Archive for June, 2011

Posted: June 30, 2011 in The Writing Life

As it’s nearly midnight on June 30th, it seems like now’s a safe time to give the updated sales figures for the month. And all I can say is, “Wow!”

So far this month, I have sold 37 books. That is basically double what I sold in April (18) or May (19). It’s almost like adding another book has doubled my sales. Looking back, it sorta looks like that’s what happened when I released The Coppersmith, too. Sales jumped from an average of 9 or at the most 10, to right around 18. One book later, and I’ve doubled again. Got to say, I’m real curious to see if this will hold true when I release another one.

Of course, this could be just a fluke. I’d chalk it up to clever marketing, but this month I haven’t been doing anything all that different than what I’ve been doing right along, so I’m reluctant to say that it’s some kind of clever action on my part. I think it’s just the cumulative effect of sales – books driving readers from one to another. At least, I hope that’s what it is. That would be indicative of a developing fan base, which is what I’m really interested in. Anyway, it’s leaving me feeling pretty good over all.

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Sometimes the fastest way forward is taking a step or two backwards. I’ve been stuck on Eye of Darkness for a little more than a week now, just not finding the right passion to go forward any. True, part of that was vacation, where I did a little writing, but on the whole I just didn’t get anywhere.

Last night I hacked from my story about half of what I’d written on vacation and started fresh. Not surprisingly, I’ve regained some of the momentum I’d lost on this tale, and now I’m moving forward (finally!) into the 50K range.

For some reason, this particular book has had more rabbit trails than anything else I’ve written. I don’t know if this is a function of writing it far faster than anything else I’ve put together or what, but it sure does slow things down. I’m determined not to sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity, which may be why I have to go back repeatedly and rewrite major plot developments into something that will do what I want. This book is untamed.

I don’t mind a story going where it wants to go – kinda like letting a horse take you some interesting places by giving it the reins. But this is like riding a horse that is unbroken, and keeps trying to buck me off. I’m going to be real interested to find if that holds true with future works.

On the other hand, considering how many novels I’ve started and stopped after 25K words, maybe it happens more frequently than I care to admit – except this time I’m not letting the horse (er, story) dump me. I guess we’ll see.

Naturally, I moved on to something else while stuck on Eye. Started working on The Tree of Liberty again. Truthfully, I was inspired by the compliments and greetings I received from so many people at my nephew’s graduation party (I really did try to keep it about him). There were a lot of readers there – people I didn’t know had bought the books – including two who’d finished Patriots and Tyrants already. Nothing lights a fire under me like readers eager for more. I gave my nephew a copy of The Spirit of Resistance with an inscription to the effect that I’m looking forward to reading his published work soon. He’s a regular word factory when it comes to writing. He hasn’t even hit twenty years old yet, and he’s got to be halfway to a million words by now. I can tell by conversations with him that he’s improving his craft – his sense of story is getting stronger – and I won’t be surprised at all to see him publishing successfully before he’s twenty-five. I’m honored to provide what little mentoring I have.

Anyway, when I put the book in his “gift basket” my sister spied it and kissed my cheek saying, “Thank you so much! We’ve been dying to read this and have had no way to get our hands on it – but everyone keeps talking about it!” (Er… I didn’t state the obvious: she coulda bought the darn thing! Or for that matter, just told me sooner that she’d have liked a copy. Doesn’t cost me that much to get one).  She calls me the next day and says, “You know those books where you have to work to read the next chapter, where its ponderous to turn the page?” I’m thinking, “Great. She hates it.” I’ve already had someone put it down for being too political. Then she says, “This ain’t one of them.” She snagged it outta Collin’s gift basket and has already plowed through the first three chapters. I don’t think the poor kid even had a chance to crack the binding yet! NOTE TO SELF: Give Sandy her own copy of Patriots and Tyrants as soon as it’s in print.

I’m glad she’s liking it. Yeah, I know. Family always likes the writers. Still, my family is cynical enough that genuine praise is a rarity. When it happens, it’s earned. And that feels pretty frickin’ good, frankly.

On a related note, my sales this month continue to climb. We’ve sold more than thirty books already, and with a few more, might even crack thirty five. That’s almost twice as much as April or May. Maybe it’ll slack off a bit in summer, but we’ll see. I just hope I can have Eye done soon, to keep the ball rolling.

Back from vacation, and I’m startled to find that June, so far, has been my best month in sales yet! Of course, it helps to have had the updated sales figures from Smashwords come in, but still! I’m moving almost three times as many e-books as I did in February, and twice what I did in March. Naturally, outside of the hiccup from March’s print release of The Spirit of Resistance, my income is well above the norm, also. Actually, my e-book sales have surpassed March’s numbers, making this June the highest grossing month for my e-books yet. Now that’s something nice to come home to!

Since I’ve done this before, I’ll give the chart again:

Title Copies Earnings
The Spirit of Resistance 95 $209.85
The Coppersmith 42 $17.08
Patriots and Tyrants 7 $14.75
Total all 3 books 144 $241.68

I have to credit it to the fact that I’m releasing multiple books. They seem to be having the desired effect: feeding readers from one into another, and so forth. It’s encouraging me to keep going and get more books ready for release.  To that end, I’m continuing to work up Eye of Darkness, though it isn’t going nearly as fast as when I started. I still hope to have it finished in the next couple weeks (I know, I’m missing my end of June deadline, but what with vacation and putting off Patriots and Tyrants till the first of June, what can I do?).

In the meantime, I’ve begun taking a second look at Topheth, which is the sequel to The Coppersmith. I only have about 26K words on it done so far, and easily 3 to 5K of those will need to be cut out from the start. Probably more. But there’s some good stuff in there that I have to keep. I have a new sense of what to do with Special Agent Janelle Becker now, and especially since giving her the drug addiction. I think this will be my next effort after I finish Eye.

And, of course, I continue to work on The Tree of Liberty when I can – essentially when the mood strikes me. I want to get this one right, and I don’t think I should rush this series (even though I really want to get it out there). My goal with the Jefferson’s Road series is to push out one a year, so I’m not exactly behind the eight ball on this one.

Also, relatively soon, I have to get in touch with the good folks at Ellechor and see whassup with The Lost Scrolls, which ought to be coming out next March. I have the sequel, The Elixir of Life, nearly finished, but contractually, it has to go to Ellechor first (which is just fine with me).

By far, the biggest surprise in the sales figures from Smashwords has been how many came in through Barnes and Noble. I must admit, I was a little taken aback by that. The numbers have nearly caught up with Sony, which was my other big seller. Go figure. I’m not sure what’s happening there, but I like it. I’ll have to see if there’s anything else I can do to assist those sales.

On a side note, I got a rejection letter for Jefferson’s Road: The Spirit of Resistance today. It’s been almost a year since I released it electronically, and it remains my bestseller so far. Oh well. Kinda odd to see that they’re still coming in. Makes me wonder whether or not I’ve got any others floating around out there, waiting to land somewhere. I don’t know what I would have done had she asked for the whole manuscript. I suppose I would have sent it to her, along with an explanation, I reckon. Still, it makes me feel a little weird. C’est la vie!

Posted: June 7, 2011 in Jefferson's Road, The Writing Life

Having worked in the direct care field, I have some experience with nits. These
pernicious little buggers are almost impossible to get out of someone’s hair (believe me. I’ve done it). You need to use a serious, fine tooth comb just to find them all (I used an electric comb with great success. Zaps ’em dead), and even after you think you’ve got them, they can still be hidden down near the roots of the hairs.

Finding typos in a manuscript is just like that. Especially when the typos are actually spelled correctly – just the wrong word in the wrong place.

Sigh.

A friend sent me two identified typos in Jefferson’s Road: The Spirit of Resistance which I have since corrected, but now I’ve had to submit a new interior to the book and to all the e-formats to get the corrections made. The good news is that he only found two. Actually, he thought he found three, but foundering is an actual word (Ha!).  Still, I’m grateful he pointed them out to me, and I’m glad the corrections are in place.

On a positive note, I just learned that JRSOR has been picked up by someone in the Expanded Distribution catalog from Create Space. This is a distribution through major booksellers, libraries, schools, and other organizations. The downside is that I think I’m about to be hit for $25 for making the changes. Live and learn.

At any rate, here are the stats as we close in on a year of selling books:

Title Copies Earnings
The Spirit of Resistance 85 $196.18
The Coppersmith 28 $10.17
Patriots and Tyrants      4 $8.39
Total all 3 books 117 $214.74

So you see, I’m getting somewhere with this. Just not anywhere fast. Like Joe Konrath has said, “This is a marathon, not a sprint.” It’ll be a while before I can make a living doing this.

Posted: June 5, 2011 in Jefferson's Road, The Writing Life

In case you missed it, Jefferson’s Road: Patriots and Tyrants is now available on Amazon.com for the Kindle. I don’t know if it’s simply a function of me being impatient, an effect of Amazon’s recent move to clamp down on Author self-promotions, or some other factor at play, but I find myself constantly checking the sales data, wondering when this book is going to take off. I’m not looking for a million copies sold, mind you (maybe I should be?), just more than one or two. Of course, it’s early yet, and I did just get the announcements out to Kindleboards and Mobilereads, along with a few posts in the remaining safe places on Amazon left to indie authors. It’ll be real interesting to see how well this works out for Amazon, and how long it’ll be before they decide whether it’s working or not. Already I’m seeing a number of authors saying things like, “Hey, my sales haven’t been so great, lately.” Enough of that happens, and Amazon may have to rethink their overall strategy here. Maybe we’re all together just a bunch of snowflakes, but if enough of them stick and move in the same direction, you can stop traffic. So I guess we’ll see.

In the meantime, I’m reminding myself that this isn’t some six month, one year, or even five year plan. This is a ten to twenty year plan – an attempt to get as many of the stories swimming around in my head out on paper or electronically available so other people can enjoy them besides just me. Yes, I’d love to be earning my living solely through my writing, but that day appears to be a long way off. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, the end result of a long obedience in the same direction.

And it still remains to be seen what happens when a professionally published book of my hits the stands. The Lost Scrolls is still due next March, so we’ll see whether or not I’ve been able to build any credibility as an author at all before that time. All I can do, I suppose, is keep writing, keep telling the stories, and keep on telling people about the stories as often as I can.

I’m sure to catch a little flack for this, but I’ve been waiting for some time to release Patriots and Tyrants on Amazon and Smashwords. Today, I pulled the trigger. Not really sure why I get this way every time I release a book on my own. There’s always a sense of dread – wondering whether or not it’s really done, really as good as it could be. This despite hours and hours pouring over it, nit-picking tiny details (like whether or not to include periods in the initials for the FBI, or whether to capitalize AM and PM), and rewriting sections that weren’t working quite as well as they should. I think, however, there comes a time when you just have to bite the bullet and say “It is enough.” I’ve done due diligence to get it right, and now I have to put it out there. It wouldn’t be the first time a typo has snuck into a story, and even those with a full staff of paid professional editors still find errors in their products. The advantage of being an indie author is that I can make the changes when they’re brought to my attention. Nevertheless, the e-book version of Patriots and Tyrants will be available on Amazon in the next day, and via Smashwords to a whole lot of other sites in about a week or so. I haven’t planned on releasing it in hardcover right away, though I may do it sooner now that I understand the process a little better. Regardless, I’m lowering the price on The Spirit of Resistance to .99 for the next month, so those who haven’t bought it yet can take advantage of the discount. This should be available by tomorrow as well. I will, naturally, post a link and a general announcement once the book is available for download. In the meantime, I’ve crossed 45,000 words on Eye of Darkness, and the other day I finally figured out what happens to bring this story to its conclusion (though it requires a little refining to get it just right). I believe this will put me on target to releasing it by the end of the month.

UPDATE: Looks like Patriots and Tyrants is now available through Smashwords, if anyone wants to get an early version. You can download it here:

Jefferson’s Road: Patriots and Tyrants

Enjoy!