Category Archives: self-publishing

Will This One Be The One?

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, was a good day. It was just the three of us this year, as our large, family gathering will be a Christmas, a change from our normal routine. I fixed a turkey dinner, but without all the side dishes. We ate our full and have plenty of leftovers. Yes it was a good day.

"Mom's Letter" was the first in the series. This is the cover my son did for it.
“Mom’s Letter” was the first in the series. This is the cover my son did for it.

But, we couldn’t find much on television that was of interest to us. So Lynda wanted to see the latest episode of The Curse of Oak Island. She couldn’t get it in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night. So I fired up the Roku, had to re-set a password (since it had been a while since we’d used it), and found the show. I had seen it, but it was good to watch it again.

We decided “why not watch some back episodes?” I intended to go to last season, which was season 4, and watch some of the later ones. Somehow, though, I went back to Season 1, so I decided to just start with the very first episode. It was almost as if I hadn’t seen it before, it was so long ago.

One thing that struck me was the similarity of the rhetoric. The searchers for treasure were saying the same thing in Season 1 as they are in Season 5. The narrator’s shtick hasn’t changed at all. It’s always one more search will get us there; we’re inches from the treasure; today may be the day; this new find gives us the motivation to keep on going. That much hasn’t changed, so far into the fifth season.

Published in May, 2011, I've sold a whopping 54 copies of this.
Published in May, 2011, I’ve sold a whopping 54 copies of this.

It suddenly occurred to me that that’s exactly how I am with my books: hoping this next one will be the breakthrough book, the book that gets widespread attention and lots of sales. My first publication was the short story “Mom’s Letter”. I had no expectations for it to sell. It was a story I wrote for a contest (that I didn’t win), and I self-published it because I didn’t have anything else quite ready, so I published it to see what the mechanics of self-publishing were like.

 

This was my first book to write, fourth publication. It remains my highest selling book.
This was my first book to write, fourth publication. It remains my highest selling book.

I was intending to publishing my first novel, Doctor Luke’s Assistant, but I didn’t feel like it was ready. So I pulled together my newspaper columns, expanded them, added fifteen new ones, and had Documenting America: Lessons From The United States’ Historical Documents. I didn’t have high hopes for this one either. It sold 30 or so copies in it’s first year.

It wasn’t until the next year, 2012, that I finally published Doctor Luke’s Assistant. It became, and still is, my highest selling book at 128 copies, adding seven to the total so far this year. Now, you’re going to note that 128 is NOT a lot of copies, and if that’s my highest selling book, how low are the others? Good observation. I had high hopes for my next book, The Candy Store Generation, being a political book in a political season. But it sold poorly: 15 copies its first year and a few each year since.

I was very surprised when this one didn't sell.
I was very surprised when this one didn’t sell.

Then came my baseball book, In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People. I thought it was good enough to sell, and would be popular. Alas, not. I sold a few more in 2016, when the Cubs won the pennant, but it still hasn’t sell.

My point is, with each publication (now 26), I’ve thought “this will be the one, the one to breakout.” But each one disappoints. I don’t do a lot of marketing, just Facebook posts. I did one Facebook ad that resulted in no sales. I’ve interviewed authors on this blog, who have sometimes reciprocated. Each of those has resulted in no sales. I did an hour long radio interview, which resulted in no sales. I haven’t done any paid ads yet. Maybe that’s what I need to do. But I’ve thought my publishing should pay for itself, and so far haven’t seen my way clear to buy an ad. Perhaps I’ll change that in 2018.

Even dropping the e-book price to $0.99 has resulted in no sales.
Even dropping the e-book price to $0.99 has resulted in no sales.

So I’m much like the people searching for treasure on Oak Island. Just keep going, sinking costs—in my case the cost of time—into the endeavor a little at a time, hoping for change, for lightning to strike. My recent publication, When Death Changes Life: The Danny Tompkins Stories, is a boxed set of six related short stories, reaching all the way back to “Mom’s Letter”. I set the price of the e-book at $2.99, and the print book at $6.00. I sold zero. I do have three pre-orders of the print book, which will happen next week once my copies arrive.

I have two works-in-progress. One is a prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant, which is more laborious than expected. The other is the sequel to The Gutter Chronicles. I actually have people at work asking for this, so maybe I should turn my attention to it. I could sell 30 copies without difficulty, and might sell 10 to 20 of the first one to people who are new at work.

But will either of these be a breakthrough book? I can hope, I suppose, because without hope there’s no reason to go on. Hope is starting to grow thin, however.

Worn Out

As I mentioned in prior posts, my schedule at my day job has suddenly changed. While still having the title of Corporate Trainer, I’ve been assigned three projects—failing projects—to manage. One of our project managers became overloaded, items weren’t handled well, and the projects moved from construction to crisis. I’ve come up to speed on each of them, one after the other, and am now tackling outstanding issues. Supposedly, two other projects, all for the same client, are waiting for me to deal with, but are not yet assigned.

So, Friday evening rolls around. End of the work day. Time to go home and forget about them, get some writing done, get my weekend work done, worship God and study His word on Sunday, and get some more writing done. I told the wife I was hoping to write 5,000 words over the weekend.

I get home Friday, and I have to prepare supper. I did a simple one, including some frozen and fresh stuff. I decided I would put off writing until Saturday (which is what I usually do), and just sit in my chair, watch television, and read. My current read is Day of Battle by Frank Atkinson, about WW2 in Sicily and Italy. I was now in the section on the invasion of Italy. This was the operation my dad was scheduled to be in when his transfer to the Stars And Stripes came through, and he was plucked off an LSI to go to Algiers, with a very high air priority. But that’s a story for another post. Since Dad soon found himself in Italy, with a mobile edition of the Stars and Stripes, I find this part of the war particularly interesting.

Alas, I fell asleep in my reading chair while watching TV. That’s not unusual. I enjoy my little naps there. It wasn’t a long nap. Soon I was back awake, watching TV. I multi-tasked, however. I took a geotechnical report from the third problem project and re-read it. I had read it earlier in the day, didn’t quite understand it, so printed it with the idea of reviewing it in depth over the weekend. I got that done.

I slept well Friday night, was up early Saturday morning, and got to work with personal filing. I usually let this pile up for a month or so, then do it over a couple of hours. Lately I’ve been doing this Saturday mornings, before anyone else is up. I don’t want to go outside and create noises there that will disturb the others. So I worked on this and got a lot done, including sorting through and marking miscellaneous receipts that I need to enter in the budget. By 9:00 a.m. I was back upstairs, ready to work outside, mainly removing leaves. But…it was now raining, with strong wind. Outside work was impossible. Lynda was to drive to Oklahoma City that day, and my main work was helping her get packed and on the road. I did that, and she got away about 1:00 p.m.

But, before she left, I sat in my chair, intending to catch up on
Facebook and other websites, and promptly fell asleep. Again, this was a short nap. I shouldn’t have been tired as I hadn’t done much physical work that morning: just walk between where I put stuff for filing and where the file cabinet is. Before long I was up and helping Lynda get on the road.

So finally, around 1:30 p.m, I went downstairs to begin writing. I had an hour I figured before heading to Wal-Mart for the weekly grocery trip. I activated the computer, opened Word and my files, opened a browser, and…the computer was barely functioning. The browser kept crashing, Word was crawling. I closed out of everything and headed to Wal-Mart.

That chore done, I went back to the computer around 4:00 p.m. and…same thing. I did a re-start and went upstairs, deciding to just read and/or watch college football. I think the minute my head hit the chair I was asleep, and slept for at least an hour. I woke up later, and couldn’t believe the time.

I pondered all of this. On a day when I had little physical work, I had three naps in my chair, one of them a long one. What was causing me to be so tired? I finally figured it must be just the pent-up emotions of the week, and the physical toll that took on my body. The intense work on the newly assigned projects, trying to keep my training activities going, plus the annual training exercise Tuesday and Wednesday, and, well, I was emotionally and physically drained. Must have been.

Saturday after supper I decided to just read, a most enjoyable activity for me. Sunday was a restful day with Life Group (I didn’t have to teach), church, a two-mile walk, and down to The Dungeon for writing, only to find the computer never did restart and it was still sluggish. I did a couple of hard boots and it still didn’t do anything. The third time it worked, while I was on the phone with Geek Squad. Naturally, as soon as you call for help, it works. Apparently the slowness was related to an update that hadn’t finished updating. Multiple hard boots is somehow the answer for this.

So I sat down to write, having only 30 minutes before I would have to go upstairs and prepare supper. I couldn’t do it. It just wasn’t enough time. I think I completed a paragraph and did a little more, maybe 100 words. Alas.

I don’t know if working with these projects is going to leave me so tired I won’t be able to write. Somehow I’m going to have to figure it out.

The Dream Is Still Holding On

I changed the final e-book cover some from this. I keep forgetting to upload it from my computer at work.
I changed the final e-book cover some from this. I keep forgetting to upload it from my computer at work.

Not too long ago I posted that I had published my latest book, When Death Changes Life, as an e-book. As always, I have a lag between publishing the e-book, which is relatively simple, and publishing the print book, which is much more involved primarily due to the cover. I uploaded the print book more than a week ago, but kept finding little errors in it: a poem that had a widow on one page; failing to start something on the right hand side; things like that. I ordered a proof copy, but while waiting on it I worked on fixing those errors.

Finally, the proof came yesterday. I had already fixed the errors, uploaded them, and had them approved by CreateSpace. So I pressed the button, and the print book published yesterday. It still hasn’t synced up with the e-book into one listing on Amazon. That typically takes two or three days to happen. Sometimes I have to turn in a manual request for Amazon to make it happen.

What are my hopes for this book? It doesn’t have anything new in it. It’s the six Danny Tompkins stories pulled together as a box set. How well did they sell as individual stories? Here’s my sales numbers, lifetime.

  • Mom’s Letter – 39
  • Too Old To Play – 9
  • Kicking Stones – 10
  • Saturday Haircuts, Tuesday Funeral – 4
  • What Kept Her Alive? – 4
  • Growing Up Too Fast – 0
Zero copies sold of this one. Perhaps the market is speaking to me.
Zero copies sold of this one. Perhaps the market is speaking to me.

Clearly, the series hasn’t caught on. Even the original 39 purchasers didn’t come back to see if there were more stories.

So, will they sell better as a volume? That is the hope. I feel badly for a couple of people who bought four or five of them early in the year. Someone coming in now could buy all six for $2.99, whereas the others paid $0.99. I suppose that’s life. They have sales. Sometimes you get in on it, sometimes you don’t. Still, what happens if I drop the e-book to 99 cents as a promotional and see if anyone bites? (Still no sales of the boxed set.) Same too bad.

But, in talking about it to people, at church and in the office, it seems like the title is catching, the subject is of interest, and a few people have said they would buy a copy from me. Some may even follow through on that. I can think of three or four sure sales.

With each book I publish, I think “This will be the one to catch on, to sell in the hundreds if not the thousands.” Alas, each time I’m lucky to sell in double digits. A few will go to 10 to 25 copies, a couple have sold in the 30s. Only two have hit 50 or more, and only one 100 or more. What makes me think this one will be different? I don’t know that it will be, but I hope.

The dream hasn’t quite died. It’s holding on for dear life, battered by busyness at the office and at home, by a tired brain and a tired body, trounced by hits from every quarter. I’m tired of late, really tired.

Still, I have to hang on to the dream. Otherwise, there would be no point of going on.

“When Death Changes Life” now published

This is the e-book cover.
This is the e-book cover.

Last Saturday afternoon, finding myself with an hour to spare in the evening (or maybe it was early afternoon), I decided to do the work necessary to publish my short story boxed-set, When Death Changes Life: The Danny Tompkins Stories. I’ve blogged about this before. I wrote the six stories to explore the idea of teen-age grief at the loss of a parent.

“Mom’s Letter”, the first in the series, was also the first item I self-published. I wrote it first for a writing contest, which I failed to win a prize in. Later I expanded it to longer than the word limit of the conference. Much later, I thought of and wrote a short story to follow it up, then another, and another, and, after six years I had six stories.

I already had the book formatted for Kindle. All I had to do on Saturday was find the interior and cover files, upload them, and fill out all the details. I did this, and published it to the Amazon Kindle Store Saturday afternoon. Monday I got it up at the Smashwords store. Wednesday I finished layout of the interior for the print book. Thursday I tried to start on the cover, but didn’t have everything I needed. Today I plan on getting started on the cover. Hopefully by Monday I’ll be ready to upload everything to CreateSpace, and soon thereafter be able to publish it as a small paperback.

So, it’s now 26 items published. Not sure how many I’ll get to.

Writing This As I Go

I don’t know if I wrote in this blog before that I’ve been sick of late. Sometime around September 20 I began coming down with a cold. It never hit me hard, and was never a head cold. It was a chest cold. I suppose it could have been bronchitis, but I never seemed to run a fever. While the cold was never deep, it sure lingered. All the coughing I did wore me out. We had the trip to Oklahoma City the last weekend in September to October 1, and the cold seemed better.

The next week, however, it came back again. I lost another day of work, worked some short days, and seemed to be better. However, the weekend of Oct 6-8 I was still coughing hard, and a little too much. I rested that weekend. Didn’t work around the house, didn’t go to church. I read and slept, slept and read, watched television. I did go to Wal-Mart for a grocery and medicine run, but that was about it. I didn’t even write a blog post for last Monday (which I normally do on Sunday), and so missed a blogging day for the first time in a while.

Monday I went to work, coughing much, much less than I had been. I got even better day by day as the week progressed. This past weekend I was able to follow a normal weekend schedule. I’m working on all eight cylinders.

So what am I up to, and what’s on my mind, and what will I do next? Yesterday I finally published When Death Changes Life to Amazon Kindle. Today I’ll try to add it to Smashwords, and tomorrow or Wednesday get the print book up. I’m feeling more confident with both interior formatting (which is 98% done) and cover creation, so I don’t think there will be a big lag with the print book.

Then, I need to work on one of three writing projects: either the prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant, or the second Gutter Chronicles, or the next Sharon Williams stories. I wrote about that recently. Other plans have been running through my brain, and I may be changing up what I do after these three.

I’ve also been thinking about premonitions. I’ve had a fair number of them in my life, and almost all of them have come true. I don’t want to catalogue them here, but some of them have been amazing. One was recently, something concerning our church, which turned out to be almost 100% true. I’ve come to the point of wondering why I get these. Is God alerting me in advance of things that are yet to come? Or is something else going on.

I think I wrote some not to long ago about genealogy discoveries I’ve made recently, specifically finding/confirming who my maternal grandfather was, and making contact with other, previously-unknown family members. That took quite a bit of time in late-August and early-September. It’s still on-going. I’ve made contact with almost all my new half-first cousins. I’m not trying to figure out how we can all keep in contact with each other, and get to know each other better.

And, of course, that leads me to much work to do finding out more about ancestors I previously knew nothing about.

Meanwhile, it’s almost time to begin to prepare for the holidays. The kids will be coming for Christmas this year, not Thanksgiving. So we will have much work to do to get the house in shape and decorated. We’ve actually begun some of that, dealing with piles of clutter.

I have more random thoughts to write, but the workday is upon me. I’ll end this. On my to-do list this week is to develop a list of blog posts to facilitate being on-time and

Book Sales – 3rd Quarter 2017

The third quarter is in the tank. Barring any late sales posted to Smashwords (which rarely happens, now that they have a faster reporting system), here are the totals.

………1Q…..2Q…..3Q…..4Q….Year
2011….2…….7……11…..15…..35
2012…16…..73……45…..22…156
2013…14…..22……16…..13….65
2014…..7…..48……25……2…..82
2015…11…..25……38……9…..83
2016…. 9……6…….10….17…..42
2017…17…..22……22
Total sales to date—524

The third quarter sales break down as follows.

Documenting America: Civil War Edition – 18

In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People – 2

Thomas Carlyle’s Edinburgh Encyclopedia Articles – 1

“Growing Up Too Fast” – 1

Of these sales, 17 were paperbacks, 5 e-books. Of the 17, 8 were books I sold personally. Of the 22 total sales, perhaps 16 or so were to people I know. A cousin bought four of DA:CWE. A coworker bought the short story. I knew all the people I sold books to. So my readership isn’t extending to more people, at least not in a big way.

I published one new item this quarter, the civil war book. That captured most of my sales, indicating my back list isn’t selling well. Still, I’m not unhappy about my 3rd quarter sales. More is always better, but I’m glad for what I have. The Thomas Carlyle book was a surprise. I haven’t sold one of those since January 2015, and this is the first paperback of that. I never figured on it being a big seller, so, again, I’m not unhappy about it.

So, here’s my table of sales for the year.

2017-3Q Book Sales

 

 

Hard to get Blogivated

Yes, look at the title. I created a new word: blogivated. Here’s what I propose for a dictionary definition:

blogivated (n): anxious to write a blog post; full of ideas for blog posts; willing to use valuable time to write blog posts

Today, I’m not very blogivated. Actually, I should say tonight I’m not very blogivated, because I’m writing this on Thursday evening to post Friday morning.

This is how the final print cover came out. Better than the draft, I think.
This is how the final print cover came out. Better than the draft, I think.

Why not, you ask? I could say busyness is distracting me, and it would be true. As I’ve written recently, I’m super busy at home, and a bit busier than normal at the office. In situations like those, it’s hard to concentrate on blogging.

And yet, to some extent the dam has broken. I feel a number of things have broken free, and I’m able to see through to a less-busy time. Some of these have been writing related. As I reported before, I was able to pull together the print cover for Headshots. It was accepted by CreateSpace on the first submittal; I ordered my proof copy, which hopefully will be here Friday. Assuming it’s good, I could authorize publication tomorrow. That would be great.

First cut at the e-book cover. It's better than I expected for a first cut. I think I'm learning.
First cut at the e-book cover. It’s better than I expected for a first cut. I think I’m learning.

In trying to decide what to do next, I worked some on four different works over the last month. I wrote and typed a few pages in Adam Of Jerusalem, the prequel of Doctor Luke’s Assistant. I pulled together the Danny Tompkins stories together into one volume, edited them, and on Thursday even pulled together an e-book cover. It’s not final, but it’s actually ahead of schedule. I worked a little on a genealogy book, titled Stephen Cross of Ipswich. I’m sure I’ll publish it, and after the work I did this week on it, I have an idea of how much effort it’s going to take. I also worked a little more on Thomas Carlyle: Chronological Composition Bibliography. I have no immediate plans for this one, but will hopefully, someday, publish it, perhaps next year.

All of that is progress. I still have many things to do. Such as purchasing a newer van. Such as selling my pick-up. Such as replacing our dishwasher. Such as making trips to OKC and KC in the next month. Such as preparing to teach Life Group this week. Such as filing financial papers, on which I’m a bit behind (though checkbook and budget is up-to-date). Such as arranging for repairs in The Dungeon from the faulty dishwasher before we quit using it. Yes, plenty to do, still.

But the real answer as to why I can’t get blogivated right now is I feel like my blogging has been fragmented lately. I have had, or perhaps I should say I haven’t taken time, to plan out some posts. I try to stay three to four posts ahead in planning what to blog about. Right now, and for the last month or even longer, I’ve had no plan. The day before Monday and Friday comes, and I have to think about a blog post and write it. As you know, some days I’ve not done a real post, just a “sorry for not posting today.” I should have said, “Sorry for not being blogivated today.”

Tonight, when leave The Dungeon (remember, I’m writing this Thursday evening), I believe I’ll work on a blog schedule. Just knowing what I’ll be posting and when should help me to be blogivated more than I am now. Yes, that’s what I’ll do.

Still Learning Book Covers and G.I.M.P.

A print book cover is much more difficult than an e-book cover. You have to consider the quality of the graphics, and having things in exactly the right place is extremely important.
A print book cover is much more difficult than an e-book cover. You have to consider the quality of the graphics, and having things in exactly the right place is extremely important.

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, I hate dealing with book covers. I should just hire this done, to someone with more artistic talents who is also learned in graphic arts programs. Alas, I don’t want to have my writing activities indebted to the family budget, so I’m on a pay-as-you-go basis. Right now, that means that, with a few exceptions, I make my own covers.

Here's the print book cover for "In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People". I want the "Headshots" to be as good as this, which was a cover I did based on the e-book cover my son did.
Here’s the print book cover for “In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People”. I want the “Headshots” to be as good as this, which was a cover I did based on the e-book cover my son did.

But I hate it. That also means I have to use a free graphics arts program, rather than expensive programs such as Photoshop or Illustrator. That means G.I.M.P. I believe I’ve also written about hating G.I.M.P. I hate it because it is difficult to use. That’s partly because I don’t understand some of the graphic arts terms, but also because the documentation is poor. I’ve found some third-party help with G.I.M.P., such as article, or videos on YouTube. But, to be honest, they all do their thing by assuming the reader/watcher know more than I do. They’ll say “after you’ve selected the layer” or some such thing, assuming I know how to select a layer, when I don’t. It’s maddening.

Here's the e-book cover for "Headshots". I wanted to improve the font some, and, of course, add the spine and back cover, making it all the right size in the right place at a good quality.
Here’s the e-book cover for “Headshots”. I wanted to improve the font some, and, of course, add the spine and back cover, making it all the right size in the right place at a good quality.

In terms of creating the cover for a print book, however, I’m starting to get more comfortable with the whole process. I didn’t say I was proficient, or that I enjoyed it, or was good at it; just that I was more comfortable. I have come to learn the basic steps needed: figure the exact size of the cover wrap; create a canvas that size; create a “size overall” layer; create a front cover layer; create a back cover layer; create a spine box layer; position these where they need to go; add words and graphics to each. Piece of cake, right?

Several times I’ve gotten something to work, but didn’t really know how I did it, and thus couldn’t replicate it for the next cover, or even for another part of the cover I was working on. For the last cover I asked one of our landscape architects at work to help me to understand what I had to do to move layers into the right place: centered, left, right, whatever. We got it to work, but didn’t really know why—or at least I didn’t.

Here's what I've got so far. I still need to improve the font on the front. But, overall, not bad. I'm not unhappy.
Here’s what I’ve got so far. I still need to improve the font on the front. But, overall, not bad. I’m not unhappy.

Last Friday, I was working on the cover for the print edition of Headshots. I want to have it out for the end of baseball season, which is fast approaching. I had begun this cover about three weeks ago, but got bogged down and left it. I started on the noon hour, but had little luck, so was continuing into the afternoon (guess I’ll charge that time to vacation). I went to the break room for coffee, and ran into our corporate CADD trainer, who I supervise. He asked how it was going, and I said “Great if I could figure out how to use G.I.M.P.” He said that was something he could help me with.

Back to my office we went, and I said I was having trouble 1) placing layers where I want them, which G.I.M.P. calls “Align” or “Distribute”; and 2) filling a layer with color. He showed me how to do the latter, though I don’t think I remember it today; I’ll see at noon. But he couldn’t figure out the G.I.M.P. commands for alignment. He’s a wiz at graphic arts, so I didn’t feel too bad.

But while he was there, I tried something. I wanted to center the “spine box” layer on the “overall size” layer. That assures that the spine will be in the right place. I tried something. I made the Align command active. Then I chose “Active Layer” as the target. Now, the program doesn’t say that drop down menu is to select the target, but when you hover the mouse over it, the words “Select target” appear. Then I went to the list of layers on a side panel and chose “Overall size”. Then I moved the mouse over the spine box on the canvas and clicked it. At that point the arrows in Alignment command box went from grayed-out to active. Aha! I clicked center, and poof! the spine box moved to the center of the overall size, just like magic.

I quickly wrote those steps out, so I wouldn’t forget them. Then I did “undo” several times, until the spine box was back out of position (I saved the file first). I looked at the list of instructions I’d written, and followed them. Again, the spine box moved to the right place. It didn’t seem like magic that time. It seemed almost logical, and replicatable.

I have a long way to go on creating covers. The graphic arts program is the mechanics. I’m slowly but surely getting to know that. The whole artistic thing—what looks good, what looks professional, what will attract a buyer to a book—is something I have to still work on. But I’m getting there. I’m almost at the point of knowing enough to be dangerous.

Publishing Tasks Wear Me Out

After a four day weekend trip to Meade, Kansas, for the funeral of my wife’s aunt, we returned home Monday evening, around 6:15 p.m. That’s what I call getting in in good time. After unpacking and relaxing a little, I went to The Dungeon, with the intent of resuming my writing career.

The e-book has been available for two weeks, but I'm just now working on the print book.
The e-book has been available for two weeks, but I’m just now working on the print book.

However, I saw that I had two directions to go in, and that one was necessary and one was optional. On the weekend I had spent some time reading for research into my next church history novel. I could continue with that, as well as re-read what I’ve written in my workplace humor novel, and decide which I would do next. Those two, together, form one direction: a writing path.

The other direction was publishing tasks. I need to get the print version of Documenting America: Civil War Edition finished and published. I need to get the print version of Headshots finished and published. On Monday evening, as I sat trying to make the decision, the former needed only a little work, while the latter had the interior done (I think; it’s been a while since I did it), and the cover needs to be done. I also need to get recent books listed on Goodreads, and a couple of short stories added to Smashwords.

I could see right away that the publishing tasks were more important right now. Yet, I couldn’t do them. Just something about them made me want to not start them. The same was true Tuesday and Wednesday. I couldn’t make myself do them. The DA:CWE cover it on my computer at work, and the interior on my computer at home. I guess it’s also on OneDrive, but I don’t really know how to use that or access it from work. But at work, in my personal time, I couldn’t make myself work on the cover. At home, I couldn’t make myself finish the interior. Consequently, Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday I got nothing done on my writing/publishing.

Yesterday was different. Thursday morning, before work started, I pulled up the cover in G.I.M.P. Just using that program makes me want to vomit. But, I didn’t really have much to do. I had one block of text I needed to change the font on, move an image a little, and I was done. I couldn’t figure out how to make the text changes. I looked in the manual, in some on-line tutorials, all with no help. Finally, I looked closer at my cover, and could see that the text, which was placed in the cover by someone else for the last book in the series, wasn’t a text layer at all; it was an image that couldn’t be changed. I quickly deleted that layer, created a text layer and put the text in with the correct font. I had the cover done and saved at 8:05 a.m.

Then, last night I took a look at the interior. I had finished it a couple of weeks ago, but wanted to give it one more look-through, just to make sure. I did that, and judged it “done”. I e-mailed it to my office (because I don’t know how to use OneDrive) to make the PDF today. I’ll do that shortly. At that point, I’ll have the cover and the interior files done, and on the same computer, and so will do the upload. I hope to have the finished on the noon hour today.

It won't be long before I'll be working on the print version of this.
It won’t be long before I’ll be working on the print version of this.

That brings me to Headshots. I think this weekend I’ll see what I can do with that. If the interior is really done, all that will be left is the print cover. That will have to wait until next week, unless I wake up my old computer (which had G.I.M. P.) and try to do it there. They say it’s to rain much of the weekend. How I would love to get Headshots done.

Adding books to Goodreads is easy; there’s just a few steps to go through. Adding the short stores to Smashwords will take a little formatting, but that should be only 30 minutes for each. Who know? Maybe by Sunday I can have all my publishing tasks behind me, and Monday I’ll be ready to get back to writing tasks. I’ll give you a report then.

I Was Talking About the Gray Cells

The temporary cover is almost exactly like the one I ended up using.
The temporary cover is almost exactly like the one I ended up using.

In a recent post, I mentioned how my mind was starting to focus on things I might be writing next. Documenting America: Civil War Edition is finished. All except the print version, that is, but I think I’m not more than two days away from having that done and submitting it for checking by CreateSpace.  I have a few publishing tasks awaiting me that don’t involve writing, such as getting the Headshots print version done. And making corrections to the Smashwords edition of Preserve The Revelation so that it can be pushed out to other vendors via Smashword’s premium catalog. Yes, I have much publishing to do.

But that’s not writing. With one book finished, it’s time to work on the next. But what to work on? I have two obvious choices:

  • Seems like a long time since I wrote this, but it's only five years.
    Seems like a long time since I wrote this, but it’s only five years.

    The Gutter Chronicles, Volume 2. The first volume of what I hope will become a series, of workplace humor about the engineering business, has been out since 2012. It’s one of my five highest selling items, mostly to people who work where I do. A couple of years ago I started the next volume, and got into chapter 4 (of a planned 15 chapter book), when I set it aside to do other things. I have the book mostly planned out, the humorous stories pulled from my past or manufactured. All that remains it to decide to write it and get it finished. Hopefully, I can find my scattered notes.

  • This was my first novel; but, if plans work out, it will actually be the second in the series, and "Preserve The Revelation" will be the fourth.
    This was my first novel; but, if plans work out, it will actually be the second in the series, and “Preserve The Revelation” will be the fourth.

    Adam of Jerusalem. This will be a prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant. It’s been on my list of things to write for some time. A few plot elements came to mind early, but not how I’m going to get it done. How do you squeeze a prequel ahead of a book when you never planned on it when you wrote the first book? You can’t go back and unwrite, or rewrite the second in the series. But ways of doing this have been coming to me. I’ve figured out how I want to open the book, and what the inciting incident will be. A few other scenes have come to mind.

What to do? The Gutter Chronicles makes the most sense, and I suspect I’ll at least give it a try. However, the gray cells have been giving me more ideas for Adam of Jerusalem. What to do? I could wrap up TGC Vol 2 in 30,000 words; AoJ will take about 80,000.

As an example of what I mean by the gray cells activating, until recently I have having a hard time figuring out how to show Adam’s slide from Judaism to adopting Roman ways. As mentioned above, I had decided what would be the inciting incident for this, but how to make it work in the story without violating anything I’ve already written in Doctor Luke’s Assistant. Well, the way to do this came to me recently. I don’t have every scene worked out, but it’s clear how I can accomplish this. I’m not receiving similar clarity on The Gutter Chronicles—although I’m further along with that book. Perhaps that will be less of gray cells stimulation and more of in-the-seat perspiration.

While these two books are prime on my to-write-next list, they aren’t the only candidates. The next short story in my Sharon Williams Fonseca series has been coming to mind. It will be set in Paris. Also on my mind is a book about the Stephen and Elizabeth (Cheney) Cross family of Ipswich, Massachusetts, in the 1600s. Last year I spent a month of intense work on this couple. It is intended to be a chapter in a book about Elizabeth’s father, John Cheney of Newbury. When I finished the Crosses, I saw I had between 60 and 80 pages (formatted as 5.5×8.5 pages), and was shocked. John Cheney had ten children who grew to adulthood. The work before me seemed to massive to continue with, so I set the project aside. However, I have the Cross portion done, and, I figure, why not publish it as a small, stand-alone family history? It would take perhaps another month of tidying up, expanding the narrative a little, and doing all the publishing tasks. I may do that, but not as the next book. Maybe after I finish whichever one I choose to do next.

So, while the gray cells are active, and I can sense writing in the near future (such as in August, if not some in July), I don’t know which book is next. Today will be a day of publishing activities. Tomorrow, who knows? I may take some time at work to read what I’ve already written on TGC. If I like what I read, perhaps that will be next.