In the interest of this time-limited experiment, a lot of things I could have done weren’t done. A lot of times, that’s the only way you finish a project, though. If this was a fast-paced engineering project I was managing, there would be a hard deadline, a soft deadline and a lot of things that got tossed by the wayside when they were determined to not be high enough priority. That’s just how shit gets done. So often, though, when it comes to our own projects, we get too distracted with the building, the dreaming, or the details, that the finished product is never realized. You have to ask yourself — if you never bring the thing into the world, what’s the point in working so hard at making in perfect? The pursuit of perfection can be your enemy.
Now, I’m not a proponent for sloppy or shoddy work, but sometimes there is minimum yield for high-effort activities. Those are the necessary things to cut, even if it’s hard. Here are some of the things I had to sigh and force myself to let go of.
My normal editor-type editor fell ill and so I did not have another human to give punctuation/spelling/sentence structure guidance. So, Grammarly became my editor for those things. Grammarly sent me an email to tell me my writing was 97% better on its own than its other users. To me, this means only 3% of the population that give a shit about grammar will see things that bother them. I like those odds.
My editors for other things weren’t given enough time to finish their critiques before I had to finish my editing phase. They each pointed out some glaringly bad things, which were corrected, though. I’m sure there are a lot more points they could have helped me perfect, but I’m too ill and broke and homeless to carve out that much time.
The ebook cover got to passable status, and then I forced myself to stop working on it. My time spent was 1% thinking up what should go on the cover, 2% looking at other examples of bestseller covers, 2% digging up images to play with and 95% dicking with fonts. I mentioned in an earlier update that Manga Studio should be more than capable of producing the art I need. I was wrong – its lettering options kinda suck. Here’s where I probably would have ultimately stopped if left to my own devices:
Then, out of the blue, my dear friend, Dave Egly offered to check out the art I was dicking with. Then, he ended up creating multiple covers from scratch under a super tight deadline. So Mr. Egly was, in the end, my ebook cover artist! Dave is the best. Here is the wonderfully-lettered alternative he sprinkled his magic on:
By the way, the background photo used was one I took in Rathdrum, in Co. Wicklow, Ireland. That makes it extra special to me and gives me warm fuzzies even if no one else likes it.
In the wee hours this morning, I threw the Word file up on Amazon with the biggest Mothra-type butterflies in my stomach that you can imagine. I was (and still am) uncharacteristically nervous. Being nervous about anything is such a strange and unfamiliar feeling these days. Still haven’t puked, though. Winning!
Lucky for me, I only had to upload it again 2 more times to fix formatting errors. The publishing date was set for February 27th and I enabled pre-orders to begin immediately. Amazon told me it could take up to 72 hours for the pre-order thing to launch. It took more like 2 hours, and it’s available for pre-sale right now!
I set the initial price at $0.99, so if you’re interested, buy it now before I jack that thing up. I intend to price test after it launches. Click the link below to order on Amazon — as with so many things, there is no more perfect time than now!
In Update 3 of this self-publishing adventure, it’s time to tell you whether I made my own first deadline. February 14th was the day I would switch from one housesitting gig to another and I wanted the first draft finished by then. Well, in the wee hours of February 13th, I plowed through the ending to the novella. Hooray!
It would take me a couple days to actually read that part and figure out if it was worth a damn, though. The move to the new apartment, plus the responsibilities of walking a strong and an often-spooked golden retriever puppy in Manhattan were a lot for me to handle physically. I was pretty much useless aside from my dootie-scooping duties for a while.
As a result, it took longer than I hoped to do content editing before handing things over to Rebecca Sutton for other types of editing. That might make my ultimate release deadline next week really tough.
In other news, I am enjoying the hell out of my crash pad/office this week. (See main photo.) It puts every cubicle to which I’ve ever been subjected to sad, shameful shame . . . mostly because I can adjust the heat to a reasonable room temperature.
If you’re thinking of doing your own publishing, the following fine details about my progress may interest you.
ISBN Purchase: Fuck that. I was considering buying one, but then saw that I would need a new one for each format (e.g., ebook, hardcover, paperback,) and knowing the ISBN for an ebook probably wouldn’t help a reader do anything. It seems to be mainly useless and I am broke, so I’m skipping that step.
Grammarly Premium Subscription being seriously contemplated. Since I can’t afford a premium “I-do-this-for-a-living” editor person, and my human editor is also currently under the weather, I’ll probably pony up the $30 for a month’s worth. So far, I’ve just used the free version of Grammarly, and it’s been helpful. The free version doesn’t tell you all those finicky little fuck-ups, though. Then again, $30 is like 86 book sales. And, it would be the only part of the process I’ve had to spend money on so far. UGH.
Ebook Cover: do it myself? I know for a fact the quality of cover art directly relates to sales numbers. This was one of the things I considered paying for while I winced and groaned in my soul. Then, I thought, “well I should at least try to create a cover and see how shit it turns out.” I finished it today, and . . . hey, I’ve seen a Lot Worse on best-sellers! So, I’m going with the one I made; it looks good enough not to deter potential readers, and that’s good enough for now.
Presales Plans: still a go so far. Kindle’s presales rules were previously a lot harder to work with: you needed your perfected manuscript uploaded at least 10 days before your book was released for reading. That would have meant it would be damn near impossible to both do presales and release this month. However, now it’s only 72 hours or 3 days you need to have the polished copy uploaded to Amazon’s KDP. I’m hoping to start presales this week and release February 27th. Which in turn means I need to have my shit completely together by Thursday, February 23rd. That’s tight. That’s really tight. I’m gonna aim for it nonetheless.
Hopefully, in my next post, I’ll have links for you to check out the presale! Now, if you’ll excuse me, there is a puppy I have to put to bed.
(Like, actually “put to bed”. I’m not killing the dog, FFS. Why would you think that?)
Since my last post 4 days ago, in which I announced I’m giving self-publishing a novella a shot, a lot of progressed was made!
First off, the Capital One Spark Business checking account I applied to was somehow approved — even though I’m still waiting for the EIN (Tax ID) physical paperwork from the IRS in the snail mails. I’m shocked. However, I wasn’t worried that there would be anything wrong with my EIN – I applied for it almost 6 years ago, and it never expires. I thought there might be a credit check, though, like with the last time I applied for a business checking account, but there was none. That was the part that had me on edge, not having held a job for a year and a half…
But I haz business checking account now! Yea! And it’s free — no monthly fees, and no minimum amount you need in the account to keep it open. I still opted to link it up with my personal credit union checking account and transfer in $20. This was more — I dunno, superstition I suppose. I felt like to leave it at zero would be bad luck like gifting someone a wallet or purse without a coin or bill inside. So now I got a seed note in there, waiting to blossom.
After the checking account was up and running, I went into my business Amazon account — also something I started 6 years ago, and updated that. I signed my business Amazon account up with KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and again verified my EIN. Somehow, it took longer to complete the EIN verification paperwork on KDP than it did for a bank account. Ha! That’s all up and running now, too. So, all I have to do is finish writing and publishing that novella.
And yeah, what about the most important part, Erin? What about writing the damn thing?
I’ve made progress there, too! 5 days ago, I reached 13,500 words. I had to skip a writing day since then to spend it entirely thinking through some technical issues with the plot. My technical editor helped me work through a bunch of ideas, and the next day, I was ready to write again. Last night, I got to just under 22,000 words. I’m officially at novella length!
There are a few more chapters to go to finish the thing. Afterward, I need to go back and add some more spoon-fed clarifications. My technical editor also informed me that a part of the story evoked THE EXACT OPPOSITE THING it was supposed to in the reader. And it’s not a little thing. It’s a big, glaring, oh shit, that can’t be allowed to be interpreted that way thing. It has to do with the entire reason I came up with the story in the first place. This book isn’t just something I’m slapping together to try to make some money; the topic is deeply important to me.
I was disheartened to hear that readers wouldn’t be able to draw the big picture conclusions on their own. I hoped I wouldn’t need to spell everything out — I thought that might make things obnoxious for the reader. Yet, considering the ironic spin frenzied readers of Orwell’s 1984 are putting on the book today, and considering that hearing George Orwell rolling in his grave keeps me awake at night, I decided it’s better to be 6 times more obvious and transparent in my meaning. I’m really, really glad my technical editor let me know.
My first rough draft/manuscript deadline was February 14th, because I’m moving to a new house sit that day. However, considering I won’t be able to write that day, my deadline really needs to be February 13th…or earlier. Assuming I can figure out exactly how I want the end of the story to go, I should be on target to meet that.
I started playing around with ebook cover sketch ideas, too, last night. I was on the fence about whether to hire someone, and there is one artist I met in particular here in New York City who I think would be amazing for the style I’d like… but I’m leaning toward doing the art myself, mostly because I’m flat broke. I already have Clip Studio (Manga Studio), which is more than capable of producing what I need, although I’m only half comfortable with digital drawing still. On the other hand, a black, virtual reality forest full of knobby, naked trees features prominently in the book, and there is this great view I got from this apartment… Hmmm…
Well, I guess I’ll just see what I come up with, and decide how shitty it is later! See you next time for Update 3.
As of this moment, as I type from my cat-sitting assignment in New York City, I am indeed still alive! Although, in spite of many opportunities for doctors to figure out what’s wrong with me, they’re still clueless. Once I have a dx, I’m pretty sure I can suss out a way to get myself to kick-ass status again in a physical way. But maybe not. All I know for sure is: I’m out of money, I’m still too weak to work, but I have 2 more weeks in which I don’t need to worry about finding a place to sleep or how to pay the minimums on my credit cards and student loans. This, my dear friends, is a last shot opportunity.
I hear you say:
“But haven’t all your efforts been last-ditch ones?”
Over the past year and a half, I’ve tested out several different ways to add value to the world, and put a roof over my head and money in my pocket. I’ve gotten really damn good at the finding ways to provide myself shelter part. And no, none of them involved shacking up. (Shame on you!) The money thing has been trickier. Even commuting to do office work twice a week proved to be more exertion than my body could take. As a result, I continually find myself scraping the bottom of my bank account. There were times when checking my bank balances made me physically nauseous.
When I arrived in New York City in November, with a couple house sitting assignments booked, there were long gaps in the calendar where I had no idea where I would be sleeping. I also didn’t have enough cash to cover my bare minimum expenses for the time I promised to be in the city. So, I agreed to give God freak-out free time through the end of December. I made a commitment to have faith in Him, and squelch any bank statement nausea at the first hints. But come January 1st, 2017, I was giving myself permission to fully freak the fuck out.
More house sitting assignments magically popped up to fill the longer gaps in my accommodations. The smaller gaps in between were saved by the couches of my very kind and very generous friends in the area. You guys are the best.
I found ins talking with business owners and tried working with them to find ways to add value to their companies. Most of them were men who turned out to only want to talk at a mildly attractive female and not actually work out any glaring snags she brought to their attention. They completely wasted my time. I’ve marked and underlined this fact in my mental notes. One of them was a woman, and I was able to work well with her. I did add value to her amazing business, but after the trial run, I didn’t bring her in enough extra revenue to justify the earnings I would need. Bills continued rolling in, and waves of nausea continued rolling up from the bit of my pit of my stomach, but I consciously stopped them the second they started. The flame, that fear, was instantly and habitually doused. I learned to snap back at the inner whines with, “you think God can’t handle this? This is no big deal. He got you, relax babe. You’re being cared for.” And then, through logic, my faith would win, and the fear would dissolve completely away.
When 2017 came, I’d gotten so used to being at peace that I forgot to be scared. So, I wasn’t. But I was out of time and without any good leads on how to make money with a body that was once more completely spent.
Fuck. So, now what?
So now, the Hail Mary pass. Seeing the Patriots, who were so hated, and so obviously losing the Super Bowl go from zero to crushing the souls of Falcons fans everywhere gives me added hope. Maybe even a person who’s ill-favored enough to get kicked out of Ireland (of all the friendliest places in the world) can score a moderate victory.
My current house sitting gig in Astoria got extended to right up until my next assignment in Manhattan on Valentine’s Day. Suddenly, I had nearly a full month in which I didn’t need to frantically search for and apply to house sits. My bare expenses were covered. I had time. It felt like 15 minutes of overtime was added to my clock. How would I make the best use of it?
I could work on the novel I originally quit my engineering job to finish! But that’s only about a third, or 150 pages in, and I’ve hit a technical snag. In order to continue writing, I need to figure out some physics and power grid engineering details. (The protagonist is an electrical engineer — about time for one of those, right?!) That isn’t something I’ll have tangible results from when my OT is up. So, it’s time to think — not bigger, but smaller. I decided to write a short story and just put it out there as an ebook on Amazon’s Kindle. It’s time to test and see if anyone even gives a shit about my writing. Maybe I was wasting my time with the longer novel! Or maybe I will find I’m onto something and be able to benefit in small, but real ways very soon.
I began writing the evening of January 27th, and the goal was to have a rough draft completed by February 14th. I also decided that even though I was doing something short, sweet and above all quick, I would not do things half-assed. My LLC was still alive, although comatose. She could be woken up and used to publish my books, though. After a lot of searching, I found a free online business checking account with good reviews that I could apply to even though I was in New York, my LLC was registered in Indiana and the place my mail goes is a third location. That’s still in process, and I can blog more details on that later. If you’re curious, I’m trying out the free version of Capital One Spark business checking. This article is really helpful: http://www.carefulcents.com/capital-one-spark-business-review/
There are a lot of pieces to slide into place, but my goal is to publish and have it available for sale by the end of February — hopefully sooner. My current game plan is to do a pre-sale for several days at $0.99 to get reviews and bump it up a day after it’s ready to read. Unfortunately, if you have your ebook available for free for 5 days through Amazon Select to garner reviews, the reviews don’t count toward the paid rankings. And reviews are HUGELY important. So, if when the time comes, you can spare 99 cents, read the book, and like it, I’d be much obliged by a kind and honest review.
I assembled a team of 3 – one is an expert on the subject matter at hand. His main job is to make sure I don’t inadvertently write something horrifyingly wrong. The second is a man whose opinion on books and movies I hold in high regard. He also is incapable of bullshitting or sugar-coating. His job is to review for overall entertainment and enrichment value. The third is my editor for spelling, grammar, word flow, conciseness — all things mechanical. Her name is Rebecca Sutton.
When I requested Rebecca’s assistance, I learned that she does some writing, too. I asked her if she also wanted to put out a short story just to test how it would do. If she wrote it, I could return the editing favor and do the publishing. After all, I had to figure out how to do all that shit for my own book anyways. Her answer was along the lines of, “AW HELL YEAH”. Rebecca’s story is a feelz-inducing historical romance. When I read the short version of it, it gave me chills. I fully expect Rebecca’s sales to CRUSH mine.
I decided to share/document all the steps I’m taking in this process. Maybe it will be inspirational, or at least educational for anyone thinking of self-publishing their own ebook for the first time.
What about my story? What the hell is it? Well, it’s no longer going to be a short story as I originally aimed for, for one thing. I’m a little over half finished and already at > 13,500 words, which depending on your definition, will make it longer than a short story. I’m aiming for “novella” length now. As for the actual plot: it’s about a bloody, blinding, bone-dissolving, sinew-snapping plague taking over the world, and the boundless love of a father who will do anything to rescue his child. The working title is: Scourge of Sheol.
At my disposal are all the tools and abilities I need to follow this test through to completion. My basic needs are met temporarily. I have crazy momentum – I’m hitting over 3,000 words a day now, a record high for me. It looks like the reviving-my-LLC thing and getting-a-business-checking-account thing might work out — as long as no one asks my income from last year. I’ve got a team of trusted people to make sure I don’t produce horseshit. Plus, I have a bucket of discount, instant coffee, and 2 cats to keep me entertained with rousing games of “WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?” See below.