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ACE won't be finishing the Heroes series but I will [Aug. 30th, 2011|07:16 pm]
moirajmoore
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So, ACE won’t be publishing the rest of Lee and Taro’s story.

If you’re put off by the followed tl:dr block of text, I’ll say at the beginning that I’m finishing it anyway and putting it on my blog and/or website for people to read for free.

I feel awful about this news. I’ve been asked some questions about future stories, and I didn’t know how to get around that. Believe me, I thought long and hard about the interview with Bookaholics Romance Book Club, how to answer those questions, given that I wasn’t prepared to give my announcement at that time. I decided to go with what I considered the truth. I was writing a bunch of stories, and I was writing a book. They would be available for people to read. They just weren’t going to be published.

There will be no changing of minds this time, and the hope that there would be was not the reason I’ve waited to tell everyone of this decision. I like to think I’m a logical person, and to hope for a second reversal simply wasn’t logical. While I was shocked and disappointed to be told ACE wouldn’t be publishing any more books – I thought the books were doing better than they obviously were – what I had with ACE were two-book contracts, and I was well aware of the possibility that ACE would choose not to renew.

The most selfish reason for the delay is SpoCon. I had known about it for quite a long time. I had never had a book signing and I had never been a panellist at a convention. I may never do those things again. I wanted to go and participate and enjoy without having to talk about the fact that the other books weren’t going to be published.

Another reason that I waited to tell everyone was that I was hoping to have some information about the team book. ACE doesn’t want it, (Am I supposed to admit that? Have I just ticked off my agent?) and my agent is currently shopping it around. It’s probably unreasonable to expect an answer of any kind so soon, but it really bugs me that I don’t have one to give you, whether someone wants to publish it or everyone hates it. Kind of like it bugs me when people take ice cubes out of the tray out of order. Or how it really bugs me when there aren’t enough decent apples/pears/whatever fruit in the grocery bin to pick out six. Because I can’t buy five. I won’t even touch them if there are only five. And don’t try to make me buy seven. That’s just wrong.

That seems like a tangent but I’m actually trying to make a point.

Here’s the thing. Would I love to be a bestselling author? You bet. Would I love to be able to live off my writing? Definitely. But the advantage to not relying on my writing for a living is that I can write a book while knowing that no one will want to publish it.

I started writing Lee’s story in 1997. Yes, fourteen years. Those who think I write slowly now should have seen me back in the days before deadlines. I have been planning the grand finale from the beginning. I’ve left hints in all the other books about what’s going to happen. There is no way I would leave the story unfinished. It would make me all twitchy, like trying to buy five apples.

I’ve never left a writing project unfinished. My horrible first book had a horrible sequel. I wrote a ridiculous trilogy with an elven main character and was clattering away at the third even while getting rejected for the first. I’ve always had a grand arc for this series. It took longer than I’d expected to get there, but now that I’ve gotten this close, I can’t just leave it hanging with all the threads dangling out. That’s just messy.

After I learned that the rest of the series wasn’t going to be published, my ideas about what to do with it began to change. I’ve been speaking for years about writing a book from the point of view of another character, but as I got closer to that part of the story, I became convinced that a) the publisher wouldn’t go for it and b) it wouldn’t really work. However, now I can do whatever I want, and what I want to do is take that same portion of the story and write it in a collection of short stories, from the points of view of a whole bunch of characters.

And that is going to be damned fun.

And then I’ll wrap it up in one final, slightly larger book.

The primary purpose for the delay is that I wanted to provide a sort of proof that I would be finishing the story for those who would be interested in reading it. You don’t know me. You don’t know that I finish what I start. I wanted to be able to show you that I have already put serious work into this, and that I have written the first chapter.

I’m hoping to have the whole final book on this blog for anyone to read on September 1, 2012. That’s the goal. Along the way, I will be posting short stories. The way I’m planning it, readers won’t have to have read the short stories to understand the final book, but my wish is that the short stories will provide some extra insight into why characters are behaving the way they are.

Maybe no one will be interested in a book that isn’t professionally published. I wouldn’t blame anyone for that. And I’m certainly apprehensive about people learning just how much professional editing has improved my writing. But this is what I have to do.

Above is a photo of my work to date. (Meant to be below, but my skill with computers was as reliable as usual.) At the top are the notes I’ve taken while rereading the first six books. On the left is the list of short stories as it stands now. The list will get longer. On the right is the outline. On the bottom is the first chapter.

It’s going to be a fun year.
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Comments:
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[User Picture]From: bookmobiler
2011-08-30 11:26 pm (UTC)

Bummer

But Ace seems to have a habit of doing that to series.

You still may be able to publish those books electronically and still get paid for your work.

I know of 3 or 4 previously published authors who've done so with some success.
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[User Picture]From: moiraj
2011-08-31 12:11 am (UTC)

Re: Bummer

I am, at this time, not comfortable with the idea of charging people for a book that hasn't been professionally edited. I have looked into hiring an editor, but the cost is enormous.
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[User Picture]From: shiv5468
2011-08-30 11:38 pm (UTC)
What bookMobiler said.

I know some other authors who've moved self pub and done well.

I'm pleased to hear that we're going to find out what happens but I do hope another publisher picks up the series
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[User Picture]From: moiraj
2011-08-31 12:12 am (UTC)
I don't know that it's likely another publisher would publish the last book of a series that didn't do well elsewhere. I've gotten used to the idea of just putting it on my blog.
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[User Picture]From: moiraj
2011-08-31 12:13 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. (And you're welcome. :D) I truly can't imagine not finishing the story.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-08-30 11:47 pm (UTC)
I'd pay for it.

I'm heartbroken that they won't publish the rest of the story, and I can only imagine how you feel. I'm so very sorry. Publishers seem to be doing this to a lot of good authors lately, from what I read. Even with good sales, they cut authors because it's not a huge bestseller.

Self-publishing might work, especially as you have an audience. And there are some small presses out there doing the e-book market.

I'm selfishly happy to learn that you'll continue the story; I've loved Lee and Taro from the first, and I'm dying to see how it all ends. I've been curious about the grand story arc and where it's going, too. :) And I hope the team book has better success.

As I said above, I'd definitely pay for it if you wanted to charge, or if you choose an alternative publishing method. Heck, I was happily paying for it before.

Ellyll
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[User Picture]From: moiraj
2011-08-31 12:19 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. I know it's getting tougher for traditional publishing companies, but it is hard to be one of the ones to get the axe.

I don't feel comfortable with self-publishing purely because of the fact that people are paying for a book that hasn't been professionally edited. However, the idea of an e-book publishing company is interesting, as I assume they do edit their books. And they're cheaper, right?

For now, I'm just going to focus on the writing. If some fantastic way of giving people an easy-to-read format - because it's going to be a nightmare for people to read it off the blog - comes to me over the course of the year, then I'll reconsider.
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[User Picture]From: moiraj
2011-08-31 03:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you for directing me their way.
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[User Picture]From: single_path
2011-08-31 01:20 am (UTC)
*waves hand frantically* I'll read it!! I don't care if it's not professionally published! I buy books from comic artists at conventions. People who publish their own stuff. I'll gladly pay for anything you publish online! Or print in book form from Kinkos. Whatever!! I'll buy it!! ^_^

And on the plus side, no more pics of Taro holding a sword and Lee (wearing clothes she wouldn't be caught dead in) with weird lights and fog coming out of her hands. Accentuate the positive! Look forward to more adventures with Lee and Taro!!
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[User Picture]From: moiraj
2011-08-31 02:09 pm (UTC)
LOL, thank you. I have to admit I'm surprised that no one seems to care about the lack of professional editing. But then, they might not really know just the kind of changes good editing can make.

And a talented friend of mine has already offered to design a cover.
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[User Picture]From: arekuru
2011-08-31 01:25 am (UTC)
Having no e-reader, I'm not a fan of e-books, but surely in this digital day and age it must be easier than ever to self-publish without the stigma? I'm sure I've seen the topic on Smart Bitches before... Hell, there's also Kickstarter, which I know for a fact some webcomic authors are using to fund runs of their own books.

Are you concerned about editing simply in terms of catching grammar and spelling, or the sort of editing that goes "I think this chapter takes away from your main plot but this section could be fleshed out"? I'm sure you can find better options, but copy-editing is something I do regularly at my job. I'd be happy to help if you ever need a resource.
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[User Picture]From: moiraj
2011-08-31 02:16 pm (UTC)
It's truly not any feeling of stigma that I am leery of regarding self-publishing. (Ugh, grammar. See? This is why I need an editor.) There are a lot of really talented people who should be published but aren't, so if this is the only way they can get their books out there, I'm all for it. But for me, the cost is prohibitive. I don't mind giving a self-published stranger a try when the book is six or seven dollars, but I can't see paying twenty-five or thirty dollars for a short book with no editing.

If I were to hire someone to edit my book, I would love it all. Typos to inconsistent characterization and plot holes. If you would like to email me, at some point, at moirajmoore@yahoo.com, I'd love to discuss the details, though it will be many months before the book will be fit to be read.
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[User Picture]From: K.C. Shaw
2011-08-31 01:26 am (UTC)
Oh no! That's terrible news about your publisher. I'm so glad you're continuing the series, though--I hate it when publishers drop a series and the author never finishes it. And it seems to be happening more and more often. I know of two other authors in the same boat this year, and I love their books.

I do hope you go with a good small press so I can continue to support you by buying your books. Has your agent approached any other publishers about picking up the last book or books of the series? Night Shade Books might be a good one to approach; they pay modest advances and get books into bookstores, although they're still pretty small as publishers go. Or you could go with one of the bigger epresses like Double Dragon. You won't get an advance, but you'll be assigned an editor and will get modest royalties. (I'm not entirely unbiased here--for one thing, I would love to be able to buy your next book as an ebook rather than having to convert the text myself from a blog post to an epub file so I can read it on my ereader; for another thing, Double Dragon has published two of my books and I know they do a good job.)

Personally, I think the series might do phenomenally if reissued with a set of decent covers. Good luck, though, whatever you decide to do. I hope you keep writing no matter what!
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[User Picture]From: moiraj
2011-08-31 02:44 pm (UTC)
Well, I can see why authors don't continue with a series if they're not going to make money from it. That's a piece of advice professional writers give to budding writers again and again. Don't write a second novel until you know the first is going to be published, or something like that. They say keep writing, of course, just don't waste your time on that series until you know it's going to be picked up.

I have no problem with that. Writers usually hope to make money from they're writing. I'd love to be able to live off my writing, too.

But it's also really important to me that I like what I'm doing. This is a hobby. It has to be fun. I don't consider finishing the story a waste of time. And if I didn't finish, that would bug me for the rest of my life. That's melodramatic, but it's true.

And I'm honoured that you would be prepared to pay for the book. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: enleve
2011-08-31 04:30 am (UTC)
I'm really glad that you will be finishing the books, and I think it would be great if you had a way for people to pay you money for an ebook or a print on demand version, or an audiobook, or something.
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[User Picture]From: moiraj
2011-08-31 02:45 pm (UTC)
So far, people have given me a tonne of suggestions about where to go to self-publish, or small publishers who might be willing to take on the last book. That was unexpected, and it makes me feel wonderful.
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[User Picture]From: eleika
2011-08-31 05:18 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry to hear about this. But I want you to know that if you decide to sell it online, I will buy a copy.
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[User Picture]From: moiraj
2011-08-31 03:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm kind of astonished at the number of people who have said the same thing.
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[User Picture]From: nopenniesplease
2011-08-31 07:53 am (UTC)
Truth about the covers. My copy of Heroes at Odds arrived the other day and when I opened it I felt the need to defend it from its cover!

I'm sure that a lot of the people who've been with it from the beginning would buy it no matter what (I know that I will if it becomes available in that form!) but there is the likelihood of less fresh interest in it.

So, downer on the loss of ACE publishing, but thank you so much for continuing to release the story in your own way!
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[User Picture]From: moiraj
2011-08-31 04:01 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I feel delighted to learn of people discovering the series so long after the first book was released, but that's not likely to happen when people realize the series isn't going to be finished. I'm writing the rest for people currently reading the series, not really in the hope of attracting new readers.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-08-31 09:38 am (UTC)
You are one of my favorite authors and I love Lee & Taro, so I’m very happy that you are going to finish the series in whichever way possible.

Sorry for my bad English, I’m Swedish so English isn’t my first language.

-Linda
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[User Picture]From: moiraj
2011-08-31 04:02 pm (UTC)
First, thank you. Second, your English seems perfect. I have enormous respect for people who acquire a second (or third or more) language. I tried it with French and it was a disaster.
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[User Picture]From: ay_u_rd
2011-08-31 10:09 am (UTC)
I'm really sorry they decided against publising the rest of the series. I only discovered your books four months ago but I've been looking forward to following the series to the final book - I'm relieved that I still can in one form or another.
I think it's admirable of you to finish Lee and Taro's story, not everyone would spare the time to do so and I think it's great you can use this opportunity to try something new. I hope you'll get positive feedback for the team book, until then keep up with the good work.
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[User Picture]From: moiraj
2011-08-31 04:04 pm (UTC)
So far, I've gotten no response to the team book. If no one wants it, I'll be putting that on my blog, too.
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[User Picture]From: estara
2011-08-31 10:20 am (UTC)

Very long comment with thoughts on this - without having read any of the other comments

I feel for you in this decision of the publishers, and I'll read what you want to put out in the way of Lee & Taro in any case - but I was wondering (in the interest of at least getting SOME revenue from your labour of love) if you might not decide to join a group (of course I have no idea if they have open spaces, but there seem to be regularly new members) like the Book View Cafè - who not only re-release old books of the members but new books that have not found a publisher - and they release it on their site and via Smashwords, which eventually distributes to B&N and Apple, and they release it on Kindle.

I have no idea how the editing and proofing is shared or what a member must do in return for getting the support of the others, but it wouldn't hurt to ask, I'd think.

Regarding covers - manipulated stock photography, old - in the public domain - paintings - or in the case of some Sherwood Smith books even her own artwork have all been used (maybe you've got a Deviantart fan who would donate a cover to you for your efforts?)

There's Sigil - a GNU open source epub editor, which takes .txt and .html files and compiles them into .epub format, there's Calibre (which does have flaws but is also free) to turn an .epub into other formats - there are even book cover and digital conversion services offered (Moriah Jovan, whose books are excellently formatted, does that but has a long waiting list). There are professional editors offering their work, too (so many have been laid off, after all) - for that matter Laura Anne Gilman at BVC used to be one (apart from being an author). She might know good people for the genre.

It would all depend on how much money you were willing and able to spend, of if you'd want to spend the additional time and do it all yourself (Michelle West is rereleasing 30 of her short stories, slowly but surely and did at least get professional covers done. I think all else she did herself. She's Canadian, too, so maybe you know her and could ask about her experiences there...) Sharon Lee of the Liaden Universe has done/is doing the same with the previously in print available chapbooks. Diane Duane is doing it with her older work, Lois McMaster Bujold seems to be doing it with UK ebook versions of the Vorkosiverse.

Basically I think you ought to get some money from the people with ebook readers ^^. At least add a Donation button when you put stuff up.
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[User Picture]From: moiraj
2011-08-31 04:07 pm (UTC)

Re: Very long comment with thoughts on this - without having read any of the other comments

Thank you for this enormous list of options. You must have put so much time into it. And I can't believe so many well known authors are doing this. Apart from everything else, it's fascinating watching how this relatively new way of publishing is developing.
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[User Picture]From: kumquatcookie
2011-08-31 11:07 am (UTC)
I'm sorry to hear about Ace but I agree with everyone else regarding buying it if you self-publish. As a regular Literotica reader, the lack of professional editing has never stopped me from reading a story I like. It makes me happy that you'll finish Lee & Taro's story and I'm really looking forward to reading it.
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[User Picture]From: moiraj
2011-08-31 04:10 pm (UTC)
Fortunately, I've got at least a couple of people who have volunteered to read through the book and be brutal. (Though polite, of course. Anyone who tears into me instead of my writing isn't going to get read.) They're both avid readers. So that makes me feel a little better.
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