Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year in Review!

Happy New Year!
Like everyone else recovering from the previous night’s overindulgences and with nothing better to do, I’ll provide my predictions for the new year. But first, like any proper businessman, I should give my report for the previous year.

2013: The Year in Review
A lot of bad things happened in 2013, many publicly and in the news. Some things privately and personally to me. For that reason, I am happy to put 2013 in the ground and behind me. The revelation of a heart condition confirmed what I had suspected for years and explained why I can’t go mountain climbing anymore.
I bet the farm writing Nobody. When I started the process, I knew I was going to completely go through my life savings until sales on the book would pick up enough to return my investment. My business plan was to have at least one year’s worth of savings left over at the moment I released Nobody. That would give me a year to continue paying the bills and assessing the success of Nobody, as well as giving me time to find any kind of work should the book fail.
Sadly, events in 2011 and 2012 put me so far behind, that Nobody was released one and a half years after my deadline. I managed to adjust my budget and scrape together just enough money to stretch things out a little longer, but at the end of 2013, I find myself completely penniless.
Sales on Nobody were steady, but fell short of where I hoped they would be at the end of the year, by 70%. Not good. What did sell was enough to help extend my budget just past the end of the year, which was good. (If anyone knows someone who can donate $50,000 to help support a struggling writer for a year, I’d really appreciate a call about now…)
The GOOD things that happened in 2013 were very good.
I was finally able to step down from my responsibilities as chair of a non-profit organization which I had led for two years—one of the key reasons I was so far behind on getting Nobody released. In the following four months, I was able to get more done than in the previous two years combined.
My nephew and his wife brought a son into the world began a new generation in our family. A very calm little guy who likes to watch everything and everyone around him. Except when the fuel tank is on empty and he needs some inflight refueling. My sister is absolutely infatuated with her new grandson and can’t wait to spoil him rotten. I, as a Grand Uncle, stand ready to ply him with strange and mysterious gifts from far off places as he grows that will challenge his mind and be a lot of fun to play with. Also, to show him where the dinosaurs roamed and one can still walk in their footsteps.
I finally released Aggadeh Chronicles Book 1: Nobody. Years of work came to fruition. The dream of a lifetime brought to life: I can at last call myself an author.
Sales of Nobody started off at a good clip, but petered out sooner than I expected. Still, the numbers were better than most books by other self-published authors whose books went on to be successes.
The reviews coming in were excellent! Many readers contacted me and said they couldn’t put it down once they started reading it; all wanting to know when the second book would be out. One of the best came from a  friend who decided to buy and read my book out of obligation as a friend. He held out as long as possible, dreading facing me if he didn’t like it, only to discover he really enjoyed it! As he wasn’t alone in that sentiment, I do tell my friends not to worry if they didn’t like it. Not every story is going to be to everyone’s taste. The positive remarks coming in do a huge amount in buoying me through the rough times and spur me on.
I do see a bright future for Aggadeh Chronicles. I’m just hoping I can get that future to arrive earlier than later so I can keep on doing this. (Hey! Someone give Oprah a call and tell her to read Nobody!)
As I was able to finally shrug off the distractions and interruptions through the year, I found that my writing accelerated and I was able to get more done than ever before. I was able to get more done in the months from spring to summer and get Nobody out the door. I am not a multitasker by any means. I focus best on doing one thing and one thing only. Give me more than one responsibility, and both are going to suffer proportionately. With no more distractions and interruptions, my writing has reached a average of about 1,500 words per day. I am still ramping up that number bit by bit. And this brings us to…

2014 Predictions:

  • Scientists will discover that gravity is an emergent phenomenon and how to circumvent it. Jet packs and flying cars for everyone! Asteroid mining will be the next boom industry and space colonies will begin construction around Jupiter next year.
  • A comet will pass between the Earth and the Moon, creating a meteor storm of such grandeur and beauty that songs, poems, images and stories will persist for centuries. As the Earth passes through the dust stream each year, the annual meteor shower will become a religious holiday for many to celebrate the beauty of the cosmos as the skies stream with light. During the  initial pass of the comet, a cybernetic machine named Gen’Ometry Dulgud will fall to Earth, claiming that it initially seeded the Earth with DNA 4.5 billion years ago in an experiment to prove that [cybernetic] life sprang from the organic ooze that inevitably formed on most planets. Its experiment being proven a success as primitive life (space probes) began to migrate from the Earth, it decided to come and introduce itself to its children.
  • Aggadeh Chronicles Book 2: Dragon will be released to the delight of readers and fans at the end of the 2014 summer.
  • Sasquatches will be proven to exist, thereby putting out of business all those TV shows and quasi-scientific groups that claim to be trying to prove that bigfoot exists but don’t really want to because they make their money on the hype instead of actual research.
  • Conservatives will elect a sasquatch to Congress in 2014. (Some insist that has already happened. Considering the poor education and appalling intellectual level of many Congressional members, there is some credence to this theory.)
  • That sasquatch will resign from Congress in 2015 dashing Conservative hopes for a Presidential bid in 2016, complaining about the poor education and appalling intellectual level found on the Senate floor, and the bad smells.
Only one of these predictions will come true. Care to guess which?
On a more serious note about predictions, I’m willing to bet that 2014 will show the rise of the independent editor.
Independent writers seem all the rage right now, but even the best story can be rendered unreadable by poor editing. I am always saying, you don’t write a book, you refine a book. The person who is key to this process is the editor. I am seeing more and more evidence over the past couple of years of editors going out on their own and set up shop.
Writers need editors.
I think independent editors will have more of an impact on the business of publishing than independent writers, mainly because professional-grade editing is one of the key services that a publisher can offer to a writer as a perk to turn away from self-publishing.
I should say to any and all writers who are turning to freelance editors for editing support, you should list the contact information of those editors you work with. The more we can support and promote excellent editors, the more talented people will become available when they see this is a viable route for going into business for themselves.
A friend of mine is considering going this route herself for supplemental/primary income. I’ve relied very heavily on her expertise to hammer my own writing into acceptable form for readers. I’ll be creating a page on my website to support those professionals whose services I use, and her name will be there when she’s ready to hang out her shingle.
I believe that the publishing industry is at the early stages of a long and slow shakedown period that will redefine how book publishing is done. Already, the old stigma of being self-published is disappearing. More and more, self-published authors are becoming both a force to be reckoned with. Self-published authors are becoming a resource for publishers looking for new talent.
It only makes sense that with the rise of independent writers that a service industry to support that trend should also start to develop. How well these new industries do depends on how well the independent authors do for themselves.
So my prediction is that during 2014, we’ll start to see development a service industry to support self-publishing writers. Though, it’ll be years before we can determine if it will just be a fad or an actual industry trend.

In the meantime, buy my book!