10/30/2009

Playing around with online publishing ideas

I'm thinking of trying a small publishing experiment when I have the time. First, some background.

About twenty years ago, a fellow author, member of the Glasgow SF Writer's Circle (from whence came myself, Hal Duncan, William King and Michael Cobley amongst others) and one-time contributor to Interzone known as Fergus Bannon wrote a pretty decent sf thriller called Judgment.

He sent it off to a couple of agents or publishers, got it sent back, then shelved it forever. He hasn't written anything since. There's nothing wrong with his writing - he'd been published, as I say, in Interzone, and I think had one or two stories in a couple of other places, including a reprint of that Interzone story in the Shipbuilding paperback anthology our writer's circle put out for the Glasgow '95 worldcon.

Eventually I asked to read it some years back and really, really liked it. It turned out one reason he'd given up trying to push it was that much of the story - in his eyes - was dependent on the politics of the late Eighties. He had the bad luck to write a very near-future thriller only a year or two before the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. Then Mandela was freed from prison, and the international political climate underwent some severe shifts away from the background of his story.

After reading it sometime in the early 00's I felt that it wouldn't take much work to rejig it to get past some of the more out of date references, and with his prompting that's exactly what I did a few years back. Then I got busy with my own writing for Tor and had to put it down for a while. I was driven by the feeling that if Ferg's book never got read by anyone else, it would be a terrible shame.

Since then, however, ebooks have come up in the world in a big way and now I'm beginning to think it's time to actually do something with the damn thing. Professional publishing deals are out of the question, because it's a one-off by nature: Fergus isn't likely to do any more fiction writing. But I need to give it one more go-over edit-wise to incorporate some comments, and then I'm going to think about putting it up under his name on ebook sites like Smashwords.

The only real problem I see is that I can't see myself having much time to spend on promoting it or persuading people to read it, let alone let them know it even exists: it may be that about ten people will download it in total and that's it. And since the aim here isn't necessarily to actually make a profit, the best way to do things as I see it is a combination of a)selling it at a low, low price, based on online recommendations on various ebook-related forums: b)simultaneously give it away for free: and c) trying to persuade various other bloggers to mention it on their own sites if at all humanly possible.

At some point soon-ish, I'll post the first chapter up here. Any other thoughts on a suitable plan of attack?
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