AN ACTUAL REVIEW OF ROMANTIC AS HELL

Romantic as HellYesterday I wrote my “review” of Romantic as Hell by Rodney Lacroix. Did you read it? Did you get the joke? Sheesh people. You disappoint me sometimes.

I didn’t review his book! 

Here is my actual review…

Rodney wrote an amazingly good book. It does have a little bit of a structural issue, which even he sees because he talks about it right up front. This is a book that started out as one thing, but ended up being something completely different. Both the old thing and the new thing end up in the same book, which is the structural issue I’m talking about. They are both excellent things—they are just different, and so the transition back and forth can be a little clumsy.

The original thing this book was going to be is a whole bunch of really cool romantic craft projects. Seriously. Crafty things that even a person cursed with a Y chromosome can probably manage to do. And since the projects are romantic as hell (as advertised), it doesn’t even matter if you do them well. You spend a few hours doing a thing and give it to your wife/girlfriend/sidepiece and she will totally melt. Then she’ll put pictures up on Facebook (unless she’s the sidepiece, I hope) to make all her friends go “awww” and kick their men in the shins for not doing that stuff.

The projects are creative and clever, and as I said in my Amazon review, not exactly what you would expect from a straight man who likes going to hear 80s metal bands. They aren’t particularly funny, though. Just really good ideas. In fact, at one point I got a little sad, because I’ve done stuff like this for my wife, and it hasn’t always gone over the way I hoped. Rodney had one case like that, but it turned around for him. But I digress. Romance involves risk. And if it always pans out, it’s not risky. So I say: try this stuff.

But, as I said, that’s the original thing the book was going to be about. Except I’m sure after he finished it, he realized that while it would make a great series on TLC, it’s not a comedy book. So he went back and wrote a comedy book. And this book totally rocks as a comedy book. It is mostly a long series of hilarious anecdotes of stupid things the author has done in his life. Rodney is a story-teller of the first degree. You feel like you are there. You have that “OH NO!” feeling at least once in every tale.

Going back and forth between the comedy and the craft projects is kind of clumsy. I think I would have rather he had just written two completely different books and stuck them together. Like those kids books where they print half of it upside down, so you can flip it over and have a different book. Except I guess they can’t do that with e-Books, so yeah, that’s probably a stupid idea. But anyway, one book of funny stories with references to the craft projects, an another book of craft projects with references to the funny stories.

But it’s really not that big a deal. This book is a really quick read, so you can just trip over the transitions and keep going. You’ll plow through the stories, and make mental note of the craft projects. And then months later, when you are stuck trying to decide what kind of teddy bear to get your sidepiece for her birthday, you’ll remember the book and go do a craft project for her instead. It’ll become a reference book. You can store it next to your copy of the Chicago Manual of Style.

You can get the book here: getbook.at/RomanticAsHell. I highly recommend it. It’s funny. It’s clever. It’s well written. If you like my blog, you’ll like Rodney’s book.

Book Review: Romantic as Hell by Rodney Lacroix

Romantic as HellJust as I was getting my own book ready for release, Rodney Lacroix, who I know because we both collaborated on a funny tweet book a while ago, asked if anybody had a blog and could talk about his book. That’s it over there on the right. I saw this mostly as an opportunity to get to read his book without paying for it, so I jumped at the chance. (See, Rodney didn’t know this, but I actually intended to buy his stupid book, but now I don’t have to, because that dope sent it to me for free.)

I read it in just a few hours. Pretty much plowed through it. I laughed a bunch of times. And one part made me kind of sad. But overall, it’s a hell of a good book. But let’s focus on the thing I didn’t like: the indentation. So here we are, on a blog, and it does that thing where each paragraph starts with no indentation and has a gap of white space above it. That’s cool, but for some reason, print book are never done that way. In print, you are supposed to have no gap, and instead start each line with a half inch of blank space. Because that’s how Gutenberg intended it, or some shit. I don’t know. But that’s what they do.

And Rodney’s book kind of does that, but the indent is tiny. Like, two ems or something (an em is the unit of measure with the stupidest name ever—it is literally the size of the letter “m” in the font you are using; no, wait, I take that back. “en” is the stupidest, because they clearly were just copying the whole “em” thing, so it’s like a bad imitation of a stupid idea). Anyway, the indents are too small.

And every now and then he’ll have a little pull-quote kind of thing where they indent a whole bunch. But they left the text full-justified (which means the letters spread out so they cover the whole line). Except because of the giant indent on the left, the line is really short so the justification causes the kerning (space between letters) to often get r  i  d  c  u  l  o  u  s. Ugh.

Whoever did the text layout for Rodney’s book should be shot.

Also, he does this thing where he uses asterisks around words as stage direction. You’ve seen this in tweets:

*stops car* "Yes, Officer?"

It’s fine in tweets. It has no place in a book. In a book you have italics for that. (Quick aside: Why do we use * for that anyway? *word* is an old plain text usenet trick that meant bold. _word_ was used for underline. And, of course, underline is an old typing trick that you’d use when you didn’t have italics. So technically, shouldn’t we be using _ for stage direction, as in:

_stops car_ "Yes, Officer?"

Clearly we should, although it looks terrible, so yeah, never mind about that.) [That close parenthesis I just used is closing “Quick aside” up above, by the way. It turned out my aside really wasn’t all that quick.]

So, to summarize, this is a great book with annoying typography.

I could talk about the book content I suppose, but this is part of a “blog tour” (that term was probably invented by the same guy who came up with “em”). That means a whole lot of people have already talked about the content, and they probably did it better than I would do anyway. Quick summary: lots of funny stories, silly exposition, and creative romantic craft projects.

You can find it on Amazon at getbook.at/RomanticAsHell. I recommend it. It’s good. Except for the indentation.

Update: For heaven’s sake people. I was kidding! I wrote an actual review of his book. Go read that now.

Dirty Pictures

One of my readers from the crowdsource editing phase of my novel writing process suggested a really cool idea for how to get the word out about my book. She suggested that I grab selected quotes from the novel and put them on pictures. Then people might share them the way people do on social media. I saw a campaign kind of like this in the aftermath of the 50 Shades movie, where people took horrible quotes and substituted them into the actual movie promo poster. That was really funny.

So I checked the rights on the stock photos I bought for my cover, and was pleased to learn that I can do anything I want with them online. It’s actually kind of amazing how liberal the shutterstock license is. And I didn’t even buy the expensive version.

I then asked my readers for some favorite quotes, and I pulled some of my own favorites, and this is the result. I made three different backgrounds, and I picked which one to use based on the emotion of the quote. That was much easier than I expected. I wonder if computer science will ever come up with an algorithm for that: matching the emotion of words and pictures.

I’ll go ahead and dump them all right into this post. If you see anything you like, feel free to copy and paste the picture anywhere you want. I have no presence on tumblr or instagram, and I’m not promoting this book to my Facebook friends, so any sharing outside Twitter would be particularly helpful (hint, hint, hint).

I’ll drop these onto my timeline as well, dribbling them out over the next couple weeks. And I’ll probably come up with some more as I get more people telling me favorite lines.

Copy! Share! Thank you!!!

Update: I’m doing something weird on Twitter to promote the book.

mybook.to/entropy mybook.to/entropy mybook.to/entropy mybook.to/entropy mybook.to/entropy mybook.to/entropy mybook.to/entropy mybook.to/entropy mybook.to/entropy mybook.to/entropy mybook.to/entropy mybook.to/entropy mybook.to/entropy mybook.to/entropy

mybook.to/entropy

mybook.to/entropy

mybook.to/entropy

My Novel Entropy is Live on Amazon

EntropyMy novel Entropy is live on Amazon! It is available as a paperback and for Kindle. I make more money on the Kindle version (as I explained in my last installment), but honestly, you should get the paperback. The experience of holding and touching and reading… it’s just that kind of a book.

My deep, sincere thanks go to everyone who encouraged me in this process, and who read my countless drafts and revisions and told me were I could shove my adverbs.

The print and Kindle versions are linked to each other on Amazon, but I generated two different short links that take you to one or the other, if you know what you want. It turns out these short links are really important, because if you go to the wrong store for your country, it just says you can’t buy the book, but it doesn’t tell you why not. How dumb is that?

Print Version: mybook.to/entropy
Kindle Version: mybook.to/ent

I’ll be doing a little promotion going forward. One of my readers gave me a great idea that I think might spread the word pretty fast. I’ll blog about that next, probably. But mostly I’m relying on my readers. I need people who like my book to tell their friends about it. If that happens, I might sell a lot of books. If not, I probably won’t.

Thank you all again. It’s been a blast.

Update: Now I’m promoting it.

Going to Market

EntropyI’m darn close to done with this novel. I’m starting with all Amazon, all the time. CreateSpace (an Amazon subsidiary that does print-on-demand) will do the print version, and Kindle Direct Publishing will do the e-book. Amazon gives you a huge royalty incentive to do the e-book exclusively through them, so it’s kind of a no-brainer. I’ve seen no evidence anybody wants it on any other platform anyway.

Thankfully, there is absolutely a standard price for e-book novels, and that is $4.99. Given that there is no cost to produce, Amazon just gives you a percentage of that gross sale. If you sign up to do exclusive, they give you 70%, which means I’ll get $3.49 for every e-book they sell. That’s a lot! If I went through a publisher, I’d probably get about 10%, so they would have to sell seven times as many books to keep up.

Pricing the physical book is much trickier. In traditional publishing, you do a run of books, and then sell them. So that costs a bunch up front, but because you made a lot of books, each of them doesn’t cost too much. I’m not doing that. I’m doing print-on-demand, where they make each book as it is bought. I got the proof and the quality is excellent. I read a lot of people complaining about the quality of CreateSpace books on blogs and forums, but those people were doing illustrated children’s books. For a novel that’s just words, it seems they’ve figured out how to produce books that look just as good as anything you’d buy at a book store. Better even.

The cover is soft and supple and lush, like a woman’s breast. I’m not even joking. Holding this thing in my hand is erotic. I absolutely love it.

But because of the print-on-demand, the physical book costs a lot: $5.65 in my case, because at 5″x8″ the book is about 400 pages long. Amazon takes 40% of the list price. I’ll spare you the math, but that means to make the same $3.50 on the physical book that I’m making on the e-book, I’d have to charge $15.25. For a paperback. I asked a bunch of people and even though they love me, they all said that was too much.

The consensus opinion of my readers is that $12.95 is the most you can reasonably charge for a paperback and not appear to be gouging your readers. Readers don’t know or care that you went print-on-demand to lower your upfront cost. And let’s be honest here—I’m not really doing this for the money anyway. At $12.95 I make about two bucks. Still pretty good, since a traditional publisher would probably charge $10 for the book, and I’d get $1.

When I started this exercise, I assumed this was really an e-book project with a print book for the handful of luddites that don’t like e-books. But what I learned from my readers is that my target demographic (educated, horny, and female?) loves physical books. And since holding this hot ball of sex in my hands, I’d recommend that choice over the e-book any day, even though I’d make 1.75 times as much if they bought the e-book.

The next question I had to answer is distribution of the print book. In addition to Amazon, you will be able to buy the book directly from CreateSpace. They take a smaller cut, so I’d make more money if people bought from there. However, those sales don’t count in Amazon’s recommendation engine. So I’ve decided to point people to Amazon for the print version. It’s also weird and confusing to people to have multiple links to the print version. And people are more comfortable buying from Amazon.

CreateSpace also lets you do expanded distribution. That lets other sellers get it at below list, and it’s apparently the only way libraries will buy it. But because of the various players all taking their piece of the pie, I would be forced up to a $14 price point if I enabled that. And even at that price, I’d make no royalty. And because all booksellers insist on the list price being consistent, I would have to bump the Amazon price up to that level, too. But we already established that $12.95 is the cap. So basically, it’s not an option. Sorry, libraries.

The last step in setting a price was to set the prices in euros and pounds. They picked them automatically, but whatever algorithm they used was wonky because it gave me much lower margins than I would get in dollars. I settled on £9.95 and €11.95. The margin when converted back to my currency is about $2 for both of those. Again, this is just for the print book. The e-book automatic pricing based on exchange rates made sense, so I went with those.

I’m going to do a soft launch. I will go ahead and get the book into Amazon for print and kindle, and tell my readers it is there. They can buy it if they want, and hopefully write reviews. Then I’ll wait a little bit, and make sure everything is going smoothly. I can get feedback on my author bio and stuff. And when I think it’s good, I’ll do a blog post and tell Twitter.

Then over the next few weeks, I’ll try to walk that line of making sure all 4000 of my followers know the book is out, without turning my account into an annoying book-shilling platform. That’ll be tricky, but I have some ideas.

Update: I launched the book.

Dirty Words

As you are doubtless aware, I’m finishing up my first novel. I’m just going through and doing some final edits, and proofing to make sure I didn’t mess anything up during the adverbpocolypse™ (I’ll explain that in a sec). As I mentioned before, after talking to a genuine professional editor, I decided I could not afford a genuine professional editor. So I turned to crowdsource editing, which gave me a lot of great feedback that I used to fix up the story. And I was just about to go to print, when out of the blue a friend told me she knew a genuine professional editor that really wanted to read my book. For free. I was skeptical.

But I sent her the manuscript and lo and behold, over the next couple of days I got back three pages of notes. Great stuff. Stuff I really should be paying for. I won’t tell you who this fairy god-editor is, because if the rest of the editing syndicate finds out she’s doing this for free, she’ll probably find herself sleeping with the fishes.

This editor found a lot of random sentences that she thought could be improved this way or that. And I made all those changes. But the biggest bombshell she dropped was that I just use too many damn adverbs. Very this, and really that, and particularly the other thing. Also just. Just is just an adverb, except when you use it as a noun like I just did before I just used it as an adverb three times. I thought all adverbs ended with “ly.” I’d file a complaint with the Schoolhouse Rock people, but I doubt they would treat my compliant justly. See what I did there?

Anyhow, she told me that I can mostly just delete them. Er, I can mostly delete them. Er, I can delete them. So with the help of global search and replace, I got rid of a hell of a lot of adverbs. I left them in dialog, because that’s really how people talk. I just (I really cannot stop myself at this point) took them out of the main prose. That was the adverbpocolypse and I now have to re-read the whole damn book to make sure I didn’t accidentally change “Lisa thought she was pretty.” to “Lisa thought she was.” Because while Lisa might have been playing with the concept of existential tautology in other parts of the book, she probably wasn’t at that particular moment.

But adverbs are not the dirty words I meant to talk about. That was all a big tangent. The dirty words I meant to talk about are actual dirty words. Let’s start with male anatomy, shall we? Cock. That’s an awesome word. It’s not clinical like penis, and it is not pejorative like dick, and it is not silly like schlong. So every time I needed to talk about male anatomy, I referred to the cock, and it was good.

But female anatomy has no such word. Cunt, twat, pussy, vag: no good. All pejorative or silly. Vagina? Too clinical, like penis. So after doing some research (a lot of blog posts have been written on this topic), I decided on Center. This is a wonderful word. It has a poetry to it, and it isn’t all messed up by social use. But there is only one problem: nobody knows what the hell I mean when I write it.

Crowdsource editing to the rescue. One of my readers pointed out that she had no fucking idea what I meant by “center.” So I did this thing that I later learned is called “hanging a lantern” for the reader. I’ll quote:

He asked if she had any questions.

“I do have one, Sir. What do you mean by ‘center’ exactly?” she asked.

“Oh, yes, sorry if that isn’t clear. I mean your vagina. But that word is so clinical. I thought about using ‘cunt’ or ‘pussy’ or ‘twat’ or something else. But I like ‘center’ best. It’s less burdened than those other words,” he explained.

“Of course, Sir. That’s probably because nobody uses that word to mean that,” she replied, smiling.

“Yes, that could be it.”

“It reminds me of the juicy center of a maraschino cherry, Sir.”

“Ha! I didn’t even think of that! That’s particularly funny because of the double entendre around ‘cherry,’” he observed.

“Uh. Yeah, Sir. Glad you are keeping up,” she teased.

See what I did there? I explained to the reader what I meant by “center” by having my main characters just talk about the word. This writing thing is easy.

So that settled, I only have one more puzzle to solve: orgasms. If you have been paying attention, you’ve probably figured out that my novel has some naughty bits. It’s not erotica, per se. But there is a lot of sex in this book. So people have a lot of orgasms, because that’s a cool thing that happens during sex. Or so I’ve read.

Annnnyway, I can’t say “she had an orgasm.” Well, I could say that, and I probably do. But mostly I want to say “she came.” And, interestingly, that is generally pretty clear. When it’s in the past tense, “she came” doesn’t leave the reader puzzling “where did she go?” But the same is not true of the verb “to come.” That is almost always confusing as hell:

I waited for her to come.

“To come where? Oh! To come! I get it.” That gets old as a reader, really fast. I know this because in doing my research for this book, I read a ton of erotica. To figure out how other people write sex scenes. And every time I saw the word “come” I got thrown out of the story trying to decode the damn word.

Thankfully, there is another spelling. Cum. That’s clear. It means exactly the same thing, but it isn’t easily confused with the other meaning of the word come. I looked it up, and it’s actually in the Oxford English Dictionary, but only in the two word phrase “cum shot.”

So I decided to go with “cum” and “came.” But what about that nasty present participle? Do I write “coming” or “cumming”? As I was doing my latest read-through I noticed that I was inconsistent. I didn’t use one or the other of those. I used both. I have asked some readers which they prefer. The results are mixed.

I need to be consistent, and I don’t feel particularly strongly either way. What do you think?

Update: I set a price.

My Cover and Blurb

The crowdsource editing phase of my novel adventure is winding down, and now I’m focusing on the other things I have to get done before I can launch a book. Two key elements to marketing (I’ve read) are having a great cover and a great blurb. I’m not actually convinced the cover matters all that much for a book that will probably never be in a physical store. But having a nice one certainly couldn’t hurt. And the blurb obviously matters, since that’s pretty much the only thing someone is going to read before they make the buy/skip decision. (They might read reviews or other things after that, but only to reinforce the decision they already made; that’s pretty well established psychology.)

Let’s start with that cover. I did this myself. I love it and I don’t really care what you think.

This is the cover. I made it myself and I love it.

This is the cover. I made it myself and I love it. (Click it to enlarge.)

Yeah, that’s my actual name. I’ve decided that although I’m not going to market to the people I know in the physical world, or to Facebook people for that matter, I am going to go ahead and take full ownership of this thing I made.

I bought the two photos from shutterstock for all of $29. That’s a fake ISBN, obviously, just so you can see what it will look like with one on there. The cover is chock full of symbolism, which I’ll go ahead and explain. Don’t worry—no real spoilers here.

First, there are some literal references. The broken vase and the type of flower (sweet pea) refer to things the characters say and do. But I’m more enamored with the metaphorical aspects. Look at those two flowers next to each other. The upper one is dominating the lower one, which has its “eyes” turned down out of respect. That’s basically the relationship between my two main characters.

Flowers are obviously also a sexual reference, and even though these are not irises, they look a lot like the “Light Iris” painting by Georgia O’Keeffe. So that’s both a metaphor for lady parts, and another literal reference to something said in the story.

The broken vase is a powerful symbol on its own. Without giving too much away, a  lot of bad things happen to my heroine. A lot of things in her life break. And, of course, a vase and flowers naturally go together, so there is consistency in the visual vocabulary between the front and back of the book.

The negative space was driven mostly by my aesthetic. I just like that Bauhaus feel. But you can also see it as representing the isolation inherent in an extramarital affair. Two people apart from the world: together, but isolated.

I thought about putting a blurb on the back of the book. That’s what you usually do. But as I said, I don’t think this is going into a store. So what’s the point messing up that beautiful open space with a bunch of words? So that brings me to the blurb. Here goes:

Lisa is adrift—searching for connection on social media to compensate for the absence of love and attention in her marriage. But when a dominant married man entices her to become his online submissive, Lisa’s world starts to collapse around her. Could giving up all control be the secret to finding the serenity she longs to have? Cerebral and erotic, Entropy explores the murky depths of an online affair and how upheaval of the status quo reverberates through a woman’s life and sense of self.

I read a lot of articles about how to write a blurb, and I found pretty consistent advice. The specific formula I followed to write this is Scene, Problem, Possibility, Mood. Scene and mood (first and last sentences) were easy. But that middle part proved to be a real challenge. For an ordinary novel with a plot and a story arc and all that, the problem is the central conflict of the story, and the the possibility is a hint at how you resolve the conflict. But I didn’t write that kind of a novel.

The central conflict of my story is the fundamental and unwinnable struggle for control in a universe that is always, inexorably falling apart. I can’t write that in a blurb. It’s depressing and nobody will even know what the fuck I’m talking about. It’s too meta.

The conflict I used is not false: those two things do happen. But I took serious poetic license putting them together. There is an implication that her world collapsing around her is the result of getting involved with the Dom in the online affair, and that’s really not true. Her world was already falling apart. Everyone’s world is always falling apart. See my previous paragraph.

But hey, it’s just a blurb, right? One of the things I learned from my readers is that some people absolutely will not read a book about infidelity (unless I wrote it). And some people absolutely will not read a book with BDSM (dominance and submission) themes (unless I wrote it). So I think it’s pretty important to make it clear in the blurb that’s what they’re in for if they choose to buy my book. The last thing I want is people having buyer’s remorse on page 2.

The other thing I did pretty carefully in my choice of words was walk the 50 Shades line. On the one hand, a novel with BDSM themes is automatically going to be associated with that ridiculously bad, and unbelievably popular work of art. And that’s not an entirely bad thing, because of the “unbelievably popular” part. But mostly what people talk about with 50 is how bad the writing is. If you want a good laugh, go read the two “most helpful” reviews of the first book on Amazon. Really. Funny.

So I did a few things to counteract that association. First “online submissive” distinguishes a key story point. Entropy is largely a story about an affair conducted in the virtual world of Twitter DMs and texting and Skype. So that’s pretty different from what happens in 50. Next, I included the words “cerebral and erotic” in the mood sentence at the end. Nobody would describe 50 as cerebral, and the only people who think 50 was erotic have never actually read something erotic, I’d guess.

I’m having fun doing all this marketing-related stuff. In my actual job where I make actual money, I see gobs of marketing and design done by actual professionals. So I feel like I have a pretty good sense for what works and what doesn’t. But in the end, this book isn’t going to sell because it has a good blurb on Amazon. It will sell, or not, based on the reaction of my Twitter followers. If they like it and tell their friends to buy it, then it’ll sell. And if they hate it, and they don’t tell their friends to buy it, it won’t sell. And that’s okay. As long as I make that $29 I’ve invested back, I’ll be happy. And somebody already tweeted to me that she’ll buy 9 copies herself.

Update: The adverpocolypse happened.

Crowdsource Editing

When last we met I was about to send my novel Entropy (which apparently, I should have been calling a “manuscript”) to a genuine book industry book editor. The hope was that she would give me an idea of what kind of a book I had written, and what the right next step was. I think what I learned was more about the publishing industry, than about my book, per se. But I learned a lot!

I found out that my prose was good, and my grammar was good, and all my novel needed was a complete rewrite and thousands of dollars of professional editing. Wait, what? Yes, she explained to me that my manuscript was exactly like every other “first draft.” They all need a complete rewrite. That’s just the way it is. But wait, it gets better.

So after I spend five thousand dollars or so having someone else completely rewrite my book, I might get an agent to look at it. If I’m lucky. And if I get one to take it, I might get a publisher to look at it. If I’m lucky. And if I get a publisher, they are going to—wait for it—hire another editor to completely rewrite the book again.

So I have a book that I thought was pretty close to ready for publication, and the traditional print industry wants me to spend a year and thousands of dollars to transform it into a completely different book that they will be able to sell lots of. Well not sell, exactly. Publishers are apparently no longer in the business of actually selling books. No, I’m told the authors need to do that themselves. If you don’t actively market your own book, they won’t either, and the book won’t sell.

Also, if you’re lucky they’ll give you 15% of the sales, except they don’t really because they charge you back for lots of things. And the agent gets a cut. Plus you’re out the $5K you spent on that edit that got thrown away as soon as the publisher took on the book.

I did the math. I would need to sell about 10,000 books through that system before I see one dime.

I trust this editor. I assume she’s right, but by luck I happened to get into a conversation with an actual book publisher. This is a small house that only takes 70% of the money instead of the usual 85%. (If you self-publish through Amazon, they take 30%.) So I asked what magic formula they have that allows them to sell 233% more books than I would. “We have a newsletter.” Um, what? No, there must be more to it than that. I probably have more followers on this blog than that little publisher has subscribers to their newsletter.

They will make a cover (I have a cover, thank you very much), they will edit it (smart people have told me it doesn’t need any more editing), they will take care of copyright registration and ISBN (so will Amazon), and if they decide to do a print run (if they decide?), they have a deal with a big publishing house to get that done (Amazon has a subsidiary called “createspace” that will print on demand).

I’ve decided that the book publishing business in 2015 is basically the record industry of 1965. They screw the artists out of almost all the money, and produce a generic product they think will sell. They mostly just rely on a few hits and don’t make much on the bulk of what they do, so if you don’t happen to become a star, you’ll get nothing.

Homey don’t play that.

So I’m going to self-publish. So far I’ve spent $29 on stock photos for my cover (I’ll show you in an upcoming post), so by my math I’ll hit break even when I sell 9 books. Instead of 10,000. I’m confident I can sell 9 books. I’m confident a big publisher would not sell 10,000.

But to be completely fair, my manuscript did need to be edited. So I crowdsourced that. I sent it to about 30 people, and they gave me a huge range of feedback. They found lots of typos, and places where I used the same phrase an annoying number of times. They suggested places I needed a little more back story to motivate the characters. They suggested places I could “hang a lantern” to let the reader know I was doing something weird on purpose. They clued me in to things that might be hot-button issues for certain people, so I could decide whether to embrace or avoid those issues.

In the end, I added about another 4,000 words in response to all that feedback. That’s a lot, so I consider what my crowd did a pretty through edit.

The process—unlike what I think working with a regular editor would entail—was delightful. I learned that a lot of my friends (by which, I mean people I know from Twitter), read really fast. Laid out as a standard 5×8″ paperback, the book is just about 400 pages. A lot of people read that in a day or two. And a lot of people gave me real-time feedback as they were reading, which was a blast. I got to see the emotional impact I was having on my readers! It was what I imagine a film director feels when they go to the opening of their movie.

So crowdsource editing: highly recommend. Five out of five stars.

Everything I’ve read says that I’m supposed to start blogging about my book before it’s ready. And who am I to argue, since that’s basically blogging about my favorite subject: ME!

So you can expect that I’ll do more of that in the next few weeks as I get the final typos fixed, and figure out all the tech puzzles required to get it available on Amazon.

Question: Should I bother getting it onto anything other than print and Kindle? Does anyone actually buy books from the Apple iBooks store? What about the Nook? Is that still a thing?

It’s probably not that much work to get it onto those other platforms, but I don’t want to waste my time, either. Comments please!

Update: I made a cover and wrote a blurb.