Writers vs. Cats

I started reformatting Trust with Kindle Create, and of course I've got that italics-and-paragraph-breaks problem, so I pulled out an old paper copy to check against. And a certain eau du chat assaulted my nostrils--yes, some member of the household (not me!) decided to use the cabinet I was stashing these things in as a urinal.

I think I can save one copy each of the really old versions of Trang, but I think every copy of Trust (and I had quite a few, with the proofs and whatnot) is going to have to be binned....

ALIVE (and thinking about bestseller lists)

Yeah, I'm still here and still snowed in. I needed to take a break yesterday, so I took a hatchet and chased the cats around the hedge maze out back. Good exercise, but a bit chilly.

Anyway, this post (via PV) provides a breakdown of self-published books among the Kindle bestsellers in 2011. It's interesting data, although it also really points out the limitations of bestseller data, which I think the author of the post is a little blind to. As he notes, a book could sell as well in December as it did in June and not be on a bestseller lists because books in general tend to sell more in December. The other thing to remember about bestseller lists is that they're only good for the period they cover. So, you can wring your hands about the fact that John Locke basically fell off the monthly bestseller lists in June, or you can see that he wrote 7 of the 100 titles on the overall 2011 bestseller list and realize that he's doing just fine.

The author of the post also seems oddly worried that there won't be more news stories about self-publishing, while at the same time noting that news stories don't always boost sales. I agree that there will eventually be fewer news stories, for what that's worth: The sun coming up in the east and going down in the west is not news, so as self-publishing becomes more and more mainstream there will be less news coverage of it, because it will just be the way things are done.

But that doesn't mean that self-publishing will lose its appeal. Bestseller lists not only don't give an idea of absolute numbers, they offer zero information on how much an author profits from sales, and the 70% royalty rate is the secret sauce of self-publishing. Barbara Freethy is probably making more money now than she ever has in her entire life. Why would she turn to a publishing house, even an indie publishing house? Why would she start her own publishing house like John Locke, unless like John Locke she is a serial entrepreneur?

When people worry about who is where on some bestseller list, I feel like that's the habits of traditional publishing talking. In that world, yes, you did have to sell a gazillion copies to make a living--that's why it sucked. You basically had to win the lottery in order to pay the rent. The world of self-publishing is so much more exciting to me because you no longer have to do that. It doesn't matter if you're topping the bestseller list or not, you can still make good money on modest sales.

Progress report (the I'm back! edition)

I got some work done today--and I expect extra credit for it, because I really didn't feel like doing it, the printer was annoying and wonkus, and the cats want me to spend every single moment of the day petting them to make up for the horrible trauma I caused by sending them to the nice, clean kennel over Thanksgiving.

Anyway, I input the changes to chapters 10 through 12. In keeping with this post's general theme of "I feel whiny," the changes caused all sorts of layout problems, and fixing those caused other problems later in the chapter. So it was all a big pain, wah-wah-wah, woe is me.

At least it's done. I've got child care tomorrow, but after that there's only seven chapters left to do. Then I read it over one last time and give it to CreateSpace.

And you know, if I really can't stand to do this another day, I could start writing Trials again. It's not like I have no options. I want to get it up by Christmas, but it's not a huge rush.

Progress report

I input the edits through the end of the book and dealt with the notes (as suspected, most at this point were not helpful). Now it's just the poetry left--yeah, that's gonna be fun.

I actually didn't get a great amount of sleep last night (a combination of going to bed late and the cats being so excitable that one had to be sprayed with water), but I had tea instead of coffee this morning, and that seems to have made all the difference. I don't know what it is about caffeine and my ability to concentrate--maybe it makes me so irritable that I go "I'm tired--screw this!" instead of mellowly plugging along.

Oh, and I was going through Trang in order to check on something (continuity is important!), and I realized that, even though everyone is supposed to be on the metric system in that book (metric is the future! at least it is if you're Canadian), I still have Philippe make references to feet. I'll be fixing that when I get the proofreader's copy back.

Progress report

Not too much progress to report, I'm afraid--I started inputting edits, but I didn't get quite enough sleep last night and drank too much coffee to compensate. Plus the kid was sick yesterday, and when you spend all the day wiping their nose, you spend all the next day wiping yours. The result is a mix of fatigue and distractability that just kills my writing. It wouldn't matter if the edits were just along the lines of remove this comma, insert that semi-colon; unfortunately there are some parts where I want to really smooth it or rework it, and I'm just not able to do that right now.

And the cats keep trying to eat my papers. God.

What I have to do, what I want to do

I revised chapter 2 of Trust and gave it to a writers' group to look over. And it was fun!

I mention that it was fun because to be honest, I forget about that sometimes. I bother writing at this point in my life because I enjoy it. For whatever reason (overactive superego?), it's easy for me to lose track of that, especially for something like a novel, which is a big project with lots of deadlines. I mean, writing a novel is certainly a lot of work, but sometimes I forget that this is work I enjoy.

I've always written, and until quite recently I always wrote for a living. Things changed for me rather suddenly last year, and now I no longer have to write in order to survive. And my thought was not, "Now I don't have to write!" It was, "Now I don't have to write commercial stuff!"

There's still a lot of stuff I have to do that I don't really enjoy--I don't think you ever really get away from obligations in life unless you're an incredibly irresponsible sociopath (which, for the record, I am not). For example, right now, a hell of a lot of my time and mental energy is being taken up by my rain gutters. This follows a surprisingly lengthy and complicated campaign to get the smell of cat pee out of my living room. Neither is a particularly edifying or entertaining focus.

Although some of this is unavoidable, I think there's something to be said for what Unclutterer calls living as close as possible to your ideal self--i.e. trying to manage as much as possible to spend your time doing what you really like, instead of doing what you think you ought to do (or what you think you ought to like).

Which brings me around to marketing. I met a self-published writer the other day who has been marketing herself very aggressively to local media outlets--and with great success. So of course I felt guilty I wasn't doing that. And then I was looking at Goodreads and feeling guilty that I wasn't on there, plus I'm now following Dr. Grumpy on Twitter, which means that I'm not exactly focusing on Twitter's potential as a marketing tool, so there's some more guilt.

But finally I realized that I don't want to do all that! I really, really don't want to spend my time marketing and marketing and MARKETING AND MARKETING until finally I am so unbelievably sick of this whole book-publishing-and-marketing nightmare that I'd rather hang myself than crank out another fucking title that I will then have to go MARKET!!! And you know, if I were in a situation where I needed to sell a gazillion copies or I would starve to death, then I would certainly suck it up. But I'm not.

I think it's worth it to send out review copies (if only for the ego boost I get from a positive review), and once I get Trust out I'll noodle with pricing and some advertising. But those things are basically one-shot deals--you send out copies, set a price, and buy an ad, and then you pretty much forget about it. You don't have to run around constantly buttering a bunch of strangers up in hopes that they'll like you enough on a personal level to support you.

Plugging along

I got more editing of Trust done today--nothing too exciting to blog about, although I definitely prefer this to back when I wasn't getting anything done.

To keep this post interesting, I'm going to outsource the entertainment to the Comics Curmudgeon archive of Pluggers cartoon. Because I used the word "plugging" in my title. See? It's a theme....

P.S. Today, I finally steamed the rug. I got around to it only because the cats were a little irresponsible while I was away.

Speaking of covers

This has nothing to do with anything, but I'm reading some of the Philipe K. Dick works in this anthology, and the cover cracks me up. It's Dick, holding a cat, which ought to be cute except that 1. he is holding it with its front paws crossed, which is basically a straitjacket hold, and 2. that cat is PISSED. It is PISSED and it is EYEING HIM like it's thinking, BASTARD! The VERY SECOND you let my paws go, I AM CLAWING YOU TO DEATH!!!

The hidden perils of DIY publishing

In most offices, cats are not allowed. That means that, when people are trying to print out layouts for later proofreading, they do not have to deal with a furry feline who has just decided that it is her mission in life to KILL ALL PAPER. DIE, PAPER, DIE!

Anyway, I was stupidly trying to multitask by printing laid-out chapters while at the same time laying out more chapters. This was a bad idea even after I shut the cat out, and further evidence that successful multitasking is a myth. (No, I don't care that I'm a woman--we can't do it either. And F everyone's I, I worked with teenagers a couple of years ago, and they don't multitask for shit, either--a kid staring at a small electronic device in his or her hand is not paying attention to you.) So I only got to chapter 12--I may push on and do another, or I may not.