Going Rogue

So, I’m at an interesting place writing wise. See, I’d hoped to do a few LitRPG books and call it a day, and what not. Maybe toss in another Lillim book and the Danton spin off series, but then I had an idea that wouldn’t get out of my head about a witch who goes into space and beats down aliens.

I have no idea if it will sell or if anyone will like it, which is a bit scary, but hey, at some point you’ve got to write a book for you, right?

Anyway, I’m about halfway through it now, and I guess you guys will get to see firsthand if it’s good or not, assuming you grab it of course.

On that note, I also started reading Timothy Zahn’s Conqueror series, and I really can’t tell what I think of it. Part of me wants to like it, but part of me is bored by everything but the conquerors. Hopefully, it gets better, but since I grabbed all three books at the used book store for a whole $1.50 (total) I’ll likely finish the trilogy.

You know, it’s also a touch weird because I’m sitting in my office at home writing this, and I sometimes forget that I’m actually a full time author now, that this is my job. I mean, I like making money as much as the next guy, but I’m not nearly as confident as some of the people I talk to. I don’t think any of my books are going to do well until they do (or don’t).

Still, it’s my job, and I’m thankful that I get to throw words on a page for a living. I couldn’t do it without you guys (all six of you reading this), and I’ll try to do better in the future.

An interesting few days…

Well, it’s certainly been an interesting few days. Let me just say, I’m halfway through my release a book every week this month thing and man is it draining. In retrospect, NEVER AGAIN!

The new one comes out tomorrow, but it’s already up and you could grab it on Amazon if you liked, I suppose. It’s called Full Metal Magic and is an anthology put together by me and eight other fantastic authors featuring all new tales. Mine features Mac Brennan.

I’ve also just wrapped up the new Mac Brennan novel and that means I’ve written twelve novels this year. That seems insane to me.

I also finished up the outline for Annie 2. It’s tentatively called Blood and Thunder, and I am going to start writing that today. I’m hoping for a December release on this one. Let me just say, the reviews on Throne to the Wolves are just blowing me away! I’m so glad you guys like it!

If you have any ideas for items you’d like to see Annie use in book 2, please drop me a line. I’m totally open to suggestions!

Finally (and the most exciting thing for me anyway) is I’ve started research on the book that will follow Annie 2. I’m not ready to reveal many details, but know I am excited! You should see it sometime around January if all goes according to plan.

Coming soon

So, I haven’t made a post in a while, and I’ll tell you why. Busyness!

See, I was working on a new book. The first in a new series called Throne to the Wolves, and I just finished the final editing this week. It’s now with the proof reader. I think you’ll really like it.

I just gave Fists of Iron, the third collaboration between JB and I, to the editor, and I have to say, this book is really good. It’s probably one of the most epic books I’ve ever worked on, and I think it’s easily the best of the three.

In addition to that, Pound of Flesh, my collaboration with Conner Kressley, is finally ready to see the light of day. We’re just waiting on a cover now, but will have one in time for the end of October. Seriously, you guys are going to love this.

Finally, I’ve also written a new Mac Brennan story that will come out toward the end of October. I’ll be sharing more about this in a week or so.

To that end, you’ll be subject to a release every week next month.

That’s right. Every week.

10/4 – Fists of Iron

10/11 – Throne to the Wolves

10/18 – Super Secret Project

10/25 – Pound of Flesh

 

Now back to work on the new Mac Brennan novel.

Worker Bee

I feel like I’ve got a lot of balls in the air right now, and to be perfectly honest, it sort of feels like too many balls in the air.

Claimed just came out last week, and I finished the final draft on Monday. I mean, that’s crazy, especially considering I’m already twenty percent of the way through a new Lillim book.

Heart of Gold is coming out next week, and the sequel Feet of Clay, is well under way.

The Magic & Mayhem Boxed set comes out in early August.

It’s almost too much.

So what did I do? I penned a deal with USA Today Bestselling author Conner Kressley. We’re going to do a trilogy together, the first of which will be out in October. We’re getting pretty into it now, and it’s pretty good if I do say so myself.

In even bigger news, I and some pretty sweet other authors are putting together a boxed set filled with original fiction. (My story will feature Mac Brennan.) We’re still in talks, but I’ll have more information soon.

I also got the cover for a stand alone Danton novel.

Guh. Just guh.

Cursed 2

First off, I have to say I’m absolutely astounded not only by how well Cursed is selling, but also by how much you guys seem to like the book. I worried it might be too dark and gritty, but it seems like it was exactly what you guys wanted. It makes me glad because I was so worried about this book I actually got physically sick.

Before I say any more, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who picked up a copy. It’s truly a dream come true to be able to write for all of you, and I hope to continue to do so to the best of my ability.

I’d also like to say that I sort of stopped writing the Dirge book right at about 15k to work on Cursed 2. I’d started the Dirge book immediately after finishing Cursed because I worried no one would like Cursed. Clearly, I was very wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time, and probably won’t be the last time.

Still, I’m making good progress on Cursed 2, and am about 40% of the way through writing the book. I also spoke to some friends and my lovely wife, and they advised me that you guys probably want to know what’s so special about Sera. Well, fear not, you’ll find out why.

I also wrote a scene where Mac leaps off a motorcycle and punches a helicopter out of the sky. So there’s that. Best of both worlds?

I’m really trying to have the book out by Mid-March. Writing it shouldn’t be the problem, but I still don’t even have a cover because I was stupid and didn’t order one until Mid-February. This time when I ordered the cover, I also ordered a cover for Cursed 3, but I’m not making any promises for that one.

I hope you all can wait that long. I’m going as fast as I can, but I still want to ensure a quality read for all of you.

Still, I thought I’d give you all a glance at the first unedited paragraph of Cursed 2.

**

As I stood there staring at my wall, trying to process how the hell I was going to finish a job I couldn’t remember by the end of the day so some kidnappers would release my sister and her son while they still retained all their pieces, someone slipped a garrote over my head. My left hand shot up, barely getting between the piano wire and my throat as it pulled tight. The loop bit into my flesh, slicing open my palm while my attacker tried to pull me backward off my feet. Yeah, today was going to be awesome!

The last sixteen months

For those of you wondering, I’m currently 23k into Conquest’s Hammer, the third and final Revelations book. With any luck, I’ll have it out this month. If you haven’t picked up Death’s Mantle, you can do so today for free on Amazon.

The reason for this post is a little different though. I wanted to talk about my progress a little bit. For those of you who didn’t know, I started in September 2014 self-publishing my books. January 2016 marks my sixteenth month.

It seems like so much longer ago than it is. I still remember being completely overwhelmed by formatting Kill It with Magic for Kindle, and now I can format an entire book in 15 minutes. It’s sort of funny.

So, how is it going thus far? Well, to date I’ve sold 5,097 books and have made approximately $8,500. Not too bad, if I say so myself. It’s hard to believe so many people gave me money for my writing. You guys are awesome, and I truly hope you enjoyed what you bought from me.

Still, it’s been an incredible amount of work. I’m definitely taking the hard slog uphill with no shoes method.

Why do I say that? Well, to date, I’ve published approximately 886,000 words across 15 novels, 1 novella, and 3 short stories with over 700,000 of those words written in 2015.

It isn’t just about writing, either. Each one of those volumes has been through at least three drafts by me before an editor even looks at it. Then there’s more revision based upon what the editor says. Sometimes this might mean 4 additional drafts. Yikes!

That said, I have already made more money in January then I made in all of 2014. Still, I would like to do a little better. This led me to having a hard conversation with myself. I need to do something different. Really different.

I had a few outlines for stories I want to write this year, but I’m not sure how well they will sell. To say every series besides Lillim has been a staggering disappointment is a major understatement because I would say Lillim accounts for 80% of my sales. It’s really hard for me as a person to write book 3 of a series that just isn’t selling, especially when you consider the fact that it takes so much time and energy after writing.

I started writing a Dirge book. And, I’ll be honest, I think it’s great. I think the people who read Lillim will like it. Still, I’m deathly afraid of it crashing and burning.

Right now, Lillim is paying for Abby, Thes, and Revelations in a big way. Unfortunately, I think Lillim may have hit its limit as far as earning potential goes. It’s hung pretty solid at around 500 copies a month for the last 7 months or so despite all my attempts to cajole it upward, and the other books haven’t moved to push up that number significantly.

So, here’s my plan going forward. I’m going to finish up Revelations. That’s gotta happen, and it will. After that, I’m going to try something I haven’t done before.

I’m going to write a book centered around an adult male in his late twenties that takes a page out of my Jet novella and evaluate. If it hits, I’m going to write more. If not, I’m going to pivot again.

In 2015, I learned a great deal about writing and publishing. Now, in 2016, it’s time to show that. Hopefully, it works.

That said, if everything stays as it is right now and I continue selling ~500 copies a month, I’ll still be happy. But hey, I want to sell more. Guess I’m greedy, who knew?

Sidetracked

I was supposed to do things this month that I have not done. I blame me, mostly. See, I had this plan for finishing Death’s Mantle, writing a Lillim prequel, and starting on All Wrapped Up (Thes book #2).

Then Russell Blake had to go and announce the Jet Kindle World opening up at the end of July, and I thought to myself, what the hell, I might as well try and be a launch author. So I spent all the time I would have spent writing the Lillim prequel, writing my novella for the Jet Kindle world. It’s with the editor now for line editing and came in just shy of 30k words. Once I get it back from her, I’ll go ahead and post the first chapter.

Trust me. It’s awesome. Easily the best piece of fanfiction ever written… by me.

I also got through the first draft of Death’s Mantle and am working on the second draft. I think this will need three drafts before it goes out to the editor. The scary thing is, this book releases in August, and I’m still trying to get a cover done. We’re on version 4 now…

August is really close when you consider my editor hasn’t even seen the book… Ugh…

I just don’t see how I’m going to find the time to write the Lillim prequel, Wardbreaker, and the outline I have is jam packed with awesomeness. I’ll have to push back something if I want to do it. Unfortunately, the next two books on the agenda are the All Wrapped Up and Abby 3, Spy for the Spiers.

Decisions.

Select

First thing is first, Under Wraps is now available for preorder.

So since the beginning of April, pretty much all of my books have been available everywhere. It was an experiment that I don’t think is viable for me.

Let me see if I can explain this in a way that makes sense. I am going to pull everything from the non-Amazon sites.

My sales at the other places are not exactly negligible. I sold all of 7 copies at B&N, 0 at google, 3 at Apple, and 14 at Kobo. All of them combined were about 15% of my sales, which while not bad, isn’t exactly great. (I sold 130 copies at Amazon.)

It takes me a lot of additional time to add books and do stupid maintenance on the other sites. Time I could spend on writing.

Even worse, because I’m wide, I can’t get borrows. Would I have gotten 30 borrows across all my books? Maybe, maybe not, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable. Since it’s essentially free once you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

The non-Amazon sites are also much harder for me to market toward. There’s not really good advertising for anywhere but Amazon. I can also use affiliate links for Amazon books and make a commission. This is likely *why* it is easier to market on Amazon because advertisers use them too.

I looked at my genre, and you know what? Almost all the books in my genre that are doing *really* well are in kindle unlimited.

It made me think of something. How many people are ignoring my books on the biggest online retailer because they have a Kindle Unlimited account? How much more likely is someone with a Kindle Unlimited account to *try out* a new author. I’d say a lot higher.

I crunched some numbers and found I had a really high borrow rate from book to book before I pulled all my books. I do not have as high of a sell through rate.

Most people tend to get 3-4 times the amount of borrows they do sales. I’ve seen the data on this. I get like 3 sales a day. If I got even 5 borrows (in addition) that’d be equivalent to 8 sales a day in the charts, which would increase my visibility and thereby get me more sales.

I’d originally pulled everything to try and go wide because I was playing the long game. But let’s be real. Amazon is 60+% of the ebook market (if not more). Succeeding there is *worth* more than anywhere else. And I’m new. I’ve been at this for only 7 months. *shrug*

Also, I sort of write for a younger audience. If you were a 15-25 y/o in my target audience would you be likely to have a kindle unlimited account? Maybe…

Anyway, this is all a highly technical and boring post to basically say I’m going to try throwing the whole series in Amazon Select for another term or two and see how it goes.

 

Wrapped Up

Last night at around 11:30 PM, I finished up the first draft of Under Wraps. This one was touch and go for me. I deviated from my outline so many times. Then I rewrote my outline… and immediately deviated from it again. It was one of those books.

It was also my first full length novel written in first person from a male perspective. (Wow, that’s a mouthful.) I’ve written a couple shorts before, but nothing like this. All my other protags have been, you know, female. It was a little different.

It was also a little hard because it was based in Ancient Egypt and some of the names were similar sounding. In the future, no more Egyptian mythology… It was doubly difficult because I know a lot about Egyptian mythology, and the average person, maybe not so much. I found myself having to explain who the gods were in a way I probably wouldn’t have to do with say Zeus or Hades.

I also had to write a whole new first chapter. A few nights back, I was complaining about the book, and my lovely wife offered to read the first chapter. She then suggested I write another first chapter because my first chapter really worked as a second chapter. I did. The new first chapter is awesome! I think my writing leveled up like five times on just that chapter.

Anyway, before I forget, May Contain Spies, releases tomorrow. Oh, and Hardboiled is now available for preorder. It releases on 5/24/15. I’ll post the first chapter tomorrow.

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