Tag Archives: A Prairie Home Apocalypse

On Self-Publishing

Last week I put my book A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw out for Kindle on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Since it has been an entire week since my book’s debut and since a number of people who are not my mom bought the book, this means that basically I’m an expert now.

Okay, so maybe that’s stretching things a bit, but you’d be surprised how your perspective on things can change in a week. With that in mind, I’m going to give you the top (whatever number I get to before I run out of material) things I have learned from and about being self-published.

1. People Are Awesome

You think you’ve gotten a sense of this through blogging and tweeting and such, but trust me when I say that nothing you’ve experiences will match the outpouring of support from people who desperately want to help you sell your book. They may not actually buy it, but they’ll jump off a cliff for the chance to retweet your announcements.

This is part of what I love about the writing community. Everyone wants to see everyone succeed. There’s no jealously, no sense of snobbery. If one of our friends puts out a book that we like even a little bit we’re gonna promote the crap out of that thing baby.

So even though I’ve said this before, I’m saying it again. Thank you. To all of you.

2. Being Self-Published is Hard Work

I should clarify here. The actual state of being self published does not require any effort on your part at all. You’re surely welcome to toss your book out into the cold dark digital world and hope that it maybe can get somewhere on it’s own merits. But if you want to have anything like a realistic chance of success you’ve got to promote that puppy.

Over the past seven days I’ve been on a number of different social media platforms, some of which you’ve probably never heard of getting the word out to all my online acquaintances and asking them to help me spread the word. I did my first blog interview. And then there’s all the questions to answer: the “is it out for the Nook yet?” people, and the “I don’t have a Kindle will you send me a PDF?” people. (And for the record, yes I totally will, just shoot me your email, and we’ll make that happen.)

I hope this doesn’t sound like whining, because it’s really been a blast, but all this promotion does take extra time out of your day.

3. Interviews are Awesome

I did my first interview ever with Cynthia Stewart, which should be going up on her website sometime later today, and let me tell you something, that was fun. Maybe it’s just my oversize ego talking here, but I really got into answering her questions and talking about the things that have shaped me as a writer. I really hope I get to do more of these in the future.

4. Self-Publishing is Not a Get Rich Quick Scheme

When I was growing up one of the things my dad told me over and over was this: “There are no honest get rich quick schemes.” And self-publishing has proved to be no exception to that maxim.

In spite of the fact that I’ve had some modest sales, the bottom line is that it isn’t easy to get people to click that “Buy This Book” button. I know this because I’ve been on the other end of that transaction with my wallet in hand thinking, “Do I really want to spend my three dollars on this?” And a lot of times even though I may like the premise and the author’s writing style the answer is still no.

Overall, taking into account the money I spent on the cover, I’m still in the red with this thing. I hope to change that in the coming week or so, but the bottom line is that I’m not gonna be quitting my job tommorow or the day after that.

So yeah, that’s the rundown. Sorry to end on a down note there, but I hope that something I’ve said has been useful to those of you who hope to tread this path someday soon.

Also, if you haven’t bought my book yet, you totally should.

Peace out ya’ll.

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Acknowledgements

Some of you may know that I recently released a book.

For those of you who don’t, just so you know: I recently released a book.

My book has most of the normal book things in it. It has a title page, and a copyright page and a Dedication to My Totally Wonderful Wife page. Also there’s a story in there as well.

But one thing I did not include in my book was an Acknowledgements page.

Why? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found those Acknowledgement sections to be dry and boring litanies of people I don’t know doing things I don’t care about. When I see “Acknowledgements” I read “Skip This Section.” (The exception to this rule is Chuck Wendig’s Acknowledgements page for Irregular Creatures which was an absolute screaming hoot.)

But now that I’ve gone through the process of getting something ready to toss out into the cold and crowded world of ebooks I know why all those other authors wanted to include those lists of people who I didn’t know. The dirty secret is this: writing is a social process.

We think we can do it alone, but we can’t. We need support and advice and all kinds of prodding and poking to make our stories the best they can be.

So without further ado, I’m going to give you my Acknowledgements. These are people who helped to make this book what it is.

Ashley Berg

Is thanking your spouse a cliche? Well, yes, but for very good reason. In my dedication I said she would have loved me just as much if I had never written a word. And that’s the truth. Sometimes you need someone at your back screaming at you to go farther and do better. But sometimes you need someone by your side to tell you that it’s all gonna be okay. Every day I tell her how my writing went and no matter whether it was great or terrible she’s always there to encourage me. Every writer should be as lucky.

Ellie Anne Soderstrom

I’ve mentioned Ellie’s contribution here before, but it bears repeating. Ellie did a fantastic job of cleaning up the snaggling loose ends of my prose and making it all flow like it should. She also served as the projects head cheerleader. Knowing how much she liked the story really helped boost my self confidence about my writing and motivated me to make this release as good as possible.

Piper Bayard

If Ellie was the head cheerleader, Piper was the head coach. She was the one screaming at me in the locker room to get out there and clean up my act. Well, that may be a bit harsh. But she did give me a great critique that helped me clean up the ending of my story. She pitched in and helped to take it to the next level. She’s an awesome lady and a great writer.

Hoover

Because it’s really his story when you get right down to it. For those of you who don’t know, Hoover is my dog. I never had a dog before I had Hoover. My family has had dogs and my wife had a dog when I married her, but Hoover is the first dog that I really felt I could call my own. His pure joy and enthusiasm inspired much of the character of the dog in the book, and it was him getting tangled up out in the hot Florida sun for hours when we were gone that first inspired me to write this story. He’s fine now by the way, chasing a squeaky toy as I’m writing this a generally being his awesome doggy self.

I could probably go on. In one way or another many many people in my life have helped to shape me into the writer I am today. But these are the major players for this particular work. These are the ones who made this book what it is today. If you read it and like it, they’re probably the reason why. If you hate it…well there’s obviously something wrong with you. I mean it’s a story about a dog who fights zombies. How can you not like that?

So again, thanks to all who helped to make this story what it is. And thanks to you dear reader. Without you this would all be in vain.

A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw

So apparently…good things come to those who wait. And wait.

And.

Wait.

Good things also come to those who hit the refresh button over and over and freak out until they make themselves sick. I’ll let you guess which one I am.

Yes, that’s right A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw just went live on Amazon.

A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw

It’s possible that you may be wondering: “Is this book really for me?” If you are I have compiled a helpful reference for your edification. The following is a list of the types of people who may find my book interesting.

1. People who like dogs

Come on folks, give it up for man’s best friend. Not only are they kind and loyal, but they don’t look down on you like those uppity cat things.

Seriously. How can you say no to that?

2. People who like zombies

You know the ones. The walking dead, those lovable reanimated rotting corpses that just want to have a little nibble of your brains. They waltzed their way into the popular imagination with George A. Romero’s classic Dawn of the Dead, and we haven’t looked back since (except of course to make sure none of them were following us home).

3. People who don’t like dogs

Because um…maybe things might not go very well for our lovable fury protagonist?

4. People who like me

Maybe you can’t stand zombies. Maybe just thinking about dogs makes you itch. Maybe you don’t want to read a groundbreaking work of literary fiction that reimagines the zombie horror genre in a different light. Maybe you just want to an awesome dude how much you like him. Or you can just show me, and I’ll make sure some sufficiently awesome dude hears about it later.

If you fall into any of these categories then I’d suggest that you check out my book. At this very moment it is available for Kindle only, but I’m working diligently to get it up on Smashwords for those of you who happen to have something other than a Kindle (I’m one of these people so I feel your pain).

Also, if you happen to like the book, please help me spread the word. Tell a friend, tweet about it, “Like” it on Facebook. If you do the blog thing, then I’d love to do an interview. Community is the only advertising strategy I can afford. But I’m betting it’s the best there is.

And again, to all of you who have already been so supportive of me and my project…thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

A Book By Its Cover

A picture being worth a thousand words, I thought I might just post this and be done for today.

A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw

It was created by John Hornor Jacobs of atomictomato.com. If any of you are looking for cover work for your selfpub ventures, I cannot recommend John highly enough. He responded to my inquiry quickly and finished the work in an extremely timely manner. Also (and this is the big one for me) his price is accessible for even a lowly Walmart associate like me.

Bottom line, I’m rather pleased with the result.

You can see more of John’s cover work here.

And don’t forget! A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw will be going on sale for Kindle (and other eBook device thingies) on Tuesday. Tell your friends. If your friends aren’t interested in reading a book about a dog facing the zombie apocalypse, then club them over the head with a brick and steal their credit cards so you can buy one for them anyway.

A Problem of Perspective

Yesterday, I told you about my experience with my editor and how wonderful it was. I extolled the experience of being edited as something uplifting and refreshing. And my conclusion was simple:

You should do it too.

But maybe you’re still skeptical. Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s all well and good for Albert, but really what does he know? Just because he needs an editor doesn’t mean that I do.”

But you’re wrong my friend, horribly wrong. And here is why:

1. You haven’t explained enough.

You know your story backwards and forwards. You know exactly what is happening and why. But nobody else does. Which is really why you’re writing that book in the first place right? Because you want to tell people the story in your head. But sometimes you don’t get it all out.

So you’ll get your editor saying things like “Why is the dog thinking about eating the brains of this zombie. Is he in the habit of eating purifying grey matter? Is this the kind of thing his owners leave lying around the house? This makes no sense.”

At which point you realized that maybe including the detail that the dog is ravenously hungry might be somewhat enlightening to your readers.

2. Hey Bub back off on the explanation!

What’s that you say? This is the exact oposite thing of what we just discussed? Why, how astute of you.

But it’s still a problem. Because clearly you’re not trying to be obscure. You want your readers to understand what’s going on. And sometimes you tend to include to much detail, just in case they don’t quite get it.

The line between too much detail and not enough is razor thin. So you need an editor to say, “You don’t have to say ‘She reached for the can.’ Anyone over the age of four is capable of understanding that if the can was in the cupboard in one sentence and being opened in the next that it did not in fact magically teleport itself through the aether. Cans are not in the habit of doing that.”

3. Everything else

Because, lets face it, there’s way more than three things wrong with your manuscript. An editor can help you with everything from structure to weak verbs.

And please don’t misunderstand. It’s not because you’re a bad writer. You’re just too close to see everything that needs fixing.

You’re a little like the woman I met yesterday who was looking for a way to lock her daughter’s bedroom window shut so that she couldn’t get out in the middle of the night and go out galavanting with her boyfriends. (And by “galavanting” I mean “having sex”.) She looked me straight in the eye and said “When I was her age my parents screwed my windows shut, but my boyfriend just took out the screws.”

You know, on second thought you’re nothing like that woman. But you have a similar problem, which is that you can’t see the absurdity of what is literally right in front of your face. You’re too close. Too involved. You need someone who’s not involved with the situation who can step back and say, “If your daughter’s doing exactly the same thing you did at her age maybe your husband shouldn’t be calling her a whore. And exactly how did you two get to know each other anyway?”

Before I close, I wanted to give a quick caveat that all the edits I included, even though they were inspired by problems in my actual manuscript, were my own wording. My editor, the lovely and talented Ellie Soderstrom is far too nice to say things so harshly. Which was one of the wonderful things about working with her. She was able to tell me what needed changing without making me feel like a douche for getting it wrong.

I’ve already thanked her privately, but I wanted say it here where everyone could see. Thank you, thank you, thank you Ellie. You don’t know how much you encouraged me.

Zombies, Chainsaws, and Your Friendly Neighborhood Editor

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed I’ve been talking a lot about zombies lately. If you’re not a regular reader of this blog, um…what’s your problem? Get with the program, man.

You may have asked yourself, “Why is it that Albert has chosen this time to bombard us with pointless facts about fictional monsters?”

To which I say, “Pointless? POINTLESS!? You won’t think its very pointless when they’re ripping your guts out now will you?! Of all the ungrateful…”

No, wait. Sorry, got a little carried away there.

What I actually meant to say was that I am working on putting the finishing touches on an upcoming novella called, “A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw,” a story about a dog who faces the zombie apocalypse. I’m hoping to attract readers to the site who might have an interest in that kind of thing. (If you think the title sounds a little familiar, you’re not going crazy; the story was originally conceived as a shorter work which is available here for anyone who’s interested.)

I’ve been working on this thing for a while, first writing, then editing and polishing. And finally that moment came when…I had to let it out. I had to let someone else read it.

And not just anyone else, but someone who was going to look at my story and try to find something wrong with it. Someone who would rip it to shreds with a red pen. Someone who would attack its weak points and slash at anything that didn’t quite work. Someone who was going to take a chainsaw and carve up my precious baby in a spray of blood and shredded flesh.

In other words, an editor.

It wasn’t easy letting go. But I knew it had to be done. So I gritted my teeth, repeated Chuck Wendig’s “Do Better, Suck Less” mantra to myself twenty times, and hit that send button.

And then I realized I had forgotten to, you know, actually attach the document to the email, so I had to go through the whole process again.

When I finally got my story back…I was afraid open it. What awful things must this person have said about my work? But finally I did manage to take just a little peek. And then, maybe another page, and another and another, and…

Before I knew it I had blown through every page of that manuscript, checking changes and reading notes.

And let me tell you something. It was fun.

See, I had been spending all this time thinking that reading those edits would be a horrible experience. I thought for sure that those changes would be a blow to my ego. Because really, none of us like to be criticized. None of us like to hear, “This passage right here just doesn’t work.”

But I’m here to tell you it doesn’t all have to be negative. Not if you approach it the right way; not if you have the right editor.

In fact there’s something almost magical about looking at a change and thinking Yes! That does work better that way! Ha!

You need that extra pair of eyes. Someone who knows what to look for.

It’s not because you’re a horrible writer.

It’s because you’re way too close. Even after you’ve let it sit for months. Even after you’ve gone over and over it yourself until you’ve started to become nauseated by your own words.

It can be better.

So let go of that fear. Stop worrying about your ego. It isn’t important anyway.

What’s important is the story. In the end, it’s the only thing that matters.