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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015

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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

I’ve long been in the habit of reviewing my year on my birthday. Sometimes that can be a painful process, but it can also be rewarding. This year has been no exception. So since I turned 62 today, I feel obligated to moan about the hard times, and bask in the glow of the good times.

I found my 62nd year began in emotional and financial turmoil. I was trying to polish and make submissions of The Gutenberg Rubric, and it wasn’t getting the rapid response I was hoping for. My first article appeared in Line Zero magazine, and a short story I’d written thirty years ago was published. Those items were simultaneously positive and depressing. You mean I was sitting on a publishable story for 30 years? How much different would my life have been if I’d tried to get it published then?

Finances were running out as well. My forced retirement from Microsoft a year and a half earlier had stripped my financial base out from under me as the markets dipped, housing values fell, and health insurance costs rose. I was paying the same amount for health insurance as for my mortgage and there was no relief in sight for either one.

In the midst of this turmoil, and in part encouraged by my writing for Line Zero, I decided to take the step into independent publishing. I had the skills and a support network of editors and readers, but putting it all together in a project for myself was a colossal task. None-the-less, in March, my book Steven George & The Dragon was released and over 50 people came to the release party to celebrate. And buy books. Yes, I sold 72 copies of three titles that night. More sales than I’d had for anything in such a short period. Times were looking up.

But I learned rapidly that the sales and marketing process for a book is tied directly to the sales of the book. The minute I stopped promoting the book, for even a day, it stopped selling.

I was still encouraged, and frustrated by not getting rapid turnaround on The Gutenberg Rubric, I decided to publish it as well. Only this time, my marketing plan extended much further. Yes it is possible to accelerate the publishing process significantly when you work independently. Putting a book together with great editing, a dynamite design, and a distribution channel is “easy.” I released The Gutenberg Rubric in July, just before the PNWA writer’s conference, hoping to accelerate sales through a more extended release cycle that would include a book tour in September. But by the time I was scheduling my tour, many of the bookstores that I’d hoped to present at were already booked for September. I ended up with 15 presentations in the 30-day trip, which isn’t bad all told, but fell short of my sales goals. At the same time, however, I saw sales of both Steven George & The Dragon and For Blood or Money pick up. Each book tended to sell the others, even though they are drastically different in genre and style.

That still left me on my birthday, presenting to a rapt audience of three. I haven’t mastered the marketing yet.

One of the great benefits of having this tour, however, is that it gave me the opportunity to visit each of my three older sisters, none of whom I had seen in 12 years. Along with my sisters, I also saw 12 of my 16 nephews and nieces and untold numbers of great- and great-great-nephews and nieces. I also got to see two of my best friends from college days, and over a dozen of my high school classmates. That has made the trip worthwhile, above and beyond the book sales.

Now I’m looking at 700 miles of road before my next presentation and just three more days until my return home to wife and daughter.

It’s been a very good year, a very stressful year, and a very fulfilling year. My daughter is a freshman in college and I couldn’t be prouder of her. I have a new book almost outlined and am anxious for November to start writing again.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. But at least I’ve kept my head!

This post appears in full at “The Rubricant.”

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