Tag Archives: self-publishing

Blog eMags and You

Okay, so this is my newest plan to keep up with my life. I’m picking some blogs that I definitely must keep up with–the ones that I consistently learn from and recommend on Sundays. And I’m picking a few book blogs to tell me what I should be reading so I can try to keep my head in the reading world, as well as the writer world and up my own–

Anyway, the new plan for not spending all day at this, surfing from one thing to another, was to try reading the blogs on my NOOK Color. I don’t like typing on the device a lot (maybe keeping me from some of my tome-like replies), and the browser is slow which may stop me from surfing too much. Still, must-try book samples are only a few clicks away through the NOOK shop. And I can take my daily news with me if I’m going out. Seems like a plan.

My way of doing that is to use Calibre to make a daily magazine of the blogs I’ve selected. I’ve been an ereading device owner for years now, and I’ve always used the Calibre software for ebook management. I can’t say enough about how awesome this completely free package is. I’m going to take you through how to do this. After I’m done, I’m going to talk a bit about something that may be in your blog settings that makes it harder for your readers to read you this way.

the Fetch News button in CalibreIn Calibre, there is a Fetch News feature. It’s a handy button on the top toolbar. When you click the little arrow beside it, you get a dropdown from which you can select “Add a custom news source.” This brings up the window to create your little digest, magazine, whatever you want to call it. It looks like this:

Window for adding a custom news recipe in CalibreIt calls your new source Unknown News Source. Change that to anything you like. I called mine “Blogs.” Ooh, I know. You could also create different magazines for writer blogs, reader blogs, etc. or Blogs1, Blogs2, so that you could go through your must-reads and move on to the next set of if-I-have-time-reads.

At the bottom of the window there’s a bar for the feed URL. Open up your browser, go to your blogs and start finding those URLs. Most people have the little orange RSS icon at least. When you click it, it will usually take you to the feed page where you see a list of recent articles and the option to use a service to subscribe. Just copy the URL that’s in the address bar and paste it into Calibre. Give the feed a title and click the button to add.

When you’re finished adding feeds, click the Add/Update Recipe button. (A recipe for a magazine is what you just built.) Then close. Calibre may keep asking you if you’re sure, even if you’ve saved everything. Just move on.

Click the arrow next to Fetch News again and select “Schedule news download.” You’ll see a long list of languages with numbers beside them. These are prebuilt news recipes. You’re looking for “Custom.” When you click that, it should drop down and display your new recipe. Select that and you’ll see options to choose how often and when your feeds are downloaded and your magazine is built. You can click “Download now” to see what you’re going to get.

Window to schedule download of news recipe in CalibreTo have this happen automatically, you’ll need to leave Calibre running. In order to really exit Calibre, you have to go to your system tray (that “show hidden icons” thingy with the teeny icons), right click it, and exit it. Otherwise it just keeps running even if you close the window in your taskbar. So that’s not hard. When you use Calibre to move things on and off your device, it’s called side-loading. Before devices had wi-fi or Whispernet, this is how it was done. (You know, back in the day, before the NOOK customer service people were born.)

Device buttons in Calibre toolbarUse the appropriate cable with a USB plug on one end (or however you connect) to hook up to your computer and wait for Calibre to recognize the device and sync. You’ll notice new Device and Send to Device buttons appear on the toolbar. You can see that my SD card also shows up because Calibre will let you move things from the computer to either the main memory or SD card. You can also use Calibre to delete items from your device that you’ve finished reading. If you click the device button, you’ll be able to see the items currently residing on the device. Go back to the library by clicking the Library button.

When your magazine has downloaded, it will be in your library with the title you gave the recipe and the date it was downloaded. I just right-click the entry and select “Send to device–>Main memory.” The transfer takes seconds. Be sure to go to your system tray, right-click the USB icon and choose eject so you can safely disconnect without corrupting the transfer. I dunno, I never had problems with that on the Sony Reader, but yanking out the USB on the NOOK Color seems to be a bad idea.

Once it’s set up, this daily ritual should take you about a minute, and then you can run out the door, catch the train and read some blogs. On a device like Sony Reader, I’m pretty sure it just shows up alphabetically in the title list. On the NOOK Color you’ll find it in “My Files,” “Magazines.” The rest of you are on your own.

Why I Can’t Read Your Blog

If your feed is set to set to show only summaries, summaries are what I get in my magazine. Each entry, whether summary or full text, does have a link to the entry on the web (so you can go read more, comment, etc.), but remember that a) I don’t like my browser, b) I don’t always have wi-fi access when I’m reading blogs, and c) there are still tons of readers out there that aren’t even wi-fi enabled.

To check your feed settings in WordPress, go to your dashboard and scroll all the way down the left side menu to “Settings.” Click “Reading.” Right above the Enhanced Feeds heading there are radio buttons for “Full text” or “Summary.” Make sure full text is selected, save the changes, and I’ll be good to go for reading your blog on the go.

Wordpress page for adjusting Reading in Settings

For Kindle Owners

Kindle owners can subscribe to blogs and have them delivered right to the Kindle. Amazon charges a fee for this convenience, and that fee is shared with the blog owner, similar to the way Amazon pays royalties on books. Not that I expect people have been dying to pay for the privilege of reading this blog, but I have added it to the service.  Find it here or click that link and search for some other favorite blog.

It looks like most subscriptions cost 99¢ or $1.99, but I saw nowhere to set a price so I’m guessing Amazon decides. If you’d like to learn more about making your own blog available for Kindle subscription, check out this article from the Savvy Book Marketer and download the PDF tutorial at the end of the post. (Thanks to Kait Nolan for sending me there.)

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Thoughts on NOOK Color and Ereader shopping

So it’s Friday, the day when I like to talk about reading. I like reading ebooks. That’s probably an understatement. I’ve had an ereader for a few years now. I have hundreds of ebooks. I’ve finally parted with probably 400-500 of my paperbacks in the last year. (I donated most of them to a women’s prison through a woman who volunteers there.) I am one of those people who will pretty much always choose digital over paper, to the point where I’ll pass on a paper-only book now.

Shopping Considerations

This spring I upgraded from my Sony Reader to the NOOK Color. I had been wanting to do this, and I finally broke down when Barnes and Noble FINALLY opened up their app store. Unfortunately, their app store was pathetic and hugely disappointing, prompting me to root my new NOOK Color to function as an android tablet. Which is pretty freaking awesome.

See, first of all, I get pissy about the being told where to shop. I HATE proprietary formats. I don’t want to be bound to one shopping experience, one inventory, at the mercy of one store’s prices. I know that other places sell Kindle-compatible formats, but I’m very turned off by the fact that Kindle doesn’t read EPUB and when they decided to move forward with their exclusivity, I took them off my consideration list. I knew I wanted a device that would read EPUB.

I loved my Sony Reader, and when the cat knocked it off a table and busted the screen, I got a new (refurb) replacement device  for maybe 1/6th the cost of a new one at that time, with very quick turnaround. Kudos to Sony for that customer service experience. Demerits for the Sony ebookstore which has never been thrilling and, even before the agency pricing model, didn’t have impressive sales and pricing. Tech was getting far ahead of the device I had, and, let’s face it, I’m a serious ebook girl. It was time to start looking around.

One thing that I really looked into were digital comics. And let me tell you, those guys are still a mess. But they’re working on it. So far there’s an been an issue (with the WORLD) of forgetting that there’s life beyond Apple, and I’m not about to buy and iAnything, but there are plenty of Android peeps screaming at them and hopefully they’re going to get their acts together. But anyway, with reading that includes comics and magazines on my agenda, a color device was definitely a draw.

Great Things about the NOOK Color

It is beautiful. I am not one of those people who are bothered by looking at the screen. But then, I don’t always have the brightness turned all the way up and I change the text depending on the my environment. The NOOK Color even has a setting for reading in bed where the text is white against a dark background so there’s less light to keep your partner awake.

Basically what I tell people is that it’s bright and beautiful. Everything is very clear and crisp. I can read in any light and I can make the text as large as I need it. (I’m about to be 40 remember.) And the range of sizes is much about twice what I had on the Sony.

I really enjoy the touch screen and turning pages with swipe or just by tapping the edge of the screen. I like being able to highlight text and make notes, especially when proofreading my own work.

The size works for me. It’s a little tall, but not outside purse-carrying size. I don’t WANT anything bigger than this. It’s also a little heavier than my Sony Reader–it’s bigger and the screen is longer by probably 1.5 inches. I do get tired holding it in the same hand for extended periods. I’ve also had severe carpal tunnel and have lost a lot of muscle, so factor that in. I’ve got it in a third-party leather cover that latches and has pockets. I think the cover is actually made for e-ink NOOK and this one just barely fits. But it’s the size of a planner or trade paperback and easy to tote around, holdable with one hand, and not ungainly to whip out on the checkout line.

With basic NOOK you get Library, Shop, Apps, and Web.

Library and Reading

The library, the reading application on the NOOK Color, is very nice and I’m happy with the way it functions. It also uses real page numbers which I vastly prefer over the Kindle’s percentage/location system. It may take me 2-4 screens of text to read one page (depending on the size I’ve made the text), but it just makes more sense to me, personally.

The NOOK Color has this awesomely impressive kids function: read-aloud books. They’re basically enhanced picture ebooks with an option of having an audio track read on each page. The bummer is that it seems to be hard for kids to get the pages to turn, so you’re having to sit there and turn the pages and you may as well be reading the book yourself. And then some people don’t want a preschooler to touch their pricey ereader. (Not me, mine’s insured.) However, other people are putting out enhanced ebooks as individual apps, so NOOK Color hardly has a corner on this.

Shop

The NOOK book Shop is well integrated with the Library and buying a book or getting a sample is relatively quick and easy. Because the browser is a little slow, I’m not a good thumb-typist, and because I like to shop around, I do tend to do more shopping on the laptop, but the NOOK Color updates with my new purchases or samples right away.

Apps

Maybe the BN App Store has gotten better since I looked at it. When I first got my NOOK in the spring, the selection was pathetic. It was clear that BN would allow no apps that might compete with its own sales. So even though they don’t sell digital comics, no Comixology app, for example. (There were a few graphic novels available as apps. I think of individual book apps as just ebooks in a different format. Not quite the same thing and selection is poor.) And at the rate BN moves on anything, it was just damned depressing to think about having to wait for them to develop these things on their own.

Web

Web browsing is okay. Slow and I’m not good at the virtual keyboard, so putting in addresses and searching is annoying for me. I don’t use it much.

What’s on my rooted NOOK

I don’t actually know how to explain what rooting is and get it right. Basically, after @techsurgeons and my husband defined a few terms for me, I followed a set of instructions, downloaded some stuff, and now the NOOK is half what it was before and half Android tablet. So I have this whole other menu of stuff I can add whatever I want to.

Unfortunately, many apps are only “conventionally” available via the Android Market, and because I have a device that’s not supposed to be able to get this stuff, Android Market often tells me my device is incompatible and won’t let me download stuff. I use the Amazon App Store a lot, and I look other places to find work-arounds.

Reading

Kindle app– If I want to buy something specifically to increase someone’s Kindle rank, I can buy it on Kindle. Or if it’s only available in ebook on Kindle. Or if the price is less on Kindle. And I have to say that I do enjoy just the mischief value of it.

Interweave Knits Magazine– Interweave has had digital back issues for a while now, but when they finally made new issues available by subscription and said it was available for Android, I jumped. Unfortunately I then found that Zinio, the company actually handling the digital version, did not provide their Android app directly and it was one of those Android Market said was incompatible with my device. After I had already bought the subscription and customer service wouldn’t let me have the app to even try it on my device and had no solution for me at this time, I went around them and got it myself. Incompatible my ass. Interweave Knits looks BEAUTIFUL on the NOOK Color, and I can refer to those patterns when I’m actually in the yarn shop now.

Comixology– I finally got the Comixology app. Again it’s one that I had to track down because Android Market hates my device. I haven’t done a lot of reading with it yet, but, again, it looks beautiful.

Organization-

Cozi– I think I’ve mentioned before that I use the Cozi Family Planner to remind me about stuff. It reminds primarily through texts to my phone (my not a smartphone yet), which is good. But having the app in the NOOK allows me to use it as a date book. I can pull it out and add things offline, and then sync later.

SpringpadSpringpad is something I find hand for making notes for myself on the go. I thumb-typed most of the structure of Heroes Under Siege in the car one day when a song particularly inspired me. (No, I wasn’t driving.) I can never find a working pen in those moments, so had it not been for the NOOK in my bag, I probably would have forgotten half of that by the time I got home. Again, the kind of thing you can work offline and sync later, which is great for wi-fi only devices.

Dropbox-I was already a Dropbox user because of Kait. We trade manuscripts and stuff like that through Dropbox often. She uses it heavily for transferring between work and home computers. Taking my cue from her, I’m finding it’s great for transferring things easily from laptop to tablet. It’s also all but essential for installing some apps. (I need to point out, btw, that nearly all the apps I use are free. I never go looking elsewhere for an app to avoid paying for it, and don’t install apps without paying for them if there’s a charge. There’s no reason to, and honestly it’s too much trouble to go hunting something down if I can just pay a few dollars and install right there.)

Fun and Useful Stuff and Things

Chuzzle– Yes, we’ve covered that I’m Pop Cap’s bitch. I try not to put too many games on NOOK, but this is my fav.

Pandora– I think Pandora might have been part of the original NOOK Color setup. But whatever. Who doesn’t love Pandora? Speaker on the device isn’t great, but whatever. I’m not picky. (about that)

Stopwatch and timer– because sometimes that’s damned useful.

Netflix– !!! Is finally here. Another one I had to go hunt down because it’s incompatible, and another one that seems to work just fine.

Final thoughts

Battery life is an issue. I don’t know how well it works as just the basic reader. Running apps drains a battery and the fact that some of them are running when you don’t it can be problematic. A task manager app with a kill function is a must. I rarely have a problem, but when I was reading The Tipping Point like a mad woman over the weekend, I did have to read with it plugged in for a while.

There are some apps it would be cool to have that will never be compatible with the NOOK Color. No camera, no GPS, etc. I often think that, for the way I’m using it, as a date book through which I can also read books from anywhere, magazines, comics, proofreading and annotate my documents, IM my bestie from the McDonald’s playland… for all that stuff a genuine tablet might have been a better choice for me, especially if it meant that the Android Market would play nicer, though there’s certainly no guarantee of that–rooted NOOKs aren’t the only tablets tohave these issues, I believe.

I would have paid less for an e-ink device, but I’ve had one of those. I like this better and I’m getting a ton more use out of it. I paid less for this than an actual tablet. I’m getting a lot of use of out it, but also a lot of hassle.

I’d say that if you’re just going to use it for reading, you should consider your reading needs. Do you like e-ink? Is color a big part of your reading?

If you’re more like me and have the shop-anywhere issue, or the I want one device to rule them all issue, then it’s partly a matter of cost and what you can afford to put into it. The NOOK Color is definitely an less expensive alternative at this time.

But it’s also a matter of tech savvy, confidence, and tolerance for frustration. Rooting the NOOK Color isn’t hard, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s pretty freakin’ intimidating. I’m the kind of person who likes to learn stuff, and the kind who finds it rewarding to make things work that weren’t supposed to. So after the hair-pulling frustration, I get a lot of lasting satisfaction out of having made the world bend to my will. I’ll enjoy Interweave Knits more because Zinio’s customer service wouldn’t help me. (Which is very wrong.) However, if you don’t have that thing that I have, then it might not be worth it.

This is a pretty non-standard ereader device review. If you have any questions about the device, please feel free to ask me. I’m sorry that I’m able to provide info on everything I’ve read or a clear understanding of what I did. But perhaps knowing that understanding it all is not required may be helpful. I can no longer find the exact link(s) I used (I’ve changed computers since then), but I believe that everything you’d need can be found here.

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Some Musings on Motivation and #ROW80

And when I say musings, I mean that I’m looking at some things that I’ve done right, and trying to figure out how the hell that happened.

There are three big things I’ve done in the last several years that I can easily point to and say: these are things which required a lot of motivation and I made them happen.

  1. Got my house together– When my daughter was finally done nursing and I was once again free to move about the cabin, I really did a lot of work to get my home in order. It was the first time in our marriage (about 15 years at that time, I guess) that we lived without any cardboard boxes in view. I decluttered, I cleaned up, I got routines together, and when disasters happened (as they did daily as I had a toddler around) I was able to take care of them and get things back to order.
  2. Wrote a book– Meaning I finished it. I started at the beginning and I wrote until the end. And it was even good. I made an outline, I had a list of scenes, and I tried to write at least one every day. I didn’t write every day, but I averaged more than one and I finished 30 days after I started. No putting it aside 2/3 in and starting something else, no putting writing aside to pick up another activity.
  3. Lost weight– I got married while I was still in college. Between the weight everyone gains in college and the weight everyone gains when first married, I was kinda screwed. My senior year I made a big effort at diet and exercise and lost half of what I’d gained those four years. But after that it was a slow but steady increase until I got pregnant almost a decade later. After losing enough of the baby weight to get out of maternity clothes and back to a size 14, I pretty much maintained 160-165 for a number of years. Today I weighed in at 127.5, a weight I haven’t seen this century.

So if I went through this period where I was good a keeping up my house, why is my house a wreck? Why am I always struggling with this? What am I doing wrong?

Why did it take me a month to write the first draft of Hush Money and close to ten months for Heroes ‘Til Curfew?

If I have the self-discipline to just say no to binges, over-eating, stress-eating, etc., why can’t I seem to apply that in other areas?

This is stuff I’ve been thinking. Reading about motivation can be confusing. A lot of it seems to come down to this concept: You just have to really want it. I can’t make you want it.

Well, um, I think I do want it. That’s why I’m here. I don’t know how to make myself want it anymore than this. I’m not even sure I’m comfortable with the notion of a greater level of want. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to help with my crazy level.

I mean, did I not want to write Heroes ‘Til Curfew? Of course I did. Did I want it enough? I think so.

It’s hard to talk about this stuff because nothing happens in a vacuum. I was better at housekeeping when I wasn’t also trying to run an Etsy shop or a writing career. I was better and just writing when I wasn’t in the throes of second book syndrome. There are definitely other factors at work.

But other people manage do more than one thing at a time, and I’d like to as well, so I’m looking at these three successes and trying to figure out what they had in common.

  1. When I was good at housekeeping, my goal was not to have a perfect or even beautiful home. I did not own the house I lived in, I knew I couldn’t afford to make the improvements it needed. It was never going to beautiful, but I was going maintain it and keep it as clean and comfortable as I could. The goal was not on the end result, it was on the process of making it better and maintaining the progress.
  2. When I was good at getting a book written, my goal was not to produce the greatest book ever. I had no standard I was going for, except for it to be finished and as good as I could make it. The goal was not on the end result, it was on the process of writing a book from beginning to end.
  3. When I was good at losing weight, I never had a goal weight. I might have said, I’d like to lose x amount, or I’d like to be x by the end of the summer, but those were just things I would throw out in conversation, like wishes. They were never subgoals of some greater endgame I was trying to achieve. In fact, when I did really start to lose weight, it wasn’t about losing weight, it was about changing my eating habit. The goal was not on the end result, it was on the process of learning to be mindful about eating and making better choices.

The goal was not on the end result, it was on the process.

That’s what I’ve pulled out of this. I’m not sure what it means, what to do with it, how to apply it. Not yet. Plenty of people do great by focusing on an end result and breaking that down into smaller tasks. I don’t think I’m that person. Some people make the decision to change their actions and they follow through. I don’t. When I tell myself to do stuff, most of the time I just don’t.

Maybe because it’s always easier to just stay where I am.

I’ve already determined that I need to change my thoughts before I can change my actions. Now I’ve determined that thinking about my goals as big end result things, or even smaller, successive results, doesn’t really work for me either.

What is going to work for me? Still don’t know. But if I figure it out, I’ll pass it on.

#ROW80: I have 10 threads for Heroes Under Siege. My goal for the week is to make sure I understand what happens in each one from beginning to end and how they interweave. That’s going well so far as I’m at 7/10 mostly done. I’d like to start brainstorming specific events and jotting down scenes next week.

Meanwhile, I should have a guest post up over at Book Lovers, Inc. today. The post is about taking something often considered boyish–superheroes–and taking it for Team Girl. And there’s a giveaway. Go, read, comment, make it look like people like me.

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#ROW80 Update and Sunday Mashup

My goals this week were to get the book launched, survive getting the book launched, and to not babysit my stats. We’ll call that a 2 out of 3. While I haven’t been as bad about it as I was last time–I haven’t been refreshing Amazon hourly–I need to stop. It’s already at the point where I’m dropping about 200 points every time I look and I don’t need to watch that. The launch peeked almost as soon as it started, got within about 50 points of the top 1000, but I didn’t have the customer base to get a foothold and stay there. While I made it to page two of my category bestseller list, I probably didn’t have enough ratings and reviews yet to entice browsing customers to take a closer look.

So what happens now should be a drop in rank concurrent with a trickle of sales, and then I’ll need to hope that the book bloggers who have responded to my offer of an ARC, and the fans who were excited enough to snap up the book in these first few days, will be able and willing to enthusiastically recommend it and give me a push back up to visibility again. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll have to come up with something else.

Mostly I just need to write the next book, and then the next book, and wait for my time and some more luck, though surely I’ve already had my share of that.

I don’t mean to sound bummed out here. Mostly I’m just tired. Getting back in touch with some of the fans of the series has been great. I had girls write to me who snapped up the book as soon as the links went out, read it that night, and had to drag themselves to school the next day. Hopefully learning absolutely nothing between being sleep-deprived and thoughts of Joss and Dylan. (I mean, they’ll be okay, look how I turned out.) After two weeks of crazy work toward this launch, I’ve just hit that point where it feels like it’s over already and it’s time to reflect and see what I’ve learned.

I’ve lost another 3.5lbs. Let’s all party because I just weighed in like it’s 1999.

Recommended Reading

Konrath gets lucky
So I’m on Twitter and @jakonrath tweets: “Konrath on How to Succeed: LINK.” And I’m like, Oh yeah? What’s that post going to be like? “Do the work, bitches. The End.” And it pretty much is, only much funnier. And it’s really worth reading because it ends with a sincere and important message. (via Twitter, @jakonrath, but I also subscribe)

Your writing is interfering with me reading this story
I can’t tell you how often this is a problem for me, to the point where I start to think: maybe it’s just me and I’m picky and being a bitch. But then I find this post over at KidLit.com. That’s what I’m talking about. Sometimes I just want to say, “Relax, find your own voice, stop trying to sound like your favorite book–I think it was from the 80s anyway and that’s not working anymore. I think there’s a great story here, I just need to hack away the metaphors, complex sentence constructions, and fifty-cent words to find it.” Anyway, I find this post dead-on and nicely instructive. (via @JamiGold on Twitter)

Have I ever mentioned practice = good?
I dunno how much I harp on it on the blog, but I totally believe in it. Dean Wesley Smith has an awesome article on how many writers tend to think about practice. As usual I think he totally nails it. Now he talks a lot in here about not reworking the same piece, but mailing it off or self-publishing it and then moving on to the next one. While I agree with the moving on to the next one, I’m not sure how I feel about inflicting something on the world that may be best shoved in a drawer. But hey, it’s a free world (void where prohibited). (via @dlmartin6 on Twitter)

Ticket to ride.
I’m going to try to get back on the Flylady wagon. Last year I was totally out of control with everything and it hurt my ability to get stuff done. If there’s anyone who reads my recs who feels like they can’t write (or [insert life thing]) and keep up with their home at the same time, check out the program. You don’t have to agree with everything she says, you don’t have to manage your stuff exactly the way she lays it out. But there’s a lot here worth learning. I’ve already opened up a #flylady column on TweetDeck; it would be nice to see some of my friends there. (I am a former Flybaby and know this helps.)

I’m still trying to get my head around this one.
Lastly, a post from Kristen Lamb that I found very complex in the fact that it is just chock full of an overwhelmingly large amount of helpfulness. Kristen says, again, that we need to stop being so…homogenous. Just go out and make friends with normal, non-writer people. Yeah, that’s so easy. But then she explains how to find them on Twitter. Oh, yeah, Twitter. I know Twitter. Okay…so maybe this is doable after all? Let’s go get sticky. (via subscription)

What I’m Reading

I read a lot of stuff I never talk about on the blog for one reason or another. So I thought maybe I’d start mentioning what’s at the top of my TBR pile at the moment.

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Remarkable Amounts of Productivity, Heroes ‘Til Curfew Available, #ROW80

Partly because Heroes ‘Til Curfew went live on Amazon, and partly just because, I went out today with my IRL friend, Kristy. Had celebratory lunch and avoided refreshing Amazon to check rank, KDP to check sales, etc. Very attractive waiter who made us totally forget what we were talking about every time he came to the table. Good times.

The initial uploads are done. I’m still waiting for a buy link for the NOOK peeps, and then I can be more announce-y and send out my newsletter to the email list.

I’m having some problems with the print version, so that’s going to take a while longer.

So the ROW80 update is that I’ve been working on all this STUFF. I’m still getting new ideas for the next book and the series and jotting those done, but nothing like actual writing right now. But that’s okay. I know that I’m a one thing at a time person and didn’t put that kind of pressure/goal on myself. I hope to be able to put this stuff behind me by the end of the week.

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On Choosing Indie…Again: An Epic Journey

How can I possibly break this down to be a single post? The decision is part of a journey, and I can’t figure out how to yank out the reasons and present them out of context. I’m not a bullet-points kinda girl; I’m a novelist, for Heaven’s sake. So I’m hoping that if you’re interested enough to know the whys, the what I’ve been through, the what I’ve learned, that you’ll be willing to sit through the tale, backstory and all. I’ll provide you some headings if you want to skim and maybe someone could write up the bullet points for me later.

Backstory beginnings

About 13 months ago, I released my first novel, Hush Money, independently. It’s a short, YA novel of about 50,000 words, the first in a planned series called the Talent Chronicles. The series is about people with supernatural abilities who are trying to hide what they are amidst governmental abuses of their kind, and yet they keep finding themselves in situations in which they have to embrace and be what they are in order to win the day.

Why Indie The First Time

The negativity on the internet surrounding traditional publishing had become so prevalent and so disheartening, that I had actually given up writing. Every article I read about why your query letter will suck, why you will never make it out of the slush pile, why your chances of being struck by lightning are better than your chances of ever selling your book were personally directed at me, and I took them to heart. That’s  just how I am. I’m working on it. The point is that I became certain that Bill, sitting there on Capitol Hill, should stop his whining, because he had about a million times better chance of becoming a law than I did of becoming a published author.

Long story shorter, I decided that I needed to stop torturing myself and find other avenues for my creativity. I wrote for other purposes, I continued to do critique and editing, but I quit the novel-writing thing. When I started to learn about indie publishing, that’s when I got excited again. At the time I had had a successful run with an Etsy shop, but I got in over my head with a popular design and I was just burnt out. Everything I learned about indie publishing seemed so analogous to everything I loved about my Etsy business, and I became crazy eager to dive back into writing and catch up with my friends who were building audiences of readers.

Releasing the First Book and Living Indie

When I released Hush Money, I had no expectations. I mean, I didn’t know what to expect, so I tried very hard to keep my wishes and dreams in check. By the time the book was six months old it had sold 10,000 copies. People were writing to me to thank me for doing something that I loved. People were commenting on instructive articles I wrote and asking me for advice, like… Well, I don’t know if I’d ever in my life felt like I’d earned anyone’s respect before.

Living within that indie publishing community, I began to identify very strongly with being indie. There was certainly a component at the outset in which I would introduce myself as an “indie author” or “self-published author,” simply as a disclaimer. I’ll be clear up front about what I am so you don’t think I was trying to style myself as “published author” when I’m not publisher-vetted. Or whatever notion. I was happy to be indie, and proud of my accomplishments, of my work, and all I’d learned and done. But my view was still that others would see it as less, even though I, myself, came to a point where I truly didn’t. I was truly, deeply, passionately, devotedly indie.

It wasn’t all perfect. There’s a lot to keep up with. And there’s a lot I was keeping up with that I should have just let go so I could write more books. I got very caught up in being indie, and that was part of what was keeping me from writing. (Lots of stuff was going on that was keeping me from writing, and most all of it was me.) I’m not a multi-tasker. I focus passionately on one thing at a time and my focus was not on writing my book. Anyway, I don’t beat myself up for this. I watch it happen to other people, and I think it’s a phase a lot of us go through.

The Case of the Mysterious Foreign Agent

Also relevant to mention is an incident in which I had a foreign agent contact me about the translation rights to the book. This freaked me the f out, as anything legal does. I didn’t even know how to respond to the email I received, and I found next to nothing on the internet to help me. Which is rare. You know, usually you can find the answer to anything on the internet, and usually when you’re indie you don’t even have to go that far. You can just ask someone. So that was my next thing. I wrote to the two people I knew to be indie, with whom I had had some kind of brief contact in the past, and asked their advice. Both of them were unable to tell me what to do. Their agents handled that stuff. Their advice: get an agent.

But a) I didn’t have time to query an agent, so I just continued to freak out about the foreign thing. I ended up having to find an intellectual property attorney. Which means I had to TALK ON THE PHONE, which you know terrifies me, especially when I don’t know what I’m supposed to say. And then I went in and talked to a VERY nice man who was interested in my story, seemed genuinely excited to learn about my successes, gave me good advice on how to respond and how I might go on if anything came about, and sent me on my way with the suggestion that maybe I should really think about getting an agent.

Well b) as indies we’d been practically beaten over the head by others with the notion that no reputable agent would ever touch us. Kind of amazing how things have changed over the course of one year, but my impression was that most might just be insulted that I wasted their time with a query. I did spend some time researching agents, but I found practically none who stated that they had any interest in representing self-published authors. So I threw up my hands and walked away, very unsettled by the whole incident.

Representation

Jane came to me in the spring. In my inbox was a message with the subject Representation. I could not have been more blase about this. Seriously. Months after the foreign rights incident, after finding no help with that, after having given up on the notion of any agent ever coming to me (Kait Nolan had already accepted representation, as had indies well ahead of me like Amanda Hocking and HP Mallory and who knew who else), I was probably a little bitter and had set this firmly aside.

It didn’t take long for me to get excited about Jane’s offer to talk. And by “get excited” I mean “totally freak out and spin up into a whirl of dramarama,” because that’s what I do. I was in IM with Kait, had told her about the email. I think then I got up to get a drink or make a snack or something and she had to demand I open the email.

When I did, Jane was complimenting me on my Amazon success, mentioning her interest in the possibilities of electronic publishing, inviting me to call her to discuss print publication. She also mentioned that her agency represents Joe Konrath, of whom I may have heard. Um, yeah, just been hanging on his every word for the last year. So already there’s a certain amount of Wow-factor. I go to her website to look at the client list. James Dashner, Richelle Mead, Carrie Ryan…NYT bestseller this, NYT bestseller that…

Holy shit, why is this woman writing to me?

Talking to Jane spun me up to drama-level magenta. I was still working on Heroes ‘Til Curfew, deeply, hopelessly mired in Second Book Syndrome and absolutely consumed by doubt that I could produce a second book that wouldn’t disappoint. I was creatively paralyzed by fear, with a million brain-eating voices in my head, from every review of Hush Money I had ever read, every time I opened my file. Jane was offering to help me make the best book I could make. And when Heroes ‘Til Curfew was the best book I could make, she would take it and Hush Money and try to sell the rights to a traditional publisher.

In a way, Jane was an answer to prayers. I didn’t want to go unrepresented. I didn’t EVER want to go through again what I went through with the foreign rights thing. It might not seem like a big deal to you, but trying to seem like a grown-up professional and handle my own shit when I’m just a clueless kid (inside) who has no fucking idea what she’s doing or how to get the answers she needs to act how she’s supposed to act on the outside was very affecting to me. And as a writer who wants to make a living and help my family, I’d be a special kind of idiot not to jump to say yes to Jane.

Temptations Toward Trad

And yet I hesitated. What Jane was talking about was taking my two books and selling both the print and the ebook rights. While I could do something else on my own, the Talents would belong to someone else. I would no longer be free to do whatever I wanted with them. I might have restrictions on length, content, language, who knows. I might not be free to give stuff away when I wanted to. I would be giving up my carefully chosen cover art that was really working for me. I would be pulling Hush Money off the market and putting the building of my readership on hold for the next 1-3 years, while postponing the release of my already delayed second book for years.

Lots of stuff to consider. And on the other side of the coin: opportunity. Indies have done a lot on our own and will continue to do more. Opportunities will continue to open for us. But they’re not all there yet. One very real thing I had to consider was the possibility of a sizable advance. Konrath talks about not taking a contract unless the advance is “life changing money.” Well, it wouldn’t take a whole lot of money to change my life. That’s my reality. If I thumbed my nose at the opportunity to bring my family security, wouldn’t that just be plain wrong?

And look at all the stuff I could learn? Haven’t you wondered about all the stuff that goes on between the time a writer finishes the manuscript and the time it comes back as a bound book? Haven’t you ever wanted to be on the inside of that? And the possibilities for mentoring. I will always be a work in progress. I hope that I will always be a work in progress. My writing improved exponentially when I started getting critical feedback from peers at my own level. They pointed out weaknesses for me that I couldn’t see on my own. How much could my writing be improved with feedback from the kinds of professionals I’d be exposed to under contract? I know there have been a lot of negative things said about this, and I get that. But that’s not all of it, and I could choose to see the possibility as exciting.

Then the extras. Yes, it is possible that indies are making movie deals and I don’t know what else. But right now at this moment, cool stuff like that is a lot more likely (though perhaps still quite unlikely), with the backing of a traditional publisher. If those opportunities were possible for the Talents, I did want them to have that chance.

Paperback and Bookstore Relevancy

Finally, and most obviously, distribution. I mean, forget vetted validity. I believe that in the numbers game, that’s practically a non-issue. If a few people on the internet are still saying they won’t read a self-published book, if they’re actually checking for the publisher imprint to make sure they’re not getting indie when it looks like every other good book on the surface, I don’t think those people represent enough “lost readers” to get upset over. Non-issue. Distribution: still an issue. Right now, at this moment, paper books and book stores are still entirely relevant.

Yes, ebooks are becoming more and more popular, as are ereader devices, as has shopping online every day for the last 15 years. Big pluses for us indies, for sure. These are things which make it possible for us to succeed financially on our own.

But what I’m talking about here is another level. Kristen Lamb, social media expert for writers, tells us that writers are often marketing to the wrong crowd. We love fellow writers and other avid readers. Of course we want to sell our books to those people. But the books that break out and become the ones that “everybody’s reading” are the books that…everybody reads. That person who picks up just a few books a year. Each of that person who picks up a certain book because they keep hearing about it over and over again. And where do those people go to buy a book? Often it’s the bookstore. Even if they buy it online, they buy print. And a mass market paperback is probably going to be a more attractive price point than what you can do with POD.

(Note: In spite of the price of POD trade paperbacks, the point is that print is still relevant and it’s not expensive for authors. 1% of my sales are print. But if I’d only ever sold 5 copies, I still believe it would be worth it to have it out there to offer.)

Anyway, there are so many higher levels that seem at lot more likely with publisher backing, and I wanted that opportunity.

Submission

I finished Heroes ‘Til Curfew at the end of June, got a couple beta reads to make sure it made sense, and then I sent it off to Jane. After the holiday she was able to start reading it. Ironically, she had no editorial suggestions. She and her partner, Miriam, approved the book as written. So score one point for the side that says Susan’s self-doubt may be overblown. After getting in touch with some editors to check on their vacation schedules, the book was submitted to the first round of her picks toward the end of July.

I’ve no idea how Jane goes about deciding whom to contact first. That’s her job and I never asked. I figure it’s some combination of what imprint and what editor she thinks are the best match based on what they’ve put out before, her contacts and personal relationships in the industry, who might be in a position to give us the most both in terms of money but also marketing and distribution and stuff like that.

Waiting and Rejection

The waiting wasn’t difficult for the first maybe two weeks. And then I’ll admit that I started to get antsy. Finally I asked Jane how things were going and she sent me the few rejections she had received.

They were awesome! I really got a charge out of reading them. By now there’s something you understand about me: I’m not full of self-confidence. I will probably always be surprised to find that someone else enjoyed my work. I got responses in which editors at this big label imprints that publish all kinds of really awesome books tell Jane things about me and my work like “engaging and compulsively readable,” “great, commercial writing,” “able to completely suspend disbelief and become immersed.” And these from people who have read everything!

Still, what we kept hearing was that the concept was not quite original enough for them to get behind. There’s that thing we keep reading where we’re told that you can have a swell, well-written book that people might love to read. But you might not be able to sell it, and it may never see the light of day because NY might not find it marketable. That phenomenon? Yeah, I haz it.

Wavering

Signing with Jane was hard. It shouldn’t have been, but it was. Because I had spent the last year of my life so excited about independent publishing, and the last several months embracing it and enjoying my success. It had become part of my identity.

It took a lot of soul-searching to become open to traditional publishing again. But when I made that decision, I embraced that too. All the stuff I said about the opportunities it offers are things I believe, continue to believe. They’re things I wanted and continue to want.

But I missed being indie. I missed having a current book out there. Hush Money sales began to fall at the beginning of the summer. I know that lots of people have experienced a dry summer, but this book’s rank plummeted. Because it was time for that. It had been out for nearly a year with no sequel. I had put out a free short story, but that’s hardly the same as putting out a new novel 2-3 times a year which is what we tend to see when we talk about big number indies. With one book out, it was pretty much a miracle that I saw 20,000 sales for Hush Money before it was a year old.

I felt out place. I felt like I never knew what to say. I continued to have to stall on the question of a release date for the second book because I didn’t know if I’d be releasing that myself or breaking the news that I had sold it and the release would be further postponed. I was carrying a lot of guilt about that, even though some rational part of me knows that my readers are both supportive of me and what I need to do for my family, my career, and the series; as well as people with full lives who are not actually suffering from the delay.

But beyond the guilt, I began to recognize what I was feeling as longing. I longed to share this book. That’s why I wrote it. Friends kept asking, “Well, what do you really want?” And I couldn’t figure it out. It was a big mess of what I want, what I need, what I dream, what I think I can have, what I should want, what I should be doing—aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!!

Why do I write? A hundred thousand reasons, intertwined with stunning complexity. But maybe, at the heart of it, because I have something share. And while I was tied up in submission and it had been over a month and there were still people we hadn’t heard from, and if it got sold and all kinds of stuff had to be done with it by a staff of people before it sat in queue waiting to be released for who knows how long–while all of that goes on, it’s not being shared. And I’m unhappy.

I Want It All, And I Want It Now

I wanted all the opportunities of traditional publication and I wanted the control and immediacy of going indie. And by this time, the dramarama has reached EPIC proportions. I’ve gone to Jane and I’ve dumped all this on her, told her maybe don’t want to go into the next round of submission with another handful of editors. I now get to be in the middle of the

epic guilt deathmatch of DOOM

as I contemplate that I can either

a) stay unhappy with what’s going on and what will probably be the result if I continue this path, ie, delaying the book for the current readers who say they’re waiting for it while we wait for a publisher to buy and then release it, or

b) be equally selfish by pulling the books from submission to release on my own, deny my family the potential for the security of an advance and career opportunities I might have with a publisher, and, AND, take Jane’s opportunity to earn a commission for this such that I have just asked my agent to work for me for free.

Oh awesome. Fuck. Me. Running.

YA novel, Gone, the third book in Lisa McMann’s Wake trilogy, talks about Morton’s Fork: a choice between two equally unpleasant alternatives. Morton’s Fork, I haz it.

OMG, Susan, snap the hell out it. You call that a Morton’s Fork? Did you learn nothing from the reading? You have a choice between two potentials for AWESOME in your life. And YOU’re the one who makes it about guilt. NO ONE puts that on you except you. So get your head on straight and figure it out.

“What do you want?”

I want both.

And somewhere in the muddle of feeling like everything was so absolute, that times are what they are and I’m looking at two mutually exclusive things, I came across this little thread of sanity that I followed to an understanding.

I can have both.

I can’t have both right now.

Nothing is forever. This is not my one and only shot. Part of this was finally accepting that Jane does want to work with me. That she’s not going to up and abandon me because I’m difficult. Because she thinks I have potential. Maybe things will come up, like that foreign rights thing, as the series progresses. And maybe that won’t be anything big enough for her to get excited about, but she’s got a whole staff of people to deal with stuff and a whole bunch of money-making clients and me needing to do this right now is hardly putting her on the food stamp line. (Not all agents will be able to be this understanding.)

Meanwhile, I’m going to be working to come up with a new idea. Something that’s not the Talents. Something to do on the side. I will get better at this. I will get better at writing and better able to handle the other stuff, and I will be able to do that. And Jane is going to work with me on starting from a marketable concept. But I’ll still have the Talents for my own. I’ll still have control over that to see what I can make of them on my own. Because that’s interesting, and another kind of opportunity. And I’ll have this other thing that Jane can be more involved in, that will allow me to learn more of what she knows, and I can have another shot at this trad thing and learning all the things that those guys know.

And certainly, if anyone wanted to go to Jane with an offer at this point, I’d be willing to hear it. I’m not closing this door because I want it closed. Right now I just really want to share this book so that I move on to other things. Jane just got John Locke a print deal where he keeps his erights. I’m no John Locke but things are changing and maybe something like that will open up for me someday with the Talents.

The Possibility of Failure

The possibility of seeming like an epic failure here is two-fold.

It is no small thing for me to be worried that a lot of people are going to see it as me having failed in NY and crawling back to indie. I don’t see it that way. A) Indie is not something you crawl back to. It’s a choice with its own awesomeness that I’m embracing after a lot of soul-searching. B) Yeah, I got a few rejections, but every one I read said positive things about my books, about the quality of my work. I got no indication that I suck. What I understand is that I do NY quality work, but that the concept is “too familiar” and therefore not marketable enough for any of these editors to take on. And while that’s surprising (I have no proper word for the amount of surprising) to me, it’s okay. I truly believe that Jane would have found a buyer for this, both because I believe in the series and because I believe that Jane is a BAMF of an agent who would not stop until she found the right editor.

The second possibility is that I sold over 20,000 copies of Hush Money merely because it was 99cents, most of those people didn’t read it, a lot of the people who gushed about it are over it now and will not rush to buy the second book. At $2.99 it might not make the charts to get the visibility it needs to really sell. Heroes ‘Til Curfew is a different kind of book from Hush Money. I have no doubt that some readers will embrace what it is, while I also know as a certainty that there will be people who won’t like it. And who will tell their friends and strangers how very much they don’t like it..

I doubt there are many people who don’t experience performance anxiety over a release. I’m trying not to make this too important. I’m trying not to attach to the numbers. I will try not to watch them. And I will try very, very hard not to put even more pressure on myself for things I can’t control in some effort to convince myself that I haven’t just made a horrible decision.

And yes, I’m not even close to being so big a person that I don’t want this book and this series to sell like MAD to prove that it was marketable. As an indie I want to be able to point to it and say “Look, here’s a series that was rejected in NY and look what’s done. So don’t give up.”

But as an author, ever so slightly, politely, complimentarily scorned, I would not mind hearing “I wish I had grabbed the opportunity to buy this when it was offered, would you consider…?”

As I come to the end of this epic post, I realize that this still isn’t everything I’ve learned. How is that possible? If you read all the way through, bless you. I hope you got something out of my long-winded share-a-thon of spew. I, of course, feel better for having written a story and shared it with you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some publishing to do.

Heroes 'Til Curfew Release Postcard

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#ROW80 update, upcoming release, and some recommended reading

Heroes 'Til Curfew postcard with release information

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So whew, it’s good to have this all settled and to say, “Thanks for asking, it’s coming out around September 2nd!”

Really good.

I’m still wrapped up in this book and not so much active in the next one. I continue to lack true multitask finesse. Once this week is behind me and the book is out, my new ROW80 goal will be to try really hard to leave it be. To not babysit my stats, to not read reviews, etc. To move on to the next thing and let this thing do what it’s going to because once it’s out, it’s no longer in my control anyway.

Been extremely busy this week, so my reading has been limited to my subscriptions. There was some good stuff, though.

Recommended Reading

Big News (Look! My agent!)
Yeah, ’cause it’s all about me, right? LOL. If you’re an indie and you missed this, what have you been doing this week, writing a book? When I read Konrath’s piece on John Locke’s deal with Simon & Schuster in which they’re going to print his books but he’s keeping his erights, I thought Wow, that’s something. And then, Jane, what a BAMF you are. Good job! I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say the end is necessarily nigh. It’s hard not to agree with Jane’s assertion that publishing is full of brilliant people who will find a way to turn things around for themselves. And I figure if she can do HER job every day and still think that, there must be something to it. (via subscription)

Konrath goes #MyWANA?
That’s what I thought when I read this post in which Konrath and Crouch have a back and forth about the future and who has the power in publishing. Where it gets particularly interesting is where they start talking about author to reader direct sales. I sell PDF sewing patterns and have some knowledge of how to set up to sell digital goods directly. I could do it tomorrow, in theory. Notice how I don’t. Because, as a small fish (without a 10K member mailing list), developing web traffic is a marketing issue I don’t want to deal with. And the idea of carrying other authors’ books, having to keep track of THEIR royalties and pay them out…accounting nightmare for me. Not to mention the fact that building a high quality brand means having to tell some people “no” and that’s just awkward. I need to write more books, not manage a store. Never say never, though. And I did like the idea that this post sort of represents a convergence of Konrath and Kristen, two smart people I always want to listen to. (via subscription)

I’m a sexist pig
Okay, not actually a pig, maybe, although I did participate in an objectification of Tom Welling on Twitter the other night. Again. My double standard about men should be men but women can be anything, is something I know about myself and am working on. Andrew highlighted that in his Girly Man post this week. He picks up a discussion about how the issue of fewer young male readers maybe shouldn’t be about the lack of “boy” books, and moves it into his take on life as an open-minded guy who doesn’t need gender bias to make his choices for him. Which is, undoubtedly, part of his charm. (via subscription)

#UnicornLoverz Unite
Beverage warning applies to this brilliant bit of hand-drawn comic goodness from Claire. Claire reveals what it’s like for an author and her unicorn when the author gets in “the zone” and the world is blotted out by her own awesomeness. A must read. (via subscription)

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FINALLY, a release date for Heroes ‘Til Curfew

Last night I wrote this really long, wordy post. Well, it was last night and into this morning. Now I’m thinking maybe I need to go a little simpler.

Heroes 'Til Curfew releases 9/2/11

Click to download this postcard

Those of you who know how the indie stuff works know there’s no planning an exact release date. You never know how long it will take a book to go live and be buyable once you upload it. But I’m hoping that Heroes ‘Til Curfew will be available in ebook on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords a week from today, Friday, September 2nd. It’s also possible that the print version could be available that soon, but more than likely it will take a little more time for that.

Back cover of Heroes 'Til Curfew with blurb

Back Cover of the print version

It’s been a busy month for me. The book was in submission to the first round of editors in New York and the waiting was driving me mad. Last week I finally got on the phone, talked it all over with my agent, Jane Dystel (yes, the awesome Jane), and finally made the decision that putting this out on my own, right now, is really what I want most. Plan to see a post about my experience with the submission process, and about choosing indie, on Monday.

So we had to give the editors who had it a week to give an answer one way or the other, a deadline which expired yesterday afternoon. Meanwhile, I got to work, frantically proofreading, formatting, all that good stuff. So much has changed! There’s always more stuff to learn. I COMPLETELY resemble Clarie Legrand’s post today, which you absolutely MUST READ. The components of the paperback version are already uploaded and in review. I’m finishing up lose ends on the ebook formats and intend to start uploading those early next week.

What do you call this way that I am? Mercurial? Yeah, we’ll go with that. Owing to my mercurial nature and the last-minuteness of this decision, I am WOEFULLY unprepared to launch this book. Read: FULL OF WOE, not full of preparedness.

I’m going to need some serious help here.

A release date graphic suitable for a sidebar

Click to download image

I feel like there are thousands of people I need to invite to this party and I only have access to a handful of them. But the reason so many people tried Hush Money is because you guys checked it out and told other people about it. I would be so grateful if you’d mention that this is finally happening. <– Look, I made you this nifty graphic for your sidebar. The postcard at the top of the page would fit well at the bottom of a blog post, in an email to a friend, on Facebook, or shared in a tweet. And you can always use the sharing buttons located beneath the post.

No pressure. I hope I don’t even need to say that. But if you’re excited this is coming out and want to help spread the word, I want to make it easy. If anyone has any ideas about what I can do to get the word out, I’m happy to hear them.

I also hope it goes without saying, and yet I want to say it anyway: I am deeply grateful for everyone’s patience and sustained enthusiasm. Your support means everything to me. It’s the reason I finished the book, and ultimately it was the reason I chose this path. I wrote this book for us and I can hardly wait to share it with you.

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#ROW80 Susan, what the hell are you doing?

Hell, I don’t know.

I think maybe I’m a recovering stats junkie. I used to right on top of all my stuff. Checking my sales everywhere and recording that in a spreadsheet used to be the first thing I did every morning. It used to be a bit of hobby for me to watch changes in rank and to get a sense of about how many sales per day meant about what rank and how that changed with the changes in the market as a whole. (For example, at one point getting into the top 100 might have meant selling at least 100 books in 24 hours. And then at another point 100 books in 24 hours might have gotten you into the top 700 as more books and customers entered the marketplace.)

But anyway, I pretty much walked away from all that. I learned a lot. I think I needed to learn stuff, and I don’t feel like it was totally time wasted, but… I can’t control things like rank and sales. When you see those things taking even a natural downturn, even when everyone around you is reporting decreased sales, still, just looking at something makes you want to affect it. And you can’t. Not really. Not directly, I guess.

So anyway, had to stop obsessing over that stuff, and I think that’s been good for me. I just realized that Hush Money is a year old. Like, today. A year ago today it went up on Smashwords. In a few days it will be a whole year it’s been up on Amazon. I’ve sold over 20,000 copies. I’ve gotten so much love and support from readers and other writers. It’s been awesome.

You know the question I get asked most? When are we going to get Heroes ‘Til Curfew? You have no idea how I’ve struggled with this question. Because the simple answer is: I don’t know. And the rest of the answer is complicated.

Books one and two of the Talent Chronicles are currently being shopped by my agent. We’re looking for a contract for both of them. To take this step, to even seriously consider selling the rights to these to someone else and put this much control of my world into someone else hands…it’s huge.

I often wonder what the hell I’m doing.

Every other week we hear about another known author self-publishing. This week it was Holly Lisle. People I respect and admire turning away from what I’m approaching and moving toward where I’ve been.

As though I’m moving backward.

But maybe it’s not linear. Maybe there is no backward. (Maybe there is no spoon.) I understand my own reasons for seeking this out. I know what I want out of it.

But the waiting is nerve-wracking. There’s wondering. There’s dreams I’m afraid of dreaming. There’s worrying. There’s this feeling of life on hold.

And if I would just give up this whole idea I could go back to what I know. To where I’ve been successful before and hope I can do half as well with Heroes ‘Til Curfew as I did with Hush Money. And then when people asked me when book 2 is coming out I have a better answer for them!

I just feel like Hush Money and I have done so well on our own, but does that mean we should just sit back and be satisfied with that or should we see if there’s more than can be done? Now that I’ve already had thousands of readers, what might happen if I had a publisher behind me who could get me wider distribution? Where I’m, like, a new author, but not quite brand new. Maybe it could be awesomer.

Look, I may never get a TV series or a comic or a video game. Okay, yeah, I probably won’t. I get that. But I think that even if a lot of readers no longer need a publishers’ stamp on book for them to give it a try, I think the world might still be at a point where that would make it slightly less impossible to be considered for the next level. The Talent Chronicles graphic novel level.

Do you get this sense that I’m deeply conflicted? I want this. I want to try this. I want to have these opportunities if I can. I want to learn shit. New shit. And I don’t want to wait. I feel so friggin’ guilty about the waiting to release this book that it’s eating me up. And I’m so worried about not having new material to release and having readers forget about me. And I’m so worried about not releasing and thence not having an income and thence not having a Christmas.

Do you know what I’ve done in this year since I released Hush Money? I’ve traded my size 14 pants for size 4. Sometimes I think it’s all from worrying.

This should be a happy birthday post. It should be chock full of awesome, and I’m sorry that it’s not. This is why I’m not around a lot. I’m just in this holding pattern that makes me crazy and crazy-angsty, and I feel like I don’t know what to say because I don’t KNOW anything anymore.

So, I don’t know what you think of that from a ROW80 standpoint. I guess it means that I’m still trying to get myself settled back in and back on track.

What the hell is up with Susan? To be continued…

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The Runaways- Movie, not the comic

The Runaways

Maybe I can blame the fact that I had to watch this movie on Stacey Wallace Benefiel whose recent Bad Reputation post has had that song stuck in my head for days. But today as I went looking for something to strengthen my teen-writing mojo, I found that I had added this to my Netflix Q.

Despite the fact that the Netflix description focuses primarily on the Cherie Currie (the band’s lead singer) storyline, it is important to note that this is a movie about Joan Jett and is therefore to be listed with all things awesome.

It was, in a lot of ways, like every other rocker biopic with an emphasis on drugs and sex, because the music business is what it is. But, I shall repeat: Joan Jett. And lest anyone start wailing and gnashing teeth about the same actress playing Bella Swan who moons over some idiot vamp who likes to tell her he knows what’s best, AND playing our rock goddess, let me just say that I had no problem with the performance.

To try to relate this to our Friday hero fiction appreciation topic, I have to say that what’s unfortunate about this movie is its lack of heroic plot aspects. There’s really only a taste of Joan is awesome here. The story does concentrate more on Cherie whose heroism probably mostly comes about after the story takes place when she cleans herself up.

But, I did have a point to sticking this movie mention on my writing blog. At the end of the movie they flash up the little bits about what happened to main characters after the story and I learned this:

After being turned down by 23 record labels she created an independent label, and released a self titled album, “JOAN JETT”. Released in 1980, it was the most successful indie rock and roll record of all time.  In 1981, it was picked up by Boardwalk Records, and named “Bad Reputation”.  It spawned two hits: “Do You Want To Touch Me?” and “Bad Reputation.” (Source)

I thought some of you indies might appreciate that.

In other news, I’m taking my daughter to Florida for spring break for the next week. I’ll tell Mickey you said hi.

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Filed under Recs and Links