How To Republish Your Own Dang Book

Or: How To Rise Like A Phoenix From So Many Ashes

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Seriously, y’all.

Now that the Ariah relaunch has happened, I thought it might be cool to walk you through what that looked like, exactly, in case any of you out there need similar info/skills in the future times.

What Happened When I Heard My Press Was Going Under
Oh, you know. Irritation. Resignation. Worry. But it’s the new normal, right? You can’t let yourself dwell on it too much. I got the rights reversion language from them, and filed it away. Ariah (and the other books I had under contract with them) was mine again.

And that felt a bit like freedom, honestly. Terrifying, exhilarating freedom.

Deciding What To Do Next
I went into that a little here. The options were pretty clear-cut:

  • find a press willing to reprint Ariah
  • create a press and reprint Ariah
  • self-publish Ariah

Ultimately, I went with option 3, for now, because of timing and resources. Judging by word of mouth and some of the few stats I have at my disposal, there is some momentum and demand for Ariah out there currently. I was afraid if the book disappeared altogether that the word of mouth would dry up, the momentum would turn to stillness, and Ariah would entirely lose the audience its found. It felt, and still feels, important to keep the book out there. It is as entirely legitimate as it will ever be–publishing through a press is not going to make that more or less true–and the text has already been copy edited.

Ariah’s Second Edition – Nuts And Bolts
Ok, with that decision made, I started sketching out tasks to make it happen:

  • Cover – I have always loved the cover art the press secured for Ariah, so when they offered to let me purchase it, I jumped at the chance. Done.
  • Redo Digital File – I took the epub file the press gave me for promotion purposes when the book initially launched, and plopped it into Sigil. Sigil is a free program that I use to edit and manipulate epub files until they are *exactly* how I want them.
    • Change Front and Back Matter – I needed to make changes, definitely, to the copyright page. This is a second edition, since the publisher has changed. I took out some of the language my press had in the copyright page and added some other language. I reconfigured the Table of Contents. I removed some of the back matter and added other back matter, and made the links live.
    • Tweak Book Design – In Sigil, I tweaked some of the chapter titles and section headings to be more my aesthetic.
    • Upload to Kindle – When the Sigil file was done, I uploaded it to a different program, Calibre. In calibre, you can add a cover image. You can also convert the epub to other formats (like mobi). I took the newly created mobi file and uploaded it to Kindle. Bam: that’s your ebook.
  • Redo Print File – Also in Calibre, I converted the epub to a rtf file. I made whatever book design choices I wanted in Word–important note: you have to set paper size to 6×9 and set mirror margins to match the default CreateSpace size. I found this part to be extremely, weirdly, super fun. Then, I exported the word doc as a PDF, which I uploaded to CreateSpace.
    • Upload to CreateSpace – You’ll need to go through CreateSpace’s entire finicky checklist, and you’ll need to go through the cover design process there. This was…less fun, but very thorough. Once it’s all done, and reviewed, then you have a print-on-demand paperback!
  • Update Amazon Author Page – Go to AuthorCentral and add the new versions of the ebook and paperback to your bibliography. I had to add all the extra shizz to their pages (editorial reviews, about the author, etc).
    • I couldn’t get Amazon to link the new editions to the old editions, so the current reviews are trapped forever on the old edition’s page. *sad trombone*
      • although I have found a couple of ways to inquire about this (check out this and this if you wind up with similar issues). So hopefully this will be resolved soon!
  • Update Goodreads – Add the new ebook and paperback as new editions to your book’s goodreads page. If you do this, then your reviews from the old editions will carry over like magic.
    • If you run into trouble with that, the Goodreads librarian group is full of angels.

What’s Next?
The big question is What To Do With Those Other Books Zharmae Had Under Contract. I’ve shopped them around a little, but not much. But honestly, I don’t really know what’s next.

I do know it will work out. And I’ll be around. And it’ll be great! Stay tuned.

ARIAH has relaunched!

In the wake of Zharmae’s closing, I was faced with a choice:

  • take my book and go quietly into the night, shopping it around as a possible reprint
  • relaunch it myself immediately

I’ve decided to do both things. I’ve put a couple of feelers out to people who might be interested in reprinting Ariah–people with resources and reach I don’t have alone–but in the meantime, this little book has grown legs!

There are readers who would like to buy it in the interim, in both ebook and paperbook formats, and it feels not super cool to keep Ariah out of circulation just because when it takes not a terrible amount of effort to put it back in circulation.

So: Ariah is available, as a second edition, via Amazon in both print and digital formats. One day there might be yet a third edition, if any of those feelers pan out, but maybe not, so what is there to lose really?

Psst – there is a giveaway happening right now through my newsletter. You can sign up for the newsletter mailing list here, if you haven’t already, and enter the giveaway here.

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2nd Edition Ebook | 2nd Edition Print

The second edition has no story or grammatical changes in the text compared to the first edition. Really, the only change is that the first edition was published by Zharmae, and this edition is published by me, and thus they have different ISBNs. I did take the opportunity to make some slight differences to layout and book design, but again, the book does not have any additional content, so if you already have a copy of Ariah, I can’t really tell you in good conscience to pick up a copy of the second edition (unless you’re like OMG I MUST SUPPORT B IN EVERYTHING THEY DO in which case…thank you! You’re very sweet and encouraging!!).

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Disrupting Publishing: 12/15/2015

It’s that time again: that time every week where I round up links to articles written by marginalized people pushing back against oppression in publishing. I’m aggregated as many marginalized voices as possible from as many vectors as possible, and the more intersectional the better. As always if you’ve read something I missed please link it in the comments.


“Twinja Book Reviews 3rd Annual Diversity Month Day Nine: Interview with Constance Burris” 

Right now, I feel like the message for diverse books is being misinterpreted. Some of the people who hear the call for diverse books are feeling like they should be the ones writing diverse books. But some of these people should just be uplifting and promoting the works of diverse authors who write diverse books.

Some folks are try their best to write to the trends but sometimes we need to take a step back. For example, I am intrigued by reading stories where the lead is gay. But that doesn’t mean I should write a story with a gay main character. It also doesn’t mean I shouldn’t. I just need to check my motives.

 

“Why I Chose To Write Publicly About Anxiety” by Kameron Hurley

All this said, and as much as I want to encourage others to take care of themselves, it also struck me how much of a privilege mental health is. The reality is that even with insurance, the costs of monthly meds on top of the actual drugs I need to stay alive is not very cheap. If I’d done this ten years ago, it would have been seriously financially difficult. Not to mention getting the time off to go to appointments, and actually getting in to see a doctor (I had to wait three months! Fuck). I’ve harped on our broken healthcare industry before, but if we want to have a sane and compassionate society, we must have equal access to care for people no matter their financial situation, and that’s still not possible in this country. It’s no wonder so many with anxiety just pick up cheap liquor instead.

 

“A Pledge for SF/F Conventions Accessibility” by Lynne, Michael, and Caitlin at Uncanny Magazine

Accessibility is not PC Bullshit. It is the law in the United States, and it has been for 25 years.

We can and should do better.

All members of a convention should be treated with dignity.

 

“The Writing Class” by Jaswinder Bolina for The Poetry Foundation

Graduate school endorses the idea that we are rare and recruited for our talents, but the more accurate statement might be that we are rare only because we have access to graduate school.

Debrief: “The Scaper’s Muse”

I’m starting a new series of posts that I’m calling “debriefs.” In these posts, I’m going to provide some behind-the-scenes insight into how a piece of fiction got published: where did the idea come from? When was it written? How many times did I sub it before it saw the light of day? That kind of thing.

Partly, I’m starting this series of posts because I keep these records for myself anyway. Partly, I’m doing it because I believe radical transparency in publishing is good for all parties involved. Partly, I’m doing it because I’m always fascinated when I read these kinds of things by other authors.


“The Scaper’s Muse” is included in Glitterwolf #9: The Gender Issue

Through bad luck and circumstance, Gavin Camayo is very politely exiled to an alien planet. But Stahvi is a fascinating place, and his stipend keeps coming from the corporation back home, so Gavin doesn’t mind the exile so much. There’s plenty of strange wonders around to keep him amused. But what happens when a familiar wonder—the person who lands him in exile in the first place—appears on Stahvi, too? “The Scaper’s Muse” is a science fiction short story about the interplay between identity and vanity set in an alien landscape.

Publication date: 7/30/2015

Completion date:
12/13/2013

Number of times subbed: Six. The story was rejected five times, with one of those being a very near miss and one of those actually being from Glitterwolf #8: Identity1. The story also received no response from one market2 before being accepted and published in Glitterwolf #9.

The story of the story:
Like many of my short stories, “The Scaper’s Muse” was written in response to a call for submissions. It was an especially vague call, one requiring only that the work to be tied to a flavor of quark (up or down, strange or charming, top or bottom). I chose strange or charming, and that gave me enough direction to start somewhere. I figured, honestly, strange/charming was the spec-ficcy of the three.

I had, for a couple of years, had half a seed of a story niggling around in my brain for some sort of spec-fic updated Sir Gawain and the Green Knight3 thingamob. This is where most of my short fiction comes from: a weird alchemy of prompts from calls I stumble across and these little unsprung seeds my brain has hidden away. Something about the strange/charming prompt sprouted the Gawain and the Green Knight update, and I was off.

So, there you have it: “The Scaper’s Muse” is, essentially, a sci-fi queer interrogation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, all in under three thousand words!

Placing the story:
It was not an easy story to place. It’s odd. It’s mannerpunkish? And queer. And trans*. And sci-fi, but somehow very lit-sci-fi. I remembered as it took shape wondering if it was maybe to literary (not sci-fi enough) for spec markets and if it would be to genre (not literary enough) for lit markets. But definitely super-duper queer, so it would have to be a queer market no matter what

When the place that issued the call didn’t pan out, I ended up subbing to two place I’d subbed to before on the rationale that they’d seen my stuff and liked my stuff before–that’s how odd this little thing was. Usually I strike out into foreign territory because I am unknown with few ready leads, but this time I went to known quantities not once but twice. One of them was Glitterwolf, which ended up being an ideal fit. Look at that cover! Exactly the aesthetic of the piece.


1I subbed to Glitterwolf only once with a note that “The Scaper’s Muse” would be a good fit for either issue 8 or 9, and the editor at Glitterwolf sent me back a single note that did the double duty of rejecting the story for 8 and accepting the story for 9. That’s why the sub count is listed at six although there are technically seven outcomes. I used to teach stats and am an analysis in my day job I am compelled to be this pedantic please bear with me.

2This was the first place I subbed to, and the place that issued the initial call for which the piece was originally written. I don’t think the issue ever came together. Sadly, I think this magazine one up one of the tragic one-issue-wonder lit mags out there.

3The Pearl Poet: some real old school speculative fiction.


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Snow Blindness: A Follow-Up To Nicola Griffith’s Analysis of Book Award Demographics

I think I’ve mentioned it here before, but by training I’m a statistician. I don’t live off my writing, and in my day job, I work as an analyst for a large urban school district crunching numbers. Back in grad school, I taught stats to undergrads who would really rather be anywhere else, bu I like stats. Always have. So I read Nicola Griffith’s post “Books About Women Don’t Win Big Awards: Some Data” with great interest. The first thing I thought of when I read is was I bet this replicates with other marginalized identities. I bet it’s not just gender; I bet it’s race and sexuality and class and everything else, too.

I had some time this weekend. Not much, but enough to do a little digging. I did what she did–mostly–but for race. I looked at four out of the the six prizes she looked at* for the same time span she looked at (2000-2015) and coded whether the author was White or a Person of Color. I dug up what I could on the book in question to try and figure out, if I hadn’t read it (and I hadn’t read most of them), if the protagonist(s) was White or a Person of Color**. And then I crunched some numbers. Here’s what I found:

  • Lit awards are exactly what you would guess: blindingly White, White as the purest arctic snow. Generally, over 80% of Pulitzer, Man Booker, National Book Award or NBCC prizes went to White writers.
    • Also, unsurprisingly, intersectionality matters. When you look at both race and gender, that arctic snow is full of dicks. Big, pasty dicks. Women of color and men of color made up 9% of the award winners apiece. White men were five times more likely to win an award than people of color. White women were three times more likely to win an award than people of color.
  • Griffith found that even when women writers do manage to win a prestigious award, they tend to do so when they’ve writer about men. Race in writing seems to be of a more peculiar character:
    • Writers of Color, the ones who won these awards at least, wrote exclusively about People of Color. Who knows; maybe they were bored of the absolute blinding whiteness of the narratives they see day in and day out and felt no compunction to contribute to that.
    • White writers mostly wrote about other white people, but a few broke the mold and wrote about People of Color and were awarded (probably by a panel of White people) for it.

That’s the high-level TL;DR summary, there. I’m going to roll up my sleeves now and dig into the data now. Stick around if you’d like! To start, here are the four awards I looked at:

POC=People of Color WP=White people

POC=People of Color
WP=White people

You can see that the trends are remarkably consistent across the awards. The NBCC is the only one coming close to bucking that trend–NBCC was more likely to give the award to POC authors and to books featuring POC protagonists written by White authors. The Man Booker Prize, on the other hand, was the most blindingly White of the bunch. This mirrors quite closely what Griffith found with regard to gender: Man Booker had the highest number of awards given to men who wrote about men, and NBCC gave a relatively wider spread of awards to men and women writing about men and women.

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The pie chart above collapses all the awards I surveyed across the award giving body to get an aggregate sense of race trends. There are two main points of interest here: first, that over 80% of awards for the last 15 years of these four major awards have gone to White writers. 80%–FOUR FIFTHS.

The second point of interest is that the flexibility of writing gender that Griffith found–men writing women, women writing men–isn’t present to the same extent here. Some White people are writing People of Color, but People of Color are interested in writing their own narratives, not adding to the already bloated collection of White narratives. And yet, the preponderance of awards are still going to White narratives written by White people–or narratives of color written by White people.

note that the women author's pie graph is smaller. That's on purpose: men (regardless of race) won 60% of the awards in the time span looked at.

note that the women author’s pie graph is smaller. That’s on purpose: men (regardless of race) won 60% of the awards in the time span looked at.

For my final trick, I overlayed Griffith’s analysis and my own. I coded my set of data for both race and gender of both the author and the book’s protagonist to see how the two pieces of demographic data interacted (because, you know, intersectionality matters).

The graphs above split out the combination of the author’s race and gender and their book’s protagonists’s race and gender. The graph on the left shows the proportions for the men winners (60% of the dataset). The graph on the right shows the proportions for the women winners (40% of the dataset). What the above data tells me is that White men write about anything and everything and get awards for it. Mostly they write about other White men, yes, but they are the ones crossing gender and race lines most in their writing and get awarded for it.

I would have liked to do more. I wanted to add sexuality into the mix, but it was very hard to determine author’s LGBTQ status with just a cursory internet search. Only two of the winning books, Middlesex and The Line of Beauty, were book that I knew dealt with LGBTQ themes. I would expect similar patterns to emerge should that data become available, though.

*Griffith also looked at the Hugo Award and the Newberry Medal. I excluded these from my analysis due to time constraints which is a fancy way of saying ‘then I had to give my kid a bath.’

**There were some cases, like The Road, where movie adaptations of an arguably non-race-identified protagonist was cast as White, which I then used as essentially canon evidence of Whiteness.

New Pub: “Crossing the Bridge” in GLITTERWOLF

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Apparently this is the week of new pubs, eh? I’m thrilled to announce that my short story, “Crossing the Bridge”, is included in issue #5 of Glitterwolf. The issue is available for purchase here, and I encourage y’all to check it out! Here’s a synopsis of the story to whet your appetite:

Maxine Yvette Martin dies. Maxine Yvette Martin lurks in the void. Then, Maxine Yvette Martin catches a break and slips into the body of suicidal young man. Her stolen body miraculously survives a fall from the Golden Gate Bridge, and Maxine Yvette Martin starts a second life as Max Hoffman. This body might be new, but her mind is still the same, and she struggles to find a way to live a familiar life in deeply unfamiliar circumstances.

CROSSING THE BRIDGE is a completed short story 5,600 words in length. It explores the nature of gender, the nature of compromise, and the way we shape the world to ourselves in order to survive.

I am so glad this story found a home with Glitterwolf. This story was a stretch for me—a contemporary piece, a fantasy not set in Aerdh, a ghost story, a short story written while I was still learning how to write short stories. And this story is personal; this story is about being trans*. Glitterwolf is a publication that celebrates LGBT poets and writers, and given that I poured a lot of my own transness into this story, given how linked the content of the story and my lived experiences as its creator are, I am really happy it found a home in a publication where my own queerness and transness can be explicitly stated. Many thanks to Matt Cresswell, editor of Glitterwolf, for including my story in the issue!

New Pub: “Beneath the Dane Hills” in HYACINTH NOIR

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Hi friends! I’ve excited to announce that one of my short stories has been included in Hyacinth Noir’s 2014 Imbolc issue. You can read the story in its entirety for FREE here:http://hyacinthnoir.wordpress.com/literary-issues/imbolc-literary-issue/beneath-the-dane-hills-by-br-sanders/

“Beneath the Dane Hills” is my first piece of contemporary spec fic. Unlike the bulk of my writing, “Beneath the Dane Hills” happens in this world at this time. I wrote this story specifically to Hyacinth Noir’s calls for submission for the Imbolc issue which asked for queered faery tale.

I poked around the internet refamiliarizing myself with Celtic myths. I stumbled on the mythic figure of Black Annis, a sort of evil witch/bogeyman. I wanted her reimagined. I wanted her to speak for herself—maybe she wasn’t the bad guy after all.

This story is a queered faery tale, but its story is as seeped in race and class as it is in sexuality. Pooja, the main character, basically wrote herself. She came to me more or less fully formed.

Please check out my story and the rest of the wonderful 2014 Imbolc issue over at Hyacinth Noir’s website. Thank you to the lovely folks over at Hyacinth Noir for putting forth an inspiring call for submission and taking the time to consider my story!

Epiphany Time: I’m Never Going to Leave My Day Job

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my kiddo says you can pry my day job from my cold dead hands

I’m Officially Published now, not once but twice over. I now have Professional Fiction Writing Credits. That is amazing and wonderful and I am so proud of myself. It’s also set me thinking about what role writing plays in my life, both professionally and personally.

The ubiquitous dream of aspiring writers like myself is to make enough from your writing to live off of. A measure of whether or not a writer has “made it” is if they’ve been able to quit their day job. The thought of having all day to write at a leisurely pace, of taking an hour out of your day here and there to grant a fawning interview, yes that sounds divine. I think I just assumed that’s what I wanted, too. But I don’t really think it is.

To date I have made a sweet $23.00 off my writerly pursuits—shit, you guys, that’s a whole pizza! Obviously right now I have to keep my day job. I have spent more money on contest entries than I have earned back in sales. But here’s a thought experiment: let’s say one of my books really takes off. Like, it gets Harry Potter huge. What about then? It feels nigh-heretical to me, but I…think I want to keep my day job. I think I need to keep my day job for my own sanity.

Let me lay it out for you. I am the primary breadwinner of a family of four, and one of those four people is a toddler who depends on me for literally everything. I have two partners, both of whom do part-time or piecemeal work. Of the three of us, I am best positioned to get a solidly middle-class salaried position that can keep us afloat both by virtue of social/educational capital and by way of comfort working an office job. I am cool with it, and they are cool with it, too. If I were to tell my partners “hey, y’all, I think I want to give this writing-full-time thing a go, and I’m quitting my day job to do that” I have no doubt at all that they would support me. But life would be a scramble, and it would mean forcing one or both of them into positions where I get to pursue this at the expense of their quality of life. And most of all, it would be unstable.

I grew up in a financially unstable household. I grew up with bill collectors calling and the phone lines getting cut off; the whole nine yards. It is decidedly Not Fun. In my adult life, I have never paid my rent late, not one time, not ever. I am ridiculously conscientious with my family’s finances because I quite literally cannot go back to that kind of financial instability. I would lose my mind. These days, even the thought of not being the one in charge of paying the family bills and making the family budget lands me in a cold sweat. And if I wasn’t the breadwinner, would I have to give up that level of economic control within the family? I would think so. To manage the finances so closely otherwise would feel like overstepping a boundary.

I have an anxiety disorder, and it cozies up to the occasional major depressive episode. One thing that makes my anxiety flare up is financial instability. A couple of years ago, I finished my Ph.D. and went on the non-academic job market looking for a new gig. It was a nightmare. It was hellish. I could barely see straight I was so anxious. I was in danger of bursting into tears at any given moment. I couldn’t sleep. And I had a job while I was looking, which is the best case scenario since it meant I still had an income rolling in. But all those unknowns—what if I get fired if I go to this job interview? If I get that job, where will we live? Should we renew the lease? Should I be looking for jobs in a different area of the country?—those unknowns tore my brain to pieces. In many ways, the process of looking for a new job post-grad school was a time of pure psychological violence for me. Thanks capitalism.

With writing full time, there are no guarantees. There is no salary, no steady and reliable income. There are certainly no health care benefits (and as the only salaried full-time employee in the household, guess where the health care for my spouse and child comes from). Psychologically, I don’t have what it takes to be a starving artist. I crave the routine and stability of a day job. When I was on the job market? I hardly ever wrote fiction. Like most people, I can’t write for shit when I’m too anxious to handle making a sandwich. If I were to quit my job, I would be so obsessed with all the uncertainty of living off my writing that I ironically would probably not actually be able to write. Socially, it’s not really an option either. I have dependents. Starving artists just scraping by should not be doing so with children in tow. That’s selfish. It’s bad parenting.

I also need the balance of doing something other than writing. I need the contact with the outside world going to a job every day gives me. I get all weird when left alone too long. Weird and hermit-y and all Alan Moore-ish. Which, that’s fine for Alan Moore, but I do feel like there is value in being able to competently interface with society at large. I’d like to keep those skills sharpened, and introvert that I am, I am likely to let them go dull and unused without something to prod me to leave my house on the regular.

Besides that, I work in public education, which is something I am as passionate about as I am my writing. I really do need the balance; I love writing, and I fully believe that the act of writing can be radical and transformative and revolutionary. But it’s not the only way to effect change. I like to write my radical and revolutionary fictions and I like to push the education system hard from the inside. I want to have my cake and eat it, too.

My family makes ample space for me to write. I have a working routine, and I produce a lot of content while working full time. I would love to have a bestseller! Shit, it would be pretty sweet to scoop up the Nobel Prize for Literature. Or any prize for literature. But the mercurial and unpredictable life of a full-time writer is not something for which I am cut out. Which begs the question: if success for me is not financial, then what would success look like?

2013 Retrospective

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Here’s a quick look back at 2013 for me lit-wise! All in all, it’s been a great year: “The Other Side of Town” appeared in Redhead EZine; “Blue Flowers” and Resistance both are forthcoming next year. I consistently kept up with this blog! I’m looking forward to honing my skills and making more waves in 2014! Happy New Year, folks!

Read “The Other Side of Town” at READHEAD EZINE!

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Hi all,

I am super proud to announce that Redhead Ezine has chosen to publish my short story “The Other Side of Town!” You can read the story for free on Redhead’s  website here.

Redhead is a magazine devoted to “the adventures, quests, heroism, and the intrigues of secondary-world fantasy.” I am proud and excited to join the Redhead community.