Working with the Big World Network

Flight from Hell is well into its second season by now – the fourth episode is out today and episodes 5, 6 and 7 are ready for when their time will come. 8 has been written, 9 is being written.

And the one thing I keep saying this morning is that I have awesome publishers.

First of all, the reason why I decided to get a novel published with them is that I absolutely loved the concept. I come from the wonderful world of fanfiction, where you wait for a new episode and you text your friends things like “Holy fucking shit! Beside You in Time was just updated :-O It’s alive!” Or you run around and tell people in Canada that silverkytten updated, or that Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality just got a new episode.

Literature can be a domain where you eagerly wait for more, where you can get involved, speculate, hope for more. We’ve kind of lost that in the mainstream when serial novels stopped being published – but fanfiction, where the chapter is the default posting unit, brought the excitement back. The only problem being that many, many series lie abandoned, maybe never to be finished (such as some of my own, actually… hiatuses just keep growing)

The Big World Network publishes one chapter/episode per week, though, so you’re ensured against heartbreak of looking at series that will never be finished. And I love that. It’s brilliant.

And of course, they publish audio episodes as well. Which is lovely, I adore audiobooks.

But. Part 2 of the story of my love for the Big World Network is the unseen one: what happens behind the scenes. After all, sometimes the books that are published can be lovely and so can the concept, but when you end up working with the people who make the magic happen, you can feel like crap (I’ve been in that situation before).

The truth is: I absolutely love the BWN team from this point of view. I’ve been working with them for some months now and they are awesome.

Here, let me bullet point the neat stuff you don’t see from the outside:

  • They’re great with planning. They take their time to come up with solutions, set deadlines which allow for unforeseen delays and think things through before they act. They know the extent of their abilities, and they know what to expect of the average author. In other words, they don’t rely on optimism and improvisation to get things done – which is a nice change from some of the artistic teams I’ve been in. “Better early than on time” is a decent standard to function by, no? And you always have time to notice whether anything needs more work that way.
  • They’re transparent about what they do. We get team updates regularly, in which we find out what the Big World Network is planning: site changes, convention participation, events, plans for certain events, what is going on with other parts of the Big World Network. Technically, I don’t need to know some of that (e.g. changes in the way the site looks like), but it does make me feel like I’m welcomed into their home. Which is great. I get to know who I work for and what they do.
  • They listen. I’m a nitpicking sort of person, and a lot of people grumbled over how evil and criticizing I am (I don’t mean it in a bad way, though). But the BWN guys don’t grumble. They check, explain, fix, improve. Is there a typo anywhere on the site? It will be fixed. A broken link, an audio glitch, anything that falls under the category of “you missed a spot”? That spot will be checked ASAP. And I’ll get replies to things like “Have you tried selling your books with X, Y or Z?”
  • They also dialogue. Let’s hit the full spectrum of communication here: I can discuss the merits/downfalls of an idea concerning either the novel or the site with them and some solution/compromise will be reached. And they’re polite, nice and assume you’re (trying to be) the same as well (which really helps people like myself, who can put their foot in their mouth regularly).
  • They try new things: today they’re at a convention, tomorrow they’re finding people on the net who will promote them, yesterday they talked to some people about promoting your work for some time to come, at some point they will do something promotional and neat God knows where.
  • I should’ve mentioned this above, but it’s obvious from the way the site looks: they’re very skilled at what they do. Novel covers look great – and they look different. My banner is very different from Thralldom’s banner, which in its turn is very different from the banner for Billie vs the Unseen. Perhaps some are less impressive than others, but you can see a personality in them, professionalism. The same goes for editing: Amanda and Wendy (yes, I have two editors) find typos and problems easily, fix my convoluted sentences, tell me when something is wrong and, all in all, save my ass every once in awhile. And, of course, everything runs smoother than smooth on their side.

They make you feel like you’re part of the team and, overall, they make my life a bit more cheerful than I’d expected it to be. Which is why I’m writing this post.

And it isn’t just me saying it, either.

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