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I decided to turn one of my blog fiction series into a larger story. This is a bit of an experiment in self publishing, to see how the nuts and bolts work. I see 3 major subheadings in publishing, the first being the content. The content is where everyone focuses, which makes sense because it’s a prerequisite for the other two pieces.
Producing a product, physically and/or an ebook was an interesting bit of learning. The kindle direct publishing website seems really well thought out, but there are a whole lot more considerations that I had been expecting. For example, in the ebook my font choices were eliminated. I don’t know why I never noticed, all the fonts are identical in the kindle reader or apps. The ebook side specifically isn’t interested in a PDF, whereas the printed copy seems to require one. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that there was a different mode in the printed copy, where the absolute result of the PDF is reproduced on paper. If you go outside the trim size of the book, then stuff gets chopped off. This means there are other unexpected issues involving word wrapping, page numbers, and alignment with the “gutter”. Probably the most confusing aspect of all this had to do with the arrangement of footnotes. In the e-book they seem to get pushed to the end.
Marketing the product is the last bit. I wrote on Facebook the following post:
My first copies came today! Exciting!
Perhaps you’ll share this, even if the genre isn’t your thing. It’s a brave new world where self publishing means my typos aren’t all caught and perfected by an editor, where a marketing team doesn’t pay for reviews. The catch-22 is that finding things worth reading in an infinite set of books is less valuable than our busy day to day without a known quantity to measure against. This is keenly felt in the publishing world, now more than ever. Each time someone takes a chance on this is something I’m grateful for, even if you hate it. Feel free to leave a review on amazon or goodreads, good or bad!
Aside from that, I made an author account on Goodreads, but I’m not totally sure how that works. Any experiences and advice on how to leverage goodreads are more than welcome.
Amazon Kindle Direct has a button that says “promote and advertise.” What that does is a mystery to me.
I’d love to somehow figure out Ingram Advance, or use Ingram Spark as the avenue to get into that, but I’m not entirely sure how that works. Anyone out there have useful experiences to point to? Somewhat related, I’m not sure how receptive libraries are to being approached by “local” or even quasi-local authors. Hmmm.
I took some artistic risks with this one, partially because I could. I didn’t have to answer to a publisher.
- Instead of scene change stars “***” centered to break things up, I included quoted C-Style comments from famous computer programs. These are going to look possibly very foreign and confusing to most readers. Many of them are from Linux, Bitcoin or drone source code, many are funny, and most relate to the story in some way. They will hopefully lend a lighthearted insight into the life of a programmer, or prove a distracting and confusing element that turns people off. We’ll see.
- I used some vocab. “Truculent.” People attracted to this genre might fancy themselves intellectuals. We’ll see. I tried not to beat anyone over the head with that.
- Modern cultural references sit often unexplained. You can look this shit up, I wasn’t inclined to make an urban dictionary. I felt in many cases that would take away from the pacing. You can safely ignore some of these references, or look them up. Examples include: ASMR, Vintage videogame speedruns, Crossfitters, Star trek, Ender’s Game, CryptoCurrency, Internet Porn, and tech/startup culture.
- Sex. I don’t feel like I could credibly write sex. It gets alluded only where necessary. Certainly I’m not writing an unflinching account of someone’s day to day bodily functions, and this isn’t a sex book. However. I did have a single sentence to point at something and leave a cultural artifact; all in the name of humanizing the main character. He’s not a super hero, he’s just an engineer. It came late enough in the book to hopefully snap people back into reality.
It was also a bit of an internal struggle to decide just how much to “tie up” at the end in the climax. All the foreshadowing and throw away bits converge into an “aha” scene, but I didn’t want to throw in the kitchen sink. It’s a delicate balance, I think.
Consider “Episode 3” of Star Wars, “Revenge of the Sith.” Someone pointed out that in that ship at the end they could have easily had a little boy running around in a vest –
Some guy: “Hey, little han solo, want to come see these two new babies? Aren’t they cute?”
5yo Han Solo: “I’m a rogue, but I’d like to see them. Maybe we’ll be best friends some day! I’ve got a space-toy to show them! Pew pew!”
They could have done this. I bet there was a meeting where they considered it. Can you imagine the riots that would have resulted? My god.
What was the most fun was coming up with something that followed closely with science fact. The places in New York city are real, the problems with drugs are real. The DroneCore lot is empty. The South African Embassy is a real location. Drones really can lift people, and could be useful for emergency fire rescue.
There’s nothing very mysterious about the intel community. There’s people trying to do their best. The FBI is filled with people of all kinds- many of whom drive around with “don’t tread on me” license plates. There are very few bad-guys in my book, and there’s also a potential moral conflict around who the “real” bad or good guys are. I don’t express basically any political views in this book, but I will say that the threat of deadly drugs is not being widely heard, or pursued. We need to forget about Marijuana completely, and do something to stop the kind of drugs that you cannot quit. Also we need to find better ways to deal with addicts of these hard drugs instead of marginalizing them into the arms of people who might kill them.