As a part of establishing this brand, I will be working on a logo, and a series of short stories to “prime the pump” as it were.
My goal is to create something that is appealing, and attractive enough that it can survive the whims of publishers, producers, and production designers. It needs to be simple, able to be rendered in black and white (or any two colors) while remaining recognizable, and communicate some essentials about the setting.
I’m no artist, and I don’t have the budget (read: job) to pay one. But I’m handy with Photoshop. So, I’ll be trying my hand at it probably sometime this week.
If I fail miserably at that (which is likely), I may be able to find some money or movie coupons in a couch somewhere to hold a contest either here, or through something like GeniusRocket. What I’d like to promise is a free, signed, advance copy of everything forever. But that’s not always going to be under my control. (And you need to keep your mailing address current, foo.)
The second piece of the branding strategy is the short stories. There’s so much “stuff” I created for the novel in the setting that I just couldn’t fit it all in or explore it in depth. That’s where the short stories ideas came from. When I learned about the dearth of options for publishing short stories, my first thought was to go it alone. I still will, for at least one of my stories (which will be the topic of a future post: the Smashwords Experiment.*)
The short stories will be vignettes that explore ideas, characters, and places around the world that either: A) will never appear in the main novels, or B) will appear in the main novels, but I wanted to establish their stories first. For example, the city state of Ranamaha’i doesn’t appear in the main novels as I’ve currently laid them out (although, thanks to the short story, that may change) but I wanted to tell the story of the crucified dragon, which I do in “Mercy Killing the Dragon.” On the other hand, there is “Debt of Storms,” which explores two ideas that are just briefly mentioned in the novel: in order to escape persecution, druids took to the sea and applied their astronomy knowledge as navigators, and also explore the character of Raestra Nevermore and her ship, The Nevermore, which make a brief cameo appearance in Root of the First. Both elements are planned to play a major role in the third book, and I wanted to give them a little face time now.
The novel series falls under the working heading of Chronicles of Delmyria. In keeping with that “theme,” I’ve decided the short stories will come under the heading of Tales of Delmyria.
*In brief, there has been a lack of transparency with regard to the sales success of short fiction published on Smashwords. Not that the success isn’t out there, but that no one has good information on the process or the relative success of Free vs Cheap.