Three steps forward, two steps back

So my publisher is dropping me.

I get it.  I do.  My book hasn’t exactly been flying off the shelves since it came out.  I don’t know exactly how many copies have been bought, but I know my numbers are low.

And it wasn’t even my publisher’s choice.  Winlock is an imprint of Permuted Press, so when a decision comes down the pipeline… well, you don’t exactly get to say ‘no thank you’ to the people who own your company.

I am a little bit frustrated because they’re making this decision before putting my book out in print, even though I have explicitly stated that most of the promoting that I’ve got planned requires physical copies of my book.

Even so, I get it.  If a book isn’t making money, it isn’t making money.

The question now is whether I should continue focusing on the ghoul books, and either look for a new publisher to put them out or self publish… or should I turn my attention to a new project?  I’ve got a couple of ideas.  There’s a dystopian space opera I’ve been toying with for a while now, and I’ve got an idea for a multiverse saga that I think could be a fun read.  I’ve been toying with a Y.A. story-line for a while now, I could go that route… or I could go back to the very adult oriented superhero chronicles I was working on a few years ago.  And there are always the artificial intelligence stories.

But a big part of me feels like I should finish what I started.  The truth is, I’m quite proud of the Corpse-Eater Saga.  I’ve got some nifty ideas in there that I wouldn’t mind playing with some more.

I don’t know.  I guess I don’t have to know.  If they’re ending my contract, I guess I don’t owe it to anybody to decide just yet.

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Shared Disappointment

So, it occurred to me the other day that I had, in fact, left up on my website outdated information.  Specifically, despite the fact that it is December, and I have neither my first book out in print, nor my second book out in e-format, my webpage proudly announces that both should be out before Halloween.

Actually, I haven’t done anything with my website in about a month and a half.  It isn’t because nothing has been going on with me; plenty has been going on.  Sadly pretty much everything in my world has been a bit of a letdown these last couple of weeks.

And let’s face it; nobody really wants to share bad news.

Well, that’s not entirely true: we all have a great-aunt or great-uncle out there who’s only too happy to tell us about their latest growth, goiter, expellation or discharge.  But when it comes to our professional woes, the vast majority of us would rather sit on the latest bit of bad news, at least until we have something encouraging to soften the blow with.

But I think that this is a mistake.

Years ago, back when I was first trying to write movie scripts, I had a bad experience.  Or, to be slightly more accurate I should probably say that I had a Bad Experience.  Long story short, things had started to go wrong on this project I was involved in, and rather than tell us what was happening the guy in charge cut of communication entirely.

I don’t just mean that he stopped updating us, I mean that for several months he refused to answer any e-mails, or his phone, and everyone involved in the project found themselves in a state of limbo.

Now, writing books is a little bit different.  Very few other people are involved in the artistic side of the project with me, but I think that readers should be viewed as participants in your project, and I think that participants deserve to be kept abreast of any happenings.

So… just to clarify, my second book has been put off until March of next year, and I have no idea when my first book will be available in print.

The Tools of the Trade

So… I need to get some business cards.  Again.

I have business cards I made for my writing back when I wrote under my real name.  They’re pretty good.  But now that I’m writing under Leod Fitz, I need some new ones.  Standard tool of the trade, to be tucked here, lay there, and slipped into the hands of everyone with whom I happen to discuss my writing.

On the one hand, I feel kind of silly about getting business cards.  It kind of feels like a desperate plea to be taken seriously.  But it’s not about that.  It’s about people having horrible memories.  How many times have you heard something mentioned in conversation and told yourself, ‘I’m totally going to do something with that information when I get home.’

Well?  How many times did you do it?  And that’s just the stuff you remember forgetting.  If I had a penny for every time I found myself standing still, brow furrowed, gnawing on my lip muttering, ‘I was going to do something when I got here.’

Writing is easy.  I mean, it isn’t easy to become a good writer, but once you’re there, the writing itself is the easy part.  Editing is just a bit harder.  But promoting?  That’s the trick.  And god do I suck at it.  But it’s easier if you have the right tools of the trade with you.  Business card is key.  I know that.  You should also probably have other stuff.  And once I figure out what that other stuff is, I’ll let you know.

Or not.  It might be one of those things that’s only effective if nobody else knows about it.

Search, Re-Search, and Research some more

So there’s nothing like a new story idea to help you realized just how little you really know.

After reading ‘The Aeronaut’s Windlass,’ the latest book from Jim Butcher, I find my imaginations wandering seaward.  I kind of want to write a couple of scenes that take place on a boat, but by god to I not know a damned thing about boats!  I mean, nothing!

On the upside, thanks to the advent of the internet, all of the information I could possibly need is available to me, if I’m willing to do a little bit of digging, but the truth is, I don’t even know exactly which questions I should be asking.

I think that’s why so many writers try to build up a collection of people they can call and ask questions too.  People can tell you the things that you  won’t find in a book, or on a webpage, and they can catch you if they find you asking the wrong question.

Still, I look forward to the day when I can flip a switch and bring up diagrams and a list of terms to appear on each of my walls while I work.  Endless streams of knowledge….

Oh well, I’d better get back to my scene.  It’s absurd, I’m sure, and anybody who has spent more than a day at sea will probably pronounce it drivel, but hey, you gotta start somewhere.