Monday, January 9, 2017

Suspended Animation

Fry in cryofreezer.
Image courtesy of Futurama Wiki
Back in March of 2010, I submitted my novel Armistice Day to this blog in hopes of scoring a review. I was a newly minted indie author with a box full of copies that I bought from my printer (Lulu). The book was several years in the making. I'd attended the local adult ed writers workshop for several semesters, had the book professionally edited, sent out dozens of agent queries, and after realizing I had to publish it myself, commissioned a freelance artist to make the cover. It was now time for marketing.

I figured the easiest way to get my name out there was to submit my book for review to whichever blogs would take it. I don't believe in spamming people, so I carefully researched for the right sites. At the time, indie authors were treated like vermin. Scant few blogs would review indie authors, and only a portion of them reviewed sci-fi. This blog was one of the few. In fact, it was dedicated to self-published authors.

The blog's owner, Podler, agreed to do it, but he also invited me to join him in becoming a reviewer of the blog in order to review more indie authors who deserved to be recognized. The mission was to remove the stigma associated with indie authors, just as Girl-On-Demand had done with her PODdy Mouth blog (long since retired, but still linked to way down on the right-hand column). I was flattered to be invited and immediately accepted, for I was a true believer in the cause. I joined S.B. Jung and Libby Cone, other recent invitees who'd accepted. He told me that other authors who'd been invited just didn't have the time. I didn't realize at the time how true those words were (are).

In June, after I'd had my first review published for the blog—and my book reviewed—Podler disappeared. After transferring ownership of the blog to Libby and me, he deleted his blogger account and corresponding email address, taking many book cover images with him. He left no note. There were no warning signs. He was just gone. And since he'd used a pseudonym, we had no way to track him down. All of a sudden, we new recruits were put in charge.

We scrambled to right the ship. We created a new email address for submissions, tracked down the broken book cover image links, and found the email addresses for the authors left adrift in the slush pile. I think we did a fine job.

As time wore on, real life caught up to S.B. and Libby, and I assumed administrative control of the blog (slush pile, rejection notices, etc). We invited people to join us. Reviewers came and went. We reviewed a lot of great books (and a few that fell short). We expanded the blog: links to other blogs designed to help indie authors, a list of editors, and a list of affordable cover designers. We hosted cover reveals, sample chapters, kickstarters, and author news. One author even credited us with helping her land a book deal with a publisher because of the review we gave her book. While I don't know if that's even remotely true, it was a wonderful thing for her to say, and it made me feel like we were accomplishing something. Just seeing the public's attitude about indie books change overall was great. Successful indie novels have been scooped up by major publishers and even made into movies! These days, a well produced indie novel is indistinguishable from the traditionally published.

As I came upon my sixth year on the blog and considered adding a paid review format (whereupon those that paid would get a one week turnaround while everyone else had to wait the typical amount of time), it dawned on me that it had been six years since I published my novel and the sequel was only 20% done. Yeah, I published my short stories in an anthology, but the grand series that I'd envisioned was going nowhere. Fellow indie authors that I'm friends with had each published several books in that time, and I was still working on my second book. I'd spent the last six years promoting the work of other authors instead of writing and promoting my work. This wasn't what I signed up for. I'd meant to be a reviewer on the side while I wrote, not the other way around.

As you know, there are only so many hours in a day. There's also a finite number of days in this life. Please excuse me for sounding maudlin, but 50 isn't that far off for me. I've always been haunted by that line from "Time" by Pink Floyd.
And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun
Something has to give. I'm sorry, but I can't run this blog anymore. I have to focus on my writing now.

So what does all this rambling mean after the walk down memory lane? It means this blog is going on an indefinite hiatus. There's no one available to take over as administrator, so we're closing up shop. It might not really be the end though. Richard has expressed a desire to have an outlet to publish reviews for indie books that he comes across. That seemed reasonable to me (I might do the same) so I agreed. But it definitely means that we're not accepting anymore submissions for the foreseeable future. Like poor Fry, the blog is going to be cryogenically frozen in a way. But unlike Fry, we might be unfrozen from time to time for a review. Then again, maybe it'll be frozen for a thousand years, at least until Google's server farm bites the dust.

I'd like to thank everyone who's worked on this blog with me over the years. While part of me resents Podler for abandoning us, the opportunity has enabled me to make many new friends that I never would have otherwise. And for that, I am blessed.

See you around,
David "DED" Drazul

No comments: