I’m still working on the other stories I’ve shared. Well, I’ve actually cancelled The Chronicles of Sera Blake. I wasn’t able to capture her essence. Maybe after I’ve grown as a writer, I’ll return to her. In the meantime, here’s a sampling of my latest Work In Progress, Court of Blood.
Joey glared at his brother. “What are you doing here, David?”
“Viola is dead.” David bowed his head, eyes wet. “We’re down to nine Queens.”
“I know.” Joey picked up a Sig Sauer, actuated the clip, and racked the slide. A cartridge, with a strange blue bullet attached popped out. He peered at him from under long, sooty lashes. “This means war.”
Joey let out a low, raspy growl, stalked over to David and stood nose to chin with him. “No?” He tilted his head back. “You don’t get a say, brother. You left the pack, remember? Wanted to live among the humans.” His upper lip curled away from her teeth. “You wanted to be one of them.”
“Joey.” He drew the last syllable out, his voice dropping.
“We’re going to kill the dirt-nappers, and then the shifters, and finally the Giavana’s. So, run away, pup. It’s what you’re go—”
A massive hand around his throat cut off his words. Joey kicked frantically, but to no avail; he was three feet in the air.
“Listen, bitch. You may be Pack Leader, but never forget who is Alpha.” David snarled the last.
Joey’s eyes turned a bright green and his lips curled away from his teeth which grew longer, and sharper. David threw him down the hall. “Go ahead, dumbass. Waste your transformation.”
Joey glared at the bigger man. His arms were tense, and his chest out, and heaving. The Alpha shook his head with a faint smirk. The pack leader howled, and his mouth lengthened, merging with his nose, and becoming a muzzle. Triangular ears rose atop his head. Black hairs sprouted over his face, lengthening until it became fur. His teeth grew longer and sharper-looking. His fingers elongated and sprouted coarse black hairs. Each digit was tipped with a thick, black talon. His body began to elongate, his muscles stretching and growing bigger. His shoes burst apart, revealing sis feet as they extended, and narrowed, the toes were capped with long black claws.
His knees snapped back like a dog’s with sickening wet crunches. His barrel chest grew wider, the bones creaking, and snapping under the pressure. Wiry hair spread over it in a rippling, spiral pattern. His arms spread wide, and his head went back, loosening a deafening howl.
“You’ve been a naughty boy, Joey. Messing with magicks you’re not supposed to.” David rolled his shoulders, and tipped his head from side to side. Each movement caused popping, and crackling sounds. “let’s dance, Pup.”
The werewolf bellowed in rage, slaver dripping from his fangs. He leaped at his enemy, seeking to rend him limb from limb. David took a step to his right, guiding the deadly claws away with the grace of a dancer, and then slammed the werewolf’s skull through the window. The lupine creature extricated his head from the broken glass with a howl, and lunged forward with another attack, leading with his left clawed hand. David flowed to the right, and aimed the wolf’s head at the brick wall. Fragments flew through the air as dust rose in an explosion.
Joey pulled his head away, moving slower than before. He shook his head, and whimpered at the buzzing deep inside his skull.
“Surrender, Joseph, and turn back. I don’t want to hurt you further.”
Instead, he snarled again, and thrust his gaping maw forward. David punched the other in the snout with his right fist, and captured Joey’s lower jaw in his left. The pack leader made a strangled yip of surprise, and then was yanked down. His jaw collided with David’s rising knee. He dropped to his knees, dazed.
“Pull yourself together.”
David turned to leave. White hot heat ripped through his body as Joey’s claws tore great furrows down his back. He screamed in pain, and whirled. Fists, moving like lightning pounded into the werewolf’s skull with the force of jack hammers. In the space of a moment, Joey’s nose was broken, his jaw dislocated, and his cranium misshapen.
The Alpha grabbed the Pack Leader’s ears, and then used his head as a pinball, bouncing it from one wall to the other, up one end of the hall, and down the other. He then threw the werewolf down the stairs to the marble floor twenty feet below. David leaped down after him, landing in a perfect three-point-stance. He gripped the beaten wolf by the scruff of the neck and lifted him.
“Clean yourself up. You’re a mess.” He left his opponent’s head hit the floor, and stalked down the hall between the twin flights of stairs to Viola’s quarters.
Joey lay, naked and shivering on the floor for several minutes after the Alpha left. Abrupt reversions always left him with a quivering stomach. He slowly raised his throbbing head and spat out a tooth. It lay in a mix of saliva and blood, mutely accusing. What was I thinking? I’m not yet ready to take David’s place as Alpha. This just confirmed what she said.
He sighed, and slumped over to his back, blindly staring up at the massive fairy crystal chandelier dangling from the vaulted ceiling. He blinked, and switched his gaze to the large oil painting of Alastor Hara, the pack founder. As always, that unsmiling countenance seemed to be saying, ‘You’re not worthy to lead my pack, Mongrel. Only purebloods should ever lead.’
“Fuck you, old man.” He gingerly sat up, not yet fully healed despite his swift regeneration. I should get dressed. I’m sure the old man doesn’t want to be staring at my pale ass. He got to his feet, and swayed, nearly falling again. He shook his head, and collapsed to his knees. His gorge rose, and before he could swallow it back, it barreled out his mouth like a runaway freight train. Each heave served to aggravate his torn neck muscles. After the last one, he wiped his mouth, paying no heed to the frothy pink vomit on the floor. One of the servants would clean it.
He limped down the hall that opened just off the eastern most section of the front stairs, bracing himself against the wall, trailing blood behind him. He staggered into the library, and locked the door behind him. He paused, knees shaking, head down for several heartbeats. He then walked over to the fireplace, and flipped a hidden switch.
The heart slid to the side revealing a dank stair down. He slipped through, depressing another button on the other side of the threshold. The fireplace slid back, leaving him in pitch blackness. He confidently strode the stairs, his sight unaffected by the lack of illumination. The steps wound around, and around, sometimes twisting under each other, but going ever further down.
Near the bottom, it grew brighter. The increase was gradual enough that his eyes had a chance to acclimate to the change. The stairs terminated in a cathedral-like cavern. Torches scattered around on the walls provided the light.
In the center of the room stood an elaborately carved granite sarcophagus. At his approach, the lid swung open. A small, blonde girl stepped out and turned icy blue eyes on him. He stopped at the base of the platform and knelt with his head to the stone floor.
“Rise, Joey.” The soft voice had an ethereal quality to it. He did as commanded, gazing worshipfully at her porcelain features. “You lost.”
Though it wasn’t a question, he felt compelled to answer. “Yes, Mistress. Just as you said I would.”
“Your recklessness almost gave away your secret.”
“David still doesn’t know I can transform without the queen. He thinks it was a wasted one.”
“He knows you are dealing with magic you shouldn’t be.”
Her voice wasn’t loud, but he shook anyway. “I’m sorry, Mistress.”
“No matter. He will not be a problem much longer.” She gestured, and an ornate golden chalice appeared in her right hand. She passed her left over it, and handed the now full cup to him. “Drink, and grow strong.”
“Yes, Mistress.” He swallowed the fiery ruby liquid in one gulp.
I have been lost in the Realm, editing my butt off. I’m trying to polish it before I send it to my editor. I am shooting for a November 1st release, but I’m not sure I’ll make it if my generator keeps acting up. Also, I don’t think I will if Skyrim, Kirkwall, the Citadel and Fortune City don’t cease with their Siren’s calls. But, maybe this will give you hope: It’s an new excerpt from Into the Realm!
I awoke after my latest battle in a small and dim lit cell. The air was a miasma of humidity and the purification of stagnant water. Sweat rolled down the sides of my face as I sat up, wincing as my movements pulled at clotted blood on my stomach. Fortune favored me: The long, maybe fifteen centimeter, wound was shallow, maybe three millimeters deep. Still, as I had found out, the blasted thing hurt like hell when I moved too fast. The last demon had been the worst one yet, ugly as sin and great with a spear.
The many battles had caused something within me to open. I found memories flooding back to me, everything which had happened to me since my arrival in the Realm. Shame filled me as I remembered how I had treated the half-dragonWarmaster. Angriz had been a friend who had helped me at almost every turn, and I had turned my back on him after a stupid argument. I hoped he had re-united with Keeper Dearbhaile.
I took stock of my shadowy prison. The light came in from the hallway on the other side of the bars just beyond the soles of my boots. Looking behind me, I discovered my head had rested maybe an inch from the back wall. The other wall was within my reach as I lay on the bed against the third wall.
I placed my tongue against the roof of my mouth, created suction and made a thock sound. The resulting racket echoed through the place, then faded away. The only other noise, the slow drip of water. I rose from the bed and stepped to the wall of bars which rose to the ceiling. I examined the wall nearest the bars and discovered solid stone and mortar, like the walls of medieval castles in my world, covered in patches of a pale pink moss-like growth. ‘Not going to get through here.’
I banged the side of my fist against one of the bars in frustration and cussed at the resulting pain. My reaction was instinctive: I stuck the sore part of my hand in my mouth to comfort it. I tore my hand back out of my mouth and tried to spit out the horrible, yet familiar taste of rust. Why familiar, you ask? You know how as a kid, you played with random things, bang your finger, then sucked the injured digit? That’s why.
My heart leaped within my chest as excitement rolled through my body. I flipped the bed up against the back wall of my cell and examined the bars. My heart raced. As I had expected, they were iron and the humidity in the air had caused them to rust. The rust was bad at the base of the bars where they went into the floor. I straightened and, without thinking, kicked one of the bars with the toe of my boot. My leather boot. Agony exploded up my leg and explored my hip. Have you ever stubbed your toe and, in a fit of pique, kicked the offending object, causing yourself even more harm? I did, and was damned lucky I didn’t hurt myself further. Instead, the heel of my foot collided with the decayed metal bar, causing a hollow crunching sound from the bar breaking.
Though my wounded foot demanded my attention with its insistent throbbing, I ignored the pain in favor of surveying my handy- or rather- footwork. Two of the rusty bars had broken just above the floor. I lay down on my stomach, on the floor, with my arms outstretched, knees bent, feet flat against the back wall and my butt stuck up in the air. I gripped the bars, locked my elbows, and straightened my legs. With loud creaking groans, the bars bent out from the cell.
When I first arrived in the Realm, I wouldn’t have been able to do this. Thanks to almost two months as a gladiator, I had the ability to push the bars out far enough to escape my cell. I received long, furrowed scrapes along my back from wriggling through the two foot gap left by the broken bars. I rose, wincing, to my feet. A trickle of blood ran down my belly. I glanced down and learned my exertions had reopened my wound. I examined my surroundings, but didn’t spot anything I would be able to use as a bandage. I remembered reading Army Rangers would utilize moss as a bandage of last resort, so I scrapped the pink lichen off the wall with my fingers and packed it into my wound.
The next item on my agenda? Getting a weapon. As my captors hadn’t seen fit to leave any lying around, I would have to improvise. I stared at the bent bars of my cell and had a flash of inspiration: I would break one free and use it. Bracing myself against the corridor wall, I pushed one of the bars as close to true as possible. I then grabbed the other one in a deadlift position. Using the strength of my legs, I pulled the bar up to level with my hips. The strain caused my joints to pop and crackle. I then pushed the bar with all my strength ahead of me. With another creaking groan, the rod went parallel to the stony floor and almost flush with the wall. I then pulled the bar back the other way. My foot slid on a patch of slime and I landed on my ass. I growled, picked myself up, and returned to my task. Twenty minutes later, the stress on the bar became too great, and it snapped. I had built up a decent amount of speed swinging the bar back and forth, so when the rod broke, I slammed face first into the wall. Pain shot through my nose and tickled the inside back of my skull as blood began to flow from my nose. I dropped the bar to the floor and sank to my knees, clutching my face.
After several minutes of pinching my tender nose, the flow of blood slowed to a trickle, then stopped. My head however, continued to throb in time with my pulse. I shook my head clear, and almost fell over. I think I had a concussion, but didn’t know for certain. I rose to my feet once more, picking up my iron bar as I went. I gave the 152.4 cm length a few practice swings, getting the heft. I didn’t like the bar’s balance for a blunt sword-like instrument, so I began to twirl the metal rod like a quarter staff. ‘This is better.’ A smile grew on my face. ‘I’m glad to have a weapon again.’
On a recent trip to the UK, I sat in a pub called the Red Lion. It was a pretty cool evening, around 65 degrees. I’d just placed my pint of cider (an alcoholic drink made from apples) on the table near me, and took off my jacket, when I noticed a young woman enter. She was about 5’4″, or maybe 5’5″. Long, red hair shimmered in the dim light. She’s very curvy and her ample bosom stretched her white vest so much I wondered how the buttons stayed on. Black jeans looked to be painted on. I didn’t look to see what kind of footwear she had. She introduced herself as Teagan, no last name. She had a bit of a Dublin accent. I waited until she sat, then took my seat. She was the young vampire I’d get to interview.
RwF: Do you remember when you were turned?
Teagan: I remember parts of being turned. I was slipping in and out of consciousness at the time. I was going to die anyway, so I was happy to be given a second chance.
I sat forward, intrigued. She sat forward also. The light hit her face, revealing unusual blue eyes. I’d say cyan, or maybe electric blue.
RwF: You were going to die anyway? What do you mean?
T: I was dying in a backstreet in Dublin. My maker Thomas had been admiring me from afar. He saved my life by turning me into a vampire.
RwF: What happened? Were you attacked? Or was something else killing you?
T: It’s something I can’t talk about..I just can’t. It brings back to many memories from my human life that I’d rather not discuss.
RwF: Fair enough. Another question: How accurate has Hollywood been with vampires? Are your strengths & weaknesses like what’s in the movies?
She giggles. It’s a melodious sound.
T: My senses- smell and vision are increased. I can move very quickly and I’m very strong. The stake through the heart stuff is bullshit, though. There are only two things that can kill vampires, but I’d be stupid to share that information.
RwF: What about the hypnosis; shape shifting; weaknesses to silver, sunlight, garlic & holy items? Are they real?
T: No, I can’t hypnotise anyone. My venom converts in a humans blood stream causing the victim to forget that I bit them. I can’t go out in the sun at all, we all have an allergy to the sun. Garlic, holy items…all rubbish, they do us no harm. Drinking a humans blood essentially makes my body work like a humans, blood runs through my veins, my heart beats. Without enough blood in my system my senses become diminished and I take longer to heal. I heal extremely quickly normally. Eventually, without feeding my insides dry out leaving me unable to function.
RwF: You have venom? That’s a new one.
I sit up.
Is it secreted through your saliva, or is it injected? Also, how toxic is it? I mean, it’s called “venom” for a reason, right?
I lean forward, hand on my chin.
T: It’s injected. It’s pretty harmless when given in small doses. Only when a human receives bites all over their body would it become harmful, well depending on how you look at it…that’s how you ‘make’ a vampire.
She leans back in her chair, and flips her hair back over her shoulder.
RwF: It’s not through the exchange of blood?
I scratch the back of my head.
Hunh. Interesting. How long have you been a vampire?
T: 150 years. I was 22 when I was turned. It is actually deemed against the laws of our kind to turn someone under the age of 21.
I perk up and slide to the edge of the chair.
RwF: Your kind has laws? Cool. Would you share some of them?
A scowl mars her pretty face.
T: Some of them are fucking ridiculous. One of them prevents those who are aware of other non-humans from discussing their existence. However, that means that the majority of us aren’t aware that they’re even around. Yet, we are also prevented from mixing with other non humans…yes, that’s right, the ones we don’t know about! Go figure! I’m not fully up to date on the laws. I only just found out we had anyone in authority at all, they call themselves The Assembly. My maker just explained that vampires under 21 mustn’t be made…something apparently to do with adolescent hormones, I think?
RwF: Your maker seems to have slacked off with properly educating you. Tsk. Would you tell us about him/her?
T: Yes he was slack, or so I’m beginning to learn. He’s always been overprotective. In the beginning I went along with it, just grateful that he saved me. But, after a while it got old. I like to think of myself as strong and independent. I can protect myself.
His name is Thomas Lewis. He’s a stiff uptight Englishman. He whisked me away to America not long after he made me, I embraced America, my accent gradually changed and I liked it there. Thomas has always and I suspect will always be the way he is. He was made at the age of 45 in 1670, so he’s like 343 years old. His maker left him right after he was made, I think it left an impression on him, made him moody and distant. Vampires don’t like to live alone, so he traveled around looking for others of his kind until he found the right time to make someone to settle down with.
RwF: Vampires are social animals. Who’da thunk it? Well, the social aspect brings me to another question I had. Earlier, you mentioned other non-humans. What manner of non-humans are out there? Have you met any?
T: Duh…I told you! It’s against the law for me to discuss them. Tsk. I’m in enough deep water as it is!
She gives me a dirty look.
RwF: I won’t tell. Will you trust me?
T: I can’t. Look, I don’t care what happens to me, but it’s for the protection of the only man I’ve ever loved. His family hate me as it is. Damn his father even tried to kill me. I don’t know what I can and can’t say or do anymore.
She folds her arms protectively over her chest.
God! I need a fucking drink. Should interviews really be this stressful?
She looks around for the bartender, but she’s busy with a late rush.
Wow. His family hates you? What did you do? Or is it like a Montague/Capulet thing?
I stand to head to the bar.
How about a Bloody Mary, extra bloody?
T: Actually, I can and do drink alcohol, though I need to make sure I don’t get drunk….it would send me a bit, well, nuts!
I don’t think it’s a Romeo and Juliet thing. I think it’s down to the fact that he’s valuable to his kind, because he’s the only one of their children that can re-produce and I almost got him killed by The Assembly. I suppose they don’t want their son to be with a vampire that can’t produce heir’s for them either? Who knows….this is just what I figure.
I walk over to the bar, and order an extra bloody Bloody Mary. The bartender flashes a smile my way, revealing long canines. I quirk my eyebrow, receive the drink and head back to Teagan.
-To Be Continued-
Tomorrow, I will continue the interview with my friend LT Kelly’s character, Teagan.
I was supposed to post this yesterday, but all sorts of hell got in the way. I’m deeply sorry for this.
Okay, for those of you who might not know him, R.S.Guthrie is an indy author with some talent in his pe- wait, he uses computer, not a pen. He an excellent author is what I’m meaning to say. His novels (a couple I’ve reviewed), are epic page turners. I’m doing this interview to get a bit more info about his forth-coming book called, Honor Land. It’s the latest in his James Pruett saga. Let’s get it, eh?
R.w.F: Would you tell us a little about your upcoming release, the third in the James Pruett Mystery/Thriller series, “Honor Land”?
R.S.Guthrie: I can tell you that I am looking forward to it more than any book I have written so far. I am a “write by the seat of your pants” author (a pantser), which means I usually have a broad-strokes idea of where the story ends up, but I let the writing take me where it will. This particular book has come to my head in much greater detail and I believe it is going to be the best in the series.
It is centered around a war hero who has been sentenced to die in Wyoming’s lethal injection chamber—I mean this guy’s a legend; a foster of the state standing at the Army recruitment office at the minute they opened the door at 8 AM on his 18th birthday. A real hero that did some bad things when he came back from the war.
My recurring protagonist, Sheriff James Pruett has followed the story of this man since he was a child legend growing up in the state. There is a jail break and let’s just say Pruett’s not convinced the dishonored war hero is as guilty people, including the U.S. Marshal Service who are tracking him down.
R.w.F: Where did you get the idea for James Pruett and his legacy?
R.G: I believe more than anything, as a writer or a reader, in the characters. If you’ve not created characters with depth and flaws and honest traits, they don’t ring true, and a read cannot connect with them. The people I grew up with and around in Wyoming are some of the finest people I know to this day, and they are wonderful characters (in every sense of the word).
I always knew I wanted to write a recurring hero with whom the everyday man or woman could relate. Each of us has problems, defects, weaknesses, and hardships, but characters like Pruett let us believe that we can still be the heroes we dream of being, flaws and all.
R.w.F: Who’s your favorite character in this series?
R.G: Easily Ty McIntyre, the anti-hero of the first book, Blood Land. Like I said, I’m a pantser and I had originally had Ty planned for one book. He’s such a great character that I brought him back briefly in book two, “Money Land. Don’t be surprised if I do a lot more with him in the future; he’s just one of those characters who refuses to allow you to shelve him.
R.w.F: What was the hardest part of writing it?
R.G.: Being true to the locals. Of course as fiction writers we have to be magnificent exaggerators, but I believe we still need to respect the truth. The hardest part about writing characters from the area in which you lived is that every book needs some evil antagonists to create the conflict, the story. You don’t want anyone thinking you “picked them” as the foundation for your coal-hearted villain.
R.w.F: If Blood Land were optioned for a movie deal, who would you like to play Pruett?
R.G: For anyone who has not read “Blood Land” the answer to this is actually a huge SPOILER, so skip it. Unless that kind of thing doesn’t bother you.
Answer: Danny Glover. It’s who I have always seen whenever I think of Pruett. There’s no one else for the part. Have you seen “Silverado”? My book’s not a Western but it occurs in the West, where even in the twenty-first century there are still cowboys and cowgirls, Stetson hats, and a landscape that would make you believe in the glory of a time machine. Glover would pull all that together. And then some.
R.w.F: What made you chose indy publishing?
R.G.: Unknown authors can’t afford one book coming out every year or two (or three). They’ll be forgotten. Stephen King can take as much time as he needs, but I need to keep my audience both fulfilled and, more importantly, GROWING. Plus the royalties are much higher when you don’t have to share.
R.w.F: What’s the hardest part of independent publishing?
R.G: The marketing. Finding readers, or rather, reaching them. It’s not just a self-publishing issue, it’s an issue for the unknown author who signs a deal with, say, Penguin or Simon & Schuster. Sure, their moniker ads a little clout to the book, but beyond that, no one knows you from Adam, and the publisher knows that. They aren’t going to sink any money into your marketing until they have some pretty risk-free assurances you’re going to sell and make them money. So guess who still gets to do a lion’s share of the marketing and readership ferreting? Yep. Not them — you.
R.w.F: Did you hire an editor, or do you have a friend who is one?
R.G.: I have a traditionally published author, Russell Rowland, who edits my James Pruett series. He has been on board “Blood Land” since the first word; he was the teacher of the class where I began that book (and from the start he told me it was publish-worthy and we’ve maintained a friendship and professional working relationship ever since. He really gets me — my voice. His advice is irreplaceable.
R.w.F: How do you promote your novels?
R.G.: There’s not enough time to list all the ways. A very good (and highly successful) writer friend told me this: “I look at every book and ask myself ‘what am I doing to promote this?’ and he tries to always have something going on, coming up, etc. I’m a bit behind him to say the least, but I am learning. It’s not easy. I will be taking some big marketing risks in 2013. But to get big, you have to walk the walk and think big.
R.w.F: What’s the best thing about being independent?
You control your own destiny. It makes for a lot of work—you are like nine professionals rolled into one. But when you work hard and succeed, or you affect someone’s life—man, you know you did that, not some gargantuan corporation. I received this quote just today:
“My husband stopped drinking alcohol 10yrs ago and now he is addicted to this character, Sheriff Pruett,, Thank you RS Guthrie for having a real character with the real time flaws of man, it helps keep him,Ted, focused..please keep them coming..”
Can there be any better feeling to know that was something you wrote that touched and helped another living, breathing human being? Then you get to throw on there that you didn’t have to worry about some third party changing your theme or your storyline (where then you might never have reached that person). Your destiny is in your hands. I like that, as much work as it may be.
…Posting on my blog. He’s a great author of Books such as Black Beast and Lost. Both are phenomenal books. Give them a read. To check out what up coming novels he has coming (like Blood Land) Check out his blog robonwriting. Tell him beginingsinwriting sent you. Without further ado, here’s Rob:
The Self-Publishing Dream (Or Was It Nightmare?)
It was so much simpler when writing was just a dream. I mean, everything works out in a dream, and unknown things like deadlines and marketing campaigns with their cost and timing and effectiveness aren’t in the dream—after all, their unknown, right?
And what about the slush pile you were planning to avoid by self-publishing instead of sending your manuscript into the maw of overworked, underpaid, tumultuous world of traditional publishing? Send it there you might never see it again and even if you did what were the chances of it not having a form rejection slip attached to it?
Here’s the rub: the slush pile has moved to the marketplace. Yes, the ability for any man, woman, or child with an Internet connection to publish a book is one of the most fantastic things to happen to the unpublished writer. Want to know what one of the absolute worst things to happen to those same writers turned out to be?
Now this is not all doom and gloom. If you’re like me (or you were a Scout) you like to be prepared. Know what you’re in for. Muster your courage. Become the warrior you were always meant to be. (And when you’re done fighting those bloody battles you’re really going to need that sword as a machete to cut your way out of the middle of the “Jungle of Unknown Writers” for the next few years.
Writing the book is the easy part, my friends. It really is. You have about three or four other full-time jobs awaiting you after the completion of your masterpiece. You are the Marketing Department, the Accounting Department, the Art Department, the Accounts Payable department, the CEO, the CFO, and a few other jobs I’ve forgotten due to the anti-depression medication.
Okay, that’s more like six or seven jobs above and beyond AUTHOR. The good news is even if you went the traditional publishing route, were signed, and waited until you were old and gray to see your book on the shelves, you’d be expected to do most of those things yourself (at your cost) anyway.
So here I am going to lay out some things, high level, you need to think about and my opinion on them (based on semi-substantial experience):
1. Hire a cover designer. There are a LOT of them out there who work for major publishers (or even publishers in general) who do work on the side. You should not have to pay more than $100-200 for a really nice cover. Make sure that you get the spine and back cover if you are going to have a paperback made.
2. Have a paperback made. You aren’t going to make money off of it, but you owe yourself after dreaming all those years of seeing your book in print to finally see it in print! And people want signed copies (book signings are a great way to meet your readers and even if they aren’t giant revenue producers, they make you feel more like an author and things that bolster your confidence are going to be very important in the first year or two.
3. Hire an editor and a proofreader. Yes, two different people. I like to think of it as checks and balances because the professions do overlap so you get some bonus work by using two different professionals instead of just one. (I hope I didn’t just ruin half my relationships with editors and proofreaders.) Again, you should be able to find reasonably priced people for each but expect to pay a bit more for the editing. That’s hard work.
4. Whatever date you have in mind for your “release”, plan to send it to advanced reader/reviewers as far ahead of time as possible. They are called Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) and you need to leverage them big time. Some advertisers won’t even allow you to pay for an ad without a certain number of reviews and a particular average score (say 4.5 out of 5 stars). You’re also going to have better luck actually getting them to post the reviews if your book is already out there digitally published on Amazon (and wherever else). Trust me, you hitting “publish” and your book being “available for sale”, while majorly exciting for you, means nothing to the marketplace. Just another web page no one knows about…YET.
5. Get on every social networking site there is (Twitter, Facebook Author Page, LinkedIn, GoodReads, etc.). And do it now (i.e. ahead of the release of your book). They say buyers have to see your name 3-4 times before it sinks into their brain that they might want to buy something from you. You need exposure. Pay for a decent website. That’s one thing that’s going to cost you a little bit more—definitely one of those “you get what you pay for” things. But look at it this way: your webpage is like your home on the Internet (and will be for a very long time). It’s also Grand Central Station through which all trains of reader will connect to your books. Make sure it looks good and performs nicely.
6. Grow thick skin. I mean skin that makes an alligators look like rice paper. No matter how good you are, no matter how nice you are—in fact, many times inversely proportionally to these things—you are going to be disliked, poorly reviewed, and even hated. You won’t even know why. This is the hardest part for me. I take things personally. DON’T. EVER. If you write well and produce quality material, the readers who love you will one day come. To Hades with the rest.
I know this makes self-publishing sound scary. Guess what? It is. Nothing worth getting in this life is without hard work, crazy levels of patience, and the ability to levitate above all the crap and still get up every day and start it all over again.
If you are truly a writer—if it truly is a passion; if you love it—you’ll get up every day and get done what needs to get done.
It’s a love affair. Actually, it’s a marriage. Love affairs come and go. This is your passion; this is what you’ve decided to dedicate your life to—richer, poorer, sickness, health, good reviews, haters, etc.
No one can take away your talent OR your love. And the combination of the two (with a lot of determination and outlasting the others mixed in) will get you there.
Thanks for those words, Rob. They are ones to study on. Now, if y’all will excuse me, my Kindle says I downloaded his new book, Blood Land already. Let me go read it. I’ll review it here when I’m done.