Learning new things

*Disclaimer: I’m in the mood for gifs today, so you’ll get a few of them with this post*

Being self published doesn’t always mean you have to do everything on your own, but sometimes circumstances force you to do so.

As I mentioned earlier, my debut post apocalyptic horror novel, The Darkening, will be launched near the end of the year, probably around late October or early November. For that, I have hired an editor (all edits are now done) and am waiting to hear back from my designer. Unfortunately, his busy schedule doesn’t allow him to start working on my project before July. So after I dealt with these two very important parts of the production of a book, I thought that would be it. I’d upload the manuscript on each platform, and all I’d have to do between then and the launch date would be to promote it.

Ermm, how about no?

It turned out that I had forgotten another important bit: internal formatting.

What in the name of dark hell was that?!

I had spent virtually all my (meagre) budget on the editor and I would spend the remaining on the designer. In fact, after reviewing my budget, I realised I had nothing left for promotion!

So the first thought was: is internal formatting something I can skip?

Apparently no. Well, I could, but that would interfere with the quality of the product I wanted to produce.

Now, I know that Amazon has created a Word plugin that creates a basic template for all the available printing options they provide, including trim size. But the problem for me was that this plugin only works on newer versions of Word, you know, the ones with the ugly ribbon menu thing its creators decided to introduce?

Yeah, how about no?

Like many other writers out there, I refuse to work on something with a UI (user interface) that is non-configurable based on my needs. If you think that I’m the only weirdo around the writing realms, think again!

You tell ’em, George!

So since the Word version I work with (2003, if you’re wondering) could not use that plugin and I could not outsource the task, I had to figure out how to format my book on my own. And I did. Partly… Sort of… Kind of…

Enter InDesign. Luckily a friend lent me an older version of the program to test and try out just for this project. And surprisingly enough, if one who knows nothing about internal formatting or InDesign wishes to use it to create simple interior book designs, then it won’t take more than a couple of days to learn it. Thank Youtube for that!

So I managed to create a decent printable copy of my manuscript, and I now have a fraction of a basic understanding of how to use the program. It’s definitely in my to-buy list, even though I know I will only be using a tiny fraction of its capabilities.

Now if I could only figure out a way to make it create a decent epub version without messing everything up, I’d be one step closer to world domination!

 

Next steps, and plans

I hate making new years’ resolutions. In my mind, it’s ridiculous to think one can plan for something so far ahead, because life throws curved balls at us and changes everything. What we plan at the beginning of the year, is planned based on the info and difficulties we are aware of at that moment. The next moment, the Sun may implode and we end up rotating around a red dwarf. One hell of a sight to see, but it’s going to put a little dent on those plans. I believe I’ve said it before: when mortals make plans, gods laugh. Especially if those plans rely on the completion of a whole bunch of other things happening before the resolution comes to fruition. I’m talking about resolutions like, “I want to travel the world from east to west and north to south in a canoe before the end of this year.” A lot of things need to happen before one achieves that. Like learning what a canoe is, and how to navigate in the sea without electronic equipment. So I never, ever do them.

I don’t mind setting small goals, physically and mentally possible. Like, “this year I’m going to learn to count from one to ten in Cantonese.” It’s manageable and doable, even if life throws at me its worse.

All exaggerations aside, I’m more of a person who likes to set goals (see, I’m making a distinction here between goals and resolutions) over which I have control, things that I know for a fact I can make them happen in the immediate future (“this Saturday, I’m going over to Steve’s to reconcile with him after our last week’s argument”). So it’s more like a plan than anything else.

Well, this year, I broke my own rule. I set a goal for me, only it’s actually a resolution.

I will publish my first novel in 2018, I said. It shocked me a couple of weeks after I said it, but my mind insisted on it. 2018 will be the year the world will read my first novel.

A lot of things need to happen between now and 31 December 2018.

1. Have a completed manuscript ready (edited by me at least 20 times, read by betas, and re-edited after their suggestions 5 more times) –> CHECK
2. Have a basic knowledge of how one gets to publish a book –> CHECK
3. Have a list of potential readers who might be interested in reading said book –> CHECK (I have a newsletter, and some of the readers there show genuine interest in talking to me. That’s a start, right?)
4. Have a basic understanding of how a writer can promote their work –> CHECK (though I’m still learning)
5. Have an editor ready to edit the book –> X
6. Have a cover designer ready to craft a cover for it –> X

So now I’m at the point where I’m looking into editors. Line editors, to be exact. Apparently, not many of them go around. Or if there are, a great deal of them bundle copy editing and line editing into one (two different kinds of editing, but I’ll get back to that at a later post). Also, money is an issue. Editor needs to be affordable. Hmm, let me rephrase that: cheaper than what most writers would consider affordable. Take into account the different earnings between Greece and your countries. So, in other words, the editor has to be dirt cheap. Perhaps a line editor who is just starting up their self-employed editing career, and want to attract clients and referrers than anything else.

I’m sure there’s someone like that out there. I’ve already got my eye on a few. I’m waiting for them to reply to my queries and get quotes. I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the mean time, TL;DR (too long; didn’t read): 2018 will be the year I will publish my first novel.

I am a…

It took me a while to accept it, but now that I have, I feel so much better: I am an artistic and creative person. That’s probably why I never liked most of the things I tried. None of them were related to arts. Except telling stories, creating worlds and settings, turn lies into reality, and writing fiction. Mind you, most of my academic background, with the exception of my Masters degree, is related to hard sciences (physics, chemistry, maths, geology – my first degree – cosmology, astronomy etc). Which was okay, but it never really thrilled me.

But now, I have discovered another form of art that I seem to like. Okay,ho am I kidding? A form of art I’m enthusiastic about!!! See how many exclamation marks I used there? There are a select few of you here who have had the great misfortune to have me as their beta reader. They know how much I hate exclamation marks. The words “kill it with fire, then cast it into Mt Doom,” come to mind. I believe I wrote that to the side of a friend’s manuscript, pointing at an exclamation mark he had used.

Anyway, being a writer on an extremely tight budget forced me to learn to use Photoshop. Okay, let me rephrase that. It forced me to learn to use one or two things from Photoshop (is there anyone out there who knows how to use the entire program, I wonder). And I realised something: I really like using it! (You see that? Another exclamation mark)

I enjoy creating stuff with it, and I enjoy learning new things about it. At the moment, I’m more like “monkey see, monkey do,” as far as knowing how to properly use it goes, but every single time I create something, it’s like having finished writing a new book. Like it’s Christmas all over again! (Wow! I’m going crazy with the exclamation marks today)

So, to make a long story short, I decided to start selling the few things I’ve created with Photoshop. I started an Etsy shop, and I invite you all to browse through my wares. There are not many things up yet, mainly because to create something it takes me as long as it takes me to finish editing a book. For the record, now I’m editing my cyberpunk novel AND my horror post-apocalyptic novel – yes, again – so this should be ample proof that it takes me A LOT of time to edit something.

Anyway, you can find my Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/DreamInDigitalDreams. I hope you like what you see 🙂

Exciting News!!

First of all, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving (those of you who celebrate it) and that you were thankful for a lot of things. We don’t celebrate it here in Greece, but I’m thankful for each and every one of you, as well as everyone in my life.

You may have heard that Pronoun, an e-book distributor owned by Macmillan, terminated its operation (more info here). It just so happened that Pronoun was the distributor I had chosen to publish my stories to retailers other than Amazon.

So now that I’m about to launch my third short story, titled Wisps Of Memory, on December 10, I have to find another distributor. You may think that something like this would be easy, however, since I’m not a US citizen I have to look into it with greater care. The reason for this of course is additional taxes, both here in Greece as well as in the US. I won’t bore you with legal details, but suffice to say that thanks to my brilliant accountant, I’m not far from choosing the next distributor.

So, on December 10 my next horror short story, Wisps Of Memory, will be available worldwide, through most of the big retailers.

Here’s the blurb:

The end doesn’t always come with a bang.

Ian is a loner middle-aged man who lives with the memories of his daughters and grandson, rather than with them. He hopes that they will remember him during the holiday. In the meantime, his nearly paralysed arm starts twitching uncontrollably. A couple of weeks before Christmas, his last friend leaves the country, and Ian finds himself with no one in his life. Day by day, he feels life is ebbing away from him.

If you’re feeling generous or if you’re interested, you can help with this by reviewing it when it comes out. If this interests you, you can sign this form. Please bear in mind though, that doing so will also sign you up for my newsletter. Obviously, you can unsubscribe at any time if you so choose. Signing up means that you will receive a complimentary copy of Wisps Of Memory. It goes without saying that you’re not obliged to review it, but it would sure make me happy and fuzzy and warm inside if you did 🙂 You know how important reviews are for writers, right?

Thank you all in advance!

Getting back on track + poll

Quick reminder that the giveaway, Bad People With Guns, will end on September 5, so if you intended to read one of the available books but haven’t obtained one yet, you should hurry, especially if you’re a fan of thrillers, suspense, mystery, or crime fiction in general. Go here and download stories from Anna Willet, J. L. Stowers, Sara Cobb, and Simon Royle.

In other news, I’m happy to announce that the last of my betas got back to me. Unfortunately, they didn’t manage to finish Through Stranger Eyes. In their words, “I haven’t had the chance to start it yet. Sorry, but I can’t do it.”

It happens. Life always gets in the way of things and sends our best intentions down the drain. That’s why it’s important to reach out to more than one beta reader, and to have a decent personal relationship with them, so that they don’t feel that they’ve put themselves in an uncomfortable or awkward position when they have to tell you, “sorry, I don’t think I can make it.” Remember, betas are hard to find, they want to help, and perform an important task for us writers for free. Cherish them and understand that they too lead demanding lives.

So, what this means is that as soon as I get back to my computer (still waiting for you, summer, to bugger off and let me enjoy some cool days), I’ll go over the notes the rest of the beta team returned (I was lucky enough to get (feedback from four people!). I expect to have a hard time going over one beta’s notes in particular, since they gave them back handwritten, which means I will have to transfer them into my digital copy. And I have their thoughts recorded on a couple of audio files, so I’ll have to transcribe them too. Which is good, ’cause I can’t make out most of their handwriting. Oh well.

This is one of those moments where I sympathise with all editors out there.

However, here’s the thing: the first thing I noticed, from almost all the betas who gave me feedback, was that they enjoyed one of my secondary characters more than the protagonist. In fact, they liked that character TOO much. I’m not sure if there’s an underlying problem with this. What I mean is, I’m not sure if my main character is badly written or if that secondary character is so dominant that overshadows everyone else in the story. If the latter is the case, I’d have to figure out a way to trim her dominance a bit, which I’d rather not do (the truth is, I too enjoyed writing her scenes). If the problem lies with my main character and he is badly written, then I have the feeling I’ll need to rewrite A LOT of my story in the next months.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever read a book that, to you, one of the secondary characters stood out far more than the protagonist? Did this bother you at all? I’ve made a poll for your convenience. I would appreciate it if you could share this with your friends, as this will save me not only time, but part of my sanity.

Bruce Campbell from Evil Dead 2

Writers answer here

 

Readers answer here

 

Thank you 🙂