Monday, January 5, 2009

ozymandias: more publishing co-op

For those who are new, welcome. Four weeks ago, I rather quixotically launched a co-operative publishing initiative. Lots of people have since been drinking the Kool-Aid *g*.

It started with I Have a Dream, wandered to Talk is Cheap, and Next Steps, and a Deadline, then to Publishing Permaculture. For those who want to see everything in one place, I've pasted the entire thing, in chronological order, into a .doc file, available here. Feel free to download and print, upload to your Kindle, or whatever your preferred mode might be. This document is where you'll find all the wild ideas, and the preliminary guidelines, and the hard rules.

For now, it's time to vote.

Here's how it works. Below I've listed all the ideas suggested. Some were repeated with slight variations, so I left those out, and have mostly tried to list in parentheses the name of whoever suggested it first. If you find an idea intriguing, but wish there was more info, go read that .doc file; there probably is more. Note: I've also listed as a choice "I don't think we've found the right project, yet," because perhaps we simply don't yet have the idea that will set the world--or us, the ones doing the work--on fire.

Each idea is numbered. You vote by posting a comment to this post stating which idea is your A choice, which B, and which C. An A choice get 3 points, a B gets 2, and a C gets 1. Like this:

A = 18
B = 27
C = 28

Vote only once. Vote for 1-3 things. I'll keep a running total here on this post. Feel free to explain your voting thoughts, if you like, and/or to comment on others' votes and/or reasons. Or not. But please put your vote at the begining of your comment so I see it. Anonymous, unsigned votes will be discarded.

We need everyone to vote. We have marketing and distribution and back-end solution gurus among us, we have writers and cartoonists and vidders, publishers and bloggers and graphic artists. For us all to be able to get behind a single project and push (to brainstorm the marketing, to haggle terms with retailers, to beg angel investors, to whip up enthusiasm in the bookchat community) we need to feel as though we have a stake in it. We need to be committed. So vote. And if you like the idea of the co-op but think we haven't figured out the right project, yet, use your vote (#28) to say so.

  1. collection of Nicola Griffith's short stories (hnu)
  2. anthology of graphic novellas starring the teen versions of adult fictional characters (nicola)
  3. collection of cartoons, themed to science or genre (cartoonist who writes)
  4. collaborative story, passed from hand to hand (karina)
  5. collection of short stories, each inspired by a Charles Addams cartoon (cww)
  6. collection of stories inspired by Gahan Wilson's cartoons, including a new Wilson story (cww)
  7. Nicola's 'Dozen Daily Delights' for happiness in an illustrated volume, maybe fleshed out with stories (jennifer d)
  8. novel with an accompanying photo/poetry book that fleshes out something in the novel, maybe a novel to do with the environment or the coming apocalypse (jennifer d)
  9. portrait/bio book on women musicians and authors. A range of years--finding the women who started the 'women's music' thing in the 70s and leading up to what's happening today. Maybe people would participate if there was a tie-in with their music/writing (jennifer d)
  10. short story collection by Ursula K. Le Guin (chadao)
  11. short story collection by Michael Moorcock (chadao)
  12. reprint of 2 books by John Blofeld: one, best English language book on Chinese tea, the other a collection of Tibetan mantras. Each would have an introduction--I know a Chinese Tea Master, and also the Shifu who introduced me to Tibetan mantras (chadao)
  13. collection of writings of totally unknown and so far unpublished people. Each story/poem illustrated by an equally unknown artist (tiegrrr)
  14. collection of well meant letters, that writers all over the world could've/should've sent, but never did (realmcovet)
  15. a multi-pov novel written online...five people witness an accident...what happens next (which also includes what happened before, what happens during, etc)? (kassia)
  16. short book consisting of two short stories each by Nicola and Kelley, illustrations should be photos by Jennifer Durham (barbara)
  17. story collection that riffs off an established story, but in this way: every story has a few incidental characters, like a clerk, a waiter, a lawyer, doctor, mechanic, et al., moving the plot along...If Mike Moorcock is willing to provide a lead story, it would be perfect for riffing, a variation on his multiple universes/realities: the suggestion that a single universe behaves like a multiple one, since its seen through so many eyes (cww)
  18. time-honoured story, a magnificient tale, like the Iliad (which itself was probably created by several people) and remade. Someone would have to be the director of the project. S/he would lay out the story arc and divide into a number of chapters. (TBD--perhaps 24, the customary number of Books in the original.) Each chapter would then be assigned to a novelist, or screenwriter, or cartoonist, or photographer, or poet, or short story writer, or lyricist, who would then write her or his chunk of the tale in his or her preferred format. Each chapter could be illustrated further by paintings and/or photography and/or short poems in the margins. We could have further chapters set in the Iliad metaverse available on the web: music, animated short film, Twitter feeds, whatever. Every month we could release a chapter free on the web and ask readers/listeners/viewers to guess who wrote/draw/composed it. We would get a dozen viewpoints on an integrated, proven, thrilling story (nicola)
  19. A Midsummer Night's Dream as an urban fantasy in graphic novel form (julie)
  20. Is there another set of myths that haven't been revisited as often as the Iliad and the Odyssey and that we'd like to work with? I love Gaiman's Sandman universe because it draws from a variety of cosmogonies (karina)
  21. "how do we keep the audience engaged?" I'm wondering what our audience is for this project... I guess it'll come to us as we go along. But still, I wonder, too, how do we engage our audience? How do we make them participate in ways that involve reading, but not only reading? How do we encourage them to take story and run with it. I like Placebo's video for their "Running Up That Hill" cover. They asked the fans to videotape themselves singing the song, then edited clips with this result. The video for Richard Van Camp's story I mentioned earlier had a similar feel: many dreamers telling the same story. I'd like to do something along those lines---multiple readers reading for the camera, virtual book tours, audio clips, etc.---with whatever we come up (karina)
  22. What if the same essential story is written several times, but each one is a different tone: a romantic comedy, horror, spy thriller... Did you see the mashup for the Shining trailer, that turned the movie into a romantic comedy? (cww)
  23. Nicola's sword-swangin' fantasy, set out as a metaplot. I've been thinking about the Dragonlance series, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, etc. Okay, all of them were spun from a game, probably because the basic elements of setting, characters, and an over-arching plot invited people to imagine and contribute along those lines. Can we create and sustain such a metaverse here? (karina)
  24. We all seem to agree that novels sell better than collections. Where to get the novel? How about some kind of contest where the winner gets to be the first novel published by the coop? (jennifer)
  25. I could offer my own gestating spawn for metaplot experimentation:
    One of the worlds is set in a planet with a geography similar to Earth circa the Precambrian time (mainly the late Archea and early Proterozoic Eons), when only 2%-3% of the planet's surface was dry land. Humans are basically organized into two countries, one with more advanced technology than the other. Not a lot of biodiversity. There's a high content of iron in the tectonic plaques which resulted in wacky electromagnetic field activity that upsets machines in certain places. The main feature of the fantasy is that people who live in one of the two land masses have collective nightmares. There is a procedure that can be performed to "remove dreams" before children turn twelve; it has become mandatory. And stuff. I could upload the first 100 pages of this, if anyone is interested in turning it into a collaborative thing.
    The other spawn is basically Drama On Spaceship fun. It's set as a series of linked stories featuring a character named Shade, who is a mercenary. I've got three very raw stories so far. There are a number of other constant characters floating around the Known Universe, such as the Demiurge, the Supreme Empress, the gullible Chancellor, etc. All very cartoonish. I could write up their backstories. I still don't have a clear idea of the variety of intelligent life forms and such, except for the inhabitants of the Clepsid system, who are amphibian, and the humans, of course. So, again, I could upload the three extremely raw stories so you can turn this into a collective metaplot. (karina)
  26. select author & let them cast & direct the audiobook version of the title of an original work (or one they have audiorights to). This idea spurred by convo on Twitter with Tayari Jones, who said she'd grown to dislike audiobooks due to stereotyped readings of characters in audio versions of her work (kat meyer)
  27. a novel about the end of the world. It would be written in eighty short chapters of four or five pages, each written from the POV of a different character: old, young, male, female, human, animal, Irish, Indonesian, tanker engineer in the Gulf, potato farmer's teen in Idaho, kindergarten teacher in France, etc. etc. It would be their final moments on earth: well, the sea just rose up... Or, my god, the ship that came out of the sky was *huge*... Or, I was teaching Suzy how to colour inside the lines when the crayon began to melt... Or, Whoa, dude, just about to like touch her breast, her totally naked breast, when she looked up and said, What's the fuck is that...? The small individual stories could easily fit a myriad writing/graphic/musical styles (nicola)
  28. we don't have quite the right project, yet. Let's keep talking.

Voting closes at midnight Sunday, January 11th (that's Pacific time). I'll try to remember to keep a running total posted here, but I'll definitely post results here on AN on Monday 12th January. Then the real work moves to a new Google Group I've set up. We can get more high-tech later, but for now a GG will do.

The GG I had to have a name, so I picked Ozymandias (after the Shelley poem, below). Why? Because when I look at publishing, I see the lords of trade publishing treating their writers like paid serfs (and their customers like enemies), and I believe they are heading for a fall. I believe their empires will fade into the lone and level sands. The name, for me, is a reminder of all that is wrong with the prevalent publishing model, a reminder that overweening pride is just not helpful.

I'm not married to the name so if anyone has a cool suggestion, hey, let's change it.

The most important things to do now, though, are:
- vote
- sign up for the Google Group

After next week, the GG will be where it's happening, and AN will revert to its eccentric unfocused self.


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1818

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