Digressions & Diatribes

by Kort E Patterson, Editor

As you can see from the contents of this edition of POC, the attractions of being published on the world wide web have not yet resulted in the intended flood of submissions. In order to fill in the space your letters and articles would have occupied, I rummaged around in my archive and managed to locate another relatively short story for your amusement.

And now for a bit of gratuitous self-promotion. As a result of my continuing involvement on the web, I've launched a new website dedicated to promoting my accumulation of previously unpublished works of fiction. My new site is titled "Curmudgeon's Conundrums" and is located at

Curmudgeon's Conundrums

Curmudgeon's Conundrums is an experiment in the alternative marketing and distribution of fiction literature. On the surface the purpose of this new site is to provide a free to the user source of pleasure and entertainment. The intention is eventually become advertiser supported.

Traditional fiction publishing involves legions of participants, very few of which are involved in the actual creative process. Admittedly some of the people, such as editors and cover artists, are intended to make positive contributions to the final form of the work. But most of the traditional publishing industry is involved in the physical manufacturing and exploitation of the product. The smallest share of the revenues go to those who created the work, while most of the revenues go to support the noncreative functions the publisher. And the reader pays for it all.

In the past, the traditional publisher was necessary to produce a tangible printed product that the reader could purchase. The reader paid for the content directly. Newspapers and magazines started the trend toward advertiser supported/free to the reader content. Magazine and newspaper cover prices only fund a small part of the actual cost of production. While advertisers officially pay the costs of publishing, readers actually pay for the contents by allowing themselves to be exposed to the advertiser's materials. Broadcast (free) TV in the USA carried the concept to the logical next step by eliminating the cover price.

Publishing on the web allows the author to get much closer to his readers - and vice-versa. Since all of the overhead of a traditional publisher is not needed, there are almost no middlemen taking a cut of the revenues. With fewer middlemen taking a cut, the cost of content to the reader can be substantially lower while in theory still providing a larger return to the author.

In the past, authors received limited feedback from readers. Raw sales figures don't really reflect the true number and demographics of readers, and most critics suffer from an excess of ego coupled with an overwhelming resentment over their own inability to write. Publishers rise and fall by their ability to forecast the drifting tastes of readers. Readers are stuck with what publishers think they want.

On the web, a reader can send an email message sharing his reactions to a story with the author by simply clicking on the email link with his mouse. While the muse may not be entirely amenable to suggestion, an author ignores the opinions of his readers at his peril. Readers always have the last word, and if they don't like the direction his work is taking, all of his efforts will be in vain.

So far I've published 7 short stories and novellas on Curmudgeon's Conundrums. I'm continuing to seek traditional representation and publication for my 3 novels. If my website achieves commercial viability before I get a commitment from a traditional publisher, I may also publish my novels on the web.

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