Except for marketing (and maybe an occasional short story when inspired), I’m taking a break from working on my projects until January. In the last year, I self-published four books, five, if you count the one written under a pseudonym on New Year’s. (No, I’m not telling you here what it is. It’s adults only, anyway.)
Four–or five– in a year might not seem like much to folks like Nora Roberts, R. L. Stein, or Chuck Tingle, but it’s a lot for a homeschooling parent with other obligations outside her career. Almost all of the time I can dedicate to work takes place during kids classes and after the little one is in bed, which means I’m up and tired, and then running on less sleep the next day.
Now, I didn’t write all those books in one year (don’t write four books in a year unless you’re just creating raw drafts for future editing). They were all shaped over years, or worked on in bits and pieces, until I decided to make them a priority and put them forth.
Perdition’s first chapter was written in 2002, and I set it aside for years before working hard on the first 60,000 pages, when I burnt out, and set it aside again. It was my mother’s favorite, and she urged me to publish it first. The Grasp of Time started as a one-on-one, custom RPG between my then-partner and I back in 1998! I wrote down what I could remember after nine months of playing, and we went back and forth on it, but then Robin and I broke up. It wasn’t until the summer of 2009 when we reconnected that we talked about reviving the story. We wrote the draft together in three weeks via chat and private, online journals. It kept getting set aside for other projects–and life–between drafts until we revised it again. We wrote the first draft of its sequel, Seal Breaker, a week after finishing the first draft of TGoT, though, and continued to build on it.
There’s a book I wish to finish in the future about a lesser known mythical figure that I started in 2003, but the main character’s name is Eleven, which is problematic now that Stranger Things is rocking the horror-watching world. The first draft is incomplete at about 50,000 words.
As for my other books this year, Aranya comes five years after my second poetry collection, and it came eleven years after my first. These things take time. Even the book I published on New Year’s Day is simply an edited collection of five years of writing.
Regardless of the amount of work and effort and late nights, it was worth it. I met two of my writing goals, one of them to publish (not write) four books this year. It meant sacrifice of my time, limited funds, and a chronic lack of sleep, but it’s done.
I haven’t decided which projects will be slated for next year. Certainly Seal Breaker shows strong promise of coming out around the same time next year as its predecessor, but sorry, Perdition fans, Purgatory might take more time. I’m treading into territory that’s not my own (i.e. culturally and geographically), and will likely need to hire two cultural consultants to ensure my privilege isn’t blinding me. The third book, at least, will take place on more familiar ground, but …
For the next month, I’m going to focus on marketing, cleaning up both my physical and digital clutter, and spending time with my family through the winter holidays. Robin and I are also working on a simple web site dedicated to the Amakai series (a.k.a. Eila books, including The Grasp of Time) right now, which we hope to make public early next year.
So, take the above author’s advice, and my experience, and don’t publish four books in a year. However, one of my all time favorite authors, Catherynne M. Valente, can tell you How to Write a Novel in 30 Days. It also helps to have at least one lap cat to make the writing as much of a physical challenge as a mental one.
It took a little extra time for me to ensure my books are available on the Nook platform, but they’re all on their way. As of now, all of the books I published in 2017 should be available in print (on Amazon or Etsy), on Kindle, and now, on Nook, too! This makes my best friend especially happy, since she uses a Nook (so do I).
I’m working on ensuring older books are also available on Nook, but I no longer have the manuscript for My Name Was Indigo, and will have to retype it by hand. It’ll probably be a while before I get around to it.
That being said, the biggest challenge was formatting. Their manuscript editor is fairly simple to use, but where the Kindle links to anything tagged as a “header” and creates an automatic internal link in the file per heading, Nook relies on section breaks, which I rarely use in my manuscripts. Though it took several hours over the last few days to go through each of six manuscripts, I’ve managed to format them in what I hope will be an easily navigable way. I gave most of my attention to The Grasp of Time and Perdition, for obvious reasons.
If you prefer Nook to Kindle, here are the links for this year’s titles:
I’ve also updated my Works and Novels pages. More to do tomorrow.
Tomorrow is Black Friday, a day when I tend to hide at home and avoid spending money on anything but essentials (e.g. medicine, pet food, etc.), and only if we’ve run out. I encourage anyone* who shops on the biggest consumerist holiday of the year to consider small, local businesses, or independent artisans. Offer reparations to indigenous individuals who are helping their communities during this Native Day of Mourning (a.k.a. Thanksgiving). And while I’d love for you to buy my books, I’d love it even more if you didn’t buy them Friday–they won’t be on sale, anyway. Any of the other 364 days? Go for it.
*EDIT: Having been homeless, and a single mother dependent on food stamps and TANF, I know that for many, Black Friday is the only day of the year certain goods are affordable enough to buy. There is no shame in shopping on this day. There is no shame in being poor. There is however shame in for those who are the corporate and political drivers of poverty that lead to this being the only day where a majority of people in the U.S. can buy goods, some of which may be essential to basic living.
Ask any independent artist, and they’ll tell you a stream of horror stories involving people posting their work online without permission or attribution, people demanding work for free or well below its value, people expecting to hire for skilled commissions in exchange for “exposure.” Exposure doesn’t pay the bills, and neither does re-posting someone’s work without attribution.
Even when an artist puts their work onto the internet for free to expose their talents, it’s still incumbent upon people who share it with others to give credit where it’s due. An example of this working can be seen in the recent story about Spanish artist, Esther García López, wherein their work, given proper credit, led to a full-time job offer.
As an author, I both share pieces of my work online for free, and hire other freelance professionals to make my work shine. When I’m surrounded by highly skilled, talented people, I want to see them succeed in their fields, as much as I want to succeed in mine.
It has bothered me for years how difficult it is to find out information about the artists and editors of books that I enjoy. Cover artists usually have a tiny credit on the copyright page–a name without contact information–and editors can sometimes be a name amidst the acknowledgements. As I grow more accustomed to designing and publishing my books, I’ve worked to establish a representation of the people who add to their creation in a way that reflects my ethical standards.
Throughout the year, as I’ve published five books (four of the under my legal name), I’ve kept the tradition of cover artist in the copyright and editor in acknowledgements, but I’ve also shared their professional bios on the about page at the back, traditionally reserved for the author(s) alone. Why? Because they’re part of the team that made the book possible.
Even in Aranya, where I drew and painted the cover myself, I created a list of attribution for all of the public domain works featured in the book. They might be the work of people long dead, but where possible, I gave attribution in case someone else wants to learn more about their work. And in The Grasp of Time, my co-author and I share the about page with three other people: Natasha Swan (the cover illustrator), Emily P. Fuller (the illustrator of our coloring pages), and Ellen Klowden (our killer editor).
I’m not stating any of this to get a pat on the back, but to encourage other writers to consider how they want to promote the teams that make their novels shine, especially when those teams consist of freelancers who depend on every commission for their livelihood. Attribution matters online, but placing artists in a prominent position within our works makes it easier for those artists to receive the accolades, commissions, and job offers they deserve for their impressive skills.
Whether you’re sharing an image you found online*, or publishing a book to share with the world, please take a moment to ensure the person responsible for the art is given proper credit.
Oh, and The Grasp of Time has launched. Sort of. It’s going to take a few days for all the sites to sort themselves, but it’s already available on Kindle and in the CreateSpace store. I’m still working on verifying my credentials on Nook Press, so expect a few announcements across the week.
After reviewing the proof yesterday, making small changes to the formatting, and implementing the last edits from our editor, the final files for The Grasp of Time are back in review.
If they’re accepted tomorrow, we’ll be launching on the 18th’s dark moon as planned. After nearly two decades, what started as a story shared between two people will be ready to be shared with the world.