Monday, February 16, 2015

Agent Route or Self Publish?

I've been debating about this since self-publishing my cookbook (which has been pirated to illegal eBook download sites already) and discovering how much work there is behind marketing and just keeping up on things.

With a demanding full-time job that requires on-call rotations and typically a 60-hour week, the last thing I want to do is create a bunch of posts on a variety of platforms to try to sell more books. I want to use that time to write, not market. Alas, I'm not independently wealthy and cannot afford to hire my own marketing team. And I didn't win the big lotto. Sigh.

I do realize that an agent won't do the marketing for me either, but I have to wonder if things would be tad easier to go the more traditional route of an agent and publishing house to get my other books out there.

The one thing I do know: I don't know enough to know what I don't know that may sneak up and bite me in the ass later on. I'm still learning, not just the craft of writing (which I still need loads of help with) but the business aspects of publishing. It's the one of the few industries that I haven't work in my real job of being an IT geek.

Maybe it's because I don't understand the business that keeps me wavering back and forth. That and not knowing exactly what niche my books belong in. They cross a few different genres, not fitting neatly into any one category, rather having parts of multiple genres scattered through them.

My best guess at this point is to really polish up the first few books and start the submission process over again while looking for a cover artist and saving my pennies to pay for the artwork. Because artists deserve to get paid too. But if anyone knows of an artist willing to make a trade for their name on the cover, please send them my way. I'm always willing to barter!

Monday, February 2, 2015

It's Groundhog Day!

by Patricia Kiyono

(Re-blogged from Four Foxes, One Hound:
https://fourfoxesonehound.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/its-groundhog-day/)

Since I spent twenty-eight years teaching elementary school students, I've probably spent more time dwelling on this pseudo holiday than people in other professions. A good chunk of time in a primary grade classroom is spent teaching about time concepts (telling time, as well as the passing of time, days, weeks, months, years, and special days), so Groundhog Day always gets at least a passing nod in February. I suppose it gives us something to look forward to in that stretch between New Year's Day and Valentine's Day. Chinese New Year is in there sometimes, but the date varies (this year it's February 19) so the tradition of finding out whether we would have a longer or shorter winter is the first "holiday" observed after the winter break. I really don't remember anything my own teachers did other than tell us what Punxatawney Phil did that day and then move on to the next topic.

I spent some time this weekend trying to recall the groundhoggy things I did as a teacher. The first fifteen years of my teaching career were spent teaching music, so I'd always look for songs about groundhogs (there aren't many - I had to make some up). Later on I taught regular classrooms, so I read books to my students like "It's Groundhog Day" by Steven Kroll. When I taught older classrooms we'd look at all the predictions from years past and we'd make graphs comparing how the shadowed years compared with the non-shadowed years.

One year I brought in some large boxes and made tunnels going from table to table so that my pre-first graders could be groundhogs for a little while. We sat under the tables to listen to our morning story and read our books. We went through the tunnels to get from one place to another in the room. Sometimes we'd talk about him in our science lesson, deciding what kind of animal he is, and sometimes we'd work him into our language arts lessons, writing stories about what he might do the rest of the year.

As for the significance of the week in my house, I'd have to say that my focus tends to be on the family birthdays that take place. My father would have celebrated his eighty-seventh birthday this past week. He always insisted that his birthday was of no consequence and that he'd be happier if everyone just forgot the day. Of course, now that he's gone I never fail to remember him on his birthday - or any day.

Four years ago, Dad's first great-granddaughter was born, only four days after his birthday. How he would have loved this little girl! She exhibits a lot of the traits I loved about him. She's intelligent and studious, and she has firm ideas about what's right and what's wrong. She has a giving heart and brings a smile to my face, even on the gloomiest of days.

As for the groundhog and his predictions? Well, this is Michigan, so we'll have six more weeks of winter no matter what Punxatawney Phil says. Wikipedia says that as of 2014 Phil has predicted an early spring 17 times, and the longer winter 101 times. I guess it depends on where you live, but around here that makes him wrong about a dozen times or so.