World in Chains is complete!!!

Well, the first draft of the fourth and final book is complete. I still have a lot of revision and editing work to do.

For anyone’s who’s been following my blog recently, you’ve seen that I’ve done a lot of back and forth on self-publishing. Well, with the series nearing completion, I decided to go ahead and take the plunge and stop letting fear get in my way.

I’m not expecting to get rich immediately (or at all) from self-publishing. I think I can manage to write enough to keep my readers happy without pushing myself too hard. If I do enter a dark period mentally, I will be sure to keep everyone updated and let them know that I do intend to finish my projects.

Note that I’m not expecting this to happen, but I always find it best to be prepared.

 

As for the series itself, it is four pretty hefty books. The first one goes about 165,000 words, the second 140,000, the third 120,000, and the fourth 170,000. I wouldn’t be surprised if the second and third get longer in revisions.

Most of the series I have planned will probably be shorter than this one, but you never know. I’m just excited to get this out there and ready for everyone to read. This series has been with me in some form for more than 11 years now. With each iteration, I’ve stepped up my game as a writer, and now I think it’s what it always should have been.

I currently have covered are scheduled for this June, so you can expect to see the first book published sometime this summer. I would expect the others to follow at roughly four-month intervals (possibly faster depending on how smoothly edits go and how quickly I can get the cover art done). I may not be able to keep up that kind of schedule indefinitely due to school and work obligations, but I’ll try to be fast (without sacrificing quality, of course).

Writing Progress

I’ve spent the last three days doing a lot of writing on my first draft of The Winds of Time (book 4 of World in Chains). In the last three days, I’ve written about 10,000 words. It has been nice to get back into the flow of writing, and I’m feeling more confident about my chances of success in self-publishing, as I mentioned in my last post.

Right now, The Winds of Time (the final book in the series, I should add) is probably about three-fourths complete. I’ve finished parts I, II, and III, and now I’m writing the fourth and final part. If all goes according to plan, I should be finished with the book before the end of January. I should also send out a request for cover art for the series later this month, which will probably result in me releasing the book in the late spring or early summer. Depending on how long it takes me to edit each book, I’d expect the next three to follow over the course of the next year.

While I’m editing those, I will get back to work on my other two ongoing series. I will probably start with Sunweaver because I’ve already finished one book in the series and started on the second. I expect Sunweaver to be a trilogy, though it could be four books if I find I have enough material.

There’s also my third series, The God War. I’ve written the first book, which I’m titling Song of Shara for the moment. It’s more of a gunpowder fantasy, and a story I’m really excited about. I need to get more information about the stories onto my website here because I don’t think it’s doing me any favors right now.

Any books in these two series will most likely be released after I finish the entire series. This may occur before or after I finish publishing World in Chains. It all depends on how much time school and work suck up.

Thanks for reading. I hope to get some more concrete updates on here soon.

My New Writing Plans

I’ve had a lot going on these last few months. Sorry that I haven’t been posting regularly. Between school and work and taking care of my parents, it has been a bit difficult to find time to write and do my usual internet rounds.

But I have finally found the time to write again. Or, more accurately, I made the time. I’ve developed a new goal for my daily writing. I don’t expect to hit any certain word count. The key thing is that I write at least a little bit every day. More often than not, a few words end up turning into 1,000 or 2,000, or even 3,000+.

I’m also trying to perfect my writing process. I don’t think I’m a pure outliner or pure pantser. My process is a mix of the two. I don’t go completely by the seat of my pants because I do have some idea of where I’m going, but I allow myself a lot of freedom within my mental outline. It makes the writing process a lot of fun.

Just today, I pulled off a nice twist that I wouldn’t have thought of if I’d planned everything out. On the other hand, though, I don’t want to completely lose myself to these nice twists. After a while, they become just plain stupid.

 

As for my self-publishing plans, I’m putting them on hold for the moment. Right now, I’m in school doing a double major in Electrical Engineering and Physics. I can still make the time to write, but there’s only so much time in the day, and if I’m going to do the whole self-publishing thing, I want to have the time to do it right.

Plus, I’m enjoying what I’m studying. I want to do that right, too.

If you’re interested in any of my projects, I’m always happy to find willing beta readers, and I’m perfectly willing to beta something of yours in return.

Embracing variety.

One of my biggest struggles as a writer has been the tendency to engage in all-or-nothing thinking. I can self-publish OR I can trade publish. I can write adult OR I can write young adult and middle grade.

Lately, I’ve been working hard to change those ORs to ANDs. That’s part of the fun of self-publishing. You don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen. One type of your writing could take off, and it might not be the type you expect.

I’ve also heard that variety can be very good for some authors in self-publishing. The more you put out there, the more you might attract readers to all of your work who might never have found it in the first place. I know I’ve sought out books outside my preferred genres if they’re by an author I like.

Thankfully, with my writing, I won’t be too crazy in my genre spread. Generally speaking, I write fantasy and science fiction across adult, young adult, and middle grade age categories. I figure I can’t be the only person who enjoys reading these genres regardless of the age group.

That brings me to another advantage of self-publishing. It’s given me the freedom to be the author I want to be. If one book doesn’t sell, I can always move on to another. Obviously, I’d like to make a good income from self-publishing, but that is no guarantee. At first, I’ll be content if I can make back the money I’m spending to publish the books (I’m talking cover art, editing, etc.). IMPORTANT: You should never pay a publisher to publish your book. You can do just as well on your own with lower costs.

At some point, I’m hoping I’ll see the positive effects of having a large backlist. From what I’ve read, that’s how most self-publishers achieve success. Once they have out a lot of books, people who like one book or series are likely to check out what else the author has written.

It’ll be a while before I reach that point. I’m a fast writer, but I’m not that fast.

For now, I’m hoping to enjoy the ride. As I stated in my last post, I’ve submitted a request for cover art. That process should start in mid January. I’m hoping to release Sunweaver sometime in February with Empire of Chains (the first in another series) following shortly thereafter.

I’ve also begun work on my middle grade fantasy series again. I know that MG is notoriously tough to self-publish, and that’s why I’m not starting out with it. If all goes according to plan with that, you might see its release sometime next summer.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that something else will grab my attention in the near future. I have a few YA ideas that are asking to be written. There’s also my other epic fantasy series, The God War.

In all, that’s going to be a lot to consider, but it should also be fun. After all, I’d write these books even if I couldn’t self-publish them.

Work/School/Writing/Life Balance

As a writer, one of my biggest struggles is finding time for everything. I already have a job that cuts into a lot of my writing time. In the fall, I’ll be starting on my Engineering degree, which will eliminate a lot of my writing time. Because of this, I’m trying to figure out what I cut back to make more time for writing (and marketing).

Unfortunately, there are certain things you always have to do in life. Dishes don’t wash themselves. Houses don’t stay clean without some help. Grass doesn’t stop growing because you don’t have time to cut it.

For some people, the answer would be to sleep less, but that doesn’t work for me. I’m on medication that makes it necessary for me to average about eight hours of sleep. Sure, I can cut back to seven or six hours for a night or two if I need to, but I can’t sustain those over long stretches of time.

So it comes down to being more productive with the time I do have. I’m still trying to figure out how I can find this productivity. I might not be able to meet my general writing goal of 3,000 words a day. There’s too much other stuff taking up my time.

The biggest place I’ll have to cut back is reading. Thankfully, I’ve already read a lot of book, and I have a good feel now for what makes good prose. I’ll miss reading as much as I normally do, but it’s a sacrifice I’ll have to make if I want to juggle all the responsibilities on my plate. I won’t stop reading. I could never do that. But I might have to cut down to a book or two a week rather than the three to four. After all, I can’t abandon reading altogether. It’s one of the most crucial aspects of being a writer, and my writing has improved tremendously since I’ve dedicated myself to reading a lot.

I’ll also need to cut back on non-essential internet time and video games. Sure, the internet is fun, but if I’m not doing something writing-related, it’s not really helping me, is it? I also love video games, but they’ll be there later when I have more time to play them.

This is part of being a writer. It’s not an easy path. You have to make some sacrifices. In the end, if the things you’re sacrificing are more important to you than writing, that’s a sign that you shouldn’t be a writer.

That being said, you shouldn’t cut leisure activities out altogether. Everyone needs a few chances to unwind with something fun and non-stressful. It’s part of staying sane, and for someone like me who has mental health issues, staying sane is an important consideration.

I’ll have to play this all by feel. I’m heading into uncharted territory. I’d love to have a plan for everything, but sometimes you can only develop a plan once you know what you’re getting into.

Self-Publishing and Fear

I’ve had a busy work schedule recently, so I haven’t been doing a whole lot of writing. In the next week, though, I have a lot of time off, and I’ll try to use that to get back to work on The Shadowed Land.

I have to admit that I also went through one of my frequent doubtful phases. Taking the self-publishing plunge is a very difficult thing, and I’ve had a lot of back and forth on it. Mostly, it’s fear. Fear that I’ll fail completely. Fear that I’ll put too much on my plate. Fear that I’ll ruin my chances of trade publishing in the future.

But this is what I have to ask myself. Which is worse: all these fears, or never taking the chance? I believe in my books. People who’ve read my books believe in them. It can be difficult, though. If I’ve written something that’s good and entertaining, why haven’t I gotten even the tiniest nibble from an agent? It’s easy to tell myself my stuff must actually suck, but I doubt that’s really the case. The fact is agents are bombarded with hundreds and hundreds (sometimes even thousands) of queries. Standing out among these can be very difficult.

I will also admit that I’m not very good at writing queries. A lot of the appeal of my books comes from the fact that I take the common tropes of fantasy and put some new twists on them. It can be difficult to get these twists across in a query, so my books end up looking like yet another cliched fantasy story.

Then there’s the question of word count. Sunweaver is short enough, but Empire of Chains is not. Empire of Chains is about 164,000 words, and agents are hesitant to look at anything that gets over about 120,000. I’ve done all I can to make the book as short as possible. I’ve already cut 40,000 words out of it. It’s tightly written now, but agents might not see that. They’re inundated with epic fantasy submissions that are way too long because the other can’t write concisely.

By no means am I bashing the agents and publishing industry in general. It’s a very difficult job they have. They have to identity books that they think will sell, and there’s no set formula to this. That’s part of the reason that some very successful books almost never got published. Publishing will never be a perfect industry.

I’m not expecting to become a millionaire through self-publishing. That’s a foolish expectation, even with trade publishing. Many trade-published authors still have to keep their day jobs. Being an author is not a path to getting rich quick. We do it because we love it. I wouldn’t say no to becoming a mega bestseller, but I know it’s far from likely whatever route I take.

I’d be satisfied, for now, with making five to ten thousand dollars a year. That would allow me to make writing my part-time job while I’m going through school again. I know I’d like it a lot more than my current job in retail. But I’m not expecting this either, especially at first. Publishing of any kind is a long and difficult road. The challenges vary depending on which type of publishing you pursue.

But, once again, I don’t want to live my life wondering what might have happened.