Archive for the ‘publishing’ Category

What’s a dik-dik?

dik-dik logo

  1. An adorable, impossibly tiny African antelope.
  2. The name of a casual writers collective formed by me and a few friends I’ve been in a writing cricle with for close to half our lives.

When we decided we’d try helping each other with our self-publishing efforts, we needed a name for this enterprise. First we tried combining our initials, then a few other animal-based ideas, then there may have been drinking and curly fries and the conversation wobbled off track.

At some point, someone sent around a picture of a dik-dik, and I for one fell in love with it. We only snickered about the animal’s name for a few minutes (I may have done most of the giggling). We’re still working on a colophon, a logo for the imprint—this is one of my ideas. In 2015, we’d like to make dik-dik books more official, a bona fide publisher for the romance, erotica, science fiction, fantasy, and other projects we have in the works.

Dik-dik (male) -Tarangire National Park -TanzaniaAside from the obvious reference that comes to mind when you call your romance and erotica imprint “dik-dik books,” we also just plain like the idea of the little and unassuming but resilient creatures.

The females are larger and louder than the males—they warn the others of danger with their dik dik calls. The males have horns but the females also have tufts of hair on the tops of their heads, so I’ll say that the silhouette in the logo can be either male or female. Dik-dik couples are reputed to be devoted to each other. A nice symbol for romance.

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Wouldn’t be able post to Smashwords, AllRomance eBooks, and (eventually) Amazon and Barnes & Noble without ’em. Here’s the full set, except for whatever will be on the all-in-one edition, which is still being tweaked.



The model is courtesy of Shutterstock and some Photoshopping to give him a rounder face. At first I wasn’t sold on him as the face-of-Lucius, but suddenly it all just snapped into place, with the faux-fresco background and the dagger element. He definitely has what I think of as Lucius’s nose.

I haven’t been successful in finding models for Trio or Arpalycus, either of whom it might be fun to put on the sequel novella that will be included with book 7, but the search is interesting!

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The info for the first 6 parts of The Knife of Narcissus will be distributed soon to those retailers who accept erotica titles from Smashwords (B&N, etc.), and then they’ll be available for pre-order from various sources, including Smashwords itself. Once I convince the Smashwords system that Book 7 isn’t just a couple of disembodied chapters but is actually the climax (yeah, I couldn’t not say that) of a serial novel, it will join Books 1-6.

Thank you to everyone who’s been checking in on progress!

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After a rejection, the advice used to be: submit somewhere else. Find the publisher who’s a perfect match for the manuscript. Nowadays, the advice is as often: self-publish your eBook. Eliminate the gatekeeper and put the story out there. Find your own audience, cut out the middleman publisher, and only share the resulting heaps of profit with Amazon, Smashwords, or whichever other distributors you use.

So, yes, this post is inspired by a rejection.

I queried the publisher where I submitted Knife of Narcissus and received a pleasant reply. As rejections go, it’s quite encouraging and complimentary. It’s nice to get that sort of praise from a house whose list I like so much. True, I made a friend read the email first to see how badly it was going to hurt before I dared look at it myself, but it all turned out just fine. As rejections go.

Their response does, though, repeat something I’ve been told before. There isn’t really an audience for what I like to write (and read). There aren’t enough people out there who’d want to read m/m set in the ancient world. Truly, my chances would be much better if I could write about hockey players or Navy SEALs. Or even something as modern as Regency. This isn’t the first time I’ve been warned off this setting.

So why do I keep writing this stuff?

Growing up, I thought these stories (the historical part, not the naughty bits) were as normal and popular as science fiction or crime dramas or noir mysteries, the other books that crowded the shelves at home. The house was full of pulp paperbacks as well as Victorian tomes. On weekends we watched CinemaScope Technicolor Roman epics with casts of thousands, with the occasional Greek myth via Harryhausen or Pyramid-building with actors slathered in Light Egyptian No. 5 makeup. Chariot races and decadent emperors. Pomp and statues. Swords and sandals.

I should have focussed more on the science fiction that was also popular around the house, but stories based on ancient topics are at the top of my list of things I enjoy more than anything else (make it a crossdressing heroine time-travelling to the ancient world and I’ll have everything I ever wanted). But, as with any weird hobby, I have to wrap my head around the fact that this is not going to make me a famous novelist, or a popular purveyor of naughty stories. It limits my writing “career” to hobbyist. I’m not sure why I’d want to do this to myself, while watching friends and colleagues expand their creative reach with dark fantasy or contemporary YA or fun middle grade fiction. I can’t even properly say whether it’s out of love for the setting, or contrariness, or not wanting to work harder to write something that doesn’t immediately move my muse. Not everything can be a passion project—not if you want an actual audience.

It’s been suggested by friends that I tone the naughty bits way way down and make KoN a PG-level historical, to expand the potential readership for a self-pubbed eBook. I might actually take their advice, for once.

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I’m now in the “author frets nervously” stage of waiting to hear back from the publisher on my submission of Knife of Narcissus. I submitted it during an open call a little over six months ago. Replies were due to go out the first week of this month.

I assume the publisher was loaded with manuscripts and is still sorting through them, so I’ve made myself a promise: no querying for at least another week. Then I’ll see if I can resist it for another week.

In the meantime I’ve been hard at work on other writing projects, in the same setting and elsewhere, none of which are ready for public sight yet.

In May, though, I guess I’ll have to push onward in another direction with KoN. If it doesn’t make the publisher’s cut, I’d like to have bound copies of the individual installments at one of the May conventions, made by a friend who does lovely, economical book binding. It’d only be a few copies, but it’d make me happy. Then I’ll gear up for self-publishing it as an eBook…

…because another half-year wait from submitting to a different publisher would shred my brain. And I need my brain for writing…

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The occasional update

Oops: I thought I’d be hearing back on that October submission this month. Turns out I misread: it’ll probably be April before I get a response. Six months isn’t an insane wait. It all just depends on one’s patience.

I’m trying to decide whether I should wait or set out on my own with self publishing, which was the alternative plan if I got a rejection this month. I really like this publisher and would be thrilled to be on their list. I’m also impatient to share the story, full of design/marketing ideas, and interested in wading into the self-pub waters, and have friends encouraging me to try.


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