I’m hard at work on the Alpha Draft of Repressed, which is a little more than halfway done. I’m going to make a huge effort to finish this draft and get it sent to Sara by the end of the weekend. That’s honestly an ambitious goal, but it is feasible.
Finishing that will mean I get to do another draft of Worth of Words, which means it’s time to just keep the word going about the Power of Words anthology.
I’m happy to say I’ve received a few submissions already. I honestly didn’t expect many to come in this early, but they have. I’m still hopeful to get a lot more. My intent is for the anthology to have seven stories. What I imagine is a lot of you are like me. You have the tendency to submit closer to the deadline.
I want you to know that’s completely fine. I’ve told those who’ve already submitted that I won’t start reading until the deadline. This is so I can give this project the attention it deserves. I’m a man of momentum, and I don’t do well when I have to shift gears that quickly. I like to have a project “in waiting” and a project “in progress.” For instance, right now Repressed is “in progress,” and Worth of Words is “in waiting.” This keeps me busy while I’m waiting for edits. I might have to deal with shifting gears, but if I’m reading submissions, I’m more likely to be able to do that than if I’m editing my own work. My hope is to read submissions while drafting Betrayed, Oneiros Book 2.
I hope you’re all having a proactive month of writing, and I truly hope to see your submissions during the end of the month.
The October Book Cover of the Month bracket has just wrapped up. I’m happy to report we’re off the snide we were on. This month had a solid amount of support, and I’m so grateful to everyone for helping make that happen. These brackets are special to me, and they grow more legitimate and meaningful each time we keep heading forward.
We had 4,007 votes this month.
We had another one of those months where someone leaps out and charges ahead of the crowd. Let’s here it!
The October Book Cover of the Month is…
Demonhome by Michael G. Manning! If you’re curious about how I felt about the book, check out the Facebook post that I posted when this book first landed on the bracket, here.
Manning received 297 total votes. He jumped out in front around Day 2, and never looked back.
Chosen by R.S. Broadhead finished second, which means that’ll have another chance to be the Book Cover of the Month for November. Since November only has 30 days, The Fallen Queen by Janie Marie, who fell to third, also get’s a shot at another bracket. This is actually critical (see below).
That said, Manning is the winner this month, so let’s look at his book.
Matthew is the first human wizard to possess the true heritage of the Illeniels, a secret gift no one fully understands. Alone, he travels to another world, seeking the source of their mysterious enemies. There he will discover the origin of their ancient foe, the mysteries of the past, and possibly the future of humankind.
If he can survive long enough.
In a land beyond death and suffering, he finds the true source of evil, within the heart of humanity, and their newest creation. In the search for knowledge, some doors, once opened, can never be closed.
Confession one, this wasn’t the cover I personally voted all he way through. It’s beautiful, it just wasn’t my favorite. (For the record, no book I voted number one never actually won.) Confession two, I’m still glad this book won because I had already intended to read it, so while my TBR pile still goes up by one, it doesn’t double the way it normally does around this time. I’ll buy the audio edition of this book (my preferred medium with this saga).
Here’s Manning’s Facebook page. Give it a like if you’re curious about him and his work.
I wonder if Amalia Chitulescu (who did Manning’s other BCOTM winning cover) was the artist for this one. I’m not sure. I’ll try to find out. If so, she’d be only the second artist to win BCOTM. Shawn King has credit (or partial credit) for two covers as well.
The November bracket is still under development, but it looks good so far. It’ll kick of Dec. 1.
Now, that brings up some additional news. My first ever BOOK COVER OF THE YEAR tournament is coming. This will feature all 12 BCTOM winners and four “Wild Card” covers.
The Wild Card Round: This will be a one-week bracket featuring covers that performed well, but just didn’t ever win. It will have eight covers, and the top four will earn places in the BCOTM bracket.
The Book Cover of the Year Bracket (for which I’m purchasing an actual trophy to send to the artist) will launch Jan. 1. It will be a two-week tournament. Then, I’ll laugh the December Book Cover of the Month, which will start off a new year. Honestly, I haven’t decided weather or not I will do another year. At this moment, as I type this, I’m leaning toward doing it, but it takes a ton of energy to do this. (For the record, a lot of participation in the brackets motivates me). I promise I’ll close out the year because that had always been my plan. I’ll make a decision on next year at the end of the November bracket.
I will continue to identify and select covers for each day from Amazon’s New Release section for fantasy and science fiction. If you follow and like my Facebookpage, you can see what covers will make the bracket.
The main reason I wanted to do a 2nd edition was to gain more control over the price and make it easier for people to purchase. I also wanted to be able to have electronic e-sales. Making this decision allowed me to do another editorial pass. In truth, I did three.
By my count, that means I’ve done about 41 total passes on this book. This isn’t to say I’ve rewritten it, I’m proud to say I only did about three “full” revisions. These were drafts where I changed or rearranged content. The rest were proofreading drafts, and that’s where I want to focus my attention.
There’s this term, minimum viable product. I’ll be honest, I hate that term. To me, it connotes, “get it printed as quickly as possible, and don’t worry about the quality.” Perhaps I take that term too far, but I’ve read work completed under that banner, and to be frank, it never works out well. The typos and issues pull me out of the story and away from the plot.
However, the other side of that coin is even worse. You see, at some point, you have to let it go. This is why I hold so firmly to my process. It’s the balance I’ve found between ensuring the best product I can get to my readers while ensuring I actually release something.
Too many people ever finish a book or never publish it because they want it to be perfect. Here’s the brutal truth: You’ll never be perfect. Of the 41 times I’ve read Bob Drifter, I’ve never failed to find a rather significant number of issues. It’s simply going to happen when one writes 133,000 words. Now, this version is FAR cleaner than the last, and it should be. I’ve been told that the industry standard for “number of errors” in a book is 3% (author and editor friends, I’d appreciate confirmation of this). That means I could theoretically have more than 3,900 typos in Bob drifter, and I’d still be “within standard.”
I never counted, but even after paying my editor to do a pass on the book, I found an embarrassing number of grammar errors and typos. I even noticed a minor continuity issue. (It appears Richard used to own a house that changed color. I fixed that.) I assure you, my editor did a fine job. I promise I gave my best effort the other 40 times I went over the book. The simple fact of the matter is the book will never be “perfect.” I have to give you readers the best, high-quality product I can in a timely manner. That means taking a breath, and letting the story get out into the world at some point.
I don’t in any way agree with the philosophy of “just get the product out.” Those who disagree with me are welcome to, and you can even comment if you wish. This is simply my opinion on a common topic of discussion in the industry.
What I do support is the idea that you have to, at some point, release a book.
What I recommend:
Develop a plan, and hold to it. I’ve mentioned my plan a few times in a few different blogs, but because I can’t think of any one to refer you to, I’ll just go over it.
Discovery draft: get the story written.
First draft: Fill in holes. Flesh out the plot. Read out loud until you don’t catch any errors. (This usually takes me between 3-7 “passes.”)
Alpha draft: Get alpha readers’ feedback. Take information under advisement and address concerns. Read out loud until you don’t catch any errors. (This time it usually takes me 2-5 “passes.”)
Editorial draft: Sara gets her hands on the product and provides her developmental edits. I take those recommendations into consideration and make appropriate changes. Read out loud until you don’t catch any errors. (The remainder of these “read-throughs” usually take between 1-3 passes.)
Beta draft: Send the draft out to the target audience. Apply their feedback. Read out loud until you don’t catch any errors.
Copyediting draft: This one goes back to Sara. She looks at the structure and grammar. Read out loud until you don’t catch any errors.
Proofreading draft: The last draft before I send it to publish. Simply read out loud until I can’t find an error.
Proof draft: When I get my proof (digital or physical), I read it out loud, making any changes I catch. I don’t repeat the process, I simply correct what I catch.
Is this too much for you? That’s OK, you can’t minimize. I wouldn’t be angry at someone who doesn’t do “read out loud” passes until the copyediting draft.
Arguments against my way: “What do you pay an editor for?”
I’m glad you ask. I pay Sara to catch what I miss. The more errors I blatantly ignore or don’t bother to look for, the more likely she is to miss something. I’m sure Sara would much rather I send her my best than if I send her a group of random fragments for her to polish into a book. If I did that to her, I may as well give her credit as a co-author. She’s the editor, but I’m the writer. It’s my job to give her my best product, and her job to make it better.
However, once I finish my process, I let the book go. I haven’t even looked at Sojourn, even though it’s not even scheduled to be turned in until later this winter. I followed my process, and I trust it. I’m sure people will note errors, and I’ll note them and offer my thanks to any who tell me about them, but I did my best with the time I gave myself to develop the story.
This is the process that works for me. You can use it, use your own, or use mine to develop something new. The point is, give your best effort. Don’t expect your editors to take your “least” efforts and make it stand out, but don’t edit a 30,000-word story 30,000 times and take years to release what should come out in a matter of months. (I’m delaying my releases because of a marketing and momentum plan, but those products will be finished well before my “deadlines.”)
A note: Please don’t feel insulted. Perhaps you have a different definition of “minimum viable product.” I’m happy to hear it, though I’ll probably still disagree, it doesn’t make you wrong any more than it makes me right. Like I said, find what works for you. The point is, give your products the love you want your readers to give those products, but remember they can’t love the books at all if you never publish.
What I hope is this post motivates you to publish that book you’ve edited 40 times. Get that story out in the world because you worked hard on it. If you’ve just finished the first draft of a product, do the story a favor and give it a few passes to make sure it’s the best it can be. Perhaps if they called it “most timely viable product,” I’d be more willing to accept it, but that’s not the case.
I hope this motivates you either way. I’m very eager to hear editors’ and authors’ opinions on this matter.
November’s bracket has 31 new books. Last month’s runner up, The Festival of Trial and Ember, by Logan Miehl, also has another chance to win the month.
You can vote all the way through the tournament, supporting the covers you like best through each round. I like to make sure people get the credit they deserve, so please show your support. Please vote and share as much as possible to get people a chance to pick their favorite.
As always, I’d appreciate it if you tag the authors and artists if you know them. I try to tag or friend every author I can, but sometimes it’s hard to track someone down. Max participation is a huge deal to me. The more people who vote, the more recognition these authors and artists receive, and I want this to be as legitimate as possible.
If you are the author, let’s remember to be good sports! 1) Please feel free to message or contact me at any time. 2) Please feel free to like, share, text, ask for support, and call everyone you know. I absolutely want max participation. However, if you’re going to offer giveaways or prizes, please offer them for voting, not just voting for you.
Also, while your summoning your army of voting soldiers, please make sure you ask them to vote in every match. Part of the idea of this is to get exposure to as many artists and authors as possible. By all means, if you can get 1,000 people to vote for your book, do it. Just please also send some eyeballs to the other matches.
A final note to authors and artists: I currently have links to the books’ Amazon pages. If you’d prefer I switch that link to sign up for your newsletter or like your social media page or whatever, just send me the link and let me know. I want this to help you. I want this to be as helpful as possible, so whatever you need me to do to facilitate that, just let me know.
Also, this will be the next to last month of the year. After November’s tournament, I’ll have been doing this for a year. (WOW!) That means the Book Cover of the Year tournament is coming. I’ll start out by having a Wild Card bracket, featuring eight covers that came close, but didn’t quite make it. Those covers will be runners up or high-vote earners. The top four from THAT bracket will be placed in the Book Cover of the Year bracket. The Book Cover of the Year Wild Card Bracket will kick off just as soon as the November Book Cover of the Month tournament ends. If you want to leave a comment for a cover you liked that didn’t get in, feel free. I’ll consider the options, though I think the ones I’m looking at now all have a justifiable right to be consider wild card entrants.
That’s still a month away. For now, please have fun with October’s bracket.
I hope you keep having fun. Please, vote, share, and discuss as much as possible.
I’ve been posting about it for a while now, but tomorrow’s the big day (hopefully)! Since it’s the first, and I do the Book Cover of the Month every first, I thought I’d make this post today.
This is the official opening of submissions for The Power of Words.
The Power of Words is a science fiction / fantasy anthology inspired either by the First Amendment or the prompt of the title.
Submissions must be absolutely no larger than 30,000 words. Any entries totaling more than that will be immediately discarded.
There is not limit on the number of your entries. You can submit as many stories as you like. They must be either science fiction or fantasy (anywhere in that range). Please submit the highest quality product you can deliver. While I will be making a content edit on all selected pieces and paying my editor for her proofreading services, I need you to deliver a product you’d stand behind.
Seven entries will be selected to join my contribution. Selected contributors will receive 10 percent of all online sales. They will be allowed to order physical editions through me (Order plus shipping and handling), and authors will be permitted 100 percent of any personal point of sales. Online royalty payments will be made quarterly, on the last day of the month. Please have a Paypal account, as this is the simplest way to make a payment. I’ll try to work something out with each contributor, but life is just far easier if you have Paypal.
All selected authors will be expected to market the book as well. This is important as I’ll openly admit I’m not a good marketer. I’ll do my end on my social media accounts and with book promotions, but every author should do his or her part.
Entries will be accepted from Nov. 1 until Nov. 30. Once submissions close, I’ll post an update on reviews and when people should be notified. Anyone submitting this does not submit their rights to the story. Contracts detailing rights will be sent directly to the seven selected authors.
Entries should be emailed to email@example.com. Please type, “My Power of Words Submission” in the “Subject” line. Please include:
Your name and pen name if applicable.
A brief (50-100 word) summary of your story.
Also please include any titles you currently have published (if any).
I’ll be selecting the contributors. Selected contributions will be determined on the quality of the story and only the quality of the story. For those of you interested in what I find high quality stories, I’ll say I connect best with stories containing sympathetic, proactive characters. All stories will be considered, but I thought it fair to let you know what I find the most value in.
I’ve never done anything this ambitious before. As I’ve said, I’m honestly not sure what’s going to happen, but if one never tries something, one never achieves it. This could be huge; it could fizzle out before it gets started. I fell in love with the idea, so I felt the need to at least try. I’m happy to report I have had some interest, so we’ll see how this goes.
I can’t wait to update you all on how things are going with this effort.
Spoiler Free Summary: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi is a science fiction novel in which Anderson Lake, a calorie man looking for a way to insert himself into a position to get a look at seed banks for foods believed to be extinct. Taking place in a futuristic Thailand, this book combines social and political intrigue. Anderson stumbles upon a “new person,” also called a Windup, and that chance meeting puts his life, and the very political balance of Thailand in danger.
Character: Honestly, the characters are a bit weak for me. Anderson isn’t very sympathetic. Emiko, the Windup, is sympathetic, but she’s not proactive. I’ll admit her lack of productivity is due in large part to her character flaw, which does add tension to the story, but it frustrates a guy who lives for sympathetic, proactive characters. This book isn’t without stars though. The Tiger of Bangkok is this books best character by far. Note my bias mentioned above. Emiko is fascinating in a lot of ways, but she spends a good deal of the book doing very little.
Exposition: This is better. The author moves things along, letting the reader figure things out or simply move with the plot. There’s not a lot of info dumping, and that counters the slow place created by the description.
Worldbuilding: To me, this is why this book deserved the awards it’s won. This world and these points of conflict are as visceral as they are allegorical. This fantastic world is fascinating for those who like high, speculative science fiction concepts deep with meaning. I won’t lie, it’s not actually MY cup of tea, but I have to tip my hat to this world building. Should the author combine this level of world building with stronger characters, I’d be over the moon. This book’s conflict is the world itself. It has disease, economical strain, and political rivalry; and all of these elements make the setting a tragically wondrous place to visit.
Dialogue: This is fairly average, and there are some scenes here where the dialog seems to slow things down.
Description: In a book where the world and culture are so integral to the plot, it’s fair to expect a lot of description. I think these were necessary elements. Again, fans of books like Dune will love it, I just prefer stories more based in character than setting. That doesn’t make this a bad book, just not the flavor of ice cream I prefer (and everybody likes some flavor of ice cream!). What I will say is the degree of description, which really slows the book down in my opinion, is what makes the world and the culture in it so spectacular. I don’t think you can have world building like this without a lot of description.
Overall: Fans of deep, visceral science fiction like Dune will love this story for its fantastic world building and intricate plot lines that position characters against the setting in a fantastic man vs man vs nature triangle. This book sings to the heart of science fiction by asking tough questions about society and evolution as only science fiction can.
I’ve been so caught up in getting the second edition of The Journals of Bob Drifter done, I honestly forgot what day it was. The good news is I’m 82 percent through the final proofread. I’ll announce the Book Cover of the Month tomorrow, so stop by for that. If you haven’t already voted, please do so here.
Sorry for what amounts to an excuse for why I don’t have a post today, but I really am trying to get this out and available as soon as possible.
Oh! I got my first alpha reader feedback for Repressed (Thanks again, Grace!). Early feedback is very positive! So I’m hard at work. See you tomorrow!