As therefore it was not impossible to God to create such natures as He pleased, so it is not impossible to Him to change these natures of His own creation into whatever He pleases, and thus spread abroad a multitude of those marvels which are called monsters, portents, prodigies, phenomena, and which if I were minded to cite and record, what end would there be to this work? They say that they are called monsters, because they demonstrate or signify something; portents, because they portend something; and so forth. But let their diviners see how they are either deceived, or even when they do predict true things, it is because they are inspired by spirits, who are intent upon entangling the minds of men (worthy, indeed, of such a fate) in the meshes of a hurtful curiosity, or how they light now and then upon some truth, because they make so many predictions.
Saint Augustine, City of God, Book XXI, Chapter 8
Just a little something from researching next project. PAY NO ATTENTION.
With the announcement that my publisher is running another contest sponsored by The Nerdist, I raise my creaking bones from the sharp-edged divan of Anxiety and Editing to applaud and salute all the new campaigns! More writers, more books, more readers – these are always good things. It’s easy to think of writing as a purely competitive enterprise – especially in a contest framework, but you know what’s great about readers? They don’t want to read just one book – they want to read many books! And bringing more attention to my publisher helps me too – *rubs together hands maniacally* – now more people have a chance to see MY STUPID DORK BOOK FOR DORKS.
But let’s talk about your stupid dork book for dorks. And more importantly about how you can survive the next few weeks of the contest with crying in the bathtub only every other night.
Use your campaign dashboard. Inkshares gives you plenty of easy tools to link up all of your Facebook, Google, etc. contacts and puts them in a handy list called the Reader Pipeline. This is a perfect way to start keeping track of who you have contacted, who’s pre-ordered the book, who you need to beg harder. There are also built-in tools to contact prospective readers and also to THANK people who bought your book.
Get comfortable with asking people for money. Yes, I know. It’s terrible. But you have to do it. All of the easy/passive ways you can ask aren’t going to get you there – i.e. posting on Facebook, or your blog, or Twitter. You are the best salesman of your work – you need to go directly to your friends, family, acquaintances, vague strangers, lemurs and ASK for the pre-order.
Take a long look at your writing schedule. Assume it’s going to get thrown away for most of the contest. It’s a stressful time! You are going to start refreshing the contest page a few times an hour in the last few days of the contest – go ahead and accept that your writer-brain has checked out, and you are pure rodent-lust. It can be extremely demoralizing for writers – as surprise! – writing is what keeps us happy and reasonably emotionally balanced. You need to account for that, and build in some slack in your support network. (see: crying in the tub.)
Get to know the other competitors. Not just follow their campaigns from the shadows — talk to them! 5 winners are going to make it, but there’s nothing saying that even more can hit the overall Inkshares funding goal. The more you share resources, readers, knowledge, and support the easier things will be for all of you. I made several friends during the last contest and I’m very glad that they are still talking to me. One of the winners of the last contest is putting another book up – JF Dubeau – he would be a great resource to you for help and ideas.
Noblesse oblige. No doubt, tensions are going to run high as the contest heats up – it pays to remember that you all have the same goal, the same dream. Go out of your way to play fair, to help out the other campaigns. We’re all a bunch of small-timers trying to take the leap into a bigger arena. Even if you win, you can still stumble. Nerds must be held to a higher moral code – we are all taught by the finest stories and the greatest heroes.
Updates. When you send out updates to your backers – remember that they are your allies, your friends and boon companions that want to help you make your dream come true. They are not your servants or conscripts. Ask them to help you, give them clear instructions of things they can do to aid the campaign – but don’t forget to entertain them! Show them exclusive parts of the book, concept art, videos, terrible pictures of yourself. Don’t just send out endless ‘GET MO PREORDERS’ updates – if you cause your core audience to tune you out, that’s hard to come back from!
Cry in the shower. There are going to come moments when you will wonder why you jumped into this thing. We make stuff, we write stuff – it’s a learned skill to put your work out there in the world where anyone can bang on it, or worse ignore it. This contest is 6 weeks of permanent vulnerability – it will be hard. And it’s okay to feel bad. Here’s another post I wrote all about the emotional damage of self-promotion.
It is okay to ask people for money. I’m saying this twice, because it goes against the grain for so many people. My day job is sales, so I have a much thicker skin about it – but even I get squirmy when it’s for my nerd poems. People want to help you – don’t feel like you have to make them read your excerpt, or explain the whole book to them. Don’t sell the book – sell YOU. Look in their eyes and ask for ten dollars. This contest is purely based on unique readers – not preorder count, so you don’t have to stress about getting multiple books out of people. Just ask – I promise that it is okay.
Take breaks. Seriously – as much as you can, especially those last two weeks. You are going to become an internet-octopus, dripping your tentacles across all platforms looking for information and preorders and mentions and ideas and any glimmer of aid that can come to your campaign. Go on walks. Play video games. Write if you can. There will come moments where you will stare at the contest page and try to WILL the numbers to go up – these are normal, but get your support network to pull you away from it as much as they can.
Contact Inkshares with questions or concerns. Some weird stuff happened last contest. A glitch with some referral credit, things not appearing properly on campaign pages, etc. Everyone at Inkshares was always quick to respond, eager to fix the problem, and as transparent as they could be about the source of the problem and the solution. They want to get it right and they work hard to do so – it’s why I’m quite glad to have them as my publisher. (HEARTS 4 INKS)
Cry in the shower.
Your book is not on trial. There are a lot of moving parts to this contest. People are going to pre-order your book because it sounds awesome. Or because you asked them. Or because they liked the cover. Or, or or…if you find yourself slipping down the ranks, it DOES NOT MEAN your book is bad. Maybe the other books are doing a better job of pestering people, or they have a bigger family, or, or or. Do not start beating up your book and blaming it for not being shiny enough. Unless your book is into that and has given clear, vigorous consent.
You can do it. By that I mean – you can get your book out into the world. This contest, the next contest, regular funding through Inkshares, Kickstarter, self-publishing, finding an agent, printing it out on copy paper and hiding it in Waffle House bathrooms — you can do it.
Enough blathering from me! Good fortune and good campaigning. If you have questions about anything, drop a comment below or look me up on Twitter – @gderekadams.
I’m a little muddled honestly. I think it’s a stronger book than my last, but I don’t have the same feeling of certainty after the first read. Maybe because this book has a LOT more moving parts? I feel like it all works, the baseline mechanics of it all, and some scenes really shine, and the end really surprised me? It makes me deeply happy, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t what I expected it to be.
I think it may just be a matter of form. Riddle Box was a murder mystery and that structure is a joy to inhabit — AMOD follows a three-act structure with a meta-narrative frame and all sorts of weird hyper-narrative threads that shoot off all sorts of places. I like them! I want them to be there! But I guess it’s hard to quite feel it all settle in my head quite yet. RB was a dark lance to the heart, AMOD is this strange spinning wind chime that looks different from every angle.
I’m also serving a lot of masters in this book – something that is giving me no undue amount of anxiety-knives in my spleen. As always, the book must deliver on its own merits – one episodic adventure served a la carte. But, I also want readers who’ve followed me from the first two books to find the threads and rewards there for them – BUT BUT this is a bigger debut for a larger audience with my new publisher, so I don’t want new readers to feel unwelcome or confused, I also need to introduce the world and my entire ethos in an exciting and palatable fashion, ALSO I need to set up some secrets and foreshadowing for things that will happen in later adventures ALSO ALSO AS WELL AS just frankly deliver on the fun of the premise.
I won’t say that this draft has succeeded on all of these fronts. I will say that it is in the process of getting there.
The frame story really lands for me – not sure how betas and editor will feel, but I think it will be especially nice for readers of RB and still work thematically for new readers.
First act really cooks along – lots of fun, strong starts, distinct voice for each section. May also just be because it’s been the longest since I wrote this section, but I enjoyed first act the most.
Xenon is the best. Suck it, all you old characters. You bore me.
First Act feels a lot like Spell/Sword in the Jonas & Rime chapters – wacky battles and teen angst.
Second act feels lumpy. There’s a chapter that straight SUCKS. Just halting, charmless, and bad. All connective gristle. Lots of re-writing here and the whole second act – this is where the reader gets to spend time in Gilead, and I don’t want that to be wasted.
Third Act we’re back to ACTION, ticking clock, asteroid falling, all that – the mechanics and emotion all land fairly well, need to work through the rise and fall of some of the action sequences. There’s a sequence i’m calling ‘Rime Goes Boom’ that I need to muse over and play with, going to need feedback on that one to get it to sing properly.
Denouement makes me grin like a huge nerd, its the anime ending – I can already feel the wind of the next adventure blowing and it’s exciting and makes me happy, especially because the plan is to leave Aufero to its own devices for a while after AMOD.
So, a complicated reaction. Lots of work to be done. God I’m glad I’m not doing it alone.
If you aren’t already – follow the book’s progress on my Inkshares page – where you can BUY IT if you’d like, or just malinger in the shadows and watch it change and grow and get better and better until its too hot for you, just way the fuck out of your league.
“Aragorn!” I screamed as I ran up the steps of our porch, feet pounding up to our front door. “Aragorn!!!! It happened! It. HAS. HAPPENED.”
I slammed the door behind me, remembering to throw the bolt – it doesn’t shut properly if you don’t throw the bolt, and when Train rumbles by the door can pop open — allowing the Dogs to wreak a very limited havoc on the neighborhood. My words echoed in the house and then fell quiet. My Beloved and the dogs were out on a walk and the black and white cat was in the backyard absorbing solar radiation. It should just be me and Aragorn in the house. Is he asleep? I think I yelled pretty loud. I prepared to venture further, to face the lion in his lair, when at last his magnificent orange frame sauntered into view.
“Oh, hey. Hey, Aragorn. Were…were you asleep? I mean, I can tell you about this later, if you were, you know, asleep.”
The orange tail lashed and he said nothing.
“Okay, I was just very excited because I’ve got my first publishing deal and I wanted to tell you about it.”
Aragorn blinked, then slowly uncoiled himself, heading back for his favorite nap spot.
“No! It’s a really cool thing! I won a contest and now I’m getting published by Inkshares and I’m going to be on Sword & Laser and –”
The orange cat stopped and looked back over his shoulder with disgust. “There’s no way you’re going to let me go back to sleep until you tell me about this, is there?”
I bounced on one foot, vibrating with pent up excitement. Aragorn sighed and curled back up in a nearby sunbeam. He flicked his whispers in a way that signified if not submission then at least grudging consent. I sat down next to him with my legs crossed. We sat together, him in the sun, me respectfully folding my hands and preparing my tale.
Aragorn opened one eye. “Did you fall asleep?”
“Snrrr..no! It’s just been a relentless couple of months okay, I was just taking a brain-pause.”
The orange cat closed his eye.
“Inkshares is a publisher, an honest to god book publisher – but they’re trying to do something different. They crowdfund books – a little like Kickstarter, but with a guaranteed product. If you can convince 1000 people that you have a cool idea for a book, they will publish that book. Professional editor, professional marketing, professional cover design, the works – and it’ll be in bookstores. For real. Like I don’t have to personally deliver them myself and sweet-talk the staff. I heard about them a few months ago when Sword & Laser interviewed Gary Whitta.” I jabbered. “I had already been poking around the site – kicking the tires as it were – trying to decide if it would be a good fit for me and my next book. But then, out of nowhere they announce this contest.”
“Contest?” the cat didn’t quite sneer.
“A contest sponsored by Sword & Laser! It started in April and ran through the end of May. The top five fantasy and science fiction campaigns on the site with the highest pre-order counts would all be published – even if they didn’t hit the 1000 book goal. I thought about it for ten whole minutes before I jumped in. It was just too good of an opportunity to pass up. It was too many coincidences! I had never even heard of Inkshares until the podcast, and now the podcast was running a fricking contest for fantasy novels and I WRITE FANTASY NOVELS. I had already setup a ‘dummy’ campaign with very basic information – in a frantic hour or two I field-dressed it and set it to launch.”
“What’s the book called?”
“Uh. I mean. I think we’ve agreed to disagree before about my style, so –”
Aragorn arched his back and hissed at me. I held up both hands, hoping to placate him. “Yes, yes – I know. But you see, I won. I won Aragorn. It took a lot of amazing people helping me out and Inkshares amending the contest rules right at the end to factor in unique readers as well as pre-order totals. But I’m getting a book published. It is happening. It’s happening, Aragorn!”
The cat lowered his spine and plopped back on the floor – or at least the most graceful version of a ‘plop’ that can exist. I kept going, hoping he wouldn’t mind the excited spittle flying across the room.
“And on top of that I get to be in the Sword & Laser Collection. I get to be interviewed on the podcast. It’s come full circle or something. I also have to write a whole hell of a lot in the couple of months to get the manuscript done and I think I may have some sort of anxiety-related tic forming in my left eye – but I get to see my work in hardback. I…I…I…”
Aragorn stretched with boredom. “You realize this is only interesting to you? It’s nice that you tricked a bunch of friend and strangers into helping you, but I fail to see what this could possibly mean for me?”
Cats ruin everything. “I mean, we’ve just talked so much about the other books, i thought you’d be excited.”
“Okay – okay, I get it,” I got up from the floor and skulked away.