The Nerdist / Inkshares contest came to a close yesterday. Out of 335 entrants, I finished at 25th-ish. They only showed the top 20 on the main page and when you looked at all the entries, it listed people by number of copies ordered vice* number of readers. Number of readers was what the contest was being judged on. So, 25th-ish.
All things considered, 25th-ish isn't bad. I'm certainly not broken up about it like the guy who finished 7th that tried using a lot of, hmm, let's say "less than aboveboard" tactics to try and finish in the top five. I don't feel like I've been sentenced to Buckwheats** because Inkshares had the audacity, the mendacity, the unmitigated gall to hold a contest that I didn't automatically win just because I entered. But that guy? All I can say is, "Welcome to the NFL, rookie."
How do I feel?
Great. Thanks for asking.
This isn't the first contest I've entered. This isn't my first day as a writer. I've been rejected by publishers and agents before. I've been in contests where I finished in the top ten, but I needed to be in the top three to get published or earn some sort of prize. I've been in contests that were so heavily rigged or lacked oversight in such a glaring way as to be nauseating.
That said, I've also been published before. I have been paid, cash money, for things I've written, not just contributor copies. Writing is what makes me a writer. Cash, in the words of the late A.C. Crispin, is what makes me a professional writer. A paid writer. Rejection and cash are the Yin and Yang of being a professional writer. If you can't stand rejection and want nothing but adulation, give your writing to your mom and have her hang it on the fridge and stop clogging up the slush piles for the rest of us.
Oh, you meant how do I feel about the contest?
On the upside, Inkshares seemed to do a good job of leveling the playing field by counting unique readers vice* copies ordered. Some kid couldn't win just because his rich uncle bought three hundred copies. Nobody tried to Wild Animus*** it. In a previous contest I was involved in, your entry just got "up voted" to the next round. To vote, you had to create a username and password for the site and not use the same IP address. Every computer in a library, for example, uses a different IP address. Someone in New York could (and actually did) go from library to library up voting their own entry. The Inkshares contest was definitely better than that.
On the downside, the first few days only the top five were listed on the contest page. You had to type a name or title into the search box to find any other entry. Or you had to look at all the science fiction / fantasy titles on the site and guess which ones were involved in the contest. Eventually, the top ten were on the contest page. Then the top 15. Then the top 20. This made it appear like there were only 5, 10, 15, 20 entries in the contest and those lucky few got all the random browsing customers. After a couple weeks, on the contest page, there was a "Browse Submissions" link next to the "Submit" button. (Or the "Browse Submissions" button was always there, but it blended into the background, so I overlooked it. Which means that a lot of people overlooked it.) If you clicked the link, It would show all the entries ranked by copies ordered, not by readers, which (number of readers) was the metric of the contest. The contest could have been better if at the end of the first contest page they included a "Next" button and listed everyone with their ranking in the contest.
But that's the past.
Fast as that the scene shifts to now
The ever glorious now the ever present now
Drenched in flour and deep-fat-fried
And cooled on paper towels and then devoured****
I'm still publishing my novel. In the immortal words of Samuel L. Jackson in The Long Kiss Goodnight, "That's right. You can't kill me, motherfuckers!"
I'm not using Inkshares to get the novel published. I would need 1,000 preorders at $10 a pop. I may have gone to public school, but that's ten large, daylight savings time. That's me asking my friends and family for 10 G's. Half of it would come to me according to their payout schedule, but that would mean $5k to them to publish it. Then I'd still have to do most of the promotion myself. I figure I can do most of that myself or with the assistance of freelance professionals that I know for around $3k. I just saved you, yes you, seven thousand dollars. Aren't I a peach?
I'm working on a Kickstarter page. Getting estimates from the aforementioned professionals. I have a newsletter that you can sign up for on the contacts page of this website (right click on Contacts, open new tab, enter your info, and subscribe. Right now! I'll wait.) I'm not going to inundate you with nonsense, I just want to keep you in the loop about the Kickstarter campaign.
But did I learn anything?
Yes. And there's a reason I'm putting this at the end which may become clear in a moment. Social media is pretty useless for promoting yourself. I have a strong core of people that preordered the book, shared my Facebook posts and Tweets. Liked my photos on Instagram. But the core and center of it was that they preordered the book. That's what I asked for because that's what I needed and that's what I got. You are my Super Friends, but you have to decide amongst yourselves who gets to be Batman. (1, 2, 3, not Aquaman!)
A lot of other people just liked the posts or shared the posts. Didn't actually read the posts as far as I could tell. I like this dude, so everything he posts gets an electronic thumbs up from me. That's all well and good, but I needed people to preorder, not just give moral support from afar. Maybe my posts were too long. (Ahem. Have you seen how long this post is, Head*****?) Maybe there was obfuscation on my part because I use words like "obfuscation" to prove that I own a dictionary. (Besides the one that hides a pint of whiskey. Shhh. Don't tell anyone.) I'm unsure of the cause, so I'm unsure of the cure. Suggestions are welcome.
The Kickstarter is going to work. I want to publish a book. You want to read said book. You currently want to support me or you have been a supporter since way back. I could do a print on demand book for almost no money right this second. And guess what? It would look like a print on demand book that I spent no money on. I want it professionally edited, professionally laid out. I want to pay Tom a legit cover artist rate, not the drinking buddy rate he graciously agreed to. The book is written, the cover art is done. I'm going to be asking you, my friends, for money. I take that very seriously. I'm not going to wipe my ass with your generosity and give you a sub-par book. As my people say, this fucker'll be slicker than two shaved ferrets in a lube factory.
I'm doing the Kickstarter thing for a multitude of reasons, but mainly I'm trying to start a business. If this works, I'm going to publish the next half dozen novels like this. Up until someone makes me an offer I can't refuse. Until then, I'm going to do it myself. If I opened a bar in your neighborhood and you knew me, you'd tell your friends. You'd come in whenever you could. You'd support me. And I would do the same for you. That's how it works. Except instead of shots of whiskey, I'm giving you something that will keep you company on the toilet. I'm talking about books. I don't even want to know what you thought I meant.
So that's that. Subscribe to the newsletter on the contacts page (or click HERE and a new window will open). When the Kickstarter is double live gonzo, I'll send out an email. If I've already got your email address, you'll be getting a personal email from me as well or perhaps a message on Facebook. I'll be doing the Facebook thing, the Tweeter thing, the Instagram thing just like before. Spread that love around. If you've got suggestions, comments, autographed photos of Bettie Page, let me know.
Oh, and one more thing: I'm not sure how well the comments work on this website. (Do you like the website, by the way?) Leave a comment. Tell me what you'd like to see me talk about. Write something mean about my cartoonishly large skull or just a string of swear words. Or your mom's recipe for lasagna. (Did I mention that I eat lasagna now?)
I've got nothing but love for all y'all.
* Vice -- preposition -- In the place of; rather than. Versa is Latin for "Conversely" or "The opposite." Vice Versa means "Rather than the opposite." You are going to have to come to terms with the fact that I use "vice" to mean "instead of" if we're going to be homies.
**"Buckwheats" -- Watch Things to do in Denver when you're Dead with Andy Garcia. Or don't. I'm not going to explain Buckwheats to you.
***Look up reviews on Goodreads or Amazon about Wild Animus, specifically the ones explaining how people got their copies. There's an article on LitReactor about that weirdness. My copy was forced onto me on the way into a Rockies game.
*****One of many nicknames. Head is a reference to how large my skull is. I will also accept Lord Helmet for formal situations