I forget which short story collection I was working on and discussing with a friend, but he posed an interesting question as we were chatting:
Why is your name always at the bottom of your covers? Shouldn’t it be on the top?
While I may not completely produce my own covers anymore (for the better, as you can likely tell) I do place the text atop the artwork. The decision to de-emphasize myself was a conscious one and I did it for a very simple reason:
Nobody knows who I am.
It’s a harsh thing to admit, of course, but that doesn’t make it any less true. If I put “Eduardo Soliz” on the top of a cover, a potential reader might think that the book is about a guy with that name, or they might even think it’s in Spanish. Either way, my name (right now, at least) is not a very big selling point.
Stephen King and James Patterson and those guys, yeah, they can put their names up top because people will recognize then as authors who’s work they enjoy so they’ll be more inclined to pick up a book with their name on top and buy it.
Someday, I’ll be ‘big enough’ to have the nerve to put my name at the top of the page, but until then, I’ll have to play second fiddle to the books themselves.
Then again, maybe that’s how it should be!
As I mentioned previously, I tend to carry a chip on my shoulder at work, which can increase or decrease in size depending on the derp that is being thrown my way by customers, coworkers, and the company I work for. I recently had an instance where working on a story during my lunch hour improved my mood and I felt happy throughout the remainder of the day.
It happened again. I got worked up into a lather one morning thanks to a coworker who couldn’t follow simple directions. I reached the point where I had to walk away from my desk because I wanted to hit something or someone. Lunch couldn’t come too soon because doggone it, I needed a break.
I returned to my desk and lunchtime soon arrived without incident. I tapped away on my tablet, looking for some mental respite from the day. I had earbuds on and was listening to music in an attempt to blot out the office noise. As is often the custom, I opened my ‘To Do’ directory and scrolled down the list of unfinished short stories, blog posts, podcast scripts, and book drafts for something to work on. I opened up the short story that I had started before. The words flew from my fingertips and I had a completed first draft by the time lunch was through. As was the case before, I felt better after the fact.
It then occurred to me that I hadn’t written any fiction in quite a few days; I had been spending them formatting “Fuzzy Words” for publication and recording and editing podcasts. I started to wonder: was I more easily upset because I hadn’t worked on any stories in a while? Have I gone from ‘I like to write’ to ‘I need to write?”
I can be pretty moody at work, depending on how much stupid is being thrown at me from all directions. I would say that my average mood has gone from anger to indifference as of late as I slog through each day’s 8-hour adventure.
There are brief moments of happiness to be found, though, whether its from coworkers’ jokes, a good lunch, or even the occasional not-completely-angry-at-us customer. I was having something of a ‘blah’ day earlier this week when I stopped to have a conversation with one of my cubicle-neighbors. The conversation awoke my muse and I spent my lunch hour starting on writing a short story that was inspired by that conversation.
The story isn’t anything terribly special; it’s supposed to be a quick gag story that I’ll post onto my website. But I enjoyed writing the beginning of that story, so much so that I returned to the office a few minutes late. I spent the remainder of that afternoon in the office in a really good mood. I was happy not only because of the work I had done, but also at the anticipation of finishing that story. Thoughts of dialogue and plot points popped into my head on occasion.
I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t written anything in awhile, but that one hour or so of writing made me feel wonderful, even if it I wasn’t something terribly important. There’s just something about creating something new that is very satisfying, second only to the euphoria of finishing it!
I previously mused about the universes my stories take place in. There, I mentioned that the majority of my stories did not take place in ‘the real world’ (Earth-Prime). Instead, I have a parallel world (Earth-F) that is inhabited by furries but is otherwise similar to our reality, but for the problems that possessing fur, claws, and sharp pointy teeth might introduce.
I recently found myself writing two stories that inched a bit closer to the real world than usual and went through the trouble of making sure they didn’t get too far away from their real-life influences.
The first, “Rules of the Game,” was based on the invention of basketball by James Naismith but transposed on to a world where a furry basketball league exists (FBA). While I had the basic outline for the story down, I took it upon myself to research both the real-life events that led to the creation of the game as well as what limited information I could find on the fictional history of the Furry Basketball Association. While I didn’t have to do so, I did the research in the interest of accuracy and I’d like to think the story came out better for it.
Another as-of-yet-unpublished story (“Epiphany”) gives a fictional account of what may have influenced the creation of some well-known characters. I could have simply written the story with no regards for the real events or individuals involved, but I wanted it to make real-world sense even though it doesn’t exactly take place in the real world. Once again, I did my research and I hope that the story stands up to scrutiny.
I might be the only one that cares about such things, but such is the price of having an anal-retentive computer guy brain!
On October 27, 2011, I uploaded One Sheet Stories to Amazon.com, which marked the beginning of my adventures in self-publishing. Three years later, I have self-published a total of six e-books to the tubes so far: one non-fiction book and five super-short story collections. My works can be found on Kindle, nook, iTunes, and Kobo.
Like many other creative persons, I hoped that my creations would be well received. While the number of copies of One Sheet Stories that were sold that first year could be counted on one hand (it’s free now), my second book, The Rules of Tech Support, has sold over one hundred copies and was downloaded over four hundred times when I gave it away on Amazon.
One reason I write is in the hope that this endeavor can result in financial independence, but realistically it will take some doing. I have received a small amount of royalties. Not much, but enough for me to let Uncle Sam know, for what that’s worth. There are definitely no plans for me to quit my day job anytime soon. I have, however, gained knowledge from my successes and failures that I have begun to share with others.
I like to think that my writing has improved over those three years; the fact that I give away some of my earliest works for free now is a reflection on how rough some of those early stories were. As evidenced by the slow start, I may have been a bit premature in attempting to sell my works. If nothing else, I learned that I needed to package at least seven stories to justify the ninety-nine cent price tag. Lessons learned and all that.
My attempts to sell paper copies of my books were met with what I can only describe as a fantastic level of indifference (insert lamenting about how ‘nobody reads anymore’ here), but the opportunity to spread the word about my work and talk to like-minded individuals have made up for the lack of financial success. Luckily the financial costs are low and the potential for higher levels of success are there, so I press on.
Of course, there are things that I still need to work on; length in particular is something that still vexes me. I have at least one idea for a novella that I would like to complete someday, but only a few partially finished chapters sit unloved on my hard drive. I have also taken a few tentative steps towards writing different kinds of stories, but the majority of my works are still humorous (I hope). Marketing is another challenge that I am looking forward to addressing in the future.
As I enter my fourth year of being a self-published author, I can only hope that as I write and publish more, I sell more and who knows, maybe someday I will get to really say ‘take this job and shove it’ for good. As my fourth year begins, I have two follow-ups to The Rules of Tech Support in the works as well as another science fiction collection and of course, more furry stories.
Writing and publishing has been an adventure for me so far, and I hope that you (and many others!) will join me on what should be a fun ride in the years ahead. Thanks for reading.
When I started writing fiction, I didn’t give much thought into linking my short stories together or having them take place in a shared universe. As time went on, I did find myself putting some of them into a few distinct worlds:
“Earth Prime” is our home-sweet-dimension, and given that the majority of my stories involve some combination of furries, super-science, and fantasy, I don’t know that many of them actually take place here. I do have a few sci-fi stories that take place ‘twenty minutes into the future,’ that is, near enough for us to relate to them (I hope!).
“Earth-F” is a parallel version of our world inhabited by furries. These stories tend to be humorous and I like to ‘Hanna-Barbera’ the names in those stories. For example, in a story that took place in a television studio, an older character referred to old-time TV stars such as “Mewcille Ball” and “Droopy Sales.” I know, I know!
On “Earth H-minus” mankind has destroyed itself in what becomes known as the “Final War” and after their intelligence has been increased due to increased mutations, the furries eventually inherit the Earth. One as-yet unpublished story takes places in a period where humans and furries coexist, though not harmoniously. Society is eventually rebuilt by the furries but I haven’t quite hammered out the predator/prey relationship rules yet or if the humans were completely eradicated. Yeah, its not exactly a happy place.
The ‘Enchanted Forest’ stories obviously happen in a fantasy world, but I haven’t done much there (like come up with a clever name) though it has been established that magic does have limits. For now, anyway.
I should probably sit down and figure out just where all my stories fit, because inevitably some reader out there is going to try to ‘connect the dots’ and completely screw it up. Well, assuming I haven’t already! 😀