A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: A Few Thoughts On The Final Run

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

All right, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet is out.  Done.  So it was a bit later than I expected, and the final run on it gave me food for thought.

WATCH SWITCHING BETWEEN SOFTWARE: I found some annoying artifacts from moving from one piece of software to another – there can be subtle differences.   I had to do some annoying search and replaces.

THINK OVER STYLISTIC CHOICES EARLY AND FOLLOW UP: You may make certain formatting choices – like bolding certain things (business cards or telepathy), certain uses of quotes, etc.  Make sure you’re consistent.  I found ONE case of not following my own formatting, and I nearly missed it.

DO A SERIOUS READ-THROUGH AND CORRECTION EARLY: I wish I did this.  Take, say, an early draft, and edit it as if it’s for print.  This will help you find your mistakes, issues, common problems, and get plenty of distracting tiny errors out of the way – so you can edit.

KEEP A LIST OF ERRORS YOU FIND OR WORRY ABOUT: This helped me a lot.  As I did my final readthroughs, I kept a list of suspicious things or choices I want to review.  This let me do some amazing fine editing easy because then I could globally search.

SEARCH AND REPLACE IS YOUR FRIEND IF YOU DO IT STEP BY STEP: Global search and replace can mess up your document (as we all know).  However going slow, reviewing EACH possible replacement (or doing it by hand for each found) let’s you avoid problems.  Also it acts as a second review!

YOU CAN ONLY DO SO MUCH: At some point you can’t edit forever.  So don’t.  Learn your limits.  In fact . . .

GO EBOOK FIRST: This is a trick I evolved from a friend.  Do an ebook first, and distribute it.  It gives you immediate feedback, then you can update the ebook quickly.  Go print a bit later (like I’m doing it 4-6 weeks later).

KEEP A “LIVE” DOCUMENT: A big advantage of going ebook first is feedback.  So I keep a “Live” document I’m always editing as a core, representative document.  That will become the print book – but if I find errors I modify all 3 documents (ebook, Print, Live) for later.

So lots of lessons to share.  I’m certain I’ll have more to share – I think I need to make a kind of writing checklist sometime!

Steven Savage

History Will Judge, But We Do Anyway

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

My friend Serdar had a very insightful post on how we compare our  creative work to others.  He realize’s it’s a bit of a fools game:

My work can only really be measured against my other work. It can be compared to other work, and I guess you can draw lessons about what it might lack or where it might excel, but those lessons only really help to shape the directions you choose to take for your own present or future work.

We can compare works all we want.  Indeed, we should as it’s educational, but ultimately all we can do is learn by contrast.  If we’re not careful, we’ll stress ourselves out racing against other authors – and those aren’t the people who have to compete against to get better.

The person you’re ultimately racing against – or pacing yourself against – is you.  You are not other writers, and you can never directly know them or their limits or abilities.  What you can do is know yourself so you can improve and grow.

Writing is challenging and complex enough as it is without making yourself miserable with comparisons that will yield little insight.

That doesn’t mean you won’t worry about your work’s success, or its meaning, or how people take it.  That brings something else to mind – history is going to judge you, and is going to no matter what.  You can’t be 100% sure you’ll succeed, or be popular, or even be understood.  You merely do your best.

Now what if you’re really sure you want your work to be noticed?  You want to attract the eye of history?  Fine, good, but . . .

. . . it doesn’t exactly matter if your writing is good in that case.  Let’s be honest, writing “quality” has a subjective element to it.  A story may be poorly written – but also timely and what people need.  A story may be brilliant – and ignored because its ahead of or behind it’s time.

So if you want to be noticed, make history, then write well, using yourself as the yardstick . . .

. . . but develop the self-promotional and marketing skills needed to get the attention you want.

Just remember they’re not the same.  In fact, maybe you should be judging your marketing skills the same way as your writing by just getting better with you as the yardstick . . .

Steven Savage

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet Is Out!

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

It’s out – A Bridge To The Quiet Planet, my somewhat sarcastic techno-fantasy tale of people living in a post-post-apocalyptic world of magic, gods, and technology.  With the world stable, the worst thing you could do is mess it up . . .

. . . and our protagonists manage to put themselves into deep danger of doing that.

You can find the eBook at Amazon right now, and I’m planning to do other formats later.  Print will probably come in a month to month and a half (experimenting with proper formatting and the holidays keep me busy)

So hang on, and join over-organized sorceress Marigold Rel-Domau, enthusiastic field technic Scintilla Ferr-Orbil, and the Reverend Beacon Rindle on their adventures.

Steven Savage

The Social Self As A Business

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

To mark this post historically, this was posted the day Tumblr decided to cut out some adult content (it’s hard to tell exactly what they meant, it got weird)  This was quickly followed by an algorithm that clearly was terrible not doing it’s job, and leaving people to discuss leaving.  When you can’t exactly spell out a vision for what you want to do, that vision seems to be “stop some nudity”, and your system is bad, yeah people are going to leave.

This doesn’t entirely surprise me, an old hand at watching internet companies shoot themselves in the food.  I’ve seen sites and services appear and vanish, sometimes quite sadly.  This has led me to an important but unpleasant truth.

You have to run your social media presence like a business.

What do I mean by this?  Simple

  1. Social media is vital to our lives (for some of us more than others)
  2. Social media companies rise, fall, and change.
  3. To reach your social media goals, you have to consider your vision, make a plan, and have expenses – just like a business.

For me, a writer, this is more vital – but also as my writing is a hobby, it’s almost more effort.  I mean it’s hard to disentangle my audience, my fellow authors, and my sarcastic video game posts.

But it still comes down to this – business decisions affect social media, social media is connected to our lives, so we have to run that part of it like a business.

No, I don’t like it.

I don’t like knowing something may vanish the next week because of a merger.  I don’t like seeing people leave a site due to some weird policy change.  I dislike wondering who’s harvesting my data.  It’s tiring and it’s exhausting, and annoying, not to mention a bit dehumanizing.

But this is where we are now, when business decisions affect where you post recipes and if you repeat an Overwatch meme about Hanzo’s shirts.

Maybe in time we can build more humanized platforms.  Maybe we can get others to evolve.  But until them your social media life has to be run like a business, especially if you have any large groups, complex plans, side businesses, media presence, etc.

If it helps, what I do is actually review my social plans once a month – who’s planned what, do I want to host an event, etc.  I’ve had to work my social media reviews into that, along with my marketing reviews for my books.  It helps, but it’s annoying.

And again, I don’t like it either.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Update 12/2/2018

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Hey gang, hope you’re well.  So let’s see where we are!

So what have I done the last week(s)?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: EDITING IS DONE!  So next up is formatting and publishing, which should happen in about a week!  Hang in there, it’s coming!
  • Way With Worlds: I’ve gone through some of the edits on the Organization book, and there’s actually not a lot of problems (I think working on the novel helped).
  • Seventh Sanctum: I started a new generator!  It’s very topical.  Hang in there . . .
  • Other: Mostly catching up with stuff.

What’s next?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Publishing!  It’s all ready to go, so it’s just a matter of converting, loading, a bit of social media, and then  . . . well, then it’s print formatting.
  • Way With Worlds: Not sure here, depending on how things go I can run some edits, but I want the novel and new generator out.  But it looks quite promising this’ll drop in December.
  • Seventh Sanctum: I’ll be dropping the new generator!  Stay tuned as I get back into the swing!  I may even update the resources!
  • General Stuff: Right now focusing on the above.  I want to clear my plate for the holidays!

Steven Savage

How To Support An Author You Like

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Things That Cost Money:

  • Buy the author’s books.
  • Buy ALL the author’s books.
  • By the author’s related merchandise
  • Buy the author’s books and give them as gifts.
  • Buy the author’s books and donate them to libraries.
  • Support the author’s Patreon, Kofi, etc.

Reviews:

  • Review the author’s book on publishing sites
  • Review the author’s book on goodreads.
  • Blog a review on your blog/tumblr/etc.
  • Give a book review on Twitter.
  • Give a book review on Facebook.
  • Give a book review on Tumblr.

Conventions:

  • Suggest the author speak at a convention.
  • If you host a panel at a convention, ask the author to be a guest.
  • If the author can’t attend, put out flyers for their book at a convention.
  • Have a dealer or artist’s table? Carry the author’s book as well!

Promotions:

  • Put out flyers for the author at libraries, bookstores, etc.
  • Mention the author in your own newsletter.
  • If the author has a sale, let people know.
  • If the author does a promotion, ask how you can help.
  • Give the author’s stuff away as part of your own promotions (“Get this book, get a free copy of this other one”).
  • Start a promotion with the author at www.prolificworks.com

Bookstores:

  • See if a local bookstore will carry the author’s book
  • See if a local bookstore will invite the author to speak.
  • Put out flyers at these bookstores.

Book Clubs:

  • Suggest the author’s book or books for your book club.
  • Have the author speak at your book club.

Blogs:

  • Ask to cross-blog with the author.
  • Help the author blog on other pages.
  • Do a blog tour with the author.

Podcasts:

  • Suggest the author to podcasts you follow.
  • Invite the author to your own podcast.

Social Media:

  • Follow the author on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.
  • Promote the author on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.
  • Join the author’s newsletter to keep up on them.
  • Get OTHER people to join the author’s newsletter.
  • If the author has a LinkedIn page and “Author” as a job, give them a rec!
  • Invite the author to your slack/discord.

Art:

  • Do fanart of the author’s work if you’re into it – author’s love feedback.
  • Offer your services (at a price, of course) to the author.

Support:

  • Be a beta reader (and hey, free book)
  • Help A/B test book covers.
  • Refer artists and editors and the like to the author.
  • Refer the author’s editors and artists to other people.

Services (that you SHOULD charge for, of course, but maybe at a discount)

Offer to do cover art for a book.

  • Offer to edit.
  • Offer to translate.

Collaborate:

  • Do a multi-author work with the author (and others).
  • Refer any multi-author works, zines, etc. to an author.

Steven Savage

The Editing Challenge Of Forever

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I’ve been busy editing A Bridge To The Quiet Planet lately.  And it struck me that editing is a strange thing as it’s never truly done.

First, you have mistakes you may want to catch.  Those are easy to find with modern tools, but finding all of them takes a great deal of effort.  You can worry over and over you may have missed something.

Secondly, you have those non-mistakes but choices you question.  This word or that?  This style or that?  Is this take a bit archaic?  These aren’t mistakes, but are questions of best choices.

Third, you just have all those things you could tweak.  Cut this scene?  Different opening? Is this still timely?

Editing is never done.  Ever, because you can always find new ways to do things, find new problems, miss something and look for it.  Worse, if you make some edits, you might have made new mistakes to worry about!

It’s a lot like coding, only your book runs in the brains of your readers, and each reader is different.

At some point you just have to stop editing.  At some point you have to declare done.  At some point you have to move on, or you’ll go crazy.  You have to stop editing.

I found the best way to do this is to set a standard for yourself.  Do X readthroughs.  Run a grammar/spell check at particular times.  Then, go on.

Go on, edit, but give yourself a break.

BONUS: An idea I got from Serdar is that, when you’re done, do a bounty on mistakes in your book.  Not only is that a great idea to get people to participate, it gives you a way to relax a bit . . .

 

Steven Savage

Steve’s Update 11/25/2018

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Yeah not a lot of activity or original posts this last week – due to Thanksgiving of course!

So what have I done the last week(s)?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: ALMOST done with the final edit.
  • Way With Worlds: The next book just came back from my editor.
  • Seventh Sanctum: I have a new generator in the works!  So stay tuned, it’s rather topical . . .
  • Other: Thanksgiving.  Obviously got a bit busy.

What’s next?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: I’m about done with the final edit, then I get to a quick check, and format the book for publication – which, sadly, will be next week not this week.  However, not bad all things considered!
  • Way With Worlds: I’ll check out my editor’s feedback soon.  I plan to get it out this month, just not sure when.
  • Seventh Sanctum: Hopefully dropping the new generator.
  • General Stuff: Still working on the home stuff.  Ugh.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Update 11/18/2018

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Whew!  Busy busy week!  Let’s catch up!

So what have I done the last week(s)?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Is in it’s final edit!  I’m re-reading and rechecking the story one last time, then get it ready for e-pub!  I’m very pumped on this, so a few more weeks!
  • Way With Worlds: The next book is in my editor’s hands!
  • Other: Nothing overly big except some housework – gotta do a few repairs.

What’s next?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Keep at it.  I hope to get it all into book format, but I’m not 100% sure how that’ll go with the holiday.  Right now it’s about 40% chance it’s out end of November, 60% chance first week of December.
  • Way With Worlds: Waiting on my editor – and starting the next book!  Yes, remember it’s a two-part series on Organizations!
  • General Stuff: I am working on some home repairs, so not sure what that’ll do to my schedule.
  • Other: Trying to get to new Sanctum Stuff, I have a bunch of ideas I need to do!  So let’s hope I can get things done.

Steven Savage

Why Create?

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

My fellow author Serdar was discussing the importance of art and entertainment over at his blog. This struck me as very important:

“I think any act of creativity can be used by others as escapism, a way to — how did someone else put it? — ignore everyone else’s reality and substitute their own. Most of us do this to some extent or other anyway, so I see little point in wringing hands about it. The smarter thing to do, maybe the only thing that can be done, is create things that are good enough, constructive enough, universally enriching enough, that people will want to make them real — not just for themselves, but for others — in whatever way they can.”

Serdar speaks to the importance that artists can help people realize better worlds, because first they need to be imagined. Once imagined, you can work on making those glorious visions real, and even if you never succeed, you may get far enough to help us all get closer to the dream. Life is, after all, a relay race not a sprint.

Just think of how many of us were inspired by Star Trek to build a better world. However, art is not always about positive experiences, but they always have the chance for being transformative.  As Sam Sykes put it:

Being a fantasy author in this dark era is like being the party bard. You want to make a difference, but the best you can do is inspire someone else to fix it and hope that keeps you from getting eaten.

The role of the artist in the world is the role of the Bard in many fantasy games – the person who enhances and buffs, enriches, and supports. A Bard does that which helps others do things better.

The bard metaphor speaks to me because my works are often supportive works (such as my guides), but also because inspiration takes many forms. A horror story may not create a vision for a better world, but it does give one experiences that can be enriching or thought-provoking. The artist creates not just visions, but explorations, tools, and inspirations – not all of which are or need to be pleasant. But, like the Bards of fantasy games, the artist changes you and enhances you.

Right now you doubtlessly have a book, game, comic, or other thing to make. You may, like many of us, pause to ask if it’s worth it. I would turn it around and ask two things: do you enjoy doing it and will someone get something out of it?

If you enjoy it, go for it. Your enjoyment WILL make the work interesting to people, and if nothing else someone takes pleasure from it and gets a break.

If people can get something out of it, go for it. It will help and enhance others.

You may say “but wait, there’s no reason not to create!”

Yes. Exactly. You got it.

Steven Savage