The Daily Journal, Sunday, June 2

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Today you’ll see
* Thanks to those who
* Yesterday I asked
* Topic: Quieting the Critical Mind (Chapter 13)
* Daily diary
* Of Interest
* The numbers

Quote of the Day

In response to my request for feedback on the Journal, one writer wrote, “I have not given much feedback because some of my impressions are not universal, just personal.”

My response: “The longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve noticed that what I or others believe to be personal is also personal to some 80% of other people (so universal). Just sayin’.”

If you believe your comment is too personal and that’s the only reason you’re holding back, post it anyway. You never know who else might find it or my response useful.

Today you’ll see that the topic below is labeled Chapter 13. The number is correct. I decided to insert yesterday’s topic into the book as Chapter 12.

Thanks to those who left comments yesterday and to those who leave a comment on any post. I appreciate it. Comments drive visibility on search engines. Thanks especially to Anonymous Lynn (grin), the apparently prolific novelist, for explaining why she doesn’t normally leave comments. That was helpful too.

(Lynn, if you’re out there, let us know your author name(s), book title(s) and genre(s) and I’ll repay the favor of your comment by doing a little publicity for you. Even if your books are selling well, more is better, right?)

Yesterday I asked whether subscribers might be more prone to leave comments on posts in this Journal if I switch back to an excerpt-only version in MailChimp.

I received input from one commenter, two people via email and one commenter a month or two ago. So evidently it doesn’t matter. Which opens the door to a whole other thought process

I guess I’ll leave it as-is, at least for now. But I’ll ask you to please at least share this Journal among your writers’ groups and with your writer friends. And let me know you’ve done that. I am not a mushroom. (grin)

Topic: Quieting the Critical Mind

Chapter 13: Publishing Your Work (or Submitting it for Publication)

Of all of Heinlein’s Rules, the most difficult for me personally is Rule 4: “You must put it on the market.” That means you must submit your work for publication or (in my case) publish it.

I fall off that one constantly.

I don’t fall off because I fear what readers might think or because I fear bad reviews. I don’t.

Whether and how much readers enjoy my stories and novels is up to the readers and completely beyond my control. And frankly, I don’t care. I hope they like my stories, but if they don’t, that’s fine too.

I fall off Heinlein’s Rule 4 because of a different kind of fear. A fear (or dislike) of doing the work to publish the thing instead of spending my time writing.

I enjoy actually creating covers, but finding great cover art, creating the cover, creating a promo doc (see below) and so on takes up a lot of time when I could be writing.

Could I avert some of the learning curve and pay someone to produce a cover for me?

Of course. But I like knowing that I personally gave my novel every possible chance to do well, and on my terms. I like being responsible for my own outcomes. But I don’t care for actually doing the work itself.

Every time I finish anything — even a novel — I want SO badly to move into the next one that it’s easy for me to let Rule 4 slide. And I do.

At one time I had four novels that were finished but unpublished. The writing was done, the first readers had sent me their input and I had applied what I agreed with, and the copyedit was finished. Yet I let the novels languish.

So how did I finally overcome having fallen off Heinlein’s Rule 4?

Simple. I thought of how many millions of possible readers were browsing various ebook outlets (Amazon, B&N, etc.) looking for exactly the kind of novels I write (or even for new novels by me) while my four novels were languishing in my computer, unpublished.

When that thought finally hit, the first of those novels could have been available for two months, the second six weeks, the third a month and the last two weeks.

So that’s sixty (forty-five, thirty and fifteen days that I’d robbed myself of hundreds or thousands of potential sales on those novels by letting them sit in my computer. And once a day’s gone, you can’t get it back.

That revived my sense of urgency. I did the covers and promo docs, and published the novels.

In other words, once again I turned the fear around. The fear that a reader might want to read my novel when it wasn’t available quickly overcame the fear or dislike of doing the work to make that happen.

But maybe you’re looking for a how-to on publishing. Okay. Really, there are only three ways, and only two viable ways.

Traditional Publishing (a viable option that I do not recommend)

I’ve had two nonficton books published via traditional publishers. Both enjoyed (and still do) brisk sales.

At the time, I had a then-large royalty rate of 10%. So each time one copy sold, I received, respectively, $1.09 and $1.49. (Out of that, of course, I had to deduct the cost of gasoline, hotels, etc. as I traveled to promote them.)

Fortunately I got all rights reverted to me later. Both are now independently published. Today when those books sell (which they do, well), I earn $8.79 on the first and $11.99 on the other. Per copy. I also earn between 70 and 80% royalties on every copy of every novel, novella, short story and short story collection I sell. Oh, and on my poetry collections.

I would never go back to traditional publishing unless I was offered a non-refundable advance in the high six figures (anything over $500,000 would do it for a single book).

Why? Because traditional publishing contracts these days suck. Traditional publishers insist on taking all rights (print, digital, film, etc.) for the life of the copyright (your life plus 70 years in the US).

Still, some folks want the “validation” of a traditional publishing contract. Which is to say the approval of an overworked, underpaid 20-something acquisitions editor in a place like New York. Still, I get that.

If that’s you, when your book is finished, you can begin the arduous, time-consuming process of seeking a literary agent (despite all the warnings against them) with the eventual goal of landing a major traditional publisher if you want to.

You can also approach traditional publishers that accept unagented submissions, and when you get a nibble, either hire an IP attorney (preferable) or phone whatever literary agent you would like to have. S/he will be more than happy to take 15% of your advance and royalties for negotiating the contract, and just like that, you’ll have an agent. (Though I have to say, this is a little like signing over 15% of the deed to your house to the guy who mows your yard once a week.)

But if that’s what you want to do, that’s fine. Different strokes. Hey, it’s your book, your time, and your career. Pursue it however you want. I’ll be pleased for you no matter what. After all, your choice will cost me neither time nor money.

Subsidy Publishing (a far less-than-viable option)

I have to mention this one because so many people still flock to subsidy publishers.

Let me put it as plainly as I can: Stay away from subsidy publishers. If any company requires you to pay them an up-front fee to publish your book, it’s a scam, plain and simple.

Many such companies tout themselves as a way to self-publish. But going with a subsidy publisher is not self-publishing.

Many will also require a royalty split on top of charging you an up-front fee. No matter how good they sound, stay away from them. They’re bogus. They’re running a scam. They’re playing on your ego as a writer. Period.

If you choose to ignore this advice, please be sure to read the contract closely. More than likely it will be filled with shocking clauses that should make you run screaming out of the room. Like “no-rights-reversion” clauses and “no-compete” clauses and “we-now-own-you” clauses.

A little off-topic, but this is also why I warn people away from “free” web hosting and design services. Read the terms of service closely. Many of the “free” services 1) will nickel and dime you to death, and 2) own your content because it’s kept on their servers. Go with (not .com). Stay away from free, or at least remember that you get what you pay for, there are no free lunches, and a host of other glib clichés that are nonetheless true.

I’m not kidding. Be very careful out there.

An important distinction: If you want to pay someone to copyedit your book or to create a cover for you, that’s fine. Those folks are providing a one-time service for a fee, not acting as your publisher.

Indie Publishing (Self-Publishing, highly recommended)

I could write a whole book on indie publishing. In fact, I have. (Read on.)

For a long time, there was a stigma attached to self-publishing. By and large, that’s gone now.

Back in the day, readers (and sadly, many writers) frowned on writers who believed enough in themselves and their work to self-publish. I never quite understood their reasoning, and I still don’t.

After all, if a skilled craftsman in ANY other trade or art discipline decides to open his or her own plumbing business, restaurant, law office, gallery, etc. nobody bats an eye. And they shouldn’t. Instead, people gather around from near and far to congratulate the “entrepreneur.”

But when a writer decides to open his own business as a self-publisher, they say he’s doing it for “vanity.”

Get real. Again, the decision to self-publish only means you are confident in yourself and your work, and you’d rather make money for yourself than give some faceless publishing company somewhere 80+% of your royalties.

If you’ve thought about becoming an independent publisher and aren’t sure where to start, I recommend you visit (all free) and pick up any or all of

* A Fact Sheet Toward Efficiency in Epublishing

* The Essentials of Digital Publishing

* Quick Guide to Self-Publishing & FAQs

Again, these are all free of charge and they’re all filled with valid information.

Hey, what can I say? I live to serve. (yawn, stretch)

See you down the road.

By the way, if you have any questions or concerns regarding anything that appears anywhere in this book, please feel free to email me at

This book will never go out of print (well, unless some moron kicks the plug out of the wall for all of us), so if you email me and I haven’t gone off-planet by then, I’ll be more than happy to answer your questions or concerns.

In the meantime, feel free to visit my author website at or my Daily Journal (writer website) at

Happy writing!

For Daily Journal subscribers: This concludes the How to Quiet the Critical Voice book. If I omitted anything or if you’d like me to expand on anything, please email me at and let me know. Thanks!

Rolled out at 3 this morning, played on the internet for awhile, which took me to my daily “busy time” (let the babies out, feed the horses, etc.) at 5.

At 5:30, I posted and reworked the topic above. To the novel at 6:40.

Short day again today. Very soon, in response to one of the folks who was kind enough to respond to my survey, I’ll begin adding in a little more personal substance in this daily diary section. But for today, I have to run.

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “The Power of the Telling Detail” at

See Karen Riggs’ “Who decides what words mean?” at

Fiction Words: 1017
Nonfiction Words: 1720 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 2737

Writing of In the Cantina at Noon (novel)

Day 20… 1890 words. Total words to date…… 36451
Day 21… 2961 words. Total words to date…… 39412
Day 22… 1192 words. Total words to date…… 40604
Day 23… 1718 words. Total words to date…… 42322
Day 24… 2313 words. Total words to date…… 44635
Day 25… 1017 words. Total words to date…… 45652

Total fiction words for the month……… 1017
Total fiction words for the year………… 307122
Total nonfiction words for the month… 4070
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 159630
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 466752

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 6
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 43
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 7
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 194
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

6 thoughts on “The Daily Journal, Sunday, June 2”

  1. I actually think about commenting just about every day. But I was worried everybody would get tired of hearing from me. 🙂 But I’ll add a comment today: Your “Chapter 11: Turning the Fear Around” post (May 31) really resonated with me. It made me realize that I was afraid not just of getting a bad review–but getting a review that was so bad that it would preemptively destroy all future novels I would write. That is, that this one review would be so bad that no one would ever look at another book of mine again. And now I realize that’s completely nuts. So I’m starting today with turning the fear toward not meeting goals rather than how people will react.

    • That’s Perfect, Catherine. If you look at reviews at all (good or bad) remember that’s only one reader and only one reader’s opinion. Same goes if you submit short stories to magazines. What’s rejected by one editor (who’s also just a reader) might well be accepted by another. And thanks for commenting.

  2. Wow! Can’t believe we’ve reached the end of your book. Like any good story, I was too wrapped up to realize we were so close. 🙂 Looking forward to the publication, Harvey.

    Also, I wanted to say thank you for posting your Crowley book bundle deal the other day. I downloaded my copy and look forward to getting to it (still whittling through my massive TBR pile, but I WILL get to it).

    • Thanks, Phillip. I’ll probably let the CM book sit for a month or so while I wait to see whether I inadvertently omitted anything I should have covered. I want to be sure it’s as comprehensive as possible. And thanks for purchasing the Crowley saga. I think you’ll enjoy it. Although it’s officially a “western,” I also tagged it with romance, Mexico, and magic realism. So it’s far from being “just” a western. (grin)

      • That’s right up my alley, then. I love Westerns and I love magic realism. One of my failed novel attempts, back when I used to plan everything out, involved Japanese Shintoism and Gold Rush California, right after the Mexican-American war. I’ll probably give that one another shot when it calls back to me.

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