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Call To Arms! - vaguely OT

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  • Steve Savile
    Not strictly Mythsoc business, but, I am in the process of designing and launching a fantasy community on the web... details pasted in below, and wondered what
    Message 1 of 1 , May 26, 2000
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      Not strictly Mythsoc business, but, I am in the process of designing and launching a fantasy community on the web... details pasted in below, and wondered what you folks would like to see in it, perhaps it could be used to promote Mythsoc etc...


      Ladies and Gentlemen,

      Please forgive this intrusion into your daily lives. I have something I would like to share with you, the question is: "where to begin?"

      Everyone receiving this email is in some way tied to the Science Fiction or Fantasy genres and has probably come across me or my work in some manner. Last year my debut anthology Redbrick Eden was runner up in the British Fantasy Awards and I am currently editing a collection of Fritz Leiber classic short stories, bringing them back into print for the first time in 30-40 years.

      There is a reason for this similarity in our interests, obviously. I have been involved with the horror genre for quite some time now and my strongest impression here is one of community and commitment where as when I surf the internet looking for info on fantasy and SF writers and books I am forced to wade through a lot of fractured links and turgid fan sites that offer very little beyond: "ooh I love so and so's books!" So, where is this email driving?

      I have a vision, an idea, more realistically. A single ONE STOP SHOP for f&sf. If you are looking for publishers updates, new releases, exerts etc, they'll be there, no matter the publisher, mass market or small press, thanks to the internet this can be offered. Secured credit card purchases so you can by these titles online and basically direct from the publishers or authors (if you are after that signed edition).

      That's one aspect of the vision. The next:

      I'm a fan, I always have been. Being a fan has driven me into this business and will keep me here for many years to come. Most writers offer some form of correspondence with their fans. Indeed there is a wonderful horror website where a number of writers have messageboards maintained by the site. Imagine the development of a community where all of your favourite fantasy and SF authors have messageboards where you can communicate with them. Would the authors have to log in all day? Nope. Obviously not. Writers write. But if a writer was prepared to drop in once a week to check up on the 'mail' waiting for him it offers a great way of reaching current fans and prospective ones without getting drawn in to long communiqués unless, of course, that is what interests you. The internet is after all a huge web of commercial possibility and marketing opportunity. None of us can ignore the fact that being wired in is vital. This form of loose community without membership dues or union rules offers a tremendous opportunity to promote new work or backlist material. With the world wide nature of the web things could be set up to aid in selling those foreign rights to expanding markets like China and Russia, for instance. Remember, it doesn’t pay to be publicity shy in the modern world.

      Online interviews about those new projects.

      The potential is there for serious review positions of both fiction and non-fiction. Then there is the need for SF&F writer resources and research pages. Want to know the grammatical roots of the Celtic language, they’ll be there, along with names, armour and weapons, anthropological studies, etc. Interested in the literary history of monsters? They’ll be there, either links or specially commissioned articles. Which of course leads into the possibility for hosting on-line fiction. Whilst I shy away from e-zenes and the like, the idea for a showcase of older tales and newer ones is a possibility. There are plenty of fiction sites. Indeed, one possibility offered by the communal idea of the internet would simply be links to fiction offered on other sites. The vision would however include the publishing of original fiction paid for at a professional rate. How? Through publisher advertising for one thing. Sponsorships and funding. Through commissions on book sales via the site for another. Another possibility is through the hosting of official WebPages for authors for a small fee. The site as I see it is not a profit-making venture but it would be incredible if it could generate the finances to become a paying market and perhaps even produce a hardcopy book or two… I don't intend to launch into massive promises of 10c a word or such like because I want this community to grow and last, not simpy make a big splash and then watch those ripples slowly disappear in everdecreasing circles.

      What about if I am looking to sell my rare first edition but I am not a publisher? An auction facility on the site similar to ebay.com but specialising in fantasy and science fiction collectibles.

      Then there is the centralised possibility for competitions and give-aways from within the genre.

      To make things different from simply a meet and greet, I’m contacting a number of multi-user dungeon game sites to see if any would be interested in designing an official MUD or Role-play Mush (one SF and one Fantasy) along with a couple of themed chatrooms for people to meet and greet. Friends and fans, not necessarily authors and publishers, but there is nothing to stop an online convention of sorts taking place as things develop. The games bring the kids in who in turn take the time to wander round and find out about writers they may never come across otherwise. It’s all a knock on thing.

      An online art gallery for up and coming artists.

      There’s the chance for you to put out recommended reading lists to point the younger generation in the direction of classics like Fritz Leiber and John Brunner.

      But of course none of this will work without money and money raising won’t be particularly successful without support from writers and publishers. So that’s why I am writing, or at least one reason. The site needs a catchy name without infringing on copyrights, so F&SF won’t do and my first choice of http://www.fantasy.com has already been taken by a pornography site so that won’t do. Any suggestions would be gratefully accepted. I’ve got a few ideas, but it needs to be perfect. Easy to remember and almost impossible to forget. If you are a writer and you’d be prepared to visit a specially maintained messageboard, let me know. If you’re a publisher interested in promoting new writers or offering books for review or renting out advertising space (in the form of book features not banners), let me know. Interested in selling back catalogue books via our secure server, let me know. Want to recommend a writer or clue in your editor, go right ahead, word of mouth is vital. Ideas for angles I haven’t covered, fire them this way. Want to write a non-fiction article or have old ones you'd be prepared to see out there online for a while? Fiction you’d like to offer for the showcase? Send me the details and we’ll work something out. Need a host for a homepage or know someone who does, you got it, let me know.
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