I gotta ask: any of you ever watch a show called Glee? I did, with my family. All of it. It was sometimes fun, but it certainly took a while to get through. I mean, not that I wanted to do it any faster. But…
Oh yeah. The reason I asked. Because there was this glee club…they called themselves “New Directions.”
Come on. High school kids? Really? And nobody on the show ever said “Nude Erections” instead? Or thought about it? Or complained about the name? Not even once? (“Shut up, Dad!” said my kids….)
Okay, never mind. Maybe it was just me after all. Moving on.
I have some stuff to publish. Some new things. A bunch of old things. Lots of it is going to be on this website. Some of it is going to available on online retailers. ‘Cause, see, some of it will actually be, no-foolin’, exclusive to the site. Like, maybe almost all short stories? I don’t see the point of putting them up elsewhere. But it’d be fun to give people a way to read them if they want to.
I mean: look, I’m an indie kind of guy. Not that I set out to be that way, really. I just wanted to write. So, starting back in 2005, I sent out over two hundred query letters to agents. Lots of them were actual snail-mail letters. Expensive. Time-consuming…it took me about a year and a half to do all that. Kind of hard, to keep doing it over and over.
You know how many agents asked to read one of my novels? Ever? One. Then she suddenly left the agency, and I never heard anything from them beyond that.
So, for a long time…it really didn’t matter how good my stuff was. Or wasn’t. Nobody saw it but family and friends. I kind of got used to that. It wasn’t so bad. Though…how much did I write? Not a lot.
Along the way I figured out that I mostly wrote to explore new ideas and perspectives. Part of why I can’t plan/outline fiction is that, if I could, I’d have no internally-motivating reason to write a given story in the first place. Stuff gets weird on me, though…I wrote a story about a time-traveling ant from the future, with a dark sort of sense of humor, here in our world to defend/promote his own timeline against agents of other species/civilizations. Then I threw in a bunch of magic and the second half of the story is sort of a homage to Lord Dunsany. With gratuitous political commentary. Did that make sense, as a story? Not really. I loved it. It was fun to write. Also fun to read afterward. For, uh, me. Otherwise, well, not even my mom (Hi, Mom!) liked that one.
I also enjoyed the one I wrote after reading a tweet saying something like “You don’t read many stories about lost goldfish finding their way home.” So that got mixed up in my head with this idea of a gorilla, in a zoo, haunted by the spirit of Walmart. I started typing, suddenly there were two kids complaining about old technology, and a story happened. Sort of dystopian science fiction, I guess. Great fun! For me. For anyone else? Not so much. Okay, maybe two other people in the world, but I’m pretty sure they haven’t read it even though it’d be perfect for them. Too bad!
But, okay, in spite of myself, I have tried to learn about writing along the way. Giving people complete stories, maybe even paying attention to genre boundaries. I do have a series of stories about a teenage wizard for hire. Sort of. That’s reasonable enough, right? Another about a middle-aged man who thinks he’s a normal guy living in a suddenly post-apocalyptic world, though he has no idea what actually happened to the world…only to realize it’s all a malicious sort of imposed misunderstanding and the world in general is doing fine–but, you know, he himself has become a zombie. So there’s that. It’s almost in a genre! And my novels, while possibly a bit odd, aren’t totally unreadable. I think.
(But OTOH there’s a bunch of stuff that exists only because I wanted to play with some idea or other, and it ended when I stopped wanting to go further, and that may or may not be the greatest way ever to create a story to entertain other people who may not be similarly entranced, or for a similar length of time/words/story even if they do decide to come along for the ride to begin with.)
I have a point? Maybe. I only barely care about sending fiction out for other people’s eyes at this point. I think it’d be neat to make some money…but I’m not willing to spend a lot of time or money on advertising, marketing, promotion, book covers, ritual sacrifices, artful interpretive dances, and the like. That sounds like a horrible job. I don’t want it. If it came with a guaranteed paycheck, vs. participation in a semi-lottery, I might consider it. I mean, there was a period in the past when I made money from my fiction. Did it last forever? Nope. Does it mean I know how to make it happen again? Nope. The world and I have both moved on, and not necessarily in the same set of directions. Even if I suddenly started getting paid for fiction, I wouldn’t trust it to last. So how hard can I really expect myself to work in this area? Not very, I’m afraid.
Similarly, though it’d be easier to just put the stuff in one place (Kindle Unlimited on Amazon?), that idea just irritates the God out of me–as my grandmother used to put it. So I’m going to focus on my own site first and foremost. Then, yeah, for much of my fiction anyway, all the retailers. Or at least all of them I can reach without much hassle. Smashwords and D2D are going to handle that for me, is what I’m saying. Plus I have this grandfathered-in publishing account at Google Play, so I can put stuff there. But that’s about it. (Though I did read something recently about them opening that back up to indies sometime soon, or recently? Maybe? I don’t remember the details. Didn’t care a whole lot, I guess.)
Since at this point there’s next to no built-in demand for my fiction out in the world, most of it will be free. At least on non-Amazon sites, since the ‘Zon is occasionally annoying about that, but in most places. Maybe people will post reviews. Maybe they’ll read about the (“EXCLUSIVE!”) content on my site, and come get some of that. Maybe a few of them will buy stuff. Maybe they’ll tell me fun stories of their own. Maybe it’ll turn into something. We’ll see.
So, that’s one new direction. Another: I paid for access to some shared office space this month. Not that the $9/month coffee at Panera Bread was a horrible deal or anything, but after an hour or two I start to feel awkward about occupying a table that theoretically could be used by somebody spending a bit more. (I do tip, so that’s something.) (Also, lately, there haven’t been too many other customers.) (But still.) (Yeah, but they serve absolutely nothing I’m willing to eat, so they can’t reasonably expect–) (Shh. People.) (Okay. Got it. Moving on.)
Oh, I’m also going camping for a couple of days. By myself. I may type or dictate something or other. Not sure yet. Leaving tomorrow, sometime.
And this email, for those of you getting this post via email, is coming from a different place. Different email service provider, I mean to say. I was kind of rolling my own, using software called Sendy, sending via a service from Rackspace called Mailgun…and frankly it wasn’t working very well. Lots of glitches. A lot of people didn’t get my email, one way or another.
Not that I think that’s a crisis for anyone involved. It clearly isn’t. But, anyway, it’s something else that’s changed lately.
I’m not sure how any of this will work out. But, hell, who ever knows stuff like that?
Have fun out there!