Frequently Asked Questions
It's a print collection of six sequential stories in a serial in the Wyrd West Chronicles. Each story is a stand-alone, but together they make up a complete story arc. So it's like reading a novel in six parts!Last updated:
I don't have it all together in one document quite yet so it's hard to say exactly. What I can tell you is that the stories each get longer. The first one, Showdown is only about 8000 words. The last one, The Widow's Gambit, is 45000 words; almost a novel in itself! So I can tell you that it's definitely a full-length book; at least 70000 words, maybe 80000.Last updated:
A "Weird Western" is what you call it when supernatural elements meet a Western setting. TV Tropes has a great explanation: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WeirdWest. Tor.com also posted a "primer" article to introduce people to some of the material already out there: https://www.tor.com/2015/09/23/six-guns-and-strange-shooters-a-weird-west-primer/. The Dark Tower would be considered a Weird Western.
Mine's a little different than the usual fare, though. Most Weird Westerns I've seen tend to be a blend of fantasy-horror and Western; ghosts and zombies and demons and things. I have those things, but they're not the focus. Mine's a bit more like a high fantasy meeting a Western. We've got guys (and gals too!) with mystical powers granted by "holy" forces that are intended to fight dark ones. I think the blend of high fantasy quest and lone gunslinger righting wrongs works really well!Last updated:
That depends on your perspective. A lot of people who love fantasy but don't like Westerns have proclaimed that it's clearly just a fantasy story in a Western setting. But Western fans, if they can accept my fantasy elements, have also really enjoyed the stories. Urban fantasy and historical fantasy fans also seem to really enjoy it. I'd say if you like either genre, give it a try!Last updated:
But you say it's also a post-apocalyptic or dystopian Western, and steampunk or "cattlepunk," so ... huh?
I really like blending fantasy and science fiction subgenres. You're probably familiar with post-apocalyptic/dystopian Westerns if you're a sci-fi fan. You've seen Mad Max movies, right? That's a post-apocalyptic Western.
"Cattlepunk" is steampunk in a Western setting. Again I refer you to TV Tropes: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CattlePunk. The Cattlepunk things you're most likely to be familiar with are the movie Wild West West or the Anime Trigun.
Related is sci-fi Western: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SpaceWestern. Firefly and Cowboy Bebop are probably the best currently-known examples of this. I find that I do best on Amazon in the Sci-fi Western category, because it's the closest fit to what I'm doing that they have.
The Wyrd West Chronicles take place in a post-apocalyptic Saskatchewan. There has been some kind of world-shattering event that the characters call The Cataclysm. The laws of physics have changed so that high technology requires an alchemical/magical component in order to work properly. Of course this change resulted in some major disasters and a degradation of available technology. The descendants of the survivors have had to find new ways to do things, and they've managed to restore their technology to about the level of high Victorian steam tech. They look a lot like 1800s and 1900s people, but they're not. You'll recognize elements from the modern world.
But there's new elements as well. Fantastical creatures such as elves and gnomes have become part of this reality too. In this, it feels a bit like an urban fantasy as well.Last updated:
This sounds like a really far-out setting. Are you sure we're going to be able to relate to the characters?
I think so. I find that weird worlds like this only work if you ground them in gritty reality. At heart, the characters are a pretty normal lot. You can relate to the Game of Thrones characters in that wacky fantasy world, right?Last updated:
The publishing industry is complicated. Remember that I've been traditionally published as well. The truth is that publishers aren't looking for "good books." They're looking for a marketable product. And publishing is changing. A little less than half of the current sci-fi/fantasy market is currently occupied by independent authors, and they make about as much money on average as traditionally-published authors do.
When I first tried to publish Showdown, I found it challenging. A short story is anything less than 5000 words. Stories between 5K and 10K are called "novelettes," and the truth is that there aren't a lot of markets for a story that size. Most SFF magazines publish short stories or flash fiction (less than 1000 words) these days. After a couple of rejections, my partner suggested I serialize it in ebooks, thinking that maybe that might be a better fit, and I decided to give it a try.Last updated:
That was always part of the plan. Many of my friends told me that they don't read ebooks, or they don't like Amazon, but if I put the stories in print, they would happily buy a book. Let's see if they'll put their money where their mouth is!Last updated:
I've read a lot of indie books, and some of them are really bad. How are you going to assure that yours isn't?
I think it's all in the editing. I've done some editing for indie books, and the fact is that you're right. A badly edited book is like fingernails on a chalkboard. It obscures the beauty of the story.
Indie books are often badly edited, it's true. There are three reasons for this. The first is that all writers hate criticism. Our books are labours of love, created over months or even years with passionate effort. It's hard to hear that your baby might not be perfect, just as it's hard to hear criticism about the behaviour of your child. And in indie publishing, you as the author have full control of the product you're going to publish, so indie authors can dismiss editing they don't like with impunity.
The second is that editorial expertise varies widely, especially in the indie community. A lot of indie authors supplement their income by editing too. But editing and writing are two different skills in my experience. Just because you're good at one, doesn't make you good at the other. If you've never had a professional editor before, you probably don't understand exactly what an editor is supposed to do, and you might not be able to recognize the difference between a good one and a bad one. Most indie authors are satisfied at the level of what is known in the business as "copy editing," which is correcting spelling and grammar. A good editor will do a lot more than that, like suggest you change awkward phrases or point out your plot holes. Here's a primer on the different levels of editing: https://www.editors.ca/hire/definitions-editorial-skills.
The third is that indie writers have to front all the costs of editing themselves. So sometimes they're stuck with minimal editing because that's all they can afford. Traditional publishers have the advantage of having professional editors on staff, and you accept as a traditionally-published author that you will be working with one of them. While you don't have to accept all of their edits, you have to at least take their suggestions under serious advisement, because otherwise, they might choose not to publish your work after all.
I don't have any of these problems. Since I've been traditionally published, I'm not as thin-skinned about the editing process as a lot of indie authors are. I realize my editor's job is to help me realize my vision, and I take everything he has to say as it's intended; an offer of assistance. (I still don't accept all edits. Sometimes he misunderstands my intentions, which then tells me I need to make my intentions clearer.) Also, I'm fortunate enough to have my partner as my editor. He's good at it, and he doesn't spare my feelings because he'd rather I not embarrass myself in public. I'm lucky to have him.Last updated:
I know about self-publishing, and I know that setting up your book with CreateSpace and the like doesn't cost you anything up front. So why do you need a Kickstarter?
No, it doesn't cost you an initial outlay of capital to publish with CreateSpace; they take royalties later. BUT there are a lot of hidden costs in self-publishing, and this Kickstarter is intended to address those costs.
If you want someone who knows what they're doing to format your book so it looks professional (another problem in indie books) you have two choices. You can spend money buying expensive programs and years figuring it out and making horrible mistakes along the way; or you can pay someone who has already done all that for their services.
If you want a great cover, you usually have to pay a cover designer and/or an artist (and that sh*t ain't cheap.) If you want to get any attention in the clamour of noise that is the millions of indie books published every year, you have to spend money on marketing, and some of that is really expensive. And I find that my best sales usually come directly from me when someone buys a book and I sign it, and you have to buy the books from the printer, and pay to have them shipped to you; something I'm always struggling with on my limited income.
If you don't have these things, you can publish as many books as you want, but they won't sell. Some people don't mind that; they just like having their name in print. But I do mind, because I'm a working class writer. I *have* to mind.
In short, indie publishing still favours wealthy people over those with more limited finances. Crowdfunding helps to level the playing field - if I can convince you to support it.Last updated:
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