Why I’m an indie author

If I was under a contract to a big company, I could only write the books that  I was under contract for. I could write other things, but I’d likely have to sit on them for a different deal,  or have to publish them under another publisher, under a pseudonym.

As an indy, I can publish whatever I want whenever I choose to.

Advantage: indie pub

Independent Truck Company logo

Independent Truck Company logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I was under a contract to a big company, I  would be hampered to writing in just one genre, and just one style. If I was signed for one series, I would be forced to write for that series alone. If it was for novels (it often is) I could only write novels and not short stories or non-fiction (the exception being if they help to drive interest to your contracted novels, and if they don’t affect your contract time).

[Of course Steven King, James Patterson, and J.K. Rawlings are exceptions to this rule.]

Indy pub authors, on the other hand, can write and publish whatever  I want and when I want to. I can  start one series, then another, then  put out an unrelated short story or a non-fiction work. I have that freedom.

ADVANTAGE: INDIE PUB

People under contract to a big publisher have no control over how their work is presented.

Indy pub authors control every aspect. The cover art is what they chose, as are the fonts (for a hardcopy book; for eBooks it’s still not under your control) and even illustrations inside the book .

You can print on demand and/or e-publish on Kindle/Nook/epub/Smashwords/whatever you choose.

[If you pick the  Kindle KDP program you can’t try another for 90 days..]

ADVANTAGE: INDIE PUB

Audiobook? Indy Pub authors can do this at will, and profit from it. Authors on contract can too — if they’re on the contact to get paid for it. Otherwise the publisher might produce one, but all profits go to them.

ADVANTAGE: INDIE PUB

To play Devil’s Advocate, there is a big negative: all the costs (art, editing, advertising, etc.) come to you. After your first work sells, you can set money aside for the next one, but that first one may cost a lot.

advantage: traditional pub

Novels in a Polish bookstore

Novels in a Polish bookstore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The one minus doesn’t outweigh the positives though.

 

Writing Multiple Novels at One Time

I read this written about elsewhere, and it’s a concept that makes sense for me:

When you’re writing a trilogy, you want there to be sub-plots that match up from one book to the next one. Also, you don’t want to make your readers wait a year or more for the next book. To solve this problem, you should write at least the first drafts of other books in a series at the same time.

I’m facing this situation: I’ve been writing the first book of a trilogy (within an overall series) for over two years. If I’m fortunate, I’ll have it finished this year (revisions, beta readers, cover art and editing). With this current pace, I’ll have this first trilogy finished before I’m sixty. That’s not acceptable to me.

That passage of time is another problem for me. I’m 49 in less than two months. I want to be known for a lot of books by the end of my life. I already have 11 RPG credits so far, but most of them are very small press, and that’s a small interest pool. Novels are in a much larger one. I hope to follow of game writers who also became novelists, like Mike Stackpole, the late John Ford, and an also-late friend Aaron Alston.

I won’t achieve that goal at my current output rate. Writing multiple books at once might, depending on my writing output speed.

A caveat, though: I won’t attempt this until after I’ve finished book 1. Friends bought into my attempt to crowdsource that book on Indiegogo. Even though it didn’t make the funding target I want to finish it for them (I used the platform’s Flexible Funding plan, and the rules for that are that I have to finish, but I planned to anyway). Starting other books before I finish this one wouldn’t be fair. Besides, I follow one of Robert Heinlein’s Writing Rules: always finish what you start.

Robert A. Heinlein

Robert A. Heinlein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After I finish Book 1, 2 and 3 I’ll work on together, and I’ll hope this makes them more consistent and my output grows.

Space Opera Examples Part 2

The Perry Rhodan issue that went into space. C...

The Perry Rhodan issue that went into space. Credit: ESA/André Kuipers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. Perry Rhodan

This is seen as the best-known science fiction series of all time, accounting for more than 2 billion (not a typo) copies sold since its premiere in the 1960s, first creating a buzz in Germany, then being translated worldwide, but not ultimately succeeding in America in English.

It was originally published in German alone, but was translated into other languages over time. This is where the incredible publication and sales numbers come from. In Germany it’s a weekly novella in a magazine.

On the surface, this series has science fiction concepts: hyperspatial

English: This image is a reproduction of an or...

English: This image is a reproduction of an original painting by renowned science-fiction and fantasy illustrator Rowena http://www.rowenaart.com/. It depicts Dr. Isaac Asimov enthroned with symbols of his life’s work. Français : Peinture de Rowena Morill réprésentant Isaac Asimov sur un trône décoré des symboles de son œuvre littéraire. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

translation and positronic brains — concepts that Isaac Asimov created in his stories. The M13 cluster also exists. Everything else about this series (functional immortality — never aging, but violent death possible, multiple time-lines/realities, the psionic web, moralic code, many other fanciful ideas) is a made-up concept.

Part of why the series has gone on for so long is that, like many pulp series like The Shadow, The Spider, and even Doc Savage (and modern day series like Mack Bolan) many authors have written it.

Sci-Fi legend Forrest J. Ackerman championed English translation of this series. He said that serious German SF fandom said how it hated this series, yet it was still a top seller in the country. It proved the same case with the English translations by Ace Books, which ceased publication with 117-118 in the early 1980s (it’s over 2400 stories-long). Then-head of Ace Tom Doherty found them to be too juvenile in quality.

Good or bad, these books (and spin-off series) inspired music, film (George Lucas cites it as one of his influences), and is even an inspiration to other science fiction series. Would that other series could go so long!

Space Opera Examples, Part 1

These will all be long, so I’ll cut the post up.

Flash Gordon (soundtrack)

Flash Gordon (soundtrack) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Flash Gordon

Originally a comic strip in newspapers then made into movie serials, a campy movie in the 80s, as well as a disappointing TV show a few years ago (many pundits have spoken of that already, so I won’t go into that here. Anyway it’s not a feature of this piece). Most of it was centered on the planet Mongo. For that, the space opera feeling came from the fact that Mongo had many climates and zones, but they had little in the way of scientific rationale; they just existed — and differing races… so there are barbarian birdmen and men with the heads of big cats, and so on.

His origins? Here’s the information from Wikipedia, with my additions:

“[…] the adventures of Flash Gordon, a handsome polo player and Yale University graduate, and his companions Dale Arden and Dr. Hans Zarkov.The story begins with Earth threatened with a collision with the planet Mongo. Dr. Zarkov invents a rocket ship to fly into space in an attempt to stop the disaster. Half mad, he kidnaps Flash and Dale and they travel to the planet. Landing on the planet, and halting the collision, they come into conflict with Ming the Merciless, Mongo’s evil ruler.

Flash Gordon (film)

Flash Gordon (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) The character was often portrayed as an Oriental stereotype.

For many years, the three companions have adventures on Mongo, traveling to the forest kingdom of Arboria, ruled by Prince Barin Prince Barin and Flash; the ice kingdom of Frigia, ruled by Queen Fria; the jungle kingdom of Tropica, ruled by Queen Desira; the undersea kingdom of the Shark Men, ruled by King Kala; and the flying city of the Hawkmen, ruled by Prince Vultan Price Vultan. They are joined in several early adventures by Prince Thun of the Lion Men Prince Thun. Eventually, Ming is overthrown, and Mongo is ruled by a council of leaders led by Barin.
Flash and friends return to Earth and have some adventures before returning to Mongo and crashing in the kingdom of Tropica, then reuniting with Barin and others. Flash and his friends travel to other worlds and return to Mongo, where Prince Barin, married to Ming’s daughter Princess Aura  Princess-Aura,   has established a peaceful rule (except for frequent revolts led by Ming or by one of his many descendants) […]”
Flash has been redesigned over the years. He’s now a football player rather than a polo one.

Trying to get back on track

I’ve fallen behind on regular posting here for a few weeks. Mea culpa. I’ll try to fix that.

Mea Culpa (Part II)

Mea Culpa (Part II) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My future plans – some dreams not yet a reality – include:

  1. guest posts (I’ve invited a few people; now I’ll see if that pays off)
  2. an update on my Blogroll (some of my links have been inactive for a long time)
  3. Interviews (a dream right now. I have to ask them of people)
  4. I’m now using Trello  along with Scrivener to build up my posts;  the former offers encouragement to my writing, and the later organizes it.

    Scrivener (software)

    Scrivener (software) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ll start number 2 now.

 

Blogging with Scrivener

I haven’t updated this blog in a while. Hopefully using this app will help.

As I’ve stated here a few times, I use a program called Scrivener for organizing my writing in non-fiction and fiction. What I didn’t think of was another aspect of non-fiction: blogging. Now thanks to research on the Web and on Youtube, I’ll be giving it a try.

Scrivener (software)

Scrivener (software) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

FORMAT

Every post is a separate text file. I divide them into separate folders for each month, with those folders divided into one for the year. I also have one to Archive old posts after I publish them (part of the content strategies that I’ll share in another post), one for Guest Posts, and one for a weekly journal of what I produce. There’s also a folder for Leftovers, fragments of text that I don’t use right away, but may use in another post.

The Research folder, as with any other project, holds all of your research materials.

The Trash folder of course holds the materials that you remove from your posts, only to restore them if you want. It sounds like the Recycle Bin in Windows.

You can edit the Labels; instead of ‘Chapter’ I use — not a surprise — ‘Blog Post”; I use the Statuses for first draft, etc.

You can keep your posts as Drafts until you’re ready to post.

POSTING

There’s not a complex way to do this. You can do a simple Copy and Paste into your editor window (I’m using WordPress, but some people use Blogger, some Typepad or Xanga or even another service / application. They have a similar posting method).

Another way to do it is by the Compile command in Scrivener itself. You can do it as RTF (which can be read by a standard WordPress installation) and many other formats. The other that I think will be useful in many blog software applications is HTML format.

Many blog applications already keep Archives, but you can save the time that you lose online by getting it right here.

Once you post it you then store it in that above-mentioned Archive.

I’ll stop here; this post will have a Part 2.

Related articles

Crowdsourcing 201

To begin, there are two pledge levels that I forgot to mention before, but I’ve seen them for nearly every project I’ve joined, so they’re deserving of mention:

Pledge (song)

Pledge (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“$1”: you want to help out, but you just want to “get your feet wet”. For that you can pledge a single buck. It brings no perks with it, but it still helps the project move forward a bit. Dozens of such a pledge still add up.

“$5”: a larger bid with a sole perk: mention of your name in the Thanks, whether it’s a special page in a  book or comic book, or on a page on a Website (I’m listed on all 3 on different projects) …or whatever form it takes.

One thing: the Thanks are a part of every Perk level above $5 as well.

Where a project really gets cool is when it raises more than the target amount. Why?

Stretch Goals

After that amount, the folks who made the project add new features to their projects.

Take for example Grimtooth’s Ultimate Traps Collection.  These were a set of books that I read years ago in my game life…. traps in fantasy gaming of a darkly humorous bent. For this project all the out-of-print volumes  will be collected in a single hardcover volume. [I backed this]

Stretch goals included new books in this series, extra cloth bookmarks sewn in, even new backer-submitted traps.

Another example: a book that I backed made an audiobook version.

If the projects are the meat-and-potatoes then stretch goals are the neat desserts.

Crowdsourcing Sites

Indiegogo Website

This is the site that I used for my novel, but I think that I’ll use another one next time. I used it because of the flexible funding option available.

Flexible funding means that you get the funds collected — minus their fees — immediately, so even if you don’t make your target you still have something to start to work with.

Traditional thought is that if you don’t make your goal you don’t have to produce your  project — but in my case I don’t agree with that philosophy. Some people did back me, and I’ll finish my book as that’s what they paid for. Even though it’s taking me much longer than I’d like, I’ll get it done.

Kickstarter Website

You may have heard this mentioned a lot lately. Several films and TV shows were funded through this, as were many other projects. Two of my friends got funding for comic books through this, and many, many other projects.

Unlike Indiegogo, pledges collected here are only charged if the project funding target is made. As a result, if the funding goal isn’t achieved the amount collected is an even $0.

There are other crowdsourcing services, but for my needs they aren’t suited: Fundrazr is Canadian which suits me, but it’s better-suited to more altruistic projects than mine. Patreon  is, as the name suggests, a way to become a patron-crowdsourcer ongoing to an artist. I’m not *that* prolific. That wouldn’t be fair to my contributors.

One thing is for sure: whatever service that you go with you have a lot of promotion to do.

 

Crowdsourcing 101

I did this near the end of 2013 for a novel on Indiegogo. I’ll talk more about that novel in another post. I’ll have to do it again at some point. I didn’t achieve my full funding goal then… in part because many people didn’t really understand what I was trying to do, so I’ll attempt to correct that.

English: The crowdsourcing process in eight steps.

English: The crowdsourcing process in eight steps. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Foremost: Crowdsourcing is not begging

Crowdsourcing is like a telethon, but not like the Jerry Lewis one, but more like a PBS one.

If it was just a matter of begging I wouldn’t have done it.  I would find that distasteful to do.

Instead — the PBS model — those who pledge do so for perks. That’s why I’ve chipped in to many over the years.

What are ‘perks’?

They are benefits for the level that you donate at.

Here are examples from other projects that I’ve backed:

I’ve backed other books and comic books. In return for my backing level I got several Kindle– and EPUB-format books and PDF/CBR-format ones for comic books.

Two of the largest concepts that I backed and received were an 8 port (via USB) charger, and a device that makes my Internet a hotspot.

In the case of my novel perks included EPUB, Kindle and POD versions of the novel, and higher pledges got to be in the book.

(This is becoming too huge for just one post.  I’ll continue in the next one.)

 

Long Time Away for Me

I was away writing (of course) but didn’t have a lot happen, full disclosure…

My novel funding didn’t go as far as I would have liked. It was a big learning experience however, and I’ll still finish it… I’m still trying to finish my novel for those who funded though. Of course, profits from others is good too!

I will try to crowdsource again; I’ll have to get my cover art done after all. I won’t ask the people who already funded me, and I’ll put together a separate post on this blog about what crowdsourcing is and ism’t.

In the past year I also attempted the script for an 8-page steampunk comic book story. Steampunk is a science fiction genre in which technology doesn’t exist as we know it. Clockwork mechanisms and steam power exists instead.

I’ve read comic books for over 3 decades, and I’ve written scripts for comics before, so I wanted to challenge myself again.

Fox Feature Syndicate

Fox Feature Syndicate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This didn’t distract me from my novel. 8 pages is a blip at most. There’s another reason: I blew it. I have maybe 4 pages of it done, but thanks to chronic fatigue I didn’t finish on time.

I will finish it though. The reason for this is simple: always finish what you start.

What also slowed me down was that I was learning how to write it with Scrivener. I use it to write everything (my novel to date is in it) but it uses a different method to write. The learning curve slowed me down.

There was a big change for me: with a paid novel to finish, I didn’t feel it would be fair for me to start another one midway, so for the first year since 2003 I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo. I may in 2015 after I finish my current novel.

Now I’m looking forward to launching my book.

Back to Work!

To my day job, blogging and writing.

I’ve been at home for 2 weeks due to my holiday break. I also took time off from writing to recharge my creativity.

Even though my Indiegogo campaign didn’t make funding, I still intend to finish the novel. Most of the people who did pledge I know in person.

Updating here also fell by the wayside. Another thing that I want to change. It bothers me that I haven’t updated in over a month. I’ll change that.

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