Appropriating and Updating the Race

In this crazy new world of e-publishing, the rules of getting published and making a living at writing are shifting.  As anyone reading this blog at all will know, I’m a huge follower of Heinlein’s Rules for Writers.  But where does putting my own stuff up without going to an editor who can pay me fall in the mix of those five rules?  I’m not sure.

But e-stuff sells.  I’m selling handfuls of copies of two literary short stories a month, stories I’ve done basically no marketing for at all.  How much better will novels sell? Novels I intend to push in front of people and do as much marketing for as I can handle?  Does that count as “keeping it in the mail until it sells”?  Maybe.

Dean Wesley Smith came up with a points system called the Race back in the years when I was a wee little girl.  The gist is that you get one point for each story in the mail, three points for each novel proposal (only for each novel, not for each editor you send it to), and eight points for each full novel out (again, only counts once per book).  Dean explains in his blog here and here much better than I can.

But if I put a story up on Kindle… I lose the point in the Race.  I’m sure that Dean will come up with a new Race point system to account for that, but in the meantime, fellow writer Amanda McCarter and I decided on a rough new plan, which we’re calling the E-pub Race (different from the Trad-pub Race).  It works like this:  (and this is probably way more complicated than it needs to be, but hey… games are fun!)

1 point for each short story.  If you bundle shorts, this counts as 1 point up to 4 shorts bundled.

3 points for each short story collection (5+ shorts minimum, repeats allowed with shorts on their own).

5 points for each novel. (Novels bundled in Omnibus form count separately unless they are repeated, in which case you only get the points once).

No points count until you’ve sold at least five copies (the original race has you losing points after getting paid, so we figured the E-pub race should have something opposite of that).  Copies you buy yourself don’t count of course.  Editions don’t count as separate (so if you do a POD version, you still only get points for that novel once).

Ok. Hopefully that isn’t too complicated.  Suggestions and comments are welcome, of course.

(More) Things I Learned about Novels

The novel is finished.  It’s the third one I’ve written (well, that I count, because the early attempts were just that…attempts).

This novel kicked my ass.  I don’t think I’ve ever found a writing project to be so difficult before.  But I learned some valuable lessons.

1) In the future when choosing to write a novel in a genre I’ve never so much as tried writing a short story in, allow more time than I think I’ll need.  A lot more.  Like twice as much or better.  This will be very important to keep in mind if I’m ever under contract, because I’ll need to allow for a further out deadline than I might otherwise.

2) Just because a book has a lot going on and multiple points of view doesn’t mean it will be long.  I figured that once I added a third semi-major view-point character that I’d be good on the length problem.  No the case (though closer than the book would have come otherwise).

3) Fast pacing doesn’t mean skipping description.  I think I also finally started to grasp the idea that “setting is character opinion” better in this book, so even if the rest of it is a giant fail, I got to practice pacing and setting.

4) It doesn’t have to be good, because frankly, in the middle of a book, I don’t even know what good is anyway.  All I can see is the thousands of words standing in the way of finishing and the giant mess that might be on the page behind me.  Done is good.  Done is my new definition of good.

So.  That’s over.  Now, if my brain will stop trying to write sequels, I’m going back to short fiction and working on the e-book project until the end of the year.  I miss short fiction.  Being able to begin and end something in a single session sounds like heaven right now.  And I’ve got five (yes…five! I’m so behind on admin work) stories that need to go out to markets.

As for the finished book, I have no idea.  It’s being workshopped this next weekend and the query will go out to editors.  I’ve given it to a couple first readers as well.  Whenever they get back to me is when I’ll drag it out into daylight again and see about adding enough words (5-7k should do it) to make it commercially viable.  Unless it gets a full request before then, in which case I’ll go into panic mode and do whatever needs doing at that point.

But I Get Up Again

I never realized how stuck I’d gotten after writing that story that just failed.  I’ve started and not finished three stories in the last week.  Not finished.  I usually finish shorts in one sitting.  It’s the novels I poke at (and I’m poking, I’m poking.  Gotta get the MG one done soon, seriously).  I got stuck because I’m afraid that every word is more fail.

Fuck it. Seriously.  So I failed. That story really doesn’t work at all and nothing will save it (maybe the setting, the setting might, the setting is good.)  I have to get over that.  Move past it.  It’s so easy to dwell on what doesn’t work, what feels or reads wrong.  I think my academic side lets me down here, because I’ve been trained to pick things apart.  It’s time to get back up.  The mini self-inflicted rollercoaster of “I suck!” and “I might not suck!” annoys me.  It’s stupid and it is stopping my writing.

In 11 minutes I turn 29.  I hope that someday I’ll look back at my 20s as the years it really started.  Addicts have their sobriety dates, I guess writers have their “got serious” dates.  Mine is Feb 4th 2009.  I’ve got a year left of my 20s.  I want to make it a good one, one where I did everything in my power to reach my goals.  For my birthday I wrote myself a check and dated it Feb 4th, 2020.  I won’t say the amount, but it is fairly ambitious, at least I hope.  As I enter the final year of this decade of life, I want to know that I didn’t let the little things get me down.  And that when they did, I got back up.

Now, I should go practice what I preach and finish some damn stories.  Because no one is going to buy stuff I haven’t written and submitted.

Whew

Even with insomnia, this last week I got a story up off the ground from rough draft through two edits (thanks OWW people!) and off to the Shine Anthology before their deadline of July 31st.   I’m not sure it’s optimistic enough and who knows what they’ll think of the contents/theme, but I figure it’s the first near-future story I’ve written and I think it’s a fairly sweet tale, so maybe they’ll like it.  If not, oh well, on to somewhere else.

So far the story a week is happening.  I just started the next one, though I need to do more research before I get more than a few opening sentences down (I want the turn of the century Ukraine feel to come across properly).  I think I’m getting sick, however, so this story might happen more slowly.  Just as long as I get three more written before I go on vacation, I think I’ll be satisfied.  Then they can go up on OWW and collect some reviews while I’m gone.  Once I get back I can edit, submit, and then buckle down and get the damn novel finished.  It’s on like Donkey Kong after I return from Worldcon.  That damn novel is taking too long and my wonderful novel edit exchange partner has been doing a great job of sending me critiqued chapters.  I need to get the final third written so I can do the edits I so conveniently have piling up.

Then… tackling Casimir Hypogean.  It’s almost time.  Once these next three shorts are done I’ll have 12 stories in the submission cycle and hopefully the edited Chwedl as well making the agent rounds.  After that there’s no excuse not to finish the rewrite of my bane novel.  I have the suggestions I got at NorWesCon, I’m armed with the plot, and damn it if I’ll let this stupid project die without giving it a shot.  Besides, I really do want to write the sequels.  Kinda have to write the first one… you know, first.

All right. Drugs and then sleep. I will not be sick. I will not be sick.  I’ve got too much to do!