Just sent my agent two outlines for Hooper ebooks. I can’t really talk about them without giving away spoilers for the main novels, since they follow a couple of the major non Point of View characters Dave deals with.
I would have written these books anyway, but they were a done deal a while ago. Hooper is the narrator (in third person) of the long form novels. We do get inside the ugly heads of a couple of monsters, but we never see anything from the points of view of Dave’s sidekicks.
It was a real problem when I was first writing the books. I had no idea what the supporting characters were thinking. It forced me to rewrite a few chapters in their voices, just to get inside their heads. Those passages don’t appear in the ebooks, but they inform them and they definitely inspired them.
Having finished major operations on most of the main series, with just some page proofing and one copy edit check to go, I have until January 5 to play around with the short form stories. I’ve plotted out two Hooper ebooks, written about half of another one, The Demons of Buttecracke County, and of course I still have Stalin’s Hammer to deal with.
A lot of my thinking time at the moment is given over to trying to nut out how to make it all work; not narratively, but practically.
I’ve scheduled Jan-Sept next year as the initial writing phase of the second Hooper series, but each individual title only needs ten weeks of first drafting. That means I’ll be rewriting and eventually copy editing and proofing three manuscripts in different stages of development by mid year. I’ve just done that, so I know it’s possible, but also a real time management challenge.
Adding to the complexity, I have also finally allotted real time to researching and writing that book on the history of fear I promised Picador so many years ago. It will only get two hours a day, but it will get those two hours every day from Jan 5. It adds up.
So, doing the math. I can devote four hours a day (eight ‘pomodori’ sessions with breaks) to Hooper, and another four pomo sessions (25 mins per sesh, with five min break between) to Fear. My afternoons are given over to wrangling kids and I’ve stopped pretending I can do any really heavy writing of an evening any more. The days of cranking thousands of words a night are over. Orin wins.
Blunty gets written on Monday afternoon. My Saturday column for the Herald takes up most of Thursday morning. So I'm not sure where I have time to commit to regular ebook work. Certainly not during the day. And yet, I really want to do these ebooks. If I keep them to 20K words, they’re not an unreasonable time suck. Perhaps just an hour of an evening, which would deliver 600-800 words, but only two nights a week, with another session on the weekend? With both kids in high school next year, it’s not unusual to find the whole family at their keyboards for long hours on a Sunday. Sad, but true. This is how we live now.
Once Fear is done, a lot of this crashing and grinding of gears will end and the ten hours a week I gave to the nonfiction project can be allotted to the ebooks. But even when I sort out the workflow issues, I still have a gnarly little problem with regional rights.
Ebooks work best when released regularly (ha!) to a global audience. The regularity is a matter of my scheduling. The global audience is a matter of multiple publishers coming to an agreement and working with each other. (Again, ha!) What I would like to do is simply give the rights to one ebook, to one publisher, globally. Say, Del Rey/Random first. Then the world rights to next one would turn over to Momentum. That way everyone gets a feed of the whole pie, not just little slices of it.
Is that kind of deal likely?
Who knows? Luckily, it’s not my problem to sort out. That’s why I have an agent.
Before anyone suggest I go all Hugh Howey and do it myself, nah. That’s not gonna happen. Publishers are good. I like them a lot. Howey’s model works for him. That doesn’t mean it would work for anyone else. I know the value the publishers add during editing and production. It's immense. Sure, I could buy in that expertise, but why the hell would I take on that expense and risk? No, I'll leave that to Hugh.