Belonging

picnic-1208229

Sorry this is so late.  I woke up dead.  Okay, okay, not really dead.  Though Dan has argued that my drive to write is so great I’ll become a natural zombie, it’s not that bad yet.  However, I’ve been up for two hours and struggling to stay awake.

This is a problem because I’m trying to finish an overdue short story.  It’s a difficult convoluted story because it’s a noir mystery, as well as a fantasy.  I know every step, but because of the nature of the beast I have to mind every word.  Which is difficult when you write 500 words and then have to sleep for two hours.  Yesterday I managed 2k words, but I have about 4k to go.

Also, Larry has sent me back Guardian for my part of it now, and I haven’t even been able to read it, because I conk out after reading anything mildly challenging.

Fortunately I saw older boy and his lovely bride to be, both younger and fitter than I go through this, so I’m not panicking.  It’s just a bad virus with a long ramp up and residual depression in its wake.

I’m about a week behind them, so much as I’d like to clean and finish writing Guardian (the story needs to be written today, even if I sleep in between) I might need to work relly hard to be health for Liberty con.

Speaking of which there’s a whole lot of evaluation and re-evaluation of cons going on in  the house.

Cons were never big marketing events for me.  Not that I’m not personable, and usually I make a few fans every con, but I’m… well… when I broke in the kids were little, so I couldn’t travel, and also we didn’t have a ton of money, and then when those improved I just seemed to have no immune system left (mostly because of thyroid issues.)

But thing is, I have a lot of very good friends who are wholly indie, and some who are amazingly successful.  Some of the best earners have never attended a con.  Some attend cons for fun, but see no bump on their sales.  My own indie sales show no bump when I attend a con.  Oh, ten or so extra sales, but even if all those people become lifelong fans it doesn’t pay for itself.

That used to be my check for cons “will it pay for itself?”  World Fantasy usually did, because I got enough invites to anthos, and sometimes invites to submit that I usually made more than I spent.  Worldcon was bigger and I rarely got work from it, so I went there less.

Cons were sales tools only to the extent that they allowed us to appear successful in front of publishers, who then put muscle into pushing us and made it so.  Since the push model only sort works-ish and most editors have become really sparing with the travel, this is not a viable strategy even for mostly-trad writers.

For hybrid or indie only, cons seem to have absolutely no effect on money/sales.  Which is why I say cons need us more than we need them, at least for those of us who are fine going indie.

And yet I told you I’m trying to be okay for Liberty con.  Well… That’s because there’s a high concentration of my fans there, and I like my fans, and I like meeting with you.  I’ve always been solitaire, partly because I was the much younger kid in the family.  (There’s nothing as sad as learning to play multiple sides of a board game because no one will play it with you.)  And then in school I found I was Odd and very few little kids wanted to talk dinosaurs and space or play at being Robin Hood and the Three Musketeers.

There is still that aspect to cons.  I get to see my people.

Right now I do Liberty con because so many of you go there, and I do Cosine because it’s close enough for a day trip.

In future we’ll try to see those of you in other cities.  We think once the boys are off the paycheck (Two years, G-d willing) and we’re doing a little better (right now ALL my income goes to boys) we’ll schedule weekends away every other month, and arrange to meet with you guys wherever, like we meet with locals at Pete’s Kitchen around 4 pm the first Saturday of the month.

Not for sales but because, I’m sorry, I think you’re my tribe, and even solitary writers need to belong sometimes.

 

 

109 responses to “Belonging

  1. Hey, get yourself better – we like Healthy Sarah very much.

    And seriously, if you’re ever within day drive distance of Vancouver, BC for a con, I will totally be coming down.

  2. I’m quite confident that I speak for many others when I say that if you and Dan need some assistance to make it to LibertyCon some time we’ll step up to make sure you can attend. No brag, just fact.

  3. LC is just an awful lot to spend this year, esp since i dont have my own car.

  4. Get yourself better. That is what you need to do.

    Question time. Where does one go for Indie books?

    I pretty much stick with B&N, if no other reason to keep from double purchasing from multiple sources. I’m 100% eBook.

    • darn it, again. c4c.

    • Amazon would be the primary place to look for indie eBooks. I’m not even sure if smashwords is still around. Most of the indie people I know fled B&N a couple of years ago when they suddenly changed platforms and such.

    • That’s a question I’ve had for years. Mostly, it involves buying into someone’s walled-garden ecosystem with a hardware or software.

      I can see a place for something like a “Science Fiction Authors Association” who pool their resources for editing, marketing, and maintaining a common web site/blog platform/electronic storefront for its members.

      Right now most indies are sharecropping on Amazon’s, Apple’s, or B&N’s platforms. Which has worked well for them, so far… but they’re entirely at the mercy of those platforms. B&N isn’t long for this world, Apple is nobody’s friend, and Amazon has hired the Southern Poverty Law Center to help police “hate speech” on its platforms.

      We have a bunch of authors who call themselves independent, but until they have their own platform(s) and control their own money, they’re just selling through a different company store.

    • In fairness yours is a two part question. Where to find indie books and where to buy them. Second part’s easy, Amazon. They only sell Kindle format, but you either get the Kindle app for your devices or use Calibre to convert to your preferred format.
      As for finding new indie authors, best I can advise is check here, the MGC, and any blogs that do periodic recommended lists. Personally, I shop primarily by known authors, but will take a chance one time if someone I trust recommends a new one. I say chance because just because I trust them does not mean we necessarily have the same tastes.
      I would also mention Webscriptions at Baen. For $18 you buy their entire monthly release and as added incentive you get a peek three months out. And they provide the finished product in any format you could wish for (except pdf, Jim hated pdf with a passion). Note of caution, Baen has been padding their monthly output with re-releases lately, so carefully review to make sure that month’s collection is worth the 18 bucks.

      • If you’ll forgive a follow-up question, where do y’all recommend one go to self-publish a print version of a book?

        • My experience has been with Ingram Spark for print. They will offer to also put up your e-book format, but take a 30% cut for doing something you can do for yourself.
          Others I’ve heard use create space which I believe is affiliated somehow with Amazon.
          Definitely talk to folks here and at MGC who can talk you through the process.

        • I use Lulu; but others may have a different suggestion that might suit your needs better.

        • I’ve used CreateSpace.

          I start with Draft2Digital, which will give me a print version.

    • amazon. Seriously. It’s so much better for indies.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      IMO Amazon is the place to go for Indy eBooks.

      Even if you prefer ePub format, there is Calibre that can easily be used to convert ebooks.

      • Sigh. Looks like I’m going to have to break down & start getting stuff off of Amazon & convert to ePub, or at least make sure all the books off any series can be read with same eRead App.

        Not going to be happy when B&N goes. I get 5% off everything I purchase there, including eBooks (their specialty Visa). Oh well, will drop card when it goes away. Something will crop up to replace it.

          • And epub is the preferred format for the iBooks app which comes standard on all Apple devices.

        • Speaking as an owner of the original Nook, the Nook HD, and (briefly) a Nook SimpleTouch, you will be far better served by using Calibre to convert all of your ePubs to Mobi/AZW, and sending them to a Kindle. There are multiple reasons for this.

          1. As you and others have stated, B&N is not long for this world, barring a drastic change to acknowledge reality.

          2. You can download your books directly without using outdated software or trying to strip them off of a Nook.

          3. It solves your Indie access problem.

          As for your 5% discount through their Visa, we have an Amazon Rewards Visa and Amazon Prime. 5% “cash back” on any and all purchases made with the card on Amazon.com, 2% for gas and restaurants and a couple of other things, and 1% on everything else.

          Cash back is in quotes because you CAN get a bill credit, but the default is points on Amazon. We ran enough through that Visa last month (specifically, gas, car repairs, groceries, restaurants, you name it – we pay it off twice a month) that we’ve got 4,399 points, which means $43.99 to spend on Amazon.

          So, yeah. Drink the Amazon kool-aid. If for no other reason than at least Amazon still pretends to provide their customers with options.

      • MarcusZ1967

        But, ONLY if you keep the earlier version of kindle. The new version WON’T work for converting from awz to epub.

  5. Sarah, there’s a saying in emergency services (probably most other areas as well) along the lines of: First check yourself. If you’re not right, you can’t help anyone else.
    So….

    Get well, then worry about other things. We’ll wait ’til the end.

    • We’ll wait until you’re feeling better. “We’ll wait ’til the end” sounds way too terminal.

  6. “Sorry this is so late. I woke up dead.”

    I woke up with a dead human arm in my bed a few times when I was a kid. Turned out to be one of mine. I would roll over on my arm in my sleep just right (wrong?) and cut off the circulation. By morning it was dead cold and I couldn’t feel anything or move it. Once I got it straitened out and wasn’t cutting off the circulation it would gradually warm back up and start working again. Totally freaked me out the first time or two. After that it was “oh bother, this happened again”

  7. As a fan, I descend upon cons based on several criteria:
    (1) Is there someone there that I want to meet?
    (2) Is there something there that I can’t get anywhere else?
    (3) Do I have something else going on with a higher priority those days (weddings, funerals (hopefully not mine), major tournaments, opening day of hunting season, etc.)
    (4) Reasonable traveling distance. My normal range of operations is a 200 mile radius from Portsmouth, NH., so Boston, Ma., Hartford, Ct., Albany, N.Y., Burlington, Vt., Portland and Augusta, Me. if I’m already traveling, then an hour, hour and a half off my normal travel route.
    (5) Is the cost reasonable? If the registration rates double each week you get closer to the event, that often is a killer.

    I remember Jerry Pournelle telling me that as an author, he was able to deduct close to 100% of the cost of going and attending cons from his taxes. That didn’t necessarily make attendance a money maker; but it certainly limited losses, and helped with his gross tax situation.

    • You can. I can as well.

    • I was involved in Cons for a between ten ad twenty years, in a kind of bell curve intensity. Balticon first, while I was dropping out of Johns Hopkins. Darkover, during its last few years in Delaware and its first few in Baltimore (I even got my Mother to one, the year Anne McCaffery was GOH. Turns out she WAS ‘little Annie McCaffery from over the back fence’ of my Mother’s childhood). A SheVaCon or two. A number of Disclaves.

      I liked the people (things hadn’t gotten quite so SJW infested, not even at Darkover), but the trad pubs were publishing less and less that I cared to read, and my Lady’s health tanked.

      I miss the scene, a little. All the authors I met, with the exception of MZB (the revelations did NOT surprise me) were nice people. I got turned onto a number of books I would otherwise have missed (BRIDGE OF BIRDS, anyone?). But, with exceptions that are too far for me, the tales I hear are not encouraging.

      Pity.

      Maybe people with some sense of fun can take over Fandom before I’m too decrepit to go back.

  8. I’m not dead yet! ™

    • You’re not fooling anyone.

      • I think I’ll go for a walk

        • You’ll be stone dead in a moment!

          • I’m feeling better!
            (actually I am mad my knee has decided it wants to stay on vacation and complains whenever I want it to work. But I have all the 2x6s cut for sistering into the attic rafters over the kitchen)

            • Just watch it on the ladder with the funky knee. Getting up there with a load on your shoulder can be fun when the knee decides you turned wrong.

              Suggest some of those quick support rod things from Home Depot. One of those at each end of a 2×6 means you don’t have to hold the friggin’ wood up, just the drill/nailer/whatever you’re using.
              https://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200430689_200430689

              Amazing for holding heavy stuff over your head, like drywall etc. Get it up there, clamp it, and then apply fasteners in a non-painful civilized fashion.

              • Won’t be finishing out the rafters and I can reach the peak of the roof standing on the floor. Process goes, trimmed 12ft 2×6 (still 12 long) emplaced at the top plate, hold top and wedge portapower under it and have into place, clamp then nail to existing rafter. Hardest part now is getting to the wall end.
                Also even the cheapest nail gun is worth every penny

            • Knee braces help stabilize the joint. Don’t overuse them though, because that can cause the muscles to weaken that hold your tendons in place around it.

              • Not quite to the point yet. I keep two good ones at work, because if one knew is whiny the other will go worse if I only wear one.
                I wear them as little as possible.

            • I’m still working on the rafters *, from the bottom with the ceiling out. Over the last year my knees have gotten to the point where I built a pair of 2×6 “picnic tables” and made some stairs. I can climb the stairs from level to level, then walk eight feet either way.

              It takes an hour or two to disassemble and move the contraption, but Torx-drive deck screws are wonderful…

              (*) the rafters were just *laying* there, not attached to anything at either end. Only the odd nail coming through the decking kept them in place. So I made some fancy steel weldments, jack rods, and anchors to cables going to structures already tied to buried concrete tornado anchors…

              • My rafters are 2x4s true actual size, 24″ on center, nailed to the top of the wall, wedge cut to fit and butted at the peak a touch over 12 feet long, no other support.
                In snow country.
                At least the second floor portion has the ceiling portion for additional support. The sheeting is/was 1x varying from 8 to 14 inches wide. It has been there since 1949, so I guess it was enough.
                Not a big tornado area, but not unheard of either, but it sounds like mine was somewhat more anchored than yours.

  9. If an indie author does POD and sells their own books at cons they can make decent money. Last year at LC an author I was working with sold well over $1500 in print books. The downside is that’s all you do is sit and sell. The con stops being fun. Same thing with several other cons last couple of years, working with the author took all of my time, to the point of missing most con activities. One solution is to have an agreement with the con booksellers to carry your work. The profit margin is smaller, but frees you up to actually be a part of the con. Establishing yourself with those booksellers is a critical part of that.
    I am no longer associated with that author, one of the reasons I won’t be at LC this year, but had them roll me over to next year. Will be more of a mind to enjoy LibertyCon by then I hope.

    • Yup – if you’re selling at an event, you’re stuck at the table or in the shop, unless you have someone to assist you. Takes a lot of the fun out of it all.

      • Happens at craft sales, too– my mom’s solution was to have two or three other complementary crafters for the big sales, that she liked talking to; then your book table becomes a home point.

        Down side is you have to write down all the sales, including the “MomCraft, $6 pen holder, gave away because the lady said something nice” type entries. It embarrassed mom a little. 🙂

  10. > Right now I do Liberty con because so many of you go there

    Cutting down your number of panels might make things less stressful. Or, for that matter, not doing any at all. Just schlep around and enjoy the gathering.

    • That particular issue came to a head after the LC from hell about three years ago where Sarah was ridden like a rented mule. Words were exchanged and a sincere promise not to let it happen again was arrived at. As best I recall no one was killed during those discussions. At least no one anybody has missed so far.

      • SF&F authors are good at hiding bodies where no one can find them? That’s good to know! Remind me not to ever cheat Ms Dare on a piece of her furniture.

  11. I’ve come to the sad conclusion that I can’t do cons. But if you make it to Nevada or close, I’ll try to make it. I’d love to see you and the fam.

  12. Cons used to be enjoyable before the SJWs took over. As selling tools, worthless in my experience. Our local cons are the nerd equivalent of the mean girls’ clique. The San Diego ComicFest (not to be confused with the monster con that ate Hollywood of similar name) has been enjoyable the last couple of years, and probably will be until Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy catches up with it.

    • Yeah…I dropped the con I’d considered my home con this year after a few years of increasing SJWism. I’m informed they didn’t hit people in the face with it this time around…if they continue to not do so, I may return.

      Dropping a con I’d been to for 15 years – every one they’d held – was painful, but I have much better things to do with a kilobuck, three vacation days, and 1600 miles or so of driving then go listen to SJW harangues.

  13. It’s just a bad virus with a long ramp up and residual depression in its wake.

    Wait, WHAT?!?!

    Maybe that’s what struck us low for two freaking months…I thought maybe I just was having normal dog action….

    • Yep. No. It’s all over. Robert and Blake brought it from Connecticut. We’re calling it “the death virus.”

      • I wonder if that’s what the precurrsor to Mom’s pneumonia was?

        The Ballet Dancer has been coughing for about four weeks now.

        • The doctor told me to come back at the first sign of a serious setback, because this thing’s secondary infections tend to pneumonia.

          • Sounds almost like the Aussie flu of death that hit us last year and laid EVERYONE in the house low… except our usual plague carrying boy. (Poor kid, he was cooking and warming the arroz caldo for us, with my guidance from the couch.)

            • Dan is the only semi-functional one.

              • You need to get more alligators for your moat. I find a well-stocked moat and a few raving Hellbeasts wandering around the Phantom compound keeps disease-bearing Humans at a safe distance.

                Up here in the Great White North we generally use Ice Kraken instead of the alligators favored in more southern climes. They’re slower in summer, but they really come into their own when the moat-sludge gets thick in January.

                If you can’t keep a proper raving Hellbeast in your neighborhood, due to zoning or annoying neighbors, perhaps consider a Heckbeast. They’re a bit sucky, the bark is worse than the bite, but at a distance they look remarkably similar to the genuine article.

            • Might be the same one. They tend to take a few months to flow their way around the globe.

          • In my case, I had the pneumonia vaccine, so it went for my sinuses / throat / eyes. I’m on the next to last day of a z-pack antibiotic which seems to have knocked down the infection but the cough is still there. Em hasn’t gotten it yet; Purell as religious ritual.

      • My wife is just now mostly recovered from it. Tried to go back to work a day or three too soon, and woke up a couple hours into her shift looking up at the people looking down (further down than usual, as she’s pretty petite) at her on the floor. Got behind a bit on keeping hydrated, among other things, and there you go.

        Which was an interesting phone call to receive at work for me, I’ll tell you. Off to the local hospital (after four years here, we finally know where it is) to find her wired for sound and video, muttering about “got enough data? time for me to go home, then” to whatever staffcritter happened by. (It was all good, except for being short of drinking enough water, and they released us both.)

        A couple days taking it easy, and being more diligent with keeping watered, and she’s much better. But the virus is not to be ignored.

      • Oh joy. Today was the day for my monthly blood test (Prothrombin time), and the tech got clobbered with a STAT test that took forever. At least the lab waiting room was almost deserted; one other guy who spent the time bitching about the delay. I was checking out the old Hot Rod magazines (the lab tech could be the poster girl for “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena”. She’s in her early 60s, loves puppies, kittens and hot cars.)

        The downside to living in the country is one loses the constant exposure and immunity to Other People’s Germs. I get kind of nervous with Friday appointments in Medford, since that seems to be Take Your Sick Kid to Costco day. (At least during the school year. Not sure for summers. Will find out in a couple of weeks.)

  14. elainethomp

    I poked around and found that one of the charities mentioned in the Daily Caller Amazon/SPLC article sent a letter objecting to the use of SPLC to charity-support@amazon.com.
    So I just sent a brief note politely suggesting they find another source of vetting, because that one is hugely biased. May not do any good, but i found on Legal Insurrection a pointer to an academic publication calling them out, which at least isn’t one of the ‘lalala can’t hear you right-wing sources.”

  15. There’s a nasty stomach virus circulating down here (Florida) which includes high fever, hallucinations, and leaves you exhausted after the week is over. Kind of like a too-busy con? I think I am getting more and more reclusive as I get older, but still this particular virus caught up with me. Hope it’s not everywhere.

    • This is upper respiratory/ear/nose/throat.

      • Oh no, there are two of them?

      • The new pneumonia vaccine also has some strong side effects. I got a cold along with the shot and spiked a 102 degree fever a few days later. The fever broke a day later, but wow.

        • Applies to pneumococcal 23-polyvalent vaccine: injectable solution

          General
          The most common adverse events were fever and injection site reactions.

          Local
          Very common (10% or more):
          – Pain/soreness/tenderness (77.2%),
          – swelling/induration (39.8%),
          – erythema (34.5%)
          Common (1% to 10%):
          – Pruritus,
          – ecchymosis
          Rare (less than 0.1%):
          – Injection site cellulitis

          Postmarketing reports: Warmth at injection site, decreased limb mobility, peripheral edema in injected extremity

          =======

          Pneumonia vaccine won’t do a thing to stop you from getting any colds or the flu though. Biggest threat to your health from colds? School-aged children.

          • The bit was Tuesday, I was at the clinic where I got the PVC-23 vaccine, and most likely picked up a cold. (I had some of the surgical masks, and forgot to grab one before going. Sigh.)

            Thursday, I went to Medford for a Friday appointment (rotten weather forecast). Friday AM, I was hacking a bit, but by evening, it got to the point where I bought a thermometer and didn’t like the answer. (102F, extreme for a cold for me, and within the range of flu.) Spent the balance of the evening at the urgent care center there with “possible flu”.

            They did a chest X-ray, since they couldn’t rule out pneumonia, and a flu culture. That turned out negative, so the next morning, I was given a script for antibiotics, and I slept as much as possible the rest of the day. Fever broke that night, and the rest of the symptoms were consistent with a garden variety cold.

            My guess is that I’m sensitive to the latest version of the vaccine (had no problems with the earlier variety some years ago), and that combined with a cold knocked me out. In one way, it was good; the care center at Medford was only a mile from the hotel; I’d have had to go 40 miles for the equivalent at home.

    • The one that hit me last week was a stomach virus. LV, NV

      • Yuck. Reminds me of when we’d take an MWR trip to Reno for a weekend and hit all the casinos. Between not enough sleep, too much drink, too rich and unhealthy amounts of food, and exposure to all kinds of people; we were just asking for it. Half the time we were sick by Wednesday.

  16. I may not have admitted to Rich Groller know I’ve published one book (and soon to publish a second), as opposed to being my husband’s other half of the marketing/cover design/IP licensing/publishing end.

    Because if I admit that, he’ll put me on more than the indie publishing panel at LibertyCon, and that’ll make it work. I’d rather hang out with the huge rambling family reunion than come as a working professional. You’re right, the return on investment never breaks even for sales made without losing the entire weekend to being a boothie. Some authors are happy to do that in return for the income, but I’m worn flat enough I just want to relax instead of work and stress more.

    Peter, too, is happy to only be on a couple panels – because after working flat-out on books for the last 7 months, trying to get the trilogy written, edited into one continuous arc, and deal with some medical crises and finishing one short story for an anthology, and editing my book for release, and… he wants a vacation.

    ‘Course, it’s still a working weekend. There’s a second short story in another author’s world/anthology that he’s going to track down for dinner at LibertyCon, and go over all the worldbuilding questions in one fell swoop, so he doesn’t end up rewriting the darned thing yet again. So if you see a couple authors huddled at a restaurant, chances are there’s work being done, contracts being discussed, etc.

    I finally broke down and compiled the schedule, and we already have one conflict on places people want us to be at the same time. *wince* Vacations are not supposed to have scheduling conflicts, right?

    • “Vacations are not supposed to have scheduling conflicts, right?”

      Sometimes vacations are scheduling conflicts. A few years back, when I was finally certain I’d be ready to graduate from college the upcoming June, I let a whole slew of relatives who’d expressed interest in attending know about it at Thanksgiving. By Christmas they all informed me they had conflicts: tropical cruise, European vacation, Caribbean dive trip, out-of-town wedding, etc.

      • We used to go charging across the country on “vacation”, blowing holes in the checking account.

        Now we just lock the doors, unplug the phones, and chill out.

    • Unfortunately Dorothy, not admitting to being a published author doesn’t protect you from being put on panels. Rich put me on three panels on Friday, and I didn’t even pretend to be an author. One of them makes some sense (the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop one, since I’m on the board of directors for TVIW), but I haven’t a clue why I got put on the other two.

  17. For some reason, I’m now trying to plot (character-build, world-build) a story with Robin Hood and the Three Musketeers with dinosaurs in space. I think it’ll be space opera, more or less… now what kind of sword would a dinosaur use… gotta figure out what they are going to swashbuckle with, you know?