Tag Archives: motivation

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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War Journal 77: Brevity, the Soul of Twit

So I’m on this road to self publishing this book, and there’s a couple of things I needed to do in conjunction.  Book Publishing Side Quest One: increase web presence.  I’m pretty sure studies show that on average 0% of Americans buy books they never knew existed.  The numbers from the UK are even worse.  Yeah, you may have heard of me, but what about your neighbor or that dude that bagged your groceries the other day? Have you even told your family about this sporadic thing you enjoy called my published fiction?!  Point is, I need to delve into more social media outlets.

With much fear and trepidation, this week I joined Twitter.  If anyone out there’s like me, meaning hasn’t joined Twitter and hates Facebook, I’ll tell you firsthand you may like it better.  I do.  Twitter’s not overly concerned with pages and status levels of everyone you ever knew… it’s more of conversation based thing… like you’re at a large party with some friends, maybe their friends, and some work associates that you’re various levels of cool with… and one of them says something you’re interested in.  Join the convo.  When something else piques your interest, head over there and see what they’re talking about.

Honestly, when I first logged in I figured I’d be in the quiet, lonely void for a good hot minute.  I mean, its a microworld of hashtags and @ symbols!  But it didn’t take long for me to find some folks I knew and get talking.  Now I’m fairly comfortable.  At this rate I’ll be throwing up hashtags like middle fingers to the law by the end of the week.

So that’s about all the soft selling I’m gonna do.  Find me out there @WriterBeamon.  Let’s chat for a bit about Book Publishing Side Quest One or whatever’s on your mind.

You’d be surprised how much you can cram in that space

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War Journal 76: The Book Deal

The joy of pages!

When I first started the war journals, I didn’t have a single pro sale to my name.  You guys have watched me work my craft, work that slush, going from none to one to dozens of sales.  The best part of the road to fortune and glory is the trench victories and I recently earned another.

I got a book deal.

Okay, small yet loyal fanbase, before you get to celebrating with your boy, here’s the thing.  I didn’t take it.

They were really nice people, I mean that, and while the royalty breakdown wasn’t overly generous, I thought it fair.  The reason I didn’t take the deal boiled down to they wanted last and final say over editorial changes.  Me?  I’m used to contracts where editor and author agree upon changes.  Sure, those contracts were for short stories but that kind of freedom allowed me to provide you guys with my own special blend of story sauce.  I didn’t want the blend getting diluted and while the folks offering the deal promised not to tweak too much, I didn’t even wanna take the risk of the blend getting diluted.

So I’m back out in the breeze, guys.  Back in these trenches.

I actually don’t mind that at all.  I got my special blend with me.  I got y’all, you folks that come around when I post because something’s stirring, whether it’s a new story published or new misadventure in this biz.  Apparently both these things… the special blend and you fine folks who’ve always appreciated it… are really important to me.

Which is why I’m gonna self-publish the novel.

Self-publishing is definitely more adventure (and work!) than I originally signed up for or wanted.  But I guess I already got what I wanted from the book deal… people from the gatekeeper side of the spectrum approached me and said, “Your novel, we dig it, we wanna make money on it.”  Cool.  I just don’t like gates, unless I’m deployed and on the base side of one.  Then I’m a gate fan.

I suppose it wouldn’t be a war in the trenches if I didn’t try to take the hill every now and then.  Stay tuned as this shakes out, as I attempt to take over the novel game without a publishing house to outfit me.

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