Yes, it’s true. After such a long hiatus, Fiction Factor is finally coming back! I believe it’s been more than 2 years since an email newsletter was sent out. It’s been almost that long since any new content went up on the site too.
So, why the absence?
I’m glad you asked. In order to give you a decent response, I feel a little Fiction Factor history is in order….
Back in 1999 I went searching for information about how to submit a book to a publisher in another country. I didn’t want to limit myself to the Australian publishing arena. I wanted to play in the UK and the US as well. But information about how to achieve that from the other side of the planet was scarce.
Of course, that was in the internet-equivalent of the dark ages. There just wasn’t much information for writers online back then at all! What I did learn is that there used to be a few forums running specifically for writers to hang out and learn from. That was about the extent of writing-related information online late last century (I’m showing my age here, aren’t I…?).
Most writers I met back then were in exactly the same boat I was. None of them really knew how to launch their writing careers and get things happening. They started asking how I’d managed to do what I do in various countries when they didn’t have a clue how to even get started at home!
So I dug up a tutorial on how to make a website, put together a roughly designed page and hosted it on a freebie server. That first incarnation of Fiction Factor was born in November 1999.
For two years I wrote articles about writing and submitting and finding publishers and put them up on that ugly-duckling website. It simply never occurred to me that it was ugly or that it was still hosted on a free server. Until I woke up one morning to find that free host had gone under, taking my busy little website with it. I didn’t want to risk the same thing happening again, so I registered the Fiction Factor domain name in 2001 and shifted a new incarnation of the site to a Canadian web host (I’m still with the same web host even to this day. They’ve been absolutely awesome!)
It was around that same time I started getting emails from people asking why I didn’t send out updates or newsletters to let them know when new content was published. I had no idea how to do that, so I signed up with the old Yahoo Groups and started sending out emails.
Eventually, those simple updated emails became full-blown newsletters that read more like a magazine, complete with editorial, articles, and even a few ads. Yes, sponsors started noticing my little site hidden away in its corner of cyberspace and actually wanted to give me money to be a part of it. Awesome!
I put that money to good use and started working on building individual sites for each different genre. Horror Factor was created first and it took off right away. Fantasy Factor and Sci-Fi Factor were launched just months later in 2003.
It took me a couple of months to get the next few going, but by the end of 2003 Romance Factor and Erotica Factor were going strong. Children’s Fiction Factor and Short Fiction Factor didn’t arrive until 2004.
In my haste to build up my little online empire, it never occurred to me how much work was involved in maintaining and creating content for so many websites. I was still working full time in the finance industry back then, so it was a struggle to keep up.
Over the following years, the entire atmosphere of the internet changed and evolved into something completely different to what it was back in 1999. Blogging became more popular than clunky email newsletters. I knew poor old Fiction Factor was fast becoming outdated and old-fashioned, but it didn’t change the number of people seeking information about writing and publishing.
Over time, social media sites became the preferred way for people to connect. The publishing industry saw a huge change in how people write, read and publish books, thanks to the emergence of the Amazon Kindle and various other ebook reading devices. Suddenly ebooks weren’t just relegated to just info-product creators as they had been for 10 years prior; now everyone was getting in on the act
I watched these changes with fascination and learned a lot about how and why the publishing industry started to embrace the digital age. I found it easier than ever to find published homes for my work - so much that I managed to leave the finance industry back in 2008 in order to write full time. Over the years since that time, I’ve built up an international client base that I still work with today. I’ve written thousands of articles and I’ve ghost-written 92 books for various clients around the world. I absolutely LOVE what I do!
Of course, writing full-time meant that I no longer had the time to keep up with poor old Fiction Factor and it was left languishing in its corner of cyberspace to flounder on its own for a few years…
Picking up the Pieces
In the past 18 months, I’ve felt the need… no, the urgency… to find time to update and re-invent outdated, ugly old Fiction Factor. I hated that it’s been left sitting dormant for so long. I was also just a little intimidated by the sheer amount of work that needed to be done. The site is just so huge and there’s so much content on there that the very idea of merging 750 articles into a brand new site was scary.
Of course, every time I managed to block out some time to sit down and get it done, I’d land another huge writing order that would keep me busy for another few months at a time. And so it kept getting put off.
There was also the issue that I had to learn how to use a brand new publishing platform to work from. Yes, I’m actually using WordPress as my content management system. I figure that’s a much easier way to control such a big site than trying to upload and link to individual pages by hand the way I used to.
One of the reasons I’m writing this little piece is because I needed a test page to run from. I also wanted to give subscribers a way to take a sneak peek at what the new site *might* look like once all the content is transposed over to the new platform (I say might, because I’m still learning to customize the thing!).
And then there’s the trial factor.
Previously, Fiction Factor was all about static information published on static pages. I guess some articles will still be formatted the same way. But I really love the freedom and the casual tone I can adopt when writing in a more relaxed blog-styled atmosphere. Hopefully I can manage to merge the styles successfully.
I’m also really hopeful I can manage to re-create our old subscriber list in a very different way. Gone are the old email newsletters. Instead, I hope to give readers the option of subscribing to our RSS feed. Alternatively, you can Like our Facebook Page or find me on Google Plus .
So here’s to the test page for the new Fiction Factor upgrade. Let me know what you think!