Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why do I even have a blog?

As you can see from snooping around this blog even a little, I'm not yet published.  I mean, I'm an author, but only because I say so.  You can't yet buy my stories, and I haven't yet made any money from them.  So why does a guy like me have an author's blog?

Well, to be fair, the foremost reason is because that's what the industry experts suggest.  They say to get your voice out there even before you're published, and that's what I'm doing.  So why would they advise this?  Why would an author with nothing to sell be advised to have an online presence?

First, establishing myself, however obscure, as a presence on the Internet before I'm published means I'm already ahead of the game when I do eventually publish.  I'm already ahead of the author who starts to blog, tweet, and otherwise connect at the same time his or her book is published.

Second, it shows that I'm already willing to work on publicity myself, to do what I need to do to get my stories visible, away from the dark claws of obscurity.  If I'm willing to work on things on my own, they know I'll work with them however they need in order to promote my books.  It's the sign of a good investment, and with the risks agents and publishers take with new authors, that's a good thing.

And third, it gives everyone - readers, agents, editors, publishers - a taste of my writing.  Sure, it's not the same as fiction, but it gives them a snapshot of the quality, style, and attention to detail that I likely (assuredly, actually) give my stories.  They can see my typos, or hopefully lack thereof, my grammar, my style and my voice.  Anything that allows a preview into what someone is getting makes it more enticing.

Aside from that, it allows anyone at a glance to see what type of stories I write.  It's right up there at the top: science fiction, horror, and fantasy.  You know instantly if you like the genres I write, and you know what to expect when you pick up one of my stories.

If you've been following my blog for any amount of time, you probably realize I intend to self-publish two novellas.  And you realize I'm behind my targeted schedule.  There are a couple reasons for this.  The first, and probably biggest reason is that a fractured ankle in the household has left me playing caregiver rather than maniacal wordslinger for much of the last couple of months.  I haven't been able to work nearly as much as I'd expected, but priorities being what they are, I'm fine with that.

Also, in talking with my amazingly cool editor, Karin Cox, I came to the conclusion my first story had a thread or two that needed more fleshing out to make it a much better story.  Every piece of quality advice I've found out there for self-publishers tells me the two things I had better get right are the cover and the editing process. Both are absolutely vital in producing a quality product, worthy of your hard-earned money.  And an author can't do that alone and be completely successful.  If my editor says my book would be better a certain way, then I'd damn well better listen.

Both these things, coupled with the normal family-centric holiday season, have left me woefully behind schedule.  It grates on me, knowing that schedules and deadlines are absolutely necessary in this business.  I'm still learning the ropes, but I should be able to function within the parameters I do know.

Whether I call these excuses or reasons, it all amounts to the same thing.  I'm working on it, I promise.  In fact, I've wrapped up the editing process and have begun the formatting.  Correctly formatting an e-book is a bit complicated, and involves a bit of HTML and other types of magical computer tomfoolery.  Sure, any idiot can zap a word document into the right format and have it uploaded and ready in an hour.  The problem with that is not every type of e-reader works well with formatting it the easy way, making it a very unprofessional looking product.

So bear with me just a while longer, while I wrangle through the correct way to format the book for all the major e-readers.  After all, if I'm taking your hard-earned money in good conscience, I want to make sure I have as professional a product as I can.

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