The Devil is in the Detailed Pre-Launch Planning

29 04 2012

One thing I know with great certainty: any creative journey will end up taking more time than I think it will when I set out. Which is why I am still toe-deep in the waters of indie publishing. Okay, by now I’m in probably up to my ankles. But this time last year, when I began seriously researching how to get my novels to readers, I figured that within 12 months I would have all three out on the market.

Instead, I’m waiting on a final piece to fall in place before pulling the trigger on novel #1, Plaguewalker. Written in the late 90s and filed away (I had to dig it out of storage, where it languished on a floppy disc, and convert it from MS Works 3!), Plaguewalker is actually one of my favorite pieces of writing. It’s a dark historical, however, and I knew it wouldn’t have broad commercial appeal (let’s just say Oprah would not have chosen it for her book club). But, at a mere 60,000 words, I thought it would be a good test case to learn the indie publishing process before trying to wrangle The War’s End to market. (The War’s End is, after all, three times as long, though I have put it on a strict diet and exercise program as I review the final draft.)

I personally love Plaguewalker,* and believe that someone inclined towards dark but ultimately redemptive historical fiction will enjoy it. The protagonist, the amoral medieval Bavarian executioner Marcus, is not an evil man. But his upbringing and circumstances–and his ignorance of the larger world around him due to severe social isolation–make him into a monster. At the start, at least.

(*”I personally love Plaguewalker“…wow, I sound pretty damn full of myself, don’t I? I wrote the thing, after all. But you have to understand. I am one of those writers who sits down at her keyboard with no plan, no thought to commercial appeal, no outline, no model. The voices in my head start talking and I basically take dictation. Sometimes the result is readable but not something I enjoy reading. And sometimes, as in the case of Plaguewalker, The War’s End and The Guardian, I love it not merely as its creator, but as a reader who likes a good story.)

If I can get all big-picture for a moment, Marcus, like Kharrn and Sventevit, the protagonists of The War’s End, are villains. But they are villains forged by circumstance rather than real malice or greed or even psychosis. Don’t get me wrong. All three of them do some rather nasty things. But what interests me as a reader (and, more to the point, as the person writing their stories in order to read them… crazy, I know) is how a villain forged by circumstance evolves (or not) when those circumstances change dramatically.

Anyway, I’ve been working on the official site for Plaguewalker and just added a post about the curious but encouraging world of indie publishing, in which I now reside. You can also read the first chapter of the book. The site is new and most definitely a work in progress, but I hope you’ll take a peek and let me know what you think.

The cover of Plaguewalker, available soon in paperback and on your Kindle. And yeah, I did the illustration. Because that's how I roll.