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.