Aug 13, 2012

Almost there and damn proud!

After five years of effort (on and off, mostly on), the first printed proof of the book is supposed to arrive in the mail today. I can hardly stand the suspense. I published the Humanism for Parents book, but that was totally different. It was non-fiction, which is monumentally easier to write than fiction (for me) and it was a topic that I could write about off the top of my head. The novel took 1.5 years of research before I could even start and then a little over half-a-year of reviews for me to realize my "craft" wasn't good enough. Then two years of higher education before I felt comfortable rewriting the novel.

In many ways, this book is my single biggest accomplishment in my life to-date. I've done hundreds of projects (technical/software), lived overseas twice, raised four kids, have three advanced degrees and my BS, and this book beats them all.

What is making it feel like such an accomplishment is that writing fiction is just not something I am a natural at. And yet... this book was so important to me that I ignored that, wrote it, and then went and did the work to become better. Now I am at the point that people see the first chapter and there is no doubt in their mind that I am a serious, professional writer. That, to me, is an accomplishment for someone as analytical as me, and I'm finding that I am quite proud of it.

See or

Jul 10, 2012

Two steps forward, One step back

In so many ways, this process of writing a novel is making progress only to find that there are still issues to be resolved. I just recently completed the major revision of the novel I had been planning since starting the DU graduate program in Creative Writing.

However, near the end I realized that there were too many of certain words I had been using. Then a couple of writer friends of mine who were reviewing the book told me the dame thing.
So, even though I am done with the major revision, I decided to go back through the entire thing to look for these words. Then when I started doing that, I found other improvements I could make. Now I am back to doing another edit of the book.

I do admit that each full edit makes the book better, but there has to be an end to it at some point. I am really hoping this will be the last one, especially since I want to get this released to the public in September.

The good news is that pretty much everything else is in place. The website is up and running and taking pre-orders and requests to be on the mailing list ( I have trial marketing runs going on Google and Facebook to see how the ads perform. I have a FaceBook page up and running ( And, PayPal is all set up to take payments. Even my personal web site and my humanist web site have been updated.

My mind is partly on the sequel, Tamdiu, so I really need to get this one out there so I can start on the next one...

Jun 19, 2012


I have been using Dropbox to share my files with reviewers of my book and it has been awesome. So good in fact, that I have moved all of my documents into it and use it for my regular repository. That way everything I add/edit is immediately uploaded there as a backup.

Twice now I have overwritten a file accidentally and was able to go onto Dropbox and recover the previous version. It is like having source control, if you know what this is from computer science, on all of my documents only it is seamless.

Really awesome tool/site. The only negative I know of is that it is pretty costly if you want to buy more space. Their lowest paid upgrade is 50GB for $100/year. I don't need that much space and it is way too expensive. I'll stick to the free account and get as much space as I can through referrals.

So, if you are going to use Dropbox, use this link and we both get extra space:

Jun 14, 2012

Copy editing...

A late dilemma in this process... One of the things I learned researching self-publication is that the author should always get professional copy-editing for the book. So, I budgeted that in (at about $2.50 / page, which is what my research showed it cost).

However, reality is sinking in. I looked at a professional editors site for Colorado. Of the 16 (or so) people I have contacted, most of them were too busy to even consider more work. Of those that would consider it, three have supplied a sample edit. Unfortunately, two of them went way too far and the third did not go far enough. I want a copy-edit, not a deep dive and 6 comments in an entire chapter isn't really worth the $1100 (or so) I would have to pay. Ugh!

Since the package I am planning to get from Wasteland Press includes 20 hours of copy editing (that they admit isn't really enough), I am considering using them as my final editing. I would like to find the right level of editor out there, but it doesn't appear to be happening and so far my daughter has proven to be a superb editor (good thing that is going to be her career).

May 22, 2012

The Home Stretch - Part 2

This is a multi-part series on the steps involved during the final stretch of publishing a book.

This second post is about a list of the details that I have to work through in order to actually, and successfully publish the book (in both print and digital form).

Some explanation of the follow list is in order. For marketing purposes, I wanted my own web site (separate from the site I maintain). I obtain the domain names and a while back, so I decided to use those. I also wanted a site for the book, so I just put it under the site (so the url for the book is Then, Google sent me a $100 coupon for advertising, but it had a time limit, so I decided to stand up an ability on the site to to pre-orders of the book and do some trial marketing. I think the rest of the list makes sense. The gray areas are items that are complete. Also, this does not include the minutia like figuring out actual postage costs or any of the decision making process (e.g. do I handle digital conversion myself or hire that out, do I hire a company to do social media marketing,

  • & web site
    • Home
    • Writing
    • Humanism
    • Career
    • Personal
    • Repoint  primary GoDaddy site to w/ sh as domain redirect
    • Check all links, titles, and metadata
    • Get new icon for web site
    • Setup Google Analytics
    • Copy edit
  • Propositum web site (under
    • Home
      • Polling mechanism
    • Contents
    • Sample
    • Reviews (temporary)
    • Purchase (Pre-purchase)
      • Hook up to PayPal for pre-purchase
      • Include ability to add to mailing list
    • About
    • Check all links, titles, and metadata
    • Get new icon for web site
    • Setup Google Analytics
    • Confirm prices with Wasteland and update if needed
    • Copy edit
  • Setup pre-order/trial marketing run
    • Requires and propositum sites to be completed
    • Design pre-purchase page: pre-order and add-to-mailing-list
    • Update to include reference to new book
    • Design ads (3?), post on Google, turn on conversion tracking
  • Complete book:
    • Finish revision
      • Internal reviews (family/friends & at least two writers)
    • Professional copy edit (possibly with Authoright)
    • Preface by Burton Mack or some other author/scholar
      • Multiple emails sent to HarperCollins trying to track him down
    • Validate permission to use the maps
    • Update website after book is complete (contents, sample)
  • Publish:
    • Determine publisher & package - Wasteland Press, Ultimate package
    • Format for publishers requirements (interior design) - none needed
    • Cover design - Wasteland will do this
      • Update website once cover is designed
    • Determine if using digital conversion service or doing it myself, convert if needed
      • Kindle, Nook and others - find where to post digital availability
  • Post Production paraphernalia
    • Business cards (temporary ones done; may update after cover design)
    • Book trailer?
    • Bookmarks, post cards, posters, etc.
    • Get reviewers to post review on amazon
  • Marketing/Advertising
    • Send to friends: Facebook, linked-in, Google+, others
    • Facebook ads, Google AdSense
    • Email all known contacts
    • Contact known related (US) organizations for reviews, speaking events
      • COCORE members
      • AHA member list if I can obtain it
      • AAI (or American Atheists) member list if I can find it
    • Contact old haunts (schools, cities I've lived, etc.) for speaking events
    • It's a Book mailer from RMFW
    • Hire marketing firm?
      • Authoright P.R does social media  (and other things) based on book

May 11, 2012

The Home Stretch - Part 1

This is a multi-part series on the steps involved during the final stretch of publishing a book.

In this case, the novel was completed quite a while ago and I've been in the middle of revising and improving it. In recent months, it is coming together nicely and so I have had to consider exactly how I am going to publish it. With the state the publishing industry is in and the fact that publishers don't do much to market or sell a book for a first-time novelist, I decided to self-publish.

My first (non-fiction) book was published through That worked well because I did not expect to sell a ton of books and I wanted to learn the industry, so it was acceptable to do it all myself. For this book, I want it done professionally, so I purchased The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine and researched more "robust" self-publishers. I narrowed it down to two (Aventine Press and Wasteland Press). Then I did a comparison of the features and what it would really cost me. Since Wasteland provides 500 copies with their Ultimate package (and 25 review copies), I made the assumption with all three that I would need that many to sell directly.

The table below shows the results. What is fascinating about this is that Wasteland looks the worst to start with because of the high initial costs, but because they include 500 copies, that cost is easily (well, relatively easily) recovered.

Assuming I need the list of deliverables (in purple below), the total cost with Wasteland is half what it is with Lulu and below Aventine as well. This is because I would have to buy the 500 books from the other two at the "author" price.

Assuming I can sell the 500 books directly, the choice is pretty clear (though Aventine is a close second). The only downside I see is that the author price is a little high with them. So, if I ended up selling many more than 500 directly, it may end up better (financially) to be with Aventine.

Feature Aventine Wasteland Ult Lulu Free

Initial Cost  $(399)  $(3,400)  $-  
Direct Royalty ~$15  ~$14 ~$11
Indirect Royalty ($22/book) 2.40 2.97 2.50
Hardcover   $(295) $(250)  $-  
Cover Design  $(295) incl  $(500)
Interior Design Template  Template Template
Copy Editing  $(1,000)  $(1,000)  $(1,000)
Indexing 25 words  ?  ?
Initial Paperback Copies 2 500 0
Initial Hardcover Copies 0 0 0
Review Copies 0 25 0
Retail Price $22 range, assume 22 22.24
Author Price (paperback)  $6.35  $7.50 $11
Marketing n/a Press Release n/a

Cost given deliverables of:  $(5,324)  $(4,650)  $(7,275)
initial fee


cover design

professional copy editing

500 paperbacks

0 hardbound

25 review copies

May 7, 2012

Viewing the World as a Writer

One of the things school tried to teach me was to view the world as a writer. I didn't understand that for a long time. However, as my craft grew and I began to see the nuances in writing, I also began to see them all around me.

I remember sitting at a Sting concert one evening. He was playing at the Red Rocks Amphitheater (the best venue in the world) with the London Philharmonic. I actually lost track of the music for a while as I sat pondering the words and their hidden meanings. And then, I started to see how the music presented a mood to go along with those meanings. Of course, it helps that Sting is an intelligent person and writes complex, almost 3-dimensional, music.

After that, I started paying attention to the subtleties and the art of the written word. I saw it in posters and advertisements, in lyrics and speeches, in lectures and well-done movies, and sometimes even in casual conversation.

It also completely changed how I read books and possibly not for the better. Now, I tend to notice a word here or a phrase there and how they change the feeling of the writing. Poorly written books also annoy me more than they used to. Reading as a writer is improving my writing, but I think in some ways it has lessened my pleasure in reading because now I am as much critic and student as I am reader.