Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spinward Fringe Frontline: It's Finished.

The definitive draft for this book completed a few days ago, and now that I've taken a couple days off and let it all sink in for a while I can say I'm comfortable with the risks I've taken plot-wise, the journeys the characters have taken and I'm ready to begin editing and refining this draft.

Now that pile of pages (about 400 high), isn't so much a mark of progress as it is another mountain to climb as I edit my way through it.

What do I have to say about it now that it's finished?

The plot is simpler than I had expected, the journey far more complex and certain characters get a lot more exposure than I thought I would ever give them, but they move the big picture story along a great deal.

Am I certain that this is the best book I've ever written? Will people enjoy this one as much as or more than the ones that have come before? As with every work I've completed in the last year and a half or so I've lost my objectivity. I know I like what's been done here, that the stories go in the right direction and that I've been true to the characters but I can't be sure if it's in need of another revision. That's why I've brought a few more test readers on board. None of them know each other, I've known each of them for quite some time, they won't get a chance to discuss what they're reading, and they're all more well educated than I am.

My Editor is at the fore of this group, and after I finish editing large sections of this book they'll be sent off to her and the other test readers. The whole process takes a few weeks for a book this size if I've done my job well and there's no need for massive revisions. If all goes well you'll be seeing this book on Mobipocket by the end of April and on Amazon.com by the end of May.

I'm very excited about this book even though it is much darker and riskier than the ones that came before. I'll keep everyone updated on how the editing and test readings are going as the work is done and the results come in. Thank you all very much for your support and for spreading the word. Without you I wouldn't be able to do this full time and Frontline would not only be a different book but it would have taken a year to complete, perhaps more.

The journey continues, and believe me when I tell you it's extremely difficult to restrain myself from skipping my part of the editing process to move on and write the next book in the series. I was supposed to take a break and write a horror novel, but the journey ahead in the Spinward Fringe is so compelling to me that I'm going to put that on hold and write another SF book as soon as Frontline is released.

More news coming soon!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Spinward Fringe: The Facebook Group

It is everywhere, it is all around us, even now in this very room, you can see it when you look out your window, or when you turn on your television, when you go to work. It's not the Matrix, it's Facebook.

Discussions begin between friends and acquaintances that are both recent and from the distant past and people interact with this social system using their computers, cellphones, and other devices that are both portable and not. The viral nature of Facebook has gotten it uncountable mentions on television, in film and even in recent permanent written EMedia and print.

As with many people who have seen other social networks come and go on the Internet, I was hesitant to pay too much attention to it, even though I knew it has become so prevalent that some people have actually shunned their email in favour of only communicating through Facebook (which I think is a terrible idea, but that doesn't change what that kind of personal investment means).

So, after being asked if there was a group for Spinward Fringe or myself for the 20th or so time, I finally gave in and created a group. Over the last few months I've also had people emailing me with questions about the technology, the characters and the settings in the books, and I started to think having a place for discussion might be good so people could actually bring those questions up in a more public forum and I have to admit it seems that Facebook has a good basic system for that.

I'm sure there are other things that this group will be good for, and that brings up the thing I like about the Facebook Group system the most: The fact that users can add and change things as they see fit. I actually hope that this becomes active, that this gives people a place to go after they've read one or all of the books to get in touch with other readers. I also hope that you guys take over to a great extent since I'm very interested to see what other people would do with this space.

Without further adeu, here's the link to the new Facebook Group called: Randolph Lalonde and Spinward Fringe Crew

Make it yours, that's what it's there for!


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spinward Fringe: Publisher Offers $3,500 US For Rights

Some writers dream of a publisher coming along and saying; "Hello! We want to buy your book! We'll publish them, you can do signings, get recognition for your work and be eligible for awards!"

To be honest, I wouldn't mind. Despite my love of being independent, able to do whatever I like on the page and release what I like where I want, when I want, the living isn't fantastic. I'm very thankful for the income and support I have, don't get me wrong, but even with stable EBook sales on one website (Mobipocket my books aren't actually popular anywhere else), I'm barely making a living. Amazon sales are nonexistent (literally, I sold one book last week. Hope you're enjoying that Jason! Thanks for picking it up!). Aside from that I haven't been able to get a single vendor for IPhone EBooks to pick up the First Light Chronicles or Spinward Fringe series. Most of them just ignore my emails.

Now, I'm not belly aching, like I said, I make a very small living that's provided to me by Mobipocket customers and a couple of donators to whom I'm so thankful I can't put it into words, you make it possible to do this full time. I'm just explaining what was behind me responding to an email from a publisher yesterday (after the announcement that my science fiction books took the top 4 spots in Mobipocket's Science Fiction section yesterday, again, thank you Mobipocket and even more; thank you readers!!).

I replied to their email and got a call from one of their account reps, who put the offer on the table. I thought that was a little unussual, to be honest. Normally an offer on a book or a series takes a bit longer, or so I thought. According to him that's not the way it works though, and after a little prodding I got a little more info and eventually he even sent me a proposal contract.

For legal reasons I won't post the publishers name or the contract online but I can tell you that the publisher was not in the US or world top 10, and I'll give you the gist of the contract:

They offered a $3,500.00 US dollar advance on the entire Spinward Fringe series that included Freeground, Limbo, Starfree Port (actually in the First Light Chronicles Series, which the publisher didn't seem to notice), Resurrection + Awakening (they refferenced the ISBN assigned to the combined book available through Amazon.com, so I'm assuming they consider this one volume, not two books), and Triton. The royalty they were offering was also very, very low but would grow as they sold more books to a size that I still thought was really very low, but not quite as bad. The contract included printed books, EBooks, Television, Film and all other resulting merchandise, so I'd really be selling all rights and control.

I would also be obligated to work with an editor on the existing work (how much revision they wanted wasn't mentioned), and they'd take over branding, the covers (which could be a good thing), and publicity.

You know, I'm not in great financial shape, it's true, but after looking at the contract I wouldn't give them the rights to ONE book for those terms, let alone the WHOLE SERIES! Not only that, but I would be surrending a great deal of creative control and if I'm not mistaken I'd have to submit the book I'm working on now (Spinward Fringe Frontline), to them for approval, editing and then they'd probably drag their feet on getting it to press and into Ebook format IF they wanted to publish it at all. People waiting for it now would most likely not see it for a year if it hit the market at all.

Aside from all that, I'd probably get that advance check and not see any more funds for a very long time, so I'd probably have to get a full time job again, which would take a lot of time away from my writing. Suffice it to say, I told politely told them that I wasn't interested and haven't heard a so much as a peep from them since.

Now, I realize that conventional publishers invest a lot of money in a book, that new authors are very high risk, and a lot of books that seem to do well still lose money or take a very long time to turn a profit. I'm not completely new to the publishing industry and I'm aware that offers, big and small, don't come often especially if the author doesn't have any kind of agency representation.

So, I'll say it now;

If there's a publisher or agent out there who can personally offer or get me a real, fair deal for the sale of any of these books and/or exclusive rights for development or publishing then I'll be happy to consider your fair offer. I'm a reasonable person, all I want is to see these books remain accessable to the public, reasonably priced, to maintain the creative freedom I need to tell a good story and I want to make enough to write full time, pay my bills and taxes. If they want to saddle me with an editor who can help me tell an even better story, or maybe suggest some good technical tune ups and tricks, that's fine too. I'm always looking to improve my craft.

I don't want awards, I don't want a mansion on the hill with two Ferrari's in the driveway, and I don't want someone to hold my hand while I'm writing or suggest sweeping revisions that make my work fit conventional moulds, even if it'll make the books more marketable. I get emails from people who enjoy my work on a weekly basis, I sell just enough to survive and have a couple of people who have so much faith in me that they donate some of their hard earned money, and I have the most intelligent, emotionally invested editor I could dream of.

Spinward Fringe Frontline will be out in April, the momentum, the story, and the readers demand it. You'll see that book on Mobipocket, maybe even on Amazon.com.



I'm all right with not being wealthy, I'm also all right with never getting another offer again as long as I have the support of my readership. I owe everything to them and truly believe that if I remember them I'll make the right decisions creatively and monetarily. Please voice your opinion of this situation below, I'd like to hear your comments.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mobipocket: Randolph Lalonde Takes Top 4 In Science Fiction

This doesn't happen often to self published authors. I've actually never seen it happen anywhere before, or even heard of it to be honest. I was more than happy to see that The First Light Chronicles Omnibus has been holding at number five site wide on Mobipocket.

To see all of my science fiction novels take over the top four spots in the Science Fiction section of Mobipocket is a huge deal to me. This is despite the recent release of two Star Trek Novels, another very heavily advertised Space Opera series (advertised by Mobipocket, actually), and numerous other works backed by huge publishing companies with big advertising budgets.

I honestly think that this is an important victory, and not because it means more money (I live on about $600.00 a month including donations, which is sustainable for me and I don't think placing high on Mobipocket will change that, but it will probably help maintain it), but because these sales are a direct result of the readers spreading the word about the books. This achievement is a reward for you as much as it is for me, possibly more so.

So while we're all looking at that screen shot, I'd like to take the opportunity to once again thank Mobipocket for allowing self published authors to use their site as a home for their works, and I'd especially like to thank everyone who enjoys my work and who spreads the word to readers who are like minded enough to come aboard.

My dream of telling a good story, of writing full time and entertaining people is coming true in little important steps. With a big, silly grin and a tear or two all I can say is;

Thank you!


Back to work!

A Virtual Book Tour: What the hell is it?

If you look as confused and irritated as the guy to the left, I understand. Until just a few months ago I didn't know what a virtual book tour was either and when I heard about it I didn't really catch on at first.

It's pretty simple really. A virtual book tour is where an author who has a blog is invited to post on someone else's blog, do interviews on other podcasts and even appear on camera in some way or another.

The benefits of such appearances is a moderate to large boost in visits to the host's sites and a bit of publicity for the author. All in all, since the blog community thrives on cross linking to other blogs it really benefits everyone.

The difference between the way I'm doing it and the way publishing companies do it is that I'm willing to appear on anyone's blog this time around. I don't care if you get 10 hits a month or 100,000 hits a day, I'll be happy to answer any non-spoiler questions you have (Please keep it to around a dozen unless you want to do an audio interview), and all I ask is that if you have a text blog you allow me to schedule it.

So, when will this virtual book tour begin? That depends on how many destinations I get and how long it takes to gather and coordinate them. I won't start the book tour until I have 7 destinations, and the schedule along with links to the sites and podcasts I'll be appearing on/in will appear here so you can follow me from place to place.

No destination is too small and as long as your site is suitable for teens and older I'll be willing to answer some questions or write on a topic that you request (hopefully you request a topic I know something about). If you're at all interested in me doing something for your site or podcast, drop me an email with your weblink and idea.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spinward Fringe Frontline: The End Is Nigh!

Before I get into the main topic of this post, thank you to everyone who voted for the cover of the upcoming Spinward Fringe book: Frontline. You can still vote above (as of the time of this posting), and look at the different choices here. You don't have that much time left, however, since I'm almost finished writing this book.

For the first time since I started writing religously at the beginning of 2008 I've spent a massive chunk of time on just one book. This novel has been months in the making and it's size, complexity, setting and characterization are made to show it. As of this morning Frontline grew to a size larger than the entire First Light Chronicles Omnibus, and that's after I pulled about 20 pages that I didn't think had a place in this book. (Some of that stuff will appear in the next book).

The crazy thing is I'm about to start work on the ending today, so it's going to grow. The story in this volume is advancing further in this one book than in any of the others. I won't lie to you, I love writing in this setting, I enjoy the characters, and this story is as addictive to me as it is to anyone out there, probably more so.

Once I finish writing this draft I'll start polishing the work, and thankfully that won't take nearly as long as it has to write it (over four months). If all turns out well with the ending and I get the thumbs up from my editor and test readers (you know who you are!), this book could be out within a month in EBook format. I would like to say that I'm sorry this book took so long, but to be honest I'm not. This kind of book, with it's interwoven plotlines, sensitive timelines, high adventure and characterization that demands attention and detail takes time, and when you read it I hope you feel that it was worth the wait.

What's the plan after I finish this book?

I'm going to take a few weeks off to write a few short stories, develop another book and then it's straight back into the next Spinward Fringe Broadcast. Plans are quickly coming together for the next few parts of this series, and as long as there's a demand for them I'll keep turning them out to the absolute best of my ability. Oh, and expect at least one of those short stories to be available here for free.

Thank you very much for reading, waiting and passing the word. Without you this book would have never happened the same way. It's time to get back to work.