Tuesday, March 29, 2011

9 days left!

Kickstarter has been a huge asset to me in the process of publishing The Door to Canellin. I never thought the funding would be as successful as it has been so far! It's winding down now, with nine days left until the funding deadline, and I'm sitting at $1693! Not bad, considering my original funding goal was $1200!

When I made the decision to self-publish this past winter, I only had a vague idea of what I wanted to accomplish. Honestly, my main motivation was simply to publish the book, and get it out there and available for sale. I haven't made a secret of the fact that one of my driving motivations for self-publishing was my failing vision and sense of mortality as I get older. I didn't want my life to pass me by without ever having been able to share The Gatehouse! My aims were small... an ebook, with a print copy available at Amazon, and as little money spent out of pocket as possible.

And then I remembered an article I read way back when on Newsarama about a cool website called Kickstarter, and suddenly a world of possibilities opened up. With additional funding, I could accomplish a lot more than I originally intended. Making my book available in more venues, getting review copies out there, getting professional cover design and work done. I could actually do a print run! What's more, I could get my book noticed by more people, and really get word of mouth going, which is the best marketing for a small project like this!

Throughout all this, there have been a lot of changes in my goals. From making the decision to switch printing and distribution methods, to lowering the price, to deciding to go with professional design on the cover layout, things have grown from a tiny, no frills release to something that I hope might get some notice!  With over 40 paperbacks going out thanks to Kickstarter, and around 20 hardcovers, there will be a lot of people reading my book prior to release.  If all goes well, this will get people talking, get some reviews, and in general just get the book noticed.

Kickstarter has made all this possible. As it stands, with the rewards going out, I'll have over $600 to go toward the costs involved with all those things I want to do. Matching that out of my pocket, and I've got almost everything I need to do covered! Do I expect to get rich from this? Absolutely not. I think I've been clear about that as well. If I can sell enough copies to make back my out of pocket money, I'll be satisfied. If I can make enough to finance the publication of book 2, even better! My dream, though, is to get a good following, and sell a small but respectable number of copies a month, either ebook or print version or any combination thereof. That, in my opinion, would make The Door to Canellin a success!

I'm definitely going to use Kickstarter again. I am considering going through Kickstarter to get the first issue of my comic book Rocket Girl completed. And even if The Door to Canellin makes enough money to finance book 2, I may use Kickstarter to get funding once again, because it's such a great way to build buzz! If I do, I'll be certain to make the pledge levels come in at or under the price of the book when it is released, as I tried to do this time around, so that those who pledge will be certain of a bargain.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is, Kickstarter has been a great experience for me so far, and as the project deadline nears, I'm getting more and more excited! I can't wait to start sending out the paperbacks, hardcovers, posters, ebooks, and everything else that the backers have earned! Thank you all for your support, and I hope you enjoy The Door to Canellin!

Friday, March 25, 2011


I thought I’d take another break here and talk about working with collaborators. In all my efforts, with all the different projects I’ve worked on and am working on currently, I’d accepted the obvious fact that there are just some things I can’t do. Take my comic book projects, for example.

A few years ago, I heard about the Comic Book Challenge (which I believe is now defunct, but if I’m mistaken about that, I apologize) from Platinum Studios. I had an idea for a comic book that had been tumbling around in my head for quite some time, and I figured I’d give it a shot. Problem One: I can’t draw. Or paint. At all. I have no talent with graphic art. So I started making some friends, getting to know some people in the indie comic and art community, and I met a very talented graphic artist name Erick Marquez.  Erick and I hit it off immediately, and I ran my idea by him. He was into it, and very excited about putting it together for the challenge.

I won’t go into the Comic Book Challenge here, because as it turns out, it’s probably a good thing that we weren’t selected. What I do want to talk about is the experience of working with a collaborator.  It was a revelatory experience. I was able to bounce ideas off Erick, and he was able to bounce his off me. Seeing my characters and creations come to life in the form of character sketches and artwork was incredible! And honestly, I still feel our submission was a winner and could have gone farther.

Later, I had another idea for another comic book, this one more in the traditional super hero realm, based on a fun character I had come up with called Rocket Girl. Erick had become increasingly busy with his own graphic design business, and wasn’t available to do the artwork. So I talked to another friend I had made, Raquel. Raquel is an amazingly talented artist, and we worked together for several months to put together a 5-page submission. But Raquel had to drop out, and I was forced to start a search for a new artist. And this is where the story takes a turn.

Over the next two years, I worked with five different artists besides Raquel, all of whom wanted to work on this project as collaborators rather than for up front pay. I won’t name them here, because I don’t think that would be right, but over those two years, each and every one backed out of the project. Two had very good reasons that were beyond their control, and three simply made promises they couldn’t, or didn’t, keep. It began to look as if Rocket Girl would never see the light of day.

Finally, I decided I had to take a different path. I placed an ad for a paid artist, and received a lot of submissions. After I was able to review the submissions and talk to the artists, I finally settled on Sebastian Piriz. And finally, I had the experience I was looking for! Sebastian did the five pages of artwork in record time, and I couldn’t have been happier with the result. At this time, I’m still looking for a colorist to help me finish Rocket Girl, but the project has now been kept alive for almost four years, and I’m determined that she will one day see print!

Working with collaborators can be a great experience, but it can also be a nightmare. I have had both. But I’ve also made a number of great friends that I love to work with, and made a lot of progress on making my work a reality. Erick and I still chat occasionally, and he’s made it clear that he’s available at very reasonable rates if I need any work done. He’s also one of my backers for The Door to Canellin! Raquel and I still chat almost every evening. She is designing the title logo and doing the cover layout and design for The Door to Canellin. I very much enjoyed working with Barnaby Bagenda, the cover artist who drew the wonderful dragon you see in the background of this website. And Sebastian Piriz will definitely be doing the rest of the Rocket Girl artwork, once a home is found for her.  These good experiences far outweigh the bad, and I heartily encourage every creative person out there to explore these types of collaborations. Find people who are interested in your work, and work with them!  It’s definitely worth it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Challenge... unmet.

Well, for the first time since I began the Kickstarter project, a challenge has gone unmet.  I challenged everyone who had pledged to find one other person and get them interested enough to pledge at $10, $18, or $25. So far, I've only had one additional pledge since stating the challenge.

I know you all have done your part, and I appreciate it! I am still calling on you to go one step further! Everyone who has pledged, find that one other person to reserve their copy! Everyone who hasn't pledged, do it now! I want you all to be excited come release day as I am!

And remember, no money is deducted from your credit card until AFTER the Kickstarter deadline, so there's no need to wait!

And check back tomorrow for a new blog post about collaborating with other creative types!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How I Got Here

Writing a novel sounds like an easy proposition to a lot of people. Generally, they’re people who’ve never written a novel, but that’s beside the point. I confess, I was one of those people a long time ago.

Back in my early twenties, I dreamed of being a famous author. I had read hundreds, maybe even thousands of books by that time. Sci fi, fantasy, horror, crime novels, mysteries, I read it all. My favorites by far were fantasy and sci fi novels. Raymond Feist, Jack Chalker, Peirs Anthony, Anne McCaffrey, David Eddings, Andre Norton, and dozens more.  I could practically quote their books. Their stories rattled around in my head, and I found that I had stories of my own that were struggling to get out.

So I bought myself a little Brother word processor and a copy of the writers’ market annual publication. I had a story in my head that I thought would be incredible. It was all about a man who was raised in a government facility, where he was experimented on until he developed psychic abilities. He would eventually escape, be pursued, find more of his own kind, and they would defeat the evil government agency that wanted to use them as weapons.

Yes, I know.  You’ve heard that story before.  It’s just as well I couldn’t write it.

The problem wasn’t that the story wasn’t fully formed in my mind.  It wasn’t even that I wasn’t interested in it. It was simply that I had no idea how to write a novel.

Eventually, life crept in, the need for a real job, a real paycheck. I also went through some troubling times, but we don’t need to go into all that here. But my writing fell to the wayside, and I almost forgot I’d ever had the dream.

When I started writing the Gatehouse books, I wanted to do it differently. Instead of reading books, I read about writing books.  I researched how successful writers worked. Peirs Anthony was quite a bit of inspiration for me. His Author’s Notes in the back of his books, and his autobiographical works, revealed a lot to me about the world of publishing and writing.

Obviously, I was successful, at least in finishing a novel. I went from having no idea how to write a book, to having successfully completed two novels. And you know what? It really was easy. Not easy in the sense that it didn’t take any effort. Easy in the sense that I enjoyed every moment of the process, and although the work was hard, it was incredibly rewarding. So really, what was different?

Other than the obvious, which is ten more years of life behind me, the main difference was technique. Every writer has a different technique for writing. When I started out, I was trying to just write the story.  No organization, just sit down at the keyboard and start typing. That works for some people, but it doesn’t work for me.

What did work was exhaustive outlining. I sat down with a basic idea, and a scene.  A small scene, and one which is surprisingly still in the book. Using that scene as a starting point, I started writing an outline of the entire novel.  I planned out each major scene, and then planned out the scenes that would connect them. I jotted down very detailed character bios, so that when I was writing dialog and actions for my characters, I would be able to predict them accurately.  I outlined each scene in fairly high detail, and then laid them out into chapters, with notations as to how long each of them would be. Initially, I worked in pages, but later changed to working with word count, as that’s a far better guage.  Once I had the entire novel outlined, I sat down with my outline for chapter one and started turning the notes into prose.  By hand, in pen, in notebooks. About a dozen notebooks, by the time I finished the entire book. I would pause every once in a while, type up what I had written so far, editing and expanding on the fly, and then give the manuscript to my sisters, who acted as my first readers. Step by step, scene by scene, a novel unfolded.

Was it good? First draft, not really. But as I edited, the story became better and better, and yes, by the time I was done, it was good. I’m not tooting my own horn; honestly, I always feel the book could be better. But I go back and re-read it, often, occasionally throwing a little polish and a little editing at it, and yes, it’s a good book.  It’s one I would recommend to a friend, even if I hadn’t written it.

So what’s the point of all this? The moral of the story? Don’t give up.  I gave up for ten years, and when I finally got around to it, I learned that I could have done this all along if I’d only known how.  I’m not saying I’m a great writer. In fact, I’ll be more than satisfied if I sell a few hundred books and get a reputation as a passable writer. But I am saying that, at long last, I am a writer.

My technique might not work for everyone, but there are dozens of writing techniques out there to learn from, and ways to find those techniques. The Internet especially has made this an entirely new world for writers, publishers, and readers. Join a writers’ group. Find writers online and start up conversations. But the most important thing, the most valuable advice, is simply to write, and to not give up. Write every day, even if it’s crap.

Who am I to give advice about writing?  I’m nobody. I’ve had one professional publishing credit in my entire 38 year life. I’m a wannabe.  But I’m someone who loves writing, and believes in it as both an avocation and, for some lucky folk, a career. And I’ve learned a lot about writing in the past five years of trying to get the book published!

Oh, and remember when I said I’d recommend this book, even if I hadn’t written it? Well, I did, but that’s not going to stop me.  Read this book! I really believe you’ll like it! Reserve your copy now at my Kickstarter site!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Self-Publishing vs Micropress

A couple weeks ago, I did a post on my views of traditional publishing compared to both vanity presses and self-publishing. Look back and read it, it’s fairly interesting. But now, I’d like to take it a step further, and throw micropresses into the mix.

My definition of a micropress is somewhere between a small press and self-publishing. Micropresses want to be small presses, but operate on an even smaller scale. Often times, it’s a writers’ group, or a family, or a loose association of collaborators, who get together and publish their own work and occasionally other peoples’, using the same methods as a self-publishing author would use. Some of them, due to the fact that they do accept solicitations and works from outside the group, could be considered small presses. Generally, though, their market penetration is very, very small.

Are there advantages to getting involved with a micropress? Most definitely. In the first place, they probably already have a name established, and can add some legitimacy to your efforts. They generally do provide professional editing. Usually, at least one member of the group is an established professional in the industry. And in some cases, they have made partnerships with other small presses or even larger publishers to help get more visibility.

Are there disadvantages to working with a micropress? Of course. There are disadvantages to every publishing model, even tried and true traditional publishing. One of the disadvantages is that, as with any publishing effort, the micropress is granted certain rights to publication of your work. This might not seem to be a bad thing, and in most cases it’s not.  But what if your work doesn’t sell well through their channels, or they don’t market your work to your satisfaction? What if you’re not happy with the results? With a micropress, you can’t simply pull your work back and go the self-publishing route. They’ve invested their time and in many cases money into your work, and thus have certain rights to it. It’s the same risk you take going with a small press or a large traditional publishing house.

A second thing to consider is, what do you hope to gain from your work? Are you hoping to make much money off your book sales? Are you hoping to get noticed, and possibly picked up by an agent or a larger publisher? With a micropress, the chances of that are slim. An agent won’t be interested, because the micropress already owns current publication rights, meaning that neither you nor the agent can negotiate and sell them to a larger publisher. A larger publisher won’t be interested, because it will put them in partnership with the micropress.

But, are you just wanting to get your work out there, with a publishing credit under your belt? Do you want your work to be in book form, but don’t have the time, skills, or inclination to do all the work yourself preparing it and self-publishing? Do you want the experience of working with industry professionals? In those cases, a micropress might be exactly what you’re looking for.

And that’s another reason one might choose a micropress: for the experience. Working with a micropress will give you the experience of working with a professional editor, working under a deadline, and working with other creative people. These experiences can be invaluable.

A while back, I had an opportunity to work with a publisher that was somewhere between what I would consider a small press and a micropress.  They were partnered with a larger small press for distribution. The experience was excellent. It was my first professional publication, a short story, and it was very well-received. Did I make much money on it? Well, I made enough for a trip to McDonald’s with my son. Would I work with them again? Absolutely. I have a short story in the works right now that I intend to submit to them, if I can ever finish the thing. I have the utmost respect for their work, and I look forward to a chance to have my words in another of their anthologies.

So what’s the verdict? Self-publishing vs Micropress? It depends on what you hope to accomplish. The Gatehouse series is very near and dear to me, and I have certain goals I want to achieve that a small press or micropress would be unlikely to meet. But my short stories, experimental work, or forays into other genres? Absolutely. It’s a great way to work with others in the industry, and get that experience of being published.

By the way, “micropress” is not a term I just pulled out of a hat, it’s an actual term used in the industry. Wikipedia has an entry on small presses that also defines the term “micropress”.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_press#Micro-presses

A New Challenge!

First off, let me announce that the birthday challenge was met and exceeded! So the extra rewards for all the backers at the $25, $50, and $100 levels are now official!  Thanks, everyone, for helping this project to hit its stride!

And now, I'm here to announce a new challenge. So far, I've made a challenge every weekend since I started the Kickstarter project, and every weekend, the challenge has been met and exceeded! So this weekend, it's a simple one. First, I'm challenging everyone who has pledged, or is planning to, to find at least one other person, get them excited about this project, and get them to pledge $10, $18, or $25. Everybody knows someone who would be interested in being involved in a project like this, even if you don't realize it!  An avid reader, a fantasy, sci-fi, or super-hero junkie, or just someone who would be interested in seeing a creative project like this really break out. Get them talking about The Door to Canellin! Get them excited to read it! And get them to use Kickstarter to pre-order their paperback or ebook copy now! The goal is to have ten more $10, $18, or $25 pledges by Monday, March 21st, but this challenge is ongoing! I'd love it if every single person who has pledged can bring in another backer!

And the second part of the challenge... pledge now! I've you've been holding off until the project is closer to the end date, or if you're waiting for that next paycheck, don't! Each pledge moves me further toward the main page of Kickstarter, and gets me noticed. There is no charge to your credit card until after April 8th. So there's no reason to wait, and every reason to jump in there and get your paperback copy ordered!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Birthday challenge is trucking along!

As of today, The Door to Canellin is 98% funded with $1179 of the $1200 goal pledged. That's over $200 pledged in the last three days! Thanks for your support, everyone!

But we're not there yet.  As I mentioned before, $1200 is only part of the real funding needed, and every dime over that will be put back into making The Door to Canellin a successful release. I can fund the rest out of pocket, sure, but the more funding I receive now, the more things I can do toward really making the release something to be proud of. Anything from professional editing and marketing, to being able to get professional reviews in magazines that can be placed on the cover and in marketing materials. Actually being able to do a small print run for local sales and book signings. Commissioning interior illustrations for the chapter headings. These are all things that I would like to do, but hadn't planned to unless the funding really took off.

So as always, tell your friends! Pass the word! Help make The Door to Canellin the best indie book release this year!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Author's Notes

Things were starting to get rough in the fall of 2005, both for me and for my son. I won’t bore you with details, especially since some of the major topics were touched on in the book, which I hope you’ll be reading soon.

If you’ve been following The Door to Canellin for a while, you probably know that the book was originally conceived as a short story for my son, as a way for father and son to bond. I kind of had the vague idea that if I could write something that my son, the avid reader, would enjoy, he might look at me a little differently and maybe be a little more open to taking the lessons I had to teach to heart. But what not everyone knows is that the characters of Ryan and Wes, in the original draft, were actually Eric and Hal… me and my son.

Which leads me to an amusing anecdote. You see, about two weeks after I finished the first draft of The Door to Canellin, I was lucky enough to find representation with a well known literary agency. But one of the first things my agent suggested, and quite strongly, was that I would have trouble getting the book published if the main two characters shared my name, Eric Hal. I was reluctant at first to change the names, though. This was a very personal effort, and changing the names would change the feel of the book for me. But in the end, I decided that possible publication was more important, and that I could share the book with Hal and with my family with the original names. So I used the handy-dandy find and replace feature in MS Word, and found all instances of “Eric” and replaced them with “Ryan”. It worked out fine. So I went ahead and did a find and replace, to replace “Hal” with “Wes”, and then went about my business.  But later, I had several copies printed up, clearly labeled as rough drafts, to give as Christmas gifts to my family.

Whereupon, I got a phone call from my brother, asking me in confusion, “What’s a Great Wesl?”

I had no idea what he was talking about, of course. So he gave me a page number, and I tracked down the reference. And that’s when I realized that you have to be very careful with find and replace. Not only did Collegium Keep have a Great Wesl instead of a Great Hall, there was a scene later in which a guard shouts, “West and identify!”, and other examples throughout the book. Choosing “whole word” when using find and replace is apparently very important.

Of course, that’s been fixed in the final version. It’s been polished and refined, and edited, and if you find any typos or editing errors, let’s hope they’re minimal.

But that’s not the end of that story. When I started writing book 2, The Door to Justice, I had a lot of trouble. I worked on it for over two months, but I couldn’t seem to get anywhere. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  And then I finally made the connection. I didn’t really care about Ryan and Wes all that much! Don’t get me wrong, I can read both books now and I care about the characters, they do draw me in. But when I was writing, Ryan and Wes were just meaningless words on the page. So I went back to my old find and replace. I changed Ryan and Wes back to Eric and Hal. It was miraculous! I got back to writing, and finished the first draft of book 2 in record time.

So there are two lessons to be learned from the name change in my book. Number one, technology is no match for eyeballs. Edit, proofread, and polish by hand, even if you use technology as a handy shortcut. And number two, stay with what feels right, even if it’s something as simple as a character name. It can always be changed later, but if it doesn’t feel right, it won’t be right in the end.

More Gatehouse Samples!

I've posted an update on the Door to Canellin website.  You can now go there to read the prologue from Gatehouse: The Door to Justice, book 2 of the Gatehouse series!  As always, enjoy, and don't forget to pledge at my Kickstarter page to get your pre-release copy, or any of the other great rewards you receive for helping fund The Door to Canellin!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Here we go again!

Okay, friends and neighbors, I'm so close to my funding goal I can taste it! So, much as I did before, I'm starting another push for funding, with a short term goal planned. Only this time, there's something in it for you! Here are the full details.

My birthday is March 16th. Yes, I’m getting old! But for my birthday, you can all get me a great gift. My Kickstarter funding project is less than $260 from reaching the fully funded level! But to truly do everything I need to do in order to make The Door to Canellin a successful release, I really need to SURPASS my funding goal, by a fair margin!  So I’m making a challenge, and offering a reward if this challenge is met. My Kickstarter funding goal for The Door to Canellin is $1200. If the Kickstarter funding reaches $1350 or more before my birthday is over, I will add to the rewards for EVERYONE who has pledged between the $25 and $100 levels between Feb. 20th and April 8th! If the funding reaches $1350 by 11:59pm on March 16th, then everyone who pledged at $25 will receive a signed Door to Canellin marketing poster in addition to their other rewards! Anyone who pledged at $50 will receive a paperback copy of The Door to Canellin, in addition to their hardcover! Everyone who pledged at $100 will receive a signed, laser printed copy of the first 5 rough draft chapters of book 2 of the Gatehouse series, The Door to Justice, as well as a t-shirt with the cover art for The Door to Canellin on the front and “I helped make it happen!” on the back! And as a final bonus, everyone who has pledged at all will receive an invite to the release party (date, time, and location to be determined)! These bonus rewards will ONLY happen if funding reaches $1350 by 11:59pm on March 16th, 2011, so if you’ve already pledged, be sure to tell your friends, neighbors, family, coworkers, and get them as excited about The Door to Canellin as I am!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Traditional Publishing vs Self Publishing vs Vanity Publishing

Okay, I thought I would take a moment away from pushing my Kickstarter fundraising page, and post on a topic that’s been interesting to me since I started this whole journey back in mid 2006: the various methods of publishing your work as a writer.  This is going to be a long post, but it’s a subject I find fascinating even as my own attitudes have changed over the years.

Before I even finished writing The Door to Canellin, I began researching the process of getting published.  I knew the basics. I had been interested before, but had never finished a novel, so back in the mid-90’s, I read a lot of books on the subject and researched markets. But over the years, the publishing landscape had changed drastically. When I first looked into all of this, way back when, there were really only two methods of getting your work in print.  You either went through the arduous project of finding an agent, who would then help you find a publisher, or you went with a vanity press, which is basically a company you pay to print up copies of your work. Printing was extremely expensive, and there were few self-published authors at the time who were able to make a living that way, or even break even.

But fast forward to 2006.  The rise of the Internet, ebooks, and print on demand technology was starting to gradually change the face of the publishing industry. People were able to put their work out there, and even sell their work, for a fraction of the cost, and so self-publishing began to gain a foothold.

That being said, even in 2006, self-publishing was the red headed stepchild of the publishing world. It ranked barely higher than a vanity press in many peoples’ minds.  There were many reasons behind this, not least of which was the rise of companies like PublishAmerica.com, which claimed to be “traditional” publishing houses, but are generally seen as nothing more than vanity presses that will take literally anything you send them and “publish” it, essentially by making it possible for you to buy copies and sell them. Self-publishing still didn’t have a very good reputation. Today, that reputation is starting to change for the better.

So, what’s the difference between traditional publishing, self-publishing and a vanity press? We’ll start with traditional publishing.

In traditional publishing, the writer produces a manuscript and shops it around to either agents or publishers.  Interested publishers read the manuscript (eventually) and respond to the writer with either interest or rejection.  If they’re interested, it moves up the chain within the publishing house until it reaches the acquisitions board, where they make a final determination of whether they want to publish it or not. If they do, they (usually) pay the author an advance against future royalties and agree to a contract granting them rights to print the book.  They then come back to the author with edits and changes they want made, and the author works with several editors to polish the manuscript to exactly what the publisher wants. They design the cover, the book jacket, even the font that will be used inside the book. The publisher foots the bill, prints up the books, and then they’re finally on the shelves of your local bookstore.  This entire process can be expected to take a minimum of two years, and in many cases much longer.  And that, in a nutshell, is the traditional publishing process.

The Door to Canellin has twice made it to the acquisitions board level, once for a major publisher, once for a medium-sized publisher.  Both times, the decision was to pass on publication. Despite that, I’m glad I chose to try that route back in 2006.  The Door to Canellin is a better book for it.

As far as self-publishing and vanity presses go, though, it’s a fine distinction, and really, it’s one that’s subjective to everyone who looks at the topic. And honestly, it’s true that even in self-publishing, you can pretty much put anything out there and call it published.  There’s a lot of dreck in the marketplace.  But there are also a lot of amazing, talented people choosing to put their work out there without the backing of a major publishing house. The way I see it, the difference between self-publishing and vanity presses comes down to who buys the printed book.

A vanity press expects you to handle all marketing, and even purchase the books to sell. Books from vanity presses are rarely if ever available in brick-and-mortar bookstores, even to be ordered from the catalog.  Usually, the only place to buy them is from the vanity press’ own “storefront”, which they probably don’t advertise.  There are usually many up-front costs involved, not all of which really make a lot of sense. It can really be boiled down to two things: the only person likely to buy your book from a vanity press is you, and the only person putting up any money or effort is you. There’s rarely any editing, and most times, the quality of the books that come out of a vanity press is decidedly sub-par in both the writing and the manufacturing. Yes, there are exceptions to every rule, but they're rare.

Self-publishing, on the surface, doesn’t seem a lot different than a vanity press, but the difference is in the methods used, especially for distribution. Yes, there is a cost to the author. TANSTAAFL, after all. But nowadays, an author is able to self-publish his or her book with minimal costs involved, and make it available to millions of people, either through Internet storefronts or ebook format. And the costs of print on demand technology have become so low these days that the per-book cost is almost (but not quite) competitive with the discounts major publishers can get on huge print runs in offset printing. In addition to that, there’s the lower risk with POD printing, because each copy of the book isn’t actually printed unless a customer orders it. And a few POD publishers have even made great strides toward getting your book available at the brick-and-mortar stores.  For instance, if all goes as planned, you should be able to walk up to the counter at Barnes and Noble and ask them to order you a copy of The Door to Canellin.

The self-publishing world has evolved dramatically in the past few years. Authors are now able to take much more control of their work.  And with the rise of Amazon, Barnes and Noble online, the Kindle and Nook, and even the iPad, authors have many more outlets available to them. To be honest, I’m thoroughly enjoying the work that is going into preparing The Door to Canellin to go to print. With a traditional publisher, I would have no say in things like layout and design, cover art, or even the book jacket blurb. But self-publishing is allowing me to control those things. For instance, I had a cover image in mind. I commissioned an artist to draw what I envisioned, and with feedback from me at several steps, I got exactly what I wanted. I also get to lay out the design, commission the logo and title designs, and even write the jacket blurb. Instead of surrendering my manuscript to a huge company that would make all those decisions (and, admittedly, pay all the associated costs), I get to craft my book to be exactly the way I want it.

Do I wish I had been successful going the traditional route? I’d have to cautiously say yes, but ask me again in a year, after The Door to Canellin has been on the market for a while. And while I can honestly say that I would have liked to nail that first publishing contract back in 2006, I can’t say that I am terribly disappointed going the self-publishing route.  So far, it’s been a great ride, and I can’t wait to see how everything turns out!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Final Results of Weekend Kickstarter Push

OK, as you probably know, I set a goal for my Kickstarter project to reach the halfway point in funding ($600) by midnight Sunday night, 3/6/2011.  Drumroll, please.....

As of midnight, my Kickstarter funding total to date was $796!  Just shy of 2/3 funded, and only 14 days in out of 45!

I can't claim all the credit.  Several friends of mine helped to spread the word through their social network sites, which helped immensely. But I also passed around a lot of flyers locally, and spread the word at my local bookstores. Strangely enough, through all this, I expected most of my pledges to come through the $18-$25 levels, but I've got just as many $50 and $100 pledges! I tried to make those reward levels as attractive for prospective backers as I could, and it's gratifying to see that I seem to have succeeded!

So thanks to everyone who helped make this weekend's funding drive a success, and let's keep the funding coming in!  There's still a long way to go to reach my $1200 goal!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My weekend Kickstarter push is going wild!

In the twelve days of Kickstarter leading up to this weekend, I had raised $316 in funding.  I did a big push, got some friends talking on their Facebook about my project, including one who get very excited and starter her own campaign to help me get funded.  I publicly set a goal to reach the halfway funding point ($600) by midnight tonight (Sunday, March 6). It's 4:45pm currently, and my funding level is $561.  And I've been told via Facebook that I have another backer in the works who is just waiting to get to a PC so he can pledge $50 and get himself a limited edition, signed hardcover! Assuming that happens, even if no one else pledges before midnight, then I've met my goal! Twelve days of fundraising to raise $316, and 3 days of a big push to raise $300! Now all I need is the grass roots, word of mouth campaign to keep going after this weekend!

I know I've talked before about how important this funding is, but I'd like to reiterate.  If I don't meet my funding goal, The Door to Canellin will still be published.  But there will be virtually no marketing, and I will have a difficult time trying to get placed on Amazon and Barnes and Noble's e-stores.  In addition to that, without this funding, The Door to Canellin will not be available for order by brick and mortar bookstores for their shelves, or for people who ask at the counter.  Without this Kickstarter funding, it will be a barebones, no-frills release, and probably easily overlooked in the broader marketplace.  What's worse, none of the people who've gotten excited about the project and pledged will receive their backing reward, because none of their funding will happen!  Kickstarter is all or nothing... if the funding goal isn't met, the creator gets nothing and the backers are charged nothing.

But WITH this Kickstarter funding, it's a whole different story! There will be money for quality cover and logo  design, marketing posters, review copies and hopefully some positive reviews to quote on the cover.  There will be money for a couple of small advertisements in local papers as well as book journals.  If the funding exceeds the $1200 goal, there may even be money for a strong, concerted marketing push!  The more money backing the project, the better the final product will be, and the more visible it will be in the marketplace!

So if you're interested in owning a copy of The Door to Canellin, go to my Kickstarter page and make a pledge, reserving your copy now!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Let There Be Light!

I can see!  Somewhat!  A little!
OK, it's exciting to me.  It's kind of like looking through a stained glass window during a rainstorm.  Whatever I'm looking at with my left eye has to be backlit, and I can't read text on the screen with that eye, but it's a start.  It's only been a couple of days, and the blood pooled on my retina is starting to recede, meaning that for now, there's no leaking from the abnormal blood vessels.  Over the next week, theoretically, the blood should dissipate, and my vision should return to almost what it was before all this started!  Even if it's only temporary, this is great news, because it seems to indicate that there is an effective treatment for me that could work over the long term!

Enough about my health issues... I know that anybody who is actually reading this blog is here to find out more about my books.  Well, there hasn't been much progress to report.  The Kickstarter fundraising project is creeping along, picking up $20 here, $50 there, but I'm hoping the pace will pick up soon.  A flurry of positive activity will get me noticed by the folks who run the website, and will also push my project higher up into the "popular" listings, maybe even to the front page of the popular listings.  Main page placement is probably too much to hope for, but with enough activity even that could happen!  And the further up I am in the listings, the more people will see my project, and with any luck, I'll meet my goal well before the funding deadline!

So if you're waiting to pledge, don't! Your credit card will not be charged until after the end of the funding period, April 8th, and the more activity I get, the better my ranking and the more people will notice my work! So if you're planning on buying the book, pledge now and get your pre-order in!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New sample chapter!

I've posted a new sample chapter from The Door to Canellin at the official website!  Check it out, and enjoy!  I'll continue posting excerpts until the end of my Kickstarter fundraising campaign.  I'd love for people to check out the excerpts, and I welcome your comments both here and at the Door to Canellin website!


Also, feel free to friend me on Facebook!  You can find me easily, just do a search for "gatehouseauthor", all one word.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Vision Update

Good news, everyone!
OK, so I was channeling Professor Farnsworth there for a moment.

Anyway, I just returned from my ophthalmologist's visit, where I received an injection of Avastin directly into my eye.  The doctor expects this to work perfectly, clearing the pooled blood from my retina and sealing off the abnormal blood vessels.  It's not a cure, it's a treatment, but some percentage of patients only ever have to be treated once.  I'm hoping I'm in that percentage!

Even better, he believes the lesions on my left eye to not currently be in danger of developing further!  So if the Avastin injection works as expected, I can expect my vision to return to near normal! Normal, considering the area of my retina that has been burned off by the laser surgery, which is invisible to me but impairs my peripheral vision.

Still!  That's great, and I've got my fingers crossed for a positive result!  My vision could be back to around 80% by the time this is all over!