Easter Weekend Writing Projects and Stuff...

Happy Easter Everyone!

I'm spending the weekend at home with family, and doing some small writing projects to keep things moving forward during my Spring Break laid-back work-a-thon.

I took the staff of SmartPig out to dinner last night at the phenomenal local eatery, "Liquids and Solids"... we had a super time with the inspired cuisine and cocktails, talking about Tyler and Amazon's takeover of GoodReads and the continuing snow and wonderful dogs.

We worked yesterday and this morning to make some minor changes to the text of HBM... nothing major, a few typos and such, and one name change.

I've been working on various web-stuff: my website, my Amazon author page, my GoodReads author page, and my Shelfari author page...given recent events, it may be that all three of these will be smooshed together to some degree in the coming weeks and months, but I'll worry about that when it happens.

My content editor is working on an, as yet unnamed, novelette that explores the Tyler and Mickey dynamic hinted at in HBM.

I'm nearing completion of another short Tyler Cunningham piece that take place early next summer over the span of 240 nerve-wracking minutes on a Wednesday afternoon.

As soon as that short piece is completed, I'm hoping to get to work on another short piece that details one of the Tyler's first 'cases', and set seven years before HBM took place.

I've been in contact with a few more potential narrators for a possible HBM audiobook, but haven't heard the right voice yet.

I'm trying to set up a round-robin of author interviews and articles with other blogging indie-authors I've been meeting online, to spread the word about what we're writing, doing, thinking, etc.

That makes it sounds as though I've been tremendously busy, but I've also spent lots of the last week reading and cooking and walking the dogs and watching some Netflix.

I hope that you all have a good weekend, however you spend it...we might be about to start a Charleton Heston movie marathon..."The Ten Commandments", "Ben Hur", "The Agony and the Ecstasy", and ""Planet of the Apes".




Spring Break Writing Schedule

I've been driving myself nuts the last few weeks trying to become something I'm not...a marketing guru or wizard or mogul...

I woke up this morning having had an overnight epiphany... I need to focus on my writing.

That doesn't seem extraordinary to hear, in a writer's blog, from a writer... but it came as a surprise to me that my subconscious was sending me this message.

"Writers write" - we've all heard or read that quote (I don't know whose it was originally).  I love to write, always have.  I don't do it for the money, although money is nicer than no money, given the choice.

I was lucky enough to have the stars and work and family align in such a way that I was able to write my first novel last summer, with the help of Camp NaNoWriMo, and am currently working on a novelette and 2 other short pieces that are related to my novel.

Therein lies the rub... I've found myself increasingly thinking and fretting and worrying about marketing the last few weeks, and have wandered a bit off track... I have been spending more time thinking about, and trying my hand at, marketing than at writing (which is the reason I'm here).  Lots of the writer's groups that I am a part of focus too much (for me) on marketing, and not enough on writing... and I need to learn to adjust my focus more effectively in these groups, to spend more time and energy on being a writer (and learning to be a better writer), and less time and energy trying to be one of the "Mad Men" (and learning to be a better "Mad Man").

I surprised myself this summer by being able to write and publish a novel, but am apparently, and sadly, not able to become a marketing maniac with the same aplomb... I've decided not to worry about it.

 I'm going to keep writing, which I love doing, and which makes me happy, and largely ignore the marketing side of things for now (at least until I've run through the current slate of story ideas banging around in my head).

I don't want to stop my nascent marketing efforts altogether, I enjoy my blog, and interacting with people on FB and Twitter and G+.  I would even like to expand into an exchange of author interviews with other blogs and bloggers.  I just want to regain my balance and purpose in being a writer... I want primarily to write.

I'm sorry for the TL; DR, but it occurs to me that I'm likely not the only writer out there (in here?) who has stumbled across this epiphany.  I'd love to hear from others who successfully achieve a balance with their writing and marketing.




"Here Be Monsters" as an Audiobook?

I found out about ACX, a new Amazon acquisition, yesterday morning.  It exists to connect writers with narrators for the purpose of making audiobooks. I'm very excited about the possibilities of getting my novel made into an audiobook.

In much the same way that CreateSpace makes brings print publishing into the realm of possibility for aspiring authors, ACX would seem to be able to bring the exciting world of audiobooks to authors. 

Without having to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars up front, ACX asks an author to provide information about their work, and presents it to potential narrators to submit "auditions".  The author can listen to the "audition" (an mp3 file download waiting for the author in your account on the ACX website), and decide if they approve the narrator or not.  If the author approves the narrator's audition, they can make arrangements to have ACX record the audiobook; if they don't approve, they author can hold out for more auditions.

Within 24 hours of setting up my account on ACX, I already have one audition for "Here Be Monsters".  The narrator's voice is wonderful... rich and expressive, but sadly a bit too old-sounding to play the role of the protagonist in my book, so I'm going to send him my thanks, and wait for other auditions.

It was incredible hearing my book being read by a talented actor, even if the voice was not exactly what I wanted, and I can't wait to hear the next audition.




Spring Break Sale! "Here Be Monsters" 50% off!

Today is the last day of school for me and the kids that I work with, and to celebrate, I'm cutting the price of "Here Be Monsters" in half.

In a perfect world, you could be reading this fun, quirky, and suspenseful novel on a beach or by a pool, with hot and cold running piƱa coladas and nothing to do but soak in the sunshine and warmth and read a great book and enjoy your cold/tart/sweet beverage...

Even if you're staying home, languishing under a sunless sky, maybe even working, getting a great book for less money is always a good thing, so buy yours today, and tell your friends about the super deal on a super book after you read (and love) it!

I'll be keeping the book at half-price for the duration of my Spring Break (March 22 through April 8).

All I ask in return for this largesse on my part is that you spread the good news in two way:
1) Tell your friends
2) Write a review for "Here Be Monsters" on Amazon and/or Goodreads (and maybe even Shelfari, if you're living out on the cutting edge).

Enjoy the book and your Spring Break...I'm planning on getting some writing done, and look forward to sharing some new stories on Amazon early in April.




Next Steps in Promoting a Self-Published Book

I'm working on generating a list of the best questions people ask authors about their books and about the writing process.  My plan is to use these questions to support a series of interviews that will be available both in text and video formats.

I'm planning on doing some readings from "Here Be Monsters", both in local libraries and in the outdoors, and would love to make short videos of these readings to upload to youtube and other sites that could carry them, and increase the number of eyes and ears on my book.

I'll be approaching a series of appropriate blogs and websites and offer to write some articles for them to increase my exposure among their readers.  

These are my initial thoughts on how I can easily take my promotion to the next level... I will gratefully welcome any ideas that you would be willing to share with me.




Monday Mid-Morning Malaise-Motivated Mental Meanderings


Tyler Cunningham Novelette on Deck!

Photo Credit Seth Jones
I finished writing a novelette yesterday; it ended up roughly 14,000 words in length.

 I don't have a title for the work yet, but it picks up with Tyler Cunningham a few months after the action of "Here Be Monsters" takes place. Mickey Schwarz, Tyler's sole remaining link to his origins in NYC calls him in the middle of the night in a jam; as luck would have it, it turns out to be the sort of jam that Tyler can help with, although it involves leaving his home in the Adirondack Park (which would ordinarily be unthinkable, but for Mickey, Tyler does it without a thought).

It's a fun little piece that explores the Tyler/Mickey dynamic a bit, and gave me a chance to write about another part of New York that I love, the Syracuse area.

 I submitted the novelette to my editor yesterday afternoon, and got some initial content notes today at noon. We'll work through the story, polishing and adding and subtracting bits until it's done, and then think about copy-editing.

 I would like to have this story available in ebook format by early April.

Thanks for your continued interest in HBM and Tyler!


 PS - I've got two more Tyler-related short works ready to write, one that takes place several years before HBM, and one that will take place early this coming summer... I would like to have them both available in ebook format before I start serious work on the next full-length novel this summer.


Thoughts about Self-Publishing

Once I had finished writing the first draft of "Here Be Monsters" last summer, it occurred to me that I would actually have a book ready to be published within the year; I started doing some serious thinking about the business and infrastructure and politics of publishing.

We've all read the nightmare stories about fantastic writers and books that were repeatedly rejected by publishers...Stephen King, Dr. Seuss, J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, Frank Herbert, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Louis L'Amour, Madeline L’Engle, and George Orwell (among lots of others).

Contrast that with books by and about Sarah Palin, Monica Lewinsky, sparkly vampires, and a thousand books that I've started and stopped because they were too bad to finish, and you can see a bit into my reasoning for avoiding the big houses.

I asked myself what a publisher does...what specifically would/could a publisher do for me?

Acquire clients/books - I could pick me and my book way easier than a publisher could, and with much less begging and and wasted time sending my book out to 30 different houses.

Planning/Editing - Again...my book was already mostly written, and I had a kickass editor lined up to help me fix it (the first draft is not easily recognizable when compared to the final product available today).

Design/Artwork - CreateSpace provides these services for free, or ala carte for those who want some help...I did not, and am comfortable with the look and feel of the book.

Copyediting - I was lucky in that I had a great editor to help with the fine polish work of the novel.  We've found about a dozen errors in roughly 78K words (which translates to about 99.99% error-free) in the first edition, and are going to release a second edition in the next month or so to remedy those.  It's worth noting here that I have not read a book in the last ten years,either indie and big-house published, that had less than a handful of errors.

Production/Distribution - CreateSpace produces the books based on my specifications, and sends it out to most any bookseller worldwide.  Computer facilitated design and print-on-demand production is a big part of the change.  CreateSpace can produce a one-copy run of a book for a few bucks, and that changes the game on a very fundamental level that cannot be ignored or glossed over.

Promotion/Marketing - This is where self-publishing fails to compare with big-house (big box?) publishing.  I have been running my own marketing and promotional campaign, and it cannot compare to what the big houses are capable of doing.

It's funny, but a little bit true...

For me, self-publishing "Here Be Monsters" was ultimately an easy choice...

I didn't write my book to make a gazillion dollars.  I wrote "Here Be Monsters" because I love writing, had a story that I wanted to tell, and loved the idea of sharing my story with friends and family and other.

I have been able to do this through self-publishing without wearing out my shoes or going broke paying postage to bring/send my book to major and minor publishing houses, begging them to take my work.

Neither did I have to spend a ton of money getting my work to market...I paid $25 for the broader distribution option with CreateSpace, and that's about it (not counting my time)...my book can be purchased in most countries on the planet (and I bet that it could be sent in ebook form to the ISS).

I am proud to have self-published my book, and can't see doing anything differently the next time around...I'm finishing up a novelette in the next week or so, have a couple of other short pieces on deck, and am already working on the next novel, which will be written this summer.

I think that the old ways of publishing are mostly dead, and the remaining dinosaurs are lumbering along based almost entirely on inertia and a proud past.  The mystique and tweediness and snobbery have to go, and they have to start working for the readers and writers again if they want to remain relevant beyond the next few years.  The holdout houses don't want the readers and writers of the world to pay any attention to the man behind the curtain, but more and more people are figuring out that old-school publishers are more carnie than wizard.