Changing course

There’s always so much to do in the self-publishing world, and it’s exhausting. It also pulls you away from what you want to do most, write. Sometimes, I use these other things, these necessary evils, as a way to procrastinate.

The first was in finding the perfect image for the book cover. I became obsessed with it. Once I found it, I toyed with how to use it, slightly modify it, and looked for the perfect font. This was over a year ago, the book still incomplete. But I had a cover.

I distracted myself with re-issuing earlier, unrelated, books using my own ISBNs in order to have a little more control over my work. This involved learning the ins-and-outs of Bowker and IngramSpark. Easy enough, except, IngramSpark has different requirements for cover files. Another distraction, which included upgrading from Photoshop Elements to Photoshop and re-learning how to do certain actions in a more powerful program. And hey, I also switched aggregators to distribute my e-books wide. Fortunately, that’s an easy system to use, except…you know, I really need to add an active, hyperlink table of contents to those books. Let me distract myself with that for a week or so.

Okay, book cover? Check. Reissues reissued? Check. Understand how Bowker and IngramSpark work? Check. Understand enough of Photoshop to do what I need? Sure. E-book hyperlinks? Got ’em.

You know, I should really try and have an online presence. It’s what all the kids are doing nowadays, can’t be a dinosaur, can I? Yes, it’s already tough trying to get a blog post up twice a month, but, go for it. So, I created a Twitter account, which I avoided for years because I didn’t think I was succinct enough. Turns out, I am. Found some great people to follow, too. It’s so entertaining to distract myself and procrastinate reading those tweets.

Hmm, I hear about AMS ads. I should really look into that. Warning: start trying to build a list of keywords for ads and you’ll be at it for days. Or weeks. And, wouldn’t you know it, as I search for relevant words, authors, and book titles, I find books that interest me. I should order this or that book and distract myself from my writing a bit more. True story, last night, I had some books in my cart but wasn’t logged into Amazon. I closed the browser and thought, you know, I don’t really need those books. Besides, I have a stack of titles I haven’t even read yet. Screw it.

Well, after all those diversions, I’ve come to a decision that’s going to require a lot of willpower. I’m not sure I’m up to it, but, damn it, I’m going to try. No more distractions, no more procrastination. I’ve got to focus on the novel. I don’t care how small the progress, as long as it’s progress. To that end, I’ll still try to update the blog twice a month. I’ll still be checking in on Twitter, but not to waste time or procrastinate. The book is far too important.

Organization and epiphanies

Yesterday, I worked on organizing a scene in an early chapter of the novel, adding some new dialogue along the way, and deleting the duplicate, triplicate, and sometimes quadruplicate notes I had (yes, sometimes I’m like that). Of course, it’s not perfect, but at least that scene is now in the proper order. There’s more, similar, work to be done in the chapter, but it’s all coming together.

Later in the evening, over a cup of tea, I took to my digital recorder. I often do this prior to going to bed. I relax, and babble about the day’s work, or all the things that still need to be done on the project. It can sometimes become a stream of consciousness type thing. Last night, I was talking about what I accomplished earlier in the day, noting that what began as an add-on prologue (it wasn’t in the original draft), became two separate chapters that could stand alone as a short story. Then I thought, it seems like a lot of (intriguing) stuff that doesn’t have any bearing on the rest of the book, kind of a misdirection or cheat to accomplish one, minor thing……

Until my subconscious thinking smacked my conscious thinking and I realized just how important it was. Incredibly so, in fact. I delved deeper, spelunking that dark cavern of my creativity. I realized that, because I’ve been so focused on earlier chapters of the book, I had  ‘forgotten’ later chapters, when things take some wonderfully complex turns. Last night, I reminded myself of character motivations and plot points and realized how it does all tie together.

I also rambled about some other things, which I’ve always known, but found the succinct words to describe or relay the idea. I just stopped the recorder, hit play, and scribbled those out right away. Good stuff.

The full story is always there, lurking in the recesses, revealing itself, little by little. Sometimes, parts are fully and easily recognizable. Other parts appear more abstract, until I pause, observe, think, and finally see the full, multi-layered picture.

 

 

 

This and that

Update on my goings-on.

One of the books I was reading really started to irritate me at about the half-way point, so I set it aside. It can be a problem when reading a story collection of one author. Problem is, I have two more collections by the same writer on the to-be-read list. I think it will be a while before I get back to any of his works. In its place, I started to read a novel. I like it well enough for what it is, but it’s not a page-turner. More of a slow simmer type of book.

All the re-issues are out, including e-books with active ToCs. Even better, a quick check of a couple of titles on Amazon shows the correct file in the Look Inside.

Now to the important stuff. In an attempt to jump-start my writing, I thought working on something else would help. Perhaps something in a different genre. It did and it didn’t. As I began thinking things through for the new project, I quickly realized I wasn’t feeling it. There were some elements I liked, but the story lacked a purpose. The general idea, I think, would work better as a vague, ambiguous short, with no resolution. A bizarre kind of day-in-the-life.

What did happen, however, was that I turned to my novel instead. Over the holiday, I worked solely on that. Did I make a lot of headway? No, but I tackled some of the things I had been avoiding and was satisfied with the results, at least until the next round of editing. It was a good day’s work.

 

Proofs have arrived

My IngramSpark proofs have arrived for the first two DS Guide reissues. They’re……okay. Part of it is my fault. Jewel tones look  great in RGB color for e-books, but print requires CMYK, and CMYK is a cruel bitch. Add IngramSpark’s 240% total ink coverage specs and the bitch gets even more cruel. The red of volume 2 ended up being more maroon. It’s not wholly unexpected, when I was using Lulu it ended up pretty much the same. I’m kind of past caring. And I forgot to mention, I had the wrong font size on the back of volume 1 and had to fix and re-upload. Thankfully, IngramSpark is waiving fees for resubmitted files for the next two months. The crazy thing is, I’m killing myself trying to make things right for a very, very, niche audience when I could be working on this: Continue reading

Slowly getting things done

I finally finished the changes to the volume 3 manuscript. Then I had to do the e-book version. I don’t know about others, but I prefer to write in my set-up for print books, with all my painstakingly created formatting. When I first started, I had mountains of mistakes when it came to formatting a document. After a lot of trial and error, I have my preferred templates, depending on what I’m working on. The episode guides have their own, novels another. E-books have a designated template, too. For those, I do some copy-and-paste sleight of hand from my print document.

I can’t stress enough how formatting will make your life simpler. Invest the time to play around with styles & formatting. Find what you like, then make your templates. I have a style for damn near everything. For example, the signature in a letter.

Formatting pic

With the formatting marks option toggled on, notice how there are no arrows to indicate tabs in the closing and signature? That’s because I formatted a special style with a very generous before text indent. When creating a heading style for your chapter title, add the appropriate amount of space in the above paragraph option in the indents and spacing section. I work in LibreOffice because the less said about Word the better, especially as a Mac user. But I digress…in fact, I’ve gone way off track.

DS Guide volume 3. The hard part is done. I need to make a print copy cover and get a proof from CreateSpace. Unfortunately, there are no coupons available at the moment for IngramSpark to discount or waive the upload fee. And that’s a bummer. Especially since I’ll need to buy more ISBNs as well. I’m aiming to have all the previous books reissued by early July. Then maybe, maybe, I can finally get back to work on my novel. That said, I do believe I’m one of the very few who gets away with making Leland Devore wait.

 

Making headway

Some good news. Thanks to a patient and resolute customer support person at Lulu, the Barnes & Noble e-book issues have finally been resolved. Really, this rep was great. We only communicated via e-mail, but she was always pleasant and definitely not a slacker. So ends my association with Lulu.

The plan, don’t hold me to it, is to have the books republished through a different platform by late March/early April. I believe I also need to update the files on KDP as well, at least that’s what the note on my whiteboard tells me. I know I need to update the print edition CreateSpace files, having finessed my manuscript template. I need to apply those modifications, or maybe I already have? I’ll have to check. I’ve had so much on my plate of late.

In other good news, the Photoshop issue I was complaining about is no longer a problem. I suspected it was more a learning curve issue, which it was. I discovered how to do what I want, it’s merely done a little differently in PS than PSE. It was my impatience that got the better of me. Taking a few steps back and focusing on other and/or fewer things can really be beneficial.

Transcribing on volume 7 continues, albeit slowly. I’ll be caught up by the weekend. I can’t let it get out of hand again.

The novel, for the time being, remains on hiatus. Which kind of sucks, but I think once I get these other things squared away, my mind won’t be so cluttered and I can get back to work.

 

Reset

I’ve thought it over. For the time being, I’m only going to focus on transcribing my existing notes and addressing the Lulu/Nook issue. Any work to the novel will be a bonus, should it happen. Then, it’s on to the next hurdle.

Still dealing with e-book issues

Honestly, I don’t know who’s to blame. About a month ago, I pulled my e-books from distribution and deleted the projects from Lulu. The titles disappeared from Apple within a day, Kobo, maybe two weeks. Great. Except they’re still listed on Barnes & Noble. I get it, Lulu says it can take 6 – 8 weeks (really, in this digital day and age?) for the request to be processed, blah, blah, whatever. I interpreted that to mean that it’s B&N dragging their feet. Okay, then explain this; wanting to get my print books out there under the Abstruse & Louche imprint, I pulled the titles from CreateSpace expanded distribution late Sunday afternoon. The print versions were gone from Barnes & Noble in less than 24 hours. Perhaps the issue is with B&N’s Nook division. It’s enough to drive you to drink. Speaking of which…

The cocktail experiment continues. I’ve come close a few times to the drink I want, but I’m not quite there. Truth be told, I’d rather just drink a couple of the ingredients on their own.

I only seem able to work on the novel on the weekends. Made some progress this last weekend, but I never feel that it’s enough.

I continue to watch episodes for the next guide. Unfortunately, I haven’t kept up with my transcribing. At all. I have a baker’s dozen to write up. I’ll get to them, eventually.

 

Inspired, but not in the right way

Yes, my habit of finding things to distract me is still going strong. Did I just see a squirrel, or something shiny? Anyway, I did manage to make minor corrections to a chapter of the novel over the weekend and when I glanced at the next, knowing some reworking needed to be done, I was happy to see I’d already dropped some relevant notes in the appropriate places. Then I got distracted, which lingered into the next day, such was my mania. What thing has so captured my attention?

I’m in the process of creating a cocktail based on the book. Oh yes. And not just any old thing with the usual spirits. This one has to be unique, with ingredients to match its personality. I’m very close, but I need to tinker a bit more. Fortunately, one of the ingredients I really wanted to use was easier to find than I thought. I even commended the shopkeep for having it in stock. Lucky for me, it blended nicely with the key spirit. Unfortunately, another item is not so easy to find. I ended up ordering it on Amazon. There was another sticking point of how to work in another spirit, something that has to be present, but not overwhelming. Then it hit me and the little hamster on the wheel kept running and I latched onto another thing. Once I pick up and receive all the necessities, the true alchemy can begin.

And even though it’s a lumbering ox of a story arc, I’m still watching episodes for the next guide.

Research can be fun

I’m in a strange place right now. I’m still at the mercy of one book retailer that moves at a snail’s pace when it comes to removing titles from their site. As a result, the episode guide e-books remain in limbo, save for Amazon, which I realize isn’t everyone’s choice when it comes to e-books. I’m trying not to get frustrated. I could re-publish the print edition of volume six, but for some reason, I keep holding off on that. Probably because of Ingram’s anal retentive file requirements. I don’t need, nor want, the hassle at the moment. Continue reading