It’s been four days since my novel “PETR: A STAR FOLK SAGA” hit Amazon in paperback and for Kindle.
Thank you to all who have already purchased the book! I greatly appreciate the support, and I hope you’re enjoying the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.
To those who haven’t yet, perhaps a few sample chapters will push you off the fence.
From Whence We Came
As some of you may know “PETR: A STAR FOLK SAGA” is not the first iteration of my book.
Back in 2009/2010 I began writing a book of high adventure in space filled with mercenaries, feudal lords, and grand battles. And in 2011 I had an editor take a first look at it to begin the path to publication.
However, my situation changed and the editing ended. I was looking for a job and I wondered how I could make my book great on my own. I bought several books on self-editing and improving novel manuscripts and worked through each of them. By the time I was finished I thought I had a solid book to sell.
But after almost a year on Amazon kindle, B&N Nook, Kobo, and the iBookstore my sales of “DER STERNVOLKER” had gone from a trickle to none, and none of the follow-up short stories set in the same universe were selling. The title of my book was also really bad German…
I decided to submit my book to a professional reading service through Writer’s Digest. For a fee a professional author in the same genre reads your book, or an excerpt, and provides a few hundred words of feedback. A well-published scifi author read my book, and the feedback he provided was very insightful.
He loved the story, but noted that it seemed like there were three or four stories all wrapped up into one. I was trying to do too much with too little focus.
After that I was determined to rewrite the book to make it better.
And then life hit. I got a girlfriend, we had a baby, then got married. My full-time job began taking more of my time. We moved a few times. I got a divorce.
Life takes a lot out of a person, especially when writing isn’t the main source of income. Other priorities come first.
But I kept writing, and in fact my divorce was a catalyst that lit a fire under me.
At one point I had some extra money and submitted to another editor – and quickly regretted it. The individual was a “Yes” person and while they helped a lot with grammar and punctuation, they did little for the content of the story.
Another editor took a very close look at the content of my book, and i worked with them to cut a lot of the fat and restructure the story.
Finally, in 2019 I found an editor that had been in the industry for fifteen years and had led a great list of authors to publication. Four months of back and forth got my manuscript tightened up to where it needed to be.
I was optimistic about what my editor said about publication. Based on his assessment I was sure my book would be picked up by an agent and publisher in no time.
But the days turned into weeks, and the weeks into months. After waiting I received a slew of rejection emails, while other agents didn’t respond.
Literary agents receive thousands of queries weekly, if not daily. They have a lot to sift through and they have to choose books they think will sell.
While I understand their predicament it still frustrates me. I’ve seen and read some of the absolute garbage that gets professionally published.
I write what I want to see in books, specifically scifi (maybe eventually fantasy). And, if social media is any measure, it seems what I write is in line with what other people want to read but aren’t getting.
After 100 or so rejections/no-responses I decided to self-publish through Amazon.
Some might wonder, “Why just Amazon? Why no B&N or iBookstore?”
That WOULD provide more exposure. However, formatting for kindle/Amazon Paperback is not the same as formatting for Nook, iBookstore, Kobo or the others. Each format is more work. I didn’t see the juice being worth the squeeze. And with smart devices anyone can quickly download the Kindle App and get my book. This may change in the future, but this is the way it is for now.
Besides my family and my real-person full-time job my writing time is split between promoting “PETR: A STAR FOLK SAGA” and writing another book.
Will we see Petr and his merry crew in my next book?
A benefit of self-publishing is working on what you want. While I have a full outline for the next of Petr’s adventures, I currently despise it with every ounce of my being.
So I’m working on another project, and will revisit the next Star Folk book later.
Regardless of sales (or lack there of – no! there will be sales!) I will keep “PETR: A STAR FOLK SAGA” up on the Amazon store into perpetuity.
I hope you enjoy my book, and look out for more from me in the future!
Update: the book is coming along swimmingly.
Part of the reason the recent editing of the book is going so well is the clear lines of communication between my editor and myself. Like any endeavor – writing, military operations, power plant maintenance, family – communication is key. I find over-communication tends to be better (though perhaps a little annoying) than under-communication.
Now I’m not going to write a whole lot on this. I am going to put a lot more into “A Tale of Two Editors – Part 2”. But it has been such a good experience that I wanted to cover it.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Throughout the whole editing process this last month, my editor and I have been in regular communication through phone calls, emails, and face-to-face meetings.
Some people may think that this could become cumbersome, even annoying. At times my first reaction is just that.
But the high level of communication has allowed us to deconflict issues we’ve had, reschedule meetings without issue, and to verify next steps and expectations.
Talking through things has allowed my editor to have a much deeper grasp of where I want to go with my story, and the background to it. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable talking about all the nerdy stuff in my book. But the more I explain, the more my editor has been able to guide me in a better direction, and my book is really shaping up because of it.
Now Communicate Some More
I’m going to go back to the possibility of annoyance for a second.
I am very straight forward, concise, to-the-point kind of guy. I want the facts, and then to tackle the solution. I don’t need fluff or prolonged discussion.
I quickly found that this would not work in this case.
First and foremost, while my editor and I have gotten to know one another better, we still really don’t know each other well. We have both had to learn to understand how the other operates, reads, and understands things.
While I am a straight to the point kind of person, my editor needs more discussion. That, and I found that greater discussion in greater detail was required so that my editor could really grasp what I am trying to do with my book. It was a bit of a mental stretch for me, but once I got past my mental block, my editor has come to understand my book better and, as I said before, has helped me change it for the better.
For example, I wanted to ensure that the culture of the Star Folk, the main peoples described in my book, had a lot of examples without just info dumping. Info dumps make the writing boring and interrupt the flow. At first I tried to describe this and my editor had a difficult time helping me. But once I described the culture more, where and how I wanted to describe it, and examples of info dumps, my editor was able to give me suggestions and help me brainstorm.
The issue with this kind of communication is it’s a soft skill. It’s more difficult to make it into a procedure, or to document a process.
I have to understand myself and how I communicate, and learn how the other person receives information, processes it, and communicates back. And I have to do this each time with different people, whether writing, at work, or with family and friends.
As many may know, it takes time, practice, and many iterations of trial and error.
Communication through the editing process has been key to helping my book become better. Sometimes the over-communication has at first seemed unnecessary, but I’ve learned it’s required if I want my editor to really be able to help me. Perhaps if I had done this more in the past, my book would be further along that it is.
The book is, in fact, coming along really well! I wouldn’t normally say that – I would say good, or decent, or it doesn’t quite suck. But I can honestly say the book is making some real leaps to something much more organized, professional, and almost ready for publishing. I will have more updates in the weeks to come.
Until next time. . .
So I’m jumping from one nerdish topic – bodybuilding to be a Warhammer 40k Space Marine – to another one: space exploration. My ADD is kicking in. Let’s ride this train! WOO!
Okay so hear me out.
The US is having a hell of a time getting back on its feet. Manufacturing inside the US is down, unemployment is high, we’re lagging the rest of the developed world in education.
That said, according to CNBC today, jobless claims are down and durable goods orders are up: http://www.cnbc.com/id/49549215
It’s my opinion that this slight drop in jobless claims and increase in durable goods orders will be short lived, especially if we trip off the fiscal cliff, cueing $1.2 Trillion worth of spending cuts over the next decade, and an increase in payroll taxes (http://www.cnbc.com/id/49464221/).
This is bad, m’kay?
So how do we beat this fiscal cliff? How do we cushion ourselves from our ultra-bipartisan government’s (Reactionary Right AND Radical Left all included) inability to come up with a budget?
Legalize and tax marijuana!
Wait, no, that’s not what this post is about . . . though I think, while I do not smoke weed, this would be an intelligent decision, and then the government and businesses could treat it like alcohol (don’t drive or operate heavy machinery or weapons when you’re high, no showing up to work high, etc.). Plus think of the money the government would make on taxing it!
But I digress.
Let’s go to space! Seriously!
Seriously . . .
Why space, though, you may ask? Well here is my five points of why encouraging space travel, exploration, and colonization would save the US, perhaps even the world. (But the US first. ‘Merica!)
Want to create jobs? Going to space is the key! You need to design the space craft. You’ll need engineers and their staffs for that. Then you need to build the space ships. You’ll need laborers, welders, electricians, machinists, and other skilled and unskilled labor. Designing and assembling the engines for these things is a task in and of itself. You’ll need programmers and computer scientists to get the computers and systems in the ships working properly. You’ll need administrative staffs to manage all these people, their pay, and the contracts and purchases that support them. You’ll have to secure these manufacturing plants, so security personnel will need to be hired. You’re going to want to have a foothold in space, so you’ll need to build, launch, and assemble space stations – and you’ll need all the labor and support personnel for that, too.
Then you’ll need space ship and space station crews to man these ships and space stations you build. You’ll need pilots, technicians, mechanics, engineers, computer specialists, and scientists from several disciplines. They’ll need training, and you’ll need trainers to train them. They’ll need facilities to train at, and your daily operations will need facilities, which will require construction workers, facilities management personnel, IT personnel, and even janitors. If you want on-site catered meals you’ll have to hire those personnel, or contract those services out – either way, jobs are being made to fulfill this requirement.
Want to build moon habitats? Need personnel for that. Stuff to go to Mars? Even more people.
The list of positions and specialities is very broad and I’ve only barely touched on them. The point being: a lot of people are required to get all of this done. Jobs will be created.
And as people go to space, the amenities they love on Earth will be wanted in space, and so other companies will follow. I know I’d want my Starbucks in the morning before going to work on a space station or moon colony, and I’d want internet connectivity to stay up on my news (and LOLcats).
This leads me to my next point-
2. Increase in Wealth for the Middle Class
Here’s an economic plan we can truly believe in (I have zero trust in Obama and his administration; my political quip for this post).
The increase in specialized, high skill jobs will lead to greater wealth in the middle class. Going to be working around fuels and explosives? Or a nuclear power plant for the ship, station, or colony? There’s added pay for that. Just because people are in space doesn’t mean government regulations about work and pay go away.
This is where government SHOULD step in: ensure that workers are treated fairly and pay is equitable both on Earth and out in space.
And I’m sure the new space companies will pay hefty salaries and wages to those who train, certify, and qualify on all the areas these companies need to cover – certain welding certifications, training on certain equipment, experience in programming systems for air/space craft, etc.
Some companies may even pay applicants to learn a new skill and/or job. Of course, this may come with a five year contract with the company. But a five year contract, with benefits, and annual or semi-annual raises? Probably starting at or around $25 an hour? (That’s really good in Nebraska. If it’s not good where you’re from, think about an equivalent wage. $35/hour? $45/hour? More?) It sounds like a good deal to me.
I caveat this with: I don’t like unions, and the space industry should strive to keep them out of the industry, and to attract union members out of unions with better benefits, 401(K)’s, IRAs/Roth IRAs, and wages. Who needs a union or some government organization to tell us we need to take care of our people? Good sense, and maybe a single article from Harvard Business Review can do that a hundred times better.
3. Increase in STEM Education
All of these space companies are going to need well educated workers. We don’t need to go to India or China to get them. We can get them, right here, in the US. The drive to space will drive schools to make the shift to the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines we need. Where the schools fail, the space companies could make up the short-fall with their own programs.
“Corporate funded schools are evil!” you say.
Not really, says I.
This is another place where the government could do a lot of good: tax credits to companies that run STEM-focused (though not exclusively STEM, gotta get history, government, and economics in there, and what about art?) schools that are low tuition or free, and if there is a tuition then give out scholarships to students in low income/impoverished parts of the United States. Amazing! Tapping into the untapped resources that reside in our low income neighborhoods/Section 8 housing. There ARE kids in those areas that want to excell! This would give them that chance! How can Democrats and Republicans NOT agree on this? (I’m sure there’s a way . . . unfortunately.)
Companies could also work together to set up classes and courses to give quality education and certification to high school and college level students to fulfill needs. It could be extended on the job training (OJT) with pay raises and bonuses based on milestones met, or number of job areas mastered both on paper and with experience.
Just ideas. Lots of ideas.
4. Taxes: Defeating That Fiscal Cliff
And now for an area the government can truly play its part: taxes.
We wouldn’t want to tax these companies too much. They’d just be starting out, just beginning to take man to space and help rebuild the economy. And I’m all for low taxes to stimulate the economy. But taxes must be levelled, none the less.
The increase in the number of people paying payroll tax would fill the US coffers, along with the corporate taxes the organizations themselves would have to pay.
There would also be licenses. The government would be right in validating the companies that are building these things. I’m sure there are already regulations in place that determine what Space X, Armadillo Aerospace, Planetary Resources, and Bigelow Aerospace can and cannot do. This is an excellent place for government to be to ensure the safety of the workers, the general public, and the State(s)/country.
This does NOT mean the government decides it needs an influx of government workers. We’re supposed to be fighting the deficit, and by extension the fiscal cliff, not making it worse. I admit, a few, A FEW, government employees will need to be hired. It’s the nature of the beast. But not on the level that the government probably would hire.
“We need a thousand GS 12 and 13 level employees to oversee space!” They would scream.
Really? I mean . . . really!? No, no you don’t. *Rolls up a newspaper and hits the government on the nose with it.* That’s a bad government!
So the government would have to get a clue and be frugal about its hires, and allow the taxes that flow from these space companies to pile up. They would actually have to save money. They would be on an actual budget . . .
Craziness, I know.
5. Because It’s Cool and the U. S. of A. Rocks
Yes, this is really one of my legitimate points.
Going into space is awesome. Did you see the Space Jump the other day? You did? That’s awesome. Wouldn’t you like to do that? I DO! Wouldn’t you want to go to the Moon and Mars and explore places humans have never seen with their own eyes. I DO! Wouldn’t you want to see the Moon and Mars explored, colonized, and perhaps even terraformed?
I DO! I DO! I DO!
We all should. How cool would that be!? What an experience!
And we as Americans can do it. We have the ideas and innovation, the drive, and the vision to do it. We have the sheer number of people and resources to create these companies and put people into space. It is possible. It can be done. Just look at some of the companies out there: Space X, Armadillo Aerospace, Bigelow Aerospace, Planetary Resources, Virgin Galactic. I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch.
People like John Carmack, Elon Musk, and Richard Bronson took the risk to go into space and succeeded. Sure, they could have failed, but they never would have known if they could or not if they didn’t try! (Yes, Sir Richard Bronson is British, but Virgin Galactics Space Port is here in the U.S. . . . ‘Mercia!)
Jersey Shore and Honey Boo Boo aside (WHY!?), the USofA is still great. We still have potential and we can still do amazing things. But we as Americans must stand up (off the couch) and take action.
Writing this, I know I lack what I call for. I have no mechanical background. My STEM intelligence is low.
But I have the desire and drive to learn . . . and so far I’ve spent like $200 or more on rocketry books. Like one of my idols, John Carmack, I can teach myself. 🙂 And take some basic classes at the local community college.
My parting thought is that we are never too old to learn, and constant learning is part of constant self-improvement. And though I work hard to live by this principle purely for the sake of growing as an individual, in today’s world this is pretty much a requirement.
Until next time . . .