2009 was such a "meh" year overall. I'm thrilled we've put it behind us. And that's all I'm gonna say (here) about that.
Whilst I have not been novelling lately, I have also not been simply letting time fly by. In fact, other than a short book binge over the Christmas holiday, I have been reading much less than usual. (I haven't been sewing either, for an entire month, although I'm less pleased about that as I would like to make some progress on the UFO pile.) There's a chance that before 2010 gets much further underway I will catch up with a half-baked intention to note here what I've been reading, but it's not on the agenda today.
I would be novelling if I felt even the tiniest spark of inspiration, but I don't. I do feel inspired to be pushing forward on other fronts, including:
- Long overdue and much needed overhauls (major, huge, time-consuming) of two ancient (in internet years) non-fiction websites that produce -- or used to -- a decent slice of our income pie. It's way past time to ditch the static web design and embrace the simplicity and flexibility of WordPress. I'm psyched to be embarking on this, but feel compelled not just to reformat the same old same old, but to take a step back and reenvision the totally of each site, how the info is presented, and to ask myself what I really want to be doing with all this stuff now, today, 2010. Ideas and inspiration are flowing in delightful abundance, but oh, man, it's a big job. Plus, I want to create from scratch some new "bonus" ebook offerings to sweeten the restructured deals. Haven't even started on those, although I know what they will be. Wish I had any kind of budget for outsourcing, but this is purely a DIY effort. Most hopeful, dreamland estimate is I'll be where I want to be on the first (smaller) of these jobs by the end of April. The other re-launch, while greatly desired and a very good and necessary thing, may be delayed until some other stuff gets underway as well. No need to bore you with details. And no, I'm not saying what these sites are, as I'd prefer you hold off for just a little while and visit when the new versions are up.
- Converting my non-fiction titles to Kindle and eReader format. You'd think this would be a piece of cake, but it is a HUGE undertaking, as these books are a long, long, long way from the "straight text" format of a novel. My PDF layouts are replete with mutliple layers of subtitles, call-out boxes, diagrams inset into text, bullet lists, "action steps," journalling exercises, etc.: all the stuff that does not convert automatically at the touch of a button. After some trial and error I have found that the only acceptable results come the hard way, from extracting each text block from the original PageMaker (I'm still using my original dinosaur edition of that software, 'cause it does what I need it to do and not upgrading is free) files, converting to plain text, then converting to HTML. This would be easier if I'd had any knowledge of HTML going in, but I didn't, so there's a learning curve there, too. It's not a speedy process, although the first one is almost done, and subsequent titles will go much faster now that I know what I'm doing. My perfectionist tendencies are running rampant on this one, and I'm letting 'em do their thing, having read a few Kindle titles that had egregious and easily remedied errors and I want to avoid as many of those quality-control issues as possible. My end results will probably not be perfect, but I can promise they will not be sloppy!
- Tentatively, slowly, incrementally building a vision of next non-fiction projects. These, too, are long overdue. More about those later. Much later. Like maybe sometime before the end of the year if I'm lucky later (see bullet points above for why this is not yet a front-burner project).
- Getting ready to make 2010 the year my non-fiction micro-mini publishing company goes digital only. I've already ceased reprinting paper copies of two of my five titles. A third was never offered in paper edition from the get-go (although I will be making that option available to readers through Lulu.com or equivalent as site relaunches get underway). Two others still sell well enough at Amazon (my only paper outlet, I've never courted brick-and-mortar stores) to continue periodic short-run reprints, but I hope to discontinue those by the end of the year as well. No promises (I might, possibly, consider the possibility of keeping the one top-seller going in TPB into 2011, but would prefer not to), but that's the vision.
Speaking of Amazon, the Interwebs are all a-chatter about the pulling of Macmillan titles over pricing disputes. Plenty has been said about this already, and the debate will likely continue, but let me just say that Big Publishing has resoundingly demonstrated the depths to which they have plunged their heads up their butts. Sheesh. Talk about clueless.
Um, Macmillian, hello? Are you listening? NO ONE WILL PAY MORE THAN $10 FOR AN EBOOK! Lots of folks don't even want to pay that much! So heads up: even if you do win this one (my money's on Amazon) and can set your own pricing, you WILL NOT SELL EBOOKS for $14.99. So where's the victory there, huh? Huh?
So, the real reason I have done nothing over the last few months about pursuing agent/publishing deals for my finished novel is that Mars has been in retrograde and I take that seriously. But now, with this dodo-dom kind of idiocy going on, I am starting to reconsider my long-held position that I would never self-publish a novel. At this point the prospect of signing with a big publisher of the Macmillan ilk feels like putting my life savings into buggy whip futures. Not so appealing.
Yeah, the publishing world is in turmoil. But I'm with Joe Konrath on all this stuff: business as usual ain't gonna fly. I'd a thousand times rather be out there on the moving edge of change than betting on buggy whips to make a comeback.