Category: Publishing

More Learning About Indie Publishing

More Learning About Indie Publishing

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So every step along the way, I learn that there’s more to this whole idie publishing gig than most people think there is, or even than I thought.

I did figure out quite a bit early on just reading, and I had my eyes open going in, I hope, that even though I thought I had a grasp on the various steps, I knew there would be more steps I didn’t know about. That continues to be the case, of course. But I’m also finding that some of steps I knew were there are more involved than the initial presentation.

I have released exactly one thing independently so far and that thing has taught me better preparation and planning the next thing, which I am working on for a release before the end of the month. I’ve actually got the year plotted out so that I’m supposed to be releasing one short or long thing (sometimes both) per month every month for the rest of the year.

This first thing, “Thorvald’s Wyrd”, was, because I have been busy learning new things about indie publishing, significantly later than I thought was going to be. I was, originally, hoping to do it in late January. It’s a novelette, so not gigantic, and I had a cover more or less done on time, and the formatting more or less done close to on time and everything else more or less ready not too late. Emphasis on “more or less”. There were plenty of tweaks and adjustments to make, and since I decided to put it the traditional bits of a book, which aren’t always traditional for an ebook, but mostly, into the mix, not all the things in there were making me happy with the formatting. Surprisingly, e-books and paperbacks are two different things. No sarcasm intended. Well, not much.

But, finally, “Thorvald’s Wyrd” went live on the 10th of March and I’m happy with that. I hope to have the next book up in life by the end of March. From there, my intent is to get to the point where I’m working at least two months ahead, meaning a full two calendar months so that everything I’m going to release in June is ready to go by the end of April.

If I can do that, the indie plan for this year will work fairly smoothly to reach my objective of having a reasonable body of work at there for people to sample and read and, hopefully, enjoy.

But, to effectively work two calendar months ahead, I really need to lock down my basic process for self-publishing from finished manuscripts to pressing go.

Now, I don’t expect ever stop learning, and I don’t expect the process to stay stagnant to make things easy for me, but it would be nice to have things worked out properly so I can mostly just tweak the process from book to book for relevant updates and changes to the way things work. Which probably means I should have made an awful lot more notes as I was going through the process for the first time, instead of working out that process and thinking I’ll remember everything. That’s okay, I can do the second time, or the third, and I should at least avoid having to redo certain things several times and make new mistakes instead.

The plan is to figure out the basic process and how it differs from short fiction to long fiction to fanfiction, because it does differ. Maybe not a whole lot between the first and second categories, but they are a whole bunch of steps that I don’t need for that third category, because it’s fanfiction, and I’m not allowed to make money at it.

For our everyone’s gratification, the copyright page for a work fanfiction needs to be very different, surrendering all rights to anything in the story, and stating that his work fanfiction, and all rights remain copyright holder. It may or may not be legally necessary, but it does show intent and understanding on the author’s part that they’re playing in someone else’s sandbox, and without official permission, even if permission is tacitly granted by the existence of a body of fanfic.

For now, I’m supposed to be finishing up the paperback formatting for “Thorvald’s Wyrd”, and I probably should be looking at the final formatting that needs to be done for Skip to my Luu.

And I’ve got lots of drafting and editing to do while I’m at it.

Be well, everyone.

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The Ease of Indie Publishing

The Ease of Indie Publishing

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Stacks of books

Warning: long post.

So diving into the world of independent publishing with your books is easy, right? Finish the story, slap some art on it, save it in the right format, upload, and let the millions role in.

Okay, first, if you’re using the word millions and talking about your independent publishing empire, you’re probably in the wrong field.

Second, easy? Seriously?

When I decided that it was time for me to broaden my publishing efforts into the independent route as well as continuing to pursue traditional publishing, I already had some idea of what I was in for on the traditional side. No matter how good the short story, chances are fairly good that is not going to be the right fit for the first market you send it to, or second, or third, and so on. If the story is good, and you are persistent, it will eventually find a home. For novels, time frames are even longer at every step in the process. Brief reading periods separated widely in time, slush piles that have wait times going deep into the double-digits of months, and agents aren’t a whole lot quicker, although once you have one, certain doors are open that weren’t before.

Worse, in both cases, everyone wants something different. Sometimes a little different, sometimes a lot different, and most of this is to see if you’re paying attention. At least that’s the expression of things. Some significant but not measured by me portion of the time, I honestly think the real reason is that people just want an easy way to reject things to save themselves time. And sometimes, a smaller fraction but still measurable, it’s so that people can be assholes while doing it.

Side trip: I try to read the guidelines thoroughly. I know everyone wants something different. But, an example, if I get a rejection letter back that says, word for word, “I couldn’t be bothered to read your story because you couldn’t be bothered to read the guidelines and you missed this tiny little thing,” I probably can’t be bothered to ever submit to your market again, and while I wish you well, I fully expect you to fail in the next 12 months and won’t cry about it. I have long since decided that if I ever publish stuff that’s not mine, the guidelines are going to be relatively simple and straightforward: double-spaced in a readable font consistently formatted. In the closing days of the second decade of the 21st century, there’s really no need for anything else. I’ll judge spelling, grammar, plot, character, world, point of view and everything else as I read the story. Or novel. Or whatever. But I’ll do it because I’m reading the story not because you missed one blue M&M.

But, we were talking about the ease of indie publishing. And, based on someone of the things I see regularly out there, it is pretty easy. Finish the story, slaps some art on it, save in the right format, and upload.

I don’t think it’s easy to get right, though. And I’m not saying I’m getting it right, but I’m doing a lot of research and figuring out standards and what works and building things as I go, learning the appropriate tools, techniques, and so on. Because there are a lot more than four steps to it, and I want to maximize my chances of getting it right.

Here are the steps as I see them so far:

  1. Finish the story. Yes, this is really important. And finish doesn’t mean publishing your first draft, which I feel like a lot of people seem to do. Somehow, it’s become standard thinking in our society that our first draft is our best draft, our first response is our best response, our first effort is our best effort. Newsflash, the reader can tell. Not going into my process again, but there are multiple drafts involved, and if there’s only one in yours that might be a stumbling point to your success.
  2. Front matter. The stuff that comes before the story. Title page, copyright notice, dedication, introduction, table of contents… whichever of those are relevant to the kind of book you’re putting out. Yes, I’ve read a number of arguments that there shouldn’t be very much between the cover and the story for an e-book, but I don’t think I buy that, not yet. One thing I do like is that realization that frequently people download a whole bunch of e-books at a time and then forget why by the time to get around to reading. So something that might go right after the cover, or right after the title page, is a few sentences worth of exciting synopsis. What, in a print book, would be the back cover copy.
  3. Cover art. These days, there are a lot of online tools to help you find some really awesome low or no cost imagery for your covers (I think my favourite is Pixabay so far). Then there are online tools that give you templates and ideas to (relatively) easily put together your cover. (I like Canva. A lot. Here’s a link directly to book cover templates.) But you need the right image, the right fonts, the right log line (if you’re going to have one), the right layout, and the search for that right image might take some time to find something that really speaks to you and says something about the story.
  4. After that, put in the story itself. Cover art, front matter, story. Consistently formatted, simply formatted, and in a readable font, a font that people will be comfortable having bombard their eyes for the hours they’re going to spend reading your story.
  5. Back matter. Based on my research so far, at the very least this should contain a thank you for reading message, something that suggests that you would love the reader to leave a review for you somewhere, a how to get a hold of you page, and a page with three or four tiny cover shots of other things are published or are publishing in the next few months. Lots of things might fall into this category. I mostly work in fiction, so I don’t really need an index, and if I use alien words that people have a hard time figuring out, I would mostly rather include those and pronunciations in the text rather than having that affect. I probably won’t include a list of characters, even if it’s a very complex story. This is also where you can also include a preview to something else. There are plenty of schools of thought on that, too, but I think I follow the line of “don’t do a preview unless it’s for the next story after the one they just read”. And it’s better if that story is already available. Because, really, have you ever had that experience where you’re 30 or 40 pages from the end of the book and the story suddenly ends? Then you find that there’s this huge long preview of the next book that isn’t coming out for a year? Your mileage may vary, but it drives me crazy.
  6. Now that you got the basic file complete, you need to save it in a variety of formats. There are various preferences out there and a tonne of formats, but I think you need at least three primary formats: EPUB, Kindle, and PDF. I’m still experimenting with a variety of tools to figure out what I like best and what produces the best file.
  7. Okay, now you’ve got the files, where do you upload them? Kindle is easy enough: get yourself to your Amazon author page and start working from there. What, you don’t have an Amazon author page yet? You should probably fix that. And try to keep it up-to-date better than I do. They’ll only take uploads on Barnes & Noble with your EPUB file if you have an ISBN, and those cost money, so are a debate. But, there are plenty of other places to get your e-books up and running. Find the selection that will get you the biggest audience you can.
  8. Seven, you’ve got a website, right? A blog, at least? Probably you should have a dedicated page on that website for the book you’re publishing. A landing page, if you will. One for each book. Cover art, “back cover” copy, and all the important places you can go to buy it.
  9. Is there a store on your website where all of your stuff is available? Something to think about.
  10. While you’re at it, go get yourself librarian status on Good Reads and, not only will this lets you fix those pesky little errors you keep finding in things, it will also let you upload your brand-new book to Good Reads so that people can reviews there as well as Amazon.
  11. I really want to talk about marketing, but this post is already getting too long but, as the independent author, marketing is also your job. Social media is your friend. Find the right ones, the right combination for you, and go out there and be yourself.
  12. Why aren’t you writing the next book yet? Better question, why aren’t you prepping the next book, editing the one after that, and drafting the third one out? By all indications, to be a successful independent author, you need a significant body of work available to your readers, and you need to be adding to that on a regular basis. I’m not saying you need to write and publish four books a year, although if you can, and the quality is good, that’s probably not a bad thing, but there needs to be always something in your “coming soon” section.
  13. And there’s always more you could be doing. More social media, podcasts, video, newsletters, conventions, and on and on and on. What? You’re an independent author. You didn’t think you’re going to get to have a life, too, did you?

Keep in mind, I’m still fairly (extremely) new at the indie gig and I’m working hard to come up to speed. I feel like I’ve been prepping for a long time now and not having much of that show publicly, but when I think I’ve got the basic process figured out, there might wind up being a quick flood of material released in the beginning before I settle into a routine.

Be well, everyone.

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Book Covers

Book Covers

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So it’s 25 February 2019 and, aside from the snow and a minor basement flood, deep February in southern Ontario is pretty much like I’ve grown to expect in recent years.

I know there will be an actual writing update a few days, nut there are a couple things I wanted to talk about a little bit more detail, and in the ordinary writing update, they’ll only get a sentence or two.

This past weekend, I didn’t do a whole lot of editing. Life aside, the time I set up for creative pursuits on the weekend was primarily taken up by cover design. I am a little bit behind where I’d hoped to be at this point in 2019 in terms of e-books and the serial fiction, but then, my goals were pretty significant across the board. They still are. This was an attempt to bring a piece of things back on the track I want.

First, “Thorvalds Wyrd”.

This is probably the final version, which has gone through a few iterations, but, in my search for imagery that suits the story, I did come up with a lot of awesome glacier and snowy things, and an alternate concept that I haven’t taken as far looks like this:

There were also some possibilities using a particular mythological spear, but I couldn’t find one I liked and don’t have the budget at this point to get someone to do properly for me.

Next up, a relaunch of the cover for “Babysitting the Taran-saurus”. I was never really happy with the original cover, because it really didn’t say anything about the story other than that it took place in a large city. And it was built using Microsoft paint. Which, at the time, was about my skill level. Actually, if I’m honest, my skill level hasn’t really progressed a whole lot since then, but I have access to better tools and I have learned a little bit about design in the meantime. On the left, the original, and on the right, the new one, which actually does say something about the story, but you have to read it to find out exactly what.

The last item under the category of complete covers, and, honestly, which took me the least amount time, of the three, the e-book cover for my next to publish Star Trek fanfiction story, this one starring a freshly minted Dr. Chapel in the Motion Picture time frame, or, really, six months or so before it. Having freshly completed her finals for her M.D., Dr. Chapel has accepted a short term assignment as temporary Chief Medical Officer on board the USS Yorktown. It entertained me to make the commander of Yorktown another character that the same actress has played in the Star Trek universe, though earlier. I don’t specifically say that, leaving it to the reader to figure out. This one was just a matter of finding the proper capture I liked from the motion picture that featured Christine Chapel and getting the font where I wanted it. I did start out thinking that it should be the Motion Picture font and color, but this font is closer to transitional between TOS and TMP and the gold wouldn’t show up very well. I think it works, but it might not be quite final yet.

I have also come up with the probable cover imagery, though there are still several finalists in each case, for both Turn the World Around and Skip to My Luu. I’ll share those a little later on when they’re closer to ready.

Technically, “Thorvald’s Wyrd”, “Babysitting the Taran-saurus”, and Turn the World Around have all been serialized before, but only my blog. “Taran-saurus” was the only thing that made it off my blog to Wattpad. This time, everything is also going to become and ebook, though I haven’t quite got all the tools I want to make those effectively. PDF version is easy, but I need a little bit more to work out a couple of major e-book formats – Kindle and EPUB. “Thorvald’s Wyrd”, in fact, was supposed to have been done and beginning to post two weeks ago this coming Wednesday night, but life, always, intervenes. Being a couple of weeks behind on that doesn’t derail the timeline in a big way, just shifts a couple of things a bit.

I set three levels of goals for both writing and publishing this year: the public goals, the stretch goals, and the super stretch goals. I built my background plans with the intent by squeaking in under the wire of December 31 by making the super stretch goals. (And if you think the regular goals are aggressive, well, I’ll share the others as and if I get there.) But I built a plan that way intentionally, giving life plenty of space to intervene, for things to happen. As long as I keep working, keep moving forward, all of the standard goals should be more than doable. Maybe I’ll even get some of these stretch goals in, too. But always reach farther than you think you can, because you never know.

And then there the secret goals. These are things that are technically part of the standard goals but that I haven’t put a timeline of any kind on. Rather, they each hinge on meeting certain other goals. I’m preparing for these in the background, with the appropriate research and skills building has required. There are two major ones that launch when specific publishing goals are reached, and one of them partially hinges on the other. These are things I’m going to do, but will be sort of a surprise for everyone else.

In the meantime, I do still have a fair bit of words to make and editing to do. Lots more.

Be well, everyone.

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Submission Log and More Commentary On Society

Submission Log and More Commentary On Society

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherI have decided that I’m going to reboot the Submission Log, mostly because it’s been a long time since I’ve done any serious story submitting. I have a lot of short fiction I would like to get in front of readers and there’s no reason I shouldn’t get paid by someone for some of it, right? Even if it’s only a token payment here and there.

I’ve never written or submitted to “exposure” markets, because I disagree with the concept. If the publisher is expecting to make any money whatsoever, some of that money should go to the author. If you’re not interested in paying your authors, I’m not interested in doing business with you.

I have a couple of times written for royalties. One time, that was okay. The other, the editorial process was so long and involved that the royalties would have needed to total several hundred dollars to bring me up to minimum wage (at the time) for all of time and energy I put into the process. They were not.

Now some out there may be thinking that writers and artists shouldn’t expect to get paid a lot of money. To which, politely, I suggest that you’re misguided. No artist expects to get rich on their work, but if money is changing hands for a product then the people involved in producing that product should be making a living wage from it, and that includes the artist. I think that’s entirely reasonable, without going into Ellison style rant (but it’s well worth watching – here).

If, on the other hand, it’s your thought that artists should be happy getting their work out there and not be concerned about money at all, my slightly less polite response is, fuck you. You don’t expect your favourite movie and TV stars to work for free, your favourite sports players to work for free, or your favourite musicians to work for free, why would you expect artist to?

See how easy it is to go into a commentary on society?

But it is frequently worth commenting on society, and maybe that’s why I do it a lot. Sidesteps in blog posts here and there, entire blog posts sometimes, frequently in conversations by off and online, and, well, pretty much all the time time. Like or not I live in a society with a lot of problems that need talking about and dealing with. Expectation of writers and artists working for starvation or no wages is one of many.

Back to the point.

The submission log is still on file and looks back to even the first couple of stories I submitted way back when. Since I’m trying to make both submissions and short story publishing part of my overall plan, I really do need to track them. Independently published collections are part of the publishing plan in 2019, as is some novel-length work, fanfiction, and poetry. I’m doing a bunch of Star Trek fanfiction individual stories and a collection, although those will only be available for free. Fanfiction by definition has to be free unless sanctioned by the owners of the property. I’d love to, but never expect to, write Star Trek for money. But, if people like my Star Trek work, maybe it’ll lead some of them into my non-Trek work. If not, oh well.

Releasing something for exposure or giving it away for a little while is far different than someone only willing to pay exposure in order to make money themselves, btw. It’s a valid marketing tactic for indie traditional publisher, but the traditional publisher, no matter how small, needs to be aware that their authors deserve to be paid.

I’ve also got plans to do one themed collection a year for about the next five years, and that doesn’t stop me from just pulling together some of what I feel is my best work to do a non-themed collection. And I will be doing novels, and a poetry collection so self-publishing will be strong, but it’s not the only path. As I’ve mentioned, I will be looking for an agent or small press for some work.

I track word count and goals and I’m certainly going to track who I investigate for agents or publishers, so if I’m targeting five short story submissions per month for the rest of the year, including September (and 8-10 per month in 2019), I need that submission log. I need to know where I send things, who liked my work and should get more of it, who doesn’t bother to respond on rejections, who gives feedback.

Tracking is important. So, beginning any moment now with the first submission of 2018.

Be well, everyone.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Publishing Goals for 2013

Publishing Goals for 2013

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherPart 3 of 4 in the “Goals of 2013” series. I don’t want to rehash the Three Year Plan post too much, but the independent publishing goals stand:

  • Small Realities 1-4. Small collection of my short fiction targeted at 28-30,000 words each and published in March, June, September, and December. I’ve already picked the stories for the first one, and I’m thinking about cover art and author’s notes.
  • “Turn the World Around”. 35,000 word Science Fiction novella/short novel. Figuring on late summer for this.
  • “Thorvald’s Wyrd”. Epic fantasy told in 100-word scenes. Late in the fall. It’s a wintery kind of tale.
  • “Where the Water Tastes Funny”, a 6,000-ish short story that needs to be of the illustrated variety. Sometime in the fall.

I don’t promise the list won’t shrink or grow. A lot will depend on how smoothly the year runs, obviously, but I want to commit to Small Realities coming out regularly this year. If it’s even marginally successful, and preferably fun, I’ll continue next year and beyond. I’m not going to stop writing short fiction, so I’ll want to keep sharing it.

Depending on my shopping of Graceland, Skip to My Luu, and Heroes Inc., there’s a good chance at some novel length indie publishing in my future, too. I kind of doubt any of those will be this year, though. There’s already a lot on the plate.

Be well, everyone.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Three Year Plan, Year One

The Three Year Plan, Year One

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherSo I’ve been scheming and plotting for a while, developing an approach to getting published. While I’ve mostly been leaning towards the indie publishing plan lately, I’m going to somewhat divide my efforts

The Year One Plan looks something like this:

Part 1: Short Fiction

Short story submissions will continue. Since the 1st of October this year, when I really started submitting again after a long drought, I’ve put 38 submissions in inboxes of various magazines and anthologies. I’ve so far had 8 rejections, three of which offered some specific reasoning, and the rest are outstanding. When a rejection comes back, the story gets added to the bottom of the list of things to go out (I haven’t caught up yet, and it’s going to be a while). My new motto: keep them out looking for homes.

Read More Read More

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Self Publishing – What I’m Not Doing

Self Publishing – What I’m Not Doing

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I’m not typically a crowd follower.  I like to make up my own mind about things, usually after doing some research and thinking about it.  And something I’ve decided not to do is publish individual short stories.  There are a couple of reasons for this, but both of them come down to basic mathematics.

First, if your mythical average 100,000 word novel is priced, in e-book format, somewhere between $2.99 and $5.99, then, on a word-parity basis, it’s probably reasonable to price a 30-35,000 word novella individually between $0.99 and $1.99.  Following the same logic, a 5,000 word short story would get priced at between $0.15 and $0.30 cents.  If I look at what I hope is a viable online magazine model, Flagship Magazine gives you a half dozen stories per issue, plus an editorial and some commentary, both in pdf and audio, for $2.99, or $1.99 for the text only version, bringing us back into the $0.30 per story range.

All of which comes down to my not being able to justify $0.99 for an average short story, which is the minimum allowable list price point under Amazon’s model (but, oddly, there can be discounts on these—I found a couple at 10-20% off this afternoon), unless you set the story at free, which is a short term tactic to drive interest, not a long term strategy to do well as an author.  (And I firmly believe at this stage of the game that you have to be on Amazon if you’re self publishing.)

But say I could convince myself to sell a 5000 word story for $0.99, netting me $0.35 per copy sold on Amazon, a little higher amount on B&N, and a bit more on Smashwords, maybe.  As the publisher, I’m doing more than just the writing of the book.  I also have to find artwork and do the layout and formatting plus any marketing that might be involved.  Now, I suppose I don’t need to do much marketing for a short story, right?  But formatting doesn’t take any less time and unless I’m going to sucker convince an artist to just giving me their work for nothing, I need to pay for cover art, and it will take three copies of the story sold for every dollar I pay the artist for that cover.  Once the cover is paid for, I’ll need to sell another 150 copies of the story before I’ve made 1¢/word, 750 to get to a pro rate of 5¢/word.  And I’ve still done the formatting for free.

I’m a big advocate of trying a bunch of different things to see what works, so I’m not entirely sure why I’m giving myself such a hard time about it, but I don’t think I can do a short story for $0.99.  I can’t see myself buying one at this price, so why should I expect other people to?

But at least some other writers do seem to.  I’m not discounting the possibility that it’s possible to make a living selling individual short stories as mini e-books, but it doesn’t feel like a viable path for me.  And I see quite a few shorts priced significantly above $0.99.

What it comes down to for me is that I feel like it’s difficult to justify anything under novelette size for a dollar, and that novelette should have something different or extra about it.  I’ve thought a lot about Thorvald’s Wyrd, qualifying as a novelette at only a little over 13,000 words, and I’m not comfortable thinking about it at higher than that minimum price.

I’m still debating the right price for Turn the World Around.  At 35,000 words, it’s a stone’s throw from what’s generally considered a short novel (40,000 words), but a long, long way from that standard 100,000 word novel.  This needs some thought for the initial price and probably some flexibility and a willingness to play with that price to find the right one.

The exercise in basic math, if nothing else, has made me consider the viability of short story collections even more closely, and I find I like the idea a lot more.  After all, there are a lot of great short stories out there just waiting to be gathered up.  Why shouldn’t some of mine be among them?

(Thinking about this, I did consider the price tags on print books and magazines for value comparisons, but it’s difficult to consider that as fair.  Printing and distribution costs can have a big impact, particularly on magazines.)Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Self Publishing – What Else I’m Doing

Self Publishing – What Else I’m Doing

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Self Publishing comes in a number of forms, print and electronic, and I’m not limiting myself.  Or trying not to.

In my last post on Self Publishing, I noted a couple of serials on this blog, both of which are going to become e-books.  I have no intention of taking either of them down from here as I think it’s important to be able to sample someone’s work before you drop some hard earned money on their stuff, even if it’s only 99 cents (the probable price point of Thorvald’s Wyrd).  I think serials are fun, too, and read a few each week when I can find the spare moments.  There’s something about delayed gratification on a cliffhanger that they figured out for TV shows a long time ago.  Three or four months is too long to wait for a new episode, but a week is enough to build some nice anticipation if you know the next piece is coming.

I’m also going to be starting a new serial on Friday.  Yes, I’m well aware the old one isn’t done yet, but this is a Christmas story and if I don’t start it until Turn the World Around is over, I’ll have to post three times each week in the weeks before Christmas to get it up in time.  Too crowded.  So the first scene of Branch Santa will debut on Saturday, October 15th.  I’ve never been sure whether to classify this story as Science Fiction or Fantasy as it has elements of both, but it’s certainly not Science-Fantasy.  I’ll let you guys decide.  I should say it’s sort of a Christmas story.  Only a small part of the story actually happens at Christmas, but it does involve Santa Claus in a big way.

Next up on the possibilities list is a children’s book.  Carrie the Catfish, which certainly needs a better title, is a six thousand word Fantasy story I wrote in response to my youngest daughter’s request for a mermaid story.  It’s not what I had in mind when I started writing, but it’s what I produced, and if the Pink Princess was disappointed in the near total lack of mermaids in the story, neither she nor Nature Girl has expressed any unhappiness with the story, and both have repeatedly requested it to be read to them.  The question is one of illustration at this point.  I’m trying to talk my wife into it, a woman of considerable artistic talent.  She, on the other hand, is trying to talk me out of even thinking about her for it.  I’m not quite sure why.  However the debate ends, I’d really like to share this story.

My other debate is short story collections.  Graceland is a themed collection and I’m absolutely going ahead with that.  The debate here is over un-themed collections.  I have more than enough good stories (in my opinion, at least) to manage several short story collections.  Limiting myself to one Fantasy and one Science Fiction, I could select 90-100 thousand words worth of stories, some previously published but many not, to fill the two books pretty quickly.

Traditionally, single author collections have been a hard sell, even harder than anthologies, unless you’re a really big name author.  And they’re nearly always lumped in with anthologies.

Ah, but there’s that word again: traditionally.  And while the word isn’t the antithesis of what I’m trying to accomplish, the point in my mind is that just because something hasn’t worked for traditional publishing doesn’t mean it won’t in the new landscape.  There are certainly collections out there, especially in e-formats, and I’m repeatedly on record as saying we’re in the early stage of a golden age of short fiction, so I think the question I should be asking myself is why not?

Unless, of course, I want to try getting at least some of these stories in front of magazine and anthology audiences first, which I do.  I’m still debating with myself, but I think when I produce the first Small Realities (or whatever the title ends up being) collection, it will likely wind up being a more equal mix of reprints and new work, leaning at least a little towards reprints.

Thoughts?Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

What I’m Going to Self Publish

What I’m Going to Self Publish

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I said yesterday that I’ve developed a five-year plan with regards to my writing and publishing career, today I’m going to share the details of that, at least a little bit.  The five-year plan is vague after the first year, and flexible even inside it.  All deadlines are tentative and will be altered to reflect reality, the main reason I’m not actually going to share them as that’s gotten me into trouble in the past.

I’m going to call 2012 the first year, even though I’m going to start on things a little sooner than that.

First up will be the e-book version of Thorvald’s Wyrd.  As a quick refresher, this is a heroic fantasy tale inspired by Norse mythology and told in 100-word scenes.  Originally serialized here (and it’s still up and available), the feedback I’ve gotten has been really good and even included several requests/demands for an e-book version.  I’m about to put out feelers for cover art and have a couple of people in mind to ask.  This may happen before the end of 2011.

Next in the queue will be the e-book version of Turn the World Around, my current serial.  First Contact with an attempt at interstellar peace.  I’ve had some good feedback on this, too, mostly by e-mail, and while the serial isn’t complete, the story is at a little over 35,000 words.  This also might happen before the end of the year, or maybe early January.

In both cases, there will be a print version as well, almost certainly via CreateSpace.  There isn’t a huge cost associated with this and it makes it easy to get a bunch to take with me to a conference or a convention if I choose, something that a couple of people have put a bug in my ear about.

Here is where things start to get a little more fluid.  Or maybe variable is the right word.  For the rest of the year, I’m going to continue writing the stories for Graceland (the themed collection with a story inspired by each of the songs from Paul Simon’s seminal album of the same title).  I’m going to do very little editing of my own work in October, focusing on some other things I need to get completed.  November will be for a reread and revision notes on Skip To My Luu (a working title, which I do kind of like), and picking up whatever I still need to do on a couple of other commitments.  In November, I hope to start the second draft along with the first round edits on the Graceland stories.

But wait, you exclaim, what about Heroes Inc?  Didn’t you say you planned to have that done by the end of the year?  Heroes Inc is a working title, by the way, and yes, I did say that on more than one occasion.  But the beauty of self publishing is that the schedule is up to me, and I found when I finished the second draft, I wanted to let it rest for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes again.  So now the plan is to alternate drafts with Skip To My Luu.  The outline has me finishing the 4th (usually final for me) draft of Heroes Inc in the very early spring and Skip To My Luu a few weeks after.  The Graceland final drafts should be done just about when I start on Heroes Inc, so I’ll be looking for Beta readers for three different things within about two months.  That might be an interesting challenge.

So, allowing for a good amount of time for potential revisions after the Beta readers tell me all the problems with each volume, finding cover art, and doing all of the formatting and prep work for each of the three books, I hope to have all three ready for publication between mid-summer and mid-autumn.

Which makes the basic order of release:

Thorvald’s Wyrd

Turn the World Around

Graceland

Heroes Inc

Skip To My Luu

While I’m doing all of these later drafts and getting a bunch of short stories out into the wild (which I haven’t done much of this year, or none, actually), I will be drafting the next big project.  I’ve already started it, referring to it as Alishra’s story in a previous post back in May.  I haven’t got a lot done so far, two whole scenes, almost 5,000 words, and all of it long hand (and that was the point, to work on it without letting it take over).  It’s a big story and might take me a long time to get the full first draft down, but I’m going to start on the keyboard early in the new year, assuming I can catch up on everything else first.  I have been doing some heavy duty plotting.  It’s a multi-book arc and if I can get the first two done to the first draft level in 2012 along with everything else, I’ll be thrilled.

And yes, I’ll publish that story, too.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Why I’m Self Publishing

Why I’m Self Publishing

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I’ve been a writer for almost as long as I can remember.  When I was in the early years of grade school, I’d use my classmates as characters in science fiction and fantasy epic adventure stories.  By my freshman year of high school, I’d graduated to short novel-length, highly derivative works in the same genre, hand written and occasionally even finishing a story.  I later moved into teenage poetry, some of which actually wasn’t bad, and genre short stories.  By university, my writing had dropped into fits and starts and it stayed there for a long time: short bursts of fiction and poetry followed by long periods of ignoring it.  In my 30s, the short periods got longer until, after explaining to my then nine year-old why it was important to follow your dreams, I wondered why I’d stopped following mine.

So I picked up the shreds of stories I’d mostly not finished over the previous couple of years and started finishing them.  It took me a couple of months to establish a routine where I was doing some writing (nearly) every day, and on Christmas 2007, after everyone else had gone to bed, I started writing my first real novel, Dragon Summer.  I finished it exactly five months later (clocking in at 108,104 words)

I’ve written several other novels and many short stories since, beginning to submit my work near the end of 2008 and placing almost two dozen shorts.  This year and last year haven’t been nearly as productive as I might have like, due to a bunch of real world issues and other commitments, but I have high hopes for 2012.  Why?

Because I’m taking my career into my own hands and I’m going to start self-publishing.

I have nothing against traditional publishing and have plenty of books on my shelves from traditional publishers, large and small, but the landscape is changing and becoming a lot more virtual, and a lot more personal.  Traditional publishing may or may not adapt, but I don’t think I’m willing to wait and see if it does, or wait if it doesn’t.  It’s a different world and I think it’s time to see where the waves of change might take me.  Maybe past time, but every day is a new beginning, right?

There’ s been a lot written across the internet of the dos and don’ts and the whys and why not’s of self-publishing, and I’m not going to rehash much of it, but after a lot of thought and internal argument, I’ve got three reasons that it’s right for me.

Time

Ignoring how long it might take to write a book, edit, polish, get advice back from your Beta readers, revise, and polish it again, if you’ve got a good story on your hands, the time it takes from initial queries to agents through delivery to book stores can be three years (or four, or five, or more).  Then, you’ve got three months, six if you’re lucky, for your book to do really, really well or get pulled from the shelves.  It doesn’t have a chance to have any word of mouth or marketing mean anything.  If I publish myself, it may not get into stores, but I can have it on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords as an e-book within a few days of deciding it’s ready.  Which doesn’t mean a first draft goes up on the Kindle; a first draft is never, ever ready, not even to be seen by another human being.

Control

Say I’ve negotiated that three-plus year wait from query to print run.  Once I sign the contracts, I have very little say in what happens to the book and I’ve probably agreed to make whatever changes the publisher feels are necessary to make it fit the category it’s been put in.  If I take on the workload myself, I pick the cover artist and the cover art, when the book releases, what the price is set at and what I want to do or not do for promotion, ancillary material, or otherwise making use of my rights as the story’s creator.

Personality

Taking the time I need, and exercising the control I’ll have, will let me produce a work that’s completely reflective of what I want, what I feel is right for each book.  The final product will, in some fashion, reflect not just me as an author, but me as a person and my willingness to take care of all of the steps between conception and release.  It wasn’t possible for most people even a few years ago.  Another reason to love the digital age.

Plan But Be Flexible

So I’m developing a five-year plan.  The first year is laid out in fair detail, but after that it’s much more vague and fluid.  Even the plan for that first year has a lot of flexibility built in.  I have a full-time job and a full-time family.  I can project what I think things will be like, but the last couple of years have taught me that a lot of little things can add up and a big thing can blow you out of the water.  Things change, sometimes gradually, sometimes rapidly, and sometimes all at once.  We survive and adapt and grow.

In my case, we also self-publish.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather