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“Everything Else Is Harder”

The real problem is that once you get out of the habit of publishing it’s very difficult indeed to get back into that habit.  Just writing stuff and then moving on to the next exciting thing is so much more fun.  Probably part of the problem is a lack of audience, it’s not like anyone is clamouring for my next thing.  I get the same feedback from writing something and setting it aside as I do from writing something and releasing it.  This makes it difficult to put energy into publishing.

Energy.  Yes.  I don’t have much of that stuff.  When I do have some, and the choice is between writing and not-writing, generally speaking not-writing doesn’t have much of a chance.

But anyway.  It is important to publish.  To judge a thing finished and release it into the wild.  I’ve got quite a few things ready to shove out of the nest.  Treasure Guardians, Bright Battle Story, Death Theory, this new exciting thing called Remember When Things Weren’t Broken, plus there’s the next book in the Charlotte Powers universe.  It’s about monsters, and also giant ants.

Enough blathering, let’s make some promises.  Seeing as we’re almost in February already I thought that’d be a good month in which to start doing stuff.  I’m not sure how I’ll go about it, but I’ll probably start with the episodic stuff.  Bright Battle Story: Tactics Heart, and Death Theory.  Then probably Treasure Guardians, the book I wrote with my daughters.  It’s pretty good.  They had some wild ideas.  Neon Bug City (the Charlotte Powers thing) needs more time, but maybe March or April for that one.  Could be longer.  Remember When Things Weren’t Broken I’ll probably just put out as I write it, I feel like it’s that sort of story and I need a bit of a shake up in that area.

Okay!  So.  That’s me.  How have you been?

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2017 in Of Writing

 

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Mind the gap

So it’s been a while. Years, actually. Charlotte Powers 5 was the last thing I actually published and that was, oh gosh, like December 2013? 2014 the first year in which nothing was published since I started this wacky ol’ author adventure. Of course that’s not to say I haven’t been writing. It’s just that nothing I’ve written felt particularly publishable—not bad, just mostly odd. And when I say mostly odd oh gosh let’s just start this over.

Hello. I am an author person. Over the past two years or so I’ve mostly been working on odd things that don’t translate particularly well to the whole put a thing on Amazon in case people like it system. Episodic stories? Serial novels. I’ve kind of been hanging around in the hopes that someone invents something that makes it really fun and easy to put out a serial episodic thing but y’know, bleh.

The other thing is that a feeling has been building, for years actually, the feeling that I’ve been doing this wrong from the very start. The whole charge a price for a book thing. I don’t know. I just kind of want to write things and then have people read them if they want to. And then maybe give me money if they feel like it? That’d be nice.

So I think probably what’s going to happen is that I’m going to put up all my books for free, in whatever formats people want, and shove a creative commons license on them, and start releasing these episodic things I’ve been doing, and maybe throw a couple of Twine things into the mix because Twine is pretty fun, and maybe possibly start a Patreon. I’m not sure. It’s all a bit up in the air at the moment.

In any case I’ll be releasing a new book soon, a Charlotte Powers story called One Girl Army about her life as a freelance social worker in Harbour City, and all the kinds of trouble a well meaning but auratically unsound Charlotte can get herself into. I’ll also be putting out, in some kind of format, at least two episodic stories. One is Bright Battle Story: Tactics Heart, which I’ve been working on for so long that at this point it’s genuinely embarrassing. I have eleven episodes of it anyway, a decent sort of first series. BBS:TH is an underdog sports story about characters living in an SRPG world. It might have niche appeal? Or the niche it appeals to might be limited to a single author person whose name rhymes with Pen Bright. I honestly have no idea. But I’d like it to be out there. The second is a story I’ve had in my head for, oh, like half a decade now? It’s called Death Theory. It’s the most brutal, violentest, sweariest, ugliest thing I’ve yet written. It’s also written in first person present with like a dozen viewpoint characters, most of whom die horribly in the first few episodes. I like it a lot! Maybe other people will too. So that’ll be coming.

So yes. I’m still writing. I have been writing. New stuff is coming. I’m not sure what form it will take. Maybe a large moving torb, or a giant sloar. Books will remain on Amazon but will also be free. Patreon might be an option.

I remain,

as always,

with love,

The Author Person

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2015 in Of Writing

 

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Book Release; Publishing Gets Easier; Covers Covers Covers

Today I had exactly one thing on my ‘to-do’ list, and that one thing was check the time/date stamps on Power Play. Turns out a couple of them were wonky! Mostly due to little changes in the editing process, and my forgetting that a regular entry timestamp is for when it was ‘published’ and a LUS entry is for when it’s started. As I’ve said previously, this is a tiny, tiny thing that most likely 99% of people wouldn’t even THINK to think about, but it matters to me. So, a few minor corrections and adjustments, an updated NCX file, and everything’s all neat and nice. September 1st release? Yes, I think so. What could be a better start to the month than a fresh new book release?

It’s interesting (to me, probably not to anyone else) how publishing gets easier as you go along. I fretted and dithered for ages over hitting ‘publish’ on my first few books, and even as recently as Imogen Shroud I spent an hour just flicking through the e-book certain that there were mistakes or that I’d accidentally put a picture of a dead rat between chapters three and four or something. But with Miya Black III I barely worried at all, and thinking about hitting publish on Power Play I’m not a bit nervous–it’s another thing that needs to be done, I’m happy and excited (and relieved) to be able to put it out, but the actual act of publishing has become normal to me. I am choosing to think of this as a Good Thing.

Anyway, as a reward for finishing Power Play today I just faffed around writing notes for Codename: Fantasy Losers, and mucking around with the cover:


“Although it started out rather bright and chirpy, we can see how the cover became ‘grungier’ with each iteration.”

Larger version of the current ‘final’ cover (although the book’s title will almost certainly be changed and I’ll probably muck around with it a bit more):

I also played around with an idea for the book–it’s kind of a fantasy RPG thing the details of which I haven’t quite worked out, I have a few potential plotlines and pages of ideas and quite a few characters but I haven’t yet found the heart of the story. It’s not really a parody, more of an underdog sports story than anything–but anyway, one idea I had was to give each character their own ‘stat card’, a little like you might find in an RPG wargame or similar. The moment I stumbled upon the idea of using ‘parody alignments’ a whole bunch of things suddenly came together and several characters immediately established themselves in my mind, it was rather exciting as you can no doubt imagine–anyway, I’m not sure if I’ll include these cards in the finished book but in any case they’re kind of fun:


“Lawful Squeeful” is my new favourite parody alignment, usurping “Lawful Angry” and just beating “Chaotic Bored”.

So it turned out that my day off was actually quite productive, albeit in a fairly directionless sort of way. Next up? At this point I’m not sure. I think I’ll just potter around for a few days until something takes hold of me.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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You Could Sum It Up In One Word; Compassion

“By making the hero a girl, he took all that macho stuff out of the equation and that gave him the freedom to examine heroism.”
– Helen McCarthy on Hayao Miyazaki

I’ve only just discovered McCarthy and her writings on Ghibli, manga, and Japanese art in general. My principle thought is, “How on earth did it take me this long to find this?”. That quote above just so elegantly sums up why female heroines are so interesting–I’m not such a huge fan of machismo, it has its place but for me I’m more interested in a compassionate, thoughtful approach to things (says the author who loves swordfights–but they’re thoughtful swordfights, Miya kicks arse out of compassion) (actually that’s true, she does). Of course, I’m not saying that you couldn’t have a thoughtful, compassionate male hero, and in fact I’ve got a couple in my books. But girls are more fun.

Anyway, I just hit ‘publish’ on Miya Black III, so it might even be live by tonight. Incidentally, is it just me or has Amazon changed its thumbnail resizer to make everything look horrible?

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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Setting myself up for disappointment or remaining idealistic in the face of cynicism? Let’s watch!

Phew. Or actually … actually yes, I got it right the first time, phew. Just finished the final FINAL final proof of Miya Black III. I had a feeling from the start that it was going to be the last one, and I actually enjoyed this read-through quite a bit–without as many things to tidy up or errors to mark I could concentrate more on the story and the pacing, and generally I came out of it feeling pretty positive about the whole thing. I think for this particular book I did around five editing runs and five proofing runs, mostly because I wrote it so long ago. I can remember working on the first draft while my wife was in labour with our first daughter, over two years ago now. (Of course I didn’t just write all the way through, but if you’ve ever attended a birth you know there’s quite a lot of sitting around with nothing much happening in between the exciting bits. Seriously, those things go on for hours.) Proofing, for me at least, is like cleaning a room. You scrub away at a bit of muck on the floor and get it looking good, but that makes everything around it look shabby in comparison, so you work to clean the rest of the floor but then the curtains look all threadbare and dusty–it’s a gradual process, and for me it generally requires at least three passes before I’m happy.

Anyway, it’s done now! Proofed, formatted, compiled, all bundled up snug and warm in a lovely little mobi file. I’ll just put it aside overnight then look at it again in the morning–a quick flick-through on the ol’ Kindle just to make sure the ncx index thing is doing what it should and the navigation is working properly and so forth, and then I get to hit the big shiny ‘publish’ button. (It’s not actually big or shiny, but it still makes my heart beat faster and my mouth go dry when it comes time to actually hit it.) From my experience publishing other books I’ve learnt that it’s best just to get it over with and walk away–focus on something else. Once you’ve judged something ready it does no good to dwell, far better to publish-and-forget and move on. In this case to the next in the series, Miya Black IV! It’s been far too long since I even looked at this one, I hope it’s as good as I remember it being. I had to make some tough decisions in IV, but on previous read-throughs I always felt “Yes, that was the best call”. Hopefully I’ll feel the same way this time. Actually, I’m kind of excited to read it again.

Also, funnily enough, getting back into the themes of Miya Black III again turned out to be kind of inspiring, in a way–one of the underlying themes of Miya Black is the difference between what’s right and what’s easy. Well, I really didn’t want to do this last proof, I thought the penultimate proof was going to be the final one and when it turned out it wasn’t I considered just saying “Sod it” and publishing it as it was. That would’ve been the ‘easy’ option, but in the end I went with what I knew was right–I knew it needed another proof, and as it turned out I found a couple of errors, nothing major but they would’ve hurt had I published with them still present. This final FINAL final proofed version is publishable, there might be a few errors still hiding in there but I only found three on this last pass which is well within my standards of acceptable quality (I operate under the assumption that for every error I find there was one I missed; three errors in 130,000 words is, I think, acceptable).

Anyway, enough faffing around. Time for a small reward; I’m off to play a little From Dust.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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Hitting That Button Shouldn’t Be This Stressful

The Undying Apathy Of Imogen Shroud is now, theoretically, done. Ready to publish.

Sense of satisfaction: check.

Pride in one’s achievement: check.

Panicky kind of sick kind of feeling: oh yes big check.

I could submit it tonight. I could submit it right now! It’s just sitting there, waiting, and yet there could be mistakes in there, there could be–no, no, I just have to trust myself, I have to trust my process. The cover is done. The blurb is done. The three edits and two TTS proofs are done. Everything is done. There are likely some mistakes still in there, an estimated four and a half mistakes, going by my (admittedly fairly shaky) “For every mistake you spot there’s one you miss” assumption.

I started this project February 15th, almost exactly two months ago. I haven’t worked exclusively on Imogen Shroud since then, I’ve written and outlined some of Power Play and did quite a lot of editing on Miya Black III and faffed around with other projects, but it would be fair to say that The Undying Apathy Of Imogen Shroud has been my focus for these past two months. Two months. Two months and a week ago not even a trace of this book existed, not even the glimmer of an idea, I don’t even remember what sparked it off, probably just an errant thought, “I should do something with zombies, maybe about a girl and her little brother, she has to protect him as they try to get home”, something like that. And then I sat down and wrote the initial notes, in ‘Zombie Story Notes.txt’–in fact, here’s the first paragraph of my initial notes:

Teenage girl and her younger brother, away from their home when it happens–knocked out by something–YES perfect they’re trapped inside a building that collapses, she’s hurt? Maybe, doesn’t matter, anyway, they have to get out EXCEPT it’s not just the collapsed building that’s dangerous, it’s that everyone killed during the event–storm possibly–is reanimated as a zombie.

Things have changed since I wrote that! I didn’t even have Imogen’s name then, she was just ‘teenage girl’. But basically that’s it, that’s the germ that grew into the 120,000 word book I now (kind of) hold in my hands. To me this is the most amazing thing about writing, that in such a tiny space of time you can create something that feels so solid from essentially nothing. It’s like magic. Two months and a week ago no trace of this existed. Now it’s a book.

There’s something special about a first-in-series, too. No rules have been written, there’s no history to worry about, all the characters are fresh, there’s no previous-book-baggage, you’ve got a blank story slate to scrawl on. If something isn’t working you can just scrap it–whereas with a series there are certain things you need to include, issues you need to deal with, baggage that needs to be handled, characters that demand attention, it’s a lot more work to figure all of that out, is what I’m saying. First-in-series, though … so much potential. So exciting.

But now I’m just distracting myself. Decision time. What else can I do with this book? I could do another proofing run, but I don’t think that’d help much–at this point, I’d just be fiddling. Probably there are sentences in the book that could do with tightening, paragraphs that don’t flow as well as they could, words that aren’t quite right, and I’d be surprised if there aren’t a couple of typos/errors still in existence among those 120,000 words, but the story’s there, the characters are there, the plot is there, the cover’s done …

Yep, it’s time to publish.

Good luck, Pond.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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Electronic vs Paper, why can’t we all get along? “That’s right … ELECTRONIC PAPER!” *zap* “Ouch!”

Thinking about electronic books versus paper books, specifically my decision to focus on the Kindle. Hardly anyone in New Zealand has one, which means my ‘local’ market basically doesn’t exist, it’s only through iPhones and such that people around me can buy my books. I’ve read a lot of people saying how they’ve encountered a kind of pity, when they tell people that they publish electronically, but I have to say I haven’t encountered anything like that at all. What I’ve gotten has been curiosity, about the process and how it all works, and quite often disappointment–that they can’t easily buy my books, as they don’t have a Kindle or similar device. But never the kind of “Oh, so you couldn’t get traditionally published” reaction that other people have reported.

I actually never tried to get traditionally published. For a start, I live in a small city in a small country, and our publishing industry is not the largest. Most New Zealand writers get agents based in New York, but to me that seemed like a huge amount of hassle. Also, I was always so worried about losing control, I’d heard so many horror stories from people who’d actually managed to get a publishing contract but felt they’d ‘lost’ their book, that they had no control over the cover, that they were required to make changes–I literally had nightmares about this, in one of them Miya Black got picked up but the cover was a photograph of a pretty blonde girl with an eye patch, “Oh, we’ve changed Miya to be blonde and pretty and tall and now she actually looks like a pirate” “NOOOOOOO~” etc.

I did investigate agents, way back when, but none of them seemed right for me. Maybe if I had been able to meet with them, to talk with them–but, again, small city fellow here, no agents nearby. I’d have to go to Auckland or somewhere even to meet with them, not an easy (or cheap) trip. For a while I went through Createspace, and my books are still available from there, and I may publish more through them in the future, but I never felt quite comfortable–for a start, ordering my books cost me so much in shipping that I couldn’t bear to sell them for anything resembling a profit. Putting them in local shops was out of the question, nobody would make any money at all. Since then there has arisen a new printer in Nelson, Copypress, and the books they produce are of comparable quality to Createspace’s–but they’re still very expensive, over ten dollars a book with no discount for bulk.

Electronic publishing is … it’s great. I love it. I love the concept, I love the execution, I love the Kindle. I love that it allows me to potentially reach millions of people without leaving my office. (Well, couch.) I love that there are no overheads and that I can sell books for 99 cents each and still make a profit–that’s mental, don’t you think? I still can’t get over how amazing that is, I feel like running into the street and grabbing people and saying, “Have you HEARD about this?”. I love that I can see this becoming a career, that this could actually lead to my having some freedom, that I could even maybe sometime in the future have the opportunity to move my family to Japan for a while–impossible right now, because of our financial situation, but I know my wife would love it, and I would too, and it’d be great for our daughters to properly experience that side of their heritage. My wife has a huge extended family too, the opposite of what I have here (which is a close, tight family), and every time I’ve been over there I’ve loved that feeling of belonging to such a wide, lovely group of people. So I guess that’s part of it, too, I’d like to be successful enough to have the financial freedom to go wherever I wanted, to live wherever I wanted … and that I could do this from anywhere, I could write and publish from anywhere.

Maybe there is still prejudice against electronic publishing, even if I haven’t personally seen it. But I think that’s going to change, and soon, and drastically. The big publishers are already running damage control. The old models and systems are collapsing. I see the future as one of individuals–freelance editors, designers, writers, marketers, all of us working together to create great things. We’re riding the wave, and the future is bright. Things are just going to get better.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2011 in Of Writing

 

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