Sunday, August 24, 2008

Authors, part one

Sometimes, you know where you’re going. Projects at work usually have a clear goal, a definable scope of work, with knowable resources and deadlines. However, internet businesses don’t usually follow that straight path – they start with an idea, then that idea morphs into something new, and each iteration of that idea changes the picture more than slightly. Remember those old Disney time-lapse movies of a plant sprouting, growing, flowering, and then fruiting? That’s the straight path. But a time-lapse movie of an internet business would appear much more chaotic and bizarre – the seed sprouts, but then grows arms and a face, then mellows to the flower; but then the flower gets some teeth and starts snapping small creatures out of the air, finally maturing into an aggressive flower that eats only pollution – but does it with a wicked smile.

Originally, I thought that the main players on the website would just be other people like me, people who read books, like movies, and wanted to post a fantasy cast. I never really got beyond that until my sleep-breaking epiphany (see my post for August 5th). That was the first morph: the idea that authors would be even more interested in posting a fantasy cast than the regular readers. It was perfectly obvious, though, once you saw it – they were the original Storycasters, creating the story and peopling it with characters. Even if they didn’t envision a particular actor in the role, they saw somebody doing those things, and they had a much clearer picture of the situations than any of the readers ever would. At that point I realized that I would have to contact the authors and try to get them to share their own “authorcast” with the rest of us. I just had no idea how I would do that.

I spent several months in January and February of this year Googling combinations of “book” and “cast” and “movie”. That’s how I ran across a really cool blog that was already asking authors those key questions. It’s written by L.A. screenwriter Marshal Zeringue (“just like the pie”, says Marshal), and his blog is called My Book The Movie; it’s listed in the navbar. Marshal interviews authors and asks them specifically who they’d like to have directing and starring in the movie adaptations of their books. And that’s how I got “introduced” to Catherine Ryan Hyde, Cheryl Kaye Tardif, Kelly Komm, Ben Tanzer, Cory Redekop, and the rest of the authors who came on the site early. Marshal’s blog showed me the authors who were already willing to talk about casting, and when I started looking around, I found that they were not only easy to contact, but they were very interested in the Storycasting concept.

I wrote to Catherine at the end of February, explained the site concept, indicated that the site wouldn’t go “live” for another month or two, and asked if she’d consider coming on the site to “cast” her own characters. In just a few days came her definite reply: “Yes, I absolutely will. I'll leave this email in my inbox so I won't forget.” Also ready was Canadian author Cheryl Kaye Tardif, who thanked me for the invitation and told me that she knew “many authors who would be happy to participate”. When the site finally got up on May 1st, that very day Catherine and Cheryl Kaye claimed their Author Account and started casting their characters. These same authors, and the two dozen who have since joined them on the site, are the major source of our Google listings. My next post will expand on our relationship with the authors, how they promote our site, and how their fans have reacted to the casting opportunity.

1 comment:

Ben Tanzer said...

And I just want to thank you for the invitation, I have had a lot of fun with this. That said, I didn't realize I wasn't a First Tier writer, so if I ever get an agent I am totally going to have them work on this.