Pensacon 2015? I’ll be there … I hope!

Pensacon 2015 is right around the corner. For those of you not local to the area/not familiar with conventions, Pensacon is a comic/anime/science fiction convention (with a strong leaning toward the science fiction aspect) that debuted in our area earlier this year. I remember hearing about it a little too late to attend as a con-goer, (which, by the way, I do love me some conventions. Even authors can be nerds!… actually, I have a theory most of us are) but I held my breath as news of the convention spread. I had no idea how it was going to turn out; I had no idea whether or not there would be a large enough calling in my local area for the convention to be successful.

I was thrilled when it exploded in popularity. A convention of Pensacon’s magnitude in this area has been a long time coming, and with amazing work from the staff and planners, I wondered why I ever worried in the first place! Now the vendor applications have opened for next year’s Pensacon, and I’m excited to throw in my chance to become a part of it as a vendor next year! The application process is pending, of course, but I’m hopeful that I will be accepted to have a booth at Pensacon 2015! That being said, there are a just a couple of important parts to this blog post that I wanted to let everyone know about.

First and foremost, I hope to see everyone there! If you’re meandering about in the festivities and you happen upon my booth, please don’t hesitate to stop for a while and talk with me about the novel, the future novels, what you had for breakfast, or anything that crosses your mind! Whether you’re a dear friend or one of my readers, I’d love nothing more than to talk with you for a bit, connect with you, and find out anything about you that I can carry with me. Not to mention, I’m probably going to be nervous as all get-out, and some of my friends/readers chatting with me will help relax me, I’m sure!

Second, I’d like to let you know what you can expect to find at my booth. If I get my booth approved, I intend to begin stockpiling physical copies of my own books. I’ll be using spare money from each of my paychecks to buy 10-15 of my books each two weeks all the way up to the Pensacon date. I’m hoping to have between 100 and 150 in stock during the convention. With the books in stock, I will be selling them at a to-be-determined price. However, I can assure you it will be cheaper than the $12.75 + Shipping and Handling you pay on Amazon, since I’ll have been ordering them in bulk. I will likely set the price point at about twelve dollars even, but I’ll figure all that out after I do my calculations.

In addition to being able to purchase a slightly-less-expensive version of the Paperback version of NANO Archive 01: The City of Fire, I’ll be signing each copy as you buy it from me. Since I’ll be doing it as you buy them, I will be glad to make the signatures out to whomever you wish. Whether it be yourself, or a friend if you intend to buy one as a gift. And, of course, if you have your own please bring it! I would love to sign it for you if that’s something you’re interested in!

Finally, and most importantly (and I can’t stress that word enough), I will be happy to chat with you. Please, please ask me any questions you might have for me that comes to mind. Say hello, tell me about yourself, and give me the honor of shaking your hand and knowing your name. I say honor because if you’re one of my readers, it means you’re supporting what I do. I say it as often as I can, but you truly can’t fathom how much that support means to me. Nothing excites me more about this convention than getting to know each of you face-to-face.

I’m squirming in my seat just thinking about it!

I hope to see all of you at the convention. Wish me luck during my application process, and thank you so much for your continued support!

-Jason

Breaking Tradition: The Decision to Self-Publish.

For a long time now, a rift has divided authors that choose to seek traditional publication for their work and those that independently publish. The Internet has made the latter abundantly easier than in the past, and in spite of that (or most probably because of that) an independent author is still branded with a certain stigma for self-publishing their work. As a self-published author, I have not been immune to criticism for choosing that route. What fascinates me most about the criticism is how closely it resembles prejudice or discrimination in the way it’s presented.

I recall one Internet user on my Reddit AMA who asked if I had merely “self-published.” After I provided a lengthy explanation as to my thought processes behind the decision, the user rebutted simply with something akin to “you’re still just self-published.” No logic or reason followed. The user was simply repulsed by the idea that I did not query an agent, submit my prose for review, and get picked up by one of the many publishing houses. While I certainly don’t feel the need to justify myself to anyone (my interest in this is purely academic), I do feel like imparting a bit of insight on the time and research that went into my decision to be an independent author. It was not a decision I made lightly, I assure you.

First, I’d like to point out that my original intention at the onset of writing NANO was to submit the work to Tor for traditional publication. Tor accepts submissions without an agent, so I was excited to take my changes at not getting put into their slush pile. Without any knowledge or facts, I stuck by my guns and proudly boasted my desire to publish on with Tor everywhere I went… for almost a year.

At around the halfway point, when I realized I would actually be able to finish the NANO series (if you’re an author yourself, you probably know what I mean by being “able to finish” something), I took an active interest in the publication process and dug into the research myself. I wanted to know what to expect when it came to submission, acceptance, launch, and beyond. Confident in my work, I operated under the assumption that it would be accepted and published. Besides, operating under the assumption that it would not be accepted kind of defeated the need to dig any deeper, eh? So dig I did, and I found quite a few interesting things. I’m going to take this time to highlight the important ones; the research and personal experiences I encountered that ultimately led to my decision to self-publish.

 

The Contract – Assuming a publisher picked up my work, the next step in the process would be a contract drawn up between us. This contract would include everything from my advance to royalties to which rights I signed over to their company. And let me tell you, as an emerging/debuting author… my prospects were bleak. I could hope for a meager advance, royalties far lower than the ones I would make self-publishing (assuming I ever saw any royalties– book sales may never have covered my advance), and the publishers would gain exclusive rights to every form of my story you could imagine. Multimedia (movie and video game), audiobook, ebook, paperback, hard cover, all of it.

In addition, a publishing house usually locks you into a segment of their contract called “the right of first refusal.” This means that any work you write from that day forward MUST be sent to that publishing house first so long as your contract is valid, even if the work is not part of their normally published genre. Only after they review and refuse your work can you submit it to a new publishing house.

 

Creative Control – Believe it or not, once your publisher takes on your work, they gain more than just a little control over the content of your story before it’s released. If a section, character, or plot point clashes with that particular publishing house’s interests, they are within their rights (according to your contract) to ask you to alter those things pending publication. While typically this is more a means for a publishing house to protect itself and less of a tyrant’s dominion over your creative project, it is worth noting that such a clause exists.

 

Marketing – Perhaps the only real benefit I encountered to signing on with a publishing house is the name associated with it. Publishing houses have established followers, and their company acts like a brand name. Many readers that would otherwise never look twice at my book may have actually picked it up and become an avid fan if Tor had slapped their sticker on it.

That being said, however, I think I should note that there is a common misconception that a publishing house will pick your book up and handle all the advertising, promotion, and marketing you need to be successful. My research indicated otherwise, much to the lamentations of fellow authors that traditionally published, who wrote that they put in an immense amount of time and effort self-promoting and advertising, just like any independent author.

With the Internet, social media, and word of mouth as I mentioned earlier, it’s become too easy to spread the word to all corners of the globe about your product all by yourself, anyway. Marketing as an independent author is possible in ways our predecessors could never have dreamed of.

 

Quality of Work – At first glance, it would seem that a publishing house, at the very least, creates a filter which keeps poorly edited, nonsensical dribble from hitting the intellectual market. I’ll refrain from mentioning that any English major who has read the 50 Shades trilogy might disagree with that notion (or does that count as mentioning it?) But I will say that, from a personal perspective, quality of work is not determined solely by a publishing house. Each author knows what they put into their work, and most sales mediums offer enough of a look into a work that a reader can easily distinguish the author who approaches writing seriously versus the author who does not before they ever make a purchase.

 

Lack of any Reason – To put it simply, as an author there’s just no reason not to try your hand at self-publishing before you ever submit to a house. If, for whatever reason, your book fails to take off at launch, or you regret not submitting to a publishing house shortly after you release it, you can always query later. “But Jason, you might have sold 1,000 copies and cut into a publishing house’s market. They’re not going to want you!”

This could not be further from the truth, according to my research. If anything, a substantial number of sales shows a publishing house that you worked hard to generate awareness about your book, and they can expect you to continue working hard when they take it on. Working hard means more sales for them, more sales for them means more money. Trust me, unless you become the next G.R.R. Martin, your independent sales are not going to put a dent in their market.

But say you succeed on your own? Should you stay the independent course, run the race, and manage to accumulate a good 5,000 plus sales on your own? Well, that’s when some real magic happens. According to other authors’ testimonies and comments on research pages, 5,000 sales is about the time the publishing houses start coming to you. And when the houses come to you, guess what? The contracts get negotiated far more in your favor. You keep more of the rights, control more of the final product, and negotiate on your terms.

 

Given the above-mentioned factors, you might be thinking, at this point, that I am championing the cause of self-publication in an attempt to strike down the evil dominion of traditional publishing… You might be right about that, in certain ways. At the very least, anyone who approached me and asked which route I recommended would almost assuredly receive an earful of persuasive arguments about the boons of independently publishing.

I believe there is still merit in traditional publishing. I believe that with it comes a sense of security, professionalism, and prestige. After all, someone calling themselves a business person and qualified in judging prose has deemed your manuscript worthy enough to sell on the market under their company’s acclaimed name brand. That sense of pride is something that cannot be taken away; but for many people, this science fiction author included, the price to pay is too steep.

As one researcher put it, the biggest boon of a publication company is that they can tackle all the things an author hates about the process. For me, that turned out to be… nada. That’s right, nothing. In my experience so far, with all the hustle and bustle I’ve gone through, with as busy as my PR, other distribution formats, future releases, and research has kept me, I have never once felt the process to be tedious or mundane. I have never felt more fulfilled by work than when I do anything related to my writing, including all things marketing and publishing.

I should point out that most of the research I did is almost a year old; the logic is sound, but it’s still my logic. It’s based off the research I did and my personal experiences. This is my blog; you won’t find me citing numbers and throwing up a hundred pages for this post, because I wanted this post to reflect my own personal thought processes. In the end, this is my opinion, not the wise words of a guru. So if you want to traditionally publish and you think I’m the most idiotic author you’ve ever seen, then all the power to you.

But if you’re like me at all, and you enjoy controlling every facet of your novel’s launch from its creation to its production and distribution, then do as I did and break tradition. Self-publish your book like there’s no tomorrow. Self-publish the hell out of it. Just remember that as an independent publisher, you are in charge of your success and failure in a larger way than you ever imagined. No one can help shoulder the burden of failure with you, but likewise, no one can take away the pride of success, either. The experience, in its entirety, is all yours.

As always, thank you for your continued support.
– Jason

Jason, you’re pretty quiet over there… or are you?

Hello everyone. I haven’t posted anything in a couple of days, so I thought I’d take this time to update you on a few things! Believe me when I say that I haven’t been idle. Between my day job and the things I’m trying to accomplish with NANO’s launch, let’s just say it gets a bit hectic!

First, I received this box from UPS today! It contains the first five paperback copies of my book that I’ve ordered. These particular five copies are spoken for, but I’m excited to learn about how long the bulk shipments take to get to me and how much they cost. These things will be good to know when I reach out to local bookstores about possible book signings. I plan to look into that in the near future, so be ready!

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I’ve begun the chopping and final self-editing process for NANO Archive 02: The War for Uriel. I suspect that within the next two to three weeks, I will be ready to enter the beta-reading and cover-art phases of the publication process for that book. If you really enjoyed reading Archive 01 and you don’t want to wait for the official release of Archive 02, be on the lookout for my beta-read announcement. I will be limiting the beta-reader count to 5 this time.

The audiobook production process for Archive 01 is now well underway. Depending on how fast my producer works, you can expect the audiobook to be available for purchase within the next two months. It’s estimated to be about 14.7 hours long. According to the contract, my producer has to send me the first fifteen minutes for review before we continue with the process. If it turns out well, I’ll be posting the first fifteen minutes on the website for your listening pleasure, and so you can get an idea about what to expect from the audiobook!

I’m looking into various conventions that are within driving distance and fast approaching. So far I have my eye on Sci-Con Tampa (which runs from September 26 – 28). Funds pending, of course, since the whole experience will likely run me about a grand. Make sure to check back on details about that and other conventions that I may go to!

Finally, I’ve been probing around for science fiction book review bloggers to give Archive 01 a review on their blogs, FB, Amazon, and Goodreads. Of the few I reached out to, I’ve already received a favorable response from two, one of which I was most excited to get in touch with! If any of you know anyone who loves to blog science fiction book reviews, be sure to send them my way! Exposure is everything!

Spread the word; visit and follow my site for more information, and share whenever you can! I hope those of you that have gotten the chance to dig into Archive 01 are enjoying your experience!

Thanks again for your continued support.

- Jason

A Feeling Unlike Any Other

When I was doing various research and corresponding with fellow authors during the writing phases of my first novel, many of them had a lot of things to say about their experiences. One of the things that stood out to me most was when they said that there was no feeling in the world like holding a copy, a real physical copy, of your book for the first time. They said nothing could quite compare.

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… They were right. My formatting technician and dear friend, Jonathan Pace, made sure to get a rush-delivery of my book’s paperback version. He allowed me the distinct honor of holding it for the first time tonight as we celebrated with some Mexican food. And, naturally, I gave him my first autograph.

I was so excited I even bragged and boasted to the hostess shamelessly. She was so cool; she played along, and when Jonathan laughed and told me to show her my driver’s license to prove it, I laughed. But she looked dead at me and said “No, seriously.”

I pulled it out with no small measure of pride, haha!

Thank you, Jonathan. And thank you, everyone else who follows me, who offers me words of support and encouragement, or even sends me nothing more (or less) than your well wishes and thoughts.

I’ll never, ever forget this experience or the ones to follow.

-Jason

My First Audiobook Audition!

Today I received my first official audition on ACX for the audiobook production of NANO Archive 01: The City of Fire! The young lady that auditioned sounded amazing, and I loved the way she brought the various characters to life!

And as a bonus, she even does awesome fake-French and Southern Belle accents! I am very excited to follow up with her and, if all goes well, the production of NANO Archive 01’s audiobook should be well underway by the end of the week!

Those of you that prefer to listen to books on tape or audiobooks, or those of you that just want one more way to listen to the story, be on the lookout for the upcoming release of NANO Archive 01’s audiobook format!

(After a brief correspondence, she even said she’d be willing to take on the other three books once they’re released! How exciting!)

Thanks for all your continued support

-Jason

Advances in Nanotechnology that could turn NANO’s science fiction into science reality.

In NANO, three hundred years into the future and a discovery on the moon lead humans to create implants that augment them in a variety of ways. From enhanced senses to rapid regeneration, the implants in the NANO series fictitiously show us the steadily growing rate at which humanity joins with technology and the possible consequences waiting for us in such a future.

But how fictitious is it, exactly? How long are we really talking until humans approach a level of technology so advanced that it mirrors or even outdates NANO‘s notions of science “fiction?” The truth is, we might not be as far away as you think! And that’s not even taking into account the possibility of the “Singularity!” (Google it. You know you want to. Scary and exciting all in one.)

Here are some things within the past decade that are quickly threatening to turn NANO‘s science fictional neurotech into science reality!

 

Nanotech VisionWe’ve all heard of the Google Glass, but did you know that they’re already enhancing this system to incorporate “nanotech” contact lenses? They would work in tandem with a microprojector attached to the eyeglasses to display a near virtual reality overlay onto the world you perceive! This new device may not give you Ihlia’s activated night vision or eagle eyes, but this science fiction author doesn’t think those things are too much of a stretch!

Nanotech Brain Enhancement – In NANO, Ihlia boasts having a nanite unlike any other in the world. She calls it her Cognitive Accelerator, and in the book it allows her to slow down time around her. It doesn’t take the reader long to figure out that she’s actually accelerating the rate at which she processes thoughts. It may seem silly, but research is already going into improving our cognitive functions and repariing our cognitive dysfunctions. Right now talk is of “nanopharmaceuticals,” but how long until those drugs become implants that permanently enhance and regulate brain activity?

Panacea - Most of you know Panacea as the poster-child nanite in the NANO series. Fictitiously, this nanite provides the user with perpetual immunity to disease, cancer, and infection, and allows for the rapid, seamless repair of injuries. Did you know that these technologies are at the forefront of nanomedical research? Already nanotechnology is being researched for a variety of medical purposes ranging from prosthetic coatings to early detection of pathogens, heart attacks, and cancer. In addition, nanotech is being used to save burn victims by accelerating tissue growth!

Holocoms – Holographic computer imagery has been a science fiction staple; it’s seen in lesser known works like The Carpathian Castle and Return From The Stars all the way up to more renowned titles like Star Wars (“Help me Obi Wan Kanobi, you’re my only hope.”) NANO is no exception as holocoms and an information network called the N3 have outdated our conventional understanding of computers. But it seems like recent nanotech developments will help to bring the concept to life! Move over LCD, you’re a nanostone throw away from obsoletion!

The Supersoldier – Let’s not forget the military strides that this kind of technology will bring. As far back as 2002-2003 with MIT opening their Super Soldier Program with backing from DARPA and the military, the idea of a nanotech enhanced Super Soldier has promised to revolutionize the way wars are fought. Recently, the use of unmanned drones and robotic technology have stolen the forefront, but don’t think that nanotech inspired super soldiers are out the door yet! Right now we’re only looking at combat suits like the Talos, but how far of a jump would it be to make the enhancements an integrated part of our biology?

 

Since as far back as the 1950’s, nanotechnology and the research behind it have promised to completely change the way our society functions. Being able to manipulate the way matter behaves at an atomic and subatomic level opens up doors that are both marvelous and terrifying. We’re talking about a wave of advancement so prominent and groundbreaking that entire research teams are devoted to nothing more than the ethical application of these technologies! Basically figuring out where the line should be drawn to keep humanity from becoming… well, something else!

But like all lines drawn to impede scientific progression, it’s only a matter of time before someone crosses it. When that happens, what will humanity become? Transhumanists, H+ers, and other advocates of synthesizing biology with technology don’t seem to mind. In some radical cases, they even excitedly anticipate it.

One thing is for certain, though. The age of information is approaching its Dusk. As one who believes that a new day will always rise on the horizon of the old, that leaves me to beg the question… what age will Dawn in its wake?

Be sure to check out NANO Archive 01: The City of Fire to join Ihlia as she fights through one possible end such a world might usher in! And be on the lookout for Archive 02. Just like our impending nanotech breakthroughs, it’s coming soon!

Thanks for your continued support,
– Jason Crutchfield