Indie Writing Life: S1E2 – Bitter Revolutions

Welcome to the second Episode of “Indie Writing Life,” my sort of weekly series about what I work on each week as a writer, i.e. – somebody running a business writing and selling books. My inaugural episode can be found here, if you’d like to start at the beginning.

Bitter Days, Deluxe Edition

I finally got the eproof back from IngramSpark, and it looked good so I approved it. This is for the 5.5×8.5 case-laminate hardcover of my novelette, which comes to 128 pages with various extras. “Case-Laminate” means it doesn’t have a dust jacket, i.e. – the cover image is printed on the hardcover itself. I promptly ordered a copy to confirm the quality.

Tip: Always, always, always order a proof copy for any new edition.

Because it’s a proof (and it’s going on my personal bookshelf if it checks out), I ordered it cheaply. I didn’t pay extra for faster printing or shipping. I never do anyway; I like to maximize my margin on books.

Tip: If you’re selling books yourself, always minimize your costs. Sorry if this seems obvious, but it needs to be stated.

The bad thing about ordering this way is that it will take up to fourteen days to print and about four days to ship. So I’ll be getting this proof copy in about 2.5 weeks.

Tip: IngramSpark is slowwwww. Their online interface is clunky, too. But their quality is top-notch. You just have to plan your deliveries carefully with them so you have what you need when you need it.

Current WIP

Invisible: Cast of Characters

“Invisible,” my current Work-in-Progress, is coming along nicely (finally!). I also have the potential to get it into an anthology, even though it’s running long. The extra POVs I’ve added are making the story longer, but they’re helping to ratchet up the tension, so I’m happy with that.

On another note, I usually do a “Cast of Characters” cheat sheet for my stories, often with images of the main characters. It’s something that, at least for me, is fun to do and has the added benefit of helping me ensure that my characters are as three-dimensional as possible when I’m writing. Sometimes I publish the cast list as part of the book (as I did with Clash by Night) or make it available on my website as an extra (as I’ve just done with the “Invisible” cast list).

“Pivot Point” Research

A while back, I wrote a novelette called “Pivot Point” about an alternate 1800’s world where magic worked and humans are locked in a deadly war with the Elvish Dominion. In this world, Napoleon was never defeated and managed to solidify his French Empire before his death. Well, the humans are losing the war…badly. The story begins with a massive multi-nation fleet of airships being defeated by their Fey enemies, then moves backward and forward in time, as secrets are revealed.

While the story worked pretty well, I never published it because I felt it lacked a certain authenticity in the world-building. Hence, I ordered, and just received, a book called The World of the French Revolution, by R. R. Palmer. It was recommended to me as an excellent book on the time period.

And it is a great writing resource. OK, you’d probably look at it and say that it’s a boring textbook. But I’m marking this sucker up with a highlighter, tracking things that I think will be useful for not just “Pivot Point” but also many of my other stories. For example, the book gives a good overview of all the varieties of monarchies in Europe. It turns out there are lots of different variations for a monarchy governing a kingdom, not just the generic Hollywood-ized flavor that permeates much of existing fantasy.

Fascinating stuff.

Other Work

I’m continuing to help with the Programming track for Balticon. Over the next week, though, I really need to focus on the Workshop Track, my specialty area.

I finished compositing a cover for my story “Stone Spirits.” Mostly I needed this as an advertisement to go in my upcoming “Jonelle Crosse” publication. The print edition of the book includes a preview of “Stone Spirits,” and I like to include a front cover image with the preview.

I’ve also got some paid book formatting projects looming on the horizon. This isn’t my focus, but I do it for people I know. It earns me a little bit of cash and a lot of goodwill, so I think it’s effort well spent.

Oh, and it’s that time of year when I have to get the Contributor Royalties out to the various people who have graced my anthologies with their works. That is now complete and all the checks are wending their way through the back alleys of the US postal system.

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