Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Traditional Publishing: Achievement Unlocked! I'm Signed with Skyscape!

I’ve been holding out on my readers since about December 4th, and it’s time to come clean.
I really don’t remember much about December 4th. The calendar says it was a Thursday. I know that was a “stay at home and write” day, or at least it was intended to be. Maybe I wrote. Maybe I didn’t. I don’t remember.

All I remember is this email that turned up in my inbox, with the subject heading, “Hello from Amazon Publishing!”

Kindle and Amazon send out mass emails, of course. They happen. I didn’t expect this to be anything different, but when I opened it up, I found this:

Hi Elliott,

I hope you’re well! I’m writing as an editor for Skyscape, Amazon’s traditional YA/new adult publishing imprint. I encountered POOR MAN’S FIGHT while browsing the Kindle store, and was instantly drawn in by your fantastic description. I purchased the book immediately and read it over the course of one night…

Have you enjoyed your self-publishing experience? And have you ever considered traditional publishing? 

I responded, of course. I had some hopes. But I’ve also learned not to get my hopes up too high since I first started writing these books. I have been contacted by agents before, including agents from very big and reputable companies, and one time a guy in Hollywood working for a yes-for-reals television agency inquired about the rights for Poor Man’s Fight…but usually it’s just a very brief query that doesn’t go far beyond that. So I responded, I mentioned it to some friends, and my hopes perked up more when Miriam (the editor) and I arranged a phone call. But again, I didn’t let those hopes run away with me.

As it turned out, Miriam said pretty much exactly what I wanted to hear: that Skyscape wanted to take Poor Man’s Fight and Rich Man’s War under their label for traditional publishing!

The deal is signed. We’re full speed ahead. I’m actually reviewing copyedits of Poor Man’s Fight now, and I’ve just filled out the first little bits of paperwork for the audio book.

What does all this mean for Poor Man’s Fight, Rich Man’s War, and the following book(s)? Am I gonna have to Young Adult this thing up and take out all the swearing and face-stabbing? Do I have to slap on a WB-style makeover for the characters and set everything to a mopey emo soundtrack? WILL THERE BE HUGE CHANGES?

No. Well, not HUGE changes. The one big change I’m looking at is a name change, because let’s face it, I made a goof when I named Allison, Alicia and Andrea. That’s one too many A-names to track, especially given what they have in common. Allison’s now looking at a name change. Past that, we’re just looking at fixing some editorial mistakes, and I’m very grateful for the help I’m receiving.

However, the action is still there. The language is still there. Tanner is and will remain a serial interstellar blasphemer. Casey is still Casey. Janeka is still Janeka. The books will remain available on Amazon as they currently are until Skyscape re-launches them, which at the moment looks like June of this year. And I’m extremely happy about all of it.

My other books, for the record, are untouched by the deal, and will remain as they are. I don’t find that disappointing at all; I like them just fine as indie-published works. My racy, not-for-kids urban fantasy line will continue. I need to finish with Volume Three of Well, That Escalated Quickly: The Tanner Malone Story (still no projected date on that yet!), and then it will be time to assess where I go next.

The only real change I’m looking at here is the prospect of reaching many, many more readers, and what writer doesn’t want that?

THANK YOU to all my readers—to everyone who left reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, to everyone who mentioned the book to a friend and who emailed me privately to give their thoughts. This ride just keeps getting better, and I’m so truly grateful for all the support!

Friday, January 23, 2015

It's like that joke about God sending boats to the dude in the flood...except totally not.

(This may well sound grumbly, but I swear things are going well for me overall.)

Probably the first rule of becoming a writer is Don't Quit Your Day Job. If it's not, it should be.

I have a day job. I've had the same day job for ten-ish years now. I won't tell you what it is, but it's one of those socially responsible jobs that our society desperately needs to function, and yet going into said job means you often won't be treated society. The job has plenty of drawbacks. You tell people this is your job and they make a face and say, "Wow, I couldn't do that," but they know it needs doing. It's also the sort of job where you need a college degree, and then you need more college after that, but good luck paying it all off on the salary you'll probably make.

For a long time, I liked the job, even though it could often be a drag. My actual time commitments were pretty malleable, though the low pay meant that I worked as often as I possibly could and still didn't really get far ahead. I tried to get more entrenched in my job, in the hopes of both professional growth and improving my economic standing (again, low pay, no benefits at all...not a lot of security). I didn't get very far. Part of that was the downturn in 2008; part of it was just the nature of my field; and, sure, sometimes I got beat out by better candidates. It happened.

I never lacked for dedication, or talent, or diligence. It just didn't get me anywhere. It certainly didn't help my wallet. The truth of the American Dream is that it still involves a lot of luck. I think my favorite quote in the last ten years is from George Monbiot: "If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire."

Writing wasn't a thing I ever planned on doing for a living. It sounds like saying you're gonna grow up to play in the NFL or be a rock star. It doesn't seem practical. I wrote for fun, and things have sort of grown from there.

I still have my day job, but I don't go in a whole lot anymore. That's a wonderful thing, too, because as the years went on and the growth never really happened, the day job became more of a drag than a calling. Good Intentions helped a lot when I went through a brief and entirely predictable bit of seasonal unemployment. Poor Man's Fight pretty much changed my life. Occasionally, a reader or a reviewer will say that Tanner is a bit too heroic, and I think, "Tanner bought me out of debt, paid for multiple book covers and my appendectomy and gave me the best summer vacation I've had in ten years. You're damn right he's a hero!"

The thing is, I'm not what you'd call rich. I'm just finally making what a college-educated guy who just hit 40 should maybe make, contrasted against a pretty modest lifestyle developed from years of not making all that much money.

Again, the rule is: Don't Quit Your Day Job. And I've more or less followed that. I've taken a lot of time off the day job to write, because I love writing and because the writing is demonstrably more profitable. But I haven't quit the day job...I just don't go in a lot anymore.

I went in this week, partly by request. I drove to work today in the car that I bought this summer, the first new car I've ever owned, the car that I could only afford because so many people have been so good to me and my writing.

...aaaaand I got rear-ended about a block away from the office. Trunk and bumper are just smashed. I'm okay, the other guy's okay. He got out of his van and passed along his insurance and he was cool, and given how common hit-and-runs seem to be in Seattle, I'll take that as a blessing. But still: I went in to work like a real person, and naturally my car took the hit.

I think the universe is trying to tell me something.

General updateness:

Tanner: Well, That Escalated Quickly (Book Three) is currently at 33,000 words, and this week I managed to get over a particularly concerning plot point, so I feel like it'll keep rolling along well. I have no projections as to when it'll be done. I desperately WANT to be done by early summer. The last time I shot for that, however, it wound up being late August, which as it turns out isn't the best time to release a book.

I've received confirmation that I'll be an attending pro at Norwescon this year (April 2-5). As the website will tell you, it's the Pacific Northwest's Premiere Science Fiction and Fantasy convention. All these years of being a regular attendee, and now I'll be a panelist!

I'm also working with a few different artists (mostly discovered at conventions or through DeviantArt) for some illustrations of Tanner, Casey & Co. that I'll share once I have them. I've wanted to get some more such pieces done for a while now. It's in the works. Hopefully we'll all like what we see.

As it's a common question, I'll just state here again that yes, I will someday write another book in the Good Intentions series. Maybe after the current book is done, maybe not. I can't say. I love those characters. I feel like there's much more to do with them. But I'm sticking to one book at a time right now.

There's other good news to relay, but I kinda need to keep it under my hat for a little longer just yet.

Couple last bits: I've finally taken to Twitter and Tumblr. Not all that much on either yet, but if you follow those outlets, I'm @ElliottKaybooks on Twitter and I'm on tumblr, obviously. Fair warning: I don't do a whole lot of advertising there. Just a little more of my regular voice getting out into the world.

Take care, everyone!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Good News, for a Change

Not exactly a serious blog post. Book Three is progressing for Tanner. Not much more to tell on that score right now.

But I feel like this should be shouted out from rooftops:

Christian Science Monitor: In a US first, New Orleans finds homes for all its homeless veterans.

I'm sure the program will have its flaws. I have no doubt that some vets will slip through the cracks. But the fact that this effort is being made and is having genuinely good effects is wonderful.

Like pretty much anyone, I want to see homelessness ended, for everyone, period. Veterans or not. Salt Lake City is apparently doing great things in that regard. But just from the standpoint of having to start somewhere, this is a beautiful thing.

I drive past homeless people all the time in Seattle. Sometimes I give to panhandlers. Sometimes I don't. But it kills me every time. And I know that Seattle isn't exactly doing nothing, but...I'm so glad to see cities making progress. Here's hoping it spreads.