Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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10 things I learned self-publishing 101 ebooks

Buscafusco: Fun & Games is my 70th self-published ebook under my name, my 101st self-published ebook in total. It’s been a long run, and I do not see an end of the track: I’m striving to get more of my material published traditionally, but I will always be an author/publisher, for a number of reasons we’ll maybe discuss another time.

Right now, I thought I’d like to do one of those bullet-list posts that my personal gurus say are great to attract people on the blog.
So here we go: 10 THINGS I LEARNED SELF-PUBLISHING 101 EBOOKS.

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Blocked!

Well, this is a first. BUSCAFUSCO: Fun & Games has been blocked by the KDP Guardians, for reasons undisclosed. I asked around, and apparently this is the standard: they block your book, and they do not tell you why. Hell, they don’t even send you a mail. You have to check the KDP dashboard (something that, admittedly, you do every two hours when your book is overdue), and find out the book’s been blocked.

So now I’ve sent a mail asking Amazon for explanations. Based on what I’ve been told by friends that have been there already, I’ll probably get an automated response along the lines “your content violated our guidelines”, with a copy of the guidelines. As a friend said…

“They basically tell you to ask yourself a question and give yourself an answer.”

Now here I am, waiting, but in the meanwhile: if you are one of the hardy souls that got my ebook through Gumroad, and if you have been through it already, would you please let me know if you found something that justifies the block?
Thank you.

Also, if you want to check out the Book Amazon Doesn’t Want You To Read, please go to this link. You’ll get a 1 Euro discount on the cover price.


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Digging ditches

I’m writing a 30.000 words story that will not be published under my name. Work for hire, paid in three months time (If they’ll pay me at all). I’m 10.000 words short and today I just scrapped 3500 words because, let’s be honest, they sucked. I’ve a three days deadline. I can do it.

It’s being a fun ride. The story is not my usual genre, so there is a component of challenge, but also the reason why I am ditching so many pages: sometimes the ideas are right, and cool, but the tone is off. It’s like playing a different instrument from the one you usually play, like driving somebody else’s car.

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Typewriters

The reason I like typewriters is, exactly like bicycles, they are a sort of hands-on technology. You can actually get to work on them using a screwdriver and a wrench, get your hands dirty, set them straight if they break. Works for PCs and old cars, too – but not for smartphones and recent automobiles. And let’s not get started on the issue of software.

There is actually a spreading grassroots movement that demands manufacturers to allow access to the tech of their products, so that they can be repaired and updated instead of thrown away and replaced. It’s an interesting approach, and it has my full support. My grandfather was a tinkerer, and he taught me it’s OK to get your hands dirty while fine tuning a piece of machinery.

I think this approach also applies at the way I write, but let’s save that for another time. Let’s talk typewriters.

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Spring & BUSCAFUSCO

I am currently about 5000 words into the new BUSCAFUSCO novella, called Fun & Games. The ideas for the new cases had been laying in the back of my mind for months, and I needed a vacation. I plan to have the story finished soon-ish, other engagements permitting.

Writing to calls from publishers is fun and it’s – hopefully – profitable, but sometimes the constraints are too tight. It’s good to open a file and just let the ideas and dialogues pour out, let well-established characters do their thing, take life and run away with the story. And BUSCAFUSCO’s is one of my favorite in this sense. There is a simple formula, there is a cast of characters I am familiar with and I like to write about, there is the Belbo Valley as a venue, an inexhaustible source of strange ideas and weird crimes.

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Stories in the works

Fairy tales again, but not in a noir/hardboiled style – this time it is science fiction: I’ve just got a call for a collection of SF takes on classic fairy tales, and here I am trying to figure out a viable plot. The pay is good, the limit is 15.000 words but I’m aiming for 5000.

The deadline is damn close – the 15th of December – but I have good hopes: I can write a story in two evenings.

So here I am juggling options – Sleeping Beauty is sort of obvious, you just change stasis fields for sleep spells, and it’s done. But it’s so obvious that it’s not such an original idea. And yes, originality is overrated, but sometimes it’s a good thing.

Otherwise, what?
A robotic version of Nutcracker?
Transhuman Three Little Pigs?
Jack and the Beanstalk set on top of a space elevator?

Back when I was in high school I wrote a story about a team-up of Odysseus, Loki and Sun Wukong, that looked like De Camp style fantasy, but was in fact science fiction.
The story was not very good (hey, I was 15!), and it’s been lost now for almost 35 years, but it might provide me with some neat ideas.

In the meantime, I have two further stories done halfway through, and in need of a serious shakedown – a straight fantasy with a sort of Dumas-esque setting, called Goblins by Candlelight (basically, a fantasy take on the home invasion genre), and an occult detective piece set – hypothetically – in Paris during the Belle Epoque. I want to have one of the two finished in the next 36 hours.
Insomnia rules.