Jan 212012
 

That’s right – I’ve noticed that writing seems to be a great way to meet folks.  It’s also a conversational topic shared by a specific group.  I had a friend of mine call me up the other night for no other reason than to talk about writing.  You see, he is also beginning his foray into the field of professional writing, and as he put it “I don’t have anyone else I can talk to about this stuff”.  By the way, his name is Barry Begault, and I would be remiss if I didn’t give him a little plug here.  Barry writes “Twilight Zone” style novelettes that he puts out under the brand of “Snack Reading”, and they are available on his Smashwords site, his Amazon Site, and knowing Barry, probably all the other usual places.  Go download a sample and if you like his stuff, drop the 99 cents to help support his “habit”. :-)

There are some other folks that I’ve met as I’ve learned about writing as a business.  Justin Macumber, Terry Mixon, and Eliyanna Kaiser of the Dead Robots’ Society have been extraordinarily inspirational, whether they know it or not, with their fantastic podcast for writers.  I’ve been lucky enough to have met Terry in person, and to have chatted with Justin and Eliyanna via email or on their forum for writers.  They are all good people, working on getting their own writing careers going, and helping other aspiring writers follow the dream as they do so.

And I got to meet Paul Elard Cooley at last year’s Conjour.  I first became acquainted with Cooley’s work through his podcast version of Tattoo.  That one was pretty creepy, but then I purchased his book Fiends at the con.  In that collection was a novel called Closet Treats, and that thing blew me away!  It’s the story of a man who is mentally ill and suffers from hallucinations, who thinks he sees a demonic being in the guise of an ice cream vendor.  For most of the book, you never know whether what he sees is real, or the twisted perception of a psychotic mind.  It was abso-freaking-lutely awesome.

And here I am a year later.  My own book is now published, and along the way I’ve gotten to know even more folks in the community.  I have an awesome editor in Lynn O’Dell, of Red Adept Publishing, who has become more friend than business acquaintance (yes Lynn, I know you will find this post, and it might embarrass you, but it’s true – like it or not, I consider you a friend :heh: ), and through her I have found another great group of writers in the Red Adept Select group.  These folks and I have been brought together as authors that the people at Red Adept Publishing  have edited and voted as “outstanding in genre”.  In all honesty, I am genuinely in awe to have been included in the same group.  They don’t know me from Adam, but have been outstandingly helpful in guiding me through the minefields of the modern publishing industry.  I urge you to look at the carousel at the top of my page here.  Those are the titles in the Red Adept Select group.  Sample them – read them – you won’t be disappointed. 8-)

And holy crap – I’m getting fan mail!  I mean, never in a hundred years would I have thought that would happen.  There are actually real people out there who are reading my book… and liking it!! :-))  As corny as it may sound, I am truly humbled.  Those of you who have emailed me with your kind comments, please know how fantastic it is to get them.  I know you didn’t have to do that, so thank you so much for your time.  It really means a lot.

Dec 112011
 

That’s right, the Smashwords account is created, the KDP account is created, and the CreateSpace account is done.  I got the confirmation at 12:12 AM that HPM is successfully published in the Kindle Store on Amazon.  At 6:58 AM I received notification that someone actually purchased a copy from Smashwords (and if it was one of you reading this, let me extend my most sincere thanks).  Additionally, I find on Amazon that I’ve sold one copy there as well.

Woohoo!  My first sales!  :party:

Of course, I’m still fumbling through the process of determining distribution points, figuring out how to list the various versions on Goodreads, updating profiles on Twitter, Smashwords, Amazon, Goodreads, lining up advertisements, etc.  I even accessed my Facebook account for the first time in months.  (As a matter of fact, it’s been so long that I found a message on there that my martial arts instructor had left for me in September, asking me if it was my account!)

Some other things that have been going on in the background… if you look at the cover, you’ll notice there is a badge in the lower right corner.  That is a “Red Adept Select” badge – something I’m pretty proud of.  And yes, that’s one of the secrets I’ve had to keep my mouth shut about for a few weeks now.  As a matter of fact, I’m actually writing this post the day before I can actually release it.  By the time anyone sees this, the first promotion will have been released, and it will no longer be a secret.  Red Adept Publishing has chosen Half Past Midnight as one of their Red Adept Select books.

As I said in my previous post, this process has been a veritable roller coaster ride, and there have been a lot of lessons learned.  There are things I will most definitely do again on my next one, and there are things I will most definitely NOT do.  It’s been a great learning experience – though at times the lessons learned have been similar to some I learned in my martial arts training.  :)

Still, though not too many people know it’s there yet, I am now a published author.  And as crazy as this roller coaster ride has been, it’s the first step into a life that I am really looking forward to.  Of course, something else that I’m looking forward to is the time in the (hopefully) near future when I can say I’m finished with the time investment on promoting HPM, and ready to get back to spending the majority of my time writing again.  :computer:

Nov 162011
 

In my last post, I was pretty much gushing about how excited I was about the cover art for Half Past Midnight.  After all, the cover is the last real obstacle between me, and publication.  This morning, I got the final version, and I was wowed.  The artist that is working with me through Telemachus Press is named Johnny Breeze.  Cool name, eh?  Sounds like a rock star, or super hero, doesn’t it?  As far as I’m concerned, he is a rock star.  The cover he did is awesome.  And as excited as I was with the cover, and with the initial reaction to it, I thought I was about ready to press “go” on the novel. 

I found out this morning that this is probably not going to happen for a bit.  You see, once I got the cover, I sent it to a few people to test reactions.  Those reactions were overwhelmingly positive – until they found out that the book was post-apocalyptic.

Now, since this blog is supposed to be about what I learn along the way, here’s a big lesson.  If you are here to learn from my mistakes, or even if you just want to laugh at me as I make them, pay attention the rest of this post.

The first call was from my editor, Lynn O’Dell.  I had posted the cover in the Writer’s Cafe in KindleBoards, and one of Lynn’s clients saw it and commented.  That client was Imogen Rose, best-selling YA author – (thanks, Imogen).  At any rate, Imogen seemed to really like the cover, but as she and Lynn discussed it, it quickly became apparent that she had assumed the book was YA.  I had specified a great cover IF my book was a YA vampire story.  Once pointed out, it was obvious.  There is a young girl in the woods, in the moonlight, looking weary, and carrying a crossbow, and a title of “Half Past Midnight“.  Doh!!

Once I began asking others more detailed questions, it became readily apparent that this was their take as well.  Yep, I have a fantastic looking cover for a young adult vampire slayer book.  It’s entirely my fault.  Johnny and Telemachus did exactly what I told them to do.   I just told them to do it wrong. 

Luckily for me, the folks at Telemachus have evidently dealt with rookies like me before.  They were very understanding, and Steve Himes was able to talk me down from the ledge.  We talked it over a bit, and I finally realized I have to own the project.  I told him what I would like to see, and he is going to see if they can do it.  I should have a mockup in a few days. :)

So learn from my mistakes. When whoever is going to create your cover asks if you have any idea what you want to see on that cover, do NOT just say something like “no, you’re the expert”.  Own the project.  No one knows your book as well as you do.

Oct 312011
 

Things are finally moving on the book cover front.  The first round of concept pieces with which I was presented were interesting.  One of them I even liked.  Unfortunately, none of them had anything at all to do with my book.  However, what they did was get me thinking more about what I would be interested in seeing on the cover.  I spent some time on a couple of stock photo sites and put together a few lightboxes.  I’d never heard of lightboxes before Steve Jackson at Telemachus Press recommended them, and I have to admit, they are pretty handy for collaboration on projects like these.

If you’re curious, all you have to do is go to one of the stock photo sites and look for pictures that you think you might be able to use.  In my case, I found a few pictures of people wearing the type clothing I felt was appropriate for characters in my novel, with poses I though conveyed the attitude I wanted, and I found other pictures that I thought might work well as a background for them, and I saved the whole group in a lightbox.  So let’s say you’ve done the same thing.  At that point, you send the link for your lightbox to whomever you may be working with on the project so they can see the same pictures and you can discuss what you like and don’t like about them, and why you do or don’t like certain aspects of them.  For instance, I found a picture of a young woman wearing cammo pants and a tank top, holding a Kalashnikov draped over her shoulder.  Her eyes were downcast, looking exhausted, and forlorn, and she reminded me very much of the Megan character in my novel.  However, the picture was done in such subdued colors that it looked almost like it was done in black and white.  I also found some pictures of various backgrounds that I thought fitting for the novel – some deep woodland settings, a few abandoned playgrounds, etc.  My thinking on this was that I would like the “sad soldier” picture to be colorized (if possible) and superimposed onto one or more of the other backgrounds.

Of course, there is also the chance that we’ll be using a photo I took some time back on my own.  Before I had any idea what I was doing, I thought I would use my kids as models for possible cover art, and snapped several pictures of them in various poses, holding a few weapons.  One of those pictures has my daughter in a kneeling position, aiming a home-made crossbow directly at the camera.  Telemachus has sent me a concept piece using this photo in one of the deep woodland backgrounds.  I’m tempted to post it here, but I’m not sure of the legalities involved, since I haven’t yet bought the rights to the background artwork.  Guess I should play it safe for now.  :-?

ITMT, Telemachus also got the manuscript back to me on Saturday (October 29) for formatting review.  I just finished it late last night, and I have a few questions that I’ll have to call them about this afternoon, but for the most part it looks really good.  Of course, I also found a couple of minor mistakes that got past me during editing, so I’ll have to figure out what (if anything) I need to do about them.  I’m pretty sure I know what changes I need to make, but would like to run it past Lynn O’Dell just in case.  (Damn, I’ve grown dependent on her!  :)   )

Between format checking, and working on cover ideas, I really didn’t get much done on the writing front this weekend.  On the one hand, I feel like I’m still not making the kind of progress I need to, but on the other, I am still making progress.

Well, that’s it for now — short and sweet this week.  So until next time, keep reading, keep writing, and keep safe.

Sep 282011
 

I saw a tweet today that led me to an excellent (if a little dated now) blog post about five traditionally published authors who have switched to self publishing.  It is a July posting on www.howtowriteshop.loridevoti.com (exact posting is here).

In short, the posting is an interview with five established romance writers who, once the rights on their manuscripts reverted back to them, decided to self publish their works in ebook format. I recommend you read what they have to say. I won’t repost it here, as it isn’t mine to show, but it is interesting information..

I also read an article in The Huffington Post from back in December of 2010. (Why do I never find these things until several months after they’re out?)  The article has an interview with Brian S. Pratt, author of the seven volume The Morcyth Saga, and The Broken Key (trilogy), two series that the author has self published through Smashwords and Amazon. To quote the article…

Pratt began publishing with Smashwords (the ebook publishing and distribution platform I run) in early 2009. His first quarterly royalty payment was $7.82.

After describing some of Pratt’s feelings at the time, it goes on to say that as of Q3 of 2010…

…he earned over $18,000 from sales across the Smashwords retail distribution network. This quarter, (Q4 – 2010) with three weeks to go, he’s on track to break $25,000.  At his current rate, he could earn $200,000 in 2011 when he includes his sales at Amazon.

I checked out Pratt’s website.  In addition to the two series of books I already listed, there are also a few stand-alone volumes, as well as a couple more series in progress.  In short, Pratt seems to be a relatively prolific writer.  :)   Go read the article, and the interview that follows it.

 

“So,” you ask, “what else is happening?” :)

Not much, yet a lot.  ?:-)

Half Past Midnight is off to Telemachus Press.  I’ve had a couple of conversations with Steve Jackson, one of the partners there – a very friendly and knowledgeable guy – and got them the first half of the payment (second half is due on completion of the project).  I love the fact that Telemachus operates on a simple, straightforward, work-for-hire business model, with no hidden fees or agendas.

So for now, HPM is out of my hands, and I feel a strange combination of relief and (oddly enough) loss.  For a few days after I sent it in, I didn’t quite know what to do with myself.  Up to that point, it seemed like every free minute was spent on some aspect of the novel; writing, rewriting, editing, discussing it with Lynn O’Dell, planning marketing strategies, second-guessing myself on all of the above… :)   Once I turned the manuscript in, I actually took a couple of days off from writing.  :shock:   It was a strange feeling.

I found that there were other people in the house with me! One introduced herself as my wife, the other as my son. :laugh:  I’m kidding, of course, but it felt a bit strange to be lolling around on the couch watching television with the family. And once I’d spent a few days not writing, I began to feel a strange mixture of guilt and desire for the writing again.  So I got back on ‘The Road to Rejas“, which had been fermenting in my brain for a few weeks.  There were characterizations I couldn’t quite get to gel in my mind, and they finally came together.  So now the progress meter on that one is moving.  It’s not moving as quickly as I would like, but it is moving.  And as is so common for me, as I approach my ten thousand word goal for the story, I am beginning to suspect that I have once again underestimated the story that these characters want to tell.  I may be able to pull it in under ten thousand words, but if not, then I won’t worry about it.  The tale will be what the tale will be.  8-)

We’ll see.

As a trivial side note, after working on this novel for so long, I only recently thought to find out what Rejas means in Spanish.  When I named the town in HPM (and now the companion story “The Road to Rejas“), I wanted to set the story in the Big Thicket area of east Texas, and thought a name with a Spanish feel to it was appropriate.  I won’t go into all the details of how Rejas came to me, but suffice to say, I never actually looked it up until last week.  Turns out that rejas is Spanish for “bars” (and I don’t mean the fun ones with adult beverages).

Yep, I named my town after a jailhouse barrier.  :)

 

And a last-minute update here, as I prepare to post this — Steve Jackson called a few hours ago letting me know that HPM is winding its way through the Telemachus process, and that I will likely receive a phone call within a few days regarding the status and to discuss next steps.  That’s all pretty exciting to me, but possibly not so much for you.  However, he also mentioned that he had written a reply to my last blog posting (Gatekeepers?), and it was awaiting my approval.

I went in and checked it, and was not only flattered, but am also a bit excited about some of what he had to say.  His succinct, no-holds-barred comparisons of the publishing industry to some of the past industries that failed to properly adapt to new technologies was spot on.  In fact, I think I’m going to get back with him and see if he has any objection to my reposting it as a stand-alone guest blog post.  In my opinion, his reply deserves a little more attention than being buried as an addendum to one of my posts.  :-D

If you want to read it now, then check out the Gatekeepers? link and click “responses” at the top right of the post.

For now, that’s it.  I think I’ll go see if I can get in touch with Steve.

 

Until next time, keep safe, keep reading, and keep writing.