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The Doldrums, Rising Tide and Banned Books

The last month has been a hard one in terms of writing. Though I wrote 55,000 words this summer, probably more than I have ever written, it was not the 75,000 and the finished rough drafts of a novel and a novella. Instead, I have unfinished drafts of two novels and a novella. I also hit some walls in terms of writing everyday, one of the biggest was my day job as a teacher coming back into 45+ hours a week focus.

My sales also fell, despite being involved in two sales for e-books. My book is no longer new and no longer getting lots of attention. Now is the time to be gearing up for the next book, but the state of the next book is not where I want it to be which is also somewhat crippling.

I’ve had a steady increase of readers and reviews on GoodReads, followers and readers on WattPad and followers on Facebook. Twitter has stabilized at about 1000 followers and my e-mail list at about 130. I feel like I am in a good place, but the doubts of the doldrums decimate my desires. [Can you tell I’m teaching poetry and literary devices?]Hot#3WP

On the other hand, the good news is really good. On WattPad the number of people who read the first section and go has been trending steadily upward from approximately 3% to 4% and now over 5.64%. It’s broken the top hundred in Science Fiction and hit #3 on the SF/Teen Fiction list! At this rate I’ll hit 100,000 reads in April as I release book two, Straight Into Darkness.

This weekend I got to hang out with readers and writers at The Chanticleer Conference, Awards Banquet and Books By the Bay festival. I sold more books than in the previous month and got to network with some awesome authors.

I’ll be starting my PubSlush campaign October 17th to crowd-fund higher payments for cover art and editing on book two so that it is an even stronger book than All Is Silence was. Glad you’re along for the ride!

Oh, check out my Banned Books reading from Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. “I grok humans, Jill.”

 

 

Noveling: 7 Ways You Can Help

Okay. Really, really, need to get more fiction written. Lots of marketing, some plotting, etc. Some great times with family in the last 10 days, but not enough words!

How can I help, Rob?  Here are a variety of options that take anywhere from a little time to a lot. You can also ask me if you see anything on a social media site whether I’ve met my daily word goal! 🙂

  1. Write me a review. Post in on Amazon, GoodReads and anywhere else you feel like! Here are one-click links to All Is Silence for all major markets so you don’t have to search for the book.
  2. No time for a review? You can still rate it/rank it on Amazon/Goodreads. Those count, too. Please be honest. If it’s a TWO STAR please give me TWO STARS! “This is for posterity!”
  3. No time to rank/rate? Share/forward one of the links on WattPad, FacebookGoogle+Twitter, Pinterest, or THE CAN’T MAKE IT TO WORLDCON SALE. Like my author page on Facebook.
  4. Other things that may take slightly longer. Fan me on PubSlush for my crowdsource fundraiser to increase what I can pay editors/cover designers up front.
  5. Request a copy at your local library. Donate a copy to your local alternative high school, or any H.S.
  6. Buy a copy of the signed, limited edition [50 only] Hardcover editions. Or buy a shirt, a paperback, a CD or an e-book.
  7. Make me dinner? 🙂

 

My Path to Indie Publication: Part IX– Party On.

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. Part V. Part VIPart VII. Part VIII

Party On.*

One of the ideas I had picked up from Mary Robinett Kowal’s Debut Author lessons, an excellent and concise primer for how to act pro as a newbie author, was that I needed professional author photos. I had been crossing paths for several years with Damian Vines, an acquaintance from my Grays Harbor wannabe rocker years. We played some guitar, exchanged Facebook posts and I marveled at his growing body of fine art photography. When it came time, we agreed that the grounds of the old Northern State mental hospital grounds in Sedro Woolley would be perfect for some apocalyptic shots. The day was cold, but we got some great photos

Then during a chance conversation at Village Books with Paul Hansen, store manager, he suggested I have the Release Party at Village Books. I had been thinking of other venues around town, churches, former churches, even Windward High School where I teach. But what better place to do a release party? I wanted to do it almost immediately, this was the second week of February and I wanted to do it on the 20th of February, but Christina at VB events convinced me to put it out a month so we could get the word out.

Elena, my partner, and Amanda, my editor, gave me advice to improve on the reading I had done at AWP in Seattle. I cut down the one section I had read, leaving it on a cliffhanger and chose another short one that I also hoped would leave the listeners wanting more. I put up a Facebook event, a Google+ event, posted it on my blog, my newsletter, Goodreads and my Amazon author page. I invited 500 of my various followers who might be within driving distance. When the day came, 50 people had RSVP’d they would be there. I created a powerpoint to run before the event started, I rehearsed to songs I’d written that I thought seemed to fit thematically. I ordered pizza and Mountain Dew, food for the Apocalypse, as well as cookies, tea and coffee for those wanting a kinder, gentler end of the world.

I printed up cards for a free giveaway of my short fiction and poetry collection. Each card was numbered so I could not only see how many folks attended, but also do drawings for door-prizes:robslater a copy of Some of the Parts, my CD of original music, and a copy of Blue Deer: Four Generations of Poetry, my mom’s poetry book which includes poems by her father, me and some of my kids. Everything was going well, albeit a little harried. Parking near Village Books was practically non-existent. I parked in a no parking zone to unload boxes of books, guitar and other stuff. And then realized that I only had my school computer which did not have the VGA connector to hook up the presentation. Oops.

I played an extra song while folks were continuing to stream in and then started the show about five minutes late, but with most of the chairs filled. We ended up with at least 75 people as I gave out all 75 cards I had printed. We had a nice break midway through and most of the pizza and all of the cookies disappeared. After each of the readings I fielded questions including my favorite, “How old should you be to read this book?” I suggested that anyone under 15 probably should check it out with parents first. We sold 24 books and had a lovely, lovely evening ending in drinks with friends across the green at the Archer Ale House.

I followed the release party up with a Hometown Reading the first weekend of my spring break. [Immortalized in this Seussian poem] The reading took place at the Hoquiam Timberland Regional Library, a home away from home when I was growing up and the place where some forward thinking librarian got me hooked on Science Fiction. We did essentially the same format as the release party minus the pizza. This time we got the projector up and running the presentation. The crowd was smaller, and many called me, “Robbie,” as they’d known me since childhood. We sold a few more books, had a pleasant weekend of thrift store shopping and ate at two of my favorite restaurant meals: Casa Mia Pizza’s Special and The Canton’s Egg rolls. I brought extra servings of both back home to Bellingham, after doing a reading at Harbor High School in Aberdeen. I also left copies for the other two local high school libraries and fundraisers. Not long after getting home with the food, my high school buddy, Derek Cook, principal of Harbor High contacted me to buy a classroom set of 30!

I realized the price I had quoted, once shipped would be nearly at cost. Thankfully, I managed to send them south with my niece, another former Grays Harborite, saving the shipping cost of 30 pounds of books.

Next Week: Part X—Finding Equilibrium, the agony and the ecstasy of new authorhood. Where our author goes to conventions and finds success and failure.

Write on…

* 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 VII–The Harder I Work the Luckier I Get

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. Part V.  Part VI. 

The Harder I Work the Luckier I Get *

The Harder I work the Luckier I get. I know this quote has been said many times and many ways for many years. But I heard it first from one of the hardest working authors out there, Kevin Anderson. I don’t know if I heard him say this or if I heard it from Kris and Dean or someone else, but the thought stuck. I didn’t always pull it off, but I kept it as a goal. How does an artist get successful? By putting their work and their ‘self’ out for public consumption.

At the end of November I was stressed. I had only hit about 35,000 words for NANOWRIMO 2013 – Straight into Darkness, compared to the nearly 60,000 the year before. I wanted to get the pre-release copies of the novel out before the Holidays, but I had only finished the “last” draft, post-ARC, version 8.0 of All Is Silence at the end of October. This and Scrivener’s learning curve for print production, much more challenging than e-book, took the air out of my sales a couple times.

All Is Silence went out to the copy-editors after edits from me based on Advanced Reader Copies [ARCs] feedback. Five chapters at a time, a few days apart. 12/12, 12/15-19 5 chapter each day, then 12/24 and finally 12/28. I rewrote the ending chapter after significant advice from my partner, Elena.

I pushed through winter break editing and formatting, still hoping to release the e-book on January 1st. My vacation from school was anything but. While all this was going on I couldn’t stop the marketing piece. I ran two GoodReads giveaways over Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. I blogged some. I built my Twitter following, Facebook, Google+ and newsletter lists. Christopher Key, a reviewer I’d known through my Shakespeare and theatre connections, agreed to review All Is Silence for the Entertainment News NorthWest, January edition. It was a stellar review noting Lizzie’s anti-hero. It came out on the 4th with a mention on the cover and then on the 7th of January All Is Silence went live to the world on two of the three major ebooksellers as I worked on finishing the formatting for print version.

Due to accidentally hitting the unpublish button on Kobo, I had trouble getting All Is Silence onto that market. I’d tried to republish and was waiting on a 72 hour process that took over a week. I was also fighting with ebook formatting wanting to keep my text in the fonts I had chosen for print. Baskerville for most of the text, but Arial Narrow Bold for the e-mails and texting between the characters. Then, a most auspicious e-mail arrive. Sam Kass, of Village Books, wanted to know if I was interested in a workshop with Kobo about their Self-Publishing site: Kobo Writing Life. I was frustrated by Kobo support’s lack of responsiveness on my issue {though I had not tried phone support [since phone calls are actually my Kryptonite. (I later used their phone support and received more immediate information.)]}.  Sam connected me with Mark Lefebvre, director of Kobo’s Self-Publishing and Author Relations [And an author himself under the name Mark Leslie]. He graciously helped me through my issues and even bought the first Kobo copy of All Is Silence when the narrative hooked him.

#3 with a bulletWe did the workshop. I learned a lot and gave pretty good advice, I think. Kobo ran a promotion for the book and lo and behold, the next day I was #7 on Kobo’s U.S. Young Adult Science Fiction chart. It went as high as #3, surrounded by Veronica Roth’s Divergent Universe books (Allegiant was the next book and her short stories filled many of the next rows). My story with Kobo was only beginning as I readied for the February 18th release date.

I wrapped up another GoodReads Giveaway at the end of January and was disappointed with the results, but to counter that was the good news that All Is Silence had been named a Finalist in the Dante Rossetti YA contest.

Next Week: Part VIII–Print Release, Awards and Readings.

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

NORWESCON 37 next weekend

Hey folks, I’ll be at Norwescon next Friday, April 18, 2014, hopefully by early evening and staying through to April 20, 2014. Staying at the Doubletree by Hilton SeaTac in the ‘Pro’ block! I’m not a panelist this year, but I’ll be attending panels, meeting people. For attendees, a special price break for a signed book, a coupon in the swag bag; I’ll be selling and signing books if people find me. FB message, Twitter or e-mail. See you there!

My Path to Indie Publication: Part VI–Playing the Professional.

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. Part V

Playing the Professional *

I had started marketing as soon as I knew I would be publishing the novel. I took my Twitter account created the previous year, created a similar named Google+ account and began posting on Facebook. I began building a emailing list for semi-monthly newsletters with a goal of having 100 names by the end of the year. The Twitter goal was 1000 and though I didn’t have numeric goals for Facebook and Google+, I intended to be actively involved and grow my ‘friends’ lists/circles.

I had purchased the desertedlands domain at the beginning of 2013, excited to find it not already parked or purchased. I began blogging using WordPress on both www.robslater.com and www.desertedlands.com in March and May of 2013 respectively.

On August 7th, I woke to a happy surprise, an email from Analog reviewer Don Sakers, a friend of a friend on the Heinlein Forum on Facebook. He requested the opportunity to read All Is Silence, warning me that he wouldn’t publish a bad review. I thanked him and promised an Advanced Reader Copy [ARC] by late September. My writer friends told me how rare it was for a reviewer to request an ARC. I was flying high.

By August 22nd, the release of my chapter of the serial, Memories of Light, in the Bellingham Herald, I was posting to the blogs 2-3 times a week, but mainly little updates, nothing resembling content. When Memories of Light came out, I got a huge bump in traffic that has not yet been surpassed. I humbly explained my changes of plans and the updated release dates and continued to stumble forward with the rewrites. The updated goal was to have a completed manuscript to enter into Chanticleer Reviews’ Dante Rossetti Young Adult Fiction contest by late September.

So, a new school year started and my day job resumed, with the added bonus that I got to teach a NANOWRIMO: Young Writer’s Program class, I began with 15 students all planning on writing at least 30,000 words. This gave me time during the day to plan when my students planned and write when they wrote. With early October approaching and a reading at Village Books for the Herald’s serial story I was scrambling to get Electronic Advanced Reader Copies [eARCs] out to be followed by print ARCs. When I sent off the manuscript to Chanticleer, it was complete, but not finished.

The next professional appearance was the reading at Village Books for the Herald serial story. I ended up getting to be the Master of Ceremonies and read Larry Goolsby’s section, the first ‘chapter’ and my own, the last. It went well we had a good house of about 35 people and I handed out a bunch of postcards with my two covers back to back. I dressed up in a button down shirt and did my best to ‘be’ the pro writer I wanted to be. After the reading I made sure to thank Sam, our Village Books host, and he asked if I’d be willing to be a future featured author in the Kobo e-book newsletter VB sends out monthly. Of course, I said yes.

I held off sending it off to Don Sakers of Analog until I’d done another pass on the manuscript. I was torn between not meeting deadlines I’d already extended and sending off something I knew needed to be better. I compromised with myself, did another edit and sent it to Don.

Straight into Darkness, the next book in Lizzie’s story, had begun to take shape. I hit 1732 words on November 1st. But the Scrivener to Print formatting had a learning curve took a major bite out of my time when I wanted to be writing. What I haven’t figured out yet, even as I try to be a pro writer by acting like one, is how to balance the writing and all the business: marketing, production and distribution.

Next: Part VII–The Harder I work the Luckier I Get.

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