Dieselpunks

Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Friends and eneighbors,

I've only just discovered my dieselpunkitude.  In fact, I found Dieselpunks.org while researching a new project that I only belatedly found out was probably dieselpunk.  Like many other things in my life, the label seems to have come late to the party. But I have to say it fits pretty good. 

Looking back, I guess I've always been a DP.  I was always the guy trying to work a Cord roadster and "guns akimbo" into D&D campaigns.  I was the guy playing cowboys and indians with a tommy gun.  In a land of Cowboy hats and ball caps, I prefer fedoras (although it's hella hard to find one with a decent brim out here!).  By the time I got out of high school, I already knew how to adjust the carbs on a straight 8 Pontiac to keep the rear cylinders from running too rich and the fronts too lean.  Going out on a fancy dinner date, whether I show up in the pinstripe or the sharkskin, it's always a disappointment to find out that I'm the only one not wearing jeans (or, in the old days, polyester-- ugh!)

From Dieselpunks, I found the Zoot Shooters (who're going to be hearing from me here pretty soon,) and the Fedora Lounge.  Both entities I've already grown fond of, though I haven't actually joined either yet. 

I lurked for awhile before joining, like ya do, but the itch to share is growing strong.

So here I am, busting into this forum like a bootlegger into a rival's speakeasy, guns ablazin'!  I should probably apologize for that.  I really should....  On the other hand, I never did get anywhere being a shrinking violet.

See, once upon a time, I was a published writer.  Royalty checks and everything.  It didn't end well.  I don't suppose it was entirely coincidental that Warner Publishing's address was 666 E. 5th Avenue.  It was internecine internal politics that done me in, both at the publisher and the literary agency that was representing me. 

Ah well, water under the bridge.  A whole lotta water!  I was so angry for so long that I quit writing for ten years.  But as you all probably know if you're a member of this group, writing isn't something that you can just quit. 

I recently discovered the advances in epublishing, and at the strong urging of my kids, am having a lash at being a professional writer again.  Or, perhaps I should say author.  I'm not entirely sure I'm confident enough yet to be a writer as the term diverges from merely authoring works.  I've dropped my other projects and am concentrating on what I hope is a publishable work in the 80-90,000 word range. 

So, at the risk of being pushy, here are the first six pages and a bit of the first draft in RTF.  I'm striving to have the piece done by mid summer and up on Smashwords shortly thereafter. 

I welcome any comments for good or ill.  Help, assistance, aid, opinion, suggestion are also welcome.  I've been out of the game for awhile, but I think that I'm still able to accept criticism without too much drama or backtalk.

Thanks for your time and I hope that this is the beginning of some beautiful friendships.

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Welcome in out of the shadows, sir!  Good luck on relaunching as an author.  I'll see if I can read through the pages and get you comment.

Obviously a lot of aspiring writers here.  Rather than ask the cliched "how do I get published" question, I'll pose one from your listed negative experiences: any advise on spotting warning signs that things with a publisher are about to fall apart?

Welcome, Bren. Research was how I found this group as well. I think you are in good company. I have met a few others who have revived dead careers via self-pubbing ebooks. You can't get black-listed when there is no one to check the list!

I've launched into the full-time writing gig just in the last couple of year, and am doing it via stuff like KDP and smashwords. Loving it so far!

I am having a hard time getting your file to open. I will keep trying, but if you wouldn't mind emailing it to me: hachebrown at gmail dot com then I could be sure to get it!

If you're going to go traditional, the number one most crucial thing you MUST absolutely and without fail have (other than some small talent, although even that seems optional) is decent representation.  A good agent will get your work seen, will fight for you, will advise you on when to fight and when to cede territory, and, most importantly, will notice trouble coming from the giant brick building o' doom before the roof drops on your head.

In my particular case, the comedy of errors devolved into a perfect storm.  It went something like this. 

1. I found an excellent agent who believed in me.  Seriously, she sought me out after having read some of my work prior to becoming an agent. 

2. My agent shopped my book to all and sundry for six months or so, until she found an editor who liked my style, but hated the book.

3. I wrote about half of a book to order for the editor, who signed me to a two book contract with ROFR on a third.  I got a big check.  Things were looking rosy.

4. My first book finished, I shipped it off to the  publisher (This was Warner Publishing.  They no longer exist)  Book came back from the copy editor marked up like the dead sea scrolls!

5. There followed much wrangling as we came to an agreement on how much of my original manuscript would be allowed to participate in the publishing process.  Here is where the good agent comes most importantly into play-- as a mediator, looking out for the author, but also able to step outside of the work and recognize that it ain't worth nothing if it isn't published.

6. here's where everything went pear-shaped.  Shortly after having the outline for the second book published and submitting a complete manuscript (which I padded with around 40,000 extra words of dross for the copy editor to remove without a fight, thereby earning a reputation for being agreeable without sacrificing too much of the actual work) my agent quit the agency without telling me.  Her boss, a well known reptile, took over my account, also without telling me.  Apparently, he either hadn't been told that I'd written the book deliberately thick or he just didn't care.

Simultaneously, my editor went on his honeymoon, leaving his equally reptilian assistant in charge of the office.  I think you can all see where this is going?  By the time I heard anything about anything, the new book was dead, the contract was "cancelled", Warner was demanding part of my signing fee back, and the building that housed the Literary Agency representing me had suffered a mysterious fire, completely destroying it and all its contents.  Talk about noir!  To date (and the book was published June of 1990) I've received exactly one sales report.  As of the first three months, the book had sold in excess of four thousand of the first printing (plus 26 overseas sales) of twenty-six thousand.  I never heard from Warner again, despite repeated letters to their legal department over the years.  I was never presented with any sort of final sales numbers (the contract called for me being able to purchase any unsold copies of the book at a discount).

On the plus side, I retain the e-rights!  So, the book will be going up on Smashwords, along with the sequel, if I can find it.

Oh, that's another thing.  NEVER give up the e-rights.  I got a whole 10% of cover as royalties, of which my agent got a percentage.  My eventual royalties ended up being about $0.26 per copy.  E-royalties are typically around 60-70%, and don't sunset like dead tree books.

In retrospect, I should have been much more hands-on with the whole process and made absolutely sure that everything was in writing somewhere, even to the point of having posted letters in my file to the effect that I'd written extra dross into the manuscript specifically as a target for removal by copy editors.  (there is no power in the universe, they say, stronger than the need for one writer to change the copy of another!).  While your agent may be the most trustworthy person on any planet, you might find yourself working for a stand-in without any sort of notice.

Suffice it to say, at the risk breaking the of never say never ban, I will never deal with another dead tree publisher again.

I hope that this proves helpful.

Cap'n Tony said:

Welcome in out of the shadows, sir!  Good luck on relaunching as an author.  I'll see if I can read through the pages and get you comment.

Obviously a lot of aspiring writers here.  Rather than ask the cliched "how do I get published" question, I'll pose one from your listed negative experiences: any advise on spotting warning signs that things with a publisher are about to fall apart?

Welcome! Like you I only resently found this site. You've inspired me - I am also working on a WWII Superhero illustrated short story called "Night Reich." I may post some of those pages as well.

Thanks!

If you retained the e-rights you should be good to go.
I would say release the first books soon. Make the fiest one .99 to try to pick up fans. Build your reviews, etc. Then maybe even release a double header for 5 bucks or so right when the third one is released. You would already have a good body of work for creating some buzz and momentum.



Bren McDonnall said:

If you're going to go traditional, the number one most crucial thing you MUST absolutely and without fail have (other than some small talent, although even that seems optional) is decent representation.  A good agent will get your work seen, will fight for you, will advise you on when to fight and when to cede territory, and, most importantly, will notice trouble coming from the giant brick building o' doom before the roof drops on your head.

In my particular case, the comedy of errors devolved into a perfect storm.  It went something like this. 

1. I found an excellent agent who believed in me.  Seriously, she sought me out after having read some of my work prior to becoming an agent. 

2. My agent shopped my book to all and sundry for six months or so, until she found an editor who liked my style, but hated the book.

3. I wrote about half of a book to order for the editor, who signed me to a two book contract with ROFR on a third.  I got a big check.  Things were looking rosy.

4. My first book finished, I shipped it off to the  publisher (This was Warner Publishing.  They no longer exist)  Book came back from the copy editor marked up like the dead sea scrolls!

5. There followed much wrangling as we came to an agreement on how much of my original manuscript would be allowed to participate in the publishing process.  Here is where the good agent comes most importantly into play-- as a mediator, looking out for the author, but also able to step outside of the work and recognize that it ain't worth nothing if it isn't published.

6. here's where everything went pear-shaped.  Shortly after having the outline for the second book published and submitting a complete manuscript (which I padded with around 40,000 extra words of dross for the copy editor to remove without a fight, thereby earning a reputation for being agreeable without sacrificing too much of the actual work) my agent quit the agency without telling me.  Her boss, a well known reptile, took over my account, also without telling me.  Apparently, he either hadn't been told that I'd written the book deliberately thick or he just didn't care.

Simultaneously, my editor went on his honeymoon, leaving his equally reptilian assistant in charge of the office.  I think you can all see where this is going?  By the time I heard anything about anything, the new book was dead, the contract was "cancelled", Warner was demanding part of my signing fee back, and the building that housed the Literary Agency representing me had suffered a mysterious fire, completely destroying it and all its contents.  Talk about noir!  To date (and the book was published June of 1990) I've received exactly one sales report.  As of the first three months, the book had sold in excess of four thousand of the first printing (plus 26 overseas sales) of twenty-six thousand.  I never heard from Warner again, despite repeated letters to their legal department over the years.  I was never presented with any sort of final sales numbers (the contract called for me being able to purchase any unsold copies of the book at a discount).

On the plus side, I retain the e-rights!  So, the book will be going up on Smashwords, along with the sequel, if I can find it.

Oh, that's another thing.  NEVER give up the e-rights.  I got a whole 10% of cover as royalties, of which my agent got a percentage.  My eventual royalties ended up being about $0.26 per copy.  E-royalties are typically around 60-70%, and don't sunset like dead tree books.

In retrospect, I should have been much more hands-on with the whole process and made absolutely sure that everything was in writing somewhere, even to the point of having posted letters in my file to the effect that I'd written extra dross into the manuscript specifically as a target for removal by copy editors.  (there is no power in the universe, they say, stronger than the need for one writer to change the copy of another!).  While your agent may be the most trustworthy person on any planet, you might find yourself working for a stand-in without any sort of notice.

Suffice it to say, at the risk breaking the of never say never ban, I will never deal with another dead tree publisher again.

I hope that this proves helpful.

Cap'n Tony said:

Welcome in out of the shadows, sir!  Good luck on relaunching as an author.  I'll see if I can read through the pages and get you comment.

Obviously a lot of aspiring writers here.  Rather than ask the cliched "how do I get published" question, I'll pose one from your listed negative experiences: any advise on spotting warning signs that things with a publisher are about to fall apart?



David Mark Brown said:

If you retained the e-rights you should be good to go.
I would say release the first books soon. Make the fiest one .99 to try to pick up fans. Build your reviews, etc. Then maybe even release a double header for 5 bucks or so right when the third one is released. You would already have a good body of work for creating some buzz and momentum.



Bren McDonnall said:

If you're going to go traditional, the number one most crucial thing you MUST absolutely and without fail have (other than some small talent, although even that seems optional) is decent representation.  A good agent will get your work seen, will fight for you, will advise you on when to fight and when to cede territory, and, most importantly, will notice trouble coming from the giant brick building o' doom before the roof drops on your head.

In my particular case, the comedy of errors devolved into a perfect storm.  It went something like this. 

1. I found an excellent agent who believed in me.  Seriously, she sought me out after having read some of my work prior to becoming an agent. 

2. My agent shopped my book to all and sundry for six months or so, until she found an editor who liked my style, but hated the book.

3. I wrote about half of a book to order for the editor, who signed me to a two book contract with ROFR on a third.  I got a big check.  Things were looking rosy.

4. My first book finished, I shipped it off to the  publisher (This was Warner Publishing.  They no longer exist)  Book came back from the copy editor marked up like the dead sea scrolls!

5. There followed much wrangling as we came to an agreement on how much of my original manuscript would be allowed to participate in the publishing process.  Here is where the good agent comes most importantly into play-- as a mediator, looking out for the author, but also able to step outside of the work and recognize that it ain't worth nothing if it isn't published.

6. here's where everything went pear-shaped.  Shortly after having the outline for the second book published and submitting a complete manuscript (which I padded with around 40,000 extra words of dross for the copy editor to remove without a fight, thereby earning a reputation for being agreeable without sacrificing too much of the actual work) my agent quit the agency without telling me.  Her boss, a well known reptile, took over my account, also without telling me.  Apparently, he either hadn't been told that I'd written the book deliberately thick or he just didn't care.

Simultaneously, my editor went on his honeymoon, leaving his equally reptilian assistant in charge of the office.  I think you can all see where this is going?  By the time I heard anything about anything, the new book was dead, the contract was "cancelled", Warner was demanding part of my signing fee back, and the building that housed the Literary Agency representing me had suffered a mysterious fire, completely destroying it and all its contents.  Talk about noir!  To date (and the book was published June of 1990) I've received exactly one sales report.  As of the first three months, the book had sold in excess of four thousand of the first printing (plus 26 overseas sales) of twenty-six thousand.  I never heard from Warner again, despite repeated letters to their legal department over the years.  I was never presented with any sort of final sales numbers (the contract called for me being able to purchase any unsold copies of the book at a discount).

On the plus side, I retain the e-rights!  So, the book will be going up on Smashwords, along with the sequel, if I can find it.

Oh, that's another thing.  NEVER give up the e-rights.  I got a whole 10% of cover as royalties, of which my agent got a percentage.  My eventual royalties ended up being about $0.26 per copy.  E-royalties are typically around 60-70%, and don't sunset like dead tree books.

In retrospect, I should have been much more hands-on with the whole process and made absolutely sure that everything was in writing somewhere, even to the point of having posted letters in my file to the effect that I'd written extra dross into the manuscript specifically as a target for removal by copy editors.  (there is no power in the universe, they say, stronger than the need for one writer to change the copy of another!).  While your agent may be the most trustworthy person on any planet, you might find yourself working for a stand-in without any sort of notice.

Suffice it to say, at the risk breaking the of never say never ban, I will never deal with another dead tree publisher again.

I hope that this proves helpful.

Cap'n Tony said:

Welcome in out of the shadows, sir!  Good luck on relaunching as an author.  I'll see if I can read through the pages and get you comment.

Obviously a lot of aspiring writers here.  Rather than ask the cliched "how do I get published" question, I'll pose one from your listed negative experiences: any advise on spotting warning signs that things with a publisher are about to fall apart?

That's good intel, thanks, Bren.

Welcome on board, Bren!

Sorry I haven't had the chance to make introductions sooner.  I recently started a new job and my baby is blocked while I'm at work.

It sounds like you've run the gauntlet of the professional publishing world.  It's the rare few who actually get to create exactly what they want for any kind of publisher, but the times have changed.  Best of luck in the digital world!

Well then...  Here we are on the last day of May, and just about halfway through.  Disappointing, as I'd hoped to be working on getting it up and for sale by now. Still...

Here's a current draft for your perusal.  The first 45,000 or so words.  Comment/suggestions, as always, very welcome. 

There's some German in there, and my Deutsch is-- to say the least-- rusty.  Any suggestions/corrections will be more than welcome.  I've a local friend who grew up in Germany and still speaks rather fluently.  he's promised to help with the syntax and grammar but hasn't had a chance to go through it just yet.

Thanks all, and (hopefully) enjoy!

Bren

Attachments:
I can't get the attachment to download. Could you email it to me?

Yup.  Maybe I'm doing this attachment thing wrong.  Anybody else try and have problems?

Bren

Download worked okay for me. The only weirdness I see is that the file is labeled as RTF here, but DOC when I open it.

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