Tag Archives: inspiration

Confession of an Indie Novelist

Cry Time is over!

I’m going to close out this year with a confession. There was a part of me that wanted to be done with writing. It’s so much work, you know? And not just the writing, the selling, that’s the herculean experience. And it was something I wasn’t doing, selling, not in record numbers or even moderate numbers. My novel was kinda just adrift.

I was running into a wall, problems of white noise and market saturation. Indie writers are legion. There are no barriers to entry. Plus, we’ve all heard the success stories, how nowadays the indies are forging ahead of the Big Name Publishers, getting huge fanbases and reaping fortune and glory. We all want that… if you don’t want that, you’re dreaming wrong.  Envision, a million indie writers trying to move five million books, attemping to wedge into a spot reserved for a handful.

I knew this going in. I was hoping to cut through a lot of the white noise by telling potential readers, “I’ve been published in F&SF, and Apex, and Daily Science Fiction, and Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show (making it a point to name drop Orson to catch some clout), and Lightspeed and Escape Pod and I made the Nebula Recommended Reading List and and and.” This was my way of saying, “I know a book from an indie writer is a crapshoot, it could be garbage so hot it melts your ereader or a brave bold crazy wonderful adventure… you should try me out because I’m vetted. I bring a resume of quality storytelling. Won’t you be my reader?”

Few cared. Even reviewers, which was my other ticket to express laning through the white noise. It’s one thing for me to tell you that my book is fun, savvy, quirky, edge of your seat action, and quite another for someone else to say “Holy smokes this rocked… buy it!” Turns out there’s only a very small dollop of reviewers who accept indie books for review. Nowadays most reviewers strictly go through NetGalley, which is quite expensive for a writer to use, I’m talking $400 for the basic option, $600 for NetGalley to place you in the newsletter… you know, showing folks you’re actually there on the site instead of you hoping that your fingers crossed is its own special brand of attractive magic.

Some of the indie reviewers were cool, most were supremely overbooked to the point of being temporarily closed to subs… I believe one guy had a backlog of 180+ books, I still put mine in the queue and don’t really expect to hear back until this time next year. And there were a few others that just didn’t wanna rock with me, take that book elsewhere, my resume be damned… they had permanently stopped reviewing indies because the aforementioned crapshoot wasn’t worth their time.

So I was running into a vicious loop of new readers not wanting to check me out because I had few reviews and reviewers not wanting to read the book because I was indie. It didn’t help that Beamon is a name that sounds like I should be catching footballs or running track, not writing fantasy and science fiction. I love my name, it’s mine, but it’s not writerly until I make it writerly. I look at this as a temporary strike, it only counts against me in the now but well, now is the time it counts. It felt as if very little, if any, of all the accomplishments I had made from the short story trade had converted into usable currency in this space. Don’t get me wrong, I did have some stalwart, Day One fans (thanks to you all!) precisely because of the short stories, but there are soooo many more days after day one and I started feeling them as sales clicked down to 0. My novel languished and for a brief time I just checked out… played some Bloodborne, watched some YouTube, didn’t check the bestsellers ranks or think about it.

And like any real writer, the ones forged of broken glass and duct tape, I came back. I wrote a couple of short stories that are making their way in the slush right as we speak, wrote a few chapters of the third book, got back down to the business. A writer has to write and no amount of commercial success or lack thereof is gonna keep a writer from doing it. Not until all their stories have been told. And mine are still there jockeying for position to be the next one out of my head, onto the page and into the world.

I had forgotten. I was calling myself a writer in the trenches but in the short story markets it felt like I had climbed out, that I was standing over the maze and catching all day sunshine. Sure, I’d still get rejections, but I was on a first name basis with many of the editors of the top magazines. Many of them I had been featured in, or been published multiple times. I felt accomplished, which is a great feeling but an impossible feeling to someone who’s claiming to be your brother in arms slugging it out in these slushpiles to achieve a slight modicum of recognition in print. It was no longer a slugfest for me, where I wrestled with self-doubt and self-rejection wondering what was wrong with my stories or if it was something else entirely.

Going into the novel world felt like starting over, going back into the trenches, back before that first ever SFWA recognized pro sale. Season’s Greetings that was a hard era! Yes, I used Season’s Greetings as an expletive. And here I am, ready to take this hill like I took the ones before this one, bigger hill or not. Overnight success probably doesn’t suit me anyway, it doesn’t have the visceral imagery of bloody knuckles clutching my final manuscript. Overnight success doesn’t make a rocking bio and I definitely want the rocking bio. And I guess to all the writers out there who are fledgling or still feel fledging, this blog is still a relevant voice when hearing the motivational words of authorities , the big names who have been big names forever, feels like getting advice from mom and dad about a world that’s constantly changing. Bloody and battered, I’m still here for you.

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War Journal: Story bites

 

So I spent the last few weeks with most of my online presence dedicated to getting awareness out on Pendulum Heroes.  Finding people and places to review it, town crying on Facebook and doing crazy amounts of research.  And I’m still working… I just built a new page on the gristle dedicated to it.  It’s to the point where it didn’t quite feel natural to leave that first line featuring the novel’s name without a link to Amazon where you can buy.  I keep looking up at it like it’s naked, like I’m missing a primo place to sell.  It’s a war in these trenches, folks.

That said, I have kinda fell off on my short story writerly duties.  Chief among them is to tell you guys I have another story published on Apex Magazine.  This one’s called Three Meetings of the Pregnant Man Support Group and it’s my second time appearing in Apex, which is pretty awesome.  When they sent me the acceptance I felt like opening my door and shouting “it wasn’t a fluke!” but I thought better of it when I thought how I’d take that same message if a neighbor did that and I’d come to the conclusion that their significant other wasn’t getting the right kind of attention.  Instead of that, I pushed some books.  Didn’t quite feel the same, though.

Also in this issue of Apex, I had the pleasure of being interviewed again by Andrea Johnson.  I hold fast to my belief that she’s bar none the best interviewer in the business… she does a great amount of research about the writer and asks very intelligent and poignant questions.  You can tell she’s passionate about what she does and she brings that passion to the table when she talks to you.  The link’s at the start of the paragraph, check it out and see what I’m talking about.

Finally, we’re almost in July and with that comes my latest story “A Song of Home, the Organ Grinds” in Lightspeed Magazine.  This is my first time ever getting into Lightspeed and it’s one of those big ones that I’ve always aspired to get an acceptance from.  It’s a story about killer steampunk cyborg monkeys and a homeless street urchin.  If that didn’t prompt an eyebrow raise from you then you must’ve lost your eyebrows in a freak running-with-scissors incident.

You won’t see too many more of these announcements in the near future, I think.  I’m doing less short story writing and focusing on trying to finish the third book.  That said, it’s hard to stop completely, so I’m pretty sure I’ll have a flash piece or two to entertain you between novels.  We’ll see.  In the book world, it feels like I’m starting over again.  At this point, I’m fine with that.  A few of y’all remember my first pro sale, how stoked I was, how I went at this like a war in the trenches.  I feel like I’ve reached the top of the hill when it comes to short story telling and short story selling.  Time for me to get back in the trench.

That’s about it.  Check out my new Pendulum Heroes page if you’re interested in getting more information about the series.  I would put the link but it’s right up there at the top of the page and I’m trying to fight that whole add links addiction.  Oh, what the hell.

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Pendulum Heroes

Hey folks,

While it may seem on the surface that I’m doing my usual incommunicado thing, there’s been a lot of stuff going on in the background.  I finalized my stories for the upcoming issues of Apex and Lightspeed magazines (I’m the FEATURED writer for Lightspeed!), got interviewed by a class of tenth grade students (which I thought was very fun… they asked some great questions),  seriously leveled up my formatting (more on that later), and oh, what else… I finally made my novel into a real physical thing!

Pendulum Heroes is set up for preorder on the majority of ebook retailers.  Check out the Amazon page, which seems to glow to me.  This is for the e-book only… I’m still finalizing the print edition, trivial details such as the ISBN placement and such and as soon as that’s done it’ll appear on the page as an option.

But who wants to wait for all that finalization before I tell you guys that it LIVES!  It’s physically in the world.  Look!

I tried to get as far away as I could from standard covers and the usual format.  I’ve written a lot of stories getting here and I’m especially proud of Pendulum Heroes.  I wanted the physical book to be something I could proudly display on a coffee table and the only way to do that right was making sure most of you could also proudly display it on a coffee table.  To ensure that happened, I teamed up with Micaela Dawn, an artist I believe will be world famous some day.

The inside’s beautiful too.  When I say I leveled up my formatting, I spent an untold age learning things about Microsoft Word most mortals don’t.  I learned about gutter margins, mirror mode, page breaks, section breaks – continuous and new, drop caps, headings, and man a lot.  This may sound weird, but it got fun, y’all… it’s about as close to playing a game with Word as you can get.  Most of the stuff you won’t notice… which is the whole point.  It’s been perfectly formatted so the words disappear so you can enjoy the reading experience.

Pendulum Heroes is set to go live June 10th.  But I couldn’t wait til then to tell y’all and show you the book!  While I highly encourage copping a print edition for the feel of it and for any unadorned coffee tables you know of, the e-book’s also beautifully inlaid with custom stylized touches.  Besides, it’s Friday, some of y’all just got paid and I’d be remiss if I let that money burn a hole in your pocket.  So hit up Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo (they have a preview!), or Apple, preorder the digital version now, forget that you ordered it and then get hit with a pleasant surprise when your device loads it up for you on the 10th.

Don’t tell me I’m the only one who does stuff like that.

If this was your coffee table, you’d already be home by now.

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War Journal 78: My First Audiopub

Gather round, gristlers, for storytime.

Today I get to announce the completion of yet another side quest on my road to writer fortune and glory; my first time ever getting published in audio format!  My story “The Wind You Touch When You Run” is up and available for not only reading, but for listening over at Escape Pod.

This is one of those side quests that started out virtually nonexistent and then grew into a fire.  I guess that’s what happens when you go from hoping that somebody, just anybody will look at this thing you’ve drafted (some of my long timers will remember those days!) to growing into a quasi-vet.  As my horizon expands, new markets and new experiences in writerdom are my quarry.  I can report unequivocally that it felt absolutely electrifying hearing my story narrated.  The narrator, Dominick Rabrun, had one of the characters sounding like Grit Eastwood-Batman and it so worked!

Back to the story.  “The Wind You Touch When You Run” is about two black men, in a historical role reversal,  on a world where they are working as slave catchers.  I’m not going to go too much into what happens because, hey, you can listen to it (awesome!) over at Escape Pod.  I will say it’s full of not often talked about black history, real stuff that may surprise you.  The name of the story comes from a  Langston Hughes poem called Demand and the protagonist quotes a line from Southern Mansion by Arna Bontemps.  Southern Mansion really fueled the imagery of the story and since they’re linked and pretty convenient to get to, I highly encourage you folks to check these poems out.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t shout out C.C. Finlay over at F&SF Magazine, who put early eyes on it and provided some really great suggestions which made the final story what it is.  He’ll never know how much I appreciated his editorial gaze… well, unless he comes over to the blog and sees me talking about how much I appreciated his editorial gaze.  Let’s just leave the compliment dangling out here on the webz and see if he finds it, shall we?

So get out of here folks… check out my first ever audiopub over at Escape Pod!

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