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Multiple Personalities

November 20, 2012

I’ve been working on a bunch of stuff, everything in fact other than the MS of LTP.   I haven’t been working and I’ve been taking this opportunity to write as much as possible – the thing is, it’s got to be writing that I can put up on Kindle that will pay me as much as possible, as soon as possible.  Which means writing for the market, or what is far more likely to be a lucrative market than I can expect for LTP. 

Well, not exactly writing “for the market,” with no other goal.  If I wanted to do that, I’d be adding to the seemingly endless plethora of “True Blood” fanfic (shifter romances are where the money’s at right now, it appears) rather than trying to do something both new and within the parameters of “saleable.” 

So I’m nearly done with a NaNoWriMo project, which involved digging up my dark fantasy idea, “The Lion and the Scorpion.”  I’ve been studying successful ebook writers carefully, and I’ve decided to emulate one in particular.  Hugh Howey is the now-very-prosperous author of the “Wool” series of SF stories.  Long story short, he published the first one at .99 and moved on to something else.  As he said in a Wired interview, his idea was to write a serial, the idea being that if it caught on, he’d stay with it – if not, you should forget about it and move on to the next thing.  Well, it caught on.

On its own, the story blew up, gathering rave reviews and a massive fan base.  So he wrote five more, and the omnibus edition of the first five made the NYT ebook bestseller list a few weeks ago. 

That’s my plan for L&S – the 50,000 words or so the first episode will weigh in at will go up for .99, and if it takes off, the story will continue for at least five episodes I can visualize in my head already.  Each episode will have some kind of climactic conclusion so it feels like a satisfying story in itself, but each opens the door to the next, just like the old movie serials, and the whole makes for a complete novel which would compose a “stand alone fantasy novel.”  Also, like an old movie serial, there’s lots of killin’ and very little Sitting At Tables Strategizing In the King’s Council blah blah blah.  If the story takes a dump and doesn’t sell, move on.  If it does, put more and more time and energy into it.  I love the story, feel personally involved in it now, but I also have to recognize that I AM POOR, and my energy for now has to has to has to go where it will pay financial dividends. 

I’m also working on a more playful story, “Come Dark O’Clock.”  Yeah, it’s a “paranormal romance,” but it’s got original ideas and characters, not derivatives from other people’s work.  It’s a gay paranormal romance, so there goes 90% of the audience, but that’s life.  Suffice it to say that “Sol” a.k.a. Solomon is a writer who meets a demon named Rob Sabat, an anagram for Barbatos, one of the demons the original King Solomon allegedly mastered.  Rob’s been enslaved by a hundred-year-old curse that keeps him off the Earth from March to November, thanks to DST (the idea being that magical laws can be appended to human law with the right wizardry).  Since there are no sorcerers left alive any more, Rob’s goal is to seduce Sol, because that’s what demons do, in order to make Sol into a sorcerer so he can free him – a creative writer already being half sorcerer anyway, and of course he turns out to be a descendent of the original King Solomon so he’s got bitchin’ powers over demons of various stripes not all of whom are as hot as Rob or deserve to be unchained from the various spells that have kept them in check all these centuries.  Of course even demons can love, so complications ensue.  Again, a story that can become a series, if it sells.

Here’s the problem.  The Rule of Law is that as a writer, you are supposed to do one thing, over and over again.  You are a dark fantasy writer, or you are a “serious novelist,” or you write gay paranormal romance, and that is all you do.  So the curse I dwell under is that if I were to publish all three of these ideas, LTP, L&S and Dark O’Clock, under “Orland Outland,” I’d be screwed.  The weight of my gay backlist, for instance, would kill the dark fantasy.  It would end up mixed in with other “gaybooksforgaypeople” on Amazon results, and wouldn’t reach its audience.  I might be able to do Dark O’Clock that way, but I’m not sure. 

So for L&S, I need a pseudonym, but here’s the next problem.  Ebook marketing is a bitch and a half.  You need an author website.  A Goodreads author page.  A Facebook page.  Et cetera, for each “identity.”  And I could end up putting more time and effort into managing those separate web pages, fan bases, identities, than I would have time left to put into actual writing. 

So the goal is to create a “transparent pseudonym.”  One that will fool Amazon’s software into forgetting that I’m pigeonholed in Gayistan, but for which I won’t, can’t, attempt to create a whole nother online identity.  So the author info will say, “X Xist is the pseudonym for Orland Outland.  His page is”  Period. 

This minimizes the risk of alienating fantasy readers who would look at my gay frippery from my backlist page, which would come up on the Amazon page in the “Readers Also Bought” and “Readers also looked at” sections and say, oh I see, and turn away, because X Xist won’t be linked to Orland Outland, not directly.  But I believe, not just because I have to believe, that readers are smarter than algorithms, and that as long as I don’t chain my cyberselves together in the software, my one self can continue to stay integrated and field all the fans for all the work I do.  I am strange, unusual, I do write in different genres and I think I’m good at it and I like them all.  I can’t expect that fans of one flavor will cross over to another, but I’m not going to lose precious writing time trying to fool all of the people all of the time.


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