My Name Is Ross And I’m A .com

Just a brief post to say what you almost certainly already know: I have made the leap from .wordpress.com to .com! So, while rossharrisonnexus.wordpress.com was a nice, snappy name, I decided to go with http://www.ross-harrison.com. Of course, as a web designer, I should probably have made a proper website (no offence, WordPress), and perhaps I’ll do so at some point. But for now, I quite like this.

Also, I’ll be doing a blog tour starting on 1st June. I’ll come back with more information once I’ve confirmed every blog. It’ll only be seven this time – one per day, friday to friday – as I’ve never done it before and I want to see how it goes and what happens and whatnot. I have two more to find, and then I’ll be back! That’s a promise, not a threat. Except it isn’t a promise, because I don’t make promises.

Kindling [insert witty second word]

I was going to rant about Firefly and why the hell those inept morons at Fox got away with airing it out of order and then cancelling it…but then I saw another post on the subject and decided to leave it.

Instead, I’ll announce that I am now the owner of a Kindle 3G!

I didn’t have one until yesterday, when I bought one, and now I have one. And that’s not the end of the anecdote! I very nearly bought a little Archos tablet instead, since it was cheaper and had android so I could read epubs as well as Kindle, but when I gave it a try, it was ridiculously slow. So I didn’t get it. THAT’S the end of the anecdote.

I got it mainly so that I could test my books out on it before publishing, to ensure that they display correctly. However, I find that I have 2 pages worth of books on there already, and I’m halfway through one of them. I like my new Kindle.

I would rather have an actual book in my hands, but for books that I’m not sure about, or am not hugely interested in but still want to read, it is useful to have the Kindle to store them on and keep my actual bookshelf free for Terry Pratchett.

I like the way, when you put it into sleep mode, it comes up with a new picture every time. I like the way that when I looked at it in the shop, the picture was there, but the battery was so low, that the thing wouldn’t turn on. That’s how little battery power it uses! Dead battery, and it’s still on! I don’t know how the screen works, but it works well – it really does look like the words are just printed right onto it.

I still want a tablet, but I think my Kindle will be sticking around even then.

Bring back Firefly!

My Writing

I’m not entirely sure what to say about it, but I am a writer (and an author now), so I should probably say SOMETHING about it. I started writing short stories long enough ago that I no longer remember my first. I think it had a hill in it. And perhaps a house on the hill. And the colour red stands out. Perhaps someone wearing red climbed a hill to visit a house?

Anyway, I’ve always loved creating. Whether or not I’m any good at it is for others to say, but I’ve always entertained myself with my creations. And that is the aim, after all. If others enjoy it too, then that is a very big bonus.

I think there was thunder and lightning over the hill, too.

I had completed two short stories of a slightly more serious nature (one based on a computer game preview I read in a magazine, and the other a complete rip off of Metal Gear Solid 2), and was halfway through my first proper novel by the time my grandmother asked my if I was going to try to get it published. I said no – that it was just for me and some family – but it planted the idea.

Not too long after, my computer crashed and lost the entire novel, and so I went on to something else. That something else eventually mutated into Shadow of the Wraith, and my first actual, proper, full novel was completed when I was about 18. I think. My memory is awful, so I could have been 16 for all I know. I did one brief edit, and then moved on to book two, finishing it within just a few months this time.

Thankfully, my granddad had printed out half of that original, lost novel, and so I haven’t lost it entirely; but so far, I have not thought about it since. I know one day, I will convert it to sci fi and make it a part of the NEXUS series, but for now, I have enough ideas popping into my head.

Eventually, I got serious about publishing Shadow of the Wraith, and after copious edits, began sending it to agents. Of course, I was too hasty, and sent it long before it was actually ready. No one asked for a full read. It was depressing.

Then I remembered Authonomy – the website for writers, on which I had tested out the beginnings of book two. I uploaded Shadow of the Wraith, and began reading other people’s books and critiquing them as best I could. This in turn brought in reads for my own book, and I began to get very very good reviews and critiques. I learned a huge amount by my own occasional, blundering idiocy, and from other writers.

I finally snapped into some kind of strange, realistic view of my book. I started an edit – a final edit. It was practically a rewrite, I changed so much, fixed so much. The book was improved ten-and-a-half-fold, I estimate. By the end of my book’s time on Authonomy, I had just over 100 comments; almost every one of them positive. I was ready.

By now, I had given up on the traditional publishing route. My excuse was (and still is) that my book just isn’t quite placeable. Is it sci fi or fantasy in space? Is it comedy or merely humorous? Is it YA, New Adult, or for anyone at all? It could be an excuse, but I think that is one of the main reasons I had no interest from agents (well, that’s not entirely true, but I’ve mentioned that in my first post).

So, with self-publishing now a far less bitter taste in my mind, I sought out the best place to get my book printed. I didn’t want vanity publishing – if I was going to do it myself, I certainly would at least not sink that low. Of course, self-publishing is not nearly as frowned upon as it once was, but I still don’t like the idea of vanity publishing. If anyone is going to buy my book, it shouldn’t be me! The answer, I found, was Lulu.com. I downloaded their templates, I created my pdf and my cover, and I published the book privately, ordering a proof copy so that I could have a more tangible idea of what I was aiming for.

It was very exciting when the book finally arrived – I nearly jumped up and down squealing. The same night, I went to bed with the book, to see if it was any different reading it purely from a reader’s perspective. Of course, just two pages in, I spotted an error. Then another. Then a sentence that ended halfway through! It was clear that my final edit had not been my final edit. I started making notes, and the next day started my final final edit, whereupon I would read through the book with my laptop open beside me, and correct everything I came across. Finally, I finished. NOW, I was ready.

Preparations began for publishing. The first step was to send it off to a professional editor who would assess the manuscript, tell me what I was doing right, what I was doing wrong, and how to improve everything. It was a lot of money (over £600!), but it would be worth it. unfortunately, it was not.

I’m not saying it was a waste of money, because I did get 16 helpful points out of it. But out of an assessment of 37 pages, that’s not a lot. The thing is, this editor was also a sci fi author. Sci fi authors are, as you may know, a precious bunch. They get enraged at the very idea of someone not doing sci fi ‘perfectly’.

He couldn’t grasp that my book was not hard science fiction. He told me that my alien character eating a sandwich was ‘patently ridiculous’. He told me that I wasn’t allowed to have a sarcastic drone (it’s actually an android) character, because I didn’t understand the ‘rules’ properly. He COULDN’T tell me how unlikely it was that any alien would be in any way like us.

In short, he missed the point. I managed to salvage some useful bits and pieces and translate some things he said, and didn’t say, into something helpful. I began my final final final edit.

Once this was done, I was ready.

Suffice to say, I am now published. I’ve posted more about that in my first blog so I won’t go into it here. This is about my actual writing, after all.

Now I sit here, just over a week after publishing the book, with 15 sales under my belt (maybe more, I haven’t looked since this morning), and I feel good. I have to do a lot of marketing and whatnot, but at least it is out there and people are buying it, promising to buy it soon, and reading it!

Don’t tell anyone, but book two is actually already written and has been through its final edit. All that remains then before I publish that too is its final final edit and its final final final edit…

Originally posted on Squidoo.

The Plunge

Shadow of the Wraith, Kindle cover

After many years – perhaps about twelve – of writing and editing, rewriting and editing, I finally finished my final edit of Shadow of the Wraith on 6/4/12. Then it was a slightly bumpy and educational month getting ready to self-publish.

I learned that converting to html for Kindle was somewhat frustrating and tricky, that converting to epub was exceedingly frustrating and tricky, and that literary agents pop up at very inopportune moments.

Yes, just two weeks from publication, a friendly agent from a well-respected agency sought me out to tell me he liked what he read on Authonomy, and could he read the full manuscript.

I said no.

Well I had to. Just two weeks until my long-awaited (by me and my mother anyway) novel was released, I was just too far down that path, too in that mindset, to turn back. Even temporarily. But it was nice to be asked.

The final week was like the scene of so many action films, where only a few seconds remain on the bomb’s countdown! I had an artist working on my ebook cover, and not taking notice of half of what I asked him to do; I needed a bank account into which my millions would be deposited, but was being turned down for one; I was preparing to visit my family in England for the weekend (probably not the best timing).

But, as the timer read ’00:01′, I received and finalised the cover; I got my account; I got my PayPal verified; I got six shots of Jack Daniels at the airport (What? I only asked for four!).

Then came the fateful day. I was back in Ireland – it was a bright and still morning, rather unfittingly. I opened my laptop, I checked my files, and I clicked ‘publish’.

Then I waited.

I should have been preparing press releases and book reviewers and whatnot (actually I should have done that some time before), but I’m not very good at preparing things. Even as I type, I have open a browser window with ’40 ways to promote your book’.

Naturally, things did not go as smoothly as they had in my head so many times. Lulu decided that they didn’t like the cut of my hardback’s jib, and refused to distribute it to Amazon (paperbacks only); Amazon itself messed something up and left many of us unable to do anything with our ebooks, or show them in the KDP Select program; the majority of my good friends and followers on social networking sites couldn’t care less that I had achieved my dream of publishing a novel, and refused to click that little button to spread the word.

However, both versions of the book began to sell, and just this morning I got my email saying that Shadow of the Wraith is now properly published on KDP, allowing me to enrol it in Select and have Amazon Prime members borrow it for free.

There’s still plenty of work ahead in order to help the book start moving on its own momentum, but this is what I want to be doing – writing books. And preferably selling them. It’s not exactly like hard work, is it?

Then I’ll start all over again with book 2.

Originally posted on Goodreads, 4/5/12