Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Are You Writing For Foreigners?

Considering the U.S. only represents about 4.75% of the world’s population, shouldn’t writers take global marketplaces into consideration for their books?  I don’t just mean write a book and sell it in another English-speaking nation or to sell the foreign rights to other nations.  Have you thought of writing books for intended readers of other lands?  Would India or China be ideal targets, each with 1.5 billion-plus citizens? 

Rather than right a book that appeals to Americans and gets exported overseas in hopes it’ll find a way to fit into the cultures of other lands,  why not create a book with that audience in mind?  The world is growing, after all.

After taking 250,000 years for the planet’s population to reach a billion and another hundred-plus years to surpass two billion, we’ve been obliterating watershed marks at a faster pace.  We added another billion people in just the past dozen years.  It’s expected we’ll hit 9 billion people by 2050.  Most growth will not be in the United States. 

The entrepreneurial author can cash in on the upcoming international gold rush.  The winners will be those that customize their works for the markets they look to sell in.  So study up on other cultures and you soon can write an erotic novel for Arabs, a business book for Asians, and a cookbook for Africans. 

Interview With Sci-Fi & FantasyAuthor Andrew Gavin

1.      Andy, what type of books do you write? Fundamentally, I’m a fantasy guy. I read mostly Science Fiction and Fantasy (over 10,000 novels perhaps!) and that’s what I like to write. My particular blend usually borrows from our own world and our own past. I’m a huge history fan and I find the past just as exciting and fantastic as a purely made up world. I like to show that the past is not staid and boring, but way wilder than the usual impression. And I love mining real mythology and occult beliefs for my supernatural elements. Truth is stranger than fiction. The twisted imaginations of our ancestors, devoid of the distractions of the current age, were often far more creative than the half-assed creations of Hollywood and the like.

2.      What inspired you to become a writer? I’m a lifelong creator and explorer of worlds. As far back as first grade I remember spending most of the school day in one day dream or another. I had a huge notebook stuffed with drawings, story bits, and concepts for an elaborate Sci-Fi/Fantasy world I cobbled together from bits of Star Wars, Narnia, and Battlestar Galactica. By fourth or fifth grade not only was I loosing myself in every fantasy or Sci-Fi novel I could, but I was building Dungeons & Dragons castles and caverns on paper. Then from 1980 on the computer. Over the following decades I wrote dozens of stories and created and published over a dozen video games all set in alternative universes. And as an avid reader (over 10,000 novels and who knows how many non-fiction volumes) it was no surprise that I eventually decided to write some books of my own.

3.      What is your latest or upcoming book about? My first novel is a dark historical fantasy called The Darkening Dream. Even as the modern world pushes the supernatural aside in favor of science and steel, the old ways remain. God, demon, monster, and sorcerer alike plot to regain what was theirs.

1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.

With the help of Alex, an attractive Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal?

No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be herself.

4.      How does it feel to be a published author? Any advice for struggling writers? The simplest and the most time consuming advice is to read. Read everything you can. In your genre, in other genres, non-fiction. Everything. Of course if you’re one of those people who just never reads but somehow has the burning desire to be a writer… perhaps you should think again. Next, take your craft seriously. Read books on writing and editing, on plot and structure. Editing, and I mean professional editing, is really very important. A surprising number of published books aren’t even well edited. They’re overwritten and redundant, like this sentence. Patience. It takes a long time to improve and you’ll end up doing a lot of waiting on both yourself and others.

5.      Where do you see book publishing heading? Let’s dust off the crystal ball. First of all, there’s the print/digital swing. I expect ebooks to be the dominant part of the market within as little as 2-3 years. Print won’t totally go away anytime soon, but it will become increasingly niche. The bookstore – and, in fact, many types of retail store – are doomed. Once Barnes and Noble goes away, and it will, mass market print sales will be down to the “Wallmart 200” or similar, available at big chains, supermarkets, airports and the like. The idea of having any kind of broad inventory visible at retail will soon be laughable. It’s possible that POD kiosks or something much briefly mitigate this, but I doubt it. Even if you are a paper diehard, you’ll have to buy online (aka Amazon) unless you love a diet of James Patterson.

Then, once distribution and the lock on distribution is meaningless, the hold big publishing has maintained on content will be gone. The walls are already crumbling. Business models are going to have to change because the kind of high overhead, slow moving operation of the past will be disrupted. How this all falls out, who knows. I don’t myself worry about the “mountain of crap” argument. There’s already far, far more books than one could ever look at. The system just doesn’t show them to you unless you’re looking. I recently bought a number of books on life in Ancient Mesopotamia. Do you think those featured on anyone’s bestseller list? Marketing dollars will still matter. Word of mouth will still matter. But like in other industries this will be a chaotic mix of big money blockbusters and random upstarts. Barrier of entry is low and getting lower.

Useful links:

http://andy-gavin-author.com  About his writing
http://the-darkening-dream.com About his current novel

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, a leading book publicity firm. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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