The New Publishing Model

Last week, I requested that you download a FREE copy  of my latest novel. First, a big Thank You to those who did and, if you have not yet, please consider doing so. 

Kingfisher: Slave To Honor – Free Novel by Alon Shalev

Given that many of my audience read Young Adult material, I should have pointed out that this was definitely written for adults. I apologize to those who were offended and thank you for reaching out and sharing in such a constructive way.

I have also received questions about why this company and how they work. Inkitt, the publishing house, does not work like a traditional publishing house. The staff are young tech people, who are not looking for a story that resonates with a particular staff member, rather they judge a book’s potential using a complex set of algorithms.

business stats

They are interested in how long it takes to download a book, how quickly you start to read it, how far you get, and what review you give. They ask questions about what price you would be willing to pay and other analytics that I am unaware of.  

As the author, I have my own analytics page, where they show me  much of what I mention above. I can see how many chapters have being read, how many copies are downloaded, and the reviews are public. I have a bar which shows the progress in terms of data they have collected that will enable them to make a decision. I am about one-third of the way there (so please feel free to help – download, read, review).

I find the process fascinating. In the 15 years that I have been writing, I have reached out to agents, imagined the groaning “slush pile” table in a New York office (I know it is mainly electronic now and hear the trees sigh with relief). I imagine agents and publishers dining in Manhattan over power lunches, and so much more.

'Oh yes we're very proud of him. He's in publishing you know!'

While this might be the romance of the industry that agents and publishers want to perpetuate, I suspect the reality is closer to what Inkitt is doing. There are sharp business people poring over industry projections and statistics, who truly make the decision, and it is not because they fell in love with the novel’s protagonist.  

The publishing industry has been forced by the change in market to hunker down and avoid risk. Their behaviors, I suspect, are more akin to other profit-driven companies, and they use the emerging technologies to help them make strong decisions.

In a sense, this is what new companies like Inkitt are doing, the difference being that as part of the generation who grew up in the technology age, they see no shame in embracing it publicly. 

It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Thank you, as always for your support, Please help me stay in the game – download, read, and review.

Thank you,

Alon

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ALON SHALEV
At The Walls Of Galbrieth, Wycaan Master Book 1, 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner – YA Category.

Learn more about the Wycaan Master series at http://www.alonshalev.com/

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World-Building: How Much Detail?

I’ve noticed a number of adult reviewers of my Wycaan Master series have been critical of my world-building, suggesting that I do not go deep enough or that the books are too fast-paced and that more description of scenery and environment would help to pace the book.

There seems a definite age issue here. I asked a number of my sons’ friends (ages 10-16) who have read the book and they did not agree. In fact, the younger readers were happy to describe to me the fortress of Galbrieth from Book 1, and mighty Hothengold, the dwarf capital, which is situated in a huge cavern. Admittedly, each child described it differently, but I am not sure that matters.

Girl Browsing Books at the Library

It seems there is a certain richness in each (young) reader’s imagination forming their own world, but why do adult readers not want to exercise their minds in such a way? Why does the generation of instant gratification seem willing to work their imagination muscles, while those who always had to work hard to discover anything, do not? In an earlier blog post – The Art of World Building – which I wrote at the beginning of my epic fantasy writing journey – I assumed that it would be exactly the opposite.

I suspect age is not always a factor. The adult who is often challenged to find reading time, wants to push the plot along, something my books are complimented for, and not spend a chapter describing every tree in Mirkwood. Ironically, when the same readers lost themselves in Tolkien’s Middle Earth decades ago, they had more free time to meander with the master.

Over the summer, I have indulged myself in writing an adult fantasy novel, a Game of Thrones wannabe, and I will soon shelve it to focus on editing Book 4 and writing Book 5 – the cycle never ends. But I realize I have been no more generous with my world building than for the Wycaan Master series.

Airship10

So my question to you, dear readers: How much detail of the environment is needed for a YA in comparison to an adult fantasy novel? Is there enough world-building in the Wycaan Master series? Please feel free to leave your feedback in the comments section below. I really appreciate every comment.

Talking of feedback: I have been reading a number of books about Amazon.com and how to improve your ranking and exposure. I really need reviews on both At The Walls Of Galbrieth and The First Decree, on both the US and UK sites. Apparently less than 3% of readers leave reviews and I admit, until I began writing, I was one of the 97%. But now from the other side of the fence, I would really appreciate that if you have read either book, please take five minutes and leave a review.

It will be a huge help to a struggling author and if ever we meet in Odessiya, the next round of ale will be on me!

hobbits in pub

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, Wycaan Master Book 1 and The First Decree, both released by Tourmaline Books. Ashbar – Book 3 – is due for release in October 2013. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).

What’s With The Pipe?

When you write epic fantasy, you have the privilege sit before a blank page (well screen nowadays). You make up all the rules. If you want these creatures to have different colored skin, pointed ears, horns, or magic, go for it. If you want to have unicorns, dragons, or any creature you make up, it is your right.

So what’s with the pipe? I know, Tolkien smoked, but he strode around Oxford in tweed, talking languages no one else remembers. In fact, there are a lot of characteristics about the master that we can adopt.

I think the secret lies with those who puff. I used to smoke a pipe for several years, seeing it as a compromise, a halfway house between smoking cigarettes and not. I loved my pipe. I craved the taste, loved the touch of the warm bowl, and enjoyed packing the pipe correctly, even cleaning it. All day, I looked forward to that time when I could put my feet up and puff the worries of the world away. 

I succeeded in giving up cigarettes for the pipe, but giving up the pipe proved tougher than I could imagine. This is not an article about smoking cessation, but even eight years later, if someone passed by me with his briar, or even is sitting a hundred feet away (given the correct wind), I will smell it, yearn for it, crave it for the rest of the day …  maybe for the rest of my life.

Perhaps this is why we continue to give our characters an opportunity that we are denying ourselves. Are we being foolish? Indulgent? 

I recently read a scene to my writer’s group in which, shortly after a bloody fight, the characters (those who survived) sat down and puffed their pipes. A colleague questioned me having my characters smoking in a YA novel. 

Fair point, I thought, until I realized that she had not objected to me exposing my tender, young readers to battle, killing, blood and gore.

I guess that one man’s poison is…well poison is poison. I shall have to sit and think about this. Now where’s my pi–.

Why do you think pipe smoking is a mainstay in fantasy novels?

Good reading.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He has written three epic fantasy novels and the first reached the Quarter Finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award as of March 2012. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (@elfwriter).