Sorry I’ve been away so long, gang. I didn’t mean to go dark, but I’ve been busy with other happenings lately, and I’ll fill you in shortly. There are some pretty exciting things going on for us (my beautiful wife and I), at least on the writing front, so let me get you caught up.
For those who like the TL;DR version: My last book is in the hands of a copy editor and proofreader, my wife and I have a new “publisher”, I’ll be taking my work into print going forward, and I started a new book. How’s that?
First, the last manuscript I finished (back on July 25, remember that one?) has been sent to the copy editor’s desk for review. She will do the copy editing (naturally) and proofreading for the final run toward getting the document publication-ready.
Normally, I ask a lot of people to read the story for me to avoid this step. This time I wanted to see if it will be money well-spent. I don’t write by committee, but some of the suggestions and feedback I get from alpha- and beta readers is phenomenally helpful. This last round was no different; four different readers gave me feedback that strengthened and shored up the novel, in my estimation.
The other great thing is, the feedback was all from reader perspective. A few of them helped with things like word choice and such, but for the most part, my readers spoke to me as readers. And that’s very different than having a group of fellow writers look over the piece. Both groups have been helpful to me in the past, and in both cases I’ve never failed to learn something about the craft of storytelling. But this round of notes came with another feel to it. One I enjoyed a lot.
But rather than burden my Constant First Reader or any additional friends for another read through (it takes time to read a book, yo, and some of these people have lives), I decided I’d give a very reasonably priced copy editor a shot. I should have the results back before the end of next week, and that will determine whether I build this in as part of the initial production cost or not.
On that front, my loving spouse and I have determined we will have a publishing arm, which will be called KnytMare Press. We have a website, and we’ll use this “imprint” for publishing all our work. My books and stories, and maybe, with the right coaxing, her poetry. We’ll see. But it will require updating all my books to be published by KnytMare Press, with all rights reserved to me at the moment. Those changes will allow us inclusion in various other distribution channels, and who knows? With luck, we can end up in a bookstore someday. (That can’t happen with the author as the publisher.)
I’m also still straddling a fence with regard to the cover for the book, and on formatting for print. There are some really cool premade covers out there, and I could hire a designer for something like $150-250 to do a custom cover, too. (Not today…but, y’know, it’s an option.) I lean toward the premades, but I haven’t given my own hand a fair shot yet. I should exhaust that first, I think.
As for formatting for print (not as easy as it sounds), I’ve discovered a great website which gets rave reviews over on KBoards called bookow.com. Steve, the founder and application author, is responsive and friendly in email, and he answered all my questions courteously and promptly. It’s very cool stuff; feed in a Microsoft Word document (it only accepts 97-2003 version formats at this time), and it will spit out a properly formatted PDF file you can upload to any of the POD services like CreateSpace, Lulu, IngramSpark, etc.
Print is exciting because it affords a new method for distribution. I’ve had readers request print copies in the past, and because I didn’t have them available, I probably lost those readers. It’s not something to discount. A lot of people still prefer print over digital formats, and unless I’m going to just walk away from those readers, I need to get on the print bandwagon and make sure I have something for as many people as possible.
This is another expense; bookow.com isn’t a free service. It will cost $80 to do the formatting, but does provide both PDF and Epub files for use with all distribution channels. As it happens, I haven’t finished book one in this series (despite starting it and finishing it and restarting something like seven times over the last eight years), so there’s no pressing need for this to happen right now.
I do have other books I can push through this process, though, and one of them is my western-fantasy genre mash-up Scales of Justice. I need to fix the ending – I really need to fix the ending! – and that’s halted me from proceeding with that particular venture. The other thing holding me back on it is the blurb. Sales blurbs are…well, let’s just say they’re not a strength of mine.
Dean Wesley Smith recently did a series on sales blurbs which was very helpful, but the actual nuts and bolts of writing one are still a dark voodoo to me. My fantastic First Reader is pretty good at tweaking something when she sees it, and very often improves on the original, but I didn’t know thing one about writing them when I did the original. And while the one she’s reworked is better than the one I started, it still doesn’t seem to draw much in the way of reader attention.
So, the blurb should also be rewritten, I’m certain. With a new ending, a new cover (I previewed it on my Facebook page last month), and a new blurb, it will be ready to re-release. And that release will involve print and electronic versions simultaneously.
But, instead of all of that, I decided to sit down and try hammering out a new book last night. Why not? I have, and love, the Writing into the Dark method (more of DWS’s insight), and had great success using it.
In fact, the success was so great, the “repairs” to the timeline I thought I had to make took less than two hours with the cooperation of – you guessed it – my fabulous First Reader. She worked with me and despite the misses she found, with just a few cleaning passes, a couple of wording adjustments, and a new paragraph or two, we finished up the patches and it’s good to go.
Pending, of course, what the proofreader/copy editor finds.
So, the success of doing it that way sits so well with me I decided to tackle another book I’ve had in my outlines folder forever. I broke ground with about five hundred new words in the first scene last night, and sent that by my wife for review. She said it was creepy, and carried some tension, despite having one of the more common tropes of the genre in it. Thanks, Babe!
Now, I already know most of the story, and just need to let my creative mind do its work as the fingers stay on the keyboard, but…this is a distraction from the goal of finishing my series. Book two just isn’t a good place to start, and there’s no way I can think of to turn this into book one instead. And even if I did make this book one, the next thing I write should be book two. So either way, I ought to be working on that book instead of anything else.
But I’m easily bored and don’t want to burn out. I also don’t want to write only one series for the rest of my life. There are lots of other things I want to write, and I’d rather not have them all be a series, if possible. On the other hand, if this story (the one I just launched last night) can carry the weight, maybe I’ll release it as three novellas, then offer an omnibus edition for slightly less money. If the word count justifies it, maybe.
I’ve tried to determine if I can, while working a full-time job, become a three- or four-book-per-year writer. I don’t know if I can make that determination before trying it, so I decided I’d try it. I could hammer out the first and third books of this, my original “series” (which actually started out as a writing exercise in dialog), and then put it to bed for a while, and push toward that books-per-year goal.
I can always cross the bridge of reader demand for the series to continue if I ever get to it. Should any demand arise, and if it’s sufficient, I can continue the series at that time. For now, I always envisioned it as a trilogy (once it became a book, it became a series of them), so getting to that point should probably be the first goal. Okay, second goal, after writing book one.
And if I get too tired of the series, I can George RR Martin it, I suppose.
For now, though, I’ve got time to write while I wait for my manuscript to come back, and I should be writing indeed if I want to publish something before 2015 expires.
So, that’s what I’ve been up to the last couple of weeks. I hope you’ve been well and I look forward to having more regular blog posts up for you soon.
Thanks for sticking through the whole read, and I’ll see you again next time.