Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cover Story

In between proofing my novella, I've been playing at creating my own cover.  Not that I know what I'm doing!

I can afford to pay someone to come  up with the perfect gravitational-beam cover for my story; if I had no talent at all in graphic design, I would gladly farm out the job (and I still haven't completely ruled that out).  I'm not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I've always been good with a nice pair of scissors, pictures to sample from, and something to glue it all together on.  When I was a young boy, I was always wanting to play with dolls and so forth (much to the consternation of my father), and since I knew I would never get a doll house (and was never brave enough to ask), I would often raid my mother's closet for old Sear's and Roebuck catalogs and magazines and cut out rooms, furniture, accessories, etc. and make my own "houses" on posterboard!

Much older now (please don't do the math!), I spent about three years of my "I'll never be a published writer!" down-time phase goofing around on Second Life - a popular "virtual world" experience that peaked in '07, and kind of lost its steam afterwards.  My primary goal was to replicate the success some people were having in "virtual businesses" - and I started a series of them myself (all of which flopped) helping ugly avatars everywhere become fashionably conscious.  While doing all of that, I made quite a few friends (some I still keep in contact with), but in doing the marketing for those businesses, helping those friends with theirs, and keeping up a blog at the time (which had over 100k hits before we all bailed) about those ventures, I developed some decent photoshop skills - not anything I could make a living with, but enough to be able to know the elements of design needed to excite potential customers about business.

Having been away from that experience for more than a year, I hadn't really played around with my cutting-and-pasting skills for a while.  Over the last week, I've been sampling graphics from stock photo sights trying to get inspired over what I want the cover to emote.  I still haven't decided whether I'm going to go for it or hire a professional, but if I do ... it won't be until after I've exhausted my own creative demon!

Would love to hear other self-pubbed authors describe their "cover stories!"

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Writing is fun ...

... it's the everything else that's really tedious.  Just finishing up the third proofing of my novella with a pair of pruning sheers (it seems), and that is such a chore.

I'm thinking of all of the excuses I've made for not even attempting to publish before.  True, the New York machine was the most intimidating fear, but there were really good reasons why I never sent a query letter ... I wasn't good enough yet.  Whether I am now or not is certainly subjective from my point of view, but the joy of writing - the thing that had me writing at an early age was never the prospect of publishing for others, but the creation of the story itself.  This was what I loved - creating that imaginary universe, and having characters I also created move about and live within the confines of that world.

My stories have mostly always been to amuse myself - whether it be the week-long erotic daydream sagas I would invent to put myself to sleep at night, or the steamy short stories I would write to flesh out a particular fantasy I was having at that given point of my life.  Publishing eventually became a second goal, but after three or four stories turned into full novel-sized manuscripts, the energy to process those pieces dissipated after the second draft ... it was creating those worlds and characters that made it wondrous for me, not the work to make those stories better and marketable.

With the changing markets, I am encouraged to put my stories to the market test once again.  I know I no longer have to appeal to a few discerning eyes in Manhattan - for me, success will be selling enough to recoup the expenses it takes to put out at least one story.  To have that many people read anything I write will be a joy in and of itself, and if it's more than that - it will simply be all the more delightful.

But, that isn't why I write.  First, I write for myself - for that pure pleasure of creating a life story of someone completely imagined, but real and palpable enough to imprint itself onto the canvas of very real hearts and minds.  These characters already do that for me ... and so much more.  To the extent others may have the same reaction ... it will just be icing on the already delicious cake!

Now ... back to work!

Time's 100

So, Rome is burning - figuratively - in the publishing world, and so to prove how hip they are to the situation, TIME magazine included a fist-full of authors (kudos to all of them!) in their latest TIME 100 "most influential" list, all who have done really well via traditional publishing venues.  As someone who is on my way to becoming a self-published author, however, I couldn't help but shake my head at the notable absences from those who've been enormously successful in this more democratic form of publishing.

No one is challenging the literary merits of Franzen, Egan, Martin, etc. - they've all earned their marks - but, publishing is in the midst of a major paradigm shift, so where are the mentions of Joe Konrath (self-publishing's John-the-Baptist), John Locke or Amanda Hocking (it's best-selling authors so far)?

The silence is numbing.