Todd Durrant’s Random Thoughts
Follow the efforts of a creative, crazed entrepreneur.

Another Week Gone By

That’s right my friends, another week has flown by.  I now look back and try to figure out what I accomplished.  Did I go forward at all?  Well, on the work front, things were pretty slow.  A few faithful CD buyers were bargain shopping, picking up a few of the newly arrived used CD’s, or some of the $3 deals from www.adifferentdrum.com but for the most part, folks are not big spenders these days.   However, that isn’t to say that I didn’t have plenty of work to do.   I spent a few hours preparing taxes.   I will know this coming week how much I owe…or not.  I’m guessing it will be another opportunity to pull out the checkbook and help fund the government’s big spending.    We all have to do our part, right?  Um, OK.  I guess I’ll be doing another big “tax sale” this year, like I’ve had to do so many years before.

Let’s talk about something else.   Let’s talk about:

GETTING A BOOK PUBLISHED ON YOUR OWN

See, that headline was much more exciting.   One of the things I accomplished this past week was the upload of my “edits sheet” to the independent publisher I’m using to get my science fiction book, “TRIGGER” onto the market.   The entire pre-press process has been much more time consuming that I’d originally thought.  I’d hoped to have the book in my hands in January, but it’s now March and I’m not quite sure how long it will take to get through the final step.

Here’s what happens.   First, you write the book.  In my case, that took two years, usually only writing on Sunday evenings when things were finally quiet enough in my house that I could settle down in front of my cheap laptop computer.   I managed to get quite a bit written while I was traveling to and from a music festival on the east coast in November of 2007.  It was crazy how productive I could be while forced to sit still on an airplane and while waiting for connecting flights in airports.  Anyway, writing is the really hard part– but it’s also the creative part, so it’s a lot of fun!

Next, you have to take a long, hard look at what you hope to get out of this book-writing experience.  In my case, I’d love to be able to write books for pay.   That would be a dream come true– to do something creative and fun, and get paid for it!  But after talking to other new authors, listening to discussions about how to to get published by a well distributed, well established company, I decided that I am not in a position in my own life where I can play that game.   You see, to get published by the “big boys”, you have to decide to dedicated years of your life and an unknown supply of money to travel around to conventions, basically spend time stalking your favorite editors or agents, hang out at the after-parties, get yourself into the “group of friends”, send your manuscripts only to those folks who have been sufficiently brown-nosed, and keep following up with more stalking, brown-nosing, and dropping bucks on the table for airfare.   I don’t have the money, don’t have the patience, and don’t have the time.   Heck, I’d already written the book, had started on others, and just wanted to feel like I was moving forward.  So, I picked what I thought was the best solution– do it myself through a well trusted independent publisher.

Thanks to a converstion (yes, at a small convention) with another self-published fantasy author, Anna Del C. Dye I decided to use Outskirtspress for the publishing.  There would be no mass distribution paperbacks, no hype, no automatic stocking on popular bookstore shelves, etc. but I WOULD be able to hold my own book in my hand and even sell it to other people who might want to check it out.   This effort still invovled money, but it was not money spent on a “hope”, but instead was money spent on a deal to get the thing finished.  You pay for a printing package of your choice, based on what you want out of your book, and then start the setup process.

I sent in my finished manuscript, which I’d already proof-read three times.  I was assigned a representative who would go through the entire process with me.  She helped me figure out the book size vs. retail price formula which best suited me, then sent back the proofs.  This was the chance to find any errors and get them fixed before it would be too late.  This time I handed the proofs to my wife, Myra, who took a few weeks to get through it, thanks to our very busy schedules.   It was crazy to see how many obvious typos and errors had slipped past my eyes in my own proof-reading.  I had written and read those words so many times that my eyes didn’t really have to LOOK at the words to know what they were supposed to say, if you know what I mean.   There were a few pages of corrections to send back– so many that I had to pay a few extra dollars for going over the limit.  Now, this week, those edits were turned in.   My cover artwork by Jeremy Selzer has been turned in as well.  So, I’m waiting for “final proofs” where I check to see if their layout people were able to make all the desired corrections.  Then…I guess I’m done.  I’ll just wait until a box shows up at my door.

The book will be available from me directly (I buy them from the publisher as needed), as well as through Amazon.com and other online book sellers.   It will be available for special-order through Borders and other major stores, though it will not be stocked on their shelves.  My main goal will have been accomplished– I will be an author with a book to hold in the air and declare, “I made this!”   If a bunch of people buy it, then that’s just an added bonus.   I’ll still go to a convention now and then for promotion, but it won’t be to stalk would-be agents.  I’ll be able to display my book with a smile, and if some agent happens to be there, picks it up, and decides I’m the next big thing in science fiction, I won’t argue.  If they want to pay me to write a book, or pay to publish my book on the larger market, then I’ll most likely sign the dotted line.  But I won’t count on it.  I intend basically to enjoy the journey.  That’s what is most important, after all.

Additional note:  Once the book IS available to order (hopefully soon), you’ll be able to get one from me here:  www.todd-durrant.com
I’ll follow up here as well.

ADDICTED TO BAD MUSIC

I don’t really enjoy bad music, but that headline sure got your attention, didn’t it?  While I was working at my computer this week, I found that I spent a lot of time listening to background music provided by www.ourstage.com which is a music site with a unique twist.  Anybody can go there and create a member account as an artist or as a listener, and thus become a music judge in their monthly contests.

If you go to Ourstage, you can click on the “judge” link and then select a music category from the drop-down menu, and proceed to judge song vs. song.   There is an option to listen to a string of four songs, then place them into order from “best” to “worst”.   Or, you can select head-to-head judging with just two songs where you pick which is better, and by how much.   This week I spent a lot of time listening to the “electronic / electro pop” category, which covers everything from poppy stuff like what I make and sell, to clubby instrumental music, to experimental electronic creations.

Right from the start, I’ll tell you that there is a lot, and I really mean a LARGE amount of utter crap uploaded for your judging pleasure.   But that’s the fun of it.  There is something strangely satisfying about being the critic.   I’m old enough that I remember an old game show from decades ago called “The Gong Show”.  It’s kind of like that!   You let a song play, and after only a few seconds (they require that you listen to at least 15 seconds of a song before judging it), you slam your finger down on that computer mouse and shout “GONG!”   Really, about 15 seconds is all you’ll be able to stand with some of those songs.   But others will keep you hanging on a bit longer.  And then, there’s a few that you will actually let play all the way through.   “Hey, this is pretty good,” you say to yourself.  Then you feel that even higher pleasure of having found something you really like by an artist you’d never heard of before.   You add yourself to their fan list, send them a little note of encouragement, and THEN….

You watch that really good artist drop in the rankings while a couple of the really crappy ones jump to the top, go into the finals, and end up winning the $5000 grand prize for the month.   Well, maybe not, but it kind of seems that way because this page, like many others, is a popularity contest in the end.   The artist with the biggest mailing list wins, or the biggest extended family, or the biggest group of friends with too much time on their hands.   But don’t let the results get you down.  It’s still fun to listen, fun to pick which song you like best, and at the end of the day you have listened to a lot of new music and feel like you’ve made a difference in the lives of independent artists. It can even be addicting.

Oh, and if you’re a visual person, you can judge videos too.  There are not nearly as many videos as songs, so you can be a bigger influence upon the contest results

Well, that’s all for now.  Thanks for reading!
-Todd

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4 Responses to “Another Week Gone By”

  1. […] The rest is here: Another Week Gone By « Todd Durrant’s Random Thoughts […]

  2. […] Go here to read the rest:  Another Week Gone By « Todd Durrant’s Random Thoughts […]

  3. You should start adding cds on Discogs I am sure you can get a few cds sold on there.

  4. AOL’s Ourstage has deleted the WinterBand fan page on behalf of a handful of false-christians who didn’t like what we teach and filed frivolous “complaints”

    Details and documentation are available at:

    http://www.winterband.com/Ourstage.html

    What has happened is outrageous religious censorship and discrimination.
    Whether you love us or hate us consider the precedent that this situation establishes.

    If anyone you know is investing time and effort building a presence and network of connections on Ourstage you owe it to them to make them aware of what is going on.

    Bro Steve Winter


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