Self-Publishing Journal Entry #6

Dear Diary,

As expected I made every mistake there is to make while self-publishing a novel. After its “Hydra leak” on the 1st of January I went through the Kindle version and found no less than 25 translation, formatting, or just-plain-dunce errors that had to be fixed.

Orange Beast
Orange Beast

The Orange Beast is still laughing at me for that.

However, I do feel better about this because if I hadn’t been so hopped up on cold medication I would have found those errors in the week prior to its official release anyway. This just means that those unfortunates who purchased the leaked novel are going to have a one-of-a-kind “whoopsie” version that no longer exists.

I’ll laugh about it in a couple of years, I’m sure.

In any case, the novel was fixed before its official release. (To include the spacing issue that had the printed version sitting at over 500 pages. That would be one of the just-plain-dunce errors.)

What have I learned from this whole self-publishing adventure?

1) Editors are worth their weight in gold. 

No, seriously. They are. Those 25 errors were mostly formatting and translation problems that happened while I was bouncing between Scrivener and Word.

2) Never work while on cold medication. 

‘Nuff said.

3) Marketing is pretty much the same on your own as with a small press. 

Yeah, there’s really very little difference here. As much as I love my publishers and the validation they gave me for even accepting my work to begin with, a book doesn’t just fly off the virtual shelves on its own.

That said, I’m still not doing much marketing-wise. I’ll submit Tapped to various review sites and all that, but Scornedotherwise I’m not going to stress this point. I made this decision way back when Sedition was first published and while it makes no “business sense” I’m sticking to it.

I want to be a better storyteller. I want to tell stories that move people, even if it’s only a select number of people. I feel totally awesome about the readership I already have. (Hey, Readers! I uber loves you all!)

4) This is fun.

In spite of my fights with Scrivener and my frustration with Word and staring at documents for hours on end while trying to make the formatting right, I had a lot of fun doing this. Don’t ask me why. I think only writers can really understand it.

To sum up, I will probably do this with more than just the Tapped series.

Yes, I understand the stigma that comes with self-published authors but I’m going to lean back on the real tradition here; the tradition of storytellers wandering from place to place, giving their entertainment away for lodging or food. Celebrities for a night or a day, or a holiday week, and then they faded into the background directly after their job was done.

They didn’t have publishers back then, just word of mouth and a distinct love for what they did.

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The Close of 2014 …

Yep, it’s that time of year again. The moment when I look back and take stock of what I did or didn’t manage to accomplish during the last 365 days. (It’s less than that, I know, but with Christmas and Residual Haunting posts I need to toss this post up sooner rather than later. Because my all-time favorite post is the one where I decide what I’m going to get done in 2015 and stuff.)

So … here are the things I said I wanted to get done in 2014 …

#1) Graduate.

Big check-mark there! Back in May I graduated from Northwest Nazarene University with my BA in Christian Ministry.

#2) Submit Persona to the ABNA contest in January.

Another big check-mark. I didn’t win, but they did send me an invitation to Kindle Scout, which I haven’t decided on yet.

#3) Implement edits from developmental editor (Yay, Gabriel Fitzpatrick!) on Tapped.

In spite of an epic failure coring an avocado that left me one-handed for several months I did manage to implement not only the edits from Gabriel Fitzpatrick, but suggestions from my Beta readers as well. Check, check, and check!

#4) Finish Residual Haunting.

Residual Haunting is almost finished. It is currently being posted as a serial novel on Wattpad and is updated every Wednesday morning. I’m going to put this one down as half a check-mark. (PSST. Wattpad means you can read the current chapters for free! Go check out my creepy sci-fi/horror thing!)

#5) Revamp the synopsis and query letters for the revised Tapped novel. And then Send. Out. Those. Queries.

Check. I did this. And then I decided I wanted to self-publish Tapped (and its entire series) because it gives me more creative freedom.

#6) Revise Persona and start formatting it for publication.

…. Um … nope. Due to the unforeseen incident with the avocado from Hades I spent most of my working time focused on revising Tapped. It was excruciatingly slow work given that I had two fingers I could not feel during the months of May through October.

#7) Participate in NaNoWriMo again.

I totally participated. And I totally lost. Again. I should give myself a negative check-mark for losing.

Is there such a thing as a negative check-mark?

#8) On December 2, 2014 Persona will be released as my first self-published novel.

………… Needless to say, this did not happen. Production on Persona was pushed back. It’s new publication date is set for April 2015. However, I will be sending this in to agents and traditional publishing houses first (as per my arbitrary agreement with myself for all my work) so that date might be pushed back again depending on what sort of response I get.

#9) I would really, really, really like it if I could climb a mountain.

I climbed through a canyon. It wasn’t a mountain, but it was climbing. Half a check-mark.

#10) If I can swing it, I would love to be a Secret Santa for someone next year. I’ve had one this year and it has been wonderful fun.

Check-mark.

So! I did relatively well in 2014. Bring on 2015!

Tossing in the Towel – NaNoWriMo 2014

Illness struck my house last week. It started while my son was having a sleepover, the poor kid suddenly had a fever and I had to separate the boys during the sleeping portion of said sleepover to keep our guest from catching it. (Didn’t work, our guest has been sick the last couple days too.)

Being the mother that I am I spent all night watching my son’s fever spike and level and spike and level until finally Sunday morning we were able to run out and get some more Tylenol. By Sunday evening I was sick as well. And for several days Hazen and I stayed home, nursing our illnesses with frequent naps and intermittent bouts playing Star Wars.

And soup.

Lots of potato soup.

My NaNo project was left aside.

While I could possibly rush through the next two weeks to get to 50,000 words before the end of November I know that they would be 50,000 really horrible words. Rough drafts are notoriously bad, but the abomination that would sprout from such a rush would require the entire work be thrown away and restarted in December.

Which would be a complete waste of my time.

So!

I am formally throwing in the towel for NaNoWriMo 2014.

I wish everyone the best of luck who is continuing to plug away at their NaNo novels. You’re all awesome. You can do this. Keep moving forward!

National Novel Writing Month – 2014

That’s right. I’m one of those crazy people, the one’s who take November and turn it into a month-long marathon with words.

I went grocery shopping and stocked up on caffeine, chocolate, and popcorn. I made sure my son had a new Wii game to entertain himself while my brain is occupied in all things Dead Weight. (Yes, that’s the title of the new manuscript.)

I revisited the series Bible — because this is the second book in a much larger series — and plucked out the items I want to explore in this book.

… and since the first book hasn’t come out yet I’m not allowed to share any of them with you. Cause … you know … spoilers.

I can talk about theme’s, though!

Complicated, fun, themes!

So … Tapped, the first book, is centered on the theme of family. Real easy to spot. You’ll see it when the book hits virtual shelves in January. (January 13, 2015. No, I haven’t forgotten. Yes, I am still playing with formatting and such.)

Dead Weight’s theme is “letting go.”

I know, it’s not one word. We’re supposed to try and filter everything down to a one-word theme and all that but … No. Screw the rules. That’s my theme.

I don’t have a word count yet because it’s all handwritten but I’ll make sure to post such a thing on Friday. Until then … I’ve got writing to do.

Go, NaNo-People! Let’s get this done!

Self-Publishing Journal Entry #1

Dear Diary,

10676192_782868888436280_3445750894630733710_nI have taken to talking to my cat again. Whilst my son slumbers and I work late into the night the big orange beast is the only company I have, and in my sleep-deprived delirium I might have dreamed up his responses. I have no one to blame but myself, I know.

I am the one who decided I wanted the manuscript to go out to Beta readers Monday morning.

I am the one who scheduled a 48 hour timetable over the weekend to take the first pass at the manuscript.

Well, it wasn’t the first pass. Technically speaking that was the 4th. It just happened to be the first read-through since deciding to embark on the self-publishing journey.

I am also the one who spent a disgraceful amount of time hunting through pre-made cover art. I still haven’t found the right one and am resigning myself to the idea that I’m going to have to commission someone.

My cat insists I should save my money for soft food. He is quite peeved at me for not having purchased any in IMG_0051over a month. But he’s gotten a trifle pudgy so I’ve limited him to hard food until Thanksgiving or Christmas.

I am slightly concerned that he might take matters into his own hands and either bite my feet in protest or opt to rage-vomit. (He does this whenever I leave for the weekend to let me know his displeasure.)

On a good note, he is supportive of the self-publishing idea. I know because he sits on the back of my chair and purrs, creating a pleasant vibration for me while I work. It’s like a mini-massage thing only fuzzy and better. I fully believe that his presence helped me get through that 48 read-through period and, while some of the emails to my Beta readers might not have made a lot of sense, at least they got out in time.

I’ll score this as a win.

Gutter Space

Last year I made a few print copies of Persona for my family. (No, it is not for sale. Yet.) But anyway, I discovered this rather annoying problem with my Word program when it came to converting the text for printing.

Every page needed a designated amount of “gutter space.” This is the space that you see right in the middle of the book when you open it up, the little “gutter” that is created where the binding comes together. For whatever reason, my Word program could not target even versus odd pages, forcing me to spend FOUR HOURS going through each individual page and shifting them over.

As evidenced by what happened next, shifting text is quite boring.

“Gutter space” sounded so … sordid. Kind of seedy, you know?

I decided that what “Gutter Space” really stood for was that place where all rejected novels go, and for four hours that late November night I let my creative brain run rampant. It was quite entertaining. I had a main hero named Partial (standing for Partially Formed Idea) who was met by several different novels, all of them with some form of book disease.

My personal favorite was Multiple POV Disorder where the inflicted novel kept switching characters mid-sentence.

In any case, I sort of let “Gutter Space” fade away after I finished shifting text but this week I caught myself in that weird transitional period between projects. And, lo and behold, Gutter Space came back to mind. As much as I loved the concept of Partial being introduced to every manner of writing mistake (like Purple Prose Syndrome, which was so full of unnecessary description that it continued to just describe things around it rather than address anything of worth to the plot) I’m not quite ready to write that short story.

But trust me, I will.

For now, I’ve decided that “Gutter Space” will be anything and everything that my brain needs to clean out before it’s ready to start on a new project.

So what is my “Gutter Space” comprised of today?

Well … Here’s my line-up …

1) Residual Haunting — needs completion (But it’s also my next project so I don’t need to worry so much.)

2) Persona — needs a new ending (Already got this baby scheduled.)

3) Usurper — needs an edit or … uh … 5 (Pardon me as I hide from all Trenna fans. I already promised it would be out in 2015!)

4) Primal — needs re-written or … brainstormed or … something

5) Dead Weight — needs completion

6) The Abolitionist — needs research

… My car needs cleaning too.

And I should wash my carpets ’cause … Winter is coming.

And there you have it … That’s what’s in my Gutter Space today. Starting next week I’ll be diving headlong into Residual Haunting and posting it, as promised, for free on Wattpad. It will be completed by the end of October, which frees up my November for NaNoWriMo where I will either be working on Primal or The Abolitionist.

We’ll see.

Meet My Character Blog Tour

Shen Hart tagged me in the “Meet My Character Blog Tour” and I’ve been sitting on this for a couple of days, trying to decide who I was going to “tag” in response. I’ve decided on Lisa (LJ) Cohen, RJ Blain, and Skye Taylor. Good luck and have fun! 

1) What is the name of your character?  Is she fictional or a historic person?

Johanna Rorry — otherwise known as Jorry. She is purely fictional. 

2) When and where is the story set?

The story is set many, many, many years into the future. We get to go spelunking on Pluto, lay siege to a space station orbiting Neptune, and infiltrate a military base on Europa but in between all of that the characters are on board the hauler-class vessel known as the Zephyr. 

3) What should we know about him?

Ahem. You mean “her.”

And you should know that when she sets her mind to something she doesn’t waver. She’s a complicated mix of soldier and mother, capable of hacking into computer systems and constantly focused on the safety of her family. 

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his her life?

Her son Devon wants to go to University, but because Jorry and her counterpart (Seach Barlow) are both deserters from the military this poses many problems. Sending Devon to school could reveal their whereabouts to the military they’ve been running from. So Jorry makes a black market deal to get Devon some security tags that won’t alert the Universe that she’s still alive and still allow him to go to school. 

And … you know … things go very, very wrong. 

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

She wants to see her son safe and happy. 

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The tentative title is Tapped and you can read a snippet of it on my main website ajmaguire.com. (HINT: It’s under the science fiction tab.)

7) When can we expect the book to be published?

Well, I have a rule that I send out everything to the traditional market first and if it doesn’t get any bites then I look into Indie publishing. So I’m really not sure. It could be out sometime in 2015 or it could be later.