Did you know that Smashwords has been around since the 60′s? And did you know I submitted my first book to them back then? I TOTALLY DID! Check this out:
I haven’t had a lot of posts up on the site in a while. I haven’t even responded to comments (until today). Well, no more. I have a few posts in the pipes right now, and I’ll probably start releasing one well-considered post a week on a regular schedule. Ya know, because saying “probably” is a good way to ensure that it’ll happen.
I’ve come to a point where I think that the idea of zero promotion for any reason is a bad idea. The logic of it comes from the difference between paper books and ebooks. Ask me about it some time. Or maybe I’ll do one of those I-write-an-article-on-my-weblog thingies.
Anyway, to my many subscribers suffering from asphyxiation because you were holding your breath for the next post, the wait is over. Starting Friday. Probably.
Important news: My second book is out soon. You will all go and buy it on release day like one big glob of zombies chasing the last living piece of meat.
My wife and I have been married for about three and a half years now. It has never been easy. Someone reading this might be smiling and nodding their heads, thinking “Yep, that’s how those early years are.” I sure hope you didn’t experience what we did and do. We’ve been pushed to the edge, sometimes of survival, sometimes of sanity, sometimes of our relationship. So yeah, not easy.
I’ve been writing seriously and building a writing career for a little over a year now. Some of the life challenges along the way have made it impossible for me to do anything useful for anywhere from a day to weeks at a time. I simply couldn’t, even if I had the time, because I couldn’t summon the will or peace of mind. Other times I was so busy taking care of others that I wasn’t getting enough food and sleep. Writing was not on my list of priorities. Shouldn’t have been. I do have a passion for writing, but it wasn’t enough. Real, serious, sometimes disturbingly messed-up things demanded my energy.
But not always! (Cue sunshine and butterflies and double rainbow.) There were days I woke up kissed my wife and daughter and got amazing things done. That’s right, in the absence of disaster, wonderful things were possible. Those were the days when I could feel my wife and family and everyone behind me, I had my health, and by golly, I was going to do something with it!
When writers talk about finding time to write, one of the most common pieces of advice they give is to examine what you are sacrificing in order to write. That’s not wrong, but frankly it only applies to the petty things like TV or Facebook. If Facebook is what you would rather do on your sunshine-butterflies-double-rainbow days, then buddy, you have no passion for writing. If you do care, and you do want it, the most important thing you can do is to build yourself some life support: build your life so that it supports your writing.
1. Build good health. This leads to having good energy, minimizing sick days and costs, and feeling good about yourself. Health can either be empowering or a weight dragging you down. Control what you can, manage what you can’t.
2. Build a team. If you’re married, I hope your marriage is awesome and perfect. If not, spend a few minutes every day trying to make it better. Your spouse has the ability to support you emotionally and logistically like no one else. If they don’t get the whole writing thing, tell them openly and honestly about your passion for writing. Beg. Cry. If they love you, they’ll get it.
Other than your spouse, find professional teammates. I spend time over at Mary’s blog partly for the social contact. (It’s also a fine blog.) Mary’s on my team, whether she means to be or not, just because she’s serious about her writing and the industry.
I have work to do in this area. I’m building professional relationships, but slowly. My wife and I could probably have some better talks about what kind of support I need. Figure out what you need.
3. Build a writing schedule. This means a schedule that lets you do what you must, then write. Don’t tell yourself that writing is your top priority. Sleep is. Then water, then food, and so on. Schedule your week based on these things, and then decide what’s next in importance and schedule it. Once you reach writing, see what time is left. Be honest, or it won’t matter. Print out your schedule and put it where you can see it. Show it to your spouse/roommates and get them on board. Set yourself goals, reach them, and then do as you like.
4. Build a writing space. This is my biggest challenge. I can’t write at home most of the time because people won’t give me peace. The places I find best for writing are a simple, plain, uncluttered space (community college library) or a place filled with uninteresting activity (coffee shop, fast food place). Whatever works for you is what you should build.
5. Build an understanding of yourself. When you spend writing time doing something else, why?
A. I’m too tired/don’t have the energy to work.
B. I’ve been thinking about the other activity for a while, and it arrests my focus.
C. I’m in a bad mood or feeling troubled and can’t focus.
D. It feels boring right now.
E. I’m stressed and don’t want to think about my problems. I escape.
Don’t just feel guilty about not writing. Guilt is a self-message that you need to improve. Ask yourself why you spent two hours on Facebook. Avoiding writer’s block? Too stressed out? Headache? Find the problem so you can plan around it or fix it. Guilt will destroy your happiness if you don’t address it, and you definitely don’t want to start associating writing with guilt.
Understand your problems as well as what works for you. Ask yourself why it’s that way.
There are other things you will build, like people and worlds and a throng of fans, but start with your life and build forward.
It’s late and I’m writing this post from a phone, so I bet there are other facets of life that need building. What can you think of in your own life?
So I just finished switching the site over to having a static front page, and it was fairly pain-free. Eventually. Funny how when you keep getting pulled away, some kinds of problems take forever to solve, but if you tackle it without annoying human fleshbags asking for attention and affection, it’s just a matter of a couple of hours.
I haven’t checked my RSS feed to see if it’s broken, and I want to get my mailing list form on my front page, but other than that I’m happy. Did I have to work any css? No. Yes, sort of. I can actually write basic code, so copy/pasting code into a hand-holding plugin and altering one number was about as challenging as swatting a fly. Except my css alteration didn’t have amazing reflexes and a will to live.
Now to go see if my many millions of stealth fans are being deprived of an RSS feed and a chance to opt-in.
So this is something like… day 8 of my daughter being sick. You’d think staying up overnight to watch her would give me a ton of writing time, right? Ha ha ha, oh you poor fools.
I’ve been telling myself I was going to change this site into something more professional, something for readers to visit rather than a place to whine about publishing. Seriously, professionals don’t whine, they put out well-produced propaganda videos. Ahem.
So anyway, it’s happening. Now. I’m going to change the site to have a static home page, just like a real professional. I’m going to do it tonight. I am not going to let excuses, nor coughing little girls, stop me. I am not going to think about what this is going to do to my RSS feeds or links. Nope.
…but I’ve been a little sick. Actually my daughter was sick first (thanks a lot), which kept me up overnight the past several nights. I haven’t been blogging, nor reading and commenting on blogs, nor getting much work done. Luckily for me, I’m in the outlining phase, which means I can more easily spend a small amount of time and actually get something done.
It’s amazing how a story can shift over time. I realized that, nope, that character isn’t going to work for this story, and I needed a new POV character. So you might think that would make things harder. It didn’t. When the right piece of a story slides into place, everything gets easier. That side of the story snapped into focus within the next couple of days. I’m detailing the outline now and getting ready to settle in for the grunt work. Ya know, actually writing the thing.
I’ve been back to writing for a while, and it’s going great. I’m doing the next BBI book. I haven’t decided on a title yet, but it is the one I have listed as Under Wraps. Reggie and Ky are going to get into all sorts of trouble this time around. A few hints: fantastic machinery, magic, and action. I know, I’m really turning the fantasy genre on its head with this one.
I realized earlier today that I needed to make a study of suspense stories to help with one of their plotlines. I generally subscribe to whatever Orson Scott Card says, and he says that tension is what you get when the reader knows something will happen or could happen, but doesn’t have all of the details. That sounds way too simple to base an entire genre of books on, so I’m sure there are things for me to learn.
I’d give myself a deadline for this book, but I don’t have a realistic way to do that. I literally have no idea how long it will take to get this thing out of the concept stage and start making drafts, or how long to get the drafts revised. Alpha and beta reading is going to be more of a process this time, too. We shall see!
I’ve been enjoying David Dalglish’s books recently, and I’m taking a lot of notes on his operations. Two things specifically: his website and his publishing strategy. His The Paladins series is an experiment with writing shorter books that would come out more quickly, and his Shadowdance series books are longer ones that were inspired by the complexity and style of Martin’s Game of Thrones series. Both series are selling well if the Amazon popularity lists are anything to go by (hint: they are).
I was pleasantly surprised when I got a sale of Sunshells over in Australia not too long after uploading it to Kobo. It’s a great feeling to know that people around the world are going to read and enjoy your work. Writers write out of a desire to give to others, and there’s no bigger audience than the whole world.
Plus, now I can call myself an Internationally Published Author. (Some writers also write for the accolades.)
I’ve been wondering what to work on as my second project. I do have some money sunk into the first book and would like to get some of that back as soon as possible. The best way to do that is to continue the series. I have a lot of other ideas that have sparked my interest, but for now I’m really more passionate about making this whole self-pub thing profitable.
So, it’s on to the next Bloodbound Iron book. I’ll give you a few hints: a great evil force, battles, new allies… so yeah, it’s your typical epic fantasy in those regards. It’s had a lot of interesting inspirations, though, and I hope those will come through in the writing.