Saturday, June 12, 2021

In Defense of Screwing it up

Yes, my last post was about how I quit my job in favor of writing full-time, but I swear that's not what I'm referring to with the title, at least not yet.

The Point (complete with metaphor!)

Trying to get everything done as an independent publisher can feel like that day you first went in the ocean. It was cold (my memories are of the Pacific Ocean), and smelled weird, and just when you started to understand what the waves were doing, you turned your back on them for a moment and you got tumbled under the water until you didn't know which way was up.

Here's an incomplete list of things you will have to deal with to get a book published, in no particular order: knowing the different types of editors and figuring out which you need, how to get a cover for your book and how to make sure it is one that will help the book sell, getting a domain, creating a web site, setting up a newsletter, authenticating your domain, what affects deliverability of your newsletter, reader magnets, sales copy, reviews, street teams, ARCs, advertising, book categories, pricing, taxes... The list goes on.

And all of that is after you manage to write a book in the first place.

No, you can't really farm this out to someone else. I mean, you might be able to find a virtual assistant to do some of it, but unless you're really lucky, you're going to have to train that VA in those tasks, so you still have to know about it. Some of the things on the list you can ignore for a while (or forever), but you'll probably have to face them at some point.

But the good news is that you are absolutely allowed to screw it up.*

Is your sales copy terrible? That's okay. You can fix it later. Are your covers making readers think the book is urban fantasy instead of space opera? You can fix it. Did you end up with typos sprinkled liberally throughout the text despite proofreading? Not ideal, but you can fix it. Did you send the world's most boring newsletter and everyone unsubscribed? It didn't kill you and the next one will be better.

The beauty of ebooks and POD (print on demand) is that everything is flexible. There aren't 2,000 copies of your book with a typo in the first line that have to be sold before the next printing. Nothing is permanent.

Yes, it's better to get it right on the first try, and you should certainly put in the effort, but if making sure everything is perfect before you publish is keeping you from publishing, get over it. Make the mistakes. Fix them. Learn from it. Do better next time.

* It's probably better not to screw up too badly on the taxes.

Obligatory Pet Photo

Here's an old photo of the big dog at Putah Creek. Even he occasionally messes things up. And he's perfect.
Shows head and shoulders of alert and happy Alaskan Husky mix in front of a large river with green trees lining the banks

Monday, May 24, 2021

I Totally Know What I'm Doing

 I know I promised terrible cover attempts on here, but we are doing mock ups with art from royalty-free sites, and I'd have to buy the art if I want to post it, and I'm not totally sure that's what I want to use yet. But someday soon!

In other news, I sort of... quit my job. I mean, I still have another six weeks, four of which are vacation/personal days, and then two weeks where I either train the next person or fix everything that broke during my vacation and write some more documentation.

My goal here is to take at least a year off and try to get my writing career off the ground. Am I making enough money at this point to support myself? Ha ha, absolutely not! In fact, I'm making negative money when you factor in covers, editing, software, etc. But I have enough savings to live off for at least a year, which gives me some time to start building things up.

Sometimes I do have the confidence of a mediocre white man!

Various family members kept referring to me as "retired" over the weekend, but I consider myself to be living in Schrödinger's paradox -- I'm either a full-time author or I'm unemployed. I won't know until sometime next year. Then I might need to get another day job, but I'll worry about it then.

In the meantime, I intend to have a lot of fun!

Close-up of grey cat sniffing a yellow flower.
Guido finds this flower suspicious

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Get Ready!

 All I can say is that May may either be awesome or miserable, but probably nothing in between. I've signed up for (and paid a bunch of money, so I have to take it seriously!) a workshop on creating book covers.

Anyone who has been on this blog recently knows that I have a lack of both taste and talent in the visual arts, so my attempts to make covers might frustrate me, but they may kill the instructor. We have to turn in assignments every week for feedback.

Class starts this week, and I plan to post my assignments here. The best part is that the instructor is going to use some of the student work (anonymized) in the discussions, so people all over the world may be making fun of my art! I'll be (anonymously) famous! (In case it's not clear, I'm absolutely fine with this. I'm sure if someone was sensitive about this, they could opt out.)

In the meantime, have a skillfully edited picture of the bed-pets [does not include the little dog (who doesn't get on the bed) or the semi-feral cats (who won't come in the room if I'm in it)]. If they all stayed on this side of the bed, I would get more sleep, but the minute I get under the covers, there's a scramble to see who can be the most disruptive. A queen-size bed ought to be big enough for one person, but it's really not.

dog and two cats asleep on a bed, faded into a starry background

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

How Not To Market

 Hey, I have a new book out today! (Yay!) I sort of forgot to tell anyone it was coming out! (Nice job, T!)

People who write books that sell well usually know exactly what tropes are hot in the genre they write in, and make sure they nail exactly what people are looking for.

Oops, let me back up a bit. People who write books that sell well start out by knowing what genre they are writing in. I just wrote a book that has a colony on a partially-terraformed planet. With three competing sets of gods! And AIs! And a bicycle chase!

The main character used to be a nanobot technician in the army, but now she herds goats and sheep up in the hills with only a messed up AI to help.

Does this fit nicely into one existing genre? Absolutely not. It's probably closest to space opera, a genre best known for the space ships on the cover. Are there any space ships in this story? Not really.

My friend Paul Austin Ardoin told me I'm writing sheep opera. That's not a category on Amazon.

Anyhow, if you want to read a fun story with a woman with too much chaos, gods, AIs, sheep, goats, and a stolen shipment of genetically engineered sheep... uh, let's go with the family friendly term DNA... 

Book cover for The Chaos Job, with a metallic sheep head in front of a planet on a starry background

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Space Kitten #28

 Here we are, at the end of Thingadailies! I think we can all agree that this image keeps well within my general theme of photo manipulation for fun without any particular talent. And nobody can argue that this isn't a kitten in space, so I feel that I've held up my end of the bargain.

Kitten being transported to space with a red planet

I hope the rest of your year carries a little of the frivolity of space kittens with it.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Space Kitten #27

 I'm not sure how well this one will show up here. I probably should have blended it with fewer frames or made the image size smaller, but this is how we learn things.

I watched a tutorial which showed how to use a GIMP plug-in to help make things less manual, but then I found out that plug-in isn't supported on a Mac, so I just messed around with some things manually. Maybe tomorrow I'll find a plug-in that works for me.

Kitten on a colorful planet with twinkling stars

Friday, February 26, 2021

Space Kitten #26

 I feel this one really lives up to the "space kitten" title. I think I'm going to try to animate something tomorrow. Just imagine how that will turn out!

Three colorful kittens whirling in space