December 2nd, 2020:
My wife and I had a good socially distanced Thanksgiving, and fun with our Marvel movie marathon. I was rested and wanted to put in some writing after that, but a chain of unrelated problems and annoyances that required my attention and time started over the weekend. Nothing huge and terrifying, and some good is even coming out of the resolutions. Yet here I am after my time was eaten, and my writing objectives for the week are all out of whack.
I’ll be working on some catch-up for the next few days. The good news is that I have a plan charted for my writing and publishing goals that isn’t scrambled and will serve as my compass while I navigate into 2021.
I wouldn’t call it revolutionary, but it feels solid. It’s crafted with what I learned publishing my pair of shorts in October of last year, and the mistakes I made thereafter. A lot of the trouble that befell my publishing goals were factors outside of my control and related to the pandemic, such as losing my job and the strain of 2020 taking a psychological toll on me. But I also created an unrealistic production schedule for myself to get the stories out and that didn’t help at all.
My goals for 2019-2020 were to refine and publish a half-dozen previously written short pieces I’d done, seeking to build up my author brand and presence to support the release of my first novel. I still don’t think that is a bad idea, but I grievously underestimated the amount of work the revision of my older pieces would require. Moreover, I failed to give my creative process and the business process proper space to function. The net result was that I worked very hard on both ends, goals clashed, and everything tripped over each other. And then, you know, 2020 happened.
For 2021, I’m focusing priority on getting my newest pieces out first, as they will require less revision to reach my current standard of quality. Equally, publishing novels will take preference over shorter works as that format generates more sales and profit, and I need to increase that. Those goals made it easy to prioritize the three pieces I’m aiming to publish.
In the top spot is A Contract in Azure and Indigo, a recent long piece I’ve been writing. It is in a trajectory to end up at a novel’s length, so it hits both criteria. The second is my novelette Tears of the Joyous Mare, which while short is very recently revised. Third is my Cthulhu Mythos and Sword & Sorcery piece, Shadow of the Black Tower. It’s also on a trajectory to finish at a novel’s length, but will need the most revision of the three.
The Forever Halloween, the novelette I finished in November that is my most recent long piece, sits kind of outside this triad. I’m getting good feedback on it thus far and I’m inclined to publish it in the autumn of 2021. But as it is already composed to my current standards and the kind of story that would be silly to release outside of the buildup to Halloween, I’m not going to give it a big revisit until the summer.
Our economic situation is dictating some changes to our publishing strategy. Paying for a decent editor is going to be a service we can’t afford at about $1,000 a novel. I hate having to scrap that, but the money just isn’t there. I am looking into a compromise, however: Editing software called AutoCrit that seems well reviewed and powerful, but at a $300 yearly cost still an investment relative to our savings. It certainly looks like an excellent tool that would be good to have even if I had a flesh-and-blood editor. Without the money to afford editing services, spending a third of the cost to edit one book to be able to edit any number of pieces for a year with a powerful program has the appearance of an efficient— if less than ideal— option.
Similarly, paying my favorite artist for unique cover art is also no longer a service we can afford. But for this problem we do have an in-house solution: My wife is an educated graphic designer who already designs and codes the layout of my books. She has professional training and tools to do the job. While her style of art isn’t what I had envisioned for the aesthetic of the covers, they will be on-par with or better than many other small press designs we’ve observed adorning well-selling books. We work closely as a team and I would have never gotten this far as an author without her. No one knows my work as intimately as she does, and I have faith in what we’ll create together to be the outward face for my stories.
Take care everyone. Be safe, and keep writing!
~Jason H. Abbott.
Good luck with all your goals, Jason. It is a tough year. I decided to make my own covers for the latest trilogy, knowing that I could swap them out later if necessary. So I can relate to the difficult choices. The most important thing is getting over this pandemic. Be well.
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Thank you, Diana. On the pandemic side of things, I think my wife and I physically and behaviorally are doing well and being safe within what we can control. Emotionally, it has been rough, but this isn’t the roughest patch. We definitely are concerned about money though. I need to start pulling in more and the jobs aren’t there, hence more focus on the non-traditional. Be safe, my friend.
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