Sunday, June 25, 2017

Signing Event

So today was my first book signing event.  First, I want to thank Park Road Books for their support in this event.  They gave me a venue and helped me immensely.  I'm grateful.

Second, the event was a little different than I envisioned.  I thought I'd start right at 2pm, give an overview of the event, read a passage or two, and then sign some of my work.  Maybe that will work someday when I have a bigger following, but it wasn't in the cards today.
(My front door display at Park Road Books)
There wasn't exactly a crowd at the event, which wasn't unexpected.  Instead, there were a few subscribers, most of whom I've gotten to know real well over the last few years.  So instead of going all formal, we devolved into an informal discussion of both my novel and my other works and their release schedule.  People came and went throughout the event, some staying for only a few minutes, while others stayed for more than an hour.  And during that time, of course, I signed some books.
(I've been writing my name since I was five)
I managed to sell 90% of what I brought and what the bookstore already had on the shelves, which constituted success in my mind.  The store also still has a signed copy to sell(they requested I leave a signed copy for them).  Not an earth shattering event, but still a fun one.

As I pick up more folks, and maybe stray outside of my old hometown, these will gain more structure, but for now, it was great to just bullshit with the folks who came and sign some novels.  I wouldn't mind all these events being this low stress.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Spinning Out Of Control

Stories can be a strange thing.  As a writer, I think I know how a story is going to unfold, but it sometimes takes a surprising turn and goes off in an entirely different direction.  I know how artsy-fartsy it sounds to say that we're not creating the story, that we really just sit back and write what we see(like it's a TV show), but it's the truth.  Sometimes we exert control, but mostly we're just along for the everybody else.

However, that can sometimes lead to strange stuff.  This happened to a novel I wrote called The Onyx Cluster.  The book was supposed to detail an arrogant scientist alone in a post-apocalyptic wasteland after a time travel experiment gone wrong.  He would eventually find a group of mutated telepaths who'd manipulated the time stream to cause the very apocalypse that created them.  It was to be a tale of loneliness and introspection that detailed that our best efforts sometimes go astray.  What I wrote instead was an overly complicated story about a guy who became a resistance leader in the future and brought back a psychic child that led authorities on a high speed interstate pursuit.  I'm not sure how I got there.

By the time I got halfway into the book, I had no idea how to untangle the mess I'd created.  I should've done the right thing and scrapped the whole thing before starting over, but we all know how hard it is to just abandon material we've spent months on.  So, God help me, I let that crap-a-thon go to the end.

That doesn't mean I learned no lessons from the fiasco.  The biggest takeaway was that I needed to exert more control over my stories.  Previously, I just wrote down what I saw.  I now tend to grab the wheel a little more strongly.  Reading some great authors, they do the same thing after similar tales of woe.  The most famous one I can think of is Stephen King, who said that The Stand was just going out of control with no direction until he blew up the Boulder Free Zone.  Yes, he was writing down the story he saw, but it was going nowhere, so, as the God of that universe, he introduced some wrath.  It's an important thing to remember.

Get into your story and take charge when you see it going awry.  Yes, it's fun to be as surprised as everyone else as to how a story progresses, but that can lead to silly garbage.  God may not publicly interfere much, but when He does, it can be dramatic.  Always remember that when it comes to the universes you create, you are God, and you must sometimes intervene.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

No Post Today

Sorry for the short post today, but I'm spending some much needed quality time with the family.  That doesn't mean I'm not still mapping out my next novel(which I am) or reading for both enjoyment and to stay on top of how to write(which I also am).  However, I needed a breather, and my family needed my time(which I gladly give).  I'll return on Thursday morning with a new post.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Book Signing Event!

I wanted to announce that I'll be doing a book signing event for Akeldama at Park Road Books in Charlotte on June 25th at 2pm.  I'll be answering questions about the novel, and I'll sign copies of Akeldama for anyone who would like one.  Park Road Books will also be carrying copies for those who haven't yet purchased one.  I hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Lessons Learned So Far

I'm nearly a month into this book release thing, so I thought I'd share what I've learned so far.  The list may seem a bit negative, even though I don't really mean it that way.  It's just that we learn the greatest lessons from the things we need to fix.

1.  You'll never catch every mistake.  I went over Akeldama with a fine tooth comb.  It has been written for nearly six years, and I spent most of the last six months pouring over it to make sure it was perfect.  It wasn't.  I was no more than a day past release when I found my first typo.  I've found three so far, and it irks me.  I'm going to put in a correction, but I somehow doubt even then that the 10th go around will find everything.  Copyediting would be great, but it's expensive.

2.  Not every subscriber will buy a copy.  I've spent the last few years building a subscriber list of several hundred.  Each time I convinced someone to join my list, or they asked me to of their own accord, I got excited.  Well, it turns out that not everyone is as enthusiastic about your project as you are.  So far, barely a third of those on my list have bought a copy.  That makes me wonder how many were just humoring me.  Yes, build your list, but don't bank on it providing the bulk of your sales.

3.  Whatever you project as costs...double it.  Costs pile up.  You may think you're straight with a cover, ebook format, and print format, but there are so many more costs that you can soon find yourself overcome by them.  I needed proof copies, second proofs after the first resubmission, a business license, a (very small) advertising budget, book promotion copies, etc.  Costs I never considered came up.  Be generous with what you think you'll spend when you estimate cost.

4.  No one will be as enthusiastic about your work as you.  Many think that simply getting a book out there is enough.  It isn't.  If you want to do promotional events,. you need to really go after those slots.  If you want reviews, you need to ask, and possibly re-ask.  When someone says your book sounds interesting, try to close the sale at that moment.  Waiting allows them to cool off, and you're much easier to say no to if you're not there to make a face to face call.  People don't just run to Amazon and buy it just because you're the one who's excited about it.

5.  There are always surprises.  Some folks will come through in ways you never imagined.  Sales will come from unexpected quarters.  Always seek the opportunities that come, and that means being on the lookout for them, no matter how subtle they may be.  And then move past those opportunities you miss.  They may sting, but you'll waste time and emotion on that which you cannot change.

Overall, it's been a great start, and one to keep going.  Hopefully these lessons will help me continue to sell and make my next project even better.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Yeah, I Missed One

Seems like I missed a post today.  My bad.  I got caught up in stuff.  Mostly, missing it was a reminder to plan ahead by a few posts.  I'll resume regularly scheduled blogging on Monday morning with some exciting news about an event for Akeldama.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Copyediting And Cost

I've spoken in the past about the benefits of copyediting.  I've talked about how a good copyeditor will make your manuscript so much better, and how it's foolhardy not to get one.  That's why I feel like such a hypocrite.

No, I didn't get a copyeditor for Akeldama.  I wanted to, but I couldn't afford it.  A book the size of Akeldama, I found out, would've cost me over $3,000...and that's just for the first pass.  Another pass would've been another couple thousand dollars, and my entire company's budget, for everything I intend to publish, was $6,000.  So I scrimped, and some people noticed.

I still feel that some issues with my grammatical "errors" is writing style.  Put two grammarians in the same room, and they'll edit the same piece of writing differently.  One will say you need the Oxford comma, one will poo poo it away.  One will say to never end a sentence with a preposition, while the other will say that's not a hard and fast rule.

So I got some people I know to proofread my work, and they missed some stuff.  Not much, but enough for the pickier among us to notice.  I plan to submit a couple of corrections, but that'll have to wait for now, for expense is an issue.

Some say you shouldn't publish unless you have the money to do it all.  I say that's bullshit since it would stymie so many of us.  That means accepting risk.  Most of us aren't rich, so copyediting may be out of our reach until we're successful.  Unfortunately, we may not be successful if we don't meet all the gates, so it becomes a self-licking ice cream cone.

I'd like to find a good proofer or copyeditor for Salvation Day, but I'd be lying if I didn't say price was an issue.  Everything takes money.  Am I whining?  Maybe a little bit, but I'm also pointing out that we have to put our resources, limited as they are, first into getting published.  Beyond that, we prioritize, and sometimes the price of copyediting puts that touch out of reach.  I wish it wasn't, but as long as we're wishing, I'd kind of like to have a pony...