There is something inherently defiant in the act of self-publishing. The Kindle epoch has created a drastic alternative to the power structure of conventional publishing. Though I don’t picture myself as “rebelling” against the publishing world in my everyday life, some things I read make me quite glad I am running counter to it.
Take, for instance, this blog entry by agent Kristin Nelson on short manuscript queries. In response to authors sending queries for novels in the 50,000-60,000 word range, Nelson says:
We [literary agents] are all stymied by this. Where are writers getting the info that this might be an appropriate length for a work? That it would be a marketable length? Standard word length is usually between 70,000 to 100,000 words for a novel.
I’m positive Ms. Nelson a highly intelligent woman; in fact, I queried her agency before deciding to go indie with Mutt. So I’ll assume this statement is an offhand remark rather than assuming it represents a broader worldview. But the statement itself does warrant attention, both the hubris of mandates regarding “appropriate length” and for the conflation of “appropriate” with “marketable.”
What about the length of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying or Nathanael West’s Day of the Locust is less than “appropriate”? Granted, these are decades old, but they are still widely read today, and I could list dozens more. The last century of letters is full to overflowing with great writers of the short novel, from straight “literature” (Steinbeck, Hemingway, and the above) to genre fiction (Vonnegut, Bradbury, Philip K Dick, William Gibson). Their works are still widely consumed.
Further, ebooks are changing reading habits drastically: if shorter novels have lost any popularity in the past few decades, expect them to make a comeback. People are reading and short intervals on their phones and tablets, making brevity and concision ever more important. The publishing industry just hasn’t caught on to this yet. With regard to Ms. Nelson’s statement about “marketable length,” let me suggest that “marketable” can be defined not as what readers want but as what the publishing apparatus knows how to market. As in so many things, it is behind the times. (Note that the above article was posted in 2006, but I’ve seen it referenced by other industry people much more recently; it still appears to be the common wisdom.)
Our job as writers is not to create fiction that conforms to industry standards of the “appropriate.” Our job is to create damn good fiction and, if the current publishing model is too outmoded to market our stories, to deliver them to the audience directly.
The Rittenhouse Saga’s publishing contract with Random House Publishing Group included a film option clause, and Columbia Pictures has announced plans to produce the motion picture adaptation of Mutt.
The film will be directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth). I will be actively involved in adapting the screenplay, which is being written by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The Newsroom). Hugh Laurie, playing the role of the gateman Green, will anchor a cast of lesser-known talent (casting information will be forthcoming over the next several months).
The Rittenhouse Saga: Mutt will be filmed in Philadelphia’s Kensington and University City neighborhoods, which inspired the environments of the series. Columbia’s contract includes an option to adapt Stray and the series’ future books, pending box office performance of the first film.
In negotiations, Sorkin emphasized his enthusiasm for the project, which will cast the political themes of his other works in a radical new setting. “This book is just phenomenal,” he said of Mutt. “I’d like to think I know a thing or two about writing, but reading [Mutt] has shown me there’s always something new to learn.”
“Hell,” he added, “I wish I’d written it.”
The ebook version of Mutt is still free on Amazon pending its November re-release with Random House. Columbia Pictures’ The Rittenhouse Saga: Mutt is slated for a tentative Summer 2015 release.
Today, I am overjoyed to announce that my books Mutt and Stray, along with their forthcoming sequels, have been accepted for publication by Random House Publishing Group.
The series, which has already found thousands of readers and won glowing reviews from the book blogging community, will be published in yearly intervals between now and 2017, starting with Mutt’s Random House re-release on November 27, 2013.
Random House is delivering $200,000 advances on the first two books, and for each subsequent book at the time of delivery. In addition, the publisher will be investing $200,000 per book on the series’ publicity campaign, for a total of $1,000,000.
Publishing Group President Gina Centrello called the deal “an enormous opportunity for our company,” also describing Stray as “quite possibly the best damn book we’ve ever read here at Random House.”
If you haven’t read the books, hurry up and grab Mutt on Amazon while the ebook is still free! Once I turn over my materials to the publisher, that’s that.
My immense thanks to everyone who continues to support the Rittenhouse Saga.
Small Business Wire has carried my press release for Stray. Check it out!
I’ll be linking to the press release wherever it appears to try to encourage traffic across multiple sites.
“If a trivial mistake messes up my Cure for Warts one more time, I’m going to throw down my laptop, find the nearest pharmacy, and just buy some of that acid stuff my parents used to use when we were kids and got them on our feet. Where am I supposed to find my wand, anyway… Oh, there it is. Who the hell buried behind all this other stuff on the counter? Alright… Wait, what the hell do you mean, I got it wrong? That was perfect, Snape. You’re just envious because I’m the Chosen One and you never got with my mom…”
-Me, during the Potions tutorial
It’s been a while since my last update about Pottermore, mostly because it’s been a while since I last got to spend time with Pottermore. I’ve completed the Philosopher’s Stone sequence, and since doing so, I haven’t felt any great draw to continue.
Admittedly, I’ve had some fun with the site. After being assigned to Ravenclaw, I became acquainted with its potion-making and spell-casting minigames. They provided some passing entertainment, as did searching for collectible items in the story moments. But overall, after exploring a full novel’s worth of content, I’ve come away with the impression that Pottermore isn’t entirely sure what it wants to do, and as a result, it spends most of its (and its users’) time half-doing things.
I’m sure the site is set up this way to avoid impeding progress for people who just want to explore the story, the Pottermore’s various game elements never gel successfully with the story or each other. Gameplay features are generally introduced once before being relegated to their own corners of the site; after the tutorials the Spells and Potions mechanics were not used in the Philosopher’s Stone again. Even the exploration can barely be referred to as such. The setup of the Moments suggests the possibility of a point-and-click adventure game a la Myst, complete with puzzles to solve and environments that can be seamlessly explored. But Pottermore is not the kind of game, if it can be called a game at all.
And to be honest, after all the time of spent on the site, I don’t know what it’s trying to be. All the behind-the-scenes description and other exclusive pieces of writing are interesting in themselves, but if I really just wanted to read them, I’d prefer a more to-the-point interface than this. And if it was supposed to be an actual game, it needs to decide what kind of game. I’d be cool with a Myst-type adventure game like the kind the Moments are suggesting, and equally cool with the kind of MMORPG that seems to inspire Diagon Alley and the Potions mechanic.
I’ll probably keep up with Pottermore for a bit longer to see if there’s something I’m missing, and I do like reading the bonus content. But for a really immersive experience of the series’ world, returning to the novels and films is probably a better bet. And for those really stuck on finding a good interactive version of Hogwarts, this game might be the closest you’re going to get.
I was on Twitter trying to figure out why @GeorgeRRMartin has 33,000 followers and no tweets when I noticed that #10favoritevocalists was trending. I figured I’d have some fun and take part.
Here’s my off-the-top-of-my-head list. The descriptions are short because they began life as Twitter entries. I’m sure there are glaring omissions that I will realize later and gasp. Most of the music I listen to is very lyric-driven, but I tried to focus entirely on vocal style for this list, so some of my favorites (Joe Michelini, Tegan Quin, Conor Oberst, SiMS) don’t appear.
The links are to Spotify (with the exception of Meds, which isn’t hosted on Spotify). Enjoy!
Anthony Green – The man with the mile-high voice. Unlike his imitators, he sounds even better live. Circa Survive – Get Out
Dustin Kensrue – There aren’t genres enough in music to contain his versatility. Thrice – Beggars
Aaron Weiss – The best lyricist of our generation is also a pioneer of vocal styles. mewithoutYou – Fox’s Dream of the Log Flume
Max Bemis – Not a conventionally great singer, but nobody tops the affect he can cram into a syllable. Say Anything – Woe
Aaron Marsh – Male vocalists shouldn’t be permitted to sound so pretty. Copeland – Should You Return
Josh Scogin – Too many screamers fail to convey real intensity. That’s not an issue here.
Brian Molko – My vocal technique is lifted wholesale from his, so credit is due. Placebo – Meds
Nate Ruess – Before his band exploded, he reminded me to be calm and forgive everyone. Fun. – Be Calm
Thom Yorke – Invented a vocal style from nowhere; made like twelve genres of music with it. Radiohead – Kid A
Brittany Ann – We’ll round this out with a kickass local singer. Do yourself a favor and listen. Brittany Ann – Puzzle Pieces
Yesterday, Valerie Jones posted her awesome review of Mutt on If You Like Books. From the review:
Fuller’s style is engrossing; you will not want to stop reading once you start, and at only 200 pages you won’t have to. Fuller does not waste time with any superfluous content. Every word, every idea, has purpose. The dystopian future of Mutt is fully fleshed out, with enough ambiguity about its creation to leave the reader eager to read the rest of the series. At first you might expect Mutt to be one of “those” stories – dystopian future, magic, disparate social classes, we’ve all seen it before – but Mutt does not come across this way. There is no cheesy magic or superficial wonder. None of the characters is a shell or hackneyed, though many of the typical archetypes are present. The small details in Mutt give the reader a lot to think about – for both the characters and our own future.
If you run a book blog or website and are interested to review Mutt, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk.
Thanks to Valerie for taking the time to read the book and for writing such a thoughtful review!