Flash Fiction Month and Future Plans

Flash Fiction Month 2015 starts today! From now until July 31st, I will be writing, editing and posting one (very) short story every single day. I can’t say what the stories will be like. I can’t say when I’ll manage to collect them together into a book. What I can say is that the cover will be blue.FFM 2014 Temp CoverThe “rainbow party” colour convention for my Flash Fiction Month books started entirely by accident, and like a lot of things I’m involved with mostly got going because somebody on the internet said “Heh, that’s funny.” Based on the first cover featuring an orange object and the second cover featuring a red one, somebody spotted that it would be possible to make the book covers form a rainbow as the series went on.

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverFFM 2014 Temp Cover

That was reason enough for me to go ahead and do it, but the design had the added bonus of making the paperbacks identifiable by their spines, which aren’t always thick enough to have the titles printed on them. It also meant that I could reliably turn one free stock image into an eye-catching book cover, which is really handy because I can’t afford to commission a book cover a year.

The thing is, the colour scheme itself seems to suggest something of a natural end point: orange, red, purple, blue, green, yellow. After that (barring a bold move into the non-visible portions of the electromagnetic spectrum) I’m out of colours. The only way I can really go beyond six books is to start again at orange, and that’s exactly what I intend to do. There may be a limited pallette of colours, but there’s a virtually infinite range of coloured objects. Still, that means that each run through the spectrum will form something of a complete set.

Having passed the halfway point for this batch of six, I’ve started to think about where to take the series from here. I originally put together OCR is Not the Only Font as a one-off test-run for self-publishing. The simple fact that there is a series means it’s already gone a lot further than I expected. One issue that raises is that if I keep putting out a book a year—as I intend to—I’ll end up either giving a way a lot of free books (eventually dozens), or at some point I’ll have to start charging for them.

With that in mind, 2015’s collection will not be free. The stories themselves will still be readily available online, and you’ll be able to get the book’s introduction as part of a free sample, but I’ll most likely charge 99p (or thereabouts) for the ebooks from this point on. The combined word count of the first three books is, bizarrely, almost identical to that of Face of Glass (it’s within 400 words), so I feel as though that’s a pretty generous chunk of writing to make available free. If I had a penny for every time I gave a book away, I’d have ₤23.91 by this point.

Now on to the good stuff!

Since I’m hoping to “complete” the first run of the spectrum in 2017, I’d like to do something more to link together those six books of 186 stories: I’d like to put together an omnibus. More than that, I’d like to put together an illustrated omnibus. For both the Alterworld stories and the Black Throne saga, having something visual to accompany the writing has really made all the difference.

My Flash Fiction Month stories have always included a weird mish-mash of characters and genres, so I’d be keen to get a whole bunch of different artists involved in this. A shift in art style won’t do any harm to a book that can be following a vengeful cyborg on one page and a breakdancing wizard on the next. For practical reasons, I also don’t think it would hurt to have some illustrations with a full background and others with just a sketch of a character. Illustrating even 10% of the book would mean about 19 drawings, and that seems like a good minimum to aim for.

My plan for this omnibus is fairly simple: Kickstarter. Up until now I’ve managed to put out all my books without really sinking any money into them up-front, and if my plan were only to collect 186 stories of plain old text, this one wouldn’t be any different. What is different are the artists I’m hoping to get involved.

I don’t want to just promise artists a cut of the royalties. With the number of people I’m hoping to get involved, that cut just wouldn’t be worth having: it almost certainly wouldn’t cover the value of a piece of artwork. However, I can’t afford to pay for that many commissions up-front either. That’s why a Kickstarter campaign would really do wonders. Rather than me paying for commissions and then trying to make that money back through sales, backers would fund the creation of the book and get their copy in exchange.

The initial goal would be low, only intended to cover the minimum number of illustrations necessary to make a good book. Since the rewards for backers would revolve around copies of the omnibus—effectively an opportunity to preorder—I hope that there would be enough interest in the book to help it reach its goal in some form or another. Stretch goals would mostly focus on getting more illustrations in the book and more artists on board. Plus, with a large enough group of backers or a generous enough handful of fans, the omnibus could turn into something much more impressive than I could possibly have put together on my own.

It’ll be a good two years before I could possibly start the campaign, but I’m hoping to start organising this early by finding artists who’d be interested in getting involved with the project. I’ve got a few people in mind already, but I’d also be keen to get suggestions from readers. If you can think of anyone whose artwork would match up with my writing, let me know! Pretty much the only practical consideration is that the illustrations will have to look good in black and white, since the paperback will definitely be too big to print in colour and e-ink displays can’t handle it anyway. That’s not to say that the illustrations can’t be in colour: they just have to look good without it.

The last three years of Flash Fiction Month have been absolutely amazing, and largely because of all the great people who’ve been so keen to get involved (both readers and writers). Here’s hoping the next three—and the ones after that—are even better.

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2 comments

  1. 500woerterdiewoche

    So you mean we’ll finally be able to pay you for writing? That’s good news! And 99p is low enough not to scare anyone away.

    The omnibus kickstarter sounds good, too. Just remember to calculate it carefully, I’ve heard from people who got successfully funded and then didn’t have enough money left to do their project because they miscalculated the costs, such as sending out backers’ rewards (don’t forget postage), Kickstarter’s fees, and taxes.

    • Damon L. Wakes

      Haha! Yeah, it seemed about time. I expect that even a 99p price tag will seriously limit the number of people reading those books, but the first three will still be free so there’s always a way for new people to find me.

      I’ve heard of that problem as well. I’m hoping to avoid it by gearing most of the rewards around electronic copies of the book, and other things that I can offer without worrying about printing/manufacturing costs or postage. I’ve already estimated the size and cost of the paperback omnibus, and it will not be a small book. I’ve yet to check how much it could cost to post, but my guess is that paperback copies will be a pretty big reward and I might have to limit the numbers I give out.

      Still, the basic idea behind the project is pretty foolproof. I know I can put out a book without needing any money up front, so for the most part I can focus on just passing the kickstarter funding on to the artists.

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