Saturday, June 6, 2015

Writing in 2015: May Recap - Dark Fantasy, Superheroes, and Sex with Aliens

I keep checking my email for news, but there's no news to be had.  I'm checking my sales numbers every day, which are doing great and holding steady, but not on any dramatic upward rise.  How can they be when I'm not writing anything new? I realized the other day that sitting idle and not creating new stuff is driving me crazy!  That's why I'm antsy and doing the same pointless routine crap everyday with no new results.  Because I'm stagnant.  I need to be moving forward, onto the next book!  But it's not for lack of material...

Unfortunately my creative endeavors are on hold for a little while.  I have one month to accomplish two months worth of pre-deployment paperwork, planning, and training, and then I'll be in training for two to three more months before shipping out to Afghanistan.  Real life is dropping a bomb on writing life (hopefully not literally).  Once again, it's time to reassess and draw up new plans and expectations.

The month of May was far from a loss, however.  

*Photo from a couple years--and books-- ago. Not this event.*

I had my most successful book signing/sales event to date.  Each one I have turns out better than the last.  This one was on-base here in Japan at a big semi-annual bazaar.  I doubled the sales from my last one back in Texas, and am quite happy with that, though I still didn't get all the business I was expecting.  I was hoping all the young guys and gals from the ships would come through looking for books to read before they set sail, but that didn't really happen.

The biggest draw for the bazaar is Asian furniture and knickknacks, which appeals more to married folks with housing; I don't think my potential readers who sleep on a 3" x 6" rack were expecting a SF/F author to be set-up in there.  I also got a bit screwed because a big box of Hungry Gods didn't arrive in time for the event, and I sold out of what I had pretty quickly.  Postal system from the States runs slow, especially for big heavy boxes.

I also, believe it or not, sold some ebooks from my table!  I had some certificates printed up which I filled out with Smashwords coupon codes that the customers could use once they got home, paying a discounted rate at the sale.  Worked out great!

I actually intended to write up a big post about my thoughts on the event and holding signings in general, but who's got the time?!  Not me, unfortunately.  Working 13-hour ER shifts, preparing for war, and spending time with the fam leaves little time for blogging.

This month I also got two more books into paperback editions: Dreams of Flying and The Prince and the Darkness.  Both retail for $11.99, and they have a combined total of 360 pages, two novellas, six short stories, and two different sneak-peeks at Hungry Gods.  Great fun in bite-sized packaging.

(The "sex with aliens" from the title of this post, by the way, refers to the short novel Invasion inside Dreams of Flying.  The life of a superhero...  *Sigh*)

As I posted and "tweeted" about previously, May also saw my heroic fantasy, coming-of-age novel Tarnish published in an audiobook edition.  It's 15 hours of awesome storytelling narrated by Todd Menesses, who lives in New Orleans but sounds like he's from fantasy England.

What about my stats and word count recap?  Well, just as I start getting into a good routine, some earthquake hits and screws up my nice trend.  (We did, in fact, have two earthquakes here this month, too, but I'm referring to the deployment.)  I will leave here in July and not return to my home and family until well into next year.  So there goes my 12,000 words a month goal and the nice streak I had going.

Aside from the nice accomplishments above, I did get 5300 words written in May, some of it on the next story I intend to float around to magazines.  But the blog series I started this year may be ending right here and now.  I'll continue to track any work I get done, but I probably won't be spending any more precious time blogging about it.  My writing efforts are about to get much more focused, and things like marketing, social media, etc. will be taking a seat even further to the rear than they already have been.  Doing these things take time away from the most important aspect of writing: WRITING!

(In fact, it amazes me how much time and energy I see spent on Facebook and Twitter by people who say they are "writers" -- when do they write stories or books if they're always online gossiping?)

So that's my "writing recap" and probably the last of that series.  But looking to the future:

I still hope to write Twilight of the Gods by the end of the year, which is the prequel to Hungry Gods and Identity Crisis: Book Two.

And I continue to simplify and focus my writing career goals looking forward.  I think if I do these rather easy things for the foreseeable future, I'll be doing pretty damn well for myself:

1. Publish 2 to 3 books a year, every year.

Period.  This year I've already gotten out Hungry Gods, The Prince and the Darkness, and Dreams of Flying, and it's just now June!

2. Double my overall sales from one year to the next.  

This one I have less direct control over, but I think it's a realistic and ultimately successful expectation.  I figure if this trend does continue--selling twice as many books this year as last year, and twice as many next year as now--then I could be making a decent living from writing in about five years, maybe even enough to ween myself off of a day job.  Not a Hollywood, one-in-a-million instant best-seller story, but a realistic goal and certainly one I can live with.

Increasing the availability and media forms of my work help accomplish this.  This means not being exclusive to one outlet (*cough*cough* Amazon *cough*) and diversifying with ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobook versions, as well as writing in multiple genres.

3. Continue to work both sides of the fence: indie publishing and getting stories into magazines and anthologies.  My story  "Green-Eyed Monster" has been picked up for Meerkat Press's "Love Hurts Anthology" and I have a couple more in circulation with high expectations.

4. Focus on the single most important aspect of writing: WRITING. 

But what about marketing?! you might ask.  In my opinion, over-rated.  But if you want to make real money, start up your own indie book marketing outfit.  I bet the marketing side of the indie author boom is making five-times what indie authors themselves are making.  Every Tom, Dick, and Harry has their own "book marketing and tweeting service" that they're happy to let you pay them for.  And I'm not convinced they help all that much.  But that's just me.

When I get half a million words out there, I'll start marketing.  Until then, what's the point?

Okay, that's it for me.  This post has been two or three that I've had in mind combined to "save time," but I've sure been out here on the patio typing away for a long time.  In fact, the sun is now cloaked behind some grey clouds and a nice, moist breeze.  Looks like rain...

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