I’m 47 – Holy @#$!

2013-09-02 13.43.22

(Me & the Better 1/2 outside the Victoria & Albert Museum in London Last Year)

 

My thoughts on turning 47 yesterday:

My wife and son and I went for supper last night. Then we bought a cake. Then I put air in the better 1/2’s tire. And that’s how you do a 47th birthday.
I find, now that I’m nearing my 50’s that the little things don’t bother me as much as they used to. I also find that I tend to notice the passage of time now with a clarity that I surely didn’t when I was in my 20’s or even my 30’s. I can contextualize that, for all intents and purposes, I have now lived more years than I will continue to live and it’s a little bit hilarious while at the same time, a little bit terrifying. Because I can mark the passage of time now with the lines around my eyes, the white that appears in my beard when I haven’t shaved for a couple of days, that my son no longer looks like a kid anymore – that he too is aging. We are all growing older, and hopefully wiser.

There’s comedy in growing older. I make fun of myself a lot now in reference to aging. I often say “it ends badly for everyone” which of course, it does. So, I am continuing my journey. I have decided to complete a project for this year’s NaNoWriMo – it’s a coming of age story – big departure from the bubblegum that I usually write.

Onward.

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Traditionally published authors, self-published authors and being yelly

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Hiya – my name is Sean Cummings and I’m a traditionally published author who has, at times, said some unkind things about self-published books, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and basically that Amazon might possibly be SkyNet.

Hiya – my name is Sean Cummings and I’m a self-published author who has, at times, had really bad experiences with traditional publishing houses and who sometimes thinks that traditional publishing doesn’t have a freaking clue what the hell is going on.

There’s a lot of yelly stuff right now online when it comes to traditionally pubbed authors and those who are self-published. I think, probably, the number one self-publishing website on Planet Earth is The Passive Voice. Here’s where I got called out because of comments I’ve made on my website about self-published stuff.

And here’s where they featured a blog post of mine about my book MARSHALL CONRAD where I suggested that I had no idea why the damned book was, and still is, selling so well.

I’m thinking there’s still a lot of stigma out for self-published books. I think that a lot of people in traditional publishing look down their noses at self-pubbed stuff, and in many cases they are right do do it because metric tons of self-published stuff is crap with bad cover art and terrible editing.

And then there are some amazingly wonderful self-published books. There are authors who have hit paydirt doing it. There are established authors leaving traditional publishing behind to go it alone. There are people like me who are tinkering with self-publishing while still hoping to make it in traditional publishing.

And there’s still a lot of vitriol out there. From both sides.

I think it’s because maybe a lot of us on the traditional side of things thinks that self-published authors don’t deserve to have a book published with the click of a mouse, you know? They didn’t…

a) Earn their way to a traditional publishing deal

b) Experience years of rejection from agents and publishers

c) Experience piss-poor sales once their book got published

That and the market is flooded with self-published stuff which makes it harder and harder to get noticed.

On the other hand, self-published authors often feel that publishers are out to screw authors. That there is nothing a publishing house can do that a self-published author cannot do. That gatekeepers such as agents and editors are part of the problem and there are tons of traditionally published books that are crap with bad story lines and equally bad editing.

So there’s a lot of polarization here. I think it might be due to the fact that nobody has a clue what the hell publishing is going to look like five years from now. We are all experiencing seismic change. Christ, a well respected publisher can start up a young adult imprint and in less than three years shut it down due to poor sales!

The thing is … are we all a bunch of complete assholes? There is vitriol coming from both sides (I’ve actually participated in it, so my bad – that won’t be happening again) and at the heart of things is that whether your a Passive Voice Patriot or you’re “Self-Published Books aren’t Real Books”, you have to wonder if there is any middle ground?

I do a lot of writer’s workshops here in Saskatoon where I live. Every wannabe author I meet gets the same question from me, “why do you want to get published?”

Most of the time the response has to do with holding that book in your hands for the first time or seeing it on the shelf of a local book store. So, you know, maybe there’s some validation things going on there. Let’s face it, it’s good for your self esteem to actually be offered a publishing contract because the odds are so very heavily stacked against you ever getting published in the first place.

Self-publishing advocates see things differently in that technology has democratized the process of getting published. That authors can now be in control. That gatekeepers are no longer a factor.

Is there middle ground here? Why is everyone being so yelly? Why was I being yelly?

Well, I can tell you one reason .. I was a bit smug. There, I said it. I was smug because I had achieved something that most writers won’t. But the funny thing is, I self-pubbed my newest work in spite of the fact that I could have tried traditional. I still often have a knee-jerk reaction to seeing a self-published author doing extremely well when I am not. It’s weird … because I never experience that feeling when one of my traditionally published peers is kicking ass.

Maybe I’m an asshole. Maybe we’re all assholes … who knows?

All that I know is that books matter. Stories matter. Writing is a craft and it’s perhaps there where the smugness comes from. Perhaps those who look down on self-published authors believe that the very act of putting your book through the process of finding an agent, getting a publishing deal and then editing, editing, editing … all that is craft. All that craft is missing when you self-publish.

Beats me. All the yelly stuff is white noise to me at this point. It matters nothing to the book buying public because they really don’t give a shit whether the book was self pubbed or not. Consumers buy books based on a number of factors that are identical whether you are self pubbed or traditionally pubbed: how does the cover art look? What does it say on the back cover? Is the price right? Will I like this book?

I think that traditionally published books AND self-published books can answer those questions. And I think the books that answer the right way will sell. The other ones won’t.

And the market will decide.

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Read the first 6 Chapters of THE NORTH!

Wondering what my book is about? Want to sample a smidge? Here you go – enjoy!

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So I Self-Published THE NORTH – Release Day Thoughts

menorthI have no idea whether this book is going to sell. I hope it does because its sales will determine whether I start writing the second in a planned trilogy.

I had offers on the table from a couple of small publishers but as mentioned in an earlier blog post, I didn’t see there was anything they could offer that I couldn’t already do myself.  I came very VERY close with a publisher I could only dream of being published by, but they felt the market was flooded with zombie books and would have difficulty getting sales in an over-crowded market.  And maybe they were right, who knows?

So, this is a brand new work and it’s 100% self-published. I did hire an editor to clean up the manuscript and it went through a series of reads via beta readers, so thank you beta readers. Will I self-publish again? Beats me … it’s a hell of a lot of work and I’d really rather be writing than formatting and dinking around with Adobe Illustrator for the cover art. I honestly don’t know where authors who have been successful at self-publishing find the damned time to write new stuff, there’s just so much to do. At any rate, here are some things I’ve learned since deciding to self-pub this project:

1) It’s a lot harder to get retweets promoting the book. Could be due to the fact that people don’t want to get spammed. I try to limit my promotional tweeting.

2) It’s been hard to get likes on Facebook – possibly the same reasons.

3) This one surprised me: it was really hard to give away e-arcs! I only managed to giveaway twenty-three of them in total!

4) There were a total of 8 pre-orders on Amazon.

5) It was up for pre-order over at Smashwords and I didn’t sell any. Actually, all of my books save for POLTERGEEKS and STUDENT BODIES are available at Smashwords and I have sold precisely none. All of my sales have come from Amazon – draw your own conclusions from that.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now. I shall give it the old college try and see if I can make something resembling a success out of this book. I’ve learned that outside of hiring a publicist or spending a boatload of money I don’t have, my marketing efforts will be limited to social media. This is nothing new for me – I didn’t have any real marketing support for my two Strange Chemistry Books titles so I got the word out the best I could. The sales were abysmal. I suspect the sales for all the Strange Chemistry Books authors were/are abysmal, hence the reason they shut their doors less than two years after opening.

I think that experience also had a lot to do with my decision to self-publish THE NORTH. I’ve had bad luck with two publishers in a row now – it tends to wear a person down.

Anyway, I do hope you buy my book. I think it’s a great read. It’s pretty bleak. It’s pretty dark. It’s pretty hard to find hope when the world burns … but hope can happen.

Enjoy THE NORTH! If I sell enough, I will write the second one. You can get it at Amazon in print and Kindle format and over at Smashwords for epub! (The ebook is on sale this week only for $1,99 at Smash and Amazonistan!)

SC

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Got Zombie? The North in Animated Gifs – BOOK GIVEAWAY

north-KDP-coverIt’s done. It’s available now in print, and as an ebook. THE NORTH is a pretty damned dark book if I do say so myself. It’s got zombies, teenagers hanging by a thread and trying to stay alive while the world around them burns. It’s got non-stop action and a lot of twists and turns and a shock ending that you won’t see coming. So here’s some animated gifs that will help articulate what I’m talking about here….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Walking Dead Twd animated GIF

Movies Zombie animated GIF

The Walking Dead Zombie animated GIF

Car Tank animated GIF

Cat Crazy Cat Lady animated GIF

Alpine Blizzard animated GIF

Blizzard Driving animated GIF

Blizzard China animated GIF

Apologies For The Abysmal Quality Don Draper animated GIF

Interested yet? I hope so – it took more than two years and a lot of revision to get it done. This is a completely different kind of book for me – where POLTERGEEKS was light and airy and STUDENT BODIES was snarky and dark, THE NORTH is bleak & terrifying and cold because it’s a crew of teenage orphans and the story of their escape from the city to a place they hope is safe. But how can anyone be safe when dead walk and the living are just meat? I hope you read it and get a kick out of my attempt to write the Great Canadian Zombie Apocalypse novel.

Oh and hey … I’m giving away copies of THE NORTH. Five of ’em! Want to win one?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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