Saturday, December 31, 2011

On the End of 2011

Well, somehow we've made it all the way through 2011, and man has it been an interesting year. As seems to be traditional, I will spend this last post of December as a way to run through some of the major events and accomplishments that marked my life this year and express gratitude for the opportunity to have them. None of these things came free, but they are each definitely worth it.

First among them was the birth of my first daughter, Sera. She has been a wonderful blessing to my life, and I have been able to get to know this wonderful little being as she has grown up. So far, she doesn't seem to mind me, which is always a plus; hopefully that continues in 2012!

Second, I managed to start a writing career! Wolfhound was published in December, and has already sold a fairly decent amount. Besides that, I've managed to write over 340k new words in four different novels. Now I have a revision schedule that says I will publish each of those four novels in 2012, while writing four more to follow them up. It has literally been a miracle for me to be able to pursue that dream, and I think I've done rather well getting four rough drafts written in a single year. The revising has gone pretty well too, and I have high hopes to be able to continue the process in the coming months. We shall see if my abilities meet my expectations of course, but so far I think we are doing pretty well.

Third, I finally outgifted my wife for Christmas! Mwahahaha! It took me about four years to put that accomplishment together, but I managed it. Okay, it's kind of a small victory, but I say that it was totally awesome, so there. :P We've also been able to keep the writing group going for over a year now, and I've officially been working full time at the emergency room for over a year as well. We've been able to move forward in a lot of ways, and that has me looking forward to what we can accomplish together in the future. Thanks to everyone for all of your help, support, and love, and I hope that you are all celebrating the accomplishments in your own life and looking forward to the dawn of a new year.

So there's the year in very, very brief terms. Here's hoping that after all the trials and obstacles, all the work and the struggle, we can keep moving forward in the coming year. Thanks again for all of your help, and I will see you in 2012!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

On Politics and Cyberpunk

One thing that I've always tended to avoid was the blatant introduction of political viewpoints into my books. I've always believed that including a clumsily worded or demonstrated political message would just outrage people and drive them away from what otherwise would have been a good story. So I've avoided that, and so far that rule has been rather good for me. It's kept me from making preachy stories that nobody likes, and I appreciate that kind of help. :)

With cyberpunk, though, it seems like the genre is heavily invested in having at least one political message, no matter what that message might be. Somehow, the cyberpunk genre has not only included a lot of stories dealing with politics and political viewpoints, but has also avoided becoming preachy or overly simplistic with it. Or at least that is my perception of the whole thing, from my narrow view of it.

Perhaps it is the equally dogged insistance of the genre on allowing things to be messy and complicated which prevents the preachiness from happening. Or maybe it is the omnipresence of some crazy world-spanning conspiracy elements. It is something I'm going to have to adjust to as I write this next book, and one that I might be a little uncomfortable with, honestly. But then again, a good writer stretches their limits right? I suppose my alpha readers and writing group will just have to let me know when I've messed it up and when it works well.

Well, enough rambling pondering. Time to write! Iron Angels isn't going to revise itself after all! See you around.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On Another Draft Done

So as of yesterday, the first draft of Murders in Whitechapel has been finished. The overall story still needs a bit of work, but I think that people who like the first book will enjoy this one as well. I certainly enjoyed writing it; now I just need to get to work on the revisions on it.

In other news, I now get to work on The Social Contract! That book will probably occupy me for the first few months of 2012, and I am so excited about it. The various elements of the story are going to be pretty cool, and it will be a very different kind of story. At the same time I'm going to be revising a book for a friend called Edawkuh, (Yes, I will get to it, Megan) and hopefully finishing up an alpha rewrite of Iron Angels before the week is up. So yeah, even on break I still plan to be pretty busy. :)

In any case, the completion of the last book of the year calls for a celebration of sorts, so I'm going to give you guys the back cover of the paperback/hardcover version of The True Adventures of Hector Kingsley, courtesy of Mr. Ennis once again. See you around, and happy holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On Christmas

It's that time of year again! This week we will be heading home to visit family. It's been a while since we have been able to take time off (I think my last break was sometime in June, to give you some perspective on that) and it will be a welcome opportunity to reconnect with people who are way too far away.

I hope that all of you are also near family, or that they are at the very least close to your hearts. Have a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. See you around!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On Rudeness and Indie Publishing

So this post might take me close to involving myself in the big, artificial indie versus traditional publishing dispute, something that I have previously taken great pains to avoid. I have no problems with either route in publishing, and would gladly accept benefits and opportunities from both sides of the debate (my main reasoning for my current course has more to do with economics and time limits than it does with team spirit, let's say), and so I hope you readers will not mind if I approach the topic carefully.

I was browsing the Amazon forums the other day, mostly because I saw a thread asking for good sci fi titles to read for a beginning reader. I was planning on contributing and mentioning some of my favorite authors in sci fi--Timothy Zahn, Michael Stackpole, Jack Campbell, even David Weber if they wanted to risk some of the "harder" sci fi out there. I was also, truth be told, hoping to mention my own novel as a sidenote, since while Wolfhound is doing well, it never hurts to get your work out in front of more people.

To my dismay, the thread was repeatedly marked by people outraged that indie authors were recommmending their own work. Their condescending treatment of those authors was only matched by the smug sense of satisfaction that Amazon had decided to create a self promotion thread for indie authors and limit all self promotion posts to that thread alone. Anything outside the thread will be deleted by Amazon moderators. One commentor took great pains to say that it was "rude" for indie authors to promote their work, and that he was excused for taking them to task for it.

I have to admit that comment irked me, and not only because it betrayed a critical ignorance in how publishing of any stripe--or, well, any kind of business at all--works. Any author has to self promote, be they traditionally published authors doing book signings in stores or an indie author putting ads up on websites. It's a part of the business, and one that you need to be willing to do in order to live off of your work. If you love writing, and if you want people to love your work too, you will need to stand up for it.

In fact that's true of any business, which is something that Amazon well understands. I know they do because after reading the thread I had to delete yet another spam email that they had sent me promoting their products. They send me one every other day or so, and you know what? I don't mind. Because while most of the stuff doesn't appeal to me, sometimes I want their stuff! I like buying from Amazon, and I don't object to sifting through the rest to find what I like. For Amazon to deny indie authors the same opportunity to promote themselves seems to be the type of special hypocrisy that only a large bureacracy can produce, usually to their detriment. Especially in this case.

Aside from the sheer lack of understanding those commments had protrayed, I was disturbed by the attitude that indie authors were somehow being rude. That they had somehow interrupted the delicate waltz of society with their boorish attempts to produce and sell work on their own. It was as if the commentor thought he had somehow been wronged by the intrusion, when he likely tolerates self promotion in many other forms as a matter of course. I doubt he would be so inflamed by commercials on television or the ads before a movie. I doubt that he would even mind the occasional email from an author he likes advertising a book comming out in a few months. After all, those little communications between sellers and buyers are the key to civilization. Without communication, civilization doesn't exist and nobody would argue that listening is just as important as talking in a polite society. Yet somehow indie authors are treated like scum simply by trying to copy the model everyone else uses to survive. I dislike that attitude, and would even if I wasn't an indie author myself.

Of course, life provides a way to test us in our little principles. Not two minutes after I had finished working myself into an incandescent rage over the subject, a company spam posted on my blog. I believe that they would like me to publish my books through them, or at least print some hard copies through their business. My first reaction would normally have been annoyance, followed by a deletion of their post. After all, self promotion doesn't necessarily mean clumsy, spam promotion, and nobody likes spammers.

But then again, who knows? Maybe they are still learning how to do it right. So I'll leave it up and see. Because honestly I'd like to have a little "rudeness" now and then if it means coming across the occasional diamond in the rough. And nobody deserves to be looked down on without being given a chance.

And so ends the eternal rant. We'll be back to normal on Friday, I hope. See you then!

Monday, December 19, 2011

On The Measure of Success

One of the things that can be hard about self publishing is how you measure your own success. This problem seems especially present at the beginning, since you never know how much of your books are being bought by family and friends (yeah, that means you Mom) and how many are being bought by new customers. Not only that but there is nobody outside of yourself that can really evaluate your numbers for you. There's no boss, publisher, or accountant looking at your sales and saying "Alright, this isn't working so let's do something different" or "Wow, we're doing pretty good, keep up the pace!" The only current judge of my success is myself, and that is unusual for someone who has spent his life passing other people's tests or trying to meet other people's business goals. The only similar situation has been when I was on my mission and had to set my goals for each week. It's crazy to think that I have that kind of freedom again, only now in a far different field of work.

So I think I will set some benchmarks for Wolfhound's success, just so that I can have them recorded here. That way I can try to adapt and change things if needed. Hopefully we will just sell thousands and thousands based off of my sheer, recognizable writing genius, but my brilliance cannot always carry the day, can it? :)

So, as a benchmark, we have set a minimum, scraping the bottom of the barrel goal of five books sold a month. If that's all that is happening, we are still moving forward, but we should probably look into changing marketing strategies or something in order to increase sales.

Fifty sales in a month are more like an okay number. Not bad, not good, but pretty much average in terms of our expectations. Wolfhound is my first book, after all, and we are hoping that we can sell at least that much until Kingsley goes up in February. It's a bit of an ambitious goal, but it would set us up with a decent base to launch from.

Anything over that would be awe-inspiring. One hundred in a month would make us happy, two fifty would have me dancing in the streets. Dreams to shoot for, but probably not going to happen unless things really take off--or at least until I get multiple books up and start in on the sequels.

So yeah, those are my benchmarks, if anyone was curious. As of now Wolfhound is currently edging towards "okay" territory, and blissfully staying out of "scraping" levels. We are already surpassing the hopes we had for December, and I'm taking that as a good sign of things to come. Thanks for sticking with us and for all of your support. See you around!

Friday, December 16, 2011

On Hardcovers and Kingsley's Cover

So we have progress! The hardcover version of Wolfhound is now up on Lulu. It is selling for quite a bit more than the electronic version, but I've always thought that was worth it for a physical copy of a good book. And it is a good book, so... :)

In any case, we are going to try and get paperbacks up on Lulu and maybe Createspace this weekend, so stay tuned for that. We are going somewhere! Huzzah!

In other news, we have a cover for the first Hector Kingsley novel. It was created by the distinguished Mr. Robert Ennis. I think it looks awesome, and has only made me more excited for February to roll around so the book can go up. Until then, I'll see you around!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On Being Published+Guest Post with Joe

Well, it is finally dawning on me that I have a book up where people can buy and read it. It is a weird feeling.

I guess part of it is the fact that I've worked so hard on that novel, and now there is nothing left to do. It's done, all over but the formatting. By the end of the week we hope to have the paperback and hardcover versions more or less adjusted and squared away, and after that point I will never have to edit Wolfhound ever again. That alone is a strange, unfamiliar feeling.

That's not even including the social aspect of the thing. I occasionally mention the book to my coworkers, half of whom don't seem to have remembered or realized what I was doing with the whole writing thing. Their reactions range from surprised to indifferent, but at the very least they tend to wonder what in the world I am doing with my life. When I try to explain about how pubishing has changed these days and what my writing plan is for the next few months, I get a few polite nods and maybe a glazed look. I think actually publishing something has forced me to realize exactly how much technical jargon I've absorbed over the past year of working on this thing.

Perhaps the strangest thing is that I actually know what I'm doing for the next year. Kingsley will probably be out by February, if everything goes to plan, and Iron Angels won't be too much longer after that. Good crappity, Badger is planned as coming out in six to eight months unless I totally drop the ball. And after that I have other books planned out stretching out all the way to December 2013; the main question about the whole thing is how I will find enough time to revise everything.

So yeah, I suddenly have a career outside of the emergency room. And it's awesome and strange and I'm not quite used to it yet. But thanks to everyone who has already bought the book (and thanks for the patience of the people waiting for the hardcover!), and I hope I don't let you all down, despite my failings. Also, go check out the guest post I did on Joe's blog! It talks about space pirates. Can't go wrong there! See you around!

Friday, December 9, 2011

On It's Done!

It's up! Huzzah! Wolfhound is now up as an Amazon ebook. That alone is kind of nerve wracking, but I feel like I've done my best with it. As a first book and a start to my publishing career, I could hope for nothing better.

And of course, it has railguns, pirates and explosions in it. What more could you ask for? :)

So I will be putting the link to Amazon on the Links and Samples page. Links to the hardcover and paperback copies will be up as quickly as we can get them active (paper covers are so much harder!), so if you want to hold out for the non-ebook copy, keep checking back! Thanks to everybody for your support, and I will hopefully be on a more sane schedule soon. See ya!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

On The Final Readthrough

Getting to the end here, and once I'm done the book will start being put in by tomorrow morning. Almost there...

I'm happy to report that I like the book. I like it enough that I laugh at the characters and look forward to a lot of the scenes. That's a good sign right? Can you tell I'm nervous about this? Just a little?

Monday, December 5, 2011

On Eggnog

How is it that this stuff only comes around once a year? We should start a petition or something...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

On December

Alright, we've made it to December. So far so good. Now I just need to make it to the end of the year, and then not only will Wolfhound be out, but we should be well on the way to getting a couple other projects up as well.

In terms of that progress, we have succeeded in getting cover artists not only for Kingsley, but also for Iron Angels! That, in addition to a copy editor for Kingsley, means that we have a sustainable little publishing schedule set up. Now all I have to do is get IA revised and out to alpha readers, and we should be set for the next little while.

Of course, all of that is easier said than done. End of December, end of December...