How Many Authors Does it take to Break Everything?
It doesn’t seem like it’s possible that the Apocalypse Weird world had it’s sneak peek launch only about ten days ago. A lot of things have happened in the last ten days, and frankly we couldn’t be more pleased with the reception our new weird world has received. Apocalypse Weird is something that’s never been done before in digital publishing, and as more and more details leak out, people are just starting to get a real glimpse into some of what we have planned. The tip of the iceberg. And people know one thing for sure… it is big. Really big. I’ve been besieged with questions and positive comments about the whole AW concept, and the more people learn about the world, the more they like it. Since the Red King – the first book in the first AW world – debuted on the day after Thanksgiving, we’ve been inundated with positive reviews, blog and podcast interview requests, and… more. In addition to fans and readers messaging us to tell us how excited they are about the AW world, a whole bunch of authors are contacting us too. Authors who are fired up about the project and who are now wondering how they might get involved.
A world this big needs a lot of writers, that’s a fact. Wonderment Media is publishing 5 full novels on the first big launch day (Feb. 23, 2015) and we’ll be launching two books a month after that. Every month. That’s a lot of books, and even if we doubled that we don’t think we could keep up with the demand for books in the Apocalypse Weird world. What does this mean for you? Well if you’re a reader, this means you aren’t going to be waiting long for your favorite author or storyline or arc to feed you more reading goodness. We realize that readers can read faster than their favorite authors can write. So we’re going to be launching dozens of wonderfully strange apocalyptic arcs within the same world, and many of your favorite authors will be writing multi-book series within their own region of the AW world. And though each arc will stand on its own, and every region will have its own canon, all of the world will be tied together by some brilliant and fun elements that reward those who want to dig deeper “crossworld” within AW.
What does this mean if you are a writer? Well, as my friend AW Creative Director Nick Cole has said, it means there may be a golden ticket out there for some of you. We’re coming up with some fantastic ways to get more authors involved, and for some of you this could be a ticket to write your own novel in the Apocalypse Weird world. There are several ways for this to happen.
FEW ARE CHOSEN
Listen, like in every endeavor that is worthwhile, getting the golden ticket is a long shot. And we’re still creating some new ways where anyone and everyone can write stories in an AW world, but we are actually looking for a few great authors to fill out our 2015 roster. And like in everything else we’re doing at Wonderment, we’re learning from our Indie experiences and we’re being highly creative in order to get as many authors as we can involved in the project. Because the whole reason we started AW was to do something that had never been done before, and use that to open the door for more authors to make money and succeed with their writing careers. You see, we’re Indies too. All three of us have a lot of experience publishing books as Indies. We know that its hard to break out and get noticed. We know that in addition to all the intrinsic difficulties in finding an audience and being successful, there are also sharks everywhere. People and companies that want you to pay them to “help” your writing career. The maxim that money should always flow TO the writer, and not from the writer, is still a hard lesson for many Indies to learn. So we designed this company as a bunch of Indies who wanted to try to do everything right. To avoid all the stuff the mainstream pubs do wrong, and to remain a reader and author focused business. So our job is to satisfy readers, and help authors.
So we’ve set up what we think is an innovative tier system to help get authors involved. And in every tier, NO AUTHOR WILL EVER PAY US A DIME TO GET PUBLISHED. For our tier one and two writers, we pay for production, covers, editing, marketing, and promotion. The authors earn royalties. They never pay us a dime, and why should they? And out tier three system is basically just an organized way to license fan fiction, again – the author never pays a dime – and through it we will be selecting deserving authors to give tier one and tier two contracts to write in the AW world. These designations have nothing to do with the quality, talent, or “fame” of the authors. Those tiers merely describe HOW the author will be writing in the AW world. Our tier 1 authors are merely the first ones to create and define a particular region of the world. For example, Nick Cole is writing his arc in Southern California, so he is our tier 1 author there. He will be the first to define the canon in that region, and any new authors writing in SoCal (and we hope there will be many of them) will be creating their world based on the canon set up by the first writer. They are not lesser artists, they are just not the first ones defining that region. Likewise, tier 3 authors are authors who are not contracted to write in the AW world, but who are either big fans who want to express their art by writing in one of the AW worlds, OR, they want to get our attention so that perhaps they can be chosen to write in AW as a tier one or tier two writer.
It’s actually very simple. And we’re just getting started. We’re actually building the back office system, the software, and the process that is making this all work. And listen, we’re probably going to be publishing between 25 and 30 books in 2015 if all goes well. The good news is that this means that we’ll be helping a lot of writers. The other reality is that it means we’re already halfway there… we’ve already contracted for 14 or 15 novels. And many of our authors are writing multi-book arcs, so that means we’re realistically looking to sign 10 or fewer more authors for 2015. That’s a lot… and that isn’t many. We can’t just open the door to full submissions, but we can listen to your pitches. And we’re going to do our best to give as many people a shot as we tactically can.
So here is how it will work. There are three ways you could conceivably write a story or book in the AW world…
1. Tier 1… we are going to continue to develop apocalyptic regions around the world. But tier one openings are slim. We’ll be selecting tier 1 authors on a few basis… we want to see a pitch from you. A four sentence pitch is all we want. We’re not taking full submissions or full plot pitches right now. We want you to have read The Red King (and as some of the other big launch books come available, we’ll be selecting some authors to pre-read ARC copies of other world books as well), and we want you to craft your very best pitch. As we’ve said, there will be a very limited number of these spaces available. Tier 3 writers who write fanfic pieces through our partnership with ThirdScribe.com will be more likely to be picked for tier 1 contracts than just about anyone else. But do send us your pitches if you are interested. At the end of this article, I’ll give you some hints and advice on what to do with your pitch and what we’d like to see.
2. Tier 2… there will be many more tier 2 positions available, and tier 2 writers will get the same author-centric contracts as tier 1 authors. MOST people who pitch us directly are going to be advised to utilize the tier 3 way to get in the door. But tier two people have a clearer road to the finish line. Tier 2 authors will be writing novels in regions already established by tier one authors. This does not mean it has to be fanfic, or that it has to directly relate to the other author’s arc. It just means you’ll be sharing a region with work that has come before, and that means you’ll need to be familiar with the canon set down in the world. If the previous author has established that an aircraft carrier from the Pacific has somehow landed in a corn field in Iowa, and your story crosses that path, there needs to be some acknowledgement of what went before. You get it. You’ll be writing in a world that exists. BUT, it is much more likely that we’ll accept your pitch and sign you up if you are shooting for a tier 2 spot. In order to give us a legitimate tier 2 pitch, you’ll need to have read the book or books that have been written in your region.
3. Tier 3… there are only so many books that we can publish in our first year. And we all know that it is tough to get a publisher’s attention with a four sentence pitch. For most authors, we’d like you to consider writing a fanfic piece in the AW world. It can be anything you want it to be. It can be a novel or a short story. Then, based on how much attention your story gets, and how good it is, we’ll be recruiting directly out of the ThirdScribe fanfic stories. Using our own criteria, we’ll be watching how fans react to your stories, and we’ll read them and if we like them and choose them, we’ll be offering contracts for tier 1 or tier 2 authors directly. I know that my career really took off when I began writing fanfic, and some of my fanfic is the best stuff I’ve ever written. And it got me a lot of attention. And that is why we’re building in a fanfic element in AW from the very beginning. We want to encourage and support authors in every way we can, and as Indies, we know what it takes to get some attention and how hard it is to get started. So we’re taking everything we learned, to lay out a road map for other authors to succeed as well.
SO… we’re open for pitches, but know that the probabilities lie more with those who come to us through the tier 3 and tier 2 route. And it is most likely that if you pitch us directly, we’re going to funnel you into the other ways to get our attention. We’re only going to be signing another 10 or so more authors in 2015, but more people could get picked if they come through the tier 2 or 3 route.
If you are going to pitch us… here is what we want…
You can send your FOUR SENTENCE elevator pitch to me here through my ThirdScribe blog page (just click on my big logo face up in the top right of this page, then click on “private message,” or email me. Do not expect a reply for a week or so. You can also message our Editor Ellen Campbell as well. Be patient with us. We’re building the system as we go, and we’re likely to make mistakes and maybe not react as quickly as we’d like. As Nick said, it is a golden ticket… so…
Ok, also please include a paragraph with your publishing history, noting anything important you’d like us to consider. It would behoove you to mention any big benefits you can bring to the table, like platform size, email list, etc.
If you have a specific region or world arc you are interested in, please note that as well. I know that at the beginning it’ll be hard to know since we’ve only published one book, but give us any information you can about what you’d like to do… and if you are willing to be flexible about the region or arc in which you’ll write.
This is an adventure, and when you’re doing something no one has ever done before, it can be daunting and challenging. We’re having fun though, and we hope — whether you are a reader, a writer, or both — that you will come along on the ride with us.
***The Tier 3 system and process is being developed by Wonderment along with ThirdScribe.com. That utility will be available soon, hopefully by our big launch on Feb. 23rd.***