random House asked me to do an e-novella that they can put up a couple of months before Pirate King, as part of their various and many-armed marketing plan. I’m trying to urge them to sell the rights to some kind of print version as well, for those of you who want actual books in your hot little hands, and I’m relatively certain those will come along eventually. But in the meantime, it’s strictly an e-book venture, and the similarities and differences have made it an interesting experience.
As far as the writing goes, being a sort of long short story, it was a change from the complexities of a novel, since there was a simplified story line rather than all a novel’s threads that weave together and get tangled and give the poor writer hives, and make her swear that she’s going to give it up and take up watercolors instead. It’s much easier to keep focus on a single track. On the publishing side, because it was for my usual publishing house, much of the process has been that of a regular book—except that, due to the length (50 pages rather than 350) they chose to do an e-edit, which I hate. Really, really hate. Really.
Research, writing, characterization, edit/discussion/copyedit, all those steps were the same. But then last week I was given the cover, and I can’t say precisely why, but it has a distinctly e-feel to it. Maybe because it’s tighter, with all the print nearer the same size? (I suppose the concern is, on an iPhone, small print would vanish entirely.) The colors, too, seem to me particularly suited for a screen rather than paper. I’m not one to judge, since I don’t read many books on an e-reader, but for those of you who like e-reading, do you have any comments on e-book covers? Most e-books seem to use the same covers as their print versions, but are there occasionally different looks? And if so, how do they differ?