Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thoughts: Self-Publishing and Social Media

Okay, I'm gonna step out from the big spangly curtain, like the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz, and speak directly to you, dear reader. 

Incidentally, I'm sitting on a beanbag chair as I write this. Drinking a cup of coffee. Seriously, it's just me, no pretensions. In fact, I'm still wearing my Batman - The Dark Knight, pyjamas. That's how real we're being here. No writer, just an average mug. Oh yeah, and the windows open so my cape is fluttering, ever, so, slightly. 

Anyway, I have realized, recently, that despite having a computer and being on it - or my ipad - much of the time I am still pretty 'out of it' when it comes to social media! I know it can be used somehow to develop and promote How To Lose Your Voice Without Screaming - THE GREATEST NOVEL OF ALL TIME!, and can make all of us incredibly famous. (That's what the articles seem to suggest.) However, I look at all the 'buttons' on the pages of Twitter, Facebook etc get dizzy and start hearing the fridge calling me, in that sexy voice,

"Hey, Low Blood Sugar Guy!"

So, the thought is this. Recently, as I've been getting closer to completing How To Lose Your Voice Without Screaming I've been considering the idea of self-publishing, not just excerpts from the novel, but the whole thing as an ebook via Amazon etc. In the past, I've thought that that might be risky, that in the rush to get the novel out I could miss a couple of crucial steps - like working with experienced editors who understand the writing and can really get behind it - and as a result I could publish something that really wasn't ready to be out there. Consequently, I've been thinking of ways of getting  readers to contribute brilliant constructive criticism to help should I take this route. Over the past months I have received excellent comments sent to me personally - comments or ideas ranging from punctuation issues to thoughts on Kingsley, Zeak the Sheik and Doctor Flees. These comments have been very, very helpful, and welcome! Until I began to receive them I really wasn't sure if anyone was reading the work. Then I realized I actually do have a readership, however small, when I discovered the page on blogger that shows how many hits I've been receiving... (In the last few months I've had over fifteen hundred views of many pages. Thank you, seriously...crazy ex-girlfriend?) But, how do I get you who are reading this to share your brilliant ideas on the blog? And to not pull any punches. Your comments might inspire others to share their thoughts, which in turn might get more people to enter the conversation. This would help me become aware of what is or is not working in the novel - i.e. That the BIG SECRET that holds the story together, creates all that magical tension, and gets revealed at the end in a super mind-blowing way, is, actually, painfully obvious to everyone who reads it right from page one - and also remind me of how terrible a speller I am. (Thanks daad!)

So, it occurred to me that I could release the finished first draft, chapter by chapter, and use reader comments to create a much stronger second draft. Instead of relying on the two-person story department of a small publishing house - that works out of the back office of a pet shop - who might help form the novel with some fictional reader in mind, I could get comments from actual readers. And so, the changes I might make would be scientifically tailored by/for the very people that would actually read How To Lose Your Voice Without Screaming... (And, also, would all seven of you mind each purchasing 200, 000 copies?) Is this crazy? It seems to make sense. But, again, how do I use social media to get these readers to share their thoughts?  Please comment...

We would like to gratefully acknowledge the assistance provided by 
The Ivan Von Noshrilgram FoundationThiruvananthapuram, India.