Reading and Writing.

The best thing about reading something really good is that it inspires you to write something equally good.

Well, maybe not “you” but the figurative “you”.

Just like when I was a kid and I’d watch The Lone Ranger or Zorro and feel absolutely compelled to go out and try that jump onto the horse’s back my very own self, I’ve always felt a strong pull whenever I’ve really been able to lose myself in someone else’s creative exploits.

Art, music, writing, action… it’s never really mattered.  It’s as if the artist has somehow put so much of their soul into it that my own innards resonate with a kindred spirit.

What.

Okay, YOU find a better explanation for why I jumped off the deck knowing full well that saddle was going to crush my nuts.

So, reading good things makes me want to write good things.  Reading though, is fairly easy.  I can lay in bed, falling asleep, and read.  I can feed the baby, and read.  I can sit on the toilet, the only completely alone spot in the house, and get a chapter out, it’s fantastic.

Writing though… uffda.  Finding the time isn’t a nightmare, I can take time just about any time.  Finding the quiet though, the ability to use both my hands, the ability to string 2, sometimes 3, coherent thoughts together in the form of anything resembling a story…

Well, that’s a different kettle of worms altogether.

What’s that?

Yes.  Yes, I am completely aware that I just spent precious writing time writing about not being able to write.  This kind of thing isn’t difficult though, even though there’s a wiggly somebody on my lap insisting that her shoving her thumb in my eye is tickling.

“It’s ticklish, Daddy, now hold still!”

Oh dear.

Why I’ll make it as a writer… someday.

I was a Junior in High School the first time somebody ever called me a writer. The reason that memory has always stood out for me is not because it was momentous at being called a “writer”, because I still figured they were tweed-wearing hermits who didn’t do it for the money.

Nup, the reason I remember it was because it was the first writing assignment that I ever said, “Aw, what the hell” towards, and wrote from my heart.

I was fairly used to “A”s because I toed the line (on my writing assignments, not when I duct-taped Mrs. Stabnow’s thermos lid from the inside) but the grade on this paper didn’t matter a bit to me.

When I saw the “A” I felt more relief than anything, but when I read the next words my spirit actually soared.

“Well done Judd.  You are a great writer!”

But writing a novel is hard.

Years and years later and I’m finding it interminably difficult to sit down and work on my novel.  I’ve got the goddam thing all written, all laid out as far as structure and style goes, my continuity is fine and I’m even writing fresh stories to fill in gaps and add needed humour and character development.

But something is still missing.

I’ve got 4 kids and a wife and I work from home.  Finding “writing time” is never easy.  I have to get into the right frame of mind, I have to find the right mood and I have to get everyone to shut the fuck up for at least an hour.  None of this ever seems to coincide.

Yet, somehow, I’m able to sit at my computer for 2-3 hours at a time and bang out emails to friends, write blog entries on various sites and sometimes even churn out a short story or so for something on Page Buoy.

Why is it then, that I’m struggling so much with my novel?  Because it’s so BIG and IMPORTANT?  Because I’ve put so many goddamed hours into it?  Because I’m at that stage where I’m trying desperately to make it as perfect as possible?

Maybe it’s more simple than that.

Les Edgerton to the rescue… AGAIN.

I’d ordered the book so long ago off Amazon (who has to ship from the US and can take weeks) that I’d all but forgotten about it.  I’d been up one sleepless night trolling for books and remembered one of my absolute favourites, “Hooked” by Les Edgerton.

I Googled him, found another book or two on writing, got all excited and ordered one.  Then I found his blog and then I emailed him.

He wrote back about an hour later.  I still feel pretty effin’ coooool about that.

Then he joined Page Buoy, and that got me pretty fired up too.  So I got all caught up in the excitement of trading emails with one of my Writing Heroes and the novel was, once again, an afterthought.

The book showed up yesterday, and it’s called “Finding Your Voice.”

Which is funny, because I’ve had a couple of people, one of them heavily-codenamed but still one of my e-favourite writerfriends, all tell me I had a very unique and funny “voice”.  I can’t say as I’d ever heard it called that, but I knew what they meant.  I suppose in literary terms, your “voice” is a pretty unique way of describing something that would be called “style” in other languages.

I started thinking about the voice I was using in my novel.  And I started to get worried.

Finding my voice.

Then some of the gals in my other Writery Email Group Thingo were all commenting that I was good at cracking them up, and how they couldn’t wait to read my novel because it must be OMG Pee My Pants Funny.

“Shit,” I thought, “it’s really not.”

I wasn’t so worried about that though, it’s not really a humour piece and I’m not always out for laughs.

But it’s still missing something.

Wifeage and I got to talking about things last night, about how I relate stories from my experiences and how I used to blog about this and blog about that, and I got to thinking about my “voice”.  I use my “voice” in just about everything I do, from Facebook to Small Business Forums to emails to my mother.

It’s easy, it just flows, and I almost never have to think about it.

How to get it into my novel though?  Rewrite the whole bloody thing?

Writing is like sex.  If it feels like “work”, you’re doing it wrong.

“Well shit,” I thought again, “I’ve got some serious work ahead of me.”

Then I emailed my new email friend, Blue Skies Les, and told him that he’d written yet another book that had completely rocked my writery world, and I was only 35 pages in!

See, the problem, thus far, is that my novel IS a lot of work.  I’m working my ass off to find time, to find motivation, to find the right words, the right style, the right flow.

Writing, good writing, my good writing, shouldn’t be this much work.

And I don’t reckon it will be.

For the first time in a very long time, maybe ever, I’m really looking forward to starting in on this novel again.

Because, if it ain’t fun, then why in the hell am I doing it?

A Slightly Different Crowd

Hanging out with writers on the forums and the email lists and the newsletters and all that, has taught me a few interesting things about the types of personalities that I’m drawn to.

There is a certain level of disappointment that falls over me whenever I see the reaction when I’m saying something mildly inflammatory on Facebook.  Sometimes I spout off about how gay people should be able to get married and it shouldn’t be a thing at all, or that I don’t mind if others believe that Jeebus went zombie and then took flight but don’t try to treat it as undeniable fact, and I will inevitably get an earful from the small-minded (usually folks from back home in Montana) that are quick to inform me that there is, in fact, only one way to look at things.  Seems to be theirs.

At the risk of sounding incredibly wanky and elitist, I’m really enjoying discussions that don’t devolve (too quickly) and the articles and blog posts that talk about industry changes and the way the world is changing in regards to writers and publishing.

It’s incredibly refreshing to be able to take all this information in and NOT feel like my hackles are hackling.  Not that I tend to get hackly, but still, I like feeling calm and zen at the end of a week where I’ve accomplished f*ck-all with my books, websites or house.

Maybe I’m hanging with a better class of people?  Heh.  Well, I’m certainly doing what I can to drag that down.

From: David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants—The Future of Publishing

Through my good friend Abel Keogh, author of “The Third” which I am currently enjoying very much, I found David Farland‘s Daily Kick in the Pants, and even though I had a hard time relating to a guy who’s mega-successful as an author and teaches other mega-awesometastic authors like Stephanie Seymour, I am positively loving him now.

Like few others, he’s happy to talk about traditional publishing and e-publishing in the same breath, comparing the two in an unbiased way (or at least calling out his bias openly) and speaking candidly about his thoughts on it all.

This is the latest “Daily Kick” that I got, and I tell you what, this guy is fkn Spot On.

Last week I had my agent look over a movie contract, and in one clause that dealt with retained rights, my agent said, “We can’t sign this contract. It doesn’t allow us to sell enhanced books, and that is the entire future of publishing.”

I’d been talking to a prospective business partner about starting a company that will make enhanced books (books that may combine elements like film clips, music, video games, author interviews, and audio files, which are then sold electronically to be read on your iPad, phone, computer, and so on), so I thought that my agent’s comment was timely. But are “enhanced books” the future of publishing?

There is good reason to think so. But I don’t think that it’s the “entire future.”

Let me explain, and even prophesy, if I may. Now, I’ve been making my living as a writer for more than twenty years, and I watch the markets pretty closely. As most of you know, we’re going through some dramatic changes in the publishing world, with the new e-book revolution.

Here is what is happening. Right now, the e-book market is growing at over 10% per year. Meanwhile, the sale of paperbacks and hardcovers is dropping disproportionately. In fact, sales last month on hardcover books were down more than 40% from just the month before!

Now, there are reasons for this. Part of the problem has to do with the collapse of the Borders bookstore chain here in America. That might account for a drop of 25%. Another drop of 10% might be claimed because of the rise in sales of e-readers that people got for Christmas. But that means that there is still a substantial drop that doesn’t make sense—another 8%, more or less. What’s going on? I think that there may be people who are delaying hardback purchases in anticipation of buying e-readers. After all, why pay $25 for a hardcover when I plan to buy a Kindle and then get the electronic copy for $15 on Mother’s Day?

Whatever the problem, you have to realize that the entire publishing world is in trouble. As people switch to e-readers, then they quit buying at bookstores. As bookstore sales drop, their profit margins plunge into the red, and thus they can’t pay the distributors who sold them the books. As the distributors lose revenue (as happened with Anderson Distribution and others last year), they go out of business. When they don’t pay the publishers, what happens?

Well, publishers can do some things to save money. They can quit printing as many books. They can stop advertising. They can hold off on buying new manuscripts. They can use cheaper paper and binding. But there is a limit to how much they can cut their costs. Can they make up for the 50% losses that they’ve taken this year? No. There is only one thing that they can do, really. They have to get money from the authors.

Now, since authors don’t actually pay the publishers, there is only way to acquire money—from the author’s accounts. Money that is owed for past books sales just disappears. Or the publisher seeks to renegotiate the old contracts with worse terms, ones that let the publisher keep more money.

That kind of thing is happening a lot right now, if what I’m hearing is true. Publishers are publishing out-of-print books, or claiming that they hold the rights to OP books so that they can turn them into electronic books, and they’re basically stealing the author’s money. Or they are vastly under-reporting electronic sales, and perhaps even paper sales.

I’m sure that the publishers in most cases are hoping that they’ll figure a way out of this mess and pay the authors later. For example, most publishers are now demanding more and more from the authors in the way of electronic rights, movie rights, and income from foreign sales.

The publishers won’t make it. This change to electronic media is likely to take place over several years, and the publishers are in a downward spiral.

What I suspect will happen is this: most publishers will take money from the authors and be forced into court by writer’s groups. The judges will look at what is going on, there will be RICO investigations and allegations of mail fraud, and the publishers that are acting inappropriately will be reprimanded. They won’t go to prison. We never send white-collar criminals to prison. Instead, the authors will win their lawsuits, and will be awarded treble damages. This process will take several years to complete. When it is done, the publishers will declare bankruptcy, and the authors will never get anything in their settlement. In short, we’ll lose our shirts, if we keep on publishing with the big corporations.

Ten years from now, there will still be a business for paper books, but it won’t be an industry that makes $17 billion in US sales. It will be a much smaller business, maybe $4 billion in sales.

So if you’re a publisher, you need to look at scaling back now. You’ll need to move out of your fancy New York address, cut back on your print runs to something logical, and try to figure out how to ride out the storm. Latching onto author’s money is one way to do it. It has worked for decades.

As an author, I can’t afford to play this game. But there is an option: the e-book. With the rise in sales of e-books, an author can now go out and sell his own books. The market is expanding. Some authors are genuinely making millions in this new market.

By putting out a novel in e-book, I reach a much smaller market, but I might also cut out my publisher and my agent, with their high overhead, so that I make a much higher profit on a per-book basis. Sounds like a great idea, right?

But with the new market, there is going to come a lot of “white noise.” New authors, terrible writers, will be publishing, too, and readers are going to have to figure out how to decide what to read. Getting a reader’s attention will be terribly hard to do.

Well, how do you do that? One way may be to have critics giving reviews of books—not the author’s friends, but genuine impartial reviewers working for independent agencies. Another may be to have awards for each category of electronic book, so that we have something like the “Farland Award for best SF and fantasy novel next year.” Hell, consider this an announcement. I’ll set it up.

A third way to rise above the white noise may be to rely upon trusted “electronic publishers” to select books.

That’s where I’ve decided to step in. By creating an “enhanced book,” we’ll be investing a lot of money in a book’s future. We’ll take it from being an electronic Word file then and add background art, music, video, sound, and so on. We’ll have an author interview with the book, and it will become part book, part movie.

By investing that kind of money, we’ll not only enhance the reading experience for the audience, but we’ll also be putting our stamp of approval on a book. We’ll be saying, “We expect great things from this author. This one is really worth looking at.”

In short, I expect “enhanced books” to become the dominant art form for novels in the next few years, replacing and outselling simple e-books on the bestseller lists, and even outselling hardbacks and paperbacks within a couple of years.

As a person with a long history in publishing, videogames and film, this is sort of a natural step for me. My partner, Miles Romney, and I have agreed to start our company, in part because I believe in this new medium. So, look for us in the future as East India Press!

I’ll be announcing our first project in the next couple of weeks.

Now, I have no background in traditional publishing. I have no background in self-publishing either. I have yet to publish my first e-book and I can’t even effing finish the books that I’ve started.

BUT… this is the way this is heading peeps, and if I were more inclined, it’s the kind of thing I’d blog about just so that in a year from now I could go back and point out how awesome and smart I am.

Ahhhh… but I’m going to do that anyway now aren’t I?

Regardless. E-books aren’t paper, they’re stand-alone documents right? Well the mode that helps them stand alone is going to be more and more standarised the more popular they become (which is growing almost exponentially). Once a more standard format is in place, e-books are definitely going to be “enhanced books”…

…and the world will, once again, change completely.

Which is why I’m still completely shat off that the most popular e-book authors of today have f*ckall for a web presence. The American Capitalist Pig part of me wants to start a business based solely around exploiting this, but the No Worries Aussie Laid-back Surfer Dude in me wants me to just sit back and write and be awesome.

And finish Page Buoy, of course, which I will do in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

E-Book Authors:The Internet Beckons

It seems like it should go together doesn’t it?  Self-publishing (“Indie Publishing” I reckon isn’t quite the same) on Teh Interwebs is eezie squeezie, and getting your book up and on Amazon or B&N is something that many a soccermom turned romance novelist is doing.

But that seems to be where many end up e-stopping, when in fact they should be hitting the e-gas.  I’m getting more and more active on the Kindle Boards, where I read almost exclusively the “Writer’s Cafe” forum, and about the average of what I’m seeing is folks having a blogspot.com account.

Which is fine, really, if you have no idea what you’re e-doing and are afraid of getting screwed by unscrupulous web people (of which there are a few).

And while I tend to use these two as my benchmarks, they are, so it bothers me that Joe Konrath and Amanda Hocking are both using theirname.blogspot.com accounts to blog and promote their books when there is SO MUCH opportunity out there for either of them.

Let’s take one of them as an example…

Amanda Hocking’s main site is her blogspot blog, with what I assume is a semi-standard template and a lot of widgety-goodness buzzing around on the edges.  I don’t know her personally, but I would reckon it does little to convey either the feel of the author or her work through its design.

Amandahocking.com however, just has this:

YUCK.  Yuckety-yuck. Poweryuck, with yuck-burning boosters.

Girlfriend, you’ve quickly ascended to celebrity status among self-publishing authors and have almost single-handedly lit the fire under the asses of tens of thousands.  You’ve finally got a big book deal and you’ve optioned the rights to a bloody movie for the sake of Pete.

GET A WEBSITE UP ON THAT DOMAIN.

If somebody else owns it, pay what they want.  The earlier you do that, the cheaper it’ll be.  If they won’t sell, then take ’em to court and prove your own copyright now that you are undoubtedly a corporate entity, but get a site up there, because that’s craptastic crapburgers with poosauce on ’em.

Your books should have their own websites too.

Amanda has a slew of books and also a trilogy aptly named “Trylle Trilogy”, with books priced $0.99, $2.99 and $2.99 respectively.  She’s got these books available on her website with a neat moving banner thingo that I think Amazon provides, but that’s about the only place she’s plugging these books.  A quick Google Search for “trylle” shows only sites that are talking about her movie deal in the Top 10 and any website that’s actually about those books nowhere near the Top 30.

I actually emailed her about 3 months ago when I got started down this whole Self-Publishing E-book route, and at that time I informed her that www.trylletrilogy.com was available (which it was) and she should go and get it.  I’ve just checked and it’s since been registered by “charlies sheen” under a private account.  Hmmm.  There’s no active website up for that domain either.

Missing out.

So right there, you’ve got two prime opportunities for self-promotion.  You’re an author, you need a website that’s YOURS with your domain name.  Heck, my new mate has www.justinscro.com that he just got through WordPress, and he knows sweet f*ck all about websites and such.  Amanda Hocking should have a website that has all the trappings for linking to her fan pages on Facebook, Twitter, sending her an email, and info about her books.  She can turn the homepage into a listing of her latest blog posts and then link to the blog separately too.

Hell, if done right, she can even export all of her old blog posts and import them onto a new site with little hassle.

She should have registered www.mybloodapproves.com (which fukkinell is AVAILABLE, oh my goodness, I should make that one an example) as well as www.trylletrilogy.com and put info up about both books (not just “Buy!  Buy!  Buy!” but other stuff) as well as set up a couple of forums for people to get on there and debate their favourite characters, discuss their favourite books from the series, what’s happening with a movie deal, etc.

Hell, all she’d have to do is blog that she’s looking for some forum moderators to help look after these websites, and she’d have 30 pasty-white and doughy hands in the air faster than you can say “secretly thinks they’re a vampire”.

ALL of this can be done with little hassle, you just need to know what you’re doing.

The best part about all of this too, most of it is free.  FREE.

Get a decent web host, like my mate Pete at www.ihswebsolutions.com and you can have a website with all the trappings for about $3.95 a month.  That’s peanuts, trust me.

A domain name will run you about $9/year through Pete as well, and once you’ve got all this set up, you can log into the CPanel (control panel software through the backend) and set up WordPress on your website, a PHPBB forum and an email address or five, for NOTHING EXTRA.

Go to templatemonster.com or another similar site, grab a template for $70 and install it on your website.  Get a webnerd to spend an hour swapping out the huge alligator from the top banner and the stock photos of that blonde girl with the headset on (that’s on EVERY site, I swear) and you’ve got a semi-customised, fairly unique, website all your own.

That’s $9 for the domain name, $47.40 for hosting, $70 for a template (or FREE off of WordPress.com’s website), and a signed copy of your book for the dungeonmaster comicbookguy that’s never kissed a girl but can tell you the birthdate of every female that’s ever been one of The Avengers.

$126.40 isn’t much when you consider the potential book sales, not to mention the overall publicity that your name and your books will garner.

Seems a damn shame that it’s that simple and more aren’t doing it.  I mean really people, if you’re not out there cornering the market on YOU, someone else will eventually.

Or worse, no one will at all.

Self-Publishing is a Marathon, not a Sprint

The Passive Voice usually has some great stuff, and it almost always tends to inspire me, but this morning I’ve got a cuppa, ALL of the older kids are off to school and it’s exactly one week until our baby is here.

This may actually be my last chance for peace like this… so I shall write.

Passive Guy wrote about how self-publishing and traditional publishing are both really just on a bell curve.  The Amanda Hockings and the Joe Konraths of the Yay Self-Publishing World are on that high bit of the curve.  There’s a few others up there, sure, but for the most part, the rest of us are towards the lower ends.

The market is changing, and changing quickly.  The entire publishing world is going through an enormous shift, and the World has never quite looked like this for writers.  It’s pretty exciting.

So, the little guys see their shot, they read the blogs and the media articles and the hooplah about the chubby girl from southern Minnesota that’s making millions doing this and they think, “HEY!  I can do that TOO!

I know, because I am one of them.

The action is on, big things are happening, and as is our human nature, we want to get in on the action and do the big things too.

But we don’t look before we leap.  We just hop in and start running, forgetting one thing:

This race is a marathon, not a sprint.

Konrath and Hocking haven’t just been writing 9 hours a day for the past few months, they’ve been doing it for years.  And they haven’t just been writing book after book in an effort to push their product out to the masses.  They’ve written what they know and love…

And then polished the ever-loving shit out of it.

Editing folks.  Fix up.  Fix up and get it as close to perfect as you can before you put it out there.  More than one downloaded sample has been blasted from my Kindle (app) into oblivion because of typos and infodumps.

The typos can usually be forgiven, to a point (I’m not the Grammar Nazi that Wifeage is) but I can usually apply the Cockroach Theory: For every one you can see, there’s ten in the wall.

If the author couldn’t be f*cked to fix a very obvious typo within the first few pages, then they probably couldn’t be bothered writing a very good book either.  They probably just wanted to write a book, tell that story that’s been burning inside of their little writerheads, and then sit back and cash in.

And they’ve probably sold some books, especially if they’re good (or lucky) at self-promotion.  But if it ain’t a very good book, that won’t last very long.

Infodumps are a trickier one, because they’re probably more along the lines of personal preference more than the black/white of typos, but they’re still a No Fly Zone for me.

Frequently billed as “backstory”, infodumps are the authors way of catching you up on every little thing that’s happened so that you don’t feel like you’re missing anything.  The Passive Voice also linked to a brilliant article on
How To Include Backstory Without Killing Your Novel, which essentially says “Pay close attention to your first bits, they’re really important”.

Of course, I’ll never get tired of telling folks how Les Edgerton’s “Hooked” changed my entire life.  Or rather, gave me the right tools to get right into writing, and writing something well.

So, in our haste to simply start cashing in on the excitement, we crank out the novel that’s been brewing on the backburners of our li’l creative consciousness and we forget to make it very good.

We just wanted it out there.

The window isn’t closing, and for the good writers, it probably never will.  Mark Coker said it best with Point Number One in his post: The Seven Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success

Write a great book.

And if you needed Tyler Durden to make it clear for you, Coker’s Point Number Two is:

Write another great book.

You getting this yet?  Awesome.

Take your time.  Pace yourself.  I have no doubt that you’ve got one helluva story in there, and that you’re pretty good with words, but if you really want to make this work…

Get it right the first time.

Good luck!

It’s An Interesting World Out There – Publishing

The book world, that is.

The one where people write books and buy books and try to sell their books and talk about their books and talk about other people’s books.  That one, it’s interesting.

While I spent almost the entire morning reading various websites about all of the previously mentioned I was happily having my own opinions on things, commenting on a blog here and there when that opinion bubbled over, when it came time to write in my OWN blog about these opinions, I’m doubting myself.

Not my opinion, oh no, I have a deathgrip on those.  No, I’m doubting whether or not the World needs yet another blog waffling on about writing and publishing and e-books and all that other shit.

Welp, at the end of the day, it IS my blog, so I’m just going to fart around as I do, and see what comes of it.

Publishing – By the Big Kids

It’s a commonly held notion that someone who’s “published” is to be held in some esteem.  Even those who aren’t aspiring novelists know that it’s wickedbloodyhard to not only write something good, but to have someone else think it’s so good that they’re going to spend time and money on printing, promoting and distributing it.

Big publishing houses have a game they like to play though and just like any game that you want to be really good at while no one else is, they move the goalposts around a lot.  For a while nobody wanted kids going to magician’s school or vampires that fall in love and glitter, but then that changed, and our world changed with it.

For a writer, the game entails some vital steps:

  1. First, working your ass right off to write a good book.
  2. Then work your ass off to get an agent to give it some love.  Many won’t.  The vast majority won’t.  In fact, the majority will probably do the worst thing for it, and ignore you.
  3. Then work with your agent (who’s working their ass right off) to get a publisher to give you some love.

Step 1 is hard enough.  Damn hard.  Crazynuggethard.  SO crazynuggethard in fact, that many don’t make it past this one.

Step 2 is hard too.  Farting-in-Church-without-giggling hard.  Many, the vast majority, won’t make it past here either.

Step 3 is something I know so little about, I feel guilty even putting it on here.  I’m going to guess that it’s hard, but at that point it’s just wackystupidhard for your agent and not you, so shoosh, no complainin’.

Whew.

Dog Forbid, you’ve made it, you’ve gotten that book deal and the only thing hard in your life is your nipples… and then you have to wait.  And edit.  And tweak.  And wait.  And write a bit.  A lot.  And still hold down that job because writing ain’t payin’ the bills yet.  Then wait some more.  You start to regret what I said about your nipples…

YOINKS.  If you’re lucky, Leprechaun’s asshair lucky, then in a couple years you’ll have a book on the shelves of a bookstore, you’ve bought five copies for your mother, and they gave you enough coin to pay off some of those debts and maybe put a down payment on your own place.

If you’re lucky.

You probably won’t be.

Publishing – By Your Own Stupid Self

Yep, stupid.

Let’s face it, you didn’t just wake up one morning and decide that you were going to write a book and publish it yourself because you want to be the one in control.  Or because it feels cleanest, or because you’re a stinkindirtyhippie and don’t like how Bantam don’t use the right kind of recycled owl in their books.

Nup, you probably chose to self-publish because everybody else in the known Universe turned you down.  You probably didn’t take that to mean that your book was a clown turd or that you should just work on another project, get it published, and then pitch your first novel after you’ve gotten some traction.

Oh no.  You probably sat there, with your unpublished self, and thought that everyone else was a big poopyhead.

Even if you didn’t think that, it’s highly likely that you scraped together enough coin to publish your own book because you just didn’t want to wait any longer and you reckoned that book was a winner.

Hell, it even might be.

But to do that, to go through all that, with all the risks involved and all the time you’re wasting, getting rid of your combivan AND bass guitar… well I reckon you’re a bit stupid.

Publishing – “E” styles

Sorry, what?

“E” publishing?  Is that like “E” mailing my book to get it published?

I hadn’t really heard of it either until about 9 months ago.  Hell, I was in The States last July and heard my mother talking about reading books on her “Kindle”.  First thing I thought of was that she’d gotten confused about which light was the lamp and which was the fireplace.

So I’m late to the game as well.  I only finished my first novel last December and I’ve only just heard of Indie Authors and E-Books in the last few months too.

And I’m hellaciously curious as to how that’s all going to pan out.

See, now you can write a book, just like in Step 1 up there, and then you can just skip all that other crap.

I KNOW!

Just skip past finding an agent, or rather getting rejected by hundreds of them, and don’t even bother thinking about any publishing houses or their opinions of your book.

Don’t even sell your wife’s Volvo and cash in little Timmy’s College Fund either, for you’re not going to split your own pocket doing this kind of publishing.  For the most part, it’s free.

FREE.  You heard me, this big bad bitch of a publishing method is FREE.

Holy Hidden Agendas Batman, what’s the catch?

To be honest, I haven’t found one yet.  I think the catch might actually be: you have to actually be a good writer, but I’m not sure yet.

So, am I still stupid?

Maybe, but I can’t see your underwear from here and therefore have no immediate indication of your intelligence level.

What I can say, is that with the E-Self-Nonhugeguys-Publishing Method, you’ve got a much better chance to sell some books.

Getting people to read your stuff really is what it’s all about, and if you:

  • Write a good book.
  • Edit it like it’s your mother-in-law’s obituary.
  • Go to Smashwords, or Goodreads, or someplace like that.  Follow their guidelines and dot and cross things.
  • Promote it.  To people that aren’t in your Stuffed Lion Collecting Club.  Promote it to everybody.
  • Keep writing.
  • And writing.

Then you just might make a success of yourself.

And let’s be honest, the margins for measuring that are a bit roomier with that last option.

Hell, I reckon I can get my wife, my mom and possibly mother-in-law (who doesn’t read this blog) to buy a copy of my book.  If it’s on Amazon.com at $0.99, then that’s $2.98 I made right there.

And all I had to do was something I absolutely love with every fibre of my being.

I’d call that an overwhelmingly huge success.

Wish me luck.

Novel Ideas

I think the biggest part of the fun of the creative process is actually being creative, because when you’re open to them, the ideas just flow. It’s wonderful.

Unfortunately, until you’re creating full-time (with that full-time creaty income taking care of things), it’s hard to give time to every new idea.  That said, I still try to capture them in their essence as soon as I can.

Typically this involves waking up from a particularly and repeatedly disturbed night’s sleep and trying to write down the dream I had about raw eggs, raw fish and rocket travel to space with a teenage Keanu Reeves before I get tucked into emails and remember what actually pays the bills around here (barely).

My dreams power a lot of my novel ideas, though in reality they’re probably not ALL novels.  Short stories, I suppose, screenplays even, I have no idea.  I know they’re stories, interesting ones, that I’d like to tell.  The medium in which I do it isn’t as important right now.  And like almost all of my other amazing and wonderful stories that I’d like to tell, I have no idea how it ends because I woke up.

I s’pose that’s another big part of the fun too, going along the journey of writing these stories and watching what unfolds and how they end up.

Right now though, right now I am faced with yet another day where I’ve got responsibilities and shit that needs done, and I probably won’t get a chance to sit and write and explore and create and make stories happen and discover how they end.

This way of life will change though.  Soon probabaly.  I’m not sure how just yet, but I do know that it won’t always be this way, and I’m really looking forward to that.

Wish me luck.

New Novel

See, the funny thing about writing a novel is that when I wasn’t ready to start revising it straightaway, I wanted to write another one.

I dream a lot.  A LOT.  They’re usually quite vivid and sometimes pretty exciting.  Some nights I have “movie dreams” where I feel like I’ve rented a movie and wake up very entertained.  Unfortunately, I frequently miss out on the ending because I wake up with underwear problems that make me have to stand waaaaaay back from the toilet at pre-6am.

It’s a bummer sure, but it gives me lots of great ideas.

Not long after the New Year started, I had a really cool dream about a future where telepathy was fairly common (on a limited scale) and a World War had ended up driving the surviving society of Australia into the bush, where they lived for years thanks to skills learned from the Indigenous Australians.

Well, waking up with a peeboner or not, I was bound to lay there quite awake formulating the rest of this story after that kind of dream.  A lot came after that, and by the next morning I was sketching the outline in my notebook and prepping myself for another novel.

I did it different this time though, I took my corkboard and pulled all those pesky pictures of children and memorable moments and started putting up thumbnails of characters, locations, timelines… all sorts of planny goodness.

Then I just started bopping through it, outlining sections and making the stories fit together… then I challenged Scotty and the crew again.  A few different takers, but me and Scotty, Abel, and Doc-in-law again, only this time it’s 1,500 a week minimum, and the winner is the one that types “The End”.

And gets a publishing deal.

KIDDING.

But once we kicked it off, we’ve been doing pretty good, and we’re on about Week 5 or 6 even, I’ve lost track.

So, writing and writing on the new book.  What’s happening with the old one?

It’s been resting.

Like a fine wine or some freshly kneaded bread dough, or a tired pregnant woman sitting in front of a fan and watching baby boy thump in her belly.  It’s resting.

I wanted to get crackin’ of course, getting it finished straightaway and getting it published.  But wife suggested I follow some advice from Stephen King.  She even made me look it up.

He finishes a book and puts it in a drawer for at least a month.  3 months usually.

Well, I didn’t think I could make it, but once I got crankin’ on the new novel I almost forgot all about it.

Almost.

Then Scotty got back to me with his feedback, and it was great.  Most of it was stuff I’d thought of, but the rest was ideas that I didn’t have fleshed out nor really had the confidence to slap in there.

So, now I’m hip-deep in the telepath novel and I have this whole other novel, My First Novel, waiting for me to finish it.

Because once I finish it, I hope to “self publish” it, where I make a kickass cover and put it “out there”.

I’ve been following along with these folks, and they’re chock full of good ideas and great ways to do this:

I’m following The Passive Voice too, that emails me articles every day about all of this fun shit.

I gotta say, this whole process has been a hoot.

Can’t wait to see where I end up.

Wish me luck.

Next Step: Revising

So there it is.  My first novel.  It isn’t like the old days where it’s a pile of papers that I can still chuck in the fireplace.  It’s an e-pile of papers, and I’ve saved it and backed it up and all that (Dropbox.com is working pretty well for this).

But, for as much as I celebrated, drinking too many beers at the in-law’s on New Year’s Eve Eve, I wasn’t finished.  I’m not finished.  I’m not even close.

See, now I take the novel that I wrote, and actually make it something readable.  Hell, not just readable, enjoyable.  Sought after.  SELLABLE.

It’s not.  Not right now anyway.  I sound like I’m whinging a bit when I say it like this, but… it was my first try!

It was my first try at this.  I’d never written a book, let alone one that people might want to read or someday even *GASP* purchase.

It’s a good story though, and it’s got a lot to it.  I have a lot of work ahead of me though, in that I have to go through it, from the beginning, with a fresh set of eyes, with a cold and hardened heart, with an artist’s flair and an editor’s temperament.  I have to go through it all again, to make it good.

Not that it’s not good, it’s just not ready.

So, first I’ll go through it and I’ll revise it into something readable.  Then I share it with strangers.  Yes, that’s right, strangers.  To see what they think.  They’ll critique the work, not the artist, and I’ll get some honest feedback.

Then, I’ll make changes, as I see fit, and I’ll share it with the most important reader I have.  My wife.  She’s the inspiration for the story AND my chief editor.  That’s when I’ll get the real deal back at me.

Then I’ll share it with everybody.  Well, everybody that’s willing to pay $0.99 for it on Kindle (or something similar).  Then I’ll look for feedback that’s less honest, the kind where my mother gets a bit teary and says, “Oh, I always knew you could!”  Of course, by that point it’ll be too late to change anything, I’ll be published.

Yes, that’s right.  This is the New Millennium.

Old School Publishing Houses and Literary Agents and Editors and Agents and all that… well they may not be long for this world.  Not in their present form anyway.

I’ve delved into researching the world of e-book publishing, or self-publishing.

It all really started with David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants, an email I get every day (usually) sent for free from a published and successful New York Times Bestselling Author.  He mentioned an Indie publisher named Amanda Hocking, whom I checked out, and that was that.  I was sold.

See, Amanda Hocking hasn’t been published anywhere, not traditionally.  She didn’t send out millions of queries just to get millions of rejections.  She didn’t go all J.K. Rowling nor did she go Stephanie Meyer.  She just wrote lots of books, a series or two, and then e-published them.  For Kindle, predominantly I assume, and then she spread the word about her books.

Then people were reading them and buying them and further spreading the word.

Last year at this time, she was still working in her dingy disadvantaged-care job, getting more and more excited at the idea that she could sell books online.

Last July or so, she made more in book sales than she did the previous year at her job.  In December, she made around a quarter of a million dollars.

Just between you and me, that’s a lot of money.

Not that I’m in it for the money, because if I was I’d be a bit retarded.  I’m in it to make books happen and see if people like them and entertain and make people’s lives a little bit better.

If that makes money, then Rock On.

But we’ll see how it goes.  For now, I’m just documenting how I’m going and trying to keep track of the cool shit that happens on the way.

Wish me luck.