The Sky is the Limit – Except if You Have an Airship
Writing for a shared universe or a licensed world is a lot like having a homework assignment in a subject you really like, assigned by a picky teacher. I have done quite a lot of this sort of writing, and over time it has become clear that it really isn't my "thing". Don't get me wrong, I think I'm pretty good at it, but after a while it just started to irritate me having to worry about particulars that I had nothing to do with. The last such book I wrote was a collaboration with the lovely and talented Patricia Lee Macomber, our Stargate Atlantis novel Brimstone – which is still going strong and selling well.
Things have shifted in the publishing universe though. As a digital publisher, moving slowly into other formats, it occurred to me that the fun of a licensed series didn't have to be muddied by the controlling fingers of some huge publishing entity in the sky. If I can publish an original novel, why not an original series? The answer, of course, is why not, indeed?
I noodled the problem with my buddies Steven Savile, and Aaron Rosenberg, and we came up with our first experiment. It's a sweeping, epic story arc titled Tales of the Scattered Earth. We have an over-reaching storyline that we collaborated on, and then, from there we sort of went our separate ways – for the moment. Aaron wrote the first novel – The Birth of the Dread Ramora – and he also wrote a novella titled Crossed Paths, featuring the crew of the Remora and their fearless Captain. I wrote The Second Veil which is a very different, almost steampunk novel that ends with an airship – The Tangent – shooting off into space. Other novels are coming from Steven Savile, Keith Candido, and Steven Lockley, though our original three own the Scattered Universe world. Each of these will feature crews, ships, and civilizations conceived by the author. Only later in the series will we start to bring them together and move toward the beginning of what we call the second arc. It's fun, it's creative in ways it could not be with a Paramount, or an MGM behind it, and if we play our cards right, maybe it will lead to a serious following and fandom.
The Birth of the Dread Remora is selling very well in digital, as is Crossed Paths. It is also available now as a trade paperback, and as an unabridged audiobook, all available through our website at http://store.crossroadpress.com – and distributed widely. The Second Veil is in digital, picking up steam. It is going to print later this month, and the audiobook is in production. Things are happening, and we had no "Big Brother" watching over us. It's exhilarating.
Next up is a new series called OCLT (I'll hold off on explaining that acronym). It is a sort of mashup of X-Files, Buffy, Supernatural, and Fringe, and we're having a blast working out the first books and stories to launch it. My own novel The Parting (about halfway finished) will be the first…Aaron has a novella, and I have a novella started, and there are books in the wings.
The message here is simple. The rules have ALL changed. Instead of sitting back and wishing we had control over the licensed works we were writing, we created our own licensed works – licensed to ourselves. Since I am publisher of The Scattered Earth AND of the Stargate eBooks, I can tell you our numbers are competing quite nicely with an established series, which is very encouraging. We even have our own Café Press store lined up so we can sell Dread Remora cups and hats and shirts, as well as those for my airship, The Tangent. There is literally nothing that the big guys can do, short of huge advertising dollars being spent, that cant' be reproduced in the new digital playground. From us you get the same authors writing your Stargate, Star Trek, and other licensed novels, but with a freer hand and more creative control over their work (read that as happier). In fact, if a small web-series creating movie entity reads this and wants to talk about creating the actual Scattered Earth web-TV series – (insert fingers in a phone simulation and a wink) Call me.
I would say the sky is the limit, but both The Dread Remora, and the Airship Tangent, have proven this is not the case…
I have also re-launched my own series, The DeChance Chronicles, featuring book collector, mystic, and underworld investigator Donovan DeChance. The first two of these, Heart of a Dragon, and Vintage Soul, are available in digital – Heart of a Dragon in audio – and both due in the next year or so in print.
If you can think it- you can do it – and it's never been more true than it is today.
David Niall Wilson has been writing and publishing horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction since the mid-eighties. An ordained minister, once President of the Horror Writer's Association and multiple recipient of the Bram Stoker Award, his novels include Maelstrom, The Mote in Andrea's Eye, Deep Blue, the Grails Covenant Trilogy, Star Trek Voyager: Chrysalis, Except You Go Through Shadow, This is My Blood, Ancient Eyes, On the Third Day, The Orffyreus Wheel, and Vintage Soul. Heart of a Dragon – the chronological first book in the DeChance Chronicles is now available. The Stargate Atlantis novel “Brimstone,” written with Patricia Lee Macomber is his most recent title in print – upcoming is The Second Veil, Tales of the Scattered Earth Book II. He has over 150 short stories published in anthologies, magazines, and five collections, the most recent of which were "Defining Moments" published in 2007 by WFC Award winning Sarob Press, and the currently available “Ennui & Other States of Madness,” from Dark Regions Press. His work has appeared in and is due out in various anthologies and magazines. David lives and loves with Patricia Lee Macomber in Hertford, NC with their children, Billy, Zach, Zane, and Katie, and occasionally their genius college daughter Stephanie. David is CEO and founder of Crossroad Press, a cutting edge digital publishing company specializing in electronic novels, collections, and non-fiction, as well as unabridged audiobooks.