Thursday, August 29, 2013

Horror Stories From A Computer Tech - A Book In Under 8 Hours

Last week on Friday and Saturday I decided to accept J.A. Konrath's challenge to create an entire book in under 8 hours (obviously it isn't very long.) He told the story of how he created four new shorts in four hours while drunk. He wrote them, made the covers in Paint, edited them, and published under a pen name. Those four titles are pulling in ten dollars a week. That's $520 a year that he can just sit back and collect. I didn't expect whatever I wrote to have much success but writing Minor Demons (as fun as it is) is taking forever. I kind of wanted a short break to play around with another title. That's how Horror Stories From A Computer Tech by: Geekus Maximus was born.

1. The Cover

Once the idea for the book hit me, I started on the cover. I didn't want to go the Konrath route and do the whole thing in Paint, but I'm also not much of an artist. While I made the covers for all of my history articles and for Explanations and Advice for the Tech Illiterate, those only required me to take a picture, modify the size, and add text. They look awesome, but not much required. For this, I started drawing. At first, I was going to draw a zombie saying things like "add more terraflops" and "defrag the RAMs and the motherboards." I honestly thought I had deleted this scan, but apparently it's still in my Pictures library. Might as well reveal it.

Once I gave up on the zombie, I sketched some ideas that featured an evil computer. The one in the bottom right is the one that I used. Once I threw that in Paint and gave it a black background, I added some white text in one of my favorite custom fonts.

Total Time: 2 hours

2. The Writing

I knew what I wanted to write. I wanted to write a short collection of stories about the craziest, funniest, and strangest customers I ever had as an in-home computer tech. I made sure to keep all identifying information out. I started with six stories:

-Attack of the Mailer Daemon
-Power from the WiFis
-Patient Zero
-CAT5 Prevents Cancer
-Unlimited Data Transfer
-The Shaman

That was about 2,500 words and it took me about two hours to put together. Part of that time was spent thinking about stories and hoping I hadn't missed any good ones. In the end, I did miss at least one great story. As I was talking about this project with a buddy at work, he reminded me about the time I had customers modify an Ethernet port on their printer so they could fit a USB cable into it and then called us to troubleshoot why it wasn't printing. I added that story a few days later and called it "Custom USB Port." If you include the additional time I spent adding the seventh story, I'm in this another two hours and fifteen minutes for the writing.

Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

3. The Editing

I made sure to edit and look for typos, better word choice, etc. while I was writing. I also spent about half an hour after I had finished going over everything again. There may still be typos in it. It's only about 2,900 words, but it's hard to edit your own stuff. Much harder than editing the work of someone else. Add another half an hour.

Total Time: 4 hours 45 minutes

4. Publish on Amazon

I hit publish on Horror Stories From A Computer Tech about 4 hours and 45 minutes spent on the project. Here's a link if you want to check it out (click on the cover image):

Horror Stories From A Computer Tech

Just under 5 hours, about 2,900 words, good for a few laughs, and I published it with a price of $0.99 without expecting much. Now I know I sold one of these copies to my mom, but this has sold 6 copies in under a week. It's not a ton, but considering this month hasn't been a great sales month for my e-books (the past few months actually), I'll take it. It has made it to the Top 20 in one of it's categories and sat at #1 on the Hot New Releases in the same category for several days. It should be featured on J.A. Konrath's blog tomorrow which should draw more attention to it as well.

Overall, this was a pretty fun process. I don't get to share the entire process of creating a book on my blog very often because it generally requires a lot more work than I spent on this one. I recommend you grab a copy if you're looking for a few good laughs and a little bit of creepy mixed with the right amount of "what the hell?"

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