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One of the bad things about being a writer is that you are your own workforce. If you take time off, no one picks up the slack. You also have to live with your decisions, good or bad.

One of the good things about being a writer is that you are your own boss. You set your own goals, your own hours. You want to take a week off, you don’t have to ask anybody. And if you want to change your business model, you don’t have to run your new plan by a committee.

So I’m changing my business model. And while I don’t have to run it by a committee, since it’s sudden and runs smack into the plan I was publicizing as late as a week ago, I felt like I should say something.

I am taking an indefinite hiatus from self-publishing. It’s for the obvious reason: economics. I have proven to myself that, given the proper motivation, I can write a lot faster than I had been, which is essential to self-publishing. You have to push a lot of product to the market. Unfortunately, this is only half of the equation, in that once you have put product on the market, someone has to want to consume it. And therein lies the rub.

The most formidable obstacle to successful self-publishing is discoverability. This is not a writing problem, this is a business problem. According to the numbers, I do not have the business acumen to make a go of self-publishing. It takes about twice the time I was putting in before, and it provides about the same money. I may not be a business genius, but even I can see this makes no sense.

So I’m going back to writing short stories, and with any luck I’ll be able to apply some of the lessons that I gleaned while learning to write a novel in two months. My backlist will remain in print, of course, so theoretically I will soon have two income streams.

Being the boss means sometimes you have let go of an employee. Or a business. I’ll miss being a self-published writer; I just won’t miss being a self-publisher.

Okay, I’ve got to go. My boss is yelling at me to write something. Short stories or novels, some things never change.

#SFWApro

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In celebration of the upcoming release of The Killing Scar , third book in the Nemesis series (available at the special pre-order price), the first book, The Choking Rain, is now available for free on Amazon and other platforms!

February, 1932: The city of Los Angeles is anticipating a huge boost to its depression-ravaged economy from the upcoming Summer Olympics. But when a horrifying and unexplained wave of deaths sweeps the city, the incipient panic could ruin everything. An ex-fighter pilot uncovers an international terror plot which threatens not only the city and the Games, but the peace of the entire world. He will throw everything he has into the fight–and victory, if it comes, will demand a terrible price: Before it is done, a life will be lost, and a legend will be born.

And if your tastes run more to the out-of-this-world, The Invisible City, first in the Stolen Future trilogy, is also free. A 20th-century man is hurled into the distant future, where he is considered nothing more than an ignorant barbarian to be hunted and killed. If he survives, he may save the world–but will he choose the world of his past, or of his future?

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The cover for The Killing Scar is here, and the book is available for pre-order at a discount price!

cover1-3

A German scientist pursued by Allied agents…a victim of mob violence…both believed dead by the world at large. But the history of their struggle, begun in the chaotic months after the Great War, will come to a fateful conclusion in the days of the Great Depression, deep in the wilds of a ravaged Europe, where a deadly secret weapon is being developed which could change the course of history!

After the War, Eric Reinhold pursued the murderer Captain Skorzos for two years, until their final confrontation on a night the Eric still will not talk about, twelve years later, but which is widely believed to have ended in Skorzos’ death. Since that time, Eric himself has wrongfully been declared dead, the victim of a gangland shooting. But now it appears that both men are still alive–and their next meeting will have consequences that could shape the fate of the world…

The Killing Scar will be released on February 28 for $3.99, but you can pre-order through Amazon and Smashwords at the reduced price of $2.99. Plus, in celebration of the publication of book #3 in the Nemesis saga, the first book, The Choking Rain, will soon be available for free on all platforms.

And don’t forget, the fourth book in the series, Marauders from the Moon, comes out this summer!

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It’s scary starting a new book. You have an idea, maybe just a scene that you’ve been carrying around in your head for weeks or months, waiting to see if it grows into something you can use. If it’s a series, you already have your main character(s), so that’s a help. But you don’t have a plot, you don’t have secondary characters, you don’t have a beginning, a middle, or an end… You have to write 1200-1500 words per day for the next four months and you have no idea what Word One is going to be! Help!

It’s exciting to start a new book. There’s this image you’ve been carrying in your head for weeks or months that you can’t wait to get down and see where is goes. This is the fourth book in your series, and you’re really getting into your characters’ psyches, and you’re learning more and more about your setting all the time. Right now you’ve got nothing more than maybe a half-page of scattered notes, but in a few months you will have a book: Tens of thousands of words that you put together in a way that has never been done before and never will be again. Your universe, your mark on history. The possibilities!

And you wonder why writers can never seem to confine themselves to the here and now, even when they’re away from their typewriters. They are in a constant state of simultaneous terror and awe. (No, not shock and awe. That’s different. That’s when someone buys your book.) There are those who say fiction is irrelevant; it has no relation to, or effect on, the real world. They’ve never written a novel. Believe me, when you write a novel, it affects your real world a lot.

I am at the “ten lines of notes that I may never use” stage. And I have a blurb. In fact, the blurb came first. It was the first thing I wrote, because once you have a blurb, you have a story. You just have to fill in the details.

I have no idea right now what those details are going to be. I am in the same state as anyone else starting to read this book; I have little to no idea what’s going to happen.

It is scaring my pants off, and exciting as hell.

#SFWApro

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I’ve been wanting to write, honestly I have. It’s just that I’ve been too busy writing. As you know, The Killing Scar is drafted, but that was only the beginning of the work. First I had to edit it, which means I had to re-read it, not an easy task when I just wrote it. It sounds like a lousy pitch for your book that it’s the last thing in the world you want to read, but it’s true. But that’s done now. As soon as I get the cover, I’ll preview it. Then, if the beta readers don’t threaten to turn my ms. over to the police as evidence of a literary crime, I’ll publish. That’s a big “if.”

In the meantime, I have to start outlining Marauders from the Moon (due out in June, and when am I going to start it?). And at the same time I’m re-reading The Choking Rain, because one of the problems with maintaining a series is that you can’t always remember the details from one book to the next, and I don’t want that problem. Yes, I could create a bible (which I probably will if this goes on), but I don’t have one and I don’t have time to write one. (See paragraph above.) It’s been a while since I wrote Rain, but it took a long time to finish, so re-visiting it isn’t a picnic, either. (Honestly, these are good books, you just wouldn’t know it to listen to me.)

Anyhow, I didn’t want more time to go by without touching base. The government might shut down, but my publisher has a schedule to keep, and believe me, he does not like it when I slack off. It may be a while before I get back here.

–Okay, okay, boss! I’m going back to work… Sheesh, what a grouch.

#SFWApro

 

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I was going to call this article “Loscon Post-Mortem,” but that sounds like a real downer; I mean, the con is over, but it’s not dead… So then I thought, “What do you call it? I can’t call it a ‘post-Loscondom’…” So never mind. It is what it is.

It seemed to go very well. I had three panels, one per day (unlike some who had back-to-back panels, which is not fair), and I participated significantly in all three. Only one time did a question set me back, and I managed to make a joke out of it while I organized my thoughts and came up with something tangentially related to the subject under discussion. People even took notes, which I found gratifying.

The convention itself was typical of its ilk, small but enthusiastic, and I thought the programming choices were above average. The age range extended further than normal, with more younger folks attending–always a good sign.

Personally, I was surprised to find that being on a panel made me feel more like a professional than actually selling stories. When you sell, you may see the numbers, but there are no individuals attached to them. When you’re a panelist at a convention, you are face-to-face with people who paid money to see you speak (or as one of my peers put it, “paid money to see Tim Powers speak,” but you’re part of that package). And when they come to see you, they pay attention and take notes and ask questions as though you have some authority on the subject.

To paraphrase Uncle Ben, “With authority comes responsibility.” Those folks are there to learn from you. That means you’d better be professional and prepared. You may think you’re a nobody because you haven’t published 10 novels with New York houses, but those people in the audience? Most of them haven’t published the 35 short stories you have, and they want to be you. I should have realized that earlier, because it wasn’t long ago that I was just like them (still am, but with loftier goals), but until I sat in one of the chairs behind the table, I didn’t really know it.

I was mostly prepared this time, and when I wasn’t, I extemporized. Next time I’ll do better.

Because that’s my job.

#SFWApro

 

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