Ten Albums, Ten Days

Currently sharing around on Facebook is this status: “Ten albums, ten days. Ten albums that made an impact, that still make your toes curl, that are still on rotation. No explanations needed, in no particular order.”

Well, what I want to give an explanation?

To be clear, not all of these albums would be in my “Top albums of all time” list: they really are albums that make go “Wow” every time I hear them.

And here we go!

Yes – Close to the Edge (1972)

This near-40 minute album consists of three songs: Close to the Edge, And You and I, and Siberian Khatru – all three are different in their own right, but still making the album feel like a whole. Along with Genesis’ Selling England by the Pound and Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick, Close to the Edge is renowned as one of the greatest progressive rock albums of all-time. For me, CttE surprises me with its sonic ups and downs. The title song is crafted in tremendously beautiful ways with recurring themes and patterns. And You and I is, in my eyes, the pinnacle of romantic music and storytelling. Siberian Khatru not only bookends the album with great musicianship, it also reveals restraint of the band as song writers. As a musician, I listen to this album and feel inspired to write my own songs and words.

Listen to the album on YouTube here.

Anathema – A Fine Day to Exit (2001)

Sad songs are Anathema’s forté. They’re real and concrete, yet presented very poetically in their music. If there’s an album that “gets you” emotionally, it would probably be this one: opening up with “As the pressure grows,” and closing off with my favourite track, Temporary Peace, singing calmly, “There’s a drift in and out…,” A Fine Day to Exit is exemplary in showing one going through the motions of stress, anxiety, and depression. Musically, the album blends brilliantly with the lyrics to create a rather sad, yet relatable album.

My favourite and the final track, Temporary Peace.

Emperor – In the Nightside Eclipse (1994)

In The Nightside Eclipse was groundbreaking for its time: being one of the first black metal albums to really go all-out with keyboards. Yet it’s the production of this album that really draws me to it. Raw, unpronounced guitar riffs compounded with exploding drums and shrilling keyboards not only create something that the casual listener would draw ire from, but something that is actually quite emotionally detailed in its epic scope.

My favourite song, Cosmic Keys to My Creations & Times, features my favourite guitar riff on the album at 30 seconds in, and in my opinion, really showcases what the album has to offer.

King Crimson – Red (1974)

If there was one album on this list I would aspire to create, it would be Red. Each song reeks of complexity by their own right, making the listener wonder how one band could create five very different songs yet still “feel” the same. While the opening title track is an instrumental, it begs to be understood. I’ve listened to it hundreds of times and still feel like I learn something new about it. However, it’s the final track, Starless, that really steals the show. This hauntingly beautiful piece of music comes at you with different movements and one of the greatest, impacting codas I’ve ever heard. Mixed in with John Wetton’s (RIP) incredible 13/8 bass groove, it was a joy to see it performed live a few years ago.

Watch the live performance of Starless here.

Green Carnation – Light of Day, Day of Darkness (2002)

At just over one hour, Green Carnation’s Light of Day, Day of Darkness stands out as an achievement in avant-garde music. While the album is one of my favourites, I still go back and listen to it regularly to try and understand the processes of the band: how it was written, why certain parts were placed the way they were, why did the band decide to do X, and so on. While I understand that it is not the greatest song ever-written, I still am in awe by the scope of the song and how fluid it comes together – not to mention the great risks taken to aim for such an achievement in song-writing.

If you’re not busy, listen to LoDDoD in its entirety here.

Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention – Roxy & Elsewhere (1974)

Explaining the entire story of how this album came to be is something I’ll let Wikipedia explain. However, this albums impact and scope is so broad that it still boggles my mind that Zappa & the Mothers would have even agreed to do it. In a nutshell, it was them performing crazy, complex songs live to release it all as an album. That’s right: none of the songs recorded on Roxy & Elsewhere were recorded in studio, just live at the Roxy Theatre. The end result is some of the most incredibly-talented and chilling music I’ve ever encountered. The concert was finally released on Blu-Ray in 2015. I still watch it regularly to be in awe of the musicians on stage.

From the Blu-Ray, here is T’Mershi Duween.

Devin Townsend – Terria (2001)

There’s only a handful of albums that have made me cry. Terria is definitely one of them. Much like the songs itself, I go through the motions listening to it. I refuse to listen to Terria as background noise. I’m all-in with this album. I don’t want to say too much about it, other than it’s my all-time favourite album.

Listen to Deep Peace.

Gorguts – Pleiades Dust (2016)

The newest album on my list, Gorguts’ Pleiades Dust is a technical accomplishment. Not only is the album lyrically historical, but it also incorporates some of the best sounding production I’ve encountered. While most hear death metal and group it with unsavoury sounds and production, Pleiades Dust, while still sounding unsavoury to those who do not like death metal, creates a crisp yet intense 33-minute epic that goes through the motions of extreme and subtlety. Mixed, produced, and mastered by their bass player, Colin Marston. Because of his work, the song still makes my hair stand on end.

Listen to the full song on YouTube.

Carcass – Heartwork (1993)

My real first foray into a “darker world” of music, Carcass’ Heartwork (and album cover by the late H.R. Giger), changed my life. It blended my love for complex, progressive music into something much more sinister to my ears at the time. The blend of beautiful melodies mixed with the sound of anger absolutely stunned me when I first heard it. Not only was the album something I was new to experiencing, it eventually helped me branch into other genres and heavier music. While I always consider bands like Tool and Metallica “gateway” metal bands to heavier music, Carcass was my gateway band into something bigger than I had realized. Every song on this album still gets me excited – not only as a fan of music, but as a musician too. Heartwork was something else.

Watch the music video for the title track.

Camel – Mirage (1974)

Whereas Yes, Genesis, and Pink Floyd were the “big three” of progressive music out of England, Camel somehow slipped by. Their second album, Mirage, however, didn’t pass me. I’ve always said to people who haven’t heard Camel before, they’re the band that Yes, Roxy Music, and The Doors would’ve had if bands could conceive with one-another – just listen to their song Earthrise for example. Each song still sounding different from the last, both in production and song writing, Mirage still excites me as a musician with how one band can create something so powerful and filled with wonder – yet there is a strong likelihood that very few people would ever have heard of them.

Listen to the opening track of Mirage entitled Free Fall.

So there’s my ten! Lots of albums from 1974, eh? Believe me, it wasn’t intentional.

If you have any questions, commments, or want to give me your list, sound off below!

And until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

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Clichés in Fantasy Storytelling: Prophecies

Clichéd storytelling, man. It freaks me out.

It reoccurs in many films and books throughout many cultures around the world and we’re usually quite satisfied with the final product.

Specifically I’m speaking about any kind of prophecies that are placed in the film in order to actually make the story a story. Yes, there are films and books whose stories rely entirely upon a prophecy. Without the prophecy there would be no need for a story and as such no way for the masses to consume. Prophecies are a big part of fantasy stories. One is almost to expect them to appear in one way or another in the story as they seem almost like common practice for the genre.

Some of these clichéd points are done either really well or really awful. Or they’re hidden well enough that when one considers how the rest of the story is portrayed, the cliché is forgiveable.

In my eyes, writing in a prophecy is no different than writing a deus ex machina for the ending of the story. The only difference is that a prophecy gives the writer the rest of the story to set up the crap-shoot of an ending to make the prophecy make sense. In contrast, the deus ex machina will simply resolve it by some bizarre fashion (or groan-worthy moment).

I think of it like writing during NaNoWriMo: if someone decides to make a story for the month, they plug away at it and when they don’t know how to end it, the deus ex comes in and saves the story.

Alternatively, if someone doesn’t really know how to end their story properly because they “just need to write X amount of words,” putting a prophecy in at the beginning makes the ending fall into place easier.

But it’s strange. We’ve all shook our heads to clichéd storytelling at one time or another, yet we let some stories get away with it more than others. For example, films like The Fifth Element and Lord of the Rings (we’ll go with the film version for LotR simply to make it easier) both use cliché storytelling models and we’re (well, I am) mostly okay with it.

The Fifth Element is self-aware and tongue-in-cheek regarding its central prophecy (that a Fifth Element will save the world), and it is established at the beginning of the movie. The story itself is a wild one, filled with nods to other science-fiction films and stories, while kind of really making the prophecy the central point of the movie – it became fun and was purposefully clichéd.

If your prophecy includes Chris Tucker, I'm instantly hooked.
If your prophecy includes Chris Tucker, I’m instantly hooked.

While one easily argue that The Fifth Element is rather trite with its story, it still reeks of fan-service to its audience that (in my opinion) out-weighs the stories short-comings regarding the cliché of prophecies.

In the Lord of the Rings film, it is established early on that the sword that cut off Sauron’s finger which bore the ring is needed to quell Sauron’s forces. Only Aragorn, if he fulfills the prophecy of returning to the throne by wielding the sword, can he help defeat Sauron’s evil.

This cliché feels a bit more laxed as there are multiple stories happening within the film, so as a viewer, it is not the central story to the movie. It’s a bit of a passable cliché solely because it’s not involving a main character – or at least one that hasn’t become a main character yet from the storytelling and audience’s perspective.

Then we have The Matrix. One character, Morpheus, passes the prophecy onto our main character, Neo. Then the viewer is dragged along for another two movies as the prophecy is continually shoved into our face with more philosophy than action (I should take this time to say I actually enjoyed the Matrix trilogy. However, I have to be critical for reasons of this discussion). The prophecy, from the beginning, becomes the heart of the movie and in-turn, is all the movie is trying to resolve – Neo fulfilling his destiny/ancient prophecy told by the elders.

"If I'm the Chosen One, does that mean I get to keep this spoon?"
“If I’m the Chosen One, does that mean I get to keep this spoon?”

Now that I’ve ripped on three major films regarding this topic, let me redirect the focus to something a bit more constructive.

Let’s look at Star Wars and how these films deal with prophecies.

A long time ago in a prophecy far, far away. . .

Starting in order of appearance, we have the Original Trilogy (OT) – episodes IV: A New Hope, V: The Empire Strikes Back, and VI: Return of the Jedi – which do not really deal with prophecies much at all. Then we have the Prequel films – episodes I: The Phantom Menace, II: Attack of the Clones, and III: Revenge of the Sith – which is all about the prophecy of “the Chosen One” (to clarify, I’m not referring to this chosen one).

That’s not to say that there are not prophecy-like instances in the OT.

What I would like to try and show here (and is essentially my thesis) is that the way in which Star Wars presented prophecies is what I think, one of the better ways to tell a story involving prophecies.

Now let’s drive right in and talk this one out.

Within the OT, we have the traditional fantasy story of a young hero out to save a princess and fight the forces of evil. Within that fantasy is the all-powerful Force: a mystical power that binds everything together and can be used for good or evil. As the story moves on into episodes V and VI, it unfolds to finding out that the villain is the hero’s father (spoiler) and that it is up to the hero to save him and defeat evil once and for all.

"Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure  up my stolen dank mix tapes."
“Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up my stolen dank mix tapes.”

That is a very bare-bones summary of the OT, but I think it works when trying to discuss prophecies. There was a mention about an “ancient religion” by Admiral Motti in A New Hope, and villain Darth Vader does proclaim, “Luke it is your destiny,” in The Empire Strikes Back when it came to trying to convince Luke to join him.

But that was really all that stood out regarding prophecies. The OT films did not rely on prophecies to make the story work and rarely alluded to them as well. There is mention of the Force in all three of the OT films, but it is not tied to a prophecy at all. The Force just “is.” Most people agree that the OT films are the best ones because of acting, action, effects, and so on. However, they may not be aware of it – but it could be because of the lack of clichéd prophecies within the fantasy world too.

But let’s look at the prequels.

“You refer to the prophecy of the one who will bring balance to the Force. You believe it’s this. . . boy [Anakin]?” asks Mace Windu in The Phantom Menance.

In Revenge of the Sith:
Obi-Wan Kenobi: “Is he [Anakin] not the Chosen One? Is he not to destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force?”
Mace Windu: “So the prophecy says.”
Yoda: “A prophecy that misread could have been.”

“You [Anakin] were the Chosen One! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them! Bring balance to the force, not leave it in darkness!” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Revenge of the Sith

The very vague prophecy is implied in little bits in the prequel films but is never fully explored or explained. We know that the prophecy revolves around Anakin Skywalker who will eventually become Darth Vader and kill his master, Emperor Palpatine. We know this because the OT came out thirty years before the prequels did. Anything that happened in the prequels was not really a surprise at all.

Can you see what I’m getting at here?

In the prequel films, we’re told that a young boy, Anakin Skywalker, may be the one to bring balance to the Force. The audience already knows that the prophecy gets fulfilled with Darth Vader, so the prophecy comes to no surprise.

Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace even takes the “mystical” out of the Force by putting science into the Force – and as such – into the prophecy. By describing midi-chlorians and how Anakin has the most of them out of any known Force-user grounds the prophecy to something more tangible rather than speculation. Anakin is the Chosen One because, damn it, he has the most midi-chlorians! That, and because the audience knows he becomes Darth Vader!

It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them! I mean, I think I heard that somewhere. I, uh, I'm sure that's what it said!
“It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them! I mean, I think I heard that somewhere. I, uh, I’m sure that’s what it said!”

What the prequels do WELL regarding the prophecy cliché is not try to let it become the story. While in The Matrix, there was the story of Neo being the Chosen One. In Star Wars we’re not forced to watch the path of Anakin become the Chosen One because we already know what happens and that he is the Chosen One. In a way, the prophecy is spoiled for the viewer before the prophecy is even brought up in the movie. He still has to bring balance to the Force? Well we knew all the Jedi were going to die and already know that Vader kills Palpatine. The viewer knows how the prophecy is fulfilled already.

The prophecy in the Star Wars prequel films are used as a plot device – a catalyst, if anything – to show the audience the story of Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader – not the story of Anakin Skywalker doing thing-X and something-Y to fulfill a prophecy to conclude the story. The prophecy, first mentioned in Episode I, is used to kick-start the story of Anakin for two more films. But the prophecy is not central or really that important to the rest of the story. The prophecy is in the background being unimportant as the rest of the movies move on. The audience is reminded in little bits, such as with the quotes I’ve posted above about the prophecy, but that’s about it. No one is concerned about the prophecy because the movie isn’t concerned with it. The prophecy and even its origin is not explored any further or delved into any deeper than what it is at face value to the audience. And you know, it works.

While I could see an argument how the prophecy in the Star Wars prequels is kind of like a deus ex machina at the BEGINNING of the movie, it still is not the primary focus of the prequel films, and as such, Star Wars as a whole.

Whoopty doo!! What does it all mean, Basil?!

If the Star Wars prequels did anything right, it was how it handled prophecies within a fantasy world. Midi-chlorians aside, the prequels put the prophecy on the back burner and focused on the characters and actions within the film – the prophecy only being mentioned to remind the viewer that there was a reason why Qui-Gon Jinn died.

But how can a writer get away with clichéd storytelling when they want to write about fantasy or prophecies in general?

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit and I think I have a decent answer thanks to the Star Wars prequels. While one can go through great pains to avoid cliché prophecies, I’ve considered that holding off to explain a prophecy may be best until the world is built around it first.

Promo poster for The Phantom Menace. Spoiler Alert: Anakin becomes Darth Vader. But we already knew that, didn't we? It was not because of some prophecy in the storytelling.
Promo poster for The Phantom Menace. Spoiler Alert: Anakin becomes Darth Vader. But we already knew that, didn’t we? It was not because of some prophecy in the storytelling.

Look at it this way: I feel the prophecy worked in the Star Wars prequels because we already had three established films with the OT. When the prophecy is first mentioned in the prequels, the audience is generally fine with it as they understand the world and what’s to come with the character the prophecy is alluding to.

While I’m not saying one should spoil the ending of their story at the beginning solely to let a prophecy flow nicely and not feel clichéd, as a writer or author, you can keep that tool in mind to craft something much more genuine and unique. It would be something where it requires a lot of planning, but as a result, one would have a more fulfilled fantasy world with a rich and diverse setting and a deeper understanding to why there is a prophecy and how it is believable, rather than adding in a prophecy solely to get a character from Point A to Point B.

Establishing a prophecy at the beginning of a story simply to let the character go through the motions of fulfilling it makes for a clichéd – and boring – story. However, to establish a prophecy within the world without overtly telling the audience about it is key to a good writer and good storytelling.

Hulk smash prophecies

Here’s another case: I’ve recently re-read Greg Pak’s run on The Incredible Hulk with the story Planet Hulk and World War Hulk. Long story short, the Hulk is sent to another planet called Sakarr and is enslaved to fight in a gladiatorial arena. After a few victories, the peasants of the planet begin to see how strong he is and how he could be Sakarrson – the one to free the people of Sakaar. At the same time, the ruler of the planet and host to the gladiator arena, the Red King, has already been considered to be the Sakarrson by the people of Sakarr.

So the Hulk – and the reader – is forced into a story and onto a planet where a prophecy was already established before any of them got there. The Hulk is learning of the prophecy along with the reader. It feels natural because the prophecy has already been fulfilled – in this case by the Red King.

PSA: Surf boards are not adequate shields.
PSA: Surf boards are not adequate shields.

While the prophecy is established early on within the story like that in The Matrix or Lord of the Rings, it comes along as a natural occurrence because it is not forced upon the reader by an obvious means.

Writing Fantasy is hard

When it comes to writing about prophecies, it certainly requires some major thinking and reworking of a story in order to avoid the cliché and come up with something that is engaging for audiences.

However, I feel like it should be said again: cliché storytelling is not bad at all. It’s quite common and works a lot of the times such as with the examples of The Fifth Element and Lord of the Rings. What stings is that within fantasy realm, the cliché can be overused. As the term cliché implies, it’s a failure of originality. Once one sees enough prophecy clichés, it becomes a bit tiresome.

When a prophecy does not fall under a cliché, there is excitement and zest that comes with the story that can be felt by the reader – and more importantly – the writer.

Admittedly, I’m critical about these sorts of things. I partly blame watching nearly every episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but also the fact that I’m an author myself really strikes a nerve.

Once upon a time I wrote something without using clichés. The Distomos is not one of them.
Once upon a time I wrote something without using clichés. The Distomos is not one of them.

While my book, The Distomos, avoids using prophecies like the plague, it is still a challenge to create a world that is unique and engaging for the reader to enjoy. On one hand, it’s part of the job as being a writer. On the other, it’s part of the challenge I want to give myself when creating something for the masses. I did not want to create another clone of what other people have read or seen before. I wanted to create something different and cool for readers.

But I know even I fell into some clichés while writing my story. Sometimes they are unavoidable. But like The Fifth Element or Lord of the Rings, it’s important to have something engaging for the audiences. Not only will they enjoy the story more, but it may also help them not notice the little missteps or care to critique them (See: me regarding The Fifth Element).

But am I on the right track with these ideas? Am I being too critical on The Matrix and not enough on Star Wars? What are your thoughts on clichés in fantasy? Forgiveable or dangerous? Sound off below and let me know what you think!

If not, grab a cup a tea and start writing!

Keep on Space Truckin’!

The Distomos – Now On Sale

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea that I finished writing my first novel, The Distomos, at the end of October 2013. Now here I am – two years later – getting started to work on the final book in the series!

So to celebrate this momentous occasion for myself – and just in time for Christmas – The Distomos will be on sale for a limited time!

Ebook Copies
$9.99
70% off
Now $2.99

Physical Copies
$24.50
20% off
Now $19.60

I’m told the sale prices will take a short amount of time before they appear on these other fine retailers, however you can get the books and Ebooks from me directly, or from Lulu.com for the sale prices right away.

You can purchase paperback copies from:
Me! Just ask!
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Barnes & Noble.com
Lulu.com

Ebook copies are available at:
iTunes Store
Barnes & Noble NOOK
Lulu.com

The Distomos

Cover art by Matthew Therrien: MCTherrien.com

ABOUT

Mankind has taken to the stars; maintaining their empires through the belief in God. Peace and prosperity are kept through Church-appointed Templars: the police of the galaxy. But when the Distomos, a secret weapon from the Church falls into the hands of the enemy, two ex-Templars, Kieran Rhet and Normandie Jade, are hired to get it back.

With only a matter of time before interstellar war begins and the Distomos is used, friendships, courage, and faith will be tested when all seems lost.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

The Dark Side of Self-Publishing

As I mentioned in my last blog, I’ve decided not to take the self-publishing route for my next book.

“Why not?” you ask. Let’s get into the nitty gritty with the Dark Side of Self-Publishing.

You’re On Your Own

You would think that self-publishing is pretty self-explanatory: you’re on your own. It’s not “group-publishing” after all. So how could being on your own be an issue?

Speaking with authors, listening to author workshops, and just generally knowing other people in the field of writing can be pretty darn helpful when writing a book. Not only are they available to bounce ideas off of, but those people don’t care to hurt your feelings. When you’re grouped with similar-minded authors or are at least starting to get to know people in the field/related to your work, it’s helpful to have those like-minded folk close by to call up when you’re struggling with a particular scene or needing help to find the right word for something.

Zoidberg Book

Now obviously that kind of description above implies you’ve already been published or are connected to network of writers, editors, etc, to call upon. If you’re not involved with one, it is something you will get forced in to when it comes to sending your book to a publisher for print. Your book will need to be edited and proofread by the publisher team and thus opening the doors to a whole new world: acceptance and rejection.

Friends and family let you down easy and fluff a lot of things for you. Now I’m not saying my personal experience was like that, but it certainly helps to have someone who is more crass in their opinions of writing. Why not make that person some sort of professional in the field? Don’t do it alone!

The Scams

Writing a book is one thing. Learning how to publish it is an entirely different animal.

When I went about looking how to self-publish, I had to be very diligent to find what company was actually a legitimate publishing company. There are plenty of websites out there that sell themselves really well but actually provide little of any results. There’s a few that will publish your book but not provide you with any income. I know, right?

I won’t name names, but there were a few sites I considered that ended up having class-action lawsuits against them in other parts of the world. It’s important to do your research about these companies before you go any further with putting your hard-work to their potential scamming services. But a bit more on this later.

The Cost

Save up.

Empty Wallet

Remember: YOU are the publisher. You are using someone else’s service to PRINT and possibly DISTRIBUTE your books for you. Therefore all of the costs around printing and possibly distributing are entirely on you.

It’s strange to think of yourself as a publisher as you’re just one person, but that’s really what it is! You are your own publishing house and thus you’ll encounter a lot of the costs a publisher would have had to pay. Whether it be printing the books, buying rights to certain font, or getting someone to create the cover art of your book – it’s all on you!

While the final cost of the book heavily varies on how many copies you want to have printed and the quality of the overall book, expect say, 100 books to start around $1000 in your cost. This is a rough estimate in Canadian dollars, but hey – at least you have an idea to save up for something. So yes, that’s $10 per book – your cost.

The Learning Curve

You may think a book is a book: it has a cover, page numbers, a spine, an About the Author section – you’re all set. Right?

NOPE! NOPE! NOPE! NOPE! NOPE! NOPE! You’re not even close!

While explaining this section could take multiple blogs, I’ll try to make it concise: to guarantee your book to be mass-produced and accepted in book stores across the world (such as Amazon, Indigo Books, etc), you have to follow globally accepted publishing formats and standards to get your book into bookshelves.

These are including, but not limited to: making your margins meet properly within the pages of the book, using the proper, non-copyright font (ie. Times New Roman, Garamond – just because the font is in Microsoft Office does NOT mean it’s free to publish your book with it), make sure the font on the spine of your book meets within the sizing parameters, have a barcode present on your book cover, have numbered pages, have a copyright page in the front of your book, have multiple title pages at the beginning of your book, have an ISBN number, and so on.

While those are some examples, it’s important to know there are a lot of legalities to publishing a book. While your copyright claims the book to be yours, it may not hurt to register it for copyright as well.

A side about the fonts: this is what caught me off-guard the most. There are fonts within your computer that you can write whatever you want in, but when it comes to making money off of your book, you’re technically using a font that is not licensed for commercial use. So if you’re DYING to use a particular font for your book, you may need to pay up.

And remember: you’re on your own to figure this out! Get it right or it’ll cost you.

However, if you went through a publisher, you don’t have to worry about any of that stuff.

The Fear and Expectations

You’ve done it! You’ve wrote your book, got it published and are ready to sell! Now what?

Get out there and sell! Wait, you only have friends and family buying? What happened? You printed 500 copies because you knew it was going to be a hit. Everyone said they’d buy a book! But now you’re finacally in the hole and sitting on boxes of your work without anyone willing to buy them.

And there lies the next problem with self-publishing: the support.

While you can take pre-orders from people before you order your books, you can’t guarantee they’ll still buy them. To make things even more difficult, once your book is published, you can’t just expect word to get out and people to flock to you for purchases. You need to advertise and you need to advertise HARD.

Go to conventions, go to libraries, go to poetry readings: just get out there and start pumping your book out!

I mentioned scamming services before, and I want to touch back on them. Some scamming services are even involved or connected to some of the big book stores. When it comes to trying to get your book into stores, if you’re self-publishing, you’ll have to fork out tons more cash to make it work as you’re essentially “buying yourself a spot” in a book store. When you use the self-publish service of these businesses, you’re told you’ll be guaranteed placement in stores, book signings, and the like. However it may not – and probably will not – meet your expectation in sales. It will only hurt you financially and emotionally, so it’s recommended to stay away from these kinds of places.

Some places even tell you they will not publish your book until it is professionally edited by their editors. They’ll pressure you into paying or harass you to work with them as they try to make you believe there’s no one else who’d accept your book. It’s sort of like a relationship gone bad.

Emperor Palpatine Book

On the bright side, if you go the route of a publisher, you don’t have to worry about doing all of the legwork yourself. Most of these publishers have their connections to the book stores anyway, so it’s just a matter of signing up with them and then bam! You’re in the book store! Remember: they want you to succeed as much as you do. They’re in it to sell your book and make money, not to scam you. This is why there’s very little – if any – upfront costs when going through a legitimate publisher.

If you’re a local author, some book stores do offer a bit of help, but that requires you to find out who does that and you’re stuck doing what they ask you to do. After all, they’re providing you with a service you’d not get elsewhere.

As for the fear: you don’t really know how well your book will do. You don’t know if it’ll end up dead on arrival. You don’t know if everyone who said they’d buy a book would actually buy one. You don’t know if you just sunk hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars into your book only to find yourself in the finacal hole for the next couple of years.

You don’t know and it’s pretty freaking scary.

But take solace: because you wrote a book and saw it through to its conclusion.

Speaking of Conclusions

I self-published my book and I saw my book through its conclusion. While I’m quite happy with how it went, I know it could have done better if I only had all of the time in the world to do what needed to be done. Unfortunately that’s impossible unless Earth conveniently switches to 54-hour days.

I enjoyed self-publishing and I got a kick out of learning all of the legalities and rules behind it. But I’m a strange person that enjoy boring things like that. You? Probably not so much. And while I did enjoy learning the ins and outs of self-publishing, I feel like I’ve put all of that behind me. I set out to make my own book – and I did it. Me and no one else.

Going forward, however, I do not feel like shouldering the responsibility of self-publishing again. There were a lot of things I could’ve done better – such as advertising, getting my book into stores, and having more professionals check out my book before it went to print. Alas, I didn’t and yet my book, The Distomos, still exists. I’m still really proud of it and glad it’s done.

So while I made self-publishing to sound scarier than it probably is, it’s more or less just a lot of work. A LOT of work. And also making sure you’re doing your due-diligence. Personally, I do not feel like doing that all over again. But that’s not stopping me, and I’m excited to see where my new venture takes me.

If you have any questions, stories, or comments about self-publishing, please let me know in the comments below. I’ll do my best to address everything you throw at me!

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’.

The Next Book!

It’s been a while, no? Remember that time I wrote a book?

Can you believe it has only been eight months since The Distomos was released? It still seems kind of baffling to me that my book is out there in ISBN-land possibly grazing with other books in the library fields.

After I released The Distomos, real-life work picked up and kept me away from really focusing any attention to promoting the book any further. But that’s okay! I knew that was going to happen. While its sales did exceed my expectations, I definitely could have done better in promoting it had it been something to realistically pay my bills. Alas, at least my foot is in the door for bigger and better things!

Which brings me to: I’m writing another book!

While this may not come as a shock to all of you, it took me a long time to think of what to write next. While I have MANY stories on the agenda, I figured I wanted to get the story of The Distomos done and out of the way. This is why my next book will be a direct sequel (with a bit of prequel) to The Distomos! This also brings me to tell you, it will be the final book of the series, effectively making it a duology. Screw that trilogy hype.

I’ve always planned on The Distomos being two books, but I was unsure if I wanted to do the sequel right away. I feel that I need to finish off these characters and finish the story to really be “at peace” and effectively move on from my creation.

While some of you may be irked that I’m following the path of familiar ground for the next book, let me tell you: I’ve already plotted the sequel and it’s going to be a much bigger, if not a more in-depth book than the first one. Questions will get answered, backstories will get filled in, and most importantly: the excitement will be there.

Quite frankly, there will be nothing to stop me.

Space Truckin'

What I plan on doing a bit differently though, is NOT to self-publish. Why not?

Let’s save that answer for another blog.

And just in case you’re interested, I still have signed books I’m selling! Just message me if you’re interested, or check out all of these fine links below!

And don’t forget that you can follow me on Twitter.

You can purchase paperback copies from:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble.com
Lulu.com.

Ebook copies are available at:
iTunes Store
Barnes & Noble NOOK
Lulu.com

The Distomos

Cover art by Matthew Therrien: MCTherrien.com

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Ranking on Amazon.ca

It’s been just over a month since The Distomos was available to the public, and it has been doing surprisingly well!

In fact, I found out that out of over 26 million books,

Distomos Amazon
Distomos Amazon Rank

I’ve cracked the top 300,000!

While that doesn’t sound *that* great (and it really isn’t), it’s pretty darn amazing to think about.

Thank you again to everyone who has purchased a book (not only through Amazon.ca), and helped support me through this wild ride of a self published novel.

You can purchase paperback copies from:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Barnes & Noble.com
Lulu.com.

Ebook copies are available at:
iTunes Store
Barnes & Noble NOOK
Lulu.com

The Distomos

Cover art by Matthew Therrien: MCTherrien.com

ABOUT

Mankind has taken to the stars; maintaining their empires through the belief in God. Peace and prosperity are kept through Church-appointed Templars: the police of the galaxy. But when the Distomos, a secret weapon from the Church falls into the hands of the enemy, two ex-Templars, Kieran Rhet and Normandie Jade, are hired to get it back.

With only a matter of time before interstellar war begins and the Distomos is used, friendships, courage, and faith will be tested when all seems lost.

Now Available on the Nook!

Going into the fourth week of availability, my book, The Distomos, is now available on Barnes & Noble’s Nook as a “Nook Book!” (It’s still an eBook, but just with a fun name to say).

I’ve been looking forward for it to becoming available there! Better late than never!

And in case you missed out on the cool news from last week, check out the interview I did with the Brock Press.

Don’t forget that you can follow me on Twitter.

You can purchase paperback copies from:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble.com
Lulu.com.

Ebook copies are available at:
iTunes Store
Barnes & Noble NOOK
Lulu.com

The Distomos

Cover art by Matthew Therrien: MCTherrien.com

ABOUT

Mankind has taken to the stars; maintaining their empires through the belief in God. Peace and prosperity are kept through Church-appointed Templars: the police of the galaxy. But when the Distomos, a secret weapon from the Church falls into the hands of the enemy, two ex-Templars, Kieran Rhet and Normandie Jade, are hired to get it back.

With only a matter of time before interstellar war begins and the Distomos is used, friendships, courage, and faith will be tested when all seems lost.

—–

Until next time, Keep on Space Truckin’!