One thing I have yet again proven to myself is something we all already know: If you truly want something bad enough, you find the time to do it, even when there’s none to be had. This has proven true time and time again. Here, let me recall a personal, recent example.
I did it. I finally have a book for sale, in both e-book format as well as paperback, and it’s now available to every corner of the Earth. Well, every corner connected to the World Wide Interwebs, anyway. I went through the entire concept-to-publishing process, from cradle to grave, if you will. It has given me an extreme sense of accomplishment! And I gotta say, HOLY SYLLABLE-SLINGERS, BATMAN! No wonder companies exist to do this sort of thing for you! There must be a hundred and one steps, and that’s before you even begin to write! Ha, just kidding. Kinda. Thankfully, others in my writing group were doing the same thing almost simultaneously, and we all shared information, trials, tribulations, and “Lessons Learned” as we call them in the Army. I happily discovered Jeni, another Wraith, has been putting together a Concept-to-Publish Checklist, which we all will surely be continually refining as we gain more knowledge and experience (and when technical tools and websites change). More about this project later.
As a writer, my mission, my job in life, is to write. Not get down in the technical weeds of the publishing process. But as this was a puzzle to work out and conquer–and I do SO enjoy working out puzzles–I didn’t hate the process. It was challenging if not particularly fun, I learned a lot, and I actually enjoyed doing it. Even more, I enjoyed seeing the fruits of my hard work online and earning—wait for it—actual, real currency. Pennies, perhaps, but pennies are money. So there it is, “The Tesla Project: 1975”, hanging out there for all the world to see and criticize.
In fact, I enjoyed the fruits of my labor so much, I thought I could take on ANOTHER book just barely after the ink was dry on the Tesla paperback. My 90-day limit was upon me (my goal is 90 days between releases; three short stories, one novel) because I learned that Amazon treats you a little differently when it comes to “relevancy” if you publish something every 90 days. True or not, that’s what I’m going for. So, enter “The Tutor: A Ghost Story.” A mega-quick read and a nice little bedtime story for, well, maybe older kids. I compiled both an e-book AND a print version of this one as well—it went MUCH faster this time around—and also made it available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and a few other distributors. Things were going so well, I thought, heck, I can do more!
Since I’ve reserved TWO tables at the upcoming comic book convention–which I’ll get to in a second–I decided I want a print version of at least issue #1 of my silly web comic, EvilOrg.org. Which includes half a dozen ads to help offset costs and/or build relationships with fellow geeks with businesses of their own. Four of these ads I had to create or digitally edit personally, which added time I hadn’t planned on. But I found time, ran each ad by those involved, and everyone was happy the first go around. Elated, I compiled it and sent the whole mess off to the printer, and there was much rejoicing. Yaaaay. Then, when I was so quickly successful with issue #1, I decided heck, I can probably get issue #2 ready in time, too! It meant I had to draw 18 more panels, get MORE ads done, contact the printer to see if my grand plan was even doable, format it, compile it, get it to the printer with enough time left for them to get it in the mail and in my hot little hands in time for the con. Done. And then, what did I do? Not relax. Everyone knows there is no rest for the wicked. I wanted my group to be as successful as possible, so I offered to format the inside of, and create a wrap-around cover for, Jeni’s “Dreamers” paperback. Where I found time to do that, I’ll never know. Oh yeah. I know where it came from. Good thing I don’t need much shut-eye.
Honestly, this grand plan is not as heroic a feat I make it sound. It wasn’t like these were full 100,000-word novels or anything; these books and comics are small. Hell, the biggest book, Tesla, is only 114 pages, WITH all the front and back matter. The comics are 28 pages each. The Tutor is only 24 pages total, again with all the front and back matter. Yeah, that one is teeny tiny and barely worth printing, but I wanted just one more thing besides Tesla to sell at the next con.
The CON. The “Kansas City Comicon.” Not to be confused with Kansas City’s other, longer-running “Planet Comicon”, from which KCCC sprang up. That was the driving factor behind my extreme motivation to get all these tasks done. "Con or Bust!“ That was my motto. Still is. Preparing items to sell wasn’t the only thing on our to-do list. We have items to raffle off. We had to order nice tablecloths. Table runners. Big giant banners! This last one falls squarely in my realm. So for this con (and several future cons) I created special art for giant vinyl banners, and got them suckers printed up at my favorite local print shop. This shop ensures all banner edges are sewn up and grommets are emplaced in the corners (just in case you want to leave your banners outside during Hurricane Wordrina). Nine banners in all, across both companies (Wordwraith Books LLC and RodWerks LLC). They’re gorgeous and colorful and awesome (yes, colorful, even if one of them is gray). And I built the Wordwraiths a very sturdy 8-foot by 8-foot wooden stand for half of those banners completely by hand from nine 8-foot 2x4s and a dozen ½ inch nuts and bolts. And I’ll readily admit I had tremendous help from my awesome dad, who LOVES a good project and who’s "got this AWESOME set of tools” (that was another 80s reference). I still have one week to build one additional giant stand for EvilOrg, which I’m confident we’ll get done because we’re halfway done already. The paint might not be completely dry by the time we set up for the con, but paint smears on our faces will just make it look like we worked harder. I also ordered promotional items for our con tables and new business cards to replace my old ratty ones that I’m embarrassed to hand out. I know I’m forgetting about a dozen things, but they’ll rear their ugly heads soon enough.
Did I mention I did everything I just outlined in oh, about THIRTY DAYS? No BS. With the exception of publishing the 114-page e-book to Amazon (that happened back in April), yes, 30 days. Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend it. Not to anyone. Not to my worst enemy. Because I need sleep and a stiff drink or three at this point.
And the reason I did all this in 30 days? Because, while one of my job titles at work is “Planner,” I can’t plan for s*** in my personal life. While I may be a plotter/pantster (or “in betweener” as my group likes to call people like me who usually jumps into a story with just an idea because he’s excited to get his newest awesome idea going, and only after chapter 1 starts outlining and plotting the actual story arc itself), when it comes to preparing for big events like this, I’m a mess. Unless zero hour is on the horizon (or staring me in the face), I can’t get motivated. Heck, when I started all this 30 days out, I was like, “Look at me! I’m starting prep early for a change!” Turns out that was still too late. I should have started 90 days ago! It’s not like this con sneaked up on me. I’ve known about it since this time last year. Granted, we hadn’t solidified our plans for a table at KCCC until PCC in March, five months ago, but still, I could have been preparing better. I’ll do better next time.
Ha. Right, Rod. Keep telling yourself that.
I’ll pull this crap again. I discovered years ago I work best under pressure. Probably because that’s what I grew accustomed to in the military. But I can’t blame the Army entirely. I put myself through hell a whole lot of the time for no good reason; I put my college homework and essays off until the night before they were due, and only then went into panic mode. I didn’t get the best grades, but I got my degree. I didn’t have the best laid plans like the great war heroes of the past, but no one died under my command. And so my confidence grew and I decided I know when I shine: right when the doomsday clock is five minutes to midnight. Any earlier, and due to my horrible perfectionism, I second guess everything and end up with a crappier product than the one I produce at the last minute.
So, as usual, when faced with what felt like yet another essay due the next day, I fell right back into my old habit of staying up ‘till 3 a.m. almost every night. Luckily, in the Army I developed strategies to stay awake and alert and yes, even productive with just a few hours of sleep (see my blog post from July 1st titled “It’s 3 a.m., Do You Know Where Your Writers Are?”). However, even with a nap (sorry, I should have said “Spoiler Alert”), I still feel like a piece of poo laying out on a smoking hot sidewalk after pulling semi-all nighters too many days in a row. The human body just needs sleep, there’s no getting around it. You have to get your full brain-case housing hibernation hours in eventually. But I have convinced myself these long, long days are only for a short time; after the con, I can SLEEEEEP.
Oh, who am I kiddin’? I’ll still find a reason to stay up, now that I’m used to it again. UGH. I’m going to be the death of me.
One last thing before I type the final period on this blog post. Earlier, I mentioned the Concept-to-Publishing Checklist (not an official title, just something I came up with) that my writing partner in crime Jeni has created. It is a treasure trove for those starting out on their own, and will even be useful for those with some experience in this area. She will be offering it up to her loyal readership at some point in the future. Join her mailing list if you haven’t already and watch for it! ☺
I hope to see you at KCCC this weekend! Bartle Hall, downtown Kansas City, MO. Yes, that gargantuan two (three?) city-block-long building with the four ugly, million-dollar Christmas ornaments on top of those four gargantuan spires. I like the spires, they add distinction to the city skyline. I don’t like the un-identifiable, industrial, Art Nouveau whatsits. Actually, I think the biggest of these four eye sores is being repaired right now, so we’re currently sans 25% of the ugliness! Yay! Anyway, the tables of both Wordwraith Books and EvilOrg.org are adjacent to one another, in the middle of Aisle 700, right in the middle of, well, quite literally everything at the con. Stop by and say hello! ☺
– Rod and the Wordwraiths