Tag Archives: Mark Coker

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

Path to Indie Publication: Part III–2003: Breakout year?

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.

2003 Breakout Year *

101 submissions. Three sales. A Semi-Finalist in the Writers of the Future contest that earned me a K.D. Wentworth critique. I rewrote the story and sent it back out. Strange Horizons requested a rewrite. Alas, the rewrite, though it met their criteria, seemed to lack whatever would push it into the realm of a sale. In terms of my writing career, 2003 was a success.

I rode that wave of success to three convention appearances as a “professional” writer and panelist, well… the wave and my connections to fandom through the Heinlein Society.  I had some wonderful moments participating in panels with Alan Dean Foster and Greg Bear, but I felt like a pretender. I hadn’t written many new stories. I continued to teach Creative Writing at my high school and write some poetry as examples while I taught.

For the next few years my energy to submit fiction waned. I had spent fifteen years, collected 485 rejections, 14 short fiction sales and quite a bit of frustration. I puttered in short bursts on fiction, wrote reminders to myself about stories to write someday and gradually wound down to complete inactivity as a writer. This corresponded with a particularly hard time in my personal life. My creative energy went into theatre with Shakespeare NorthWest, and a few new songs and poems.

2010. The Future. Arthur C. Clarke had regrounded his future in 2010, why couldn’t I? I sent out a single submission. #500. For some reason that carried more weight. It didn’t sell. It took me a year to send out another, but I finished 2011 strong with 70 submissions. No sales. 2012 saw 37 more submissions up to August.

Sometime in 2012 I stumbled upon NANOWRIMO. I had an idea—a girl, an At-Risk teen, her DNA made up of 48 teen-age girls I’d worked with, surviving a realistic apocalypse. The basic setting was one I’d come up with back in 1997, not long after my first reading of Lord of the Flies. In world where almost everyone dies, even the worst humans will generally do the best they can. Not like Golding’s golden boys. So, I made a plan, created a list of nearly 40 potential scenes in the life of Lizzie. Then I wrote it. My brain had been thinking about it long enough and it pulled in all the things I knew. At the end of November I had 68, 000 words! And it was good. Rough, but good. I’d let a couple teen-aged girls read it as I was going along. It stuck with people. With o’ermuch hubris, I decided I would publish it the following August. The working title had gone from Zombie Zoo [Petty] to Where Have All Your Children Gone [Hooters] to All Is Silence In the World [Springsteen]. Finally, after reading a post from Mark Coker of Smashwords who said too long titles don’t sell well, I shortened it to All Is Silence.

In December, I cut the last couple thousand words and wrote 20,000 more trying to get the right ending. As the new year came I had finished a book. By January 2nd I’d decided I hated the 2nd attempt at an ending. Sigh.


Coming next week: Part IV–Synchronicity

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