Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Novel Experiment

This is for FANS of my published books, not just those who thought the books were "okay". I'm talking to the folks who would say they loved them and really care whether or not a third book happens. I probably caught the majority on Facebook, but just in case I missed one, I'm posting here as well.

I wrote those first two novels all alone, with very little encouragement during the writing process. I didn't even TELL anyone I was writing the first one until it was done. That was fine when I had the naïve illusion that someday the books would be on bookstore shelves and flocks of people would BUY them and I'd make money or I'd see hundreds of wonderful reviews on Amazon or something awesome in the NY Times or Publisher's Weekly or whatever. Reality has shattered that illusion. It doesn't work that way and now I know that. My books haven't sold enough to even pay back my publisher for setup costs, earn out my advance and start making any kind of regular royalties. So we can nix monetary incentive. There has to be something else.

I am getting that "something else" with fanfiction (see Why? Part 1 for a detailed explanation on that if you're interested). I am feeling my current ideas wind down in fanfiction and thinking about shifting to writing the sequel to Nor Iron Bars a Cage. However, writing original fiction can't compete unless I can find a different way to do it. Yes, I know several people have told me, "Please write it. I'll buy it" or "I can't wait" etc. Call me insecure or needy or whatever, but I need more than that. What I need is to somehow make writing an original novel feel more like the way I have been doing fanfiction: with constant, steady encouragement instead of the silence and overwhelming feeling that I am wasting my time and bashing my head against a wall.

My fanfiction has received over 54,000 hits in a space of less than two years (See Milestones for more on that), and over 1100 positive comments. That has kept me going. I have written over HALF A MILLION words in that short space of time. Why? Because after every chapter, I knew that I could expect anywhere from 5-12 positive "reviews" within 48 hours. And those comments would absolutely make my day and give me the motivation to write more. After all, I knew if I wrote more words, I got more rewards. It's like a drug and I admit I am addicted.

So is there a way I can duplicate that kind of process? I need to find people who liked the first two books and see if any would be willing to provide what I need. I'm thinking of going to FictionPress.com where I could post my novel chapter by chapter in a password-protected website where people could read each chapter as it is finished. I would probably post about 3000-5000 words per week. This site will send the readers an email every time I post, count hits and keep stats for me, and archive all reviews/comments. It also has a handy private messaging system, so I can easily reply to reviews.

If you'd be interested, you'd agree to write comments about what you liked in a particular chapter so I could glean encouragement. The comments do NOT have to be terribly long or detailed. Most of my fanfic reviews were about 3 sentences. Samples of what I am looking for can be found at Fanfiction.net. They are listed in reverse chronological order, so the ones on the first page are for the end of the story, which means some of them are longer than normal. Try some of the middle chapters for a more representative view.

Reasons NOT to volunteer:

1. You hate to read things spread out. You prefer to have the whole book in your hands so you can sit down and read it in a marathon of twelve hours or in a few days. It will probably take me 4-6 months to write this book. It will NOT be instant gratification.
2. You don't think you would have the time once a week to read a chapter and come up with a comment.
3. You don't think you could keep it mostly positive. I am NOT looking for critique in this stage. Yes, if you see typos or glaring errors, I'd want to hear about them (you changed a minor character's name in mid-chapter, you forgot character X was in city Y and you inexplicably had him turn up in city Z, etc) BUT, until the whole draft is out, I really would not want a lot of negatives. You could save them and give them to me later, if you want. (Note: You would not be required to review every single chapter and always gush. I am hoping to have enough people volunteer that the bases would be covered for the occasional skip.)
4. You don't feel you could perform this service without compensation. You would be getting to read it for FREE, but it won't be in finished and polished final form and you would have to give back some time and thought. You may feel like I'd be exploiting you to reap your constant encouragement without pay.

Reasons it could be to your advantage:

1. You would be in a very select group of people who got to read it FIRST. You would see each chapter immediately after I finish it, possibly a YEAR or more ahead of anyone else.
2. You would be in a position to critique later, in the next stage, if you so wished. I will take volunteers for crit partners from THIS group first and only go outside this group to others if there is not enough interest from the "fan" group.
3. You would have input on what things are "good parts" that I should keep and what is not so good and should maybe be cut. Thus, you might help shape the finished story.
4. If you really do want to see Latoph Book 3 happen, this is the way to do something that will help. I cannot write in a dark closet anymore. I've had a taste of writing with encouragement and I can't go back. I NEED this or it just won't happen.

If you're interested and I haven't scared you away yet, then here's how to proceed:

1. Go to FictionPress and use the link at top right that says "SIGN UP". They will ask for your email address. Use something that you check often (preferably every day). You do NOT have to make this public. The site needs it to mail you an authorization for the next step. They just want people who are going to play nice and not spam the members. You will also pick a screen name which they call "pen name" and choose a password. You can make your pen name your real name or you can be cryptic and mysterious and not tell anyone who you are. By the way, my pen name there is CF Vici.

2. Click the link in the Activiation Email sent by FictionPress. You MAY, if you like, fill out a profile with as much or as little information as you wish to share. Click on MY PROFILE (and login if necessary). There is a picture of the double suns-set from the cover of the first book as my avatar. Right under my pen name (CF Vici), click "SUBSCRIBE". FictionPress will send you an email every time I post a new chapter. Make sure your inbox can accept email from bot@fictionpress.com. The mails will always say [FP Author Alert] in the subject line.

If the site gives you problems, please comment here or email me (my addy is provided on the profile at FictionPress or my Blogger profile here) and I'll help with the site or work something else out with you. Oh, and don't expect the first chapter immediately. I have to wrap up some loose ends on my fanfiction thread and get psyched up to write Latoph 3. I'm thinking somewhere about June 15-25 is a good time to expect a first chapter.


  1. I'm signed up. I had to "search" your name to find you, but it all seemed to go smoothly.
    If this works, I may have to try it myself. :)

  2. Thanks for signing up, Robynn. One thing for sure, it's a bit of accountability. If I'm slacking off, people will know. That hasn't been a problem with fanfic, but it was a problem in the past with original, so maybe this will cure me. Or maybe I will just have an audience to watch me crash and burn. LOL