I can’t believe I was able to sit on this for as long as I did. Today I signed off to be represented by Meredith Brown of the Sullivan Maxx Literay Agency. I can’t tell you how amazing this feels. Finally, the years and hundreds of hours working on my first book feels validated. Not to mention how big of a step this is for the book in general. First, I had to complete it and what an accomplishment that was. What I didn’t realize was how hard draft two was going to be. You read all the time that the rewrite is harder, well, they’re right.
Of course now I’m onto another big step. My beta readers had a pretty unanimous voice on an aspect of my book that needs addressing. Luckily I feel I have a great solution to it and that also enhances the overall themes of the book. However, it means a pretty hefty rewrite. So, I’m not looking forward to that. But I think it’s something that must be done and will really make it shine.
This has been an awesome month for my writing career. Not only have I signed an agent, but I made my first short story sale with Sword and Laser. They have an amazing podcast where they interview some really great authors. At this point I kind of see it as a goal to be on that list of interviewees. But only time will see if that will happen.
In news of Love, my friend and fellow writer Jenn Lyons has been so gracious as to nominate me for a One Lovely Blog award. How nice. Like all of these awards, it does come with a bit of a criteria, which I don’t mind fulfilling. It’s not like they won’t my soul.
I don’t think.
1) Thank the person
Jenn, thank you so much! It’s great to have someone to talk shop with on a daily basis. And your covers make me super jealous.
2) Link the picture of the award
3) Tell everyone seven things about yourself.
- By day I’m an animator for a casino company.
- I’ve recently gotten into the Star Wars LCG card game and everyone must play it.
- I’m part of Thespian Troupe 2020 with the title Master Thespian having done some 160 hours of theatre work in High School alone.
- I’ve been paid for a car commercial I was never in.
- My brother is a screen writer.
- My other brother is a cop.
- One day, all three of us will rule the entertainment industry.
OK, so maybe the last three aren’t necessarily about me.
4) Nominate seven others.
These are just a few of the blogs I follow. They are all great sources of information and inspiration.
Thanks again Jenn, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for your own work. You’re definitely way ahead of the curve in volume on me, it’s super inspiring.
For those that frequent my blog, or have been here for a while, know that I’ve dealt with trials and tribulations of self-publishing. Recently, I’d say within a year or so, my writing friend Matthew Quinn made the jump with several of his short stories. I invited him over here to write up a post on his experience with his short stories.
My Career as a Kindle Direct Author, Thus Far
Hey everybody. My name is Matthew W. Quinn. Jeff graciously allowed me to make his blog a stop on my blog tour promoting my newest Kindle-published stories — the alternate history spy tale “Picking Up Plans In Palma” and the supervillain protagonist tales “Ubermensch” and “Needs Must.”
I’ve been writing short fiction and trying to sell it to magazines since 2001. 2006, when I was a senior at the University of Georgia, brought my first sale — “I am the Wendigo,” sold to the now-defunct webzine Chimaera Serials. A few more sales followed— the college tales “Nicor” and “Lord Giovanni’s Daughter” to the print magazine Flashing Swords in 2008, my licensed BattleTech tale “Skirmish at the Vale’s Edge” to BattleCorps in 2009, “Coil Gun” to Digital Science Fiction in 2011, and most recently, “Nicor” to Heroic Fantasy Quarterly in 2012.
(Flashing Swords paid me for both stories but went on hiatus before they could be printed.)
However, I still had many I wasn’t able to sell. I used feedback from the markets that rejected them and commentary from online groups like Critters and my two real-life groups to improve each version of the story, but as the markets for short fiction declined, I soon ran out of acceptable places to submit.
So I decided to self-publish. The first was my horror tale “Melon Heads,” which I started writing in 2004 after coming across an urban legends website in college. “Wendigo” came next, a glorious resurrection requiring e-mailing an Internet forum someone posted the text on to get them to remove it. My last two were also college stories, the Ottoman-era Lovecraftian tale “The Beast of the Bosporus” and the science fiction “Illegal Alien.” I decided to self- publish three more after figuring I wasn’t likely to find a paying home for my supervillain stories (subject matter) and “Palma” (length).
Here are some lessons I’ve learned, some the hard way:
*Social media advertising for short stories is not worth it. Buying Facebook ads and paying to promote the posts announcing new publications may have gotten me a lot of Facebook followers and a few sales, but they were a net loss. And my attempt to use Google ads to promote “Melon Heads” failed miserably. I made no “Melon Heads” sales at all while the Google ad was active.
*Internet message-boards, though time-consuming, are a better option. I had a review for “Palma” from a fellow member of my alternate-history forum within a day, while a former member and I have swapped reviews for each other’s work. And I made a couple sales of “Palma” within days of posting a publication announcement on the forum. The message-board also got me in contact with Alex Claw, who has provided excellent covers for most of my stories, as well as loyal reviewers Sean C.W. Korsgaard and Matthew Stienberg.
*Twitter can be useful. Author Saladin Ahmed is a proponent of increasing diversity in speculative fiction and when I tweeted him the announcements for “Ubermensch” and “Needs Must”—stories whose protagonist is an irreligious half-Indian biomedical engineer—he re-tweeted it to his many thousands of followers. I don’t know how many sales resulted, but I’m fairly certain I acquired a few Twitter followers.
*Don’t expect rivers of cash from short fiction alone. I’ve made more money Kindle-publishing the first four stories than I would have made from non-paying or many token markets, but my Kindle revenues combined are less than the penny a word Flashing Swords paid me for “Nicor” or “Lord Giovanni’s Daughter” individually. I’m thinking the money will come long term, once I have published books drawing people to my Amazon author page. William Meikle has Kindle-published many short stories he’s sold to dead magazines and anthologies and considering how he has many novels in print, I imagine he’s doing well. Of course, that presupposes I’ll sell one or more novels and we all know about not counting chickens.
*Elaborate cover art doesn’t guarantee sales. “Illegal Alien” has a beautiful cover, but at this rate it will be years before it sells enough copies to pay for it. “Melon Heads” and “I am Wendigo” have simple covers I got for free and they’ve sold far better. If you’re going to invest in a fancy cover, do it for a book, not a short story.
Matthew W. Quinn is a freelance writer and editor from Marietta, GA. Those interested in finding out more about him can visit his blog, The World According To Quinn.
The first LibertyCon I attended, there were many panels talking about self-publishing. What I heard the most often was that you needed at least 20 to 25 pieces of work on Amazon before you started to see decent sales. That number is the general point when your short stories start to feed off one another. I think Matt is well on his way. I’ll be interested to see what happens in the near future.
Thanks to Matt for the post!
I decided to go ahead and start up a Tumblr. Mainly to secure the name. I’m probably thinking too far ahead, but I thought it was worth it. I wonder if there is a way to publish some of my the back history on this blog to Tumblr… Something to look into.
If you have a Tumblr, let me know. I’d be happy to follow you. Seems like an interesting place.
Scalzi has something great to say to those people that feel that only they can decide who is worthy enough to like any particular nerdy book, movie, or cartoon. As a creator of these things I will agree with John, please stop.
Which is to say, a note to those (mostly) dudes in geek circles, who decide it’s their job to determine who is geeky enough to enjoy the same entertainments and recreations that they do (hint: If you’re a woman, you start off with a failing grade). Yes, we’ve talked about this before, but they’re still doing it, because apparently some dudes just have a hard time learning.
So this time, let me talk to these dudes from the point of view of being a creator, i.e., one of the people who creates the stuff these (mostly) dudes spend their time defending from the horrible encroaching interest of others (mostly women).
Dudes: Cut that shit out. You’re fucking with my livelihood.
Let’s break this down a bit.
First: I didn’t ask you to be a gatekeeper. Did I, John Scalzi, come up to you and say, “Dude. I am so
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I haven’t much to add to this. It’s a great read and thought some of you may like to see it.
This argument is made all the time, and there’s some truth to it. There are some very successful characters that never have a character arc. James Bond is the one most mentioned. While he was retooled somewhat when Daniel Craig took over the role in the movies, the character has never undergone a significant arc. Miss Marple never has an arc, or Hercule Poirot, or Stephanie Plum.
See a pattern here? They’re all characters in a long-running series of stand-alone books. While there are series characters that have arcs (I would argue Indiana Jones is an example) most don’t have them. Mainly because having the characters change would disrupt the series too much.
2. However, not giving your character one can simply be laziness on your part. Just because there are…
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I am normally the king of homonyms, but this one was on purpose. Just the other day I was going through my novel to clean up some of the grammar problems when I noticed a recurring issue — the dreaded Which. Many of my several sentence fragments — another problem of mine — started with the word which. Obviously there isn’t a big problem using it, but after a while it becomes very noticeable. Then I have to ask myself, “Is there a better way to write this?”
The answer will always be yes.
The reason I think so is because all a sentence like that is doing is telling the reader something. How weak. Generally this happened in cases where I would describe an action and follow it up with something like, “Which made Wil angry.”
This lead me to realize I need to go on a Which Hunt. They all need to die in ways most gruesome. There is even a good chance that I could cut those sentences altogether and not miss a beat. It would be just like a witch, to sneak into a story and mess it all up. What a jerk.
I’m sure there are other words like that that I’ll find. Two of my other big offenders are so and just. They pop up all the time, but luckily I have gotten to the point that I can catch them while I’m writing.
What are your Whichs?