The Story About the Greatest Story Ever Told…

Once upon a time…

Ok, that is no way to start anything, well, maybe a Will. How funny would that be? To start your Will with Once Upon A Time. Damn.

Ten years is a long time. Ten years ia a long time to wait. And ten years is a hell of a long time between books. Believe me, I know. Sure, there are writer’s in the world that do wait a long time between books but that is a luxury that is not afforded me or which interests me. Perhaps if I taught or toured or was rich or a robot or something I could take ten years off. Alas, I am none of those things and so waiting ten years between books was not a choice so much as a just a fact of standing. My first book was published in 1999 via a publisher that worked via subsidizing. So I paid the costs of the production of the book and for the ISBN (a sort of ID for the book that has to be registered and acquired if it is to land on store shelves) and they were going to do the work. After the book was published though I didn’t bathe in the riches from all the sales and I wasn’t beating back other publication offers back with a broom. No, the book came out and I was sorta left with a lot of books to sell.

So what do you do after you publish a book? You keep writing. You keep submitting. You keep trying to get your work out there. I put a lot of stuff on the internet after suffering through a lot of rejections and it was there that I started to get some success. Not more than a few places that liked my stuff, and a few people that dug it but it was a start. I kept working on short fiction and put together other collections (I have a drawer with two collections ‘put together, one named, and another folder with uncollected stories) but had no interest from publishers. A short story became a novella, became a novel, and so now I have a novel that isn’t selling either. And so ten years passed. I supported BACK FROM NOTHING and I pushed my work, and I did conventions to try to sell the book and smaller collections I put together myself.

I wanted to publish again. I had had four pieces published over the past five years and had gotten a couple Honorable Mentions in a well regarded book but it wasn’t enough. This year the bug really got in me. It was my ten year anniversary for BFN and I was ready to publish again. So I started looking around. After doing the comic convention that Detroit has I met a guy that had put a book out via a Print On Demand publisher and suddenly the wheels started turning. I began looking more into POD publishers and most of them seemed sketchy or still cost you money. I am not in a position where I have a lot to invest, and that is what it is. I happened on Create Space by chance (and I honestly cannot tell you where I found it other than pure luck and chance on Amazon’s site itself) and I started to look into it. It sounded good – you set up an account, upload your stuff, they produce it, give you an Amazon specific ISBN (which means that Amazon will list it, sell it, and may distribute it to some places if it sells well, but it can’t go out to regular stores), they give you an E-Store, list it, mail it, and all you have to pay for is your Proofs. Proofs are basically the first version you see of your book to see how it looks, if there are mistakes, and if it is what you want to go ahead with for the final book. Crap, that’s a hell of a deal. I looked into CS and the site got mainly good reviews and most people were positive. I figured I would try it out with a story collection to see how it worked.  I didn’t want to use the novel because it’d take took long to get it together and cleaned up and I want to publish that traditionally. The book deserves that. I deserve it.

I sat down and started pulling together thirteen stories and began editing them and was working on art for a cover and a name for the book. The name THIS BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS came from hearing Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian on VH1 talking about Smashing Pumpkins and how their music was like a beautiful darkness, something like that, and it struck a chord. What a great image. It fits my stories and the themes I cover and the titles I pick. The image came pretty easily too and I hand drew that and scanned it then colored it in Photoshop. My girlfriend tweaked the outline of the piece, which was a bear for her, but otherwise the image was mine. The stories took some cleaning up, some re-editing, some rejuvination, and fine tuning but, in the end, I was satisfied. As we were putting together the book the idea of  ‘secret tracks’ caught my attention. What a fun idea. I could put in a blank page and then have two final stories that were interconnected. Neat.

Putting the book together took the longest time and was the biggest pain. You are given a template, and it helps a LOT that my girlfriend has and knows how to use Adobe’s In Design so that was ideal. It’s best to do the layout in In Design as it’s made to create books and documents like that. Still, you have to get the margins, and headers, and all of that JUST SO or it won’t be approved. The spacing is a big issue. Since this is all being done on a machine you have to have your book laid out to their specifics so nothing is lost and so the book looks good. Truly, this was the most stressful time. We’d finish the book, get excited, send it in, and it’d get rejected. Go through, fix the stuff, submit it, rejected. Over and over and over we went through this and it drove my girl nuts. It was just a matter of having patience though and finally it came together.

It took approximately a month from decision to do the book to seeing it finally printed. Honestly. A month. Now, I have a LOT of stories to choose from, a LOT, but it was a matter of putting the work into it and getting it done. I wanted it done for my anniversary and to present it at an anniversary dinner for the first book and it all worked out. I couldn’t be happier.

Now the hard part is in selling it. The hard part is supporting it. But it’s good to have that chance. I am very proud of this book. I feel this work truly represents what I am capable of and shows a progression of my writing. Hopefully you’ll feel the same way.


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