New Take on Old Novel Blog Serialization Issues

As some of you know, I wrote a novel back in the 90s. It started out as a look at the inconsistencies of the white south and morphed into a tale about the fabulous young slave girl who grew up to run a successful farm of her own. I incorporated everything I knew or thought I knew about the subject, including: Slaves, Race, Murder, Revenge, George Wallace, Martin Luther King, Jr. I threw in Wild Dogs.

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The story is set at Jasmine Hills in Wetumpka, Alabama. After a hundred or so rejections, I sat down and rewrote it thoroughly and went through another round of about 100 rejections. Even though I am pretty sure I wrote a reasonably interesting page turner, I realized even if I ever got the book to a publisher, I had another foundational issue. As a white male, my story would suffer as long as it focused on the strong African American woman. There was a time when it would have been considered perfectly normal, but today, there are plenty of black authors and plenty of black female authors who can and do tell that story with more authenticity and legitimacy.

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It occurred to me, literally yesterday, that I could rewrite the novel one more time, in the first person of one of the white guys. I plan to do just that. I also thought it would be fun to serialize it here on my blog. I am not sure I will ever figure out how to make a dollar off of my work, but I am pretty sure if I publish it here first, nobody will ever pay me to put it in book form.

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A century or two ago, famous writers serialized their work, got paid for it then and then got it published in book form and got paid for that, but times have changed. Any thoughts on my chances, either way? Could it be I am not competent to write a successful novel? who knows. I know a lot of crap gets published and some crap is even wildly successful. I believe I am a better writer than those books” authors. but maybe I am not better in the one key thing that makes a successful writer succeed?

The novel was alternatively called: Confederate Dogs, Bubba’s Dogs, May’s Hill, and Samson Returns.

I am still looking for a title that will best work for the new version. I might keep Samson Returns. I might not. Feel free to give me lots of advice, knowing I will feel free to either take it or ignore it!

Anyway, my new opening lines are:

“I killed the dogs. All of them. And maybe that’s the second worst thing I ever did.”

My first version started like this:

The Dogs 1958

                The wild dogs large brown eyes and even larger furry ears gave them a look of something crossed between a little cotton tail bunny and child’s stuffed teddy bear. Only the occasional licking of their lips, exposed the canine fangs, so well suited for the death and destruction of prey. Otherwise, they looked almost harmless Toby was tempted to reach through the grill and stroke one with his finger. Maybe they would bite it off, maybe not. Sometimes he felt the same urge with small tigers. Toby still had ten fingers, he resisted the urge. As the plane cleared the coast of Cuba, the dogs began soft moans. Toby checked his gauges one more time, then turned to look at the dogs.

Another version:

    As Bo grew to be an old man, he took great joy in hunting and fishing with his young grandson. The boy had been named Samson at Bo’s near insistence.  When Samson was twelve years old, the old man gave him a Buck hunting knife and a Remington twenty-gauge shotgun for Christmas.

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5 thoughts on “New Take on Old Novel Blog Serialization Issues”

  1. Looking forward to this. I don’t that being published on a blog will really affect the saleability of the novel as the greatest difficulty is creating some sort of ‘buzz’. Also it is not really very user friendly reading a novel on a blog so it shouldn’t undermine a market (if one can be created) for other versions. And the blog version can be taken down if another avenue looks promising.

  2. Probably too many responses to your post come to mind to mention here, but a few of the critical ideas are:

    1) NEVER doubt that what you have to say is worthwhile. If you entertain self-doubt for a second, you are done. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. Self-doubt is the only real barrier you face, because it’s the killer of determination, persistence, motivation, inspiration and everything else.

    2) Thine eye must be single. Achieving anything of worth requires intense unwavering focus on a single objective. You must decide whether your objective is to make money (which I believe will almost always lead to either crime or disappointment) or to say something you feel passionately about. Most successful enterprises take the latter approach. They create something they believe in, then find ways to market their creation. They don’t start out by trying to sell something. My advice: say something you feel passionately about, say it well, and then deal with the question of how to get in front of the most readers possible. Let the money take care of itself.

    3) It’s an unfortunate fact of life that if you don’t have name recognition or a substantial resume of establish prior publication success, your chances of getting a contract with a traditional publisher are slim to none. The number of rejections is irrelevant, you only need one acceptance. In the meantime, you have a number of options open to you and certainly Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Goodreads, and other social media can play a powerful part. Self-publication through platforms like Nook and Amazon are also ways to get exposure, feedback, ratings, and even income. In fact, I believe the day is very near (if not already here) when digital sales will far outpace print sales. Potential authors today have a HUGE advantage over those trying to break in 50 or 100 years ago with manual typewriters and no digital transmission. My advice is speak to your audience, but speak what you believe and are passionate about. Spend extra care on editing, even if you use friends/colleagues for these services, make sure you have a clean manuscript, then publish it on Amazon and Nook, and use your blog to post excerpts, commentary, background stories, essays, etc, but have links to your book visible everywhere on your blog. Link to it in your posts occasionally being careful not to “hard-sell” it. Make sure all these blog posts are shared on Facebook, Twitter, etc… and make them public. If you plan to use Facebook as a marketing network, however, you’ll need to build your “friend” base as large as possible and make sure you don’t offend or drive potential customers away with abrasive and controversial opinions. Let your characters speak for you.

    4) Finally, I don’t think it matters whether you are white, brown, or green telling the story of a young black girl. I think voice does matter though. Having the black girl tell her own story is less powerful than having another character telling her story for her. We are drawn to those who will stand up for people who can’t stand up for themselves, who will speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. Giving the black girl the voice makes her seem less the victim – gives her more power. Having another character witness the atrocity and telling her story for her is far more compelling. As the author, you don’t matter. You should be utterly transparent in the story. You are just a set of letters on the spine. Readers will only care about the story.

    Good thing I didn’t say everything that came to mind, huh?

  3. Remember, in marketing terms, the value of Facebook and Twitter is not just about that one friend, but that they can share with all of their friends, who might share with all of their friends, etc. Losing or gaining one Facebook friend can translate to literally thousands of people who will see or hear about your work.

    If you can log thousands of sales on Amazon or Nook, that might eventually parlay to a publication contract (or at least enough credibility to be seriously considered) the same way YouTube videos sometimes translate to recording contracts.

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