The Eyelet Dove – Teaser Chapter

I’ve never really been someone who can sell myself, and that’s been one of my biggest worries about trying to start a writing career. But this Keycon, I was involved in several panels – more than last year – and now that it’s over, I’m realizing that it’s been a very different experience than last year. By Sunday I’d had people familiar with my blog come up and introduce themselves to me, random people who’d heard the first page of The Eyelet Dove, or who had heard me talk about Dieselpunk in the panel with Anne Aguirre and Leia Getty, wanting to know if I had anything published, and I’ve had emails from people who met me at con, offering to beta read. It’s like, suddenly I became popular.

What did I do to deserve all that attention? All I did was put myself out there and talk about the things I love. You know how people say, just go out there and be yourself, and people will respond? Well, it just happened. It’s a huge confidence builder. I mean, I knew I had something interesting to say with my writing that people will enjoy, but now I know I’ll be able to convince people to buy it and not be that poor writer whining “Please buy my book, it’s good, trust me!”

The other big one was the positive reaction to the opening page that was read at Writer Idol. It’s enticed people to approach me looking for more. And that first page is so crucial – that little bit is the first thing people read when they pick up a book after reading the back cover copy. I know I’ve bought books and put them back on the shelf based on that.

A while ago, I had my opening chapter posted up here on the page I had set up for my novel. After going to the SIWC, and hearing Donald Maass describe what makes a good opening, I realized, wow, I have all of that stuff he just rattled off!

In Chapter Two. Claire is an engaging, passionate character, and her introduction goes straight into her primary conflict.

And since Chapter One was, structurally, a prologue, I did what I keep joking I always do, and cut it. Now, after Keycon, I have unequivocal validation that it was the right decision.

After Keycon, though, J. M. Frey, in my Blue Pencil Session with her, pointed out that the opening contained an element that was not only a tad cliched, but also apparently nearly identical to another unfortunately (well, fortunately for that author) well known book in the Steampunk Subgenre, Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan. I had Claire disguised as a man to sneak into a world dominated by men, and I certainly don’t want my book looking from the first page like it’s a ripoff of Leviathan, especially when the disguise thing doesn’t last through the end of the opening scene. And maybe an editor would overlook it once they got to the end of the scene, but would they get to the end of the scene once they saw that similarity? Not gonna count on it.

But it was easy to fix, and I think it’s overall better for having that element removed, for several reasons. And so do others, it seems. In any case, I’ve decided I’m ready to put it up as a teaser chapter, for all those who wanted more than the first page. Here it is.

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3 Reasons Why I’m Not Self Publishing

I had a family member ask me recently whether I had considered self publishing my novel, instead of going to all the trouble of finding a traditional publisher. I have thought a lot about this – and I have a number of reasons, even aside from the reasons I have never bought a self published book. This isn’t about which is better, it’s about what I want and what’s best for me.

I do better being managed.

I’m not a terribly self motivated person, but I work well under pressure. Give me a deadline, and I can make that deadline. Just tell me what you need me to do.

Self publishing, I’d have to manage myself, and I suck at that. As John Scalzi mentioned in his article on Amanda Palmer and her indie Kickstarter project, “This is particularly the case when it comes to writers, artists and musicians, who are famously complete shit at working through their finances anyway, but who are also, through Kickstarter tiers and through encountering production costs that were previously handled by other people, wading into financial waters they often know next to nothing about.” The same thing goes for self publishing. Traditional publishing has a system all worked out for pumping out books – they know how it works and how to usher an author through the process.

I don’t, and if I self publish, then I have to learn a huge ton of crap that I’m really not good at handling.

Self publishing is a lot of work that takes away from writing time.

Why go to the trouble of finding a traditional publisher, when I can just self publish?

Even I know self publishing is not the easy way. Self publishing means doing one hundred percent of the manuscript preparation, distribution, and marketing for my books. That’s a frelling ton of time that I could be spending writing. That’s why traditional publishers existed – because it frees up writers to do what they do best – write.

I know that self publishers who have been successful have had to put massive amounts of time and effort into getting their books out there, and getting the word out. I know I’ll still have to put a decent amount of effort into the marketing side of things myself, but to be completely responsible for everything, my productivity would suffer.

I wan the legitimacy that traditional publishing gives.

Adam Heine made a clever analogy on his blog today, about wanting to finish the game on the hardest setting. There’s definitely that for me. I want to be able to say that someone besides myself was willing to put their reputation on the line and say that I wrote a book that’s worth paying money for. That I was ready to be published, not an author with potential, putting their book out there too early because when I’m self publishing, no one can tell me it’s not ready.

But honestly, even more than that, I don’t want the responsibility of trying to convince readers that I’ve written a book good enough to pay money for, despite the lack of legitimacy that the traditional publisher provides. I don’t want the responsibility of convincing potential readers that my self published book isn’t like the others that they’ve heard about, the nightmares of grammar that should never have seen the light of day. People have tried to convince me. If I haven’t been convinced, how can I convince anyone else to give me a chance?

I know traditional publishing is on uneasy ground right now. With people predicting big three will to put the big six out of business, sure, that scares me. I think self publishing, or some form of it, will eventually find a way to gain more legitimacy via some way of filtering out the books that are of poor quality. There isn’t one yet, but I really think someone will come up with something eventually. But I think when the dust settles, there will also still be a system that allows writers to just write, without having to manage the publishing end of things, and that’s really what I want for myself.

Why I Unfollowed You on Twitter

A friend dragged me onto twitter, and I’m now finding I like it better than facebook – it’s simpler – facebook has so many bells and whistles, and it’s constantly changing it’s policies and auto-unsecuring things that you wanted to not be public. I’m at the point where I just don’t believe that anything you put up on facebook is not public. The only place I dare put anything that I don’t want public is my dropbox account – they seem to know what they’re doing, and they publish their TOS in fairly simple layman’s terms. (I don’t get legalese, and I don’t think I should have to or have to hire a lawyer to interpret it, but that’s another rant.)

I’ve found some cool people on twitter – I keep up with some of my favourite authors there, and I’ve discovered some new ones, or been convinced to try new ones I was uncertain of. I also keep up with political stuff on there – my more informed friends post things and keep me up to date.

Then there’s the more random people – people who aren’t published yet, or who are self publishing and using twitter to publicize. I’ve followed a few of those and noticed a rather annoying practice. People using twitter to self-promote will follow you, and expect you to follow them back. They dutifully retweet any blog post that anyone on their list posts tweets, and often have little or no content of their own. And if I don’t follow them – say, I glance at their feed and don’t see anything but retweets of someone more interesting (that I already follow) and lists of people this person is recommending I follow – then they un-follow me a week or so later.

Then there’s the ones I’ve followed, who are self promoting, but aren’t being all that subtle about it. Tweets that are basically, “Hey check out my book if you like (insert selling points)” are fine…the day your book is released. Maybe even another “for the evening crowd in case you missed it,” later in the day – that wouldn’t bother me. Twice a day for the entire week, and then once a week afterward, is just annoying. Seriously.I don’t need to see the same tweet over and over.

I mean come on, entice me to your website – write a post that I might find interesting, and I’ll click on it. Make it relevant to your novel, and have a link to info on your novel easy to find, and I might buy your book. But spamming your twitter feed with please-buy-my-book is shooting yourself in the foot. There’s too many people doing it, and a twitter post isn’t enough room to make yourself stand out.

And the whole, you follow me and I’ll follow you thing? I don’t get what you’re trying to accomplish there. That’s no different than two authors agreeing to buy one anothers’ books thinking that’s going to keep one another afloat. The math doesn’t work out. You need to generate content that is going to draw interest in your own work – content that will attract your intended audience, and that audience is not other authors desperate to market their own books. That tactic is terribly limiting.

It’s just my two cents, but this is how I use twitter, and while it’s a great platform for author promotion, I don’t think it helps to look desperate.