Saturday, 25 February 2012

But Seriously, Folks...

I've got something serious to talk about.

I know, I know ... serious is pretty far outside my wheelhouse. I promise to be relatively brief. Please bear with me. Thanks.

This week I made the decision to enter the e-book of Monday and the Murdered Man into Amazon's Kindle Select Program. This is a pretty exciting program that lets Amazon Prime members borrow my book for free, it also offers me various promotional and publicity support options (which is plenty exciting for me at least). But there are downsides. During the promotional period, Monday and the Murdered Man, the e-book will be available exclusively from Amazon.

I am philosophically opposed to exclusive deals. I think they're bad for industry in general. Exclusivity did incalculable damage to the comic book industry (which as you might well know is near and dear to my heart). Going back a few decades it wasn't so hot for the Betamax either.

So, all in all, this decision is out of character at best and downright hypocritical at worst. That being said, I thought I'd share some of my thought process on the matter. It mostly comes down to voice and reach. I'm an opinionated fellow and I've got a lot to say. I'm also impatient and I'd rather not wait 10 years to become an overnight success if I can avoid it. Marketing is a big part of my plan. Infinite Marketing in Infinite Diversion (Roddenberry forgive me) is my basic strategy. I'm going around to conventions and book clubs and book stores, and libraries and anything else I can think of. I'm posting on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter and +1-ing on Google +. If people want to listen to me talk, I will go forth and talk to them.

At first blush this line of thinking should fly in the face of going exclusive. You can probably see why this whole mess is giving me a brain ache. The thing is, I know I can't do everything all at once. I can only speak in one venue at a time and I'm comfortable with that (although if anyone has any ideas on how to get around that limitation, I'm willing to listen).

By focusing for a while on Amazon sales exclusively I am hoping to get more exposure in the largest e-book arena, hopefully more exposure will get more people reading and listening, more people reading and listening hopefully gives me a chance to share my thoughts, ideas, and philosophies about How Things Should Be (tm and patent pending) with a wider audience. Enlightened self interest for the win? Hopefully.

In the eternal battle between pure artistic integrity and becoming a shameless sell-out, I definitely lean towards the shameful. I rely on my friends, editors and fans to tell me if I go too far. I figure that as long as I'm producing a quality product, it's my fiduciary duty to sell it as well as I know how. And let's be honest with each other, shall we? I could use some more money off this project. My day job is running a game store, which is only slightly more profitable than writing novels (which is only slightly more profitable than wishing real hard for it to rain zinc).

So will my nefarious plans for financial solvency and minor celebrity status succeed? That's an excellent question and one that I am keenly interested in. Stick around and we'll find out together. In the meantime, I have a lot of writing to do.

Thanks for listening and I'll try to be funnier next time.

February 25th, 2012
Chelmsford, MA

Saturday, 18 February 2012

It's all part of The Process

Sometimes it is difficult for the untrained eye to spot the difference between a working writer and a lazy slacker. I'll admit that there are certain similarities, so I'm all too willing to forgive the error. I have a lot of conversations that go a lot like this:

Her: What are you doing?
Me: Writing.
Her: You're playing Facebook games.
Me: It's all part of The Process.
Her: Are you sure?
Me: I'm sure.

Time passes.

Her: What are you doing now?
Me: Writing.
Her: You're watching Farscape!
Me: If you already knew what I was doing why did you bother to ask?

More time passes.

Me: Before you ask, yes I'm writing.
Her: You're getting drunk.
Me: It's part of The Process.
Her: Are you sure?
Me: It is crazy, how sure I am!

So there it is.

Can you, Dear Reader, spot the differences? No? To be honest ... some days, neither can I. There's definitely something to be said for keeping the conscious mind occupied while letting the 'boys in the basement' (to pilfer a line from Stephen King) do their work. I personally find that some level of distraction and refocusing is absolutely necessary to do creative work. I hear that Neil Gaiman likes to go for long drives. Jennifer Pelland does belly dancing (and she does it quite well.) And it is crazy how many authors like to get blasted out of their minds on the controlled substance of their choice.

But on the other side of the keyboard, there are countless authors who fritter away their days goofing off, waiting for the muse who never comes, and building social empires out of Twitter accounts. Most of these authors don't get enough written. And I, Dear Reader, am very much one of Those Authors. There are many different jobs that a writer needs to get done. Some of them require some goof off time, many others require a whole lot of focus, dedication, and time in chair. For every hour I spend day dreaming about plot, I need to put in 6 more on writing and 20 more into editing.

Creating plot is the fun part for me; it's the bold and exciting part of any project where there are no wrong answers and everything is possible. Then there's the nuts and bolts writing, worrying about word choice, timing, continuity, style, and character. And then comes the dreaded editing. Punctuation, spelling, grammar, typographical errors, and all the other hobgoblins of good writing are the anchor that drags me down.

Which just makes it all the more exciting when I flex my mighty metaphorical thews and stand proud, lifting the anchor above my head and howling the author's fierce victory cry, "The End!" Somewhere between the slacker gazing out the window and the head's down keyboard cowboy, I get my best work done.

None of this is easy on my writing partners, most of whom have much, much better working habits than I do. Through clever planning and unearned audacity, I have multiple deadlines all converging right about ... now. Feverish typing at 3 in the morning has become pretty normal for me, and my collaborators are probably getting equally used to seeing my latest work first thing in the morning. I hope that working with me is rewarding on some level, because it surely frustrates on more than one.

For those of you out there looking forward to the final session of Serendipity Station and Feast of the Minotaur at Intercon L, please say nice things to my co-writers about how patient and considerate they have been. For those of you patiently waiting for my next interactive smart phone app and novel, that is still a way's off... For those patiently waiting for my next blog posting, here it is! How do you like it so far?

It has been said that writers wear many hats, the mind set, skill set, and temperament required for getting a rough draft out of your brain and onto the computer screen is entirely different from the hats you have to wear during later phases of any literary project. Switching gears is very hard for me, and I'm sure it's just as challenging for most other writers. But the rewards are pretty great so I'll keep doing it as long as I can. Because, frankly, I suck even worse at most everything else.

President's Day 1/20/2012
Chelmsford, MA