And I’m going… Where?

Its been another long blogging break. Nearly 2 months, so not as bad as last time, but still. Unacceptable! I’ve been editing editing editing, and working working working on the condo, and as for real work? We shall not speak of it.

We shall, however, speak of editing, which is nearly – God willing – finished. Another leg of this long journey, almost complete. And a big one too, because this time it means I’m nearly to the point where I need to let go of my little beastie and see if it will fly.

But it’s scary. Not because I’m afraid to let someone read it, but because of what it implies. Publication. And that is terrifying.

I know I should be excited, and I kinda am, but I also know too much about the industry to not be concerned. Publication means I have a whole new set of skills to learn, while on a time budget that is already too tight. I’m sure I’ll be able to deal with most of these, one way or the other, but the big and looming specter is marketing, about which I know jack.

Self published authors live and die by their marketing efforts. Complicating matters is the fact that I have only one book to market. And then there’s the day job time constraints, which will slow everything down.

Of course, I could just phone it in and say frak the marketing, but I don’t want To Kill the Goddess to just sit there and collect virtual dust while a handful of friends and family throw me a bone and read it. I mean, what is the point of all this if not to be successful? Not necessarily financially, although that would be awesome possum, but to have people read it. And more than just a handful. I want to go somewhere someday and hear a stranger talking about my book. Not for vanity’s sake, but because then I’ll know all the years of effort and sacrifice were worth it.

Until then, I’m moving forward, on faith, or maybe just stubborn determination. And I’m going… Where?

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In which Shawn tries to justify his blog’s silence

Let’s go back to where we left off: October 8, 2013.

(Holy crap has it really been that long?)

October 8 – To Kill the Goddess was with my editor and I was trying to get started on Moon Sister (book two). This is roughly the same time that my work life turned to complete shit. I won’t go into details, as companies don’t look kindly on employees spilling dirt on the Internet, but let’s just say that it was all I could do to not have a complete mental breakdown. Did I write? Yes, but like a drowning man clinging to a life preserver. There was no time for frilly stuff like blogging. Somehow in there, I managed to bang out a first draft for roughly the first third of Moon Sister.

Christmas came along, then January, and the Antarctica-like deep-freeze that drove its claws into Minnesota. We resumed our search for a downtown condo and – surprise! – we found one. It’s awesome, and we are moved and living in it (Woot!) but yowza was that a lot of work. Six weeks of no writing are now in my rearview mirror.

So now here we are: April. I haven’t touched that first draft in a couple of months. Instead, I’ve been focusing on (what I hope are) final edits for To Kill the Goddess. My editor had far more complements then she did criticisms and I’m deep into the final stages of polishing those off. The book is in great shape, but now that I’m going through it again after so many months away I’m finding all kinds of niggly things that need to be fixed. I think I am going to make one more pass through the entire book before sending it off to a few new readers. After that? Line edits, finding someone to do a cover, e-book formatting, and finally: Amazon!

Go Get an Editor Right Now

It’s been silent here on Writing and Whatnot. You might think nothing has been happening, that I took the month of December off to drown myself in beer, football, and holiday cheer. And that would be a good guess, because I’ve done all that. I’ve also been doing A LOT of editing.

All of you fans (ha!) will recall me posting about hiring an editor to review my novel, To Kill the Goddess. I knew that TKtG needed more work, but I didn’t know what I needed to do next. How close was I to publication? Did I still have a little work to do? More than a little?

So I found Brett, my editor, and sent her my book. Then a few weeks later I received her editorial report and the marked up manuscript.

Holy crap.

Brett commented at the end of her thirty some page report that I probably felt as if I had just been disemboweled, but that every writer felt that way and that I should take time to absorb her comments.

Personally, I wouldn’t use the word disemboweled. For me it was as if my every flaw and blemish had been laid bare. Kind of like that dream where you realize you are standing naked in front of your high school gym class and all the cool guys and pretty girls are laughing their asses off.

But then a day or two went by, and I started to see that instead of displaying my insides for everyone to see, Brett had presented me with a MRI. What I had was not a thirty page outline of my failures, but an extensive diagnosis of my weaknesses, as well as a blueprint that would enable me to elevate my writing to the next level.

*lightbulb*

I began to study Brett’s report, and to really think about what she was saying. Then I picked up Witness It, my recently completed novella, and started making changes.

And let me tell you, it’s been awesome. I’m excited. Stoked, to borrow a word that might have been used in my gym class. My writing still isn’t perfect, but thank God (and the Goddess) that I finally took this step because the results are kind of astonishing. My novella’s plot is exactly the same, but my technique and word choice has improved so much that Witness It is a significantly better story for it. And I haven’t even had it edited yet.

So if you are one of those writers who has been debating as to whether or not you should get an editor, then end that debate right now. Get one. Also get a good beer or scotch to help you through the naked gym class phase. Then sit down and really read that report. Accept the diagnosis, study the blueprint, and begin to focus on realizing your dream.

I have, and I’m now one day closer to making that dream happen.

Indie Publishing: Editors, why you hide?

** Updated November 16, 2012 **

Come with me on a little journey, if you please

Picture an eager (and devilishly handsome) future Indie Author (EdhFIA for short) hammering away on the final edit of his first novel. EdhFIA is hungry, optimistic, and determined to ignore everyone who says Indie Publishing is a mistake.

EdhFIA is gonna finish his book, he’s gonna find an editor, and together they are gonna show the naysayers how wrong they were.

Finally, after months of hard work, sacrifice, and the occasional beer, EdhFIA sets out with his finished manuscript in hand. It’s time to find the perfect editor.

EdhFIA googles “editor.”

*mind blown*

There are lots. LOTS. But EdhFIA is no internet noob. EdhFIA knows that any shmuck can call themselves an editor.  (They can also call themselves a 19 year old cheerleader, but that’s a different blog.)

*terrible realization*

It could take months to find the good editors amongst all that noise.

Enter: The Alliance of Independent Authors and Publishers Marketplace

EdhFIA has done his research. He knows there are organizations out there that were created to support both Indie Authors and the Publishing Community at large.

So EdhFIA joins the Alliance of Independent Authors and goes to the section where editors (and others) advertise their services.

*mind blown*

There’s only a few. So very, very few.

He checks Publishers Marketplace. Same thing.

*terrible realization*

Most editors are not advertising their services.

Hollywood Ending

You’ll be happy to know that I, EdhFIA, found an editor.

** Update **

As it turns out, Googling “Professional Editor” is far more useful that Googling “Editor.” Who knew? Just about everyone else, but not me. 

Furthermore, this discovery completely dismantles every assumption and argument I originally made in the rest of this blog. Hence its deletion.

Embarrassing? Yes, but that’s ok. You can’t learn how to walk without falling.

Thanks to Rebecca Lang for pointing out my sillyness on the ALLi Facebook group. 

Making it Happen: I Have an Editor!

Earlier this week I finalized an arrangement with Brett Hardman, Freelance Editor as well as Editor for the Cornerstones Literary Consultancy.

Together, we shall conquer the universe!

Or maybe just one small part of it.

WOOT!

What sealed the deal?

Brett and I hit it off from the start. She was super professional, which I appreciated, and very tolerant of my many newbie questions. The best part? She “gets” my book.

For example:

  • She saw the influence of Marion Zimmer Bradley on my book. Holy crap! No one has ever said that to me before and it’s so true! The Mists of Avalon is, in genealogical terms (and let me beg Ms Bradley’s forgiveness, may she rest in peace), To Kill the Goddess’ not too distant ancestor.
  • Brett immediately honed in on Point of View as being an area I need to strengthen. For those who haven’t read To Kill the Goddess, TKtG is told from the point of view of six different characters. That is, while great in concept, really hard to do. An essential component of my success will be ensuring that my writing draws the reader in and makes them invest in each character.

How did I find Brett?

I found her through the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), which is an amazing resource for Indie Authors. I am also a proud member.

A few other random notes

Brett lives “across the pond.” In Wiltshire, UK. Wiltshire is an awesome name. Even more awesome? Royal Wootton Bassett. I think Frodo has cousins there.

Was I was initially concerned about having an editor 5-6 timezones away? Yes, but it’s been working out well so far. We have a fairly good communication window during the morning, which is mid-late afternoon for her, and while most of our communication will be via email, she is open to using Google + or Skype if we need some face time.

Craziness ensues!

I know how to write, but I don’t know how to do all this other stuff on the publishing end. There’s so much between now and the end of the road, and the cold reality is that the Indie Author doesn’t have many companions to keep him/her company along the way. Thank goodness for ALLi.

There’s only one thing I can say for certain: it’s gonna be an adventure!

Indie Publishing: No Wimps Allowed!

Confession: I’m kinda persnickety. I like my things a certain way (just ask the Lovely Leann) and yet I’m constantly making choices that fly in the face of that persnicketyness.

Confused? So am I.

So let’s try and figure this out.

Exhibition  #1: Beer

I’m one of those guys who goes into the liquor store and looks for the bottles he doesn’t recognize.

“Hey, there’s one with a monkey in a space suit!”

[Buys. Consumes.]

Exhibition #2: Music

While I’m completely cool with all that 80’s music I grew up on (The Smiths, New Order, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Love and Rockets – Yummy!), I’m always jonseing for something new and different. Like, “Who’s this Skrillex guy I keep hearing about?”  Or maybe, “What was that awesome song I just heard?”

[Checks The Current’s Twitter stream. Downloads.]

The Common Thread

Beer and music are safe bets.

I mean really, how much can go wrong with a bad beer? It’s still beer!

So safe is nice, but…

Safe, like a good ‘ol can of Surly Fest, can be awesome.

But safe doesn’t stretch your corn-fed, Iowan wings. Safe doesn’t make your dreams come true.

Like, for instance, writing a book and publishing it.

Indie Publishing: Not So Safe

The book is written. Woot!

But as for publishing…

I’ve known for a few years now that I wasn’t going to publish with the Big 6 (uh, looks like I mean 5).  Their royalty structure is not to my advantage (unless I was crazy popular, which I’m not) and they would be all too happy to put a noose around my intellectual rights. But man, those boys sure do have the appearance of SAFE. “Here’s your advance, kid, now sit back and we’ll take care of EVERYTHING.”

Well, not everything, but they do take care of some really important things, like: editing, getting a book cover, printing, distribution, ebook formatting, etc., and one shouldn’t discount that. But is that enough to offset the negatives?

Not in my opinion. Not when I can hire all that done myself.

Although, that ain’t easy. Not even a little.

So even though I would love nothing more than set settle into a firm Big 6/5 embrace, it’s the dark and choppy indie waters for me.

Step 1: interviewing editors

For the first time Indie Author like myself, this is like interviewing the doctor who is about to give you a heart transplant. Sure, you can check references, but at the end of the day you just have to trust that they know what they are doing because you have no decent frame of reference on which to evaluate them.

It’s kinda scary.

Step 2: finding an editor

Google’s no help because any schmuck can hang their virtual placard on the internet and claim to be an editor. And let me tell you, wading though all that chaff is hard. The only decent resources I’ve found are organizations such as the Alliance of Independent Authors (which I found useful), but the lists there are small and if editors don’t self select in (i.e. fill out a profile) then you won’t find them. Publishers Marketplace is much the same.

Editors, where are you?

Step 3: waiting for the editor to deliver the news

I’m currently somewhere between steps 2 & 3 but I can already see the writing on the wall. Step 3 is going to be a hand wringing nightmare. I’m already at the point where all I can think is, “How bad is it going to be?” and for those of us doing without the Big 6/5 embrace, there’s precious little validation to keep us going. I’m surviving on guts and gumption and the longer I wait for that editorial report the more convinced I am that I’m going to get clobbered.

Step 4 and beyond

Getting a book cover. Ebook formatting. Navigating Amazon. Deciding whether to go exclusive with Amazon or publish through multiple venues (and ebook formats).  Marketing. Social Media. Blog tours.

And don’t forget, writing book 2.

So – not – safe.

But frak safe. I’ll make it through.

I’ll just download some fresh tunes, crack open a new beer, and get to work.

It’s time to make those dreams come true.

No wimps allowed!

Editing, Editors, and Excedrin

Holy crap is self publishing giving me a headache – and I’ve barely started!

Hence the Excedrin (which I’ve never taken, but it did make for for a nice title).

So let’s get on with it, shall we?

Conversations With Potential Editors

These are going well, but in the interest of full disclosure, I have admit that I’ve been self medicating on Surly Fest!

To date, I’ve had conversations with three editors. Now that is a strange experience. It’s one thing to ask the Scribblerati for feedback, but it it’s entirely another to talk to a total stranger and have them zone in with laser precision on the faults in my book.

Of course, those faults were all I focused on at first. It wasn’t until after some time for reflection that I saw all the incredibly complimentary things they also said. I mean, damn did they come back with a lot of really nice things to say.

But don’t think I’m taking all the credit for that. Sure, there was a tremendous amount of hard work involved (and really, if it isn’t any good by now then I might as well hang up my hat and take up golf or something) but I know I couldn’t have made it to this point without the encouragement of the Lovely Leann or the insight of the Scribblerati.

So while I’m feeling good, I’m also well aware that there’s still a serious stretch of road ahead, but things are good, you know? I feel like I’m on the right track and that there’s a possibility ahead, like anything could still happen.

Wrestlin with the novella

On the personal writing/editing front, I’m finishing up Draft 3 of my novella, Witness It. The first half is in front of the Scribblerati right now, which is super exciting. It’s been fun revisiting the story (I wrote it almost exactly a year ago) and I’m excited to hear what they have to say. My intention has always been to pair Witness It with To Kill the Goddess, so it feels good to have that in motion as well.

And what about Book 2?

Moon Sister is gestating. I have the first half-ish sketched out in outline form and the next step is to start writing.

From scratch.

Page 1. Word Count = 0.

Gulp!