What’s GOING ON?!

Hi everyone. I haven’t blogged in about a gazillion years. It looks like my last post was just prior to everything closing as the pandemic began to grip the country. That post was meant to be a part of an outreach campaign to launch The Dark Queen of Darkness and do a book-signing. Hexe is a book that is near and dear to my heart and I wanted to see it in as many hands as possible. However, 2020 has been an epic shit-show, and that launch was botched across the board, and much of it was outside of my control.

I have been writing, a bit, but I’ve decided to take a bit of a break. In part, because I don’t see an avenue for a no-name author to be heard or even find a platform. Perhaps, in the next year or two that’ll change, and I’ll get back to it. But it goes beyond that. Creativity is one of those things that can be easily over-taxed to the point where you just haven’t got it in you to continue. That’s where I am right now.

After the botched launch of The Dark Queen, life really started to become challenging. Not bad, we’re fortunate, and I both recognize and appreciate that. However, every week seems to bring something new that just adds to the stress of it all. In my day-job, I have found myself at the epicenter of contingency planning. Not because “I’m the only guy who can do it” or anything like that at all, but because I sit at a peculiar nexus of field work, data-processing, and technology. Which is to say, if we have to reinvent how we do business, I need to be involved. Plus, I’m not super awful at meeting facilitation or coordination, and have absolutely no fear of stepping on toes, so I jump in with both feet. That’s a long way of saying that my day-job is exhausting and trying to develop light and humorous work, as much as we need that right now, is a bit beyond my capacity.

That’s only part of the story though. This year, my family has been subject to a bunch of challenges. The current one being isolation because we don’t know if my wife had a weird 24-hour bug or the damn coronavirus. We’re waiting on a test. Other things this year: My wife’s car had to have it’s engine replaced, we had carpenter ants in the wall, somehow we got lice, I lost a lot of my writing in a computer hardware failure, my back went out to the point I might not be able to take a long walk for over a year (if I’m lucky), the cat died, I ran over a dog (he survived), and a bunch of little things besides.

There have been good things too. My eldest son was elected captain of his FTC team and is absolutely working his ass off to be a good captain and see his team win state this year. I did publish a book, and (for now), both my wife and I are still employed.

This is far better than most folks, but it leaves me almost incapable of being a good, productive writer. Instead, I’ve found myself an easier avenue of escape, and one that might dominate my time for a considerable amount of time – I purchased the most recent edition of Microsoft Flight Simulator. When it comes to games and this kind of thing, I enjoy that in spurts and without talking about it exhaustively. This time, however, I’m doing something different. Because of what that Flight simulator is and is capable of, I’m doing a tour of Alaska. You might ask WHY THE HELL ARE YOU DOING THAT?!! WRITE YOUR DAMN BOOK!!!! My response is – fair point, but we’re all struggling right now. A once-in-a-lifetime trip to Alaska for a lot of people is more remote than ever. Not only that, I’m struggling to connect with folks through my writing —the best methods to connect with readers are just not workable at the moment. That’s why I’m spending time with the flight simulator. This is not just for me, but anyone who wants to know more about Alaska. I’m also learning about my own home with this project. This is a pretty long way to explain that I’m taking a short break from writing to focus on other projects. While it might not really make sense to anyone else, this is the one thing that’s helping me to remain positive and focused. If you’re interested in what I’m up to on YouTube, check out this link. Otherwise, I’ll try to do a better job of blogging in the coming weeks and months.

Virtual author event with Black Birch Books in Wasilla 03/28/2020

DDoQ Virtual Author Event

I am doing an author event this Saturday (March 28th, 2020) at Black Birch Books in Wasilla, AK from 2pm to 5pm. With the coronavirus situation, this simply can’t happen in person (mostly, a few people can come and visit, provided we keep our distance). As an alternative, we’ve decided to do a virtual event on Facebook. You can call in to order a book, or ask questions curbside pickup will be available. I’ll share MORE details as we roll into this.

I recognize this appears self-serving —Dave gets to make money off of a virtual event. NO. Not the point. Today, as I sit here, looking at my community, full of fear and uncertainty, I’m trying to understand how my favorite places will still be around in a year. My knee-jerk reaction is to think about restaurants, the most visibly and notably,  hard hit, but we can’t overlook our other critical gathering places and services. With that in mind, MOST of the royalties on every copy of the Dark Queen of Darkness sold will be going to Black Birch Books. It’s a small gesture for an indie author such as myself, but you have no idea how much Black Birch has done or does do for our community and this is the best I can offer to give back.

When I did my very first author event ever, ever, with Black Birch Books, I found something I didn’t expect. A community gathering place. I met people there who I wouldn’t normally find an opportunity to connect with. It was absolutely wonderful. I loved the fact that I got to meet and talk with unique, interesting people about books and writing. The best part is that this was an environment without judgment or expectation. You are who you are and that’s great. This place is a gem.

My author event with Black Birch Books is ON, just online. Block out time from 2-5pm on Saturday, March 28th to join in. I’ll do some reading, answer questions, and sign books.

Before you publish, Part 14 —The elephant in the room: Money

Before you Publish - 14

I had this whole other blog post prepared for today covering working with contractors. I even spent my few breakfast minutes before work cleaning it up. But as the day wore on and my anxiety level ratcheted up, for no apparent reason, I felt like that post wasn’t what I need to be talking about right now. What I want to talk about is money. I invested a substantial amount of money in The Dark Queen of Darkness. I’d hazard a guess as to say the amount of dollars I put into this project this far exceeds what most indie authors could afford by a wide margin, and I’m not done yet. I saw it as something of an investment, but looking back on that investment, I’m questioning it. Granted, I’m only a few weeks in, but the mountain I’ve got to climb just to recoup costs may not be surmountable.

This topic kicked off in my head last night during an exchange with a fellow author. I’ll leave their name out of it for the moment because it wasn’t the most upbeat discussion. To be clear: This person is helpful, present, and someone I look to for guidance. It really hurts me to see them in the place they are in as a writer. What it all boils down to, however, is dollars. More specifically, the dollars we spend, without seeing any sort of Return on Investment (ROI).

We all want to live the dream: be a writer full-time. I realized a few years ago, that it wasn’t practical for me, even going traditional. It might be for a lucky and persistent few, but not for most of us. My revised plan revolves around having a substantial catalog by the time I retire in some 15 or so years. I think most writers don’t think this way, and rightly so. We want to do this professionally, are willing to put in the hours and legwork, but can’t scratch up enough of an audience to make it happen —Even really quite talented writers fall into this category.

So. Is it worth it?

Some context first. I have two books currently in the universe two more in the pipeline for the next 12-24 months. More money will need to be spent to launch these and I want to know if it’s even worth thinking about. After all, I have a job, and it’s a rare good one. I don’t really need to jump into something else. The only thing I can say to this is that I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA. None at all. I often repeat the phrase “luck favors the prepared.” I say this because you can’t win the lottery if you don’t play, you don’t win the football game if you don’t show up, and you sure as hell can’t become a professional writer if you don’t write.

What I’m getting at is that it’s my belief, right or wrong, that not doing something you’re passionate about leaves you with 0 chance to succeed at that thing. Giving it your all, whatever that looks like, gives you the best opportunity to capitalize on a lucky break. You might never see a lucky break. Loads of people never do, but how awful would it be to get one and not be able to run with it?

So, to swing back around to dollars (or Pounds or Euros or whatever the hell spends in your part of the world.) Put in what you think you can, or what’s necessary. If you have $3000 to drop into a book and have a reason to —do that. Do it to make your work professional, findable, and something you’re proud of. If you have $0, it turns out that you too can publish. Your returns will stink, but know this: You’re $3000 up on some other ding-dong selling precisely the same number of books.

So, should we keep on throwing our work into the universe with no expectation you’ll attract enough readers to pay the bills? The answer, if you’re an indie, is YES. Do this. Don’t give it away, of course, get paid for your work when you can, but don’t not do it if you love it. In the end, you may be upside-down dollar-wise and will have proven to yourself that it was not, in fact, worth it,  but you tried.

To put one last analogy on this, and be perfectly frank with folks, I am the ding-dong who spent about $3K on The Dark Queen of Darkness, and I think the production value shows. But I will never make back that investment on this book. It simply can’t happen without a VERY lucky break. I’ll work my ass off to sell copies to try to at least break-even and get it into the hands of readers, but it’s not really in the cards here. However, if I had decided to open a home-brew supply store, one of my hair-brained ideas from years ago, I would have to invest TEN TIMES that much and might wind up in exactly the same boat. So, yes, you’ve put in the time and didn’t make any money, but literally every other investment you can think of is no different.

Best of luck, writer friends. If you’re thinking about publishing and you’re on the fence about spending money, spend if you have it, if not, don’t. Either way, please don’t give up, the odds are tall and you may never get to do this professionally, but tell your stories. The world needs them.

To see the other blog posts in this series, check here.