Monday, August 14, 2006

the Baen Free Library

Baen is one of the best publishers ever, and they have a free on-line library of some of their work (I already gave a pointer to the section on Retief). Now that I've discovered it, my blogging and short-story writing is likely to suffer...

The Baen Free Library follows the quaint old custom of having the main page explain what the site is about (don't they know that the modern style on web pages is to put nothing but useless, flashy marketing hype on the main page and force the viewer to search several links deep for any information on what the heck the site is and what it's there for? That's what Doc Rampage does).

The front page contains an interesting essay by Eric Flint (who is a tremendous SF writer, by the way) on why Baen thinks that putting a book on-line will actually tend to increase sales of that book and/or of other books by that author. This might interest storybloggers, because it suggests that there might just be the faintest possibility that some day Baen will consider publishing stories that have already appeared in some form on-line. That is about the only chance I would ever have to get any fiction published, and I suspect that I'm not unusual in this.

Here's the deal: I enjoy telling stories; that's why I write stories for my blog. But I don't particularly enjoy the process of writing. The first draft is fun. The second draft is ... well ... satisfying; it feels good to make major improvements in the presentation of the story. Later drafts become incrementally less fun and less satisfying as the level of detail increases and as the connection of the work to the actual story becomes more tenuous. It very soon becomes just work.

Now, I don't mind work but I do work when I get paid for it, and I don't get paid for writing. Furthermore, if I did put in the effort to get something published, the odds are that I could never make as much money writing as I already make, so I just don't have much incentive to do publication-quality work. But maybe some day I'll get a bug up my butt to see my name on the cover of a paperback, and if I do, it would help a lot if I could start with something I've already written, which means something on-line (OK, that's a lie. Like everyone else in California, I have a half-completed novel on my harddrive). If I thought there was any chance to get something published after it's been on-line, I might take the time to clean up Ink Magic, but I probably never would have written Ink Magic if not to put it in the Storyblogging Carnival.

Of course, some of the entries in the Storyblogging Carnival are already dead-tree quality ("dead tree" means paper as opposed to on-line). I'm thinking especially of Donald Crankshaw's Fire. As I've said before on this blog, Fire is as good as most of the published SF I've read, and it seems a shame that it is inelegible for dead-tree publishing.

If some publisher were willing to publish stories after a draft had already appeard on-line, it might open up a whole slew of new authors.

P.S. I blew off the weekend, so the Storyblogging Carnival will be out late on Monday. Sorry to all of you who are anxiously awaiting it...

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