10 Quests to Write and then to Publish / General Steps from Writing to Publishing

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Quest 1: Decide if you’re Pantsing or Plotting

Have an idea.

Then choose:

Want to just start writing and figure out as you go? Pantsing!

Want to plan out every detail and then write? Plotting!

Quest complete.

 

Quest 2: Finish First Draft.

Figure out a writing schedule.

Stick to your writing schedule.

??? (usually sweat, tears, and self-hate)

Quest complete.

 

Quest 3: Don’t share your first draft.

Thinking about giving these out to beta readers? NO.

Thinking about querying agents? NO.

Thinking about having your dying grandmother read this? NO.

Quest complete.

 

Quest 4: Start your second draft.

Optional Sub-Quest: Give yourself some distance between you and your manuscript.

Read through your first draft.

Make the necessary corrections and changes.

Quest complete.

 

Quest 5: Repeat Quest 4 until you feel it’s ready.

Repeat Quest 4 until you feel it’s ready.

Quest complete.

 

Quest 6: Beta Readers

Find other heroes to join your quest.

Hopefully, they are those who you can trust to be honest with you and give you a variety of insights.

Tip: If they’re people you know, they should be people who are comfortable enough to call you a moron if the need arises and have strong enough bond with you to tell you to not waste any more time on your manuscript if it’s horseshit.

Listen to their judgments and insights.

Quest complete.

 

Quest 7: Another day, Another draft.

Compile all the notes you’ve gathered from your beta readers.

Make a new draft of your manuscript based on the notes.

Quest complete.

 

Quest 8: Choose your class.

Self-Publishing or Traditional

Class descriptions:

Self-Publishing:

High risk, high reward.

With all the freedom comes with it the burden of fugue

Even the risks are up to the players to decide depending on their goals and investment.

While it’s true that this can be a low-investment, non-pay-2-win class, most experienced players would say otherwise.

Or as Michael J. Sullivan, a notable self-published player, said recently to the question what if you don’t have a day job that you can balance to support this class,

“Marry rich.”

A personal note from the scribe of this quest is that he wished he had around 3500 USD to invest in his first book before starting out. 1500 USD minimum.

The general rules of thumbs are:

  1. Don’t expect to make much money.
  2. No one will find your book until you shove it into their hands.
  3. Write at least three before expecting a profit.

Traditional:

Relatively low risk but still grind-heavy.

The well-established, longest enduring class. That being the case, the progression for this class is clearly mapped out for those who want to go down this path.

Finish manuscript -> Get an Agent -> Get a Publisher.

While the steps seem simple, it can be a grueling and even a life-long task for many to complete the second step of this journey.

As in the name of this class, this is still what the most of the public traditionally consider as a writer and hence comes with it the prestige and network that most self-published authors will not be able to enjoy.

Even the upfront payment by the publisher is probably more money than most self-published authors will ever see with their work.

However, while it is a bragging-right of sorts, often the writers themselves will realize that the payoff of the class is more-or-less may be the same as most of their self-published authors in the long run—if not worse.

Not to mention that more often than not, most writers with publishers will not enjoy a lot of the luxuries that writers assume that they’d receive.

The general rules of thumb are:

  1. Don’t expect to make much money.
  2. No one will find your book until you shove it into their hands.
  3. Your manuscript should be at a point of you not being embarrassed if that gets leaked to the public before you start querying agents.

Quest Complete?

 

HERE COMES A NEW CHALLENGER!

 

“Hybrid Author”

Self-Pub, Trad, they do it all. Their success entirely in their hands.

No balance patch will be applied.

Tip: The author mentioned previously, Michael J. Sullivan, always shares his wealth of knowledge having experienced all three classes. 

Check out his Reddit Page here: /u/MichaelJSullivan

If that link is there, that means I got his permission to do so.

Quest 9: Do your class quests.

Self-Pub

  • Figure out your budget.
  • Figure out editing.
  • Figure out the cover art.
  • Figure out blurb.
  • Figure out marketing.
  • Figure out networking.
  • Figure out where to publish.
  • Figure out how to publish.
  • Figure out the circumstances of the publishing.
  • Figure out any legal matters that need to be resolved before publishing.
  • Publish?

Trad

  • Find your potential agents.
  • Query, Query, Query.
  • Sit.
  • Wait.
  • Found an agent!
  • Celebrate!
  • Sit.
  • Wait.

Quest Complete.

 

Quest 10: Do it all again.

Do it all again.

Do it all again.

Do it all again.

 


 

In my next blog post, I’ll probably go into what my experiences were like.

What I wish I’d have done differently.

And what I want to do in the future.

I’ve done something like that already in the past but given the years it has passed since then, I think it might offer a new insight.

ARAMIRU OUT

Chronicles of the Otherworld: Season 1 Audiobook is available now!

Check it out HERE

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Black Halo: the Witch and the Guardian PREVIEW Part 2

REVISED version of

Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian

is coming out on 12/9/2015!

Preview Event:

PART 1 (Prologue, Chapter 1)


Blurb:

With the Light, came Magic, and the Witch. As mysterious as she was fearsome, and as powerful as she was merciless, the Witch almost succeeded in ending the world until she was vanquished by a hero and his comrades.

This is the legend of the Witch and the Guardian.

Centuries after the nigh calamity, this legend is as much as almost anyone knows of what truly happened back then and as much of an explanation anyone has of what ended an era in human civilization.

Though the people may never learn the whole story, you as the reader will follow the days that led up to how a young girl named Lily became immortalized as the Witch though her name, dreams and life became forgotten.


INTERLUDE I
COMING OF AGE

“Mom?! Mom!” Kalin’s shouts were loud enough to echo.

From the loft, Kalin went down the stairs to his family’s florist shop. The various perfumes of the flowers and plants tickled his nose as they always did. He found his mother near the exit of the store tucked into a thick winter jacket and a wool beanie she had knitted. She had a small mail carrier bag strapped across her chest and was busy gathering the picket signs.

“You’re going out again? For those freaks?” Kalin grumpily asked.

He didn’t have a particular reason to dislike the “freaks” other than that he worried about his mother. Hostility from their community was growing each day ever since Kalin’s mother announced her support of those weirdos.

“First, the politically correct term we are apparently using is to refer to them as the ‘Gifted.’ If you’re up to feeling a bit silly, you may call them wizards. Second, though they may be wizards, the Gifted are still people, Kalin,” his mother spoke sternly but with tenderness. She knew it wasn’t an easy thing for her son to understand, and she understood that he was worried for her. “Maybe someday you’ll understand, hun. I imagine your father would be out there with me too if he was still around.” She finally managed to gather all the picket signs and carried them over her shoulder, holding them steady with one arm. With her free hand, the mother ruffled her son’s hair.

Kalin shooed his mother’s hand away. His father wasn’t a hero or led a particularly interesting life, but everyone who knew him told Kalin that his father was a good man. Illness took him away while Kalin was still a toddler. After he passed away, it was just Kalin and his mother and the flower shop. They were the only family each other had left.

Every time she mentioned his father, Kalin felt frustrated and guilty. Perhaps it was because he felt he couldn’t take some of the burden off of his mother or perhaps it was because it seemed like he was the burden itself. Each time she mentioned him, Kalin could still see the twinkle in her eyes of a woman who still hadn’t been able to let go of her long gone other half.

“The church people don’t seem to like it when you go, Mom. They looked pretty angry at us last time,” Kalin gave his final complaint to fight for his mother’s stay.

“Kalin, sometimes people let their fear and anger get the better of them.” She looked at her son who didn’t seem too happy with the answer. “It’s during these times that we have to remember”—Kalin’s mother poked at her son’s head—“we have this”—she poked at her son’s heart—“…and that!”

“No, mom! There are people out there hunting down other people who support those freaks! And, yeah, those Gifted murdered people. I don’t think it’s naive to overlook something like that! Are you saying that doctor deserved to be killed by that Witch? Don’t you remember all those stories on the news? All the people crying for the doctor?” Kalin retorted.

“We can’t judge an entire group of people on few bad eggs. I know you already know this, my stubborn, stubborn son.”

“But, mom!”

Kalin’s mom set aside the signs and embraced her son into her arms. The nervousness in the son’s heart lingered but his anger subsided in his mother’s hug.

“I know you’re worried, kiddo. Sometimes it’s difficult and dangerous to do the right thing. Sometimes the right thing may seem like the wrong thing to do—even more so as we get older. But if all the good people hid from doing what’s right, what kind world would we leave behind tomorrow?”

Kalin still didn’t look satisfied.

“I have to be both your mom and your dad. I want you to know that your parents were people that didn’t just talk about doing the right things, but actually did them. And I want you to think of me as a”—the mother paused for a moment and grinned—“badass.” She gave him a peck on the forehead. “And you’ll have to live with that.” She squeezed his cheek and gave him a smile.

“At least let me go with you,” Kalin grumbled.

“Nope. School night. Just tell your mum, that you love so much, that you love her and ask her to come home safe.” His mother stood and gathered up her signs again. Kalin wanted tell his mom that he did think of her as a ‘badass’. That he was proud of her. The words tickled at his throat but never made it out.

“If you say you’ll pick me up a burger on the way home.” Kalin crossed his arms.

“You should be sleeping by the time I get back, you pig.” His mother rummaged in her pockets for her keys.

“You have no power here when you’re not home.” Kalin smirked.

“Only if you give me a kiss.” His mother puckered her lips and closed her eyes.

Kalin reluctantly gave her a peck on the cheek, and it was enough for his mother to be satisfied with her small victory.

“I’ll lock up. But don’t forget to turn off the lights before you go to sleep, alright?” His mother asked with half of her already out the door.

“I won’t sleep ‘till I get my burger,” the son replied as he headed for the stairs.

“I really don’t know from which gene pool made you so stubborn.” She locked the door behind her and walked out into the dark empty street of a cold winter night. The street was lightly covered white with snow. The sedan left behind by her late husband was parked right in front of her shop. The warmth from the store made the sudden chill hard to bear. She hurriedly packed the picket signs and her bag into the back of her car. Her face was already numb from the cold wind.

As she closed the door of her car and headed towards the driver’s side, she saw a group of three men coming her way.

A different layer of chill than the cold of winter jolted down her spine.

Instinctive fear telling her to go.

Run.

She jumped into her car and attempted to start it. The engine didn’t turn over. The front window was iced. She couldn’t see them but she could hear their footsteps crunching into the snow as the crunches grew louder and louder. She turned on the headlights and fruitlessly tried to turn the engine again.

Don’t be stupid. She told herself. Calm down. You’re being paranoid. Following the guidance of her inner voice, she turned to her glove box for the ice scraper. When did the crunches stop?

 

Knock. Knock. Knock.

 

A dark metal object tapped on her window. The man pressed his forehead on the icy glass and the blurred image of a face hidden behind a black ski mask was all she could see.

“Hello,” the man called out to her almost playfully as Kalin’s mother immediately went to lock the doors. They made the distinctive click to let her know that they were already locked.

She could tell even with the iced up windows that the men had surrounded her car. She hoped at this point that they were only here for her.

 

Knock. KNOCK. KNOCK.

 

It was obvious at this point the object was a gun.

“What do you want?!” She shouted out the car as she hysterically searched her bag for her phone. The mother wondered whether to call the police first or her son.

“Open the door.”

She tried to start the car only to fail again as she dialed away on her phone.

“Open the door,” The man requested again as calmly as before.

“I’m calling the cops!” She threatened.

Kalin had just cracked open his textbook in his room when he heard the commotion outside. As he approached his bedroom window that overlooked the main road, a loud bang echoed through the neighborhood followed by the sound of car alarms from the street. Kalin rushed over to the window and looked outside. He saw a group of men surrounding his mother’s car and felt a chill wash over his body that made his stomach turn.

“That’s what all of you witch-lovers get.” It was followed by a similar bang as before, and his mother’s car brightly lit up for a short moment before descending back into darkness.

Kalin felt his innards twist and sink as he screamed for his mother. He stumbled down the stairs frantically and dashed out of the front door of his flower shop. One of the men threw a dirty glass bottle into the car that engulfed it in flames.

The three masked men stared at the terrified boy.

“Your mother got what she deserved, boy,” The one who threw the bottle said. “And you’re going to end up the same if you follow in her footsteps.”

After giving Kalin their warning, the three men fled. One of the men looked back to check the spectacle only to see instead what he thought had to have been his eyes playing tricks. The boy was in the air with bluish streams jetting from his body and coming at him with astonishing speed. Kalin landed on the man and they tumbled on the snowy street.

Kalin yelled and screamed nigh incomprehensible words as he beat on the man. Some blows felt about as strong as what a young teen could muster. Some blows, those that jetted similar streams from earlier, landed harder than anything the man had experienced in his life.

The man’s two accomplices saw their friend in trouble and ran back to help. They could hear the sirens rapidly approaching. Kalin didn’t notice the two men until they kicked him across the face and stomped him to the ground. They helped their friend up and began to flee again but stopped when they realized their friend wasn’t with them. The two looked behind to find their companion stomping the boy. Kicking to satisfy his anger.

“We got to go!” one of them yelled.

Just a little more, the man thought as his foot rose up into the air and landed hard again on Kalin.

The two partners in crime grabbed the man by his arms and dragged him away as he cursed at the boy. They had to drag him until the sirens grew loud enough with their lights beginning to turn the white snow red and blue brought him back to his sense enough to run on his own.

Some neighbors and bystanders slowly came out from their hiding and witnessed the burning vehicle and a boy beaten to a pulp laying in the streets. Kalin turned onto his back and drowned in the night sky. The taste of blood filled his mouth and his body hurt from all over. But the void he was feeling inside—a tear—was the only thing he could feel. In the sky, he could see the stars and the Light. Snow began to fall again as he coughed up blood.

Sirens and lights of red and blue quickly flooded the scene. The three men were eventually captured and were found to be part of their victim’s church. All three admitted to their actions and went on to testify that they were proud of what they had done. They claimed they were simply stopping a disease from spreading across the world.

The victim’s son disappeared a few months after the incident.

 

…There are no clear records of when and where the Witch and her follower met. There are no clear indicators of who he was, what he did, and what he was to her. The only thing clear seems to be that when the Witch first arrived, she was alone. But during some point she met a companion who’d follow her until the end of her life…


 


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Walking the Fine Line: Review Trading

Let’s begin by murdering the elephant in the room with a buckshot, skinning her with a rusty knife, and harvesting her ivory for pristine piano keys–I’m against it.

Review trading is a blatant hush-hush among indie writers that some participate without much thought, some with the belief that it’s just part of the game, and some with guilt that’d make Catholics envious.

The title for this entry was a forewarning because this is a complicated matter and my position on it is a bit of a fine waltz (or an awkward crunk) that could be easily misconstrued (like an awkward crunk). I readily admit that I could be shining my own position and this problem with the wrong kind of bulb.

What it actually is is simple: Author A asks Author B that they should read each other’s books and give each other reviews.

The concern lies within the innuendos that may or may not be there… like back when you were 16 at a keg party and talking to Minji Kim the Asian cheerleader that you’ve had a crush on before she developed and became popular so you know that you were into her for her soul and personality and she’s slightly tipsy and you are too and you don’t get if she’s hitting on you or not but her boyfriend Derek is across the room sipping on his red plastic cup and glaring at you like a diseased hawk with quads that’d burst your cherries like balls if he decided to kick you in the grapes.

Theoretically, the two authors would take their times to photosynthesize each other’s books and emit onto one another honest reviews and breathe in whatever the other had to say.

Because as we all know, criticisms are often more beneficial than praises (remember this because I’m going to tell you later how I lied by simply omitting four words).

Here’s the not-so Shayamalan: reality is a dick.

You see, criticisms are often more beneficial than praises for honing your craft. Criticisms are not often more beneficial than praises for paying your bills.

Yes, yes. Perhaps by having honest criticisms people would improve and write better books that’d sell to more people.

Again, theoretically true, but not always true in reality.

Selling is about marketing. Whether something is good or not doesn’t really matter as long as the package is good.

For books that’s about reviews and it’s cred. Sadly, unlike movies, most books cannot sell on notoriety of being bad. Especially considering as time passes, more and more people are thinking of books as sort of an investment–time investment. Why should they spend the time and money they could be using watching 3 minute videos on YouTube and Facebook and etc. on a bad book?

Specifically, for indie authors, this means the number of stars and the number of reviews attached to the name of their novel. Book marketing, like anything else, is complex and expensive but the foundation of it (for indie authors at least) starts from there.

So let’s go back to Author A and B. There isn’t a writer out there who’s not aware of this. Everyone’s aware that bad reviews can tangibly harm someone’s writing career.

I think most of us can agree that there’s some immorality there if the two understood they’d give each other a positive review no matter what.

However, the gray seeps in when the pressure to give one another honest reviews is challenged by peculiar circumstances.

Lets say Author A wrote a fantastic book and received a glittery review from B. But B wrote a dull novel and A was planning on giving them a review that reflected exactly that.

After receiving a good review, understandably, A could feel the pressure to plant some flowers into his review for B.

A is simply a person not wanting to harm someone who’s done them a favor.

“Favor”, as it often does, becomes the gray word here.

To prevent this problem from ever happening, many writers suggest to simply not ask other writers to trade reviews.  Let them discover your novel like any other readers and give you a review as an audience. Or ask a writer to simply give you a review with an understanding that this is a clean favor you’re asking from them and not a transaction.

But many of us starting out writers do need help from our peers to make it past the first few steps of our careers.

A method I found that is mostly acceptable is to give one another private reviews and ask for permission if they’d be okay with the review being public. Of course, this being discussed beforehand that the review will be performed in such a manner.

There’s a problem with this too, however, in that you could give someone a poor review and if you’re involved in a poor circle of writers this may circulate a bad branding to your name and people might not support you as they are aware that you probably don’t present them with any benefits.

Business be business, people be people, and life be life.

I’m writing about this topic because I felt like I missed a better timing for it. A writer friend of mine, Jessica Wren, invited me into her co-op group for authors.

As far as I know so far, they seem to be good people looking to help one another’s careers with integrity. I’m happy to be part of the group. Jessica is a pretty awesome person that I am glad to have met.

We’re all in this together. We’re all trying to make self and indie publishing a legitimate source for novels and storytelling. There’s no sense in cannibalizing our own fragile credibility for a small chance at brief success.

The road for indie writers is still unpaved, littered with broken glass, and filled with robbers.

What they shouldn’t take away from us are our names. Let’s protect that together.

ARAMIRU OUT!


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My Top 5 Fails as a First Time Self-Publisher

This was a post I made on Reddit a couple of weeks ago. It had a positive response so I thought I’d share it with everyone here as well. I’ll be doing a follow up post titled: My Top 5 Successes as a First Time Self-Publisher and perhaps another follow up titled: Breaking Down the Budget: How to Cut Costs.

These… are sort of sounding like some sort of mutant baby of late night infomercials and Buzzfeed…

Anyways! Enjoy! I hope these will be helpful!


Longtime lurker here (sometimes a contributor on my other accounts)! With my book’s release last week (and waiting for the darn Thanksgiving dinner) I wanted to share my Top 5 Fails so that others don’t make the same mistakes. This is more for the other newbies like myself and for veterans to just giggle and groan at.

Some of these were faults of my own and some of these were angry Odin throwing pickles at me.

I’ll add some background information in the comment section so check that there for context.

But before we begin, I want to assure all of you that I’m not an idiot. Really, I’m not. My mom can back me up on this.

Mom?

Mom?

Mother?

Whatever. The reason I’m trying assure you all of my intelligence is because no matter how smart you are, you can still make mistakes. And right now the writing world is sort of the wild wild west with tempting uncertainties and vicious traps. Tread carefully and smartly.

The Top 5 Fails:

1. Lost the entire manuscript.

Okay… So… maybe this isn’t the best one to start off with after claiming that I’m not an idiot (I’m not?).

So this could be considered either Osiris throwing yams at me or a fault of my own for not knowing the basics of the modern digital age.

One evening I was working on the manuscript when my screen turned blue and gave me the middle finger. Tried restarting the computer and it just gave me more middle fingers.

Luckily, few of my friends are actually professionals in this field so I called them for help and long story short the files were unsalvageable.

Lesson here? Use cloud storage and/or external hard drive. Make it a habit to save into those at the end of writing sessions. This has honestly set me back probably anywhere from 6 months to 1.5 years–not necessarily because of the rewrite but because of how life and schedule works.

Timing is everything and don’t lose the timings of life because of a preventable tragedy.

2. Not timing things properly.

What did I just say up there? I don’t remember.

If you want reviews, you should be sending your books out generally 5-6 months before you plan to publish (the average cutoff time for most reviews is about 3 months before publishing date). You have to also understand many of them will not consider your book if you’re self-published/no-name writer and many of them may take longer to review a book than you’d think.

It takes about a week or two to be able to proof your physical copy of the novel (if you do CreateSpace you can do the digital proof which is immediate). After the proof it takes about 3 business days for it to show up on the market other than the printing service’s own website.

Beta-reading, editing, and even just the writing all should be scheduled in a way that each of those processes have the proper time they need to do their function properly while not dragging it on too long. I think this is something to pick up on by as one grows as a writer and understands their own pace to know where to cut the fat off and where to add… the… fat… on?

…In Japan you can actually order just the fat to grill and eat. That was fun and delicious.

I had my reasons for forcibly pushing my book out on a certain date but if you can help it don’t do the same. There were many opportunities I missed out on simply because of lack of better scheduling for whatever reason.

3. Not having a proper budget.

You get what you paid for.

If you’re self-publishing it helps immensely to have a healthy budget. Money will allow you to get ads, reviews, edits, arts, and pay the bills so that you don’t have to eat McChicken and a McDouble every other night and wonder if you’re gonna get cancer but strangely crave them when you don’t have them and cry because you feel like a Mackey-Dee addict as you pick up crumbs off your floor.

But when you put a McChicken inside a McDouble it’s a $2.50 USD spit from the heavens.

Anyways, money runs the world and such. We all know this. Check in the comment section for my personal budget which seemed like the minimum budget without compromising quality very much–if at all.

If I had a better budget I think it’d have helped significantly to make certain things happen faster, quicker, and done more professionally.

4. Not Realizing What Tools to Use for What

Use Scrivener. Really. Use Scrivener—especially—if you’re thinking about self-publishing.

This wasn’t really a fail but I’m just squeezing this one in to save some people the time and hassle. This program is a godsend and should be the quintessential tool for modern writers. There’s definitely a learning curve but if you become even at least comfortable with it, the program will help you save time and money in the long run… and save your teeth from being pulled out when you have to make the epub format.

Use InDesign if you can for formatting for the physical copy. The amazing folks at Scrivener (the customer services pretty awesome over there) flat out told me their program wasn’t really meant for endgame formatting.

They’re very correct about that.

InDesign. You’ll feel like a god of book formatting. Possibly the lamest god there is.

Try to avoid Google Doc. It can’t handle big files. I thought it’d be fun and modern to try Google Doc for editing. My editor knocked on my door and rubbed sea salt in my eyes. It’s only good for a quick, live editing sessions.

Finally, social media kicks ass. Serious ass. I’m incredibly obtuse and awkward with them as they always felt a bit weird with me. But if you learn to harness the power of social media you can effectively tip the scale between the big publishers and yourself with just a smartphone.

(EDIT 12/1/2014: From the comment section at /r/writing[1] from the discussion with /u/JustinBrower [2] :

Yes! You’re very correct!

InDesign is Terrible at eBook

Which is why I absolutely recommend everyone to use Scrivener which is pretty great at ePub formatting.

This should be the basic order:

  1. Write in Scrivener.
  2. Export to Word Doc and ePub.
  3. Transfer the Word Doc to inDesign for physical book formatting.
  4. Be happy that you didn’t go bald from tearing your hair out.
  5. Have a pint.

P.S. Take advantage of Calibre a free epub reader and conversion program if you have to.)

5. Not inquiring agents first.

Maybe in five to ten years things will have changed to a point where self-publishing can be as legitimate as traditional publishing.

People like Michael J. Sullivan is paving the path for that direction (check out his stories and tidbits all over the reddit and other writing forums) not to mention other famous traditionally published writers dipping their hands into self-publishing.

But for now… self-publishing isn’t there yet. Give yourself and your book a chance by inquiring agents/traditional publishing first. Yes, you might be taking a hit in terms of revenue and time but having traditionally published book will more open more doors than a self-published one (for now and depending on degree of success on self-published title).

If you get accepted, it’ll also takes loads off of your shoulders in workload so that you can focus more on writing. You can also put that book proudly on your resume while with self-published titles, due to stigmas or whatever, you really can’t/shouldn’t yet (unless you were notably successful). One can be comfortable in a resume and a portfolio while the other may really only shine in a portfolio.

Obviously, this is sort of me speaking from my own experiences and research so if anyone can tell me if I’m wrong please do so and add that into the discussion.

I personally didn’t do any inquiries because I set out to self-publish so I just stayed on that path. That’s sort of the way I am. Self-publishing is the new frontier and there is something exciting and adventurous about it. But like many of those who went on the Oregon Trail, you might not be the one who strike gold and really should have stayed back in New York because now you’re dying of dysentery.

Unless you’re one of the few, self-publishing doesn’t really leave you with much other than the sense of accomplishment of having your ebook… being added on to the mountain of ebooks.

So if you’re serious about becoming a professional writer I’d recommend considering traditional publishing before going to self-publishing.


That’s all folks! There are oodles of more fails and some successes I’d love to share but this turned out to be much longer already than I anticipated! I’ll answer any questions if anyone has any!

P.S. My book is also free today for Thanksgiving! If anyone’s interested let me know!


Background Info:

Time till completion: ~3 Years

Budget: Very low. The recession effectively kicked my ass. So my idea for the budget for the book was to keep it as low as possible without compromising the quality of the novel as much as possible.

I’ve spent so far:

Editor: $200.00

Artist for the Cover Art: $100.00

Website Domain: $15.00

Proof Copies of the Novel: ~$20.00 (shipping costs are fantastic) Other Spending (ISBN, Supplies, Copy Right, Comfort food, etc.): ~$300.00

Lot of these were covered by scraping away at my wallet and through a small, somewhat successful, KickStarter.

To save on costs, I did the cover design and the copyediting/formatting myself. You can be the judge of whether or not I did a good job:

Cover Design: http://imgur.com/LAeNIBK[1][1]

Sample of the Physical Copy of the Novel for formatting: www.tinyurl.com/samplecopy


See you all soon with the 7th Entry7 Things I’ve Learned About Writing is up next!

Keep Up With  the Updates!
Twitter: @ASAramiru

My novel is currently available on Amazon.com! Check it out [HERE]

Holding My Book in My Hands // Thank You Readers.

It was honestly a bit bittersweet.

This is breaking the whole “Entries are about the stuff that happened while writing the book,” but I thought it was significant enough for the blog and myself to discuss this now.

My ebook was released on the November 21st. I actually received the proof copy of the novel on the release day due to some shipping delays.  I didn’t worry too much about it since I already saw the physical copies for the KickStarter backers in the previous week and the two editions essentially shared the same cover design with only slight changes for the spine and the back.

The back was fine.

The spine looked great.

But the front cover that used to the same file for the KickStarter copies were some how dun’ goofed.

In a sense, it was fitting considering how the whole journey had been. It was also somewhat metaphorical of the things I could have done better.

I remembered back to just a week before when I was cutting the tapes on the package for the KickStarter copies. Was I excited? Not really. I was only filled with dread for the release day just a week ahead and yet somewhat looking forward to being able to put this chapter of my life to an end.

Glistening covers of the novels peeked through the crunched up brown packaging papers. My mind emptied out all the thoughts floating around. I gingerly removed one of the books in the tightly packed box.

When I held that book in my hand and I could actually smell that paper… all the thoughts of the days ahead were just… gone. Instead I was absorbed into the memories of all the days before that led up to that exact moment. In my hands was the result of what I started on the hard, dirty floor of a motel room 3 years ago. Even just a few months back, I was wondering if I would be able to see the damn thing.

I flipped through it as every chapter and page turned into a scrap book of memories. Instead of the letters and words, I saw the moments and events that made everything on these pages possible. Each chapter, sometimes even just a single page, told a tale of their own to me.

Late evenings and sacrificed weekends.

Triumphs and failures.

My friends and family.

A life-changing adventure that will meet its humble, if not insignificant, ending in just a week.

1114141357
The KickStarter Edition
1114141358
Creme colored pages because it’s easier on the eyes.

 

1114141357a
the back of the KickStarter Edition. Color scheme and the blurb is different than the copies for sale.

There were things I’ve gained that I never would have gained and there were also things I’ve lost that I would have never lost if I didn’t decide to write 3 years ago.

Was I happy with the dividends?

It was a journey that was perhaps more exciting and dramatic than I could have ever planned for or imagined (and boy was it longer than I ever anticipated). And a  journey that perhaps didn’t have the proper ending that it deserved waiting for it at the end. (Or perhaps it was the most fitting)

I showed my mother the KickStarter copy. She smiled and clapped in joy. I was told I did a good job and she took photos to share it with her friends. I was more-or-less stunned by her reaction. I didn’t expect it. I’m wondering now how my face looked to her but seeing her smile over my book is a good memory to have.

I gave a copy to my editor who also seemed much happier than I was.

My friends who’ve supported me also extended their congratulations.

One KickStarter backer that I delivered the novel in person to greeted me with a smile and excitement. We chatted for a while of what could be my future ahead and we ended the conversation with him letting me know that he was excited to read it.

If anything, I wish there was a better ending–even if it isn’t the most fitting one– for them.

Don’t get me wrong. There was a small part of me that was definitely a bit bittersweet because I thought I deserved more (like a child) for all I’ve put into this project.

But as I set the book back down, I realized I was mostly bittersweet not because of the ending itself but because of the fact that the journey was ending. There were many things that could have went better and many things I could have done better–maybe I wasn’t satisfied with it ending just yet.

Maybe,  I just really enjoyed the ride. I enjoyed working on this dream and believing (sometimes even pretending) that it was possible. That I was tearing away the fantasy from the dream until it turned into reality. During this ride my life went to places that I never thought it could go. Some great, some terrible but all of it were fruitful experiences.

I was bittersweet because even though I wasn’t satisfied yet, I knew given my circumstances I’d have put my pursuit on hold. I want to write more. I still have stories to tell.

But knowing that now for a certain even after all this was, in and of itself, another gift from this journey. It was a grand adventure and I think whatever happens from this point on nothing will change that. I’m glad I decided to write. I’m happy I was able to finish. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.

…although technically I guess the journey isn’t over yet. Maybe this entry was just more of me venting and I may have had no idea yet what I was talking about… Alrighty then.


 

Oh, and hey readers. Yes, you there with a disappointed look on your face!

I started this blog to share my experiences. Part of it was because I really wanted to have a record this experience, part of it was because I thought it’d help me understand this experience, and part of it was because this was something that I was told I should do during this experience.

The point I’m trying to get at is that I’m not going to deny that I started this blog mostly for myself. Even as much as I hope this blog is at the very least entertaining and maybe at its rare moments informative–if not helpful–I started this for me.

But… that sort of changed very quickly once I got started.

I always took this blog very seriously and truly appreciated all the readers who read any of my entries. Knowing that some of you decided to give me part of your time to read what I’ve wrote is a surreal feeling.

Seeing any views and likes on my blog have been super encouraging and delightful. Some of the repeat readers like Damyanti (http://en.gravatar.com/damyantig. Check out her sites if you’re interested in writing! She has some cool stuff) really pushed me to worker harder and harder on this blog.

So although I may have started this blog mostly for myself… I feel I’d be being dishonest to say it’s only about myself now.

I’m not very good at this social media stuff (my Twitter account is a testament to that) and I’m not even sure how to really show my appreciation other than saying,

Thank you.  

I mean that.

Sincerely,
 A. S. Aramiru

P. S. Here’s the new cover design I made that I was talking about earlier. I think I’m getting better at this and interior formatting than writing. The sample has also been [updated] and it looks very pretty:

#6x9 cover BLACK HALO png

 

Here’s the previous cover design for comparison:

15610910_cover

 

P. S. 2 During this weekend I’ll post another Interlude with more character bios! See y’all then

Finding Motivations from Nothing

Alright, this post is going to be unedited so it’ll be rough and ugly.

 

“Finding Motivations from Nothing.”

Phew, it took a long time for me to actually publish this blog entry. Too long.

When I started this blog I made it pretty clear that I wasn’t really out to teach anyone.  I wanted to simply relay my experiences and if that happened to help anyone out there—fantastic. I’m pretty sure this blog is a desperate attempt for me to find some value in the mistakes I’ve made and the experiences that I had. Yes, I should admit this blog is, in a sense, my self-therapy.

I mean, did you know that it’s cheaper to buy alcohol and drugs than to get actual therapy? I do neither of those things but I’m just saying… I mean… doesn’t that say something about our society? I suppose Dr. Whoever deserves to be paid more than Billy-down-the-block-from-Wal-Mart but… wait….where was I? What was I talking about?

Yes. Motivation. Writing. Family friendly blog!

Eh-hem!

I’m certain—at some point—that many writers who’ve attempted to make a living with their work faced this problem. Deciding to dedicate/risk a significant portion of your life to writing changes the craft from being just about the craft. The perspective and the mindset transforms—it has to when your livelihood depends on it. I’m sure it’ll become about the craft again as time passes and we find our own happy places in our careers, but in the beginning it’s about the shift from a hobbyist to a professional.

That’s much more work and commitment than it sounds.

But for this transformation to actually happen and for the writer to have actually considered taking on the transformation in the first place, there are few key motivations that they would have had to have.

1) The dream. For some that may be seeing your book at a store. For some it may be simply having completed writing a novel. And for some it’s swimming in that sweet, sweet writing money. The pool of George Washingtons sprinkled with Lincolns. How soft or how hard that pool may be entirely depends on how big you can dream.

2) The joy. It’s immensely fun to create and lose yourself in your fantasy—to build and grow your characters and your world. It’s like that scene from the Matrix where they just stare at bunch of green numbers and letters flowing down the computer screen but in their eyes they see a woman in a red dress. We writers end up falling in love chasing after that woman in the red dress.

3) The drive. It’s the self-discipline to finish what you started. The desire to accomplish something with the short amount of time we have in this world. An ambition without drive won’t go anywhere.

If you lack “1,” you probably don’t want this enough.

If you lack “2,” this probably isn’t what you’re looking for.

If you lack “3,” it’s likely that you have a bigger problem on your hands than making writing your career.

But how far can these three motivations take you?

It sort of depends on how potent your “3” is, how long it takes you to finish your work, and the immediacy and the amount of reward you’ll receive for the work.

Let’s ignore the first factor I mentioned (the “3”) because that’s sort of the “x” factor. It can be used to basically overcome any trouble I’ve mentioned and didn’t mention as long as it’s strong enough.

So let’s dig into the second and the third factor.

If you’re a fortunate enough writer who finished their work within a few months (or whatever length of time that was short enough that you didn’t deplete your motivation powers and burn out) and who was accepted by a big publisher…. Or if you’re a self-publisher who already had the funds and the connections to have reviewers and advertisers promote your book (or simply not care much about your sales because you won’t be hungry at the end of the day if the book doesn’t sell well)… then you were probably lucky enough to not hit your breaking point during the writing process.

For you, maybe, lacking motivation only mattered to the extent of meeting deadlines.

But what if you’re a broke nobody whose work is taking longer than you ever anticipated for whatever reason?  What if you are someone whose work just wasn’t flashy or (cold hard truth) good enough to catch the eyes of agents and publishers?

You write day after day as the visions of your dreams and the sense of joy in your work become muddled. Maybe you start feeling like you really should be spending your time doing better things with your life than wasting it on a childish dream. Because for the lot of us it’s “time” that’s really the most precious and the most lacking thing in our lives.

If you’re lucky it’s because you’re busy piling up successes in other areas of your life.

If you’re unlucky it’s because you’re busy mending holes and finding shelters from the hailstorms in your life.

The dream can only push you so far until it feels too much like just a dream. The joy can only entrance you for so long until the joy feels empty and unearned.

Why write when I can do something that’ll actually pay the bills?

Why write when I can catch up on some sleep?

Why write when I spend a little more time with my loved ones? Make the next page of my life with them instead of another page of me sitting in front of a computer all night.

Time passing by feels as if you are watching your life drive away and leaving you stranded at a rest stop somewhere.

Right around this time, reality sinks in.

Chance of succeeding as a writer? Slim-to-none.

As a self-published writer? Hope you know how to do things other than just writing.

Your work? It’s an untested product in an overly saturated market.

The field of your work? A senile beast that’s still desperately trying to hold onto its golden years while the whole world has already moved on.

Your competition?  Ironically, too many.

Family and friends are split between those who know and those who don’t know. Split between those who give your their support and those who give you their concerns.

Your mind starts to play tricks.

The work you were satisfied with yesterday feels like they all need to be scrapped.

Other people’s works are unenjoyable because you end up analyzing it and breaking it down to science and wondering about your own work and how you’re doing.

At your most petty and ugly moments, you wonder how certain works could be so successful when they’re so trite, mundane, and cowardly. You know it’s wrong to think this way. You know it’s detrimental to yourself to think this way. But you can’t help it.

Because at the end of the day, you’re just tired and bored of writing for nothing. The motivations you had at the start are depleted. Maybe you’re even a little scared that you’re at the end already and things won’t change.

It gets harder to keep going even with your mind dangling a carrot in front of you because you realize maybe you’ll never get that carrot. Or because you realize there’s a reason why the carrot is dangling out of reach in the first place.

What do you mean the horse is already long dead? *wipes horse blood off*

What do you mean the point was already made like a page ago and I’m just writing to read my own voice? All I’m trying to say is it can get really tough to keep going and not being able to keep going can have much more dreadful implications to some than others.

Oops. *wipes horse blood off again*

The treatment I gave myself (other than binge eating Wendy’s to the point of the manager and I getting to know each other, pumping irons as if the weights owed me money, and taking vacations in fantasy lands of movies and videogames) was making my own motivations.

I don’t know what that would mean for others but for me it was making the decision that I may pay a great price for in the future. At the same time, that very decision was also the best thing I’ve done for my first project.

Beta-Reading.

Even though I knew that this was the path I had to take to complete my project, but it took me a little while to have the muster up the courage to just do it.

I’m not really a shy person or someone who’s afraid embarrassing himself (I mean, of course, I’d rather not).  But using English was, and to an extent it still is, a bit terrifying to me and it’s something that I never really managed to have a thick skin for. To be honest, I should really make some time to improve my English especially since I want to keep writing. Even though I became better about exposing my English abilities through Beta-Reading, I’m still to this day a bit insecure about it.  I think it might be the only thing that I’m really insecure about these days other than my suspicions that I might be balding.

And I really don’t like being insecure about anything… I think it’s a weakness in character and something that I should really address anytime I feel that way. Especially since I think, to an extent (though apparently science says otherwise), English is something I can improve on. If I’m balding, I’m screwed. That may push me over the edge to try to crowdfund hair implants for myself.

My uncles on my mom’s side aren’t bald though. No one’s bald in either of the gene pools. I’d be the first and my descendants would curse me for it.

But anyways, normally beta-readings are done when the novel is polished to the point that it wouldn’t be too embarrassing to show anyone. The beta-readers would read what would be close to the finished product.

I wasn’t even done writing mine let alone had it gone through an editor or even proof-read. All there was were a few drafts of earlier chapters, notes, and general plans for the rest of the novel in my head.

But I always thought it’d be interesting to do a beta-reading in a serialized format. I’d send a batch of chapters out every week and have discussions with my beta-readers every other week. Since this was my first project and the project itself was fairly complex for someone who’s never written anything longer than a thesis paper, I thought this process would give me the compass that I needed. The feedback I’d receive would allow me see if the plot points, tools, and what not, were delivered to the readers the way I intended.

The only thing that held me back was the fear of being naked by revealing my kryptonite to the beta-readers while at the same time telling these people, “yeah, so I’m trying to make this into a thing in my life. Like, hopefully live off of it.”

No one knew I was interested in writing or that I was capable of writing anything substantial.

Technically, I didn’t even know myself if I could write since this was my first venture into serious writing. I could very well be a terrible writer or even just a meh writer. If I could, I’d rather build a machine that’d hook up to my brain and simply create a movie or a book directly with what’s in my mind.

… I mean I suppose it’s possible that my imagination could also be crap and in that case the machine would be useless….

…But I wanted to keep writing. I wanted to be able to measure myself and see if I can improve—to find out where my limits are with this craft. For me this meant finding an audience and finding critics. That was my motivation. I’d accept that I am a crap writer as long as I knew for certain that I was crap.

I handpicked about eight people to be my beta-readers. Each of them selected for various reasons based on what I knew of them: their beliefs, insights, biases, tastes, and etc. The number I actually had in my mind was four, but I decided to double that amount because I wasn’t entirely sure how reliable beta-readers would be.

Ironically, out of the eight, only four read the whole novel and took the time to do the meet ups with me.

So, each week (or sometimes every couple of weeks with few hiatuses in between) I’d let my fingers puke out whatever was on my mind into the computer and once I had enough of piles of puke to form few chapters, I’d send them out to the beta-readers in a batch. I puked because it was a way to keep me writing instead of second-guessing and fixing every darn sentence and never making progress.

There were total of 22 batches and the beta-reading, including the meetings, took about a year to finish.

Most of these batches were only cleaned up and molded into what would closely resemble the final product after they were sent out. My beta-readers were troopers.

Eventually, after the beta-reading ended, the batches went through an editing process by me and then by my editor. Then we edited it again together over and over until we were at least happy enough to have it pried out of our hands. I was told that the first one will never feel complete and never feel good enough to publish… and that was true.

But I remember feeling an incredible contentment during one of the editing sessions knowing that I at least had some sort of a completed form of my novel.

I did it.

The days when I couldn’t even see the peak of this mountain flashed through my mind—when I was beaten, defeated, and at times even hopeless. But I was there now—at the peak—only a few steps away from planting the flag.

For me doing the beta-reading gave me the motivation I needed to keep writing. Not to mention the beta-reading meetings were some of the most fun and educational experiences I had with this project. They are also the fondest memories I have with my novel so far.

So how to find motivations from nothing? You can’t. But you can give yourself some new motivations.

Refuel that spark by giving meaning to your work again. I recommend finding something that’ll help you with your work in the long run—something that’ll be at least beneficial if not memorable.

I don’t think any of us should feel ashamed to feel overwhelmed and to find our selves lacking motivation to keep going. It’s like running a marathon—sometimes you hit your limit and you have to walk. You only lose if you quit. All the work you put into leaving all that road behind you would have been for naught only if you quit. But if you keep giving yourself a reason to walk forward you’re still in the race and every step you take is a step towards the finish line…. so on and so forth, yada, yada, maybe you’ll even find your second wind, yada, yada and when you finally get to cross the finish line whether your last place or not it won’t matter blah, blah, blah. Cliche, cliche, Powerade commercial, American-cheddar-cheese-cheesy, y’all get it.

The struggle is real for every single one of us but it’s also up to us to do whatever it takes to get something out of the struggle.

Hasslehoff smile.

80s Electro-outro-music.

Roll credits.

 

Keep Up With the Updates!
Twitter: @ASAramiru
Shameless Plug: My book, Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian (Young Adult Urban Fantasy), is out on November 21st 2014!

Check it out! HERE!
SAMPLE: HERE!

P.S. So… this should have been released earlier this week but I had trouble being comfortable enough with this entry to release it until now (holy cow it’s 5 am and I need get up in 2 hours). I’m going to keep that outdated(?) date on the “Shameless Plug” on there as a badge of shame. Good night everybody.

P.S. 2 (Oh, right. How could I pay the price for the beta-reading in the future? The abomination that is Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian ALPHA version that the beta-readers had to read is floating around somewhere on the internet. My editor and I actually discussed perhaps releasing samples of this version one day to discuss the power of editing and the changes I’ve/We’ve made)