Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wherein Kristina Doesn't Understand Modern Publishing

I’ve been writing seriously less than three years, but in that time, I’ve seen e-publishing and self-publishing boom. Along with that, I’ve seen the number of people who give away their writing—both literally and figurative—increase.

I’ve seen many tweet and such about people selling their short stories for 99 cents on Amazon, or they post free stories on their blogs. I can see where this is an effective marketing strategy: give the reader a small taste, get them hooked, and make them buy more. (Incidentally, I think this is how drug dealers work.) What I don’t understand, though, is when people do this repeatedly. They sell multiple stories for low prices, or they give away whole books.

One could argue that this is no different from the times I submitted stories to publications that offered either no payment or toke payment. My only argument is that mostly did that when I was starting out so I could get some publishing credits under my belt. (I’ve done it a few times recently, but I usually really wanted to be a part of the publication.) My goal now is to make at least some money off my writing. Shouldn’t I be paid a decent wage?

I guess my main concern is that writers are selling themselves short. I think that $3.00 for a novel is too low, even for an eBook. Novel writing is hard; that’s why I haven’t finished one yet. I know there’s a lot of competition out there, and authors have to do a lot to get their work read, but is it worth lowering our standards? If writers keep selling their stories for less than they’re worth, will the readers start to expect less. For example, say I finish a novel and decide to self-publish. I decide to set the eBook price a little higher, maybe $5.00, because I put a lot of work into my book. Will John Q. Public pass on my (hopefully) awesome book just because the price is too high compared to everyone else?

I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s actions, because Lord knows I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m sure other writers spend more time looking into their markets than I have. I just don’t understand modern publishing, I guess.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why Weird Stuff?

When people ask what kind of stories I write, I tell them I write “weird stuff”. Either they usually respond favorably, or they say, “Oh…okay…” But, no one has ever asked why.

I feel any writer has passion for the particular genre s/he writes. Literary authors may enjoy realism, for example. For me, my love of “weird stuff” has been life-long. My Barbies were often wizards and sometimes zombie hunters. I enjoyed TV shows with a sci-fi or fantasy element. (ex: Gargoyles, Transformers: Beast Wars, anime including Dragonball Z and the various Tenchis) I started reading fantasy when I read Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown. I used these things with speculative subjects as an escape from my everyday life.

When I decided I wanted to be a writer, standard fiction never crossed my mind. My first novel idea (which was also a scenario I played out with my dolls) was about King Arthur returning in the modern day. The rest of the ideas I came up with were traditional fantasy and some sci-fi, with a little urban fantasy thrown in. Of course, I didn’t know it was called urban fantasy at the time. I just thought, “Modern day? Why not dragons?”

I didn’t write anything in high school really, because of my own insecurities, but I always read. Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom books were among my favorites. His books introduced darker fantasy to me. I mean, what’s darker than necromancers and the undead?

I discovered Neil Gaiman through his short story “Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire” in a collection called Gothic. I became more interested in dark fiction as time wore on. I was an angsty teen, so the darker things were the better. I was a library aide my senior year of high school, and I noticed a small collection of Gaiman’s books. I read Stardust, but was just okay in my opinion. Then I read Neverwhere, which is probably my first proper urban fantasy. I was amazed at how Gaiman created a completely new world that was just below an existing one. Then, I read American Gods, and it changed my life. The epic nature! The characters! Everything was wonderful.

Then, zombies came for me when I read The Zombie Survival Guide my freshman year of college, and I never looked back. I soon thought of the idea for my zombie western, even though I didn’t write it until my junior year. I became obsessed with zombies and the undead, and I still am.

I started reading some of Christopher Moore’s books before my sophomore year of college. Even though he’s in the “regular fiction” section, he has written about monsters and vampires and zombies. Above all, though, he’s funny as hell. He inspired me to infuse humor into my writing, even if I don’t always succeed.

So, here I am: a writer-lady that is kind of paranoid and who likes weird things. Other people like weird things, so I write weird things I hope they like.