Cover Girl.

Wraparound. Author image.

At long last, here it is. The cover, finished, yay! I couldn’t be happier with it. Great punch. Compelling narrative. Super professional. Contemporary yet honoring the long heritage of great SF imagery. But I’ll let it speak for itself.

I say at long last because it was April of 2021 that I began the project. Not the writing, just the cover. A little early, I remember thinking. But it was as if somehow, looking back, I knew it was not going to come easily. And by the way, I wrote the first draft of the manuscript in 2016. So it wasn’t as if I had the cart before the proverbial horse at all.

Anyway, while the cover of the first book arrived painlessly and this one didn’t, they are both great in their own way and it merely goes to show that when you’re doing it all yourself as an indie author, you must be prepared for a wild and mostly very unglamorous ride. There will be times when you are certain that you are not ever going to get a manuscript that you don’t want to hurl into the trash or a book cover that doesn’t leave you wanting, all in the midst of everyone involved doing their very best. They say a good compromise is when everybody is unhappy. Well, here’s to not compromising.

Meanwhile, you need breaks. And you make your own, too. The stars have to align. You have to follow your gut, follow your nose, listen to your heart, stick to your guns, hold on loosely, let it all go – whatever it takes (mixing metaphors included), to get there. Because you will get there. If you believe in what you’re doing. If you are on the proper adventure. All the heartache, frustration, disappointment in yourself and others, all the sticking points and trip ups and minor and major fiascos, well, on a good day they add up to a sense of success. Here’s to good days.

What’s next? I’m returning the proofread manuscript to my editor today, who you may remember is also my book designer at Looseleaf Editorial & Production – thanks Kristy! – and within two weeks what amounts to both the copyediting and proofreading fixes will be fixed and the book will indeed finally be a published book available for sale. And because very few things sell themselves, I’ll be tasked with doing my best with the marketing, hinged as it is to my budget.

So, I’ll be doing a Goodreads giveaway again, this time for both the eBook and the print version. I’ll keep an Amazon ad running, just like I’ve been doing for TC1. I’ll keep my eyes open for other advertising opportunities. I won’t waste money and effort on mailing out unsolicited gratis copies to places like NPR Book Concierge, or even Locus magazine like I did with TC1 because, frankly, nobody at those places cares enough about yet another wannabe author, especially an indie author, hawking their latest book. At least not without the influence of an influencer behind it.

Likewise, brick and mortar bookstores. They don’t want your book – they don’t have shelf space for it amongst all the other shit in their stores that isn’t selling – and even if they did, unless you are a name author, there isn’t any local bookstore that is going to sell at best more than a copy or two – at best, I’m telling you because I’ve tried it. No employee at any of the stores is going to select your book out of all the new books to read and get behind it and go to the effort of tagging it with a personal recommendation, either. That’s all insider stuff. It happens to authors who know people. People of influence. Name authors.

Getting great reviews and ratings? The book has to earn its way into all those things – it has to be good enough – and also get a break or two along the way. It’s just the way things are. With so many books out there and a limited number of potential readers willing to read them, let alone buy them, well, if you can’t stand the heat…

But you never know, either, regarding getting an influencer behind it. Your book has to be visible, which means it has to be advertised, strategically so as not to throw your money away (which you will feel as if you’re doing most of the time, anyway), and you have keep track of your metrics and make adjustments and keep the faith and keep writing. One reader at a time, yes, it can happen. Which is to say enjoying the experience of your novel earning out its expenses can happen. And then selling 10,000 copies a year can happen. And so on. Authors who write good books succeed. It absolutely does happen. It can happen to me.

My stretch goal, my vision-of-greatness, is of course the same as everyone else’s, namely, blockbuster sales and a scramble by moviemakers to purchase the movie rights. Dream big, why not? Meanwhile, I pour my heart and soul and every dime I can spare into the novels for their own sake; for the sake of being who I am and doing what I do and seeking to participate and otherwise find my tribe and keep writing.

Hey, everybody – Empire & Oracle is going to arrive by the end of May, in eBook, paperback, Amazon case laminate and Ingramspark dust cover versions. That’s merely a couple more weeks at most, and that’s something worth celebrating come what may…!