2018: listing things for fun & focus

I adore lists. They aren’t useful to me in any organizational way. They don’t make me work more efficiently or help my productivity. The opposite, if anything.  I’m always leaving lists behind, or forgetting where I’ve put them, or getting distracted before finishing one and starting a new one instead…the list itself is rarely a helpful tool.

But making lists? That’s a fish of another color. I consider making a list its own reward. I love writing them.  If you think this odd, well, I also consider scrolling through the cable channel menu its own distinct activity rather than a way to find shows to watch.

I put things on list for the sheer joy of checking them off again. True story. Hey, I never said I was normal.

ANYWAY. Still here? Fab. It’s the beginning of the new year and everyone was doing lists at the end of the old year, but I was hibernating, so I’m late with mine.

Here be my list of 2018 accomplishments. I made them all on my own. They’re little, and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good. (Apologies to Lilo & Stitch for the misquote.)

1. Wrote a book. The Sharp Edge of Yesterday isn’t published yet, but I finished it & it’s finally in post-editorial revisions. (It even kinda has a pitch: Grace Reed is hiding a terrible secret and a more terrible power. that will rip her away from the family she’s sacrificed everything to keep together. )

2. Wrote most of another book. Ghost Town isn’t finished, but it’s well over 50%, and that’s something. All I’ve got for  pitch is the tongue in cheek, “She’s the new sheriff. He’s been dead a hundred years. Together, they fight crime and bicker.”

3. Attended a few too many science fiction conventions as a professional. Pro meaning I had books there to sell, wore a pro badge, and/or participated on panels and such. Woo, this means I get to make a sub-list!

  • Capricon (MY FIRST CAPRICON!)
  • Concoction (MY FIRST CONCOCTION!!)
  • C2E2 (sorta. All I did was chat w/artists & commission art. )
  • Indiana Comic Con
  • 2018 SFWA Nebula Awards Conference
  • Gen Con
  • Michigan Comic Con
  • Dragon Con
  • WindyCon

4. Wrote 2 short stories. Yes, me. Me, the person whose previous four short stories turned into novels. One of these two, Homecoming,  is a slice-of-life piece about a character who’s in Sharp Edge, and it’s a freebie for people who sign up for my mailing list. The other, Mercy Has a Bitter Taste,  I’ve had critiqued & polished & am sending off to be rejected by all the best professional markets. One down,  thirteen more to go before I trunk it.

5. Started regularly attending an incredibly supportive open mic reading group in Chicago.  Gumbo Fiction Salon. I’ve read all of Bitter Gift there, and the reception is what gave me the confidence to start sending it out.

NOTE: GBS isn’t the reading series I first expected to support. There’s another series, held at Volumes Book Cafe, that I attended once and & HIGHLY recommend. I’m v sad about never returning to it, but scheduling conflicts, life detours, and a VERY difficult location have all conspired against me getting back there. (And now I’m too embarrassed to show my face again. Sigh.)

6? I think that’s it for major writerly type achievements from 2018. I mean, yes, I commissioned new covers for books from the fantastic Rhiannon Taylor and the amazing Rachel Bostwick, I signed a contract for line edits from a phenomenal professional editor, I signed up for 2019 conventions, I ran multiple book promotions online, I got my latest novel into the WorldCat library database and on shelves in library systems in Illinois, Ohio, & Kentucky, and maybe Pennsylvania…

…but all that’s just everyday authoring stuff.

So much for 2018. Onward to 2019. Big plans in the making & big doings ahead.

 

Obligatory Gift Idea Reminder Post

One week to Christmas. Remember the ease of giving readable gifts this season! (See visual below for two good examples)
They are great books, but don’t take my word for it. You can read 4 & 5-star verified-purchase reviews on Amazon: http://ift.tt/2nAqbm9 and on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36425571.
Ebooks. Paperbacks. Audios. Pick your format, there’s something for everyone. No, really.
(Sorry, no sweeping political intrigue sagas, no grimdark grit, no bloody horror. Just good, solid characters, thrills, and surprises.)

(Editing to add the review below because wow. As a lifelong X-Men fan, I’m torn. I feel I should somehow defend their iconic goodness but am too busy melting from the power of the complimentary comparison.)

 

What Publishers Do (a grumpy rant)

Time to revisit a topic that irks me hard: indie authors dissing useless “publishers.”  I use scare quotes because publishing options have  grown right along with self-publishing.  Back in the day author choices were limited to three–the Big Publishers,  a predatory vanity publisher, or self-publishing–but today complaining about “publishers” is a lot like complaining about “food.” It’s so broad a category it’s meaningless.

And yet people do it. Four times in the last week I’ve seen posts  that were all variations on this: “Why would I bother working with a publisher when they don’t promote/market/support me or my book?”

YAARRRGGHHHH  <I would insert hair-pulling-out graphic here but I am too lazy>

Pull up an orange crate to the cider barrel, and Old Curmudgeon Karen will tell you a tale about publishing. First off, the word publish refers to making a book, not about what happens afterwards. The majority of what a publisher does is NOT marketing.

PUBLISHERS DO A LOT OF BORING HARD EXPENSIVE THINGS FOR YOU SO YOU CAN FOCUS MORE ON WRITING. If I was being published by someone else I would not have to:

  • locate all the right developmental, copy & proof editors for each of my works, negotiate with said editors on fees and schedules, or chase after them about deadlines. Plus I wouldn’t have to PAY them.
  • all the same issues for interior ebook formatting & for print
  • same-same for cover design

That’s a lot of time, money, and trouble avoided right there. I ALSO would be leaving to someone else the following tedious, expensive hassles:

  • the PITA of getting books logged into the ISBN & copyright databases
  • ditto the actual production of print books & posting to various sales
  • ditto-ditto double-checking the results in same for errors

Yes, I would lose some creative control. But I would gain lots and lots and lots of time. And reduce stress.  That is a trade-off.  One I would gladly make, TBH.

Even in the old days, the big publishing houses were never big into promoting books or authors outside NYC/the literary community. Until the late 80’s, major book promotions really were not a thing period. The book industry kind of backed into major marketing efforts way later than most entertainment businesses.

Publishers used to release most books the way mama turtles have babies. They made ’em, laid em out there, and the babies either swam or got eaten by seagulls.  If an author was already a big name–or impressed the heck out of Everyone at the Company–their book would get ads in the industry mags or the New York Review of Books or some targeted professional publication and they might even get a book tour. BUT.  BUTBUTBUT.  This was rarely an expectation for debut or midlist authors, at least not in the “all expenses paid” way. Unicorn rare.

Most books got entries in the “new release” section of industry mags, were listed in the indexes, and might get promoted word-of-mouth by sales reps to librarians & booksellers. Those people would read and pass on recommendations of their own to book groups and local newspapers, and so on and so on.

Do major publishers now give authors less marketing support after publication  than ever before? Absolutely. Is this a bad thing? YES. They also take on fewer authors, pay them lower royalties and engage in a slew of other practices that beggar the book world. That’s kinda beside the point.

The point is, marketing never has been the fundamental core of publishing. Ignoring that reality is petty and shortsighted. And pettiness irks me.

Okay. Rant over.