FULL BLEED: FOR THE BLOOD ON WHICH WE DINE
Well, that was a week. For those of you tuning in after last week's rampaging parade of fun, I was at a crossroads with the work I've done for the last couple of years, basically the duration of the pandemic. And, honestly, it felt like a coin flip between it getting published and everything collapsing in on itself. I pretty much swore to get to the bottom of things on it, which I did yesterday.
Good news is the last two books I wrote will indeed come out from the publisher to which they're contracted. So they'll be out there. Maybe this year for the first one, though I can see it moving to next year and that wouldn't be the end of the world. The next would follow about a year after that one. So let's take a deep breath and enjoy a moment of relief. It's nice to have things settled.
Of course, now comes the fun times of selling a follow-up book. Or a sequel. Whatever you want to call it. Which you figure shouldn't be too hard, right? People are used to series fiction. Hell, everything is series fiction these days. Okay, an exaggeration, but there's a lot of series fiction out now. Look at most of the original stuff on Netflix. Miniseries. Collections of miniseries strung together to make even bigger narratives. And if you missed the first one, well, you can watch it any old time.
Or if you missed the first book you can pick it up real cheap as an ebook now (or even just mostly cheap - but that's a discussion for another time.) Scarcity is gone (unless you demand the paper book, in which case, you better be dialed in and pre-ordering because folks aren't overprinting; it's too expensive to do that and then to warehouse backstock.) But catching up on books is easy. Really easy.
So imagine my puzzlement when I'm being told by folks who market books and more or less control audience segments saying to me "Yeah, we're not going to promote that because it's a series." Never mind that when I write a book in a series, I deliver a whole book with a beginning, a middle and even an end. Are there going to be more stories after that? Sure. But you don't gotta read them. And, believe it or not, I give you enough information about what happened before to make sense of what happens. But I'm not going to dump it all on you like a chunk of worldbuilding.
So yeah, people don't like series books. Okay, sure. Go tell that to, uh, every single book that's in a series, which at a quick glance I'd guess is nearly half the books being offered in genre. Yes, less in horror as a rule (but then horror authors aren't afraid to have a book end with the end of everything or just the end of that character). But to say "no series books," I just have to step back and shake my head. And no, it's not just straight up marketing companies, but when I go looking around at blogs (yes they still exist) and websites that cover genre fiction. Which is baffling.
And I'm sure these folks will happily cover installment X of whatever big series is going around. So, maybe the problem isn't that they don't cover series, but something else. I will say that nothing succeeds like success. Which is to say that if the first book in a series takes off that getting coverage for the second one is going to be a cinch. So what I'm hearing is not exactly the same thing. And, honestly, I'd rather hear "we don't want to cover this book" instead of a ridiculous statement like "we don't do series coverage."
Anyways, that's my fault for writing books that share a setting and characters, I guess. Perhaps people will be interested in _Asphalt Tongues_ which is all standalone stories. But something tells me that even that won't flip the trick. It might just be that success is the thing that breeds success.
Look, I get it. Prestige TV writing has ruined the idea of series-based entertainment for a lot of folks. Eight episodes of content with four episodes of story and lots of rumination in-between. Nobody likes that. It's just become a form. And then you get to the end of the book with a TO BE CONTINUED and fuck that. That's bullshit. But it's profitable bullshit. For someone. I've refused to play that game and still will.
Hell, I'm planning out the second _Hazeland_ trilogy of books and the challenge is to make each one satisfying and one that you can walk away from but also have things feed into one another. I try to make it easy to catch up on what's going on, but not whack you over the head with it. But I repeat myself.
Just amazingly frustrating to start in on marketing a book you're really proud of and just have it NOPEd off the table. It's fine. It's whatever. It sucks. Maybe I'll offer some enamel pins or some other promo kipple that people will pick up and forget. Whatever. I didn't get into this to sell junk and t-shirts, but to sell books. To offer readers an experience. To make things that weren't dead.
And it's entirely likely that my next non-_Hazeland_ project will be a gothic/weird/SF in a far-future setting. So now I get to buckle up and put my worldbuilding philosophy into practice. Which of course means I have to write up the RPG background and then bury it, figuring out how to reveal it in turns and not paragraphs of cruft, how to make it all organically flow. But that means not only figuring out what things are, but how people use and abuse them, what systems of knowledge and mythology are built up around them. And cosmology. And a sense of history, but not swarming in details that really don't matter. Gotta make things sticky like fishhooks, not overwhelming.
But at least I know which direction things are headed in now. Which is better than drifting.