Tag Archives: Kristine Kathryn Rusch

My Path to Indie Publication: Part X—Finding Equilibrium

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 VIIIPart IX

Part X—Finding Equilibrium: the agony and the ecstasy of new authorhood. *

With the success of the three readings equaling sales of more than 70 books, I was very hyped about attending Norwescon 37. I created and ordered bookmarks—5000 for about $200 including shipping. They had special pricing codes: $3 off either a signed print book or a Kobo eBook as well as a note to find me on social media and I’d meet them at the con and sell them a signed copy for a great deal without the shipping and handling. Elena and I went down to the stuffing party to help put 3500 of my bookmarks into the swag bags. The result? [Because, I’m following Kris Rusch’s rule of not offering a deal unless you can track whether it is successful or not.] Nada. Zip. Zilch. The only book I sold was one that was already promised months before to a beta reader. She bought a second book, because I didn’t have change! Sheesh.

The best thing to happen at Norwescon was that I got to see Gordon Van Gelder, he had seen somewhere, a bookmark maybe, that I had a book coming out. He asked if I’d send him a review copy, which of course I was happy to do as I could then send him one of the new and rare copies with the Dante Rossetti Award announced on the cover. Will it lead to a review in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction? Who knows. But , alas, if this one doesn’t break with him, perhaps the next one will.

I still have about 1500 bookmarks and will be taking many of them to ALA14 to see if anything happens this time around. I also gave out a couple handfuls at Vikingcon in Bellingham with no discernible sales off site. I think bookmarks are cool, but don’t spend $200 and expect to get it back. I actually prefer the postcards that I made in cover-shaped format, a better way to get the name and the graphic out there. 

Vikingcon was really awesome. I met a bunch of cool people, and renewed my acquaintance with Greg and Astrid Bear. I met Greg at a Vikingcon in the 1990s and then got to be on a panel about Robert Heinlein with him in 2005 at Norwescon. So, I got to hang out with Greg Bear, I got a free table in the conference hall to sell my books and I got to meet really cool people. I am a fairly terminal optimist, so I signed 10 books with my name and inscribed Vikingcon 2014! But none sold before the panel with Greg. The panel on technology in SF, “Text me, Scotty.” went well. After the panel, my daughter Sheridan, womanning the booth with her daughter and younger sister, had sold two copies. A few people who had attended the panel came by and bought books. Then the Vikingcon folks came to pick up the signed copy I’d promised them. And as the Vendor’s hall was closing I sold the last of the 10 books. Maybe next time I should pre-inscribe 50? Nah. Lesson learned.

The biggest bump of sales not related to meeting people directly came from a friendly source. Dean Kahn, the Bellingham Herald editor who had guided the Serial Science Fiction story Memories of Light the previous year asked his readers to nominate the best books set in Bellingham. Four fans [also friends] wrote in praising my book. The day it came out I sold 9 ebooks and 2 print books in the next 24 hours and several more over the next few days. Yeah!

I’m currently sending out some short fiction set in the same universe to magazine editors in the hopes that a story might lead people to the novel. I’m also planning to release a standalone Deserted Lands novella, Toils and Snares, in the fall as an ebook. As I write this sales have gone flat, but they’ve already been better than I expected. I’ve got more readings set up and a trip to Las Vegas for the American Library Association convention followed by a drive up to Provo where the next book, Straight Into Darkness takes place.

The long awaited hardcover of All Is Silence will be here soon as will summer with more time to write. I’m doing a PubSlush campaign so I can pay my editors and cover artists more. The benefits will be commensurate with the crowd-funding amounts. More to come after school comes out.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. It’s been a roller coaster for me, but as this ride continues, I feel more and more certain that choosing the Indie Publishing route was absolutely the right decision for me. As I have more insight into this amazing process, I’ll blog a bit more, but for now… I’ve gotta 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

Path to Indie Publication: Part II–First Sale

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.

First Sale *

So after following Kris and Dean to that Rustycon workshop in Tacoma where I learned THE SECRET of breaking through in publishing, I focused on short fiction. It made sense. My pace was somewhat off the mark for one a week, closer to one a month or so. I managed 17 submissions in 1996 and 88 in 1997. In 1998, submission #141, “Shooting Star,” sold to Millennium SF&F. The story was inspired by an off-hand remark by Dean, I still hear his voice when I read the last lines of that story. It took me about 20 minutes to write the first draft. It went on to sell two more times totaling over $30 and let me call myself a published and paid writer. It also helped me believe in Kris and Dean’s suggestion that writing fast was not necessarily writing bad.

I continued to write and submit short fiction while I puttered away at a traditional fantasy novel, which I will publish along with its unwritten, but envisioned sequels at some point. I submitted it to the same slushpiles as the other novel. Again, no luck.

I went to conventions, Worldcons in 96-97 and many other local cons, collected rejections, took workshops, participated in Schrodinger’s Petshop Cyber where I re‘met’ Holly Lisle. Holly was a friend of a friend through the Heinlein Forum and the Galactic Citizen contacts and I bought and loved her first book, Fire in the Mist, and its follow-ups. I participated in the Critters online critique group and attempted to create and fit in with other in-person writer’s groups.

I kept up a steady stream of submissions and discovered Slater’s First Law of Submissions. If one had enough stories in the mail, they didn’t sting much when they come back. Its corollary is when one has gone without seeing or thinking about a story for weeks to months, an honest reading and rewrite is easy when it finally return. [This editing breaks one of the Roberts’ Rules of Writing, but I think fits within the developing yourself as a writer piece.]

The Second of Slater’s Laws of Submissions is more of a guideline or probability—Maybe Slater’s Rule of 12. Whenever I managed to have 12 stories submitted at one time, I would sell one by the time the other 11 came back. [Hhhmmm… 11.]

Over the next few years I sold several more stories, started many more and finished quite a few of them. Was I ready for prime time? No. Not by a far piece of hard road. I had racked up 300+ submissions, gained a pretty thick skin and hated it when people gave me critiques of, “this is good.” I wanted to get better.

My next near-big breakthrough happened the year I managed 101 submissions.


Coming next week: Part III–2003: Breakout year?

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

Path to Indie Publication: Part I–Born a Writer?

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.

Born a Writer? *

As I eagerly await the official release of my debut novel, All Is Silence, I’ve taken some time to reflect on my personal path to publication. I’ve been writing short stories, songs, and poetry practically since I could place pen to paper. I am a third generation writer. My mother released a book of poetry that included poems by her, my grandfather, myself and two of my children. I’ve released a CD of my own songs, Some of the someofthepartsParts, and seen some of my plays performed. I’ve had my phases, song lyrics, plays, short fiction and poetry.

Science Fiction and Fantasy have been a huge part of my life since the golden age of 10, but I hadn’t considered writing it. At the age of 23 in 1990, during an all-night study session, I started my first novel. I should have been writing a Research Paper for my Russian Literature in Translation class. The paper got a D. The novel probably deserves a similar grade. Not long after I read a Spider Robinson novel, Time Pressure, and I sat down the next day and wrote my first speculative fiction story.

That first novel, Jack and the Beanstalk set in 2050-something, was a rambling series of events that happened to Jack told in order of occurrence and later reworked so that it started en media res. A kindly local novelist and short-story writer, Rick Gauger, took pity on me and read part of the manuscript. He said it was picaresque. I had to look it up. He also told me some other issues and carefully avoided saying he had read the whole thing! I submitted it to a small press magazine, The Galactic Citizen, edited by Deb Houdek, and she accepted it and serialized the first several chapters. It was a phenomenal feeling to see it in print and even have some talented artists contribute very cool 50s pulp-style illustrations. I shopped the manuscript around in the traditional way: synopsis, first three chapters, Courier New font and tons of $ in postage and handling costs. Thankfully, it did not make it through the slush pile.

At Vikingcon in Bellingham I met Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith and did the young author stalk. I heard them read, I listened to their panels and I bought their signed books. Then I followed them to a Rustycon workshop in Tacoma. I think it was 1996. There I learned THE SECRET of breaking through in publishing. It was so simple. Too simple. Write a short story or a novel chapter each week. When you finish it, edit, then send it off. Lather, rinse and repeat. They promised that if I did that for a year, I would get published.

Coming next week: Part II-First Sale

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

Hashtags, ALL IS SILENCE follow-up, NANOWRIMO…

Well folks,

We’re into November and NANOWRIMO: NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. If you know my propensity for DOuble TYping CApital LEtters, you understand part of the reason why I like this activity. The other reason I love it is because thanks to NANO I now know [hear that?] that I can make it as a writing pro. I sent my 2012 NANOnovel to the printer for Advanced Reader Copies to send to Reviewers, Booksellers and Librarians ONE YEAR after I wrote the first words. And I’m pretty damn proud of it. I feel like I’ve finally gotten through my million words of dreck and am now producing decent fiction.

I write a lot with music and over the last year have been meandering through Twitter and Google+ and the whole idea of hashtags has only recently gelled in my brain. So last week I created my first original hashtag: #NANOWplaying. So as you check me out in social media, you’ll probably get a sense of the noveling process through my listening pleasures.

#NANOWplaying: Bush – Glycerine.

STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS is over 10,000 words and plot points and scenes are now popping unbidden into my head. The first week was scary because I felt like I was floundering, but pushing forward, without overwhelming myself paid off yesterday with enough new ideas to stitch together the plot pieces I’d already figured out. Cool.

#NANOWplaying: Candlebox – Far Behind

Thanks to all of you writer/teachers out there who have inspired and impressed me with the virtue of tenacity and perseverance: Holly Lisle, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. And to the friends and folks in my life who have become fodder for the fiction. Thanks and apologies if you see yourself too much in a character. Believe me, it wasn’t you if you feel bad. 😉

Write on,

Rob