Adventures In Publishing Part II — Agent, Agent Where Art Thou? Eh, Screw It — Self-Publishing!

Adventures In Publishing Part II -- Agent, Agent Where Art Thou? Eh, Screw It -- Self-Publishing!

Twilight of Lanar’ya is now on sale in paperback (CreateSpace and Amazon) and eBook (Smashwords and Amazon).

Finishing Twilight of Lanar’ya took me about three months total from start to completion. So, by August 2011, I had a fairly final draft ready. I just needed to fine tune a few areas of it and then I’d be ready to publish. So, I did what all writers who don’t know better do.

I started looking for an agent. (Even Neil Gaiman thinks it’s a bit of a waste of time).

If I knew then what I know now, I’d have saved myself the hassle and published a hell of a lot sooner. But, I was hung up on going the traditional route. I felt confident in my work and knew that the market had matured a good bit. I felt that I was easily better than some of the junk filling up bookshelves (Twilight, anyone?) and that I was on par with other big author’s earliest works. Certainly my writing had benefited from reading a lot. I don’t have the hubris to say I’m as good as Terry Goodkind or Terry Brooks but I do think I’m at least as good as some of the early stuff from Dragonlance (back when the world of Krynn was still being formed and the authors kept writing themselves into corners).

I sent Twilight of Lanar’ya to about fifty different agents. I heard back from about half of them. Mostly rejections, of course, because publishers are iffy about taking on new talent with it being so easy to self-publish and to distribute online. Plenty of bookstores and closing up shop for lack of customers and inability to compete against Amazon. Almost all the rejections I had acknowledged that my book was 1) well-written, 2) interesting, and 3) had potential but it’s gotten damned hard to sell a trilogy from a new name and, as I said, publishers are becoming very risk averse.

I did hear back a couple of tentative offers but nothing that I really liked on follow-up. Basically, if I was going to have to do all the marketing and negotiate the deals with bookstores myself and the publisher was just going to print a run and then charge me for it, why not just self-publish instead? At least with a print-on-demand service, I don’t have to worry about a publishing house playing games with the numbers until I have to take them to court to get my royalties the way Peter Jackson had to take New Line to court to get paid for The Fellowship of the Ring (which, according to Movie Industry Magic Math, did rather poorly). Perhaps big publishing houses don’t do this, but then, if I’m going to be doing all the footwork myself with no help, why should I get substantially less money than I would if I went indie?

So, I started looking into self-publishing.

My friend and fellow author, Daniel A. Kaine, had self-published his book, Daeva: Dawn of Darkness and so I went to him for advice. He gave me a few pointers and so off I went.

Now, lest anyone think self-publishing is easy, let me be blunt and say it’s not. Self-publishing is definitely not for the faint of heart. Self-publishing requires that you be your own editor, your own proofreader, your own marketing department, and your own format specialist. It requires that you study the market and the trends and that you set your prices according to what the cost of print-on-demand for your work is and how much of a royalty you need. A few people have gotten fantastically wealthy from self-publishing but, for the most part, the vast majority of us will not be able to quit our day jobs.

So, having decided to self-publish, I had climbed one mountain only to find a whole range of the things in front of me…

Check back in a few days for Part III of this saga — Why Formatting Is The Bane Of My Existence.

Twilight of Lanar’ya is now on sale in paperback (CreateSpace and Amazon) and eBook (Smashwords and Amazon).

Adventures in Publishing: Part I — The Kick In The Rear

Adventures in Publishing: Part I -- The Kick In The Rear

Twilight of Lanar’ya is now on sale in paperback (CreateSpace and Amazon) and eBook (Smashwords and Amazon).

My adventure in getting published started many years ago when I was in college. I had written my first novel Prophecies of Atlantis and, having won a few awards for my short stories, figured that getting published would be a cinch. After all, I knew I could write well — I had some shiny awards to show for it and several of my professors telling me that I was a good writer. So, full of confidence in a way only a twenty-year-old can be, I sent my query letters and copies of Prophecies off, figuring I’d have a contract and be set for life.

Instead, I started up a rather impressive collection of rejection letters.

These were the days before Peter Jackson brought fantasy more into the mainstream with his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring trilogy. This was long before J.K. Rowling made it acceptable for parents to let their children read books about magic and wizards. This was back when Dragonlance was still something of a cult community and WoTers were considered eccentric.

So, I got rejected. A lot.

Looking back now, Prophecies deserved to get rejected. It was a good long story for someone who hadn’t seen the better part of life. But, the characters were very juvenile, the plot was rather bland, and my ambitions had far out-paced my skill or discipline at that point in my life. Still, getting rejected isn’t easy and, in those days (and even today) no one really bothers to tell you why.

So, I sucked it up and focused more on writing D&D campaigns, designing NWN levels and campaigns, attempting to write a MUD, and then just doing walk-throughs and guides for various Final Fantasy games.

I started working on a recurrent project around this time as well. Heart’s Flame was popular on various message boards I hung out at but then, I’m afraid it was probably something of the echo-chamber effect. In time, I moved to France, got married, found a job, and quit writing Heart’s Flame. I was focused on advancing my “real” career and just figured that, hey, I could do some short stories and all but I’d never get published by the majors. Fantasy fiction was just too “out there” and I had no good ideas for general fiction titles.

In 2007, I started writing a short fanfic set in World of Warcraft about my characters. Alayne’s Story got me a good bit of attention within the WoW EU community and I had a lot of positive feedback. I wound up starting a website for it over at www.magisters-terrace.com and even got the idea for a book called The Unexiled. However, juggling work, Alayne’s Story, and The Unexiled meant that one of the three was going to lose out. I had (at the time) a fairly sizeable fanbase for Alayne’s Story. Also, the more I worked on The Unexiled, the more I saw I needed to do background work on the universe it was set in. That led to a project I’m still tinkering with but am nowhere near ready to announce.

The years passed by. Then, in May 2011, I had a solid kick to the rear that got me to finally write something I could publish. See, in May 2011, I was told that my position at work was going the way of the dodo. I tried to find other jobs where I was but the demand for English-speakers in France is just not that high and I kept getting told “your writing skill isn’t good enough” for damned near anything I applied for.

“Not a good enough writer, eh?” I said to myself on one of many sleepless nights. I’d seen some of what passed muster for “good” in those areas and wondered if I’d entered the Twilight Zone where “good” meant “sparkly vampires who go to high school.” I’d had the idea for the Fall of the Lanarian Empire series germinating in my head for some time at that point. “Not good enough? Well, there’s more than one way to support myself. Hell with it, I’m not sleeping now anyways. Might as well get some writing done. Not good enough? Pshaw: did they read some of the utter shite out there?”

Adversity is a great motivator in my life. If you want to see me do my best, put me under pressure. The process itself may not be pretty but you’re going to get a diamond out of it. 😉

So, mildly ticked off, I fired up Word and started writing — which is always Step 1 in Getting Published.

Stop by later this week for Part II — Finish The Damned Thing Already And Find An Agent (or why you shouldn’t bother with the second part).

Twilight of Lanar’ya is now on sale in paperback (CreateSpace and Amazon) and eBook (Smashwords and Amazon).

Twilight of Lanar’ya Now Available!

Twilight of Lanar'ya Now Available!

After so many years of writing things that would have been awesome had they only seen the light of day (other writers will know what I mean), it is with great pride and excitement that I announce that Twilight of Lanar’ya is now on sale at CreateSpace and Amazon.com in paperback or at Smashwords in eBook format! It will be available in the Amazon Kindle store within the next 24 hours. Edit: Now available for Kindle here.

If you are ordering the paperback edition, I do prefer that you go through CreateSpace for that as I do get a larger royalty payment from them than from Amazon. Also, the reason for the $10 price on the paperback is that the manufacturing costs came up to $8.00 USD. Otherwise, it would be selling for $5.00 USD if I could swing it.

I will post about the various adventures I’ve had actually getting this thing published later. For now, I’m going to go celebrate!





Thanks to everyone who has stood by me while I got this thing written and published. Thanks to my parents, my illustrators, Keary and John-Paul, to my beta readers, and to all my friends out there. I did it guys. I finally did it.

Twilight of Lanar’ya Release Date and Cover Revealed!

Twilight of Lanar'ya Release Date and Cover Revealed!

At long last, I have finally completed the final checks on the proof for Twilight of Lanar’ya. This is the cover, done by the awesome Keary Taylor, and a little promotional video that has the release date in it.


Download Twilight of Lanar’ya Cover




Unless catastrophe strikes, you will be able to purchase Twilight of Lanar’ya from Amazon.com for the Kindle or in paperback format on March 23, 2012.

I will be announcing the final price later this coming week so check back for more news then! Also, more news about Midnight of Lanar’ya in the coming weeks!

*drywashes hands with anticipation*

*drywashes hands with anticipation*

I just got the approval from CreateSpace to order the proof of Twilight of Lanar’ya on Friday. I will have the proof in my hands on Wednesday. I’m not quite ready to announce a release date (I need to double-check the proof, make sure nothing needs to be corrected, and then bask in the awesomeness for a day or two) but I have started putting together a little promo advert that I will release on YouTube once I have approved the proof.

So, I haven’t done much writing in the past couple of days. Sony Vegas Movie Studio is a tool that needs a lot of hand-holding (and a fair amount of playing the “Video FX finder Shot Game”). But, right now, I’m rendering the first draft for a full playback to see if it works out the way I want it. If it does, then I’ll just have this ready to go when I get the proof check finished next week.

And, since the render has just finished, I’m going to go run the check on it!

Ahem…

Ahem...

No, I haven’t forgotten about this place or forgotten my password or anything like that. I’ve been busy the past couple of weeks moving about 1,200 miles across country and starting a new job. Since I’m getting paid for my 10 am – 7 pm time block — and since I did not have the Internet at the apartment until yesterday — I haven’t been doing a lot of posting here. I’m still hard at work on Midnight of Lanar’ya and have plans to have the draft completed by the end of April. Twilight of Lanar’ya just had its final cover check today (thanks a bunch, Keary!) and I should be uploading the final cover and ordering the proof before the end of this week.

A while back, either here or over at Magisters’ Terrace, I talked about achieving a work-life-writing balance. I do fully intend to get my balance back but starting a new job does require a bit more of my time and concentration since I want to do an absolutely smashing job at work so that they decide they want to keep me. Once I get over the eggshells of being the “new person” and feel a little more secure on my feet (trust me, moving cross-country and starting a new job all at once may be fun, but it’s a nerve-wracking kind of fun. Imagine riding Space Mountain only without the adrenaline rush), I’ll relax more in the evenings and be able to write more. I’m also working on tying up the last bits of Alayne’s Story — a long World of Warcraft fanfic I started back in 2007 and am bringing to a close nearly five years later. Finishing up any piece of work that you’ve spent five years on takes a bit out of you. I know that, perhaps, one day, after the distaste of the next scheduled expansion has been purged from my being, I may pick up Alayne’s Story again. However, for now, I’m bringing it to a close and that’s taking a lot of the energy that I would otherwise be putting into Midnight of Lanar’ya.

And yeah, there have been a couple of instances of me goofing off playing Star Wars: The Old Republic to relax. I figure it’s better to do that and chill out a bit than to force myself to do a bad night’s worth of writing just to say “there, I worked on Midnight of Lanar’ya.” I may not get as much done right now as I’d like but, believe me, it’s much easier to catch up than it is to try to salvage pages that should never have been written to begin with.

But, for now, I’m going to go curl up with one of R.A. Salvatore’s Drizzt books (The Crystal Shard and no spoilers please!), relax a bit, and then do a little bit more work on Alayne’s Story and Midnight of Lanar’ya before I turn in for the night.

Formatting…

Formatting...

I just spent the day formatting Twilight of Lanar’ya for CreateSpace and Smashwords. Now all I need is the cover, spine, and back and I’ll be ready to roll everything out.

Formatting is probably my least favorite part of publishing a novel. I understand the necessity but there are times I wish I had the programming skills to create an application that would just take the raw output and magically render it into perfect formatting for where ever I’m publishing. Every service has a different way it wants things formatted and you’ll easily spend an hour or two getting your document redone along the lines they require.

Ah well. At least that part is over and done with and I have a better idea of how to format things in the future so it will go more quickly. For now, I’m going to go play Star Wars to unwind a bit. Tomorrow it will be time to get back to the grind. I hope to finish the first draft of Midnight of Lanar’ya by the end of April and have it ready for publication this summer. I also want to get some kind of commercial done for Twilight of Lanar’ya and a few print banners done to distribute around my home town and in bookstores in the area to try to get some more sales. Also, once I’ve approved the proof, I’ll need to start getting cracking on my online marketing presence. Books don’t just sell themselves, after all.

Writing Traps: Powering Through

Writing Traps: Powering Through

We had a little visitor this weekend who left a gift for my mother and I: a head cold. I’m well on the mend, though, after spending a day lazing about with a sore throat and a mild fever. However, the resultant lack of energy means I haven’t done much writing this week. And, I’m not going to get a terrible lot done the rest of the week due to other commitments. But, I am not worried overmuch about it. Why? Because, years ago, I learned that the absolute worst trap I can fall into is attempting to power through.

Some writers — and I must include myself in this — feel it necessary to meet a deadline; even just a deadline we set for ourselves. I generally like to get at least five pages per project added each week. And, I generally meet, if not exceed, this goal. However, on weeks where real life commitments or illness prevent me from hitting my target, I’ve learned to relax a bit instead of trying to power through late in the week or forcing myself to double-up the next week. The few times I have tried either strategy my writing has been mediocre, if not regrettably poor, in quality.

Many people who do not write tend to think that writing is something you can do any time and that it requires little energy. Some new writers also believe these things and fall into the trap of powering through a rough time or over-committing themselves. Writing may not be a physically demanding pursuit like carpentry or sports but it does require a tremendous amount of energy. That energy may be mostly mental but it does not matter to the body. Energy expended thinking and analyzing is no different, on a bio-chemical level, than energy spent walking. True, it does not raise your metabolism or get you into shape, but it is energy spent that is then unavailable for other pursuits.

When you are not feeling well, your body needs energy to fight off the infection as well as to maintain itself. Since writing involves a high amount of thinking and analyzing and your body, when ill, prioritizes such higher-function tasks as secondary to survival, that means you have less energy to devote to writing when ill and you should not power through just because writing involves sitting in front of a computer and pushing some keys.

I expect that tomorrow I will be back to form and will probably get some writing done. I may even hit my five-page-per-project goal. However, I’m not going to beat myself up if I do not. If I can get three pages per project tomorrow, I’ll be happy. I do have another commitment to meet that requires me to travel out of town next week so my schedule may be thrown off then as well (though I do plan to take my laptop with me).

For now, I’m going to go get some more rest. I want to be at my best next week, after all.

Balancing Work, Writing, Gaming, and Life

Balancing Work, Writing, Gaming, and Life

I am a gamer. More than that, I am the kind of gamer who, if I get caught up in the story of a game, will play until ridiculous hours if I don’t have some urgent responsibility weighing down on me. When I was working full-time, I could usually get myself into bed by midnight at the latest and be up at 6:30 the next morning. But now that I am not working full-time (though I’m job-hunting), I find my sleeping schedule getting more and more erratic. If I’m not up until 3 am writing, I’m playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft, or I’m reading. That means I may not wake up until 9 am which throws my whole morning off.

And yet, despite that, I’m still generally able to hit my daily and weekly goals. Even this week, when I didn’t get much work done on Monday or Tuesday due to various Real Life Issues, I’m still easily on track. That is partly because I did a lot of work this weekend and partly because I’m so caught up in the events of Midnight of Lanar’ya that even 48 hours off doesn’t throw me into a spiral of confusion.

Another reason I’m able to keep pace with all of my projects and still have time to play World of Warcraft and Star Wars is because I am a relentless and religious scheduler. I’ve found that appointing each task its proper “time of day” helps me keep my life balanced. Here’s how things normally work out on a day for me:

Morning — Wake up, check email, check the news
Noontime — Quick lunch. Possibly work out a bit (go for a walk)
Early Afternoon — Raid in WoW if needed or do dailies
Mid Afternoon — Work on Midnight of Lanar’ya
Early Evening — Check the news and work on websites
Mid Evening — Do WoW dailies or play Star Wars while working on Midnight of Lanar’ya
Late Evening — Play Star Wars
Night — Go to sleep at some point

When I was working full time, my schedule looked more like this (still balanced though!)

6:45 am — Wake up, get dressed, go catch the bus
8:00 am — Get to the office and start updates while checking my work email and the news
8:30 am – Noon — Work!
Noon – 2 pm — Lunch break. Eat, play WoW, write.
2 pm – 5:30 pm — Work!
5:30 pm – 6:00 pm — Walking home
6:30 pm – 7:30 pm — Cook and eat supper. Write.
7:30 pm – 10:30 pm — Play WoW (raiding, dailies, dungeons).
10:30 pm – 11:00 pm — Write.
11:00 pm — Shower and bed.

On weekends, my schedule now is pretty much the same. So, if you’re struggling to hit your goals, do what I did. Sit down and think about what you need to get done in life and appoint each time of day its proper task. You can do it by time of day (as I do at the moment) or by hour (as I used to do when I had a full-time job). Then stick to it! After a week, you’ll find that the habit becomes so strong, you don’t need to think about it too much.

And now, it’s almost lunch time for me so off to grab something light and then get back to work.

Halfway There

Halfway There

Today I hit the 50% mark on Midnight of Lanar’ya. I’ve just wrapped up several pivotal scenes for the first major climax and am working on the interlude sections between Peak One and the climb to Peak Two (other writers will know what I mean). So, to celebrate hitting that milestone, I thought I’d make a post about why I tend to avoid writing human characters in my fantasy fiction.

Several of my friends have wondered why I tend to have my main characters be elves instead of humans. It’s not just because I think Drizzt Do’urden is awesome or because I like pointy ears. I tend to write from an elven (or dwarven) perspective because my stories are from an outsider’s point of view. In Lanar’ya, the major race of the central civilization is human. Elves keep to themselves (as do dwarves) but relations between the races is peaceful and amicable. The main character in the books is an elven commander. The other commanders are all human. The elf, Jarl, will outlive them by a long margin. It gives him a different perspective on things. He has to deal, quite frequently, with the death of friends to old age while he is still in his prime. Not only that, but his point of view allows me to build a conspiracy and a mystery that spans decades instead of a few years. It makes the whole story more believable to have it told from an elven perspective.

Human characters in fantasy fiction rarely have the same outsider feel to them. As humans ourselves, we feel like we should innately understand another human character, even one who can cast spells. So, when we look through their eyes, we’ll see things in a closer light. We’ll tend to identify with them more and wonder why they aren’t more like we are. But elves (or dwarves or ogres or orcs or whatever) allow us to look through their eyes while accepting a good many more dissimilarities than a human character would.

That’s not to say I won’t write a story with human characters. One of the series I’m planning out for my next major project will have several trilogies written with a human-only cast. However, I do tend to find it easier to write about a human society from an outside perspective. Hence my choice of primarily elven (or other demi-human) characters.

Also: elves are cool.

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