February 2006

Editorial Notices Books Received

Editorial: My Digital Decade, Part II: Writer
(Writer, Editor, Publisher, Canoodler)

Publisher's Note: The personal views of the publisher, expressed here, do not necessarily mirror those of other contributors to this magazine. This is always strictly my own personal rant.

Mars the Divine Clocktower Books has released the first of a new series of SF novels—Mars the Divine by Terry Sunbord (Time Train Series) Fictionwise. Find more information at the developing website.

Writer I'm still not done with this topic before moving on to Editor, etc. I guess one never is, when one writes. Today's theme has been: We're working harder, already, so we must figure out how to work smarter. It's easier said than done. A million or more writers are competing for precious slots—and I don't mean with editors or publishers.

I'm talking about where it really counts—with readers. So, you think it's hard to reach editors and publishers? Think again. Ultimately, editors and publishers are trying to win the same prize you are: reach the reader. The problem is that readers are saturated 7/24 with a blitz of information (I've mentioned this before—including the digital urinal that flashes messages as you whee). How to get a piece of the reader's attention?

Barring a sudden lightning bolt from heaven, and a spot on Ophrah's show, what can we do to make ourselves visible to readers? One approach that seems to be gaining favor is podcasting. That's creating audio clips and posting them online for readers to download. Currently, it seems to work if it's free and in a popular format like the iPod. Then there are the usual Web things that I've been struggling with for a decade now: metatags, the title bar, and all the rest of the suggestions offered by Google and the Google users. Beyond that, however, there is a concept called critical mass. Originally applied to atom bomb explosions (enough highly refined uranium or plutonium in one spot all at once, and Boom!. CM is a term with many useful applications. What I mean here is that an author reaches a certain point where people start coming back to his/her work, and tell others about it. A useful example is this: ten individual books that are unrelated will generally tend to disappear soon, whereas a series of ten books by the same author, on the same theme, will tend to bring readers back. It will tend to get a reader who liked one book to try one or two others in the series. Ultimately, again, it all depends on having that magnetism that draws the reader to your work in the first place. Without a salable product that the readers feel impulsively they must have, all the rest is vanity. The best publisher, the best editor, the best spot in the bookstore, will not sell your book if your book doesn't have that joie de reader.

More in next month's rant. Thanks for stopping by, and have a great month!



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ComiCon International 2006 first update See CCI2006 for the latest cool info.

The Sibyl's Urn, or: Destination: Ancient Rome! by John T. Cullen (2005 Clocktower Books). Told in the second person, this novel makes you the hero or heroine as Professor Darwin and his exotically beautiful assistant Amalthea take you on a journey back to ancient Rome. At stake is a lost scroll belonging to a sibyl, or prophetess similar to the ones at Delphi in Greece. The scroll holds secrets the ancient Romans would dearly like to know, and your traveling companions have their own dark reasons for wanting to make this journey. Along the way, you get to sample the sounds, sights, and smells of a world that is as alien to ours as it is intriguing. Some of the early research material here wound up in my book A Walk in Ancient Rome (iBooks/Simon & Schuster, 2005).