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Thoughts from the Road and a Sales Follow-up

So, I dragged my tired and relaxed self home recently from an extended road and air trip. This is a bit of a ramble, so please bear with me. I’m still brain tired from functioning in multiple languages and time periods for three weeks or so.

How did having four books launch within four weeks work out? Better than anticipated, in fact, April and May were the two best months I’ve had since before the Great Splat of 2015, and June sales are still doing well. Three of the books (In Sheltering Talons, Strangely Familiar, Staré) had the usual sales pattern of a slow first day or so, then a rapid spike and a rapid tail, although the tails have not dropped as low as I usually expect.

Merchant and Magic… is different. It started slowly, as I expected after such a lousy and soft launch. Then it built, and built, and kept going for several weeks. I’ve not had a book do this before. It stayed in the top 10K on Amazon for over two weeks, and is still [10:00 AM June 21] in the top 25K of all books. Thus far reviews have been positive, and I seem to have hit a sweet spot with readers even though (because?) the character is rather different from the usual fantasy protagonist. Perhaps the slow, steady sales build matches the slow, steady protagonist.

Is this the break-through book, the magical book that establishes that I am a Real Author™ and will lead to leaps in sales? Probably not. I’m not certain that perfect number exists anymore, at least not the way it did in 2012-13. I think I accidentally found a market niche that I need to try to fill. Not everyone wants to read about heroes who develop super powers and are the Great Chosen One who saves the world. Some readers like a rich, complex world with a character who just wants to get along, make a living, and get home to his wife and kids. Tycho is a decent guy, nothing special, not the usual fantasy protagonist. Apparently readers like the change.

Once I get back from LibertyCon, my first task is to finish the additional material I added to the third Powers book and get it into the publishing queue so that it can release before November 11, 2018 – the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice. Then get the last Colplatschki book to the editor for Christmas. Between those I have another Familiar book that is ready for alpha reading, another Shikari book likewise, and I have re-started the second Merchant book, with a germ of an idea for third book in that world, and possibly a novella as well. There will be a third Familiars novel at some point, and I need to get that odd Chinese-flavored fantasy revised and out to alpha readers as well.

So, you ask, if I have all those manuscripts that are done, why don’t I launch them?

Budget. The down side to the fast four book release was all the bills for those books came due together. That put me behind my publishing budget curve, and I need to get my reserves rebuilt. While Dean Wesley Smith is right that all money should flow to the author, there are initial expenses for those of us who hire out certain aspects of our work, like covers, or formatting, or copy editing. On the gripping hand, those are up-front costs, and once the books earn out, we keep far more of the income.

Day Job. I have taken on new responsibilities at Day Job. This is great, because I like growing and taking on challenges. However, it means professional development responsibilities during the summer, and developing new course material and other things. Technically, I work nine months of the year. In reality, I work twelve months of the year, just at varying degrees of intensity.

Life. I have finally learned that Life is going to happen, and that there’s no use getting wildly frustrated when I roll for “rapid editing” and the Great Game Master points to my 2D20 and says “You needed at least twelve, you got four, and your copy editor’s kids both brought stomach bugs home from school.”

I’ll have something more useful in my next article, promise.

  1. As long as the Great Game Master allows you to bribe dragons sometimes.


    June 24, 2018
  2. Zsuzsa #

    The Great Game Master has a twisted sense of humor. What kind of sadistic GM makes you roll for things like “get out of bed”? But He does, and occasionally we fail those kinds of rolls.

    June 24, 2018
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      One who is running a campaign where those things are a major and important element of the campaign.

      Though I suspect my “what we can discover about Jesus from economics” theorizing is more derangement than revelation.

      June 24, 2018
  3. “It stayed in the top 10K on Amazon for over two weeks, and is still [10:00 AM June 21] in the top 25K of all books.”

    Please don’t answer if the question is too intrusive, but I’m wondering what “top 10K on Amazon” looks like in terms of units. What’s the difference in copies sold between top 10K and top 25k?

    The reason I ask is I’m going to be publishing “soon” (real soon, uh huh, fer shur) and the road ahead is murky.

    My bad if the question is out of bounds.

    June 24, 2018
    • I’m not entirely certain, but I sold around 100 copies in May, with 20K page reads, more or less. June started strong, then tapered off after the 10th, which is the usual annual pattern. Sales seem to slow down around mid-June and stay low through September. As far as top 10K of all books vs. top 25K, keep in mind that it is sales and reads per day as well as total.

      June 24, 2018
      • Thanks for that, it is excellent information. It seems my expectation of “dozens of sales” is right on track. ~:)

        June 25, 2018
    • Here you go – the hard data answer.

      June 25, 2018
      • Draven #


        June 25, 2018
      • Interesting, and useful. Thank you for sharing.

        June 25, 2018
      • Very nice! Now we can guesstimate the sales of all these supposed literary geniuses getting Hugos.

        June 25, 2018
    • Zsuzsa #

      You too, huh?

      (I’ve vowed to be a “real author” (aka have something up for sale) by the end of 2018, but that might imply doing a lot of uploading at 11pm on December 31.)

      June 25, 2018
  4. “All money should flow to the Author” gets messy when you are also your own publisher. Paying for covers, editing, and marketing is the proper duty of the publisher.

    June 24, 2018
  5. Terry Sanders #

    “Not everyone wants to read about heroes who develop super powers and are the Great Chosen One who saves the world. Some readers like a rich, complex world with a character who just wants to get along, make a living, and get home to his wife and kids.”

    Qpite possible, given the success of things like the “Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clippers” (QUARTER SHARE, HALF SHARE, FULL SHARE, etc.) As well as some written around here. If it works in SF, why not in Fantasy?

    I may have to look at that myself, come to think of it.

    June 24, 2018
  6. Agreed.

    June 25, 2018

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