Thursday, June 23, 2011

J.K. Rowling - Self Publisher?

I could barely believe what I was reading, but it's true:  J.K. Rowling will be self-publishing the Harry Potter series of books as ebooks through her own website,  Things are expected to kick off this October, 2011.

So, what does this mean?  Well, it's another big name (probably the biggest) to let the world know that she's got the business savvy and desire to put out her own books in the manner that she sees fit.  She was super-smart to retain the ebook rights (among other rights that she retained) when the books were first printed.  Now I wonder what other goodies she might elect to include in the ebooks since she has complete control over them.

The possibilities are endless for her, and it makes me wonder if more authors won't start to build their own ebook libraries on their own websites?  I mean, why not?  You can create your own ebooks now, and they can be read on virtually an ereader (Kindle should be catching up to this now, at least soon), and you can sell them yourself.  The only reason to utilize other places to sell them is for reaching other readers that you don't currently have.

From a marketing perspective, this is also golden for her.  She will soon have legions of new people to market directly to for future stories, etc.  Customer data is king in marketing, and she'll be sitting on a pile of money with that data.

My mind is reeling at the implications of what she is doing, and the opportunities that are coming along because of her very public choices.  Pay close attention, because things will be moving along at an even more rapid pace.  Strap in for the ride!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Novel Writing Update

Wow, where do I begin?  There's been so many different things that I've learned, that have happened and continue to happen, etc.  I had started this blog for a number of reasons, of which I'll try to elaborate on shortly.  First, a heads-up for everyone reading this:  I'm going to ramble on here, and I really don't care if you like it or not.  It is what it is, and that's all that there is.

So, I had a few reasons to start this blog.  One was for the challenge, as I had never had a blog before.  I had thought about doing one, and the concept seemed interesting to me.  I guess I never had much of a doubt that I could find things to write about on a regular basis to people that I had never met in person and who might find my writings interesting.  Wow, when I just typed that, it felt like a bad run-on sentence!  But really, I think I just didn't see the reason why I should have a blog.  Until, that is, I made the decision to go full-bore, head-long into writing and publishing my first novel.  So, I accepted the challenge earlier this year, and for the most part I've held up to my own standard of posting something at least every 7 calendar days.

But why else have a blog?  Well, for one thing, if I was to write a novel, and publish it, I was going to have to reach out beyond those people in my immediate sphere of contact: friends, family, neighbors, community groups, etc.  I needed, and still need, to grow a base of people that I've never met, but yet still enjoy what I have to say, be it fictional, factual, or something else (and please, don't ask me what that something else is, because I REALLY don't know!).  To that end, as of the time of this writing/posting, I now have over 20 followers to this blog - Thank You, Followers!!  I'm still not entirely sure why you have decided to follow this blog, but I thank you none the less, and hope that you get some enjoyment from it.

Okay, so I've got two reasons.  Why else?  Well, I suppose I could say that it helps me write and hone my craft.  But in all honesty, I don't feel that way, at least not yet.  Perhaps it will over time, subtly, and in a few years I can look back at my recent novel and one that I did a few years back and say "Oh yeah, I sucked back then."  So, while flimsy at best, I suppose I could count that as a reason.

Oh, here's another one, which goes along with point #2 above:  I want the followers so that I can get more people to buy my novel when it comes out by the end of 2011.  Selfish, to be sure, but at least I'm honest about it.  I want more people to buy my novel, and hopefully to like it, as well as recommend to their friends, family and neighbors that they also need to buy a copy of it.  Believe it or not, writing is NOT my full-time day job.  No, sad to say, I'm a working stiff who has aspirations of writing full-time.  Believe me when I say that I have oodles of story ideas written down already, plus many, many more that will come to the surface over time.  To give you an idea, I'm writing my first novel, which I already have the story idea for a sequel to, plus I am working on a fantasy series that I would write under a pen name (I'm slowly building the details of this fantasy world), PLUS I have a fictional series idea based on a popular TV show on cable, PLUS I have nearly 4 full pages of story ideas for one-off novels, PLUS I have a couple of pages of story ideas for short stories, PLUS I have a number of short stories that I could polish up and put together for a short story collection.  **SIGH** But I barely have enough time just to live the rest of my life, let alone work on a novel or even contemplate any of the other ideas I have.

So, those are a few reasons why I have this blog.  I think the other one that I tend to forget about, and what I had originally planned as a major reason to have this blog, is to write about what it's like as a first-time novelist trying to actually complete a novel, then to set about publishing it on Kindle, Nook, etc. as well as having a paperback version and an audio version.  And yes, my intention is to have the novel available in all of those formats.  And I think this is where the meat of this blog post is: my experiences thus far with the process.

First, can we say "tedious"?  Because that's what I've experienced over the past few months when it comes to writing my first novel.  I guess I knew it would take time, but I never imagined that it would be so tough to carve out time just to get it done.  Some days aren't that hard, but others are.  Think about trying to get ready for a garage sale - no real time there to write, since you are finding things to sell, pricing them all, setting things up, getting the money situation ready, and all of the other aspects that come with doing a multi-day, multi-family garage sale.  Needless to say, I didn't get any writing done because of that for nearly a week.  Basically, life keeps getting in the way of the writing, and it's a constant battle to say to myself "Self, get up off the couch, stop watching Netflix, and get your butt in the chair and start typing!"

To be fair, it isn't all tough, though.  Sometimes things really click, and I'm having fun because things are coming together in my head, and I'm writing done some really good stuff.  I like those times, and I wish I had more of them.  But, I'll take what I can get, when I can get it.  In the end, if you choose to write and publish a novel, it's hard work.  Don't ever let someone tell you that writing is easy.  "Oh sure it is," they'll say, having never done it themselves.  "You just make up a story and BOOM!, there you go."  Right, because that's always how things work....  Give me a friggin break!

I must say that I've learned a ton as well.  My writer friends have been awesome to meet with (you know who you are if you're reading this, and thanks!), and they've shown me good things, and hopefully I've helped them out some too.  One of them recently published her first book (The Enemy We Know, in case you were wondering.  Go on, buy it, you'll thank me later.), and that's been a cool learning experience for her and the rest of us.  Marketing, as any experienced writer will tell you, probably takes up more time than the writing, but is very important.  So many ways to market your book, and I only know just a tiny fraction of ways to do it; there's always more to learn.

Okay, rather than drag this on any more, let me summarize for you just where I am in the process.  I'm presently on my first draft of my novel.  I've plotted out all of my scenes, characters, etc., and am using this for the first draft.  That took me a few months to get that all down on paper, but I used the Snowflake Method of story building, and I highly recommend it, lots of good ideas in there.  As for what happens next, well first is to finish that first draft.  Once I have that done, then I'll read through it all myself, find the various mistakes I made, and generally clean things up some.  Then I'll have a number of volunteers do a read-through themselves, somewhat for pleasure but also somewhat to give me feedback on various aspects of the story.  Then, I'll take all that they give me, plus read through it again myself, and make all of those changes.  Finally, I'll get a good editor to find as many of the other mistakes that I missed as possible.  At this time, a book cover designer will come into the picture and craft a stunningly awesome book cover.  Then the work will be put out as an ebook and a paper book, and I'll work on the audio book at that time.  In all, I hope to have all versions out and available before the end of the year, fall time if I can have things work out in my favor.

Wow, that's a lot now that I've written that all down - and that's just the brief overview!  I haven't even begun to talk about the marketing aspects that I'm going to be doing.  Makes me tired just thinking about all of it.  But, it's also very exciting!  I'm looking forward to continuing the journey, and I hope that along the way I'll be able to get more people to join me and ultimately to say "Yes, we really like your writing and want to buy your novel."  Like I said earlier, I'm at least honest about my intentions.  :-)

But let me know what you think too.  I love to hear what people are doing, what they like, what they don't like, etc.  Write on, good people, write on!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Where's My Motivation?

For a variety of reasons, I haven't done a thing on my novel in the past couple of weeks.  And last night, when I wanted to get back in the habit....  I think I was lucky to piece together a paragraph.  Oy!

I really don't like it when this happens.  Let this be a lesson to all of you who have the desire to write a novel:  keep writing on it, even a little bit, each day.  Make it a habit.  If you do, you might not be happy that you only wrote a little bit, but you'll be making faster progress than not writing at all.

And back to the keyboard I go....

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Writing Isn't For Wimps

I think there are entirely too many people out there that think that it's just a snap to write a novel and get it published.  Well, how hard could it be anyway?  You just come up with a story, write it down, hand it over to the screaming masses of publishers that are lined up with their hands out, and then rake in the cash.  Isn't that how all of this is supposed to work?

Hmmm, just where should one begin?  Well, for starters, let me say that I was in that camp not too long ago.  I didn't figure that it was really all that hard.  I mean, it's just coming up with a story for crying out loud.  I could make one of those up really easy!  Oh, you wanted more characters?  Okay.  And you actually want the correct police procedures used?  Well, sure, I can see that.  And it helps to know where landmarks are in the various cities that I have my characters in?  Sheesh, alright.  Wait, what?  You don't want all of my characters to talk and act the same?  Geez, you're a nitpicker-  What??  I need to write how many pages?  And what's an agent?  Don't sports professionals need those?

And on and on it goes.  You need to have what it takes to go the distance.  There is plenty of time that should be spent on plotting your novel.  Plus, you should detail out each of our characters: where they grew up, what they like and don't like, what about their parents, do they have any siblings, who are their enemies (and everyone has at least one!), etc.  And research is important as well.  Find out what the city of Chicago is like, get some information on the subways in New York City, and so forth.  Also, in general, take notes!  For goodness sake, you have plenty of ideas, why forget about them?  Write things down to use at a later date, even if it isn't for this particular novel/project.  You never know when an idea will prove useful.

Along with all of this, learn the publishing industry.  What's happening, who are the players, what's the latest news?  Is a particular genre really hot right now?  Why is that?  Do you want to self-publish, go with a smaller publishing house, or go with a larger publishing house?  What about going with one of the Amazon imprints?  Are you planning on ebooks, print books, audio books, something else?  What about your marketing plan for whatever version or versions of your novel come out?

There are so many things to think about, so many things to do, both with the novel itself as well as outside and around the novel.  This business isn't for wimps at all!  Are you a writer, or a wimp?  Me, I'm a writer, soon to be published.  And it's a great ride.