Monday, April 11, 2011

My Mind or My Money

So, in case I haven't mentioned it (yeah, right), the next Connor Grey book, UNCERTAIN ALLIES, is coming out on April 28. Here's what happens to me when a book is about to be published.

First, I've been fortunate to get multibook contracts, which means that I have books scheduled to be delivered to the publisher. As it happens, I am given a year to produce a book, and they tend to be due about the time the last book is about  to be published generally around February or March. Sounds nice and orderly, doesn't it? Well, if you are me, order produces chaos.

I don't write a lot in the beginning, preferring to tinker with ideas, maybe make a few notes and generally relax from writing everyday. This catches up to me eventually. The next thing I know, I have half the amount of time I thought I did.  Some disaster hits. Every Time. But the book gets done (and my every-patient editor has granted me extensions on more than one occasion).

At that point, I am behind with my marketing stuff, which first entails website updates. This is when I start making the same decision: is it worth it to spend money on a web designer or should I do it myself. One costs me money. The other costs me my sanity.

I choose to save the money. I like playing with my website. I don't like screwing it up. I always screw it up. But I like that I know I screwed it up and where it needs fixing. Using a designer would mean I have no idea why something is broken, even less on how to fix it and it would probably cost me more money to fix. I know enough html to put together an okay site. But it takes time and, yes, a bit of my sanity.

This year, I went for a cleaner, simpler design. Few pages but with more info. No fancy dhtml gizmos that makes things flip up and down or flash or talk. Which meant I had to do the entire site over from scratch. It wasn't that bad until I started thinking about Facebook.

When I started publishing in 2007, no one really talked about social media as "social media." Now, it's a given. How do I integrate social media with my marketing efforts? Again, I wanted to keep it simple. I'm a writer, not a web designer. It's not simple.

Fortunately, lots of things have plug-and-play features. For years, I've kept a blog on Livejournal. I thought I'd integrate that. Alas, Livejournal doesn't like to be integrated without gymnastics (or a paid acocunt). It also does not customize well without learning a bunch of Livejournal-specific cockamammy. I turned to blogger. Yay! It does stuff I need. It's customizable enough that it looks like my website without a design consultation. Boo, it doesn't embed the way I want. I worked around it.

Then I decided to save time by cross-posting Blogger to Livejournal. Saving time meant two days of work that ended with, yeah, not so much. Livejournal won't accept Blogger format easily and the result looked like crap. Blogger doesn't have an option to send plain text. Back to the old cut-and-paste method.

Then I put up a Facebook Fan page. Yay, Marketing! Oh, wait, I can't do anything interactive without third party apps. I don't like third party apps so much because I don't like granting third parties access to people's info (I, unlike Facebook, do not assume that just because someone hasn't grokked the byzantine privacy features that those friends do not, in fact, want their information private). I worked around it--and ran into Facebook promotional guideline tangles (you do not want to read them).

So, I went the newsletter route. Which means I needed to produce an email form on the website, which means I had to re-teach myself mysql and php (programming type stuff). AGAIN. I don't use them everyday. I forget. Finally, I got the process to work.

After two weeks of this, my mind is mush and I have a nagging suspicion that I'm forgetting something. And then I remember.

Oh, right! I should be writing a book!

I can't wait to try self-publishing. ;)

Edited to add: I just realized I wrote this entire post on the wrong blog. Now I have to unpublish there and cut and paste it here. Sigh.


  1. Thanks for explaining the convoluted process involved in producing a book and keeping your fans happy. I was lucky enough to discover you in the New Books section at B&N when your first book was published and have "patiently" waited for each new one. The social network aspect is nice though because we can stay connected to you via newsletter, FB, etc. while waiting for you to give us what we really want... our hero, Connor. So please ignore me when I whine, asking when will we see the next book. Because, honestly, a year seems like an eternity when you are waiting to visit an old friend. But other than that, you ROCK!

  2. One word: Twitter. Authors are the best at Twitter and I love reading an author who only has 140 characters to get their point across. Oh, and thank you for the new book.

  3. Conner Grey books every 3 months please.. just cant get enough