The Gears of Anbar - And so it begins

on Monday, August 1, 2011
After a short respite, I have started on Gears of Anbar. I must say, even only taking a break from writing for a little past a week, I was already beginning to feel like something was missing from my life. I felt like I wasn't accomplishing anything, even when I was massively editing Effulgent Corruption and having just finished a book longer than my past three combined.

I suppose this is a sign I should be a writer, hmm? If even one day passes and I haven't written I begin to feel off. I'll take that as a good thing.

To my amazing surprise I actually wrote 3.4k today. It's mostly dialogue, which is both for the reader's benefit (having just started a new book in the series) and my own. Gears is a darker book than Steelgods. While in the first Cevan's plight was certainly bleak, it was done in a way that it came off as less serious than it actually was. Not so in Gears, which takes place a year after the first one. Cevan's situation has gotten far worse, with both Gears and Peacemakers (or Peacemasters, based on the snippet at the end of the Kindle version of Paradise Seekers) hunting him voraciously. While this book will certainly have the humor of the first book, it's going to be a bit darker. I'm trying to get into that mood, and this chapter reflects that.

It also is going to be longer. I'm trying my hardest to write YA not Epic Wordy Fantasy here, and I don't know how well I'm doing. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

This will also be, like Steelgods, a big fat discovery write. Effulgent Corruption, while I found things out along the way, was a massive example of me planning and piecing everything together. Seriously, that book is complicated, but I made sure nothing was there "just because" or as a result of leftover discovery writing: everything had a place, even little things. Gears is more me having a basic idea of a story and seeing how I get there and what happens (which is also what happened in Steelgods). It's mostly a fun write for me because it's both easy (I don't have to worry much about it being good) and hard (I want it to be good, deep down, and going purely off discovery writing is a challenge). I also don't worry about it and just plow through as fast as humanly possible (I want this book done by the end of August), and since it isn't 353k I know it'll be done quick.

I'm also being less of a whiner about Kindle, and I'm reconsidering putting Steelgods up, probably for free. I will first attempt to sell this thing the "original style" (aka query letters, wee.), but if it fails I see no harm in putting it up. It also would give me a chance to redeem myself for the formatting monstrosity that was Paradise Seekers (though, Joe, I think I might have sent you a bad copy or something), and since I'm less attached to this story (I really wanted to sell Paradise Seekers, so the fact nobody bit still sort of irks me) putting it up won't be such a personal dilemma. Plus, I think it's a fun ride, and having more books up on the Kindle store certainly couldn't hurt.

Speaking of Paradise Seekers, Amazon won't make it free even though I harass them about how it's free on Smashwords. I'm just going to keep spamming them until they figure it out, I guess. I honestly have no problem giving it away, minus the whole "perception of value" thing. I love the book, but I also want more people to read it. Truthfully, that means more to me than the money. I do this because I love telling stories and I love the craft. Would I love to make a living off it? Absolutely. Do I know if Kindle is going to do that for me? Maybe, but for now I'm skeptical, and in that regard I'd rather take pleasure in simply knowing more people are reading it rather than trying to pay off my cover art.

Which is really the whole thing. I don't want to downplay myself, but I wrote Paradise Seekers in less than a month. Honestly, the most frustrating work wasn't writing it or even editing it, it was the stupid task of formatting it. I love writing, I love editing, but a month's work isn't hard to just hand out. And as I mentioned at the start, I write to fill a void in myself. Maybe that gives me a warped perception of value, but if this is something I churned out fast and published myself, I see no problem with you reading it for free. Honestly, reading reviews that praise it (or even just review it) actually mean more to me than earning the 35 cents or whatever they threw down to buy a copy. You read something I wrote and actually finished it, and even went so far to say you liked it. That's praise enough.

Not to go far off a tangent, but that's also how I felt when I used to make indie games. I actually made quite a few back in the day, and never made one red cent off it. But it didn't matter. I had fun doing it, I had fun listening to feedback, and that was enough.

That being said, after spending seven months writing Effulgent Corruption (and probably seven more before the dumb thing is its "final" state), there is no way I'm giving that away for free (unless you want to alpha read, hint hint). In the perception of value thing, this monster is up there. Paradise Seekers, Steelgods, and even Harbinger were more for my own enjoyment, but Effulgent Corruption was a massive amount of sleepless nights, long walks to clear my mind, and stress. So yeah, if you thought I didn't value my work, here's the counter argument.

And holy balls did I get off on a tangent.

The point is, maybe I'm jaded because Paradise Seekers didn't sell. Maybe I'm jaded because my online group (most of which came from that indie community) didn't do jack crap to support me when I needed them most. I'm over it. I'm going to keep writing some damn entertaining books, and I'm going to keep letting you read them. That's it, end of story, QED, ~fin, whatever. I can get rejected by traditional publishing and by Kindle publishing, but I don't give two freaking craps. I'm going to keep flooding you with my mind vomit until you've had enough, and then I'll keep going.

I half expected corny, dramatic music to play when I was typing that. Imagine it narrated by Tom Hanks, that's who I'd have read that scene.

Anyway. Gears is go, I'm still writing, and that's that.

Before the quote, here's a "Personal news moment!" (because you haven't gotten in my head enough this post)

- My crown chipped. After a minor war, I convinced my dentist he should replace it for free. Thank goodness, now I can finally sleep at night.
- I won a Soundgarden Rock Band pack, valued at $10. Go me.
- I also won the grand prize in another Rock Band online thing, that netted me $20 in xbox bux and about $60 in indie games off Steam. Yes, I'm really lucky.

So I'm actually in a pretty good mood, despite this post. Anyway, here's some stuff I wrote today from the new, emo Steelgods book.

The Garbage Wagon seemed the least of our worries, what with the whole town burning. “We can’t stay,” I said, carefully rubbing my temples with my palms, making sure the Tips didn’t touch my flesh. “The Peacemakers-“
“Are undoubtedly on their way; yes,” Devent grumbled. “Quick, to the forest. They send their scouts first, but I’m certain a towering plume of town-sized fire should be signal enough for the whole Peacemaker armada to come for our blood.”
“Not your blood,” I bit my lip. “Mine.”
Devent was quiet, and he gave me an odd look. Rosemary looked at me with sympathy and a touch of sadness, but I could see in her eyes she wasn’t going to argue my point.
They came because they think I’m the Destroyer of the World, my headache left, and in my mind I could easily see the fires ravaging what remained of the lovely town of Red Graphite. They kill and murder and ruin everything, all because of me. And they’ll never stop, never, until I’m dead.

- The Gears of Anbar

Oh, and here's where the "Steelgods" word was inspired from. Yes, I get a lot of ideas from music ("Paradise Seeker" is a line from Escapist, by Nightwish). Sue me. 


Joe Vasicek said...

I'll be honest; I think you're making a mistake to drop out of the game so soon (and if your goal is to make a living as a writer, then giving out your stories for free without it being a part of a larger business strategy is the same as dropping out). No one is an overnight success, and it can take months for ebook sales to build. The key is not to let momentary emotions cloud your long-term decision making--which is understandably harder for us writers, seeing how temperamental we can become. However, if you stick it through and push through the dip, that's when success really comes.

Nathan Major said...

It really isn't so much giving up as shooting for name recognition. I'm not entirely certain whether Steelgods will be free or not (depends on how quickly I can edit it and write the second one), but marking Paradise Seekers as free is something I've actually considered since the start, and only recently came to the conclusion that it might be a sound strategy.
Despite my hot-headedness in this post, I'm actually not too bent out of shape about it, even at all. Though the post would be easily misleading, I've been considering the options for a while and just now concluded on this route. Whether Amazon will let me is another question entirely, but the point is that I'm trying to do it without jumping off the cuff, which is something I've VERY good at doing. :P

Joe Vasicek said...

But if you're planning on going with a traditional publisher, it doesn't matter how many stories you can give away because that isn't a proven sales record. It's not until you demonstrate that people are willing to pay money to read your stuff that you'll get respect from the business people whom you're asking to take a risk on you.

Kristy said...

A word of caution on free stories. You say you want people to read your stories, but if they're free, then a smaller percentage of those who download it will value it enough to read it. I've seen this happen with me when I download a free book, and the company I work for sees it all the time when people download free apps. Free = download without thinking twice. People think twice (even if it's a short think) about plunking down a few dollars, and that second think will make them more likely to actually make the time to read your work. So while free may be a good method to go for some things, I'd be wary of it in relation to your novels. Reading a novel is a big time commitment: handing over money (or having to go on a trip to the library, or exerting some other form of effort) for the opportunity to read a novel makes you a little more committed to the task.

So even with the goal of being read over that of making a living, you should consider your options. Not saying it's never a good idea, just that it should be carefully considered and controlled.

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