Bob is back! The 2nd Edition of Bob Drifter is live!

Bob is back! The 2nd Edition of Bob Drifter is live!

Greetings all,

The Journals of Bob Drifter Front CoverI’m thrilled to announce the that second edition of The Journals of Bob Drifter is live! After two more editorial passes, two different design runs, a huge lesson in publishing a digital book (which I’ll blog about tomorrow), and a brief wait, my book is back on the digital shelf.  The buy page for the book on my website (linked above) has been updated for the second edition (the audio book won’t change (that was already solid). The paperback SHOULD be out today or tomorrow (I get to look at the printed proof today).  Here’s the link to the Amazon 99 cent buy page.

To celebrate, I have Bob at 99 cents during the month of November. Can you all help me get Bob’s story off to a great start?

A reminder: This is not a sequel! I did an editorial pass, and now I can set the price, which helped. I’ve explained this, but I don’t want anyone to feel ripped off because they bought a book they’ve already read.

For those interested in knowing, there are so many ways to help an indie author get more visibility. This is a perfect opportunity to mention those things. I hope those of you reading this take a few moments to do any of these things. It really helps a writer out.

  1. Buy the book. Sales always help. It’s a customer’s way of showing support so much more than it is an author’s way to make money.
  2. dragon-860683_960_720Read the book. I’ve had a lot of personal friends buy my books. They’re not readers. They love me, and want to support me, so they buy my books, which is great! The next step up is to read it. Now if you’re in the first few chapters and it doesn’t hook you, don’t force yourself to do anything you don’t enjoy, but I always tell people that the biggest thing anyone can do for an indie author is to buy, read, and enjoy the book.
  3. Leave a rating. This takes less than a second, and some people really rely on these ratings. Don’t be afraid of leaving a one-star rating, but I hope you feel Bob or Caught is worthy of a five-star rating.
  4. Leave a review. This is absolutely essential to indie authors, especially on Amazon. The book’s visibility on Amazon is directly related to the sales and number of reviews. This is why some, less ethical, authors by fake reviews (I don’t). The review doesn’t have to be as detailed as one of mine or long. It can be a simple sentence. As long as there’s a text review, you’re helping. Amazon has some strict rules on these. Goodreads is another great place to leave a rating and review. I’m a big fan of Goodreads as it’s the only social media I’m aware of that is just for reading. If you do both, that’s really some next-level support.
  5. Recommend this book to readers you know. Word of mouth is still the best marketing strategy. Most of my favorite books and authors were recommended to me. The only author I take credit for “discovering” is Peter V. Brett, who I discovered  while reading an anthology. If you know someone who reads, and you think they’ll like an authors (my) book, let them know about it.
  6. You can always like and share posts about sales and new books as well.
thanks-1183283_960_720
All stock art from Pixabay.com.

So those are just some ways to support an author. Please don’t consider this a “direction.” I’ve had a few people ask what they can do, so I thought this post at this time was appropriate. At the end of the day, all any writer wants is for people to buy, read, and enjoy his stories. Many of you have already done that. I can’t thank you all enough for the support you’ve already given. I hope those who haven’t had a chance to read Bob choose today to give it a try.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Advertisements

October Book Cover of the Month Midway Update

With just seven days left in this month’s bracket, it’s time to update you all on how things have been progressing. As I type this, we’re have a pretty solid month, which makes me happy, especially considering how slow last month was.

3,037 votes so far.

519QjKk845L
Demonhome
, by Michael G. Manning took an early lead and hasn’t let it go.

Most Voted on so far: Deomonhome has the most total votes so far with 244.

Least Voted for: Eve: Rise of the Machines by Brian Walters. This cover has 45 votes. I’d like to see it get a bit more support.

Manning is off to a commanding lead here at the halfway point. He’s pretty much cleaning up on every level. He had 26 people vote him all the way through, most of the other covers are closer to 10.  His only real threats at the moment are The Fallen Queen by Janie Marie and Chosen by R.S. Broadhead. They both have more than ten, and need about 17 more people to vote them all the way through to overtake Manning.

51KAJrNkHDLA quick reminder of how the tournament works. The easiest way to win is to have the most people vote for you in every round. The trick is you have to have the most people vote you through in each round, all the way to the final.  As an example, 100 people could vote someone through to the finals, but that doesn’t do a cover any good if he doesn’t win the first round. It’s not total votes. It’s not simple championship votes. The winning cover has to have the most votes in each round of the competition.

 

This will be the only update for this type of bracket. It’s been an amazing tournament to watch thus far, and I hope readers continue to support their authors by voting, liking, and sharing the bracket with as many people as possible.  You can vote at this address!

I’ll announce the winner is just seven days!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Let It Go: The Balance Between Deadline and Quality

Let It Go: The Balance Between Deadline and Quality

Greetings,

The Journals of Bob Drifter Front Cover
The cover is copyright M.L.S. Weech, any redistribution without my consent is a possible copyright infringement. All stock images are from Pixabay (This includes the feature photo).

As I type this, I’m waiting for the physical proof copy of the 2nd edition of The Journals of Bob Drifter. This reminded me of a few things I’ve discussed with others in the field.

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.”

horizontal-2071304_960_720I 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:

editing-1756958_960_720Develop 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.

ElelefinalHowever, 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.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

The October Book Cover of the Month Begins

The October Book Cover of the Month Begins

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.

All you have to do now is head over here to vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Submissions open tomorrow! A Call for Stories to be in an Anthology!

Submissions open tomorrow! A Call for Stories to be in an Anthology!
Power of Words Cover_FRONT
Working cover for the anthology by M.L.S. Weech.

Greetings all,

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.

correcting-1870721__340All 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 mlsweech@gmail.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.

Your bio.

Your website.

Your email.

Also please include any titles you currently have published (if any).

cup-1010916_960_720
All stock images from Pixabay.

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.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

 

NaNoWriMo: The Spirit of the Month I Never Actually Participate in

NaNoWriMo: The Spirit of the Month I Never Actually Participate in
blogging-336376_960_720
All stock art from Pixabay.

Greetings,

As November approaches, which is a pretty big month for me, I’ve seen quite a few NaNoWriMo posts, and that got me thinking. I’ve written some 10 manuscripts in my life, and I’ve never once participated in NaNoWriMo.  I’m not going to participate actively this year either. However, that doesn’t in any way mean I don’t appreciate it.

The spirt of November is to get people writing. I have quite a few conversations with people who say they want to be writers, but sure enough, whenever I ask what they’re working on, they never do. NaNoWriMo is a beautiful idea designed to force people who say they want to write to actually write.

When I’m drafting (the portion of the writing process most directly related to NaNoWriMo), I end up writing at least 1,000 words a day, and I average 2,000 on the weekend.  So let’s see, that would equate to about 38,000 in a month. So I can’t proclaim I write 50K or have ever written 50K in one month, but I feel confident I’ve done it. At one point while drafting New Utopia, I’d written 10K in a single day just to see if I could. New Utopia is a ways down the road as that’ll need extensive revisions. The point is, I commit to writing everyday.  Oddly enough, that makes me think of Christmas or one of those heritage month celebrations.

help-2444110__340I honestly love Christmas. It is, in fact, my favorite holiday, but I promise there’s a correlation.  I get upset during heritage month celebrations because they always feel like pretense to me, which is offensive. It feels like, “Today is the day we’re going to acknowledge that people of different races, nations, or sexual orientations are important.” Meanwhile I stand there and wonder why we can’t just be respectful every day of the year? Why can’t we carry on the spirt of Christmas all year?

Do I claim to be perfect? HA!  Not remotely. However, I do make a serious effort to be generous whenever possible. To me, generosity is the spirit of the holiday known as Christmas. I also happen to feel personally that it was the day my savior was born, but that’s a different subject.

I also try my best to actually ignore differences. At work, I’m very unconcerned with what color you are, where you’re from, or who you sleep with. All I care about is your ability to perform your job. I love culture. Maybe not “experiencing” so much, but certainly “understanding” it, so I’m prone to asking blunt and endless questions. If I meet someone who’s been to or from another country, I tend to pepper them with questions. I remember when a dear friend of mine became Vegan. I was amused on one degree, but also curious. You see, culture is what makes each of us special, but I’m a firm believer that when someone points out differences, you’re creating segments. So I make it a point to focus on what we all have in common (the work).

So here comes NaNoWriMo, and a bunch of people will sit down and finally start writing.  (Hopefully they’re writing their submission for The Power of Words.)

dragon-860683_960_720My feeling, personal though it may be, is that NaNoWriMo takes away excuses. It’s beautiful. I’ve never needed a reason to sit down and write, but if this is what gets young writers in front of keyboards, then I love it.

No, I’m not going to try to write 50K, but I am going to try and get another draft of Repressed done (getting Bob’s second edition on shelves takes priority). That brings me to the spirit of NaNoWriMo, and in that spirit, I offer any first-time participants this advice.

Commit to a word count, but start small in the beginning: This is all the more important if you’re cold starting. Someone who has a few books written or has at least grown to writing every day probably don’t need to worry about this step, but beware overextending.  If you say you have to write 1,700 words a day, and that first day you only manage 700, you’ll feel defeated and quit.  You will gain speed and word count as you write every day. Don’t panic or quite if you only get a few hundred words out the first week. The more you write, the more momentum you’ll generate and be able to write. I promise!

14125023_10153620371787142_2470581109568111115_o
Ironically, this image of my students was taken during a failed attempt to teach capitalization as an active-learning exercise.

Write, but just write: I see my students fall into a trap. They want the thing they’re writing to be perfect on the first try. That’s impossible. I’m releasing the second edition of Bob Drifter and even that won’t be perfect, but it’ll be better. There’s more to it, but the relevant part of this is that when I draft, I don’t revise or edit. I just go. It took me, oh, I’d say two years to learn to let go of the desire to be “perfect” when I draft. The first book I ever finished writing went through 21 additional complete rewrites. Each time, I felt more and more defeated. There were many problems, but my biggest hangup was that I kept thinking, “This draft will be perfect.” I don’t think writers ever finish a book; they just run into deadline or realize they have to let go. I leave it to you to decide how many revisions and edits you should do, but if you never write the darn thing in the first place, you’ll never publish anyway.

Make every month NaNoWriMo: Never stop. I don’t draft nearly as much as I write, but I always push forward. Lately, I’ve done a better job of committing to a project. I finished Sojourn before I worked on Bob’s second edition.  When I sent that to the editor, I drafted Repressed, and even accidentally drafted The Worth of Words. Now that I have Bob back, I’ll get it on shelves (hopefully by the end of November), and then I’ll turn my full attention to Repressed.  But even when I send that out, I’ll shift right over to Worth of Words. My point is, I’m always working. I motivate myself by finishing projects, and having that project I want to get to planned. It sort of tempts me. You see, I’m excited to write Betrayed (the sequel to Caught). That means I can’t wait to finish those other projects so I can get to this one. The more you do, the more you will do. So have fun out there. I may not be with you in function, but I’m absolutely with you in spirit.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Book Review: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
51WuQmzUd4L
Image taken from Amazon.com for review under Fair Use Doctrine.

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.

paolobacigalupiauthorphoto300dpi-150x150
Photo by JT Thomas Photography pulled from the authors website with his posted permission.

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.

Thanks for reading,

Matt