Other Sides is an anthology of web fiction published by Ergofiction and supported by Novelr. MCM is one-half of the team responsible for the project, and he’s here to talk about the process and intention behind the book, and why perhaps we should all support them.
One of the biggest problems with web fiction is getting people to give it a try. As soon as you say “it’s available for free on the w—”, half the people tune you out. Available for free? On a website? Ah yes, you mean a BLOG. I’ve heard of those. My cousin has one where she posts photos of her kids building forts out of pillows and quilts and dining room chairs. How quaint of you.
Convincing people to invest time in your writing when is always a struggle, but getting them to take web fiction seriously is extra hard, because it plays into every prejudice you can imagine. Self-publishing, the cult of the amateur on the web, free = bad… we’ve got it all, and more! And the tragedy is, there are a lot of great stories on the web that don’t get the recognition they deserve simply because of how they’re presented. It’s not just a tragedy for the writers, it’s a tragedy for the readers, because they’re missing out. But how do you help people take that first step? How do you show them what web fiction has to offer?
Many, many months ago, the ever-sharp Ergofiction editor A.M. (Anna) Harte was having this very discussion with me as I was crumbling under the weight of a truly epic workload. The conversation went something like this:
ME: Pity me, I have no time to finish my work, or eat, or sleep.
ANNA: The best way to spread web fiction is to offer a sampler of some great writers.
ME: I see you are ignoring what I am saying.
ANNA: And we can offer the sampler as an ebook so people more comfortable with Kindles and iPads can partake.
ME: Oh dear, I see spots. Goodbye, cruel world!
ANNA: And when the new readers see how great web fiction is, they will want to read more!
ANNA: I like this plan. Do you like this plan?
ANNA: Excellent! Submit your story by the end of the week!
ME: Yes, master.
And that, in a nutshell, is how “Other Sides” came about. And once you get over the initial shock of reanimating corpses, it’s actually quite genius. We have a book of some really great web fiction writing, wrapped in a tidy package and distributed in ways that will not scare the average reader. We have print, even! Real people can browse Amazon, come across “Other Sides”, and say: “Hey, that looks like a nice collection of short stories! I will buy that for only $6!” And when they read it, at the end of every story, there is a little blurb that tells them more about the author, with a link to more of their writing. And when they visit that link… they are partaking in web fiction. And it won’t seem so bad.
The great thing about web fiction is that it’s addictive and personal, like a massive bowl of candies right next to your workspace. A bowl of candies that nobody can eat but you. Mmm, candy. Strandline is like the caramel-filled ones, and… sorry, what was I saying? Oh, right: once someone becomes aware web fiction exists, they almost never leave. Just like the bowl of candy. “Other Sides” is what I hope to be the first step of a bigger campaign to bring our little community to the rest of the world. It’s the thin end of the wedge, if you will. A wedge of chocolate.
So if you haven’t already, please go read “Other Sides”, and leave a review on Amazon. And tell your friends about it. And make your family buy you copies for Christmas. Because the more people that discover web fiction, the stronger the community will be, which will energize our writers and make our stories even better, and eventually, “web fiction” will be a label to aspire to.
Also, if we hit 10,000 downloads, Anna will give me my soul back.
MCM is the technical half of the team behind Other Sides. (Anna does the editorial work). He writes at 1889.ca, and is currently the lead for the creation of a Web Fiction Writers Guild. Go download Other Sides today – he’d really like his soul back.