Would You Self -Publish? Why Or Why Not?

I first heard about the book The Martian on a list of books being made into movies in 2015. I loved it. Andy Weir wrote a thriller, memoir, and comedy all in one. I’d recommend the book to anyone. Then I heard it was self-published first and then picked up by a big publisher.

I was shocked.

Courtesy Wikipedia.com

Self-publishing certainly carries a stigma. Unless you have a huge following and already tested your idea, it can be extremely difficult to cut through the clutter and sell your work, even if you’ve done the diligence of paying for great editing and formatting services. Believe or not, many famous authors have done this. And they have been successful too.

Question And Caveat

Only if I’ve edited, had honest feedback, and built an enormous audience would I self-publish. Why? Because I want to be both proud of my work and give it the best chance to get in the hands of readers. Some would approach it differently and that is why I turn to you.

How about you? Have you self published or are you considering that? Would you ever consider it?

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Making Plans

It’s been a month or so since I’ve written my blog. It’s been a few more since I’ve blogged consistently. This hiatus has been an intentional one, though I have missed my writing comrades scattered across the globe.

What I’ve Been Up To

I dropped my blog for a couple of reasons. First, I was allotting all of my writing time to my blog and commenting while I was in the middle of a dramatic overhaul of my novel. This required nearly all of my writing effort and writing time. I am pleased to report that it is finished and I am doing a final grammar scrub. I hope to have it to an acquisitions editor by my thirtieth birthday on May 19th.

Also, I have written a few short stories and submitted one of them. I’ve been inspired by reading several of Ray Bradbury’s articles on writing collected in Zen in the Art of Writing. They are wonderful. I would recommend them to any writer.

My Plans

I planned on picking a new theme/platform for the blog relaunch but it’s proven difficult to find one I like. I hope to do this soon.

Over the next year, I plan to cycle my novel through a few Literary Agents and hope for some feedback.

Also, I would like to get a short story finished every two weeks and submitted to journals or websites. I plan on submitting to multiple places from literary journals to flash fiction to sci-fi/fantasy. As a writer it is good to stretch yourself and I hope to do that.

Goals
That’s a lot of goals

I want to keep my writing goals realistic as I tend to be someone with way too many plans and not enough time. If only I could figure out how to survive on an hour or so of sleep. If you have figured that out, please let me know.

All of these goals are going to be up in the air come July as we welcome a new addition to the family. My son is due at the end of July!

Overall, it has been an exciting year for writing. I look forward to more submissions and rejections.

How about you?

Have you met your writing goals?

Are you using your writing time wisely?

Cheers,

Bob

The Next Big Thing: What I’m Doing Next

Roger Colby at Writing is Hard Work invited me to be a part of a blog chain that introduces my latest work while promoting his blog and three other blogs of writers like myself.  I hope that you will check them out.  I’m highlighting:

Daniel Bowman at danielfbowman.webs.com

Jessie Clemence at Jessieclemence.com

Elizabeth Hein at scribblinginthestorageroom.wordpress.com

  • What is your working title of your book (or story)?

The Tale of Calelleth

  • Where did the idea come from for the book?

This is a hard question. I’d like to say it came from everywhere. What I was reading at the time – How the Irish Saved Civilization, what I was interested in writing – grand sweeping epics, coming of age stories and, yes, romance, and something that happened in my life – a vicious storm that swept through my home town. The sort of storm that makes noon like night. It causes the constant hum of reality skip a beat and become suddenly vicious and beyond your control. All three of these things collided one summer.

  • What genre does your book fall under?

Fantasy – high adventure, coming of age, young adult.

  • Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I write with some characters in mind. I picture my villain Maero as Russell Crowe from Gladiator. Strong, noble, and a family man, but he is bent and tortured by his loss. Beyond that, the characters are drawn from people I have met, with the possibility of the main character’s best friend Comitis – recently, I’ve tried to paint him in the light of James Roday (Shawn Spencer) from Psyche.

  • What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Calelleth’s leaders have sworn to forget the horrors of their past and succeed in rewriting history for their people, that is, until an army arrives unannounced demanding the past atrocities be remembered and atoned for.

  • Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’ve met with an agent and will be submitting my novel to an acquisitions editor soon (hopefully next week). I’d like to have it represented. I know this is a difficult task but I believe in my work and will be relentless about publication until it happens.

  • How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About a year. However there have been numerous drafts. Some chapters have been rewritten 8-9 times, others 4-5 times. I’ve been working in the debut novel, outlines for subsequent books and the history behind my world for over 8 years.

  • What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

If you’ve read The Emerald Atlas you’ll find children thrust into roles that they find unfitting. One day at an orphanage, the next caught up in the grand struggle of trying to save a world. Also, the academics and young love of Harry Potter, the Merlinesque grandfather in innumerable tales, and the robbing of the rich to equip the poor that is accustom to Robin Hood.

  • Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Sadly, I never read the Lord of the Rings while growing up. While that might shock some people I think this was to my benefit as it is not old hat now. I did not begin to write or read a lot until I was in college. I read while younger but stopped for sports. I rediscovered the spark by watching the first Lord of the Rings film. The age and reality of the other world was enchanting. I couldn’t stop until my one tale was written and I have been reading and reading since. I love the Inklings (C.S Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and others) and my writer’s group is called the Weaklings in tribute to them.

  • What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

This is the first installment of seven books. You follow not only the life and death of many characters but also the redemption of a people that suddenly come to realize the depth at which they have scared the earth and the peoples they have forgotten beyond their borders. In The Tale of Calelleth I have tried my best to intertwine the familiar portions of Young Adult fiction – love, coming of age, and the reality that comes with responsibilities of adulthood with a medieval epic.

When Is A Manuscript Done?

I’ve been editing for some time now. It has been nearly three weeks since I started the process of cutting and manipulating seven chapters of the latest draft of my novel in order to submit it. I’ve found so many mistakes and plot lines that either needed to be removed or drastically accentuated that I am shocked I thought this draft completed in the first place.

This has caused me to do some serious reflection on what a draft is. I used to think that it was another step in the right direction, but a lot of times it is not. Lately I’ve deleted more words than I have kept. I’ve probably been more frustrated with writing through this process than I have ever been. However, I feel as though I am breaking through to another layer of writing that will make me that much better because of all of the toil I experience now.

The main question I wrestle with is, when do you know when a draft is done? You can have friends read it, have them pick over it and give their assessment, make changes based on those assessments, and then redraft. But at some point you have to get it out there. It might sound silly but at times I feel like I am coaxing a little bird along the edge of a branch preparing to push it off so it can take flight. The problem is I cannot be sure this little bird is ready to fly. I know I am ready to move on, but I don’t want to commit a novice mistake and get a rejection just because it is not ready.

I suppose it comes down to believing in your story. That your voice will shine through, and that the editor or slush pile surfer will forgive any inconsistencies that you missed. Hopefully, by the end of the week, I will pluck up the courage to push this feathered little manuscript out into the world. I just hope it flies.  

Cheers,

Bob

Book Proposal Salvo 2.1

I wanted to take a moment and write a quick blog post about what I have been up to and explain the unannounced silence. For the last week I have been in the midst of a redraft. I sent in my chapter and proposal to the acquisitions editor last week and I was asked to send more chapters. It wasn’t because it blew his socks off but because more of my writing was needed for a sound evaluation.

Over the last week or so I have been rewriting and cutting, as I planned to do, in order to send back seven more chapters. It has been a fantastic adventure to wade this deeply into my story once again and see what is there. I was surprised to find some parts better than I expected and others much much worse. I am excited to send the chapters and take a long deserved break from staying up until 1 in the morning and getting up early (at times) to continue slogging along.

This edit sprint has helped me become a better writer. It has also caused me to fall in love with my story again and want to make to see it in print that much more. I will share what I have learned when I am done, hopefully tomorrow.

Keep writing my friends. I will keep you posted.

Cheers,

Bob

 

Book Proposal Salvo Number 2

This morning was tumultuous, filled with excitement followed by the immediate feeling of regret. Yes, I sent out another book proposal. I am very excited but also had that tightening of the stomach feeling like speeding over a small brief hill in a car.

It’s Away!

I suppose this is how I should feel. If you spent a lot of time on your work (coming up on 8 years now) you should feel this way. After this it’s back to the editing front. I hope to get more chapters done this week. Time will tell.

Sorry for the brief post but I need to get back to work. Thank you to all who encourage and continue to read this blog. I could not have done it without my community. Writing is a solitary process at times. But no writer can get a book published on their own.

Good luck today. Remember your writing goals. Chase after them. Brush that sleep from your eyes and get it done today. Don’t wake up tomorrow with writer’s regret!

Cheers,

Bob

No, For Now

I’ve been remiss. I promised to fill my readers in after I got a response from the agent about my book proposal and I did not do so. Part of the reason was because I needed to take some time to digest her response. It was not a bad response by any means. But it was a response that indicated I have my work cut out for me if I desire representation someday.

First and foremost she said my stories have high potential. She also mentioned that I am a very creative person and that my stories will appeal to many readers. Needless to say I was thrilled. However, there is work that needs to be done, a lot of it. There are several mechanical flaws and my book is in need of a thorough shellacking. I will miss my darlings.

Now, some writers might wilt and collapse at the idea of more work after seven years of writing, but I don’t look at it like that. I am not super thrilled with going through it again but my hope is in the professional critique.

If she had said don’t ever write again I would have been crushed. But she didn’t say that. She said they have potential and that is where I will get my energy. The idea is great, the execution is off the map. It’s time to pick up the old draft and begin again. I don’t have to start from scratch as she told me what I need to improve and even asked for me to send it back to her after I get some readers to pick through it.

So, here’s to another few months of work. Here’s to writing and the grand adventure that it is. Thank you all for your encouragement through this first rejection.

Write today.

Cheers,

Bob

Work In Progress Challenge

I was recently “tagged” by Shannon Howell in a book interview of sorts. I am glad to have this opportunity to share about my work in progress and thanks to Shannon, and Eric, and to all those down the line who continued to pass this challenge along.

1. What is the title of your book/WIP?

Yikes. Writing this down is sort of like cementing a message in a sidewalk. Once it’s there, it’s there. The pending title is The Tale of Calelleth. I originally got the idea to call it a “Tale” from John Gardner. See the link to my post here.

2. Where did the idea for the WIP come from?

It came from being witness to a sudden and vicious storm. Also, from the book How the Irish Saved Civilization see this post Where Do Ideas For Novels Come From?

3. What genre would your WIP fall under?

It would be fantasy. However, I could categorize it under high adventure fantasy, because it is a mystery and my characters do not have super powers nor are there fantastical creatures…yet.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Interesting question. I figure Russell Crowe back in his Gladiator days as my antagonist and recently, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as my protagonist. I know strange protagonist choice, but did you see the Dark Knight Rises? He was excellent.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your WIP?

The Sage in Waiting Hailea and her bodyguard Custos discover a terrible secret just as an innumerable army arrives on the steps of the city. Will they be able to solve the mystery and save the city? See a full synopsis here.

6. Is your WIP published or represented?

Certainly no publication yet and no representation yet. I am working on that now.

7. How long did it take you to write?

Seven years to develop and write. I have already started on the second book (about 2/3rds done) and have the others plotted out. See my 3rd draft post here.

8. What other WIPs within your genre would you compare it to?

Right there with you Shannon, not sure, still looking. Thought Stephen Hunt’s Secrets of the Fire Sea is close.

9. Which authors inspired you to write this WIP?

C.S. Lewis, Jules Verne, and I know silly, but J.K. Rowling. I really like the coming of age stories set in a time of nobility and chivalry.

10. Tell us anything else that might pique our interest in this project.

My story contains all of the elements you are looking for in a YA book. My target audience is 13-19yrs. Meaning there are episodes of first kisses, rival dormitories, daring sword fights, an obstinate but charming horse named Aleutian, teachers, libraries, struggling students, young love, broken hearts, death, terrible sadness, and reluctant heroes.

One last thing…

Tag, You’re It:

As a final step of this Work In Progress blog post, I’m supposed to tag other writers who are then “it” to make a blog post of their own.

Here’s my list:

Josh Mosey

Andrew Rogers

Wo3lfMad

Julie Catherine

The Dust Jacket of Calelleth

The Seige of Calelleth

Yesterday (see here), I promised to post the synopsis of my book as I continue to work through sections of my proposal. I am pleased to say I got a bit closer to the place I wanted to be, though there is always a (perhaps obsessive) need for the writer to refine and improve.

I have to admit I was a bit depressed by the perpetual mustering of strength  my synopsis required. I was trying so hard and focusing all of my energy on writing a synopsis that is good and gripping and inviting that I nearly tired of writing altogether.

Now, I know it is only a couple of hundred words but I am proud of them. Proud enough to hope that the thrill of finishing this portion of my proposal will be able to carry me through the next. I also hope it offers a potent enough spell to banish that depressive Bob that rears his ugly head every now and again to tell me I’m not cut out for this. You can go to seed, dear friend. This novelist no longer needs you.

Custos is a Humili – both farmer and volunteer in the Calellethian guard. Though war hasn’t happened for centuries, opportunities abound for a young man to display his talent with the sword and bow during the Harvest Celebration. However, before Custos is able to participate, he is chosen to fill a revered post that becomes available once in a generation: The Guardian, the protector of the future Sage of Calelleth.  

After Hailea is elected Sage in Waiting, but before the people of Calelleth discover they are not alone in the world, she befriends her bodyguard Custos and together they uncover a nasty secret buried beneath the city: a labyrinth of passageways leading to ancient ruins and piles of decayed bodies.

As Custos and Hailea struggle with the gravity of this discovery amid the political squabbles and backstabbings that usually encompass their daily life, an innumerable army arrives at the Calellethian gates demanding to have their captive families released to the utter bewilderment of the city leaders.

Will Custos and Hailea be able to devise a plan to appease the ferocious force in order to save Calelleth? Or will the city of Calelleth and its inept army be obliterated by the consequences of a forgotten past?

Keep Writing.

Cheers,

Bob

What Is Your Novel About?

I am having trouble coming up for the synopsis for my book. Funny right? I am the author and even I don’t know what my book is about. It’s not that. It’s just I am having trouble with finding out where my synopsis begins.

My story is one of suppressed histories and nasty secrets that eventually come back to haunt the characters in my book. So, I thought, I should start with the secrets. No, I don’t want to give too much. Should I start with the discovery of the secrets? No, I want that to happen during my novel and not giving it away in its explanation.

I’ve written about twenty drafts of my synopsis. All of them are terrible. I was sitting down in despair because this is a huge part of the proposal. It has to be good enough to capture the agent or reader to spurn them on and create an appetite to continue reading.

My wife eventually said why not start with a quote from my book, something a character says? Or why not start with the beginning of this novel only? I know it seems simple, and it was. Thanks to her I have a great start on description and I will finish it and post it tomorrow.

How about you? Are you having trouble with any particular portion of your proposal? If you’ve written one, what was the most difficult part?

Keep Writing.

Cheers,

Bob