where the writers are
Confessions of a READER WHORE
8-6-2010 4;48;39 PM Red Wake Cover NEW SMALL.jpg

 Okay, so here's how I sold out. I was reading a wonderful article on a science-fiction writers' website a while back. One author touted the vast changes sweeping through the publishing industry because of the web, how E-books are revolutionizing the industry in (for the writer) new and exciting ways. She was taking full advantage of these advances, self- publishing her novels and stories on her website and collecting appreciable fees in the form of donations from her readers. Using this method, she also gained hundreds, possibly thousands of new readers, enough that she felt comfortable passing on an offered book deal from an established publishing house. "What is she, nuts?" I thought.

For those of us who have been published in a variety of platforms, the lure of the "Big Deal" always looms as a sort of golden apple, (or fleece if you're a mythologist.) I recently vowed that I would send my next novel out for consideration only to the major publishers, no small presses, and no self publishing. My short stories have appeared in  professional and semi-professional markets and anthologies. My first published novel, The Revenant Road, was published by a great independent operation out of Ohio, beautifully edited and bound, in print and, later, in E and audiobook editions. That was a deeply positive experience. And I recently self -published my science-fiction horror epic, The Red Wake, on Amazon, and while it still ain't the front table at Barnes and Noble, it's gratifying to know people are reading it. It’s even got a devoted follower: a Baptist minister in Idaho who downloaded it, thinking it was a book of funeral poems. He subsequently made it his mission to deliver me from “Satan’s unwavering malice.” (I love that one. I put it on a t-shirt.) So both experiences have been rewarding, creatively and spiritually fulfilling and tons of yuks.

BUT I WANT READERS!

Millions of them: I would sleep with my worst enemy if it increased awareness of my work. (She's a Nigerian beekeeper on Long Island, and she hates my guts) I would sell my soul to the aforementioned "nether entity" to grace that damn New York Times Bestseller list for the next three million years. Is that wrong? Why? Whatever happened to Mephistophelean bargains like that? The kind in which an author could simply sacrifice something beneath the light of a gibbous moon, summon up the Lord of Iniquities and talk a little 'bidness?'  In our increasingly secular world, is there no room for good old- fashioned soul-bartering in exchange for gross worldly success? Calm down, fundamentalists…I don’t believe in the Devil. (But if he happens to need a cold soul in which to squat I know a fiction editor over at a major publishing house I can recommend.)  I’m ambitious, alright? I HAVE DREAMS!

So the idea of giving stories away…on the internet… seems odd in the face of my overarching drive to dominate the genre-specific literary landscape across which I toil these days. But upon reading the aforementioned article and a few others, I began to realize that maybe I was wrong. These people are getting their work out to a hungry audience. They and other authors, are finding the path to public consumption of their works a little less hazardous via the wide open spaces of cyberspace: They’re being read. Meanwhile the rest of us back in the Dimly Lit Cave of the Luddite People, sit, day after day, writing away, juggling rejection slips while awaiting that single, all important Yes that will validate our solitary labor. Why? After all, I didn’t start writing to become a bestselling author. I actually started writing because I had something to share, stories to tell. In my other life I’m used to being recognized in the streets for my television work or a performance from some film I was in. But the first time someone came up to me at a convention with a downloaded copy of my novel I nearly kissed them. I was so grateful! And so, I’ve decided on a good compromise: Take stories I’m proud of, stories that have appeared in print or online, that I was already paid for, and republish them for free. Why not? After all, ‘Free’ gets people in through the door. Most of the people who visit a writer’s site will probably not have read his entire bibliography. Collections and novels ultimately go out of print, but the web is…forever. And if they take a look around while inside the Little Shop of Horror in my mind and decide to pick up a few things? So much the better. But the important thing is that the stories will be read, alive for someone, maybe lots of someones; vital. They can live on eternally, in the same way that every parent hopes their children can go out and make something meaningful of their lives.

So I’m starting here, posting some published stories on my Red Room page. Stories that have given other folks pleasure. Stories I’m proud of, displayed for anyone who wants to take the chance. And they’re free for the asking.  Maybe I’ll even write a few originals just for this purpose. Maybe collate the whole thing into a collection at the end of a year. I could call it The Twelve Months of Terror. (Like I said before, I don’t believe in the Devil, but I like to cover my nether regions as much as I can.) Am I a whore? I suppose the answer is Yes. But I'm clean and I don't eat much. And I can promise you a good time for a song. So maybe I'm not so much a reader whore as a reader slut. 

 So I’m publishing, or re-publishing. On the web. No, it’s not the front table at Borders.

I’m coming to believe that might be a good thing.

Michael Boatman 9/22/10

 

HADLEY SHIMMERHORN: AMERICAN ICON

http://redroom.com/articlestory/hadley-shimmerhorn-american-icon

 

THE GREENHOUSE

 

http://redroom.com/articlestory/the-greenhouse

 

And the article that led to my eventual damnation: CHANGING TIMES. By Kristine Katherine Rusch

 http://www.grantvillegazette.com/articles/Changing_Times