Saturday, January 28, 2012

Next Steps

Here's what's next for Life Artificial.

I've signed an agreement with Paul Witcover, a successful author and editor, among other things. Check out his book Tumbling After on Amazon. We are set to begin the editing and revising process within a couple of months, after Paul wraps up some current projects. In the meantime, he sent me a preliminary edit of the introductory section in Part One, where Sevens walks brazenly out the city gates into the Outs. Paul's comments and insights led me to a significantly better (in my opinion) re-write of that section. I'm about half-way going through Part One, fixing errors of all types, and trying to improve clarity. When that's finished I will post it on the site with a new edition number (the little e2.0 just under the cover graphic).

We plan to proceed through each part in turn. I welcome any suggestions for improvement from anyone reading this. For more perspective on how books get made, you might be interested to read Charles Stross's essay "How Books are Made," found on his blog. Stross is the author of some serious sci-fi, like Halting State as well as wickedly clever lighter fare like The Atrocity Archives. Anyone who's ever worked in a corporate environment will appreciate his portrayal of the HR department as an antagonist.  You may have noticed my coda on that theme in Part Two, when Calli describes the Deyati experiments.

Anyway, if you read the Stross essay, you'll see that  Life Artificial is currently a manuscript. Once it's been professionally edited and fixed up, we can call it a finished work. My current plans are to offer it as an ebook on Amazon for $.99US or $1.99US (thoughts?). I plan to keep the licensing the same, so no one is actually obligated to buy the book.

If I went through a traditional publishing house, a hardcover might sell for $20 a copy, of which I'd make maybe $2. In return I'd get the marketing and distribution power of the publisher, but lose certain rights too. But beyond the economic factors, self-publishing and retaining control is very attractive to me. The reality of the Internet is that anything that can be reproduced digitally can be gotten for free if you're willing to work hard enough to find it. It seems smart to me to be the single best provider of that (free) content, with pointers to the (cheap) ebook version at Amazon. Being able to download in ebook format and read on a Kindle is a somewhat better experience than reading off a computer, and I hope that a large fraction of readers are willing to spring for buck or two to upgrade. If I can at least pay for the editing cost, I'll be happy. This is not a money-making enterprise for me.

Some of the changes betwixt manuscript and finished work will probably include tweaking some character names. One particular name that I got stuck with is "Lisa/86," whose character grew into something different from my original conception. Given her cultural heritage, the name doesn't make much sense. If you have suggestions on this or any other matters like plot continuity, questions about the world that might help flesh it out, character development, or anything else, please email me or leave a comment. I've thought about the idea of including some artwork. Thoughts on that? If there's an artificial intelligence out there reading this, I'd particularly like to hear from you. :-)

As to the future of the Life Artificial world, I have several projects in mind. There is a work called Canman referenced in Nova's Continuation that actually exists. I wrote it years ago, and it has some back story clues, like where 'vorking' came from, and who the Preacher is. I would have to work hard to get this particular (novella-length) manuscript in shape. What I'd rather do is write a shortish piece to fill in the story of Jumbo and Nova. One of the restrictions of the "log file" medium I've chosen is that I can't randomly pop into other points of view if Calli couldn't reasonably be ghosting that person. So a novella that fills in what happened after Nova's Continuation seems logical, and would be fun to write. I won't speculate about other possibilities that would be spoilers for the plot, but they exist too. I'm not sure if anyone will want to read it, but I intend to keep writing about this whirl for a while.

I really appreciate the readers who've made it this far with me. Your occasional notes and comments (positive or negative) keep me going. That and the characters themselves, who sometimes keep me awake at night with their conversations in my head...

Best wishes to all,



  1. Awesome, can't wait for an ebook version! One suggestion: please don't restrict yourself to just Amazon. While Kindle does have the largest portion of the market share, they are by no means the only reader in town. By only publishing the ebook version on Amazon (and by extension, only publishing on the Kindle), you cut out a significant portion of people willing to give you money for your book (me include).

    DRM-free ePub would be awesome.

  2. Thanks for the comment. Yes, I shall have to figure out all the ebook formats. My experiments with an epub converter were frustrating, which is why that's not an option on the site. I'll have to do some more research when the edits are done. As far as I'm concerned, it's not a 'derivative work' to merely change format from html to epub, so readers can do it themselves for now if they are interested enough (if so, send it to me and I'll put it up for others to download).

  3. I agree with id. While I currently have the books on my kindle as auto-conversion from PDF, I would perceive restricting to amazon formats as a limitation.
    And yes, electronic publication all the way! :)

    You could also consider placing a button next to the download. A good number of people use that system to support creativity by means of a flatrate for culture: as a consumer, you pay a fixed monthly amount into the system, and all your button clicks forward an equal share of your budget to the recipient.

  4. Relet, thanks for the suggestions. I didn't know about flattr. I'll set up an account this weekend.