A Recap of My Projects Since Finishing My Last Novel

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As my Kickstarter winds down, I wanted to reflect on what I’ve done since finishing The Flames of Shadam Khoreh. Why? I’m not sure. Most of this is pretty self-serving. I’ve been feeling … not down exactly, but itchy to get working on my next novel, the one I sold to DAW Books a few months back. Sometimes writers feel—and it’s certainly true of me—that you’re not really writing unless you’re drafting a story. Editing, publicity, taking care of the business side of writing, well, that’s not writing at all is it? Of course it is. It’s part and parcel of being a writer. But it doesn’t feel that way. The romanticized version of a writer is someone who sits at a typewriter or relaxes on a comfy chair and writes longhand. But that is merely the kernel of a writer, and even then, a rather inaccurate portrayal of one.

So I write this largely to say to myself: I have not been lazy. But it may also interest people to see what goes on “between the cracks”, as it were. So here goes.

I finished my novel roughly last November. That was when the final version was approved by my then-editor Ross Lockhart, when he was still working for, ahem, Night Shade Books. The book then went “into production,” which meant that it was headed to layout and copy edits with my copy editor, Holliann Russell Kim.

After that, I had several things that had been piling up over the months and years that I’d written the Lays of Anuskaya trilogy. There was a short story for the Crimson Pact anthology, edited by Paul Genesse, that I wanted to get done. So I wrote that. I thought it’d be less than 5k words, and it ended up being 8k, which is my natural length for a short story. I edited that a few times and sent it off to Paul to read.

I also wanted to gather my short stories and put them out as a collection. I dove into that next, pulling the stories I wanted to include and whether I wanted to write anything new for it. But how to publish it? Short story collections are a hard sell these days. Unless you’re a big name, most publishers won’t publish them, or will give you a pittance for the rights. Plus, I’d been wanting to try my hand at a Kickstarter. So I researched how to run one, I put my efforts into what it would look like, how to run it, what to offer as rewards, and I launched it in December of 2012. It ran through January of this year, and I offered new stories as stretch goals. Three of them, to be exact. So then I had to write them…

I drafted those three new stories: one a prequel to my Lays of Anuskaya trilogy, one a sequel of sorts, and one a new middle grade story set in a new Norse-inspired world I’m working on called Bryndlholt. Those ended up being roughly 30k total words. I edited the hell out of these with help from the backers of the Kickstarter and then entered them into copy editing with the multitalented Marty Halpern.

I also edited (and sort of re-drafted) two previously unpublished stories to go into the collection. These were early works that were a bit rough. It wasn’t like writing brand new material, but they were substantial drafts. Those ended up being 4.5k and 8k long. Those also went off to edits. And the collection as a whole is even now going into a full copy edit for consistency. So more work lies ahead to finalize the copy before it goes into production.

I also had an idea for a science fiction tale. I pinged Rob Ziegler to see if he might like to collaborate on it. He was open to it, and we’ve been pecking away at that for the last many months. That’s another 4k or so written, plus trading edits back and forth with Rob.

Then came the bombshell. Night Shade. I’ve already talked about leaving and deciding to launch a Kickstarter, to publish the third book, so I won’t repeat myself here, but there’s a lot that goes into a Kickstarter, especially one with three books involved. I’d run one already, so it wasn’t completely new, but it’s been a lot of work.

A lot.

I got the initial rewards and description and video for the Kickstarter together and then launched. Since then, it’s been a ton of care and feeding. And it’s being going wonderfully. We sit right now at about 200% of my funding goals, with more to go as things wrap up over the next few hours.

But I’ve also been working hard behind the scenes at getting the collection and all three books ready. A friend recently asked me what it takes to self-publish a trilogy via Kickstarter. This is what I sent her as a general outline:

  • Arrange for structural, copy, and line editing as needed.
  • Finalize your copy.
  • Buy ISBNs for your own use. You’ll need three per book (print, MOBI, and EPUB).
  • Choose which venues you’ll use for publication.
    • I use Amazon, B&N, iBooks, and Smashwords. On Smashwords I allow them to sell everywhere *except* Amazon, B&N, and iBooks.
  • Arrange for use of artwork – contracts, pricing, etc.
  • Design the covers.
    • You’ll need at least 2 covers. One for ebooks and 1 for print. And if you do both HC and SC, you’ll need one for each of those, for a potential total of three.
  • Prepare front matter and back matter for the books.
  • Prepare things like maps or interior art (if needed)
  • Obtain blurbs.
  • Interiors:
    • Design the interior of the ebooks.
    • Design the interior of the print books.
    • These are not the same thing at all. I use Scrivener for all ebooks (PDF, EPUB, and MOBI) and InDesign for the print books. Both have a learning curve if you’re not used to them. But you can contract this out as well. Plenty of people out there will create these for a fee.
  • Upload ebooks and make available for sale.
  • Upload print books and make available for sale.

Any one of those things can take a ton of time, depending on your experience, your particular tastes, work style, your contacts, etc. It’s been a long, crazy road even since February when all this began in earnest.

But, as I said to another author friend, I’ve long since decided that being happy with small rewards along the way was the way to look at writing, and there are a ton of small “wins” on the self-pub road. Many more than on traditional publishing. This, to me, is one of the major advantages to self-publishing. It has to be taken in context. You’re putting in a lot more work. And you’d better be realistic about what you can do and farm out the rest (which takes money), but if you can manage it, it’s a very rewarding path.

What else? I’ve also been working on the brainstorming/worldbuilding for the Bryndlholt world. I have the short story, and was all set to dive into the first book of the new series in February, but I got completely derailed by the change in plans for The Lays of Anuskaya. I’m not complaining, mind you. It’s just a fact. And with the deadline for my next series looming later this year, I have to set this aside for now and shift to that. But I’ll continue to brainstorm and I’ll write a chapter here or there.

Speaking of my new series, The Song of the Shattered Sands, I’ve been doing more brainstorming/worldbuilding/plotting on that. I have a partial at 40k words that was written last year, and now it’s on to the rest of the novel. Now that the bulk of writing and editing is down with LAYS, I’ve been getting back into the world the last few days, and I’m remembering how much I love it. I can’t wait to dive back into the writing, which is happening even now.

That’s it. That’s all I got. There have been other miscellaneous (though not inconsiderable) things, like running the Speculate podcast with my friend and co-host Gregory Wilson, helping (with many others) to form a writer’s group called BookSworn, dealing with some of the fallout from NSB’s pending asset sale, and markety type things for the books and stories I have out.

That’s quite a bit, now that I look at it all. After the day job and writing, I wonder how I have time for family. I probably don’t make enough time for that, but that’s a subject for another post.

Until then, happy writing!

2 Comments

  1. Ryan Leduc

    April 11, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Wow! 10k in the kickstarter and still going strong in the final hours!

    Go team Anuskaya!

    Big Congrats!

    • Brad

      April 11, 2013 at 4:39 pm

      Thanks, Ryan! Yes, this has been one sweet ride. I’m eager to see where things end up tonight!