Friday, 16 May 2014

Team writing

Hugh Howey is a name I have recently come to recognise. He is American, a self-pubbed author who has been so successful he's earned himself a regular publishing contract with Harpercollins.  I have read a few of his posts, and find what he says thought-provoking. Today I found his post so important I have taken a chunk of his words from his website  and put them here because I don't want to try and paraphrase what he says in case I alter the meaning. If what he says comes to pass, then writing books is going to change big time.
Link to his website if you want the full post -
but here is the gist of it:

"In my fourth month at New Harpercollins, I’m going to do something both old and new. We’re going to hire a handful of talented writers who work for us. They come to the offices, sit in a room, and they don’t procrastinate. They are going to begin outlining a brand new IP. It could be an epic fantasy world, or a complex web of romances, or a gritty western, or a new spy hero, or technical thriller . . . but I’m going to go with a science fiction universe.

They’ll brainstorm as if they’re making a game world. A world rich with history and texture. And then we’ll outline the entire rough plot of the universe, figure out its heroes and villains, and structure the novels to come. With a dozen authors working in teams, the goal will be a new novel in this universe to release every two months. The investment will be for a dozen novels over two years, similar to how TV shows are given a chance to take root. If there is no traction during the releases, we’ll pivot or look at our marketing strategy. If no traction after two years, we’ll launch another world. Or we could employ a “pilot” model as TV does, though I think it would be better to publish a trilogy rather than a single book.

The goal is to build a vast library of material to draw from. Writers can come and go. These writers will be earning a solid living, working in dynamic teams, enjoying stability but also some creative freedoms. Publishers could exploit their most popular universes with film, video games, apps, comics, TV shows, cartoons. Decades from now, one of these worlds could have the richness of the Marvel universe. And the publisher would own that universe.

Again, the top earning worlds today work much like this. It makes the old system of waiting to discover a story, building that author’s brand up to the point that they have all the power, and then being unable to profit from the IP seem awfully quaint. It’s such a powerful idea that I’ve toyed with testing it out. A group of creatives could do this just as easily as a publishing house, as long as the IP was controlled by a company and not the artists, so the latter could come and go as they see fit. Hell, I’ve already got a new universe in mind. It’s fun to think how much more awesome that universe would be if it were in more minds. And how great readers would have it if books were rolling out every two months."

I have to add that I don'e know what IP stands for. I must hunt around and find out!
I shall certainly be reading more of Mr Howey's blog.

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