August 29, 2005


Bill Quick has a new novel, a thriller called Inner Circles, which he has published as an e-book.

In the original series of comments, since removed to clear up the inline comment clutter, there was some discussion over whether or in what way this kind of publishing could be a wave of the future that might submerge and kill publishing as we know it. I had to agree with the guy who said that the editorial apparatus of traditional publishing was pretty crucial, and that the inevitable temptation to skip that step (or more accurately, those steps) would weaken the force of the self-pub tsunami considerably. Few writers realize just how much they need to be edited. I sure didn't. I know Bill knows what he's doing, and he's an experienced, published writer, unlike many of us - still, as a rule, publishing houses do more than just print up hard copies, and I'm sure I'm not the only person whose book would have totally sucked if it hadn't had the benefit of being worked over and ripped apart by teams of professionals. For me at least, writing a novel was a close to experiencing pure chaos as I've come - I really needed a hand from someone outside the situation to help bring some order.

At any rate, Bill's commenters who have read his book are beginning to offer post facto copy-editing suggestions. I suppose this wiki-type approach could work, though I'd worry about having too many cooks/kooks in the cyberkitchen. Rick Heller tried the open source novel editing experiment a ways back. (Whatever happened with that, Rick, by the way?)

Besides the too many kooks issue, my main worry would be that under such a system, I'd feel like my book was never totally finished. I mean, I do feel like that, and I probably always will, in the same way I harbor wishes that I could still be tweaking various albums. But being forced to admit it's over may be the difference between the neurosis of vague regret, on the one hand, and total, dangerous, barking insanity on the other. I mean, it is for me, as far as I know.

Posted by Dr. Frank at August 29, 2005 10:02 PM | TrackBack

Interesting. But isn't self-publishing an e-book and then inviting editing via readers sort of like submitting yourself to a big creative writing workshop? I don't have anything against those necessarily (I have an MFA in creative writing, and I know there was some discussion on that here last month), but in those workshops you get all kinds of advice — some stupid, some great, and then some that fall under the "I-like-this-but-following-it-might-take-my-story-in-a-totally-different-direction—hmm-I'm-tempted" category. Except instead of, say, 12 people in the workshop, you could have hundreds of readers chiming in. Plus, there's no "moderator" (editor/instructor) like there usually is in a workshop. You'd probably never finish the story, unless you finally said, "okay, that's it, it's my story, I'm not listening to all these different ideas anymore…" and in that case, why not just work one-on-one with a real (hopefully sympathetic and understanding) editor, if possible?

Posted by: mikes at August 29, 2005 10:22 PM

yeah i don't know...something not quite right about it...once its published that's it in my view. come on...

what would shakesphere have done if somebody was able to say...well maybe Romeo shouldn't exactly die in the know?

but then i'm not really worried about e-media anything as long as people who read don't yet all own computers. i'm also still quite fond of these CD things they manage to keep putting out.

Posted by: JUST ME at August 29, 2005 11:04 PM

I'd liket o shoehorn something into this topic as my day was just made. My friend called me to tell me that he'd sent a song by our high school band, Fidel Castro and the Beards, to a local sports talk show (the song was called "We Don't Need Chris Webber" written in 1997 after the Washington Bullets traded Chris Webber). It's as stupid as it sounds, but it rocks pretty hard. Anyway, it was played on the radio and is now posted on the Website, so I'm considering it E-Published. I hadn't heard it in about five years, so I thought this whole thing was pretty cool. I'm not a real musician in any way shape or form (just a high school band; we recorded on a kereoke machine in my friend's basement), but if anybody want to listen here's the link.

Posted by: josh at August 30, 2005 03:41 PM

Giving an author the opportunity to George Lucasize their novels is an odd idea. "I enjoyed the '06 version of King Dork, but it lost something in '08, when Dr. Frank made his "improvements". "Dude, that's why I printed off an original copy, before he re-wrote all of the songs".

btw - Stephen King has done this twice now. Once, with the expanded edition of The Stand, which he didn't actually re-write. It's more like an original director's cut. He did it again with the Gunslinger, which is the exact same story, re-written so the language matches the tone of the books that he wrote 25 years later.

Posted by: Tim at August 30, 2005 06:27 PM


Had the Kings made it to the playoffs last year, perhaps we'd be singing the same song out here in Sacramento too. I bet fans in Phili would get a kick out of it though.

That song is probably best served as 'e-published'.

-Bobby J

Posted by: Bobby J at August 30, 2005 09:27 PM