Talking to the Faceless Masses
The company I work for has a yearly summit where everyone in IT gets together and learns about new things and other things that happen at a summit that I'm unfamiliar with because this one coming up will be my first.
I'm picturing people discussing the future of iPhones and possibly trying to hold a serious conversation in binary, but I may be overthinking things.
While I have no idea what to expect from the summit, I have been clued into one particular tradition, wherein each day a predetermined person gets up in front of the group and gives a 10-15 minute "reflection" which can be about any subject of their choosing.
And they have asked me to do the first one this time around. That's right, I'm going to be the opening act. All of my new colleagues (and several of the old ones) will have to suffer through me droning on about something for a quarter of an hour.
I should keep from letting this power go to my head.
The problem is (and you could probably tell by the title that there would be a problem) I am absolutely rubbish at speaking to crowds. This isn't your normal stage fright. Oh no. This is oh so much more.
When I address a group of more than seven or eight people, their faces disappear. Well, that's oversimplifying it a bit much, but the gist is that I lose the ability to differentiate between individuals. I just can't see them. Something happens in my brain and they all become one solid, lumpy "crowd."
You can see how this might prevent the usual tricks of dealing with public speaking from being effective. I can't imagine people in their underwear, because I can't imagine the people. I can't choose a single person in the crowd to speak to because I can't pick one out.
The end result is I usually black out a bit and race through whatever I'm meant to say and get off the stage as quickly as possible. In this case that may not be as easy, since I'm not just rattling off information but trying to tell a story.
I know what I'm going to talk about (my writing journey and how perseverance pays off) and I can already imagine how the presentation would go. I'm writing bits in my head and I have a document going where I'm trying to get it all down.
I just hope that when the time comes and I'm up in front of those people I can manage to get the story across without flubbing everything or pissing myself.
Yeah, I think pissing myself might make the wrong kind of impression.
Fingers crossed, people.
Putting off Procrastinating
I have two stories published under the Thor Bozman name, and I want to get a third out there as soon as possible. The trouble is, unlike with the other two, this one is a rewrite of an existing story and the rewrite has to happen in the middle.
Now I'm no stranger to editing (even though I suck at it) but usually when I do this sort of thing I'm adding on either end or just changing a few, non-dramatic things. In this case, however, I'm inadvertently altering the course of the entire story and have to keep steering myself back. It's probably the hardest edit I've done.
So instead of focusing on the edits I'm writing this journal entry and taking a ludicrous amount of time to find the pictures for it.
Now that things are under way and two books are out there (I really should figure out what to call them, since at around 10K words they're hardly novels, but novella sounds too romantic and novelette is no longer in use. Anyway...) I've had some time to reflect on the process and here's what I have so far.
1. Self-publishing on Amazon is easy as hell, but it's also easy to really mess it all up. Once you hit "Publish" on this thing it's out there, warts and all. I've never been so paranoid to hit a button before, and I'm still waiting for the message from someone saying something like, "On page 27 you wrote 'teh' instead of 'the'" which will send me into a shame spiral the likes of which has never been seen before.
2. This is not, nor will it ever be, a money-making enterprise. Right now I've priced my two novellinos (novish? novite?) at 99 cents because I wanted it to move and get out there. I knew if I was going to be telling my friends that there was a story out there to buy, I had to make it a price point that would appeal to everyone. The way Amazon works is that you get 35% of the take on items priced under $2.99, so I'm essentially getting 35 cents on the dollar. It will take a while for that to add up.
3. Once you publish, getting people to buy it is an even trickier enterprise. Sure, I told everybody on Facebook. Then I posted about it on Instagram. Then I shouted about it on the Twitter account I created for the Thor Bozman persona, and tied into it on my regular Twitter account. With all of that shouting, I'm still not raking in the cash, nor did I expect to be. While it would seem like Twitter would be a good place to advertise, there are thousands of authors on there doing the same, and most people quickly get sick of people rambling on about their books. I don't, mind you. That's how I know what to get from people I like. But the thing is, I like them because of the content they put up outside of their book advert, so there's more to it than just saying, "Buy my stuff."
4. If you're not the sort of person that excels at selling himself, then you might want to dip into a stockpile of patience in regards to sales. I keep reloading that damn page that tells me how many copies I've sold. At the moment, it's up to 20 between the two books. Naturally, I would love it to be multiples of that. That may come, but not immediately.
5. The more you publish, the more likely you are to come up in a search. After the first book, searching "Thor Bozman" got a response saying "Showing the results from Thor Bozeman" which sat over a tiny link asking if you really wanted the results from the first search. Now, with two out there, it comes up without the confusion. Granted, a few other things come up as well, but it's progress. Maybe after the third book goes up it will get even better. Maybe.
I'm going to keep at it, and keep learning things, and in the meantime I'm still submitting stories under my actual name and hoping for publication there, too. It's nice to be completely in control of something, and it's also terrifying.
The book is published. The first of many.
With the Thor Bozman identity I plan to produce sci-fi shorts between 8,000 and 12,000 words and sell them for $.99 a piece. This little beauty is first:
For the cover art I tried to go for a Phillip K. Dick feel with an unclear picture and some bright colors. I don't know if I accomplished the goal, but I did set the pattern for future books, so that's alright.
Now I just have to keep myself from reloading the report over on the Kindle Direct Publishing page.
So the first day I sold one, the second I sold ten, and then on the third I sold another one. I'm guessing the second day is going to be my big sales day and the rest of time will look like the other days, but who knows how it will go. Thus far I have accumulated a whopping $4.20 in royalties that I'll collect in two months. If I top $10 I will be amazed and delighted, but honestly the fact that I've made what I have so far is fun for me.
Now "Johnny and the Feathered Cats" is next in line and it is currently being edited, so fingers crossed that process doesn't take too long and I can get a second book out there.
On Being Someone Else
Here's the idea. I want to give self-publishing a go, but I also don't want to do with with my main books because I still have hopes that those will be picked up somewhere and published. So, I thought why not take the couple of sci-fi stories I've written and publish them under a pseudonym. They're of the longer variety and easy to box into a genre, so let's try that.
First step, pick a name.
Now it can't just be any name. "Bob Smith" doesn't cut it. Nor does "Dan Taylor." No, it needs to be something memorable, possibly even more memorable than the story itself. It needs to be a Kilgore Trout kind of name. Absurd, but believable, but only if you're willing to accept that the person in question has bizarre social tendencies and some sort of collection of things, like thimbles or antique power tools.
Enter the local Maritime Museum. On their grounds, they have a grounded boat for kids to play on and on that boat is written, in orange on grey, the name I've been looking for.
Because why the hell not?
So Thor Bozman was born, and I created a Twitter account for him and started amassing followers (always an uncomfortable thing to me) and I was all set to seriously look into publishing under that name and then a nagging thought finally made enough noise in my head that I had to listen.
"What if they take issue with me using the name?"
I'm not sure why they would, but who knows? My stories aren't gruesome or risque. Sure, there are adult themes and some violence, but nothing too bad. Still, it's their boat and their sign and so since I have a friend that works there I asked, and then she asked above her, and now I'm waiting to hear.
If they say they're not cool with it, my version of Thor Bozman will die shortly after he was born and some other bizarro name will rise to fill the void. I hope they allow it, though, since I like the local flavor of the thing and it will be a funny thing to go see the boat after something is published and think, "Hey, that's me!"
We shall see. For now, I wait. I haven't felt this anxious and impatient since I sent Boff my story and never heard back.
UPDATE: I heard back today that I have been given the greenlight to use the name. I'm beyond happy and am now putting things together to upload my first short novel, called "How Xander Saved the World."
Thor Bozman lives!
Photo by Shirley Tittermary on Unsplash