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I caught myself tonight thinking, “I really hope I get a sale soon!” Because it’s been, you know, four weeks.

Really, self? This is what’s it’s come to? You went (mumbledy-mumbledy) years before you sold a story, then it was every couple of years, and now you get withdrawal symptoms if you don’t sell one every month?

Gee, you’d think you were trying to make a living at this or something. I’ve figured out the problem: Writing stories is compulsive, but selling stories is addictive.

I’m not trying to toot my own horn here. I’m not bragging because I sell half a dozen stories in a year (okay, last year it was ten). There are a lot of people out there who sell a lot more than I do and to better-paying markets, as well. (And I’m not even terribly jealous of all of them. Some of them are my friends. Them I’m only a little jealous of.) It’s just that I find it amusing how quickly one can go from, “Lord, please let me sell one story before I die,” to “For heaven’s sake, I haven’t had one sale since last month!”

So if you’re a pre-published author, let me make two points: (1) I feel you. I remember what it was like, and I hope that you don’t have to work as long as I did to start selling; and (2) Don’t think once you sell it’s all wine and roses. You just trade your problems for new problems. Nicer problems, I’ll grant you…

…but there still isn’t a Hugo on my mantelpiece. And I haven’t made a single sale since I started writing this post.

#SFWApro

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Netgalley is a site to join where readers who review can go to find new books and recommend them to their friends, followers, and the world at large through Amazon reviews, blogs, Twitter, and whatever the new app-of-the-day is today. It is free and easy to join. And among its thousands of offerings by traditional and independent publishers, you can find The Invisible City.

Reviews are the lifeblood of book-selling. The way things are today, it’s not enough to go down to Barnes & Noble or your local independent bookseller (yeah, right) and scan the shelves. This is particularly true of independent publishers whose works aren’t on the shelves. Nowadays, many people find the best way to choose books is to hunt down reviews on Amazon. And without reviews, authors (especially new ones) can’t get traction.

So if you didn’t know about Netgalley, give it a try. You don’t have to look at my book (although you can at least vote on the new cover), but there are thousands of authors in dozens of categories who are begging for your attention.

Read and review. It’s the thing to do!

#SFWApro

 

 

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Just received in the mail, my latest anthology appearance.

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As if I didn’t already have enough books…

#SFWApro

 

 

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Yes, of course you’re not supposed to, but everybody does. At least in the paperback section. There’s no use denying it; the big publishers spend a lot of time and money on getting the right (they think) covers, even if it usually means the picture bears little resemblance to the to the story. And the Hugo Award for Best Artist is really an award for the best cover(s), further proving their importance to the field.

Although the cover sometimes depicts a scene that is to be found nowhere on the same shelf as anything in the book it adorns, it still tries to convey the feeling of the story, or at least the genre. Which is why, despite vehement opposition from some quarters and a great reluctance on my own part, I have decided to commission a new cover for the e-book version of The Invisible City. (For now, you can see the current cover on my home page.) Don’t get me wrong, I love the cover. I think it’s gorgeous, I commissioned the cover of The Secret City to be in the same vein, and I already know what I want for the cover of The Cosmic City. It will make a nice set, at least on paper. But that first cover does not convey the spirit of the planetary romance plot, and so it has to be replaced. Whether the other e-books will follow suit will depend on sales trends.

Tonight I received the first version of the new cover, and whoa! It wasn’t what I envisioned, but it hits you in the face like a brick. There is no question what kind of book it’s describing, although it will require a few alterations to be more genre-specific.

I’m also going to need a little time to process the change. This was my first self-published novel, and I took great care in selecting a cover that spoke to me; switching to a new one will take time to get used to. Still, self-publishing was all an experiment, and experiments often evolve over time.

So here’s to the new phase of my experiment. As long as it doesn’t blow up the lab or turn me into a supervillain, I guess it will all work out.

#SFWApro

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Whenever you go to one of those new author panels at cons, it seems pre-published authors are always caught up in the “hows,” that is, “How do you write? In the morning or afternoon?” “How many things do you work on at a time?” “Are you an outliner or a seat-of-the-pantser?” They ask these questions over and over again, as if they’re assembling a dataset from which they can extrapolate how one becomes a publisher writer, when they should be asking, “How do I show instead of tell?” “What makes a compelling character?” “What does it mean when people say your setting is a character in the story?”

The trouble with the first part of this is that every writer (including the questioner) is different, so the answers are completely irrelevant. The problem with the second part of this is that no one really knows the answers. Certainly I don’t. (Especially that last one.) So I’m not even going to try. I’m just going to tell you what I do know.

What I know is that not long ago, I asked for advice about whether to lay aside my novel-in-progress to pursue a new project. Everyone seemed to think I should, and I did, and it worked out better than I’d hoped. The only unexpected thing was that I haven’t gone back to the novel. (I will.) But with pot that safely on the back burner, I’ve been concentrating on other things, to good effect.

I currently have 18 submissions out (possibly a record, although seven are agent subs for one novel); I have three stories awaiting markets that have not yet opened, and I’m working on a new short story. This is all very good, and it leads me to the one piece of advice I can give pre-published (or published) authors:

Writing is important, but submitting is imperative.

Now get to work.

#SFWApro

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Hope is a Field of Yellow

I keep track of my submissions on a spreadsheet. Name of story, name of market, date sent, estimated date of return, etc. Pending subs are in yellow, sales in blue, rejections have no color. Using bright colors allows me to see how I’m doing at a glance. The more color, the more chances I have to win.

I try to keep 8-10 subs out at a time, although it’s typically a bit less because I only have so many pieces available, and there are only so many suitable markets for each piece. Up until a couple of days ago, I had six. Not a lot of yellow, but there was some visible blue that perked up the picture. (Blue always helps.) In the past two days, however, I’ve sent eight book queries to agents. All of a sudden there’s a lot of yellow on that page. It’s encouraging; it says I’m working, and each one of those represents the possibility of a big payoff.

Hope is a field of yellow. Here’s hoping.

#SFWApro

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Cirsova #2 is now out, featuring my short story about the little-known supernatural arena of the American Revolution, “Hoskins’ War.” The enemy of your enemy is your friend, but when a colonial guerrilla warrior witnesses an attack by uncanny creatures upon a British column, he realizes that some wars transcend politics and geography and that if this massacre is left unanswered, there soon may be no one left to fight over whether America deserves its freedom.

I can also announce that “Foundering Fathers” is now available as part of the anthology Singular Irregularity. In a complete coincidence, it too examines the underpinnings of a pivotal event in America’s fight for liberty–albeit in a more lighthearted vein. When time-traveling Barclay Webster accidentally leaves Paul Revere senseless just before he is to make his legendary ride, who but Barclay will be there to rescue history? And when plans go awry, who but Soames, the inestimable valet, will be there to rescue Barclay?

And finally, Once a Knight, A Tale of the Daze of Chivalry, has been made available for free on Amazon for a very limited time. Fantasy Faction called Once a Knight, “cleverly written. … [A] pun in every paragraph and a smile in every sentence.” If you love Monty Python and the Holy Grail, or the films of Mel Brooks, this book belongs in your library.

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