The Birth of “Confessions of a Digital Novelist”

Hello and welcome to my new blog, Confessions of a Digital Novelist (CoaDN for short). Now you may be asking the most important question that anyone wishing to create a blog should ask themselves.

Why?

Why on earth would you start a new blog when there already 800 gajillion blogs already out there? What would you talk about when everything under the sun is already discussed ad nauseum in cyberspace?

Well, to understand why I chosen to create a new blog, you will have to understand a little bit about my current situation. For the better part of a decade, the exact duration escapes me, I have worked on my debut novel, Evermore: Call of the Nocturne. After ten years following first conception, it is finished and I am extremely happy with the result. It is complex, fast-paced, and exciting. It conceives of a world that is unique to literature, fills the world with fascinating characters, and lets them explore themes and issues that work on multiple levels. It is far and away the best work that I have ever done or ever will do. It is my masterpiece.

And it will never be published.

You see, once I had finished the manuscript, and trudged through eight revisions of the text. I sent it out to every publisher I could think of.

And nobody wanted to publish it.

For you see, I had failed to understand that you need three things to get published: You need Talent, You need Marketability, and You need Luck.

Now, I am talented and Evermore: Call of the Nocturne shows that. However, when I decided to write it, I was focused on creating the best novel that I was capable of. I, for the most part, ignored marketability. Whereas marketable novels align themselves into genres, I blurred them. Whereas marketable novels utilize tropes, I dissected them. Whereas marketable novels tell the same stories over and over again, I subverted them. In the process, I created a terrific novel but it is a novel that would only appeal to very small number of people.

And as for luck, I have never had much success with luck.

Also working against me was the consequences of the revolution that is the Personal Computer. The invention of the personal computer, and the rise of scores of software designed to help write the novel that you’ve always had inside, the number of prospective authors has exploded over the last twenty years. At the same time, the number of books available to the public as remained the same or in some cases decreased over the last twenty year as books have been forced to compete with more interactive forms of story-telling such as video games. Thus whereas thousands of authors had been competing for tens of millions of readers, now millions of authors were competing for the same number of readers. The result has been that the odds of getting published have gone from difficult to astronomical, akin to winning the lottery.

Now you can’t blame the publishers for this, although many frustrated writers do. The publishers are in difficult battle for survival. They don’t have the luxury of giving new authors a chance, although some do. They need books that they know will sell. They need books that are safe and already have a dedicated reader base. Hence the transition from pure-writers to platform-based writers, that is from writers who have only ever written fiction like Philip K. Dick to writers who have built up an audience base either through journalism, film production, or reality TV like Lauren Conrad. This is coupled with the fact that the publishers’ “slush pile” has grown from thousands of new novels a year to millions of new novels a year. To sneak through this clogged grate, when everyone else is trying to do the same requires not just talent, but an act of god. There is simply only so much space for authors under the traditional publishing model.

And so, my options exhausted, I saw the futility in continuing my efforts to get my work published. Then one day, I rode a bus in Ottawa and saw a curious sight. Three separate individuals were reading books …. on their iPhones. Three of them, on a single bus. Thus arose my curiousity, so I bought an iPhone, went home, and began to read the ancient classics that were available for free on Stanza.

I was blown away. The reading experience was much better than I expected. The small page sizes kept me actively engaged in the story as I flipped quickly from page to page. Instead of losing my place, Stanza remembered it for me. Rather than lying awkwardly down with a book, reading in bed and in the dark become comfortable and soothing. To my surprise, I enjoyed reading on the iPhone far more than I’ve ever enjoyed read a book.

What my fateful trip on the bus demonstrated was that the iPhone had created an entirely new market of readers whose demand could be met without going through a traditional publisher.

It was at that moment that I made a decision. Rather than let my novel, a work that I had spent a third of my life writing, go to waste, I might as well try to sell it to consumers directly through their iPhones.

Once I examined the technology available and decided to give this crazy idea a shot, I also came to the realization that my journey from manuscript to direct download might make an interesting tale to follow in a blog.

Rather than write about videogames or movies or music, ground well-covered by millions, I could write about something unique. I could write about something very few people were experiencing.

Thus Confessions of a Digital Novelist was born.

Over the next year, I will write about my experiences, my trials and tribulations, in taking my manuscript and turning it into a professional product available in the palm of your hand. As I proceed, I will talk about my strategies, the technologies that I use, and the steps that I will follow. I hope that by doing so, I will create a community around digital publishing and tread a pathway that others will follow.

Publishing is entering a period of transition. Much like music and movies before it, digital publishing will transform our industry in ways that we are only beginning to understand. Through this blog, I hope that you will join me in exploring this undiscovered country. I hope that you will follow my Confessions of a Digital Novelist.

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