Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Harwood Finds His Way

With a shrinking number of publishers having a greater say in what you read, and declining promotional budgets forcing authors out into the streets and onto the Web to tout their own work, it’s harder than ever to make a living as a novelist. So you have to give big props to somebody like Berkeley, California, resident Seth Harwood.

Determined to get his work out into the public arena, Harwood released his first novel, Jack Wakes Up, initially in podcast format. It was a daring move, at a time when nobody’s quite sure whether Web distribution of completed works can really lead to print contracts in the future. But Jack Wakes Up had a promising premise:
What does a movie-star one-hit-wonder and ex-drug-addict do when he’s cleaned up, down on his luck, and running out of money???

In the three years since Jack Palms went clean? No drugs, no drinking, no life? He’s added fourteen pounds of muscle, read 83 books, and played it as straight as anyone can ask him. Now, when an old friend from L.A. calls, he hits the streets of San Francisco to help a group of Czech drug buyers make one big score, a single drug deal that he hopes will set him up for life.

But when people start turning up dead, and an old nemesis on the police force calls, Jack finds himself with just 24 hours to track down San Francisco’s biggest drug supplier or face charges that will put him behind bars.

Only an Oscar-caliber performance will get him through this alive.
Apparently, the podcast release of this first novel in 2006 was popular enough, that Harwood decided to write a sequel, Jack Palms II: This Is Life, which is also available for your listening pleasure. And last month, he began putting out installments of a third Palms tale.

It was all a huge gamble, but Harwood’s persistence has finally led to the print publication of Jack Wakes Up. The novel (published by indie press Breakneck Books) has been available for a few weeks already through Amazon, but its formal release is this coming Sunday, March 16, Palm Sunday--or as Harwood would have it, Palms Sunday. Does this mean that Jack Wakes Up will soon be inaccessible via the Internet? Au contraire. In fact, Harwood has posted the whole print edition on the Web in PDF format, so that readers can browse through the novel, the way they might in a bookstore, and then buy the bound edition, if they so choose.

As we said, it’s a gamble. There’s nothing to prevent somebody from enjoying Jack Wakes Up on a computer screen, and never paying a dime for the finished product. But successful writers these days may just have to take a few chances.

READ MORE:Interview with Seth Harwood,” by Nathan Cain (Independent Crime).

1 comment:

Sandra Ruttan said...

The mystery community is just catching on to what Sci Fi and Fantasy have been doing for years - how authors in genres with smaller market share have survived and in some cases thrived without the benefit of reviews. Nothing revolutionary about it... but what you do online does depend on what's in your contract. For those of us working off standard boilerplate contracts with NY publishers, such things have to be negotiated carefully. Something I've had to look at legally as people have tried to reprint stuff, or publish manuscript excerpts with Spinetingler.