Today we officially begin the grand experiment I’m calling NaNoPubMo — National Novel Publishing Month. NaNoWriMo is a real thing, held every November, but I already have five completed novels on my hard drive. I don’t need to write any more of them, not quite yet.

NaNoPubMo is a learning experience, for sure. And not a cheap one. This morning I’m contemplating a proposal from a web design company that specializes in author websites. Their design-and-implementation package costs $2,500. This is a bit high, but not unreasonable for professional website creation. The proposal is really quite detailed — and yet there’s not a word in it about whether I’ll have approval of the visual design.

This is an odd omission. I think I need to ask more questions. But possibly it’s an industry norm. Here’s a revealing quote from a different author website design company: “Step Three: Building Your Website. Upon receipt of payment [which is 50%, the usual deposit], our publicist will discuss the look and feel of your site.” Gee, guys — isn’t that kind of backwards? Shouldn’t I approve of the design before I send you the big bucks?

Meanwhile, on another channel, I ordered three hats for a professional portrait photo shoot, the intent being to wear a hat so I’ll look a little more interesting and a little less like myself. The hats (from Amazon, of course) weren’t on the porch last night, I know this because it was Halloween. This morning at 9:45, two boxes were on the porch — and the doorbell had not rung. Weird. Now I have to decide whether to get a haircut before the shoot.

Trying to nail down the right series title for my four-book series. Did a quick survey of a bunch of possible titles on a Facebook authors’ group. Got an idea or two for a new story, but decided not to use any of those titles. My decision (still tentative, as cover design is ongoing) is to put “THE ADVENTURE BEGINS…” at the bottom of the Book 1 cover, and then for the other three books go with “LEAFSTONE, Book 2”, “LEAFSTONE, Book 2”, and so forth. Book 1 is called The Leafstone Shield, so putting “LEAFSTONE, Book 1” at the bottom would be horribly redundant.

I rejected “Leafstone Chronicles,” “Leafstone Saga,” and such phrases. I don’t like those words, and they don’t add anything.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I’m starting to think about Book 5. That may or may not ever happen. I’m still doing the final edits on the current series — I’m now halfway through Book 4.

While researching cover design, I’ve spent considerable time on Amazon looking at the covers of fantasy novels. Along the way I noticed that many of them (presumably self-published) are available for Kindle for $0.00. These are mostly Book 1, presumably of a series, and the authors are using Book 1 as a sort of gateway drug. So I’ve downloaded more than a dozen of them, and glanced at the opening pages of two or three.

I’m not going to have any trouble rising to the top of the heap in the literary quality department, that much is blazingly clear. Here’s an example, not from a downloaded Kindle book but a prominently displayed line directly beneath the banner photo of an author on his personal site (not naming the author to avoid embarrassing him): “It was as if the pitiless flank of life had appropriated a deep gasp and obliterated the light that was once the engine of hope. They simply no longer existed…” That, including the pronoun with no antecedent, is the entire quotation. The pitiless flank of life — dang! This individual quite obviously feels that this is among the most inspired or inspiring lines in his oeuvre.

I rest my case.

The hard part will be getting readers to notice my books. Rumor has it that social media are a spiffy way to do this — or can be, if you’re smart and industrious. Unfortunately, the prospect of spending hours every day hanging out on Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, and God knows where else gives me wall-climbing, hair-pulling screaming fits. I do not want to do this.

Fortunately, I don’t have to think about it yet. Let’s get the books up on Amazon and iBooks first and worry about social media marketing later.

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