YES, DEAR READERS, there is an Omnibus coming for The HIDE Series and it is looking bee-u-tee-ful! I’m including one the images that I was considering (but, I’m confirming now, was not chosen) to whet your appetite. But this post is really about the unedited version of the Author’s Note that you’ll find at the front of the Omnibus, which I believe is coming in January. Please note that I scaled it back in the actual Omnibus for a few reasons. First, I didn’t need to bore you with my thoughts on traditional versus indie publishing, though there is much to consider… And second, hell, there doesn’t need to to be a two because boredom is enough reason to clean it up. However, my publisher suggested this full version might make a good post so, let’s get to it!
Two questions came to mind when my wonderful publisher came to me and asked me if I wanted to publish my book, HIDE: 1) Should I publish on the road less recognized in traditional publishing, that of indie/digital publishing? 2) And can I get away with chopping up my book into bite-sized episodes that challenge readers to acknowledge a new format in novel distribution?
At the time the answer was unequivocally, “Oh shit, I’ve never owned a crystal ball, this will never work! I’m a failure and there must be aliens secretly running the planet!” But I soon began to recognize something that my publisher already knew from her seeing my work early on: I write cliffhangers. I live, sleep, and breath cliffhangers. With this story in particular, every chapter ended with a “Holy Moly, how can it get worse for this guy?” It’s a great tool to have as a writer and I’m pretty sure it arrived from my time spent writing television and film scripts. I never made it into the tortured world of communal writing for TV but man if I didn’t write a mother load of scripts trying (truth be told, I think only two TV/film agents have ever read my work and one stopped considering my work after my referral to him left his corral and the second wanted to change my one spec to his idea, to which I walked). But the lesson was received. Start in the middle of the drama and exit raising the stakes like a Shakespearean couplet delivered moments before an epic battle royale. Or murder most foul.
The answers to these two questions have arrived in Doppler effect fashion, only moments after the real answer existed. Traditional, indie, and indie/digital publishing is very much like the train approaching and zooming past; hearing the noise of the event as a rise and fall of commotion existing in afterthought of what’s just happened. Only in traditional publishing it’s more like a train easing by a centimeter (see, I’m hiding my ignorance by using metric measurement) per second. And the din of the act arriving months later. In the case of indie/digital publishing there is more of a real-time feel to the sales of my books. In all honesty, I can get a gauge of what’s happening every single day with my books through the tools provided by digital publishing. Can anyone say Author’s Rank? It’s the game changer because instead of an agent or publisher telling me months after a failed or successful campaign occurred, I can now react to the train that’s just passed and hopefully change my own path before things get worse. Okay, I’ll drop the train analogy, but you get the message. Traditional is slow, indie maybe faster, indie/digital fastest. At least for gauging how the readers are enjoying the story. And that’s everything isn’t it in this tell-me-a-new story-NOW society. The answer is clear, especially after five books (because really nobody has to read past book 1 and if they didn’t, I’d see that and that is clearly not happening): readers enjoy HIDE and the shorter format.
So let’s talk about the shorter format … First, as far as you know that I know, Hugh Howey broke open a wall when he gained success in his shorter format storytelling with WOOL. He proved others wanted to plow through good story of any length. I venture to think the length of episodic television has something to do with our savoring shorter works as well. Heck, society’s been exposed to the short half hour, hour format for what? 50? 60? 70 years? It’s only natural we, at times, prefer our reads in lengths that allow potty breaks every fifteen minutes, right? Okay, maybe we don’t need to make it that short, though I tend to think an action packed story should be able to get to the literal chase within four to seven minute chapters.
So the answer to both my questions I’ve found in just the few months that my books have been available is yes, I can find success committing to indie/digitally publishing. The numbers are already telling me to write a sequel. And YES I can cut up my work into smaller bites because a reader doesn’t discriminate against length when they’re hungry for good story. The only problem I’ve noticed about publishing HIDE to serialized-sized books is that the reader is not used to it in a traditionally published world. I’ve literally (please use Rob Lowe’s Parks and Rec character’s pronunciation of the word literally) had great reviews lowered because the readers said the book was so short and ended on a cliff hanger.
Okay, so why publish an omnibus if things are going well with the HIDE books? Well, HIDE was originally planned as a traditionally-sized novel. At the time I knew nothing about writing shorter fiction… in fact, there were websites I would go to that suggested the length of my type of book is so many thousand words. Serialized fiction wasn’t even on the radar. An omnibus gives the reader a chance to read the whole series back to back and experience it in a traditional way, which is for readers who prefer this. Having now rewritten large sections of the original manuscript for the five book series, I like it shorter. No, LOVE it shorter. It’s like that appointment television series that you still have to see when it actually premieres (yes, that’s still possible in the age of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.). And one last thing, creating an omnibus just makes it cheaper for you, that reader, that I am so fond of (notice, English major snobs, that I just began a sentence with an And and ended in an of. AND the world didn’t end). It’s the reader I value in all of this. Your time, your money, your words of support, sometimes your criticisms… without any of them, I couldn’t do this. Thank you.
Now go enjoy this omnibus version of The HIDE Series, you Knuckleheads!