So, I’m Cleaning Up My Edits…

As I’ve mentioned the past couple of weeks, I’ve been cleaning up the edits for “In Forgery Divided” in preparation for its release (I’m still waiting on the cover art, as well. I was promised a copy of the pending-final-approval finished product “in a week” last Monday. Still 29 hours to go…). I’ve noticed a few things that should be mentioned (and those of you who follow me on Facebook might have seen a couple of these points before):

1. I’ve frequently heard “Your book will shrink by 20-30% as it’s edited.” When I edited book one (In Treachery Forged), this was largely true, but it hasn’t been true since. “The Kitsune Stratagem” increased in size, starting at just over 140,000 words and ending almost exactly 10,000 words larger. So far, about five chapters in, “In Forgery Divided” is keeping pretty darn close to the same number of words as it was in the first draft (despite a number of changes, the cuts and the additions seem to have balanced each other out). (I wish I could say what “The Merrimack Event” was doing, but I have yet to decide on an editor for it. In pre-editor self-edits, however, I did cut out about 30,000 words).

2. I’ve frequently heard “Those parts you struggled with the most when writing will be the best parts; the ones you thought were easy will wind up needing the most edits.” Again, this just hasn’t matched up with my experience. Through everything I’ve written, the things that I’ve had the easiest time with have had the fewest editorial comments (save some proofreading issues largely caused by my mild dyslexia; that doesn’t seem effected by the difficulty of the writing at all). The things I’ve struggled with the most in writing have had the most editorial comments. That pattern is (SO FAR) matching my experience with “In Forgery Divided” as well.

3. I didn’t really think of it as editing, but as I clean up the edits I recieve I’m doing a lot of editing myself. I’d say I’m more of a second-pass self-editor at this stage. I don’t just make the corrections my paid for (or bartered for, in this case) editor suggest; I read every word (well, more or less) and do my own editorial work. I don’t know if I do more edits than the paid for editor or not, but I do a lot of them.

4. I hate missing opportunities, but that can happen in the middle of a big project like this. When I was working to get “In Treachery Forged” released, I missed out on an opportunity to be part of a cross-promotional anthology because I was too busy. This time, an opportunity came up to volunteer as a beta reader for a bigger-named author — something which can really help a guy in the professional networking department. Unfortunately, I’m deep into the edits, and didn’t have time. I almost volunteered anyway, but by the time I figured out how I could handle it the author was full up.

5. Lots of people enjoy snow because it gives them time off. When you’re writing or editing, you get no time off; you lose time. You still have to work and you ALSO have to tire yourself (or injure yourself; pulled a muscle in my shovel arm) out shovelling on the same day. A blizzard can really kill your momentum.

I’m sure I’ll have more observations at some point. I may even get them into blog form, some day… but my blogs will continue to be a bit sparse until I finally get the book out.

So, That Post Still Isn’t Quite Done…

So, that post I told you about last week, the one I’ve been working on for weeks? Yeah, that still isn’t done. Sorry about that. I’d like to think you’ll forgive me when you hear the reason why:

The edits for “In Forgery Divided” have come in.

Now, the cover art isn’t done (though it’s getting there; I honestly was expecting to be able to give you news on that front, first), and I still need to go through these edits myself, but this is Big News. Editing is the most time-consuming part of the post-writing process. That phase is mostly complete, now (I say mostly because I still have to make my own final review, run a final spellcheck, etc.), and if the cover art is really as close as I think I may be able to get the book out, at least as a pre-order, in a couple weeks.

But don’t be surprised if I still haven’t finished that blog post by next week, either — I’m going to be busy working on the “In Forgery Divided” manuscript.

No Weekly Blog Post.

Obviously, I haven’t got a real post to post this Sunday.  I’ve been working on one for the last three weeks and it isn’t finished yet, and I don’t have any substitutes ready to go.  I’ll try to get SOMETHING up next week, even if it isn’t my planned post.

Convention Issues

If you’re new here, you may not have noticed that I maintain (well, try to, anyway) a listing of writer-friendly science fiction conventions, which you can normally find a link to up top. Because of the qualifications I look for when adding these conventions, most of what I include are smaller, fan-run conventions (though not all of them are “smaller.” Dragoncon constantly under-reports its attendance figures, and they claimed 70,000 attendees last year; that’s on the list).

That usually makes for a good, fun convention. But, as someone who tries to maintain a certain minimum amount of information on these conventions, it also frequently means their websites are one man operations, which may or may not have any oversight. This can result in convention listings with rather amusing omissions from their listings.

For example, take Ro-Con.  Ro-Con, the successor to the now retired Pi-Con, notes on its website that it will be catered to by the hotel restaurant (though it is not described as the hotel restaurant; you would only know this if you were familiar with the hotel), La Luna of New London.  Here’s the kicker:  Nowhere, on the website, do they mention where the convention is actually held!  (I will note that, several months after I found out about this convention and contacted the staff to find out where it is being held, they started mentioning it is in “Southeastern Connecticut,” but it still doesn’t list the hotel it is being held in).

College-based conventions rarely have informative website.  Take, for example, JohnCon, a science fiction convention based in Johns Hopkins University.  You will note that they claim they will be hosting their 2016 convention in “Spring.”  Nothing more than that, even though it’s already January.  At least they give me that much warning — I’ve found a few conventions which don’t update their website for almost a year, making me wonder if they’ve shut down operations, only for them to announce the new dates a week or two before the convention actually happens.  I understand it, sort of, with these collegiate conventions — they probably get most of their attendees using flyers on campus, and so any attendees they might get from their website are a secondary concern — but it does complicate things when I only update every other month or so.

Worse is MonsterCon.  I know there is an actual event called “MonsterCon,” and that it takes place in South Carolina at some point over the course of the year.  They run so many lesser events, however, that they somehow have forgotten — for at least the last two years — to include the actual MonsterCon on the MonsterCon website; I’m only certain it’s been going on because I have facebook friends who somehow were able to figure out when and where it was and were able to attend.  (I believe they were actually invited guests; I’m not sure how anyone else figured out when it was).

But at least it has a website — there are a few conventions I try to track (The Tidewater Alliance’s Galacticon, for example) that only ever get mentioned on Facebook.  We all know how reliable Facebook is, right?  These are usually smaller, one-day conventions, but not always — SciFiCon VA is a 3-day convention based out of Staunton, Virginia, and the only website I’ve ever been able to find for them is their Facebook page.  I wasn’t able to list their November convention because I didn’t hear they were holding it until the first day of the con; I tried following them on Facebook, but I never got the event notification.

This is the sort of thing I have to deal with maintaining the event calender.  So, if you know of a convention I’ve left off of this calender and you think it belongs here, please, PLEASE let me know.  Especially if it’s a smaller one, a one-day convention, a convention based out of a college, a convention that updates only on Facebook, or whatever else.  You don’t have to run said convention, or be on staff, or have any connection whatsoever with it — if all you know about it is that it exists and it’s not on this list, please let me know.

Obviously, this blog was not the next blog in the “This Book Cannot Make Any Money” series, but was instead prompted by the convention calender update.  Next week, assuming I don’t have any news about “In Forgery Divided” (I’m hoping for some news any day now),  I’ll resume that series, but I hope you’ll be pleased with the calender update in the interim.  Happy (belated) New Years, everyone!

The Plan Behind a Book That Can’t Make Any Money….

Well, I had fun with Star Wars, Christmas, and so forth — time to get back to work with the regular Sunday Blogs, resuming my latest series.

I’ve assessed what content will be in “This Book Cannot Make Any Money” (for the most part), which (for the purpose of this blog sereis) is the equivalent of writing a book.  So let’s get into what we need to do to self-publish, now that we’re done “writing” (keeping in mind that sometimes, you need to do more than one of these at once; we’ll keep the blog posts to one subject at a time, however).

I.  Get Cover Art

I am not an artist.  I do know a little bit about design thanks to college, but that collegiate training is over a decade old and never reached professional levels.  However, I have a budget of $0 for this project, so I might have to do the cover myself.  Well, This Book Cannot Possibly Make Any Money, so it’s not like the cover matters… right?

II.  Get it all edited

Technically, I believe that this and Cover Art should be done at roughly the same time, but since I’m dedicating each post in this series to a different phase of the production, this’ll be released a different week.  This and the Cover Art post might wind up swapping, depending on how long it takes to finish each post.

Now, this is going to be a hard one.  There are two short stories (one in the Experimental\paranormal genre, one in the High Fantasy genre), some poetry (an ecclectic set mixing, IIRC, rhyming couplets, thematic poetry, and haiku), and clippings from various novels and short stories that will never see the light of day (one historical novel, one mythological retelling, and… well, I’m still looking through my old files for any salvageable cuts).  I’d need to find an editor willing to work in all of those genre.  Oh, and I need to find one in my budget.  A budget of… um… wait, this book Cannot Possibly Make Any Money, so I have a total budget of $0.  Hm, this is going to be trickier than I thought.

III.  Book Design

Book Design, at the basic level, is one of the things I feel comfortable handling by myself… usually.  However, this book is an ecclectic mix of prose and poetry, and the book design might get a bit more complex.  Still, $0 budget, so… we’ll see what we can do.

Now, I have Adobe inDesign, but I’m doing this whole blog series on going from “written” to “published” with a budget of $0, and in my spare time.  It seems unfair to suggest that the sorts of things I want to do should just be pushed into an expensive piece of professional software like inDesign, so we’ll explore a few free or inexpensive alternatives I already have access to when doing this design work.

IV.  Publishing Electronically

Ah, finally, something that you rarely have to hire out to get accomplished.  Well, you can, if you really want to, but you can get your ebook out just about anywhere that sells eBooks with just a touch of effort.  Since we have a budget of $0 for this project, let’s just assume that no, we aren’t going to pay for distribution.  We’ll go through our options, however — things can change between now and when we get to this stage of the process.

V.  POD Publishing

Making a print book is almost impossible without spending a little money, and this book Cannot Make Any Money.  But I think I’m willing to go $9 or so in debt I need to be to order a proof copy at Createspace (or whatever other option I explore for this thing).

VI.  Marketing.

And the final, and most dreaded, stage:  Marketing!  Of course, why bother marketing this if it Can’t Possibly Make Any Money?  Still, we’ll go through the motions of trying to market your book on a budget of $0, and see if there are any results.  Who knows — maybe someone will buy this book by mistake, and not bother returning it!

EDIT:  Closing comments due to spammers.  E-mail me if you want them re-opened.

Star Wars Weekend

I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Friday, as I said I would. A worthy successor for the franchise (unlike the prequel trilogy), though I wasn’t expecting them to turn (REDACTED DUE TO SPOILERS) into a MacGuffin–

Oh, good grief. I can’t talk about this without spoilers (though the definition of spoilers is somewhat disputed, and I agree that some people are a little too paranoid about spoilers, I’m trying to make this blog friendly to the people who use the most widespread definition of the word).  Regular blogs will resume next Sunday, once I’ve worked the desire to talk about the movie (with spoilers) out of me….

I Can’t Possibly Make Any Money With This Post…

(Note:  I experimented with typing this post in notepad and pasting it here.  It seemed to have a few bugs with paragraph returns; I tried to fix the formatting as much as I could, but if I missed something I apologize)

Well, last week’s poll didn’t work.  There seems to be a bug of some sort in the polling plug-in, because it kept closing fifteen minutes or so after I posted it, and nothing I would do would re-open it.  So much for that idea.

I would love to be able to give you an update on the status of In Forgery Divided or The Merrimack Event, today.  Unfortunately, there is nothing I can tell you that I haven’t already said.  I’ve heard nothing new from editor, and have nothing I can post from my cover artist.  So, both still have some time to go.

I’d still like to talk books, though, rather than go into a ramble.  I recall, a while back, talking about a project I referred to as “This Book Cannot Make Any Money!”  The idea was to, instead of writing another blog series on Self-Publishing, to walk people through the self-publishing process while I compiled and built a new book.

However, since I’ve already launched (or am about to launch) three series of novels already, I don’t intend to write anything new for it.  Instead, I’m going to make it a compilation of a things I’ve written in the past that, for one reason or another, aren’t worth trying to sell… (at least not on their own).

So, in this first edition of the “Can’t Possibly Make Any Money!” blog series, I’ll assess what I’ve got in terms of content… and why I figured they wouldn’t make any money in the first place.

The first thing is a short story entitled “Voices.”  Running only about 1,500-2,000 words, it’s not exactly large enough to self-publish on its own.  I’m actually very proud of this story, but it’s a hard sell to literary magazines as it’s experimental\paranormal fiction (in more ways than one).  The story was inspired by more than one English teacher saying, with absolute certitude, that “You should never write a novel from the first person omniscient perpective — it will never work.”  So, of course, I set about to prove them wrong.  I decided to give it a very ambiguous ending (you’re left to decide if the character REALLY was as omniscient as he claims).  Years ago, I tried shopping this story around, but it was always rejected (though I recieved nice handwritten rejections from the likes of the prestigious Atlantic Monthly for it; sadly, my copy of that rejection was lost in a move, but in it the editor said I should make the ending less ambiguous… which went against what I was trying to do with the story in the first place.  Ah, well).

The second item is an (untitled, but I’ll figure one out before publication) five page short story written entirely as an inside joke.  This takes a touch of background to explain:  I once joined a small writer’s group (The LCPS “Writer’s Circle”) sponsored by my local county’s public school system (why?  Because it was the only writing-oriented thing I could find near me open to adults).

It was a… very interesting experience.  There were five “enrolled” participants (including me) and the “instructor” (because it was operated by the Adult Education program of the public school system, an “instructor” was required; his being an “instructor” was a title of bureaucratic necessity, only).  My fellow enrollees were as follows:  A children’s book author who didn’t like children (she said so repeatedly and insisted she wasn’t joking), a woman writing a memoir of her battle against Lyme Disease (ugh), a blogger for “Voice of America” who never returned after our first meeting, and an octogenarian nurse on the verge of retirement whose only previous writing experience was writing reports for her job.  All four of the other enrollees specifically said they hated science fiction and fantasy stories, like the ones I had hoped to share with the circle.  Yay.

The instructor was fairly knowledgeable, however.  He was a thriller\mystery novelist, and enjoyed reading in the science fiction and fantasy genre.  He had appeared as a panelist at some conventions alongside the likes of Kevin J. Anderson, and for the most part knew what he was talking about (or at least, I agreed with many of his opinons on things).  However, there was one small problem.  We were all responsible for turning in five pages of writing every week for discussion, and INVARIABLY he had the same comment for everyone:  “You need more details about [the scene\the character\the setting\the background].”  If we made things as detailed as he wanted, though, it would take far more than five pages.  So, as a prank, in the last week of the Writer’s Circle I wrote a five-page story that was so focused on these details that there was only room for two lines of actual story.  Along the way, I used every synonym of the color red I could find to describe things.

He got the joke, and was amused… but his comment was “You spent all this time on the visual, but we never got any details on the sounds and smells!”  *sigh*

It’s all an inside joke, and being an inside joke I don’t think it could make any money on its own.  At least, not without some explanation.  An explanation I could type up for the compilation without a problem.

And then there’s the third item on the list of things I plan to include in this compilation:  Poetry.  Which, well, every author I know of says you can’t make any money selling poetry… and honestly, these poems are probably not what people who LIKE writing poetry would try selling.  And, honestly, I don’t like writing poetry all that much.

“Wait,” I know (some) of you want to say.  “Why have you even written poems if you don’t like poetry?”

Well, uh… the poems I plan to include are partly the result of high school English-class poetry assignments.  There are three High School poems (well, two high school poems and a tryptych  of linked theme poems, two of which were added post-high school), some haiku I wrote for my days as a fanfic writer (there is a character in a particular anime I was a fan of who always tried to speak in haiku; I always hated writing his dialog), and maybe one or two other pieces I’ve forgotten about which I’ll find going through my old records.  Not enough for a whole book full of poetry, but there is some.

And that’s it for COMPLETED work that might be included.  However, nothing says I have to just use completed work — in the many years before I self-published, I wrote a whole heck of a lot.  Much of it will never be published (in some cases, as with my fanfiction, it isn’t legal to; in other cases, I decided it just wasn’t good enough; with the upcoming release of “The Merrimack Event,” we’ll be through all of the work I thought was publishable in my past writing; In Forgery Divided is the first novel-length work I’ve written since I started self-publishing).  Some of that body of work, however, includes material which might still be interesting clipped out of the original work.  Keeping with the theme, though, it’s not likely you’d make any money as a writer trying to sell clippings of books you’ll never publish.

I’m not really sure what genre I’ll file a collection that contains paranormal, high fantasy, novel fragments, and poetry all together… but that’s another blog.  (Note:  Next week is Star Wars: The Force Awakens week.  I’m probably not going to work on this blog at all, so my first follow-up on this post won’t be for at least two weeks)

Edit:  Comments disabled due to spamming.

Back-of-the-Book Blurb POLL! The Merrimack Event

(I had three unfinished blogs in progress this morning, and plans for at least three others, but nothing finished.   I’m not sure which of the other posts from that set I’ll finish for next Sunday’s blog, but I have options.  I keep hoping I’ll have more news on the progress I’ve made toward publishing my books for you guys, but I’ve heard nothing from any editors or cover artists this past week).

So, it took several weeks, but I did finally get enough votes (with enough of a vote differential) to come to a conclusion about the “In Forgery Divided” blurbs.  In THAT poll, I think Blurb B wins out, but the difference I’m going to consider making a few tweaks to it.

But now it’s time to get some interest in “The Merrimack Event,” so let’s try the same type of “Back of the book blurb poll” for that one! Pick whichever you like.  And feel free to comment if you want to.  (Please?)

(Edited to make the poll work.  I forgot to test it before posting, and goofed up somewhere.  Sorry about that!)

BLURB OPTION A:

While the Earth Alliance Naval Academy is having a once-every-four-years wargame on a distant frontier colony, a surprise attack from a foreign star wipes out most of the Navy.  A daring plan to respond is made using a fleet of recently mothballed ships crewed by Academy students.  These ships are old and out of date, and their crews are half-trained and inexperienced, but they do have one advantage:  One enterprising young engineer has figured out how to combine the old technology of his century-old corvette and the now-standard modern engines to produce the first of the Shieldclads.

BLURB OPTION B:

Freshman Cadet Lieutenant Chris Desaix entered the Earth Alliance Naval Academy merely looking to round out a promising education in Engineering, but after he wins a campus-wide tactical competition his instructors start trying to convince him to change his major.  But when the Earth Alliance Navy is devastated by a surprise attack, he must use both talents to help them strike back.

Edit:  The polling plug-in appears to be malfunctioning somehow (it seems to automatically close after about fifteen minutes, even though it claims it’s open and is set to never close).  Sigh.  And now spammers are hitting the comments hard.  Since those comments require my approval, you aren’t seeing them, but they’re coming in numbers great enough I’m disabling comments.  Contact me if you want me to re-enable them.

Bugfix: Which blurb do you prefer

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Status Report

With Thanksgiving (and a lot of chores), I didn’t quite finish everything I intended for the blog post I had planned for this week (the “Merrimack Event”‘s back-of-the-book blurb). In its place, I figured I would do a status report for all the things I’ve told you I was going to be doing.

First of all, I’ve applied to be a guest at a few conventions. I haven’t heard back from any of them, yet, but I haven’t been rejected yet, either. I’m hopeful.

In Forgery Divided is still with the editor and cover artist. I haven’t recieved any information from my cover artist recently, but my editor says he’s through most of it, but there were a couple “problem areas” he’s devoting more attention to. I’m as tired of these delays as I’m sure my readers are, but I can’t put it out without a cover or any editing.

Over the last week, I’ve started approaching some more potential cover artists to get estimates for “The Merrimack Event.” Haven’t heard back from any of them, yet, but that’s no surprise in this timeframe. I’ve identified four editors to try and vet, but I have yet to approach any of them.

The Back-of-the-Book Blurb for “The Merrimack Event” should be posted next week, but I’ve got new ideas going from there. I’ve been cleaning out my office desk as I prepare to move my new computer from it’s temporary set-up to its permanent home. Found some fun things I could take pictures of (maybe. I hate taking pictures of any kind) and talk about here on the blog, including badges for well over a dozen conventions I’ve attended in the past — all from 2009 or earlier. And I’ve started a fun little research project I may discuss here, as well, even though it’s research for a story I probably won’t be writing for years.

A belated Happy Thanksgiving. And I’m giving you guys even more thanks for reading this blog. (I might be even more thankful if a few of you commented now and then when I was asking you guys for comments, but I’ll take what I can get).