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Cesar is the author of the standalone novel “The 13 Secret Cities” the book series "How to Kill a Superhero" (under the pen name Pablo Grene). He is also the creator and publisher of Solar Six Books.

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Filtering by Category: Author Life

What It Felt Like to Quit My Dream Job

Editor

 Photo by Rob Lundskow, 2018

Photo by Rob Lundskow, 2018



From 2014 to 2016, I worked in what I thought was my dream job. I was managing editor at Wirecutter, which was one of the coolest startups in the world of journalism for consumer products. I had an apartment in the Lower East Side in Manhattan, and the city of New York embraced me with all its energy. I had self-published my first four novels during this time period, and I felt special for having a side hustle to accompany my day job.


On paper, I had what they call “Living your best life.”


But it wasn’t. At that time, I suffered from sciatica, a type of lower back pain which travels down one or two legs. That condition rendered me unable to walk more than two blocks without having to sit down on the sidewalk and clench my teeth to bear the electric jolts of pain. I also just looked like shit. I was bloated and pale, and my body looked really unhealthy, despite my regular habit of running three times a week and going to the gym every other day.


Like many people who work for startups, I thrived on the energy of my work environment, and I was committed to helping the growth of the team and serving the mission of the organization. But, the results I delivered were becoming uneven, and I couldn’t grasp why it was that some work days churned my stomach with dread, and other days didn’t.


In the summer of 2016, I decided to let go of my apartment, which in New York, is a big deal. Once people find a place, they do not let go for any reason. But I had an ambitious and somewhat unusual approach. I decided to work away New York for a few months. Once that time had passed and I felt better, I would come back to New York and find an all new apartment, so I could in effect turn a new leaf. I could do this thanks to the startup life. After all, our company was remote, and it was Slack, email and Zoom that connected us, not real office space. I sold most of my things, packed my clothes and laptop, and I said goodbye to Manhattan. When I landed in Chicago that June, I felt sick, and spent. Within a few days, I could see in my face just how hollowed out my eyes were. I knew then that I had to quit.


I let my manager know that I needed to step away and focus on my own writing, and more than anything, myself.


You would imagine that this moment when I quit my job would have been drenched in glory, but it wasn’t. It felt miserable. Like a mistake of sorts. It was so scary. It felt like being scraped from the inside with a cheese grater. It tasted of failure.


But I did it. I did it because I was going through a big change inside of me. I no longer fit in with my daily surroundings or with the teammates around me. This is not as simple as saying I hated my job, because that’s not the full story. I am also not going to bullshit you and describe a utopia of where I worked. All jobs are full of inept leadership, structural problems, racism, sexism, homophobia, and bozos, in various combinations. Ineptitude can happen in almost any job. My struggle really wasn't’ about the particulars of the environment that I was in. I was often perceived by the team I managed, my peers and my managers, as someone who is nice, intellectually strong, and a “giver,” which doesn’t actually tell the full story of what I’m like. I knew that there were other aspects of my skills and leadership that had nothing to do with being nice, or helpful to a fault. And though I could have worked on exhibiting those other qualities in this team, I wasn’t going to erase the solid image of how I was perceived.


That is, until I quit. Then it became evident that there were more dimensions to my character than what was at the surface.


You see, I was developing as an adult, and that particular job, despite being a dream job, was not going to help me do it. Nothing against them, because I had my own problems to solve. My journey required a new degree of solitude in which I could really discover my own depths, and in which I could make more provocative and risky choices. The chance to make these choices is what every leader, entrepreneur and artist dreams of.


By the time I had quit my job, I had already published four of my own books. You may think I am naive, but I didn’t think that this was such a big deal to have done this. I just saw it as my side hustle, and something that my heart compelled me to do. But the answer to my struggles was right there, in my books. You see, I had poured many types of energy into those novels: twenty five years of writing experiences as a journalist and fiction writing. I also threw in my expertise and tech and design. I wrote those novels using my understanding of human nature to describe characters who are flawed, and are always discovering who they are. And what’s even more important, I was channeling my entrepreneurial spirit into publishing those books. I was learning how to run my own business.


What I understand now in 2018, two years after that life-changing summer when I quit that job, is that I did well to listen to my artistic and business instincts and step the fuck away. Today, I am successfully running Solar Six, my own company, which publishes all my books. My sciatica has also resolved and has not returned. I am currently working on audiobooks of my novels, and I have expanded my editorial output to short documentaries and short films, which are funded via my Patreon account. I also launched LED Queens, a clothing line that I design and market. I have agency, and I have my own small team of designers, illustrators and creatives who help me make my readers, customers and fans happy. And most of all, I am not perceived as a “nice guy” and a “giver’ in this new role. Now I am described by others as as a queer punk, someone who is not afraid to be himself. Someone who takes charge and execute on ideas, works of art and design products that no one else can pull off.


Today my memories of quitting that job remain the same: they are painful memories, emotional burns that scorch and induce tears. But you know what? Quitting was the best thing I ever did. Because I found my actual purpose as a writer, designer and leader. I had to leave something behind, to let a part of me die, so another could be born from the carcass. If you have ever felt like quitting your job, and you don’t understand why you are doing it, this story will resonate with you. Although I don’t suffer fools gladly, and I encountered a few charlatans and sociopathic team members, I can’t say that I personally had an enemy or adversaries in that job of any kind. But I had an obstruction, and that obstruction was me. It wasn’t until I dealt with myself head on that I was able to become the person I am meant to be. And that journey continues. There’s still a lot more to learn, and as long as I am alive, I know to listen to my intuition. It is intuition that can be a powerful component for any leader and entrepreneur.




New York Publishers Rejected My Book Featuring a Trans Detective

Editor

I have been an indie author for more than six years. I have seven published books: one short story collection and 6 novels. The life of an indie author is not easy, and I don’t play victim. I like to work hard, and bring stories to my readers that they have never experienced before. This is not a hobby, it’s a job.


Before I was published, I spent most of my late twenties and early thirties pitching my manuscripts to the big dogs: the agents and publishers that are considered the Big Five. Their feedback to those early manuscripts was fairly similar. They liked my writing and characters, but they were not sure they could market the book. I have a stack of more than two hundred rejection letters from that time in my life.


In 2014, I self published my first book, and I treated the project seriously. I hired an editor, a book cover designer. I made a marketing plan. And thanks to the success of that first experiment, I self published the rest of my catalog. Thanks to my efforts in marketing via digital channels and at cons and places where readers gather, I published another one, and another. People bought the books, and I was on my way. I am currently working on two full-fledged series under my name and a pen name. I have a loyal readership for both of my series, and I talk to my readers everyday. They don’t care who published the book, or what the business model runs their financing. They come back to my books because they like the writing and above all, my characters.


9 Lords of Night, my latest novel in my Coil series, is the second volume in a near-future dystopian world where an authoritarian government encroaches, while Aztec gods enter from another dimension. My main characters are queer men, women, trans men. I also wrote How to Kill a Superhero, a series of 4 erotic thrillers that feature a very queer main character who develops superpowers and who is aided in his journey by gay men and a very powerful trans woman.


I am lucky to work full time as an author and to make a living from these books thanks to my own will and resolve to get these books into hands of readers. But I gave up on big publishers years ago.


In late 2016, when 9 Lords was still in one of many drafts, I pitched the concept to a top agent, and also a well known publicist. I did this not because I expected those publishers to pick up my book, but because I wanted to test the market trends of big publishing, to see if their attitude toward new authors and provocative new ideas had changed since the early days when I used to still send query letters.


The responses from the agent and publicist were eye-opening, but not surprising. The agent read my manuscript and asked me to make my trans main character more palatable, less cranky, less embittered by the prejudices set against him. He also acted very confused when he learned the character had dated women all his life but has a sexual encounter with a man in the novel. “I don’t think a trans person would do this,” the agent said. I asked him if he was trans. He said that no, he was cisgender and straight. “Do you have a lot of people who are trans in your life?” I asked, and he couldn’t answer the question. You see, I do have trans people in my life, including close relatives, and none of my trans beta readers bristled over my trans character the way this agent did. He wanted his ideas of what trans people should be to shoehorned into the novel. What I understood then is  And that’s a compromise I would never make in the stories I tell.


The publicist who I queried gave me a different answer. She had no interest at all in the gender identity of my characters, and instead took the time to explain that she could not take on indie authors, because there is pressure from the big 5 to support the efforts of more traditionally published authors. She did caution too, that it would be “easier to publicize the book if you had a few more straight characters in there.”


That’s what they said. You can draw your own conclusions.


Neither of these two anecdotes can be generalized to the whole industry. I am not naive enough to think that all agents and publicists are this risk-averse and cowardly. But I need you to know that if you are an author that wants to see your books reach the market place, traditional publishing is one of the least interesting places to attempt to do so nowadays.


I’m not gonna mince words. Stop querying the big publishers and agents. They don’t want you. And I am not telling you that they are rejecting you based on your sexual or gender identity or race (though that is also possinl). What I mean is that if your books don’t fit their current formula for revenue generation in the next two years, no matter how good your writing is, they are going to pass. You don’t fit into their plan for revenue generation, but that doesn’t mean your books can’t succeed.


There’s a lot of talk nowadays in traditional publishing circles about “diversity” and “inclusivity”, but the fact is that the New York agents and editors are part of these corporate publishers, and they are focused on making money. If these professionals tell you they care about stories featuring gay, queer or trans characters, it’s because those novels map to potential revenue streams. The individual politics and viewpoints of individual agents, editors and publishers will vary, and I don’t dispute that. But the industry is not taking on bold new stories. The evidence is right there in the titles that sell best. There more blandness and literary corrupt fiction up on those best-selled lists than you and I care to think about.


I am telling you this because if you are an upcoming writer, I don’t want you to get your hopes up that the big publishers will take a chance on stories of LGBTQ people, your characters of color, or those that don’t fit a certain mold. When agents and publishers represent and purchase a manuscript, they are betting on the book’s chances of succeeding in market forces. And trust me, your ideas of taking a chance on new ideas is not the same as theirs.


Start looking around, look at the tech and startup world, and start thinking of your own books as your startup. And by all means, start hanging out with other startup owners and entrepreneurs. The answers are going to be there.


In my case, Patreon and crowd-funding helped get my books to market as a supplementary means of financing. I am lucky enough to have experimented with Patreon since a few years ago, and what I found is that there are people who definitely believe in new stories. In my case, they want science fiction that includes people of color, trans cops, queer academics, and a host of other characters who you simply don’t see in the best-seller lists today.


Book publishing is a business. Stop telling yourself it is not. But what I am saying is that you can find a market for your books, even if at the start they feel like micro-niches. If you invest the time in marketing and developing your catalog, readers do come to your online storefront, be it iTunes, Kindle, YouTube and Stitcher (in the case of audiobooks), and your own web site’s e-commerce platform.


And yes, I know I excluded brick-and-mortar stores from the list of storefronts. Those stores are not in the position to help you in the long term, and I’ll write a future blog post about how digital, machine learning and the Internet will continue to make it tough for bookstores to really launch your career as an author.


Look around at all creative industries. Look hard. The music business has been hollowed out by the rise of music downloads and streams, and labels lately are even trying to take profits off merch and touring from artists, because the business model has changed. Hollywood only makes a certain type of movie (as I glance at superhero genre films as a main example), and instead,  Netflix, YouTube, Kickstarter and Patreon are the real places where filmmaking is taking bold steps forward. The studios don’t take chances on new or transgressive filmmakers and screenwriters.


You see the pattern here? If you believe in your work, you must put on an entrepreneur hat and build your artistic vision and book catalog in new ways. If you write cookie-cutter thrillers, then please, by all means go ahead and query New York so you can become the next thriller writer to fill airport bookshelves. But most writers are not those kind of writers. I never want to be that kind of writer.


Get ready to work hard. Get ready to suffer setbacks and disappointments. But when you self publish, crowdfund and collaborate with other indie authors and small businesses, you will find your readers. And based on market data, you will probably out-earn your traditionally published peers. I know I do.


Stop pretending like things are like they were in the “good old days of publishing.” Being a writer today involves discipline, hard work and talent, but getting your book published and thriving takes something more. It takes courage to step away from the way things have always been done.


Start breaking the rules.

We are Hiring a Book Marketing Specialist

Editor

Book Marketing Specialist

Solar Six Books

 

 

Solar Six Books is looking for a part-time marketing specialist to plan and execute a series of promotions for Cesar Torres’ newest novel, 9 Lords of Night. This is a nine-month project that goes beyond the traditional definitions of what it means to market a work of fiction.

 

At Solar Six we don’t believe that there is one perfect candidate. Instead, we see limitless potential in specific individuals. Resumes are great, but hearing your story directly from you is best. Practically speaking, our future Book Marketing Specialist is a person who is incredibly passionate about books and who has solid experience under their belt on engaging with audiences and other creators online. Book lovers who have their own podcasts or YouTube channels are especially welcome. Academic and professional experience in marketing are also appreciated, but keep in mind that we want someone who can think beyond the typical marketing tactics, such as writing press releases and marketing to readers on sites like Goodreads.

 

This project will span across nine months in support of the sci fi-thriller 9 Lords of Night, which pits a trans detective and a queer academic against a supernatural threat in a grim future version of New York City. If you understand queer and trans themes and you are passionate about sci fi and fantasy, we definitely want to hear from you.

 

This position is part time for an average of 4-5 hours a week; pay rate is negotiable based on experience. You will work directly with author and publisher Cesar Torres on planning and execution of the marketing plan via Slack and phone on a weekly basis, but you’ll also be expected to work independently without a lot of handholding. This contract gig can expand to a larger role depending on performance and chemistry.

 

Some of the existing goals for this position include:

  • Booking author Cesar Torres on podcasts, YouTube channels and other online outlets, such as Instagram, Snapchat and Patreon. The focus here is on indie outlets. We are not interested in local TV stations, traditional press or radio.

  • Planning a book-release performance in Chicago scheduled for autumn: creating a budget, finding a venue, booking musical and acts and performers, and creating a marketing campaign. Keep in mind that this is not a book reading (book reading tend to be dreadfully dull). This will be an event that helps reimagine what a book event can be.

  • Writing bi-weekly updates for Cesar Torres’ author newsletter.

  • Creating promotions and contests to engage readers as the book is released on paperback. Typical channels for these promotions will be Cesar Torres’ author newsletter, his Instagram account and YouTube channel.

  • Booking a series of guests onto the Cesar Torres podcast to promote the release of the book.

  • Crafting a new strategy for growing Patreon subscribers. Applicants with experience with Patreon are strongly encouraged to apply.

  • Outreach to LGBTQIA organizations to book speaking engagements for Cesar Torres.

 

 

Solar Six Books is the publisher of Cesar Torres’s published books, including 13 Secret Cities and 9 Lords of Night. For all inquiries, please email editor@solarsixbooks.com.

Podcast 25: Daniel Stalter, Dreamcrasher and Kickstarter-Funded Comic Books

Editor

Daniel is a storyteller and a comic book writer based in Brooklyn, NY. He launched his first series Dream Crasher in 2015 with artist and frequent collaborator Reed Olsen. They have since published 4 of the 12 planned chapters, and have run two successful Kickstarter Campaigns. He joins me today to talk about his writing, why it took 10 years to write Dreamcrasher, and how he funded it via Kickstarter.

Related links

Got a question? Email me at my web site here.

Podcast #17: Using Slack to get feedback from your Beta Readers

Editor

In today’s episode:

I’ll show you how I am using Slack this year as a place to gather my beta readers as they check out early versions of my two novels that are in development. You can learn more about Slack here:

 

 

If you like the show, leave us a review in iTunes here. Thanks. If you want to support this show, visit my Patreon page. Got a comment? Send us an email at our contact page.

Podcast #12 Updates on 9 Lords of Night and the launch of 13SC Apparel

Editor

In this episode:

  • Updates on the podcast, and why I was absent for a few weeks
  • Updates on 9 Lords of Night by Cesar Torres, due out in 2017
  • The launch of 13SC Apparel, a clothing line designed by Cesar Torres that is bringing community to Chicago strength sports
  • Other updates

For more info, visit cesartorres.me

How to Kill a Superhero books and clothing now available in Chicago retail

Editor

Gratitude post 🙏: I am proud to announce my partnership the men's fashion and fetish boutique Men's Room here in Chicago to sell my How to Kill a Superhero book series (NSFW!) and the clothing line inspired by the superheroes from the books, starting this week, in their store. This is a HUGE milestone for my books, and I am grateful to all of you friends, family and loyal readers who support my efforts. If you are curious about the crossover between superheroes, LGBTQ and fetish communities, then stop into the store (located in Boystown at 3420 N. Halsted) where you can purchase the books, leggings, and wrestling singlets that are part of my artistic vision. This ain't no 50 shades! It's BETTER.

And don't forget, I write How to Kill a Superhero under the pseudonym Pablo Greene. Don't forget it! Hugs.

Book Update: Haunting the Somerset Hotel

Editor

Most readers aren't going to give a shit how many words I am writing daily. That's the kind of stuff only other writers care about. And if you want to know the counts, just message me, I'll tell you privately. But it's still worth sharing with you the journey I take in creating my books, isn't it? That's why starting today, I'll be writing about some of the real-life places, events and people I am researching as I write 9 Lords of Night, my next thriller.

NOTE: Though these updates feature parts of my research, not all of these elements may make into the final published book.

The characters of 9 Lords of Night will be visiting the Somerset Hotel, a magnificent building from 1919 that still stands today in the historic Uptown neighborhood. (I wrote about Uptown in 2013 in 13 Secret Cities as the main characters attended a concert at the Aragon Ballroom.)

The Somerset Hotel launched at the height of Uptown's glory. Before Hollywood rose as the pinnacle of moviemaking in the United States, Uptown held a title as the movie nucleus. Most people can't imagine how this mixed-income neighborhood known for its theaters and music venues could have held so much prestige, but they should be imagining it. 

For a deeper historical look at the hotel's early history, including information about its architect Samuel N. Crowen, please visit the excellent Jazz Age Chicago blog.

The Somerset was born into a decade of jazz,  luxury and glamour, but as you will learn, it fell into new hands in the late 20th century. At one point, it housed hundreds of people as a sheltered care facility for senior citizens. Stories about its downturn are grim. At some point, the Somerset was housing inmates and the mentally ill along with the senior population. The facility was shut down in 2010 for myriad violations, and in the past six years, the building was re-zoned to allow for a developer to turn it into apartments.

This is the kind of deep history that resounds in Uptown. The Somerset is haunted by the luxurious, the decadent, the corrupt, and the ill. And now it has a chance for a new beginning, though history never forgets. 

As I research further into the Somerset history, I can't help but to go deeper into the research. This week, I plan to walk over to the apartment building and ask its management company to let me tour the halls and the rooms. I need to see it for myself. Even if the site ends up as background in the novel, this is the sort of context that will give the manuscript solidity.

If you live in Chicago, I recommend you drive by the hotel and get brunch at Tweet, the restaurant across the street. I am amazed to see the gigantic structure revitalized this way. Just a few years ago it was nothing but a shell, a ghost of itself. 

And with that, I now return to my manuscript for 9 Lords of Night. I'll share more updates as I run across more shiny objects in the dark. You will want to see admire their glow.

Life Update and Thank You

Editor

After two years of growth as Managing Editor at The Wirecutter and Sweethome, I have moved on this month to head in a new direction. It’s incredibly hard to leave a publication of such energy and innovation, but I am very excited for the path that lies before me. At the moment I am focusing on the writing of my next two novels and continuing to publish them under my imprint Solar Six. I also just kicked off the beta of http://13SC.net, a clothing label that tells my personal story through archetypal images and art. These entrepreneurial endeavors will bring me closer to literary life and art than ever before. I will be operating now from a home base of Chicago, at least until wanderlust possesses me one more time. Won’t be long, I know.

Most importantly, I want to thank all of you for providing me with such love and support as I move forward into a new phase and face new challenges. If you want to grab coffee, a drink, now is the time, since I am traveling often back and forth between NYC and Chicago. If you have any suggestions about ideas I should be exploring, or people I should be talking to for opportunities, please get in touch. I am VERY excited to connect with all of you.

Cesar Torres

Chicago

Why I Dress as a Superhero to Promote Books at Comic Con

Editor

Those of you who haven’t heard from me in some time, listen up. I’m alive and well, living in New York City. Working, writing, working, writing and publishing, in iterative loops.

It’s good to see you. You look good. Pull up a chair. Come see the show.

When I started my quest in self-publishing at the end of 2012, I did so as an experiment. Did you know that? No, of course you didn’t. That’s because I haven’t written about that story until now. Of course, there are those in the industry who do know. After all, among writers, editors and publishers, people know that I chose the independent route to publish my books.

The idea to self publish arose from a conversation I had at the time with my friend and colleague Jacqui Cheng. We set out to write some short pieces of fiction (tipping our hats to Mary Shelley and her writing contemporaries). And over the course of 2012 and part of 2013, I wrote and published a book.

It was a weird book, and it wasn’t meant to be a novel. Instead, I designed it as interlocking short stories. That didn't turn out as I expected. When I finished, I had a novel, and not a handful of stories. It was a filthy book, and a transgressive one. It blended eroticism with a narrative about transformation and the occult, and though I felt passionate about the project, the honest truth is that I didn’t think anyone would really want to read it. I called that book How to Kill a Superhero. That was the first book that I self published, and the one that kicked everything off.

Looking back, I definitely can see that I didn’t believe in the book’s viability in late 2012, when I was writing it. Yet, I had the urge to experiment with self publishing using tools from Amazon, Apple, Smashwords. And I went for it. I used every bit of knowledge I had from working in newspaper and web publishing, and I asked many questions about what I didn’t know about book publishing. I hired an editor. I had the book copy edited. I hired a designer, and I bought a URL. In the course of about 9 months, I had a paperback that looked nothing like a typical erotica or fantasy book. Its cover was a throwback to classic James Bond novel covers from the 60s, though the content of the book was intense enough to make everyone blush. I used a pen name at the time, as a way to explore ideas about identity and superhero themes, but very soon, I regretted having done so. Why? Because people started reading the book, and they started talking about the book. It caught on with a certain subset of gay men who had grown up with superhero stories but didn’t see their desires and identities expressed in fiction.

That book opened doors for me. As readers came across the novel, people came knocking at my door. I was invited to podcasts, leather conferences, author signings. The momentum created by Pablo Greene’s book about an occult book and the nurse who absorbed its powers led me to write a second book in the series, called World Without Daylight.

And all through this time, I still didn’t really believe in myself. Yes, that’s what I am telling you. I lacked so much confidence. Despite making sales, generating revenue and talking to my readers about a book they loved, I still didn’t have the confidence in myself to let the world see what I had done. None of it felt “real” enough, successful enough. So I kept my Pablo Greene identity secret.

I don’t recommend shrinking away from the world during moments of doubt. I don’t recommend shrinking away from who I am. Not at all.

By the time the second superhero book published in early 2014,  it was apparent to me that this was going to be a tetralogy. I knew I could publish a professionally edited and designed book and e-book using my own name, and something told me to push, to make it a reality, to use the powerful tool of creation in my mind and make my debut novel under my regular name a reality. I would not wait for an agent to come and rescue me and validate me (because I had tried the agent route for years).

In 2014 I launched my debut novel 13 Secret Cities as a serial, in a similar vein to John Scalzi’s 2013 serial, Old Man’s War. Writing that book almost killed me. I wrote each of the four parts in real time, getting each section edited and produced and launched every 2-3 months, all the while working my regular job. I went through various cover concepts with two designers, and I ran into major issues in the Amazon store, but each serial piece released starting in early summer all the way through winter of 2014, and in December, a paperback edition collecting them into a single novel also launched.

I tried my best to promote this new novel, but the schedule for its release almost killed me. And then, 2015 started, and I felt so scattered, so utterly exhausted from releasing two books in one year, that I basically forgot to promote my books. I was burnt out, and my health started to diminish as a result. I started losing sleep, and nerve pain in my limbs started to affect my daily life. This condition of mind and body, which some people call sciatica, but which health experts refer to as PPD (or psychophysiologic disorder),  almost destroyed my everyday life. Dealing with pain on a daily basis became a full time job, and I am still dealing with pain currently. The response in the body is real, but attacking the source, which in my case comes from life stress, is a bitch. And it all stems from emotions like fear. As I battled each day just to get out the door of my house and go to work,  I was afraid, more afraid than I had ever been before. It was as if I had wandered into the woods and could no longer find my way home.

Well that was then. That was a time when I couldn’t reconcile both halves of my publishing career. I write novels as Cesar Torres and as Pablo Greene, and I have been too careful in the past in curating those two images as separate people. Each one of those writers is one and the same.

And you know it. I know it.

At New York Comic Con October 8-11, I will be there promoting both book series: 13 Secret Cities AND How to Kill a Superhero. The superhero books that I write as Pablo Greene are explicit, filthy, and they combine elements of violence, BDSM, religion and sex, and I don’t give a fuck who they offend. They are as much a part of my imagined worlds as the universe I created in 13 Secret Cities. They have things to say about the human condition and the nature of the universe as much as anything else I have ever written in my fiction. I have wanted to show the world that those superhero books have a place alongside my other published books, 12 Burning Wheels and 13 Secret Cities.

Those main characters from each series, Clara Montes and Roland, deserve equal respect and readership.

And so, when I attend NY Comic Con, I put on a superhero costume, because that’s a habit I started as Pablo Greene. It was something that came naturally to me the first time I attended an event as the author.

And I haven’t stopped. Fuck tweed jackets, fuck sensible reading glasses, and fuck all the conventions of what an author is “supposed to do.” I put on a superhero’s tights, and I sign books, I talk to readers, and I have a great time.

My life as Managing Editor at The Wirecutter is a busy one. My hours are long, and I love that job. But it doesn’t leave a lot of free time to promote my books. And so, the events that I choose are very strategically chosen. That’s why NY Comic Con is something I attend every year. I don’t have to travel far, and I get to meet readers in a way that allows me to get the best results as an independent publisher and author.

I don’t even have a booth as an exhibitor at Comic Con. Did you know that? Yeah, it’s true. The people I meet, the readers I talk to — those interactions help my books get read by readers. I also use my experience as a journalist, to talk to other people about their books, and the ideas they care about. This year I will be doing several daily interviews on both my Cesar Torres and my Pablo Greene YouTube channels, to show once again that books are alive, and that geek and book culture have a lot to offer the overall global culture.

I will do all of this while dressed as a superhero. Like I ALWAYS do.

I am not after fame or the NYT bestsellers list. What I am after is my existing readership. There are people who love 13SC, and there are people who love How to Kill a Superhero.  So far, they have been mutually exclusive audiences. But not anymore. In just a few years I have gone farther in self publishing than what many traditionally published authors will ever do.

And there’s more to come. Transformation Fetish, book 3 in the How to Kill a Superhero series, will publish this Fall, and the sequel to 13 Secret Cities is on its heels. That book is slated to arrive in late 2016. This, my friends, is a dream life. It’s more than I could have ever imagined when I was just a boy using his father’s Olivetti typewriter in Little Village in Chicago in 1987.

So join me. If you love or you hate my books, please tell people about it. The word of mouth is what makes indie books grow and flourish. But don’t be surprised when I show up at city near you hauling a box of books dressed like Superman or Venom, talking about cosmic horror, mirrors and the craft of writing.

If you’re attending NY Comic Con in person, let’s hang out. If you won’t be there, watch my YouTube videos. They will not be boring.

It will be a good meeting of my mind with yours. We’ll have a laugh. And you’ll see the real me.