The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Eighty-Two
Another Week, Another Mailbag
I’m beginning to think we might actually make it to 100 Mailbags.
Let me start by answering a question asked on Facebook.
I just announced the publication/release of my second “Shadows” novel, and a friend asked me what is next…so here’s my answer.
I’m currently working on a re-write of my first novel, “The 12/59 Shuttle from Yesterday to Today.” Maybe re-write is a bit ambitious. Let’s call it a fine-tuning. I’ve wanted to do this for a few years now and I finally found the time. I’ll publish it on Amazon so it will be available as an ebook for the first time since its initial publication.
That should be completed in two weeks, so February will see me begin my next novel, and I honestly haven’t decided between two ideas. It will either be a sequel to my first book, The Shuttle, or it will be a book about the loss of innocence during the 60’s. At the same time as that project I’m going to be working on the first of a series of “pulp fiction” books I’m going to publish based on a short story character I developed, one Billy the Kid.
So that’s where I am at this moment.
Now let’s do this!
From Buildreps: “There's the mailbag! I must have missed it in my e-mail. Well, I have a question for next week. As you probably know my dear friend, I'm busy writing a book about the "Greenland Pole and the Pyramids". I will make an ebook of it, but honestly I want to be it a classical book, with great pictures and drawings, and that's not possible with an ebook. Do you still need a publisher these days for a classical book? Maybe you can explain your opinion about this? Thanks a lot.”
For clarification, I had to ask Buildreps what a “classical book” is; seems it is like the coffee table books we have here in the States. Now let’s answer the question.
Do you need a publisher to do that? No! You can do it through CreateSpace but be forewarned, the formatting for such a book is difficult. I would suggest you buy a copy of “A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon.” That will take you through the process step-by-step. I’m including it to the right of this response so you can see precisely which book I’m talking about.
Your other option is to pay the folks at CreateSpace to do the formatting for you. Perhaps it is worth the money to do that; only you can decide that.
What’s my opinion of it all? I think it’s a valid way to spend your time, and I say go for it with all haste!
One other thought on it: Don’t give up on traditional publishing. Your idea and the topic are just unique enough that it may appeal to a traditional publisher. I would send out some queries when the time comes and see if you get any nibbles.
Now I’m done!
From John: “I may be a little late reading this, Bill, but I got here eventually. I felt this was one of the best mailbags yet. In regard to Jo's self-publishing question..thanks for recommending that book..I almost went crazy getting the formatting right for my poetry eBooks on Lulu and they still didn't turn out the way I wanted. I want to publish a book that is a mix of short fiction stories, essays and poetry (do you think that would work?) but I am reluctant to go through the formatting headache again in a hurry. Maybe it gets easier with practice.”
John, thanks for the question. The quick answer is yes, a mixture of fiction stories, essays and poetry would work…definitely. Here, then, is the long answer.
I’ve said this before and I’ll probably be whispering it on my death bed…..I have to believe that good writing will eventually be rewarded, no matter the format…..but….and there is always a but….if sales are a major objective then it all boils down to marketing. A wrier cannot ignore good marketing any more than he/she can ignore good writing. Write your book in any format you choose, but when you are done, have a marketing plan in place because you, my friend, are the marketing department and the engine that will power your train.
You are a very good writer, but the graveyards of the literary world are littered with millions of very good writers, most of whom did not know how to market their books, or were reluctant to market their books.
I don’t want that happening to you.
From Eric: “Very cool mailbag. I like coming over late as your readership makes the best comments. And you respond to them all with grace. That is super duper cool. Is it hard to keep from getting a big old fat head with all the compliments? Or does the rest of the world smacking you down keep you so humble?”
Eric, as usual, you had me laughing with the comment. No worries on the big old fat head. I was lucky enough to be raised by parents who firmly believed that humility is the second best character trait a man can have. Number one was the ability to love. I am humbled by every single compliment, but I’ll tell you a secret: I never believe that I deserve them. I’m still, in many ways, that shy ten-year old from long ago who struggles with self-image and wonders if he’ll ever measure up.
How’s that for honesty?
One installment of the series
- Billy the Kid Returns Home: Part One of the Finale
The end is near, but will our anti-hero survive to talk about it with his unborn child? Let's find out how much trouble Billy is in this week.
The Billy the Kid Series
From Philly: “I’ve been reading your Billy the Kid series and thoroughly enjoying it. I guess I have two questions. Did you plan on it being a series, and where does it go from here?”
Well thank you very much, Philly. I’m so glad you are enjoying the adventures of my anti-hero. Yes, I did plan on it being a series, but I had larger plans than that. I’m actually working on an article right now about this topic. My plans, all along, were to introduce Billy to all of you in short story form and then eventually publish Billy as an eBook version of the old pulp fiction dime novels of the mid-30’s. So that’s what I’m working on and that should answer both of your questions. The first “Billy the Kid Chronicles” should be published next month, good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise. Stay tuned!
Once I begin the eBook series I’ll stop with the short story series on HubPages and move on to the next project I have in mind.
I’m actually doing basically the same thing with another short story series I’ve been writing, the 3:15 Train series about a family living in Iowa. That series will eventually be a series of novellas on Amazon or a sequel to my original novel.
In other words, I’m testing the waters and hoping they aren’t too deep.
More Billy the Kid
From Margaret: “I’ve been reading your series of short stories about Billy the Kid and I have to ask you, why is the series so violent? You write so beautifully about love and then you turn around and write about cold-blooded killing…..I’m not sure how much more killing I can read about.”
Fair question, Margaret, and it deserves a fair answer.
I’m practicing my craft!
It is my intention to become the best writer I can possibly be, and it is my belief that I will never be that writer unless I spread my wings, flap them furiously and push my limits. Do I enjoy writing about cold-blooded killing? Of course not, but I do enjoy the creative process and the growth that comes with it.
I’m also fascinated by the good vs evil struggle. I guess that comes from having Ted Bundy as our paperboy when I was growing up in Tacoma, Washington. I think there is a touch of “evil” in all of us, so that philosophical struggle does interest me.
But bottom line is I need to grow as a writer, and that’s not going to happen if I play it safe.
More Next Week
I can promise I’ll keep this Mailbag series going through at least one-hundred. After that I make no promises, but it has been so well-received, and so many people are finding value in it, that I suspect I’ll just keep it going.
Thanks for being here!
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”