Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Con Report

I'm sitting in Chris Fowler and Pat Cadigan's living room in North London watching the evening Sky News reports on the safe landing of the space shuttle, the latest on the bombers and Omar Bakri's flight from England. Pat and I finished with the con yesterday and took a relaxed train ride down the length of England to London.

I'm pleased that so many people are looking at this blog, and I feel a little guilty for not making daily entries, but I couldn't justify the cost. For the first time I felt myself on the other side of the digital divide. I kept feeding the Internet cafe machines one pound coin ($1.80), and that was just to read my email. At home I don't yet have broadband; can't afford it. But dial-up is sufficient for most of my needs. When I do have to down- or upload large files, I simply go to a free wi-fi hotspot, of which we have quite a few. In fact, I'd say there are more free hotspots in Fairbanks than metered ones. Bars and hotels, the public library. The idea is that hotspots are cheap to set up, easy to maintain, and should be used to draw patrons, not fleece them.

Here are a couple photos from the con. I don't have the names of these guys (let me know if you do), but they caught my eye. As far as my own goal of selling my book in the UK, I made some progress, but things are still in flux. I did attend a panel on the globalization of publishing and learned some depressing news. With the consolidation of publishing houses by German and French companies (who own pretty much all of it, including US imprints) and the rise of mega-bookstores, there seems to be no advantage to having a UK agent. That was not the situation when I started writing the book. Also, the rise of Amazon.com and other online booksellers have broken the publisher's control of regional editions and release dates. This means that a popular writer's work has to be released more-or-less simultaneously in US, UK and Australian markets, or impatient readers will buy it online and scotch the regional sales. I'm not so sure this holds true for a midlist or new writer. On the contrary, online sales puts these authors into markets heretofore unavailable to them. The real challenge for a new writer is publicity, now on a global scale.

In other news, my editor, David Hartwell, told me over lunch that as far as Tor is concerned, the point has proven that releasing a free e-version of a book online (as practiced by Cory Doctorow) does not hurt the sales of the printed edition. Whether or not it *helps* sales is still unknown. So Hartwell said that if I want to, I can give my book away online. If enough of you want that, I will. I'll probably dub the rtf file into a Palm format. If there is another format you'd prefer, and if I can get the conversion software free off the net, let me know.


Pat said...

That really was a lovely ride down to London on the train, wasn't it. Whenever I have a choice of plane or train, I take the train.

Hell, I'd take the train from my living room to the kitchen but I can't find the platform...

Mark Siegal said...

I think a free electronic version of your novel is a great idea, since Tor gave you the go-ahead. It's increasingly a sign of trust in your readers. And if nothing else, it's still uncommon enough that it will improve your visibility on blogs; for example, it should get you linked from Cory Doctorow's popular Boing Boing.

If you do, I'd vote for including a plain text version, since that's the most basic and versatile format.

Renelle said...

I'm sticking with the printed version, but an electronic version is a good idea. By the way, the silver guy on the left is a Cyberman from the popular British TV series Doctor Who. The series was revived this year after being off the air for more than 15 years and it.is.fantastic!

Hope all is well. Haven't been able to check in for a few days, so I'm catching up.