Sir, let me take this moment to compliment you on your fashion sense, particularly your slippers.

So, Halloween has come and gone and we are now on DAY THREE of NaNoWriMo. I’m on target (or will be once I’ve written today’s complement of words) and will be looking to steal a march on things next week so that I can have the weekend of my birthday off.

Things I have learned from NaNoWriMo:

Vomit drafts are harder than they appear. It takes a significant amount of effort for me to just leave it alone when I am writing. I have a horrible tendency to fiddle with sentences while I write them (which is why I prefer word processor over longhand) and more often than not the final version isn’t that far removed from what I originally had in mind.

I am terrible at being social. Maybe it’s just me on this, but the community aspect of NaNoWriMo still eludes me. I’ve tried to take part in the forums and chatrooms and even been to a couple of write-ins, but it feels like I’m walking around the edge of a closed loop. It’s very cliquey, and I have a deep suspicion of internet circle-jerks. Having someone ask, “who is this guy and why is he here?” when you say hello is usually a bad sign, but then maybe I’m just a bit touchy about these things.

In other news, Halloween Shorts seemed to go quite well. It’d be interesting to see how many reads we got in total. I thought that doing a reading of it would be a fun twist and something that might attract a few more readers/listeners, but I was hampered slightly by a cold and a crappy mic that meant the audio wasn’t the best quality. It’s tolerable, but not great.

I’ve been musing on ideas regarding publication. I’m still pursuing the traditional route, but I’ve been thinking about the indie/self route and what sort of things I could do in 2013. I’m close to my target aim of two novels completed for 2012 (despite deciding to re-write a large portion of Gunslinger Symphony) so I need something to aim for over the next twelve months. I’m thinking that maybe one novel and a set of smaller projects (novella or serial) would give me an opportunity to split up my goals into smaller milestones. I’ve got a fair old list of projects all sitting in my notebooks waiting to be picked, so it’s a case of taking the time in December to decide which ones to go for.

The Brave New World of publishing.

So, as the iPad launched yesterday in the UK, with much hoop-la and the odd bout of naysaying (the BBC tech piece on their website was, basically, “if you’re the sort of person who would buy an iPad, you probably know all about its specifications ands limitations already”) there was another, smaller announcement from Apple.

The iTunes store now has the additional functionality required for authors to release their work for sale online.

Is it a good idea? Well, it depends largely on how well it is managed from the Apple side of things. There’s going to be a lot of slush. A lot. If you think wandering round your local bookstore and marvelling at some of the crap that sells (I was going to add “these days” to that, but it occurs to me that crap has always and will always sell – see: The Sun newspaper), then you haven’t brushed the surface. A completely unrestricted electronic publishing enterprise? It’ll be an avalanche of pap.

Of course, there are some restrictions. For starters, you need to have an ISBN for your were-badger magnum opus. That’s pretty easy to get hold of, though, so it won’t stop most people.

You also need a US tax ID, although I’d imagine that will change.

Oh yeah, and you need an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.5 or higher.

That’s right! Speak up and be heard! Publish your work! But first lay down some serious coin to keep Apple happy. I’m sure some devious, enterprising souil will come up with a Hackintosh workaround for that one (and then get promptly sued, by that’s by and by).

Even if you don’t meet these requirements, it’s okay to sell through someone who can, an Apple-authorised seller known as an aggregator.

Is it just me that reckons there will be quite a few spam and scam aggregators forming at this very moment?  You can imagine the type; strong pitch about being a discerning online publisher with the highest standards, send your work with a modest reading fee, then sign up to have it put online.  Easy money for anyone with a US tax ID and a suitable Mac.  Maybe before posting it online you’d like to pay to have your work looked over by one of our professional proofreaders (in reality, iWork spellcheck)?  No problem, we can do that too…

Yeah, that’s going to burn a few people.  Mostly stupid people but that’s a side point.

In other news, Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear (and friends) are setting up a collaborative writing project called the Mongoliad.  Essentially an expanded fiction wiki, they will provide content and context to kick things off, and then it’s over to the subscribing userbase to provide tales and characters to fill their world.  I’m not sure if it’s pay to read and contribute or free to read, pay to contribute and I’m sure there will be clarification on that note, but the cynical part of me has started grumbling already.  I know full well how even small collectives cave to clique mentality in fairly short order, and I can’t help but feel that a tightly-knit panel of friends will trend towards making their own work more canonical than any other part of the paying userbase.  That’s just one example of how things go wrong, mind, and the magic 8-ball forsees drama brewing from multiple angles.

I like the idea of the world it’s creating, though; Europe hanging under the part-imagined, part-real threat of an invasion by hordes of vicious, alien-seeming horsemen; warrior nomads that  gain strength by drinking a mixture of blood and tea.  I just can’t see it surviving the natural tendency for authors to slide towards solipsism – once the mask of jolly lets all pitch in together civility slips, knives will be drawn over whose version of reality is the bestest.