Category Archives: Uncategorized

Yet Another Status Report

Well, I’ve got nothing big to talk about this week, so it’s time for Yet Another Potpourri of stuff\Status Report! Woo. *yawn* Hoo.

To start with, I finally got my first report from Tantor about The Merrimack Event‘s audiobook this week. I won’t give out the particulars, but I’ve earned out the advance and am into profit, there, and sales are well into the four figures. Now, there, I’ll give a genuine “woohoo!”

I completed the transition, mentioned a few weeks ago, from having my books transferred from the soon-to-be-discontinued Createspace service into its replacement, KDP Print. The transition went smoother than I feared. If anyone even noticed, though, I’ll be surprised.

The third Law of Swords book is ALMOST complete. I know I’ve been saying that for a while, but this time I really mean it! (heh; I meant it every time I’ve said it, but I feel a bit more definitive about it). I still need a few solid days of writing, most likely, and those have been hard to come by these past couple of weeks, but I’m REALLY close.

I’m trying to think of ways to make this blog more interesting. A common piece of advice for writers is not to try and market your books to other writers, because writers never have any money; this blog is focused a lot on writing and the business of writing, so… yeah. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know.  (Yes, for most of you, this means you’ll have to actually LEAVE A COMMENT in the comment section.  I know it’s hard, but if you want something more out of this blog that’s pretty much the only way you’ll get it.

Link Shares:

Between October 5th and 9th (so, uh, by the time you read this the promotion is half-way done), Cedar Sanderson is giving away her Halloween-themed short story, Sugar Skull.

I’ve mentioned Chris Kennedy and his small press outfit here a few times before.  He’s just released a new anthology in his popular Four Horseman universe, and some of the authors want that link shared as well, so enjoy Tales from the Lyon’s Den.

J.M. Anjewierden (boy, I hope I spelled that right) needs some cash for emergency car repairs, and is hoping to get it by putting all of his books on sale (for a short time only!).  His Science Fiction\Coming of Age story, The Long Black, was highlighted in the link share request.

Cyn Bagley has asked for link shares for three Halloween-themed stories:  Perchance to Dream, Ghostly Glimmers, and Smoke and Mirrors.

And that’s it for this weekend!  Maybe I’ll have something a bit more next week.

Getting Ready for an Event…

Earlier this week, I had a moment of panic when the official webpage for the Eat Local, Read Local library event — an event that I’ve been telling you for months, on this blog, that I would be a part of — went live and, well, my name wasn’t on the list of participants.

An e-mail to the library took care of that quickly enough. There was a miscommunication, but we got it all straightened out, and so yes I’m still going to be there… (and by the time this blog goes out, my name should have been added to the list on that link, as it should have been from the start).  So, if you’re interested, I’ll be selling and signing any of my print-edition books, as well as any swag I have on hand, at the event.  I won’t be alone; there will be many other authors at the event, including (of particular note for fans of the sci-fi\fantasy genre) the bestselling and multiple-award-winning, multi-talented author, teacher, scientist, ballet dancer, and musician Catherine Asaro.

But the issue prompted me to think about everything I’ve gone through so far for what will be my first sales event:

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I took inventory of my books a couple weeks ago. I ordered some copies of the one book that I didn’t have any copies of, but I already had enough of the others to be okay. I also bought a few display stands at the same time — I already had a few for conventions, but I figured I would need more for this event.  They shipped just this morning, but they’re supposed to arrive well before the event.

I also took inventory of my swag. I still have plenty of my keychain-sized stuffed fennec foxes, but not enough of them have the bow ties that include the Fennec Fox Press branding. We have the ribbon on hand, but my mother needs to get her embroidery machine up and running to put the branding on it. I’ll have a few on hand, though, at a minimum, and they’ll be for sale as long as I have a surplus.  I also have some postcards and a few other little things of that nature.

I want to get some additional swag made, though — something cheap enough to give away, but useful enough people won’t toss it in the trash the moment they get home.  Most commonly, when other authors try for this type of swag, it includes things such as pens and refrigerator magnets.  I was hoping the people who did my postcards would be able to make these, but they say that their particular franchise won’t do magnets (though some other franchises in their company will).

There are two alternatives I’ve considered that might be able to do those magnets.  The first, and the more expensive option, is Vistaprint, a business that a number of other authors I know recommend for business cards and the like.  The other is a local option, both on the front-end and in the manufacturing capacities, and it has the advantage of allowing me to REAL PEOPLE about my needs… and it’s cheaper, as well.  I still need to go and talk to the local option before making my decision final; I’ll have to do that soon, though, because there isn’t much time before the event.

There’s also legal stuff. I’ve been running Fennec Fox Press as a sole proprietor with a DBA (Doing Business As, a legal business\fictitious name) from the beginning of my writing career, and will continue to do so (for now, though if I ever bring in other authors for anthologies or the like I’ll be switching to a LLC), but I’ve never needed to bother with the aspects of the business that would put me in a position to have to collect sales tax.  I’ve actively avoided doing certain things because I didn’t want to deal with that, and I didn’t see much short-term return on them.  I’ve been thinking about setting this up for some time, thinking I would maybe try selling some of my books at Marscon or Ravencon earlier this year, but things didn’t quite come together in time and so I never bothered.

For an event like this, however, I’ll almost certainly have to collect sales tax. I have yet to complete all of the paperwork, but it’s in process and I SHOULD have it ready in time. (From a legal perspective, according to the research I’ve done on the local regulations, I won’t be getting in any significant trouble if the paperwork is a little late; I just need to make sure I collect the appropriate tax when I do the sales, and file the paperwork as soon as possible)

And this means I’ll need to set things up to take credit card payments.  I’ve set up a Square account, and I’m waiting on a card reader now.  The card reader is very basic (it’s the one that only works with magnetic strips, not chips), but it should see me through this event just fine.  Long term, once I learn my way around this system, I’ll be able to set up a store for directly selling my books from my website, and maybe replace that card reader with a more modern one that’ll also work with chip-based cards and the like.

So… I’m not ready yet.  I’ve got a lot of things in progress, though, so hopefully, by September 29th (the date of the Eat Local, Read Local event), I’ll have everything done.

And if Loudoun County is just slightly outside of your driving range but you still want to go to a book sales event, you’re in luck.  Turns out on the same day, at the same time, in Fredricksburg Virginia, there’s the Fredricksburg Independent Book Festival, where Martin Wilsey, one of the other authors of the Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders anthology, will be selling his wares.

Meanwhile, a PARTIAL manuscript for the next Law of Swords book is with the editor.  I had to rip out an entire subplot right before deadline, in order to make things work in the conclusion, and that’s going to involve re-writing two complete chapters and portions of several others.  That has delayed completion a little, but if I can win the race of finishing those rewrites before he reaches the end of the portion of the manuscript I’ve already sent him, I ultimately won’t lose any time.

The book will certainly be out before the end of the year, regardless… (though, sadly, it doesn’t look like it will be out before the Eat Local, Read Local event.  Ah, well).  It may not have the cover that I showed off earlier this year, though — my test-audience doesn’t like that cover for a variety of reasons.

I hired a skilled and experienced artist, and liked the artwork myself, but I did have a few reservations.  I thought the problems I had with all had to do with the change of style — no-one is going to match the style of the original artwork perfectly — but the test audience I’ve shown it to has several objections, some of which I share.  None of them, surprisingly, are about the subject of the cover; mostly it’s about the coloring, the proportional size of the dragon, Euleilla’s hairstyle, and the texture of the stonework on the castle wall), so I may need to replace that artwork.  Which probably will mean a new artist search.  I’ve still got that cover as a fall-back, though.

As far as the next Shieldclads book is concerned (something I know many visitors to my blog are interested in), I’ll be starting that as soon as I’m done with the Law of Swords manuscript and can get the rest of it off to the editor… though, by now, I’ve learned better than to try and predict a completion date.

Link Shares

I don’t think there are any link-shares this week (something may have come in this morning, but I can’t check right now), so instead I’ll use this space to plug the crowdfunding campaign for Starflight 3.  The fondness I have for the original games has me pushing for this to succeed, though the fundraising target they’ve set has me worried for it.  If you’re willing to help me support a sequel to one of the very best PC computer games of the 1980s, please look into it.

Createspace is Going Away…

I started the week not knowing what I would post this week, but figured — with Dragoncon happening, and roughly half of my Facebook friends at Dragoncon — I would have something to talk about by the end of the week.  Turns out I do have something to talk about, but it has nothing to do with Dragoncon after all.

It’s been rumored for months, but the shoe has dropped and its no longer just a rumor. The POD service that does my print editions, Createspace, is being phased into KDP Print.  Now, you could go through that link to read some of the details, but honestly it’s probably more than you want to know.  It won’t be happening right away, though, as apparently they’ve been having issues with the migration and the “tools” needed for authors to make the transition smoother are being restricted to specific authors in batches; I still don’t have the ability to access those tools, and it may be weeks before I get them.  However, by all accounts Createspace will be no more by the end of the year.

So, what does it mean?  Not much to you.  Depending on how smooth the transition goes, there may be zero disruption of sales or it may be my print books will be taken off the market for as much as two-to-three days.  Most likely, it’ll be offline for a few minutes and that’s it.

To me, for now, it means a little administrative work.  Some of my record keeping might need to change.  I don’t think this will have any effect on any of my eBooks, so if you’re like the majority of my customers it won’t matter (the ratio has improved slightly, but I’m still selling something close to a 200-to-1 ratio of ebook to print book).  If you want to buy print copies of my books and you live somewhere OTHER than the United States, there’s a greater likelihood you’ll be able to get it (KDP Print and Createspace have had two different “territories” they would distribute books to; those territories are being merged along with the two companies).

This won’t effect me much, but the distribution merger can result in some oddities you might find from other indie authors.  For example, IF I had a Japanese-language translation of my books, you could get it in Japan… but only if the text is written in Romaji (the English-language alphabet and not kana or kanji (the Japanese ‘alphabet,’ or rather syllabary).  Japanese characters and fonts are not supported, even if distribution to Japan is.

That doesn’t mean the only changes you’ll see are a few minutes when my books won’t be on sale and some added distribution.  The other changes may not show up for a while, however; they don’t need to be done right away, and they’ll take some doing, so they can wait until I’ve finished the current projects I’m working on.

From my previous experience with KDP Print, I know that they have slightly different cover design requirements (things like KDP Print is less flexible with where you place the ISBN code).  So, some time in the next few months (probably to coincide with the release of In Division Imperiled, the third book of the Law of Swords series) I’ll be tweaking the cover a bit so that the designs of the new books and the old books will match better.  The old cover art will be used for all of the old books (well, with the possible exception of The Kitsune Stratagem.  I like the current cover art, but based on the criticism I’ve received, I’m coming to the conclusion that one big reason it has been such a slow-seller compared to my other books is the cover art), but there will be slight differences to all of my major print books to conform better to KDP Print design standards.

The interiors should remain the same, though, regardless, so if you already have a copy there won’t be a point in buying another one… though I won’t object if you do.  If you were thinking of buying one, though, and haven’t, (for any of In Treachery Forged, In Forgery Divided, The Kitsune Stratagem, or The Merrimack Event), and you would like the old cover, you probably should buy one now.  (It shouldn’t matter much, but if my books ever become collectables these older covers should be worth more).

Now that they’ve added many of the features I was missing the last time I tried it out, I think KDP Print will work out fine once the transition is complete… but I’ll miss Createspace.

Link Exchange

Just two things again, this week.  And I was worried this link exchange thing was going to bury my blog…

From Cyn Bagley, the third book of her EJ Hunter series (the previous two having been featured in prior blogs), Diamond Butterfly.

From Holly Chism comes a short story collection, Normalcy Bias.

Taking Inventory

While I haven’t heard anything from it since I was told I would be part of the event, I’m still looking ahead to the “Eat Local, Read Local” event, which will be at the Cascades (Loudoun County, Virginia) Library on September 29th. It will be the first sales event I’ve been to as an author (sales events typically involve print books, and while I do have print editions for most of my books they aren’t a big part of my income, so it’s never been a priority), and while I know how these sorts of things work (more or less) there are a few details I don’t know.

For example, I have no idea how much inventory I will need. The advice I’ve read always seems to suggest I refer to “similar events” or “past performance of others at the event” (I’ve never been part of a “similar event” as this, and I have no idea what other people who’ve been part of this event in the past have sold), so it’s pretty much useless.

Maybe, if I could track down some other writers from last year’s version of the event, I could get some sort of idea… but that would take time, and (given Createspace’s infamously slow shipping times) I need to decide, soon, if I need to order more copies of any of my books.

I almost always buy a batch of my own books right after publication, even if I’m not selling then. Having a few copies I can give away to friends and reviewers, or show off in front of a panel at a convention, etc. just makes sense. So I have some in stock… but I’ve not really been keeping track of how many I’ve given away, nor (off the top of my head) do I know how many I’ve ordered. All I been concerned with is “I’ve still got enough.” So, I had to take inventory.

According to that inventory, available for sale at this coming event I have:

In Treachery Forged: 8 Copies
In Forgery Divided: 6 Copies
The Kitsune Stratagem: 7 Copies
The Merrimack Event: 7 Copies
Worlds Enough, Fantastic Defenders: 6 Copies (actually 7, but the seventh isn’t for sale as it’s the only copy I have signed by some of the other authors)
This Book Cannot Make Any Money: 0 (uh… probably should order a supply of those)
Total:  34

(I also have a supply of old proofs and misprints for all of those books, but they aren’t for sale).

With the exception of “This Book Cannot Make Any Money,” I think I’m actually fairly well stocked for now.  I don’t want to lug much more than that around with me, at any rate.  Do any writing veterans reading this think differently?  Should I buy more copies of anything?  Could I leave some at home and lighten the load?

And, for those who AREN’T writing veterans, I’ll let you know how things go. But that won’t be for a month, so keep this post in mind…

LINK SHARING

As last week seemed to work, I’m going with text links only.  The only two new link-share requests, this week, are sequels to earlier link-shares, so I won’t bother breaking them down by genre.

As the sequel to last week’s “The Godshead,” Holly Chism presents “Highway to Tartarus.”

And as the sequel to last week’s “She Called it, Wolf,” Cyn Bagley presents “Dark Moon Rising.”

Enjoy!

 

Library Services

I’ve long tried to write this article before, either on its own or as part of a larger article, but I always seem to get side-tracked and never seem to get my point across.  As related, below, I wound up doing something this week that may finally help me get it out there.  Here’s hoping it works, this time.

Earlier this week, I took my mother to a particular branch of my local public library. As background, my mother is an competitive art quilter (if you’ve been around long enough, you’ll probably have heard me mention that point before) who incorporates some pretty high-tech tools in her quilting. Sewing and embroidery machines with advanced computerization, a long-arm quilting machine, computer-aided design software and hardware (including printers which are designed for printing on fabric, scanners, Wacom pen-tools and tablets, and lots and lots of embroidery and quilting software).

One thing she doesn’t have, however, is a type of cutting tool called a curio or cameo cutter.  But, it turns out, one of the local branches of the public library does

I’d never been to this particular branch, so I went along.  I was surprised to find that the librarian was actually quite skilled with the device (my past experience with public libraries — as opposed to academic libraries — is that often they acquire interesting pieces of technology or software, but the librarians find themselves out of their depths when it comes to using them), and my mother managed to get everything done with it that she needed it for.

But the library has more there than just the cameo cutter.  If you notice on that list of “features” in the library branch, there’s something there called a “sound studio with electronic instruments.”  I went and took a look at it, again just expecting a large room with glass walls (just like most of their “Study Rooms”) with some low-end recording equipment and maybe a couple cheap electronic music instruments in it.

What I found was a room the size of a small closet… but also high-quality sound-dampening insulation on the walls, a special, heavy-duty sound-proof door, and recording gear that was actually professional grade.  I think there was also an electronic piano or something like that in there, but I couldn’t go in and take a look at the time.  Whether there was a piano or not, however, it wouldn’t be acceptable as a recording studio for musical performances — it was far too cramped.

But it would be absolutely perfect for audiobook recording.  And (unlike something I was told when querying about an older recording studio in another branch of this library system, which was much like how I envisioned this studio would be) they have technical expertise, there, to help people get set up.

I am thinking of trying to shop my larger books to Tantor (as audiobooks only; I’m not planning to sell them my other rights), so that they will be produced by the same people who did the successful audiobook version of The Merrimack Event, but I don’t think my shorter fiction will go there.

I still haven’t quite finished book 3 of The Law of Swords, but once that’s done I think I might see if I can’t record myself reading A Gun for Shalla.  And now I know where to record it.

So, if you’re a writer, or some other type of creative, and you’re missing resources for some aspect of your career, you might want to check your local library.  Not every library system is as well equipped as mine, but some are even better… and maybe, even if they aren’t, your librarians may know where to go.


Link-Sharing

Well, after some technical issues from last week’s link-sharing post (it seems ad-blockers were preventing the links from showing up for some people), I’ve decided to change the links from text-and-graphic to just text.  That should also help reduce their footprint, which should make the link-sharing section less likely to take over the whole post.

Science Fiction

By Laura Montgomery comes a pair of what I believe should be classified in the “Sword and Planet” sub-genre of science fiction, though perhaps with harder science than some.  She is looking for a boost among sci-fi readers, especially:

Sleeping Duty
Out of the Dark

Fantasy

By Cyn Bagley, an urban fantasy novel dealing with werewolves.  She says that she’s pushing it as a re-launch, after heavy revisions and updates.

She Called It, Wolf

By Holly Chism, another urban fantasy novel, this time dealing with a forgotten god from the mythological pantheons (or at least the North pantheon, because the summary mentions Loki).

The Godshead

Linksharing

Remember how, last week, I mentioned a Facebook effort for authors to share links to their books? It’s now active.  VERY active (I’m hoping the volume dies down as time goes on; it seems to have, but whether it’s hit manageable levels or not, I’m not sure).  If the volume doesn’t go down, I’ll have to think about how to handle this.  I originally thought this would all be a footnote to this week’s post, but it grew so long that, even restricting it to fantasy, science fiction, and alternate history, it became an entire post itself.  I don’t want this blog to become nothing BUT link-shares, so either the group needs to slow down some or I need to revise how I’d planned to do this.

Keep in mind this is merely link-sharing, not endorsement (got that, Amazon?  It’s JUST link-sharing, not endorsement, not an attempt to “manipulate the sales rankings” (whatever that excuse for de-listing authors was supposed to mean), JUST sharing a bunch of links), so I suggest you use the blurbs and sample chapters to help you make purchasing decisions.  That’s what those features are there for, right?

Fantasy:
Kenton Kilgore describes his debut YA Fantasy novel as “Little House on the Prarie… but with dragons!”

L.A. Gregory presents her debut novel, a YA “Sword and Sorcery” fantasy novel dealing with shapeshifters.

In the subgenre of “YA Medieval Fantasy”, a book by Blake Smith.

In the Sword and Sorcery subgenre, a book by Cyn Bagley.  The first book in this series was well received and sold reasonably well, but its sequel hasn’t caught on, yet:

Science Fiction:
From Cynthia Bagley, the author describes this as a short fiction piece with a comedy component.

From Stephanie Osborne, this (the seventh in the series; the Facebook group also had other books in the set listed, but there is no one link to the series at this time) is described as “Spy SF with a touch of Space Opera.”

This Two-fer is listed as a science fiction on Amazon.  From the description, I’d think it was fantasy, but I’m guessing the author knows the difference….

Described by the author as “part mil-sf, part space opera,” a book by Amanda S. Green (under the not-so-secret psuedonym Sam Schall).

Hey, it’s another Space Opera!  By Pamela Uphoff.

Alternate History:
The author (Ron S. Friedman) lists this as ‘Science Fiction\Alternate History,’ so I’m inlcuding it here.  It sounds like it’s really time travel, though.

Kacey Ezell’s Minds of Men. This is already up for a Dragon Award, but is out-of-genre for her usual audience, and she’s particularly hoping to ‘train’ Amazon’s also-bots to recommend her book to readers of Alternate History instead of just her usual military science-fiction readers.  So, for this next week or so, she mostly wants to push this at people with a history of reading other alternate history novels.  Keep that in mind if you’re checking it out.

Odds and Ends

A wrap up of a number of things I’ve wanted to talk about over the past few weeks, but which I didn’t have enough to talk about to justify a seperate blog post…

1. Author Earnings recently made a “state of the market” presentation to the Science Fiction Writers of America at their annual Nebula conference. There’s been some discussion that the market for science fiction and fantasy was dying, but that doesn’t appear so. Seems instead that it’s the untracked market of self-published\indie writers taking over to explain the supposed “decline.”

2.  I had a moment where I was worried my books had completely dried up — no sales and almost no page reads for several days in a row.  Turns out reporting was just down (or broken, in my case; I was showing a slight trickle, but only a small fraction of what I should have been getting) and page reads and sales went back to my typical numbers once it was fixed… (though it still seems a bit unstable).

3.  While I occasionally express controversial opinions on some subjects on this blog, I have a policy of never discussing anything contentious from a political or religious perspective.  (I may occasionally mention sports, but not to argue).  Occasionally, things come up I REALLY want to talk about, but… no.  Not going to say anything.  I will say, though, that I think while some people on all sides have had success bringing real-world politics into the BUSINESS and or MARKETING of their writing, but unless you’re already well-established, I think in a long-term sense it is a poor strategy for MOST writers.

4.  It’s been out for a year, so I just got my first royalty payment for Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders.  It hasn’t sold very well, so far, but it’s been well-received by those who have bought it.  Also, the period of exclusivity for my short story (novella, technically, I think) in that anthology is over, so I can publish “A Gun for Shalla” elsewhere, if I want.  Hm.  It would require its own cover, probably need to be re-formatted, etc.  I’ll think about it, but it’ll have to wait until I’m done with the next Law of Swords, first.

5.  Apparently, there’s been some kerfuffle about someone claiming a .PDF file is not an ebook.  This is foolish, because it IS an eBook, and has been an eBook format longer than any of the more common eBook formats used, today.  It’s not a great eBook format (at least, unless your eBook has certain technical requirements), and the format is far better used to prepare your print book, but that doesn’t negate the fact its an eBook.

6.  I met up for lunch, earlier today, with David Keener, a fellow author (who was also the project manager) in the aforementioned “Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders” anthology (there was someone else there, too, but I’m afraid I didn’t ever catch his name).  We criticized a few authors who are wildly more successful than we are (heh), talked some about where each of us are in our writing careers, recommended the odd book\movie\TV show or two to each other, etc.  As we were leaving, he mentioned another anthology project he was thinking of that my silly story involving the robot cook-turned-burger flipper-turned-detective (which you can find a portion of in This Book Cannot Make Any Money) might be a good fit for.  So maybe I should finish that up, at some point… but, uh, first I think I need to finish the next Law of Swords and Shieldclads novels.  At any rate, it’s nice to be able to talk shop with other authors, now and then.

7.  I’m on a particular writer’s Facebook group who is talking about setting up some sort of link-sharing for authors’ mutual book releases or something like that.  I may get involved in that, in which case I’ll be sharing some of those links on this blog… but we’ll see whether this effort actually turns into anything or not.  She just sent out the feelers for it today.

And that’s it for this week.  Tune in next weekend, same blog time (roughly), same blog URL (well, you wouldn’t call it a channel, would you?).

Well, that was fast…

When I wrote last weekend’s post, I was thinking the decision of which convention I would attend would be a long way off. Libertycon had just ended, and there’s no way to apply to be an “attending professional” (or even to buy tickets to attend as a fan) for Dragoncon 2019 until Dragoncon 2018 happens in September.

But Libertycon was quick to start selling badges for their 2019 convention.  And Libertycon has a limited attendance (of 750 people, which includes staff and guests).

Now, the EARLIEST Libertycon has ever sold out, in previous years, was March (for a show that has usually been in late June or early July).

At about noon, ET, on the day that badges for Libertycon 2019 were first offered (July 4th), I heard that there were under a hundred badges left available, and they were going fast.  So, instead of waiting until September at the earliest (as I’d planned), I had to decide which conference I’d be going to right then.  And, well, I just barely managed to pick Libertycon before all the tickets sold out.  Libertycon’s Facebook page says that it took 5 hrs, 52 minutes and 50 seconds to go from just going on sale to selling the last badge.

I suspect there are a number of factors going into why Libertycon sold out so much faster than usual (Such as:  There is a new hotel hosting it, announced during the closing ceremonies; the hotel they were at this year was a placeholder while that one was undergoing renovations and the hotel before it was widely hated.  There was apparently a new method of ticket-purchasing that made the early “run” on tickets more visible, so where in the past the initial wave of sales would peter out at about 1/4-1/3 of the available tickets on the first day, and then all the rest of the tickets would be sold at a much slower pace over the course of the rest of the year, this time people SAW the initial rush and panic-bought (sort of like I did).  There was a date change, for this year only, moving it back a month and into a time that might be more convenient for some people.  And so on).  Regardless, I managed to get a ticket before it sold out.

At this point, I haven’t gotten a hotel room (I usually never buy a badge for a convention until after I’ve secured a room, but the hotel the convention is hosted at is under renovation, and rooms cannot be reserved until September, at the earliest).  I don’t know whether I’ll drive or fly (confession time:  I’ve never flown in a plane, before; a balloon, yes, as a kid, but never a plane.  I’m thinking of changing that for this trip; however, I can’t even book a flight, yet, because the dates are a touch too far out), though I know I won’t be taking the train (despite there being a famous train museum in Chattanooga, I could not find any train rides that go there from where I live).  Meanwhile, according to Google Maps, it’s an eight to ten+ hour drive.  The most I’m comfortable driving on my own in a stretch is five hours, and at present it looks like I’ll be going by myself, so that would probably make it a two day trip (though if another person were going along, we could take “shifts” in the driver’s seat and probably make it in a day).  Or I could (as one person suggested) take the auto-train to Atlanta, and then drive the rest of the way… though that might take longer than either of the other two options.

As far as other considerations go, it’s far too early to worry about anything else.  I suppose I could try and apply to convert my badge over to a guest badge at some point, but I think it’s a good idea to attend a convention as a fan at least once before applying to be a guest there.  Maybe I could get a table in Author Alley?  Although that would require bringing books with me (which, if I fly, might be problematic), and I still haven’t attempted an Author Alley-type of sale at one of my more local and familiar cons.  We’ll see, I guess.

But, at least for right now, it looks as if I’ll be going to Libertycon next year.

I’d better finish my next book so I can afford to pay for it all, then.  (And if you want to help, you can always buy one of my books).

A Change of Plans…

I think I need to make some apologies, here. The planned “Ravencon Panels (I didn’t do)” series just isn’t materializing. Between blog outages, a hack, my mother falling ill (she’s okay; we think it was an attack of a chronic condition she’s had to deal with, before), and more, I’ve really gotten out of the habit of writing blog posts at all.

Worse, I just don’t seem to have the “free” time to write on this blog any more.  Or rather, I have fewer long stretches of time to work on the blog (without eating into my novel-writing time, that is; when I started this blog I decided right away that I wasn’t going to take time that I could otherwise use to write my novels to keep it up).

So I’m just going to discontinue the involved work needed for the Ravencon panels series, at least for now (I may cover the same topics from those panels in other posts, mind you, but not for some time, and not under that title) and move on to less intensive posts.  At the very least, I can’t keep postponing my Weekly Sunday Blog Posts without warning as much as I have.  I’m hoping to gear up the hype for my next novel, soon, and letting my blog sit around, dead, won’t help with that.

So… I’ve got no idea what my blog will feature next weekend, but I’m really hoping I at least get SOMETHING out.

Ravencon Panels (I DIDN’T do): Independent Publishing

I’ve had to re-write this intro three times, now.  At one point, this was supposed to cover two topics.  That changed once I learned this website had been hacked.  Now, I’m only covering one, and I’m probably cutting it short because I want to get this post out there (it really feels jinxed, in a way).

The two panels I’d hoped to be on, for Day One of the convention, were the “Independent Publishing” and the “Worldbuilding: Crafting New Worlds” panels. Go back through the past posts on this blog and you’ll find a lot of discussion on both topics (see here and here, respectively, for a couple examples, but I talk about aspects of both topics in numerous posts). That said, the world of indie publishing is always changing, and worldbuilding is a massive topic (we’re talking building whole WORLDS here… eh, so I’ve used that joke before, so what?).

To start with, on Indie Publishing:

Much of the discussion at this year’s (2018) Ravencon was not on self-publishing, as I had expected, but rather was about working with Small Press publishers.

Now, I’m almost entirely self-published (I’d say entirely, but there is that one story I did for that one anthology, and I did just have the audiobook for The Merrimack Event published through Tantor, so I can no longer say I’m wholly self-published), but I’ve been learning about the small press industry since I was ten years old, when my father was still alive and co-writing translations of Croatian Poetry.  And I continue researching it, keeping my ears open on all aspects of the publishing industry (Big 5, Mid-sized indie, small press indie, self-publishing, hybrid, vanity, etc.). So, I know a few things about it, even if my personal experience is limited.

For example, a number of successful self-publishers (or authors with even more experience) are turning their self-publishing enterprises into small press ventures.  I know of several (and I have worked with one):  Martin Wilsey, Chris Kennedy, and fellow Ravencon guest John Hartness (who was on the Indie Publishing panel).  Kevin J. Anderson (who you might be familiar with for his Star Wars novels, or for his contributions to the Dune series, but many of his 120+ novels were for original series or stand-alone novels) started a self-publishing company called “Wordfire Press” to re-release some of his out-of-print and backlisted titles; he now has a stable of over a hundred authors listed as having books released under that imprint.

IN GENERAL (some time in the next week a news story will come out with a counter example, I’m sure, but I’m not aware of one now), this latest crop of self-publishers-turned-publishers are treating authors far better than the Big Five do.  Better royalties, clearer language contracts, and none of the career-killing non-compete clauses, as some examples.

But small press is (and has always been) a mixed bag.  A small press publisher might treat its authors well, and appear successful, but could go out of business overnight.  This latest crop seems to be doing well (and I’m hoping for the best for all of them), but many of them are going into business without any other prior business or publishing experience.  This can be good (they may not have picked up on the bad habits of the industry) or bad (they may have no head for business and could easily go bankrupt, taking your books with them).  So, if you go that route you need to protect yourself.  That comes down to the contract you sign, but fortunately most indies are quite willing to negotiate.  And if you want advice on contracts, well, I am hardly an expert, but there are other bloggers who are.

Also, while not as prevalent as they were before, there still are shady vanity presses masquerading as small presses that prey on inexperienced and under-educated writers.  Before going into business with ANY publisher, big, small, or somewhere in between, educate yourself on good business practices from multiple sources, first.

There was also one author on this panel presenting the “hybrid publisher” model.  At least, I think the link’s description was what they were referring to (hybrid publishing has other meanings, too).  I will be honest — I don’t get the difference between the type of hybrid publishing described and the vanity press model (save, perhaps, the hybrid publishing model doesn’t always take all comers, and their services may be slightly better for the buck), and nothing that was said on this panel changed my mind on that, but this was just a fifty-minute panel.  While the author in question claimed to have success using their hybrid publisher, she did not go into details about what that meant, or how her hybrid publisher operated.

And  while this is a short-for-me post (especially after such a long wait), I think I’ll leave it here for now.  I will likely revisit this topic later (this has all been discussed before, and it will all be discussed again), but I managed to find a couple things I haven’t discussed (at least, not with these details) before.  Next post will be on Worldbuilding  (which originally was going to be combined with this post for one large “Friday panels” blog post, but after the hacking incident and other delays I just want to get something out there).  Expect another short post, but who knows?  Building worlds is a huge topic, after all.