Witchfinder: How to Use Your Blog to Write a Novel
Hi this is Sarah. The ever excellent Kristine Kathryn Rusch did a post this Tuesday about the element of surprise. She says – and I believe her – that it’s an excellent way to catch reader’s attention and to get sales you might otherwise not have gotten.
I think she is right, but the surprise I gave to those who follow my group writing blog at Mad Genius Club this week was quite unintentional.
You see, I’m releasing my very first indie novel on Saturday the 5th. No, I’m not leaving Baen, and I hope they’re not firing me any year soon. This novel is not quite a Baen novel and it was also part of an experiment: I wrote it over a year and a half, a chapter a week on my blog.
When it started, I’ll confess that all I wanted to do was avoid having to think up a topic for posts on Friday, since it’s my cleaning day and I usually wake up groggy and grouchy at the prospect of dealing with cat boxes. A chapter in a continuing saga is often easier than thinking up something to astound the world every single day of the week. (Okay, I didn’t say it did astound the world. Only that this is what I aim for.)
So I started writing it, and I promised those who contributed $6 to the novel fund that I would send them the ebook format of their choice for the final collated product. That’s how it started. Next thing I knew I’d made what used to be a standard advance for a beginner in my field – five thousand dollars. (Now it’s three thousand dollars. Good thing that inflation is going backwards for us writers!)
This put it on a different footing than “blog filler.” I decided I would revise it – once it was all done – and give it a professional level cover, professional level editing (after all, it had “paid” for this) and release it as well as I could.
Turns out there were many detours on the way. For instance, three of the artists sort of disappeared, and the fourth delivered a cover that wasn’t quite right for the book. So I had to figure out another cover, which involved a bit of improvisation. My editor used a program that didn’t speak to my program, so before I could access his edits, I panicked and sent it to two other editors. Then I got the flu just before I started the final work on the book.
Even now, things aren’t quite as planned. I planned a paper/ebook release at the same time, but the book is about 50% larger than anything I’ve previously typeset, and requires different margins and gutter. At the moment I’m fighting it. When I set the book for release tomorrow, I will – if I can – set up the paperback for pre-order. Unless I can’t figure out how, in which case, rest assured it will be coming out in about two weeks.
Anyway – my post at Mad Genius Club betrayed my nervousness at the whole process… And it shocked my readers who are indie-published themselves. One asked me if I got this nervous when a traditional book is published. Another asked why, after 23 (I think, I haven’t counted lately) novels, I’d be getting nervous about THIS one.
Well – because it’s indie.
The good thing about indie is that it’s all my responsibility. By which I mean, I don’t have to stand by helplessly while someone else overlooks something obvious or neglects some clear step on the way to the launch, as happened with, say, the third one of my musketeer mysteries. (The cover of the third was too similar to the first, so you know… since they came out three months apart, people got confused.) You don’t have to worry that your book will be given an awful cover. You certainly don’t have to worry that the blurb put on it will be completely insane.
… on the other hand…
The bad thing about indie is that it’s all my responsibility. In the past, while bringing out my backlist or short stories, I’ve found I’m a long way from infallible.
Because the indie publishing is a part time job and usually undertaken at night or on weekends after a full week of writing, strange things happen. I’ve had covers go up with a “ghost” of the title – misspelled at that – showing on the bottom. (I was overdue on my glasses prescription and missed it until a reader asked me what it meant.) I’ve had books go up that had appalling mistakes, because I uploaded the wrong file. I’ve had books go up and fail to sell a single copy.
(These were, fortunately, so far, short stories.)
I’m going to try very hard not to do this with Witchfinder. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be the first time I invent a completely new mistake to make. In fact, you could say that’s pretty much my pattern.
I could put Witchfinder up and find out I put up the wrong file. Or the wrong cover. Or that I forgot the copyright notice. Or that I set copyright in 2114. (Laugh. I did that with one of the reprints.)
Or I could put it up and – despite the fact that the first readers and early subscribers are raving about it – I could discover that everyone else hates it.
I used to think it was bad enough to submit my book to the editor and get it rejected. What if I put the book up, now, and the whole world rejects it? Even worse – what if not a single copy sells?
Wish me luck. I’ll be in the corner, biting my nails.
[Good luck! --C]
Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to firstname.lastname@example.org to be plugged here on PJ Media.
Deadlines are flexible, but in general the deadline for Friday is Tuesday the preceding week. So, for example, the deadline for March 7 was February 22.
That said, last week was a really big one, so some books are being put off until next week. Hey, we said the deadlines are flexible.
It really helps if you don't bother with HTML magic at all, because we just have to parse it apart to put it into the template. The ideal submission is like
My name as it's on the book cover.
no more than about 100 words.
A new collection of science fiction stories with a mathematical twist.
December 1943. Adolf Hitler is dead. Queen Elizabeth II reigns on the Commonwealth throne while a usurper sympathetic to the Nazis inhabits Buckingham Palace. Having turned aside the Soviet Union's initial assault into the Greater Reich, the Wehrmacht is now stymied at the gates of Moscow. With the Red Air Force bloodied, the Kremlin under steady blows from the Luftwaffe, and Joseph Stalin comatose, the desperate Soviet Triumvirate turns to the United States in a plea for aid against the mutual Nazi foe. Indifferently equipped, the young men of the American Air Expeditionary Force (AAEF) are thrown into action in order to keep the Soviet Union in the war.
December 1965. Tabitha Cobb, a Masters student at Berkley University, sets out to learn the truth about the AAEF and the scars it left on its survivors. Attempting to earn a scholarship, Tabitha quickly learns that sometimes ignorance truly is bliss.
"Pandora's Memories" is an alternate history short story that is the first in the Usurper's War series.
Who are you, really? Who would you be if your memories, your identity, and your life were taken away from you, leaving you a bare, blank slate?
Matt Tyler no longer remembers who he was. His life prior to waking up at the Farm might well have never been lived. Was he married? Did he have children? And what of these strange dreams he has? Gwen Marshall no longer recalls her life but she knows that something is missing. She struggles to regain her memories and her identity, determined to fight her way free of the haze -- even if it kills her. Together, Matt and Gwen make their way through this strange, new world, following their dreams and the vague hints that offer tantalizing glimpses of who they were and who they might become...
It is the unforgiving high desert of an alternate Old West, where the native people defend their lands with dragons very different from the fire-breathing monsters of our legends. Where sisters Isabella and Alijandra scratch out a meager life with their exiled parents.
Into their lives comes a small, injured dragon from far away. While caring for it, the girls discover its strange and terrifying powers—and learn that the hunt for their father, an outlawed former dragontamer, has intensified. At the same time, the dragon grows more and more compelled to complete the mysterious journey that brought her to these lonely lands.
The story of the dragontamer’s daughters continues. After finding and tending a small, injured dragon, sisters Isabella and Alijandra try to keep “Pearl,” as they call her, a secret. But others find out, and want Pearl—and her powers—for their own purposes.
Soon, the girls will be forced to contend with the native people on whose lands they live. With the ambitious governor whose soldiers hunt their father. With a man who has no name but wields immense, eerie powers. With Pearl’s yearning to fulfill her journey. And with their own dreams and wishes for a life they once lived—and might live again.
Kat Igardson is a visionary, a psychic, and a protector, but doesn’t gain her hereditary powers until the death of her Grandma. Daisy Amulda, a black witch, is stripped of her power by her father. These two unlikely women become allies to fight an evil that corrupts and taints Earth and its innocents.