Category Archives: publishing

To Publish, or Not to Publish, That is the Rub…

back cover art for Panthology artwork by Jack KnightHaving spent quite a few months working on the Panthology it’s time to ask myself: what’s next? I’m happy to get back to reading and writing in my collaborative novels at Pan Historia, but ultimately I thrive on goals and projects that can yield tangible achievements. Writing on Pan is the most pleasurable form of exercise I know, but I still consider it exercise. It’s social, it’s fun, it’s interactive, but the end of the day it’s building things that last that I enjoy the most. Tinkering with the structure of Pan is something that gives me great satisfaction and joy as I strive to increase membership and participation by increasing the ease and functionality of the site. Of course I’m only a tinkerer when it comes to site construction but I believe that Pan reflects its users to a large degree. It’s not so much about bells and whistles and high tech apps, but about being a comfortable place to express one’s imagination. Writers just need to write, ultimately.

Perhaps that explains my mild obsession with publishing Pan Press books? I mean the logical conclusion of a writer’s work is to be published. It’s as old as the hills—or as old illuminated manuscripts anyway. To be published is to be real, genuine, accepted, legitimate. Technically it’s considered a form of publishing to post material, such as this blog, on the internet for others to read, but both you and I know it’s not what WE mean, as authors, when we say we are “published.” Even when we boast, as I have done, of my status as a “published” author deep down in my heart I want that book with pages of vellum, binding, rabbit skin glue, and black ink. This is probably why authors, as a group, are the most resistant to the idea of eBooks. It’s not quite… printed… is it? Of course it is, and I would be thrilled to be selling millions of copies of my novel in eBook format, but that will never cure my schoolboy crush on the first object of my desire: the book; either paperback or hardback.

So what is next? Besides going back to work on my own novel, a supernatural/horror adventure, I think I will prepare one of my collaborative novels, FLESH, from Pan for publication. Like the Panthology it will be a collection of writers, but this time we will bring the whole stories. It will be a challenge to edit the pieces together in order to tell each story (it will be a collection of about 4-5 stories set in a post-apocalyptic world where a virus has turned people into zombie-like killing machines). Zombies are hot items, and some of the stories are really very good with some great writers from the site. This is a piece that I feel has merit beyond the site, and can engage a larger audience of readers from hardcore zombie fans to general horror lovers. I would love to see if I can expand beyond members of the community and engage the interest of other readers for our publications. If it’s even mildly successful it opens the door for any number of such projects for any number of genres represented at Pan.

Illustration by Jack Knight


Panthology

cover art for PanthologyI’ve been gone from the blogosphere a long time. Life got a wee bit hectic (marriages, moves, family, and much much more!). But here is the most interesting (for my bloggie buddies) reason for my absence:

I have been compiling, editing, and designing Panthology: A Celebration of Ten Years of Pan Historia. I’m really proud of this second volume of Pan’s creativity. We published The Pan Historia Birthday Book in 2004, and the second anthology has been long overdue, but how wonderful to be celebrating ten full creative years online as a collaborative writing community.

Here is my preface to the piece (and I hope it whets your appetite):

Trying to explain to bemused friends what I spend so much time doing online is a challenge mostly likely ending in mystification whether they are writers or users of social networks.

Media is increasingly filled with alarm calls that the internet is destroying our minds, our children, and our ability to interact with one another. Few people dare to challenge that notion. People apologize for spending time on their computers. Studies (skewed to the bias of the researchers no doubt) show that we are all increasingly unhappy, particularly when seated at our computers.

I cannot address these concerns except to counter with my personal experience, and then present the evidence to you with this anthology of one community’s creative soul. There is at least one place on the internet where the mind is stimulated, the soul is fed, the imagination set free, and people find genuine warmth and community: Pan Historia.

The stories and excerpts that follow are eloquent testimony to that assertion. Every day for ten years I have logged into Pan eager to see what the day will bring: forays into outer space aboard a derelict spaceship; a gunfight in a dusty silver boom town; romance in medieval times; blood feuds between faery races; fan fiction; good conversation; a new recipe for the best chocolate cake; battles with slugs and snails in the garden. The possibilities are endless, and in ten years, always changing.

It is not just the writing, but the companions that you take with you along the way. Read the story “Farewell My Heart” on page 499 by KhemumRa Hatshepsut to fully discover how imagination, fiction, and reality intersect. This heartfelt piece was the end of a long
collaboration between good friends, both at Pan and in real life, due to the death of one of the writers, Meritites. “Farewell My Heart” is a tribute, an ending – a perfect example of how deeply a community like Pan can touch people’s lives.

In Clio’s blog entries: “Musings” on page 497, the writer chronicles for her friends at Pan, one of the most grueling and painful experiences of her life – because she trusts us.

Behind most of these stories is another, true life, story. Marriages have been made, friendships have grown, children have been named in honor of Pan friendships and associations, and people have found solace for their real life afflictions and troubles. Young writers have literally grown up on Pan, maturing into seasoned adults. I could write a whole book about the incredible interactions I have experienced with my friends in this community. I have been moved to tears on more than one occasion when someone has confided in me how much the site has meant to them, and how it has helped ease them through a difficult period in their life.

There is so much to Pan Historia that one anthology cannot possibly encompass it all. When the Publishers were faced with the daunting task of choosing pieces for this collection it was simply impossible to include all the great stories, writers, and friends, that have graced our virtual world in the last ten years. We simply had to do the best we could. Hopefully we captured enough to give a window into our soul. At Pan Historia we don’t just write the stories, we live them.


Progress on The Pan Historia Birthday Book

Work has commenced, as promised on the second Pan Historiapanphoenix-72dpi Birthday Book. The title needs a little explaining. Pan Historia is a community for collaborative and role-play writing, as well as history buffs, and a place for people with a whimsical or literary sense of fun to hang out and make friends. It’s like a non-stop costume party (which is why October is such a popular month with our members and writers). We first went live around May 2000 and were in beta forever (it seemed at the time) due to a some what rocky start and no capital investment. Our first collection of work by our writers and artists was prepared and published in time for our 3rd Panniversary (yes, we do awful plays on words at Pan) – which is held every February because our official launch date was Valentine’s Day, 2001. I think. Record keeping is not my strong suit. I forget my own name sometimes as well.

Hence the anthology was named “The Pan Historia Birthday Book” with every intention of creating a new collection each and every February. This turned out to be a laughably ambitious concept. Shortly after the publication of the first book we had a major server crash that ripped the site apart, and it took many months of hard work to re-establish trust and fun as usual. I cannot stress how amazing our members were throughout that whole ordeal. Our second effort which was to be a cookbook: it died before delivery. After that it just seemed like the idea was to be shoved to the back burner every year.

This time, however, determination has returned, and the small press world has radically altered. Back in 2004 I had to order several boxes of books, and we never did sell every copy. This time print on demand has developed to the degree that I don’t have to take that kind of risk again. By affiliating myself with another small press I’m planning to open the work of our talented writers and artists to a wider audience and have the book available on Amazon. It should be exciting to see how our labor of love and fun does in the ‘real’ world. I have pushed the publication date to prior to December in order to take advantage of Christmas sales, but I might be too ambitious. There is a lot of work still to be done.

The deadline for entries to be included in the book closes tomorrow. After that we’ll be judging the entries so that we have the best and the book isn’t the size of Lord of the Rings. Following that is the process of editing. Thankfully we have a number of people qualified to edit who are members of the site. All in all this is a terrific project with great potential, and I can’t think of many other writing sites that give their members an opportunity to be published.


Announcing the Pan Press Project

guildimagePlans are moving ahead for the re-launch of the Pan Press as a division of a small publishing house. We had our first business meeting to discussion the structure of the operation. We have a couple designers ready and primed. My idea is to start with some of the best of the best of Pan Historia for the long overdue second Pan Birthday Book.

The Pan Birthday Book was published in 2004 as an anthology of all the various writing that could be found on the collaborative community’s forums. It included sections from the role-play novels as well as essays from the reference book section, poetry, and in addition some great original artwork from some of our more graphically inclined members. It was sold solely on the site to the membership of Pan. It was a great fundraiser for the site and a great snapshot of where we were then.

It’s five years later and I want to take our second Birthday Book just a little further. First of all it will be available via Amazon and other online booksellers and give our authors and artists a bigger potential audience. Because of my desire to showcase our creativity beyond our ‘borders’ I plan to run a contest for the entries with specific guidelines. The entries should be short stories that can stand alone for the pleasure of the reader. They can be collaboratively worked, based on storylines from the established novels at Pan, but tailored for inclusion in an anthology that might be read by people that have never visited Pan Historia.

If the second Birthday Book goes as planned I will start work on published versions of several of our collaborative novels, and hopefully members of the community will join in to create a shelf of work that can be treasured forever. The potential is limitless. Imagine being able to take your favorite online novel with you to the beach next summer? Imagine running your fingers over the pages of a novel you helped to write? I know I can’t wait to see my first edition of my original fantasy story The Midnight People or my zombie horror collaborative FLESH And yes, I plan ebook versions if possible.


I Love the Smell of Paper Pulp in the Morning…

I think about it sometimes. How would I feel if my work was published in an eBook format? I mean it’s publication right? It’s getting my stuff out there? So what that it’s electronic? After all most of my work appears on the internet as pixels vibrating on your computer monitor, exactly as it is happening right now as you read this blog, so how would it be different? And yet it is. @mikecane is a huge advocate of eBooks and he’s got me convinced that I need to invest in a reader – but still something more emotional and archaic tugs at my heartstrings when I think about myself as a published author.

I want to hold a book in my hands. I want the smell of paper, possibly the stain of ink on the pads of my finger. If I could have it I would want rag paper with watermarks and a stitched binding with a nice sturdy hardcover and fancy dust jacket. On the cover itself it would be nice if there was embossing, say in that beautiful glossy ink, or maybe in gold. Remember that scene in American Psycho where Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) shows off his business card only to be outdone by his rival? Here was something so low-tech in a high powered high tech environment but the touch of the rag card, the subtle embossing, the texture of the raised text with the right depth of ink…

Ok, I admit it. I could get worked up over a paperbound edition of my work way more than I could over a virtual facsimile downloadable from Amazon.com. So while I would get very excited to see big fat royalties checks because my novel was selling in the thousands across the world, I would miss it if it were not also sitting on my book shelf. Just ask @fannyfae has she feels about ‘real’ books as opposed to eBooks.

With all this in mind I hope to relaunch Pan Press by the end of the year – creating beautiful editions, print on demand, of work by collaborative and solo writers from the Pan Historia community. Of course I will be looking into the option of eBook versions, I believe that most people, myself included, will want a copy of their own book on their bookshelf. While I appreciate that much of the sales of such volumes will be to friends and families, it’s not inconceivable that full length novels and anthologies of completed works could garner wider appeal – who knows? We may one day produce a best seller. There is certainly enough talent on the site.


Published Wyatt

The world of publishing is changing day by day. Even though we have yet to reach the point when it will be completely passĂ© and an act of sheer hubris to have a book in print on paper from trees there are still some incredible developments in how we think about being writers. While the majority of people are still buying their books at Amazon (though this now includes e-books) and Barnes and Nobles many writers are experimenting with self-publishing, small houses, and e-books. I’m fairly new to thinking about the world of publishing in any but the conventional sense. The author in my family went the route of all traditional writers – getting the agent, getting the book deal with the traditional publishers, book rights, movie deals, and so forth. That is until the misfortunes of the publishing world started to catch up with them and their last book remained under the bed for years. At some point they seized the opportunity to publish and promote on their own, which then led to a brand new agent and a brand new book deal, movie rights, and the whole circus show started up again. Once again this author, who just wants to write, not being a publisher and marketer, is caught up in the turgid state of the current publishing climate with all the hurdles and handicaps that entails. Of course the check is bigger when it comes, if it comes.

I have always been humble in their face of their success and chilled by their obstacles. I had decided to take up the option of self-publishing in the event I ever finish my book. In the mean time, for the last ten years or more, I have been writing my collaborative fiction with a group of fun writers online at my community site. You know the links if you have been reading this blog at all. My thought this morning was to realize that in my own fashion I have very much been a published author for the last ten years – even if my writing has not appeared in any kind of traditional format. Right now I’m reposting (with small edits) a number of my stories at my fiction blog, publishing them in a new location, as it were, and hoping for a wider audience, but the fact is that I have been publishing them online for years, and have been fortunate to have a small but very loyal following. I don’t have royalty checks but I have always considered my writing to be part of what I do to make my collaborative fiction and role play community an attractive place for writers and readers to participate in.

It’s a fun and invigorating realization – removing some of my self-esteem issues. That I prefer, for the larger part, to write collaboratively should not be something to hide or denigrate. It’s a powerful new form of literary expression and I’m very proud to be part of the early history of such storytelling. Vive le Internet!