Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ruby Skye Is LIVE!

For those of you who've been intrigued by the trailers and videos and blog posts about tween web series Ruby Skye P.I. -- your wait is officially over.

You can check out the video on Vimeo.

Or, I've embedded it here for your viewing pleasure.

When you're done, make sure to pop by their channel and show them some love!


Chapter 1: Animal Farm from Story2.OH on Vimeo

Very cool!

Cheers,
Brandon

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

404: The New Cover Arises


It's been a long, long road but the final steps of my novel are starting to come together.

A big chunk of that process has been trying to come up with a cover that would be suitable for the final ebook and print versions -- something that would grab a potential readers attention and, hopefully, inspire them to pick it up (or, better: buy it!).

To help with this process, I put together a little contest; something to try and get others to come to the forefront and create that cover for me.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a bit of a flop. Though I received quite a few "Yeah! Totally!"s from those I talked to, ultimately it didn't pan out.

And so I decided to go it alone.

What you see up at the top of the page there is the 'winning' -- and, potentially, final -- cover (out of 3 variants) designed by yours truly.

I want to thank my readers and my friends behind the scenes who offered their thoughts and insights on which version I should use.

Yet there is still one last hurdle to, well, hurdle: The critique of the masses.

So, I put this to out to you, my fellow blog readers and literary mavens: what do you think of this design for an Action/Thriller story? Would this cover grab your attention in a book store? Maybe make you want to pick it up and read it?

What do you like/not like about it?

Just for those who may not remember, here was my original cover (yes, it's come a long way!).

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, October 18, 2010

What I've Learned


So, now that the novel's done, I've had a few people ask me what I've learned from my little experiment -- what I'd do differently, what I'd improve upon for next time.

And, while there have been a lot of great ideas to come out of this thing, I've definitely realized that there are some bugs in the system.

I think one of the first real complaints I got as the first few weeks rolled on was the frustration about having to buy each individual 'episode'. Not a lot of people enjoyed that, or having to come back every week and/or make a bunch of 99 cent purchases in order to catch up.

My original reasoning behind that approach was that I wanted to give people the freedom to purchase a chapter and then, if they didn't like it, they'd only spent 99 cents and it wouldn't seem like that large of an investment.

However, in retrospect, I think that was the wrong approach to take. You see, selling the first episode made sense because it was a way to get people on board without them spending too much. But as the weeks rolled on, it became a hassle.

And, truth be told, I never sold more individual episodes than in those first two weeks.

What really saved my bacon in the end was an option that I brought about in Week #2 after my friend (and fellow Inkie) Stephanie Law suggested that I create some sort of 'subscription' model; something that would allow people to pre-purchase the whole story upfront.

And so that's what I did. I created a subscription service where for $6.99 you would receive a new 'episode' of five chapters delivered directly to your inbox every Sunday night.

That's where things really took off.

Once people made that singular purchase and didn't have to think about coming back to the site or anything like that, things went swimmingly. My sales soared. Now, to be fair, I'm certainly no millionaire after this little jaunt, but... well, I did okay on that end.

I think the one thing that surprised me the most about the whole experiment was that 'interactivity' was the absolute last thing that my readers wanted.

You see, I'd come into this with an entirely Open Door policy. The whole story was written with the intention that my readers could take part and help to guide the characters and events as I wrote it. I made sure to let it be known that every idea would be considered and I even allowed for several different avenues to reach me... but, that never happened.

I did, however, get lots of feedback about how 'cool' the option was (that I would let people into my story like that) but no one actually took me up on it.

In the end, while people told me they loved the story and even a few thought it'd make a great movie, nobody -- even when prodded -- actually felt comfortable in 'changing my vision'.

Huh.

So, how would I do this differently in the future?

Well, I think for my next book I'll be moving to a subscription-only service. Something that makes it easy-as-pie for people to join in and just relax and let the episodes roll to them.

I think the idea of treating it like a weekly episode of a TV show worked rather well and it's something I can see myself getting into as I go forward. Though, to be fair, I think one of the things that really helped me was the nature of the story itself.

Because 404 was an Action/Thriller -- something that really lent itself well to the weekly TV concept -- I think that really helped me keep readers hooked and interested. Would it work as well in another format or genre? I'm not sure. My next concept is Action/Horror... so we'll see how that one goes.

I also quite enjoyed writing each chapter on the fly, I felt that it held a number of great advantages for me. Especially when it comes to the 'get something done' department. I've got dozens of half-finished projects over here, all in a myriad of different states, so knowing that I had to finish one chapter every day... yeah, that was fantastic motivation.

That said, I might give myself a bit more of a head start next time, make sure I'm a couple weeks ahead in the writing before I start releasing things. One of the bad things about constantly being under the gun -- as I discovered about mid-way through the story -- is that when you hit upon something that you really like and would love to expand upon, it's incredibly hard to do when the clock is ticking and the delivery deadline looms.

All-in-all I'd like to think that my first experiment was rather successful. I don't think I'm going to jump into another novel this year -- I've got a web series next on the docket, followed by a new Spec Pilot for a TV series, but hopefully 404 will do well over the next little while and by the time the new year rolls around, I can take another swing at it.

Anyways, there'll be more 404-stuff coming up soon with the final launch of the printed book but by all means, if you have any questions about the process or the finished work, ask away.

Cheers!
Brandon

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Meet Ruby Skye

My good friends Jill Golick, Kerry Young and Karen Walton are not ones to rest on their laurels -- in fact, they've been busy making a hot new web series over the last few months and it looks like it's finally ready to put the rubber to the road.

I've been told that October 25th is the big release day... but until then, check out this neato trailer they've put together to introduce you to their main characters!

Also, check out their website here!

Meet Ruby Skye from Story2.OH on Vimeo.



Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, October 11, 2010

And There We Are

The last sentence was written at 8:06pm last night.

After a long and exciting adventure -- both in and outside of the story -- 404 is finally complete. It's done and man, it was hard to see it go.

As I made it around that final bend, as I saw the ending finally in sight... yeah, things got a bit emotional. To think that I managed to write a novel in two months -- and that I'm actually quite proud of the result. If you'd asked me to do this at the beginning of the year, hell, I don't know if I ever could have dreamed of pulling it off.

And yet, here we are.

Of course the first person I have to thank is my incredible editor, Cameron Dixon. He's an amazing writer and an even better friend -- his insights not only revealed to me just how bad my grammar had become (sorry about that!) but also showed me the best ways to bring out exactly what I was trying to say in that jumble of words of mine. He's a tough cookie, and he'll kick your ass if you disrespect the language... but my writing is undoubtedly better because of said ass-kickings.

I also want to thank all the subscribers who joined by giving back to them in a meaningful way. Over the next few weeks, I'll be going back over the text and expanding on a few things that I wish I had been able to expand on but couldn't (due to time constraints), I'll also be adding some cool little features that I've concocted for those that really enjoyed the story.

All of this will go into a 'final edition' that I can hopefully send to print by the beginning of November.

Each and every one of my subscribers will receive a copy of the final, printed book for free.

Just a way for me to say 'Thank You' for all of your support.

For those of you who received the finale in your inbox last night, please, feel free to let me know what you think!

Cheers!
Brandon

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Knee-Deep in the Finale

Man, it's been a tough week trying to make sure I wrap all this up properly, trying to make it worthy of the time you've invested.

If there's one true thing that's ever been spoken about writing -- or life, in general -- it's that "Endings are hard."

And damn, is that ever true.

Mostly, for me, it's the process of letting go. Of writing these last chapters and scenes, trying to make sure it all adds up to something.


Hopefully something worth your time.

The finale goes live Sunday night, October 10th, marking the end of this wonderful and informative experiment of mine. I've learned a ton -- about myself, about my writing... and, more importantly, that people ARE willing to pay lil' ol' me for my writing (which, frankly, is pretty damn cool).

I want to thank all of you who've subscribed -- from those at the beginning all the way to those who've just joined up over the last couple of days, I really appreciate the support!

Hopefully you've enjoyed this process as much as I have.

Just as a bit of a note: the subscription link will be coming down on Friday, to be replaced with a final 'Buy Now' button that will sell the finished book (which should be going live at the end of October) for $9.99 CAD -- so those last few of you who've been holding out (and you know who you are) can feel free to subscribe and save yourselves a few bucks before the finale comes out.

Other than that, I'm back to writing, trying to make sure this thing sings before swan-song time rolls around.

And, for the couple that've asked in passing, no I'm not giving up on TV. I'll be going back to it soon enough -- in fact, I should be working to break a new spec pilot by Thanksgiving Day (if I don't crash from turkey-overload).

Cheers!
Brandon

Monday, October 04, 2010

Episode #7 is LIVE!

That's right folks! After a week full of battling illness and computer issues, the penultimate episode of 404 is ready for download!

Next week: The Finale!

Until then, I want to see more of them covers coming in. I know a few of you are hard at work already, but there's always room for more!

Not sure what I'm talking about? Why don't you take a look here and here... and maybe win yourself $150.

Cheers!
Brandon

Friday, October 01, 2010

404 Cover Contest Update!

Hey all!

So, after doing some fancy math-related things with my calculator and digging around in my couch a bit, I've decided that the winner of my 404 cover contest will recieve:

$150 CAD in a gift card of your choice (hopefully something I can set up online for you)

AND

A promotional link for your website or portfolio included in the final version of both the eNovel and Print versions of the book.

Sound good? Catch up on the rules and such here and get to it! Contest closes at the end of the month!

In other contest-related news, it looks like I've got a great question here from Rich Baldwin:

"For the print version, do you want a front and back cover with a spine? If so, do you know how large the spine is likely to be? From your measurements you could be going for a trade paperback or a hardcover book--will you have a hardcover version? Because hardcover versions need to be slightly larger than the book block to accommodate the hard cover stock, and also need an extra couple of inches for the tongues of the slipcover."

Hey Rich, thanks for writing in with your question!

Primarily I'm looking for an eye-catching front cover only -- that said, if you want to make a back cover and spine, by all means, I won't stop you. But the front cover is the main thing that will be judged.

For the print version, it'll be in a trade paperback format, so please keep that in mind when creating the artwork -- that said, the winning cover art will also be used in the promotions material for the book, so please make it high resolution as well so that I can use it for posters, etc. should I need to.

Cheers all!

And good luck!
Brandon