A few years ago, when Twitter and I were just met and I was looking to make new writing friends and contacts, I noticed Scott Sigler (@scottsigler) engaged in wild intercourse with J.C. Hutchins (@jchutchins ) (and by this I mean Tweets, you filthy degenerates). Shortly after, I was tapped by J.C. to be all warm and friended and join the family.
Scott, I knew and knew from his time promoting EarthCore at my old forum, The Overlook (God, we’re getting old) and general amiable e-mails back and forth. I figured if J.C. was cool with Scott, he was cool with me.
And he was.
I get lots of friend requests from writers, and one never knows if it’s the brand come calling or the individual, and in this case it was definitely both. J.C. is the kind of guy you like seeing in your morning Tweet Stream. His greetings of “Welcome up!” and “Amplify your Bliss” are that extra shot of caffeine I need in the morning to get me moving. They aren’t quite enough to get me to work on time, but I’m sure with everything else he’s got going on, he’s working hard on that, too.
When St. Martin’s Griffin picked up 7th Son: Descent for publication, I was thrilled. Science Fiction isn’t my regular cup of tea, but I can appreciate a compelling story with solid writing, and 7th Son: Descent had that in spades. I love it when a writer lands a publisher that not only believes in the work, but believes in the fans that drive the creator. I subscribed to the 7th Son: Descent podcast and could not get enough. Being a poor public speaker myself, I marveled at the characterizations and narration. Anyone that can read without stumbling over words like a drunk over carpet snakes earns a special place on my Respect Altar.
So it was with a heavy heart that I read his Farewell to Mics post this morning. St. Martin’s Griffin would not be publishing the 7th Son sequels, as book sales of the original simply did not bring the returns they were expecting. Consequently, J.C. would also not be moving forward with other serialized projects. I feel partially responsible for this. I enjoyed promoting 7th Son: Descent and I’ve been commited to Brinkvale for Personal Effects: Dark Arts.
What I don’t have are the hard copies of those books.
I’m not a paper book person. The stories that I “read” are either digital for my Sony Reader or in audio format. My one-bedroom apartment just hasn’t the space, and my husband already puts up with the Mt. Aplaca and the Silk and Woolen Range in the corner of the living room. I don’t do free podcasts as a way to not pay the creator and I don’t skirt paper books to stick it to the man. Mine is a decision based in logic and marital harmony. I didn’t not drop a few shekels in the jar not because I wasn’t persuaded, only that it just didn’t occur to me.
I have a subscription to Audible and I buy digital whenever I can. Anyone who knows my obsession with Stephen King knows that I have all of his novels in hardback (that collection was grandfathered in before nuptials 14 years ago) most of the in digital, and about 2/3 of them in audio. A different format for every occasion, you could say. I’ve never held a Neil Gaiman paper novel, but he’s read Coraline and the Graveyard Book and the stories of Fragile Magic to me. I have Anansi Boys in digital, but it was Lenny Henry’s voice that made it tangible in its entirety on my solo drive to Minneapolis last spring. Good books make me do that. Great authors make me not even think twice.
I’m 37 years old, and I do <3 the new media. As a writer and I’m always looking for ways to promote and be read. I have a digital short story sampler available for free download because I see the merit in offering a taste, and I’ve been a blessed participant in the Nightmare Fuel Podcasts because I love the concept. I can also see how it would be possible to lose your shirt getting out the word.
I know a good product when I hear it. While general data may suggest that people are unwilling to pay for podcasts, I can’t believe that a good podcast by a fantastic writer can’t generate revenue. Much like people can pay for a song on iTunes and then later complete album I think, podcast fiction can go the same route. Is there a model in place for that?
Regardless, should there come a time where J.C. decides the stars have aligned to release your other projects as Podcasts – give me a price, and I’ll probably have to get in line just to sign up. He is that good.
As your final moment of zen, J.C concludes
“When folks ask me for writerly advice, I usually reply with two words: Writers write. What I rarely say, but absolutely believe, is that writers should be paid for what they write.”
Folks – support your wordsmiths – they take you places and whisper delights, be they dark or romantic, into your ear, and you go back for more time and again. We cannot do it for free, nor should we be expected to. We have families to feed and car payments to make and landlords and banks that care not a whit how many words we pounded out last night if the check doesn’t clear. In order for some of us to continue to thrill you, delight you, throw you down a dark well, we need you wrap us in greenbacks, feed us your first born, and shower us with the change in your pockets.
But just hand us the quarters. Those kinda sting.
I look forward to more from J.C., and I hope it’s soon.