Sunday, July 7, 2013

Guest post with Kris Kramer author of Sanctuary and founding member of the4threalm.com

What is the4threalm.com?

I get asked every so often to describe what the4threalm.com is, and since the site has been around since 2010, I freely admit that I should probably have a pretty simple, stock answer to give by now. But I don't. I still stumble over the explanation, and there are various reasons for that, but the main one is that the site, and the concept it represents, have both evolved over time.

As of right now, the4threalm.com is a collection of writers who have banded together to write, critique, publish and market our work together. It's basically a combination between an imprint for digital publishing, and a brand that represents the work we do. There are a number of people who are or have been associated with the site, but the three core guys are myself (Kris Kramer), and my writer compatriots Alistair McIntyre and Patrick Underhill. We've been doing the lion's share of the work, and that will probably remain the case for a little while, which is fine. We enjoy the sense of adventure that comes with creating something like this from scratch.

But the site is more than an imprint or a brand. It's more than a place where we blog, and market our books, and talk about events, and interact with fans or other writers. It's a community, both for people who like our work and for those who enjoy the indie publishing world. And ultimately, I hope, it will be even more involved in both aspects. But before we look forward, let's look back, and see how we got here.

The site originally started as a vehicle to host a series of chapters for a story all three of us wanted to write. That story has since morphed into Rise of Cithria, but at the time, it was called The Fourth Realm, which is where the name of the site came from. Needless to say, www.fourthrealm.com was taken, leading to plenty of awkward descriptions of the URL ("no, the NUMBER four, then 'th'”). We split The Fourth Realm into three pieces, with each of us writing a section of the story, and we posted new chapters online every week, trying to build an audience. They went up in batches of twelve, in what we referred to as 'books', although when we thought about it, it was a little more like a TV season, since we had a weekly schedule. Once those chapters went up, we started adding more stories. Older stuff we'd already written, or new stuff we wanted to play around with. The Organization debuted that way, as did the new-and-improved Wind Riders, and even some of my Halflord stories.

We were having fun, and getting some much-needed practice doing what we loved to do – writing. Over time, however, we realized that we needed a more specific focus, one with more tangible results. We (and me especially) felt the growing desire to put more and more of our energy into this endeavor - basically to be full-time writers. But to do that we needed a certain level of success, which meant concentrating our efforts on creating real, marketable, high-quality products. Books, basically. So we changed gears. I've wanted to be a writer for some time, but I never looked forward to the hassle of writing AND blogging AND marketing AND everything else that goes with getting your name and your work out into the public consciousness. And that's exactly what most indie authors have to do to scrape out a share of the reading public.

Well, why not make our site the solution to that problem?

By combining forces with Alistair and Patrick, and all the other people who have darted into and out of our wheelhouse, we're able share that work. We don't have to blog every few days because someone else can help pick up that load. I don't have to figure out all the intricate details of marketing my books because Alistair is spending just as much time as I am on it, only he's looking into different aspects that I wouldn't necessarily have time for.

It's a strength-in-numbers approach.

If we were doing this alone, as I suspect the vast majority of writers out there are, then I'm not sure how much energy I could really put into this, while also keeping up with a day job and being a dad. It's overwhelming at times. Okay, it's overwhelming ALL the time, but having the other guys around to share the load has enabled me to focus on specific things that I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise, and I think that's a key component to what will make everyone associated with the site/brand/imprint ultimately successful.

We share ideas, we share information, and we share our burdens, and that's essentially what the4threalm.com is all about.

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