When I first made the decision to re-release “Relvan’s Rescue” as an ebook, I already had a publishing platform in mind. We had bought a Kindle Fire for the kids the summer before, and I’d received some promotional emails from Amazon about their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) service. Combined with my existing Author Central page, it seemed like Amazon’s KDP was the obvious choice. Read more
Tag Archive for Relvan’s Rescue
As I mentioned in my post announcing the release of “Relvan’s Rescue” for the Kindle, I had three obstacles I still had to overcome once I made the decision to publish the short story as an ebook. The first of those obstacles was making sure I had the rights to do so.
From time to time, you hear stories about authors, eager to have their work published, signing away all control over their writing. It’s as if these new authors are so desperate to have someone validate them–as if they lack any sort of confidence in their own ability or the value of their work–that they often sign away on the dotted line without bothering to read through the contract, let alone ask what some of the terms mean or do some research on the publisher and their reputation.
While a part of me feels some sympathy for these hapless writers, a larger part of me feels they got what they deserved for not giving themselves or their writing enough respect to take the time to protect it. The Internet makes it just as easy to learn about the potential markets that are out there as it does to get your work published. There is no excuse for not knowing what you’re getting into other than your own blind desperation in the hunt for that first publication credit.
So what does this all have to do with my decision to turn “Relvan’s Rescue” into an ebook? Well, because I had signed a contract giving some of the rights to publish the story over to a small press. Now, I was lucky enough to get my first break with a big publisher, but since Maiden of Pain came out, all of my work has been released through small press. That means I have the opportunity to see a variety of contracts and the kinds of terms that are offered.
Many of the contract “horror stories” that circulate the Interwebs involve small presses, but I’ve been fortunate enough to deal with some pretty upstanding organizations. And this wasn’t because of luck. It was because I took the time to understand what was being offered and to research the markets I submitted to before I sent them anything.
The contract I received from Metahuman Press for “Relvan’s Rescue” was fairly standard for the type of market. Depending on how much you are being compensated, you might be signing over some sort of exclusive publication rights for a certain length of time and in a certain format. My contract with Metahuman Press provided for non-exclusive rights to use the story in a specified anthology for perpetuity (as long as the anthology remained in print, which means pretty much forever when you are taking about ebooks). I retained all other rights, including the ability to reprint “Relvan’s Rescue” whenever and however I wanted.
I took one other step, however, before I proceeded with my ebook experiment. I contacted the publisher to confirm my right to reprint. I highly recommend this, as it is a professional courtesy that can go a long way to maintaining good relationships with potential future business partners. Nick Ahlhelm, the publisher over at Metahuman, verified what I already knew, and just asked that I mention the story was previously published in their Pirates & Swashbucklers anthology, which I was more than happy to do. Being able to say that someone else with some credibility thought your story was good enough to publish can be a great marketing tool when you are looking for ways to promote your self-published work.
So, the moral of the story is take the time to read the fine print and research your potential publishing partners before signing on the dotted line. It can save you a lot of future heartache and protect your ability to control what happens to your work. If you’ve had an experience with reprinting a previously published work, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. And if you have a contract horror story, go ahead and share that, too, but don’t expect too much sympathy from me.
It’s been two weeks since I finished graduate school, effectively closing a recent chapter in my life. Like any unfinished book, however, there is another chapter just beginning. Life is constantly on the move. I did take last week to relax and get away with the family, but even that trip was influenced by this new path I’m on, as I was pursuing a job opportunity in the area.
Most of the time was spent decompressing: playing in the pool, playing board games, playing video games. Lots of playing and having fun with my family, something there wasn’t a lot of time for the last six months. The end of my Master’s program was one of the most stressful academic experiences I’ve ever had, juggling student teaching, high-stakes assessments that determined whether I would be certified by the state, and finishing classwork necessary to earn my degree. Not to mention starting the hunt for employment.
The point of this post, though, is not to bemoan my burdens of the past. The reason I’m sharing what my life was like since the start of the year is to frame a valuable lesson I learned about writing. Or more specifically, trying to self-publish my writing.
Back in January, I decided I wanted to try self-publishing. I had been following the evolution of this new market and thought it might be a good time to test the waters. And I had the perfect subject for this new endeavor, a short story that had been printed in an anthology a year ago, but which I still had the rights to reprint. Start small, I thought, with a piece that already had some traction. It would make for a good selling point as I tried to market it.
What I didn’t really account for was how much time I wouldn’t have for said marketing. The success of self-publishing lives or dies by how well the author can publicize their work. The Internet provides some excellent tools for marketing that didn’t exist ten years ago, but they require an investment of time to take full advantage of. I got a good start, publishing a couple posts on my blog and starting some discussions in groups I was a member of on different social networks.
Then the new term started at school, and I was back in my middle school classroom teaching, and I dropped everything else. My experiment in self-publishing was no longer a priority, and so it languished in obscurity on Amazon.
Moral of the story: if you can’t or aren’t willing to spend time marketing yourself and your writing, self-publishing is not a viable career path if you expect to make a living off your work. This shouldn’t be news to anyone, but sometimes it’s necessary to reiterate with someone’s actual experience as an example.
There is a silver lining to this cloud, though. The beauty of e-books is that nothing prevents me from picking up where I left off. I don’t have to order another print run. The file is still available to anyone with an Internet connection and a Kindle (and soon, a Nook). So, to kick off this new marketing campaign, I’m announcing a Summer Sale on “Relvan’s Rescue.” Unfortunately, Amazon does not have any functionality to support discount codes, so I’m just knocking the price down to $0.99 for the next couple months. That’s 50% off. Now’s a great time to introduce yourself–or someone you know who loves good fantasy fiction–to Janner Kohl, mercenary captain and Sword & Sorcery hero.
And I hope to be able to make an announcement about a new Janner Kohl adventure soon.
I’ve been tagged. Erin Tettensor, with whom I shared the Table of Contents for the 2005 Realms of the Dragons II anthology from Wizards of the Coast, has kindly linked me to the latest chain promo/meme for writers. The questions for this particular “interview” are geared toward a book. Erin’s first novel, Darkwalker, will be coming out in 2014 from publisher Roc. Short fiction is all I’ve really had time for while working on my Masters in Teaching, so I’ve adjusted the questions accordingly.
What is the working title of your story?
“Mig’s Rebellion” is the second Janner Kohl story I’ve written. Janner is a mercenary, employed by the Brigade, one of many mercenary guilds that operate in the world I’ve created for these adventures. Mig Daro is his best friend and fellow mercenary.
Where did the idea for the story come from?
This particular tale was inspired by the computer roleplaying game Icewind Dale. Janner Kohl and the Brigade were birthed from my experience playing Pool of Radiance in my early teens, and the love I have for the Moonsea region of the Forgotten Realms that grew from those memories. I can think of many other influences that found their way into this story, and the larger world of Janner Kohl, but that’s primarily the germ that got the ball rolling, if I may mix my metaphors.
What genre does your story fall under?
The adventures of Janner Kohl are pure sword and sorcery. I’ve likened Janner to Solomon Kane in the past, and there are certainly aspects of the relationship between Janner and Mig that give nods back to the quintessential duo of sword and sorcery, Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser. I’m really trying to capture what I love most about those classic stories, while putting my own unique spin on them.
What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version?
I’m a very visual writer, meaning that I write from vivid pictures that are in my head. I have very definitive images of both Janner and Mig, though I have, up to this point, purposefully given minimal details about their looks in both stories. That said, I really haven’t spent much time searching out actors that I think match those mental portraits. Off the top of my head, I could see Gerard Butler as Janner. Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, but with shorter hair (and taller than a dwarf), could also work. William Kircher as Bifur, twenty years younger, a shorter beard, but keep the wild hair, is close to what I imagine Mig like.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of the story?
Janner Kohl’s belief that discipline equals obeying orders is tested when his friend Mig Daro questions their captain’s judgement, and Janner must choose a side if he hopes to survive the guardians of a dangerous magic sealed inside the cursed crypt of an ancient barbarian warlord.
Will your story be self-published?
I am currently shopping it around different markets. I just heard back from LORE over the weekend, and they decided not to accept it. As of right now, it is sitting in the submission queue at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show.
That does bring me to another “Big Thing” I would like to announce. I will be spending the rest of this month formatting and creating a cover for the re-release of the first Janner Kohl story, “Relvan’s Rescue,” as an ebook. The story originally appeared in last year’s Pirates & Swashbucklers anthology from Metahuman Press (which is still available and a great value as an ebook if you have a pirate lover on your Christmas list). I’ve been interested in testing out the ebook market since Wizards of the Coast re-issued Maiden of Pain in that format, and I thought this might be a good opportunity.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
“Mig’s Rebellion” is just over 5000 words. I don’t think it took more than two or three days to get out that first draft.
What other stories would you compare this to within your genre?
See my answer to the other question on genre.
Who or what inspired you to write this story?
See my answer to the question about where the idea for the story came from.
What else about your story might pique the interest of readers?
Even though my main goal for the adventures of Janner Kohl is to tell a fun and entertaining sword and sorcery story, I can’t help but explore deeper themes when the opportunities arise. “Mig’s Rebellion” presented such an opportunity, and in the process, I discovered a side to Mig that I hadn’t really considered. He really grew into his own as a character in this story, whereas he was presented more as a sidekick in “Relvan’s Rescue.” That was a very enjoyable process for me as a writer, and I hope readers will be just as thrilled as I was by the results.
Stay tuned for news on where you can find “Mig’s Rebellion” and when “Relvan’s Rescue” will be released. In the meantime, go check out the Next Big Thing for these authors:
- Rosemary Jones, another “Young Dragons” author that has gone on to bigger and better things, has a new novella out. “Wrecker of Engines” is included in the Cobalt City Rookies anthology from Timid Pirate Publishing. If you like superheroes, you need to read this.
- Cynthia Ward, a fellow Pirates & Swashbucklers author, recently co-authored Writing the Other (Conversation Pieces); a non-fiction ebook that “discusses basic aspects of characterization and offers elementary techniques, practical exercises, and examples for helping writers create richer and more accurate characters” from different ethnic and cultural background. I believe she also has some short fiction looking for a home.
My first draft of “Mig’s Rebellion”, the latest Janner Kohl story, was completed at the beginning of last week. Fall semester classes were starting and I wanted it done before I had to dive back into the realm of academia. I sent it out to some beta readers and got feedback from a couple of them already, so I did some revising over the weekend.
The first item that got work was the ending. Both readers felt it was too abrupt and left them unsatisfied, so I extended it by three or four sentences to give closure without changing the theme I was trying to express. This was the single biggest revision. Others included some pronoun confusion during one or two of the action sequences, a little bit more description to enhance the tension and “creepiness” of one particular scene, and a really cheesy line of dialogue that my wife–I mean, one of my beta readers said had to go.
“Mig’s Rebellion” currently sits at 5200 words, a little over half the length of the first Janner Kohl story. I’m very happy with this, as it opens additional markets that I can submit to which weren’t available to “Relvan’s Rescue” due to its word count. The one market I really wanted to submit to, based on their previous interest in my writing, was Black Gate, but according to its listing on Duotrope, it is closed to submissions until 2016. I haven’t been able to confirm this directly with editors at the magazine that I have communicated with in the past, though I don’t really have a reason to doubt Duotrope. Can anyone else corroborate the status of this market?
Assuming Black Gate is not open for the present (and foreseeable future), the first market I will be submitting to is Lore. I have not submitted to them before, and Duotrope ranks them at number 6 in their 25 Most Challenging Markets. They also pay professional rates. On the downside, according to their submission guidelines, their response time is 90 days as of this June. While not the worst I’ve encountered, I’m not enthusiastic about my manuscript sitting around for longer than 30 days, especially when another market I’m considering will be opening and closing in September.
Fortunately, that market–Heroic Fantasy Quarterly–has four different reading periods per year, so if I miss this one, it won’t be long until I can submit to them again. Unfortunately, they pay a flat fee for fiction, though the amount is more than I made in royalties after a year for the Pirates & Swashbucklers anthology. HFQ rejected “Relvan’s Rescue” for being too “talky” and using the word “pirates” (they’re not fans), but they did like the writing and encouraged me to consider them in the future (in a generic sort of way).
I will, but after I submit “Mig’s Rebellion” to Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. This is another market that offers professional rates, and one I’ve submitted to previously, though they also rejected “Relvan’s Rescue” (without any personalized feedback).
I expect to hear back from my other beta readers by the end of the week. That gives me the weekend to make one final round of revisions, and then its off to the markets.
UPDATE: I just heard back from John O’Neill, editor at Black Gate. “Thanks for checking. Yes, we are closed until at least 2016.”