Wednesday, December 30, 2020

New novel, etc.


Postscript Jan 2: Well, it's out. Fun fact: I was lying awake last night and realized I'd overlooked a minor plot point. So if you already ordered a copy, there are now 45–50 added words that aren't included in your version. Trust me, you probably won't notice—but it literally kept me up at night. It's never over. (If you finish the book and are curious, drop me a line and I'll tell you what the change was.) Incidentally, I noticed a typo while I was interpolating the new content. It will never be over.


Well, I wrote a sequel to The Zeroes.¹ It was published (read: made available for purchase on Amazon) on December 28.

I haven't placed a link on the sidebar yet because I'm not done futzing with it. Over the last 36 hours I've repeatedly pulled up and skimmed the document, invariably finding something to correct—a phrase that suddenly embarrasses me (even though my eye passed over it unoffended four or five or six times already) or a random typo I never noticed. Just now I found a line of text that really ought to have been italicized, so I've fixed it and have to wait for the change to set on whatever monstrous database governs the Phyrexian print-to-order facility Amazon set up in Middletown, Delaware. I think tomorrow night I'll drink a few beers, scroll the thing for four consecutive hours, make whatever piddling changes seem necessary, and then force myself to close out of Word and get on with my life.

If you're motivated to find the book on Amazon yourself, it's probably not hard. Somebody already has, and I've sent an email apologizing for the unitalicized text and an unwieldy description on page 666(!) he'll have to suffer through. If you're interested in reading it, I'd ask that you wait a couple of days. Once I'm "finished" with the document, you'll see a purchase link appear on the right of the page.

I suppose I could have waited a few days before clicking the "Publish" button—but then there's nothing stopping me from fussing over it for another few weeks or months. I need this thing to be done. The project has taken much longer than either of my earlier two novels. Its length was obviously a factor, but the revision process was beset with problems. (At one point I saved over a file that represented two months of work and had to start from scratch—and that wasn't even the biggest delay.) "Before the end of the year" was a somewhat arbitrary deadline, but I needed a deadline. Three years (this thing began as a National Novel Writing month project in 2017) is far too long an incubation period for a self-published novel.

I didn't even try to get this one published legitimately. There is no literary agent or small press in existence who'd countenance a pitch for a sequel to a self-published book they've never heard of, written by an author they've never heard of. But a follow-up to The Zeroes was what I wanted to write, so that's what I wrote, knowing in advance it was destined for an ignominious release as a vanity novel.

I'll have to wait to find out if the book is actually any good. I've stared at it for so long I'm not even sure what it's about anymore.

I don't think I have it in me to do something like this again—self-publishing a piece of this length, I mean. I could imagine myself going that route for something substantially shorter, but finalizing a 700-page document by oneself is a fucking nightmare, especially when you know the only reward for your labors will be the satisfaction of having labored.

This brings us to the issue of pricing: right now the cost to order a copy is sixteen dollars (plus shipping, of course). The minimum amount Amazon lets me charge is $15.70 or so; as things stand, I'll earn about twenty-five cents per copy sold. I don't want to charge much more than that. A novel written, edited, and designed on an amateur level ought to at least be inexpensive. I don't suppose it would matter if I bumped up the price to twenty-two dollars, which is the minimum for a title with expanded distribution (which I might choose if I imagined there were a bookstore somewhere that wanted to stock it), since an extra seven bucks per copy wouldn't exactly be life-changing, considering my only audience is people who've already read The Zeroes.

Forgive me for being gloomy: call it post-partum depression. I know there are at least a few people who have been looking forward to this. Maybe I'll feel better when I know I haven't let them down—or when I know I did let them down, as the case may be. In my experience, the anxiety of not knowing how a work will be received is worse than the disappointment of learning that people hated it.

I am curious, though. This is a sequel to The Zeroes, but it's a very different book. If you'll forgive me for comparing apples to screwdrivers, it might be to The Zeroes what Chrono Cross is to Chrono Trigger. That might mean it's a hot mess. I think I'm prepared for that: Herman Melville wrote several hot messes, and they're some of my favorite novels. But maybe my predilection for hot messes is what prevents me from getting stuff published legitimately.

I realize I haven't said anything about the book yet. Well, I'd prefer the details be a surprise. I'll say this much: it's a sequel The Zeroes. Most of it takes place in 2015. There's a public shaming and a high school reunion. 

I'll post the link before midnight, January 1—provided Amazon's automated review process doesn't take more than twenty-four hours.


1. It seems pompous to italicize the title of my own novel.

8 comments:

  1. Congratulations! Writing anything to the end is in itself an accomplishment; that you write (very, actually) well is only a bonus.

    Personally, I'll take a messy but passionate work over anything tidy to the point of sterilisation—there's that old John Peel quote about life having surface noise, but also the best movie I caught last year was "Tangerine," which was shot on iPhones.

    Can't wait to read it (and, for anyone wondering, it's titled "The Zeroes: The Reunion").

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    1. Eager to know what you think! I apologize in advance for any weird typos, and I also apologize for the repeated apologies. I didn't have an editor (long story), so I'm really self-conscious about little glitches and screwups.

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  2. Best of luck with the Zeros Reunion, I bought a copy, curious to see what's changed. I just got my own book on Amazon a few weeks ago. https://www.amazon.com/American-Tango-Ben-Chewey/dp/1950974006/ref=pd_rhf_eetyp_p_img_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=16M9JX04PRBR6FTP5BTY Guess I'll see if it can take off, maybe if I'm lucky I will make up the cost of putting out out in a year lol. Ah well, happy new year man.

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    1. Unless you're Twitter famous or have a New York publisher, you'd better not be in it for the money. I learned that pretty quick. Sigh.

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  3. Congratulations, this is being bought ASAP. The Zeroes is a novel that I hold close to my heart for reasons too out there to bore you with now. Very much looking forward to this. If there's a way that I can send you the full amount for the book, and if you would accept it, on top of the purchase, let me know. Would love to support the book being completed in a way that gets you more than 25c.

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    1. Thanks; I hope it doesn't disappoint. (Like I said, it's a very different book than the first.) And don't worry about $$. Reading the book is all the support I want at this point.

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  4. Also...got the book today...curious what the changed thing is just so I don't miss out on the missed plot element and what not.

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    1. Ask me again when you finish it. It's so minor that now I'm wondering why I made such a production out of it.

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