Monday, August 1, 2011

My Future in Publishing the Hickman Way.

As many of you might have noticed, I haven't been updating this website as often as I'd like. I've also had a bit of a snag keeping my videos going. That's because a lot has changed lately, and every time I find myself recording a video or thinking about a blog post, by the time I'm ready to put them up things have changed and I have to start all over again.

For those of you who've been following me, you know I'm still in need of a job. This hunt has consumed my time, and I haven't been able to write, hit up auditions, or do much of anything else. I've got a family to support, after all, so how can I keep them all in food and clothing? And still do those things I've spent my life studying?

For some of my writer friends, like Joe Vasicek, the future of literature is self-publishing and e-books. Others, like Chuck, are still going the traditional route and submitting to agents.

Me? I've decided to become a Hickman-ite.

Tracy Hickman, creator of Dragonlance, has been re-pioneering the serial novel. The basic idea, more or less, is to use the internet to release books chapters at a time, then sending the finished book out to those who've been with you while, in essence, the book was still being created. On their website Dragon's Bard, Tracy and his wife have been experimenting with this model and it's worked well, and now they're offering workshops on this model of storytelling for all those who'd like to give it a try. Now as some of you might have heard, I've found myself put in charge of one of the biggest roleplaying campaigns I've ever heard of. Three groups of 4-6 people, all running through one giant world together; they'll be crossing paths, teaming up or working on opposite sides of conflicts as they see fit. It's storytelling to a scale I've never seen done before: one grand narrative, three smaller narratives, and all the characters out of the control of the author. It's a story where, quite literally, anything can happen and there's no going back to re-edit, and we'd like to share it for all of you.

In essence, here's how it will go:

On our story website (, which is currently under construction) we'll be coordinating and releasing info on this game as it progresses. As that's happening, I will be writing up the story and releasing it AS IT'S BEING CREATED BY THE PLAYERS! Where will the story go, I have no idea. The whole cast of characters is out of my control. We'll be releasing an audio version of the story as it goes along as well, but for the premium subscribers, there will be chapters released in this story, access to special "Behind the Screen" info on the game (and probably polls so you can get your voice in about what you'd like to happen in the story) and a special first printing of the books. I might even get your favorite characters to sign for you in character, which to me sounds like an awesome prize. Is this an ambitious undertaking? You bet. But it's something that, to my knowledge, has never been tried before (at least not to this scale,) and the writing fire in me is blazing at the thought of giving something like this a try.

Right now I've got until World Con to get the website up so I start advertising while I'm there. Then come August 23rd, we start the game. Could this blow up in my face? Absolutely! It wouldn't be fun if it couldn't! But I invite all of you and your friends to come along for the ride and see where this experiment in storytelling takes us. I promise, one way or another, this will entertain you.

Looks like the Life of the Modern Bard is taking a turn, but then again not really. This is, after all, what I do. I'm a bard, I'm a storyteller.

Let's go tell some stories.


P.S. If you're interested, I've put up some banners up on my site to Tracy Hickman's seminars, both the one on serial publishing and the one on writing in general. Yes, it's advertising, but I'd rather advertise something I believe in than whatever Google feels my viewers would like, so go over and take a peek if you'd like to know more about what I'll be doing.

Thanks everyone, and I'll see you at World Con!


  1. I would think the serial release would be really hard unless the book was a) already done or b) you had a very, vyer tight outline. Otherwise it's too late to go back and fix things/add new things!

    Thanks for the blog-mention. :D

  2. actually, it works really well as long as you have a good outline first. You just have to acept that, if your characters take on a life of their own and change the story's direction, you have to just go with it.

    Or in my case where every character already has a life of their own, just be ready to fly by the seat of my pants and make sure every chapter and adventure is self-contained well. It's kind of like Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens novels, since this was their system of publication then.

  3. And it's not just Dickens and Doyle that used the serial format. Tons of classic lit was produced this way. Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Herman Melvile, William Flaukner, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, James Joyce, they all published serially. Serial publishing used to be standard way for new authors to get a big break.