Selling Out was not my fault

I sold out of Beanstalk and Beyond at Westercon – and that was not my fault.

My title was one of many that my publisher couldn’t get Lightning Source to deliver in time for the convention. Consequently, the only physical copies available for sale in AZ, as far as I know, were in the cardboard box I brought to my book launch, and half of those were already spoken for.

I spent a fair bit on memberships and hotel rooms, and I need to wait a paycheck before I order any more. So if you were hoping to just buy one off of me in the near future, I’m sorry.

I just wrote the damn thing. I was not prepared to be the sole retailer in the state. (I did not have this problem with either of my hiking guides).

Learn from my mistakes: Fire up your Square before the customers walk in, particularly if its been a while. Make and bring business cards. There is no such thing as too many flyers. If you are selling at $15 each, have a pile of Lincolns.

Even so, I sold out. BUT mostly to people I already knew, which is common for a book launch.

There is no better marketing opportunity for early career authors than participating a SF/F convention. Don’t go thinking you’re going to sell a bunch of books to your fellow authors. Go to network, make friends, get ideas. It will pay for itself.

Eventually.

I hope.

In any case, since I actually sold books for profit solely because I attended the con, it is now a tax deduction.

More of what we learned at the con at Practically Done.

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Author Events – a thing I do now sometimes

conalope1

I will be at Westercon 70, down the road in Tempe AZ of the July 4th weekend (July 1-4) doing many things.

We are proud to host the most prestigious regional science fiction and fantasy convention on the west coast on its 70th anniversary. … We are officially branding our 2017 event ConAlope. We are commemorating the 70th anniversary not only of Westercon but also of the crash landing of a UFO (or a military surveillance balloon) in Roswell, NM on July 8th, 1947. We suggest that the stranded aliens wrangled a horde of frisky jackalopes and rode northwest to Tempe. They may well make an appearance at Westercon!

I will be hosting a  book launch party for Beanstalk and Beyond .

I will be running episodes of Go Action Fun Time in the game room.

And Mystic Publishers will have copies of  Beanstalk and Beyond for sale in the dealer’s room (along with their other books, I suppose).

This will all be a whole thing with time/space coordinates as soon as I have those. This is just a head’s up.

Before that happens, I will be just south of Prescott next weekend (June 24 & 25) conducting a trail finding/building workshop at Whispering Pines Campground for the annual Arizona Community of Christ Reunion.

This is a church event, and I am there for church reasons, but it would be of interest to  novice hikers, and the event is technically open to the public, assuming you register for the camp. I will also have copies of my hiking guides on hand.

I include the Whispering Pines event because several regular blog readers are also church members, and because it segues into mentioning that this blog now has a calendar page. 

I am also working on a secondary book launch not on a holiday weekend at a major SF/F convention. When I have some resolution to that, I will not be shy. If you have ideas, I am still in the listening phase.

Now you know.

 

Beanstalk and Beyond Release Notice

I have just had confirmation from my publisher that my novel  Beanstalk and Beyond will be released on May 1, 2017.

It may or may not be up on Amazon before then. When that happens, I will not be shy about that.

I have been warned that if I want plenty of books on hand, I want to schedule any sort of release party for late May.  I am open to suggestions about this thing. Once I have time/space coordinates, I will not be shy about this either.

On May 1st,  I start a new job as  a field service technician for RC Lurie, which sells architectural lighting systems and related products. My end of it will be making sure they work.

It’s full time. I am not looking for side gigs until I start feeling comfortable with this job.

I will be a new employee for the first time in 15 years (and hopefully the last time as an actual employee). This will be my first job of consequence outside of live entertainment since the 1990’s. It remains to be discovered how much that takes out of me.

So I may not show up at social events I would otherwise attend, and my bliggety blogs may update less frequently for a while (particularly the ones nobody reads). I am confident, however, that I will find my way on top of all of this.

Meanwhile, we’re making Sangria over at Winehobo. 

Also, I’m mowing my own lawn tomorrow. Draw your own conclusions.

Now you know.

The More Things Change…

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

First, some rumor control. There has been a rash of stories about border guards detaining people for no good reason, and as much as I would like to attribute that to the Trumpster – this is not new. [Watts ended up convicted of a felony, is barred from traveling in or though the US and paid a fine.]

My wife has given notice at Rhino, and I will miss working with her very much, not only because I (obviously) enjoy her company, but because she was also good at her job.I don’t get into Rhino politics online, but from my perspective – which is abnormally well informed – this situation was 100% avoidable had anyone in charge been inclined to take action.

This is neither the first nor last good employee who has had this experience.

March 7th is her last day at Rhino. She took a new job which starts March 8th.

I have started going back to writer’s groups. I go to Central Phoenix one on Monday nights at Grand Central Coffee Company (where I’m work-shopping the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond). and an independent one on Thursday Night at the Armadillo Grill – which seems really familiar.  (My old group met there for years, on Thursday night). Join us if your are inclined, and I will try not to spill beer on my copy of your first or second draft. [Links above are to the Meet-up sites which may require registration]

At Are We Lost Yet?  I report on outdoor retailers vs the Utah GOP.

The twice annual Outdoor Retailers Show has announced that it will pull out of its long time home in Salt Lake City Utah in protest of Utah officials support of eliminating federal lands by transferring them to the states.

At Fantastical History, we continue on with giants, exploring my strange (made-up) theory about the Muans and how they became Asuras.

Muans ( a term made up well after the fact) are a race of supernatural immortals native to southeast Asia. Their lost history informs the legends and myths behind the Asura and Devas and Jinn and Oni of more recent human cultures.

At Curious Continuity, I report both facts and wild conjecture about TRAPPIST-1 and its seven dwarves.

Unless we are captured by alien slavers and dragged there, we are not going to be around when (if) human starships reach the seven rocky dwarf planets orbiting tightly around TRAPPIST-1.  Why wait for that – when we can just make stuff up. Come on – NASA wants you to!

And I updated my writer’s resume to try and land a gig writing for Outer Places. So if they made it this far down checking me out – hi guys! The links were sparse because a lot of what I’ve written for the web has since evaporated in 404 unknown host country.

The more things stay the same, the more they change.

Now you know.

 

MORE ON PETER WATTS:

http://io9.gizmodo.com/5497556/sf-author-peter-watts-found-guilty-of-felony-resistance-against-border-guardhttp://io9.gizmodo.com/5497556/sf-author-peter-watts-found-guilty-of-felony-resistance-against-border-guard

https://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/2009/12/12/us_border_guards_arrest_author_peter_watts.html

http://www.tor.com/2010/04/27/sometimes-we-win/

 

 

Good Advice from Direct Experience

I turned 50 not long ago, so I feel I am old enough to share a few general life lessons.

This won’t take long.

  • Own your life.
    • Do your own thinking.
    • Take responsibility for your feelings.
    • Your circumstances can be an explanation, but not an excuse.
      • My nearsightedness is more of a day-to-day problem for me than my autism, by a good margin. No one fundraises for my nearsightedness. Just saying.
    • Trust your stuff (whatever that stuff happens to be).
      • It is your job to figure out what your stuff is.

If you don’t know, choose the option that leaves the most other options open.

    • Sometimes that means stalling, and that’s OK. I mean, it’s like deliberately fouling to stop the clock, but that’s a legitimate tactic.
    • If you know – then do it. Nike is right about that.
  • Define yourself as broadly as possible. When you say stuff like “as an [x] I believe….” you are artificially narrowing your perspective, and thereby leaving out options to no gain.
    • I am a discrete entity within the time-space continuum, with a definable vector through space time and a known mass.
      • That may be carrying it a little far.

 

I have become fond of the Four Agreements of Toltec Wisdom:

  • Keep your word.
  • Take nothing personally.
  • Avoid Assumptions.
  • Do Your Best.

 

General Work advice:

  • You can get a job by knowing what you’re doing. You make a career by taking responsibility for getting it done.
  • Getting yourself into position to do the work well is never a waste of time.
    • Seriously: measure twice – cut once.
    • Just wear or use the fucking PPE.
    • Absolutely double-check that you have everything before you crawl/climb into the confined space/stupid high place.
  • Building relationships is never a waste of time.
    • Decisions aren’t made in meetings. They are made in the hallway conversation afterwards.

 

Specific to stagecraft:

The four Ks:

  • KNOW the system you are working with.
  • KEEP it in good working order.
  • KNOW what you’re doing
    • And make certain everyone else involved knows the plan as well.
  • KEEP your concentration.

 

The Three A’s

  • ATTITUDE
  • ABILITY
  • AVAILABILITY

These are all equally important in who gets scheduled.

 

Traits of a good stagehand (in order of priority):

  • Show up sober.
  • Be able to follow verbal instructions
  • Get along with strangers (because you will do this every day)
    • Don’t panic
    • Don’t be a dick.
  • Pay attention
    • This is the number one factor in sfaety
    • Also, you can learn things.
  • Remain flexible
  • Take the craft seriously.

 

With the exception of life and safety, nothing important actually happens backstage.

 

Writing Advice:

  • Show don’t tell.
  • Death to cliches.
  • Keep your ass in the chair.
    • Anyhting you write down is more productive than an empty page.
  • It is your job to figure it out.

 

Also, I dreaded writing this thing for about a week, but the answer turned out to be just sit down and write it.

 

Now you know.

My weird book contract dillema

So I entered my space opera novel (one of 64) in a contest and placed – I guess. Anyway, I “won” a publishing contract with the publisher, a small outfit that does mostly e-books (that I will decline to name at the moment). It is a surprisingly hard decision whether to sign t or not. So if you have a moment, follow me while I puzzle out the problem.

There’s no out of pocket for me. The Publisher covers or provides editing, cover art, printing and the like.

They are not asking for all rights, just license to publish.

There is zero advance.

The royalty rates are at the low end of acceptable, but acceptable.

I am required to complete their 3 month marketing academy (In lieu of an advance, they claim).

I would be required to establish a website that they approve, at my expense.

They want me to cut down from 130k to 110k words.

These guys are small, but they are not a vanity press. The money flows (or at least trickles)  in the right direction. I am resigned that no matter where I go with this, I will not see a sizable advance, and I will be called upon to do the bulk if not the entirety of the marketing work.

PRO’s

  • I could have a book out by this time next year.
  • It would be from an actual publisher that is not myself.
  • This offer is in my hands, right now. All other opportunities currently exist only in my mind.
  • I might actually learn something in their class.

CON’s

  • I’ve never heard of these guys, and likely, neither have you.
  • The contract is not as clear as I would prefer about which rights I am granting.
  • 20k words is about four full chapters, or all references to a major character. The plot has a lot of moving, interlocking parts.
  • I don’t mind putting together a website. I  mind getting someone to sign off on it that isn’t paying for it.
  • No sensible adult mistakes a required class for payment.
  • This is a small pond when I honestly think I could make it in the open ocean.
  • I could write a lot of fun books using this universe, unless I somehow lose control of it all right here.

There are logistical benefits to having a decision by Monday. I will update as thoughts occur.

UPDATE: This thread continues in my other blog “One of 64” (who would have seen that coming?)

 

http://the64.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/winning-a-contest-brings-up-red-flags/

 

Now you know.

 

Complexities of concrete and paper and making a living in the 21st century

Concrete traffic barricades come standard in 6′ or 12′  lengths, which is a problem when you need them less than 5′ in any direction, and still weighing at least 3000#. This is the sort of thing I do at work. Tomorrow, I’m in a harness, in a swingstage, changing lightbulbs in a scoreboard.

There are hundreds of different grades of cement and concrete, including a variety that floats. Engineering students make canoes out of this stuff and race them.

Yes they do:

 

There also exists about a hundred different grades of paper, and keeping track of those is a job skill unto itself. Owning a printer doesn;t make you a publisher.

Writing a book, though, makes you a marketer – and paper is only one format. More on that in Writing Made Visible

(updated after some neglect.)

And Fossil Springs Road is closed for the summer. More on that in Are We Lost Yet?

 

Now you know.