We've been having a discussion about self-publishing, POD, new technology and the future of publishing and one thing that seems to show up a lot as the difference between traditional publishing and new publishing is the vetting process - self-published books don't have to be approved by anyone. Maybe this is good, maybe it's not.

Anyway, the discussion led to the idea of a community-driven anthology of crime fiction short stories that would use new technology - POD and e-publishing, I think - to publish.

Would anyone be interested?

The idea now would be to have a place on Crimespace where members could post short stories and the community could vote for their favourites. There's been a suggestion that the stories could be posted anonymously and I guess there'd need to be a way to limit one vote per person. Does anyone feel the honour system would work?

Then we would take the most popular stories and put them into an anthology. I also thought we could probably get it ready in time to have a launch at Bouchercon in Indianapolis in October.

As far as I know this hasn't been done, even though there's been so much talk about the potential of online communities.

Any ideas?

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I really like this idea. I come from a business background and with today's economy I think alternative publishing ideas are going to be necessary if we are going to get our work seen. Cooperative efforts by writers would be a giant step in this direction. It would also put the power of publishing and distribution back into the hands of the authors. I have been bewildered by the lack of interest shown in the POD technology by the major publishers. From a profit point of view, they would be better off turning their warehouses into parking lots and only printing once the books were ordered. It would eliminate the return system and keep product in print almost forever.
Let's do this. If I were not so grammatically challenged, I would volunteer to help. Maybe I can be the janitor.
A few publishers are talking about POD as a way to keep the backlist available - it's tricky because it also keeps the books from returning to the authors.

I'm not sure there's ever been a time when the, "power of publishing and distribution," was in "the hands of the authors," and I don't think there are many authors who actually want that "power," given how much we complain about having to do any marketing ourselves.

But what has surprised me is that editors haven't looked into new technology. Especially now that so many are being let go by major publishers, it seems like a reasonable way to start up new publishing enterprises, or even an imprint within a publishing company. Oh well, it's early days yet, I'm sure plenty of radical new ideas will start to show up soon.
John,
Yeah, I probably let my alligator mouth get ahead of my humming bird brain when I said "power of publishing and distribution". It's a hangover from my days as an independent periodical publisher. Small staff, regional distribution and fearless youth are not always your friends. But that brings up another problem.
We were effective enough to get bought out by the big boys for a pretty hefty profit. We weren't really hurting them, just a pain in the keester and they wanted us to go away. What happens to a group project if we actually make enough noise to get a buy out offer? I know that's looking way downstream, but it needs to be considered during the organization stages.
The way things are in publishing right now? If someone makes an offer, I say take it.
I think the best invention would be a "Print On Demand" booth to be set up at bookstores. Why wait for delivery by mail from an online store, when you can go to a bookstore, enter the author and title you're looking for, and the machine will then print and bind a paperback for you. And while you wait the ten-fifteen minutes for your order to be manufactured, you can browse the bookstore for anything else you might want.

It gets people into bookstores, it gets them browsing, and it helps keep mid-list titles alive. It just might sell!

And if anyone wants to offer me money, cash up front, and lots of it. ;)
It's called the Espresso Book Machine, have a look here.

I'm not sure how it's going. I saw one at BookExpo Canada a couple years ago and they had plans for airports and other public places.

My idea would be for book stores to have the capability to load up my e-reader - I'd still like to go into bookstores and browse and talk to the staff, but why waste the trees?
I figured someone had the idea before, and I'd like to see everywhere. As for E-books, I just can't get into them. I like having something I can enjoy without batteries once in a while. Though the ability to load up your Kindle, or whatever at any bookstore would be great for those who do enjoy e-books.

As for saving the trees, I say plant more trees, recycle used paper, and/or make paper from hemp which, pardon the pun, grows like a weed, that is if they can get the stoners from trying to smoke their books in the futile attempt to get high. ;)
A great idea for the simple reason that it will give the writers included a credible way to showcase their work, as long as it's marketed correctly. I work as a copy editor and regularly edit fiction for magazines so I'd volunteer to work on this. Having also gone the Lulu route myself I know what's involved in navigating the POD process. I'm sure there are loads of people here with different skills that can be utilised to create an impressive package.
Well, one way or another, if this is going to go ahead, there needs to be a schedule set up for writing, posting, voting, editing, formatting, and getting the thing to the printer if it's going to be available in October. Just sayin', since October seems a long way away now, but won't once things get started. Also, if there's a theme, it needs to be decided before the writing begins.
I don't know much (read: anything) about the intricacies of posting and voting for online content, but my beloved Spousal Equivalent tells me a site called Worth1000.com has been doing it with graphic and text content for qute a while, and anonymously. She also says the head guy over there would likely to happy to show how they do it. I don't know if the underlying technology of Worth1000 and Crimespace would allow for much similarity, but if anyone wants to check, she sounded enthusiastic.

Lest anyone think I'm suggesting work for someone else to do (which I am, obviously), I'd do it, but I'm still recovering from mono while trying to get back to my day job full-time, so I am not the most reliable vessel to trust for much follow-up for a little while. Sorry.
Hi,

I'm going to jump into the middle of your comments. I write children's books and I do my own publishing, prinintg, marketing, advertising, copywriting, etc. It really is not that hard to do and the publishers don't really help you with the the sales anyway.

I stock about 100 of each book at my house. I will have contracts with B&N, Borders, Target, Wal-Mart and Toys R Us later this year. I am doing my own distribution and Internet marketing but I did pay to have professional press releases done and sent out nation wide.

I didn't have a lot of money and while my books are not crime related they are strategy (solve the problem) related.

Karen
Fire Station Buddies
www.firestationbuddies.com
John,
You've come up with a great idea if the details can be worked out. Speaking of the changing book publishing industry, here are a couple of links you might find very interesting and informative.
Chris

http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2008/12/23/publishing/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/24/technology/24kindle.html?_r=2&...

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