Cover to Cover #434A: A Conversation with Tracy Hickman

Mike and Mike welcome Tracy Hickman as a guest host, and delve into gaming and his latest game, "Santa's Sleigh Ride". You can read more about this game at Reindeer Gamers Holiday Games and Xtreme Dungeon Mastery.

The conversation ranges from self-publishing entertainment, the difficulties in finding a home for a story that doesn't fit a particular marketing model, different ways to approach monetizing self-published projects (including Dragon's Bard), the benefits of a diversity of entertainment options, and much much more.

Also, we're pretty sure Tracy sez marinate.

Link: Tracy Hickman Official Website
Twitter: @trhickman

Holiday Sales: Tracy's providing Dragon Page listeners with holiday cheer!

You can shop at Dragon's Bard or Reindeer Gamer using the coupon code dragonelf, and receive $5 off any of the Holiday Gift Sets at Dragon's Bard, or $1 off "Santa's Sleigh Ride" game.

Feedback Wanted: What do you think about submitting writing related questions to "Cover to Cover"? What do you think about having authors read chapters as part of the show? Call in or email in with your thoughts!

Listener comments: If you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know!

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  1. Great podcast. Mr. Hickman is a very wise man.

  2. This show was great, with incredible and inspiring dialog with Tracy about breaking out of McDonalds literature. As an author of a novel that's risky and won't be popular, I really harken to the advice of being your own mover-and-shaker.
    And, as usual, this podcast is my first, trusted source in all thing e-book and e-publishing! Mr. Stackpole is an e-genius.

    That said (here it comes!) I have to take serious issue with the constant Cory Doctorow bashing, and really, the bashing of a straw man Doctorow.
    Cory has never advocated that "data wants to be free!" He started out as a software writer, and while he hates DRM and ridiculous anti-piracy tactics, he does not himself advocate for free data. He believes creators of content should be fairly paid.
    He himself has said "data wants to be free" is a ridiculous straw man:

    The Cory bashing would make more sense, I guess, if he were a crackpot. But he's a very successful, lauded and awarded author, who lives by the ideals he preaches. He's ALWAYS offered all his fiction for free from the start, since before he was financially successful. And he still does.

    Correlation/causality? Did offering his work for free help him become popular? Who knows. But he's said repeatedly in interviews and talks that it is indeed his opinion, but he'd never force that paradigm on others, or claim it'd work for everybody. I do believe his claim that "obscurity is more harmful to a writer than piracy" is true. But that claim does not, NOT advocate piracy or imply that artists and creators of content should not be paid. Just that one issue is more harmful than the other.

    To imply that he's somehow being disingenuous because he sells his work (and in one instance, for a very high price), while also offering it for free, is at worst yourself being intellectually dishonest and at best simply misunderstanding what Cory is doing and advocating. I'll go ahead and assume you're doing the later, but I also think you're being more than a little intentionally obtuse in maintaining your ignorance in favor of flaming a straw man Cory.

    Still love the podcast, and I otherwise have the greatest respect for Mr. Stackpole and his e-publishing advocacy. 🙂

    • IIRC, there's no blasting of what Cory's doing, it's the lack of numbers showing how what he's doing is working well, and can work for others.

      I personally applaud his efforts, but I also realize that maybe 1 in 100,000 people will have the levels of visibility that he does to take full advantage of being able to both sell his work and make his work free. An average mystery or scifi midlist writer might take 3 years to achieve the numbers that Cory could in 3 days.

      Taking that difference into account is something that hasn't truly been addressed, at least not that I know of. Cory's experiment is inherently skewed because of how wide and varied his following is, both online and in the real world. I think Stackpole mentioned this in a show about 6 months ago, but I think that point got lost in the conversation, and ended up getting buried under the folks bashing him for criticizing certain elements of Cory's plans.

      No one's got the perfect solution yet, but the fact that we are continuing to argue about what will and might and might not work just moves everything forward 🙂

  3. Summer, thanks for te reply! 🙂
    When it comes to "the experiment" specifically, I can't comment. I honestly don't know enough about what Cory is doing/has done with it. Concerns about numbers transparency and replicability are absolutely valid concerns, and I'm not a worshiper at the alter of Cory enough to think he might not be off-base with this thing. After all, I completely disagree with Cory's unskeptical campaign against high fructose corn syrup.

    But I have heard Mr. Stackpole dismiss Cory and set him up as some "info wants to be free" fanatic beyond the constraint of just this experiment thing, and that's what I take umbrage at. ("Sure, take all the umbrage! Leave none for anyone else!" ~ Yakko Warner)

    On the flip-side, I just read a blog post by John Scalzi (who I love!) completely bashing the entire concept of e-publishing outside the guiding hand of the Big Publishing. It was a screed that basically said the only thing an author can and should do is write, and his or her only hope at being successful is to let ole auntee publisher do everything else. I couldn't help but wonder if Mr. Stackpole has read/heard Scalzi's opinion -- if so, I'd LOVE to hear it! *eg*

  4. love to hear Stackpole's reaction, that is.

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