Friday, 27 April 2012

I is for Indie

     Today we are talking indie publishing, now I know it is short for Independent but I like to think it is also short for individual.

    Before we get started let me introduce you to Winterflood’s Second Law, there is a first law but I won’t cover that here and anyone who breaks it will quickly learn it.

Winterflood’s Second Law

    This Law is that for every individual you add to a project, after yourself, you double the chance that it will screw up. So the Law states that for a project to succeed you need the smallest number of additional people involved in it to make it successful. The smaller the number of participants the less chance of failure and the greater chance of having to take responsibility for any failure that should arise.

    This Law rises from experience and I am sure most of you have come across it at some point.

Is it all about I

    So what does this have to do with Indie Publishing? Well as I said at the start I like to think Indie means individual and keeping with Winterflood’s Second Law, the production of my first Kindle novel, The Last Mask - Tradition, was an individual production, firmly reducing the chance of others messing up the project and firmly putting any problems on my shoulders. Keeping it as an Indie project also meant that everything produced for the project came from the same creative mind, they all matched the style of what was being produced.

    I painted the concept art before the novel was even started.

    I planned and executed the novel.

    I made the trailer with my art and music, and words taken from my novel.

    I painted the cover.

    I edited and published the novel.

    I promoted the novel.

 A Unity of Vision is I

    At every stage the same person was working on the vision, I could bounce the story off others to make sure it was working, but it was the same hands making the work and so I hope it all shares that same vision. The words match the pictures, and the pictures match the music. It all comes together through various medium to show the world of The Last Mask.

    If I had got someone else to do the cover or trailer then they might not have got it, they might not have presented the vision as I saw it, and they might have also failed to complete the task as per Winterflood’s Second Law.

    So I believe the Last Mask is a good example of how Indie Publishing can work. One individual taking all the steps in publishing a novel and completing them by their self to present something with a complete unity.

I see I

This thinking about Indie Publishing came to me after reading the feedback of Sammy H K Smith on The Last Mask - Tradition, where she stated what she thought Self Publishing was -

At this point I agreed with what she was saying and it made me realise what I was doing. So is it a good thing to be a team of one if your team can produce the goods, but if you have to extend the "I" then make sure the others are going to reflect your vision and they are not going to break Winterflood’s Second Law.

Beyond the I

Obviously there are others involved at some point, it is not like I can go review and buy the novel myself… well I could but that defeats the objective. So once it is finished you then have to launch it into the world and try to make your Self Published Indie book a Mass Market book, as that is who you are competing with. I am still hatching those plans but watch this space.

The Last Mask - Tradition is available from all good Amazon Kindle store, links on this page.

Do you see what I did there...

Till the next time I will leave you with I.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Reality Digital

What a strange world I live in…

    I paint pictures on the computer and then upload them to the internet, to be viewed by the virtual world. At no point today do I draw on paper or paint on canvas. There are no physical versions of my art in my world; it is all just ones and zeroes floating around inside machines.

    I write books on the computer, I edit them on the computer, and then sell them on the internet as eBooks on Kindle. At no point do I write or print the story out to edit on paper. If I want to make notes I jot them down on my mobile or keep them stored in that mass of electrons called my brain. I don’t even sell my book as a traditional book with traditional paper. There are no physical versions of my stories in my world; it is all just ones and zeroes floating around inside machines.

    I talk to people on the computer, and I have conversations and make jokes with them all over the world. I never met these people, so I assume they are real, but these people live in my computer. They are digital personalities, who might turn up when I turn on my computer, and disappear when I turn it off. There are no physical versions of my friends in my world; it is all just ones and zeroes floating around inside machines.

    I think while sitting at my computer, about this world. I make art that isn’t in reality, I write stories that aren’t in reality, and I have friends who aren’t in reality. My world is all just ones and zeroes floating around inside machines.

   I wonder if I exist in reality.

   If I turn of this machine will I stop being me?

    Shall I give it a go…

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Art of Death

- There is nothing like a good death -

    After a recent review of the Last Mask, which was saying about the amount of death in the book, I was starting to wonder if I was a violent person, who likes to bump off his cast at the drop of a hat. I was also looking over some old files for a fantasy book I was returning to redraft, and as I looked over the cast list next to a few of the names was the word ‘Dead.’ A lot of people were not going to make it out of that first book, and we are not talking about minor nobodies. So I pondered this deathly situation, and came to a few conclusions.

    The Last Mask is front loaded with death; the trouble is I am the only one who knows the pattern of the whole series, and the other two books currently have a much lower death toll… currently. 

    But what this does is make the world appear to be deadly. There may only be a couple of death after the first book, but the reader is on guard and aware of what a deadly place this is from what has been established in the first book. Once you paint this world where anyone can die then you have established the rules.

- It is not safe around here -

    A good death of a major character sets up the whole tone for the series. The reader will believe that no one is safe, and any of these people could drop dead at a moment’s notice. If we look at a couple of classic TV series we can see how this worked. 

    Taking the original Star Trek, we never really felt that the main cast were ever in danger. They might catch a disease and age rapidly, but we knew they would be back to normal by episode end. The only ones in danger were the nobodies in the red shirts, and that became an exploitable joke in the end. 

    Now if we look at a series like Babylon 5, they killed of major characters in the first series and this gave us a world where we were never sure who was safe, a world where we could fear for the characters and be shocked at what was to come. They built a more believable world where we could feel for the people and not know if someone was going to make it out alive that episode. Peril was believable.

    So it is always good to have a major death in establishing a world, even if that character is only made to die.

- Bringing them back from the dead -

    Once you have killed of your important character it is not unheard of to bring them back again, Marvel do it all the time, in fact I think they fit the graves with revolving doors to save time. So if you are tempted to do this, and yes I have a few that do plan on a return, then you should at least have their death have a meaning on the character. The individual has to have been changed by the experience. Imagine if a character lost an arm, it is going to have a big effect on them, so why shouldn’t death change them in a big way.

    It is important that they have to be changed in some way to make killing them off in the first place relevant, otherwise death just becomes nothing, a minor inconvenience.

- Potter must die... maybe -

    The final problem with death involves falling in love with your characters and not wanting to kill them off when the time comes for the deed. There is a certain author, who shall not be named, who created a boy wizard, popular with a few people. Now if you followed the books to the end then it seem to make more sense that they main character should have sacrificed himself at the end to defeat the Big Bad, as he seemed to have a part of that person inside him. But I believe that the author chickened out at the end, no doubt worried about horribly scarring numerous young girls around the world, and he lived.

    If you are going to kill a character then don’t chicken out. Give them a good, bloody, send-off that will be memorable to the reader, make their life have meaning and their death an event that will stay in the readers mind. And if girls worldwide are bawling in tears from the loss then you have done your job well.

'The Art of Death' use it well and it will reward you and the reader.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Reflection and Rebirth?

    "The Clown has departed into the shadows. Now it is time for reflection, and to ponder for what shall return. "

    Today seems to be a good time of the year to ponder what has gone before and what is to come, a time of change and rebirth. Currently I am reflecting on the previous few weeks of social networking and wondering what I am doing on the world of the internet, and how I am perceived.

    It seems that I share a similar image to my novel The Last Mask, both apparently about clowning around and possibly being a bit dark and depressing. So our perceived images don’t seem to be attractive to the masses, or the few for that matter. People read the forum posts or watch the trailers, and then slowly edge away, with a nervous smile upon their faces. Even the Goths are scared, and that is depressing.

    I like to think that The Last Mask is an intelligent fantasy that explores our humanity, but I believe that many can’t see beyond the word “Clown” and that some don’t even know what a clown is and isn’t. The novel isn’t all clowns, there are more gypsies in the novel than clowns, but people don’t call it a gypsy novel. Clowns are scary, people keep saying, but the novel isn’t a clown novel if they looked.

    And I ponder why it isn’t selling. It has had a few excellent, genuine reviews from people who have read it all, so I believe it isn’t a rubbish book. Maybe it is too different from what people want to read, maybe it is a path they do not want to tread, or maybe I am just crap at selling it to people. So therefore maybe the problem is with me, the product that is Winterflood is not currently right.

    You try and joke around with people, and genuinely be friendly, but this doesn’t seem to come across. People might just think you are the fool who is always cracking a joke and has nothing serious to say… “Here comes that comedian Winterflood again”. In previous Blogs I have tried to put across serious points in a light hearted way, with the addition of things like goats and agents, but I think it is all getting lost.

    So it is time for a bit of a rethink and to drop the comedy. I am looking at a new website and hopefully through that I can express better the work and the ideas, so I will leave you with a new tag that I think will work well for the Last Mask and indeed for me, and we shall see what returns from the shadows sometime soon... maybe.
    “It is not just about a bunch of clowns.”