Keeping My Towel for the Blood, Sweat and Tears

Fortune Teller Zoltar
2015 is gonna be BIG (see what I did there…)

Normally people use New Year’s blog posts to talk about the past. Top ten lists take over the web (more than normal). The best and worst of a year gone by. I’m going to touch on that, but only to lead into where things are going. 2014 was a mixed bag but I’m mostly excited about what’s to come.

For the past year, I’ve been continually rediscovering the truism that being a self-published author is hard work. I’ve talked about that plenty of times before. So much so, I don’t even want to try and link them all. However, being any kind of author is hard work.

Kameron Hurley had a very frank and enlightening post on her blog about her experiences so far with small and large presses and how she “almost threw in the towel”. (What I find interesting is she had to go nearly full-on self pub levels of promo and marketing to help turn things around…) I think every creative professional goes through that. At least once.

People see words on a page and think it’s easy. Often, they see paint on a canvas and think the same. What we don’t hear about is exactly how much of a bitch the muses can be. Or how much time is put into those words. I mean, you hear about it, but it’s usually couched in angsty, “only writers can understand” sort of bunk.

From a sheer numbers perspective, when you sell a book, rarely do you even think of the time component involved in writing that book. Sure, you have deadlines and yes, many authors develop a knack for cranking out novels at a record pace, but pulling those tens of thousands of words out of your head, worrying over them, shaping them only to scrub them clean and start again takes serious time and effort. When the books are sold and the advances paid, rarely do you look back and wonder if it was worth it. You don’t have the time: the next book is due.

I was surfing another site and an author who’d been in the game for nearly 20 years was sharing his earnings to date. I believe he had twelve books out, maybe more, and his chart showed a nice upward climb with a few peaks and valleys, but overall, an upward momentum.

The most telling thing to me was the blank space. The early years. It was the inverse of the opposite end. Stretch out all those dollars and the curve gets pretty flat.

Creative people rarely end up “on top”. I’m currently hammering away at a .99 cent sale simply to get my book into as many hands as possible. I’m probably never going to get rich and if I do, it will have been at the expense of who knows how many hours of bleeding on a page and staring down sales reports. (Sure, some writers win the lottery first time out, but if that’s what I wanted, I’d get a 9-5 and buy scratch offs. It would make my life easier.)

Six months now since my first release and I’ve done everything. Made mistakes, lost money, made money, lost it again – you name it. But I’m not ready to throw in the towel. In fact, for 2015, I’m stepping up production.

I’ll soon be sending book one of First Song in for developmental edits from members of my critique group. I’ve mentioned the project before. It’s a fantasy novel with a bit of a twist: Tolkien meets Kafka on the Ganges. Sidge, the protagonist, is an Ek’Kiru – a member of a bug-humanoid race who grew up in a human temple on the edge of an eternal storm. He wants nothing more than to follow the path of his brothers and his Master, but gets caught up in earth-shaking events and enthralled by a world-wise harlot, Kaaliya, who is everything he is not. Leading him on this identity crisis pilgrimage is a clockwork man in a skin suit who serves an ancient power.

Next, I want to return to the Crimson Son universe. I’d like to produce several superhero short stories and compile a novella-length anthology. Two of these, Alter Ego and Fat Man and Little Boy are freely available on this site. I then want to release another short anthology, possibly around Halloween, with humorous tales of monsters who aren’t quite so monstrous.

Finally, I hope to have book two of First Song completed this year as well. It should wrap up Sidge’s story and maybe lead into more adventures there.

Beyond that? Who knows. For now, I’m gonna keep the towel to mop up the blood sweat and tears. I may need to toss it at some point, but not yet.

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