Second star to the right and straight on till morning …

To mix Peter Pan with the 70s Kung Fu show, the world is changing grasshopper – publishing is changing and we writers are having to make it up as we go along. So, for us it is second start on the right and …

Next weekend I’ll be at Supanova in Sydney. When ever I appear at event like this, people come up to me and ask are you the author of the T’En books? When I say yes, they are delighted to meet me and pull out much battered copies of the T’En books for me to sign. (Since I wrote the book under a slightly different name, I find this amazing). What makes it even more amazing is that the original trilogy came out 10 years ago, yet they remember and are excited to hear about the new trilogy.

They complain that they can’t get the books or that they never found the last book, which sold out, then my publisher dropped me and didn’t reprint. (Who makes these decisions?). I have the rights back so I’ve been tossing up whether to release the original trilogy as e-books and sell through my website to tie in with the release of the new trilogy next year, The Outcast Chronicles.

Because I have a background in graphic art, I get all excited by the idea of updating the covers to something more like the new trilogy. I know I’d spend far too much on them and I’d really just be doing it for the sake of playing with the artwork. I do miss that.

But in all seriousness, writers have to ask themselves, can I make my back list work for me? Now that we have web sites and blogs we can reach readers, plus we can get distribution through Amazon and Smashwords. We can become our own publishers, at least with reprints of back lists.

You may have already seen this. It’s is an interesting conversation between Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath on self publishing, e-books etc. (Warning, it is a bit blokey).  Barry Eisler is the guy who turned down half a million from his publisher to self publish and he makes a convincing argument.

As part of my (timid) exploration of e-books, I’m giving away a couple of little e-books on my web site. These are two short stories that were Highly Commended in World Best anthologies.

On a slightly different tack, I’ve started writing the new King Rolen’s King trilogy. It’s funny, it is like meeting up with old friends. I know the world. I know the people. They’ve grown since the first trilogy and become more interesting as they’ve matured. It feels quite natural to plunge into their lives again.

Do you like coming back to worlds you’ve written and characters you know, and picking up the narrative reins or do you prefer branchingout into entirely new worlds and characters?

9 Comments

Filed under The Outcast Chronicles. King Rolen's Kin, works in progress

9 responses to “Second star to the right and straight on till morning …

  1. I love going back into my files and finding old stuff. Some awful, some promising, nothing ready for prime time, but there are some good idea stuffed back in there.

    The good thing about it all being unpublished is that I can fix it. The bad part about it not being published is that I’ll try to fix it, instead of going on and doing new stuff. ;)

    I really ought to get out the file on the girl who was raised by space aliens. Wasn’t someone talking about the need for YA Space Opera?

    • That’s the other thing. There is so much luck involved in getting published. It is matter of having stories/books ready, and keeping your eyes open. As soon as you hear of a market opening up, a publisher wanting YA stuff, then you pounce and send your work out. You have to hit the right editor at the right time with the right story to sell.

      It is really the scatter gun approach because a perfectly good story can take 5 tries to sell and there was nothing wrong with it at the start. It was just not what the editor was looking for at that moment.

      As they say in Galaxy Quest – Never give up, Never Surrender!

  2. Kate Paulk

    Um. “Yes”?

    Going back to old friends and characters is fun, exploring new places and new characters is fun, too. I couldn’t say which one I preferred – although I will admit to having a whole bunch of starts that sputtered and fizzled out somewhere because I got distracted by the latest “ooh shiny!”.

    • I must admit the new shiny stuff does attract me. Knowing I have a deadline to get something done is a great motivator.

      Setting goals to enter competitions or submit to an anthology is a great way to focus that creative energy.

      Having said that, we should allow ourselves time to play.

  3. Chris L

    There is a danger in loving a world too much.

    I don’t know how many people have told me to read the ‘Wheel of Time’ series. But when I think about the sheer number of words I would have to look at (and I do look at the words, each and every one), it feels like an impossible quest.

  4. I’m a bit both ways with old characters / stories / worlds. There are some that I’d love to hang out with again, but I have about 4 strong, well developed (and in some cases half written) ideas for new stuff that I’m desperate to get around to as well.

    Now that I’ve offered my book for free on the net (www.scottjrobinson.com) and have gotten a few takers I feel obliged to finish the next two books in the series though. Book 2 is all but complete but I only have 4 chapters of book 3 (the 1st 2 and the last 2) so I have to get working.