Category Archives: The Gutter Chronicles

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.

Unfinished Writing Projects

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy intention for today was to write a lengthy post on the status of several writing projects. However, two things intervene. First, I’m in New Orleans on a business trip. I’m not sure I feel like taking time to do a detailed analysis of my writing-in-progress. Second, since around Sunday my gumption for writing has tanked. At present I don’t know that I care much if I write any more or not. The reasons for that are complicated and I won’t go into them here. Suffice to say these are not the days for me to be making bold plans for adding to my published titles.

I will say a few words about my projects. The easiest one should be to publish my last short story, “Sierra Kilo Bravo“, at Smashwords, making it available to Nook, Apple, etc. That means pulling up the file for the Kindle publication, making a few simple changes, and hitting Publish. Along with that I want to republish the other stories in the series to add a link to this one to it. Also fairly simple. But I haven’t felt like doing it, now a month since it went live for Kindle.

Another fairly easy project will be to correct typos in my two baseball novels, In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People and Headshots. I re-read them some time ago on my Nook, found enough typos in each to warrant fixing them. This is a one-day project for each book. So far, I just haven’t felt like it.

SBC book front coverThen, I have some typos to fix and new data to add to my family history book, Seth Boynton Cheney: Mystery Man of the West. This is a little more complicated. It’s a print book, so unless I want to have the cover redone due to pages added I’ll need to add the new data without too much lengthening. The good news is I sort of planned for this, putting a couple of blank pages at the end of the book. So long as the new data doesn’t take up more than them, I should be okay. I have some of these marked, and one of my wife’s cousins also marked some. She didn’t give them to me, but will when I ask her. This should be my priority, I suppose, but so far—you guessed it—I just haven’t felt like it. A related project, some cousins have asked me to publish a color edition of this. That will require rework of the cover, since the page thickness is different when you print in color, but otherwise is a simple thing. I need to do that right after making the corrections to the black & white edition.

So what does that leave as far as w-I-p go? I have three books started:

  • Preserve The Revelation. This is a sequel to my first church history novel, Doctor Luke’s Assistant. A couple of years ago, when in a period of uncertainty as to what my next project should be, I wrote the first chapter of this. Since then ideas for the book continue to find their way into my conscious thinking.
  • Documenting America: Civil War Edition. This would be the next in my Documenting America series. I got well into this last year and early this year. I’d guess it’s 40 percent done. I have pushed this far from my current thoughts.
  • The Gutter Chronicles, Volume 2. The first volume was a reasonable success at the office. I’ve completed three chapters in that, and am well along with the fourth. It’s been over a year since I’ve worked on it, but I’d say I’m about 20 percent done. Ideas for remaining chapters of this have been bubbling up of late.

TCEEA print cover 01That leaves my two Thomas Carlyle projects, wanting to join their brother on my virtual bookshelf. These are the two I’m actively working on. At the office I use my free time to work on Thomas Carlyle Chronological Composition Bibliography. At home I use free time to work on Thomas Carlyle’s “Chartism” Through the Ages. Both are well along, though neither is close to being done. They are perhaps silly things to work on, as neither would be a commercial success. However, at least these two are holding my interest.

Well, this post ran longer than I expected. Still, it’s the short version. I write it not so much as to inform you, my loyal readers, about what’s coming, as to help me bring order to the chaos that’s happening in my head and finding it’s way to paper and pixels. May the order come soon.

Progress on “The Gutter Chronicles, Volume 2”

I began writing The Gutter Chronicles as a lark, to add a little humor to a stressful workplace. They were a series of “episodes” in the life of Norman D. Gutter, a newly graduated engineer who goes to work for a company named I.C.E. Engineering. Many odd and funny things happen to him.

At first I shared these episodes, one by one, with a few people at the office who I knew would distribute them around. This was in 1998 to 2002. But other things soon crowded out my Gutter time, and I let this lag. Sometime, maybe around 2008, I decided pick up the series again and finish a volume from this. I did so, and in October 2012 published it as an e-book: The Gutter Chronicles, the Continuing Saga of Norman D. Gutter, Engineer, Volume 1. Finally just last month I put it out as a print book as well.

Now, I’m engaged in writing the second volume. The first comprised 15 chapters and covered Norman’s first year with I.C.E. The second volume picks up where the first one leaves off. Several events in Volume 1 will come back in Volume 2 as things left hanging that Norman will have to deal with. Volume 1 included some trite characters, really caricatures of engineers and bosses and draftsmen and public officials. Volume 2 we’ll see more of that, again in 15 chapters with those same characters returning and new characters introduced. Ira Cheatum and Monte Grubber are two of the new, along with a landscape architect I haven’t named yet.

The flirtatious Malinda Mayes will be back, sending out her GUS Alerts, trying to get Norman off alone somewhere. Ned Justice will be wearing his jogging suits, the top unzipped, revealing a sweat soaked t-shirt. Uriah Serpe will charge off after his whims like a wild bull. And Norman will have a couple of love interests to consider.

At present I’ve completed three chapters, and the fourth is well along. The book is mostly planned out. Chapter subjects and names have been identified. I’m not working very quickly on it. One or two days a week I add a few hundred words. I have just over 9,000 words at present. The last volume came in at 33,000 words, clearly novella length. I’m running ahead on word count as of the end of chapter 3.

My main problem is trying to make this humorous again. I tend to drift off into serious presentation of engineering issues. The only feedback I’ve received from anyone in the office who bought the first book is from a woman who has been here almost as long as I have. She laughed uproariously at the first half, but thought the second half not as good. I suppose the second half isn’t as funny.

So I’ll have to watch myself, and make sure I keep things funny. Not sure how much humorous material I have, but I’ll keep looking and keep trying.

Almost a Book Signing

One of the things a self-published author is likely to not have, which a trade published author will have, is a book signing. That’s not an awful problem, as writers on both sides report that book signings really don’t bring a lot of people or sales to the writer. Still, there’s something magical about book signings. Just having one will, I would think, cause you to dream of long lines, piles of books flying off the table, and many fans saying nice things to you.

Yesterday my order of 25 copies of The Gutter Chronicles arrived at the office. I had pre-sold 19 of these (15 in the office; 4 offsite). I immediately began signing them, distributing, and collecting $8 per copy. I sat at my desk and signed. Then I took the copy across the building and delivered it. Then I went back to my desk and repeated the process with the next one. As I did this, two other people bought  the book and I signed the copies.

No, it wasn’t a book signing. But it was the first time I signed books in quantities and gave them to readers. It was a good feeling, even if it wasn’t a book signing. Perhaps, some day, I’ll have one of those too.

Typos are Killing Me

I consider myself a good typist and good proofreader. But, as the experts say, it’s difficult to proofread your own work. This has certainly come home to me lately.

First, in March I published the e-book version of Thomas Carlyle’s Edinburgh Encyclopedia Articles. I did much proofreading of the text, especially in the two longest articles, which were from optical scans and had all the usually scanning errors in abundance.  In April I was putting the print book together, which included my first print cover creation using the graphic arts program G.I.M.P. I posted the cover to my self-publishing diary at the Absolute Write forums, and a person pointed out a typo: Enclyclopedia instead of Encyclopedia. It wasn’t published as a print book yet, which made it easy to change. I clicked the “publish” button in April.

After I did, I had an odd feeling that I didn’t remember the contents of one article. I was pretty sure I had proofread all the articles twice, and the two difficult ones three times. I pulled out the print book and read that article. Sure enough, somehow I had skipped that in the proofreading. I then went through it, and found one optical scanning error. Not awful, but something I shouldn’t have let slipped through. I haven’t yet corrected it and uploaded revised versions for print and e-book.

Then, earlier this month I published my short story “It Happened At The Burger Joint“. Shortly after I did I posted about it on my Facebook personal page and author page. A FB friend pointed out to me a typo on the description. I think it’s a “the” that should be “they”. Since I was waiting on the Smashwords premium catalog approval, I decided to wait to fix the typo until I had that. That approval has come through, but busyness has prevented me from fixing the typo.

And last, in October 2012 I published the e-book version of The Gutter Chronicles, Volume 1. It’s a novella, not a full length novel. I’ve had only eight e-book sales of it. Finally last month and this I worked on completing the print version and getting it up for sale. I did that, ordered the proof copy, and did some spot reading. Found two typos, not awful ones. I decided to go ahead and publish it with the typos and fix them with a revised version ASAP. It went on sale around June 8.

My wife hasn’t read it, so last Saturday we read it aloud to each other, each taking a chapter or two and switching off. As we were reading, here and there we found a typo. At a few other places I noted where I could have worded something better. We marked those as I went along. Last Sunday I made the changes in the print book and uploaded the new version. It went live Monday (yesterday) evening. Error free? I hope so, but make no such claim. Since then I’ve typed the corrections in the Kindle version and uploaded them. The revised version went live sometime during the evening. Tonight I hope to make the corrections to the Smashwords edition.

These are way too many typos. I realize that even books by trade publishers have typos, that proofreaders are fallible people who don’t catch every error. But doggone it, I have to do a better job than that.

THE GUTTER CHRONICLES paperback is available

Print Cover-02

This morning the paperback copy of my novella, The Gutter Chronicles, Volume 1, went live at CreateSpace, and will soon be at Amazon. This was a long time coming. I published the e-book version of this in October 2012. At that time I had a place-holder cover, a poor one I had someone at work throw together for me. The cover made the book not worthy of inclusion in the Smashwords premium catalog, and thus was not available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc. Not her fault: she did exactly what I asked her to do. Finally, about two months ago, I found time to put together a better cover. I did this using G.I.M.P., and am pretty sure I blogged about this here.

Finally, last weekend the formatting of the print book version came to the top of my to-do list. That took one evening, working with headers, footers, page numbers, table of contents, page sizes, etc. That was the easy part. Then came the cover, which was the hard part, given the combination of lack of artistic talent and knowledge of graphic arts software. But I managed to do it. CreateSpace accepted the cover on the first submittal, so I did something right with the mechanics. The back cover text was messed up. When I redid it it was still messed up (tiny size), so a friend at work helped me create a PDF of it for submittal. It worked; I swapped out the cover and used a slightly modified interior file; and clicked “publish”. It went live this morning at CreateSpace, and will soon make its way to Amazon proper.

I have seven pre-orders so far, and hoping to get twenty. That will be a very nice boost to my June sale figures.

Print Cover-02 418x315

More On Creating Book Covers

I now know enough about using G.I.M.P. to create book covers to be considered dangerous. Last night, on coming home from the office, since the wife was resting and there was no immediate need on either of our parts for supper, I went straight to The Dungeon and began tweaking my two latest book covers. The one for Thomas Carlyle’s Edinburgh Encyclopedia Articles about killed me to have to do, since it had been accepted on first submission. But the glaring typo right on the front cover had to be fixed. I also decided to add some quotation marks to the back cover.

I made the tweaks, saved it in three different file formats, and resubmitted it to CreateSpace. At the same time I resubmitted the interior of the book, which needed two typos corrected and a minor tweak to the margins. So here’s the final cover for TCEEA.

TCEEA print cover 01

After that, I went back to the cover for The Gutter Chronicles. Even though it’s an e-book cover (at this point, at least) and thus should be easier than a print book cover, I’m finding it harder. The problem is the text I’m pasting over the photo of the computer monitor needs to be put in a double perspective view. It’s tilted back from bottom to top and from right to left. This looks like it should be easy with G.I.M.P. You just select the text layer, call for Transform Tools > Perspective from the menu, grab the four corners of the layers one at time, layer by layer, and click Transform.

The problem is, my text is in several layers. This is because the normal spacing between lines of text in a word processor (and the G.I.M.P. text entering window is a simple word processor) is too great for them to look good. Printers call this “leading,” and so I put each major line of text into separate layers (text boxes) and move them closer together than a word processor will allow. But then, in doing the double perspective work, I need to do that with each layer of text.

That wouldn’t be a problem, I imagine, if I understood what I’m doing. when I grab the corners and move them, a table of six numbers changes, the numbers going from zeroes to other numbers, some positive, some negative. The numbers are to five significant digits, and control of the mouse is such that getting the edges of the text in the right place is difficult. Fortunately you can undo and re-do to your heart’s content.

Of the five text layers, only one seems to be in exactly the right spot. So I wrote down the six numbers for that one, and went to work on the others, but the mouse control to get the numbers on those other layers to be perfect is impossible. And you can’t just click on the table and enter the perspective numbers you want. Thus, I have five layers of text, one at a perfect perspective and four at odd perspectives. Here’s where the cover stands now.

TGC-Vol 1 Cover

You can see how the lines of text aren’t all at the right perspective. My name on the “nameplate” is good, but the others are all askew. I’m sure G.I.M.P. has a way to handle that. There are Path commands, which perhaps allows one layer to have the same attributes of another layer. Maybe there’s a way to get into that table of perspective numbers and enter them, and—poof—the layer will go to exactly the right perspective. I’m still learning, and have much, much more to learn.

But, for now, this is the cover. And, I just sold a copy! I posted the new cover and link to the Kindle version on Facebook, and one of the women in our Accounting Department bought one. We’ll see where it goes from here. I must get back to doing some writing, and set covers aside for a while, but more work in G.I.M.P. is not far away.

More on Learning G.I.M.P.

So I’m still working on learning G.I.M.P., and the whole process of creating book covers with graphics software of good quality, not with PowerPoint, which is borderline-suitable for e-book covers but not for print books. I downloaded the program, and at first sat there stunned at what I was looking at on the screen. Three windows, not touching each other, and no idea of what to do next.

As I’ve told people before, the only two things you really need to know about software is how to open the program and how to get help. I had the program open, and I had downloaded the user’s manual, so I opened that and started reading. The first twenty pages were about how the program came to be, who the creators were, and how to use it with various operating systems. Someone needs to know all that, I suppose; I just wanted to know how to create a book cover.

Eventually I came to some things I needed. How to create a new graphic image. How to manipulate the graphic once you had it open. I must confess to some impatience on my part. I didn’t read all that far into the manual before going back to the program and proceeding. I don’t know which way would have been faster for me. Normally I learn well from written instructions. The problem with these instructions, however, were they weren’t really explaining things. They assumed someone understood certain terms they were using. But I didn’t. So I decided to just dive in with the menu system and see what I could accomplish.

Slowly, mistake by mistake, my cover for the print version of Thomas Carlyle’s Edinburgh Encyclopedia Articles began to come together. Fortunately G.I.M.P. has very good “un-do” features (and re-do as well) that allow you to see exactly which step it was you did incorrectly and go back to how it was before that step. A lot of things I didn’t understand. Often I had to erase things I’d done and start over. Eventually I did ok, created the cover, submitted it, and CreateSpace said it met all specifications for a print cover. The first time! Yea!

Last night, with three-year-old grandson Ezra in the house (the third night now), I didn’t expect to get much done. But another cover I had to work on was for The Gutter Chronicles. Not a print cover right away, but an e-book cover. Smashwords didn’t like the one I had, and wouldn’t distribute the e-book to their premium catalog. Thus it won’t be for sale at places such as Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and others. The cover was this.

Gutter cover__2013-06-11

I had wanted to show a computer screen with a little bit of office showing around it, and the words of the book title and author name on the screen. I put the words on the screen, in the largest font possible, and took a couple of photos at high resolution. Unfortunately, the flash obscured the words on the screen. I should have figured on that. So I sweet-talked the Spiff Lady in the office to do that cover for me, and used it as a place-holder for a future cover. Since I’m learning G.I.M.P., the future is now. So last night, after Ezra went to bed, crying, I headed to The Dungeon and got to work. I had uploaded the photograph I wanted to use to Dropbox. My plan was to just paste the words I wanted over the computer screen, on a white background, to cover over the flash image and make it look like a computer screen. Of course, the screen was tilted backwards a little, and the camera was at a horizontal angle to the screen. This mean I’d have to put in something other than a rectangle, and that the words should also show this dual perspective.

That was both more difficult and easier than I expected. I thought I would have to jump through many hoops to make that happen, but a writer friend, Veronica Jones-Brown, who has created a couple of covers for me, said that this should be on the Transform menu, probably as “Perspective”. Sure enough it was. It took me a while to figure out how to use it, but I started to get the hang of it. I created the opaque white layer, sized it to match the computer monitor in the photo, dragged it to where it needed to be, and pulled two edges into the perspective needed. It wasn’t perfect, but it was close. Then I typed the words, in five separate text layers so that I could drag them where I needed them to be. Putting them in the same perspective as the monitor turned out to be difficult, and I don’t have it correct yet.

The other problem I had was that the monitor was too small, relative to the size of the full cover, to hold all the words and make them readable at small size. They would be okay at full size, but not in a thumbnail. So I decided to pull my name off the monitor, and create a black layer under the monitor to serve as a nameplate. I pulled it into perspective—not quite exact yet—and pasted my name in and pulled it to perspective as well. By this time I was a little handier with this perspective thing and the name looks good. I saved the graphic, and exported it also as PNG and JPEG files, saving them all to Dropbox. Showed it to the wife on my Nook, and she liked it.

So, here it is.

TGC Vol 1 - Cover

It’s not finished yet. Tonight, or this weekend, as Ezra allows, I’ll have to tweak it in several areas. The white line along the right side isn’t supposed to be there, and I need to improve the perspective on most of the layers. But, at this stage of my cover creation “career,” I’m not unhappy with this.

One thing I decided to do, at the last minute, was add “P.E.” to my nameplate. Non-engineers won’t understand, but engineers will, and that’s a good chunk of my target audience.

And the Words Keep Coming

As explained in other posts, I’m working on several writing projects at once. I recently completed a short story, which is now simmering as I figure out what to do about it. I’m working on Headshots, a sequel to my baseball novel. And I’m working on volume 2 of The Gutter Chronicles. I’m doing this last one in off moments at work.

Tuesday I finished the first chapter of The Gutter Chronicles, Volume 2. I proofed it Wednesday and added one small item. It’s 2850 words, which is about right for a chapter in this book. This is meant to be a humorous book, taking workplace situations in an engineering company and turning them into funny stories. Yes, things that have happened to me over the years are finding their way into the book.

Humor may not be my writing strength. In fact I’d say almost assuredly it isn’t. Yet everyone who’s read volume 1 of TGC say it’s very funny. So maybe I’m  not too bad at that. But how can that be? I’m a serious novelist.

So as I was writing this first chapter, beginning a month or more ago, I came to realize it was more dramatic than funny. I needed to “funny-it-up” somehow. I put it aside for almost a month, trying to think of how I could do that. It wasn’t devoid of funny moments, but it just wasn’t as funny as I wanted it to be. As I walked on noon hours, or as I commuted, it was on my mind.

So Tuesday I was at my computer at noon, not being able to take a walk due to the weather, and decided to pull the story up and work on it. I re-read what I had in the chapter, and an idea of what to do came to me. What if I had Norman Gutter, the main character, hallucinate. He was very sick from a tick bite, though he didn’t know that’s what caused it. I had him go to the hospital and, in his painful and energy-less state, I had him begin hallucinating about the people and things he saw. I had him see the different people he worked with in not very flattering ways. Finally, as the doctor begins to examine him at the hospital, he has a hallucination about her just before he passes out.

Is it funny enough? That, of course, is the question. I proofread it quickly, saved the chapter out as a PDF, and e-mailed it to our HR assistant in the office. She read all of the first volume and enjoyed it. I figured if she saw this chapter as good, and funny, then it was okay. She e-mailed me back that afternoon: “Laughing out loud. Definitely a good read.” So I think I nailed it.

Now this morning, in the time I had before work, I decided to work on Chapter 2. I knew exactly where to start, because of where I left Norman at the end of chapter 1. So I began typing and soon found it was 8:00 a.m., time to begin work, and that I had 650 words typed in just a little more than half an hour. Wow, that’s more than I usually get in that little time. I’m not into humorous parts right now. That will have to come later in the chapter, maybe on my noon hour today. Or, if that doesn’t work, then next week. It would be nice to have two chapters finished by the end of next week. I’d feel good about the book at that point.

How interesting I find it that the words just come when I need them. I suppose it’s not really the words, but the ideas. I’ve found this to be true for quite a while now. In Headshots I’m at the sagging middle, that point in the book where a writer struggles to keep the action going as the hero works toward the climax. As I reported in another post, last weekend I added 3,800 words to the sagging middle. Things I hadn’t much thought about gelled into ideas, those ideas found expression in words, and I was writing, pushing the story forward.

I don’t know that it will always be this way. I might find myself at times where I have absolutely no idea what to write next, so I re-read where I am in the story, and the ideas just come and the words quickly follow. So I suppose this mean, I am a writer.

Sales Begin in December

‘Tis the season…for book sales. People buy them for other people, and they buy them for themselves. As a writer trying to earn a little money from his sales, I’d like to be able to tap into some of this.

Last year I didn’t really see a spike in sales in December. They were the same then as in November 2012, both below monthly sale average. I’d seen an increase in December 2011 over the rest of 2011, but not so in December.

But it’s now 2013. Book sales have been abysmal in general. I have more titles available but have sold fewer books than in 2012, many fewer. In fact, so far none of my titles has sold in double digits for 2013. Reality has set in; I’m not a best seller, not even on a trend to become one.

But today gave me a little good news. One of the first things I do when I get to work is check to see if I had any book sales overnight. Since I’m selling an average of less than 5 per month in 2013, obviously I almost never see such a sale. This morning, as always, there wasn’t any. Mid-day I snuck another look at sales—still none. When I check sales like this I generally look at sales in the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia, these being the main English speaking countries that Amazon sells in. In the morning I also look for sales at Smashwords and paperback sales through Amazon, which is on a different reporting page.

Then I checked in mid-afternoon. Lo and behold I had a sale! In the USA, of Documenting America, the first one (not the homeschool edition). After a silent yahoo, I did what I always do after a sale at Kindle: I checked every country that Amazon sells in. This requires two clicks to get to each country, so I seldom do that more than once a day. And to my surprise I had a sale of “The Learning Curve” in Italy.

“The Learning Curve” has not been translated into Italian. It’s an English language book that sold in Italy. My first sale in Italy, and my first sale of “The Learning Curve”. That brings me up to three sales in December. That’s already one more than November, though only half of October and and well below my long-term average of 7.5 per month.

I realize these aren’t good sales numbers. I could say “Sales have increased 50 percent month over month, and it’s only the 11th.” That would be true, but misleading. Having 13 books for sale and selling less than eight per month is, as I said before, abysmal. But as a self-published writer, I have to take hold of any good news and ride it for as long as I can. That’s where I’m at right now.

At work today I did some file maintenance on A Harmony of the Gospels, typed some manuscript in The Gutter Chronicles, Volume 2, and advertised The Gutter Chronicles to a new employee. At home tonight I mainly worked on typing edits in the Carlyle encyclopedia articles book. I think I did about 19 pages of edits. This is tedious business. A few edits on each page resulting from optical scanning errors, about half of which must be checked against the original book that was scanned. I should do it on the computer in The Dungeon, with the dual monitors, rather than the laptop. But this gives me a chance to be next to Lynda as I’m working, so for now I’m doing it here.

The struggle continues, and the end is not yet.