News, Updates, and Musings

Hey readers! Been sort of a quiet week from me, hasn’t it?

Well, I’ll have you know that’s because I’ve been hard at work on both Axtara – Banking and Finance and Starforge. Even better, work on both is coming along nicely.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any other news worth reporting, or that you’re about to have Axtara in your claws (or hands, whichever). Right now Alpha 1 is about 76% complete, and I think after it’s finished up, I’m going to do a second Alpha, just to make sure some of the changes and alterations fly true under new eyes. This will delay any release a little bit, but shouldn’t by too much. You’ll still get the book fairly soon.

Plus, I still need to sit down and spend some time finding a cover artist since the one I’d really hoped for wasn’t interested. Which is tricky, as finding artists that can do spectacular portraits of dragons while still giving them very recognizable expression is … tricky.

Still, there’s good news coming out of the Alpha: Axtara is awesome. The readers have enjoyed it quite a bit, and I think it’s going to make quite a splash when it arrives.

So then, what about Starforge? Well, the draft is sitting at 39,000 words currently, and it’s just getting started. It is an absolute blast to be working on the big finale of the series at last, and while there’s some stops and starts here and there as I work out how to get such-and-such character to a certain place or the like, for the most part it rushes along at a pretty swift pace. I mean, even with something like 9,000 words cut after a false start, Starforge is sitting at 39,000 words in under a month, and that’s also with me editing Axtara.

Granted, that 39,000 is probably only ten percent of the whole story, so I’ve got a ways to go. But it’s still satisfying to see those numbers climb as the story moves along.

On a related note, let’s talk about Fireteam Freelance for a moment. The epilogue will be up this Saturday, and then, at long last, it will be complete. At which point, I’ll be free to post my thoughts on the project. I have them, of course. But I’m also interested in seeing what you guys thought. So I’ll create a dedicated post for your thoughts next week where you can drop feedback, everything from what you didn’t like to what you did.

And, to be blunt, it’s fine to say you didn’t like aspects of it, even major ones. Fireteam Freelance was an experiment. It was episodic, it tried new things I’d never done before. Which was the point. I certainly came away from it with likes and dislikes both. But I’ll hold off talking about them until I put up my thoughts. And have seen yours.

And I really hope you did have some likes in there, weaknesses notwithstanding. As well I hope you enjoy your last look into the setting until Starforge when the epilogue drops this Saturday!

So, you may be wondering. That’s Starforge, Freelance, and Axtara. What else could there be to talk about? Well, I do have some musings.

One is actually related to an earlier post I made a few weeks ago, and I’m pretty much going to just repeat myself. But once more there’s quite a bit of talk going on among readers and across the book industry clamoring around two general subjects: Diversity (from authors to characters) and the eternal question of “How do we get that diversity?”

This debate rages round and round. “Publishers are the problem,” some people cry. “Maybe they’re too stuck in their ways and won’t adapt because they just can’t stomach the risk!” say others. “It’s the audience that’s the problem,” even more cry, but even then they disagree. Some shout that people “refuse” books that aren’t carefully in a prior cookie-cutter, others that readers would read them if they could just find them and the world gave them more attention (but then looping back around to that whole “but publishers don’t let them exist” angle).

The debate rages on an on, like a giant whirlpool of fingerpointing. Meanwhile, there’s a pretty clear answer that tackles almost all of these issues (because for the most part, in their own way each answer is somewhat correct):

Buy. Indie.

“Publishers won’t publish it because reason ______?” Indies and small pubs solve that problem. Either an author publishes it themselves, or they bounce to a small pub that is willing to take the “risk.” “The audience just isn’t there for it?” Fine, go indie and build a new audience. Readers are small in number, but at no point is the United States or one singular country in Europe the “entire world market.” Go independent and sell your books all over the place!

“Readers can’t find them?” Well, maybe if readers stopped checking the same bookshelf expecting different results and started looking elsewhere, they’d find to their surprise that the diversity they want is elsewhere! And if they step outside of their comfortable little six-foot radius at the bookshop, they might find a whole world of new content waiting to be discovered! And once they find it and share it with others, those people then know about it, and so on and so forth.

Really a lot of this does come down to the audience protesting something while refusing the answers they keep asking for. It boggles me to see people say things like “Well, I want more books with X race/gender/whatever for the main cast,” be handed a list of titles that do exactly that, and then go “Well, I don’t know this author, what about from this one author I exclusively read?”

That’s not how any of this works. If you want diversity, expand your reading pool. Don’t shrink it down and demand that one of the three authors you exclusively read rewrite their entire library to suit your demands.

Go find a new author. I’m constantly surprised at the number of people claiming “My reading is so limited to _______” because I’ve been reading all over for years. Thanks to indie, I can find all sorts of books published by authors all over the globe, starring all sorts of characters and exploring a wide variety of concepts.

And sure, every so often there’s a dud in there, but that was always true. Publishers publish horrid crap all the time. Like Hollywood, they kind of count on it (the 10% of hits supporting the 90% of gambled crap).

Ultimately, it’s pretty simple. You want “diversity,” whatever your definition of that happens to be, in the books you consume? Stop buying from folks interested in selling you the same old thing, get on an indie site or a forum somewhere, and start checking out stuff you might like. Then go a step further and purchase it if you think you’re going to enjoy it.

Supply and demand people. You want to read more authors from Nigeria or India? Guess what? There are hundreds of independent titles that have been published by folks in those countries on Amazon alone, to say nothing of other independent sites. You can give them your money today in exchange for their work and create a demand for more works.

It’s that simple. Stop giving your money to the publishers who still aren’t creating the content you’re loudly clamoring for, and instead start giving it to the people that are. Pretty straightforward.

As I said all those weeks ago: You want diversity? Support indie. If you keep giving the big publishers money to not change, guess what? They won’t change. They already have your money.

All right, that’s it for today. I’ve got Starforge to write another chapter on! I hope you all have a great rest of the week, and don’t forget about the Fireteam Freelance epilogue dropping on Saturday!

Max out!

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