Friday, December 31, 2004

Producing an MP3 of Grasshopper -- Part 1

After all my ranting about the short story and making use of the new media, particularly audio, I decided I'd better "put up" before I was told to "shut up". I contacted Dave Zeltserman, editor extraordinaire of Hardluck Stories, and asked if he would be willing to post one of my stories as an MP3 file. After a little thought he said, "Sure." Since it would be one he had already published ("Grasshopper"), he could reissue it in the issue going live on January 20 as a "classic".

That "classic" crack made me feel old, and I don't need any help with that. Nonetheless, I started to work on making the recording.

Now, why, you ask, would I do this, other than the patently vain reason I gave above? Is it going to make me rich, or at least a little money? Not immediately. Maybe not ever. So why do it?

Here come da rant!

I've noticed among writers (and this may be just my perception without any basis in fact, though I doubt it) the attitude that we are powerless pawns under the thumbs of big publishers. An attitude that we have to wait for someone else to develop a new market or a new way to distribute our work; that we are too dumb, too poor, or too powerless to do it ourselves.


We can do anything we have the will to do. And that includes making new markets. We could start a "Save Our Short Story" campaign just like the Brits did. What will that get us? For one thing it would get us some real numbers about things we can only guess at today. How many short stories are sold each year? What price is paid for them? How many of those go to magazines (including ezines) and how many to book publishers? What is the circulation of the magazines? What's the sell-through on the books? Who reads them and why? It will tell us what the existing markets are and where the new ones are coming from. All of this is information we can use to make intelligent, informed decisions about what we do.

We are the people with the power, not the publishers. We are the direct descendents of Thomas Paine, who helped overthrow the most powerful government in the world and establish another by writing down his thoughts, having a friend print them in small pamphlets and handing them out to people in the streets of Boston, New York and Philadelphia. We who use the Internet and its associated technologies are the new pamphleteers, and the more the Internet matures along with other technologies like PDAs and iPods and laptop computers and wireless networks, the more power we have.

Will it be hard? Damn straight it will be! Is it impossible? Nope. Will it happen tomorrow? Probably not. So why do it? Because we can.

I made this recording as a "proof of concept" to show what was possible. I did it to take that first baby step on the road to those new markets. If I can do it, anyone can.

In the next installment, I'll talk about the process of making the recording: what it cost, the equipment I used, how long it took, the mistakes I made, and other routes to the same end.

Stay tuned!


At 8:11 AM, Blogger Dave White said...

This is a cool idea. Nice work, Bob.

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Aldo said...

This is a great idea and you tell us what support you need. I'm tired of the whining too, let's take control of our future and do something different. I think most people remember from school that most history is an oral tradition, we listen to stories....

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Ray said...

Bob, you already know it's a great idea, but I'll third that emotion right here and now. For those of us who either won't get to hear authors reading their work normally (4000 miles is a helluva distance), it's a real bonus. Admittedly, I'm not really into the whole audio book thing (I have to concentrate, unlike music), but shorts are perfect. Jason Starr's reading on his website was superb, as was my personal favourite Burt Reynolds reading an Andrew Vachss story. I'd do it myself, but Dave White seems to think I sound like Sean Connery and while I can do a passable impression, I don't think I'd be comfortable sitting in front of a mike reading something about Cal Innesh.

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Candace said...

Bob, good morning.
Just was reading a great little essay by Lawrence Block about the audio thing, dealing also with abridging works to be read, the pros and cons.

I am very up regarding this type venture. I am all for our flexing our muscles re: our own works, rights, whathaveyou. You know until very recently any press who was not a "BIG FAT COMMERCIAL PRESS" was considered a 'Vanity Press'. Hell, when they all but gut the midlist, what is a writer and or agent supposed to do? I mean, REALLY?

Dave (He Is No Mere Mortal) Zeltserman is into all sorts of things where writers/editors are concerned, in't he? Does the man sleep or does he have robots that do that for him?

And thank you, I will listen to anyone read about Cal Innish.

Happy to all,

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Candace said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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