Tied-in, Not Tied Down April 28, 2013Posted by bobv451 in awards, business, Star Trek, writing.
Tags: gaming, tie-in, writing
I’ve done a lot of books in a lot of genres and all have their special claim to my writing pleasure. Doing tie-in books is a skill that requires more honing than is immediately obvious. Mostly, tie-in writers “can’t get no respect” as Rodney Dangerfield might have said. This is the reason the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers was formed several years ago.
Tie-ins are more of a committee effort than you might think. The property is owned by some megacorp (usually) wanting to protect not only the written word but the entire franchise, whether it be gaming or TV or movies. As such, everything has to pass through the hands and red pencils of someone charged with maintaining continuity. Even when you are a big fan, writing such novels can be an exercise in banging your head against the wall over (to you) trivial details. When I wrote the Star Trek books I used the word ”chair” and was told in no uncertain terms that there are no chairs aboard the Enterprise, only seats. How I wanted to have a meeting with the “seatperson” presiding!
Those books were tie-ins, but not the kind demanding even more research and head banging. Original novels set in someone else’s universe are one thing (think: Star Trek, Star Wars) but tie-ins also include adaptations. Pleasing everyone (or anyone!) is difficult when something like a video game becomes so popular that every nuance is etched in the players’ minds. Deviate from this in a book and trouble boils up. You have violated a tenet, but the truth is that 100% adherence to what happens in a game would give 100% boring book. They are different and need different treatments. God of War is a thrilling game to play but it is entirely about fighting, solving puzzles and moving on. This isn’t the stuff of a novel. Putting in material not in the game but *implied* to form a background is necessary to build the world, shape the characters and give new dimensions to the story. I think I have done that in both God of War 1 and the recently published God of War 2.
New characters otherwise in the shadows, political intrigue, motivations brought into the spotlight, these are the things a novel can do that a game doesn’t–and shouldn’t. They’re different beasts. Each has its strengths and both are enjoyable.
If you think tie-in writing is somehow inferior, I recommend to you any of the IAMTW Scribe nominees. This is a first rate slate of books for about every genre taste.
The 2013 field will be just as strong.
Triage March 17, 2013Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, fantasy, ideas, money, sci-fi, science fiction, VIPub, writing.
Tags: decisions, fantasy, ideas, sci-fi, science fiction, VIPub, writing
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Ideas are easy, developing them isn’t. Worse, choosing which to work on is even more daunting. I have a row of notebooks filled with ideas accumulated over the years and, as good as some are, I will never try to use them because others are better.
This segment of a Dilbert cartoon seems appropriate.
So how do you choose? Excitement has to be a factor for any writer. All you have in way of capital is time that must be spent properly. An idea that won’t let go of your imagination is a good candidate, but writing and rewriting it in your head isn’t good enough if you want to sell it to a publisher. Think of a Venn diagram of all the ideas you want to write and ideas that are salable. The intersection of the two sets is where you write. That’s not to say any other point in your “what you want to write about” set isn’t worthy. But to sell to an editor, that overlap has to be there.
Otherwise, VIPub (Vertically Integrated Publishing) is the way to go. Do it yourself. Damn the commercial sales, full steam ahead! This opens vistas galore, but the money isn’t likely to be as good (face it, not every book is going to be 50 Shades of Gray, which, depending on your outlook, is a good thing. But I am talking sales, not content.)
So, traditional dead tree publishing requires that overlap in idea/commercial. That eliminates a lot of what is always kicking around in my head. For a year or two I’ve wanted to do a Gormenghast type fantasy but it doesn’t have the feel of something that would sell. But it would be great to write (from my personal standpoint). Likely, it’ll stay on the backburner until a mystery and an sf book, both dancing on tippytoe through my head for years, are done since both strike me as great fun to write and commercial. One way of deciding if an idea is “good enough” is the test of time. Does it endure in your head and even grow? Or do newer ideas supplant?
You’ve got to decide, then stick with it to finish the writing before moving on. Don’t be seduced by the Siren’s lure of a “better” idea or you’ll never see a completed story.
An Elephant Ate My iPhone! March 7, 2013Posted by bobv451 in autographing, business, fantasy, iPhone, writing.
Tags: autographing, cosplay, costumes, fantasy, Renaissance Fair, VIPub
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Not *my* cellphone, but a woman at the Arizona Renaissance Fair had one of the pachyderms reach out, snatch her phone and chomp down on it. Luckily, it wasn’t a blackberry and tasted bad so the elephant spit it out. You don’t get trophies like iPhones with elephant tooth marks at every venue.
That was only one of the stories of the fair. But hitting the rewind button for a second, on March 3 Michael Stackpole and I autographed all day long at Lady Chamberlain’s Book Shop. I don’t know how many years we’ve been doing this but it is several and always fun. This year I went in costume borrowed from Scott and Pat. A picture (and that’s me in the middle, if you get that far–Chantelle stage right, Jami on the left. Thanks, miladies!)
Another odd story of the autographing. A group of five came up, saw that I was autographing God of War and figured I knew everything about mythology. “We can’t get a crossword puzzle clue,” said one. “What god married his sister?” Between Mike and me, we came up with Osiris. I’m not sure this is exhaustive, those gods being such rakes, but the answer satisfied the group. I hope they find a good name for their kid.
In spite of it being cloudy (or I would have suffocated in the heavy velvet pirate coat) I still sunburned a bit. The common areas are watered down in the morning. By afternoon the dirt had turned to fine dust that settled on everything, books and me included. That’s what you get with 17k people walking by.
After sundown and closing. Don Juan (of Don Juan and Miguel) invited us to his birthday party. Always fun seeing the behind the scenes people and how different their real personalities are from the on-stage persona.
Books were sold, fun was had, new people were met, fans spoken to (Taos Hermit and his family stopped by) and I’m already looking forward to next year and doing it again. [For those of you who want books autographed sooner and not in Phoenix, I’ll be autographing here in Albuquerque on March 30, 1-3pm, at Hastings Entertainment, 840 Juan Tabo NE)
The book that garnered the most attention from Ren Fair attendees.
You Don’t Have to Be Crazy, But It Helps February 28, 2013Posted by bobv451 in autographing, awards, business, conventions, e-books, fantasy, VIPub, writing.
Tags: autographing, business, fantasy, god of war, VIPub, writing
Writing can be so strange. Sitting and writing is great, but no much else is required now. A writer is a small corporation, a business doing everything from thinking up the ideas to marketing them (I call this VIPub–Vertically Integrated Publishing).
I’ve spent the past month working on an sf book. It’s done, it’s sent out and when I get the okay, I will let you know all about it and the exciting project surrounding it. Since I spent most of January coughing up my lungs, not as much work got done then as I’d’ve liked. So, two months gone, only one book written so far this year.
Now that it is off to the editor, I had to catch up on other writing chores today. Updated my website. Wrote this blog. My accountant is asking where all my financial stuff is. Yeah, tax season. But then it’s always tax season when you need to file quarterlies and tons of other forms. This morning I went through a half dozen questions–Q&A–for an Writer’s Digest article on tie-in writing. Sent it off. Jeff Mariotte asked if I’d like to join him in an autographing at the end of March. Sure, it’s here in town, 4 miles from my front door and a block from the high school where I graduated, uh, er, a while ago. Looks good to get Ian Tregellis and Steve Gould there, too, plus some western fiction and nf writers. I sent out a bunch of emails and am happy at the response. Struggled with Walgreen’s over my online account, did too many mundane things like laundry and packing and…you get the idea. Not writing things.
I had sent him a copy of GoW1. Here he is with it.
I’ll be autographing this, God of War 2 and Career Guide to Your Job in Hell at the Arizona Renaissance Faire March 3, all day at Lady Ann’s Book Shoppe along with the inimitable Michael Stackpole.
Stop by and see us. If you can’t make it, you can still snag the books here. Huzzah!
Funny, You Don’t Look Phlegmish January 13, 2013Posted by bobv451 in fantasy, VIPub, writing.
Tags: cold, sickness, working through, writing
A monster cold has seized me by the throat (literally) and is shaking me hard. Won’t let go, even after a week. Robot-tusson helps the wicked cough but sleep is done in small stretches. The good thing is that I’ve lost about 10 lbs–it seems I did not really invent a perpetual motion body, one where phlegm is generated, swallowed and powers the body to generate more (factoid: an avg person swallows a qt of phlegm a day. I have been on a Guinness Book of World Records pace for a week now)
Trying to work has been problematic. An hr is as long as I go before collapsing in exhaustion, writhing about on the floor and mewling piteously. Well, not the latter. My voice is about gone. An hr work, 23 in bed. Not a bad gig but one which I have to ramp up because work’s coming at me hard. I completed the comic book project before this hit, but I have an sf book to write ASAP. But physically the stamina to sit and do it isn’t back yet.
I have been proofreading scanned books to prep for ebook posting. Three of 4 in the Jade Demons series are checked for paragraph errors (which abound). I find myself wanting to tinker since these were written 25 years ago and I have changed how I write as much as what I write. Resisting to some extent. These will be ready eventually, but are closer now than they were a couple weeks back.
How much to push myself on writing is a question. Too much and I relapse? Not enough and I fall into the 1/23 schedule? Since I’ve worked over an hr on revamping the website and this blog, it is time to … return to bed to see if I can’t grab a few winks. Maybe this afternoon will see another burst of energy and I can work longer. *coff* *coff*
The Top of the Iceberg January 7, 2013Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, ideas, VIPub, web & computers, writing.
Tags: amazon, business, cloud, computers, profits
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A lot of electrons zip around about how Amazon might really screw VIPub authors by taking a bigger cut of the pie on ebook and CreateSpace sales. A few percent would go a long way toward boosting AMZN revenue, but I don’t think it is going to happen. Why not? Amazon’s business model is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
Giving away razors to get users to buy razor blades is a tried and true method that has migrated to the e-realm, but this isn’t exactly what AMZN does, though it appears to with the Kindle. Frankly, it doesn’t care what VIPub authors do with their books as long as it drives traffic to the site.. Most of AMZN revenue comes from the obvious. Most profit comes from the part of the iceberg we don’t see.
Low-margined items draw in the people, and their rental of this digital platform is where the immensely high margin delivers the $$$. The more who flock to buy, the greater the value of their digital services.
That’s the beginning. AMZN’s Web Services rent capacity to other business (ie Netflix–and over 300 of the S&P 500 companies). Monetizing this excess web service gives a profit margin pretty close to 100%. Breaking even on the sales of physical products is good enough since new sellers flock to use AMZN computers more and more (financing the expansion of the server farms) and cloud services to major corporations costs almost zero extra.
AMZN wants to drive lots and lots of commercial traffic to Amazon.com so it can expand its servers and lease out the excess capacity for big bucks at little or no added cost to AMZN. Hey don’t survive selling widgets (or e-books). They survive in the cloud.
It’s a different business model and is working. Sales drop at AMZN? Doesn’t matter since this revenue doesn’t contribute that much to the profits. What is AWS doing? That is what we should all look at.
So, want to drive more traffic to Amazon? Support VIPub authors? Click here.
Looking Backward Into the Future December 30, 2012Posted by bobv451 in history, nostalgia, sense of wonder, writing.
Tags: 2012, 2013, new year, obits, passing friends
The year 2012 is about finished. Somehow the dark parts are remembered more than the upside, at least for me this year. Jim Young and Mike Montgomery both died unexpectedly, suddenly, both younger than me. Dave Locke’s death wasn’t as unexpected but still a shock.
I can’t help but think back on others who have meant so much to me and the friendship and utter resources of their great minds lost in prior years. Gwynne Spencer was a constant source of ideas and knew more about children’s books than, well, anyone. I was never quite sure how much of the Art Bell-esque stuff she believed or merely played with because of the imaginative challenges afforded in believing in such things. And I still find myself reaching for the phone to call Geo Proctor to get his take on…well, about everything. He never saw the ebook revolution. In a prior century we argued over so many of things that are commonplace today. His marketing expertise and artistic talents are lost–as is his friendship which I so highly valued.
But 2012 saw the deaths of others of note. N Jospeh Woodland, who invented bar codes (and who used to be a gangster). Martin Fleischmann of cold fusion infamy. Georges Lamour invented the paper chef’s hat. Jack Tramiel of Commodore 64 fame. George Rathmann founded Amgen. Jean Giraud (Moebius). There was also Ray Bradbury and Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride. And Airship Ventures, whose bankruptcy takes away a touch of wonder in our world.
The grains of sand run through 2012′s hour glass more like a river than a trickle. I doubt 2013 will be different, but then I am something of a pessimist. Will we see improvement in our lives next year? I think the opposite, but I am willing to be wrong. Entropy has set in to our society and the tides of prosperity ebb.
Leaving you with fond wishes for a better 2103 and this…
Merry Christmas y Feliz Navidad December 24, 2012Posted by bobv451 in Uncategorized.
Tags: Christmas, holidays
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Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas from along the Cenotaph Road. Thanks for being alongside this past year and may we continue for a long time into the future.
Welcome to the New Mayan Long Count December 22, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, End of the World, Free, sci-fi, science fiction, steampunk, VIPub, writing.
Tags: apocalypse, end of the world, free, sale, sci-fi
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Survived the last 5125 and unfortunately the new page on the Mayan calendar doesn’t have any of those frisky Mayan maidens with cavorting jaguars, either. Next time.
For those of you looking forward to the next end times but unsure what to do until then, let me remind you I’m having a super duper post-apocalyptic sale in my store on all sci-fi titles. Only a couple more days so hurry hurry hurry.
Today’s Lio cartoon sums up so much so well so quickly in 2 frames.
Merry Mayan Apocalypse December 20, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, death, End of the World, history, sci-fi, sense of wonder.
Tags: end of world, mass delusion, mayas, science fiction
Tomorrow, as I write this, the 5125 year Long Count Mayan calendar runs out. I personally think their next page with future 5125 years on it was lost. Or maybe got banned because it was a pinup calendar with sexy pictures of jaguars cavorting with Mayan maidens.
I have some fun with this and zombie apocalypses and so on, but too many people (even if it is just one, it is too many) take this seriously. Or at least use it for their own benefits, such as this sex hunt in NY.
Maybe not so bad? Will there be a population spike 9 months from now as after power blackouts? I doubt it. Like so much of this, just people scrambling for their 15 min of fame. (Doesn’t that 15 min come with some sort of inflation COLA? It’s *still* only 15 minutes. Unfair! We need a gummint commission to investigate the lack of increase.)
This hoohaw isn’t something making just occidentals crazy. Orientals can share it, too. China? Yup.
If you believe we’re all doooomed, okay. As I write this, it is Dec 21 in Australia and they are doing just fine. Maybe better than the US but that’s another story entirely.
But if you are looking for some mighty fine reading post-apocalyptic fun, I have discounted sf titles on my store starting on Dec 21 and lasting a few days only.
Wishing you a nice eternity. And a cheery Saturday.