Where to begin… A lot has transpired.
I’ll start with A Contract in Azure and Indigo. On my last update from the 14th of November I was finishing my self-edit and about to send it off for beta reads. All were new readers I’d never worked with before, and that led to surprises good and bad.
Beta Readers One and Two provided very little substantive feedback. I managed to gleam a few minor points of improvement from them, but not much. I had a nagging feeling that the draft had unseen issues in need of fixing. Yet the feedback was so superficial it didn’t help me much at all.
Enter Beta Reader Three. :-)
I’d asked Three if they’d like to beta Azure in October, but they declined because they were in the middle of a move. But they’d left the possibility open for reading, “if I still needed support later in November”. I absolutely felt that I still needed support. With the 4th draft ready, I contacted them last minute on a Saturday morning. I was getting feedback from them throughout the rest of the weekend.
Three is an excellent writer, but they’d never done a beta read before and were nervous about critiquing. Despite that, they were SPECTACULAR and provided fabulous, thorough feedback. An A+ job from an A+ person. Although they enjoyed the story, they also didn’t shy from pointing out what they felt was lacking. Their suggestions helped me identify many nagging issues and problems I’d missed. The 5th draft was far superior to its predecessor thanks to their input!
I began winding down the edits afterwards using the Hemingway Editor App. I’ve found it a robust and handy little proofreading tool . Once that was finished, my plan was to let my wife give it her own proofread before a final version. The hope was that she’d be typesetting the book Saturday morning after I meet my November 23rd deadline.
However, on Thursday the 21st, I got an email from our printer, IngramSpark.
Effective until January 1st, indie press paperback orders they received would be delayed. An estimated 13 business days to print, and rush/express orders will be unavailable. And that was only time to print, it didn’t include shipping time thereafter.
This was literally sent at 5 pm on a Thursday night, with no other prior notice. And at the time of receipt, there were only ten business days until December 7th… what I’d planned to be the book launch of A Contract in Azure and Indigo at the Nor’Geekster. Even if we had it 100% ready to go at that instant— and we didn’t— it wasn’t going to happen.
Well, fuck. :-(
It sucks. My wife and I had been busting ass to meet that deadline. Yes, there were challenges and we were cutting things close, but we were going to pull it off. We were going to have an order for books submitted the 25th or 26th. We were going to make it happen. And then the rug got completely yanked out from under us, and from no fault of our own.
We investigated alternate means to publish the story in time for the launch. But they were all unsatisfactory in quality, expense and time to one degree or another. As a wise man once said, it is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. However, I also don’t believe in the no-win scenario. I believe that a loss can make you relook at a goal and find a new path to reach it. Force you to assess your goal better and see a way to grasp its most essential aspect, if not the whole.
I was going to vend at the Nor’Geekster.
My primary goal isn’t to make tons of bank with my couple of little books. It never was, even if I had Azure ready. Making money at this point is a bonus. No, my first goal is to put myself out there and meet people. Introduce my work. Build some interest. With that in mind, I rolled with the punches, altered plans, and made new ones.
First, I decided to push the publication of A Contract in Azure and Indigo out to January 11th, 2020. Although disappointing, the delay brought some silver linings. It allows more care for the book’s production. And it opens the door to collaborating with my favorite editor Lauren L. Garcia on the piece.
It also gave me time to brainstorm with my wife on something special to offer at the Nor’Geekster.
We took the weekend we’d set aside for the final work on Azure and ran through a bunch of ideas. In the end, we decided to produce an exclusive electronic collection. An assortment of my very short stories and microfictions. Kim would make a PDF eBook and we’d sell it on USB thumb drives. We got crafty with it, and found drives that come in cork stoppers for tiny glass bottles. Some dressing up, and the prototype exterior of my Very Short Stories (in a Very Small Bottle) was complete! They’ll look nice hanging with ribbon bows on the little lighted Yule tree we’ve got for display. :-)
Kim also designed some spectacular bookmarks we’ll be selling for a dollar. Most feature cover art from my books, including one that’s a promo for Azure. Each book or bottle purchase will earn you a free one. They have my release schedule for halfway into 2020 on the back, too.
And thus, the stage was set for an exhausting week to come.
Using an extra vacation day from the day job, my wife and I extended the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to 5 days. We used it to bust serious ass starting last Wednesday. On that first day we got everything printed and crafting supplies collected. The bookmarks and things for the event like signs and tags turned out awesome.
Kim then spent three days formatting the beautiful, 40 page bottle collection eBook. On Sunday we joined forces yet again. This time we crafted the USB bottles to Yuletide perfection and uploaded the eBooks to them.
Insofar as vending at the Nor’Geekster is concerned, we are now all good. We’re ready to pack it all up for transport. :-)
Aside from helping my wife, my major task last weekend was to get my social media setup for December. This was a monster. I hadn’t gotten any of my normal prep-work done in the weeks prior. My focus was on getting Azure ready to print and I figured the long weekend would give me plenty of time to get it done. With Azure submitted, I’d only be waiting for the order of books to deliver. I hadn’t foreseen IngramSpark yanking the rug out from under that. Or that we’d be trying put together an eBook and craft its presentation at the same time. Things got more complicated because it’s the December setup. With all its associated holiday accommodations, it requires significant care and attention.
Oh yeah, and then we had our first major winter storm of the season rolling in on Sunday. We lost half a day preparing the house, grounds and car for that.
I still managed to get all 200+ posts created and scheduled across four platforms. I did better than just get it all done, too. I wrote two new very short stories for this Yule season. Krampuslauf is running now on Twitter and will feature on Facebook and here on the blog Friday. The second story, Yule Father, will get the same treatment between December 16th and 20th. Besides those, I crafted a few microfiction one-shots for the season. And I continued my ongoing serials Ice & Ash and The Brownies by writing a dozen new episodes for them.
No sooner had I gotten all that done and felt the rush of relief, than that storm hit as a two-day event. Insert two terrifying winter work commutes. Shoving a car stuck in snow. Shoveling paths. Snow-blowing your driveway before you can park your car at your own house after it all.
It has all left me tired. So very, very tired…
But not defeated.
I’m going to vend at the Nor’Geekster this Saturday, and I’m bringing something special to it.
We did it. :-)
The delay to Azure stung. But the way things are turning out, it’ll be to the betterment of the story when it’s released. And now I’ll start 2020 in grand fashion.
Have a great week everyone, and keep writing!
~Jason H. Abbott