Telling stories around the campfire. Plays and puppet shows. Scrolls. Books. Movies . . .

The only thing that changes is the technology. A the bottom is still an enjoyable story. Or not. Some things do fizzle, after all.

Right now we—both writers and readers—are in the middle of two major changes. Ebooks are roaring along, stealing readers away from the dusty paper things . . . with audiobooks gaining ground fast.

So, once we writers adapt to having our stories out in paper, ebook, and audio . . . what is going to come next?

How will we keep telling the stories in our heads?

I keep thinking about integrating brief movie scenes, like a very high tech picture book. You’re reading along, and suddenly the fight is animated . . .

Is it better than the pictures in the readers head? Will it break immersion and make the reader an observer instead of a participant? Only one way to find out.


And then there’s innovation in marketing.

Well, all right, there’s scrambling around trying to figure out how to connect with the readers who would like your stuff. How do you get enough name recognition to start the sales falling like dominoes?



What mostly works—so far as I can see—is having your books on bookstore shelves, writing a whole bunch, having an active on-line presence, word-of-mouth, and . . . uh . . .

Hmm. This is where we especially need some innovation.

An Indie Book Club?

A distributor who specializes in getting Indie books into book stores?

Or something.

If I knew I’d be rich. Well, making a living as a writer.

In the mean time: talks about a reader survey that probably isn’t terribly useful.

Is a survey worth looking at, whether you write romance or not.

Some writing advice that might help sales:

The One Thing That Will Kill Book Sales Dead—And 10 Ways to Avoid it.

I’d never considered using the Table of Contents as part of the hook, since it is, after all, going to be seen in the “Look Inside” option.

I always just kept it short and basic. But I have to admit that:

Chapter One
St. Mihel Offensive Sept 12-16, 1918

Chapter Two
A Chat With a British Driver

Looks a lot more interesting than just Chapter One, Chapter Two . . . Hmm, I’ll have to think about this.

And think about the innovations that are here, that I’m not taking advantage of, and the ones yet to come.

Which means that as soon as I check out how to make audiobooks, I’ll have to check out state of the art home animation.

Just kill me now!

30 thoughts on “Innovation

  1. A lot of discussion going on about innovation. Now, how many people complain that the book was better then the movie? People are still reading, it’s just a different format. E-books are a new format but they are essentially still being read by eyes on a surface. Paper books won’t go away.
    The key innovation that needs to be focused on is marketing and sales for getting the surface to the eyes. Much thinking needs to be done on this. What worked before may not work now. *wanders off mumbling*

    1. Indie subscriptions? Monthly fee, sign up for three or four authors you like, get a chapter a week/day/whatever delivered to your phone? Chapters from a completed work, with options for ‘send me more!’ and ‘naaaaah’. The frequent updates plus small “bites” might keep the hyper-busy engaged. Just a random notion.

      1. I’ve talked before about some of the Chinese epublishing companies doing this, I think.

        1. Yep. Some serial stories authors have such a massive subscriber list that they’re wealthy in numbers we can only DREAM of. Phone novels. On somewhat more familiar formats, the Japanese web novels, which are very indie, and the more traditionally published serial magazines.

        1. Thanks for the link, as I’ve been wondering how a web serial novel would go online for the English market. I also wondered about the copyrights work on that, since y’know, it’s ‘online’ and all that jazz. Copyright law seems to be a bit different in Japan since it seems that webnovels are very popular there.

          I know that DeviantArt has some people writing out their web novels there, and there’s the Patreon backed ones, but other than say, Patreon and similar I’m not really sure how a webnovel would earn the author money.

          I wonder how popular English webserials are…

          1. On FFN under books Worm has more stories listed than Pern, Young Wizards, Abhorsen, Dark Tower, Diana Wynne Jones. Dragonlance, Inkheart, Hitchiker’s, Valdemar and Dresden Files have more. (I would have thought it had as many as Game of Thrones, but GoT has ten times as many. My expectations were not based on a representative sample.)

            The English web serial authors seem to make their money off donations. One reason I picked Heretical Edge over Worm/Pact/Twig etc is that it is a lot more positive and happy. Another reason it is a good example is the sophistication of the donation system. In addition to additional weekly updates, records are kept of donors, who are consulted as to which side stories they want to see in the additional updates.

            A lot of the English translators of Asian language web serials and ebooks make their money similarly by making the translations open to anyone, and giving extra regular updates in exchange for donations.

  2. Ya know, back when, I happily joined the science fiction book club, and paid… what the heck was it? For a new book on a regular basis. They introduced me to quite a few authors I might never have read, mostly because they were reasonably cheap, the monthly sales blurb made it sound interesting, and I pretty much trusted the brand? An Indie version of that might indeed work out well. Or is that what the 99 cent, preorder this massive set of stories by USA Today volumes that I keep seeing promoted on Bookbub are doing? Maybe that’s the same idea, but I don’t trust their marketing…

    1. It might be. I’ve been unimpressed with the “box set” deals on Kindle, because they are SO DAMN BIG and I don’t usually have an uninterrupted hour or more to read. So going to the other extreme, I’m thinking little hors d’oeurve-sized bits of novel might be tempting.

      (Apropos of the SFBC, I was mightily amused by the time I ordered a Mercedes Lackey omnibus (the one with the angsty gay hero) and got “PIRATE!!! by Fabio” instead. I always hoped the shipping error completed and somebody got an unexpected doorstopper’s worth of angst and talking horses as well.)

      1. Online? Heck, I remember the little cards that you had to send back, or you just bought some new book… I had some of those accidental purchases, too, and it irritated me, but…

  3. I’ve read too many books and seen too many movies or shows where the pictures were better in my head. Even emotion can get lost in translation. I felt like the movie version of The Martian bled all the humor out of it. On the other hand, the Harry Potter movies really captured the look and feel of the books–at least for me. YMMV.

    1. It’s hard to do justice to stories that are heavy on introspection and other purely mental processes. The Martian had a lot of those. I thought they did a reasonable job, but so much of it was in his head, and many times it just doesn’t carry the same effect when the thoughts are verbalized.

  4. Side not on the table of contents: a brief title or description of each chapter makes it easier to find my place, which is important when hubby has borrowed the kindle and is reading the same book …

  5. That romance survey is interesting, particularly read in conjunction with Kris Rusch’s post for this week. The romance survey results: ” are from an online survey, fielded April/May 2014. A sample of 2,000 “romance” book buyers was drawn from Nielsen’s Books and Consumers survey tracker from the previous 6 months (October 2013 through March 2014). The survey is not representative of “offline” populations. ”

    For an on-line population, there are an awful lot of them finding their books and new authors in physical stores. On-line discoveries come in second, which is not surprising. I looked at this information with new eyes, however, because I’d just read Kris Rusch talking about how it’s important not to write off print books.

    It’s all made me really happy I’m finally taking the leap into print on demand. My next book is coming out in both ebook and POD. It’s actually ready for Kindle right now, and waiting on getting the POD version finalized is making me a little crazy, but when you figure you only get 30 to 90 days of Amazon assistance, I’ve finally learned it’s better to put your best foot forward at the beginning of the race.

    1. Yes. This is where a distributor who could get Indie books into books stores would be invaluable. But I don’t know anyone with the knowledge, connections, energy, or start up capital to make a going concern of it.

      And even if, say, Amazon was able to do it . . . How do I get them to feature _my_ books?

      The only way around the Gatekeepers always seems to exclude actual bookstores.

      1. I figure it’s got to be that you satisfy some indie bookstore’s niche. After reading you and Kris Rusch I actually searched on line for bookstores that feature legal fiction since I’ve got one coming out in a couple weeks. Even better would be a bookstore that featured legal science fiction, but that’s not a thing. Except for me. Sigh.

  6. A few years ago I wrote a short story called “Tell Me a Story,” which was about successive generations of parents reading the same bedtime story to their children, and how the technology changes across the generations. It starts with an ordinary paper book, then an e-book read from Daddy’s tablet computer, then holo-projected images of a book, and a mention of the possibility of translating the story into an anime on the fly (although the characters choose not to).

    It was published in a small-press anthology with limited availability. One of these days I’m going to need to take a look at the terms of the contract and see if I can get it up on KDP as an e-book.

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