Call me Indie

best-books-book-youll-ever-read

I recently embraced the label of “indie writer.” While I thought I was just doing this for me, and in a real way I am. But I also want to writer more and more and get people to read what I write and enjoy it and it also wouldn’t hurt if it added a little extra income. So, I’ll be an indie writer.

It does seem pretty daunting. The first thing I figured out is that if you want to be a successful indie writer, you have to publish early and often. In my head I figured I could publish a book a year. Nope, wrong. From what I’ve been reading, I’ll need to publish 3 or even four times a year to be serious. So there are some changes I need to make.

The most obvious is that I need to write more. Like everyday. I also need to post more. I need to get more efficient and prolific. I’m working on that. I have to get used to writing every day. My youngest is five, nearly six, and so he doesn’t need me every minute any longer, just every other minute. So I’ll probably be a little more consistent with writing.

I also need to learn the marketing end and get better at building an audience. I don’t have any idea how to do that yet, but I’ll learn. Plenty have traveled this road before me and so there is no need to reinvent the wheel. I just need to learn what works, improve my craft and do what I do.

So, thank you for being on this journey with me. I love writing and I’m excited about doing more of it and sharing with you all. Here’s to indie writing! Cheers!

Advertisements

Direct Publishing Decision

In 2005 I finished writing The Sureshot and started emailing and sending out copies to publishers. It didn’t take long for some to express interest in publishing my story. I was thrilled. The idea of being a published author was enticing. I was proud of my work and thought it had a real chance at being received well in a commercial market. I’ll never forget signing with a publisher and feeling like I had arrived. I immediately continued work on a sequel figuring that my writing career had just begun. Not quite.

At first everything seemed fine. I was in contact with an editor, a cover artist and others who helped make my book materialize. In 2006 it was available and I received a few copies to give out or sell myself. It was then I began to wake from the dream.

The cover artist couldn’t put together what I hoped. The binding was below average and was coming apart even though the books were brand new. When it came to editing there were dozens of errors still present. I was a bit disappointed. Still, I had book available for purchase and people excited to read it. I still felt successful. But that faded too.

Years later, the publisher declared bankruptcy and is being sued by many people. I have the rights back to my work and I have the motivation to write again. Turns out, more than a decade later, that technology has made it possible to publish directly. So far I’m thrilled with kindle direct publishing. It cost me nothing to publish, my work was available immediately, and I control all aspects of the product. Sure, I’d prefer to have a big publisher partner with me help me be the author I want to be, but until then I’ll continue writing and publishing for myself and for those interested in reading. Cheers!

Sureshot Cover Contest

Calling all artists! Along with a rewrite and republish I want a new cover for The Sureshot. Since I’ve met and befriended many artists over the years and I know there are a bunch of you out there who have a lot of talent, I thought it would be a great idea to see who in my circle would like to do a cover.

The old cover was solid and a lot of people liked it. I liked it also even though it wasn’t personalized to my book really. It was relevant enough but wasn’t based on the story of the book necessarily. That said, I like the colors and image a lot and it was catchy. As solid as the old cover was, I can’t wait for a new one!

I cannot compensate the artist at this point but if I make money with this book then I would love to pay my cover artist for future covers so there is a chance that we can become partners. You will for sure have your name in the book as the cover artist at least, and I will make sure everyone knows who did the cover.

If I get multiple submissions I may have a voting “contest” to see which is most popular with my followers and readers.

I would like the art ready in one month, which is when my book is scheduled to be ready for publishing.

Due date: Aug 12th.

While I am open to whatever you would like to do as an artist, some themes and images that are central to the story include:

common images: Forest, trees, bear, hawk, bow, arrows

themes: birth, new identity, coming of age, competition

277057_214183981960473_8245475_n.jpg

Alcohol in Writing

More than ten years ago when The Sureshot was first published there was one main issue the editors had with my story; alcohol. They didn’t catch a hundred spelling and grammar errors, they weren’t interested in improving the story arch, nor character depth nor conflict resolutions. Nope. The biggest issue the chief editor had was that my characters drank alcohol.

I had not even thought about it when I wrote the story. The setting reflected medieval Europe and so when I wrote it I had characters drinking mead or ale. I didn’t do it to promote drinking. In fact, I didn’t even know why I wrote it like that except that in any story I ever heard of about medieval Europe, including most of the Disney stories, they drank alcoholic beverages. I didn’t know why, that’s just what they did. The editor said to take it out (they were Bible belt protestants) so I wrote generic “drink” in place of things like mead or ale.

I always thought the edit was stupid and continue to believe that. I did research on why people drank alcohol and mostly it was because of the lack of clean water, lack of refrigeration and besides, it can get your drunk!

It turns out that even today, many microbes live in water. Bacteria cause millions to get sick and many of those to die every year in the 21st century. In the days before bottled and purified water, only boiled water was safe and who wanted to boil water every time you were thirsty? No one. Alcohol is fermented to the point where the yeast, as well as any bacteria, die. I even saw a video where some people used water from a duck pond to make beer. They measured the level and types of bacteria in the water before the fermentation process and it was essentially deadly. After they made the water to make beer there was zero bacteria in it. So it is simple, beer is much safer to drink.

Needless to say, I wrote alcohol back into the story so cheers!

Tate Publishing Disaster

It was 2005. I was 25 years old and in college and working on becoming a teacher. On my computer I had a story that I half wrote in 2001 and finished in 2003 while caring for my newborn daughter during the summer between semesters. I was very proud of my work. It was my first complete, novel length story. I researched publishing and agents. I even bought “The Writer’s Market” which was full of publishers and agents. I began sending my manuscript out. I began sending it to agents, publishers anyone and everyone who might help me reach my dream of becoming a writer. I had probably sent my work to about a dozen or so places which is essentially none in the publishing world. I got two responses almost immediately. I was sure I was well on my way to becoming a professional writer. I was dead wrong.

I researched Tate Publishing who offered me a contract. I found only a little about them but it was generally positive with only a couple of people complaining about poor editing and poor quality of product. My desire to be published overshadowed my ability to be patient and wait for the proper partner to help me become the author I could be. Tate required a $5000 investment fee to fund marketing, allegedly. I looked into that as well. I absolutely saw people saying that no publisher should ever expect their writers to invest in their own publishing, but others said that it was not unreasonable. Again, I was young and really wanted to be a writer. So I signed and my book was published in 2006.

At first I was elated. Everything seemed to go well. The editors and designers who helped me were awesome. I really enjoyed working with them. The cover looked great and it was a fantastic feeling to get a box of books in my hands for the time. It that moment I was sure that I was going to be a full time writer before long and immediately began working on another manuscript. It didn’t take too long to notice some cracks in the foundation however.

One of the first issues was how many editing mistakes still remained in the published copy. I read through it a few times myself but tend to miss errors because I instinctively knew what I meant. I was highly disappointed however that the copy editor missed nearly 100 spelling and grammar mistakes. I asked about the poor editing and they sent me a “post production correction” form for me to fill out each mistake with the page in which it could be found. Several months later they corrected the manuscript and eventually printed corrected copies but continued to sell the ones full of errors in the meantime. Still I was optimistic.

Tate’s policy regarding the $5000 investment was that if you managed to sell 5000 copies you would be returned the investment and offered future contracts without the need of any money from the author. I figured I could do 5000 in sales no problem and therefor the money would be returned. I was mistaken. It turns out that 5000 in sales was a bit of a goal. I managed to sell about 500 from my own hands but even if Tate themselves sold some (and I know they did through Amazon and other distributors) I apparently did not reach the mark.

I finished the sequel to my work a couple of years later and was even more enthusiastic about it. I had some insecurities about my first book, feeling like I could have done better, but this one I knew was quite good. I had several people read it and got great reviews. I edited the work several times and knew it was ready for publishing. Part of the contract with Tate was that they reserved the right to review any subsequent works I wrote before any other publishers. Fair enough, I sent them a copy. They agreed to publish it but wanted another $2500 to do so. I declined. They discounted that to $2000. I again declined. I shelved the work and mostly gave up on my dream of becoming a writer. Partly out of disappointment with my publisher, partly out of disappointment with myself but mostly because I was in my first few years as a teacher and had a few small children.

In 2016 I received the rights to my book back as Tate only reserved the rights for 10 years. It happened to be good timing for me because I resurrected my writing dream and had more time with my children getting a bit older and being more efficient as a veteran teacher. I began to plan what to do next when I saw that Tate went bankrupt. It got worse.

In January the publisher closed its doors. I read that several companies were suing them for back lease money on printing equipment and possible repossessed that equipment. There were messages about them closing for now and reorganizing. Apparently they attempted to create a new publishing company under another name. Then in May the CEO and his son were both charged with several felony’s including embezzlement and extortion. It seems that the Tate’s had some pretty criminal business practices. I know that I myself only ever received less than $20 in royalties. I’m not sure how that is possible as I was supposed to receive 40% of the cover price of $14. I didn’t really think much of it except to believe that my book was simply not very good so not very many sold. However, there were many authors who had books published and never received royalties.

So what now? Tate is going to face legal pressure and perhaps they are facing a trial. That may result in some refund coming my way which would be nice. Regardless, I’m moving forward as a writer and going to continue writing because I love it. Tate will hopefully face some justice. No matter what, I will write.

Sureshot progress:

Off to a fantastic start rewriting the Sureshot. It’s been wonderful reading, editing and adding to that story. With luck I will have it ready to publish by the end of this month but my goal was end of August. 

I’m through 20,000 words already and originally it was 72,000. I would like to stretch it closer to 100,000 but I will be satisfied with over 80,000. Either way, great progress and good times. 

Why the Sureshot?

As I continue to work through rewriting and republishing my first ever full story, I thought it would be prudent to take a moment to remind myself, and any interested, why and how I wrote the story.

As most know, I joined the Army directly out of high school. It was one of the best decisions I made. I met some fantastic people, learned a variety of awesome things and grew up a bit. All good things. Among the people I met, Matt, my roommate at DLI (Defense Language Institute) remains a close friend. He had an affinity for fiction and fantasy and even introduced me in a way to Dungeons and Dragons and role playing games in general. But it wasn’t he who I first played with.

I had a group of Navy friends who invited me to play with them. I had no idea what playing a role playing game entailed but they were willing to be patient with me. In any of these games, you create a character and play that character through a story. Essentially, role playing games are stories that are played out as individual players control a character that makes decisions that effect the outcomes and results of the game. Sounds fun right? I thought so.

I had played a number of such games on my computer at the time: Baulder’s Gate, Icewind Dale, Diablo, so I knew a little about role playing. First things first, you must create a character for you to play throughout the game. I created a character called a “ranger” that is a warrior who prefers woods and the wild to civilization making him somewhat different from a typical fighter or warrior. My GM (game master) named him “Durbar,” for whatever reason, and told me it was supposedly Old High German for “hill.” I still have no idea whether this is true or not and since it is far too late to go back and change it, I don’t worry about it.

The game was quite fun though I didn’t play with them for many weeks. I had a taste for the story telling and role playing part of the game and loved it. I ended up playing a bit with my roommate Matt, and others in our barracks and even began to try my hand at the “Game Master” part of it controlling the story for others to enjoy.

A few years later, my unit in San Antonio sent to to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs on a temporary assignment. This was a wonderful opportunity to see a new part of the country, work a different mission from my own and reunite with some of my friends, including Matt! Problem was, I worked nearly all the time.

10th Special Forces group was on deployment to Kosovo and I was supporting their efforts there. I worked 12 hour shifts translating two languages for 30 straight days at one point, by far the most intense stretch of work during my five years in the army. To make matters worse, I was in the 10th’s barracks but without any of my personal property since I was on temporary assignment. I had some clothes and that was about it.

I ended up going to the PX (Post Exchange) and purchased a bunch of lined paper and pens. In my spare time, of which there was little, I wrote. I started by writing the story of my first ever character, Durbar. It seemed to me as though my writing was amazing. It was slightly less than amazing, but I enjoyed myself all the same. My friend, and Matt’s wife, Samantha even read some of it and gave me some notes. Sadly, I didn’t finish it that summer but wrote a large amount, all by hand.

In May of 2004 my first daughter was born. I was home caring for her and since infants are not engaging to talk to, in my time between feedings, playing and caring for my daughter, I picked up “The Sureshot” and finished the story. This time, by the end of summer, I had a completed manuscript.

It went through a few edits and rewrites over the next year, but I was thrilled to have an actual manuscript and something publishable. It ultimately was published to my great pride, though there were some issues with that.

So Durbar lives. I’ve written two more complete manuscripts with him and look forward to publishing all of them in the next year or so.

If you have read about him already, I hope you enjoyed his adventures and look forward to his further deeds. If you haven’t then you’re in luck! He’ll be returning soon, better than ever.