Life as a Full-Time Writer: The End of an Era

Well, I’m sad to say that my days of sitting in my basement all alone and writing stories has come to an end. Or am I? I had a wonderful four months working from home on a collection of literary short stories, thanks to the wonderful Saskatchewan Arts Board, who awarded me a grant. If it wasn’t for people who support the arts, I never would have  got this time, which means I never would have developed fantastic new stories to share with you and the world.

But good times can’t last forever. At least not until I get enough sales to replace my annual salary (which is a pretty good size). And part of me missed my day job. I missed having coworkers to visit with, I missed my afternoon walks around the pond and through the garden, somedays I even missed the cafeteria.

But, I’m pretty sure I will miss the writing life more. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and by that, I mean I’ve always wanted to spend eight hours a day coming up with characters and stories and events, and thinking about ‘what ifs’ ‘and thens’ and ‘maybe’. I’ve never dreamed that writing would be less work than this, and after my four months off, I know it’s not. In fact, it’s often more than eight hours a day because once I could immerse myself in writing full-time, the thinking rarely stopped. My mind was free to roam, and I didn’t have to force it to concentrate on contracts and applications and coworking. It was wonderful.

It seems (from all the internet articles about it), that being able to afford being a full-time writer is a more and more difficult thing. Whether it’s due to the abundance of free articles and stories on the web, changing media (to television, to film, to Twitter), I can’t say. And maybe it has always been difficult to make a living from art. Maybe it’s always been that a couple of people are lucky and the rest of us are relatively unknown. All I do know is that I have my plan to write, whether it’s on the weekend or late in the evening, I will always be writing, because I love it. Not because I hope to become rich and famous, but because I love to think, I love to think about our world and what powers humans, and I love to think about possible other worlds, other realities, and other possibilities. A writer is just what I am.

Now that I’ve finished up a couple major projects, I’m moving on to the next step in the process, which is shopping those projects around and trying to find them a home. Meanwhile, it is also Camp NaNoWriMo, so I’ve also returned back to writing genre fiction, which is a nice break from the literary, though-provoking work I was doing (Not that my genre fiction isn’t somewhat though provoking—at least, I hope it is). To that end, stay  in touch for updates regarding upcoming presentations and publications, or because otherwise I’ll miss you.

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Cheers to work well done!

Thanks for reading!
JEH

A Brief Review of the Kindle Scout Program

If you’ve been following along on my self-publishing journey of my latest novel, Under Jupiter, then you already know that I submitted it to Kindle Scout. Well, the news is in and Under Jupiter was not selected for publication by Kindle Press. In all honesty, I didn’t expect it to be. Why? Because during my 30-day campaign and scout participation, I came to a firm conclusion on one thing: Kindle Press prefers highly popular fiction. And guess what, a teen novel about colonizing the solar system is not popular fiction.

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Overall, I had a good Scout experience. It was fun and addicting to follow along with my daily page views, and I liked seeing my book at the top of the Hot and Trending list. Also, I nominated books like mad during my 30 day sprint, since I was on the website anyway, and I ‘won’ three new e-books, which should be released sometime in the near future. I found Kindle Scout to be a fun website as a reader, since it takes no time at all to scan and nominate your favorite proposed titles.

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As a writer, I found Kindle Scout to be slightly beneficial to my exposure. My books had slightly more downloads while my latest work was up on Kindle Scout (which I think is partially due to more readers who don’t know me seeing my name). I’m planning to release Under Jupiter this weekend, at which time Kindle Scout will send an email out those people who nominated my book and let them know it is for sale. I’ll post an update after I’ve done this to say whether or not I get a sales boost from that feature.

As for what’s next, I’m working away on The Torc. Would I submit it to the Kindle Scout website? Probably not, because I felt Kindle Scout mostly just added a bit of a delay to my release schedule, and I’m too excited to share The Torc with the world.

What do you think? Do you like reviewing book previews on Kindle Scout?

JEH

Submitting to Kindle Scout

I did it! I pressed submit! And now for a little rundown of what I thought about the whole Kindle Scout submission process.

If you’ve never heard about Kindle Scout, you can read more about it here, and sign up to preview and vote for submitted books. For readers, Kindle Scout is a way to earn free books, because if a book you nominate is chosen by Scout for publishing with Kindle Press, then you get a free copy. For writers, it’s a chance to earn an advance for your book and get a little bit of extra marketing.

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So why did I decide to try Kindle Scout? Mostly because I’m always on the lookout for new things to try, and, well, that advance does sound nice. So far, everything has been simple and straight forward. I opened a Kindle Scout account, prepared my files (cover, manuscript, blurb, a short bio, and answers to some questions. The Kindle Scout Website says you can submit in fifteen minutes, but it took me longer than that to prepare the question answers and the bio, because I wanted them to be good.

The cover had to be submitted in jpg or png format, and the manuscript (yes, you have to submit the entire manuscript even though only the first 5,000 words or so will be used as an except), has to be .doc or .docx format.

I uploaded everything, pressed the button, and now Under Jupiter is under content review (which means Kindle Scout is checking that there isn’t any inappropriate content or trouble with the files). Next, I should receive a confirmation and a campaign launch date, which I will share as soon as I have it. I’m excited to share this preview of Under Jupiter with everyone, and I can’t wait to hear what people think.

So, what does this mean for the release of Under Jupiter? Well, in the case that the book is selected by Scout, the release date will be up to Amazon (usually within a month of selection, so likely July 2017), and in the case that it isn’t selected, I will have Under Jupiter released by the end of June 2017.

Either way, Under Jupiter is set to land soon!

JEH

Under Jupiter Plans For World Domination (on attempting Kindle Scout)

Okay, maybe that title is a bit extreme, but I like it! I’m working away through the fourth or so revision of Under Jupiter, and making pretty good progress. But once it’s ready, I’m not going to release it right away, as I did with the Black Depths titles. Instead, I’m going to try Kindle Scout.

What is Kindle Scout? you ask. Good question. Kindle Scout is Amazon’s on-going “competition”, where you mostly compete against yourself. Under Jupiter will be up for a 30 day compaign. During which readers can review the blurb, and the first 5,000 words of the book (around 3 chapters). Then, you can nominate the book, and if I ‘win’, (if Amazon selects to publish Under Jupiter with Kindle Press), then you get a free copy of the ebook.

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I want to try this to do something different. I think it will be a fun way to let more people know about Under Jupiter, and a good way to share part of the book. I’ll let you know when Under Jupiter is up, but until then, here’s a link to the Kindle Scout website in case you want to check out other books that are currently up for nomination.

https://kindlescout.amazon.com/

JEH

Self-Publishing: Formatting E-Books

It’s been a while since I did a post on self-publishing. Most of you are probably here for the book discussions, but hopefully a few of you are interested in the writing and publishing process too.

Recently, I decided to make a pretty major investment. I bought Vellum. And it has changed my life! So what is Vellum, you ask? Vellum is an E-Book formatter, and it’s lovely. No longer do I have to spend hours working out my indentations and page breaks, section breaks, or chapter breaks. I can just import my Word file to Vellum and let it work it’s magic! So far, I’ve reformatted the first two Black Depths books, and I hope to do the others soon. The reformatting does take a bit of time, as my old files were formatted really strangely in order to get them to import onto Kindle and Smashwords correctly. So far, the Vellum files seems to import onto Kindle and Smashwords with ease, and I haven’t come across any problems.

Now, Vellum isn’t perfect. It doesn’t format paperbacks, which means I still have to do that myself. And there aren’t a ton of style options, but there are enough. At least for me. And there are pretty ornamental breaks, drop caps, and chapter headings.

Really, in Self-publishing, it’s nice to be able to save time wherever possible. And if I can save time formatting so that I can spend a bit more time marketing, drafting, or re-writing my next project, then I’m pretty happy. But like I mentioned, Vellum was an investment. But I think it was worth the hole it put in my purse.

JEH