Tag Archives: Chuckanut Writer’s Conference

My Path to Indie Publication: Part V–Reality and the Instability of Time

My Path to Indie Publication Series is a companion series to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Path to Publication. I have been avidly reading Marshall’s posts since I discovered his blog. Read Path to Indie PublicationPart IPart IIPart III. Part IV.

Reality and the Instability of Time, a.k.a. Learning to Use Scotty’s Law of Time Estimation (or even less well known, how to a write a blog post with too long a title…)*

[Author’s Note: Sorry this is late. It’s at least slightly ironic that this blog-post was late, no?]

When I “finished” the first draft of And Everything After… [Third working title. First was Zombie Zoo, Second was Where Have All Your Children Gone?] I decided I wanted to publish in August of 2013—TEN MONTHS after I’d written the first words. Hubris? Yeah. There have been lots of humbling moments in response to this presumptuousness.

As part of my NANOWRIMO prizes, and on the recommendation of my new editor, I bought Scrivener Writing Software for half-price–a steal at $20. Reasonable at the usual price. I bought the Windows version to format Outward Bound, the Science Fiction & Poetry collection. I had struggled with the NANOWRIMO 45 day free download of Scrivener and given up on it.

After the stress of finishing the first draft of the novel, I found that taking already existing documents and uploading them into the software was easy. Then turning it all into an e-book was even easier. The only real issue I had was formatting the poetry. One poem graphically moves across the page like a spiral galaxy; getting it to look right in an ebook was challenging. I had hoped to release Outward Bound in April or May as a way to build interest in the release of All Is Silence In the World [the penultimate title]. But as June came, it was not yet ready for prime time. Luckily, as a self published author the only deadlines one has to hit are ones own.

Meeting Alice Acheson at the Chuckanut Writer’s Conference helped me figure out a more reasonable plan for marketing and releasing the novel. All Is Silence. Alice suggested waiting until February because when bookstores get a book at the holiday season or soon after, there is so much going on that it may not get noticed. So I picked February 11th. It seemed like a long way off.

With my final installment of Memories of Light, the Science Fiction Serial, appearing in the Bellingham Herald in August, I wanted to maximize that press opportunity. But the novel was not nearly finished. I decided that releasing Outward Bound instead of the novel in mid-August with a sampler chapter of the novel made the most sense.

In late July I submitted the current draft of the novel to CreateSpace to see what it looked like in print. I went with a generic cover and the wrong title, Deserted Lands, not wanting anything to go wrong about having the book out too soon. I had printed a slipcover for it featuring the amazing art of Pintado. ALL IS SILENCE.  I was thrilled to hold it in my hands. For about 30 seconds. Well, maybe five whole minutes. This now svelte title, cut down due to reading a blog from Mark Coker of Smashwords, [Web editor’s note: Rob’s daughter Sheridan suggested cutting the title to ‘All is Silence’ months before he] housed a manuscript that needed a similar svelteness.  If I had published it at this point I would have been deeply embarrassed, yet many of the self-published books I have tried to read seemed to be released at this point.

The weeks leading up to the release of Outward Bound and my “chapter” of Memories of Light became full of marketing and formatting and uploading and re-editing stories and poetry I hadn’t read in years as well as the new Deserted lands works. On a challenge from Holly Lisle, I had started three short stories set in the Deserted Lands universe intending to include them in the collection. The first two came easily, but I realized the third was not a short story. It told about a European stuck in the U.S. due to the pandemic and trying to figure out how to get home to his lover who had also miraculously survived. This novel, about a bunch of non-sailors trying to cross the Atlantic, is now slated for #10 in the series, I think. Might be #7.

More delays coming. Which leads into Part VI: Playing the Professional.

* Adapted and expanded from the Foreword to Outward Bound: Science Fiction & Poetry, a collection of some of my published and unpublished works. Top

My Path to Indie Publication: Part IV–Synchronicity

My Path to Indie Publication Series is a companion series to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Path to Publication. I have been avidly reading Marshall’s posts since I discovered his blog. Read Part IPath to Indie Publication. Part IIPart III.

Synchronicity *

I had a book. I had a title. I couldn’t stand the ending. Rewrote it. Waited. Fiddled. Hated it. Cut it. Waited. Rewrote it. Close.

I discovered the Speculative Fiction writers group at Village Books and was chosen for the Bellingham Herald’s annual serial story, Speculative Fiction this year, six writers, 800 words each, released on consecutive Mondays.

I attended the Children’s Literature Conference at WWU and stalked author Michael Grant for a couple days. He didn’t seem to mind. He gave me advice on blurbs and marketing and asked me what I thought of his choice to use “swore” instead of including the profanity as part of the dialogue. As a school teacher I assured him, that for his audience it was the perfect choice. He declined my request to read All Is Silence. I also managed to reconnect with Tamar Clark, one of two Teen Services Coordinators at the Whatcom County Library System. She and her partner in crime [fiction], Aubri Kelerman, have been great helping me understand the public library systems.

With great guidance by Dean Kahn, the Serial Story: Memories of Light, came together quickly and cleanly, leaving me with the issue of wrapping up the ending. I had volunteered, thinking that since I wasn’t great at endings, forcing myself to come up with one and not let my fellow writer’s down was a good challenge. Amanda Hagarty was the writer before me and she left me in a place where I didn’t know I could write myself out of in 800 words. My first draft that got to the ending was 1200! But with the help of Amanda and the other serialists, I cut it down.

Cory Skerry, local writer and slush-pile reader at Tor.com stalked me enough to decide I would be open to him contacting me by e-mail. He invited me to join the Bellingham Writer’s Group that included fellow serialist, Amanda. She became my Story Editor for All Is Silence and her fixes and suggestions made it from a 103,000 word mess into a too trim 88,000 words with some suggestions on adding some muscle to that taut frame.

The Chuckanut Writer’s Conference at Whatcom Community College added value and excitement. I met Alice Acheson, connected more with Kiffer Brown of Chanticleer Reviews and joined IBPA, The Independent Book Publishers Association.

Post-NANOWRIMO, I did the Book Doctors Webinar, a deal at $70 for NANOWRIMO. Arielle and David were most helpful. Then I entered their online Pitchapalooza, which since I had already purchased The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published for some ridiculous sale price of $2.99 or something, got me a 20 minute telephone conference with David. Killer advice on the pitch on going traditional or indie and how to get good cover art. In order to be truly professional when the novel came out I needed to pay for a cover and editing.

One of his suggestions was 99Designs. I set up a contest on 99Designs, and after a scary first few days, started to get really exciting designs. I ended up with 146 designs from 30 designers.

As I began to think of ways to develop buzz for my novel and learn the process of self-publishing, I decided creating an e-book of my published fiction would help both goals. Along the way I decided that it made sense to include some new fiction set in the Deserted Lands Universe. I contacted the runner up in the novel cover contest, Portugal—Alexandre Rito, for the cover design of the Outward Bound eBook.

This post is chocablock full of links because I put myself out there where I could run into people who could help me. And run into people I did. I accepted offers and invitations and I asked people what I could do to help. My meager assistance for many of these folks has been returned sevenfold and continues to ripple through my universe.


Coming next week: Part V–Reality and instability of Time, or learning to use Scotty’s Law of Estimation.

* Adapted and expanded from the Foreword to Outward Bound: Science Fiction & Poetry, a collection of some of my published and unpublished works. Top

Marketing Session Advice & Fallout

WARNING: I am triple posting this because I want to let people know, just in case anyone is actually biting their nails… 😉

Well. Chuckanut Writers Conference was awesome. I learned an incredible amount about market and publishing. The biggest thing I learned… Wait for it…Is…how much I still need to learn before releasing my book. Alice Acheson, the Marketing expert I had the honor of assisting for the conference, left me with brain spinning. Trying to find the middle ground between what I want and what is the best for the book, my career, and my present and future readers. It’s a minefield!

Alice has advised me to slow down and plan the next year’s worth of book activities. After getting this advice I talked to a couple other people “in the know” and everyone agreed. So, with a bit of frustration, but an acceptance that I often jump into things without being fully prepared tells me this is the right thing to do.

So, if you are really, really excited about reading my book in mid-August there are two solutions. (If you don’t like these and want to Kobayashi on me, send an e-mail!)

  1. I will be releasing the first 3 chapters in early August.
  2. I will also be adding Beta readers who will get the full “FINAL” draft in late August.
  3. ???

I will also be releasing a book of science fiction stories and poetry that will include at least one Deserted Lands story and possible the story that started it all back in 1996! The collection will be titled: Outward Bound: Collected Speculative Fiction and Poetry of Robert L.Slater.

In November I will be writing the next story which includes many of the same characters and picks up a few weeks after All is Silence. Back to rewrites and research.

 

Chuckanut Writers’

Great day yesterday at the Chuckanut Writers Conference [CWC]. Lots of positive energy and compliments on the cover art. Some things to think about it terms of marketing. And one weird/cool experience.

Garth Stein is the Writer Guest of Honor, though I’m not sure CWC.calls him that. He’s a way cool, bass playing author. So I’d heard him play bass and had his book Racing in the Rain recommended to me by a student. He’s very humble and humorous.

The weird/cool thing happened when I was browsing his books at the Village Books temporary bookstore here at CWC. His book: How Evan Broke his Head and Other Secrets, is bizarrely similar in plot to a mainstream book I started and wrote three chapters on in the mid 1990s, Horseshoes, Hand Grenades & Slow Dancing. They’re both about rockers who hang around on the periphery of success, not quite making it. In their 30s a former girlfriend dies leaving the protagonist to raise a son they never knew.  So, needless to say, I bought his book today and hope to have him sign it!

Write on,

Rob