Still In The Game

If you’re an indie writer, and a self-publisher, then you are no doubt familiar with the ups and downs of getting your work into the hands of the masses. You already know about all those long sleepless nights spent hunched over your keyboard, meticulously honing a passage of narrative, or getting that bit of dialogue just right.

But writing the novels is just half of the battle. In fact, to be honest, it’s even less than that.

Sure, we can write the novel, but what about after that? All the conversions and changes we have to make to get it formatted just right; all the worry that we’ve missed something: does our Table of Contents work when we hit the hyperlink to jump to chapter eight? All this and more is just a part of the process us writers have to go through every time we try to get a novel “out there.”

But again, that’s just a small portion of the battle. After the book cover gets made, the chapters finally work, and the contents have been uploaded to that place that will publish your work into eContent, there is still the grueling task of getting it to make you a profit.

This is where the game is. This is our battlefield.

If you are a new writer and you are expecting your first novel to get you famous, or to launch you to the status of, James Patterson; then you have either been deluded, or you are inhaling something odd. Okay, sure, there have been a few people that have struck-it-rich their first time out there in the publishing world. But those are not the norm, and they are too few and far between to list as a rule of any sort.

The harsh truth is that you are more than likely not going to earn a dime for your first novel. At least… not right away.

There are a thousand blogs and websites that will try and convince you that all you have to do is write in this category, or that type of self-help thing, and the money will start rolling in, and all you have to do is hold open a big bag with the words “CASH” written on the side to catch it all.

That is stupid. You are way too smart for that. I hope.

Since October of last year my first novel has generated me a meager twenty or thirty dollars. That’s all. My second novel… about the same. Now, does that mean that I suck at writing, and I need to throw my laptop away? Go off somewhere and cry and ponder whether I should even be doing this?

I hope not. I’d love to be a famous writer one day. I’d love to have a million dollar check come in every few weeks. I’d love to have one of my books turned into a film, and then sit back somewhere in the Cayman Islands and sip fruity drinks and take my time pondering what I’ll write next; but that’s not reality. That’s a dream. A good dream, and one I won’t give up on… but a dream, never the less.

If you are a writer and you love the craft, and you just want your novels in print, or out there for the masses, then you aren’t in it for the money. Again, we want to be paid for our services. Writing is a job, and we should get paid for it. But that can’t be one’s only motivation. Remember, that just like you want to be a writer, and have your book published, there are a million others out there that want the same thing. Their elbows are pretty big at the table, and unless you elbow-in, and get serious about your junk, you will get zero exposure.

Which brings me to the point I’ve been trying to make.

If you want to be known; if you want to be read, have others buy your books; then you need exposure. It takes time for your name to get passed around. One person may read your book, and like it, and yet never tell another person about it. Someone else may sing your praises from the rooftops. Your Goodreads page is a fine place to start, but again, it’s a site that is geared for writers to push and shove their product in your face, and it’s just as cutthroat as any place else.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use Goodreads, or Twitter, or have a Facebook… of course you should. Because the more places you go with your book in tow, the more chances there are for others to hear about you, and when people hear about you, you get exposure.

So what if your first or second book hasn’t performed as well as you’d expected. Unless it’s getting tons of negative feedback, then you are not failing as a writer. And, it will take time before you’ve gotten that one sale that you didn’t lobby for. My advise is to stay in the game. Don’t get discouraged, keep your chin up, and just keep writing.

New Release – Mr God

There is nothing like the feeling of finally finishing a book, and then being able to take that deep—if somewhat short—sigh of satisfaction. Of course, now comes the really fun part; promotion time! That point in a new novel’s life where I get to go on and on about how much you need to read this book, and how great it is.

Truth is, I never really trust myself to know if what I write is good. I’m my own worst critic. To me it’s all ilk that a half-stupid monkey splattered on some pages. But, for those of you that enjoy my writing, and want to read more, then here is another entry in the monkey’s collection of words and pages.

You can buy Mr God here – Amazon Kindle

And to sweeten the deal for you fans, I’m not only going to let you buy my new novel that I slaved over for the better part of six months; I’m going to do some giveaways as well. Everyone likes free stuff right? And no, this is not some sort of attempt to bribe you. If I wanted to do that, I’d give you free stuff.

Here’s the low-down, the skinny, and the word. For today, I’m offering my first novel, Murdered by Midnight to everyone free on Amazon Kindle – US | UK

And, if that wasn’t enough, from now until February 25th, I’ll be holding a drawing for five lucky winners to each receive a free autographed paperback copy of Mr God.

A huge thank you to all the people that have assisted in this novel; I couldn’t have done it without them. And to you, the fans: you mean so much to me, you will never know.

Now, go follow me on Twitter, Facebook, share and like; brag and tell people about me. Buy my book, and support the war on the tyranny of Conglomerate Publishing houses, and help me in the fight against zombies, writer’s block, and the occasional lack of inspiration.

What Happened To Half The Battle?

ImageWell, it never fails. That moment in life when you are on the edge of completing a long arduous project, and the thing goes completely south on you? Yeah, you know that it’s happened to you before; hell, I’d imagine that it’s happened to the best of us. The trick though is persistence.

For me it’s about finishing a really long manuscript,only to find that the damn thing got a glitch when converting it to HTML for the ebook formatting; and now I have to re-read through the last half of the book paragraph by paragraph to catch all the places where the opening dialogue quotes are missing.

Talk about a serious pain in the ass!

This unfortunately is just life. Sure, it’d be gravy if every time we worked ourselves to the bone, we managed to get to the end goal without hiccup or disaster; or what the universe knows as Murphy’s Law! That rule that warns us: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

Is it a huge bother that I have to go back over the last 250,000 words of my novel line by line, or paragraph by paragraph? Sure it is. But there is a small consolation to it. I now get to find some of those pesky little annoyances that I probably should have paid better attention to during the editing processes. Nothing like a new, fresh set of eyes.

It’s About the Getting There

There is nothing like having a great New Year and starting it off with a great and fabulous cup of coffee! I should know, this is what I am doing right now. I’m also sitting here wondering what I’m going to do about making New Year Resolutions, and somewhere in the back of my mind, I am already thinking of ways that I can get out of them.

I’ve never really liked New Year Resolutions; they always seem to become one of those self-imposed orders and mandates that we struggle either to achieve or to hide somewhere, and in the end, we usually don’t get anything close to our goals accomplished. I for one get moody and gripey about having to perform and juggle in accordance with my resolutions, and I find that the ones I usually set, even the small easily obtainable ones are things that I shouldn’t resolve to do at the start of the year, but to do throughout the whole damn thing.

Never the less, it is a time of reflection, and perception, and I need to be able to perceive the things that need done in the days to come. So to that end, I will tentatively set down some goals rather than resolutions, and just shoot for those. Seems easier than making these ridiculous restrictions, and changes on myself that I know I’ll forget about as soon as I go to sleep tonight—just after I’ve posted about it on Facebook, and Tweeted it from the rooftops; making myself a grade A idiot.

My goals, are quite simple. I want to finish more writing. I know there are writers out there that can write circles around me, and I also know that there are some that can get some writing done in the time it takes for a snake to crawl the length of the garden. But I want to be able to get more done in a day, and be able to provide some real quality entertainment to my readers. I know all you guys and girls deserve it, and I want to deliver.

I also want to make more money.

Oh, come on, it’s not like that. I’m no millionaire looking to strike up more oil from the back yard; I just want to be able to provide for my family, and still be able to do the thing I love doing more that anything.

If there was one thing I would change about myself… not that there are that many I can and haven’t already learned to live with—I’d change my diet. I should eat a little better, but that isn’t really a resolution. It’s a strongly worded suggestion to myself, lest I become agitated and give myself a good ass kicking in a dark alley somewhere.

To all you readers, and fans that are stepping into the new year, may you be blessed, and may you achieve the goals that you set for your future, not only in this year, but the years to come.

The Bane of Indie Publishing

The Epic of Gilgamesh, the most popular indie book in history

One of the things that I’ve been recently encountering is a certain amount of hostility for Indie publishers; and by that I mean, independent authors. Some of the noise that is being made revolves around the sole fact that indie books are not professionally published, ergo, they cannot be considered, “real books.”

Some have criticized the advent of the indie publishing phase as a death-blow to either the publishing industry as a whole; good literature as a whole; and a means for people to make a fast buck off of swindling others into buying their fifteen page self-help book on how to make money writing and independently publishing a book.

To the first two of those, I can only say, “Phem!” The written word has been around long before the modern critics were a cosmic speck in sands of time; and I have no doubt that the written word will exist in some form long after they are gone. As for the last part of their complaint, I can see their point; writers that write a book just to mislead others into buying their swill are nothing more than scoundrels and crooks. But I’d like to take a look at this practice of writing and examine some of the claims that indie writing is wrong, and what constitutes a book.

To do this, we have to take a look at a person called, Gilgamesh. He was a King of Uruk in ancient Mesopotamia (2700BC), whose exploits were written about on tablets about 600 BC, by a man called Sin-Leqi-Unninni; and have since been the subject of many revisions, rewrites and has pretty much fallen into the accumulated annals of antiquity. The Epic of Gilgamesh as a story is probably in the top five oldest written books ever. Granted, the story wasn’t written on paper, it probably didn’t have a proofreader, it was not edited for correctness, and it didn’t get taken from publishing house to publishing house in an attempt to get a sale. But no student of literature, mythology, or ancient writing can say they’ve never heard the name of Gilgamesh.

One of the things that I’d like to point out to anyone reading this article, and is a book reader—not a writer—is that the definition of a book has really been altered in the past decade, now, you don’t need physical pages for something to be considered a book. Digital media has been accused of harming the physical media industry, and yet, I don’t see any decline in printed paperbacks and hardbacks whenever I wander into a Barnes & Noble book store.

Having said that, I’d like to address some issues. Continue reading

The Discipline of Writing

I was reading over some messages from some followers on the internet, and one question struck me pretty deeply.

“A writer can gain knowledge, style and clarity, but how does one gain discipline in the craft?”

I read this late last night, and decided that it would be best to ponder my response. After all, we are all struggling with our own place in the writing world; we each have our own reasons for writing, and wanting to write, and to take it beyond that, and attempt to refine our skills through self-discipline was something I had never been asked. I can’t say that I am overly dedicated to the craft as I probably should be… so I didn’t want to just throw out any old answer.

Having given it some thought, my response was pretty simple. I said, “Two things: recognizing that writing is not a hobby, or a weekend warrior’s game; and having a strong sense of desperation.”

I may have said the first part to get some attention; but the second part is absolutely true. For a lot of writers, the craft of writing is something that they dabble at, or attempt at doing. However, somewhere in there between writing down a whimsical story in afternoons, or in the few precious hours we have after work is not the same as truly sitting down and pushing ourselves to write a novel, or composition from start to finish. I’m not making light of those that do write only when they have the time, but when it goes from being a hobby to a job, then it needs to be approached as such, and understood as such.

Writing for me is an act of desperation. From the first word, to the very last word. I am hammering out a path in my future that I willfully want to happen. I won’t eat, or have money for my family, to say nothing of bills if I don’t push it to happen. No one else is going to write this book for me; no one will stand over my shoulder and lead me through the hard parts, and coach me to do better. The burden of responsibility rests solely on my own shoulders.

At some point, it stops being a hobby, and becames the career. For many of us, that alone is the nudge that we need to be self-disciplined. That is the straight and narrow, and that is the defining point.

Cultivating Ideas

Sometimes when I am grouply conversing, I inevitably encounter a person that asks the question, “How do you come up with those stories?”

To be honest, I often feel as though it’s a loaded question. It’s certainly not one that I can answer with just one word; and I’ve come to realize that many people are only looking for a simple explanation of it, or they really aren’t interested, and are only passably making small talk.

One of the reasons though, that I feel the question is a loaded one, is because I can only speak for myself, and when I do, it often comes across as bragging. How does one convey the spark of creativity that we as authors have within us?

I have always been an advocate and proponent of writing; I firmly believe that anyone is capable of it, and with practice and time, can become great at it. I understand that many may feel as though they can’t write, and that they lack the one thing I am always being accused of having too much of: creative imagination. But you see, creativity and imagination are only a small part of it.

For me it always comes down to two more important aspects: ideas and observation. We need to be able to recognize the idea of a good story when one comes to us. Inspiration is a good tool, but like all tools can dull and lose its edge over time. As a writer, I am always on the lookout for a new idea; a new what if, so to speak. And the beautiful thing about ideas, is that they can come from anything, anyone, or anywhere. To offer an example, I was talking to a friend on my porch once, and we were going on about the proliferation of some specific genre that I felt was sucking the industry dry, and then he says to me, “You just have to come up with some new spin on that kind of story.”

Well, that’s easier said than done. I off-handedly remarked that, “Well, to something like that, I’d have to reinvent the freaking wheel, and do something absolutely stupid. Like making a Vampire story with robots.”

Now when I said those words, I had what I like to call, a “Writer’s Moment”, one of those small time- stoppers that causes me to stand still and mentally go back through the stenographer’s last sheet of paper, and make sure what was said was actually said. Sure enough it was a wild and crazy “what if” moment that had me suddenly fascinated and intrigued. Could a story be written about Vampires and Robots? Whose to say. But I know that I’ve learned to recognize those types of moments that come along and bring with them the fertile soil that is rich with all the minerals for planting a story. Continue reading