Previously I was doing six month updates on what’s happening with Nine Keys of Abyssal Darkness. There wasn’t much to report last November though because the day job was massively getting in the way for awhile there. Probably three-quarters of the time since then hasn’t been great either. A lot of progress happened in the last few weeks, though. I’ve also recently gained more insight into what still needs doing. Hence, just a few notes here about that.
Nine Keys publication update
As of yesterday, I’ve got a .pdf done that is representative of how I want the final book to look. This is an important milestone to me: basically, if I was to randomly discover that I only had a few months to live or something like that, I’d have no regrets about this being the version that gets unleashed on the world.
I’m not sending it to self-publishing print-on-demand quite yet, though, for a couple reasons. One, I still need to do the assorted errands listed below before I’m fully ready for formal publication. Two, I’m currently in the midst of part of the initiation process I describe in the Ninth Key. The stage in question entails in-depth examination of the divination system the Sixth Key details. This in turn might produce some insights that lead to small refinements in the Sixth Key’s omen descriptions etc.
As I think I’ve said in previous updates, I do not want to hold off publication of the book until I get through the entire initiation sequence, as that would present a delay of several years. But if I can’t publish immediately for practical reasons anyway, why not more esoteric study in the meantime, I figure.
The initiation period in question lasts until the summer solstice. Shortly after, I’m going on a trip to the coast. These two things will inherently disrupt my current work period. Hence, I’d like to try to get as many of my remaining pre-publication errands as possible done before then. I expect to make a fair dent in them too, since I’m currently off work and have few competing obligations.
Things I still need to do before Nine Keys’ publication
Here’s a brief list of things I’ve realized I still need to do before I publish. Lots of mundane stuff, but seeing it laid out helps me organize, so I thought I might as well share:
Inside the book
Finish any edits that proceed from gnosis during my current initiation period. The only things this may affect are the omens in the Sixth Key and the Nekalah info in the Eighth. Insofar as content about these in the book is meant to be general, though, I don’t foresee any big changes.
Incorporate any proofreading or other insights from folks I’ve sent the most recent draft to. Again though, it’s far enough along at this point that I don’t foresee much changing.
Get an ISBN. One of several errands complicated by the “I’m in Canada and much advice out there is for America” factor. No big deal, but I need to remember to edit this into the copyright etc. page once I get it.
Sort out the whole .epub thing. My impression for self-publishing is you need a .pdf that dictates exactly what the print book looks like and an .epub for the reflowable ebook. The former is largely done. I tinkered a bit with the latter but conversion attempts proved very frustrating. So I have to decide whether to still try to figure it out myself or hire someone to sort it.
Pro the first option: I have lots of experience with html and if I have to waste a few weeks unformatting and reformatting the manuscript to save a few hundred dollars, I don’t mind.
Pro the second option, though: this book does have its fair share of bullet lists, tables and similar formatting complications, so the blunt reality may just be that I need paid help to avoid things looking broken.
Either way though, probably the most hassle task remaining for the book interior.
Revisit acknowledgments and author picture. Something more may yet happen on either of these fronts, but I’ll have to see in coming weeks.
Outside of the book
Design a cover. I am fully aware that normal advice is “don’t do this yourself.” Thing is though, i) I’ve designed gig posters and similar such things for years now and ii) what I’m envisioning is a Kenneth Grant / Anton LaVey / etc. -style cover of the general “big sigil in the middle, minimalism otherwise” -archetype, which I don’t think is that hard to manage for a person of my experience. I do intend to read more about cover design etc. and may yet change my mind. What money I have for this whole endeavor, though, I think will be better spent on parts of the process that fall further outside of my own expertise than this part – e.g., see above re: .epub.
Come up with a book blurb. Probably the most straightforward component of this part of the process, though still an effort requiring research as well as just doing it, of course.
Get a barcode. Basically this is to the cover-design process as the ISBN issue is to the internal editing process.
General publishing process
Figure out which self-publisher(s) to use. Traditional publishing’s never been on my radar because of what I jokingly call The Order Of “Don’t Google It” factor. Currently leaning toward both KDP (paperback + ebooks on Amazon) and Ingramspark (hard cover + ebooks elsewhere) but haven’t decided. I do really want a hard cover option, though, as all my often-consulted Satanic paperbacks have been wearing out lately.
Figure out advertising. Research I’ve done into this + where I’ve seen people finding me from so far suggests Google will be most worthwhile, Facebook second. I don’t want to do Twitter ads though because just tweeting my blog occasionally seems reasonably effective + less obnoxious. Not a fan of sinking a whole lot of $ into advertising because it feels like gambling to me. I get the impression many see a sizable payoff from doing “something” though, so I too will do “something” here.
Figure out the whole “get advance reviews” etc. thing. If I look at my favorite Satanic books, I can’t help noticing that none of these actually does that thing where you put someone else’s endorsement on your back cover. So between that and the double-edged nature of getting endorsements in the Satanic scene (e.g. “surprise, so-and-so turned out to be problematic!”) I’m not going to bother with that part. I feel though like getting the book mentioned on other folks’ blogs etc. is potentially good exposure with less inherent backfire potential. So looking into making that happen more seems worth doing.
Get a better handle on process/timeline in general. I’ve never published before. So just getting my mind wrapped around what happens when (e.g. how long does all of the above take vs. what’s a reasonable release date to announce?) is a big part of what I’m now grappling with.
The big takeaway from this update is:
Regardless of current uncertainties about next steps, I do not forsee taking another six months to reach the finish line. I’m thus increasingly confident that I will indeed hit my goal of publishing in 2023. Ideally I want Nine Keys of Abyssal Darkness out before I have to go back to work in the fall – e.g. mid-late July is the earliest that seems realistic to me, or more likely sometime in August. If I can’t make that range, though, I will almost definitely set up either an early October or mid-late December release, to avoid lining up day job stress with any complications that may accompany the last mile. In any case though, info will be posted on here as things become more concrete.
In the meantime, I’ve said before but I’ll say again: any self-published authors with advice about the stage I’m now entering into, pleases feel free to comment… just so long as it’s not transparently-obvious spam, of course…