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Monthly Archives: October 2016

This past week I have spent a considerable amount of time staring at three versions of the book cover art which are exactly the same except for slight changes to color balance.  I have also been spending a lot of time making a red radio flyer wagon into a ride-on Thomas the Tank Engine, but that’s a whole other story.  One which involves a small person’s strong opinions, Halloween and quite possibly selling my soul to Pinterest.


Decision, decisions…

I will admit to being a perfectionist so there was a lot of time spent trying to choose between the options.  The first printing (left in the above image) appeared lost a lot of the sharpness of the digital image and dulled a lot of the colors.  The second print (right), in an attempt to correct the colors, went too far the other way and all the colors became too bright.  So in the third attempt (middle) something I did, which I’m entirely sure how I did it nor if I could ever replicate it, managed to be a good compromise between the two.  The image resolution, however, remained stubbornly the same much to my frustration.  This appears to be the limitations in using Createspace, which is designed for the sort of stock photo covers flooding the market in self-publishing today and perhaps not able to handle the demands of rendering high-quality artwork.

But a decision was made, and now my print book is back up for sale.  Now I can attempt to get it into bookshops if at all possible, or carry around a few dozen copies in the trunk of my car to try to sell on street corners.  Whatever works.

Tonight is Halloween, as previously mentioned in light of my Pinterest exploits, but what that also means for me and many other writers is that at midnight tonight the clock will start on NaNoWriMo and a typing frenzy will begin as idealistic hopefuls try to reach, or surpass, writing 50,000 words in 30 days.  I’ve taken part nearly every year since 2009.  I honestly think that this is one of the best ways to try to get out a first draft, when all that matters is words on the page and the realistic expectation that it’ll be at least 88% drivel.  Finding and developing the other 12% is something you can worry about in December.  For me the use of its convenient and accusing chart, visualizing your pitiful progress in graphic form, is one of its key features.

This was not a great year for me.

This was not a great year for me.

The addition of forums to peruse during moments of procrastination is also helpful because there’s always one asshat out there who’s decided to set their goal at 100,000 words instead of 50,000 and wants to make sure you know how well he’s doing.  When you really need to wallow, however, there’s also the boards specifically aimed towards those in need of encouragement, so you could go there for some words of wisdom, or see if anyone else got any good advice or just plain celebrate the fact that you’re not doing quite as badly as those poor bastards, at least.

So, in conclusion, NaNoWriMo is helpful.  Maybe you should try it.

It has been a long, hot summer of idealism.  I sat outside as much as I could bear, sweating and writing and editing and formatting and plotting my vision of unprecedented overnight success under the canopy of oak trees shedding their acorns like grenades to explode on the decking beside me.  I relearned the refrain of cicada-song during the daytime and lay awake at night, uncovered and smoldering, listened to the yip-howl of coyotes.  I played with my son in the park or in his sandbox or played trains or built “sheds” out of sticks and leaves, drinking in the sight of his face, so much like mine, big-eyed and round-cheeked in delight, or scrunched-up and desolate with turbulent toddler frustration.

I’m not sure I’m supposed to admit this, but I haven’t sold a copy of Bestial in weeks, practically since October began.  The success which I dreamed and hoped for has not been forthcoming, but then I always knew this would be the case.  I spent the month after Bestial‘s release chasing reviews, approaching bloggers, inserting myself into online communities where I could self-promote.  It was a full-time job, exhausting and unrewarding.  My reviews are still paltry in number but highly-prized and hard-won, and every new sale felt like a victory.  I’ve come to realize what I already knew, however, that success as a self-published writer is in no way guaranteed, regardless of how hard you work, and owes more to blind luck than any deliberate planning.  The summer of idealism has ended, and now with the falling leaves comes the autumn of pragmatism.


Pragmatism never looked so pretty.

I’ll still take advantage of opportunities to self-promote, and I even have a speaking engagement at a local library planned for January.  I’m intending to go visit a local independent bookshop to discuss whether they’ll stock Bestial and if they’ll be interested in hosting a talk/signing event.  If I see blogs or review websites which seem targeted to my audience I’ll approach them.  But I’m also fervently pursuing full-time work for predictable, reliable income and general adulting.

At the same time, however, I’m also planning my next book.  Books I should say, because I’m planning a series and it’s a really exciting project which I can’t wait to get started on.  I’m a writer because I love to write, and I’d rather generate new work than be constantly flogging my last book.  If success is down to luck then surely publishing as many works as possible increases my statistical probability of reaching that success.

One benefit of my stalled sales of Bestial is that I can now fix that one typo which I found (typically) immediately after it was released, and I can also try to improve the resolution of the cover image to fully do justice to Amelia’s beautiful artwork.  This requires making the print book unavailable for sale while I await the new print proof, so this is the perfect time to do this.  There’s a silver lining to every cloud, yep.

I remain positive, my idealism isn’t completely gone but it’s tempered by a more practical view of my long-term goals.  Which, among them, include one day moving out of my parents’ house.