I got my second beta reader’s comments for Gaia’s Hands, and she was very thorough and insightful. This means I have a lot of work ahead of me.
Gaia’sHands has gone through so many changes before, having started as a claustrophobic novel with an anticlimactic ending, then developing into the reader-ready, tense but beautiful journey.
Now it’s getting brushed up, and closer to reality.
The updated schedule of releases
My Kringle story of the year, Kringle in the Night, will be released first, on October 1, which I’ve been told is optimal for Christmas releases. That’s the one about the well-traveled Sunshine Rogers, who has found her dream town in Denver, and professor Brent Oberhauser, who’s convinced he needs to move away for his career. Their mutual stubbornness threatens the ruin of their relationship, and it will take love and Santa Magic for them to see the right decision.
Gaia’s Hands will not be released until March 2022. It is not as much fantasy romance but romantic fantasy. Or maybe it’s still fantasy romance. It’s an intense book, the opposite of the Kringle Series In it, Jeanne Beaumont keeps secrets about her “green thumb” which threatens to sabotage her botany experiments. Josh Young wants to share his belief in spirits, which he fears will destroy his budding relationship with Jeanne. When Jeanne faces a worsening set of events geared to drive her from her research, the two join forces with their gifts to face an inferno.
So remember this: Kringle in the Night in October; Gaia’s Hands in March. Both on Amazon Kindle. Just search for my name.
That’s how long it took for me to get back into writing yesterday.
So much for my “I think I’m going to take a break from writing” spell. I guess I’ve become a writer after all.
A strange hobby
Writing is a strange hobby. It doesn’t cost much at first, only the cost of paper and writing implements, or the cost of a computer. It’s not as expensive as woodworking or sewing, and one can get results with very little practice. The writer can even show the results to friends, neighbors, or the entire Internet,
Then, the writer gets the notion in their head that they’re going to get published. After failing at that, there’s one of two places to go: give up on being published, or hone one’s craft. Writing is addictive, however, and the writer gets drunk on possibility. The writer gets pulled down the path of honing one’s craft.
Honing one’s craft is not cheap. Workshops on structuring the story, software that helps edit, developmental editors — all cost money, and quite a bit of money. But the writer gets better, and tries to publish again, because it’s become part of the hobby. A lot of rejections follow. Sometimes the writer decides to self-publish, but sharpening one’s skills and improving one’s writing still takes priority because writers want to be recognized for their best work.
However, writing intoxicates — an elixir of possibility bubbles up whenever one takes up the pen. Writing mesmerizes its practitioners — they feel the quality of the words, the patterns they make as the words are read. Writing tantalizes — visions of the pinnacle of their art as they finish the last word of a document.
Getting (traditionally) published seems like an endless bout of submit, rejection, revise, repeat. Like Sisyphus with that rock he kept pushing up that hill. I admit that, when I get a rejection, I feel like that boulder has rumbled over me. But then, after a few minutes mourning, I appreciate the opportunity to try again.
Then hope sets in
I can’t stay sad for too long when there are revisions that can be made (to my document or to my query materials), submissions to make, and new possibilities that I have to check out. What pushes me forward is hope — hope that I have a better product, that someone sees promise in it, and that I will finally get the chance to show my stories to other people.
Hope carries me
Hope carries me past the rejections, past the self-flagellation, past the desire to give up. With hope, each round of submissions is new as I try something else. Perhaps I will give up and self-publish, but self-publishing doesn’t push me toward excellence as much as trying to get traditionally published does. Hope is a heady sensation, like the sunlight on a June day, whispering “Maybe this time … “
A poem of mine, “Deep Touch”, will be published soon in Tempered Runes Press’ inaugural issue of
Bluing the Blade. I’m really proud of this accomplishment, which reminds me: I haven’t been submitting short stories and poems lately.
I’m not sure why; probably because I haven’t written any lately, and I’m running out of good poems to submit. I have a lot of poems I’m not that enthused with. As for stories, I have a couple I’m in love with, but they haven’t caught traction.
Time to think about writing short stuff again, even though one selection of serialized short stories is arguing that it should be a novel. Then again, given the space opera premise of the stories, serialized may be the best use of the material.
Yesterday was a grueling day putting together my book materials and making sure they’re formatted right. Everything’s uploaded to KDP; there’s no turning back.
I could, if I wanted to, turn my back on it and not give it any publicity. I could do that. But I won’t. I will do the best I can on publicity, although this too scares me.
Publishing Kringle Conspiracy is an experiment, to see what goes well and what I could do better next time, if there is a next time. It’s a way of seeing whether this is a way I would want to go again.
At the moment, I feel more exhausted than excited, probably because I spent six hours on it yesterday. I need to work on the positives to keep going.
Someone in a romance novel group on Facebook asked if I had a promotion plan for my new book. I hemmed and hawed, and pointed out that I had made advertisements for it. Marvelously, she gave me many websites for making a promotion plan, and I’ve perused the first site, Quick and Easy Guides, which has a course called 75 Ways to Promote Your Book. (This can be accessed for a nominal cost). I liked this course because not only did it have those 75 pointers, but it featured instructions on how to write a media kit, how to write a “cold letter” to bloggers, and how to write elevator pitches.
I have been working through these suggestions for my new book (due November 1) and I have a bit of a way to go. I need to find 5-10 suggestions on her 75 Ways page that are workable for me and write it into a plan. I also need to actually follow up on those, because planning is not enough.
I figured out why it is I really want to be traditionally published. Set all the fame and fortune* aside, the reason I really want to be traditionally published is the management prospect.
I’m really bad at the things traditional publication is good at — Marketing and advertising, book covers, etc. I want to be told what to do at this point in my career. I want to be told, “here are your choices for book cover. Here’s what we expect you to do to help market. Do some book tours here and here.”
If I self-publish, I have to figure out a “writing platform”, which is in effect a sales platform. Other than a Twitter account with 4500 followers and a Facebook page with 100 followers, I don’t know what that would be.
There’s so many things I don’t know about marketing a book.** I don’t know how to find the right cover art. I don’t know how to market. I can’t see myself selling over 100 books, and I know I would do better with traditional.
So I’m still undecided. I’m still hoping to get picked up traditionally, trying to improve my cover letters and my outlines and my pitches. I think my books have potential; I just need to find that way in.
*Fortune? Not unless you’re Nora Roberts/JD Robb. Most of us won’t make a living of it.
**I know a little about designing a book cover. I know that followers are a big part of marketing. I have a blog and a website for selling for when I actually have a book out. But I don’t know how to do this well.
I need more luck. Of the good variety. It occurs to me that my writing may not be enough to get published. There are people who get published because they know someone, or because of some random set of events that get them to the right place at the right time with the right person. I don’t know anyone in the industry, so I’m praying for just that sort of luck. I know every good thing is a two-edged sword — the lottery bestows money, and with it, tension. A publishing contract would invite paperwork and other life changes into my life. But the status quo isn’t necessarily the best place to live either. So I am wishing and praying for the kind of luck, the serendipity that changes my life in a positive way.
If I ever get a book published traditionally (my optimistic friends say “when”, not “if”), it will change my life in many ways. The money won’t be a big change — according to Derek Murphy, the average amount an author earns is the advance, which is $10k, or $8k after the agent gets their cut. I will have to hire an entertainment lawyer to look over the contract and see if there are any potential hitches. I will have to sign a contract, after which my rights to my book will be curtailed for a period of time. I will have to consider promoting my book, which will include travel. I would likely do this in the summer, which means I will have to schedule around internship visits. I will have to step up my social media game. I haven’t done that yet because I have nothing really to promote except this blog. I’ve probably forgotten something. Sometimes it seems more work than it’s worth, but it’s worth it to me. So I keep trying, keep improving, keep pushing myself.