Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Keeping Up With The Future of Publishing

A question has been bugging me as I am heading towards publication in the near future myself. How in the world does an author jump into this publishing business, become a best seller, then stay on top for the rest of their life? I fully intend, hope, expect, what ever you want to call it, to be the next Tom Clancy, Frederick Forsythe guy. At least that's what I am aiming for. And as the saying goes:

"It is better to aim for greatness and almost achieve it, than to aim for mediocrity and make it dead on."

Actually I just made up that wording, but I read something like it somewhere.

Basically, I want to make sure I stay in the game once I get on board. But how in the world did the world know to buy and read and buy again those great Military Fiction dudes like Clancy, Forsythe, Griffin, Higgins, et al and keep buying them for years and decades and into the next century. I want to know what the trend is going to be for the future so that I can learn and write in that direction. I do, afterall, have three boys to put through college. The oldest (starting college this fall) plans to be a great business man / musician, the second (class of 2016) an award winning biologist, and the other (class of 2019) a world famous doctor who cures diabetes. I teach them to aim high too.

To reach that goal, I have to make some serious dinero. Which means I have to write and sell some super terrific, spine tingling, brain jolting, keep you up until you've read the whole thing in one sitting, books. And once written get them sold.

As I write this my surprisingly wonderful and hard working agent is busting her tail cross country to achieve that last bit. I can almost taste it. I thought I smelled it earlier, but that was meatloaf & rice with colby-jack and powdered jalapeno sprinkled over it...almost as good, but can't pay my kids college tuition.

Once sold though, I need staying power. The ability to recreate success over and over ad infinitum. In addition to that, I need to be able to guess the next trend in what people want to read and jump on it. Which means I may not always write military/terrorist/espionage thrillers. As it is I have three historical fiction works synoptisized and waiting for the chance to jump on the page. Ken Follet, one of my favourite authors, has manageed to make quite an amazing career writing books that follow no sequence, or series. I hope to do the same as much as inspiration allows. But how to figure out those trends. Hmmmm....

After much long thought and contemplation I decided to work on my time machine a bit over the weekend. It needed some fine tuning. The Fifi experiment was tragic, and quite messy (on the bright side, the dog food bills are not a concern anymore). I think I got it right this time.

Not wanting to risk turning myself inside out or getting my body parts miscellanously reattached, I gave my cousin Leonard ten bucks and a promise of a six pack on his return. Wearing a 60's style blue motorbike helmet with a digital video camera attached he pulled down his clear plastic chemistry lab goggles and I flung him into the vortex to find out what books will be popular over the next fifteen years.

The time machine door opened, and Leonard looked up.

Some huge muscular guy dressed in a full body blue leotard turned around and stared at him.

Leonard stuttered a bit then finally blurted out, "Basil wants to know what kind of books do you guys like in the year 2019?"

To which the guy replied in a thick German accent, "GAAAAAAA!"

Then he punched Leonard in the face and ran away.

A bunch of people in red leotards came chasing after the blue guy. Leonard didn't want to get hit again. He scuttled backwards, tripped over the pilot's seat. His hand smacked the "go" button. The door shut and seconds later he was back in my garage. He stumbled out of the machine, wiping blood from his nose and looked at me with a wild eyed stare then went straight for the six pack.

So the trip did not answer my question in any significant way. Apparently, though, books based on 'Running Man' will not be too popular. So...I guess I'll need to rewrite that manuscript.

As a side note, Leonard downed the whole six pack in one go, without even removing his helmet. I think Leonard may be an alcoholic.
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