Welcome to Shaggin the Muse’s third entry for the Indie-Pendence Blog Hop Week. Our goal this week is to not only raise awareness of indie authors but also discuss things like the state of our industry, how we got to where we are (no matter what part of the path we might be on), and just what “indie” is, anyway.
But that’s not all! We’re also going to be giving away copies of loads of books for free. I’ve started to take a general stance against gimmicky giveaways – though I know some guest posts recently have featured them. I think that indie authors need to get back to their roots and give away the things that matter most: books. That’s why I was thrilled to learn that we were expected to give away books.
That said, let’s see what you stand to win this week:
-eBooks of the Corridors of the Dead (limit 5)
-eBooks of the Kayson Cycle (limit 5)
-eBooks of the Station (limit 5)
-Advance eBook of Room 3 when it releases (limit 2)
-eBooks of the Newfoundland Vampire (limit 3)
-eBooks of Marie Loughin’s Valknut the Binding (limit 5)
That’s 25 free books ready for folks to win. And all you have to do is comment. Once you’ve commented, you’ll go into the drawing spreadsheet. On Friday, I’ll draw your number from the hat (a random number generator), and notify you of what you’ve won. Your odds are really, really good, and I know the involved authors would love your comments on our posts. I’m hoping this will be fun for everybody and spur some discussion.
My turn to do this thing. If this is your first time visiting the site, I’ve been doing this indie thing since last October, when I self-published my Western Dark Fantasy short The Kayson Cycle as a dry run for November’s release of The Corridors of the Dead, the first book in my Among the Dead trilogy. I also recently published a novelette, The Station, that serves as a bridge between Corridors and its sequel, City of the Dead. I’m also nearing a release date on another novel, Room 3, which is something of a side story set in the same universe. All of these books are available to win this week, but I tell you about so that you understand I’ve been around the block a little bit with indie publishing in the last year. I thought this would be a great opportunity to discuss some of my experiences and views (like I don’t do that enough already). Here goes…
The Original Idea for Room 3
I had just introduced my then-fiancee to one of my all-time favorite movies, Videodrome, and the whole thing had given me some serious writer envy. What a fascinating concept: a video broadcast that can alter a person’s perceptions to the point that not only do they question reality, but the viewer questions whether that character’s mind is influencing reality. I wanted to do something like that so badly, but I didn’t want to do an obvious rip on it. I let the idea stew for a little bit, asking myself what the concept would look like in the age of YouTube and Facebook. Soon came the idea of a couple of guys stumbling across an obscure blog written by a woman who has being held captive and made to perform bizarre experiments related to bending reality.
The writing process – getting started and any stops
I started with this concept and the main characters. I drafted a few plot ideas to make the novel work as a combination of her blog entries and the office workers’ journey in reading this thing – trying to figure out where she is, and who’s behind it. I had hoped to have her blog entries evolve with their actions, but quickly saw that would be impractical, so I decided to put the entries in the past, with them slowly catching up to present day. Again, the framework proved tricky, but I thought I had enough to get going. There were a lot of fits and starts during this period, tons of self-doubt about my own ability to do this kind of thing. I pressed on regardless, sure that the project would help me grow as a writer if nothing else.
Once the plot was ready to go, I dove into the process, beginning with the guys in the office, then following with the blog entries, so I would get a better sense of what they were reading and reacting to; I wanted a pure sense of reaction from the guys, without the actual written entry influencing it. In retrospect, it was way too much, and the farther into the process, the more disenchanted I became. The thing was slow, confusing, and – worst of all – boring. I decided a radical re-haul was in order; drop the office guys and just focus on what the woman in the experiment was going through. I kept the journal nature of things, but rapidly found that a single woman in a room by herself talking about all of her experiences second-hand might have been even more boring than the first version. Time for another re-haul. You can imagine my state of mind at this point: absolutely convinced that I didn’t have the chops for this kind of thing, a hack writer who couldn’t rise above his influences, destined to mediocrity, you pick the negative self-talk, I had it. I went back to the drawing board yet again with a side character, a fellow test subject, Susie, a no-nonsense Southerner who would later be split into two characters, Kelli and Gina. Kelli became the narrator and protagonist.
I used beta readers, and they made some more suggestions. Kelli’s southern heritage moved to Gina. There were just too many complications with Kelli’s background already, and I needed to streamline that as much as possible with some of the revelations about her that come later in the novel. Marie Loughin actually pointed out that the framing story created some serious plot holes, and my reaction was to return to the original journal idea, only incorporating Kelli and a secondary story that occurs after the primary events in the novel. That was the answer that had been staring me in the face the whole time. The parallel story idea could work, but they had to be more closely linked and have the protagonist in common. That transformed the work and, I think, made it stronger for that.
The whole process was infuriating and took forever, but I think the final product is going to be really good. I haven’t felt this confident about a story in a long time. Lesson learned – take as long as you need, just make sure the story is right.
Touchstones for the self-publication process
I really wish I had a list of influences with this, but I kind of found my way blind through the process. Thankfully, a lot of my experiences in technical writing guided my formatting, style, and HTML and eBook conversions. I’m actually working on a book sharing my findings and what has worked for me. Some of this stuff has been shared on this very blog, however.
The marketing process and the greatest challenge
The marketing process is both my greatest and nemesis. Some days I want to view the thing as a slot machine, where I just keep putting the coin in, wake up one morning, and I’m a star. I become increasingly frustrated when that doesn’t happen, throw my hands up, and walk away from it for awhile. I think I’ve finally come to peace with the idea that it’s more a matter of chipping away at a stone wall rather than a slot machine. Some moves chip away at the wall more; none greater than continuing to write and release quality stories. Sure, it’s good to get a mention on a blog here or there, make sure your name sticks in people’s minds, but the real key – and the greatest challenge – is just writing.
What makes a writer “indie”?
Oh boy, I had a rant about this one a month ago, to the day in my “What Makes an Indie Writer” post, but here’s a distillation:
“Indie” comes from independent. Period. Not “independent publisher”. This means that self-publishers have every right to use the term indie. Hell, I don’t see anything more independent than running the show yourself, and if that’s not indie, then the word indie has no real meaning. My preferred usage is indie/self-publisher, as it is a nod to the power of self-publishing as well as being independent, but I understand why people would choose to just call themselves indie, and they’re as varied as you could imagine. Some, I think, want to associate themselves with the tradition of indie publishers as they establish their own presses. Others, like me, want to pay tribute to the nature of indie in taking risks and standing on your own.
So, then, an indie writer can be someone with an independent press or someone who self-publishes and assumes all the risks and costs of said enterprise. Period.
Thanks for sticking it out with me – I know this is a long one. Now for you, the reader. I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts about marketing. What interests you when you hear about a book? What grabs your attention? You can click on the image below to access the other blogs on our hop. I’ll see you folks tomorrow for a big wrap-up.