The Quest

As Troim quickly found out, the fun is in the actual writing.

The Quest  is about the substantially less fun rest of the profession. As in reading about, and hopefully learning, how to improve the writing. And the minor detail of getting that stuff out there, where it can be read. Preferably for a little fee.

On the basis of a grand total of one non-negative review of the ‘not that bad’ type for his first oeuvre, the Plugger trilogy, Troim decided to go pester the Anglosphere with Kitschery output. 

After a little research, the mound of obstacles as perceptible at a distance had been transformed into a mountain of Himalayan proportions. It’s a profession all right, there’s a craft to learn.

Wonderful advice is provided by the following LinkedIn groups

  • ‘Author Support’,
  • ‘Newbie Freelance Writers’,
  • ‘Author U’,
  • ‘Aspiring Writers’,
  • ‘Writers & Authors’, and
  • ‘Self-Publishing and Book Marketing’

Easy to implement

According to Alexander von Ness a tagline is both a must and supposed to be specific, risqué, original, honest and short. This list of requirements proved way too challenging. Troim came up with “Alt Left SciFi – with a smile”. Shortening this mouthful to “Alt Left SciFi” ticks the “short” box. But Troim does like the “with a smile” bit. It’s so un-left. Nearly achieving risqué here.

A posting on LinkedIn by Andrew Carter sent Troim googling ‘synopsis‘. Writer’s Digest provided a rough an ready how-to guide by Courtney Carpenter.  Troim spent two afternoons on one puny one page Plugger Site One Synopsis. Yuck job. Will be dutifully performed anyway, for each long format. Not exactly required with Smashwords, but one has to do stuff properly. A profession involves rituals, and you don’t just skip the ones you dislike.

Not applicable

A writer is supposed to network. Troim dutifully created a Facebook account, only to get kicked out pretty immediately: Account there is, specific spam emails of the “Troim, you have more friends…” hit the inbox all right, but access there isn’t: Omission to read the find print concerning pseudonyms saddled Troim with a deactivated Facebook account asking for photo ID. Shit happens, and gets added to a pile of defunct blogs in three languages and two time zones. On the bright side, no one else is going to create a Facebook account under Troim’s name. And the glitch is a time saver. Passable outcome.

Not prone to reading short stories, Troim would never have considered writing any without a prompt, but DS White from Longshot Island committed the error to invite a contribution.

Research revealed that writing shorts and submitting them to platforms is considered one more must. Troim tried to comply.

No problem for the writing part of the exercise. Tough to avoid activating stereotypes in less than 2,500 words, but an interesting experience anyway. Nice change from the ongoing long format of the year,  and very suitable for short writing slots. An output rate of one quickie per month was defined and met.

The submissions part of the exercise went equally well, for the first couple of months. Submission to Longshot Island, no reaction, self publish as Words-to-go post. Nice little routine, no problem. Until the May 2017 one got accepted, in principle. Except they insist on a passport name. One submission guideline down. 

Similar issue for Daily Science Fiction. Great platform. Troim does love the daily dose and tries to make Twitter friends with as many of the wonderful authors as possible. Alas, a real world name and address are required for an author account. 

The submissions part being out of reach, Troim keeps up writing shorts anyway, to replicate a proper apprentice author experience as closely as feasible under the particular circumstances. This output is posted as Words-to-go.

Whenever people congregate they constitute a market. Some enthusiastic peddlers of products and services make digestible writing and captivating plots sound like minor ingredients. Troim tends to watch his bitcoin wallet and was surprised to find out how many ways there are to waste money around bad books. It doesn’t make sense to invest in bells and whistles unless the quality of the content is endorsed by a plausible authority….

Smashwords for publishing

As recently as 2016 neither Troim nor the admin had even heard of self publishing platforms, editing services, book cover designers and you-name-the-rest professionals. Steep learning curve. Who’d have thought you could have such heated controversies around publishing options?

Half a year and one health incident later, Smashwords has been declared the platform of choice. A matter of convenience: Finding an  agent willing to convince a publisher to invest editorial resources to straighten out the musings of a non-native English writer with a penchant for niche subjects was always  bound to be a very long shot. This futile effort has now been skipped.

So far the easy steps, now to the hard part:

Quest to write slightly less badly

Having intuitively written Plugger Stuff in what Troim now has learned to consider the most simple of narrator perspectives, a dialogue heavy chronologically straight first person (fairy) tale by the least spiky of the characters, before daring to aim for something altogether more complex in Think-o-mat, Troim is fascinated by all the good writing practice advice available in the author universe. There is a toolbox. There are good practice rules. You can even attend workshops, if you fancy outing yourself.

What if – Writing Exercises for fiction writers” by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter has been promoted to as close to bible status as it’s going to get with an atheist. Think-o-mat and 1kYears have hopefully benefitted from as much implementation of all the sound advice as a third language author with a tendency for sequential mannerisms can manage. 

Lots of excellent advice is also provided on LinkedIn. So much to take into consideration, such a lot to learn – a never-ending story.

Using checklists in his day job, Troim appreciates them even more for novel tasks. Especially this one, discovered on LinkedIn: Ten Self-editing Tips by Debbie Bourke.

Quest posts will keep visitors of this site updated on both a lot of dire doubts and the occasional success. Motto: There can be progress, it’s always possible to improve your writing, even at the lowest level of achievement.