As of yesterday, it has been one year since I self-published my first book, Inertia.
I will be the first to admit that I went into publishing all wrong. I had no idea what it was about. A friend told me “you should do this” so I commissioned cover art, hired an editor, and did it. I knew nothing about the finer points of self-publishing or book marketing or the genre. I was fortunate in that one of the first contacts I made when I found out that offering copies for review was the thing to do was Cryselle, who runs her own review blog and also reviews for Jessewave and a few other sites. She was absolutely lovely and sort of took me in-hand and nudged me in the right direction.
Amusing anecdote time:
I was advised to self-publish by a friend in gaming fandom, whom we’ll call D.R. Her words were basically, “what you write is as good as any other the other stuff I’ve been reading in this genre, so you should go for it!” So I went for it. And because of that, I met Cryselle, who told me I should introduce myself to P.D. Singer, which I did. Pam was totally delightful and hugely helpful, and she told me to introduce myself to Angela Benedetti, who is also wonderful.
Then one night on Gchat, Angie and I were getting to know each other and she mentioned some fanfic pairings she read, one of which was somewhat unique, so I said, “hey, I know someone who writes that!” And she said, “You know T?” And I said, “No, but I know her wife” at which point Angie was all “Oh, you know D.R.!”
So. Apparently it is, indeed, a small world after all.
After releasing Inertia, which did, I admit, end on a rather abrupt note, a fact which has been pointed out many, many times, there was a lot of furor for Book Two. Unfortunately, my editor had quite a backlog, though, so I wasn’t able to release Acceleration until the end of November. As an author, I felt like Acceleration was a much more solid book, and both my editor and the reviewers seemed to agree with that assessment.
Luckily, by that point I was starting to get into a pretty smooth production groove. I knew Acceleration would be coming out in late November, so the last minute push there was going to each into NaNoWriMo. So I time-shifted my personal NaNoWriMo and began working on October 13, giving myself 30 days (until November 12) to write 50,000 words on Book Three, Velocity. I finished on November 4, scheduled editing for January, and planned the release for March. The entire process went incredibly smoothly.
In the meantime, I was also working on other projects. In August after I finished writing Acceleration, I wrote an 8K short based on nothing more than a mention I had seen on Twitter that there needed to be some m/m Highland romance. I really wasn’t happy with the result, though, so I shelved the short and began working on Strain.
Strain was an interesting endeavor, because it was written in response to Riptide’s At World’s End open call. Submission deadline was Nov 1, and I didn’t discover the call and realize I had a story idea for it until August 31, which meant I had two months to write and polish a novel for submission.
I finished writing Strain on September 28, and submitted it on October 10. It came in at ~65K. In 29 days. I thought that was pretty spiffy.
In mid-December, I heard back on the Strain submission and the manuscript wasn’t quite there yet, so the lovely Sarah Frantz gave me some revision suggestions and brainstormed with me and from the last week of December to mid-January, Strain went from 65K to 103K and I resubmitted it. In December, Leta Blake also did a beta read of the Highland story and gave me some suggestions (and also reassured me that a lot of my problem with it was my inner critic being too harsh) and that story went from 8K to 13.5K and I submitted it to Riptide as well in mid-January. Then I got my edits back from my editor on Velocity, turned those around, and began sending out review copies.
Then my brain got eaten by
zombies a story. It started in the car on the way to pick up lunch for my son and I one afternoon. A single line of dialogue. That was it. Just one completely out of context line that I knew I had to write. So I began building the world and plot around that line. It was easy, because the character who spoke that line was the most amazing, clear, intensely vivid character to ever give birth to himself in my mind. And he did. I claim no responsibility for creating Topher. He created himself, walked up to me, whispered that line in my ear, and demanded I write about him. And his voice! Oh, God, his voice. Clarion-clear from beginning to end.
I actually deviated from my refusal not to write out-of-sequence working on Topher’s story, because scenes were composing themselves in my head so clearly and loudly I had to get them out to make room for other things. Honestly, I don’t know how to begin describing the experience of writing Saugatuck Summer. It was magic. I knew as I was writing it that it was the best thing I had ever written, and quite possibly would ever write. I completed writing the entire 93K novel in 15 days, edited, polished, and submitted it. I actually waffled on whether or not to submit it or self-publish. I knew I could turn it around a lot faster if I self-pubbed, and I really, really wanted to get it into the hands of the public because it’s just such an amazing story. But I knew going through Riptide, it would reach a much broader audience and have a lot more marketing support, and it’s a book that really deserves that sort of backing.
Velocity released in March, and I began working up another story in the Saugatuck universe and conceptualizing a couple more novels. I received an acceptance for the Highland story, which was then expanded from 13.5K to over 20K and became The Laird’s Forbidden Lover, and Heidi Belleau surprised me with an invitation to write a novelette to fill a void in the Riptide schedule, which became Giving an Inch (The Professor’s Rule #1). We quickly completed TPR#2, An Inch at a Time, which is currently awaiting edits and is, for my money, better than the first. We have TPR#3 mostly written. All it’s awaiting for is an audience participation element that will take place when TPR#2 is published.
Giving an Inch was published in April, and The Laird’s Forbidden Lover was published in early May. During April, May, and June I worked on the second book in the Saugatuck universe, and also began a new and somewhat different project: a murder mystery, an honest-to-God whodunnit, which is called Third Wave. I’d say it’s about 2/3 complete in its first draft, but it definitely needs some work. I also am now working on a third book in the Saugatuck universe and I have a few other projects just beginning.
I admit, I’m hitting a bit of a slump at the moment. I’m trying not to stress out over it, because I know I’ve been plenty productive, but I’m one of those perfectionist people who feels utterly useless if they’re not actively working on something, so this not writing thing is grating on me. But between drafting, revisions and edits, I’ve written almost 500K so far in 2013 (closer to 700K if you go back a full year to when Inertia was first published), and I’ve gotten contracts on both Strain (coming January 2014) and Saugatuck Summer (coming May 2014). I’m not sure I’m going to meet my goal of writing a million words in 2013, but I can’t say I haven’t kicked some serious writing ass the last 12 months.
When I get back into the groove, I’ll be working on Third Wave and Risk Aware, which is the other Saugatuck story I have completed, but which needs some pretty extensive revision.
So, that’s my first year in publishing. Not bad, if I do say so myself. Can’t wait to see what the next year brings.