Productive Writing Vs. The Publishing Business
The end of the year has crept upon us all. I’ve been working on the fourth novel in my Time Equation Series (available on Kindle – the first book is Heart of Fire Time of Ice). This new story continues the saga of physicist Kathleen and Cadeyrin, her paleolithic husband. Whenever I write a story and reach the conclusion, or what I thought would be the end, there is always a lingering question that pops up in my mind: And then what?
While that may seem trivial, it bothers me. In real life, we don’t finish an adventure and then mysteriously disappear. We continue on with our daily lives, be they mundane, routine and boring, or exciting in some new fashion. By the time I’ve written 30 plus chapters, my characters have somehow taken on a life of their own, and I suspect they go on living it even when I’m not writing about them. Sounds crazy, right? If you’re an author, you already know it’s not. If you haven’t written a story, then write one. You’ll see what I mean.
I always leave my characters an open space so that the reader can imagine them doing other things after the conclusion of the book. Kathleen and Cadeyrin and their friends from all three books (including Lolita and her sisters – deinonychus raptors) are faced with a world-changing discovery.
Kathleen and Cadeyrin had a previous meeting with mysterious hominins, probably Homo Erectus or close kin. Some Homo Erectus populations are physically large. If such creatures survived until the present day, they might be reluctant to engage with their smaller cousins (us). They might retreat into the depths of what wilderness is left, leaving behind only their over-sized footprints. The size of their prints might lead us to call them “Big-Foot.” If they had also discovered Kathleen’s method of time-travel, they could easily avoid human contact, jumping in time whenever a human-disturbed them.
They would live closer to nature than humans, so they could have discovered natural foods to rejuvenate their bodies. These foods (we’d call them medicines) could substantially extend their life-span.
Cadeyrin is hunting, away from the stone home the couple have had built about 100,000 years ago, when he and Ulfsa, his wolf hunting companion, encounter an old “Forest Giant”. Cadeyrin watches the creature pick herbs. He is not as well hidden as he thinks, or the Forest Giant has incredibly acute senses. The Old-One summons Cadeyrin to come close, then gives him a mixture of herbs and minerals in the form of a red paste.
The immediate effect is psychedelic, but the long-term impact involves the healing of all physical scars and rejuvenation. Cadeyrin is given the ingredients and shown how to make the paste, but cannot identify one fungus that is a crucial part of the mixture. He, of course, shares the paste with the others in the group.
This solves one of Kathleen’s long-term problems. Her severe scarring, although more flexible due to Cadeyrin’s previous help, subconsciously brands her in her mind as unworthy of a happy life. The paste erases her scars as if they were never there. She’s delighted, although her self-image is slow to catch up with the change.
The group benefits from the formula. Unfortunately, a DNA sample from Professor Wolf ends up in the hands of unethical pharmacological researchers in the present time. The implication of a fountain-of-youth is not lost on them, and they find shadowy backers to fund their quest to gain control of the formula.
Kathleen shortly realizes that the formula is potentially the most valuable resource ever held by humans. People would do anything for it. (Makes sense, don’t you think? I believe we’d all like healthier lives. Personally, I wouldn’t mind feeling like I was 21 again:-)
You can see the direction the plot will take from this point.
I started this post with the idea of discussing the conflict between writing and the business of writing. As usual, I got carried away by the story and neglected the business aspect. I’ll rectify that now.
My last two books, Pirates of the Asteroids and The Belter Revolution, both came out this year. I’ve been told they are outstanding, however, they haven’t been discovered by many readers as yet. This is entirely because I’d rather write than work on mailing lists, Facebook ads, and promotions. That sort of stuff isn’t fun for me. It’s too much like work, plus my problem is that I’m not very good at that kind of marketing. Not that I couldn’t be, but there’s a steep learning curve and…well, I’d rather write a story.
Still, it costs to publish books. My covers are all original art and usually cost around $500. Add editing at $500+, internal book design and typesetting at $250 or so, an ISBN ($100), and don’t forget copyright fees of $55 payable to the U.S. government. Oh, and also $50 to Ingram Publishing to set up my files for on-demand paperback book publishing. You can see that I’m in the red a considerable amount before my first reader sees the novel. All of this makes marketing important. Even if I wanted to donate my stories to my readers, I couldn’t afford to do so.
So, with that reality uppermost in my mind, I find I have to divide my time between writing and marketing. This post falls under the second topic.
(As I write, Kathleen has just discovered that those who want the formula can follow her back in time. Their home is no longer a sanctuary. She’s telling me that I need to help her resolve the situation.)
I’ll return next month with another update.
Making money as an author is becoming more difficult. The competition is intense, and the marketplace is clogged with books, some are great, some are good, and some are…let’s say that they don’t engage readers. How do you, as a reader, know which one to buy and, even more importantly, on which one to spend your limited time?
Reader reviews are one of the most important tools for a reader. The fact that they are not under the author’s control makes them even more valuable to readers. Please consider taking the time to review the books you read. If you get them from Amazon, reviews are easy to place. If you purchase them from, say an author’s website, there may be no obvious way to leave a review. I don’t know any author who wouldn’t appreciate an emailed review.
I often participate in promos. When I do, I like to let my subscribers know about the potential savings. This month, I’m participating in another promo. Here’s the description and the link. Please visit and browse the offerings. They’re either $0.99 or free.
If you’ve read one or more of my books and have comments, questions, or suggestions, I’d love to hear them.
Happy Holiday Season!