Way, way back, oh...let's say somewhere in the summer of 2011, I started writing this story about a stubborn asteroid belt miner. My father was firmly in my head as I wrote--not that my dad was a miner, or even a manual laborer when I knew him. He'd done some stuff like that before I was born, but as I knew him growing up, he was a public school teacher, and I always marveled at how he could be at once urbane and sophisticated and at the same time real and down-to-earth. Funny how my down-to-earth father inspired me to write about a man in space.
Anyway, I found ways to put my hero, Collier (I hit upon that name late in the writing, as I usually do--names are one of the last things I do in a story. Once this one came to me, it was instantly correct) under pressure. Economic pressure from the world in which he operated, romantic and relationship pressure from his ex-girlfriend, social pressure from the smug, young miners with whom he competed.
Sometime late in 2011, I finished the draft of the novel and began workshopping it on an online forum I used to frequent. It won some internal awards there (chapter 1 won an Editor's Choice award, which means nothing, but is nevertheless encouraging) and got some valuable feedback from other contributors.
The novel itself I sent to publishers beginning in early 2013, and, not surprisingly, it was bounced around a lot. Each rejection takes around six months or more, so not does one need to deal with the disappointment of being rejected, one has to WAIT half a year for that disappointment to come. Finally, the good people at EDGE Publishing decided to take a chance on the novel as part of their "EDGE-Lite" program, which is something they have when they want to put a toe in the water rather than jump in fully. After two rejections, I'll take it. EDGE was a bigger market than the folks at JournalStone (who demurred on Beltrunner, but who had taken Vale of Stars. I suspect that Vale's poor numbers contributed to their decision, and I can't blame them. JournalStone will always be special to me for accepting Vale, so I harbor no ill will to them) so even a qualified acceptance from them was exciting.
On March 3rd, 2015, EDGE decided to formally accept the manuscript and contracts were signed.
In the near-year that followed, I learned a lot about this new tier of publishing. JournalStone was a professional outfit, and produced a clean, attractive version of Vale of Stars. But they are a small press, and EDGE is considerably larger. Still not the big leagues of a Tor, Baen, Ace, or DAW, but also not in Little League anymore.
I worked with the editorial staff at EDGE to clean up the manuscript, and aside from some typos, they had a few editorial suggestions. As usual, some I agreed with, some not so much. None of it was incredibly substantial, but I did appreciate the suggestions. That back-and-forth continued for a little while, and sometime around October we completed the edits.
I then met Janice, the publicist for EDGE, and she tutored me on some of the skills I needed to cultivate in promoting the novel.
My wife remarked during this process that the promotion seemed harder than the actual writing.
In some ways, Sue is completely daft. As Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith famously said, about the process of writing, “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.” So no, promoting the book has not been more difficult.
But it does involve a completely different skill set. Writing is solitary; publishing is public. Asking my friends and relatives to buy and read the book is extremely uncomfortable but not difficult. Writing is very comfortable but painful. I know that this makes no sense, but neither does writing.
So now I'm a day before the release. I know there will be much more to do--the Kindle release is just one step, and there will be more. So far, I've created an introductory video, a character profile of Collier, Sancho, and Su, written more synopses of the novel than I can count, checked on reviews to see what I can use, and been on damn Facebook more than a 13-year-old girl with social anxiety disorder.
I know the purists out there are wondering, "but none of that is writing! It's the business model--writing should be pure and noble and unfettered by the base concerns of mercantilism!" I've always held that writing purely for oneself is journaling, not writing. It has a place, sure--but writing and then putting what you've written out in the sunlight for all to see is finally a necessary step. And, for good or for ill, part of that process is promotion. The question of "should I have to do this" seems immaterial, since that's the way the world is.
In the meantime, I still am chugging away on Caretaker, which has proven to be far more difficult than I initially thought. I have chucked away more words on that than I care to admit, but once again, that's the process.
Finally, I am blessed to be able to call upon so many people to support me. I've known a lot of folks in my 47 years on the globe, and it is heartwarming to see them come out for me. To all of you, a deeply felt thank you.
Be seeing you!