The Writer as busker

Stone Goddess UpdatedI’ve been self-publishing/indie publishing for about four years now. Learning as I go. Kind of like a busker or a street performer. Out in public practising. Getting better as I go, I hope. Taking courses and reading books and learning all the time, too.

On occasion, some kind reader buys one or other of my stories, like tossing money into a buskers cap. It’s encouraging. I hope they enjoy the stories they purchase as I practise in public.

With the learning, as soon as I feel I’ve got a handle on the writing, I seem to discover some new technique or approach. Often things that seem obvious. Right away I incorporate that into my writing, with various degrees of success. When I look back over my stories, some I’m very proud of, others seem to have been written by a different person.

The other key thing I’m learning is business. That’s a much tougher road for me. I don’t think I’m a natural entrepreneur, so I have to concentrate. I have to make an effort to take those risks, invest some cash, and push into those realms that are a whole lot more uncomfortable.

One of the things I’m beginning to look at are some of those older stories, with bad covers and terrible blurbs. Case in point: Stone Goddess. It was a fun little story I wrote some years back. It got published in an anthology titled Horror Through the Ages from Lame Goat Press. No monetary payment (at the time I was fine with that: I was happy to be in print). It also got a podcast at Cast Macabre (and seems to be still available, for free). Again no monetary payment.

At some point along the way I realized that giving stories away was not a path to making a livelihood (slow to catch on, I know).

I started putting my stories up on Smashwords, Kindle, iTunes, Kobo, Nook and so on. Even putting some of the longer ones in print. I did my own covers. I wrote my own blurbs. Learning all the time.

Now, I’m going back and gradually updating some of those older works with some of the things I’ve learned more recently. So “Stone Goddess” has a new cover. To my embarassment, I’m putting the old cover next to the new. I like the new one better.

Original cover image by me. New cover image by © 1971yes | Dreamstime.com

I’ve redone the interior too, and added a couple of other stories to fill it up a bit (“Stone Goddess” is kind of short) for some value for money. A new blurb too:

Top Mars researcher Ben James loves getting out into the field. Under the stars. Into the dust and stone.
But today something’s amiss. Something’s out there. Calling to him.
Something he’s got to find.
Even if it means breaking every protocol.
A short story from the author of The Molenstraat Music Festival. Includes three bonus Mars stories.

I think it could still use some work, but I dare not show the old blurb (omigosh amateur ramblings).

The story is pretty much available at your favorite ebook retailer. I’m thinking about making a print version (though it’ll be slim). If you’ve read this far (thanks) here’s a coupon for a free copy from Smashwords. Click here and enter the following code:

Promotional price: $0.00
Coupon Code: XH22Q
Expires: April 26, 2021

Five years was the longest I could set the coupon for. I think you have to create a Smashwords login – if you’d like a copy without all that palaver, just let me know here.

All that said about going back, I am continuing to go forward. Trying to write better stories. Working on having consistent covers. And writing sensible, engaging blurbs.

Busking.

First try at publishing a double-header


As my self-publishing empire lags and stutters along, I’ll keep trying new things. What a learning curve. Following ideas from Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch with their publishing arm WMG Publishing I’ve published two stories – Pipe Dive and Skinny Joe together, as one package, but as two separate units one with each story as the lead title. The content of each is the same, just in reversed order. They are linked stories – both set on the same world, with the same group of researchers (though in these two stories there’s no character crossover, there are, and will be, in other stories).

As you can see, I’m also working with covers – one is self-designed, the other is a commercial/professional illustration. I’ve bumped up the font size and word layout while trying to retain the general Triple V Publishing look. I noticed on some covers (like Xuento), the author name almost vanishes. Spreading “Monaghan” across the width, then tucking “Sean” in above, nestled between the “M” and the “h” risers makes the name visible at even thumnail size. I’ve simplified the covers too – no tagline, not even the Tripe V logo (perhaps that’s a mistake, we’ll see).

I’ve worked on my blurbs too – trying to be active and succinct. I think next year I’ll look at taking Dean Wesley Smith’s course on writing pitches and blurbs. This is how they look at the moment:

Skinny Joe
A Daron story. Skinny Joe’s on a deadline. And he can’t wait to get home to see Paula. But when he triggers something in the depths of the structure, it looks like he’ll be lucky to get out alive. A short story by Sean Monaghan, author of The Tunnel and Rotations. Includes bonus story “Pipe Dive”.

Pipe Dive
A Daron story. Pieter thought divorcing Mel would have been the end of it. Now he’s trapped in an artificial cavern deep in the structure. With Mel. And there’s no way to get back. A short story by Sean Monaghan, author of The Tunnel and Rotations. Includes bonus story “Skinny Joe”.

Buy them here: Skinny Joe and Pipe Dive. Soon on Kindle, B&N and so on.

Skinny Joe was originally published in Infinite Windows, and this is the first publication of Pipe Dive. That’s a new experiment – most of the Sean Monaghan fiction I’ve self-published has been of previously published works.

The Wreck of the Emerald Sky – new novella in The Colored Lens

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My novella The Wreck of The Emerald Sky has just been published in The Colored Lens.

Filled with bright, imaginative speculative fiction, The Colored Lens is a quarterly, available on Kindle for $2.99.

The Wreck of the Emerald Sky is a sci-fi adventure story set in my Barris Space universe. If you’ve read my stories “Barris Debris” in Deep Space Terror or “Eltanin Hoop Anomaly Rescue” in Will It Go Faster If I Push This?, then you might be familiar with the setting.

Here are the first couple of paragraphs as a taster
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Chapter one

Derel Larsen sat bolt upright in the bed as his ear-roll chimed. He was halfway to Meriam’s room before he realized that the chime wasn’t her security alert. It was just a phone call.
“Larsen,” he said, thumbing the connect. He kept going towards Meriam’s door.
“Larsen?” a voice said. One of the controllers at flight. Jamie, Larsen thought. Nice woman, even if she did have to confirm his name right after he’d said it.
“Medical leave is over, sport,” Jamie said.

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Habitat – Young adult novel available on Kindle and elsewhere

My young adult/middle grade (as you will) novel Habitat is now available through Triple V Publishing – on Kindle and other ebook sites. $2.99 download, and I’m working on a POD version which should be out soon.

“Seve Brigham’s dream opportunity – a cadetship to work on the huge orbiting Habitat – is about to turn bad. Very bad. The station is an unfinished mess: behind schedule and under-staffed. Then there’s the alien voice in Seve’s head. And thieves are trying to steal the whole station. Seve needs to look sharp and think fast.”

Habitat is a backlist title. Originally published on BookHabit – one of the first ebook sites. BookHabit sold it’s inventory to SmashWords, but at the time I was busy with other things (and disappointed with the lack of sales – zero – and the complicated set of hoops to jump through to format it for SmashWords), so it fell into limbo.

Of late I’ve been learning about formatting – seriously not that big of a deal – and about indie publishing. With my newly edited novel Rotations (more on that soon) just released from Lucky Bat Books, now seemed like a good time to bring Habitat back to light.