Dueling Columns 2 – Print vs. Online

Print or Online?

Print or Online?

Print vs. Online – The great debate

So Larina and I are once again at it. We’re going to try to be a little more regular about this, but things got in the way in the past month – birth, death, work, alcohol, nudity, football, kids, and beef jerky. Not necessarily in that order.

Take a gander at my thoughts here, speak up, add something to the conversation if you want to, and then see what she has to say over here Larina Print vs. Online

I am taking the online side of this debate. SO…let the games begin.

STIGMA NO LONGER

It used to be that publishing your fiction online was frowned upon. But things have changed. For many reasons, online publishing has gotten better, has expanded its audience, and in the process, has eliminated much of the stink. It has changed, for the better. And I’m pretty excited about it.

Here are some reasons why online fiction has blown up.

1. COST: Many print journals, whether at universities or independent presses, have decided to change to online publishing only. The recession has hit everyone and it is much more affordable to post up short stories and host it online, even if you spend money designing a really cool site. There are also many FREE or cheap sites out there, such as WordPress.com. Print costs, postage, and declining readerships have forced many publications to move online.

2. EXTENSIONS: Many respectable presses, journals and magazines have added an online aspect to what they already do in print. The New Yorker has been publishing fiction online for a long time now. Dzanc just rolled out The Collagist, a new web presence to add to its already compelling Monkeybicycle, Dzanc Books, OV Books and Black Lawrence Press. It’s happening all the time now. And that lends an air of credibility. When a publication that already wins awards, publishes the authors you love, and generally does good work decides to move online, why wouldn’t you trust that their online work would be just as good? I haven’t seen any drop off in the writing.

3. EYES: There are many reasons for publishing online, but getting new people to read your work, and getting a LOT of people to read it, is one. I recently had a story posted up at Troubadour 21 and it has over 200 hits, as we speak. Now, I doubt that all of those are unique visitors, and I promise that I did not click that link 199 times, but even if HALF of those people reading my work are new to me, I’m very happy with that. Most of us are not novelists, nor do we make a living as writers. We are not selling a million copies of our books. Yet. So for now, we have to take what we can get. You could publish in a print journal, and maybe 100 people would pick it up, maybe a couple hundred, but with the internet, there is always the possibility or more, an ENDLESS number of people that could read your work. And it’ll never go out of print.

4. IMMEDIACY: You run into somebody on the street, you chat somebody up at AWP, or a reading, or run into an ex-girlfriend at the grocery store. Honest, it was a coincidence. I don’t personally carry around copies of my work. And I wouldn’t, even if I HAD twenty copies of Gold Dust or Vain or the upcoming Shivers VI from Cemetery Dance. Not to mention the cost involved with that. BUT, I do carry around business cards with my blog on it, and my contact information. I can refer people to this blog, and subsequently, to my online fiction. I can post up in forums. I can Facebook you to death, Tweet in your ear until it bleeds. The point being, I can get you to my work, NOW. If you want to go there. If my work were ONLY in print, that would be much harder. Publishing online is a good alternative, a way of showcasing your work, and as fast and easy as a mouse click. I’ve had agents and editors read my work online and ask for a story or full manuscript before. It can be a great resource.

5. QUALITY: Like any book you pick up in a bookstore or at the library, the quality will vary. There are certainly terrible websites out there with weak writing. Just like there are published books that are empty and vague. Places like The New Yorker, The Missouri Review, The Paris Review, Granta, The Atlantic, we all know those are great places to publish. But what about the lesser known journals and magazines? The overall quality of online fiction has really improved. All you have to do is chase down your favorite authors, and see what they are publishing online. You’ll see that many established, as well as emerging authors, are publishing online now. Take the following sentence and fill in the blanks. It is your new mantra.

If _______________ is good enough for _______________, it’s good enough for me.

Maybe those publications are Juked, Hobart, Flatmancrooked, Dogzplot, Keyhole, Opium, Dogmatika, Word Riot, 3:AM, Nerve, The Rumpus, elimae, FRiGG, Pank, mud luscious or SmokeLong Quarterly.

Maybe those authors are Brian Evenson, Stephen Graham Jones, Blake Butler, Steve Almond, Benjamin Percy, Amelia Gray, Roy Kesey, Joe Meno, Matt Bell, Holly Goddard Jones, Stephen Elliott or Mary Miller.

6. TECHNOLOGY: These days, we are a digital society. We are fast and furious in everything we do. We update our Facebook status, we Tweet, we build our profiles on a million forums, we blog. So it only makes sense that we publish online, that we download podcasts and ebooks. Printed books and printed magazines or journals will probably not go away. Ever. BUT…there is a demand for everything, now, in my mouth, give it to me, stick it in. Why should that be any different with our fiction? Don’t get me wrong, one of the simple pleasures in life is holding a book, be it a paperback, or a hefty novel bound in leather. I like it. I like to touch it. To hold it. But I also find myself with down time at work, a spare moment in a coffehouse or stuck at an airport with my laptop. And I’ve read so many great stories while I’ve waited. I’ve tracked down my favorite authors, such as the latest George Saunders at TNY. I’ve run across a new voice, and Googled that name after reading ONE compelling story, only to fine more online, and then a collection of shorts for sale, bought it, and attended a reading in my city. It’s all connected, and it can be very exciting.

DO IT

As a reader, somebody who enjoys good fiction wherever you can find it, you wouldn’t be here at my blog if you didn’t agree with me to a certain degree. You ARE online, aren’t you? And while this isn’t FICTION, there are tons of stories over there under my Table of Contents, under the Short Story section, as well as links to other authors and their work, and some fantastic presses and online journals. So go read. Check it out. Have fun.

To the writers – don’t be afraid. If you’re such a good writer, go out and write more. And put it online. Write to a theme issue, write to a particular aesthetic, stretch yourself. Make us laugh so hard we piss our pants. Make us gag. Make us a little bit horny. Make us tear up a bit. Maybe even touch a nerve. Write a horror story or an erotic tale, dabble in noir, or the surreal, write a fairy tale, or serialize your novella. But get your work out there. I think that’s one of the best things about putting your work online. It’s OUT THERE. For people to enjoy. You can’t get discovered if people can’t find your work.

Charactered Pieces, the new chapbook from Caleb J.Ross and OWC Press

by Caleb J. Ross

by Caleb J. Ross

I’ve been a long time fan of Caleb Ross. I always enjoy his work. He has a wide range of styles and genres but his stories always go deep, they resonate, they move and disturb. His novels deserve to be out there, published, now. But until then, dig the new chapbook by OWC Press (Outsider Writers Collective).

CHARACTERED PIECES

I’ve read most all these stories already, since I workshop with Caleb and have known him for years, but I’ll post up an official review once I get it in the mail. For more of his work, check out the blogroll over to the right or click on the red picture.

Caleb J. Ross

Caleb J. Ross

Peace,
Richard

QUICKIES! Chicago

QUICKIES! Chicago - October 13

QUICKIES! Chicago - October 13

QUICKIES! Chicago – October 13, 2009:

JAC JEMC
ELIZABETH WYLDER
BEN TANZER
KATE DUVA
CAROLINE PICARD
AARON PLASEK GRAY
CASEY BYE
ZACH DODSON
RICHARD THOMAS
AARON BURCH
BLAKE BUTLER
AMELIA GRAY

Wow, so what a great night. I was thrilled when Mary and Lindsay invited me to read at QUICKIES! Chicago, but little did I know that I’d be part of this fantastic FUNdraiser and mini Dollar Store Tour event. GO here to their blog to get more information on QUICKIES! and all of the authors that read. QUICKIES! Chicago

For the second night in a row I hopped in my car and fought traffic to get to the city. Last night it was to the Inner Town Pub in Wicker Park (my old stomping grounds) only to find the bar empty, but for one barfly and the bartender. I guess 7 pm is only a suggested starting time. After conversing with several Columbia students, including Casey Bye who also read some awesome fiction, and Jacob from ACM, I realized that it never starts until almost 8. Oh well. Gave me time to hang.

Lots of great talent on hand. Our hostesses Mary and Lindsay were HILARIOUS and I loved their stories as well. They were totally prepared to blow the whistle at the 5 minute mark and had no problem escorting Aaron and Amelia off the stage mid-sentence. Didn’t matter that we were in the middle of a hot dildo story by Aaron or that Amelia was on fire spewing voracious insults at the crowd. HOOKED. And pulled.

I read my story that is up at Opium called “Animal Magnetism”. I mean, if you have a story that involves a guy getting an elephant penis, you have to read it. Right? It got some good laughs, and several people afterwards told me they really liked it, so I’m happy with the results. Stiff competition. I need to get my open mic mojo back.

Some of the highlights for me were the aforementioned Aaron Burch of Hobart. He’s always entertaining, and his story was funny and a bit sad, and somehow kind of hot. Amelia Gray was hilarious, her voice is one that I’m really getting into. Like I mentioned in my last post about the SCORCH ATLAS reading, she’s a great mix of sexy, dark, and funny. Wearing a tight black dress with fishnet stockings never hurts either. Blake Butler read another great story that was dark all the way up to the end, and then twisted into something bittersweet and funny. I’m really digging his style. Jac Jemc had a really strange and dark little story that I really loved. I’ll have to check out more of her work.

Thanks to everyone that chatted me up before, during and after. I had an excellent chat with Ben Tanzer, who also read. So many great local writers.

For sure check this event out if you can in the future. I had so much fun. Thanks Nik for the encouraging text, so very cool of you. And I got to meet a Cult buddy Golding (Gus Moreno) as well, thanks for coming out to see me read and support the group, such a cool guy Gus, and another really talented writer.

Peace,
Richard

SCORCH ATLAS by Blake Butler release party with Featherproof Books

by Blake Butler

by Blake Butler

So last night I fought traffic for an hour and a half to just barely get down to the SCORCH ATLAS book release by Blake Butler and Featherproof Books on time.

It was at No Coast Collective @1500 W. 17th St, Chicago so if you’re in the Pilsen area, check them out. I love Pilsen, they have a great arts fair in the fall. Lots of great books, posters, and music, tons of handmade stuff, very cool. Reminds me a bit of Quimby’s in Wicker Park.

Zach Dodson is the co-publisher/CD at Featherproof, he mcd the event, nice guy, I got to chat with him a bit about Featherproof and what they’re doing. I’ll send them my novel(s) when they open up again. He mentioned they’d like to get into some noir, so that’s cool.

Kathryn Regina started us off with some excellent poetry, a bit of the surreal and magical realism, involving a woman eating a car, eating pennies, good stuff. We chatted a bit before the show, very nice, quiet. So I knew her work would be some strange stuff. It’s always the quiet ones.

Sam Pink was next. Very funny, cool stuff. He’s a big guy with a shaved head, but really nice. Put a nice dent in the case of PBR, him and BB. He read off the back of a movie box, Lionheart I think, JVCD…duh. His work is really funny and strange. His book I AM GOING TO CLONE MYSELF THEN KILL THE CLONE AND EAT IT looks great, go buy it.

Sam Pink CLONE

Amelia Gray flew up from Austin to read. She might have been my favorite of the evening. She read a new story, I canNOT remember the title, about hand jobs and a Chevy IROC, a guy named Carl (two actually) it was hilarious and dirty, good stuff. Had a nice chat with her after, bought a copy of AM/PM. Go get it. Yes Nik, she remembers you from Baltimore. She has a weakness for guys named Nik.

AM/PM

Blake Butler read some wild stuff. I didn’t know he was so dark! He read an excerpt from SCORCH ATLAS of course, which I bought. Something about a baby with mold dying and then a new baby a GIANT baby in the attic, it was very surreal. I liked it a lot, very tactile and rich. Got to talk with him before about his books deal and the state of various presses and the industry. Very nice guy.

Sorry I had to hop in the car back to the burbs right after, as Tiger Bones was sounding really good, lots of bass.

Great time, lots of fantastic writing. I’ll see most of these guys again tonight at the Quickies! FUNdraiser where I’ll be reading as well, at the Innertown Pub @ 1935 W. Thomas in Wicker Park. If you’re in Chicago, come on by.

LINKS to authors and presses over there on the blogroll.

Holly Goddard Jones GIRL TROUBLE

by Holly Goddard Jones

by Holly Goddard Jones

Holly’s book is out, go get it. She is of my favorite new voices. I BARELY got to know her at Murray State University where I’m getting my MFA. She is really talented and writes these wonderful dark stories.

Reminds me of MARY MILLER (and if you haven’t read her, go pick up BIG WORLD at Hobart). http://www.hobartpulp.com/minibooks/index.html

Holly is getting love all over the place – People Magazine, Oprah, and she just got some indie award or nomination. I don’t know, I’ve never had this kind of success, so I don’t know what’s a big deal and what isn’t, but everything she touches seems to turn to gold these days. Her blurbs at Amazon are impressive. She’s a sweetheart, has always been very open and helpful to me, even though she left Murray. But above and beyond all of this, her writing just blows me away.

Peace,
Richard

PS-I found that link to “Good Girl” it was at 52 Stories. So here is GG from the GT collection:
“Good Girl” by Holly Goddard Jones