Tag Archives: Self-Publishing

Novellablog: Letting Go, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Fear of Bombing

That title’s a big fat lie.

I let go of none of my fears (ever), and I’m terrified of bombing. I worry about what people think all the time. There is no learning to stop. It’s just part of who I am. On the other hand, there is a time to let go, if only because if you don’t, the larger project fails. That’s right about where I am now with The Kairos Mechanism.

Last night I finished all but a couple of the final edits from my friend, author and ace editor Christine Johnson. In the grand plan and timeline for Kairos, Christine is the last person to weigh in before the manuscript goes to Adjua Greaves, my copyeditor for this project. And I have a couple hours left this afternoon before I can call Christine’s edits done, but after that, I sort of have no excuse not to send the manuscript on to Adjua.

Now, careful readers will note that there is still a whole other person left to edit the thing, and therefore plenty of time for me to make changes before the text becomes permanent. So why the panic?

I guess because I’m still sort of kicking around the idea of printing some advance copies to take with me to BEA. I still don’t know what I’d do with them–I’m not booked on any panels or anything, and I’m certainly not planning on wearing a sandwich board that says ASK ME ABOUT MY BOOK. But there is a certain temptation in the idea of having a few on hand, which means I need to be reasonably certain the novella is in passably-readable advance copy state.

I just still don’t know if I am qualified to determine what that looks like. For instance, just to show you the kind of thing I’m (irrationally?) worried about: Word likes to configure ellipses without spaces between the dots. My editor at Clarion always re-configures them the other way, space-dot-space-dot-space-dot-space. But when I do that in Word, I end up with situations where there are two dots at the end of one line and one dot at the beginning of the next one. Do it the other way, and it causes problems when I justify the lines. So clearly I have to go through the entire PDF and fix this issue. File under: dumb-but-obvious-in-retrospect layout stuff to panic about.

Then there’s story stuff. I have a note in the manuscript that I’ve been vacillating about for like 3 weeks. Ongoing story issue? Critical thing I haven’t figured out yet? Nope. There’s a reference to Arcane’s schoolyard, and one of my critique mates wants to know where it is in the town. Literally, all I have to do is pull out my map of Arcane and decide on a spot. There are no ramifications to where I place the schoolyard. None. It’s also kind of unnecessary to actually place it; the story works fine without that detail, so I could reasonably just delete that note. But I need to know where it is for purposes of planning (see my earlier post on organization), and adding that one line won’t slow things down at all. So I should do it. It’s not a difficult thing. It’s easy and logically a good thing to do. And yet…I keep putting this stupid detail off, for no reason I can figure out except a reluctance to let go. File under: dumb-but-nagging detail stuff to panic about.

I could give you more examples, things to file under the following categories:

  • historical accuracy stuff to panic about
  • awkwardness-of-shorter-length-manuscript stuff to panic about
  • while-panicking-about the book-am-I-doing-enough-blogging-and-outreach stuff to panic about

And really, I invented all these categories to avoid thinking about the big elephant in the room with me right now: panic that people simply won’t like the story. If people don’t like the story, it’s not going to be because of anything left on any of my panic lists. If people don’t like the story, I have no one to blame but myself. There’s no editor and no acquisitions committee that gave me a measure of validation in advance. It’s only me who thought this was something worth writing, worth my time to complete, worth your time to read. Only me who thought it was ready.

Well, only me, my critique group, the Kid Editors, two in-depth story-editors…every one of them a person I trust. And really, if I’m honest, when I read what I’ve written, I truly, truly love it. If I twist my own arm and make myself answer honestly, however hard it is to let go, I do think it’s ready. So maybe I need to stop worrying after all.

I mean, I won’t–I’m still me, after all–but I’m going to try.


Novellablog: In Which Kate Ruminates on Self-Publishing and Jordan from Real Genius

On Tuesday I announced that I’m self-publishing a novella companion to The Broken Lands, my second traditionally published book. In the related Kickstarter campaign, I also committed to blogging regularly about the process. Keeping this commitment might possibly be the biggest stretch for me, but here we go.

So, first: full disclosure. I’m not interested in self-publishing.

No knocks against it—it’s just a business model I neither know about nor am motivated to spend time learning about. In my head, successful self-pub authors must be kind of like Jordan from Real Genius: she is brilliant at everything, has endless energy for experimentation, can do absolutely whatever’s necessary for her projects, and isn’t intimidated by having to do those things quickly.

I’m a selectively lazy human being. I am also not an artist, not a designer, not a copyeditor, and not someone who gets excited about crafting publicity campaigns. An even bigger problem for me is this: I don’t have an e-reader, other than my smart phone, because I just don’t enjoy reading in that format. Also—which is no less an issue—I like to own and collect books. So the focus on digital books that is at the root of every successful self-publishing effort I’ve ever heard of has always kind of left me unexcited. Again, no knocks—but if you saw what I was willing to do to my writing room in order to own physical books, you’d understand. I’m just not a reader of digital books.

I also–just to complicate things–don’t want to worry about whether or not I see any kind of profit off of this novella. Not this time around. This time I want to focus on learning how to create the content I want in the forms that I want.

So what’s the point, then?

Well, first of all, I want to find a way to provide more stories that will enhance the larger story begun in The Boneshaker as it is being told, while using self-publishing services that support independent bookstores (so if you read my earlier post and were wondering why I chose to do a Google Play digital book rather than use Amazon, there you go). And (bonus), it would be really nice to not only enhance the larger story, but to help drive sales of my traditionally-published books, as they’re being released.

As an aside, it would also be nice to find a way to use both types of publishing in conjunction. I’m not unbiased, as I’ve mentioned. I work two days a week in an independent bookstore, for one thing; for another, I’ve enjoyed my experiences with my editor and agent. I think those experiences made my books better by about a million miles, and both I and my books needed those interactions. Obviously there’s room in the world for both models, though, and I think there are compelling ways to combine them.

Success, for my purposes, is going to look like enough interest in this project to complete it (meaning to finance the creation and printing and digital release of the three editions I’ve announced), and to convince me that it’s worth doing again with my next hardcover release. Success isn’t going to look like an ongoing revenue stream; not this time, at least. I’ve never done this before, and the whole idea came together literally at the end of February, so I anticipate there are lots of things I’ll learn along the way and lots of things I’ll file away for next time.

But I am trying to think like Jordan: Jordan would not waste an opportunity just because she was afraid of overturning a sled on the ice. She’d make the best plan she could, get in there and give it a go.

At bare minimum, I’m pretty sure the actual novella is fairly awesome. Also, the cover is going to be gorgeous. So what else can possibly go wrong?

Don’t answer that.


Announcement: THE KAIROS MECHANISM, an Experiment in Combining Self- & Traditional Publishing

I promised news, and here it is. I’m embarking on an experiment using indie bookstore-friendly services to self-publish a novella companion to my second traditionally-published hardcover release. I want to see how the two sides of the publishing world can be combined and support each other. So I’m publishing a novella called The Kairos Mechanism this fall, and I need your help to do it. The writing’s done, and I’m really pleased with the manuscript. But I need your help in publishing it.

The TLDR in advance: it’s a Kickstarter Project, and it’s here.

If this is as far as you get, just click the link above to go straight to the project home page.

My second book, The Broken Lands, comes out this September from Clarion Books, and to accompany it, I’ve written a novella that I am publishing in three editions:

  • a beautiful paperback edition with a brand-new cover illustration by the very-brilliant Andrea Offermann and designed by Lisa Amowitz. This edition will be created using McNally Jackson Books’s self-publishing services and Espresso Book Machine.
  • a digital edition through Google Play.
  • a special digital edition illustrated by tween and teen reader artists. Each artist will be given a chapter and commissioned to create one illustration of his/her choice, in the style of his/her choice. This edition will be available here at clockworkfoundry.com, pay-what-you-like.

To finance this project, today I’m launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds necessary to pay the contributors as well as the setup and printing costs. It’ll be a tiny printing; my budget covers 300 copies. The goal for the Kickstarter campaign to pay for all of this is a whopping $6500, and by the rules of Kickstarter, I need to raise the full amount within 60 days; otherwise no money is collected at all.

See where I need your help? I need backers, and I need folks willing to spread the word about this project. I repeat: with your help, I need to raise the full amount of the goal by June 9. If we raise more, I’ll first raise the artists’ paychecks; after that, I’ll print more books.

Want to back this project? Fantastic. Go here, as soon as possible. What’s in it for you, other than the satisfaction of being part of bringing this little book into the world? There’s a full menu of rewards for contributors at any level from $10 up. Those rewards include both digital and printed copies of the novella, signed copies of my books, signed prints by Andrea Offermann, school and library visits, weird mechanical ephemera you can use as paperweights, and more.

Got questions? Here are a few answers.

Q: Why are you self-publishing? Don’t you have a publisher and a book that’s coming out this year?

A: Very good question. I’m making an experiment. In part, it has to do with being curious about how authors can use the many platforms available for self-publication to support traditionally-published books. In part, it’s because I’m obsessed with the Espresso Book Machine. But the biggest reason is that I’m also obsessed with the worlds I write about. I never stop thinking about them, and I never stop having ideas about additional stories, and I’m curious about what I can do with that extra content. I’m hoping this experience will work well enough to continue doing something similar alongside each hardcover release. I’m calling this ongoing effort my Arcana Project. I’ll talk more about this in future posts in this series, but you can read a bit about my plans for the Arcana Project here.

Q: Why all this trouble to have a print edition?

A: Because I don’t have an e-reader, and I’m in love with books as objects. This could be done cheaper, but I wanted to make sure the paperback I wound up with was something I’d be proud to see on the shelf next to my traditionally-published books.

Q: If The Broken Lands is a companion and prequel to The Boneshaker, how is the novella you’re publishing related to those books?

A: That really deserves its own post, but the short answer is this: The Broken Lands is part of the backstory of the drifter Jack, who Natalie met in The Boneshaker and who, if I have anything to say about it, she will face again. However, The Broken Lands is set in 1877, and Natalie, obviously, isn’t in it. The novella is a self-contained Natalie adventure set just after the events of The Boneshaker. It’s related to both The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands.

Q: This all sounds kind of cool. How can I help?

A: Most importantly, you can become a Kickstarter contributor. Second-most importantly, you can help to spread the word. For instance, if you are so inclined:

  • You can post Lisa’s beautiful Kairos Mechanism badge on your blog or website. It links directly to the project homepage. The code is here.
  • You can invite me to your blog for tea and a discussion of this insanity I’m embarking on.
  • You can re-tweet, comment, re-blog, etcetera.

Q: Is there a mailing list?

A: Yes. If you’d like to be emailed occasional updates on the project, email me (kate (at) clockworkfoundry (dot) com) and I’ll add you to it. Press inquiries, please use (press (at) clockworkfoundry (dot) com).

Q: Is there a waiting list for the book, or a place to pre-order it?

A: Yes and no. Yes: if you contribute to the Kickstarter campaign at one of the levels rewarded by a copy of the book (there are several levels rewarded by either the digital or print versions), you are guaranteed a copy as a thank you, as long as the project reaches its funding goal. No: there is no separate waiting list or preorder system at this time, because right now I need to focus completely on making the funding campaign a success. To paraphrase: if you want a copy, back the Kickstarter project as soon as possible.

Q: Where will the book be available once it’s released? When will that be?

A: Kickstarter contributors will get their thank-you copies between July and mid-August. The novella will be released officially at The Broken Lands’s launch party in September at McNally Jackson. On that day, it will be wildly cheap with purchase of The Broken Lands, and free with purchase of The Broken Lands and The Boneshaker.

After that, it’ll be available in print from McNally Jackson Books, and I’m working on making arrangements so that it’ll be available as a print-on-demand title from other bookstores and libraries with an Espresso Book Machine. The digital editions will be available through Google Play and here at clockworkfoundry.com

Other questions? Comment here, or email me. In the meantime, the clock is ticking. Here we go!