One year ago today, I uploaded Bay’s End to Amazon. Since then, my world has been a maelstrom of successes and failures. I’ve learned quite a bit in the past 365, so I figured I’d drop some of that earned knowledge onto your collective heads.
You can write about anything. Bay’s End taught me that much. No matter how graphic the content, people will follow you along until the end as long as there’s enough heart at the center of the story. But, with that being said, you must also be mindful of the language you use if you’re a thin-skinned individual. One big lesson Bay’s End drove home was that some readers will ignore certain atrocities as long as your book isn’t laden with foul language. I’ve questioned myself constantly because of this. Should I take Bay’s End down and clean up the language? Should I wash it’s mouth out with soap to appease those few individuals that are offended by the continuous flow of f-bombs spewed forth by Trey and Eddy (granted, mostly Eddy)? In the end, I decided not to. My reasoning was simple. The book is what it is. To this day, I appreciate the fact that Jude Lance never cussed, and when Officer Mack Larson did swear, he excused himself by uttering the words he would become famous for, “Pardon my French, o’ course.” I find this juxtaposition apt, as both men, no matter their evils, found that foul language was the only thing of which they should excuse themselves, as if all their other crimes paled in comparison to swearing. So, was the language in the book needed? Yes, I think it was. It still makes me confused though, as people rarely mention what happened to Candy toward the end of the book, but they’ll scream from the mountain tops their abhorrence toward Eddy’s choice of verbiage. Makes me wonder, are bad words that much worse than a child’s abuse?
As far as marketing yourself is concerned, I learned that going free can have its pluses and minuses when it comes to promoting a book. I’m happy to give Bay’s End away for free every now and then, but readers have come to expect such from me. Now that I’m with a publisher – Red Adept Publishing (RAP) – this has become a slight issue. I’ve been told by a handful of potential readers that they will just wait for my new books to go free. Considering RAP needs to make the money they invested into the book back, I don’t think Dastardly Bastard or Hope for the Wicked will be free anytime soon… if ever. Dastardly has been on sale for $.99, but I’m almost positive neither book will ever be given away en mass. I also learned that a good cover makes all the difference. If you go to Goodreads, you will see a very simple black cover listed as the cover for Bay’s End. Though I loved that cover at the time, I soon realized I needed something a little more eye-catching. I contracted with Glendon Haddix of Streetlight Graphics and, wow, did he ever come through. My cover-dealings taught me patience is critical to a new author’s success. If you don’t have the scratch for a nice cover, do not settle. Be patient and save your pennies. It can make all the difference. Proof of this came the same week I uploaded the cover that now adorns Bay’s End on Amazon. My sales quadrupled.
I’ve met many new friends and fans because of Bay’s End, and I thanked most of you guys on Facebook today, but here I would like to talk about a very special guy – Angel Vargas, and his tremendous voice acting. A month or so after Bay’s End’s release, J. Marie Ravenshaw, who was there, chapter by chapter, while I was writing the book, introduced me to a man that would become a quick friend. When I mentioned my book to him, he offered to read it aloud over Skype. Wow, that was an experience. He gave my characters voices, made them far more real than I could have ever imagined. His version of Officer Mack is soul-chilling and utterly terrifying. One day, I want an audio version of Bay’s End done with him at the mic. Up until now, neither of us have had the time to do such. Maybe one day, though. I will upload his take on Officer Mack after this post, in case those of you who are new to this blog are interested in hearing the man’s work. Nowadays, everything I write goes through Angel first. I edit my work while he reads it to me. If any of you aspiring authors are looking for some sage advice, I would say you need to find someone to read your work to you. They don’t have to be voice actors, they simply need to read what is written, because if you read it, you’re bound to read what you thought you wrote instead of what’s actually down on paper or the computer screen.
I have published two other works, indie-wise, since Bay’s End. My collections What the Dark Brings and Three After, taught me that short story collections should be used to help sell your other, lengthier work, not the other way around. Right now, Three after is free on Amazon and Kobo, and will be for the duration of its existence. I did this to garner new readers. Still to this day, “World’s Greatest Dad” is my favorite story. If you haven’t read it, hop on over and grab a copy of Three After .
I wouldn’t be here without Lynn Macnamee and her staff over at Red Adept Publishing. Back before she opened the publishing side, Lynn edited Bay’s End in its roughest form. She believed in that book, and for that, I will be forever grateful to her. I thanked her in the novel, but I will say it again here. Thank you for making me sound good, lady. Love ya!
Putting yourself out for the world to critique is not an easy venture. You must have thick skin, or be able to grow said armor at an exponential rate. To quote Michael Cane in The Dark Knight, “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” There are those that will tear you down for no other reason than to see you fail. Forget building themselves up, some act certain ways just to make you look bad. This can be for many reasons or no reason at all. You will make enemies, it’s just the ugly truth of being a public persona. Still, I’ve found more good inside people than I have bad. Because of that, I smile. Though Bay’s End isn’t perfect, I know I wrote a good book and no one will ever take that away from me.
In conclusion, this isn’t the end. My next full length novel, Life after Dane, is right around the corner, and for those of you waiting for the next Larry Laughlin book, Pennies for the Damned is almost complete. Ignore the word count meter in the sidebar, as I have yet to update it because the count changes to quickly for me to keep up. After all that, Chucklers is my next task, as I will be extending my short story, “He Who Laughs Last,” into a zombie-ish type novel. Also, I have a concentration camp story I’ve been wanting to tell for ages and I may have found just the twist I need to make the story interesting. 2013 will be a blast for me, and I cannot wait to show you guys all that I have in store.
From here until the end, I adore you guys, my friends and my readers. May your own dreams come true.