Jonathan Wood rocks my house and some thoughts on short fiction profitability


Jonathan Wood takes over Behind the Wainscot for a bit of cross-linked insanity entitled “The Evidence.” His four plus part piece is the sort of hybridized mind fuckery that I love to read, and I’m thrilled that he’s done something over there that gives me a massive word-to-brain kick. You should go check it out and lose yourself in its misdirection. I really like the way the stories keep getting away from the reader, until you don’t really know where you are and if you are reading fiction any more. Wood has tickled something that is numinous about the Internet: reality is thin and subjective out there in the tubeland. “The Evidence” is a ‘Arthur Gordon Pym meets Mistah Kurtz and they both go hunt the White Whale’ narrative mashed up in that 21st century hypertext/alternate reality fiction sort of way.

Speaking of word-brain kicking, this leads into a discussion point or two about the whole profitability of ezines conversation that has been floating around. It started with Simon Owens’ article at Bloggasm about the history of the ezine and the profitability thereof (link), wandered through a good portion of my daily reading list, had a good question posed by Neil Clarke in the comments of a post by Paul Jessup (the question, to save you the trouble, was: what’s the criteria for success?), and ends with an answer offered by Dr. Bradley in the comments of a topical post by John Klima (to wit, referencing Farrago’s Wainscot: “Success for us isn’t cash—it’s every completed issue.”)

Two things from all this: (1) Chasing advertising is the wrong game because advertising isn’t part of the book reading model (and ezines and online fiction and all that are a variation of that model, and not the internet model which is what successful advertising compensation is tied to); and (2) who is the ezine for, really? The editor or the authors? Or the audience?

Short fiction is transitory. For me, and this is the opinion of a writer who has a full-time day job that eclipses any financial gain via short fiction, the shorties are marketing tools. It is a means of finding and engaging an audience. It is a moment of time, a fleeting instant of “yes, here I am, and here you are too.” It passes and we move on, but connected now, ready to see each other again in that splendid frisson of mutual discovery.

Jonathan Wood’s fiction has, over the last few weeks, given me more than a few moments. He makes me want to go home and write. If’n’when he has a book out, I’m buying a copy. I’m part of his audience. In which case, his investment in short fiction has netted him a return. If you look over the responses to the question posed by SF Signal on the purpose of short fiction, you’ll see that Mr. Wood’s effort have proven “profitable.”