wellness, Writers, writing

Mischief and Mayhem – and editing and deadlines

In all my research about how to make money from writing, I’ve learned the term ‘rapid release‘. This term just means, don’t make readers wait an age for your next book. Put them out regularly so people can get momentum from reading one, then the next, then the next.

I figured I could do that, since I had three manuscripts already drafted* which are all in the same series and are interconnected. I had the start of the fourth book started and ideas percolating for more.

(*Careful readers will notice I said drafted and not ‘ready’)

Here’s where I risked failing: too short a time between books.

Or rather, too short a time to edit. I’m a fast editor when I have the time and the right frame of mind. And giving myself just three and a half weeks would have been fine if that had been the only thing going on in my life. As it was I went to Rarotonga for eleven days in that time, and in Rarotonga wifi is rare and expensive. We had enough to be online maybe five minutes a day, and downloading large files of edits on Google docs wasn’t an option.

Obviously it wasn’t all just on me either, my editor has a life and other demands on her which means she can’t just hand over pages when I want them – and I wouldn’t expect her to! She’s a great communicator, and we managed time frames just fine. It was just tight.

What it meant was, as soon as I got back from Rarotonga (July 17th) I treated editing as my full time job. I’d already done 50ish pages of the manuscript, so it was 130ish pages I had to get through, and my deadline was July 23rd, which was the last possible day I can upload to Amazon and not mess up the pre-order.

A tight time frame to be sure, but doable. Just not without stress. But I love my editor, she makes her corrections and notes clear and easy to understand, she gets what I’m going for, she cares about my characters and she inserts teaching moments in her comments. Seriously, it’s brilliant.

So sitting down and committing myself to editing full time was easy enough for two days until…

I got a cold.

Let me tell you the last time I had a cold… it was probably this time last year. I have largely been outside office spaces, and resting well and avoiding sickness making places, and this means I just haven’t caught colds. When you haven’t had a cold for a while, getting a cold makes you extra pathetic. Well, maybe it just does that to me.

So I was in that weird space where making myself a hot drink seems too hard, and I’m crying so hard over the new Queer Eye episodes that I can’t breathe through my nose, and my eyes hurt from behind and I’m still focusing everything I have on editing.

Oh, also I had to do a full day shift at zinefest… where I needed to be bubbly and interact with people and hold my own head up.

The good news is I got the editing done, and I’m confident that the story of Cody, the sarcastic and mischievious security guard, and Dean, the manic pixie dream boy who runs a roller coaster, is a good one. They’re sweet and funny and there’s some darkness and some triumph, and there’s two recipes in back in case anyone was curious…

and Monday was entirely spent on formatting and checking ISBNs and Anna going through and re-formatting all the text conversations by hand because you have to have those in san serif but Vellum the formatting software doesn’t handle that automatically…

But it’s all done. It’s uploaded, and as soon as I get the paperback cover from my cover artist, the paperback will be available as well and I can’t wait for people to read it!

preorder now

Order now

So my lesson is that rapid release is all well and good, but maybe be further along in the process than I was before you set up your pre-orders. Life gets in the way, and bodies are fragile. But having a good system of people around you is absolutely invaluable.

So, in conclusion, I’ve set the release date for book three to 21st of September, so instead of one month I have two months to edit and update and format and do all the things to get it ready to launch.

wellness, writing

Author emotions around publishing

So both times I have published a book I’ve had some Pretty Big Feels over it . I’m a big believer in emotional honesty – every time I’ve shared things which make me sound weak, or an ass or are embarrassing I get really good feedback. The more people understand that they’re not alone with feeling weak, like an ass or embarrassed or anxious the better, I think.

So.

Mostly at the point my book goes live, or the night before, I get a wave of anxiety.

Where are these feelings coming from?

A lot of places.

  • I start feeling like I’m not good enough – that despite positive feedback from multiple beta readers and my editor – what if this book sucks and I actually can’t write?
  • What if despite my writing being okay, no one buys it ever? (This is regardless of any preorders )
  • What if people do buy it, and all rate it very low because I have inadvertantly written something super offensive/racist/terrible?
  • I’ve forgotten some vital step of the publishing process, what is it?

Some of this stems from a doubt that I should have good things, or that I should get what I want. I have a lot of trouble believing I should be ‘allowed’ to have what I want, due to various things in my past.

Any big anxiety is bound to bring up other emotions as well. I might start feeling lonely because I haven’t seen X friend for a while, or that people don’t like me and are actively avoiding me. I might start thinking about shitty times in my past and revisit all those old hurts and emotions because y’know, why not?

This all manifests in stress, tension in my body, snappishness, feeling physically ill, heart racing, feeling miserable and a horrible temptation to pull the plug on the project before anyone can read it. (Again, this is regardless of however many beta-readers and ARC-readers I have already given it to).

So what do I do about it?

First, realising what’s going on helps. I don’t always connect the feeling with the cause right away, but if I sit and think about the emotions usually I can get there. Or I talk it through with my wife and she helps me find the connection.

Then it’s self care time. I make sure I’ve had something to drink (milo is good and comforting), something to eat, that my body is warm. Then I take a step back from the laptop and the process. Most likely I have done all the things I absolutely have to do and I’m just fussing. I can put the whole thing down and go off line.

Ideally I’d have a long hot bath, but I’m not currently living in a house with a bath so long hot shower is an okay substitute.

Early to bed. Or, if it’s really too early for bed, go get comfortable on top of bed with something to read. Catch up on comics, or whatever novel I’m reading at the time. Take my head somewhere else.

Going for a walk in the park usually makes me feel better but if I really need to get out of my head, I’ll do it with an audiobook or a walking meditation on headphones. Otherwise my brain might just keep on spiralling.

Reassurance is important as well. It’s hard to ask for – I don’t want to feel like a whiny needy annoyance – but looking back over past reviews or nice comments people have made can help. I even have a couple of pages in my bullet journal for nice things people have said that I want to remember.

My hope is that the more I do this self-publishing lark the easier it will get both in the actual process and emotionally.

Time will tell, but in the mean time, I remind myself that this is a great achievement. Part of me really tries not to believe this, because my Impostor Syndrome will fade if I believe it. I have to reassure myself and remind myself that I have come far.

My child self would be immensely proud to see the paperbacks of my books and hey, even if no one buys it, I got over that impostor syndrome wall and did it all the same.

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Rival Princes is Live!

Holy crap! I published another book! The eBook and paperback on Amazon

My first ever romance is live, and the second one’s on pre-order for the end of July, and the fourth is scheduled for the end of August… phew.

I make ads now!

There are three golden rules for new recruits at Fairyland Theme Park:

1. No breaking character, even if you’re dying of heat exhaustion
2. Always give guests the most magical time
3. No falling in love.

Nate’s only been at work one day, and he’s already broken all three. 

Fast-tracked into a Prince role, Nate’s at odds with Dash, the handsome not-so-charming prince who is supposed to be training him. Nate doesn’t know how he ended up on Dash’s bad side, but the broody prince sure is hot when he gets mad.

Dash has worked long and hard to play Prince Justice at Fairyland. Now, instead of focusing on his own performance, he is forced to train newbie Nate to be the perfect prince. Nate’s annoying ease with the guests coupled with his charm and good looks could dethrone Dash from his number one spot … so why does he secretly want to kiss him? 

Fairyland heats up as sparks fly between the two rival princes. Will they get their fairytale romance before they’re kicked out of Fairyland for good? 

Find out in this standalone MM contemporary romance by Jaxon Knight, set in an amusement park where fairytales can come true.

— 

Buy it now!

fiction, writing

Romance, self publishing and pen names

I’m doing something exciting – I’m publishing another book. But I’m doing it under a pen name.

Why am I putting it out under a pen name? Well, I’ve been doing a lot of research online on marketing and self publishing. The accepted knowledge is that you need a different pen name for each genre you publish, a lot of self publishing gurus preach this. This way my Young Adult readers won’t get confused expecting another YA supernatural action thriller, and my romance readers won’t pick up Suburban Book of the Dead expecting it to be a romance.

It’s also security of sorts – if people hate this book and it gets horrible reviews, then it won’t affect my “real” name.

This pen name (Jaxon Knight) will be publishing sweet, queer romances, starting with my themepark romances.

Sweet means no cheating, no dark stuff, no sex scenes and not that much swearing – there’s drama, but it’s not life and death drama. For fanfic readers, the term ‘fluff’ is a good analogue. It’s cute and heart warming. Romances require either a Happy Ever After or a Happily For Now. You have to have the main couple kiss and commit to each other at the end of the book.

Here’s the blurb:

There are three golden rules for new recruits at Fairyland Theme Park:

1. No breaking character, even if you’re dying of heat exhaustion

2. Always give guests the most magical time

3. No falling in love.

Nate’s only been working a day, and he’s already broken all three.

Fast-tracked into a Prince role, Nate’s at odds with Dash, the handsome not-so-charming prince who is supposed to be training him. Nate doesn’t know how he ended up on Dash’s bad side, but the broody prince sure is hot when he gets mad.

Dash has worked long and hard to play Prince Justice at Fairyland. Now, instead of focusing on his own performance, he is forced to train newbie Nate to be the perfect prince. Nate’s annoying ease with the guests coupled with his charm and good looks could dethrone Dash from his number one spot … so why does he secretly want to kiss him?  

Fairyland heats up as sparks fly between the two rival princes. Will they get their fairytale romance before they’re kicked out of Fairyland for good?

Find out in this standalone MM contemporary romance by Jaxon Knight, set in an amusement park where fairytales can come true.

Pre-order now to get it as soon as it’s released! (Paperback coming soon)

If you want to follow Jaxon Knight’s exploits, please check out the Goodreads profile I’ve built for the pen name.

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Writing by not writing

Sometimes not writing is part of writing.

I know that sounds counterintuitve, but it’s true. Recently I spent a hard core month writing as fast as I could. I was very in the zone, and I got a lot of progress done, which was awesome. However when the month was up, I was somewhat burned out.

I gave myself a couple of days off, and agonised over not getting more words written. I mooched around the house, watched Netflix and beat myself up about not being productive. looked at my stack of ‘how to write’ books and realised I could be doing something more constructive than agonising.

So I gave myself an official Learning Week.

I spent some time each day doing the following:

  • Reading books on how to write
  • Doing the Judy Blume Masterclass online
  • Reading articles I’d been putting off
  • Doing the writing assignments from Judy Blume in longhand
  • Researching how to be a successful indie author online
  • Reading novels for fun

It was really pleasant – I love learning, especially when it’s stuff I want to learn. I wouldn’t have had the same amount of fun if I were learning accountancy, for example.

Anyway, over the course of the week some cool things started to happen. I had new ideas of how to solve some of the plot problems in the end part of my novel work in progress. I had new ideas for possible new novels. I had ideas for blog posts and bits of dialogue.

I also learned about marketing myself and self-publishing, which was the aim, but even while taking time out to work on a patchwork quilt (not even learning!) my sub-conscious through up an idea of how to make a scene better.

Sometimes, when you’re working constantly on something you’re too close to it. You can’t necessarily see the problems or the solutions to known problems because you’re putting all your time into getting it done.

When I stepped back a little and allowed my brain to do other things, I solved those problems. For example, I woke up at two in the morning and realised I had to change Point of View for a climactic scene. Like, ridiculous timing but such a good results.

I definitely recommend giving yourself dedicated time to learn, and I’ve actually kept it up with a couple of hours a few times a week. I figure it’s time away from writing, but it’s upskilling and it’s giving my brain some time to process problems.

Recommended reading, based on what I’ve learned stuff from reading. (Didn’t get all of them read this week…)

Unleash the Beast by Steff Metal

Emotional Craft of Writing by Donald Maas

Write to Market by Chris Fox

On Writing by Stephen King

Uncategorized

Summer writers series: Death of a Writer by Naomi Aoki

This guest post is by Naomi Aoki, and part of my Summer writers guest series.

I logged into Draft2Digital (D2D) today to check on the publishing progress of a book with Amazon, surprise, surprise, it had not yet gone live. But was even more interesting; annoying as hell was the need to add another layer of kowtowing to Amazon and say that I give D2D permission to publish my books, on my behalf to Amazon. I know, you’d think the fact that uploaded my books to the D2D site and then checked a box would be all the proof that Amazon needed, it’s not for them to stand guard of me and protect me from unscrupulous publishers…. Oh wait, it has nothing to do with protecting me at all. It has everything to do with Amazon trying to further extend the monopoly that they have over the publishing industry, especially where it concerns Indie/Self-publishers.

Amazon is a monopoly, a horrific bullying one who doesn’t care about the publishing world beyond the money it can scrap from authors and readers alike. And its biggest con, Kindle Unlimited. Subscription based services by in large are a good thing; enable a wider reach of a product/service to consumers who might not take the time to try, or in this case, read a new author. But Kindle Unlimited isn’t run like other subscription services, demanding exclusivity without fair compensation. I mean seriously do you really think half a cent per page is a good deal? No, it’s not. Well, it might have been if, as an author you could continue to list your books on other platforms and not become solely dependent upon Kindle Unlimited for income. And yes, yes, I know you can take your books out after ninety-days, but the bulk of an author’s meagre income comes in that short period. Reliant page reads, the addiction to Kindle Unlimited, no matter how they despise it, is hard to break.

And page reads… well to keep up the high number of page-reads each month or to increase them further, isn’t just about promotion. It’s about pushing out more books or increasing the page count of those books – page stuffing scandals have already erupted, and I have no doubt that another scandal will occur around authors manipulating the page count of their books to earn a few more cents. I’ve seen authors put down as their goals for 2019, This year I’m going to put out two books a month. They promise they are going to be quality and while I know every author works at a different rate… but two books? Even those written at the shorter novella length… something has to give. An author’s health; the quality of their books, the growth of their writing. But I suppose when a reader isn’t paying for a book, the way in which they judge it is different; they expect less. And then there is the expectation for authors to put their work on Kindle Unlimited, as though the owe to the readers to provide to them for essentially free. And yes, I have seen comments like: I won’t buy an author’s book if they don’t list them in Kindle Unlimited.

But I am not a hamster running furiously on a wheel. I am not a chimp thumping away on the keyboard hoping to spit out Shakespeare. My writing deserves more than that and while I might make more by abandoning all my morals to shove my work up on Kindle Unlimited, you won’t see my work there.

My latest novel Crossing the Line is now available… and if you’re lucky it might even have gone live on Amazon.

Or if a Dirty Kiwi Cop and their Yakuza Lover isn’t your thing, I’ve also published a late Qing Dynasty/Victorian Historical, Rebellion.

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Readers Group: Kiwi Authors Rainbow Reads