Categorized | Articles, Features

Steam Powered eBooks

Posted on August 27, 2012 by Flames

We have a new guest post from post from Jonathan Creffield, author of the dark fantasy tale Hell’s Door Opens.

Steam Powered eBooks

I want to ask you a question but before we get to it we’ll take a little flight of the imagination.

Let’s pretend you’re in London. It is the latter part of the 1840’s. Smokey chimneys, rakish gents, dowdy harlots, and grubby faced urchins – you get the picture. You are a writer, probably down at heel, penniless, struggling – that is if you’re anything like most writers I know.

However, unlike many writers, you’ve actually managed to finish something. Lo and behold it is quite good, or not half bad anyway. You want to get it into print. Thanks to the plethora of publishers great and small, from big established houses down to one-man independent companies, that isn’t going to be difficult.

You’re living in a brave new world of publishing. The steam powered rotary printing press has arrived. It can churn out millions of pages per day. How will you tell your story? As a conventional novel – easily done. But wait, there are other options! Some writers release their works a chapter at a time, others go for novella length books. It is the era of the penny dreadful and every length and format conceivable is open to you. Some writers release their stories in short booklets. Story papers with exciting illustrations grab readers’ attention. Will your book be illustrated? No problem! Maybe you’d like eight pages a time printed with eye-catching illustrations. Or perhaps you will serialise your book and include it in a weekly publication packed with similar adventures.

If you want to stay independent then there are numerous jobbing presses available – little print shops that will take on short run jobs at affordable prices.

This is the age in which many of the traditions governing the creation and publication of novels will be born. This is the period in which the standard formats of novels were established, rules that have held sway until the current day.

Which brings us back to the present (smart phones, hipsters, dowdy hoes, and grubby faced hoodies – you get the picture).

It seems to me that creators today live in a similarly revolutionary age. We are fortunate to be living in a world of even greater choice. Recent announcements indicate that soon full colour interior PoD publishing will be affordable. Where will enhanced eBooks take readers? I dream of a version of Hell’s Door Opens where the reader can choose to hear soft background music at appropriate points in the text, where the roars of the mad and the clash of weapons add to the story’s drama, and where, if the reader so chooses, occasional graphic elements are displayed.

If the current eBook version and the soon to be released hard copy versions are a sufficient success then I will make those dreams a reality.

Creative outlets abound, you can write a novel and release it in any format you choose. It is quite possible for any writer, at no cost to himself, to make his work available in eBook and hard copy formats. Massive market places are available. But in this changing world of publication what is it that readers want to see? What do readers want? Just as our writer at the dawn of the Victorian age was spoiled for choice so too the writer today. In electronic format a book can be of any length and of any style. What once might have been released as a trilogy can now be released in one big file – but would the audience like that? If a writer teams up with an illustrator then full colour art can add to the interior – and with the advancements in PoD publishing I mention above then even print versions could include colour art if the readership wanted it.

Over at my website I mention a radio interview in which a successful eBook author states that the eBook reading public are different to the conventional book market. He suggests that the eBook audience want shorter fiction. Is this true? I’d like to ask the Flames Rising readership their opinion.

I’m fortunate that Hell’s Door Opens is receiving positive attention and currently tops the hot list over at It is a novel length book but for its sequels I am thinking of releasing shorter novella length publications of circa 40,000 words. Traditionally novellas are not divided into chapters but for the Hell’s Door series the chapter divisions will remain.

Is this something you would prefer as a purchaser?

For the hard copy versions novellas would be combined so two volumes were included in each printed book.

I am very much leaning towards novella length releases of circa 40,000 words for the sequels but I would really like to hear your thoughts either here at Flames Rising or over at

Maybe rules that will govern book publishing in the future are being established now. If they are then we should make our voices heard. Or perhaps the speed with which new innovations in both print and electronic publishing are occurring will keep the world of books ever evolving and ever new.

Jonathan Creffield – 2012

Tags |

Print This Post

One Response to “Steam Powered eBooks”

  1. I would love to see a novella-esque series of ebooks. There are so many books coming out these days I think authors who could cater to the ebook reading crowd without compromising their vision would be quite welcome.

Leave a Reply

Email Newsletter Sign Up

Click Here to Sign Up for's Weekly Newsletter.

You will receive horror and dark fantasy updates, news, and more once a week!

11 Tales of Ghostly Horror

    Reviews Wanted!

    The new Review Guidelines have been posted on the Flames Rising website. We are currently seeking a few good reviewers to help us expand our collection of horror and dark fantasy reviews. RPGs, fiction, movies, video games and more are all welcome on the site...

    What do you get out of it?

    Beyond helping out fellow Flames Rising readers by letting them know what you think of these products, we're giving away some pretty cool stuff. Regular Reviewers can earn free products to review, which is their to keep after the review is submitted to the site.

    Note: We are especially looking for folks interested in reviewing eBooks (both Fiction & Comics). We have lots of great titles in digital format and even get advance copies sometimes.

    Use the Contact Page to submit reviews or let us know if you have any questions.

    The Devil’s Night WoD SAS

    Free Devil's Night | White Wolf